“Wednesday Writer” – Maria Hoagland

Maria Hoagland “nailed the whole church society thing” according to one reviewer of her first LDS novel, NOURISH & STRENGTHEN, and now she has another out titled FAMILY SIZE.

Family Size Cover Final 72 dpiHere’s the synopsis:

Jessica loves being the mom of an ever-expanding family, but when an ultrasound throws her a curve, can she adapt with grace?

Dragged away from home, Maya feels deserted by her workaholic husband in a land of confusing accents and church cliques. What will it take to acclimate and save her marriage—or does she even want to?

Sloane is an algebra teacher and runner who would give up both to be a mom, but no matter what she does, pregnancy remains elusive. Can she adjust her thinking and find purpose in her life?

As their lives intertwine, can friendship and faith help these women hurdle expectations of an ideal family size?


Family Size blog tour bannerAs you can see from the above banner, Maria’s offering a free signed copy. Just click on the first link below for a shot at the prize, or click on one of the next three links to buy your own copy today:

Blog post with rafflecopter: http://mariahoagland.blogspot.com/2013/02/family-size-giveaway.html

Amazon (Kindle, but paperback on same page, too): http://www.amazon.com/Family-Size-ebook/dp/B00BFVJGG2/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361675099&sr=8-2&keywords=maria+hoagland

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/family-size-maria-hoagland/1114578255?ean=2940044315266

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/283339


Now, let’s get to know Maria a good deal better!

Maria Hoagland

ME:  How is it you became a big fan of Annie Dillard and why? (And you might want to explain who she is for those of us who might be a bit less literate . . . otherwise, we’d have to go scurrying to Wikipedia. :D)

MARIA:  LOL! I forgot I said that at one time, but she is one of the originals who inspired me–though our styles are nothing alike. What especially spoke to me about Annie Dillard’s writings when I was introduced to them by an amazing grad student/teacher in college were Annie’s nonfiction essays about nature and the application she made to her life. I realized you can write (and read) what you are passionate about and it’s that passion that will communicate to others.

I write LDS women’s fiction because that’s what I like to read. It covers ideas, issues, and feelings that are important to me. If I were to write something else just because that’s the trend readers are looking for, I wouldn’t be true to myself and get the same enjoyment and fulfillment I get out of writing what speaks to me. (Good for you!)

ME:  Please describe your development as a writer, from the beginning until now. And if you had to couch it in playwriting terms, what would you title Acts 1, 2 and 3? (And I’d love a picture to go with each act.)


Act 1: Education–In high school and college, I dabbled in writing short stories and poems while I worked on my English degree, but it was a way to pass time, not something I thought would develop into anything serious. I took all the creative writing and editing classes that were available at the time (which weren’t many), but it was what I read that fueled my writing and I just didn’t have much to say.

When my children were small, there was a huge intermission in my writing. I didn’t feel a desire to write; instead, I channeled my creativity through raising children and scrapbooking.

Act 2: Apprenticeship–When my youngest started kindergarten, all of a sudden I found myself with a strong desire to write that coincided perfectly with my new influx of ime available to do it. By this time, I felt I had some life experience and something to say that I really didn’t have a dozen years before. It took me about nine months to write my first draft of a novel, but several years to edit, re-edit, and re-re-edit that novel. I had a lot to learn about the craft and the writing process. In addition, I had to research the publishing process and find the confidence to query. It was during that time I attended my first writing conference.

That writing conference led me into . . .

Act 3: Where I am today, practicing my craft–I am writing and editing on a much faster timetable now, though still not as quickly as some. I’ve made connections with other writers, which helps me improve and make writing fun. Honestly, I know I wouldn’t be the writer I am today if I hadn’t gone to that first writing conference or signed up for writing groups and taken part in critique groups as opportunities arose.

(Very nice play structure, with the end yet to be determined.)

ME:  Like you, I majored in communications at BYU to be more practical, but I stuck with it. What exactly was it about writing for The Daily Universe that made you realize you weren’t cut out to be a journalist?

MARIA:  It shows that you stuck with journalism–you’re asking some difficult questions.

(Thanks…I dream of taking part in a presidential press conference some day…just kidding!)

Honestly, the worst part about writing for The Daily Universe for me was calling people. (Oh, yes! Me too!) I don’t know why it is–maybe it’s the introvert in me–but I HATE calling people I don’t know. It was that, and when I went to my very first real interview and left in tears. (Oh, no…that bad?) I think I’d be better at it now–I’ve toughened up a little in twenty-some years–but anything slightly confrontational is just not my thing. I didn’t want to force myself to work at something I dreaded; I wanted to do something I loved. (Smart girl!)

ME:  How does your husband feel about your writing, particularly when he finds you working on it while preparing dinner? For that matter, how does your whole family feel about it?

MARIA:  I’d like to say I’ve gotten better about cooking and writing, though I’m still not the best. Often, I realize I forgot to thaw something or get the crock pot started at the right time, and then we’re scrambling last minute to figure out something different. Even with my lapses, my husband is very supportive of my writing, even to the detriment of his stomach! (Now that’s true love.) The kids rarely complain, but if they happen to marry someone who likes to cook, it will open up a whole new world to them!

(I got lucky–my husband does the cooking.)

ME:  You’ve said that your first book, NOURISH & STRENGTHEN, came out of a journal entry about your family cat, and then you ended up axing the cat part of the story. I want to know what the journal entry was about.

MARIA:  I’m trying to remember exactly what that one was about and what parts stayed in the final draft. The gist was the idea of an indoor cat teasing the outdoor cat–a false feeling of safety because they were separated by glass. (She was scared to death of him “in person.”)

Sometimes we have to go out of our comfort zone to grow as a person–yeah, something I didn’t embrace at The Daily Universe, I suppose–but as far as it relates to NOURISH & STRENGTHEN, there’s a balance to learning to accept ourselves for who we are and loving ourselves even when we’re not perfect, but then there’s also expanding our talents, improving our relationships, and doing our very best.

ME:  Please talk about your particular writing process. Is there a particular time every day that you’ve carved out for writing–a time respected by your friends and family?

MARIA:  My writing schedule is a work in progress even still. I try to make every snatch of time productive–and that means carrying my Kindle and netbook with me as much as possible for when I’m waiting in the car. I don’t do much writing during family time and never on Sunday, but with all my kids in school, I’ve got most of the day to write (my other job is only part time during the school day). Because I enjoy writing, I find the time and tend to put off things like grocery shopping or Costco runs so I can sit in Barnes & Noble or a park with a netbook.

ME:  Do any of your other activities serve to better your writing? If so, please describe how.

MARIA:  Most of the time, running helps me clear my head and gives me time to think through whatever blocks or issues I have with my WIP. I’ve been known to stop running, pull out my phone to make a note, and then go on.

Also, I find that hanging out with friends, working, volunteering, and spending time with family gives me more ideas. You can’t write about life without living it.

ME:  Please describe your writing space and what makes it special. (And I must have a picture.)

MARIA:  I have a new writing space that I love–one all my own for the first time ever. My oldest child went off to BYU and will be leaving for a mission in April (Congratulations!), so when I realized that he wasn’t going to be home for two-and-a-half years and there was no reason to keep it “his” room, I transformed it into my own. I brought in everything I love that I didn’t have room for elsewhere in the house: a huge bookshelf, a love seat, a place for the cat to sit under the window, a desk that looks out the window . . . all very important to my creative process, especially when the weather’s not nice enough to write outdoors. I hated to make my son feel like he was being kicked out of his own home, but I think he knows it’s temporary–I’ll happily relinquish control when he ever has need of the room. Until then, it’s MINE!


(Here’s the love seat . . . check out the drawings!)


(And here’s the desk and window, plus what looks like a plotting board)

ME:  Finally, what are you working on now, and do you ever think about trying anything besides fiction (like Annie Dillard)?

MARIA:  I don’t think I’ll ever write anything but fiction. I have a couple more novel ideas running around in my head–one more persistently and prominently than the others–but I’m still in the idea-gathering, research-scouring, outline-producing stage, so I think I’ll keep mum at the moment until I know my idea will work.

(I understand, but if you were the President, I’d be more persistent :D.)

Thank you so much for interviewing me, Tanya! Congratulations on being named a Whitney Finalist. I’m hoping some day to make it to that stage, as well. Best of luck in May!

(Aw, thanks. And I have no doubt you will achieve that dream . . . and more.)

If you want to know more about Maria and her writing, you can check out her website or her blog.

Next week I’ll be interviewing bestselling author, Marlene Bateman Sullivan. She has a new book out!

By the way, if you’re a writer and would like to be interviewed as part of my “Wednesday Writer” series, please leave me a shout out here in the Comments section.


Originally posted 2013-02-27 06:00:47.