Today is release day for Lori Benton's THE PURSUIT OF TAMSEN LITTLEJOHN!
Isn't that a beautiful cover? I was lucky enough to be given an ARC (Okay, I begged like a fan girl, but it was worth it!) of the book and I can tell you the story is equally as good.
Blurb: In an act of brave defiance, Tamsen Littlejohn escapes the life her
harsh stepfather has forced upon her. Forsaking security and an arranged
marriage, she enlists frontiersman Jesse Bird to guide her to the
Watauga settlement in western North Carolina. But shedding her old life
doesn’t come without cost. As the two cross a vast mountain wilderness,
Tamsen faces hardships that test the limits of her faith and endurance.
Convinced that Tamsen has been kidnapped, wealthy suitor
Ambrose Kincaid follows after her, in company with her equally
determined stepfather. With trouble in pursuit, Tamsen and Jesse find
themselves thrust into the conflict of a divided community of
Overmountain settlers. The State of Franklin has been declared, but many
remain loyal to North Carolina. With one life left behind and chaos on
the horizon, Tamsen struggles to adapt to a life for which she was never
prepared. But could this challenging frontier life be what her soul has
longed for, what God has been leading her toward? As pursuit draws ever
nearer, will her faith see her through the greatest danger of
all—loving a man who has risked everything for her?
Lori was gracious enough to answer some questions for me.
1. Let's start at the beginning, how
did your love of words begin?When did
you know you wanted to be an author?
My love of words began when I was nine
years old. I wrote my first story after my best friend announced one day that
she had written a story. I guess it never occurred to me before then that I
could write a story, though I already loved to read. It was simply too
intriguing an idea not to give it a try. I did, and I was hooked.
When did I know I wanted to be an
author? All through my teens I had the niggling urge to write a “serious
grown-up” sort of story, and made a few false starts. But it wasn’t until my
early twenties that I buckled down and got serious about pursuing novel-writing
as anything like a career. Once I finished that first novel, I knew this was
how I wanted to spend my days.
2. This is your second published book,
did you find publishing it easier or harder than the first one?
A little of both. The editing process
on this second book was far more difficult and stretching to me as a writer,
which isn’t a bad thing. Just challenging. As far as the publishing process,
it’s been easier because I’ve known much better what to expect.
3. Your main character, Tamsen, loved
fabric and sewing. Do you sew? Does your personality influence your books or
characters at all?
I can manage to sew on a button, but
that’s the extent of my ability. For a woman happy in her jeans and 90s-era
flannel hoodie, I was surprised to find myself writing about a character with a
passion for clothing, both the wearing and the creating of them.
Does my personality influence my books
and characters? How could it not? If you want to know a writer, read her books.
There’s no hiding who I am on the pages. It finds it way there. That doesn’t
mean every character I create is a carbon copy of me, obviously. How boring!
Yet there is something of me in every character (even the antagonists; I create
them too, after all).
Characters—mine anyway—often spring
into being with personalities and interests that hold firm despite my efforts
to shape them. I gave up trying with Tamsen Littlejohn, embraced that “girlie”
aspect of her character, and soon saw how I could use her preoccupation with clothing
to show the stages of her growth—her rejection of the cage she feels caught in,
her shedding of her old life, her attempts at “trying on” various aspects of
frontier life, until we see her constructing a set of clothes unlike any she’s
ever imagined, for the sheer joy of creating. Which I can fully embrace and
4. How much research do you do for your
historical novels? What is the oddest thing you've ever researched?
A tremendous amount, and it never
stops. It’s become a way of life for me. The oddest thing I’ve ever researched?
Some might think it odd that I’ve researched the history of undergarments, or
the way 18th century scholars at Oxford were required to curl their
hair, or how to tan hides using an animal’s brains, or the erratic spelling and
capitalizing of 1700s penmanship, or how a woman could manage to get trapped in
her stays. None of it seems odd to me. Learning how our 18th century
ancestors lived is endlessly fascinating.
5. The cover is gorgeous! Did you have
any input? How did you feel when you saw it for the first time?
I’m very pleased with the cover for The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn. It’s beautiful. I’m thankful that
my cover designer, Kristopher Orr, is willing to discuss this aspect of the
book with me. In this case I was given a choice of three models for Tamsen.
While all three women were lovely, one of them so strongly embodied not only
Tamsen’s physical appearance, but her inner person—her vulnerability, strength,
and sweetness—that there was no other choice for me. She’s the Tamsen who
appears on the cover.
Seeing a cover for the first time is always, for me, a bit
of shock to the system. I’ve carried around potential covers in my head for
months before that moment, my own hopes, ideas for what I think it should look
like. When I see the cover for the first time there are a lot of happy feelings
because my cover designer does beautiful work. At the same time, all those
possible covers in my mind die a little death. After a while I cease to
remember them, as I fall in love with the cover that is.
When you've finished this book, go ahead and pick up her first book BURNING SKY which is also brilliantly done.
We do have a copy of THE PURSUIT OF TAMSEN LITTLEJOHN to give away to one lucky person. It would be awesome if you wanted to add her books on Goodreads, or leave reviews somewhere, buy her books or give a shout out about the book or contest on your social media but I hate making people jump through hoops (probably from years of filling out adoption papers) So, the only thing you need to do to enter is leave a comment on my blog sometime before Friday the 18th. That's it. I'll announce the winner next week. But if you want to do those other things too, feel free. Sorry, but this is limited to postal addresses in the United States.
If you want to find out more, here are some links.
Lori's website here. Facebook page here. Her pinterest book boards, which are really amazing are here. Amazon here. And, if you want to read the first two chapters free, you can find them here. Enjoy!
I just saw that Business Insider listed 'poets, lyricists and creative writers' as the second most competitive job in the country.
Agents are listed at number ten.
The thing I find so amazing is that even though it is competitive, whether we're selling to agents, publishers, or readers, we are still friends. The writing community as a whole is supportive, friendly and always willing to offer advice. So even if we do have a competitive job, we also have the best co-workers.
I know most, many, or some of you are gearing up for the start of A-Z starting tomorrow. I'm not participating this year. While I will be out and around checking up an all the fun I won't be posting here as much. I know I'll have a book release/interview on the fifteenth. (Drop by for that one, because it's an amazing book and I'm so excited to be able to blog about it) And I might be posting now and again as I feel the need, but it won't be following a schedule. I'm going to try and do a big push and get this sucker out to beta readers by the end of the month.
In one of her posts (I don't have a link to the specific post. Sorry) Janet Reid said to writers "you are not a beggar at the banquet of publishing". I mentioned this to The Engineer and said something about writing relationships being a partnership, that it was about trust. He looked at me queerly and asked if that was what I really believed.
I'm glad he asked becuase it made me think about it, but, Yes! I do believe writing relationships are a partnership. I want an agent and publisher who look at me as an equal. It's about trust. Trust between the reader and writer, the writer and themselves, the writer their agent and publisher. I am not begging. I'll keep querying an writing and improving, but I will not beg. This is a business relationship. How can I have the respect of the people I work with if I don't respect myself?
I've never liked the term 'gatekeeper' and I'm not fond of agents who use this term. In fact, I don't query them. Agents don't offer to represent books they don't think are ready but that's more about business than about keeping someone out of publishing. Do people look at med school or the MCAT as a gatekeeper? Maybe. Are they upset about it? No. At least not if they plan on seeing a doctor in the near future. When seeing a doctor we want someone we can trust with our lives. It may not be as serious as heart surgery but when we pick up a book don't we want to know it's not going to be a waste of our time and money? Does that make us elitest? Or just practical?
I don't see agents as bouncers at a bar meant to keep out 'undesirables' I see them more as elevator attendants. The people who try to help us get to the right floor, but they can only take us to a floor inside their building. If we need a floor at a different building then we need a different agent. Or maybe we need a ranch house with no elevator at all. There are many paths to publishing, and just because one agent isn't right for us doesn't mean that they are throwing us out, it just means we need to try somewhere else, or polish up a little. Not all agents can sell all things. Just like I wouldn't want a podiatrist to do my open heart surgery.
We are not beggars, and agents aren't bouncers. (In most cases). We just need to find our trusted partner. I could compare this to dating and finding the 'perfect' spouse but that's a post for another day. Writing is an art, and it's subjective. Because we put our heart into it rejection can hurt. But writing is also a business, and unless we treat it like a business we'll never find the right floor, or the right elevator.
This week Tara is hosting a Self Lovin' Bloghop. It's really easy for writers to get down on themselves. With the rejection we encounter, the fact that there's always a different part of the craft we can improve, it can be depressing.
But there's reasons why we're writers. Reasons we endure the solitude, the hours of work with no pay, the fact that our family and friends may not understand what we do. And those reasons are because we love it, and because we're good at it.
Each of us have something we're good at. Did your English teacher exclaim over your descriptions? Do your beta readers Oooh over your characterization?
This week we're celebrating our skill as a writer.
One thing I can do well is dialogue. It wasn't always that way. I had to work hard, but now it's comfortable and I get a lot of comments on how natural it sounds. It feels good to own what I can do. To ignore all the things I'm still struggling with and say here, this is what I've learned.
As part of his pre-school, mini-Engineer (aka Truck Boy) was
filling out Valentine’s day cards for his classmates. He loved doing it and
insisted on writing all their names himself. I noticed that while he could make
all the lettersand knew what letters
where in which name, getting them in the right order was a completely different
He’d start in the right place but if he ran out of room, or if he just
wanted to, he would continue the name under the first couple letters, or above,
or in front of. Because there was that nice empty margin to fill up. Upon
occasion the letters could be scattered around in no order whatsoever. Alphabet soup.
It reminded me of a few of my
early novels. They were a collection of scenes thrown together with no overall
plot arc, no through line, and no rising tension. Just as my son needs to put
the letters in the right order for them to make a name, I needed to learn to
organize my scenes. First thing that should be done after finishing the draft
and letting it sit for a little is give it a read and just look for the over all
plot structure. Is the conflict set up at the beginning of the book resolved
at the end? Is there growth and movement throughout the book, or is it just
someone reacting to things thrown at him.
If the scenes don't line up like the letters in a name then you probably have a problem. I just finished a structure draft of my current WIP. I’m super excited to see how this is coming
together, and I can’t wait to move on to language, polishing, and really making
my book shine.I’m even looking forward
to checking the grammar.