A Holiday Toast to “Old” Writers…

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We woke up to the season’s first snow this morning, transforming our grey, early-December Iowa into a wonderland. Today I’m sharing author Jane Kirkpatrick’s November post, because it holds encouragement for “old” writers. Like a fresh snow covering, we have a great deal to offer the world. May her words bless your Christmas stockings off!

Francis Bacon wrote: “Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.” I present this wisdom as four “old” authors this past month have spoken to me about getting published. They have terrific story ideas, the time and energy to pursue their craft and demonstrated perseverance. What they’ve shared about finding a publisher is astonishing. At one conference, an editor said publishing older authors for the first time is just not cost effective because they “don’t know how to do social media or even what a platform is.”

Of course we know what a platform is. It’s a pair of shoes. No, really, it’s a mission statement, what one is willing to stand behind and for. We older authors have had platforms for years as young people going to war or taking stands against them; about the environment; as parents advocating for kids; as business owners and/or employees working long hours with integrity because we believe in what we’re doing and in the communities we’re doing it in. We know how to create a writing platform, one we can stand on and for, just as we know how to write a story.

More importantly, we bring life experiences to the stories we tell. We know how to create empathy for a character because we’ve shown empathy for others in order to live in community. We know how to give voice to those seldom heard because we’ve been listening for years. And we know how to memorialize, how to write about what matters not only to ourselves but as ways to reach others, most of whom are much younger than we are. Perhaps we can prevent in real life the mistakes that our characters make by telling stories constructed on our platforms.

As for social media…one of my “wise” author friends noted, “We have networks from years of working, contacts made while researching, people excited for us in retirement as we pursue another occupation, that of becoming an author.” We can get thousands of friends and “likes” and Twitter followers. She noted too that while many of us aren’t savvy about social media, we have resources to hire people to help us with the technology required of this writing world. At the very least we have 15-year-old grandkids or nieces and nephews to offer guidance. And because we read and are a part of this fascinating world, we also undertake new challenges with vigor knowing that even old rats, when given new mazes, grow new brain cells. If an old rat can learn new tricks, I can!

With my latest book This Road We Traveled about (in part) a 66-year-old woman who didn’t accept her adult children’s plan for her life and struck out on the Oregon Trail with her own wagon, I’ve become especially sensitive to the passions of age. It was what Tabitha Moffat Brown accomplished after she was 66 years old in 1846 in her adopted state of Oregon that moved the 1987 legislature to name her “The Mother of Oregon.” Many of the historical women I write about came “of age” in what we might call their “old age.”

The Psalmist wrote “The Lord knows my lot. He makes my boundaries fall on pleasant places.” Personally, I think publishers are missing the passion of a great story when they let a border like age define an otherwise very pleasant place. Bring on that old wood, aged wine and trusted friends! And yes, old authors.

Thanks so much, Jane. If you’ve yet to read any of her wonderful historical fiction, now would be a great time for a taste! 

Love in the Seams

Today I’d like to welcome, Jodie Wolfe. I understand you recently released a new book. Can you tell us about it?

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Thank you for having me here today, Gail. I look forward to getting to know you and your readers better.

Love in the Seams is book two in my Twins & Needles Series. Here’s what it says on the back cover.

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Mae Stafford longs for the companionship and unconditional love her sister has found in her new husband. But after years of refusing potential suitors because of a pact they made as children, Mae no longer has any choices left once their agreement is broken. She’s given up hope that God will give her what she desires most, a family of her own.

 

 

Instead of dwelling on what she doesn’t have, she throws herself into her work in her recently acquired local dress shop.

As a promise made to his late wife, Johannes Mueller agrees to travel west to be a school teacher in Calder Springs, Texas, away from the bigotry associated with being an immigrant in New York City. He hopes to improve his life and forget his loss. Johannes isn’t counting on his five-year-old daughter’s search for a new mother when they arrive.

His little LillyAnn finds ways to bring the seamstress and him together…often. Can he learn to embrace his German heritage and unlock his heart to love again?

I understand your first book is about Mae Stafford’s twin sister, Ellie, is that correct?

Yes. Hearts Tightly Knit is built on the premise of twin sisters who made a vow to always stay together and never marry. I wondered what it would take to persuade one of them to change their minds.

 In your new novella, Mae Stafford is a seamstress. Do you sew?

I do, some. I made a Victorian outfit that I wore at a genre dinner at an ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference a couple years ago. While I do enjoy sewing, my favorite craft is knitting.

GOOD GRIEF! I call that really sewing, girl! I do ok w/buttons and hems, but …

 Do you have any final thoughts to share about your writing?

The goal of my writing is to point to my Heavenly Father and the hope we can have in Him, no matter what our circumstances.

 Where can readers find you and purchase your book?

Website: http://www.jodiewolfe.com

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Love-Seams-Twins-Needles-Book/dp/0997502622/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478548961&sr=8-1&keywords=love+in+the+seams

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/Jodie-Wolfe-553400191384913/; https://www.facebook.com/jodie.wolfe.1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JodieAWolfe

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/JodieAWolfe

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Jodie-Wolfe/e/B01EAWOHXO/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15220520.Jodie_Wolfe

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/116840153259583634192/posts

Fiction Finder: http://www.fictionfinder.com/author/?author=Jodie+Wolfe

Blogs I contribute to: Stitches Thru Time, Putting on the New and of course, Quid Pro Quills.

Thanks, Jodie. I hope your book sells extremely well.

Thank you for allowing me to stop by today, Gail to speak to your readers. I’m giving away a free sewing kit to one lucky commenter between now and November 19th. Winner will be notified.

A Wild Raccoon and Some Outstanding Hens

 

My husband snapped this photo during my Southwest Iowa book tour this past week. By the way, that area of our state is knock-down gorgeous! Rolling hills, serene towns, village squares, many restored turn-of-the century bulldings (like Ed and Eva’s in Greenfield- thanks again, Ken, for the tour. What an amazing building your community has to enjoy!)

Along the way, Lance sent me this photo, and when I arrived home after visiting several public libraries – Adair, Anita, Winterset, Creston, Red Oak, and La Vista in Nebraska – I asked how he ever managed to take this shot.

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Turns out our little raccoon friend had gotten caught in a trap, so Lance spoke with our local policeman. Hopefully, they were able to help the frightened creature. Such remarkable coloring – you’d never know by looking that this animal was held prisoner. So much we don’t notice until we get the full story, eh?

Isn’t that the way it is with people? We interact with all sorts, and since I’m an inveterate “people person,” I really enjoy meeting new folks who attend my book talks. Sometimes we strike up a friendship and continue to communicate, and often, I learn more about the person’s background.

Maybe they’re caught in a trap of sorts, like Addie was seventy-five years ago as the Pearl Harbor attack thrust the U.S. into WWII . Maybe they’re just waiting for a new friend to show up, offering fresh ideas and alternatives they’ve never considered.

My cousin Carolyn allows me to stop and collapse in her spare bedroom on these trips, and she sent me a great photo a few minutes ago. Their pet hens, each with a distinct personality, produced something they’d been waiting for this morning. A blue egg amongst the brown …pretty cool!

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Carolyn and her son creatively named the hens. The blue-egg layers (Ameraucana) answer to Mamie Eisenhenner and Martha Cluckington. What’s not to love about that?

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No chance either of these ladies would ever get caught in a trap, unlike the thousand hens running loose on my grandparents’ farm in Addie’s era. Nope, these hens enjoy a fenced-in home, complete with a light to encourage more egg-laying as the cold sets in.

 

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Back to my book tour.  My gratitude goes to all the library directors who advertised my visit and continue to promote my books, and those readers who’ve told me Addie’s story intrigued them and piqued their interest in World War II history.

We often discuss rationing at these talks, and the role various foods played. In England, each person enjoyed only ONE EGG every two weeks. Certainly a good time to live down on the farm. 

 

A New Year with an Author From the Past

We remember Robert Louis Stevenson, a Scottish novelist, for Treasure IslandKidnapped, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But even a little research reveals another legacy this author left us.

Stevenson lived only forty-four years, became a literary celebrity during his brief lifetime, and ranks among the 26 most translated authors in the world. Literary geniuses Hemingway, Kipling, Jack London, and Arthur Conan Doyle admired his works, and G.K. Chesterton declared that Stevenson “seemed to pick the right word up on the point of his pen, like a man playing spillikins.’

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Robert loved to travel, and fell in love with a married American woman in France. Eventually, she returned to the States, divorced her husband, and married Robert. He gained two stepsons in this marriage, and the couple continued to seek adventures in California, Hawaii, and Samoa.

Perhaps not the perfect example of piety, but neither was King David–and millions still read both men’s writings. Stevenson still exhibited faith. During these days between Christmas and New Year’s, I consider the winter storm bearing down on the route we’ll soon travel to Arizona, and his Christmas prayer informs me.

“Loving Father, Help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men. Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.

Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clean hearts. May the Christmas morning make us happy to be Thy children, and the Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake, Amen!”

Acknowledging the world’s hate and evil, Stevenson prayed for deliverance and “… to be merry with clear hearts …”  What does this mean? Perhaps to face evil and hate head-on, yet still find joy. RobertLouisStevens_3125983b

Stevenson knew pain first-hand, since he suffered from hemorrhaging lungs and lived only to the age of forty-four. He wrote many of his best manuscripts from bed, including Treasure Island, conjured after drawing a map for his son. First serialized in a magazine, this story captivated young readers’ hearts.

Since Stevenson’s death in 1894, evil and hate continue to have a heyday. But this author’s prayer still calls us to share the angels’ song and marvel with the shepherds and wise men.

As we enter a new year, his words fit this hurting world’s needs–and ours, to be realistic, prayerful, grateful and forgiving. To be merry with clear hearts–and to use our creative gifts to the best of our ability.

Sounds like a goal for 2016!    

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:

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