Jenny Lucas swore she’d never go home again. But life has a way of upending even the best-laid plans. Now, years after she left, she and her five-year-old daughter must return to her sleepy North Carolina town to face the ghosts she left behind. They welcome her in the form of her oxygen tank-toting grandmother, her stoic and distant father, and David, Isabella’s dad . . . who doesn’t yet know he has a daughter.
As Jenny navigates the rough and unknown waters of her new reality, the unforgettable story that unfolds is a testament to the power of love to change everything—to heal old hurts, to bring new beginnings . . . even to overcome the impossible.
That is a glimpse into Gina Holmes’ new novel, Crossing Oceans, which releases in May from Tyndale Publishing. AuthorCulture is pleased to have Gina here today. Many of you have probably visited her blog NovelJourney, where she has interviewed such authors as Nicholas Sparks, Jerry Jenkins and many other writers including yours truly.
Today Gina gets to sit on the other side of the questions. And I’m sure you will all be encouraged by her journey.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up? And when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I grew up in Hamilton Twp New Jersey. It's a suburb outside of the state's capital. Other than the Jersey accent and loud laughter, it was pretty much like anywhere else I guess.
As far as knowing I wanted to be a writer, it wasn't something one day that came to me like a sudden revelation. It sort of happened over time. I always found creative writing to be fun and not particularly challenging compared to my other subjects in school. While my classmates sweated out each writing assignment, I whipped out an essay in the few minutes before the bell rang and would get As. But, I had this flawed thinking back then that if I were good at something, it wasn't worth much. So I concentrated on the tough subjects that I had to work hard at. I got my degrees in science and nursing.
When I had children, I wanted to stay home with them while they were little and thought that writing might be an easy way to work at home and make money. Boy was I wrong. If you broke down all the hours I've put into writing and divided it by the money I've made, well, we're not even coming close to minimum wage.
2. I’ve read that originally you started out writing suspense/thrillers. Then one day you realized your true voice came through while writing women’s fiction. Tell us how that came about?
I grew up reading Stephen King, so I thought that suspense was what I should be writing. My first four novels were in this genre. Then I started picking up the classics that no teacher or professor had required for class and some other authors like Arthur Golden, Charles Martin, Leif Enger, etc. and my taste in reading material changed. Suddenly it was this kind of book I wanted to write. Not necessarily women's fiction but not suspense either. I wanted to write books that would change the readers forever as some of the books I'd read had changed me. So, I tried something new and presented it to my agent along with a mystery I was also working on and asked him which one I should pursue. He was quite confident that Crossing Oceans was what I should be writing and I knew he was right.
3. You are a mom, nurse, and wife. Any one of those positions would be full time. Yet, as writers, we all have to fit our writing in around our other commitments. I would imagine that finding time to write is a challenge. How do you fit writing into your schedule?
At the moment, this is my biggest challenge. It's tough. Very tough. I'm under deadline to write my sophomore novel and the finish line is getting dangerously close but I'm not a particularly fast writer. At the moment, I'm laying on the couch next to my children as they watch TV and writing these answers. An hour ago you would have found me outside under my oak tree with my laptop working on my next chapter of Dry As Rain, my next novel. Tomorrow, I'll work 13 hours as a nurse, come home and serve dinner to five children while my husband is at work and then I'll do a little editing before bed. The day after that, I'll spend the entire day trying to get one more chapter drafted.
So, the short answer is every waking moment that I'm not doing domestics, picking or dropping off the kids, or working is spent writing, editing, doing PR or reading. It's tough right now but I know this is just a season in my life and I only get one chance to debut and only one chance to write a sophomore novel. Everything I'm doing for my career right now is critical. I don't want to look back with regrets. So, I'm working my butt off but I also want to be a good mom and wife and so it's difficult doing it all.
4. What's your favorite thing about being a writer?
My favorite thing about being a writer is presenting a new way of looking at an old problem. I've always had a mediator personality. It can be maddening talking to me because I like to present everyone's point of view as something valid that needs considering. That sort of thing translates nicely to novel writing. I can get people to consider another's perspective by whispering instead of shouting. I like that.
5. What's your most memorable moment in your writing journey?
There were of course many, but the one that stands out the most was when I was working as a nurse in the newborn nursery and my agent, Chip called to tell me we got an offer. I thought that day would never come. I'll never forget that.
6. Tell us about Crossing Oceans. Where did you get the idea?
I'm not really sure where the idea came from. I was just lying on the couch and a germ of an idea came to me about a dying mother who hadn't told the father of her child about her. I was going through a difficult period in my life and I think looking back that I was working through some of that through the story.
7. How can fans purchase your book?
All the usual channels, CBD.com, Amazon, Books A Million, B&N, Walmart, Sams Club, you name it.
8. Recently you blogged about getting to visit Tyndale Publishers. After so many years of trying to break in to publishing, that must have been a little surreal. What were your feelings as you walked in the doors? And then again on the way home?
It was definitely surreal. There have been many surreal moments in the last few years. I mean for years and years and years I was chasing the publishers, trying to catch their attention and getting shot down over and over. Then suddenly everything changed and I was being treated like royalty. Walking through the doors of Tyndale, I felt like a kid who'd won the golden ticket to Wally Wonka's Chocolate Factory. I was in heaven!
On the way home, I was sitting in a limousine of all things, thinking: 'how crazy is this?' The next day I was back to being a nurse and telling my kids to stop slurping their milk.
9. Any more books on the horizon?
I'm hard at work on my sophomore novel, Dry As Rain. It's another emotional story, this time dealing with love, infidelity and forgiveness.
10. Any advice for fellow writers working their way toward publication?
A ton, but I'll not overwhelm you. Read and apply Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. Join a critique group and then another and another, until you have the perfect small group of writers who push you constantly, tear you up, build you up and grow you. Go to writer's conferences. There are gatekeepers in this industry and that's where you'll find them. Try to remember on this journey to get to know people, build friendships without having an agenda. One of the most important things in life is to have a group of people who understand you.