Tell us a bit about you and your background.
Even though I’ve always loved writing, I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to make a living at it. So, I chose Public Relations as my career goal. But actually, I changed my major several times throughout college. Looking back, I think it was because I knew deep down that writing was my passion, I just didn’t really know where to start and I needed a degree that I could “do something” with.
After college, I worked as the PR and Marketing Manager for a small business, but it never fully satisfied me. I didn’t feel appreciated for the work I did, and the stress level was high. I left that job in search of an organization that would nurture, challenge, and appreciate me – all at the same time. Well, I found exactly that. I landed a job that wasn’t what I went to school for, but that gave me experience in a lot of different things, including writing. My bosses were amazing and we were all truly a family. I moved up the leadership ladder quickly and really loved going to work.
Still, something was missing. I had a three-year-old daughter at home when I discovered that my husband and I were expecting another baby. My heart was telling me to stay home with the children, but our financial situation was telling me it wasn’t possible. But I had to find a way. So, I started completing writing gigs on a content mill platform. It didn’t pay much, but it was the start of my freelance writing career.
You may be wondering what all of this has to do with my fiction work. Fiction writing is what I consider my calling, but it’s an incredibly difficult field to break into – and even more difficult to succeed in, as the competition is overwhelming. I had self-published Magnolia Lake while still working full-time, but never got offered a traditional publishing deal until I took a leap of faith and quit my job (isn’t that such a God thing?). And then I stumbled upon Prism Book Group, and the rest is history.
What are your hobbies away from the computer?
To be honest, my life tends to revolve around the computer lately. Between freelance writing, working on my newest story, and promoting Magnolia Lake, I get a LOT of screen time.
But when I do tear myself away, I love to play outside with the kids. My youngest got a trampoline from Santa Claus last year, and I get a kick out of jumping on it with her. It may just be fun for her, but it’s quite the workout for Mama! I’ve taught her the games my friends and I used to play on my trampoline as a child, and she loves it.
Other than that, I enjoy bargain shopping (I thrive on finding good deals!), date nights with my husband, movie and dinner dates with my best girlfriends, and reading – I’d read all day long if I could, preferably on a beach somewhere.
Is your writing style planned or freestyle?
I’d say it’s a mixture of both. I start with a general idea, sort of a feeling. It’s hard to explain, but I get this sense of what would make a good story – almost like a vision. It could be just one scene playing out in my head or a theme for an entire story, and I go from there.
I do like to plan out each character, though. Once I have a story idea, I literally write a description of at least the main characters – everything from personality to clothing style to job, even their flaws. I’ll let you in on a little secret, though. I actually didn’t do this right away with Magnolia Lake. But one day I read an article by an author about the importance of detailing your characters before you start writing. So even though I was halfway through Magnolia Lake, I went back and jotted down a few things about each of my important characters. And it has made a huge difference. It helped a lot during the editing stage. I would read something I had previously written and think, “Okay, Landon would never say that this way. Maybe he’d say it this way instead.”
But other than a general idea of how the story will go and the details about each character, I don’t do a lot of planning. Part of the joy of writing is seeing where each book takes me as it develops. Sometimes I end up with a completely different ending than I’d envisioned, or a new character makes its way onto the page.
I’ll say this, though. I tend to sporadically imagine very specific scenes. I guess you could say inspiration strikes at the most random moments. Whether it’s from a conversation I’m having with someone or something I just observe around me, I’ll get this entire scene playing out in my head. I’ve learned to carry a journal in my purse, because if I don’t write it down immediately, it’s gone.
What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?
Honestly, I was shocked at the sheer amount of editing involved – how many times my editor and I sent the manuscript back and forth! If you know me, you know that I pride myself on grammar and strive toward perfectionism in my writing. So it befuddled me that each time I read the manuscript, I found a new grammatical error or a sentence that didn’t flow well.
Before I self-published Magnolia Lake back in 2013, I personally edited it at least three times, and I had one of my sisters edit it too. I thought there was no way any problems would be found. Little did I know! And not just small issues, but also a rather big time-frame problem. That’s why I’d love for people who purchased the original, self-published version to check out the new one. It’s so much better!
Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?
Magnolia Lake is Young Adult Fiction, but my current work-in-progress is what I guess you’d call Contemporary Christian Fiction. While I enjoy writing for the YA audience, I’m focusing on a more mature audience for my next few projects. The main characters’ ages are mid to late twenties. The writing is still clean and appropriate enough for a teen to read, but will resonate more with adults who are possibly recently married, have graduated college and are starting their career journeys, or are new parents. I plan on doing more YA work in the future, though.
Popular and beautiful, Cora Stephens has it all – including the perfect football-star boyfriend – until one fateful afternoon. Facing heartache and betrayal, Cora turns to long-time friend, Landon, for comfort. While his love for her grows, she does everything in her power to avoid getting hurt again – including flinging herself into the arms of another boy.
Then, just as Cora’s shattered world starts putting itself back together, life throws something her way that’s more horrific than she ever could have imagined. Through the emotional and physical pain, she begins to lose hope and abandon her faith. Will this once light-hearted, happy prom queen find her way back home?
The name of a person who comments will be selected to win an ebook of Magnolia Lake.
As I backtracked through the parked vehicles, I heard footsteps again. Pausing, I looked around. Nobody was there. In fact, the entire parking lot seemed to lack a normal level of activity. There were plenty of cars, but there was not a single person walking around.
I shook my head to clear it, and started walking again—a little faster this time. Suddenly, I heard the sound again. Before I could turn around, something jabbed my back and a hand was over my mouth. I gasped and my whole body shook with fear. The smoothie I held slipped through my hand, splattering all over my shoes and jeans.
Suddenly, hot air blew in my ear at the same time I heard a deep voice say, “Don’t make a sound or I’ll push this knife through your back all the way into your heart.” The gloved hand tightened over my mouth. “Now walk,” the voice ordered.
My legs didn’t move. I was completely frozen with terror. My mind raced as I contemplated what to do next. I knew Kayla couldn’t see me. She was facing the opposite direction and there were too many cars between us. If I screamed I’d get stabbed, but it might give me a chance to wriggle free of this man’s hold. I vaguely recalled a special on TV that said most attackers would back off if you screamed, no matter what they said. I tried to open my mouth, but the assailant’s hold strengthened so that I couldn’t even part my lips. My heart rate accelerated and I couldn’t breathe. I was having a panic attack.
“I said move!” The stranger pushed me so hard I almost lost my balance, but then my legs finally seemed to work. I walked as he directed. We went straight for a minute, then he turned me to the right. After what felt like a thousand years, we were standing in front of a white, windowless work van. It was parked between a big jacked-up truck and a huge SUV. Nobody could see what was going on, if there was even anyone in the parking lot.
The side door opened and I stared into the face of another stranger. At least, I assumed he was a stranger. He wore a ski mask to hide his identity.
The first man shoved me into the van. There were no seats aside from the two in the front, so I fell backward and hit my head on something metal. I cringed and lay frozen for a minute. Then I saw what might be my only chance.
The first man stood in front of me, laughing. The second man leaned against the opposite side of the van, sitting cross-legged and messing with a cell phone.
I took a deep breath and kicked with all my strength, barely missing my attacker’s groin. He doubled over and I scrambled to my hands and knees. My heart raced as I struggled to get out of the van. Just as I had one foot out, the second man grabbed my other foot, dragging me back.
Since I’d been half standing, the force of his pull caused me to thud against the van floor again, this time on my stomach. Then he grabbed my waist and flung me against the van wall next to him.
Tears sprung to my eyes as the first attacker, also wearing a ski mask, climbed into the van and slammed the door. I could only see his eyes, and they were staring at me with nothing but pure evil. Then I saw him lift something round—a paperweight maybe? I couldn’t tell exactly what the object was, but I tried to back away as I realized what he intended to do with it. I closed my eyes, praying the blow would be quick.
Born and raised in a small Georgia town, Emily Paige Skeen takes from her own life experiences to create real, relatable characters for her novels. She loves to intertwine small-town charm with deep emotion and intrigue, creating stories that inspire readers.
When she’s not writing or chasing after her two youngsters – both under the age of five – you can find Emily reading, soaking up the sun whenever possible, or shopping. She, her husband, and their kids make their home in a tiny little town an hour south of Atlanta, on a five-acre plot of land right off a bumpy red-dirt road. Emily loves to sit and listen as the ever-present crickets and frogs perform their harmonious concerts in the still, quiet evening hours.
Writing has always been Emily’s passion, ever since she crafted her first sloppily hand-written story plastered over spiral notebook paper at the emotionally-charged age of thirteen. Now, she strives to encourage and inspire girls and young women with her writing. She believes that with a little bit of faith and a whole lot of love, anything’s possible.
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