To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV).
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
Last month a friend sent me a video. (Thank you so much, dear friend.) I listened, curious about the artist. The song was a familiar one. When the song was over, I closed the window and didn’t think about it anymore. But God wasn’t through.
That weekend, my daughter and I watched a movie in which the protagonist faced doubts after arguing with a colleague. As writers and readers, we know the enemy’s gibes must hold a grain of truth. Guess what? Every point the coworker threw made perfect sense. The darts penetrated, wounding the fragile seed of hope.
Later, standing at a graveside, the same coworker asked the protagonist to say a few words to the family. As the camera closed in, you could see the emotional turmoil on his face as he struggled with his doubts and fears. When he spoke, he recited:
“Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise, when songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies, I draw the closer to Him; From care He sets me free: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”
When Singing Turns to Sighing
Oh, how I commiserated with this character. I, too, cling to hope when everything around me screams the opposite. Hope and courage have been hard victories, for the enemy would have me—you to believe his lies.
“Haven’t you prayed long enough?”
“The answers haven’t come in the past, so why should they come now?”
“Why should things change?”
“Why praise Him?”
“Face it. He’s not interested in your health. Get over it.”
Knowing what this character had endured for the past two years and the battle now raging inside him, I knew he didn’t speak the words to the family alone. The truth within the memorized lines reinforced his own flagging hope. And like all good Christ-centered fiction, the truth of the moment didn’t stop there. The camera view shifted, and the focus became my life. I forgot about my present questions as I reviewed my past. Meditating on His work in my life soon became an act of worship. As I drew near to Him, the sighing for answers ceased. My heart filled with song once again.
The person who has the habit of hope also has the habit of remembering. Hope needs memories the way a writer needs notes. This is partly because hope depends so much on imagination. Our images of the future are sweepings from our remembrances of things past. If we expect to keep hope alive, we need to keep memory alive. Happy memories of good things we hoped for that were fulfilled, and grateful memories of bad things survived.
Lewis Smedes, Keeping Hope Alive
Throughout the day, information gets stuffed in our spiritual wells, clogging our praises. Our songs turn to sighs. We must dig the well every day as we draw near, giving Him our heartaches and troubles. But let us not stop there as we often do, but praise Him until our cares fall away, and we are renewed.
How can we do this in a world gone crazy? By finding what helps us to remember His goodness. Along with reading the Bible, my triggers are writing, music/songs, and nature. If I don’t write, if I don’t listen to songs, or if I forget to rest outside, I miss that day’s blessing.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches (Psalm 63: 5-6 KJV).
When we meditate on God’s goodness in our pasts, we ignite hope for our futures. Find your place to remember and then draw near with a grateful heart.
He Watches Over You and Me
If there has ever been a time, we need hope in our lives, it is now.
Christ is my Hope, the Anchor of my soul. Steadfast and True. He will not drag, leaving me to wander atop the waves amid the storm. He will draw near and rescue me or ride out the storm with me. How do I know this? Because He’s been faithful to me in the past.
Today, if you’re struggling to remember God’s faithfulness, start with His Truth and deeds in your life. I cannot promise things will get better in the here and now. It doesn’t always work out that way. But I will promise you of God’s love and care for us until the day we stand with Him in eternity. Until that day… His eye is on the sparrow, and He watches you and me.
The Story Behind the Song
Civilla D. Martin wrote the song after speaking with the Doolittles of Elmira, New York. Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for twenty years, and Mr. Doolittle used a wheelchair to get to and from work each day. Seeing their joy, Mr. Martin asked of the “bright hopefulness” in their lives. Mrs. Doolittle answered, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” The next day, Civilla D. Martin sent the poem to Charles Hutchinson Gabriel to write the music.
The third verse is hard to find on video, but it was the one I needed to hear. The moment I heard “when songs give place to sighing“ everything fell into place. Here’s the complete song. I’ve highlighted some of the words. Enjoy.
His Eye Is on the Sparrow
Why should I feel discouraged? Why should the shadows come? Why should my heart be lonely and long for heav’n and home when Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free; for His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender words I hear; and resting on His goodness, I lose my doubt and fear. Though by the path He leadeth but one step I may see: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise, when songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies, I draw the closer to Him; from care He sets me free: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.