Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Interview with Terry's Client Sherri Gallagher

What is your latest project? Tell us about it.

I always have something out there, I'm always writing, so I have a couple of them in the works. I have a new one about a young widow raised in an atheistic household. She takes a huge leap of faith, starting her own environmental engineering firm and moves to Lake Placid to understand her relationship to God. The odds are against her, she's undercapitalized, her father and in-laws try to sabotage her efforts, and the man she falls in love with is leading the opposition to her project. Through it all she reaches out to God in the one place she could find Him, the cool beauty of the Adirondack forests and mountains.

The other project is very close to my heart and I pray daily that it will be picked up. It is a young adult book titled "Turn" about a fifteen year old boy working toward his rank of Eagle Scout. While physically he has all the potential to be a bully, his gentle nature turns him from that road. He's a little lost and struggling to identify just who he is and how does he fit into the world. He joins a canine search and rescue team and with their help reaches for his dream of becoming an Eagle Scout with lots of fun adventures on the way, including getting his own pickup truck. My son is an Eagle Scout and Order of the Arrow and I remain a merit badge counselor. I watched Scouting help lead my son to be a man I am proud of and I believe this book will help other boys find the path to Scouting and their way to valuable members of society.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Mostly from every day incidents and the things I see around me. I think it was Louis L'Amour who said something like 'if there was a stream in my book I've drunk from it'. I try and take places I've been and describe them so the reader can see, hear, smell, taste and feel what I felt in that place. My call to service has been canine search and rescue, I use my dogs to find lost people, so I've been to a lot of interesting places. Of course my canines are a big part of my life so they're always sneak onto the pages. I just wish they were as well behaved in real life as they are in my books.

What has been the hardest part of writing your latest book and how did you overcome it?

The key to any book is making the reader want to turn the page to find out "what happens next?". It's easy to slip into a passive voice that lulls the reader to sleep. If my reader picks up a book I wrote at ten in the evening planning to read just one chapter and the next time they look at the clock it's 3 AM, I've been successful. I learned to outline each chapter in my books so something happens and the energy never stops flowing. My first couple of books were written "seat of the pants" and I only had a vague idea of what would happen. I'm in the process of ripping those early works apart and fixing them now. Having the discipline to write that outline is difficult. It's a lot more fun to jump into the story and find out what happens, but if the true recipient of your writing is the reader, than you owe it to them to plan and work at bringing them into the pages of your book so they are living in the skin of your main character.

What do you hope people will take away from reading your books?

That depends on the book. Young adult is a different audience than romance with a different level of maturity. I guess if I really looked for an underlying message it is best summed up in Joshua 1: 9 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

What new projects are you working on?

I write devotionals and short stories so right now I am focused on them. It is giving me time to outline a romance set in the early 1920's about a young Italian couple that meet in a small city in New York. Will they be able to establish a new life and foundation for generations to come or will the seductive hand of organized crime follow them to the new world? I'm also working on a romance set on a search for a missing caribou hunter one degree south of the Arctic Circle that travels to the Caribbean. Will the heroine trust the hero and God or will she lose more than her life trying to handle things herself? I'm also working on the third book in the young adult series that starts with "Turn". I need to come up with a good title. It is the story of Shane, the most spiritually grounded of all the teens and the struggle he faces to forgive himself for getting one of the search dogs hurt while avoiding the recruitment efforts of a white supremacist group. Can he and the new protection trained search dog save his family from the retaliations that come their way?

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? The programs and speaking that you do?

I have a shoutlife page that focuses on what I do as an author. Facebook is more about the dog activities and LinkedIn is focused on my engineering business (I have to pay for kibble somehow!) I constantly do demonstrations with the dogs to civic groups - Scouts, church groups, retirement centers, park districts. If they call, I do my best to be there. I'm also going to be teaching a devotional writing seminar at our local church. I called in the big guns from my critique group for help on that one.

What is the best writing advice you ever got? The worst?

No one is all bad or all good. Give you protagonist feet of clay and your antagonist a reason for being so mean. The worst advice I ever got was give up; the publishing industry will be dead in a few years so why waste the effort. Nope, Joshua 1:9, give up is seldom part of my vocabulary, and while the format might change, there will always be room for a good story.

Anything else you'd like to take this opportunity to say?

Thank you to a true Texas gentleman and my agent, Terry Burns. Thank you to Maureen Lang, Julie Dearyan, Dawn Hill and all the members of the Fremont Christian writers group for guiding my writing to ever better levels in the craft. Thanks to Linda Mickey for understanding why self-publishing is not my path and remaining my friend anyway. Thank you to my husband for getting a bowl of cereal for dinner with a smile because I was so involved in a chapter I lost track of time. Thank you to my son and all the members of Troop 198 for their inspiration and antics, I'm proud to know you even when you make mistakes. Finally, thank you to all my canine partners; past, present and future, my life is richer for having known you.


A J Hawke said...

After reading this interview, I will be looking up the book by Sherri Gallengher. I have not been aware of your writing.

My great nephew accomplished his Eagle Scout goal this year. I'm so proud of him and I know that he would be interested in a fiction that speaks to that interest. Hmm birthday and Christmas gift ideas.

Blessings on your work with the dogs, your writing, and your family.

Terry Burns said...

Thanks, but her book isn't contracted yet although we hope very soon.

writer jim said...

I know what you mean by feeling successful if a person reads your book til 3AM.
A middle aged average American man pondered a section of my writing; and at 4AM awoke his family to tell them he was repenting on the spot. He said he just could not wait til morning to tell them.

All writers should be aware: if you are writing FOR God...your books can affect the lives of numerous other people because of what it does for the ones that actually read it.

Terry Burns said...

The first book of the Mysterious Ways series had a ministry I didn't expect. I started getting notes from convicts who identified with the main character saying he made them feel there might be hope for them after all. Who knew that was in there? Apparently the Lord did.

writer jim said...

I love your "Apparently the Lord did."
I'm so glad we can trust in the Lord... and that He never fails. Praise God.