MTAR caught up with Myrna Parks and got to know this elusive author a little bit better. Myrna lives with her farmer husband in Kentucky, where she is a public speaker. Myrna’s first book, Truth and Circumstances, was published by Astraea Press.

MTAR: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live with my husband in the small town farming community in west Kentucky where we grew up. Nearly twelve years ago, I was supernaturally rescued from the pit of depression and currently, I write, travel and share what I learned during my journey from desperate to delivered. One thing I’ve come to realize: despair infiltrates every race, culture and social class without discrimination.

MTAR: What do you do when you are not writing?
I enjoy books on interior decorating, landscaping, and cooking. Laughingly, I confess that years ago some of my first attempts at cooking produced a gravy ball even the coon dogs wouldn’t eat. However, I finally mastered the basics and once ran a successful catering business from my home.

MTAR: What inspired you to write your first book?
For me, writing is a spiritual calling. I began writing fiction as a practice to develop writing skills, however, what started as a practice quickly turned into a passion.

MTAR: How did you choose the genre you write in?
Myrna: Romance seems to creep naturally into all my fictional stories. Since this genre is popular and easiest to sell according to the experts, it seemed a good idea to choose this genre.

MTAR: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Myrna: I grew up reading The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew and The Boxcar Children and suspect good characters, which were modeled within those pages, had a positive influence in my life.

MTAR: What books/authors have influenced your writing?
Myrna: While I love and admire the skill of great storytellers such as: Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters and Agatha Christie, I would have to say Jan Karon’s Mitford series encouraged me to see that there is a modern audience hungry for clean old-fashioned reading material.

MTAR: Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Myrna: The challenges of writing a book are nothing compared to finding a publisher for the finished manuscript. One of the advantages today is the availability of information via the internet. I researched, learned about marketing, and thankfully, found and contracted with literary agent, Steve Hutson of Word Wise Media Services—I accomplished all this by surfing the web.

MTAR: How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
Myrna: I’ve found a great marketing agent: Kathy Carlton Willis of KCW Communications and will be working with Kathy and my publisher, Astraea Press, to develop the best plan to market my book.

MTAR: Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
Myrna: Yes, my first book, which I’ve come to realize is too long, too slow-paced and needs a great deal of rewriting, is currently lying in a drawer. The work is untitled and someday I hope to pull the manuscript out, wipe the dust from its pages and turn the work into a publishable series.

MTAR: Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
Myrna: Truth and Circumstances is a humorous tale about a young woman determined to prove to her rich patronizing relatives she can make a name for herself as a writer. Hoping to launch her new career, Bethany Ashton flies home to Sacramento to attend a national writer’s conference. However, when she discovers she cannot gain admittance to the event, in a state of panic, she tells a lie that launches her into a make believe marriage with a handsome stranger and too late, she realizes she has fallen in love with a man she doesn’t know.

MTAR: What was your favorite chapter (or scene) to write and why?
Myrna: My favorite scenes in Truth and Circumstances are rooted in the second chapter. Just as circumstances in our lives oftentimes spring from the core of our character, so it is with Bethany Ashton. I felt as though I was watching and typing as Beth acted and reacted upon the stage of her frustration and determination.

MTAR: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
Myrna: My first book—the one in the drawer—I was told the pace was too slow.

MTAR: What has been the best compliment?
Myrna: Many of those who have read Truth and Circumstances told me they could not put it down.

MTAR: Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Myrna: If you love writing, then don’t give up. Continue to learn and practice your craft.

MTAR: What would your fans be surprised to know about you?
Myrna: I think most of my life’s story would surprise my fans.

MTAR: Dogs or Cats?
Myrna: I love my grand-dogs: Kaylee and Oreo! However, although I do not currently own one, most of my house pets have been cats.

MTAR: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Myrna: I would have to say yes! There is no such thing as a little white lie.

MTAR: What books have most influenced your life most?
Myrna: The Bible, and other spiritual writings too numerous to mention, are the greatest influence in my life.

MTAR: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Myrna: Probably Agatha Christie due to her ability to make her characters come alive, not because they are beautiful or perfect, but because they are unique and interesting.

MTAR: What book are you reading now?
Myrna: I just finished a wonderful book called Balcony People by Joyce Landorf Heatherly and my most recent fictional read is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

MTAR: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Myrna: I have to admire Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games, for daring to write a futuristic novel in present tense and from a first-person view point, things many publishers say they do not want.

MTAR: What are your current projects?
Myrna: We just finished turning our garage into an office for my writing and I haven’t hung a single picture on its freshly painted walls. Besides two unfinished writing projects, I also help with a women’s jail ministry and will soon begin preparation for a mission trip to the Dominican Republic.

MTAR: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Myrna: I am currently working on a period fictional romance set in Victorian England, as well as a daily devotional centered on housework, which I hope will inspire the not-so-happy homemaker.

MTAR: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Myrna: Roberta Jones is a published writer from Murray, KY who encouraged me to pursue a writing career. I am grateful to Steve Hutson of Word Wise Media for working diligently to get my book into the hands of a publisher, and Astraea Press Publishers, who believes in supplying clean reading material to its readers.

MTAR: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Myrna: I love using my imagination to create, but when the time comes to sit down and actually put words onto paper, now that is when storytelling becomes a challenge. In my mind, proper grammar is never a problem and punctuation is nonexistent. I never realized how often we communicate in unfinished sentences until I began to write.

MTAR: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Myrna: Jan Karon is one of my favorite authors. Her characters are endearing, which makes me realize that a plot does not have to be outrageous to be enjoyable.

MTAR: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Myrna: Typing the words with my eyes closed. Spell-check slows me down because the only way I can ignore those squiggly red lines is to shut my eyes.

MTAR: What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
Myrna: Since I’ve never been to California, becoming familiar with the area and the type of people who actually live in Sacramento were the biggest challenges to writing this story.

MTAR: What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?
Myrna: Romance is the easiest genre for me to write but I would love to create a mystery story.

MTAR: Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Myrna: Yes, when everything seems chaotic in my life, I find it nearly impossible to concentrate on creating anything, be it fictional or otherwise.

MTAR: Do you work with an outline, or just write?
Myrna: I know I should use an outline but whenever I construct one, my characters refuse to follow the guidelines. Therefore, I create one scene at a time never knowing where we will end up.