Surprises…

This morning, I viewed the new trailer for the With Each New Dawn audiobook. How fun to listen to parts of the story coupled with images of the London World War II bombings.

When the cover came up and I saw my name there, it hit me–I’m the author of this intriguing story. That may sound a little weird, since I ought to know that, right? Well, I do, but maybe it’s the difference between knowing something in your head and in your heart.

Anyway, with all the anticipation and final edits about A Purpose True right now, being surprised is a good thing. It’s a reminder I’m not in charge, and our publications develop lives of their own.

You can see the trailer below, or on My Books page.

And VERY SOON, as promised, I’ll have the final cover for A Purpose True to share with you, along with the purchase links. Thanks, dear readers, for all of your support and encouragement throughout this process.

Winter Writers’ Retreat and Something to Think About

Ann Lee Brown and I will be facilitating a writers’ weekend at Breath of Life Retreat House in Pine, AZ this February. If you’d like more details about this, please go here: http://annleemiller.com/weekend/

We’d love to have you join us!

Now, let’s consider this quote:

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That’s a tall order, right? First of all, loving oneself sounds selfish, but then, “…Love your neighbor as yourself” clarified that eons ago. It’s just that we didn’t get it.

Actually, becoming what we were meant to be brings great satisfaction to our creator, just as living a fulfilled life pleases one’s mother and father.

This lesson’s a tough one to learn for those reared from a shame-based foundation. Those of you who know Dottie and Addie, my two fiction characters (so far) are familiar with their line of thinking. And many of us engage in the same old mental channels.

But let me say between the seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas, how grateful I am for avenues out of that sort of thinking. Sure, the transition takes time, as my heroines Addie and Dottie experienced. But the struggle ranks right up there in the WORTHWHILE category.

In a little over two months, Addie and Kate’s stories will continue as WITH EACH NEW DAWN is released. The lessons from In Times Like These will serve them well–you’ll see!!

World War II Author Johnnie Alexander

Welcome, Johnnie, to my blog and  question city.

image001Years ago, did you see yourself where you are today, celebrating the print copy of a World War II novel? 

The turning point for me came in 2003 when I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the first time. For the next decade I dreamed of being a published author. Like many writers, it was a two steps forward/one step back journey. And sometimes it was a one step forward/many steps back journey.

Other milestones came from winning awards at a writers conference, having an editor show interest in my writing, and then winning the ACFW Genesis historical category in 2011.

I am thrilled that Tyndale released the print copy of Where Treasure Hides. It’s not the first print edition—that one was in Dutch—but it’s the first one I can actually read!

The World War II era intrigues me. There’s no end to the incredible stories, and writing projects produce change in us (at least, they do in me). How did you grow through writing Where Treasure Hides

I’m intrigued by the World War II era also. The tragedies are horrendous, and yet we find amazing stories of courage and heroism. I asked myself what I would have done in different situations I read about. People risked their lives to save others, and they risked their lives to protect artistic treasures. The novel explores the theme of what we value most and it also encourages us to rejoice in the future God has planned for us. I try to remember that every day.

How did your heroine’s character develop, and what prompted the translation into Dutch? I mean, why not French, Italian, or Spanish? 

Alison Schuyler, my heroine, was created especially for the hero with a touch of practicality and a few pages of free writing in a journal.

Now to explain that!

Ian Devlin, the hero, plays a major role in an unpublished novel I wrote before Treasure. His relationship with the woman he loves is mentioned in that story (but I can’t say much more than that without getting into Treasure spoilers).

The practicality came about because I once heard an editor advise new writers to stick to American characters. Alison needed to live in Europe if she was going to meet Ian, so I decided her father was Dutch and her mother was an American.

Alison was born in Chicago and lived there until she was twelve years old. This would also explain any Americanisms that popped up. However, as I got into the story, I learned a secret about Alison’s mom. Those details are still a bit of a mystery.

To become better acquainted with my heroine, I opened a journal and wrote: My name is Alison Schuyler . . .

After writing several pages, I knew more about Alison’s family heritage. From there, she grew into her own person as the story itself developed.

The translation happened because a freelance editor with a Dutch publishing company read the story, loved it, and recommended it to her client. And they published it!

Alison lives in Rotterdam, Holland, and her family has owned an art gallery there for generations. Except for a few scenes that take place in England, most of the opening chapters are set in Rotterdam.

 I’d like to learn more about Where She Belongs, as well. How would you compare the writing process with Where Treasure Hides

Both novels were NaNoWriMo projects before they were polished manuscripts. Exuberant, messy drafts that needed a lot of revision—Where She Belongs in 2005 and Where Treasure Hides in 2009.

WSB is a contemporary so it didn’t require nearly the research that Treasure did. It’s also a more personal story since I once lived in the house that is at the center of the novel and often dreamed of someday living there again.

Both stories are “heart” stories. Treasure because of my fascination with the themes it explores and WSB because of my cherished memories of a beautiful brick home that was abandoned for a time.

The turning point for me came in 2003 when I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the first time. For the next decade I dreamed of being a published author. Like many writers, it was a two steps forward/one step back journey. And sometimes it was a one step forward/many steps back journey

Other milestones came from winning awards at a writers conference, having an editor show interest in my writing, and then winning the ACFW Genesis historical category in 2011.

I am thrilled that Tyndale released the print copy of Where Treasure Hides. It’s not the first print edition—that one was in Dutch—but it’s the first one I can actually read!

  1. Johnnie AlexanderAlison Schuyler, my heroine, was created especially for the hero with a touch of practicality and a few pages of free writing in a journal.

    Now to explain that!

    Ian Devlin, the hero, plays a major role in an unpublished novel I wrote before Treasure. His relationship with the woman he loves is mentioned in that story (but I can’t say much more than that without getting into Treasure spoilers).

    The practicality came about because I once heard an editor advise new writers to stick to American characters. Alison needed to live in Europe if she was going to meet Ian, so I decided her father was Dutch and her mother was an American.

    Alison was born in Chicago and lived there until she was twelve years old. This would also explain any Americanisms that popped up. However, as I got into the story, I learned a secret about Alison’s mom. Those details are still a bit of a mystery.

    To become better acquainted with my heroine, I opened a journal and wrote: My name is Alison Schuyler . . .

    After writing several pages, I knew more about Alison’s family heritage. From there, she grew into her own person as the story itself developed.

    The translation happened because a freelance editor with a Dutch publishing company read the story, loved it, and recommended it to her client. And they published it!

    Alison lives in Rotterdam, Holland, and her family has owned an art gallery there for generations. Except for a few scenes that take place in England, most of the opening chapters are set in Rotterdam.

    Both novels were NaNoWriMo projects before they were polished manuscripts. Exuberant, messy drafts that needed a lot of revision—Where She Belongs in 2005 and Where Treasure Hides in 2009.

    WSB is a contemporary so it didn’t require nearly the research that Treasure did. It’s also a more personal story since I once lived in the house that is at the center of the novel and often dreamed of someday living there again.

    Both stories are “heart” stories. Treasure because of my fascination with the themes it explores and WSB because of my cherished memories of a beautiful brick home that was abandoned for a time.

     Why do both titles begin with the same word? 

    I’m a little tickled by that, but it’s not on purpose. Where Treasure Hides has been the only title I’ve ever used for that story.

    But that’s NOT the case with Where She Belongs.

    I’ve actually lost count of how many titles it has had. Though I can tell you it was Bronze Medal finalist in the My Book Therapy Frazier Contest under the title Where the Whippoorwill Calls.

    When I submitted the proposal to my agent, it was titled Into a Spacious Place. I love this phrase because it’s a promise I believe God made to me when I was at a writers conference several years ago.

    When I read Psalm 31:8 as part of my morning devotion, this jumped out at me: You “have set my feet in a spacious place.”

    I believed it was an assurance that God held my dreams in his hands; not necessarily, that I’d be published someday, but that whatever happened, I could trust in him.

    Psalm 18:19, is used as the story’s epigraph: He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

    I just love that.

    However . . . the marketing team at Revell thought Where She Belongs was a more apt title for a contemporary romance. And I agree.

    Thank you so much for honoring us with a visit, Johnnie, and for offering your giveaway to a commenter–either a print or e-copy. And for those interested in purchasing:

Buy Links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Christian Book Distributors

Target

Walmart

To connect with Johnnie:

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Tracy Groot on Setting and Site Visits

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Elk and javelina epitomize these rugged Ponderosa forests, the setting for one of my novels, and time spent here makes all the difference in writing.

Today, Tracy Groot shares about visiting the site of your novel.

“Site visits are very important. “The land speaks” even decades or centuries or millennia later. Visits have an orienting effect and always, always, always yield the unexpected: my visits to Andersonville for The Sentinels of Andersonville yielded impromptu interviews with the mayor, a storeowner, a museum curator. 

“Visiting a site can infuse your story with small but important details–lovely specificities that round out the tone of many scenes. Also, check out any local museums—they usually have dynamite bookstores.

“My visit to France for Flame of Resistance yielded such a wealth of information, I cannot imagine how the book would’ve turned out without it; I ate the local food in Normandy, visited multiple WWII museums, talked with elderly folk who’d been around during the war. Priceless! And fun! And we’ve learned to combine site visits with family vacations, to save money.”

Did I mention I’ve been working on a World War II series set in Southern France for a looooong time . . . maybe a visit is in order!

Last week we focused on character, so here’s a bit more from Tracy on that. (Can’t you just see character in this scrounger eating food scraps?) 

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Character always informs story and plot for Tracy. “I love what British historian Arnold Toynbee said, that character results from a person’s heredity and interaction with his environment; so I research where one of my characters is from to  develop his or her story and personality. Getting to know the character and realizing how they act or react, helps to inform plot.”

What story does Tracy resonate with most?

“Each book has something that is a part of me—scenes in every one came from the gut—and it’s still a thrill and joy that these scenes actually made it to paper. It’s hard to nail down a favorite—I usually pick the one I’ve last worked on, ha ha! Maggie Bright, a story about the rescue of the British army at Dunkirk, is a current fave. It comes out in May 2015.”

Heartfelt thanks to Tracy for giving us an inside look at her vocation—perhaps readers will get a feel for the commitment she puts into each novel. And writers, she’s given us a wealth of food for thought. Feel free to comment about anything and everything. And be watching for Maggie Bright.

Please include contact information with your comment in order to vie for the prize of Tracy’s The Sentinels of Andersonville. We’ll announce the winner next week and send the copy to you posthaste.

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