Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A SKY WITHOUT STARS - Linda S Clare - One Free Book, Plus Much More

Bio: Linda S. Clare is an award-winning coauthor of three books, including Lost Boys and the Moms Who Love Them (with Melody Carlson and Heather Kopp), Revealed: Spiritual Reality in a Makeover World, and Making Peace with a Dangerous God (with Kristen Johnson Ingram). She is also the author of The Fence My Father Built. She has taught college-level creative writing classes for seven years, and edits and mentors writers. She also is a frequent writing conference presenter and church retreat leader. She and her husband of thirty-one years have four grown children, including a set of twins. They live in Eugene, Oregon, with their five wayward cats: Oliver, Xena the Warrior Kitty, Paladine, Melchior, and Mamma Mia!

Welcome back, Linda. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
My motto is “Stories of Grace for the Chronically Different.” I write books about the marginalized, the disadvantaged and outsiders because I have dealt with being different all my life. As a polio survivor, I’ve had my fair share of challenges. I’m part Native American too, so American Indians’ historical struggle is one of my big interests. I also need to include my faith in my stories, but in a way that doesn’t threaten or alienate further the ones I’m writing about. I try to realistically portray people’s problems and their sometimes bumpy road to God.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
The birth days of my four children count as joyful for me. The last two were surprise twins. I was and am happy about it, but still kind of in shock too. Never knew I was carrying twins. We had two names picked—one for a boy and one for a girl. We used them both. They are each grown with their own families now.

How has being published changed your life?
Some of my close friends have had phenomenal success in publishing (one member of my first critique group has now published more than 200 books) and for a long time I griped to God that it was never going to be my turn. But I finally piggy-backed with two of my friends on a nonfiction book and have published 5 books now. Publishing has opened up a whole world of wonderful readers to me. I never get tired of connecting with readers. Coming up with stories that offer hope and where readers can see the naked truth about life’s struggles proves to me again and again that writing them is a big part of why I’m here.

What are you reading right now?
Aside from reading works-in-progress by several of my critique partners, as well as the work of writers whom I mentor, I’m reading a memoir, Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart (Random House, 2014). It’s very witty. I also love Sarah Sundin’s historical series as well as Ann Shorey’s historical. They are both terrific writers and storytellers.

What is your current work in progress?
My latest effort is called A SYMPHONY OF MOTION. It’s about a little girl named CC who’s musically gifted but in Special Ed. She’s been so traumatized by her dad’s departure from the family that she isn’t speaking. Her mom leaves her with Aunt Bassett, a high school orchestra teacher who’s taken in a boarder, Paulo “Pops” Abruzzo, a former symphony conductor in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease. He’s bitter and has only his precious grand piano left. When CC defies his command not to play the piano, his Parkinson’s symptoms begin to disappear. Is it a true miracle or is it the power of love?

What would be your dream vacation?
My dream vacation would be to tour the British Isles. I’ve always wanted to go to the UK. My birthday is St. Patrick’s Day and I’m at least part Irish, so Ireland would be exciting to visit.

How do you choose your settings for each book?
For The Fence My Father Built, the setting was originally Arizona where I was born and raised. But the moment I saw Central Oregon—which is very similar to high desert in Northern Arizona—I reconsidered and set the book in a fictional town somewhere out near Prineville, Oregon. For A Sky without Stars, I really wanted to showcase the beautiful state of Arizona. Most think of it as a dry desert, but Arizona has seven climate zones! Parts of the story take place in the desert around 1950s Phoenix (back then it was still kind of a one-horse town) but parts also are set in Navajo country, a windswept corner of northeastern Arizona with breathtaking rock formations as well as many, many Native Americans. And sheep! Navajo country has lots of sheep.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
I know this sounds nutty but I’d love to spend the day with former Beatle Paul McCartney, just to observe his songwriting/writing process. The creative process is fascinating to me (I hold a degree in Art and once worked as a singer) and whether it’s art, music, dance, or writing, I love the process of creating. I’m not a very good dancer, but in college I drew on my poems and wrote poems on my drawings. For me, it’s all interconnected, and I consider McCartney a master of creativity.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
In Oregon, you learn to love gardening. I’ve lived here 30 years and I’m still learning the names of plants and trees that aren’t desert plants. I mean, I know my cacti from years in the Arizona desert, but am decidedly less aware of the names of plants which thrive in a more temperate climate like Oregon. The weather is rainy and people often compare my city, Eugene, with England’s climate. Each summer my adult son and I plant a veggie garden, and I also have quite a flower habit. Like bookstores, I’m not really allowed in garden centers because I buy everything. I also love working with children. I have two little grandsons that are my joys.

I smiled at that last sentence, because James and I spent part of yesterday with our youngest great grandson. They are a joy. What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Physically, I have this crummy thing called Post-polio Syndrome which is kind of like MS or fibromyalgia. It’s caused from years of overuse and compensation for the muscles of my back, neck, and left arm that were paralyzed in the polio I contracted at age 8 ½ months. Yes, I type with one hand. Perhaps my other obstacle is that I love to write lots of different things and genres, so I’m late coming to the “branding” table. It probably holds me back from fabulous stardom, LOL!

What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Write. Read. Lots. Your first novel will not be likely the first published. When you read about a new author hitting the big time, that writer probably has more than one early attempt at a novel sitting in a drawer. Learn everything! It does take a while to master any craft, but here’s the good news: Writing is a craft and you can learn a craft. In my mind, there are only two kinds of writing: writing that works and writing that needs work. I teach novel writing, and I offer free writing tips each week on my blog. Visit me!

Tell us about the featured book.
Can a quilt bridge the gap between two cultures?  

After her husband is killed on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, Frankie Chasing Bear wants a fresh start. But in 1951, relocating through the US government’s Relocation Program didn’t just mean a new town; it meant a new way of life. Frankie quickly learns that raising her son, Harold to revere his Lakota heritage will be a challenge in the white man’s world. Searching for a way for her son to respect his ancestors but also embrace a future of opportunity, she begins a Lakota Star-pattern quilt with tribal wisdom sung, sewn, and prayed into it—something that will not let him forget where he came from.

A bed without a quilt is like a sky without stars, but neither the quilt nor her new life come easily to Frankie. Federal Agent Nick Parker, for instance, is the last man Frankie wants to trust. She’s already struggling to understand Nick’s culture; how can she embrace his Christian faith? Will Frankie learn that love is the most important ingredient for her son’s quilt—and life itself? 

Please give us the first page of the book.
Pine Ridge, South Dakota
Frankie Chasing Bear
I did not come to quilt-making easily. The urge to piece together shapes and colors wasn’t my gift. But when I was twelve, Grandmother said soon the quilt might be all that was left of what we once were. By the time your children wrap quilts around themselves, she told me, the star and all it stands for may be a dim memory, lit only by the fire of ancestors, clouded by ruddy smoke hanging in the sky.

Grandmother’s face was crisscrossed with fine lines showing off sharp cheekbones, a strong square jaw, hard work. A silvery gray braid, straight as the truth, hung down her back.

I tried to make my stitches as small and even as hers, but my childish hands proved slow and awkward. She said I only needed practice and showed me again: up, pulled through, and down.

Just before she died, Grandmother and I sat together one last time. She stopped to smooth a small wrinkle in the quilt top. “Lakota were favored among tribes,” she said. “Our people stood at the top of the hills. The buffalo and the deer bowed to our warriors, and we lived together in peace.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
I love to connect! Find me in these various ways:

Don't miss this month's Quilts of Love book, A Star Without Stars, by Linda S. Clare. Linda is celebrating the release with a Kindle HDX giveaway and joining her fellow Quilts of Love authors, Barbara Cameron and Joyce Magnin, for a Facebook "Spring Fling" party on April 1st.

  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • Scraps of Evidence by Barbara Cameron
  • A Sky Without Stars by Linda S. Clare
  • Maybelle in Stitches by Joyce Magnin
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 1st. Winner will be announced at the "Spring Fling" Facebook Party on April 1st. RSVP today and connect with the authors from the Quilts of Love series, Barbara Cameron, Linda S. Clare, and Joyce Magnin, for an evening of book chat, quilt trivia, prizes, and an exclusive look at the next Quilts of Love book!

So grab your copies of Scraps of EvidenceA Sky Without Stars, and Maybelle in Stitches and join Barbara, Linda, and Joyce on the evening of April 1st for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the books, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN at the event page. Spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway and party via FACEBOOK or TWITTER. Hope to see you on April 1st!

Thank you, Linda, for sharing this new book with us.

Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
A Sky Without Stars -

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book on this blog. 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, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link.


Jackie McNutt said...

Thank you Lena for featuring Linda.
Her life story is very interesting and I admire how she handles physical challenges.
The title of this book is interesting and the description looks great.
Thank you from Ohio

Linda Kish said...

I would love to win a copy of this book. It sounds wonderful.

(I also do a lot of one-handed typing.)


lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda S. Clare said...

Jackie, Linda (another Linda!),
Thanks for commenting and for requesting my book. I am truly blessed (and Linda, I type pretty darn fast for only using one hand!) Be blessed and Happy Reading! Linda Clare

Britney Adams said...

I enjoyed Linda's wonderful interview and look forward to reading A SKY WITHOUT STARS. Thank you for the opportunity to win.

Britney Adams, TX

Melanie Backus said...

I love the title and cover of this book. Thank you for the wonderful interview and giveaway.

Melanie Backus, TX

Mary Preston said...

A beautiful prologue & a story line that fascinates.

Mary P


Cindy W. said...

I love the Quilts of Love series and would love to win a copy of A Sky Without Stars. Thank you for the chance.

I live in Indiana.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

ACS Reader's Haven said...

All of Linda Clare's books sound delightful. I'd love to win this book, or perhaps even the big giveaway. :)

Living in the middle of North Carolina. We are still wishing for Spring.

Library Lady said...

We have this series in the Church Library. Linda's book, "A Sky Without Stars" would be a wonderful addition to our collection.
Thanks for the giveaway.
Janet E.

Sarah Elisabeth said...

As a Choctaw, I especially love reading good books featuring Native American characters. This one looks well researched and well done. Thanks for sharing!
Sarah from East Texas

Diana Gardner said...

Portsmouth, VA

Mama Cat said...

Thank you for the great interview! And for sharing how you overcome physical challenges to put into practice your writing talents - blessings! I would love to read this! Jeanie in Phoenix

Patty said...

Thanks for sharing a bit of your story with us Linda! I look forward to reading A Sky Withour Stars.

Patty in SC

Sharon Richmond Bryant said...

Enter me!!
Sharon Richmond Bryant

Linda McFarland said...

A Sky Without Stars sounds like a very interesting book that I would enjoy reading. Love being introduced to new authors and enjoyed meeting Linda! Would love to win, thanks for the opportunity. Linda

Linda McFarland said...

Forgot to say I live in Pennsylvania!

Susan P said...

I have heard great things about this one already! Thanks for sharing.
lattebooks at hotmail dot com

Susan P said...

AS usual I forget my state: Michigan

Donna E said...

I have a few of the QOL books, but not this one. I am really interested in reading it as I believe the story will be wonderful.

Donna E said...

I am in Oklahoma.

Mippy Foofalina said...

I think love of any kind can bridge the gap between cultures. A quilt is made with so much love: I'm hoping that is the case with this story.
*hugs and love* from Northern Utah
bunnysmip (AT) gmail (DOT) com