Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It's all Dutch to me!

Introducing a new version of Burning Sky:

"The Land of My Father"

(Dutch version)


De veelgeprezen historische roman ‘Het land van mijn vader’ van Lori Benton speelt zich af op de grens tussen twee werelden: die van de Amerikaanse kolonisten in de achttiende eeuw en de inheemse bewoners van het land. De kolonisatiegrens van New York, 1784. Als 14-jarig meisje is Willa Oberchain ontvoerd door indianen. Ze groeit op tot een knappe, jonge vrouw in de stam van de wolf. Maar als haar man en kinderen door het noodlot om het leven komen, besluit ze terug te keren naar het land van haar ouders. Aangekomen bij haar ouderlijk huis zijn haar vader en moeder in geen velden of wegen te bekennen. Niemand in het dorp weet waar ze zijn en ze worden dood gewaand. Is er nog een toekomst voor Willa? Met ‘Het land van mijn vader’ won Lori Benton in de Verenigde Staten diverse prijzen. Deze roman werd zelfs uitgeroepen door Boek van het jaar 2014. - See more at: http://www.kok.nl/boek/het-land-van-mijn-vader/#sthash.7emMGTXw.dpufgeprezen historische roman ‘Het land van mijn vader’ van Lori Benton speelt zich af op de grens tussen twee werelden: die van de Amerikaanse kolonisten in de achttiende eeuw en de inheemse bewoners van het land. De kolonisatiegrens van New York, 1784. Als 14-jarig meisje is Willa Oberchain ontvoerd door indianen. Ze groeit op tot een knappe, jonge vrouw in de stam van de wolf. Maar als haar man en kinderen door het noodlot om het leven komen, besluit ze terug te keren naar het land van haar ouders. Aangekomen bij haar ouderlijk huis zijn haar vader en moeder in geen velden of wegen te bekennen. Niemand in het dorp weet waar ze zijn en ze worden dood gewaand. Is er nog een toekomst voor Willa? Met ‘Het land van mijn vader’ won Lori Benton in de Verenigde Staten diverse prijzen. Deze roman werd zelfs uitgeroepen door Boek van het jaar 2014. - See more at: http://www.kok.nl/boek/het-land-van-mijn-vader/#sthash.7emMGTXw.dpuf
De veelgeprezen historische roman ‘Het land van mijn vader’ van Lori Benton speelt zich af op de grens tussen twee werelden: die van de Amerikaanse kolonisten in de achttiende eeuw en de inheemse bewoners van het land. De kolonisatiegrens van New York, 1784. Als 14-jarig meisje is Willa Oberchain ontvoerd door indianen. Ze groeit op tot een knappe, jonge vrouw in de stam van de wolf. Maar als haar man en kinderen door het noodlot om het leven komen, besluit ze terug te keren naar het land van haar ouders. Aangekomen bij haar ouderlijk huis zijn haar vader en moeder in geen velden of wegen te bekennen. Niemand in het dorp weet waar ze zijn en ze worden dood gewaand. Is er nog een toekomst voor Willa? Met ‘Het land van mijn vader’ won Lori Benton in de Verenigde Staten diverse prijzen. Deze roman werd zelfs uitgeroepen door Boek van het jaar 2014. - See more at: http://www.kok.nl/boek/het-land-van-mijn-vader/#sthash.7emMGTXw.dpuf

November 11, 2014
(the release date listed by online booksellers)

Voorhoeve
Voorhoeve

I'm excited to announce this first translation of one of my books! Even though I can't read it myself, as a writer I'm so pleased and honored that my book will be available to more readers around the world. My deepest thanks to the publisher, Kok/Voorhoeve, for taking Burning Sky into their fold.


For more information check out these links:

Publisher: http://www.kok.nl/boek/het-land-van-mijn-vader/

Amazon.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Het-land-van-mijn-vader/dp/9029723459 

Amazon.de: http://www.amazon.de/Het-land-mijn-vader-druk/dp/9029723459/ref=sr_1_3/280-0248102-5625300?s=books-intl-de&ie=UTF8&qid=1410546548&sr=1-3&keywords=Mijn+Vader

The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Het-land-van-mijn-vader-druk-1-Lori-Benton/9789029723459

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Linsey-Woolsey Writing: Weaving Fact with Fiction

Linsey-woolsey is a fabric woven from linen and wool. Linen is used as the warp, wool as the weft. It was commonly worn in the 18th century and is, in fact, an ancient form of cloth.

Writing historical novels is, for me, something like that linsey-woolsey weaving. Story is the warp. History is the weft. I do my best to weave the two together, leaving as few unsightly gaps as possible.

It can be tedious. It takes months of preparation and planning. But the end result is always worth it to me personally.

How I Do It, in 6 Easy (!) Steps

1. Create a document and call it something like Historical Time Line for (title of story).

2. Read everything I can on the historical event/s that will form the spine (or background) of my story. If it's the spine of the story and not just a historical backdrop, this process takes much longer. "Everything" includes books, websites, historical treaties, correspondence, newspapers, etc.

3. (concurrent with #2) Fill the Time Line document with everything that strikes me as important or interesting as I glean from all those research sources, combining it all in chronological order by month, day, hour of the day, whatever is needed for this particular historical event/period. Note: the Time Line document for the sequel to The Wood's Edge (my next release) is 30 pages single-spaced.

4. Plot my story, at least the broad strokes, using all that research and the handy Time Line I spent weeks or months creating. This step will inevitably begin somewhere in the midst of #3.

5. (often concurrent with #4) Open that Time Line document and see where my fictional story can intersect, what events or situations my characters can take part in, or be influenced by, along the way.  Slot notes to myself about these possibilities into the relevant spots in the Time Line, or just integrate notes about that bit of history into the plot that I'm still fleshing out.

6. Write the book, referring back to that Time Line however often is needed (depending on the book, this can be daily). This process will take anywhere from 8 months to a year.

And that's how I do it.

I've written this post less for instruction than for entertainment--in case you ever wondered how a historical fiction writer might go about the process of weaving a story through the historical record. Other writers may have vastly different methods that work for them. I hope they do. Mine, as I said, is tedious. But it works for me because my memory for historical detail is not to be relied upon months after I've done the research. My Time Lines serve as my brain's back up.

Q 4 Readers: anything you'd like to know about this process that I didn't cover in that sketchy overview? Ask away!

Loom photo by David Amsler Flickr Creative Commons

Thursday, September 04, 2014

The Grandma, the Book & the Award

It's not often I can look back over my life and see a series of events unfolded in a way I might have written them in a novel (and perhaps been called on the "coincidence"  or contrivance of it). But I was coming to my desk a moment ago for my day of writing and glanced up to where I have the Christy Awards my debut novel Burning Sky won back in June arranged on the shelf above my work space, along with a photo of my grandmother.

Why a photo of my grandmother?

When I was a girl, Margaret Johnson, my Dad's mom, sent me a copy of the book Christy for Christmas (she lived in California, I lived in Maryland). I might have been about twelve. Too young to appreciate the book at that time. But I did love books, and reading, just not this book, right then. So it found a home on my bookshelf for a couple of years before I gave it another try. And was swept away to early 20th century Appalachia, with a courageous and naive young woman who thought she could march into those isolated coves and teach children how to read, never knowing what obstacles she would face. Never knowing that love--God's, and a woman's, and a man's--awaited her.

I enjoyed Christy so much I sent my grandmother a much more heartfelt thank you note after I finished it than the one I no doubt sent the Christmas she gave the gift.

At this time I had long since forgotten that, years earlier, I'd sent my grandmother my very first story (I've shared about it on my Facebook Author Page, scroll back to July 16 posts to see and read it). When I started writing again in my early twenties, my grandmother, through our exchange of letters over the years, became a source of encouragement, a real cheerleader, for my efforts. She cheered me on through my twenties, through my journey with cancer and chemo fog at age 30, and again when I began writing once more in my mid-thirties.

She didn't live to see Burning Sky published, but the book bears her name in dedication. That it went on to win an award named for the book she gifted me all those years ago has, over these past weeks, felt to me like a precious heart circle closing. A happy ending, though a little bittersweet that she, and my Dad who passed away last December, couldn't celebrate with me on this side of heaven.

I'm thankful for all of you who have shared it with me, reader friends and family who've expressed kind words and congratulations (and sent chocolate!). I haven't posted a lot about my feelings concerning Burning Sky's awards, but this story about my grandmother and the book, Christy, is one of the deeper joys, one of those things I can look back on and see God's hand in the details.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Wood's Edge: cover reveal

So happy to finally introduce you to the cover art for

The Wood's Edge  

(The Pathfinders #1)

Coming from WaterBrook Press 

April 21 2015

This book marks my foray into series writing, and is a little different from my previous two releases. How so? While I don't yet have an official cover blurb to share, I can say that the series spans a longer time period (twenty years), and deals with more than one generation of two families. It also encompasses a lot more history! But I trust all the elements you've come to expect with my books will be evident.
  • A setting that spans a frontier (cultural as well as topographical)
  • Romance (more than one!)
  • Faith journeys (quite a number of them)
  • That history I mentioned. The Pathfinders series explores the history of the Oneida people, one of the Six Nations of the Iroquois, leading up to the Revolutionary War and encompassing a key turning point in that war.
I'm looking forward to introducing you to a new cast of characters, come April!

Click image for full size

Monday, August 25, 2014

Writer's World Blog Tour

I'm honored to be invited to participate in the Writer's World Blog Tour by my writer friend, Amanda Dykes. In this tour we get to highlight the awesome author who posted before us (and was kind enough to invite us into this fun loop), answer a few questions about our own writing, then point you to the next author in the tour. How fun is that?

Here's a little about Amanda (be sure to check out her post in this Writer's World Blog Tour).

Amanda Dykes is a drinker of tea, a dweller of Truth, and a spinner of tales. She grew up just down the mountain from Lake Tahoe, a lake that holds a special place in her heart. It’s here that she now enjoys setting her historical fiction. She is a Novel Crossing contributor, co-founder of the Christian Fiction Book Club, but most of all, she’s just a girl redeemed, grateful for the gift of story, the hearts of those who read it, and the God whose love changed everything. Join her in the writing of the short story Bespoke, and the chance to use your own memories to give a bicycle to a missionary across the world at www.AmandaDykes.com/Bespoke.

Amanda's post went up last week on her blog and it was a lot of fun!

On this blog tour, writers answer the same 4 questions then introduce another writer who will do the same on their blog post the following week. Be sure to find out who I chose to come after me at the end of this post.

So here we go.

What are you working on?

I have two closely related projects going right now. I'm currently in the editing stages with The Wood's Edge, my next 18th century historical novel, which will release April 21, 2015 (WaterBrook Press). 

My second project is the sequel to The Wood's Edge. I'm still writing the first draft of this one, in between the edits for The Wood's Edge, but my goal is to have a first draft finished by the end of October, which will leave me another two and a half months to edit, polish, rewrite, and otherwise make it presentable for its deadline in January 2015. 

Both of these books, comprising The Pathfinders series, are set in the Mohawk Valley of New York. The series spans twenty years, 1757-1777. Readers of Burning Sky will recognize at least a couple of characters they first met in that book.

Edited to add: I'll have a special reveal about The Wood's Edge a little later this week. :-)

How does your work differ from others in its genre?

My taste in reading (and writing) tends toward male protagonists, close-to-the-earth historical settings, peril, and adventure, a lot of which can be found in the general market. But there's a romantic in me too (one who has no use for graphic sex scenes), so I read widely in the Inspirational/Christian market, especially historical romances that contain a deeply engaging spiritual thread. I try to blend all of those elements--history, gritty adventure, romance, and spiritual awakening--into my books.

Why do you write what you do?

Short answer: because characters keep talking to me! Long answer: What continues to excite my imagination as writer of historical fiction is something historians call the Middle Ground. It’s that shifting, redefining space where two cultures meet, often with a clash of ignorance and intolerance. But other times in a remarkable attempt at understanding, with a hand extended in trade, or in friendship. It's the testing of a character through physical adventure and peril, but also through an honest exposure to a way of life they’ve maybe held preconceived notions about, that keeps drawing me back to write stories set on the 18th century frontier. I want to see the Middle Ground experience reflected in the inner landscape of a character that chooses to cross that line, or is forced to do so by circumstance. I want to experience this through the eyes of a character who thinks like a person born to that time and place, while at the same time finding in them a common humanity, a place of connection from which to experience a slice of history.

How does your writing process work?

It's fun to read about how other writers get the job done, but in the end each writer has to work out their own writing process over trial and time. Here's a bit about mine:

Most writers will tell you the creative process is far too organic (and mysterious) to break down into steps. It's not always possible to pinpoint the moment a story kernel or seed is planted, so I'm going to skip to the part where I have that kernel, whether it's a character, an opening situation, or a conflict I'd like to explore (plus the historical time period or event I'm going to play it against). I need to have a clear idea of where a story is going before I can begin it, because the plot often hinges on historical events; I need to know the story arc I have planned for the characters works inside the framework of the historical record.

In the beginning stages of working out this balance of plot and history, before the writing begins, the story will start pouring forth. During this stage I'm scrawling notes on every scrap of paper I can find wherever I happen to be, in the car, at church, in the grocery store, making dinner, trying to fall asleep, and I'm wishing that my personal Super Power was the ability to translate my thoughts straight into the computer and bypass the whole writing down or typing steps.

In other words, I'm Cooking the Book. Wish I could claim that phrase. I got it from author Julia Monroe Martin

So, I'm madly getting down ideas for story and character in a rough outline form during that stage, however long that mad outpouring lasts, even if I’m not exactly sure of how one bit flows into the next. In fact I don’t want to know it all. I want to leave room for surprises to happen on any given writing day, weeks and months down the road. That’s part of the fun. But I do need a road map, for my own sanity.

With every novel I write I spend a lot of time thinking about the characters, their back story, what their goals are and how they will be tested, how they will grow, before I begin writing. It’s as if I’m mentally circling them, observing, listening, questioning, and furiously jotting down what they reveal about themselves. It might come in waves, or trickles, scattered over weeks or months, but spending as much time at that as I can before I begin writing makes for less floundering around and trying to nail that stuff down later, when thousands of words have been expended and need to be heavily revised.

Still, no matter how much planning I do there’s nothing better than putting characters into a scene, letting them confront a challenge or setback, seeing their personalities emerge. Once I start the first draft it’s still an organic process, part intentional construction as I apply what I learned during that mental circling, and maintaining the flexibility to explore surprises when they happen on the page. It doesn’t all get done in the first draft. I continue refining those characters through many passes over every scene, right up to the three main edits that take place once the book passes into my publisher’s hands and is handed back off to me.

Tinkering, or fiddling, best describes how I work. I’ll write a few sentences, go back and play with them for a bit, rearrange the phrases, the sentence length, the word choice. Add some. Delete some. Write a bit more. By the time I’ve completed a 1500 word scene I’ll likely have been over it five or six times, it’s the end of the work day, and I’m exhausted.

But I don’t stop there. Most of the scenes that exist in published form have been edited several dozen times. 

And there you have it. Thanks to the lovely Amanda Dykes for inviting me along on this tour!

Next week I pass the baton to author Ann Shorey, who will answer these questions for readers on Sept 1. I've known Ann for many years and along with being a wonderful writer and storyteller, she's also an encouraging friend. You'll find Ann's post for The Writer's World Blog Tour next week on her website: http://annshorey.blogspot.com/




ANN SHOREY has been a story collector for most of her life, and has been a full-time writer for over twenty years. She has published selections in Chicken Soup for the Grandma’s Soul, and in the Adams Media Cup of Comfort series. She made her fiction debut with The Edge of Light, Book One in the At Home in Beldon Grove series. Her latest, the Sisters at Heart series, released in 2012, with Where Wildflowers Bloom. The third book in that series, Love’s Sweet Beginning, released earlier this year. 2014 also saw her debut as a novella author in the Sincerely Yours collection for Revell.

When she’s not writing, she teaches classes on historical research, synopses, and other fiction fundamentals at regional conferences. She lives with her husband in southern Oregon.





Sunday, August 24, 2014

Impromptu Tamsen Drawing: winners!

What a great response to the Totally Impromptu Tamsen Littlejohn giveaway. Thanks so much to all who entered. I've put all your names (well, your numbers) in the Random.org hat, and the two winners are...

1. Sheri
2. Merry (Anonymous 1:48pm)

Congratulations! I'll be emailing the winners soon.

Thanks again everyone, and if you get a chance to read The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn I'd appreciate it if you could leave a short review on Amazon or Goodreads, or anywhere else reviews can be posted. They really do help get the word out about the books you enjoy.

Blessings!