Tuesday, July 05, 2011

REINVENTING LEONA - Lynne Gentry - Free Book

Up until this time, I haven't featured ebooks on my blog. With the changing face of publication, I had decided to change that as of January 2012. Then God happened. One of the women He had used me to help along in her publishing journey got this opportunity to be on the cutting edge of Tyndale's move to ebook publishing with their Digital First iniative. So I have to make an exception for her book.
Welcome, Lynne. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
Every author brings a little bit of themselves to their characters. It can’t be helped. Drawing upon life experiences is a great starting point. But for my characters to leap from the page, their personalities have to be far bigger and their circumstances far more dire than anything I’ve experienced.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I have this unrealistic fear of careening over a bridge in a car. So from the moment my children learned to swim, I drilled into their heads that if our car ever went over a bridge, they were to save their momma. In fact, the original premise for Reinventing Leona originated out of that fear and the questions it caused me to ask myself. Did I really expect others to drop everything and rescue me in the event of a life tragedy? Did I have the spiritual chops to rely upon God and my own self-worth? Could I really start over on my own?

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
Some of my earliest memories are of me standing behind a microphone I’d made out of a stick stuck in the ground and telling stories to farm animals. From those humble beginnings, I dabbled in non-fiction writing and wrote curriculum for the women’s Bible classes I taught. But I didn’t know I could write fiction until the church needed skits for sermons or children’s events. From there I wrote a couple of full-length musicals. Then a writing friend, Lisa Harris, encouraged me to convert one of my plays into a novel. That learning curve took me two years to complete. 

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I’m an eclectic reader. I read everything from serious scholarly research books on the Roman Empire to issue-driven fiction by Jodi Picoult to time travel by Diana Gabaldon. I haven’t traveled as much as I’d like so I’m drawn to foreign settings with rich characters in unusual circumstances in places I’d love to visit.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Write. Write. Write.

When I’m not writing, I love to walk at a beautiful State park not far from our home. It is the perfect place to soak in creation and to be reminded that God is in control. I love to spend time with my wonderful grown children, laugh with friends, and enjoy a bagel and a cup of coffee with my incredible husband.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
This may sound awful, but I troll the obits. It’s a great place to snag a unique first name or an interesting last name. Then I put them together based on the sounds they make.

However, the name Leona came from a sign I saw while driving to Houston. Harper came from the idea of the sweet music of a heavenly harp combined with the continual nagging a pastor’s wife is sometimes forced to do. So I guess I also factor in a little literary symbolism in the choice.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
My kids. Megan and Eric are two of the finest young adults you could ever meet.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Easy. A red bird. Eye-catching, yet free to soar above life’s troubles.

I love redbirds, too. What is your favorite food?

Tell us a little about your journey to publication.
Totally God-orchestrated. I started writing fiction in 2003. Spent two years crafting what I thought would be the next best thing to Francine River’s biblical fiction. When that didn’t sell, I decided to write something funny (Leona Harper). When that didn’t sell, I took a stab at women’s fiction (still have several of those that didn’t sell on my computer). When it became clear that humor was a dead end for me, I switched to medical thrillers. No luck there either. And now I’m currently writing a visionary/time travel thing which will probably give my agent heartburn as well.

As for my first sale: A couple of months ago, my agent called and asked for a list of what I had completed. She needed something immediately for a Tyndale project and she needed it now. We sent Leona Harper on Monday. They asked for a full on Tuesday. And bought it by the end of the week. Crazy, huh? Totally God-orchestrated.

I’d like to point out that while I was waiting on God, I wasn’t sitting on my hands. I had my nose in the Word daily, bought writing craft books, attended every writing seminar I could afford, joined several writing crit groups, read like a wild woman, and wrote almost every day.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Working 8 years without reaching that publication goal can become a little discouraging. I’ve had to learn to celebrate the little things. Finishing a chapter on a self-imposed deadline. Finishing a complete manuscript on a self-imposed deadline. Acquiring an agent. Submitting respectable proposals. Having full manuscripts requested. Having those manuscripts go to committee. Eating a box a chocolate after each committee rejection…celebrating the little things is acknowledging that you are making progress, even if you still haven’t achieved your goal.

What advice would you give to others who are trying to get their first book published?
The same advice a seasoned multi-pubbed writer gave me years ago…the only people who don’t get published are the ones who give up.

Tell us about the featured book.
Pastor’s wife, Leona Harper, knows that living in the parsonage is not for sissies. But living anywhere else scares her spitless.

Reinvention is a theme that speaks to me because I’ve had to reinvent myself several times. Farm girl, college coed, pastor’s wife, mother, drama director, empty nester and now…God only knows. I’ve learned that life often takes turns we did not anticipate.

Spouses die. Careers go south. Children break our hearts. Beauty fades. Divorce shatters self-worth.

Will we fold, or pick up the pieces and start over?

I believe that God doesn’t waste any of our life lessons. Our past can give us tools to rebuild an even better future.

Please give us the first page of the book.

Chapter One
“Living in the parsonage is not for sissies.” Leona Harper’s husband planted a kiss on the top of her head. “You knew that when you married me, darlin’.” He tucked his Bible under one arm and offered her the other. “You can do this.”

Leona considered the man standing before her. J.D. Harper was as handsome as the day they met some thirty years ago, even with the silver streaks traipsing across his well-trained waves. Folks often mistook him to be a successful CEO of some major corporation rather than the pastor of a dying church in a small Texas town.

“And if I don’t?”
“Maxine Davis wins.” He had her, and he knew it. “Is that what you want?”

Ignoring the righteous twinkle in his eye, she threaded her hand through the crook in his suit-clad arm. “I hate it when you preach at me, J.D.”

“If it weren’t for guilt trips, you wouldn’t go anywhere.”

“My point exactly.” Leona scooped up the Tupperware caddie that contained her famous chicken pot pie and set off to face yet another Sunday at Mt. Hope Community Church.

I am reading the book on my Kindle right now. It's wonderful. How can the readers find you on the Internet?
You’re invited to visit my blog, Stage Write, at www.lynnegentry.com

Thank you so much for sharing all of this with us. I rejoice with you on this first book contract.

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 4 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 if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link.


Anonymous said...

I would be blessed to win a copy of this book. Love the cover.
aNgElA from Kentucky

Joyce said...

Thanks for the chance to win!

Joyce in TN


Lynne Gentry said...

Angela from Kentucky, have you ever had to reinvent yourself?

Lynne Gentry said...

Joyce In TN, I'm curious about how God has remade you. Care to share?

Marianne said...

Sounds like a wonderful book to read...Thanks for the interview/post and chance to win, Lena and Lynne.
mitzi_wanham[at]yahoo[dot]com from Peace River Country, Alberta

Lynne Gentry said...

Marianne, thanks for taking the time to read the interview. Praying God uses the changes in your life to His glory.

Linda Kish said...

This sounds like a terrific story. I'd love a chance to read it.


lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Lynne Gentry said...

Linda, if you don't happen to win the free copy, the book is available for immediate download. Go to my website: www.lynnegentry.com for more info. Apparently, God is in the process of reinventing you if this interest you.

Salena Stormo said...

This story pulls at my heartstrings. I think we can all relate to reinventing ourselves. Even while finding out who we will become and creating our parenting techniques...it is all a journey to better ourselves and work with what God gives us! Best of luck to you!

srstormo at yahoo dot com

Lynne Gentry said...

Thanks, Salena. You're right, children have a way of forcing parents to reinvent themselves.

Sarah said...

Would love to win!

Sarah H

Lorna Faith said...

Would love a chance to win this ebook:) Just got an ipad a couple of months ago. Sounds like a great book...feeling that 'new season' of reinventing myself right now...so love the title!

Lorna from Alberta
lornafaith at gmail dot com

Rebecca said...

Thank you so much for the chance to win this. This sounds like an amazing book. I would love to read this. Thanks again.

I am from Oklahoma.


terri.forehand said...

I think the book sounds wonderful, and If I don't win I will be adding it to my list to read anyway. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself in the interview. Following God is the best advice even when it seems like a very long wait.
Blessings for success,

Judy said...

I enjoyed the interview with Lynne. Her book "Reinventing Leona" sounds like a great read. I would love to win a copy of it.


Judy B from Indiana

Lynne Gentry said...

Lorna, I'd love to hear about your season of reinvention. Go to my website and leave your story for a chance to win a dramatized version of Reinventing Leona. My site is: www.lynnegentry.com

Lynne Gentry said...

Rebecca from Oklahoma, I'd love for you to read Reinventing Leona. I hope it inspires you, especially if you are facing a season of change.

Lynne Gentry said...

Terri, you're right, following God is always the best choice. Unfortunately, it is not always the easy choice. Go to my website and tell me about how you work through the tough times. www.lynnegentry.com

Lynne Gentry said...

Judy from Indiana, I'd love for you to win a copy of the book. But if you don't, you have a chance to win a dramatized CD of my performance of the Reinvention of Leona Harper. Go to my website: www.lynnegentry.com and tell me about it.

Pam Hillman said...

Great interview, Lynne and Lena!

I enjoyed getting to know you and your writing journey a bit more, Lynne.

Don't enter me! I already have the book, and it's on my TBR list right after Diana Prusik's Delivery and Michael Berrier's Cash Burn.

Pam in MS

Lynne Gentry said...

Pam, thanks for taking the time out of your busy launch schedule to keep up with me. Reading your book, Stealing Jake, right now and loving it.

scottsgal said...

This is a new author to me - enjoyed the interview
cheryl in IL
msboatgal at aol.com

Lynne Gentry said...

Cheryl in IL, I'm a new author to everyone! Thanks for taking the time to find out about me and my debut novel. Want to know more? Check out www.lynnegentry.com

Edwina said...

This sounds like a delightful book. Please enter me in the drawing.
Edwina in GA


Lynne Gentry said...

Edwina in GA, I lived in Georgia for 8 years and loved it. Haven't had good cheese grits since we moved.

Mona G./Ohio said...

This sounds like a wonderful book to read.....I have a daughter married to a Minister......so would love to win this...

Miss Mona/

Lynne Gentry said...

Mona G., give your girl a hug from me! This is a book she would so understand!

dancealert said...

Would love to win a copy of the book. I'm a follower and a subscriber.

Brenda from Michigan

dancealert at aol dot com

Lynne Gentry said...

Dancealert, hope you do win a copy. If not, you can go to my website www.lynnegentry.com for a free sample chapter.

Abigail said...

Enter me!
Blanch, N.C.

Faith's Mom/Ohio said...

I am married to a Minister, would love to win this book....Thanks for a chance....
Faith's mom

hippmom said...

Lovely interview. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy! angela from Nebraska

Lynne Gentry said...

hippmom, thanks for taking the time to get to know me better. Hope you hope over to my author facebook page and LIKE it so that you can keep up with the rest of Leona's story. Or visit my website at: www.lynnegentry.com

Jo said...

Another new to me author. Thanks for the opportunity to win the book.


Lynne Gentry said...

Jo, I hope I don't stay "New" to you for long. Check out my website: www.lynnegentry.com and get to know me and my crazy stories.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, what a book, this sounds so interested......

Lynne Gentry said...

Anonymous, I hope you get a chance to read it.

Kristie said...

Wow! Eight years would discourage me. I'm impressed with your preseverence. I'm from Ohio. kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com Thank you.

Lynne Gentry said...

Kristie from Ohio, your comment made me smile. Eight years doesn't seem that long when you do it a day at a time. That's the secret to reinventing yourself. Oops, spoiler alert! :)