Thursday, January 10, 2013

BLUEBIRD OF BROCKPORT - Donna Winters - One Free Book

Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
It would be impossible not to write myself into my heroines in some way, but I try to create unique individuals whose tastes, personalities, and preferences are separate from mine. In most of my novels, my moral values are the predominant values of the heroine, but in one story, Butterfly Come Home, the heroine was a “bad girl.” The way I developed her was this: at each point where the heroine had to make a choice, I asked myself what I would do, and then I had the heroine do the opposite.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
When I was a new bride I discovered that my husband, after taking his morning shower, had a bad habit of bringing a wet towel into the bedroom and hanging it on the tall wooden post of our bed frame. After he’d gone to work, I’d discover the wet towel and, fearing that the wood finish could be damaged, I’d take it back to the bathroom and hang it up. One day I didn’t go into the bedroom until afternoon, and was quite dismayed that the wet towel had hung there all day. The next day, when I again discovered the wet towel on the post, I gave some thought to how I could break my husband of the habit without nagging and came up with a plan. That night, I went to bed earlier than he did as was my custom, but I didn’t fall asleep. When he came to bed and pulled back the covers on his side, there was his wet bath towel. He was mildly annoyed and started to laugh. So did I. He never left the towel on the post again.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
When I was in elementary school I loved writing letters, but people I wrote to seldom answered, or took a very long time in sending a reply. That’s when I realized that I like writing a whole lot more than the average individual.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love reading very old books from the 19th century and early 20th century, both nonfiction and fiction. I also absolutely love reading old newspapers on microfilm, especially from the 1890s. As for contemporary publications, I enjoy the research sources such as those I read about the Erie Canal. I have more than a couple dozen books plus a doctoral dissertation and a few dozen newspaper and internet articles that formed the nucleus of my research material for Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal. Newspaper of the early 1830s offered very little information since they printed mainly advertisements and political news with almost no news of the cultural or social events.

For pleasure reading, I enjoy Christian genres: historical romance, historical fiction, women’s fiction, and once in a while, suspense or a cozy mystery.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
We’ve moved to a remote location where there’s no “run, run, run” and we’re quite happy here. Our definition of traffic is when one car passes another going in opposite directions. You’re as likely to hit a deer, as a car in our region.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
I create two lists of the alphabet, one for first names and one for last names. From the internet, I print out lists of common names for the decade or year of the characters’ births, and pick from the lists with an effort not to duplicate the first letter of the names I choose.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
There are two. First, I’m most proud of creating a body of work that reflects well on the history of my adopted state, Michigan. God truly blessed me in leading me on that path and giving me all the support necessary to complete those fifteen titles. In addition, I am pleased that after all these years of writing, I could create a story about the history of my hometown, Brockport, New York, on the Erie Canal, and present it to readers in an accurate and engaging way.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I see myself as a cat. I love cats but have never owned one. My parents didn’t allow cats and my husband is allergic and dislikes them. I don’t relate to the sneaky, stealthy nature of cats because I’m much too forthright and honest for that, but I do relate to their independence and often aloof nature since I love “alone” time and have a low need for socializing.

What is your favorite food?
Rice. In almost all forms except for wild rice, which is a grass and not a grain. My digestion is so touchy I don’t know what I’d do without rice.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Yikes. I started out so naïve I didn’t have any problems. The more I wrote, the more I realized I didn’t know how to write well. That remains my biggest problem today, overcoming the lack of confidence that what I write is done well technically and is going to engage the reader. Only good editing and good reviews can help, but then I go on to the next WIP and wonder all over again, “Is it good enough? Will anyone like it? Am I using good techniques, or could I learn to do better?”

Tell us about the featured book.
Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal, grew out of my desire to write compelling historical fiction that portrays the early era of the canal that runs through my hometown in western New York State. Here’s the back cover blurb:
Dreams of floating on the Erie Canal have flowed through Lucina Willcox’s mind since childhood. Yet once her family has purchased their boat and begins their journey, they meet with one challenge after another. An encounter with a towpath rattlesnake threatens her brother’s life. A thief attempts to break in and steal precious cargo. Heavy rain causes a breach and drains the canal of water. Lucina comforts herself with thoughts of Ezra Lockwood, her handsome childhood friend, and discovers a longing to be with him that she just can’t ignore. Can she have a future with Ezra and still hold onto her canalling dream?

Ezra Lockwood’s one goal in life is to build and captain his own canal boat, but two years into the construction of his freight hauler, funds run short. With his goal temporarily stalled, and Lucina Willcox back in his life, his priorities begin to change. Can he have both his dreams — his own boat, and Lucina as his bride?   

Please give us the first page of the book.
Brockport, New York
Friday, April 30, 1830
Lucina Willcox could hardly keep from shouting for joy. Today, she and her mama and papa and younger sister and brother would move their belongings onto their canal boat. Tomorrow, they’d start hauling freight on the Erie Canal. For the past seven years, since the age of eleven, she’d dreamed of leaving their wheat farm a few miles north of the village to go canalling. Now, her dream was about to come true!

Her heart pattered faster as their farm wagon, filled with furniture, kegs, crates, and firkins, bumped and rattled up the hill, past blooming dogwood that sweetened the balmy air, and onto the Main Street Bridge. Suddenly, she caught sight of the boat that she’d carried in her mind since their trip to town a month ago to buy it used from Mr. Brockway. It had been in dry dock then for repairs. Now, it floated in a boat basin near the bridge, glistening in the bright sun with a new coat of bluebird-tweetin’-blue paint.

From her seat on a keg in the bed of the wagon she tried to read the name painted on the boat’s stern. But her reading and writing started and stopped with her own name, and she knew it wasn’t Lucina Maria Willcox that she saw.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
Visit my blog where you will find all my contact info (Facebook, twitter) and book sales info (website link).

Thanks, Lena, for inviting me to visit today! I’ve enjoyed your questions and appreciate the opportunity to meet your readers.

And thank you, Donna, for the interesting interview.

Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal - paperback
Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal - 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 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.


Unknown said...

Good does it happen that i am here first? or not. i would love to learn more about the Erie canal, and what better way than through fiction? Thanks for the great interview, Lena and Donna, and the chance to win.

marianne from northern Alberta


Hannah said...

Looks like a great read! I would love to win.
Hannah P

Norma S said...

Hi Donna,
Thank you for a chance of winning your book and for the interview you had with Lena. I liked that about the bathtowel that your husband left on the bedpost and to brake him of it one night you left it in his bed. Sounds like a great book can't wait to read it. God bless you and Lena.
Norma Stanforth from Ohio

Lourdes said...

Great interview love the towel part.

Lourdes, Long Island, New York

Kristie said...

I would love to read your book. I don't usually read fiction from that era but yours looks interesting. I love the towel story, by the way. Way to get your point across. *LOL* I have two cats. They make me laugh. Take care! Kristie from Ohio. kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com Thank you.

Mary Preston said...

Your quirky story had me laughing.


Mary P


Great Lakes Romances said...

Marianne, Hannah, Norma, Lourdes, Kristie, and Mary,

Thank you all for stopping by! I guess the towel story is the favorite part of the interview. When Lena sent me that question, I had to think hard about an answer. That incident occurred over forty years ago but has remained in my heart for all those years, untold.

Thanks, Lena, for the opportunity to let others know about my writing life and my newest release!

Donna Winters

apple blossom said...

thanks for chance to win a copy of this book

live in ND

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Anne Baxter Campbell said...

Cute! Enter me, too, please.

Anonymous said...

Great interview. I would love to win this book.
Katie J. from FL

Patty said...

I love reading historical fiction, and being from MI originally this is from my neck of the woods.

Patty in SC

Diane Dean White said...

I enjoyed your interview with Donna. Being raised in Michigan I'm interested in her books. Purchased the one about the Erie Canal and her homestate, and eager to read it. How well I can relate to so much of what she shares as a writer.

rubynreba said...

I would really enjoy reading this. Thanks.
Beth from IA

Katie said...

Sounds great! Please enter me! I'm from NC.

Katie G.

Lyndie Blevins said...

Thanks for the opportunity to get this book.
Lyndie Blevins
Duncanville Tx

Sharon Richmond said...

Enter me!!
Sharon Richmond

Great Lakes Romances said...

Apple Blossom, Anne, Patty, Diane, Ruby, Katie, Lyndie, and Sharon,

Thank you all for stopping by! I'm thrilled to see your interest in my book. For those in the book drawing, I wish you the best. If you don't win, the Kindle version will remain at 99 cents throughout the month of January. I like to give new readers a very affordable opportunity to try my stories. If you click on Lena's buy link, you help her out, too.

Blessings to you all,
Donna Winters

Carla Gade said...

What a lovely interview! I truly enjoyed getting to know Donna better ~ so smart and talented! Donna, it sounds like you devote such a tremendous amount of time and effort into your research and enjoy it so much! A kindred spirit, I sense! The War of 1812 is a fascinating time and the setting of your book of the Erie Canal is interesting. What a feat that was to build, and what a difference it made to have it built.


Great Lakes Romances said...


Thanks for stopping by with your comment on historical eras and interests. Yes, the War of 1812 is very interesting. When visiting my hometown for research I heard a speaker tell about the naval history of the War of 1812 as it relates to the Lake Ontario area where New York and Canada come together. Two ships were sunk there, they still lie on the bottom, and to my dismay, President Clinton turned those shipwrecks over to Canada during his administration.

Best to you, Carla, with your writing and your historical research!

Donna Winters

KayM said...

Lena and Donna,
Thank you for the wonderful interview. I really enjoyed reading it. Bluebird of Brockport sounds like a really interesting book, considering all your research. I am sure I'd enjoy reading it.

Great Lakes Romances said...


Thanks for stopping by to check out my interview. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Donna Winters

sharon m. said...

I would enjoy reading historical fiction about the Erie Canal, of which I know very little about. Hope I win! sharon, san diego

Shopgirl said...

This sounds interesting. I like the unique setting. I'm in MN.

Rhonda's Doings said...

I live in Virginia
thanks! Rhonda

Great Lakes Romances said...

Sharon, Veronica, and Rhonda,

Thank you all, for stopping by to leave a comment and enter the drawing!

Sharon, I'm not surprised that you would know very little about the Erie Canal, living on the opposite coast of our nation, as it were. The canal era of the United States was really quite brief. For example, it really got started in a significant way with the Erie Canal which went into operation in 1825 after seven long years of construction. Subsequently, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Maryland each had important canal systems. Just when these systems were completed and working well, the railroads came along. Construction of rail lines moved passenger traffic, and eventually freight traffic off the canal system onto rail cars. By the 1870s almost no canal traffic existed. Canals were eventually abandoned (except for the Erie and a few historic stretches of others)and allowed to fill in or be converted to rail lines or roads.

States farther west, like Minnesota, and even Michigan, were settled too late for the canal era. Michigan had a proposed system in the 1830s but it never got off the drawing board because the railroads were already a more viable means of transportation.

Just a little slice of history here to encourage interest in our great nation's historic canals!

Blessings to you all,
Donna Winters

pol said...

Hello Donna, I really enjoyed your interview and esp your story of the towel on the bedpost, I dont think even this would have stopped my hubby. glad yours took the hint. it seems you read many of the books that I like to read so we are kindred souls.
I like the sound of the story on the Erie Canal dont think I have ever read one about it. thanks for sharing your comments and the book.
Paula O(
a reader from Ga

Great Lakes Romances said...

Paula, thanks for stopping by to learn about me and my book on the Erie Canal. That crazy story about the towel seems to grab peoples' attention.

In my search for literature on the Erie Canal, I discovered very little recently published fiction, the most recent being a book for middle school age readers that was released by Scholastic Books in 2006, and a series of short chapter books for elementary students. It seems the last fiction for adults goes back to the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and 50s.

Blessings to you!
Donna Winters

Nancee said...

Donna, I love what you did with your hubby's towel! Very clever!
Lena, you don't need to enter me in this contest as I have already read and reviewed Donna's book, and loved it! Thanks for a very entertaining interview with one of my favorite people!
Nancee in Michigan

Great Lakes Romances said...

Thanks for stopping by. That towel trick really gets reactions. I asked Fred if he remembered that, and he did. He said just asking him not to leave the wet towel on the bedpost was too mild for him to take the hint. At least he looks back on it as humorous. If only I could think of something this clever each time I want to modify his behavior...
Blessings to you, my friend,
Donna Winters

spangldlady said...

Historical fiction---my favorite genre! And I do not know anything much about the Erie Canal era so it will be an exciting read for me. I would love to win it!!! Blessings!

spangldlady said...

forgot to say on my previous comment that I live in Springfield, MO Darlene

Great Lakes Romances said...

Thanks for stopping by! You are not alone if you don't know much about the Erie Canal. Even many who live near it probably don't know a lot about its history. I try to present the canalling days in an interesting and informative way with Bluebird of Brockport so readers can have fun and learn something at the same time.
Donna Winters

Jean said...

I KNOW I would love this book......Please include me in the sweepstakes and thanks.

Jean Kropid
West Palm Beach, FL

Great Lakes Romances said...

Thanks for your enthusiasm! Lena will include you in the drawing.
Donna Winters