Saturday, October 31, 2009

Writing Historical - A New Experience And I'm Having a Blast!

A few months back, I wrote about seeing my hometown of Lake Geneva, WI through new eyes as I delved into research in preparation for writing a book set there in 1933.

I finished the proposal on August first, and my agent sent it on to a potential publisher. In the meantime, I attended the ACFW conference in Denver, and then reworked my cozy mystery from a mystery with romance to a romance with mystery. It is now titled, Thyme for Love. With the proposal for that story out at several places, I finally have time to work on my Lake Geneva romance called Dream a Little Dream of Me. It's only a working title and often publishers will change titles to suit their preferences, so I hang onto it loosely.

Other than writing a short story for a creative writing class based on my grandmother's diary from 1900, I have never written historical fiction in my life. I have always loved writing about today, having my characters use their cell phones, computers, etc. and ride around in fast cars. But writing early to mid 20th century historical is different than writing historicals set in Colonial times or even at the turn of the century, 1900.

Today's Lake Geneva looks a lot different than the Lake Geneva I grew up in. First, the town has grown by about 3,000 people, and second, it now boasts a Super Walmart, McDonalds, Burger King, Home Depot and many other franchised operations. When I was a kid we had to drive to Milwaukee for a McDonald's burger. The lake, of course, is still there, but the beach has been improved and some of the large mansions have been torn down for smaller lots.

However, if you stop long enough to look, you'll still see vestages of the past. Enough mansions are still there, perhaps boasting several more coats of paint or a wing added on, but they are still the stately manors they were in the 19th century.

Stroll down Main Street and look up past the modern storefronts of shops selling gourmet foods, boutique clothing, and home decor and you'll see the architecture of a time gone by. It doesn't take much to imagine a butcher shop, food market, or mercantile that once existed on the street level.

Today what was once called the Slater Building houses a real estate company. When I was a child I went to the dentist on the second floor, and I can't remember what was on the first floor. Probably a different real estate company. That's the building on the right. Back in 1933, it housed the Lake Geneva News-Trib, the weekly paper where the hero and heroine in my novel meet and work. It's a special feeling to know that I've been in that building many times as a child, and now here I am writing a story set right there.

Oh if those walls could talk. I bet they'd give me fodder for more stories than I could write. And it would be a blast.

Monday, October 05, 2009

CFBA Blog Tour - Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin

This week's CFBA blog tour features Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin. Lynn is one of my favorite authors and I was excited to be able to read and review this book. But I didn't receive my copy until last Friday, so I am still reading it! Let me tell you, I've not gotten very far but already I am hooked. This lady can write!

Consider phrases like this:

"We were looking through Grandma's box of keepsakes, and she showed me a photograph of her father and mother. They sat side-by-side, their shoulders barely touching. Henry's huge farmer hands splayed on his thighs like a pair of shovels."

Or . . .

"Grief settled over Bebe's household like deep snow, bringing life on the farm to a suffocating standstill and chilling everyone's soul."

Anyone who can turn a phrase like those two has my attention.

Here's the scoop on the story:


Along with reading, two of Lynn's lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Five of her historical novels, Hidden Places, Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, A Proper Pursuit, and Until We Reach Home have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction.

Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn's novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel.


"Thank goodness you're such a plain child. You'll have to rely on your wits."

So went the words of Grandma Bebe. And for all of my growing-up years, I scoffed at the beauty of my sister and what I saw as her meaningless existence. But my wits hadn't served me well in this instance, for here I was, in jail. And while I could have seen it as carrying on the family tradition (for Grandma Bebe landed in jail for her support of Prohibition), the truth is, my reasons for being here would probably break her heart.

So how did I end up becoming a criminal? I've been pondering that question all night. Perhaps the best way to search for an answer is to start at the very beginning.

Harriet Sherwood has always adored her grandmother. But when Harriet decides to follow in her footsteps to fight for social justice, she certainly never expected her efforts to land her in jail. Nor did she expect her childhood enemy and notorious school bully, Tommy O'Reilly, to be the arresting officer.

Languishing in a jail cell, Harriet has plenty of time to sift through the memories of the three generations of women who have preceded her. As each story emerges, the strength of her family--and their deep faith in the God of justice and righteousness--brings Harriet to the discovery of her own goals and motives for pursuing them.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Though Waters Roar, go HERE

I just saw the book on display at my local Family Christian Store, but you can order it from Amazon.