Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Maureen Lang's "Bees In The Butterfly GardenN

Title: Bees In The Butterfly Garden
Publisher: Tyndale House

Cover blurb: Raised in an exclusive boarding school among Fifth Avenue’s finest, Meg Davenport has all she’s ever needed . . . but none of the things she’s wanted most, like family, or dreams of a future that includes anything other than finding a suitable match. So when her distant father dies, she seizes the chance to throw etiquette aside and do as she pleases. Especially when she learns that John Davenport wasn’t the wealthy businessman she thought, but one of the Gilded Age’s most talented thieves.

Poised to lead those loyal to Meg’s father, Ian Maguire knows the last thing his mentor would have wanted is for his beloved daughter to follow in his footsteps. Yet Meg is determined, and her connections to one of New York’s wealthiest families could help Ian pull off his biggest heist yet. But are they both in over their heads? And in trying to gain everything, will they end up losing it all?

1) How did this story come to you?
So glad you asked! This is the first and so far only book of mine to be inspired by a title. I’m usually title-challenged, but one day I was sitting in my home and noticed the flowers I’d planted to attract butterflies to my yard were instead attracting bees instead. As I watched two huge bees hover over my flowers, I felt this sense of self-pity rise up. I said to myself, “I plant a garden for butterflies, and all I get are bees. Bees in the butterfly garden.” Even as I spoke those last few words aloud, I heard their potential for a title. All I needed was a book to tack on to it.

So how could I create characters that readers would still want to read about if, for the majority of the story, those characters are symbolic for bees? I hoped proper motivation would do it, as well as a clear road toward redemption. That, and surrounding them with characters I myself wanted to spend time with . . .

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
As I mentioned, the title came to me first. That was actually quite a number of years ago, and I dabbled with writing the story but never completed it. Before receiving my first contract from a traditional publisher back in 2004, I put together a proposal for this book, but it was rejected—from Tyndale, who is publishing it at last! I look back on that early version of the story and can see why it was rejected, but it still goes to show that writers should never really give up on ideas they care about. It might need some tweaking, but sometimes patience and determination are a writer’s best assets.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
I’m sure this is true of many writers, but I always find it interesting as an introvert that I want very much to write about people but tend to enjoy life more when I’m alone.

I already have a song picked out to be played at my funeral, even though I’m not planning to die any time soon. Ironically, it’s one that I also had performed at my wedding. It’s called “How Could I Ask For More” and is about a person being grateful for everything God has given her, as I am, but that she’s learned the best things in life are the memories we make along the way, the simple truths, and that sometimes the hardest things we go through are blessings in disguise. Link to embed the song as sung by Cindy Morgan (my favorite) on YouTube:

I believe God’s most important assignment for me isn’t to write books, but to take care of my handicapped son (17 years old). God is a much bigger fan of him than of my books.

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
Book Two in my Gilded Age Series, and I’m having huge fun with it. The setting is Denver, 1887, so it’s quite different from the New York City setting in Bees In The Butterfly Garden. I’ve loved this story idea from the beginning, when all I knew was that I wanted to create a hero with a secret: when he was young and foolish he waylaid a coach on three separate occasions, with the sole intention of stealing all the money he could. Contrast his past to a faithful woman who is determined to help others, particularly women in need, and the fun began. My heroine needs a loan to open a place of refuge for any woman in need, including prostitutes, and my now-successful banker hero is in no way foolish enough to agree to such a bad investment—so his manager does it for him, without his consent. It’s now up to my heroine to prove the investment sound . . . if only she wouldn’t keep making bad business decisions. It was so much fun watching my impatient heroine crack the stodgy, self-protective shell my hero had erected. All In Good Time releases from Tyndale early spring, 2013.

5) Parting comments?
Thanks for having me! Your questions were fun, and I hope your readers enjoyed it as much as I did.

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
My website and blog: http://www.maureenlang.com/  (I update my blog every Monday.)
I also blog ever other Wednesday at Christians Read, a blog dedicated to readers and hosted by a variety of talented Christian authors. Link: http://christiansread.wordpress.com/

Bonnie Leon's "Joy Takes Flight"

Title: Joy Takes Flight
Publisher: Revell

Cover blurb: She longs for the skies, but life keeps pulling her back to earth.
Will Kate finally find a future that satisfies? Newlyweds Kate and Paul are settling in their Alaskan home in the bush country. They rejoice when Kate finds she is pregnant, but soon it is clear that there are hurdles ahead. Should she continue in her dangerous profession as an Alaskan bush pilot? Can she really fall into the traditional role of a wife? Then disaster strikes, life begins to unravel, and Kate fears she may have lost Paul for good.

1) How did this story come to you?
The series idea grew out of stories my mother told me about her life in the Alaskan bush and how she and her family depended on bush pilots to deliver mail and supplies and on occasion a lift to town. She admired and trusted the pilots. Throughout the years she provided me with a small library of books about the brave men and women who risk their lives to serve the people of Alaska and to fulfill their own desire for flying adventures.

One day while reading one of the books, my writer’s mind took over. Soon I had a story idea—there was Kate and a mystery man (who was inspired by a man with a hidden past who lived on a homestead bordering my grandparents’ property), and I started blasting down notes.

The creative aspect of writing is a mystery to me. I don’t know where the stories come from, but they usually begin with a slice of truth and then my mind just seems to find them. Joy Takes Flight is the final book in a series so there were conflicts, questions and troubles I needed to resolve. Readers need to know what Kate decides to do with her life. And Paul’s secret must be told.

I’ve known the ending of this story for three years. It feels so good to finally have it completed, on the page and in print.

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
While writing the final book in the Sydney Cove series I started thinking about what to write next. I had several ideas and created a synopsis and a limited proposal for each, then sent the outlines to my agent. She and a co-worker looked them over and decided they liked the idea of a woman pilot standing up to the Alaskan wilderness during the 1930’s best. There wasn’t anything like it “out there” and the idea was intriguing, so we went with it.

I presented a full proposal to Revell Publishing and they loved the idea. Contracts were signed and I went to work. It wasn’t easy. There’s always endless research, but I needed to know how to fly.

I didn’t know the first thing about flying. But I found a pilot, Gayle Ranney, who had been flying as a bush pilot in Alaska for more than forty years. She’s the one who helped me plant readers in the cockpit of Kate’s Bellanca.

Book one had troubles and I actually wrote it twice. Books two and three flowed much more easily. It was fun to accompany Paul and Kate on their adventure. I’m sorry to say farewell to them.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
1. Years ago, when I walked down the church aisle on my wedding day, I didn’t want to get married. I’m glad I did. Greg and I will celebrate our 41st anniversary next month.
2. When I send in a new book to my editor, I’m always nervous. I usually convince myself she’s going to hate the book.
3. I don’t fly. I have a disorder in my ears that makes flying miserable.

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
I’m heading into uncharted territory. I’ve decided to step out and write two books that are a new genre for me. I’m presently working on a true life story about a woman who grew up in Alaska and lived a life few people have experienced and most could never imagine. It’s truly incredible. I can’t wait to introduce this little Cherokee girl to my readers.

I also have a contemporary novel waiting to be written. It is the story of my heart, one I’ve longed to write for a very long time. It the story of five mismatched friends who set out on a cross country trip hoping to rediscover what most take for granted, a “normal” life. They find much more—friendship and dreams long forsaken.

5) Parting comments?
Thank you, readers. I don’t know if you realize how much writers love to write. It fills our lives. We find stories while watching the news, reading history or just allowing our minds to wander. You are the reason we can write. If you weren’t reading our books we’d be out of a job. So . . . thank you. And if you find a book or an author that you love, make sure to spread the word.

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
It’s easy to find me. My website address is www.bonnieleon.com. Or I’m often visiting with friends on facebook. The address to my author’s page is www.facebook.com/BonnieLeonAuthor.