Monday, June 27, 2016

IN TIMES LIKE THESE - Gail Kittleson - One Free Book

Dear Readers, we’re featuring a novel today from an author who is new to this blog. It is set in the WWII era. As you will see from the first page of the novel later in the interview, this author really has a strong grip on the feel of the era.

Bio: Gail Kittleson taught college expository writing and ESL. Now she focuses on writing women’s fiction and facilitating writing workshops and women’s retreats. She and her husband enjoy family in northern Iowa, and the Arizona Ponderosa forest in winter. Meeting new reading and writing friends is the meringue on Gail’s pie, as her heroines would say.

Welcome, Gail. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I don’t consciously do this, but once the book is finished and I’m doing readings or workshops or interviews about the novel, I realize how much of my attitudes enter into certain characters’ reactions. Or I make someone into my exact opposite. Another thing happened with my debut novel. After the fact, a reader’s questions helped me realize that the heroine had many things in common with someone else from my past—but I had no conscious intention of doing this.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?  
When I facilitated caregiver and grief workshops for Hospice and Community Health Nurses, I traveled often. Being ridiculously frugal, I shared rides from airports with others traveling to state or national conferences. Many people would never do this with folks they’d never met, but I had total trust in Hospice folks and God’s protection. Besides, things in general were a bit safer back then. I must admit, though, that this method got me into a few pickles.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
In junior high, a long, LONG time ago! Poetry was my first love, and remained my main genre for many years.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Women’s historical fiction, biographies, and a little mystery. I like non-fiction, too, especially memoir—and reading poetry still is a joy.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I don’t run. My life has become pretty sedentary, since I write most of the time. Sometimes I feel like I run from writing to editing to promoting, though—there’s always so much to learn!

How do you choose your characters’ names?
I review classic stories I love, study names in cemeteries, and check lists of common names for various nationalities. Sometimes, a conversation will spark a name that “rings” just right to me for a certain character. I also ask some friends if I get stuck.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Overcoming obstacles to achieve a goal brings me unique satisfaction. For example, I really wanted to instruct classes at a certain institution, but roadblocks kept popping up. I prayed and prayed about this, and when a full-time position finally was offered, I literally jumped up and down.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I’d be a giraffe. The idea of looking down at the everyday world from a high vantage point intrigues me—just think how different a lilac bush would look to a giraffe. Besides that, I’m enamored with the design of the giraffe’s hide.

What is your favorite food?
Um . . . it’d be easy to tell you what it used to be back when I could eat most anything I wanted. But a lactose, sugar, and gluten-free diet cramps my style. However, I’ve learned to meld all these “frees” into a satisfying snack that seems like a sandwich. (I used to crave grainy breads and cheese.) Now, I layer a corn tortilla with almond cheese, black olives, avocado, spinach, kale, fat-free refried beans or whatever else I have, top all this with another tortilla, and brown on both sides. The cheese melts, a la grilled cheese sandwich. Yum.

I don’t have those dietary restrictions, but that sounds delicious, minus the beans, which I am allergic to. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Believing I had something to say that would be of interest and help to others. It took years to shoo my low self-image aside and write from my experience. Starting with a memoir helped me, I think, because I could express the struggle, and that of many other women. It wasn’t until afterward that fictional characters started appearing in my thoughts.

Tell us about the featured book.
In Times Like These has been a long time in the writing. I was advised to give up on it, but my heroine wouldn’t let me. World War II forms a backdrop for this young Iowa farmwife’s personal struggle on the home front.

Her controlling husband Harold vents his rage on her when his father's stoke prevents him from joining the military. He degrades Addie, ridicules her productive victory garden, and even labels her childlessness as God's punishment.

When he manipulates his way into a military unit bound for Normandy, Addie learns that her best friend Kate’s pilot husband has died on a mission, leaving her stranded in London in desperate straits.

Readers will cheer Addie as she summons courage to help Kate, claims her voice, and learns to trust God with her future.

Please give us the first page of the book.
Someone wearing Burma Shave hoisted Addie from a rickety oak piano stool into a polka’s wild pulse. One minute, she did her best to keep up with George Miller’s accordion tempo. The next, she flew around the crowded town hall’s wooden dance floor.

His strong arms pulled her out of a twirl, and laughing brown eyes sparkled at her between deep-set matching wrinkles.

“Your feet are almost as talented as your fingers on those old ivories, Mrs. Bledsoe.”

She gathered her wits. “George?”

The rural mailman’s laughter melded with aromas from the food table, where aproned women plied homemade chocolate cake, lemon pie and other delicacies. Nearby, the steady glub glub of every percolator in Halverson, Iowa kept time with the music.

Over on the makeshift stage, somebody else belted notes from George’s bright red accordion, but before Addie could figure out who it was, he lunged her through the Wooden Heart Polka.

An old fellow on the tuba and his wife on the concertina zipped into foot-tapping melody. More onlookers took to the dance floor and a whirr of excitement buzzed the high-ceilinged room.

Above it all, a wide paper banner announced the reason for the festivities. Red Cross Annual Roll Call—Halberton County Goal for 1941—$10,000. Below, someone penciled in earmarks:  $500, $1,000, $1,250, and on to the final amount.

George pulled Addie to the side of the dance floor and grinned down at her. “If you weren’t married, I’d take you up to New Ulm, Minnesota, to hear The Six Fat Dutchmen. Been in the business since ’32. They spruce up the beat so, I can hardly make it through the moves.”

“I can’t imagine that.”

Furrows crinkled his brow. “How’s your mother-in-law these days? Has Orville improved any?”

“If anything, he’s gotten worse. Berthea has to feed him now.”

“Umm . . . she’s got a mighty heavy load.”

The piano started in again and perky crescendos added an upswing. The pianist’s flaming hair fit right into the gala atmosphere. Leave it to Fern to blend an oompah beat with runs she normally played on the church organ.

Then Kate grabbed Addie’s hand, her eyes flashing as blue as an Iowa summer sky. George threw up his palms in mock dismay and waved Addie off with her best friend.

Kate grabbed a chair and pulled Addie down beside her “Hey—you haven’t forgotten how to dance.”

“The last time I attempted a polka was at . . .”

“Our senior formal. Harold wouldn’t lower himself to polka, so Joe took you out.”

“While Alexandre swooshed you around Canadian style. And a few months later, he took you to Canada.”

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Thank you, Gail, for sharing this book with us.

Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
In Times Like These (The Cedar Valley Girls) (Volume 1) - paperback
In Times Like These (The Cedar Valley Girls Book 1) - Kindle

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. 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.

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Gail Kittleson said...

Thanks for having me visit, Lena. I look forward to interacting with your followers.

Melanie Backus said...

I would love to read Gail's book.

Melanie Backus, TX

Anonymous said...

would love to win angela in ky.

Mary Preston said...

What a jolly beginning. I love it.

Mary P


Gail Kittleson said...

Thanks for stopping by, Melanie. I have so many writing and reading friends in Texas!

Gail Kittleson said...

Hi Angela. Oh, Kentucky's such a beautiful state - enjoy!

Gail Kittleson said...

Hello Mary,

The beginning wasn't always the way it is now - it took several rejections for me to change it to the present scene. Seems like that usually happens with my stories' beginnings.

Bonnie Engstrom said...

Hi, Gail and Lena! Great interview! Not only is Gail a talented writer, but she is a wonderful person who I've had the opportunity to meet. I would love to win her book on Kindle. Blessings to you both.
Bonnie in AZ

kim hansen said...

Cool new author for me. north platte nebraska.

diannekc said...

Great interview and book sounds amazing. Definitely adding to my TBR list. From the Chicago suburbs.

diannekc said...

Great interview and book sounds amazing. Definitely adding to my TBR list. From the Chicago suburbs.

diannekc said...

Great interview and book sounds amazing. Definitely adding to my TBR list. From the Chicago suburbs.

diannekc said...

Great interview and book sounds amazing. Definitely adding to my TBR list. From the Chicago suburbs.

Gail Kittleson said...

Bonnie, surprised you found time to stop by during this busy week . thanks!

Gail Kittleson said...

Kim, you're practically my neighbor - lol. The Platte River figures in one of my pioneer novels, and I've crossed it many a time - from Iowa, anything west means starting through Nebraska. Thanks for stopping by.

Gail Kittleson said...

Hi Dianne,

And you're my neighbor on the other side. Interesting to think that in Addie's day, it wasn't uncommon for someone from rural Iowa to never venture even that far. (About five hours for us.)

Thank you for taking the time to stop and comment.

Rachelle Rea Cobb said...

Fun interview!

Gail Kittleson said...

Thanks, Rachelle.

Beth Gillihan said...

Sounds like a good book. Thanks for the chance to win!

Beth in Montana

Sharon Richmond Bryant said...

Enter me!!
Conway SC.

Terrill R. said...

Hello Gail! I fist saw your book on The Diamond Mine when you shared about your fears and anxieties. I am eager to read In Times Like These. Best wishes for its success.

Terrill - Lynden, WA

rubynreba said...

Since I am from Iowa and had a lot of ties to World War II, this book looks like one I would really enjoy!
Beth from IA

Connie Porter Saunders said...

This sounds very interesting!
Connie from KY

Gail Kittleson said...

Hi Connie, Beth, Sharon and Terrill,

Thanks for stopping by this blog. I got company from far away and didn't get back to the blog in June, but checked here today. I appreciate your comments.