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Ginny McBlain

Ginny McBlain is a pioneer in the field of electronic publishing. HEART BROKEN, HEART WHOLE was first published by Renlow Publishing in 1996 and re-released in 2002. Her books are now offered by Awe-Struck E-Books, . Titles include WHERE THE HEART LEADS, SOLEMN VOWS, nominated for the 2000 Frankfurt Award, BEAR HUGS, an EPPIE finalist in 2002 and an Independent E-book Award nominee, and FAITH, HOPE AND CHARITY an EPPIE finalist in 2005.

A born romantic, Ginny became hooked on romance at an early age. She began writing seriously in 1987 when she joined the Romance Writers of America.

Ginny is a Virginian transplanted to Nebraska by way of Texas. She and her husband of more than 35 years have a son, married to one of her critique partners, and two precious granddaughters. She's a keen observer of people, places and things, a skill she honed around the country in her days as an airline stewardess. Her elephant collection thrives on dust while her thimbles are protected in cases. She loves to entertain, decorate her home and take photographs of sunsets.

Ginny has served in many industry board positions; including two terms as President with Romance Authors of the Heartland. A founding member of EPIC, the Electronically Published Internet Connection, she was the first President. EPIC honored her with Florence Moyer Service Award in 2001.


Q: Tell us a little about your life outside writing.
My family and church are the biggest parts of my life, above writing. I've been married to my wonderful, supportive husband, David, over 35 years. Our son and his wife live a mile away. We love having our granddaughter come over. She usually spends the night at least once a week. My home is decorated with my grandmother's antiques and her books and toys. The house looks like a tornado hit it when she goes home.

My husband and I travel a lot visiting family and friends. He belongs to the Midwest Chapter of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. The group holds seminars all over the country which have given us an opportunity to see and do things most people can't. This past winter we toured a trident nuclear submarine, a dream come true for me. Some of the things I've learned on these trips have ended up in my books. The only trouble is the schedule runs on military time and I'm a night owl.

I serve on the Outreach and Publicity Ministry Team at church. My job is to write press releases and design ads and flyers. These are skills I learned to promote my books. I also serve on an advocacy for congregations committee a level above the local church with a number of pastors and other lay people.

I enjoy collecting thimbles and elephants. The thimbles are in cases, but the elephants are in every room. Fortunately for me the herd thrives on lots of dust. David and I love to entertain. Parties are made easier with my resident butler ready and willing to help. You should see him set the table wearing white gloves to keep the sterling silver spotless.

Q: What are your two favorite books of all time, and why?
I've loved so many books that I couldn't pick even two favorites. Reading is my passion, but it wasn't always so. I read mostly romances, although I enjoy biographies, history and political junkie that I am, books on current affairs. I can only think of one book that stands out, JUST JENNIFER by Janet Lambert. I read it in the sixth grade. That book turned reading from a horrendous chore to a great love. I had a terrible time learning to read. I still don't read aloud well. My college professor aunt always gave us books for gifts. JUST JENNIFER was a birthday present about a sixteen-year-old girl who kept her younger brothers and sisters together while her father (a widower) was off fighting World War II. I related to that girl, being the oldest of eight children. I wanted to follow more about that family and read the rest of the series. Suddenly reading became my favorite pastime, even when it meant sneaking a flashlight under the covers long past bedtime.

Q: What person has had the biggest effect on your life as a writer, and why?
Diane Wicker Davis. Diane came to Nebraska as an Air Force wife. I met her through a neighbor whose husband worked with her husband. Diane founded the Romance Authors of the Heartland, a local RWA chapter. During our first conversation she volunteered to critique my manuscript. By the time she finished with it looked like it had been to the slaughter house, but she told me I had what it took to write a romance. Her generosity didn't stop there. She taught me how to fix the mess I'd made. It's a tribute to her teaching and perhaps my tenacity, that WHERE THE HEART LEADS has been published two e-publishers.

Q: Out of all the characters you've created, which is your favorite, and why?
Oh, gosh. This is hard. I love them all. I guess my favorite hero is Hunter Blackwell, the hero of BEAR HUGS. All my heroes are caring men, but Hunter is special. He's a children's TV character and a pop singer who won't change his upright values to achieve the career he's dreamed of all his life. He goes out of his way to help other people.

Meredith in SOLEMN VOWS is dear also. She had to overcome great obstacles to realize her career goals and to learn to love both her husband and the children he inherited. She had to change to be happy. We all know change isn't easy.

Q: Do you write related books, such as series that revisit characters and/or settings you've written about in previous books? As a reader, do you read other authors' series?
All my books, except WHERE THE HEART LEADS, are set in the Omaha area, although in different parts of town. FAITH, HOPE and CHARITY (due out from Awe-Struck in September 2004) is the sequel to SOLEMN VOWS. The heroine is Meredith's sister, Kirsten, introduced in the first book. She was a runaway. Her language and experiences living on the streets weren't heroic. I had a wonderful time turning her into a lovable grown-up, worthy of a minister hero.

I love series and always have. It's fun to revisit old friends. I'm considering another story about Quinn and Meredith.

Q: Are your books something you alone create, or do you have trusted advisors, brainstorm partners, or first readers you rely on to help you get the story right?
I create my books alone as far as plot and characters. I do have a trusted critique group--Awe-Struck author Connie Crow and my son, Evan and daughter-in-law, Beck. They don't hesitate to tell me if I don't have a scene right or if my characters aren't acting in character. Their input is invaluable.

Q: Do you ever suffer writer's block? Have you found effective ways for dealing with it?
Writing is never easy for me. Once I have anything down, I can rewrite it, but the first words are difficult. Writer's block is something else entirely. I had major writer's block recently. In 2001 I discovered I had acromegaly, a rare hormone disorder caused by a benign tumor on the pituitary gland which secretes excessive growth hormone. I had no idea I was sick and in danger of having very serious long term health problems. On September 11 (yes, that day) I had surgery to remove the tumor. It was 15 months before I could write again. I'm told by other writers that isn't unusual. Anesthesia effects the whole body and messes up your concentration. Unfortunately, a number of major crises hit our family throughout 2001-2003, including more surgery for me. I had just started writing again when I had to have arthroscopic surgery on my knee. At least the concentration problem didn't last as long due to the shortness of the operation. It was horrible facing the computer screen and not being able to write more than a sentence or two that wasn't worth the effort to type it. The only thing I knew to do was get well, let life settle down and keep trying.

Q: Is any one of your books the book of your heart, a book you felt compelled to write? Tell us about it.
It isn't blatant promotion to say every one of my books is the book of my heart. I write what I love, about people I love. That's who I am. Each story has a piece of my soul.

I fulfilled a childhood dream writing WHERE THE HEART LEADS. Having grown up in a Washington, DC suburb surrounded by military families and now living in an Air Force community, I've come to appreciate and admire what the whole family goes through in order to serve the nation. The book is set at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, the only place I've been with my husband on active duty. He retired after 30 years service in the Army Reserve. We were at Leavenworth a year and I loved it--the historic post, the people and the town.

HEART BROKEN, HEART WHOLE came from sitting with friends while their babies underwent open heart surgery. Not being a medical professional, I had to learn a lot in order to write a credible story. It would've been easy to say it was too hard trying to grasp the terminology and the implications of heart defects, but the faces and emotions of the families I saw in the PICU waiting room wouldn't leave me alone. My hero is crippled. It wasn't until long after I finished the book that I realized how much of my grandfather's grace in dealing with his crippling handicap influenced my characterization of Gray, my hero.

I grew up with a house full of brothers--six of them and a sister born after I was in college--and foster children. My grandmother was a social worker, as was my mother for a short time. SOLEMN VOWS deals with raising other peoples children and keeping a marriage together under trying circumstances. The themes of love and commitment, loyalty and integrity were something I felt a need to explore.

BEAR HUGS truly exploded in my head. A friend told me about Piers Anthony's Letters to Jenny, a non-fiction compilation of letters the author had written to a young fan. They began with a request from the child's mother in the hope that a letter from Jenny's favorite author would bring her out of a coma. I replied I could write a romance like that. The next day the idea gelled and wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote it all down.

I might have given up on FAITH, HOPE and CHARITY. So much happened while I wrote the book. Not all of it was bad, but it stole my writing time. Yet I couldn't quit. Despite all the difficulty the story wouldn't allow me to toss it aside. The redemptive power of love and faith was too compelling and the characters kept talking even when I didn't want to listen.

Q: Tell us about one fan letter you received that really touched your heart.
I've received several truly wonderful fan letters, but the one that stands out didn't come to me directly. It was posted on the EPIC link. EPIC, the Electronically Published Internet Connection is a professional organization for authors and others in the electronic publishing industry. One of my peers wrote of SOLEMN VOWS, "This is one of the most beautiful love stories I have ever read." I was blown away that she would say that to everyone on the list.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to say?
In conclusion I'd like to comment on how writing has changed my life. Writing isn't simply telling stories. It's a whole new world. I've met wonderful writers, both published and unpublished. I've made friends over the 'net that I'll never meet in person. I've learned to speak in public, to share what I've learned with others and gained a whole lot of self-confidence. I've taught myself to use a computer and the Internet and now I'm learning to create my own book covers. The business end has been eye opening. Some things have been easy, some not, but the whole experience has been terrific.