God’s light shines in all of His creations, from the Star of Bethlehem, to the angel proclaiming Christ’s birth, to the Son of God Himself—the light of the world.
Through this light, He illuminates darkness, gives us guidance, and shows us how to love one another.
Name / Pen name & little about yourself:
My name is Ora, but my family and close friends calls me Oreo. If I’m giving myself labels, I’d say (amongst many things), I’m an artist, writer, genealogist, seamstress, and history buff, to name a few.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was a young girl I used to walk down to the river, only a couple blocks from our house in South Lake Tahoe, and sit on the riverbank and write. I didn’t just dream of writing, I felt I was a writer.
What genre are your books? and what made you write in that genre?
I write historical fiction, creative nonfiction, Christian inspirational, and children’s picture books. My first love is historical fiction and writing about my ancestors. A Christmas Story of Light is the first book published.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I joined a writing group in the 1990s and wrote short stories, essays, memoir pieces, stuff like that. I went to a lot of writing conferences and nontraditional writing classes. I didn’t write my first book until my five children were grown, which was in 2014. I had decided who that book would be about in 1980, however. That’s a long time for a book to stew around in my head. I’m very aware that I tend to obsess about a project and knew that I would ignore my kids if I tried to write it while I was raising them. I completely admire moms who can do both. When I was 55 years old, I received my Master of Arts in Creative Writing. In my eyes, it’s never too late to learn. I eat up education!
Where do you get your ideas for your books?
I can’t explain why, but I’ve always had a strong connection to my ancestors, whom I’ve never met. My mother has a lot of old tintype photos and ancient heirlooms that I used to admire. I have memories of sitting on her bed and looking at the old photos, imagining what their lives were like. What did they wear, how did they act, what was it like to live in America before the country was developed, or coming across the ocean from the old country, and on and on? I’m all things family. Not just the deceased ones, but the ones living, too. I’m intrigued by family identity and what brings us together. Epigenetics is captivating. I watch reality shows on TV that portray adults who were adopted as babies and then search for their biological families as adults. It fascinates me the connections they/we have to people we’ve never met that are our family. If the adoptee is joined with his biological family by the end of the show, I cry right along with them. I have two families in my ancestry who secretly gave away babies and I’ve written about them both.
My children’s book, A Christmas Story of Light, I wrote for my grandchildren, thinking that when I die, this is what I want them to know I believe. Maybe my next book will be about how I believe we will always be family, even when grandma is gone?
How long does it typically take you to write a book?
Well, the first one took a few years while I learned the ins and outs of writing fiction. The second one I wrote as my creative nonfiction master’s thesis and it took nine months. It was a lot of fun to work with an academic mentor on that one. My children’s book, I wrote in about a week, I’d say. It was truly something on my heart that I wanted to tell my grandchildren in just the right way. Then it took a full year to paint the sixteen oil paintings that go with it. Between paintings, I got a little writing done on my third novel about another ancestor. I’m also working on a book called Finding Peace When Your Child Suffers (sadly, written from personal experience) and collecting stories from people who have found that peace. If any of your readers want to share their story with me, I’d love to hear about it and perhaps put it in the book. I hope to publish that one in 2019.
How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?
I’ve finished 3 books. Favorite? Now that’s a really hard question. I get so attached to my ancestors/characters. All my books are my favorite. The paintings in my Christmas children’s book are mostly of my family. My sons modeled as angels, Joseph, and Christ. My grandchildren are in the book multiple times. I have a foster son in Africa, and his boys, whom I call my “foster grandchildren,” are also in the book. And since the book is based on what I hold most dear in my heart, I guess all those things make it my favorite, too.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you overcome it?
I have never suffered from writer’s block. There are so many things I want to get onto the page, that it just hasn’t happened. I hope it never does. There are several more ideas I have for books. I just hope I live long enough to get them all out.
Have you done any collaborations with other writers?
No, I haven’t.
What do you think of reviews?
I LOVE reviews. I’m one of those people in critique group that wants to know what you really think. How can I get better or know what the reader wants without hearing it from them? Of course, I don’t want to hear anger or hate in a review. But I do want the truth given in a considerate or thoughtful way. I think that’s possible.