Sunday, February 20, 2011

AN OCEAN AWAY - Lisa Harris - Free Book

I'm blessed to have my very good friend, Lisa Harris, on the blog again. Her family serves as missionaries in Africa, Mozambique right now. But they've also been in South Africa and Zimbabwe. I absolutely love reading her books set on that continent. So, Lisa, tell us, how did this book come about?

A couple of years ago, I found some thick, worn books in my uncle’s library about the culture of Northern Rhodesia that had been written back in the early 1900’s. I was fascinated as I read about the people and their lives and knew it was the perfect backdrop for a story I wanted to write.

Tell us about the book’s cover and what makes it unique.

There are actually two versions out on the web, because my publisher decided to scratch the first one and come up with something completely different. With the final cover you see here, I think they did a fantastic job. The story is about a woman caught between two worlds--the bush of Africa and New York City--so you can see Africa on the cover’s front and the Statue of Liberty on the back.

Please explain and differentiate between what’s fact and fiction in the book.

While the storyline and characters are all from my imagination, I tried to make the setting of both Africa and New York very realistic. I loved exploring both places and what was happening during that time period so the story would be as authentic as possible.

You know me. I love authenticity in historical settings and culture in novels. How much research did you have to do for this book?

This was definitely one of the most research intense books I have ever written. With two settings and a 1920’s time frame, I wanted to bring that period--from both sides of the world--to life and show the stark contrast between the two continents. I’m so thankful to not only hands-on research books, but to the Internet where I was able to gather tons of information including actual photographs taken in New York during that time period.

What are some of the most interesting things you found about this subject that you weren’t able to use in the story?

Because the 1920s isn’t a time period I was very familiar with, I found it extremely interesting and would often find myself lost in research for hours. There were so many things I researched that I could have turned into separate storylines, many of which I was only able to touch on like prohibition, the mob, and the consequences of WWI, for starters.

What inspired and surprised you while you were writing the book?

Personally, I was inspired by Lizzie’s journey of faith as she struggled with her identity, because as a missionary I can relate to some of her feelings in living in two worlds. But even beyond that, I was reminded that my identity is in Christ. It is not based on where I live, who I am, or what my culture says--it is based only on who He says I am.

What do you hope the reader takes away from the story?

I hope that readers will be able to relate to both Lizzie and Andrew. Lizzie struggled over belonging, something we all face at different times in our life, while Andrew was running from God because of a tragedy in his life. The bottom line is that our God is bigger than anything we face. He won’t grow tired or weary. He brings out the starry host at night, calls them by name, and He created you. And while God doesn’t always change circumstances, His plan will always triumph through any circumstance we face.

I've found it's often more about the process of our growth than the end of a circumstance. What is the next project you’re working on?

I’ve recently taken some time off from writing while our family has been on furlough, but am excited to jump into a new suspense series once I’m back home in Africa later this month.

What do you do when you have to get away from the story for a while?

Like Lizzie, I love heading into the peaceful African bush and enjoying God’s amazing handiwork.

Here is the book trailer for the book.

An Ocean Away Book Trailer- Summerside, March 2011 from Lisa Harris on Vimeo.

Your amazing pictures of the African bush on your blog take me on the journey with you. Thanks for using them. Please give us the first page of the book.

Chapter One

Lizzie MacTavish froze as she watched the giant beast walk across the dusty path in front of her. She crouched in the thick folds of tall grass between Chuma and Esther, her two young African charges, holding her breath until she thought her lungs were going to burst.

The elephant lumbered toward them, close enough that Lizzie could see the infant hidden beneath the gray shadows of the mother’s belly. Close enough to see its long eyelashes that kept out the dust from storms that regularly swept across the plains and the creases in its wrinkled skin, tinged with the brown mud from the African soil.

Finally, Lizzie took a gulp of air, breathing in the sweet scent of the mufufuma tree and its violet blossoms that mingled with the musky odor of the elephant. Overhead heavy clouds gathered, waiting for the first showers of the season to fall. October always brought a change in the activities of village life. The lazy days of winter, with its sharp winds and grass fires, had all but disappeared.

As winter merged into the rainy season, the grasslands presented an abundance of fragrant flowers that perfumed the morning with their sweet smell. Even the trees were laden with scented blooms, making up for the humid and sultry air. It was her favorite time of year, when men worked to cut the trees in the fields, and women planted the maize, sorghum, and millet in the fertile soil and harvested pumpkins and ripe forest fruits.

Esther tugged on the melon-colored fabric of Lizzie’s skirt. “Bama will not be happy when she finds out we have wandered past the far pasture and toward the banks of the river.”

Lizzie kept her voice to a low whisper. “Your mother will be busy for hours as she awaits the birth of yet another one of your sisters or brothers.”

A grin spread across Chuma’s face. “My father is praying for a son.”

Lizzie frowned. A son, of course, would be preferred. Daughters were regarded simply as wealth, much like the cattle that were often valued above both wife and child. It was one of the tribal beliefs Lizzie disagreed with. Wasn’t it the woman who stamped the corn, prepared the meals, and bore the children? Even the Holy Scripture said that men and women had been created equal in God’s sight.

“Ma, it’s coming closer.” Esther, who was barely five, nudged Lizzie with her chocolaty brown elbow.

“Shh.” A tremor shook the ground as the massive animal made its way past them, her long tail swatting away the constant barrage of flies.

Wow! I can hardly wait for my book to arrive. How can readers find you on the Internet?

Please stop by my website at or my blog for a slice of my life in Africa at Drop me a note while you are there!

Thanks Lena!

It's such a pleasure to havs you here, Lisa. And I loved seeing you while you were on furlough.
Readers, here's a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 6 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment. Here’s a link.


Deborah said...

Lisa's book are wonderful and I love reading books that take place NOT on the North American continent.

Deborah in VA

holdenj said...

I enjoyed Lisa's interview and would love to win and read this new-to-me author! The setting seems very exciting and different.
Thanks so much from snowy MN.

Jordan said...

Beautiful cover!


Wendy said...

I love Lisa's books. Thanks for offering it.
Buffalo, MN

Anne Payne said...

i have two of Lisa's books in my TBR pile. Can't wait to read this one. Thanks for the giveaway.

Anne, rural NC

Jackie S. said...

Lisa's book sounds great......I would love to read it!! Thanks for chance! From GA

Annette W. said...

I think you introduced me to Lisa Harris before...this one looks good!

Lindsey said...

Wow, this sounds terrific! It's definitely going on my wishlist though I would be thrilled to win a copy. :) Thanks for offering a giveaway!

Lindsey in the Pacific Northwest

Kari Linder said...

WOW! This book looks SO interesting! Thanks for the chance to win!
Kari in Oregon

Genre Reviewer said...

I really enjoyed "Blood Ransom" and "Blood Covenant," so I'd love to win this novel by Lisa Harris!


Lisa Harris said...

Thanks so much to all of you for stopping by and for Lena for hosting me on her blog! I'm always excited to connect with new readers.

Be blessed!

Lisa (who's on her way back to Africa tomorrow!)

Robyn said...

I so enjoy your books set in Africa. Please enter me to win.

coolestmommy2000 at gmail dot com

Claire Koenig said...

Please enter me for a chance to win a copy. I am fascinated by Africa; have two friends ministering there and one is a voracious reader; I hope to send this to her once I've read it.

Claire Koenig, SF Bay Area

Pam K. said...

This is not a typical setting or time period; I am intrigued! I had trouble watching the trailer but saw enough to make me wonder why Lizzie had to leave and why New York would be dangerous for her. I want to read this book!
Thanks for entering this reader from Kansas in the book drawing.


EJ said...

Have some dear friends leaving on March 6th to be missionaries in Africa, so this book really piqued my interest. Definitely one that I want to read. Elaine from Eastern Iowa

Lucie said...

Wow! An Ocean Away sounds very inspiring! I loved how Lisa said that no matter where you live your identity is in Jesus Christ...its based on who He says I am. Love that! Also, I'm sure that she has alot of insight into the culture and surroundings of Africa having lived there.

Thank you for this interview and the chance to win her book :-)


(lucieluvsca at yahoo dot com)

Jordan said...

This looks great! Beautiful cover.

I live in South Carolina

Katy said...

Ohhhh! Please enter me into this giveaway - I'd REALLY love to win this! :-D

~ Katy
from Florida

diana said...

I love any book or movie with the setting in Africa. I'm not sure why, it is just fascinating to me! This book sounds awesome and I so love hearing about new books on Lena's blog.

diana said...

I'm sorry...Diana from South Carolina on above comment. I said I wasn't going to forget that, but I sure enough did.:(

karenk said...

please count me in...thanks :)

karenk (from PA)
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Lisa Harris said...

Love reading your great comments and especially the connections to Africa. For me, it has been a place that first captured my heart over twenty years ago--both the people and the backdrop--and has never let go.

Be blessed today!


Lisa Harris said...

One more quick comment, Blood Ransom, also set in Africa, is being offered for free right now as an ebook. I'm not sure how long the special will last, so if you want a copy hurry to Amazon, or other ebook sellers.

Marianne said...

i love reading stories set in Africa. Lisa is a new author for me...i will need to find her books. Thanks for the chance to win this one. mitzi_wanham[at]yahoo[dot]com i am in El Mirage, Arizona

Anonymous said...

I love the cover of this book. I would love to win a copy. Angela from KY.

apple blossom said...

Oh, I love this book cover. thanks for the interview. I'd love to be included in the giveaway thanks
I live in ND

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Melissa M. said...

This sounds quite fascinating.


Anonymous said...

Wow! After reading the first page and watching the book trailor, I'm hooked. This is a must read!
Connie Leonard,
Granbury, TX

Edwina said...

I love Lisa's books and would love to read this one!

Edwina Cowgill

Charlotte Kay said...

Thanks for this giveaway!
I have been offline for a while:)
I am excited to be considered to win this book!
Charlotte Kay
charlovesmark at gmail dot com

Charlotte Kay said...

PS I forgot to state that I am from Ohio, which is very wet today:)

Brenda said...

The book sounds wonderful! I'm from Madison Height, Michigan.

dancealert at aol dot com

rbooth43 said...

I also love authenticity in historical settings and culture in novels and "AN OCEAN AWAY" sounds like a great read for me here in NC.
rbooth43 at yahoo dot com

Lorna Faith said...

Sounds like an awesome book! Lisa, your attention to detail in the first page is awesome...I'd love to read the rest of it:)
Please enter my name for a chance to win!

Lorna from Alberta

Molly said...

I love Lisa's work and this cover just immediately captures me! Please enter me in the giveaway.

Molly in NC

Lisa Harris said...

Thanks for all your sweet words.

Regarding the details, while I love research the details don't always come easy to me (I'm a short-and- to-the-point type person), so I end up sweating over every word.

With this story, though, the back drop of the 1920's was so fascinating to me I loved every moment of discovering life on both sides of the ocean. Hope you all enjoy it just as much!

windycindy said...

I adore Lisa's writing and the life that she and her family lead!
Please count me in this fabulous
book drawing...
Many thanks, Cindi

Cíntia Mara said...


So long time since I've been here last time. The blog keeps great, congratulations.

I like books that lead me to different places. In this case, since I never went to Africa or to New York, I'm sure it will be a good travel and it will awake my desire to do.

Please, enter me in your giveaway.

God blessings.

Sarah said...

I have read several books by Lisa Harris and I love them! This one sounds really good too!!

Sarah from Ohio

Carman said...

oh! This book looks awesome. Please enter me! I live in the midwest. :)

booklovercb at yahoo dot com

diana said...

I would really love to win this book...anything that takes place in Africa! I am not an author so I'm sure this will seem like a dumb question, but I just searched this book on CBD and the cover is different. Why is that? I so love this one...

Diana from SC

Ann Lee Miller said...

Please put my name in to win. :)
Ann Lee Miller
Gilbert AZ

Judylynn said...

Please enter me in this giveaway!

Judy in East Tennessee

Kristen said...

Sounds exciting! Please enter me into the drawing.

Kristen, TX

jkfreitas @ sbcglobal dot net

Nancye said...

This sounds like an interesting book! Thanks for the chance.

Nancye in Kentucky
nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net