Recently.. I launched my book, Shadows, into the world. To make it a momentous occasion, some friends of mine helped me host a book signing. I made sure I had books available to purchase.. I made sure I had pens to personally sign each book… We made coffee and cookies… And I decided I would give a brief talk.. followed by a question and answer opportunity. To prepare myself, I asked my Facebook friends and family what questions they would ask me. Things that they were curious to know. I used these questions at the launching… and I was asked many more.
After the Book Launching day passed.. I received messages from people who wished they could have come hear me speak. I understand this feeling. Life is so busy that it is impossible to do everything we would like to do. But in this one instance? In this instance, I can share a few of the questions (and answers) I talked about…
Here are a few of the most frequently asked…
#1. Is Shadows a continuation of your blog site?
Short answer… No!
Long answer… My blog site is made up of short stories from my life. Simply put.. it’s non-fiction. My thoughts, my memories, my sorrows, my hardships.. from the real life of Jules Nelson. Shadows is my first published work of fiction. It is about the thoughts, memories, sorrows and hardships of a fictional young lady named Emma Fern Wells. And while many people enjoy reading about the lives of both, they are NOT one and the same.
#2. What made you want to write a book?
Short answer … I am a writer. It is nice to put the works of my brain on paper.
Long answer… As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to write a book. Ever since I was a little girl, I have made up characters and mapped out their stories. Where ever I was, my mind would slip into my writer’s world. Whether I was folding laundry.. or washing dishes.. or raking leaves.. or vacuuming.. or sweeping… my mind would be a million miles away.. Sometimes hundreds of years away. Wondering how a young lady would do the same task 100 years earlier. OR wondering if a young lady would have been allowed to do that task… YES.. you can imagine that my mother was annoyed with me on more than one occasion… Everything I did was done to perfection.. but it took FOREVER. When I was old enough to write things down.. I did.. I often filled notebooks full of stories. My first stories just rambled.. weaving and wobbling along with no particular direction. By my teen years, I had gotten the hang of sticking to a plot.
#3. If you have been writing since childhood.. why did it take you so long to complete a novel?
Short answer… Life.
Long answer… Life during high school and college is so busy.. and packed full of activities.. there was NO time to write. I kept my usual journal for awhile… but that too fell by the wayside after a few years. Then I met my wonderful husband.. and had my 2 amazing kids. These 3 people consumed my life for a time. When my son was diagnosed with Autism, all my research went into learning new therapies and new concepts. Even when life was at its busiest, I never stopped making up stories. I would develop characters and tell adventures with them to my daughter. Make up new endings to terrible movies. But until recently? Until my husband’s job brought our family home to Michigan, my life was not simple enough for me to write a book.
#4. What inspired you to write Shadows?
Short answer… Hmm.. there isn’t one.
Long answer… I love History. Not the type of history that you learn in the classroom.. not all the dates and facts.. But history ITSELF. The clothes they wore in a certain time period.. What those particular clothes said about a person… How you could often tell what class a person was in by the clothes they wore… How they cooked… What they ate…
Whenever I learn something new, I try to tie it back to something I already knew. For instance, wagon trains were going on before and after the civil war. These were NOT two separate time periods .. but one and the same. So to head off to join the war? They traveled for WEEKS by wagon or horseback to meet up with the army.
There are photographs of the soldiers during the civil war. A strange mixture of primitive conditions. Pictures of living in tents and cooking over fires. Pictures of women washing the officer’s clothes. The more I thought about the photos… the more I thought about how SOME of these soldiers could have been on a wagon train. How none of the scenes in these pictures would have been unusual for them. They would have slept in tents.. and cooked over fires.. and washed clothes in any creek they could find. The more I thought about the soldiers.. the more I thought about the wives they left behind..
And then I decided that SOMEONE should write their story.. the story of the wives left behind to do the job of pioneer woman and man both.. left behind to do it all alone, in most cases. And I decided that I could do it.
#5. When did you know you would write Shadows?
Short answer.. As soon as I developed Emma’s character… and had a dream about her.
Long answer… Shadows is actually the prequel to the story I want to write about the civil war wives. The more I developed the character of Emma.. the young mother who will be left behind.. the more I longed to tell her story from the beginning. When I had a dream about the person she would have been? I woke up with the firm decision that I would start with Emma…. that I would write Shadows before I wrote Ashes… I would write where she came from.. who she was… write about how God shaped her character..
#6. Do you plan to write another book soon?
Short answer… Yes.
Long answer… I am already writing the next book. Shadows is the first of 3 books that follow Emma’s life. The next book.. the ONE that I am currently working on… will follow Emma’s first year of marriage (no spoilers here.. so I won’t tell you who she marries). I am hoping to have this second book, Road Home, finished by Spring 2015. The third book will follow Emma as the Civil War breaks out. When her young husband leaves her behind to take care of their growing family and the farm.
#7. Where do you find ideas for your books?
Short answer… Everywhere..
Long answer… Everywhere… Research… ballads… undeveloped characters in other novels… phrases in songs that leave you thinking.. photographs… pretty much anywhere…
#8. What is the most important aspects of writing?
Short answer… Details… and editing.
Long answer… Details! Lots of details.. If I can explain my story the way I see it in my mind? If I can describe my characters so that you can “see” them as you read? If I can do that? Well, then you won’t want to put my pages down. That is when my story becomes a book. AND THEN? And then I edit to make sure my words say EXACTLY what I want them to say. Nothing slows down a reader more than typing errors.. or words used in the wrong context.(I know this because I love to read.) So details and editing.
#9. How much (if any) does Shadows reflect your life experiences?
Short answer… A little…
Long answer… Emma’s faith is similar to mine. Unwavering and simple. I trust the Lord to provide for my needs.. and so does Emma. Emma has brothers.. and so do I. Brothers who are protective, supportive and loving.. Other than that? Other than that, Shadows reflects my life long pursuit of knowledge and everything history.
#10. What was your most life changing experience about writing this book (Shadows)?
Short answer.. Peace.
Long answer… Writing this book was exciting and fun… and fulfilling. But the most life changing experience would be the peace I feel. Writing is what I was meant to do.. and it feels so good to be doing it.
I hope you all have read Shadows.. and I hope you really enjoyed it.
Keep the questions coming.. but for now…
I need to get back to writing…