Monday, September 15, 2014

ACFW's Biggest Cheerleader has a Book of Her Own!

President of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, and three-time Genesis finalist, Ane Mulligan is in everyone's corner. New to the biz? You'll find her rooting for you. Been there a while? Still rooting. Need prayer, advice, a positive word? Go to Ane. She's there for you, ready with a smile and words of encouragement.

She lives in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband, her chef son, and two Mastiffs--huge by Biblical proportions. She's one of my critique partners, a special friend, and a fellow redhead, and I'm honored to get to present her to our readers here on AuthorCulture.

AC: You’re one of the most beloved members of ACFW. When did you join? Express what the organization means to you and how it has helped you. What is your role in the organization?

ANE: Loudest, yes. Goofiest, probably. But most beloved? Now you’ve made me cry.

I joined in April 2005. ACFW opened more doors for me than anything else. First, I learned so much through mentors who taught classes, shared ideas, and encouraged me. Meeting agents and editors at conferences taught me how to hone my pitch. I became friends with my agent about three years before she became my agent.

Because I love my own local chapter of ACFW (waving to ACFW North Georgia), I want to see every member belong to one. So, I volunteer as the Zone Coordinator, overseeing the U.S. and helping build chapters through the zone directors and area coordinators.

AC: How and when did NovelRocket start?

ANE: It began in 2005 as Novel Journey to chronicle founder Gina Holmes's first novel journey. She quickly realized she only had three readers of which she and I were two. She began to interview authors, a new one each day, and after a few months realized it was more than one person could handle. She brought Jessica Dotta and me on board, and the rest is history. The name was changed to Novel Rocket a few years ago when we became a dot com. Someone else owned Novel Journey dot com and wouldn’t sell it.

AC:Your other blog is Southern-fried Fiction, which, I believe, is also your brand. How did you come up with the name?

ANE: Rose McCauley branded me with that. We’d been ACFW friends, and one day, talking about brands online, Rose said, “You mean your Southern fried fiction?” She went on to say it’s what my voice sounded like through emails. My agent said it was spot on, and we ran with it.

AC: Remind me of the story: Your novel was inspired by your hubby’s painting, or his painting was created to illustrate your story?

ANE: I was talking to Eddie Jones, CEO of my publishing house, about the cover design. I mentioned my husband was an artist, and he asked if he would like to paint something to be used for the cover. Delighted, I said yes!

Poor Hubs. He had to extract from my brain a fictional town that was a feeling inside me. Yes, I’d drawn a map of Chapel Springs, but I hadn’t pictured the buildings. So he drew and changed and tweaked until it sort looked right. Then he went into his studio to paint. Over a few weeks, what began as “sort of” suddenly turned into Chapel Springs. We had a professional photographer, who specializes in making giclĂ©e reproductions (print on canvas) take the photo, which we sent to my publisher. Ken Raney, Deb Raney’s husband, designed my cover from the painting.

AC: You have some pretty heavy hitters as critique partners, but you’re also very well connected. Newbies don’t always have that advantage. What would you advise for them?

ANE: My CPs (critique partners) weren’t heavy hitters when we met. None of us knew much about writing at all. We were raw newbies when we met and grew together. I try to explain that to new writers.

Go to writers’ conferences. Deb Raney taught my first writing class, but she never critiqued me. Eva Marie Everson was another first teacher. She never critiqued me. (Interesting point – Eva Marie was my editor for Chapel Springs Revival).

If you’re serious about publishing, you’ll read every book on the craft, don rhino skin, and take every critique seriously. Hiring a freelance editor is super if you don’t have critique partners. But don’t expect a published writer to be your CP. On very rare occasions it may happen, but that will be God-directed.

I learned from my CPs when we were all newbies. We taught each other. We'd read the craft books and apply what we learned. You don’t need to have a multi-published author as your CP. You only need to be teachable.

AC: So, let’s hit the question lots of folks want to know: which side of the battle do you land on–plotter or pantser?

ANE: Smack dab in the middle. Rachel Hauck coined a name and it’s exactly what I am—a Planster. I have to have a plan, some idea of where I’m going. Then, I let the characters take over. One caveat: I spend a lot of time on the characterization. I do a backstory for each character until I know them as well as I know myself. Once I know them that well, I instinctively know how they will react to anything that comes out in the story. Karen Ball says, “God whispers His truths into hearts, and it whispers back in stories.” And it’s true.

AC: Who do you credit with being the biggest influence in your writing career?

ANE: Ron Benrey, Debra Dixon, Amy Wallace, and Laurie Schnebly Campbell. From each of those people, I learned what I call “golden nuggets” or game changing techniques.

AC: What is your goal for your career?

ANE: Write as many stories as God allows me time. If I don’t write them, I’ll start talking back to all those characters in my head. Then they’d cart me off to the funny farm.

AC: What are your hopes for your debut release? What is the take-away value?

ANE: I hope people will love my characters as much as I do, and I pray that through Claire, they’ll see how God works, even when we don’t see it. God is faithful to guard His children.

Here's the lowdown about the book:

Published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, it released Sept 8th. In a nutshell, Chapel Springs Revival is a romp through miscommunication in marriage.

With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.

Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It's impossible not to, what with Claire's zany antics and Patsy's self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is their marriages.

With their personal lives in as much disarray as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.

While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, Ane has worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that's a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction (try saying that three times fast). She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups.

To get a personal look at Ane, tune in to 777 Peppermint Place on the 24th. She'll tell a favorite story about Shadrach, one of her Mastiffs.

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