Meet Deborah Raney

Deb Raney!

She writes incredible books in a pretty amazing place.

Meet Deborah Raney, author of 20 novels, winner of multiple awards, and home manager for a husband, children, and grandchildren.

From the inside flap of her recently-re-released novel, Beneath a Southern Sky:
Her Second Husband Healed the Sorrow of a Tragic Loss. Her First Has Just Returned from the Dead. Which Man Has the Right to Claim Daria’s Heart?

Learn more about this book here.

And here are my questions for Deborah:

1. You are a home manager and a writer. How do you find time to balance both, (and do them so well!)?

Well, I have to admit that now that we are empty nesters, it’s much easier than when we had four kids at home. But even then, the secret was to delegate. My husband helps in so many ways, not the least of which is picking up after himself. We made sure the kids did the same, and they each had assigned jobs that helped the household run more smoothly. We kept charts and lists of whose turn it was to do what job and switched off often so everyone learned how to do each job well.

2. Your novels tend to center on strong family relationships, (in this case–a husband/wife missionary team). Do you draw from your own family experiences as you write?

Absolutely! There is so much of me and my family in my novels––both my immediate family, and my family of origin. I draw from what has worked for us, as well as what has caused conflict between us.

3. A recent review of Beneath a Southern Sky called it “emotionally intelligent” writing. After reading it, I know exactly what she meant. Whether something great happens or something terrible happens, I as the reader felt it. How do you connect to that emotional core of your reader?

I think one of the necessary skills of a writer is being able to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and truly imagine how it would feel to have this thing that’s happening to our character happen to us. Even if I’ve not experienced the exact event my character is undergoing, using something that author Brandilyn Collins calls “emotion memory” I can empathize with my characters’ emotions and thus write them convincingly. For example, I have never committed murder, but I can remember how it feels to be enraged when someone hurt my child.

Deb’s lovely office!

4. What is your favorite tip for keeping your home office organized?

I think one secret to staying organized is getting organized in the first place. Once I clean out a drawer, closet or room, I’m motivated to keep it that way by having experienced how nice it looks and how much easier it makes my life to have things in order. I try to walk through the house each evening before I go to bed and tidy things up along the way. I think it helps me sleep better, and I know it makes waking up and facing a new day far more pleasant.

5. One of the reasons I couldn’t put Beneath a Southern Sky down was because there was no easy answer to the conflict. In life, what do you find helpful for solving conflicts as they pertain to the home?

Compromise! Anytime more than one person lives in a household, there are going to be disagreements and differing opinions on how things should be done. I think one of the best things my husband and I have done to resolve conflict involving our home is to divvy up tasks. I hate to empty the dishwasher and Ken doesn’t mind, so that’s his gift to me. He despises changing the empty toilet paper roll, so I’ve simply accepted that task as my own. Ken’s a neatnik who’s really bothered by clutter, so I try to keep clutter to a minimum in the parts of the house we share, but he agrees not to say a word if I let my office closet become a rat’s nest.

It takes a while to learn what works, but once you do, it simplifies life so much. We decided early on in our marriage––after watching a couple compete negatively (to the point of divorce!) over every little task that needed to be done––that we wanted our own marriage to be a competition of who could serve the other best, who could outgive the other most. We’ve been doing that for almost 36 years now and it works!

6. What is something you keep in your office that we wouldn’t expect to find there?

I don’t know that there’s anything especially unusual in my office, but one thing my family wouldn’t expect to find there (until they read this, of course!) is my stash of candy! I can buy a package of chocolates or a box of jawbreakers and make them last for months. If I put that same candy in a bowl on the coffee table, it will be gone in 24 hours! So I always keep a secret stash in my office. The vegetable crisper in the fridge is another good hiding place for candy!

7. Any last-minute tips from one home manager to another?

Just that when it comes to home management, people are always, always more important than any material item, than any routine, than any standard we might try to attain. I’ll never forget the comment of our hostess when a friend’s son accidentally broke a beautiful dish at a dinner party. She said, “Don’t think a thing of it. There is not one thing in my house that is worth someone’s feelings being hurt over.” I’ve never forgotten how welcoming that attitude made her home feel, and I’ve tried to adopt it for my own home.

Thank you, Deb!

(Now go…check out her books!)

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