Flo was a former instructor for Writer's Digest School. She taught for them for 5 years, with over 300 students during that time, did critiquing of proposals and whole books for them in a separate section of the School and she also worked as a freelance critiquer for about seven years. She sold three secular historical romances and five Silhouettes, and two Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspenses. Melissa Endlich was her editor.
Flo and I often ‘talked’ about ideas from God and writing for God. She believed if an idea wouldn’t leave you alone, it must be important.
She told me: “If writing is your dream, please do not give up on it. I recently read that there are two ways to write as a Christian--to be called to it by God, and to just write and offer it as a gift to God. Isn't that something? I'm not sure which mine is. ”
When I complained about all the writing rules that writing loops espoused, Flo came to my rescue and confessed: I generally stopped reading about rules and wrote from my voice--that is, the way my head is saying it as it goes to my typing fingers. For instance, while it's perfectly fine to not like to read or write "moving body parts": His arms reached out to her---it is not incorrect if it's from the heroine's point of view and it's your writing style. For a while, I felt myself stilted because every sentence I wrote, I stopped and analyzed it and pretty soon, I got so bottled up, I didn't want to write. So I stopped worrying. I've never sold a book directly to an editor that didn't have that sort of thing sprinkled through it. And "was" sentences, too. In my experience, editors look for voice and character first, and then the goal needs to be emotional for category romance. The hero's goal should be either in opposition to the heroine's, or he should want what she does for an entirely different reason. Then throw in lots of opposition, both on the hero and heroine's part to each other, and maybe a villain in a suspense. But it's the emotional cost, I have finally come to understand, that the editors really seem to look for. (Ha, there I went--it's just the habit of teaching this stuff for all those years.)
I dropped her a note when I saw her Romantic Times review and she responded:
Thanks for the congrats on getting a 4 on DEADLY REUNION. I was so happy. I really believe it was because the editor left my writing style as is. In the past, the books where the editors let me be a little "sassy" in my dialogue did better rating wise. I have to admit I started looking up the rating right around Dec 30th, even though I vowed not to.
Flo's friendship was special to me. She didn't rush through her posts or her explanations. She spent time composing just the right words and encouragement. Once I opened an email from her and read, “I DO NOT want you to lose your passion. So persevere, Jess. Write from the heart and your emotions. And don't give up. Flo"
Flo's gift wasn't only writing for God--it was encouraging others. I'm going to miss this very special lady and receiving her wise counsel. I pray she knew just how much I cherished her friendship.
You can read my January 23rd interview with Florence Case HERE. Flo's last LoveInspired Suspense will hit the stands in late October or early November. Let's honor her memory by buying Mistletoe and Murder. I know you won't be disappointed because her writing partner was God.