Hello, September!

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV).

Hello, September!

Have you noticed a change in the air? In the color of the leaves?

My world is not exactly bursting with autumn, but there is definitely a difference in the atmosphere. And that tells me I need to get busy if I’m going to finish this year’s to-do list. So, I’m taking some time off from the blog to wrap up my projects, work on my WIP, hang out with my family, and take time for some much-needed soul care. I will return in a few weeks. Until then…

What are you marking off your to-do-list?

Women of Faith and Fiction ~ Anne Clare

Good morning. Welcome to another edition of Women of Faith and Fiction. This morning, the lovely Anne Clare is joining us. Please give her a warm welcome and show your love by joining the conversation and sharing. Let’s get started.

Personal

Good morning, Anne! Tell us about Anne Clare.

Hi Gail—thanks so much for inviting me over today!

I’m a native of Minnesota’s cornfields and dairy country. I graduated with a BS in Education in 2005 and set out to teach in the gorgeous green Pacific Northwest, where my husband and I still live. I also serve as a church musician, singing in and occasionally directing choirs, playing piano, organ, and coronet (the last only occasionally, when I forget how bad I am at it.)

After the birth of my second child, I became a stay-at-home mom, and after the birth of the third I became reconciled to the fact that my house would never be clean again, which allowed me to find time to pursue my passion for history and writing while the little people napped. Although I’m back to teaching part-time at my church’s school, I continue to write historical fiction and to blog about WWII history, writing, and other odds and ends at thenaptimeauthor.wordpress.com.

Professional

Thank you for allowing us to know you better. What is your latest book about and where did you get inspiration for writing it?

Since I write fiction set during WWII, I draw much of my inspiration from the real events of that era. While I read history, I can’t help thinking, “But what if THIS happened?!”

As to my upcoming book…well, first, here’s a little background. At the end of January, 1944, the Allied advance up Italy had stalled. Since breaking through the German lines wasn’t happening, Allied leaders decided to try going around. On January 22nd, about 40,000 Allied troops landed near the resort town of Anzio.

Shermans disembarking from LST at Anzio

The landings went great, but German reinforcements moved in so quickly that in less than a week the Allies on Anzio—soldiers, support staff, and hospital staff including women of the American Nurse Corps—were surrounded and stuck, holding the low ground while German guns fired down on them from the hills. They wouldn’t break off of the beach head until the end of May.

German prisoners at Anzio, Italy

One of the first-hand accounts of Anzio I was reading through mentioned that, due to the close proximity of Allies and German forces, lots of soldiers were taken as P.O.W.s on both sides. He also mentioned that, as everything was so close, many American troops were able to escape and make it back to their own lines. On reading that, the “What ifs?” started. Hmmm, what if my group of G.I.’s—and maybe one of the Army nurses, in the wrong place at the wrong time—wound up behind enemy lines?

A Lieutenant in Nazi paratrooper forces steps out to pose. 

I’m working hard on answering that “What if,” and I’m hoping to publish Where Shall I Flee? sometime next year!

And that is one of the reasons I love visiting Anne’s blog, dear reader. Okay, moving on. What is your writing process?

Before writing, I have to have a strong idea of where the story will start and where it will end. I usually have an idea of the middle, but it might change. Then, I write! I try to pound out a first draft without getting stalled on technicalities. As I write, I make notes of questions I have/things I’ll need to look up later.

I also read history books and first-hand accounts of the period and place I’m writing about to help get the “flavor” of the story right—slang, terminology, all of that.

Once there’s a first draft, the editing begins! Currently, I’m a couple of drafts in, and I’m working my way through the 75 questions I found that need to be answered…for my first 6 chapters. Uf.

(Uf is a shorter version of “ufda” which is a VERY Minnesotan way of expressing that there just was or soon will be a lot of exertion of some kind needed. 🙂 )

After I’ve sorted out the research and polished enough that I can’t see what else needs to be done, I send my work on to fresh eyes. I have some fantastic beta readers who are a tremendous help. Once I get their input, it’s back to editing, until it’s ready to go to an editor!

Thank you for sharing that with us. Now, who is your all-time favorite fictional character?

Oh Gail, that’s a hard question! I’ve loved books since before I could read them myself, and the characters in my favorites are more like old friends than anything—I’d hate to leave any out!

Still, I suppose, if I had to pick just one person, I’d say Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. She’s poor, unattractive, and badly treated by most of the people in her young life. In spite of it all, she has a strong will that grows and matures as she does until, when she’s faced with the choice of getting the life she wants at the cost of her self-respect or walking away from it all, she walks. I appreciate characters like hers, who grow through the struggles they face.

Anne, I’m thrilled you chose Jane Eyre. Jane is my daughter’s favorite. Do you have a marketing tip for us?

Take time to get to know your genre and other authors in it. Networking and building relationships are both great ways to find places to get the word out about your writing—plus you get the benefit of support and friendship from people with similar interests. 

Please share your advice with our aspiring writers.

It’s important to take time to learn the craft of writing and the ins and outs of the publishing industry, whether you plan to go traditional or indie. However, take writing advice with a grain of salt. Many people try to prescribe “right” schedules, routines, or writing styles for success—some will work for you, some won’t. Work hard but be kind to yourself and remember that no one else is walking the same path God has put before you.

Inspirational

Great advice, Anne. Last question. Do you have Scripture in mind when you begin a story?

I have had a Scriptural theme in the back of my mind as I’ve written both of my books. In the first one— Whom Shall I Fear?—the characters were waiting to see what God’s plan was for them. How could all of the suffering and struggles they were enduring turn out for good? (Sounds applicable today, doesn’t it?) The Scriptural theme I chose for the book was Psalm 27. The entire text is wonderful, but I focused particularly on verses 13 and 14:

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord

in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (NIV)

For the second book, I’ve been keeping Psalm 139 in mind as I remember how God is always present, wherever I go, and whatever my situation. In particular, I’ve focused on verses 7-12:

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (NIV)

My encouragement for all of us is to remember that, whatever your personal journey right now, you’re not walking alone!

I also read history books and first-hand accounts of the period and place I’m #writing about to help get the “flavor” of the story right—slang, terminology, all of that. ~ Anne Clare via @GailJohnson87

Anne, thank you so much for joining us today!

Book

Purchase Link

1943

All that Sergeant James Milburn wants is to heal. Sent to finish his convalescence in a lonely village in the north of England, the friends he’s lost haunt his dreams. If he can only be declared fit for active service again, perhaps he can rejoin his surviving mates in the fight across Sicily and either protect them or die alongside them.

All that Evie Worther wants is purpose. War has reduced her family to an elderly matriarch and Charles, her controlling cousin, both determined to keep her safely tucked away in their family home. If she can somehow balance her sense of obligation to family with her desperate need to be of use, perhaps she can discover how she fits into her tumultuous world.

All that Charles Heatherington wants is his due. Since his brother’s death, he is positioned to be the family’s heir with only one step left to make his future secure. If only he can keep the family matriarch happy, he can finally start living the easy life he is certain he deserves.

However, when James’s, Evie’s and Charles’s paths collide, a dark secret of the past is forced into the light, and everything that they have hoped and striven for is thrown into doubt. Weaving in historical detail from World War II in Britain, Italy and Egypt, WHOM SHALL I FEAR? follows their individual struggles with guilt and faith, love and family, and forces them to ask if the greatest threat they face is really from the enemy abroad.

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About the Author

Anne Clare is a native of Minnesota’s cornfields and dairy country. She graduated with a BS in Education in 2005 and set out to teach in the gorgeous green Pacific Northwest, where she and her husband along with their children still live.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Research: Love It or Hate It, You Gotta Do It, Part Three

Today, we’re wrapping up our discussion on research. I hope you’ve enjoyed all the information Crystal has shared! Let’s gather the last nuggets.

How to Avoid Rabbit Trails

Oh, the wonderful things you can find when researching! And oh how much time you can waste. What helps me to not waste hours down a rabbit trail (and I still do often), is to keep the specific thing I am researching in mind.

When I come across something else that strikes my fancy but isn’t what I need at that particular moment, I add a note and the website link to a folder I title “Research This Later.” Ninety percent of the time, I don’t go back to it, but having it tucked away for later helps me to release the rabbit trail and stay focused.

It’s a simple trick, but it works well. You could also set a timer for how long you are going to research this topic, but I find I turn those off and just keep going.

While writing your actual manuscript, I recommend you do not go and research something the moment you find you need it. Just make a note in your manuscript like this: [RESEARCH FASHION]. The primary concern with drafting is getting the story down as quickly as you can. Research can cause you to lose that momentum.

How do you decide what to use?

Throw all you want or find interesting in your first draft. This is your place to just see where the story takes you. Once you begin the revision process, you can decide what needs cut. To make that decision, ask yourself: “What does my reader absolutely need to see and understand the story?” and “Does this slow my story down?”

If it is needed AND slows your story down, see if you can change up the presentation of the information. Can it be communicated briefly through fascinating dialogue?

If it isn’t needed, even if it doesn’t slow your story down, you’ll probably need to cut it. You can always leave it and see what beta readers think. However, what I’ve observed in today’s readers is the more concise you can be, the better.

Cutting that beloved material from your first draft can be hard, but you can still use those materials in blog posts, social media posts, and promotional opportunities later on. You already have the content, and readers may find it interesting.

There is really is so much more that could be said about research, but I have surpassed my word count. If you have questions or want to learn more about me, feel free to contact me via my website: www.crystalcaudill.com.

Crystal, thank you so much for taking the time to share all this valuable information.

“Cutting that beloved material from your first draft can be hard, but you can still use those materials in blog posts, social media posts, and promotional opportunities later on.” ~ @CCaudillWrites via @GailJohnson87