Wednesday Writers Welcomes Author R.A. Giggie today. Renee-Ann is giving away a paperback copy of her book Stella’s Plea to a lucky commenter who leaves a comment between today and next Tuesday. The winner will be chosen after noon on May 19.
Welcome Renee-Ann. Please tell the readers about the book that is being showcased today.
Stella’s Plea my first novel. It is about the abduction of a three-year-old deaf child who disappears and her mother’s struggle to find her. This little girl is deaf, and she’s lost use of her voice.
How did you come up with the concept for this book?
I’m a pantser. All I need is one line to get me started. I had this idea of a deaf child’s disappearance. I’m also an interpreter for our deaf church members, who are very dear to I wrote this novel as part of the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge.
What are you working on now? Do you have a release date for this book?
Emma’s Prayer (complete, and in revision stages) is about a teen mom who puts her son up for adoption three days after his birth. Soon she misses him and changes her mind. Is it too late? I’m aiming at late August or early September for a release date.
Are you a morning writer, afternoon, evening, or midnight oil writer?
I’m up between 5 and 6 most mornings. Some people ask me why. I love to start the day with my devotions, then breakfast, and I’m ready to write. Words seem to flow much better. If I start with house work and such, I find all sorts of other things that need to be done before I can sit down and write. Next thing I know, the day’s over!
Tell us about your writing space.
You might laugh at this one. I have an office and comfortable chair, and I also have a patio table on the deck, both of which are great places to write. But the best spot is my bedroom. I use a back pillow, you know the ones with the arms. I set my laptop on a sturdy breakfast tray and voilà. Sitting in my bed is where I am most comfortable when I write.
How often do you read non-fiction?
Rarely. Except for writing tools, most of my reading is fiction.
Most writers love books—our walls are lined with them. Name 3 favorite writing craft books on your shelves, 3 fiction books (and the genre), and if you have them, 3 different magazines you read regularly.
Super Structure by James Scott Bell
Prentice Hall reference Guide for Canadian Writers
The Emotions Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. This last one is in my Kindle, but a must for every writer.
Great Divide by Davis Bunn (Legal thriller)
Chapel Springs Revival by Ane Mulligan (Woman’s Fiction)
Canary Island Song by Robin Jones Gunn (Romance)
We like to travel. What is the farthest place from your home that you have visited?
Right now, all my traveling is aimed at writers conference. But the farthest place I’ve gone was to Zimbabwe, Africa, in 1998 and 1999, on two short-term missions. What an amazing experience to volunteer in a children’s shelter. They were either abandoned, orphans, or ‘temporarily’ dropped off. Sadly, for many, temporary became permanent.
Some writers like quiet when they write, others want music. Which one are you?
I need absolute peace. I have very short attention span, so music, television, and such distract me and I can’t concentrate.
What’s the book you are reading now?
Ane Mulligan’s Chapel Springs Revival. It is such a great and heartwarming story. Ane is funny, witty, and so fun to read.
Tell us a little bit about your hobbies outside of writing?
There are not enough hours in a day for all I want to do. I still work full-time outside the home and like to use my ‘free’ time for writing. I’m also a freelance literary translator for authors who’d like their novels translated from English-French or vice versa. I’m always looking for new projects. I also enjoy gardening and scrapbooking.
Writing is such and sedentary job. Do you do anything to keep in shape?
I must! With a sit down job outside the home and writing/translation at home, walking has become my downtime. A time for me to get away and later come back to my writing refreshed and with new ideas.
Name three interesting things most people don’t know about you.
The nickname Mom called me when I was little… it is still my best kept secret!
How many languages I’ve learned. (I should have picked linguistics for my major). I learned 6 languages, I’m fluent in three.
How many places I’ve lived (3 provinces, 28 places).
It’s been a pleasure having you here today. As you say goodbye, can you leave the readers with an encapsulation of your life’s philosophy?
Thank you so much for having me, Catherine. It’s been so much fun. I do have two verses I love to ‘live by’.
Psalm 37:4 says: Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of our hearts. I strongly believe that. God has honoured so many of my hearts desires, I lost count. I’m blessed beyond belief.
However, our plans/desires for our lives don’t always line up with His. So I take great comfort in the words God spoke to the prophet Jeremiah. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11)
When God closes a door, I may get disappointed. But I always trust in the fact that, not only does He know what’s behind that door better than I do, He has something even better in mind. How wonderful is that!
“Trust me,” she heard a voice say to her. When her deaf daughter, 3-year-old Alexis, goes missing, Stella Brigg faces an incredible struggle. Alone, while her husband serves in the armed forces overseas, Stella must depend on Someone greater than anyone she’s ever known. Someone who loves her even more than Don ever did. Only that kind of love can carry her through in her search for Alexis.
It seemed like they’d just arrived at the park, yet when Stella looked at her watch, she gasped.
“I can’t believe it’s 11 o’clock already,” she told Joni. “But I don’t want to pull Alexis away. She’s enjoying herself so much.”
“I know what you mean. It’s so nice to see colour in her cheeks.”
Stella looked toward the structure where Alexis played with Kayla. A slow smile crept across her face. It was so good to watch her daughter enjoying herself and for the first time in almost a week, a heavy load lifted off her shoulders. The two girls reached the top of the slide and looked in her direction. Kayla wrapped her arms around Alexis, and they waved before sliding down together.
“I hate to go too. But I don’t feel too guilty because chances are they’re as hungry as we are.” Joni chuckled and called to Kayla. “Two more turns. It’s time to go home.”
“I’m going to get Alexis,” Stella told Joni, as she rose and walked toward the structure. Restlessness washed over her when she didn’t immediately see her daughter. It seemed a moment ago, she was standing in the line-up of children waiting to go down the slide. Stella scanned the small group of children still at the slide. Alexis was not among them. Taking a quick glance toward the playhouse, she saw her daughter sticking her head out of the window.
“Are you playing hide and seek?” she signed. Relief washed over her.
Alexis nodded with a huge grin.
“It’s time to go home for lunch. Come.”
Alexis pulled her head back in the playhouse and headed toward the ramp leading to the back of the playhouse. Stella walked back to Joni on the park bench.
“Thank you for calling me this morning. I’m sorry I was reluctant. You were right. This fresh air is doing her—and me—a world of good. She’s having such a great time.”
“I’m glad you decided to come.”
“So am I. Are you ready?”
“Yes. Here comes Kayla. Where’s Alexis?”
Stella spun around expecting to see Alexis trailing behind Kayla. She frowned and shook her head, grinning.
“I know she’s feeling better when she gets in a playful mood like this.”
Laughing, Stella walked back toward the playhouse, this time on the opposite side to surprise her daughter. She snuck up to the window and listened, picturing Alexis trying to sit still.
“Boo!” Stella peeked in. The playhouse was vacant. She took a look around, but she couldn’t see Alexis.
“Come on, Alexis,” she called, knowing her daughter couldn’t hear. It was a habit she couldn’t break. Joni and Kayla walked toward her.
“I don’t see Alexis anywhere.” Worry edged her voice.
“She can’t be too far. I’ll go check the other structures.” Joni scurried off without waiting for a response.
Stella ran back toward the spiral slide where moments ago, Alexis played with Kayla. She looked around, inside, under, and over. There were no signs of her. She rushed to a group of parents and, describing her daughter, asked if they had seen her. No one had. She hurried to the other structures, and again, she looked inside the playhouse, the large tunnel slide, expecting to find her at any moment. Her heart sank deeper in her chest when she didn’t. Scanning the area once more, she combed her fingers through her hair as panic crawled in.
Where in the world did she go?
A short distance away, Joni talked to a small group of children and walked back toward her. Frowning, Joni shook her head. “Kayla, did you see Alexis?”
Stella gasped and dashed toward the bushes where Kayla was pointing. She shouted her name, over and over, even though her daughter was deaf. Fear gripped her tighter with each passing second, making breathing difficult. Thrusting the branches away, she flinched as her finger slid against the sharp edge of a thorn. In an instinctive reaction, she brought it to her mouth, and spit when she tasted the blood. Stumbling, she managed to steady herself and pressed on. The sound of babbling water on the other side of the thick bushes brought horrific images to her mind. The mere thought of Alexis falling in made her stomach turn, causing a sudden wave of nausea.
Oh No! No!
She came to the clearing, and stopped near the edge of the water. There was no sign of Alexis. She couldn’t seem to breathe. Forcing air into her lungs, and with her heart pounding in her throat, she screamed her daughter’s name again.
Panting with the exertion of carrying Kayla hoisted on her hip, Joni caught up to her a few moments later.
“We’ll find her, Stella. She can’t be too far.” Worried, they searched under bushes and in shrubs. There was no sign of the child.
“She can’t even call for help!” Stella cried, staring at the river. “What if she fell…?”
Unable to finish her sentence, she slogged knee-deep into the cold water, flailing about.
“Alexis! Alexis!” She returned to Joni and collapsed to the ground in utter anguish.
Holding her now frightened child close to her, Joni knelt and wrapped her free arm around Stella, rocking back and forth, trying to comfort her.
“I called the police. They’re on their way. We’ll find her,” she said, cell phone in hand.
Renee-Ann is the author of Stella’s Plea (2012), which shortlisted in the Word Alive Press publishing contest (2011). The tentative release date for Emma’s Prayer, her second novel, is late summer 2015.
She is also published in an anthology of true love stories, Falling In Love With You (2012), published by OakTara.
A product of a bilingual environment, Renee-Ann has an excellent knowledge of and facility with both French and English. Bringing her love of language and literature together, she also freelances as a literary translator. She offers her services to authors who wish to have their novels translated from French to English, or from English to French.