Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Giveaway and Interview with my Friend Maureen Lang!

Please make sure you leave your comment and an email address for a chance to win Maureen's book!


How long have you known that you were a writer? Did you receive a clear “call?” Or have you just loved writing all your life?


I’m one of those writers who found my love for writing early in life. I remember finishing my first “epic” when I was around ten years old, and passing it around the neighborhood for others to read. I also invited friends over and sometimes instead of playing a game, I’d beg them to sit down and write stories with me. How many games of Kick the Can or Monopoly can you play, anyway? Not all of my friends went along with it, and no one else stuck with it. (I often wonder what the world is missing if only they’d persevered!) So I suppose the realization that I was wired to write began early, because I was different.

What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?

I’ve written contemporary and historical novels, women’s fiction and romance. I think the difference between women’s fiction and romance can be subtle, at least it is with the books I’ve written. My Sister Dilly, for example, would be considered contemporary women’s fiction, but a romance is included in the story. The difference between the kind of book I like to write and a classic romance is more a matter of page time focusing on the romance. Romance is definitely part of all my stories, but it might not be the main focus.

Lately, however, I’ve been following my preference for historical settings, and my books have been getting more romantic, which is just so much fun! This newest release, Whisper on the Wind, has a mix of war tension as the backdrop, but the focus is definitely romantic. Maybe that’s why it’s one of my favorite stories…

How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?

I’m on a nine-month schedule with my publisher (Tyndale), which has worked well for me. That might sound like a long time, but between research, revision, family demands and marketing other work, those months just fly by. I write every school day, just as soon as my boys get on the bus, leaving the house nice and quiet! Sometimes I aim for a minimum of 7 or 8 pages in a day, which is less than 2000 words, but when things are going well I can do far more—20 pages or so, depending on my time and energy. Those are the best days, when it’s hard for my fingertips to keep up!

Tell us about your new book. What is the spiritual message in it? What can readers expect to get from reading it? How and where can readers buy your book?

Whisper on the Wind is one of my favorites. For me, the spiritual lessons aren’t just on the pages—I began this book years ago, with God sitting right next to me at the computer, reading along, affirming for me that after many years of not writing, I was doing what He wired me to do. Finally writing a book He wanted to read! I’d written secular historical romances years before that, but given it up when life took some turns and I could no longer afford the luxury of staying home to write. When I finally returned to writing, this was the story on my heart.

I love the First World War era. Not the war itself—it was as horrific as any other. But the time period seems to have one foot in history and another in more modern times. Sometimes I would read history books from that era and I noticed references to an “illegal newsprint” call La Libre Belgique. It originated in Belgium when they were occupied by the German army, and illegal because the Germans censored everything—except this little newspaper that found a way to give hope to those who suffered under the occupation. What a brave band of people they must have been! And so I imagined my characters getting involved—a rich, spoiled young woman who falls in love with a heroic young man wanting to do whatever he can against the occupying army. He thinks she’s too young and spoiled to be noticed, until she risks her life for the same thing he believes in. Faith, for both of them, is never more real than when they lose almost everything.

Do you ever feel like giving up? Most people don’t understand the stress, the work, and the joy of being a writer. How tenuous becoming a writer is. Do you care to share how it feels, what discouraging/encouraging times you’ve gone through? Who’s inspired you the most?

Since I regularly meet with a number of newer writers, I haven’t forgotten how that first goal of publication looks and feels. Any bit of success is heady, but the real prize seems to be a book contract from a traditional publisher. The myth: just get that first contract, and more will follow. I wish it were true, that we only need to be published once for a writer to find an audience and readers who will follow (no, demand!) everything they want to write. But the truth is the book industry is just as competitive after publication as it is before. As most writers know, at least those who’ve attended a writer’s conference, there are many more aspiring writers than published ones. Having critiqued many manuscripts, judged many contests, I know there are a number of talented aspiring writers out there. There simply isn’t room for everyone, which makes staying published almost as hard as getting published in the first place. That means sticking with it, not giving up, writing when we don’t feel like it, meeting deadlines (whether from an editor or self-imposed).

I also have a family, which includes my wonderful Fragile X child who is functional only at a two-year-old level even though chronologically he’s fifteen. So my days are full, and I must admit there have been times when I realize life would be so much easier if I could concentrate on my family’s needs.

But the truth is there is absolutely nothing more exciting than recording all of the stories that fill up my head—those stories that sometimes keep me sane when the rest of life is demanding, disappointing, or overwhelming. There is nothing like capturing on the page some of those every day moments that can really be poignant – faith moments, learning moments, loving moments. And then—the real icing on the cake—is hearing from readers that one of my characters helped them articulate some of their own struggles, define some of their emotions, or just helped them escape for a little while the same way I do when I’m imaging all of the story scenarios. That’s why, even if I weren’t writing for a publisher, I’d still write. The escapism is just too important to my every day sanity!

Would you explain how you “chose” (or were chosen by) a publisher? Do you just go “inny, minny, miny, moe?” Grin. Now, that you’re published, can you sit back and relax from the success you’ve experienced?

Like most serious aspiring writers out there, I investigated which publishers produced books similar to the ones I wanted to write, and basically targeted every one of them. I’m not sure any aspiring writer singles out one publisher, because that so narrowly limits options, and few of us have the confidence to think whatever we write will be eagerly snapped up by our favorite publisher.

I was first published by Kregel, which is a well-established, family owned publisher. And while it was a great experience for me, I did want to broaden my exposure. I met the founder of WordServe Literary Agency at a writer’s conference, and not long after that I began working with them. It was through WordServe that I connected with Tyndale—which has been a special blessing to me since they’re local to me in the Chicago area. The Tyndale campus is less than an hour away, so I’ve occasionally stopped in for marketing meetings or to drop off Christmas cookies as a thank you to the staff for all they do to help get my books out there.

But I don’t think there are many authors who sit back and relax after getting published. If your books sell well, the pressure is on to keep those sales up. If the sales sink, the pressure is on to get them back up. Regardless of sales, if one book is received well by an audience, the pressure is on to write something new and different but still please our reading audience—an audience that wants something at least a little familiar from us. In some ways, the time before being published is easier because a writer can write with passion and has the time to explore different genres and interests. But I’m not sure any aspiring writer would see it that way, or that I saw it that way before getting published.

Do you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests? Where would you like to travel if you could?

I’ve always considered myself a reader first, and I just write the kind of book I’d like to be reading. So reading is always first on my list of things I like to do. I also enjoy movies, both old and new (no one in my family—except me, of course—ever makes it all the way through a viewing of Wings, the first—silent—Academy Award winner for Best Picture). And I’m sorry to say most of my hobbies have been left behind now that I spend so much time writing. I used to like painting ceramics and embroidery, but it’s been years since I had the time. And travel! I love it, but that’s a challenge, too, with our son who is so unpredictable with his disability and unable to travel well. So we’re limited, but we did manage to visit Belgium, which is the setting for Whisper on the Wind. That was an amazingly memorable trip!

You recently had a book published. Would you take this time to describe it to us? How and where can readers buy your books?

My newest novel is Whisper on the Wind, which is a romance that takes place during the First World War. Here is the blurb from the back cover:

She risked everything to rescue him. But what if he doesn’t want to be saved?

Belgium, 1916
The German Imperial Army may have conquered Belgium on its march through Europe, but the small country refuses to be defeated. An underground newspaper surfaces to keep patriotism alive and bring hope and real news of the war to the occupied country. It may be a whisper amongst the shouts of the German army, but it’s a thorn in their side nonetheless—and Edward Kirkland will do anything to keep it in print . . . even risk his life.

Isa Lassone is a Belgium socialite whose family fled Europe at the first rumblings of war. Now, two years later, she sneaks back across enemy lines, determined to rescue Edward—the man she has loved from afar since she was a child.

But will he ever see her as more than the wealthy, silly girl his mother once cared for as a daughter?

When Edward refuses to leave, so does Isa, and soon she is drawn into his dangerous double life. But the Germans are closing in on the paper, and Edward had never planned to put any one else at risk . . . especially the beautiful, smart, yet obstinate young woman who has inconveniently managed to work her way into his life—and into his heart.

Or at CBD:

Or Barnes and Noble:


Would you give us your blog or webpage so everyone can check it out? Anything else you’d like to share? Promotional information?

I love visitors to my website and blog! On my blog, I’m be chatting about the “story behind the story” and this week I’m hosting a contest to win a free copy (a contest separate from the one here, so stop by my blog after this if you have another moment).


At my website, you can sign up for my newsletter which I send out with every new book and in the spring and at Christmas time—usually that means two or three newsletters a year, just as an update about what’s going on in my little world. Or you can sign up to be a follower on my blog, which I update every Monday. On Wednesdays I feature new fiction from friends and colleagues, whenever I have a friend who’s promoting a book. It’s fun!

Thanks very much for having me, Carole.


Isn't the book cover beautiful?
Blessings, dear readers.


GiveawayScout is promoting this blog and giveaway at http://giveawayscout.com

31 comments:

Kathryn Page Camp said...

Those early story-writing parties sound like fun. Unfortunately, the idea never crossed my mind, and my friends wouldn't have gone along with it anyway. Oh well.

kcamp1951@aol.com

Kym McNabney said...

I love Maureen's books! I have this one already, waiting to be read. I know once I start it I won't be able to put it down, just the same as her other books.

Blessings,

Kym

Linda Kish said...

I didn't find anything about this giveaway but I am always up for a new book and author.

I am a GFC follower

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Kathleen Rouser said...

Informative interview, Maureen. Thanks for sharing
with such wisdom and honesty.

Carole, thanks for taking the time to post it. Please
add me to the drawing for a chance to win WHISPER ON
THE WIND.

Thank you!

kerouser[at]gmail[dot]com

Merry said...

An underground paper during WWI, a small voice of hope, draws me right into Whisper on the Wind. Please include me in the drawing. Thanks!
worthy2bpraised[at]gmail[dot]com

Katie M said...

Ive read a lot about this new book! I'd love to be entered into the giveaway!!

legacy1992(at)gmail(dot)com

Karen said...

I would love to win this book.

sonflower277(at)gmail(dot)com

rubynreba said...

This was a great interview and I would love to read the book. Thanks!
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

Cindy W. said...

Enjoyed the interview and yes the cover art is absolutely beautiful! Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

Many Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

scrapbookangel said...

Carmen sent me. Thanks for entering me in the drawing.

Jennifer
avidreader at middleswarth dot net

Patsy said...

Sounds like a great book. Never read anything by this author but looking forward to it. Thanks for giving away a copy. Carman sent me.
plhouston(at)bellsouth(dot)net

cparkins14 said...

Haven't read any of her books yet. Looks like a great read!I am a new follower.
Carmen sent me.

karenk said...

thanks for the opportunity to read this fabulous novel :)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

rbooth43 said...

I had two brothers that was in World War II, one a marine and one a navy sailor. Whisper on the Wind sounds like a great read.
Carmen sent me!
I am a follower.
rbooth43(at)yahoo(dot)com

apple blossom said...

I'd love to be included in this book giveaway. thanks
ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Michelle said...

I've been reading a lot of good things about this novel! Thanks for a chance to win!

Michelle
scraphappy71 at sbcglobal dot net

Carman sent me!

Mozi Esme said...

I love the cover, too!

We posted about this giveaway at Winning Readings: http://winningreadings.blogspot.com/2010/08/whisper-on-wind.html

Bluerose said...

I'm really looking forward to reading a book from Maureen!
bluerosesheart at yahoo dot com

Carole said...

I read The Oak Leaves last year and immediately became a fan of Maureen's. I enjoyed learning a little about her through this interview and look forward to her World War I series. Thank you for the chance to win Whisper on the Wind.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Bakersdozen said...

I would love to read this. The book sounds great. And thanks for the wonderful interview. vidomich(at)yahoo(dot)com

grannyvon said...

Great review, I would love to win this book She is a new author for me but I will be reading her books. Thanks for the chance to win one. ybutler@oppcatv.com

Emma said...

Whisper on the Wind sounds wonderful.Please enter me in the giveaway.augustlily06(at)aim(dot)com.Thank you.

Laurean Brooks said...

I love historicals and this time era. This sounds like a wonderful love story. Oh! I hope I win.

landtbeth at yahoo dot com.

Caroline said...

Thank you, all, for your wonderful comments! I wish all of you could win!!!!

Charity said...

Please enter me:) Maureen's book sounds wonderful! Thanks!

esterried[at]yahoo[dot]com

Never2manybooks said...

Woo Hoo a new author to try!! And if I got the book as a giveaway I could even buy another book by Maureen Lang or maybe from another new author I read about in Caroline's blog. That would be a BIG WOO HOO!!!

Blessings,
Kim Thorne msjmom@msn.com

Wendy said...

Yay! I love Maureen's books.
wsmarple/at/gmail/dot/com

Ann Lee Miller said...

Ooh, I'd love to win!
Ann_Lee_Miller@msn.com

Anne Payne said...

This book sounds delightful! I would love to win a copy.

homesteading[at]charter[dot]net

Katie M said...

I'd love a chance to win a copy of this book! Please include me!!

legacy1992(at)gmail(dot)com

Julia M. Reffner said...

I would love to read this one. One of my favorite time periods.

julesreffner(at)gmail(dot)com