Line of Fire, An Autumn Rain Novel

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From the fan letters I've received in the mail, or from book signings and speaking engagements, I've gathered a list of questions everyone seems to want to know. They're in no particular order (except most recent on the top). Much of the information is elsewhere in my pages, so just click on the links for more details.

If you do not find the answer that you are looking for, there is also a place at the end of this list (click here) where you can ask me your own question. If it's different enough from what's below, I'll add it to this list.

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Q: I just read the first book about Cassi and Jared, but the copy I have is entitled Love to the Highest Bidder. After looking over your book timeline I noticed the first book about Cassi and Jared is A Bid for Love. Did you just change the title of this book, or did you make other changes to it as well?

A: Love to the Highest Bidder and A Bid for Love are the same book. The only difference is that some changes in airport scenes were added because of current airport policy.

Q: I love your books and have followed you from the beginning. It's been awesome to see your growth as a writer. I just had a few questions. I was just wondering if you had any intentions still to write a story about Fred and Brook and continue their story from the Love on the Run series? What inspired you or your publishers to change the covers of your books like the Ariana books and Framed for Love and Independence Club? Was it the publisher's idea or yours to put all the Ariana series in one book? I think that was a great idea.

A: I did have an idea for a Fred and Brooke sequel, but I ended up using the plot in Imprints instead as it was a more cureent series. So for right now I'm not planning anything for Fred and Brooke, but that's not to say it won't happen. The new covers of the book came about because a different publisher pick up the rights to publish the books. It was actually my idea to put the first three Ariana novels into one book. Covenant Communications published the books originally and Deseret Book did the reprint.

(Note: So far The Independence Club has always been with the same publisher, Deseret Book, and has had only one cover.)

Q: What chocolate is your favorite?

A: I enjoy Dove, Ghirardelli, and I love those wonderful milk chocolate Utah Truffles, which I think are probably the best in the world, but my husband thinks are too rich. Men! :-) How can any chocolate be too rich?

Q: How did you decide to start to write books?

A: I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I remember. I loved reading, and I wanted to make up my own stories.

Q: What did you do to prepare to become a Novelist?

A: I read every grammar and writing book I could get from the library, buy from the store, or borrow from family and friends. I read avidly in the genre I wanted to write. I wrote and wrote and shared my stories with other aspiring authors. I read more and more books. I took a college grammar class. I attended writing conferences. I read more books. I visited Europe. I tried new foods. I carried a notebook to record my thoughts and ideas. I read more novels. I submitted book after book until a publisher liked one.

Q: Did you have a different/side job before your books became popular?

A: No. I always knew I wanted to be an author and a mother, so I married someone I knew would support me in those dreams.

Q: How do you get your ideas for your stories?

A: From research, observation, inspiration, and my own experience. The more I write, the more ideas come.

Q: Do you always write your novels from beginning to end, or do you sometimes write different sections and then connect them together, then go over and make sure it all runs smoothly?

A: I usually write my novels from beginning to end, but in every book there is often a scene that keeps coming to me, and I'll jump ahead and write that scene so it'll leave me in peace! Or I write enough notes that I can remember what I wanted to do when I get to that point. Usually before I go to bed, I'll imagine what I want to write the next day and try to get those scenes coming to my mind. That way writing goes MUCH faster.

Q: Do you always outline your books before you start writing, and do you have to research a lot?

A: I almost never outline. I usually know the beginning scene and where I want to end up, but writing is the journey for me. However, with my most Face of a Stranger, I was way behind my deadline, so I sat down and wrote out a list of everything that still needed to happen and in what order. Because of that simple outline, I was able to accomplish two weeks worth of writing in one week that way, so outline definitely has its advantages.

As for research, keep in mind that I write contemporary novels, and the process would be different for historical novels. When I'm writing and I reach a point where I need to fill in something that I don't know, I just put XXX in that spot and research it after I'm finished. But that's only for small things. If it's something that might change the plot, then I'll stop and research right as I'm writing. Or I'll spend a few days on research before I even start the novel to make sure my plot works. This prevents massive rewriting, which wastes time.

Q: After reading your Ariana novels, my mother and grandmoter both agreed that you probably had a similar experience, perhaps soomeone close to you did. Is that true? Or did you just make it up?

A: Ariana was my first published novel and a lot of heart and soul went into it. At the time I'd written the book, I had never experienced such a loss, though I knew of someone who had. Though we weren't very close, I'm sure the feelings she related to me inspired some of the text, though it is absolutely not her story in anyway. The plot of the novel was already clear in my mind before her child died, and in fact she doesn't see herself in the book at all.

The interesting thing is that years later when I experienced a personal loss, the feelings I had were very close to those of Ariana's in the first book. So was it only my active imagination? Maybe. But I believe God knows what people go through in times of trial and heartache, and that He allows the feelings to be known to writers so they can put them on paper. I have felt inspiration many times as I write. I often have to wipe away tears. In a way I did live through Ariana's experiences, but they weren't mine—if that makes sense. As you can imagine, writing is very emotionally draining.

Q: What is the recipe for the spinach soup your charaters used in Winter Fire?

A: 1. In a 6 quart pan bring 12 cups water to boil (you may have to add more water later—I sometimes have to add two cups after it has been cooking an hour).
2. Throw in 2 cups of dry pinto beans that have been soaked overnight in water (or just open a can of beans).
3. Add one medium onion, finely chopped.
4. Throw in five med carrots, peeled but whole.
5. Add five medium-sized potatoes, peeled but whole.
6. Wash and roughly chop one bunch/bag of spinach, add.
7. Put in one tablespoon of cold-pressed olive oil (the secret ingredient)—or more depending on how you like it. (I often use two or three.)
8. Salt and pepper to taste.

When the potatoes and carrots are soft, pull them out on a plate and mash with a fork. It's best to leave some small chunks. The soup is finished when the beans are cooked. My mother-in-law cooks raw beans for a while first before adding veggies.

One variation is to use finely chopped cabbage instead of spinach. You can experiment with the amounts of veggies and beans until you get the consistency your family likes. If it's too runny, it needs more potatoes.

You can also omit the beans and spinach and add pumpkin. This is really good), but if you do that, blend up all the vegetables—carrots, potatoes, pumpkin—in a blender after they are soft.

Don't forget the olive oil and salt in any of the variations or it just won't taste right!

Q: How long each day do you think you write or suggest that one should write every day?

A: This varies with each author. I like to write 2,000 words a day when I'm writing a first draft. But I know authors who go for months without writing, and then spend a month or so constantly at the computer as they write a novel in one sudden burst of energy. Basically, I recommend estimating how long your novel should be, say 80,000 words, and divide that by how many days you want to have it completed by. I don't recommend time goals because they don't work as well. Too easy to get caught up in the e-mail or other distractions.

Q: Are you going to write another book about Savvy and Tyler?

A: I'm not planning to at the moment, but you never know. They may decide to tell us another story. I'm open to the idea, but it hasn't hit me yet.

Q: I'm a beginning writer and wonder if you use a writing software program and if so, which one? You mention putting ideas on the bottom of your computer screen.

A: The only software I use is Word Perfect (a word processing program). I don't write outlines, but I do have ideas or phrases in my mind that I want include, and as these comes, I scroll down and type them

Q: Where did you get the inspiration for Daughter of a King?

A: Please check out The Making of Daughter of a King: a three year journey by Rachel Ann Nunes.

Q: Why did you change publishing companies before A Heartbeat Away? I noticed that the newest ones are through a different company.

A: I've actually changed publishers twice now (as of November 2005). My first publisher and I had some contractual and other disagreements, so I went to another publisher. I enjoyed working with the second publisher very much, but they were smaller and because of that their editing sometimes suffered. They also couldn't sell as many books. I am now publishing with Deseret Book, the largest and oldest publisher in this market, and I am content. They are great to work with! I don't anticipate changing publishers again—at least not in the LDS market.

Q: Have you always had family support with your writing?

A: Yes, always. My parents were both avid readers and encouraged my reading habit as a child. My mother taught me to read at age four, and my father, a BYU French professor, always corrected my spoken English. Later my husband supported my dreams by buying a computer for me, reading my manuscripts, and settling for corn-dog dinners after I'd spent the day writing. Without family support, I would not be where I am today.

Q: Do you ever plan to put your books on tape for those of us who are busy and enjoy listening to book tapes? If so please put them on unabridged because I wouldn't want to miss a bit of the intrigue. Keep up the great writing!

A: Nine of my books are on cassette or CDs (as of November 2005). Unfortunately, I have no control over whether or not my publisher chooses to do them. Also, unabridged becomes very expensive. Until the market buys more of these items, publishers won't be willing to invest in them.

Q: How did you go about getting noticed as a good writer before you even published your first book?

A: I wrote feature articles for a local newspaper and a few articles for church magazines. But even to get to that point, I studied many books about writing. I had to LEARN how to write.

Q: What made you decide to write LDS fiction novels?

A: Those were the stories that were real in my life as an LDS wife and mother. I'd originally started writing science fiction and fantasy, but discovered that writing LDS woman's fiction was more fullfilling to me—and still is at this time in my life (though I do still dabble in other genres).

Q: What advice would you give to a child at the Elementary age level who hates reading and writing?

A: My advice is more for the teachers and parents. GET THAT CHILD SOME INTERESTING BOOKS! Something on his reading level, or even a little easier than his level to begin with. Read with the child. Create an atmosphere in which reading is FUN. In my experience, most children who don't like to read haven't found the right books for them. As for writing, it's basically the same idea—they need to write what interests them. If they've had negative experiences with reading and writing before, they'll need a lot of positive ones before they'll seek out reading and writing on their own. The best time to start children on books, of course, is when they're babies.

Q: What activities do you do with your children to encourage them to find the love for reading?

A: We read together aloud from the time they're very small. Read and read and read and read. Sometimes I don't even have to look at the words, I've read the books so many times. When they begin to read, I listen to them some of the time, but I still read to them aloud. I choose books that are interesting and fun for them. As they grow I experiement to find books that we all enjoy. I also begin teaching my children letter sounds when they are four, and I think that helps them become interested in the written word. Refrigerator magnets are very useful for this and fun to spell out simple words.

Q: Are you going to write a book about Savannah (Savvy) Hergarter?

A: Yes, Savvy Hergarter's book is the third in the Huntington series, called Ever Be One (working title). It will be out in 2006. Meanwhile, you can read about her in the first two Huntington book, Winter Fire and No Longer Strangers.

Q: We are doing our New Beginnings around your book Daughter of a King. Is there any way to use the illustrations in PowerPoint?

A: Yes. Please contact me and I'll tell you how. Also, if you live in or near Utah Valley, you may want to consider inviting me to come and speak to the girls.

Q: Are you going to write any more about Kylee and Bill (This Very Moment)?

A: At the moment I don't plan on it, but some day an idea for them might hit me over the head. For now I think of Bill having accepted God and eventually joining the Church. And of course, he and Kylee will be married. I did write a brief epilogue once in response to a reader's question, and if you'd like to see that please click here to contact me.

Q: Is is hard to be LDS and a writer?

A: No. I don't feel like my Christian beliefs limit me at all. In fact, I feel my beliefs help me focus on what I should be writing as opposed to all the inappropriate things I could write.

Q: I was wondering if I could receive a signed photograph from you and a signed index card for my own personal collection?

A: Hmm, maybe if I become famous someday (which I don't really expect to happen) my publisher will order a stack of photographs to send out. Until then, I'd be happy to sign a free bookmark for you. Please send your request and a self-addressed stamped envelope (and an index card if you'd prefer that to one of my bookmarks) to:

Rachel Ann Nunes
P.O. Box 353
American Fork, Utah 84003

Q: What is the order of your books and how do they connect to other books?

A: I maintain that you can read the books in any order to enjoy them. However, there is a timeline and it can be very interesting to follow the characters through from the beginning. Click here for more.

Q: The way you have some characters in several books seems similar to Anita Stansfield's books. Are you friends? Do you read and enjoy her writing?

A: Yes, Anita and I are friends. We understand each other in areas that other (non-writing) friends never can, and it has created a special bond. I do read and enjoy her books. She is one of the very best storytellers the LDS market has today.

Q: How do you pronounce Perrault? It's driving me nuts!

A: It's French so basically it's pronounced "perr -oh" with a sort of rolling r in the back of your throat. But go ahead and say it anyway you like.

Q: How do you pronounce Brionney?

A: I say it Bree-uh-nee, which is the name of a girl whose parents once bought a book and had me sign it for her at a booksigning. But again, you may say it however you like.

Q: Is there going to be another Ariana?

A: After reading Ariana: A Glimpse of Eternity, people keep asking me if there will be another Ariana novel. There will not be another novel with the Ariana title, however, there are currently many sequel/spin-offs about the characters my readers have come to love. To Love and To Promise is about Brionney, followed by Tomorrow and Always. Then This Time Forever connects up with the Ariana series (Marc's love story!). After that, Bridge to Forever tells Mickelle's story (Brionney's sister). Ties that Bind and Twice in a Lifetime also follow the story of Rebekka Massoni and the entire Perrault family in France. I think you'll enjoy what I have planned. There are actually seven direct novels in the Ariana series. Please see my timelines link for more information.

Q: What ever happens to Maire-Therese's baby that Pauline was going to "take care of" for her? There seems to be a big gap that doesn't fill in regarding that.

A: Please read This Time Forever, Ties that Bind, and Twice in a Lifetime. (Most especially Ties that Bind.)

Q: I was wondering if you have a list anywhere of the order of your book series.

A: Yes, I do! Click here to see it.

Q: What's coming next?

A: See upcoming.

Q: I loved Cassi and Jared. Are you going to write a sequel to Love on the Run?

A: Weeeell, right now I'm planning more of a spin-off with Fred and Brooke as main characters. I also would like to do a book on Cassi and Jared's adopted son, Samson. Regardless, you will likely find out more about them!

Q: Of all your novels, which is your favorite and why?

A: Hmm! That seems sort of like asking which of my children I love the best. I love them all for different reasons. Of course, the novel I'm currently working on will always take precedence (like a new baby must!), but I'm sure I haven't yet written my best novel. I'm sure it'll be coming soon! Please see my comments for each book and you should get a glimpse into my feelings about that particular novel.

Q: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

A: At twelve years old. I think I'd had the desire to write, though, from the time my mother taught me to read at age four.

Q: Is your writing based on real life?

A: The overall plots come from my imagination, however, many of the important elements do come from observation or experience. Ariana: The Making of a Queen, for instance, was inspired by the story of a woman I knew in Portugal. In Ariana: A New Beginning, I used real life bombings in Paris to build part of my plot. And of course, I am constantly having to look up medical information, regional information, and the like, so those parts are also based on reality.

Q: Are your characters real people you actually know?

A: Generally, my characters are a composite of people I know or have heard about. I never copy a person just the way they are, but rather take a bit here and there, mixing to create a whole character with depth and realistic behavior. Many characters, I make up completely, and then usually someone will write and tell me how alike they are to that character!

Q: Does Jacques ever join the Church?

A: You'll find out at the end of his story in Ariana: A Glimpse of Eternity.

Q: Is Pauline going to die?

A: Again you'll have to read Ariana: A Glimpse of Eternity. I'll tell you this much—Pauline will have her romance and tell you her story.

Q: When did you start writing the Ariana series?

A: I began writing the first book, Ariana: The Making of a Queen, at the end of April 1995. The writing went very smoothly, and I submitted it to Covenant on June 26, 1995 without ever allowing anyone except my mother to read the manuscript. At that time I had no plans to write a sequel. I was notified of my novel's official acceptance by phone on September 20, 1995, though at least a month earlier the editor had indicated that she was pushing for it to be accepted. (I had called about another novel I had submitted five months before—one that I've still never gotten around to publishing!) My publishing contract was signed on October 4, 1995 and the book was released the following year the first week of November. By that time I already had my novel Love to the Highest Bidder (now reprinted as A Bid for Love) accepted, but the editor asked me to consider writing a sequel to Ariana first. I agreed and ended up writing and publishing two more Ariana novels before Bidder was ever released. (And, hey, if you haven't read that series, I think you'll really enjoy it, too!)

Q: Have you ever been to France where you set the Ariana series?

A: Yes. My father was a French Professor at Brigham Young University and my family stayed in France for six months while he was involved with the BYU Study Abroad.

Q: I heard from a friend that the Ariana novels are out-of-print. Is this true?

A: Two of the Arianas were out-of-print (2nd and 4th) but they are back in print now with new covers. Now Seagull stores no longer carry the 1st and 3rd books (though their sister company is the publisher and still has them in print), but you can get them at Deseret Book stores and at independent bookstores.

Q: Are you a twin? You seemed to get the connection between Ariana and her brother just right.

A: No, I'm not a twin, but I do have a brother who took good care of me when I was younger. Many of the memories Ariana has of roaming Paris with her brother are ones I made with my own brother when we stayed in France.

Q: Are you ever going to write a book about Celisse and Racquel from Twice in a Lifetime?

A: I have no plans to do so. The rather lengthy epilogue in Twice in a Lifetime pretty much tells what happens to them.

Q: Did you serve a mission? Where?

A: Yes, to Portugal. And if you read Framed for Love, Love on the Run, and A Greater Love you will likely be able to tell that I am very familiar with the country and the Portuguese language.

Q: When's your birthday?

A: May 7th.

Q: How old are you?

A: Old enough to know that I'll never know all there is to know.

Q: How many children do you have?

A: I have six children. As of April 2005, they ranged in age from 21 months to 15 years old—three boys and three girls.

Q: You have six young children and you still write? How do you get it all done?

A: I don't. I figure if I wait long enough, someone who's just dying to clean my house and iron my clothes will magically appear. As long as my children are well fed, reasonably clean, and happy, that's what's important. My husband is a real help and does most of the deep cleaning in our home, while I do the surface stuff. Our children have daily chores. Mostly, I think the way I organize my life is a matter of priorities. My family and writing is important to me, so they get the attention. In a hundred years no one will remember if I had perfectly groomed yard or a spotless house, but my children will make a difference to people's lives and hopefully so will my writing.

Q: What are your children's names?

A: I really don't feel comfortable posting this information online. But watch the dedications of my books. You may see them there.

Q: Is being a writer fun?

A: Oh, yes. It's a bit like living in your own fantasy world.

Q: Is being a writer hard?

A: Sometimes it can be very hard. There are deadlines, rewrites, and appearances that really are difficult. But I wouldn't give it up for anything! Sometimes it's hard to have the discipline to write every day, but it is definitely worth the effort.

Q: Did you ever want to be anything else?

A: I've always wanted to be a mother. When I was really young, I thought I might become a lawyer, but then realized that I'd have to leave my children to do that. There was no way I was going to let someone else enjoy all that time with my little ones during the day. Besides, once I began to write, there was never anything else for me.

Q: Have you ever worked on more than one book at a time?

A: Yes, but I don't like to. I usually work on one at a time. If an important project comes up, I'll sometimes drop what I'm working on and do that project. Then go back to the first one.

Q: What can I do to become a writer?

A: Read everything you can in the genre you want to write. Study the writing books and keep writing every day. See For Aspiring Writers.

Q: What's your favorite book?

A: I don't have one. I love so many books that it would be hard to choose. Generally, I love just about any clean science fiction, and I enjoy old classics like To Kill a Mockingbird and All the King's Men. I don't get off much on Faulkner. Oh, well.

Q: How can I be notified of new releases?

A: Join my e-mailing list. If you are already registered, just login and then edit your profile.

Q: Do you write every day?

A: Yes. Monday through Friday, that is. Sometimes I take Fridays off and go on an extra outing with the kids.

Q: What is your pet peeve?

A: People who make their small children record long and unintelligible messages on their answering machines. And people who want me to write their autobiographies.

Q: What gives you your inspiration?

A: M&M's—and a lot of thinking, research, and prayer. But check out my For Aspiring Writers page for more info on how to find ideas.

Q: Does your family ever give you inspiration for books you write?

A: Yes. Very often. In fact, almost all the cute kid things my child characters do, I've taken from one of my own six children.

Q: Do you make up your story as you go or do you take the outline approach.

A: I usually know how I'm going to start a book, a few of the major scenes, and the overall theme or point I want to make. But I let the book take me where it will. I don't use organized outlines. If I knew every scene, I think I'd have no reason to write the book at all. The writing for me is the journey and all the fun.

Q: What is your calling in the LDS Church?

A: Right now I teach the eleven-year-old girls in the Primary. I love my calling! I've also served as a teacher in the Relief Society, a Sunday School teacher for the sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds, and as a bear den leader in the cub scouts. My favorite calling so far was teaching the teenagers. I really enjoyed being with them each week.

Q: Does your great husband ever become jealous or envious of your writing?

A: Never envious—he's more proud of my accomplishments than I am. But he does occasionally become jealous of my time at the computer, as I also am when he has to bring work home. Because of this, he generally keeps his work at the office, and I write during the day while he's away or after he and the children are in bed. I think it's this schedule that prevents any problems from arising. During serious deadlines, I'll work in the evenings, sometimes until four in the morning to avoid interruptions from the children. He is very good to take care of the house and family during these infrequent times (as am I when he has similar deadlines). Occasionally, he'll give me company on my late-night stints by playing a computer game on his computer while I write on mine. He's basically a great guy.

Q: Would you ever consider making any of your books into movies?

A: I think about it a lot. In fact, I have been planning to write a script for my first novel, but other deadlines have delayed my plans. I'm waiting for a lull, I guess. Maybe when my youngest goes to school. I'm currently thinking A Heartbeat Away might be the first movie I attempt.

Q: I heard from a friend that the Ariana series is going to become a movie. Is that true?

A: Someday I hope! But nothing is in the works yet.

Q: Did you always get good grades in school?

A: Generally, I received good grades. And English was always one of my best classes. Now when I take college courses, I work hard to get a top grade. I love learning!

Q: Where do you get your characters' names?

A: From name books, French guide books (for the Ariana series), school books, by mixing up the first and last names of people I know, and just about everywhere else. Occasionally, I make up a name. In my Ariana series, I tried very hard to use authentic French names.

Q: Did you have an English Degree when you submitted your first book?

A: No, I didn't. In fact, I returned to college about the same time my first book was accepted. However, I did thoroughly educate myself about writing before writing something the publisher liked. While I am a great advocate of education, I've found that everything you need to know about writing is already in a book somewhere. Of course, you must have the patience and the will to read, study, and learn the information. Please see the for aspiring writers section on my website for more information.