Friday, November 18, 2011

Interview with Sherri Fulmer Moorer

My guest this week is multi-genre author Sherri Fulmer Moorer. Welcome, Sherri! Please tell us something about yourself.

By day, I work as a program assistant in professional licensing. By night, I write. I started out as a Christian writer and published my first book, Battleground Earth – Living by Faith in a Pagan World in 2004. I switched to writing fiction and published my first fiction novel, Blurry, through Wings ePress in August 2011. My second fiction novel, Anywhere But Here, will be published through Whiskey Creek Press in April 2012.

1) What kinds of books do you like to read?

I like science fiction, mysteries, and some fantasy. I recently started reading detective novels and I enjoy those as well.

2) Who are your favorite authors, past and present?

J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis are my favorites. They had a unique perspective on life and the world and were able to capture it so well in their writing. I also like R.A. Salvatore, P.D. James, Ben Bova and the young adult writers Christopher Paolini and Christopher Pike.

3) Are there any authors who have inspired you to write and, if so, who are they?

I’ve always enjoyed writing and dreamed of being published, but I have to admit to being inspired by my favorites. I’ve also started to read works by other independent authors, and that encourages me to keep writing. Every time I read a book that I enjoy, I have the hope that perhaps one of the stories I create will inspire others.

4) How do you choose your characters’ names?

I won’t lie – names give me a fit. I’ve utilized some old family names in my writing. For example, the protagonist in Blurry is named Rachel Shull. I’ve always liked the name Rachel and Shull is an old family name. Since I work in professional licensing, I see a lot of names on applications and try to note ones that I particularly like so I can mix and match them for my characters.

5) Do you plan your novel from beginning to end either in your head or by outline or jotting down notes? Or, do you go with the flow and let the characters dictate their journey?

I go with the flow. I’ve tried outlining and the outline is usually blown by the time I get a few chapters in because something develops that throws everything else out of wack. I do usually know how I want to start and end the novel, but I try to keep the middle flexible because something usually jumps out that makes the plot develop in ways that I didn’t expect. I like those surprises and usually run with them.

6) What kind of writing schedule do you have?

I do most of my writing in the evenings. I’m not a morning person and getting to work on time in the mornings is enough of a challenge, so all that advice to get up a few hours early and write just won’t work for me. I find I’m more creative when my routine tasks for the day are done anyway, and I don’t have to worry about a “to do” list or getting somewhere on time.

7) How do you choose your titles? Do you have a title in mind before you start writing or does something occur after you have begun to write or after you have finished?

I usually wait until I’m at least halfway through my rough draft to put a title on a novel. I like to see how it’s developing and if there’s any concept that seems to keep showing itself that will lend to a title. For example, I picked the title for Blurry based on a conversation the protagonist was having with her boyfriend about how tragedy had made a crystal clear life blurry. That quote hit me as so powerful because it really summed up the entire theme for the book.

8) Do you base your characters on real people or are they completely from your imagination?

I’d say it’s a mixture of both. I think they do need to be based on real people to make them believable, but you have to use your imagination to fill them out to fit the plot you create.

9) Have you used real life experiences in your novel or is everything from your imagination?

Again, it’s a mixture of both. Blurry is entirely imagination. My next novel, Anywhere But Here, is backed by experience. That novel is about a young woman who becomes depressed when her life is sidetracked by reality. I have personally known many people who struggle with depression, and I have to humbly admit that some of the dirty office politics in that novel are based on things I’ve seen over nearly 13 years of working in an office.

10) When did you realize that you wanted to write novels?

I always wanted to be a writer, but I think I realized that I really wanted to be a novelist in 2008 when I got the idea for Blurry and started writing the first draft. I enjoyed writing that novel so much more than any of the inspirational writing I did, and it occurred to me that it was probably because I really was a novelist at heart. I still do occasional inspiration pieces – in fact, I’m wrapping up a blog series on my website on being authentic and finding your purpose in life – but by and large, I spend most of my time on fiction.

11) What genres do you write?

Blurry is a young adult mystery novel. Quarantine is a suspense novelette. My upcoming book, Anywhere But Here, is an adult supernatural suspense novel. Battleground Earth - Living by Faith in a Pagan World is Christian Self-help.

12) Where can readers find your book(s)? is probably the best place to find a comprehensive list of my books. I have an author profile there at . You can also find links to my books at my website at .

Thank you very much, Sherri. It's been a pleasure having you here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My Earliest Thanksgiving Memory

The first five years of my life were spent on a farm in east central Oklahoma. We didn’t have electricity, gas or running water. There was a cistern near the house where my parents drew water. As a child, I was afraid of that cistern and kept away from it. But my fear of the cistern has nothing to do with this story.

One day in November when I was about four years old, I heard my father tell my Mother that she would have to cook the Thanksgiving turkey because my grandfather was sick and my grandmother wouldn’t have time to cook the Thanksgiving meal and take care for him.

Apparently my mother was astounded. Cook a turkey on a Franklin stove? A wood-burning stove that was loaded from the top? She had never cooked a turkey before in her life.

“But it will take more than a day to cook a turkey on that stove,” I overheard her say.

“Yes, I know. I’ll get it in plenty of time,” said my father.

My mother must have been twenty-eight years old at that time. The drafty farmhouse was quite different from the city home she had grown up in. Before her marriage five years earlier in 1939, her family always had electricity, gas, running water and indoor plumbing. But here she was in rural Oklahoma in a house without any of those amenities. But as I look back, I realize she must have adapted quite well. She had learned to cook not only on the Franklin stove but on a kerosene stove as well. We had a coal-burning stove in the living room. Kerosene lamps provided light. Water was drawn from the cistern. But what my mother missed the most was indoor plumbing. The outhouse, set a short distance from the house, was a nuisance to say the least, especially in cold weather.

Several days before Thanksgiving, my father brought home the turkey and killed it. He hung it upside down in the shed so that the blood would drain out.

Before going out to the shed, Mother told my three-year-old brother Mike and me to wait for her in the house. She thought that seeing a headless turkey dripping blood might scare us.

Although I didn’t witness what happened next, I have heard the story told many times. She opened the shed door and stood in front of the turkey. It looked enormous and she wondered how she could possibly cook the thing. Suddenly, she turned and saw little blonde-haired Mike staring upwards at the turkey, his mouth open in wonder and awe.

“Mike, I told you not to come out here,” she scolded gently. She led him back to the house and told him to play with me. She could only wonder what little Mike thought when he saw that turkey. This was apparently one of my brother Mike’s first memories of the farm and I’ve heard him tell the story many times. Staring at that turkey left an indelible impression on him.

Mother gave herself three days to cook that turkey. After the turkey had been plucked and cleaned she placed it in the roasting pan. She went to the cistern and drew up some water, which she poured into the pan. She loaded the wood into the Franklin stove and lit it. Lighting a fire was her least favorite chore. It absolutely terrified her. In order to start it she poured kerosene on the wood, stood back, lit a match and threw it on the kerosene. It was a miracle that the house never caught on fire! When the fire was hot enough, she set the pan on top of the stove. And so it went for three days, lifting that pan off the stove, adding more wood to it and adding more water to the pan.

Most of my father’s family were coming and luckily my grandmother and aunts were bringing the side dishes. Because my grandmother, a sweet, mild mannered lady, had her hands full caring for my grandfather, she was only going to bake a cake that year. No one could bake a layered cake as well as my grandmother. My aunts would bring the vegetable dishes. Two of my uncles were away in the war. My father, then thirty-eight-years old, had been too old to be drafted when World War II started.

Mother’s next problem was finding enough seating for all the guests. Our family didn’t have very much furniture. My mother’s pride and joy was the baby grand piano that she had brought with her when she married. She decided that she and I could sit on the piano bench to eat and Mike could sit on a wooden orange crate. I don’t remember but I guess everyone else sat on chairs.

Thanksgiving turned out to be a cold, gray day but all of the anticipated guests arrived including our two older cousins who lived up the road on a nearby farm. The table was set and ready for the turkey that had cooked for three days. Mother was a little apprehensive. What if it had not cooked enough? There was nothing worse on Thanksgiving than an undercooked turkey.

Everyone gathered around the table and someone said a blessing. Then my father carefully removed the turkey from the pan and placed it on the serving platter. There was no need for him to carve that turkey. It was so tender and juicy that the meat literally fell off the bones.

Mother sighed with relief as she received accolades for a turkey cooked to perfection on a wood-burning stove.