Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Heartfelt Tribute to Florence Case

My sweet, sweet friend Florence Moyer (she wrote as Florence Case) has gone to be with the Lord. Flo was my RWA Chapter - Faith, Hope and Love friend. We never met, but oh, the love and encouragement she gave to me via email. Once when I was particularly low, she offered to read my proposal. That doesn’t happen very often—at least not in my little corner of the writing world. I’ve even asked authors if they’d look over a chapter or synopsis for me, only to receive a no, I don’t do that. That’s how I knew Flo was a gift from God—she offered, I didn’t have to ask. And she told me that she didn’t often make that kind of offer but felt God connected us.

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.


Jessica said...

That's beautiful. She sounds like a special person and I'm glad you two connected. Thank you for sharing this.

Missy Tippens said...

Oh, Jess, thank you for sharing that. Flo was a very special person and such an encourager. We'd been emailing for the last year, spurring each other on in our deadlines and "racing" each other on work on proposals.

About a month ago, I wrote to her to check in and told her about a rejection I'd had. When I found out that she wasn't doing well, I told her that any of my writing woes were trival compared to what she was going through. And she wrote this back to me (yes, I saved it just like you saved her emails):

"But they weren't, and aren't!!! Your work is so important to God. I got to understand the difference between "knowledge of God" and "being saved in the heart" by reading a book. You could do that for someone someday!"

What an encourager who knew just the right thing to say. I'll miss her.

Jess said...

Jessica, she was a special person--without a doubt.

Oh, Missy, thank YOU for sharing. I wonder how many other FTB/FHL writers have been touched by Flo.

Erica Vetsch said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend.

Jess, each time you post about a friend in your life who has gone to be with Jesus, we, as your readers, are gifted with something precious.

You truly have the gift of friendship.

Debra Harris-Johnson said...

I am overwhelmed by the tragic loss of these wonderful ladies. "Encouragers" are hard to find. "Givers" are almost impossible to come by. But God always send people in your life when you need them most. May the peace and love of God surround you Jess as you remember your friends.

Debra E Marvin said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing and inviting us to come and find out more about Flo. I came along too late to know anything about her, but I'm touched by all your thoughts and especially by her words. You were definitely blessed to know her.

Angela Breidenbach said...

Thank you, Jess. Flo was a kind person who never intruded. She never flaunted her success in writing. In fact, I didn't know all the books she'd written. I have only one. I didn't know she'd taught for so long. I'm grateful for the short time I did know her on the FHL loops.

Angie said...

I didn't know this wonderful lady, but you wrote a fine tribute. I'm shocked that you've asked writer friends to review things for you and they say No! I thought that's what writers do; critique each other. Well, anytime you need a second pair of eyes, just send it my way.

Jess said...

Angie, not writer FRIENDS, but rather writer ACQUAINTANCES. That's the difference, I believe. But in all fairness to those few who have said no to me, pros on deadline can't review/read every Jill/Jane/Jess who approaches them. I chose authors I admired and they were too busy. Understandable, but honestly, I hope I'm NEVER too busy to encourage.

Sharon Gravatt said...

Hello Jessica,

I am Flo's sister and I would like to thank you for your beautiful tribute to her. Not only was she a loyal friend to many, she was also a kind and loving sister. I miss her tremendously and was so elated to find your tribute along with a few others online.

I know that she is watching over us all and whenever something good happens in my life, I know that she is behind it.

Thanks again and may God Bless you!
Sharon (Case) Gravatt

Jess said...

Sharon Gravatt! Thanks so much for posting and your sweet words. I think of Flo so often. The other day I was cleaning out some files and came across a brochure promoting the published authors of an East Texas RWA group. I was listed in the brochure, but I was so surprised to see that Flo was in it too. It was back in 1996. I was a long-distance member and I suspect Flo was too. It felt so strange to see how our lives criss-crossed before we actually became email friends. I know you miss her tremendously. I miss her too--miss the idea of her being in North Louisiana with her husband and son. Miss her encouragement and straightforwardness. Even though we never met... I absolutely LOVE thinking of her and remembering the advice/encouragement she emailed me. Without a doubt, she proves once a blessing, always a blessing.