Tuesday, December 03, 2013

KEEPING SECRETS - LeAnne Hardy - One Free Book or Ebook

Welcome back, LeAnne. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
I write because I believe that story is an effective way to communicate the reality of who God is regardless of where we are in space and time. Facts and statistics can be remote and impersonal. Story makes the reader realize, “It could be me.” In my first book, The Wooden Ox, I wanted to communicate that God is big enough and cares enough to get down and dirty with his children in an African civil war. In my most recent book, Keeping Secrets, it is the reality that 22.9 million people living with HIV in Africa means 22.9 million people like me—sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and their families, desperately in need of a caring community that will show them God’s love.

I have lived in six countries on four continents, so my write what you know is a bit out of the box. My family spent the late 1980s in Communist Mozambique, setting up a theological seminary during their civil war. Later, living in South Africa, I conducted story hours and promoted reading with orphans and vulnerable children. So the things I feel passionate about and want to convey in my stories are not suburban North America, but the truths of who God is are bigger than geography.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
Probably my wedding day, although the natural childbirth of my two daughters is certainly up there at the top as well. My husband and I recently celebrated forty years of marriage. When we look back on all the places we have lived and things we have done as missionaries involved with theological education and leadership training, we shake our heads and think how different life would have been had we married anyone else.

That is so true. I thank the Lord often for bring my husband into my life. How do you choose your settings for each book?
Most of my books grow out of setting. They couldn’t take place anywhere else. It was the events of the closure of Glastonbury Abbey that inspired the Glastonbury Grail series. The elaborate fifteenth birthday party of my Brazilian neighbor percolated in my brain until my own daughter was approaching that age to produce Between Two Worlds. Even if the story could take place elsewhere, I would choose a place I know intimately. It’s so much easier to modify a real place than to make it all up. I suppose as someone who is into cultures, I love the insider details that make a setting authentic. For one reader of The Wooden Ox, it was toothbrushes stuck in the thatch over the door of an African hut that told him, “This writer knows what she’s talking about.”

How has being published changed your life?
Being published lets me into the advanced seminars at American Christian Fiction Writers! Those are great opportunities to grow. Being published means responsibilities for marketing, something that is hard for me as an introvert. It has also meant opportunities to help others develop their writing. I have taught several writing workshops in Kenya, and it’s lots of fun to hear of my student’s publishing successes and hold the books they are so proud of.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
I am a perfectionist. It’s hard to call a manuscript finished. I want to keep tinkering even when we are to the proof stage. I’m not as prolific as I might be because I keep going over and over my material. Deadlines and critique groups help, but I’m not sure I have overcome this obstacle.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Write what you are passionate about even if it isn’t what is selling in the CBA market right now. You will do your best writing when you care deeply about your subject and your characters.

What are you reading right now?
I just finished Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Fascinating fantasy that breaks all the rules of traditional fairy tales. I couldn’t put it down.

What is your current work in progress?
Lena, you recently featured Honddu Vale, the second in my Glastonbury Grail series set in sixteenth-century Britain. I am hard at work on book 3, which promises to be the best so far. Yes, England is one of the places I have lived. These books bring history alive rather than illuminate current social realities, but their primary goal is a vision of the Almighty.

What would be your dream vacation?
My dream vacation involves staying in one place for several days and not living out of a suitcase (the main advantage of cruising as far as I’m concerned). It means getting up close and personal with God’s creation whether that is hiking in the Rocky Mountains or game watching in Africa. Good food in an interesting setting is a plus. I recently ate cuttlefish seasoned with its own ink at a tiny place under the wall of Roman Emperor Diocletian’s Palace in Split, Croatia.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Right now I think I would choose to spend an evening with President Obama, to pray with him and listen to his heart, and encourage him to seek God as he attempts to lead our country through challenging times.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
Figure skating! It started as research for what eventually became Crossovers, and I was soon as addicted as my protagonist. I have taken classes and private lessons and even competed—while taking notes to better understand my characters. Skating is the first exercise I have had to discipline myself NOT to do as much as I would like. My featured book, Keeping Secrets, is not about figure skating despite the beautiful cover by Katy Popa and Kathy Haasdyk. Sindi’s skating represents all that she stands to lose when HIV invades her family.

Tell us about the featured book.
Fifteen-year-old Sindiswe Khumalo is the most promising figure skater the South African Skating Federation has ever had. But at the rink Sindi can’t talk about what’s making her father ill. Even her best friends can’t be trusted. Her friend Mboti lost his job when people found out he had HIV. A girl in her class dropped out of school when the bullies accused her of being infected. Sindi has dreams—Olympic-size dreams. Keeping the secret could cost her everything, but the truth might cost her more.

At the end of 2011, 5.6 million people in South Africa were infected with HIV—as much as forty per cent of fifteen- to forty-nine-year-olds in some regions of the country. Families suffer emotionally because of stigma. Whole communities suffer economically as wage earners sicken and die, afraid to seek treatment. But Keeping Secrets is not just about HIV. It’s about how we all cut ourselves off from support when we are afraid that people will learn the truth about us. It’s about how the church of Jesus Christ needs to become a safe place where we can tell the truth about where we hurt and know that we will find grace. My character Sindi is fifteen, but this is not just a YA book; it’s a book for all of us.

Please give us the first page of the book.
I remember what it was like Before. I flew over the ice like a swallow on the wind. Music filled my whole body, and I soared like a bird above the city of Johannesburg—eGoli—place of gold. I dreamed of gold medals and going to the Olympics someday.

But that was Before.

I was too young to know that life can collapse as fast as a skater can lose an edge and tumble to the ice. It hurts to fall, but you get up; you keep skating. You smile for the judges, and you don’t let them see the pain. That’s what winners do.

But sometimes, the hurt is too much, and you can’t get up. You can’t keep skating.

Then you lose.

Chapter 1
The pounding pulse in my ears threatened to drown the announcer’s voice on the loudspeaker. “Please welcome our next skater, representing the Skating Federation of South Africa—Sindiswa Khumalo!”

“You’ll do great, Sindi,” my American coach, Trevor MacDonald, murmured beside me. “Just relax and have fun.”

Relax? Not likely with all those people watching. If they knew the truth, would they still cheer? I shook the tight, beaded braids that covered my head and tried to absorb the calm in Mac’s eyes.

Breathe, Sindi. Breathe. Don’t think about home. Forget your parents. Focus.

I pushed away from the gate. My arms spread wide to receive the cascading applause as I skated a broad arc toward center ice. Mac’s voice sounded in my mind. Smile for the judges. Even he didn’t know my secret. I stretched my lips into an expression intended to sparkle.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
Bio and book information are on www.leannehardy.net
YouTube channel for book trailers and a few old skating videos.

Here are links to the books:

Ben Bradley, the protagonist of my other figure skating book, Crossovers, is a minor character in Keeping Secrets. Crossovers will be only $0.99 for both Kindle and Nook this week in honor of the release of Keeping Secrets.

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

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. US winners will have a choice of ebook or print. If the winner is outside the US, the book will be an ebook. 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.



Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas!! I would love to win. Angela in KY

Jill Gardner said...

Fascinating interview. Thanks!

LeAnne Hardy said...

Merry Christmas to you, Angela. It is snowing here and looks like a Christmas card outside my window. Thank you for all your encouragement, Jill.

Melanie Backus said...

What an interesting interview. I would love to read this book. We take our easy lives for granted a great deal of the time......others don't know what easy is.

Melanie Backus, TX

Jean said...

Thank you for this opportunity!

Jean K
West Palm Beach, FL

Cindy Bannon said...

I can hardly wait to read this book. If I don't win, I will be purchasing this book. I have read most of Mrs. Hardy's books. She is an incredible writer.

Cindy W. said...

I believe I would love this book. I am an avid ice skating fan.

Blessings from Indiana,
Cindy W.

sm said...

An ice skating theme is a new one for me. My daughter-in-law used to ice skate in competitions. Love to win your book. sharon, ca wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

Mary Preston said...

A wonderful way to highlight something so devastating.

Mary P


Jackie McNutt said...

Lena, Thank you for featuring LeAnne. I was really impressed with her interview. Her comments about the church needing to be a safe place where we can tell the truth about where we hurt and know we will find grace makes me sad that we feel we have to hide our emotions and hopeful one day we will all reach a point where we offer the grace that God so freely gives us to help others.
Thank you from Ohio

LeAnne Hardy said...

Great to see some skating families here! Spread the word. Now is the time to order "Crossovers" for only $0.99 for Kindle or Nook. I used to skate at Pan Am when I lived in Indy. Where do you skate Cindy W.?

LeAnne Hardy said...

Melanie, we do easily take our lives for granted. I couldn't get one of my Sunday school kids to think of ANYTHING he was thankful for last Sunday. "You're wearing shoes, aren't you?" I suggested taking his shoes and giving them to someone else. He didn't care because he had another pair at home. And he STILL couldn't think of anything to be thankful for!

LeAnne Hardy said...

@Jackie, it is a challenge to find a balance between hiding and telling all. As one character tells Sindi near the end of the book, "It is your secret; you must decide whom to trust with it." But everyone needs someone they can trust, and the church should be full of trustworthy people.

Sheila Deeth said...

Merry Christmas! It's cold!!!

mongupp said...

I think my preteen daughter would enjoy this
Monica, Ontario

LeAnne Hardy said...

@Monica, read it yourself before giving it to your pre-teen. Because of the nature of HIV some of the content may be more than you want her to deal with right now. Or not. But I suggest parental guidance for younger readers.

sm said...

Sounds interesting about HIV. sharon, ca wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

Sharon Richmond Bryant said...

Enter me for a paperback copy!!
Sharon Richmond Bryant

rubynreba said...

Enjoyed the interview. The book looks very good.
Beth from Iowa