Friday, November 16, 2012

Fay Lamb: Embracing The Not Typical Story And Excelling

Everyone's Story warmly welcomes author Fay Lamb as its new guest. I've had a chance to get to know this Floridian these past few weeks and am excited to share her encouragement to champion the writing and reading of novels that show, as Fay says, the messy side of life. Please join Fay as she tells the inside scoop of what her characters reveal to her. Plus, Fay has a few interesting replies to the questions I've posed. She also is offering a generous giveaway of her novel BECAUSE OF ME. Come share the fun!

Book Giveaway:

Fay is graciously offering one copy of her novel BECAUSE OF ME to one randomly chosen commenter. The winner will be announced between 4-5 EST on Friday, November 23rd. Please leave your email address within the body of the comment.

Here's a blurb of the novel:

Michael’s fiancée, Issie Putnam, was brutally attacked and Michael was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Now he’s home to set things right. Two people stand in his way: Issie’s son, Cole, and a madman. Can Michael learn to love the child Issie holds so close to her heart and protect him from the man who took everything from Michael so long ago?
Check out Fay's YouTube Video: 

Characters: A Connection to the World of Your Reader by Fay Lamb

Writers love to talk about their characters. Ask us about our latest heroine or hero, and we’ll get a smile on our face, a gleam in our eyes, and we’ll share all we know. I have friends who frequently ask, “Now are these real people you’re talking about or characters in your latest book?

My answer: "They might live only in my mind, but they are as real to me as you are."     

Yes, my characters are real folks, born of ink and imagination with a purpose of making them come alive for my readers.

For a character to come alive inside a reader’s imagination, they first must spring to life inside an author’s imagination. They cannot be cardboard pictures with handsome faces and perfect bodies. They need flesh…they need desires…they need conflict…and they need a world in which all of this plays out.
Michael Hayes, my hero in Because of Me, is one of those characters who still lives in my psyche long after his story has been written. I didn’t seek out Michael, wasn’t thinking of a story to tell. Michael came to me. He pushed his dark brown scraggily hair from his weary deep chocolate eyes and ran a hand across an unshaven baby face. The sadness he bore in the stoop of his shoulder seemed to add years to his age.
I didn’t know who he was or what he wanted, but I knew Michael had a story to tell, and I wanted to hear it. With breath held and my fingers poised over the keyboard, I waited.
Michael took a steadying breath and with quivering lips, he said, “There’s a little boy. I’m not his father, but he was born because of me.”
And with that, Michael began to tell me the story that became one of the most meaningful in my life.
Michael didn’t introduce me to his heroine, Isabel “Issie” Putnam. He was very protective of her. So, I had to search Issie out, to discover what Michael loved about her—how a woman brutally raped at gunpoint in front of her fiancé, Michael, a woman who was separated from the man she loved above all others by his years in prison for a crime he did not commit—could continue on. The reason came in the form of the little boy Michael told me he could never come to love.
Issie and I didn’t become friends—not for a long while. I had to get to know her, to understand her, to see where she lived and what she did to take life one day at a time. Then one morning, I drove down a little mountain road, and I found the farmhouse where Issie lived, and the truth about the home she chose to renovate for her and her son—the home in which she had been raped.
I met Issie’s sister and her brother-in-law. Her good friends became my pals, and I began to understand her love for her son, and her fear of those who threatened to take him away from her.
Fay's next release
I met Issie’s sister and her brother-in-law. Her good friends became my pals, and I began to understand her love for her son, and her fear of those who threatened to take him away from her.
No cardboard characters here. Each one fully came to life in vivid 3-D. I cried with them, absorbed their anger, and their pain. I wanted justice for those wronged. I yearned for a happy ending, and in all my plotting and maneuvering, I learned that the characters were in control. They had a story for me, and I could only sit and type and watch it unfold.
Readers need characters that are real to them. They want to become lost in a story the way they get absorbed in a movie on a screen. Novels, though, are a more intimate medium. A writer brings what he or she knows to the story world onto the page, and the more intimate a writer’s knowledge of his or her characters, the easier a reader’s imagination will take over.
So, the next time you find me jabbering away about someone near and dear to me, you don’t have to ask if they are make-believe. For me, they are very real…and someone I long for readers to meet.

A Few Questions For Fay:

I've often seen the following phrase attached to your name: Not your typical Christian fiction. As someone who also sees my own fiction as not typical I'm intrigued. Please explain your version. Is selling and marketing your "not typical" fiction more difficult?

In a way, that tag is an inside joke I have against industry standards. Don’t get me wrong. I feel that Christian authors are the best in the writing biz. We have an awesome responsibility to our readers. We need to be both entertaining and write stories that show the truth of God’s Word, whether that showing is done covertly or overtly. We need to avoid anything gratuitous, and the messages in our stories, need to be in line with clear Biblical teaching. At the same time, we need to show Christians living in a world where everything is not perfect, where life gets messy, often because of our own decisions and occasionally through no fault of our own, but God is always in the details of our lives, working out our messes, confirming the truth of Romans 8:28—that all things work to good…

The inside joke comes from the time I sat across from an industry professional and provided my best practiced pitch for Because of Me. The response: “Your fiction is too complicated for Christian readers.”  Well, first of all, Christian readers are a pretty smart group of people, and secondly, I think they can handle complicated. In fact, I think that often a Christian reader will cross the aisle to find a secular book because they need “complicated” and some of our larger Christian publishers want to feed Christians brain candy. The smaller Christian publishers seem to me to be the ones who are getting the big picture.

Since I’ve been seriously writing for the Christian fiction market thirty-something years, and Because of Me, published this year is my debut novel, I’d say, yes, I have had a difficult journey. At one point my husband asked me if I had confidence in those stories that do not fit the standard Christian-fiction mold. I’d had enough feedback and quite a bit of critique from authors and mentors I trust, and I was able to tell him without a doubt that I was sure the stories would entertain readers as well as share a message. My husband then recommended that I write stories which were solely formulaic and to pitch those. His reasoning was very sound—you have to prove you can present a masterpiece by coloring within the lines before you’re given a blank canvas. The advice was wonderful, and I did write two stories that are strictly formula romance. I never gave up on my stories like Because of Me and my next release Stalking Willow, and to my surprise, those aren’t the stories I’m waiting to publish. I’m still looking for a home for the formula romances.

Everyone has their own fears or... quirks. I belong to the club of Way-Up-There when it comes to them, so please don't think I'm picking on you :) You openly admit that though living in the gateway to the Kennedy Space Center, you will not fly. Can you share with us what your faith in God has enabled you to do that once you never thought possible?

Funny you say that, because I have flown this year. I flew in January for an ACFW operating board meeting in Dallas, Texas. I was fine on the flight out there, but for some reason, I froze like a deer in the headlights of a semi-truck when it came to leaving the hotel and getting back on a plane. Author Kim Vogel Sawyer and I roomed together during the meetings, and bless her heart, she did everything but hold my hand to make sure I got onto the plane and back to Florida. Once home, I stumbled off the plane, and you’d have thought I hadn’t seen my husband in a year instead of less than a week. I broke out in tears and declared that I would never fly again. So, we made arrangements to drive to Dallas from Florida. Those plans changed, and I had to fly to the ACFW Conference. I could easily say that God enabled me to triumph over my fear and to fly, and He did, but I see God is so many changes in my life over the years. Just the fact that I’m able speak in front of people, to teach, to minister to writers, and well, to write, that’s all God and nothing to do with me.

As an acquisitions editor for Pelican Book Group, do you have any words of advice for those of us writing the different type of story and pitching it to an editor or agent?

My book Because of Me is one of those different stories, and I’ve sat across from editors trying to pitch the story. I’ve walked away with great advice, and on occasion, I’ve walked away shaking my head, realizing that the professional across from me had a much different vision for my story than I wanted to portray. The first advice that I’d give an author with a difficult sale is to know that what you present to an editor or an agent is a well-written, professionally presented manuscript (grammar, punctuation, spelling, and storytelling elements). Many authors try to pitch a story before it’s ready. Writing is an art, and authors need to treat it as such…practice, study, continue to learn and to master every detail of what paints a vivid story in a reader’s mind. Once an author is confident that they have a well-written story, they need to have faith, not only in themselves but in God’s plan for what He has given them. Trust your instincts. If you feel the advice given you can enhance your story, work on it. If you know without a doubt that your story is where you want it, pray and move forward. There will be a publisher out there with your vision.

Viewers, let's chat: Will you continue to write or read the "not typical" kind of novel? Would you like to see more publishers pursue this type of story?

Author Bio:
Fay Lamb works as an acquisition editor for Pelican Book Group, offers services as a freelance editor, and is an author of Christian romance and romantic suspense. Her emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Because of Me, her debut romantic suspense novel is available at all book retailers. Her second release, Stalking Willow, will be available from Write Integrity Press in May 2013.

Fay has served as secretary for American Christian Fiction Writer’s operating board and as a moderator for ACFW’s critique group, Scribes. For her volunteer efforts for ACFW, she received the Service Members Award in 2010.

Fay and her husband, Marc, reside in Titusville, Florida, where multi-generations of their families have lived. The legacy continues with their two married sons and five grandchildren.

You can find Fay at:


  1. Elaine: Thank you for allowing me to share.

    1. Truly a pleasure that you're here, Fay. I'm believing it will be an exciting week!

  2. Hi Fay! This is a great interview. I really enjoyed learning more about you and where your writing takes you. I love to read edgy Christian books.

    1. Suzie, I'm glad you enjoyed the interview--I always appreciate encouraging feedback. Hope to see you on Everyone's Story again.

    2. Thanks, Suzie, and your book No Substitute releases at the end of the month, correct?

  3. Wonderful interview and great advice, Fay! I also work for a small publisher who seeks out Christian fiction that is "not typical," so I especcially enjoyed your comments and insight.

    I'd love to win the book.


    1. Patti, it's nice to see you here again in this little but ever growing corner of the world.

    2. Thanks, Patti. I just had a conversation with a very talented who works in another artistic field where talent is often found in the smaller venues, but the larger ones get all the squawk. Sometimes the smaller venues just let us be who we are and produce what God wants us to produce.

  4. I like reading different books myself, with a real love for allegorical twists. And I especially love to find allegory that isn't tied up in fantasy...

    1. Welcome, Jennifer. Glad for your visit. Sounds like you and I enjoy the same type of books!

    2. Hey, Jennifer. Good to see you here.

  5. Fay, thank you so much for being my guest this past week on Everyone's Story--holiday and all! Your segment received not only hits from the US, but quite a lot from different countries, something that is always appreciated and fun. Thanks to for the sweet book giveaway...

    And the winner of that giveaway of BECAUSE OF ME is Suzie. Yea, Suzie! Both Fay & I will be contacting you in direct emails.

    May His peace be with you two, and everyone, always.

  6. Elaine:

    Thank you for allowing me to be your guest this week. It has been a great pleasure. And congratulations to Suzie!


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