Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest books. FUN!
The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with Ann Shorey is Brandi. My assistant will be in touch for your mailing address.
This week we welcome Rachel Hauck. To win a copy of Rachel’s latest release, Dining with Joy, leave a comment on this post!
Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?
It’s so great to be here! Thank you, Suzanne. I’m married but we don’t have children. Wasn’t in God’s plan. We are at peace with our lives and destiny. We spent 20 years in youth ministry and adopted a few other-people’s-kids.
I used to work full time in the corporate world as a project manager, but I’ve been writing full time since the summer of ’04.
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…
I love romance. I started out writing romance but found my voice in chick lit. But the genre faded fast and I moved back to romance with my chick accent. I love a good romantic comedy or straight up romance. I’ve also written Women’s Fiction with country music artist Sara Evans.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
I started writing diaries as a young girl, wrote few stories in elementary and junior high. I studied journalism at Ohio State knowing I wanted to write books one day. I was very influenced by the life of writers, especially Laura Ingalls Wilder. I thought I’d write the Little House books of the 20th Century.
But I ended up in the corporate world after college, traveling a lot and didn’t settle down to write until after I married at thirty-one. I left my job on our first anniversary and one afternoon while sitting in my quiet house, a story idea came.
The dream was always publishing. I’m grateful to the people the Lord put in my path who helped me along the way.
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
Well the first book was an epic WW2 and well rejected. I set it aside after a few years of writing and rewriting. I got an offer to return to my old job and knew it was the door the Lord opened for me, so I returned part-time, then went full-time, kept getting promoted and didn’t have much time for writing.
But I picked writing back up in ’99 and signed my first contract in December of ’02. The book Lambert’s Pride was released in February ’04. I also had an e-book released the same month! I was ahead of the e-publishing curve. 🙂
Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well? Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing?
Can I exchange that coffee for a nice cold Diet Coke? My routine is to get up, exercise, pray, do a few house hold chores and drive to McDonald’s with my dog for a Diet Coke. If I don’t show up, the crew wonders where I’ve been. Or I may run into Publix, the grocery store. I love that place.
I come home and do email and social media, then get to work. I discipline myself to do it. Writing requires a lot of discipline. I spend anywhere from four to ten hours a day writing, maybe more, depending on where I am in the process. The closer to deadline, the longer the days.
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
My mom is a great cheerleader. My husband used to read for me but he’s gotten busy lately. My biggest help along the publishing journey has been the grace of God. He’s opened so many doors. Author Lynn Coleman helped me with my first book, then Colleen Coble put her arm around me and introduced me to people, sang my praises and became my mentor.
Joining ACFW opened all of my publishing doors. The friends and connections I made through that organization and the national conference are jewels in my heart.
When I was in college, I had a few professors who encouraged me. Two in particular told me I could make a living writing.
My father, who’s dead now, would tell me, “Rachel, you’re a writer,” from the time I was in fourth grade on. There’s really something about fathers and mothers pronouncing destiny over their children.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
Yes. I mean, no. Yes. No. Can I plead the Fifth? Writing novels is a hard life. There’s no back up if you stumble. No one to cover for you when you’re on vacation, sick or tired.
The daily word count has to be met or the deadline won’t be. Writing requires all of my heart, emotions, time and thought. I can’t just put words on a page. I have to dig into the characters and figure out who they are and what they feel. And it requires digging into my own heart and mind.
I’ve sat in a chair for fifteen hours straight to finish a novel.
I’ve rewritten and edited 400 pages in 48 hours.
I’ve said no to vacations, parties and other invitations to stay focused.
I am my worst critic and best cheerleader.
But wow, what a journey. I love this job! I once told my husband it satisfies a very deep place in my soul that was restless before. I’m honored people think my work is worth reading. Humbled, really. I cannot imagine doing anything else.
The business side of publishing was a bit more detailed and tedious than expected. And yes, authors do have to do some marketing of their books. I’ve had some disappointments, but I’ve had some great encouragement and opportunity. I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.
What are your biggest distractions?
The internet! And Susie May Warren when she calls for help with her novel. Don’t worry, I return the favor.
My eighteen-year-old cat is distracting. He walks into my office every night, sits at the base of my chair and trills endlessly. I pet him, feed him, but he still sits there like he wants to have a conversation.
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
I’ve had a lot of good moments. Winning ACFW Book of the Year last year. Being a RITA finalist. Accepting the RITA for Susie Warren, calling her in tears, so thrilled she won instead of me! Working with my editor, Ami McConnell and the entire team at Thomas Nelson. They were my dream publisher, by the way. Working with Sara Evans. Building a friendship with Debbie Macomber. Seeing God continue to open doors and answer prayers. I could go on and on…
Worst moment? I guess that first rejection letter when I thought I’d written a masterpiece!
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
Least? Having to draw everything about the story out of myself. It’s hard but necessary. Most? Having written! I love everything about a finished book. Rewriting and editing, seeing the cover for the first time, holding the printed version and reading it for the first time as a reader! I love the writing community.
What is the role and importance of an agent?
An agent should help you develop your career, be a sounding board and help navigate good and bad times. Some agents are really good with marketing. Others are good with story and editorial input. A few are good at both. But most lean one way or the other. An agent may be good for one season of your career. Another agent may take you to the next level. Authors should remember writing is a business. Agents help with that aspect.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Talk is cheap. Carve out time to write, put your backside in a chair and do it. Stink up the pages with your bad story and rotten prose, but write! Read widely. Study the craft. Decide if this is really what you want to do and do it. Join ACFW. Be teachable.
Pretend I’m a customer at a bookstore looking for a good book. Give me a one or two sentence promo to convince me to buy your book.
“How are you? Do you like to read? Yeah? Me too. How about cooking? You don’t like to cook? Me neither. Here’s a really good book about a cooking show host who can’t cook. I know, isn’t that funny? Dining with Joy… here it is. I’m the author. Yep, in the flesh. Well, the story has drama, humor and romance. I think you’ll like it.”
What’s on the book horizon for you?
I’m writing the third Songbird Novel with Sara Evans, Love Lifted Me. Then I’m on to my own book, The Wedding Dress, about a gown that touches the lives of four woman over a hundred years.
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
You can find my books on line and your favorite box store and Christian retailer. Amazon, B&N, CBD, Thomas Nelson’s web site. If you go to rachelhauck.com and click on books, I have links for online stores.
Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)
Bleaders! I love it, Suzanne. Thanks for having me! Great interview!