Today, I’m pleased to be featuring Judith McNees on the blog. We get to learn more about her writing process and her latest book, A Heart to Redeem.
Judith McNees’ Book & Writing Process
Q: What is the title of your book and what is it about?
A: A Heart to Redeem is a marriage of convenience romance about a man who learns he has a three-year-old daughter and needs a wife in order to get custody of her
Publication date: March 13, 2023
Q: What genre is A Heart to Redeem?
A: Contemporary Christian Romance
Q: What inspired you to write A Heart to Redeem, and how did you come up with the idea for it?
A: This is book 3 of a series, and I wanted to write it as a marriage of convenience story because I discovered through my earlier books that the youngest sibling in the family saga was not someone who would settle down on his own. I’m a discovery writer, so a lot of the ideas came as I wrote them.
Q: What scene was the hardest one to write and why?
A: There were a lot of difficult scenes to write in this one. I’m not sure if I could narrow it down to one since the book deals with heavy topics such as alcoholism, cutting, emotional abuse, and loss.
If I had to give just one, probably the scene where Chris wakes up at his friend Tom’s house, and Brandi meets him there. I had originally written it to take place at their apartment, and I rewrote it later to have a greater emotional impact.
Q: What are some themes and tropes that are included in A Heart to Redeem?
A: The biggest theme is finding redemption and our identity through Christ and not our family. Another big theme is the idea that who you surround yourself with will determine the direction your life takes.
Some tropes are a marriage of convenience, found family, close proximity, emotional scars, sudden child, and playboy in love.
Q: Who is the ideal reader for A Heart to Redeem?
A: Because of mature topics, I recommend this novel for age 18+, and most of my readers are women, although I do have some men who read them!
Q: What’s the one thing you want readers to take away from reading A Heart to Redeem?
A: Nothing can separate us from the love of God. He relentlessly pursues His lost sheep.
Q: Share a favorite quote or two from A Heart to Redeem.
A: I love her. It had happened gradually, sneaking up on him the way his addictions had, yet unlike his addictions, she could love him back…probably did love him back, considering she’d chased him down in his idiocy. He recalled telling her the parable of the lost sheep and tightened his hold. You used her to come after me this time, didn’t you, Lord?
Q: Plotter or pantser? Share a bit of your writing process.
A: I’m a combination of both. I have a general idea of the beginning and the end and discover a lot of the rest of it as I write.
Q: What does a typical writing session for you look like?
A: It takes me about two hours to write a chapter, so that’s what I usually try to block out. I don’t like to leave off in the middle of a scene.
Q: What was the most challenging aspect of writing and publishing? How did you (do you plan to) overcome it?
A: The most challenging for me has been the lack of accountability since I’m an indie publisher. So far, I’ve overcome this by giving myself deadlines that I announce on my social media so I have something to work towards
Q: Why do you write?
A: I write to reach those who don’t see themselves yet in Christian fiction. In each of my novels, I try to bring some kind of social issue that has impacted me to light.
In book 1, the heroine, Julia, is a system orphan. In book 2, the hero, Ty, is a single parent. In book 3, Chris is an alcoholic, and Brandi is a recovering cutter.
I want people who experience these hardships to see and understand that no one is too far away from Christ for redemption.
Writing Advice from Judith McNees
Q: What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting out?
A: Just write. You can pick up all the tools that make you a better writer along the way. A common saying among writers is, “You can’t edit an empty page.”
Q: What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever received? How has it impacted your life?
A: Find a mentor. It is so important to have someone who you know is a cheerleader but also someone who will tell you the truth when your work needs improvement.
A mentor is NOT the same as a critique group/partner. My mentor has drastically improved the quality of my writing, which has made my creative process that much quicker and more enjoyable. Plus, she prays for me, which is invaluable.
Q: What’s the worst piece of writing advice you ever received? Why do you think this was not good advice?
A: Don’t edit as you go. My brain just doesn’t work that way. I get distracted by my errors, so I try to keep my draft pretty clean. That’s not to say I don’t have to edit when I complete my first draft, but I think you have to do what works for you.
Q: If you could go back and change one thing in your author career, what would it be and why?
A: I would have waited longer to publish my first novel. I had to put out a revised edition because I didn’t have a mentor before I published it, and it wasn’t ready for publication.
Q: What is one writing resource that you couldn’t do without?
A: The app novelpad.co is where I do all my note-taking, planning, and editing. Atticus.io would be a very close second because I can’t format in Word.
Just for Fun
Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Why?
A: Probably super speed so I could get all my chores done quicker and have more time to read.
Q: If you could have dinner with any fictional character, who would it be and why?
A: Liz Morgan from my Tranquil Shores series because she seems like someone I could be friends with.
Q: If you were not a writer, what would you want to be and why?
A: A photographer. I love taking pictures, although I’m not very good at it. I would probably have to take classes first.
Q: If you could switch lives with any person for a day, who would it be and why?
A: Someone who lives in Alaska because I’ve always wanted to see that state. We were supposed to go on vacation there during the lockdowns and had to cancel. We haven’t rescheduled yet.
Q: What are you reading?
A: An ARC of Saving the CEO by Liwen Y. Ho
Let’s Connect with Judith McNees!
Q: What are you working on next?
A: I’m hoping to start on a novella based on side characters from my Tranquil Shores series that will be a freebie for my newsletter subscribers.
About A Heart to Redeem
Can two lonely hearts find their way to each other…and God?
Chris Morgan is the black sheep of the family. He’s leaned into the title, finding as many ways as he can to distance himself from his perfect parents and siblings. When he receives shocking news that rocks his perception of his sinful lifestyle, he needs help. Fast.
Brandi Blakely knows exactly what kind of person Chris is. When he comes to her begging for help, she agrees to marry him with one caveat. The marriage will have an expiration date. As the two work together to get custody of the little girl he has just learned about, lines blur, and hearts become involved. Brandi refuses to let Chris in and shatter her fragile heart.
When tragedy strikes, can Chris hold onto the tenuous changes he’s made, and can Brandi let go of the ugly scars from her past to see herself as a new creation in Christ?
Purchase A Heart to Redeem on Amazon
About Judith McNees
Judith McNees lives in Michigan, where she enjoys spending time hiking with her kids and breaking out into random songs to annoy them. She loves to travel, and visiting all 50 states with her husband is at the top of her bucket list. She has a B.A. in English from Western Michigan University and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.
Connect with Judith McNees on her Website | Author Central | Facebook | Goodreads l Instagram | Linktree