Valerie Comer‘s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie grows much of her own food and is active in the local food movement as well as her church. She only hopes her imaginary friends enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, gardening and geocaching with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughers.
Congratulations on the release of your novella “Topaz Treasure” in the collection Rainbow’s End. Please tell us a bit about this novella and how it came to be.
Nicole and I have been crit partners since the summer of 2009, mere weeks before her first tween novels hit the stores. She’d decided it was her goal in life to get me published, so when we got talking about Barbour’s call for romance novella proposals in December 2010, she jumped on the bandwagon. She thought my idea of creating a geocaching hunt for all the characters to participate in sounded very fun and volunteered to find other authors interested in joining in. Within a few days we had a foursome and were on our way. On January 31, 2011, I received ‘the call’ via email and spent quite a while in disbelief!
Is this your first release?
“Topaz Treasure” is my first and only release thus far. The sale of the novella netted Joyce Hart as my agent, and she’s been working hard for me ever since. We’re hopeful that one of my novels will soon find a home.
What special something do you try to bring to every story you write?
My first answer is: something to do with locally grown real food. My family and I are big into the local food movement. We freeze, can, juice, and dehydrate vast amounts of produce from our garden and farm every year. We’re also beekeepers with a commercial apiary.
But when I take a closer look at many of the heroines in my stories, I see women who are seeking identity. Women looking for a place to belong. My goal is to guide my characters into grasping their identity in Jesus through the trials they find along the tortuous plot path I set them on in the hopes that readers will be able to identify.
Have you ever been to the setting of your novella?
I live in southeastern British Columbia, Canada. If you look at the map, central Missouri is a long way from here! But still, I spent several months along the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks near Camdenton as a young teen. That was quite a while back. However, my sister visits inlaws there often and provided a few photos. I also corresponded with several people in Osage Beach while plotting and writing the novella: a woman at the Lake District Chamber of Commerce, the owner of On the Rise Bakery and Bistro, and a local geocaching buff.
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
I write on the day job! I work in a small town flooring shop as the only employee. My boss guys do all the measures, quotes, and installations, leaving me to answer the phone, talk to customers and sales reps, place orders, and receive freight. Some days this takes a few hours and other days, I have up to seven hours to entertain myself. The boss guys think it’s wonderful that I can amuse myself when it’s quiet and got internet installed to keep me happy. I’ve happily written nine novels here over the past decade.
Provide a photo of your workspace and explain why it works for you.
This photo is of my corner at the back of the flooring shop. I love the huge Inspiration Board my niece created for me last year. I use it to pin up photos, maps, floorplans, etc, of whatever project I’m actively working on. The Rainbow’s End cover was finalized before I’d written the novella, so trust me, seeing the printout up there was a huge inspiration! The set up in my corner isn’t fancy, but it’s fairly ergonomic, which is important. Just enough people come in or phone to get me up and moving around a few times a day.
What’s one small bit of you that’s in your novella’s main character?
Lyssa is unafraid to confront people about drinking pop or eating junk food but, even though she’s been a Christian for years, she clams up when opportunities arise to share her faith. I confess I have this in common with Lyssa, right down to the father who would share Jesus with anyone who would stand still long enough. However, Lyssa’s dad is a whole lot less tactful than my own father was! Like Lyssa, I’ve discovered that God hasn’t called all of us to the same style of evangelism. Like the Apostle Paul said, some plant, some water, and some reap the harvest.
What do you to do keep going when you want to give up?
Because I write at work, giving up would mean I’d have to fill my hours some other way, and I can’t think of anything else I want to invest so much time in. So I’ve kept plugging through the discouraging times (with friends on instant messenger to send me either hugs or kicks in the butt, as required) because it’s just what I do. And chocolate helps.
What are five random facts your readers probably didn’t know about you–until today?
~ I didn’t step foot into a library until I was 12. Neither my schools nor my nearby towns had them in the part of Manitoba where I grew up.
~ I attended a Christian boarding school for my 4 years of high school, and that’s where I met my husband.
~ Jim and I spent 9 days on a backcountry canoe trip in the Bowron Lakes Provincial Park (BC, Canada) with my sister and her husband. Awesome scenery and silence.
~ I’m the youngest of 5 daughters. 3 of my older sisters have been career missionaries for many years and, in recent years, 3 of their adult children have picked up the torch.
~ I’m the owner and coordinator of RomancingAmerica.com–where you’re presently reading.
If you were a color, what color would you be? Why?
In the words of Kermit the Frog, “It’s not easy being green!”
Where or how do you like to connect with your readers?
Thanks so much for letting us get to know you a little!