Wednesday, October 08, 2014

THE MASON JAR - James Russell Lingerfelt - One Free Book

Welcome, James. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
Right now, I can’t write a protagonist I don’t agree with or who doesn’t share a similar worldview to what I once shared or one I share in the present. Maybe I can later. But now, I have to be able to rally behind him or her. I could try to write stuff I don’t agree with or what I’m not experienced in, but I’m afraid it would come across as shallow, so I spare my readers what’s shallow—at least I try. Some readers might say I’m the shallowest writer they’ve read. But I hope not.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
According to friends and family, I do something quirky daily. I asked my family and they said I eat one item at a time on my plate. There’s a pile of beans, corn, meat, bread, etc. I’ll eat the beans. When I’m finished, I move to the corn, then when finished, I move to the next. It drove my dad crazy while I was growing up. He said something about it in front of my grandmother once and she answered, “Your dad did that.” (My grandfather Lingerfelt died before I was born.)

“Daddy did?” my dad said.

“Yep,” Grandmother replied.

Dad never said another word to me about it.

This might not be as quirky, but I watch the sunset every day. We have a 40 acre farm. The hill where our land ends just meets another pasture with green fields as far as you can see. I write then research/implement marketing strategies from about 9am to 6pm, five days a week. So I want to be outside when I come home. At the pasture, I’ll lean against the fence and watch the sun go down.

Sounds wonderful. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
When I was in the third grade and we had to write a story as an assignment. I loved writing it, sharing it, seeing my classmate’s responses. My teacher read it to the class—the only story she read aloud. Oh, that did a lot for my eight-year-old ego. I got a lot of satisfaction from it. I had included some of my classmates in the story, wrote them in a fun, positive light, made them heroes in the story, and they thought I was just peachy for that. I still have it in my old desk. Maybe I’ll show it to my kids one day, if I ever have any.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I didn’t fall in love with reading until college. There, I read everything from Pride and Prejudice to The Count of Monte Cristo. Walden and A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers by Thoreau were fun reads. I’ve read most of the classics. If I haven’t, I can tell you their premise. I read all the Romantic and Victorian poets in college. I read a ton of non-fiction, given my studies. Lots of self-improvement, philosophy, theology, and family counseling books. But these days, I try to read best selling love stories so that I keep sharp at what I’m best at writing—which is love stories.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I just escape to a quiet place and read and write, because that’s what I loved doing during my free time. That’s why I decided to try to make a living doing it. I was a teacher and resigned to pursue this full time. There’s hard days, for sure. My blog received 5.2 million views during its second year running. I was proud of that. It gave me the affirmation I needed to keep writing. My family also keeps telling me to hang in there, that things will work out, so that helps my confidence a lot. They are very honest with me. When I play the fool, they’ll tell me. My older brother, especially. I think he likes calling me out on stuff, haha. When I need to get physical, I work out at the gym. Working in our vegetable garden is awesome, but that’s seasonal. We had a family garden growing up. I still enjoy it. The world disappears while I’m out there in nature.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
I try to think of names I like to hear when said aloud, but they are also names that have good memories attached to them. I’ve never met a Katherine or Elizabeth or a Shannon I didn’t like. And I like those names when I hear them said aloud. Go ahead. Try it. Say them aloud, but slow, pronouncing each syllable. So poetic, at least to me.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I’ve finally come to a place in my life where I’m content. I’m 33 now, and I’ve realized that loving loved ones and pursuing passions and goals keeps me loving life and being glad to be in the world. And that’s what I’m doing full time now. I’m rarely in want of anything. But it took a long time mentally to arrive there. I’m young, relative to many people, but inside I feel like I’ve lived two or three lives already.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I’m going to pretend I’m in the third grade here. I’ve always been fascinated with wolves as long as I can remember. I grew up on stories like White Fang, Dances with Wolves, Legends of the Fall, the wolf’s connection with the Native Americans (we have Cherokee in our family’s bloodlines). I also grew up on stories about my Uncle Edwin and his wolves in Alaska. He laid the path for the Alaskan pipeline for the engineers. He fought in WWII and later moved to a cabin in Alaska and cut off all ties with his family. He participated in sled dog racing across the Alaskan wilderness and his sled dogs were Timber Wolf/Husky hybrids. He discovered that mix produced the best sled dogs. He was killed by a gang of roughnecks on the Kenai Peninsula (that’s what the locals claimed). It was 1992 and I was twelve at the time. When my dad went to Alaska to oversee the burial, he said hybrid dogs and wolves were living in my uncle’s house. They never attacked but they growled and gnashed at my dad when he entered the gate. No kidding. Dad brought home Uncle Edwin’s leather jackets. Leather fringes hung from the sleeves like something out of a Davy Crocket painting. I wish I could have met Edwin. The Alaskan and Montana wild has always fascinated me.

What is your favorite food?
Dark chocolate. Hands down. When I’ve been good in my nutrition, and I can allow myself a gorging session, I love gourmet Italian food with a California cabernet, merlot, or pinot noir. Followed by dark chocolate.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Story structure. Now, I create general outlines just so I know where I’m going and why. They’re not too detailed. I’ll write the outline, then a first draft, let some trusted people read it, listen to their feedback, then I’ll really write the story. I wish I had the self-discipline to have done that the first time around. But I just wanted to start writing and see what happens. That was the child in me. Over 120 pages went unused for The Mason Jar. Ouch. Alabama Irish (coming 2015) has been much easier and faster to write.

Tell us about The Mason Jar.
The protagonist, Clayton Fincannon, meets a girl in college, they fall in love, but when she vanishes, leaving a Dear John letter. Finn returns home to cope with the loss and all his unanswered questions. When love and his securities crumble upon meeting the real world apart from his farm, he enters a stage of dark, self-reflection and introspection. The hopes and dreams didn’t unfurl as he imagined, or they didn’t unfurl at all. We’ve all been there. If not, we will be at some point. Finn’s grandfather leads him to a place of healing through letters left on his desk in a Mason jar. Do Finn and Eden see each other again? You’ll have to read it. I’ve had women write to me, saying they cried their eyes out in reading the letters the grandpa wrote. Some said they found healing for the first time from failed loves that occurred over twenty years ago. The book helps the reader find healing after failed, broken relationships. I have that in all the advertising now because that’s what women kept telling me. That’s why they love it. The vehicle of the messages is the love story. But the messages they connect with are of hope, healing, peace, and the encouragement to love again.

Please give us the first page of the book.
A New Hope
Hundreds of hot air balloons tiered through the evening sky, celebrating the 2014 Colorado Springs Balloon Classic. Purples, yellows, blues, reds, solids, striped, every balloon imaginable lit up the sky. Couples walked hand in hand, children pointed to the air in awe. In the distance, the sun would soon be setting over the snow-capped mountains. At dusk, the pilots would tether the balloons to the ground and pull the gas, blasting the flame and illuminating the balloons. The bright colors pulsated across the sky, drawing out the locals and people from all over the nation.

Eden left the veteran’s clinic with her stethoscope hanging around her neck, and with her arm full of copies of the contracts. Her last day at the clinic was finally over. She had been working toward that day for years, and provided the final signature to give the board full executive authority. Now, the clinic was no longer her concern and she could move on with her life.

For a thirty-year-old girl, being a widow, then burying her mother, and now taking care of her dad in his old age, life hadn’t been the easiest for her.

The clinic’s board had rewarded her a handsome paycheck for her work and part ownership of the clinic. They respected her a lot, as well as her late husband who founded the clinic. Eden did enjoy the work, but there’s a time in all of our lives when even if we want to hang on to the past, we know it’s time to close that chapter in our lives and move on. And she needed to move on. As a licensed nurse, Eden had saved lives, helped heal men and women with various illnesses, and even helped war veterans find new lives after they returned home.

Eden’s dream had been to study Art History. She wanted to study Art History in London, work as a curator, and live on the English countryside. Veterans and their families nodded and said hello as she met and passed them on the sidewalk. Some reminded her of Victor and the life they shared. But the younger men, the ones who came to the clinic alone, they reminded her of Clayton Fincannon, a boy she fell in love with in college. A boy she could never forget. The sting of hurt and regret pained her stomach. She dropped her chin and closed her eyes, wondering if she could ever put her time with Finn behind her.

Her phone vibrated in her purse. Joanna flashed on the screen. Eden’s old college roommate from Pepperdine University. They hadn’t spoken in ten years, until last Christmas. I had to shut everything down, she reminded herself. Pretend none of it happened. Back then, that was the only way her nineteen-year-old heart could handle all that life had thrown at her.

“Hey,” Eden said into her phone.

“Hey, just checking on you,” Joanna replied. Eden had told her about Victor, his cancer, the depression pills her physician placed her on, everything.

“Thanks. How are you?”

“Good. I haven’t told anyone about us reconnecting. But I wanted to let you know that Finn wrote a book.”

“What?!” Eden exclaimed.

“It’s about your time together. It’s beautiful, Eden. He says wonderful things about you, lovely things. I even cried a few times. He changed your last name, though, to ‘Eden Valmont.’ I think it was to protect your identity.”

“How did you hear about it?” Eden asked.

Sounds wonderful. How can readers find you on the Internet?

My website is which is also home to my blog. I’m also on Twitter as JRLingerfelt, and Facebook and Google+ as James Russell Lingerfelt.

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

James Russell Lingerfelt's debut novel, The Mason Jar, is hot-off-the-press and causing quite the buzz. It's even been optioned for a feature film and is in pre-production.

Catch the spark by entering James' Kindle Fire giveaway!
One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • The Mason Jar by James Russell Lingerfelt
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 19th. Winner will be announced October 20th at James Russell's blog, Love Story from the Male Perspective.


Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
The Mason Jar - paperback
The Mason Jar - 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 Goodreads, Google+, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, 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:


Cindy W. said...

Sounds like an interesting book. Would love to win a copy.

I live in Indiana.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

My prayers are with you today Lena.

Linda Kish said...

This sounds like a wonderful story. I would love to win/read it.


lkish77123 at gmail dot com

mongupp said...

Romance from a guy's perspective! That's something different!
Monica, Ontario

Melanie Backus said...

I love the cover of this book. I have always favored mason jars. I have wanted to read this book from the first time I saw it. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Melanie Backus, TX

Mary Preston said...

I've seen this book around on the Internet this week. Already firmly on my list.

Mary P


Patsy said...

The Mason Jar sounds wonderful!

From MS

Deanna Stevens said...

I would enjoy reading this, Sunsets are wonderful! D Stevens from NEBR

Patty said...

Thanks for the intro to James, interesting to see a guy writing love stories... not the norm I would think.

Patty in SC

Sharon Richmond Bryant said...

Enter me!!
Conway, SC.

Pam K. said...

Thanks for introducing us to another new author (new to me, anyway). I enjoy a good love story; this one sounds like another one I'd like.


Anonymous said...

This sounds like a great story told from a different perspective.
marypopmom (at) yahoo (dot) com
Maryann in NY

Jackie Tessnair said...

Sounds like a great book.I would love to read it.Jackie Tessnair N.C.

kam110476 said...

The Mason Jar sounds absolutely beautiful! I can't wait to read it!
Kristen in OK
kam110476 at gmail dot com

karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read this wonderful novel

karenk....from PA
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Diana Gardner said...

Portsmouth, VA

James Russell L. said...

Thanks everyone for your kind comments!

I wish I could reply to each of your comments individually, but I didn't see a feature (or I couldn't figure it out). I wish everyone could get a copy.

Come over to when you have a moment. All of you can reach me there and through the social networks.

All the best!

rubynreba said...

I think Mason Jars are beautiful! I'd enjoy reading this book.
Beth from IA

Unknown said...

I think this book looks really good and intersting!


Caryl Kane said...

I can't wait to read "The Mason Jar"!


Amanda T said...

This sounds like an interesting story.
Amanda T. from Michigan