Friday, January 18, 2008

Four Little Blessings by Merrillee Whren

I am excited to welcome Author Merrillee Whren to FAITH today.

Merrillee is a multi-award winning author. She is the winner of the 2006 Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Love Inspired of 2006 for her novel, AN UNEXPECTED BLESSING. This novel also won in the short contemporary category of the Published Maggie Contest sponsored by Georgia Romance Writers. Her book, LOVE WALKED IN, is the winner of the inspirational category of the 2007 Published Beacon Contest.

Merrillee, how long have you been writing? Please share your journey to publication.

I wrote my first novel when I was in high school, but it wasn’t until many years later that I thought about writing for publication. I always loved reading romances because I wanted a happy ending. I decided that I could write one, too. In 1984 I started writing long hand in a spiral notebook. Thankfully, I got a computer or I may never have finished. I submitted that manuscript, and it was rejected. That was the first of many rejections. It took me a little under a year to write that first book. I wrote eight books before I sold one. Those eight books are spread out over 20 years. I got my first sale in 2004. I know one thing: If you have a dream, keep at it. Don't give up.

After writing for so many years, I was wondering whether I should give up. Was God trying to tell me that I wasn't cut out for writing? That I should use my time in some other way? In 2003, I had entered the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Contest. I had entered this contest several times before and never came close to being a finalist. The thought kept going through my mind to lay a fleece before the Lord. "Lord, if you want me to continue writing, let me win the Golden Heart." In my mind that was a big request, and I have to admit I was afraid to pray that prayer because if I didn't win that meant God didn't want me to write. I wasn't sure I could give it up even though many times I became so discouraged that I wanted to give up. But I always came back to it. Even though I didn't pray that prayer, God knew what was in my heart. In 2003 I won the Golden Heart for best inspirational romance manuscript. A few months later I got that first sale. So persistence pays off. So anyone, whoever thinks of quitting, hang in there. Something good can happen.

Has your writing style and schedule changed in the years you've been writing?

I don't know that my writing style has changed. I hope I'm a better writer than when I made my first sale. I continue to learn about the craft of writing all the time. I don't keep a strict schedule. You can find me writing just about any time of the day or night. If I'm on a roll, I might stay up until 3 AM. I did that just recently. I don't make a habit of those kind of hours, but sometimes I just don't want to stop until I get to a certain word count, or in the case of this last late-night foray, get to the end of the book. I often do housework or run errands in the morning or early afternoon because my most productive writing time is in the afternoon and evening.

What book "on writing" do you recommend to other writers? One that may have helped you in your journey?

It is hard to recommend just one. When I first started writing, I read Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain. Another neat little book that's a quick read is 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing by Gary Provost. Another of my favorites is Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King. I also like Getting into Character by Brandilyn Collins. I have a shelf full of other books that I've used from time to time. Many of them are on plotting. I bought them before I realized it was okay to be a "pantser."

What books do you enjoy reading for enjoyment?

Romances are still my favorite read. There is nothing like a happy ending.

I understand you live near the beach. That must be heavenly! I think I would draw much encouragement from walking on the beach, taking my laptop (or notebook) and drawing inspiration from my surroundings. So, does that describe your day-to-day reality?

Although I live near the beach, I don't do actually writing there. The bright sun makes it very hard to see the screen, and there is the huge possibility of getting sand in the computer. However, when the weather is nice, I usually take an hour walk on the beach. While I walk, I plot. Since I'm a seat-of-the-pants writer, this means I'm probably thinking of the next scene or the next chapter, not a whole book. Characters and dialogue come alive in my head while I'm walking.

Tell us about your new release "Four Little Blessings."

Four Little Blessings is set on Amelia Island, and there are a lot of scenes on the beach. The back cover blurb does a great job telling about the story.

"The four little noisemakers who'd moved next door to Wade Dalton came with a bonus: their beautiful aunt. Raising the children herself due to some tough circumstances, Cassie Rankin impressed Wade with her selflessness and her beauty. But she was also at least a dozen years his junior--she was too young for him, wasn't she? Besides, Wade came with a secret that would only make life harder for Cassie and the children he'd come to adore, which meant keeping his distance. Something those four little blessings weren't about to let him do!"

I hope readers will love this story as much as I do.

I'm sure we will love Four Little Blessings. It's available in February. For our FAITH readers, you can follow this link and read an excerpt.

And as a thanks to all our readers who stopped by, we're running a contest! Just leave a comment and I'll draw the winner. As the winner, you'll receive TWO of Merrillee's books:


  1. I enjoyed this interview and testimony to God's faithfulness and perfect timing in our lives. This is a new author for me, so I'd love to be considered in the drawing for her books!


    kimfurd at hotmail dot com

  2. An Unexpected Blessing has gone down as one of my favorite books. I can't wait to read this next one. Sounds like I'll be up all night :-)

  3. Hey Christy and Merrillee, great interview! And after reading this, I'm sold -- I'd love to win one of Merrille's books! Put my name in the hat, PLEASE!!


  4. Hello,
    Kim, Mindy and Julie, I'm glad you stopped by to read my interview with Christy. As well as having a chance to win a book here, I hope you'll stop by my Web site at and check out the contest there.

  5. Hey Christy and Merrillee, great interview. please put my name in the contest for one of Merrille's books!Thank you. Your book called Four Little Blessings sound great. I read the excerpt .

  6. Merrillee,

    Thanks for visiting. What an inspiration. We appreciate you sharing your stories with us.
    Thank you!

  7. Great interview, Merrillee. Your determination to keep writing is an inspiration!

  8. Hi, Merrillee, it's so good to have you with us today!!

    Nice interview, ladies.


  9. Hi Merrilee, Great interview, especially the part where you finished 8 books before getting published. Sometimes it's very easy to be discouraged, especially in this business.

    Beth Szabo

  10. Thanks to all who've stopped by! I'm so glad you're enjoying the interview. Merrillee's an inspiration!

    I was in the audience at the Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award Dinner. When they announced the books running in the short contemporary category, I felt proud of the authors because here we are, Christian authors in a culture of writing who gives such high regard to things we don't agree with. So I'm sitting there, and even though I didn't know the authors, I felt as if we were kindred spirits.

    When AN UNEXPECTED BLESSING was called, I turned to my critique partner, and I may have even turned to Missy, too, and said: "I read that one! IT was really great!" And then Merrillee won! YAAAAY!

    There's still time to comment for the contest!
    Some lucky winner will get to enjoy happily ever after TWICE with TWO of Merrillee's books. I'll announce the winner Saturday!!!

  11. Hi Merrillee,

    Sounds like we have a lot of the same writing books.

    Happy sales!

    Maggie Toussaint
    romance danger mystery

  12. I've been working on a subject of Faith myself. Thank you for sharing the trial of faith with us. I was impressed with the thought that even though a fleece could have been prayed for, your heart told you to continue on the road you were on. That is the faith I'm talking about, what God put on your heart to follow unwaveringly. Please enter me in the drawing. Thank you.
    cepjwms at yahoo dot com

  13. Merrillee,

    Great interview! Your path to publication and following your dream inspires us all.

    Sherry Wolfe

  14. Hey Christy,
    Thanks for helping me relive the excitement of the Maggie win. That was something special and really unexpected. I had completely forgotten to write a speech. Then my roommate said something to me. I was in a bit of a panic then, but I dismissed the idea of needing a speech. But I did think to myself that I should at least consider what I would say if I won. It's a good thing I did.

    And thanks to all my FCRW chapter mates for stopping by with a comment. Thanks to everyone who left a comment and thanks to Christy and the FAITH gals for letting me be part of their blog.