Tuesday, February 12, 2013

CONGO DAWN - Jeanette Windle - One Free Book

Welcome back, Jeanette. God has really been moving in your writing life. What do you see on the horizon?
I always have half a dozen more stories bubbling in my head that I hope to write if the Lord tarries and permits. And I continue in my "day job" as a missions journalist, editor of a missions magazine, and a ministry very dear to my heart: training and mentoring Christian writers in two languages on five continents (most recently Mexico and Kenya). But I can say honestly that I've given up looking too far into the horizon just because God's path for my life so often takes completely unexpected twists and turns. My focus has zoomed in on rounding the next curve in the road: finishing that next book, article, speaking engagement, ministry trip to the absolute best of my ability while looking forward with anticipation to what new surprise God may have for me on the horizon.

Tell us a little about your family.
I am married to a fellow missionary kid, Dr. Martin Windle, currently serving as president on an international ministry organization, BCM International (www.bcmintl.org). I have four adult children, three sons and a daughter, ranging from age 21-30. My middle son and our daughter, the youngest, are adopted from Bolivia, where we were then serving as missionaries. Our oldest is in his final year of law school on full scholarship from the Bill Gates Foundation in Public Service Law. Our middle son works in Nevada. Our youngest son is currently a combat medic with the 2nd Marine Regiment out of Camp Lejeune, NC. Our daughter is a wife and mother in Lancaster, PA. Forgive me if I don't mention their names, but one commitment my husband and I made to our children long ago (birthed from our own too-public upbringing as missionary kids!) was to preserve their privacy in print and speech.

Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
I am an avid reader, both fiction and non-fiction. Like food and drink, reading is part of my regular  intake, no matter how busy I get. Perhaps the biggest impact writing has on my reading habits is that I do minimal fiction reading when I am at full-throttle writing a new novel. Instead I read enormous amounts of non-fiction material on the particular country setting where I am currently writing. Most recently for instance with Congo Dawn, I read at least 20,000 pages of history, current events, political/social/economic background on the Congo region as well as collateral subjects such as conflict minerals, private military companies, the inside-out of multinational corporations. Once I finish a manuscript, I will admit to indulging myself in a surfeit of fiction (including many waiting titles from CBA author friends) before I begin my own next writing project.

What are you working on right now?
After seven consecutive adult international intrigue titles and a children's international mystery series, I am actually buried currently in a project that is very much outside either of those boxes, more The DaVinci Code meets Michael Crichton's Timeline than anything I've written to date. Set alternatively against a near-future and pre-diluvian Earth, Deluge is a story that has been bubbling for years, and I am excited about where it is going. But I hope I won't be leaving you in too much suspense if I reserve the details until I am much further along.

What outside interests do you have?
Outside of writing, I've been in full-time ministry for thirty years now as a missionary, missions journalist, speaker, and trainer/writer for indigenous Christian writers on four continents.  While technically "work", traveling to new corners of the planet and meeting new people is one wonderful side benefit. Whenever possible, I try to squeeze in some sightseeing in each new country. And when I do have spare time, I'll admit you can usually find me with my nose in a good book.

How do you choose your settings for each book?
My settings choose me more than the other way around. Seriously, every time I've finished writing about one country, God has brought people and circumstances into my life that lead me to a new country, new story-line, and new spiritual theme. For Veiled Freedom and Freedom's Stand, set in Afghanistan, God opened the doors to so many 'boots on the ground' sources in Afghanistan as well as being able to travel there personally. When I finished Afghanistan and began brainstorming my next novel, unplanned and unexpected contacts with some of the planet's most incredible missionary pilots and jungle medical volunteers opened doors to writing Congo Dawn, set in the war-torn Ituri rainforest conflict zones of northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. I'm excited to see where God leads next for settings of future titles.

If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
Shem's wife (as in Noah's daughter-in-law, the eventual maternal ancestor of Jesus Christ). As to why, her POV figures strongly in my current work-in-progress, and I have so many questions for her. What was it like to marry into a clan of known crazies? To face giving up all known civilization and technology to raise children in a stark, primitive new world? What drew her to Shem: romantic love, his faith in Elohim, Creator of All, or both?

What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
I've often wished I'd known before I jumped so blithely into writing novels just how difficult it would be, wrenching heart and soul and mind to pour out a story and its spiritual theme on printed page. I would certainly never have had the courage to start on such a long, strenuous, hair-pulling, heart-rending journey, had I seen the road ahead. Even more so the equally arduous process of getting a book actually contracted and published once it is written.

So while I do wish I'd known, I'm glad as well that God only let me see each next step (isn't that the way God works in so many areas of our lives?). Now that I do know just how hard writing a novel is, I constantly ask myself in the first stages of each new book what in the world I think I'm doing dragging myself back into the arena to start all over again. Then I get far enough in the new book that I can't turn back, and after another long, arduous journey, somehow another book is born.

What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
Each of my novels is birthed from the particular point along my own spiritual journey at which the book is written, so that the spiritual truths with which the protagonists are wrestling are also the lessons God has been teaching me. Most recently, the height and breadth and depth of God's love despite all seeming evidence to the contrary of this planet's darkness and suffering. 

In Congo Dawn, the protagonist asks a question: 
“I would give my own life to stop the pain I’ve seen. To stop little girls and boys from being raped. Or just as bad, forced into armies where they’re turned into killers . To keep families from being torn apart by war. Children dying of preventable diseases for lack of a dollar’s worth of medicine. So am I more compassionate than the God who created all these people, created all this beauty? How can an all-powerful God who claims to love humanity look down on our planet and watch such unspeakable things happening, innocent people hurting and dying, bad guys winning over and over again, so much suffering, without it breaking his heart?  Without reaching down and putting a stop to it?"

Coming to grips with that question in my own life as well as that of my fiction protagonist has led inexorably to a very simple realization. I am not more compassionate than my Creator. Any love I can possibly feel or show is a dim reflection of our heavenly Father's love.

So if I begin with the recognition that God is truly love, that He loves us far more than we can love others, then I must also accept (whether or not I will ever fully understand it this side of Heaven) that the coexistence of a loving Creator with human suffering is no oxymoron, but a divine paradox those refined in the fires of adversity are best equipped to understand. However dark the night, our heavenly Father really does know what He's doing. His ultimate plans for our lives and for all His creation are not only birthed from immeasurable love, but they will not be thwarted.

What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
I wish I had three good answers to this--or even one. The truth is that one can read every writing book, work diligently at developing one's craft, jump through every hoop listed in the CBA or ABA writers market guides, and still not find success as a writer. Which is why I'd like to share instead what I call the "But God Factor".

My own publishing story (too long to tell in full here) was perhaps like many, writing that first juvenile mystery series, submitting to publishers, receiving encouragement, rejections--but no contracts. Except that I was sending my submissions hard-copy from the mission field. I'd run through every lead by the time we came stateside for a three-month ministry trip. I remember vividly asking God to either open a door or close it completely so I would not waste more time on writing that could go into other ministry.

We were at a final missions conference before heading back to Bolivia when I received a call. To my astonishment, it was an editor of Questar Publishing, recently merged with Multnomah Press, who'd already sent me a rejection, saying they didn't publish juvenile. The caller informed me that in the merger they'd found tucked away in a drawer some wonderful children's mystery-suspense chapters. They'd called a phone number on the proposal (my in-laws) and had been given my contact info at the missions conference. Would that proposal still be available for a new juvenile fiction line?

Would it! The contract arrived just as we headed back to Bolivia, the beginning of my CBA career. That out-of-the-blue phone call at a missions conference would far be too improbable for fiction. Which simply goes to show that one can follow every guideline, jump through every hoop. But in the end, delightfully, unexpectedly, there is always the "But God Factor" that turns all our own plans and efforts on end.

So instead of advice, let me leave this one encouragement to my fellow writer-in-Christ. Do we need to understand the market? Perfect our craft? Follow editorial procedure? Yes, of course. But we are not only writers, but children and servants of God, called and gifted by Him to do the works to which He has called us. I don't know God's plan for your writing gift. But I know He has one.

So write what burns within you, not just what may fit the market. And when you've done all you can to be a writer of excellence, trust God to open the right doors for your message. After all, who could ever predict a dusty manila envelope in a back drawer of an abandoned publishing warehouse to be the launch of a writing career.

Tell us about the featured book.
If absolute power breeds absolute corruption, what happens when a multinational corporation with unlimited funds hires on a private military company with unbridled power? Especially in a Congolese rainforest where governmental accountability is only too cheaply for sale and the ultimate “conflict mineral” is up for grabs?

Set in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's war-torn eastern Ituri rainforest zone, Congo Dawn confronts former Marine lieutenant Robin Duncan with just that question. A veteran in handling corruption and conspiracy, Robin has never had any trouble  discerning good guys from bad. But as her private security team tries to track down an insurgent killer, Robin faces a man who broke her trust years ago and discovers that gray areas extend deeper into the jungle than she anticipated.

As a vicious global conspiracy emerges, run by brutal men who don’t leave witnesses alive, Robin must decide if there is anyone left she can trust. And where is God in the suffering and injustice? How is it followers of Yesu (Jesus) caught in the crossfire can still rejoice when everything they hold dear is ripped away?

Please give us the first page of the book.
Ituri Rainforest, Democratic Republic of Congo
Paradise Lost.
That translated piece of literature written by a long-ago foreign poet had been a favorite of Jesuit monks who’d taught a Congolese orphan boy his letters and their language many years ago.

Perhaps because they’d felt just so at their exile to his own country.

“Baba. Father. Have you not understood what I said? With these we can now make a paradise out of our home.”

Father and son stood on a stony outcropping that thrust skyward over the rainforest canopy, one of dozens of the strange rock formations that rose like termite mounds above the treetops, their stony composition bearing no apparent relation to the sandy soil or red clay that made up the jungle floor. Burial mounds of the Ancient Ones, tribal legends avowed before pale-skinned foreigners arrived to teach terms like igneous and volcanic anomaly.

“Baba, do you not see what a miracle this is? As great a miracle as finding you alive again. The Almighty at last has chosen to shower favor upon us. This place, our people, will never be the same again.”

The tall, ebony-skinned youth was dressed incongruously for this place in collared shirt, slacks, and such shiny black shoes as his feet had never known during their growing years. But anxious, dark eyes and beaming smile were the same, though he now held out a handful of gray pebbles rather than the schoolwork of his boyhood. In years past, his father could have responded with unstinted praise, but now he shifted his own bare feet to look down over the cliff edge.

The clearing below stretched to the banks of a wide, lazy river, its water the dark tannin shade of tea, a drink the Jesuit monks had taught the older man to enjoy. Several dozen thatched mud-brick huts occupied the highest ground, beyond the reach of wet-season flooding. Women wrapped in the colorful lengths of homespun cloth called pagnes stooped among cultivations of cassava, maize, beans, yams, and peanuts. Others moved along a path from the riverbank, their graceful sway balancing pottery water jars on top of their heads.

Children too young for work or school scampered among banana plants, playing some game of running and hiding. On the river itself, a pair of hand-hewn wooden pirogues drifted lazily toward a bend where the watercourse disappeared back into untamed rainforest. Several village men, naked except for the same loincloth that was the older man’s sole dress, stood precariously on the canoe rims to cast fishing nets woven of thin, supple lianas. Drawing the nets from the water, they removed a few catfish and eel, then cast the nets again.

Paradise Lost.
There was a time when such had been the older man’s own opinion of this remote jungle locality. When this place had seemed to him an unjust and cruel exile . . .

How can readers find you on the Internet?
I would like to invite any reader interested in knowing more about Congo Dawn, my other titles, or my own life journey to visit me at my website (www.jeanettewindle.com ) or contact me directly at jeanette@jeanettewindle.com . I am also delighted to participate with local book clubs or discussion groups through Skype video or online chat conference.

Thank you, Jeanette, for sharing this new book with us today.

Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Congo Dawn - paperback
Congo Dawn - Kindle

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 Google +, 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...

Thanks for a chance to win Congo Dawn.

Katie J. from FL

Anonymous said...


La Smit said...

I appreciate good Christian fiction, and I know Jeanette Windle's writing does not disappoint! She is sincere in her motives also, and the book proceeds go to mission work around the world. May the Lord richly bless you as you spread the word of the Kingdom!

mongupp said...

Sound like a riveting read!

Monica, Ontario

Carrie said...

I live in Cameroun, Africa!

Lorraine said...

Hi, I'm from Manitoba Canada and I've been waiting for this new book for ages!! Love all of Jeanette Windle's books!

Andean Echoes said...

We love reading Jeannette's books. I live in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Andean Echoes said...

We have always enjoyed Jeannette's books and would love to read Congo.
We live in Cochabamba, Bolivia, South America

Andean Echoes said...

We love reading Jeannette's books. I live in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Carol Cool said...

Jeanette's Afghanistan books were amazing, and i can't wait to see what she does on a new continent. I'm from Ephrata, Pennsylvania.

Norma S said...

Thank you for the chance to win your book. Thank you also for being a missionary and going to different area telling people about God that is such an important thing that everyone such do. So you have been a ministry for 30 years that is such a blessing, again thank you. Jeanette and Lena your interview was great. God bless both of you.
Norma Stanforth from Ohio

Melissa M. said...

I loved Veiled Freedom and Freedom's Stand, so I'd love to win this book! I also liked your answer for "What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?"

-Melissa M. from TX

Anita said...

I've loved everything I've
read of yours and am happy to have a chance to win a FREE copy of Congo Dawn!

Anita said...

I've loved everything I've read of yours and would love to win a FREE copy of Congo Dawn.

Beth said...

Loved the interview. Beth K. from St. Croix, USVI.

Jeanette Windle said...

Thanks to all who have responded this far; what a special delight to meet readers spread so widely across the world. I'm only sorry we've only one copy to share, but I do hope you will all get a chance to read Congo Dawn. :)

Anonymous said...

Loved the interview too. Looking forward to reading the book. Blessings and thank you for the opportunity to win a copy of this book. Susan Fryman Alamogordo, New Mexico

Katie G. said...

Please enter me! I would love to win this one because we (my family and I) are in the process of adopting from Congo! I'm from NC. Thanks.

Hannah said...

Great book and interview!
Hannah P

Lyndie Blevins said...

Thanks for the opportunity to get this book.
Lyndie Blevins

Duncanville, Tx

Lyndie Blevins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sharon Richmond said...

Enter me!!
Sharon Richmond

Abigail Richmond said...

Love Jeanette's books! Please enter me!

Blanch, N.C.

Jeanette Windle said...

Katie, I am delighted to hear you are adopting from the Congo. And honored for each of you who have taken time to share this interview with me and post a comment. :)

Veronica Sternberg said...

This sounds so exciting! I'm in MN.

rubynreba said...

I'd enjoy Congo Dawn.
Beth from IA

Liz R said...

I've heard good things about this one! Would love to read it!

Liz R in Al