Today, Sarah's interviewing multi-published author Rita Hestand. Please welcome Rita!
Please give us your website addy, a list of your books and a short bio.
Short bio: Rita Hestand hails from Texas and has finally given into her lifelong dream of writing historical romance, although she's done many contemporaries too. She feels that love is something that should be spread around the world and what better thing to write about than falling in love. Rita has two daughters, eight grandkids and a great grandbaby. She devotes her time mainly to writing, but also to sharing time with her grandkids and her few hobbies, like bowling, roller skating, kid parties and watching people and nature come together.
Books: Contemporaries: Nick's Baby, Pretend Mom, Heart of the Wild, Runaway Bride, Wandering Heart, Suspicions of the Heart, Strictly Business, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, Courting Abby, Hannah's Man, Along Came Love, coming soon, Sweeter Than Wine.
Historical books: Beyond the Dream Catcher, Jodi's Journey, coming soon, Love Rules, Always Remember, and Better Off Without Her.
Children's books: Willy series, seven books in all, Willy and the Spider, Tick or Teet, Maebelle's Hat, Poor Mo, Willy's Valentine, Other's Day, Out Foxing Socks, and a non series, Jojo the One Eyed Puppy.
Short Stories: The Far Side of Lonesome, Halloween Witness, Fast Forward Love, Tina's Revenge, Lie on a Yardstick, Ben's Sacrifice, The Red Jacket, and Fair Trade
Some poetry: Where Our Heroes Ashes Lay, Ode to a Mockingbird, I Remember Grandma
How do you usually come up with a story idea? Dreams? Writer’s journal? Eavesdropping on conversations? Newpaper?
The short story "The Red Jacket" came through a dream after my daughter suffered cancer.
Chief Cook and Bottle Washer came strictly through prayer. Nick's Baby came from an old movie idea, that I thought I could improve upon.
Sometimes a person I never met will catch my eye and inspire me to change them into my character.
What is your process from idea to first draft?
Woe…me? Okay, it starts out like a movie, I seem to know the characters right away. They play around in my head for a while, until I get something solid to plot with, scene with, and then I begin to put it on paper. But not till I can act it out in my head and it makes sense to me. Sometimes I let the characters argue out whether they will or will not have sex, and the ending is sometimes traumatic for me. One I don't want it to end, two, it then becomes difficult unless I have all the ends tied up in my head. And then when it is beautiful I end it and try to totally satisfy the readers mind just how good things are. I want the reader totally satisfied with how it ends.
Who or what inspires you when your creative mojo is lagging?
God, nature, and people. In that order.
Who is your Yoda—your seasoned mentor?
My father inspired me with his own brand of storytelling. But, I don't have one now, unless you count God. When I'm stuck, I ask him for help. Just my way of doing things. So sue me…LOL
What importance do you place on writing workshops? What workshops would you recommend to us?
RWA chapters put out great workshops, conventions have good ones. Sometimes you can catch one on line that is well worth your time, sponsored by a club or a chapter. But if money is limited pick one ethat you need to work on and go with a experienced writer that you admire.
Do you belong to a writer’s association such as RWA? If so, in what ways do you feel this membership has helped you in your career?
I did belong to RWA and it does a lot for a newbie writer, let me tell you. There is so much to learn in this business, and you have to learn it if you want to succeed. Join it if you are green behind the ears and need some help. The members can be fantastic. EPIC is good although you don't get as much one on one because it is mostly on line.
When you reach a point of frustration with your WIP, what do you do to get back in harmony with your writing?
Sometimes you are too close to the situation and need to step back, so take a break. Spend the day with your kids, or friends. Forget about work, and just relax. Get your mind off of it for a while. Enjoy nature, go see a movie, anything but worry about that book.
What person would you like to thank for inspiring you in your writing aspirations? How did this person help you?
My dad, the one that adopted me and told all those fantastic stories. People came for miles to hear his stories, and when he died, they came to his funeral to retell them.
Have you ever used songs for inspiration?
Oh yeah, the fifties and sixties were full of wonderful songs for inspiration. "Tell Laura I love Her", "Only the Lonely", "He stopped Loving Her Today". I often listen to soundtracks of movies to inspire me, like Last of the Mohicans, Shenandoah, and many more.
Do you play music when you write? If so, what kind? Or, do you have to have silence or background noise to set your writing muse free?
I never have to have silence, in fact I've written with babies on my knees when I was writing. I like noise, but I am nearly deaf so that could be why. I love listening to music most of the time but sometimes it is a tense moment and I need to concentrate, then I like silence, that isn't hard to find being nearly deaf though.
Do you read in a different genre than you write? If yes, why? If you read in the same genre that you write, do you feel that it influences your writing in any way?
I've always liked the westerns, and romance, and biographies. Never wrote a bio, but love to read about people. The west is complete heaven for me, as is romance. There is so much romance in a western, the scenery, the man, the situation.
Have you ever given assistance to a struggling new writer? Has another writer ever come to your aide? How?
Cathy Spangler came to my aid as a writer from RWA. She was so helpful and so encouraging. I love her. I have often tried to help others with writing problems or with lack of confidence. Being a writer is a lonely job and helping another is reward in itself.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?
Gosh, as far as my writing goes, a short story I wrote, The Far Side of Lonesome, Better Off Without Her was so intense and such an accomplishment to finish, grueling story. But being a grandmother in my personal life is a good one. It is my biggest accomplishment.
If you won the big lottery, what would you do with the money? Would give any of it to charity? If so, which one?
Naturally I'd take care of my family first, and myself, as I am older and looking at my times to come, pay the IRS and then give to places like St. Jude's Children Hospital. I would also like to help fund places that send out heaters for elders in winter, and air-conditioners in the summer, and Meals on Wheels. And above all else, I'd give to my church.
What is the best advice you want to give to a new writer?
Stick with it, that's what makes you a real writer, finish it. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't write. No matter who they are. You can learn to write. It might take a while, but if that is your real life's dream then don't give it up. Go for it. And keep going until you get there.
If you could choose an animal for a mascot, what animal would it be? What do you admire about this animal? Do you feel you have qualities similar to this animal? If so, what are they?
I'm not an animal person per se, but I think they belong in nature, running, playing, being a part of nature itself. I like dogs(although some scare me), turtles, frogs, fish. These are my favorite. I had gold fish once that I swear would come up to greet me when I came close to the tank. Loved them. And no…I don't feel I am like many animals. Where I live so many people are killing the squirrels I hate that, and coons and possums, it is so sad. If I was an animal I would be a meek one. Probably like the skunk, don't want to hurt anyone, but leave me alone….
If money, education and fear factors were set aside, what three careers would you like to attempt other than writing?
The three things I wanted to be when I was a kid, an actress, a singer, or a lawyer.
If money, talent and fear were no object, what big adventure would you like to have?
Now that is a hard one. I'd like to go to Australia and see the country up close, the animals, the scenery, be in the bush so to speak, with a guide that knew how to keep me out of trouble. I'd like to sing for a big audience. I'd like to help someone innocent stay out of jail.
What are three things on your bucket list you want to do before you die?
Hmmm…well. I'd like to meet Jimmy Thomas in person and thank him for his help. I'd like to see America again, saw it when I was a kid, and didn't appreciate it as I should have. Help someone out that really needed it, really help them change their lives, and I could see that I actually helped them.
What characteristics do you like to instill in your heroes?
Loyalty, faithfulness, a sense of honor. John Wayne built a career teaching us what a man ought to stand for, I try to mimic that with my heroes.
What characteristics do you feel are necessary for a good heroine?
I like a sweet woman who will stand up for herself in a pinch. A woman with her own set of principles. Honesty, and loyalty are important in both characters.
If you had the power to change two things in the world, what would those two things be?
Replace the politicians with blue collar workers with a head on their shoulders.
Eliminate the press and beauty contests. That's three, sorry…..
What historic figure do you admire most? Why?
William Wallace, he fought the odds. Davy Crockett, he was such a character, Abe Lincoln, he O'Henry, he knew how to tell a story, whether it was funny or sad, it was always great, examples Gift of the Magi, Ransom of Red Chief
What is your next writing project? What is it about (got a blurb)? What is your inspiration?
I have a female series I'm delving into, it's a contemporary cowboy kind of story, four sisters come home when their father dies and all must live by the stipulation of the will if they want to be supported by his millions throughout the rest of their life. His condition….live at home on the ranch for a year. Of which none want to do save one. All different girls, with different ideas about where they are going.
For this it was the fact that my Travers brothers series did so well and seemed to be what readers wanted. So I thought, why not start a female version of the same thing.
If you could choose a flower that represents you, what flower would it be? What about this flower do you feel exemplifies you?
I'm more of a daisy, plain but sweet. I don't stand out in a crowd, I'm not perfect, but I am one of a kind, cause God made me that way.
If could have a super power for a day, what would it be? Why?
I'd like to be able to persuade people to some of my ideas. Like peace, if I could impress it's importance and make people understand that getting along could be accomplished I'd feel ten feet tall. If I could persuade people to love God, I would. If I could persuade people to buy my books, I would. If I could persuade people to love instead of hate, I would. Power of persuasion would be awesome. If you could persuade people to help…for no other reason but helping, I would.