BLOGWORDS – Thursday 19 January 2017 – CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – DANELE ROTHARMEL
CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – DANELE ROTHARMEL
“I pulled my hand back with the dragonfly clinging to my finger, and I remembered my prayer from the day before. A wave of overwhelming gratitude washed over me. This was the sign I had prayed for–the sign I so desperately needed.”
““Lord, if you really sent this dragonfly to tell me that you love me and that everything’s going to be okay, you can let it go now.” Immediately, the dragonfly flew off my finger and zipped over the roof of the house.”
I’d like to give a big welcome to DANELE ROTHARMEL to my blog. Danele Rotharmel’s life took an unexpected turn when a mysterious illness brought her close to death. Eventually, she learned that a carbon monoxide leak from a faulty furnace was poisoning her. This poisoning triggered Multiple Chemical Sensitivity causing her to be put in quarantine. For seven years, she could only talk to friends and extended family through a windowpane. During this time, she wrote the first six books in The Time Counselor Chronicles. Although her journey back to health was difficult, it provided her the opportunity to grow closer to God and write her books. For that, she’s forever thankful.
rem: Danele, thank you for joining me today. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
DANELE: Hello, Robin! It’s great being here! I was born and raised in Colorado, and I still live along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. I really love Colorado, and I can’t envision living anywhere else.
rem: Oh! I love Colorado, too! Lived there for 16 years before coming to SC. Tell us three things about yourself.
#1. I’m a HUGE klutz, and the scene in Time Search in which Crystal falls and gets her hair trapped beneath a closing door actually happened to me.
#2. On a missions trip to Uruguay, I stood too close to a space heater and melted a big hole in my skirt—I’m lucky I didn’t catch on fire.
#3. In Mexico, I accidently sat down on an anthill, and ended up with ants in my pants. I didn’t discover the little creatures until I was sitting in the church van traveling down the highway.
rem: Danele, these have to be the funniest three things in all the interviews I’ve done! No wonder I love you so much! What’s the most random thing in your bag or on your desk?
DANELE: I have a tiny, stone owl on my desk that belonged to my great-great grandfather. It’s so old that part of the carving has been worn smooth. It fits in my palm, and whenever I feel overwhelmed by life, I rub my thumb over the worn carvings and take a deep breath. The owl reminds me to seize each day, to stop worrying obsessively, and to enjoy every moment—after all, life is fleeting.
rem: That is so lovely. What a special token to have. What’s your all-time favorite movie? Favorite TV show?
DANELE: I love old movies, especially The Swan with Grace Kelly. The Swan is extremely sentimental, and it’s positively dripping with romance. It’s so syrupy-sweet that it has me yelling “cheese,” but I have to admit that it is a guilty pleasure. I’m still not sure if I like the ending—maybe that’s why it’s made such a deep impression on me. I enjoy The Swan so much that I’ve mentioned it in my latest book, Time Search.
rem: Would you bungee ?
DANELE: Are you kidding??? With my klutzy tendencies I’d never survive! I’d love to be daring enough to try, but I’ve learned my limitations—at least, most of them. It’s far safer for me—and everyone else—if I keep my feet firmly planted on the ground.
rem: It’s a good thing to know our limitations. What is the first thing you notice about people?
DANELE: Their smile. I love walking around town smiling at people and seeing who will smile back.
rem: We surely do need to hang out sometime—and walk about town smiling. J Favorite season? Why?
DANELE: Autumn is my favorite season because I love skipping through crunchy, crackly leaves. Can I tell you a secret? In some ways, I’ve never grown up, and autumn tends to bring out the kid in me. Even though I can’t resist shuffling through piles of leaves, I have given up rolling in them. I’d like to say that my leaf-rolling days are over because I’m mature and sophisticated, but actually, the last time I rolled in the leaves I ended up with a cricket down my collar. Crickets tend to put a damper on things rather quickly, in my opinion.
rem: I love crunching things as I walk, too. And I once had a cricket up my pant leg! :-O Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?
DANELE: My favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” I love this verse because it reminds me that God has everything under control.
rem: I used to think this verse meant I was supposed to do all things. Father showed me not so long ago that’s not true. Rather, He means that what He asks us to do, we are well able. What do you think is significant about Christian fiction? How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?
DANELE: The best thing about Christian fiction is the ministry aspect. When I began writing, I made a deliberate choice to honor God with my books. I pray over my novels, and I pray for my readers. Being a Christian author has brought me closer to Christ because it compels me to put Him first in every sentence that I write.
rem: When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?
DANELE: I can’t stand it when a story has filthy scenes. To me, it’s like biting into an apple and finding a worm. I love good, clean books that are full of suspense and fun.
rem: Yes. It is possible to write about what takes place without taking it too far. Which is more important: plot or characters?
DANELE: I believe that both are very important, but if a story doesn’t have loveable characters, I think it falls flat. When I read a book, I picture the characters as my friends, and I live the story with them. If I don’t like the characters, I won’t finish the book.
rem: Oh yes! I’ve actually wanted to call after I finish a book and see what’s up before! LOL What would you do if you weren’t writing?
DANELE: Probably, I’d be going a little crazy. Writing is my outlet. It’s a way for me to shrug off the worries of the day and immerse myself in my own little universe. I can’t imagine my life without writing—I wouldn’t want to even try.
rem: What are you reading right now?
DANELE: Right now, I’m reading Embracing the Baobab by Reverend Jerry Ireland. It’s a true story about Reverend Ireland’s time as a missionary in Africa. Some of the chapters make me laugh, and others make me think. I really enjoy his writing.
rem: Sounds fascinating. What do you munch on while you write?
DANELE: Gracious, Robin! I’d love to say that I munch on carrot sticks, but I’m afraid that’s not true. If I’m going to be honest, I have to admit that I munch on Doritos, cookies, and chocolate …and that’s probably why I desperately need to go on a diet. I keep trying to muster up enthusiasm about carrot sticks, but I can’t manage it. If someone could make a carrot taste like a Dorito, they’d make a million bucks and win my everlasting gratitude!
rem: I don’t think anybody is truly enthusiastic about carrot sticks! Danele, you have an unusual testimony. Tell us about being quarantined and how that happened.
DANELE: Many years ago, I became extremely ill and almost died. For a long time, my doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong, but eventually, I learned that the furnace in my home had a small carbon monoxide leak. This leak had been slowly poisoning me. I didn’t have a carbon monoxide monitor, and the gas can’t be seen or smelled. The initial symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning mimic the flu, but eventually, they escalate into stuttering, staggering, vomiting, fainting, and death. I thought that once the furnace was replaced I would get better, but unfortunately, the poisoning had triggered Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. That meant I became extremely ill when exposed to perfume, car exhaust, cleansers, and the other chemicals that surround our modern-day society. My illness escalated until I was quarantined in my home to keep me away from chemicals. I thought my quarantine would only last a few months—it ended up lasting for seven years.
rem: Seven years! Danele, that’s horrific! I’m so glad you’re okay. ❤ And what is the significance of the dragonfly?
DANELE: During quarantine, I questioned every aspect of my faith because I felt abandoned by God. I had lots of time on my hands, so I would think about my questions until I felt I had answers. Eventually, after time passed, I decided that God is real, God is good, God is intimately concerned with every aspect of my life, Jesus must be kept in the center of my faith, and God is trustworthy in spite of tragedy. Even though I had reconciled my faith, I still had times when I felt discouraged. The thing that kept me going was looking into the eye of a dragonfly. During a very difficult day, I asked God to make a dragonfly land on my finger. I felt the dragonfly would signify that God loved me and that everything would be okay. Through a wonderful chain of events, God answered my prayer. The dragonfly God sent didn’t just sit on my finger for a second; it stayed there for several minutes. The dragonfly incident was one of the most beautiful and defining moments of my life, and it’s why I named my blog, dragonflydanele. If you would like to read the whole story, please feel free to follow this link:
rem: Love how the simple things of God have the greatest significance in our faith. Tell us a little about your writing journey.
DANELE: During my seven years of quarantine, I began writing as an escape from physical pain and loneliness. Since I couldn’t go out into the “real” world, I created a world of my own. On days when the pain was especially bad, I devised plot twists to keep my mind from dwelling on my illness. When I was sad, I wrote funny scenes to cheer me up. And each time my villain was defeated by one of my characters, I used it as a boost to continue fighting my illness. By the time quarantine was over, I had written the first six books in The Time Counselor Chronicles. Time Tsunami, the first book in the series, was published by Prism Book Group in January 2016. Time Trap, the second book, was published by Prism in June 2016. And Time Search, the third book, was published on January 13, 2017.
rem: That’s what I call making the best of a tough situation. Kinda like Romans 8:28, ya know??? What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?
DANELE: When I was in quarantine, I would write for up to 18 hours a day. I was so engrossed in my stories that I would sometimes forget to eat and sleep. Now that I’m feeling better, I write more moderately. Because I still have some problems with perfume, I write at home. My computer has received so much use that some of the letters on my keyboard are worn off. I’m grateful that my high school typing teacher instructed me so well. I’d have no idea where the “D,” “C,” “L,” and “N” keys were located if it hadn’t been for him. I can still remember my typing teacher pounding into my brain that “the quick brown fox jumped over the garden gate.”
rem: I honestly don’t remember typing class but obviously I took it ‘cause I, too, type by touch—and write many scenes with my eyes closed! What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?
DANELE: Because of my illness, and because I spent so much time in front of the computer during quarantine, I have hurt my vision. Last year, I was in danger of emergency eye surgery. Because my eyes are a problem, I’ve had to reduce the hours I spend in front of the computer. I’ve found that if I spend too many hours writing, I have trouble seeing the next day.
rem: If I may, I’d suggest it boosts creativity, too, to be away from the computer—but that’s just me… Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?
DANELE: Creating is like flying! It’s exhilarating, freeing, and exciting! Editing is like putting together a treadmill with an instruction manual in one hand and a screwdriver in the other… But both processes cause equal satisfaction when they’re finished.
rem: Love this analogy! Except that I edit as I go… What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
DANELE: I enjoy hearing from my readers. Hearing that my books have touched people’s lives makes everything worth it.
rem: It does indeed. What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
DANELE: I’ve always been an extremely organized person, and my illness threw my organizational tendencies into overdrive. Because I couldn’t control many things about my life during quarantine, I tended to obsessively control the things that I could. During the publication process, an author doesn’t always have control. When other people get involved, manuscripts can be changed, favorite lines can be deleted, and deadlines can be altered. I’ve learned that since worrying about every little detail drives me crazy, it’s important to look at the big picture—and the big picture is a published work that makes me proud. Having other people manipulate your work and schedule is difficult, but most of the time it makes the final product better in the end. The nicest thing about the publishing process is the extra sets of eyes reviewing your work. I’m so relieved when some of the mistakes in my manuscripts are caught. Without my editors, Alex would’ve seen lightening, Nicole’s eyes would’ve sparkled with laugher, and Marc would have complemented Crystal. Sometimes, editors need a big hug.
rem: And I do love my editor! What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would you recommend not doing?
DANELE: I would recommend doing the following things:
#1. Write what makes you happy. Don’t try to change your style to please someone else.
#2. Love your characters and give them realistic flaws and strengths.
#3. Step back and listen carefully to other people’s opinions about your work—then prayerfully decide if their suggestions have merit or should be rejected. Remember that just because someone says “jump,” you don’t have to always say “how high.”
(rem: this kind of goes along with the above-mentioned Bible verse—I can do all things but I don’t have to.)
I would recommend avoiding the following things:
#1. Avoid wearing your feelings on your shoulder—not everyone will like your writing, and that’s okay. Remember that some people don’t like chocolate.
#2. Avoid writing anything that you’d feel embarrassed to read to Jesus.
#3. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Worrying about every detail will give you an ulcer, and usually, things manage to work out regardless of whether you pace back and forth or whether you relax. Give yourself permission to breathe.
rem: Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?
DANELE: My greatest ideas have come while I’m laying down, “taking a nap.” I let my mind wander, and I picture my upcoming scenes as part of a movie. I imagine the action unfolding before my closed eyes. Many times, I hammer out my dialogue during naptime before I ever touch my keyboard. Other times, I simply let the creative process carry me away, and I’m not sure what I’m going to type until I see it popping up on my screen.
rem: I hear ya, Danele! I’m a complete Pantzer! How do you choose your characters’ names?
DANELE: I chose Gil’s name because I wanted something outlandish and Gillyflower Meadowlark fit the bill. Some of my other characters’ names haven’t been quite as easy to choose. Originally, Crystal was named Sophie. I changed her name when my mother quirked her brow and said Sophie Stuart sounded like “Soppy soapy.” Because I liked Crystal, I decided to name her after something beautiful. Originally, Nicole Cunning was named Gail. I changed her name when I was editing Time Trap because I felt confused during the scene in which Gail and Gil were talking to each other. I figured if I was having trouble keeping them straight, my readers would be pulling out their hair. I ended up writing a list of names and letting my family and friends choose. They decided on Nicole. As you can see, my naming process isn’t really a process at all—sometimes, it’s a matter of trial and error.
rem: I realized in my last story I had three dudes names Hugh. None were significant part, which really was all the more reason to differentiate. Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?
DANELE: Not really. I know how my story will end, but I let my characters determine how they get there. The creation of Sam in Time Tsunami came about because Danny ran next door to his neighbor’s house. Before that, Sam wasn’t in the picture at all. The creation of Poppa and Twinkles came about because Peter said the line, “Gil requires more help than you can give. We need the Facilitator.” After I wrote that line, I sat staring blankly at my computer screen wondering who the Facilitator was and why he was needed. I write to entertain myself, and half of the fun is seeing where my stories take me. It can be a wild ride.
rem: I think I’ve said that before, not in those exact words, but yeah, I’ve said that before! Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?
DANELE: My latest book, Time Search, is the third book in my series. It continues the adventures of the TEMCO crew. Since the leaders of TEMCO have been put into hiding, it’s up to Crystal, Marc, and Zeke to discover the reason behind Drake’s recent attacks on the staff. While Drake is trying to dodge federal agents and track down TEMCO’s missing leaders, the remaining staff try to discover his real name and unravel the mystery of his past. I designed Time Search to be full of suspense, and I hope my readers will enjoy it! Currently, I’m polishing up the fourth book in my series, Time Awakening.
rem: What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?
DANELE: My favorite part of Time Search is the interaction between Marc and Crystal. I love their complicated relationship. I also love watching them grow individually and as a couple. If you enjoy a suspenseful book that’s full of memorable characters, I believe that Time Search is the book for you.
rem: You heard her, peeps, go get you a copy!
Tell us about why you wrote this book.
DANELE: I wrote Time Search during the middle of my seven-year stretch of quarantine. I loved my characters from Time Tsunami and Time Trap, and I couldn’t give them up. I was eager to write them another adventure. I was also suffering from a severe case of cabin fever—that’s the main reason Angelina travels through Europe. Writing Time Search gave me the ability to travel without leaving my house.
rem: I wonder how many characters across the ages do things their creators can’t but want to??? Please give us the first page of the book.
Heavy metal music blared through paper-thin walls. Knowing the noise from the apartment next door was drowning out his actions, Drake yanked open the door to Phoebe’s curio cabinet. With an irritated flick of his finger, he sent her porcelain figurines crashing to the floor. He paused at a white rabbit. He remembered Phoebe’s excitement when she’d bought it. She’d babbled on about it being the good luck charm for their field exam. Eyes narrowing, he threw the rabbit to the floor and ground it beneath his heel.
Bass boomed. A guitar solo shrieked. The music was so loud the pictures on the wall were vibrating. Kicking at stuffing from shredded couch cushions, Drake went to Phoebe’s kitchen and broke every dish he could find. He moved to her refrigerator, dumping food into a revolting, multicolored mess on the floor.
After emptying her freezer, he ground his teeth and clenched his fists. There had to be a clue to Phoebe’s location in her apartment. He just had to find it. Frustration mounted as he stomped to her bedroom, tearing posters from the walls as he went. In a matter of minutes, he’d torn her pristine bedroom to shreds, scattering feathers from pillows and tossing the contents of her dresser onto the slashed mattress. When it became apparent that he wasn’t going to find a clue to her location, he turned to pure vandalism—crushing and ripping anything that wasn’t ruined in the first sweep.
When he tired of destruction, he went back to the living room. His steel-toed boots crunched glassy shards as he stole to the window and peeked through the blinds. He rolled his eyes. The black SUV was still parked across the street.
“Morons.” he muttered.
He backed away from the window with a sneer. Andrew Hamilton’s agents obviously didn’t realize that the steam tunnels beneath NSU led into the basement of the Westbend Student Apartments.
“You’re all so stupid,” he hissed. “You deserve to be flattened like squirrels in the road.”
Next to the window, a plaque caught his attention. Its swooping gold letters proclaimed, God Protects. Rolling his eyes, Drake broke the plaque in half and lit a cigarette.
rem: OY! He is not a very nice person and I don’t think I like him. What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?
DANELE: Time Search is full of spiritual lessons, but perhaps the most poignant is the fact that when tragedy strikes, we can’t hold onto bitterness. If we want to live in peace, we must forgive those who sin against us.
rem: That’s a powerful truth, Danele. Anything you’d like to add?
DANELE: Writing Time Search and the other books in The Time Counselor Chronicles was an act of pure joy. I hope that people enjoy reading my books just as much as I enjoyed creating them.
rem: Thank you so much for chatting with us on my blog today!
DANELE: You’re welcome, Robin! Thank you for having me! I’ve had a wonderful time!
rem: Where can we find you online?
Danele’s Blog: https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/
Danele’s Testimony: https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/welcome/
Danele’s Books: https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/my-books/
ACFW Fiction Finder: http://www.fictionfinder.com/author/detail/1331
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#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Danele Rotharmel, Dragonflies, Quarantine, Time Tsunami, Time Trap, Time Search