Monday, March 26, 2012

Interview with Ruth Logan Herne

I'm so excited to have Ruth Logan Herne on The Writers Alley today. Not only is she a fantastic author, wonderful grandma, and fantastic cook - she's also one of the best encouragers I've ever met. In fact, I've been trying to talk her into becoming my Writing Mama :-)

You can find out about her amazing book list on her website at and check out Seekerville to learn more.

1. Okay Ruthy, I don't know if many of THe Writers Alley readers know your story. Could you fill them in? When/how did your Call come and what led up to it?

My call came when I was in New Jersey, babysitting my granddaughter while my daughter and son-in-law were heading to Ethiopia to pick up their new son....

But they couldn't remember their Internet lock code, so I had no Internet on my computer and their computer was slower-than-molasses-in-winter. My family called from home and said I'd missed a call from Harlequin, but which Harlequin? Winter's End was under consideration at Love Inspired and Superromance through two different contests a year apart. So I wasn't trying to shoot myself in the foot, but I nearly did inadvertently. I asked my family for the area code... Toronto or NY?

It was 212... New York City! That meant Melissa Endlich was calling me. Oh my stars, I hooked up my daughter's dinosaur-era computer and snail-crawled into my Yahoo account, and there was an e-mail: Greetings from Steeple Hill....

And yes, I still have that e-mail. AND .... (okay, dorky, I know!) I still have the original message from Melissa on my phone. I still pinch myself to make sure it's real, that I now have ten books done with them (three that were written and needed revising for LI, and seven fresh books) and I'm proposing a new series for 2013.... FEEL FREE TO PINCH ME, TOO!!!! I am truly blessed.

2. What are you working on right now? (okay, can you narrow it down to the 2 or 3 things you are working on :-)

I always work on multiple things. Like getting the back room clean and painted for puppy-mania, due to occur in the next 6-14 days! (my laundry room cupboards were beyond disgusting... Really kind of frightening in an old farmhouse kind of way. If you do not believe me, thank you. I owe you. Big time.)

Right now I've sent in my proposal for Katie and the Trooper, the last contracted book of the Men of Allegany County series. While waiting on that, I've begun my three book proposal for Love Inspired tentatively called "The Lawmen of Allegany County", a great series that Melissa and I have discussed that centers around totally hot and wonderful cops... and the women they long to love and protect all the days of their lives. I love a man in uniform! ;) And on the side I'm writing a fun Y/A fantasy for my local young friends because they wondered if I could write them a story. To which I said, "Of course I can!" I also wrote a short non-fiction children's book about my friend Lisa's breast cancer, and how her ten-year-old daughter Taylor wanted to plan a party to help lift her mother's spirits. Working with kids makes it fun for me to sideline with things for kids now and again. I think that's only fair because I USE THE LITTLE MONSTERS in a bunch of my books, LOL!

I love writing kids. And animals. And farms. And people. I just plain love, love, love writing stories.

Great minds, Ruthy ;-)

3. As aspiring writers, what advice would you give to those of us who are pursuing publication (and might have been pursuing it for a while)

The same thing I always say, Pep. Write, write, write. A friend quoted this to me once (and I know you've heard me say it before) "If you can quit, do so."

Writing is a heart and soul endeavor and if you can walk away and be fine with that, it's probably better to do that because it isn't an easy business. If they stopped paying me tomorrow, I would still write stories because that's my dream come true. I waited for this chance for decades, and I'm half-mule. Hence the big teeth! :) But heart and soul means that thinking you can jump on board and change things to your liking usually doesn't happen. But I've found you learn a great deal more if you listen and obey. Very much how I deal with toddlers, LOL!

4. What are a few of your favorite ways to find inspiration for stories?
God sends them via whatever avenue it might happen to be. An overheard comment... (Mended Hearts) A visual of a soldier at a Memorial Day Parade (His Mistletoe Family, due out in December 2012) old memories... (Made to Order Family) Seeing a young woman defy advice and become a hairdresser (A Family to Cherish, due out in July, 2012) Fixing old wrongs (Waiting Out the Storm)... A friend fighting breast cancer (Lisa's story...)

And I bought Lisa dinner a few weeks back for feeding me all this FREE RESEARCH on breast cancer. That's when you know your friends love, love, love you, when they risk their lives to further your writing career. Supper was the LEAST I could do, right???

5. I know you are just LOVING Love Inspired - Why are you having such a blast with Steeple Hill stories and what advice would you give to authors who want to submit their work to Harlequin?

This kind of advice should really require chocolate to grease my palm, shouldn't it? This is like Wall Street, total Raj Rajaratnam stuff... I could TELL you, but then I'd have to KILL you. Or serve prison time. All kidding aside, I love working for Harlequin. I made that clear from the beginning.... Years ago Nicholas Sparks' agent called me. I was new. Raw. So far beyond diamond in the rough that I was barely COAL... but she saw something she liked in my work. What a compliment! But Harlequin had also asked for three early manuscripts. (I will not tell you how TERRIBLE they were... I'd learned how to open a story, but still needed to learn how to arc a plotline, so terrible doesn't begin to cover it. Really)... Anyway, the agent told me that if I submitted to Harlequin, she wasn't interested in talking with me.

I had no idea what to do. None. I was that new, that raw, that I didn't realize an agent could actually guide your work even if they weren't quite ready to sign you...

But I knew that I was targeting Steeple Hill. And I knew that was my goal.

It took a bunch of years, but here I am, and yes... Loving that people can get a gentle, sweet Ruthy-read for $5 give or take. And that's a blessing because a lot of my life has been spent on the bottom side of a dollar bill, looking up. Sharing sweet stories with people at that price just makes my day!

6. Okay - a very important question: We hear you are a baker extraordinairre. Would you share one or two of your favorite recipes with us? :-)
Oh my gosh, I love baking. I have always loved baking. It's like writing, creating new and wonderful treats is just part of me! But (although this is probably bad etiquette), folks can find a bunch of my recipes at the Yankee Belle Cafe, one of the "Stores" in the Seeker Village! Missy Tippens and I run the cafe with the help of that gorgeous Texan Mindy Obenhaus and we share all kinds of fun recipes there. Mine should all be listed under "The Yank"....

We Yankees are proud of our heritage, LOL!

And don't be dismayed that I use cake mixes. I love mix cakes. They're finely constructed and they never taste "floury" the way some home-made cakes do. But having said that, I do love homemade brownies made with the recipe on the Baker's Unsweetened Chocolate Bars box. (It's on the inside label). That recipe gives you an old-fashioned TO DIE FOR chocolate fudge brownie that I haven't had any mix compare to. And if you double it and put two LARGE Symphony bars in the middle (layer half the brownie batter in a 13 x 9 pan, then the Symphony bars, then spoon the second half of the brownie batter over the top.... And bake at 350 for 40 minutes or more... If you do this with a single batch, the baking time is greatly reduced. I like my brownies a little on the well done side. They taste better with ice cream that way, LOL!
A Blue Ridge Mountains’ native, Pepper Basham is a pastor’s wife, mom of five and university instructor. She writes in various fictional genres but spices them all with grace and humor. She is a 2011 Genesis double-finalist and can be found causing mischief at her group blog, The Writers Alley, or at


Joanne Sher said...

Such WONDERFUL advice from a WONDERFUL lady (two, actually!). Thanks for coming by, Ruthie!

Unknown said...

Ahh, this is such a fun interview. I laughed my way through it. Awesome advice, too!

Pepper said...

Oh Joanne,
You are sweet, as usual :-)
Ruthy IS a blast, isn't she?!?
And the advice....

Lindsay Harrel said...

Lovely interview and great advice from Ruth! :) Thanks!

Jeanne T said...

Fun to see Ruthy over here, Pepper! And that mouth is watering! Now, to find a gluten free way to make it. :)

So appreciate Ruthy sharing her wisdom and wonderful sense of humor. :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Great interview.
Ruthy you are amazing and inspirational.
Thanks for joing us today. Sure was fun.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Ruth is such a fun bundle of energy! Thanks for hosting her, Pepper. :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh my stars, it is always fun to be over here, guys! I wish I had more computer time but it's tight with my PRECIOUS DAY BABIES!!!! (Okay, toddlers now) Their parents actually expect me to watch them.

'Sup wi' dat???? ;)

I am so blessed to be able to play in this published arena, and I urge, urge, urge you that if you love what you do... Stay with it. Nora Roberts gave a talk once about perseverance and how the people with the most talent aren't always the ones who get published, because talent without tenacity gets you nowhere...

The "Nevah, nevah, nevah give up!!!" Churchill mentality.

Gotta love Churchill, Franklin, Yoda and other sages. And chocolate.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

How fun! I love reading more about Ruthy! I've been seeing pictures of the cutest puppies on FB and wonder how in the world can she be so busy with stuff AND write! Whew!

I sure could use some of your baking right now. Do you have any Weight Watcher friendly recipes?????

Nancy Kimball said...

Pepper, I try not to be jealous. Not so much of the Genesis double final, which is simply amazing, but that you've gotten to meet Ruthy in person. =) I really enjoyed the interview. It encourages me to just keep writing because yeah, I would quit if I could. Seriously.