Thursday, July 26, 2012

Taking Flight with Bonnie Leon

Please welcome author Bonnie Leon who is visiting to share about her new release, Joy Takes Flight, Book 3 in her Alaska Sky Series and tell us a bit about 

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Joy Takes Flight

Why do you write the kind of books you do?
Often, stories find me. While I’m reading a book (usually historical) or watching a documentary a piece of true life history will get a hold of me. I love history. True life stories, the people and how they lived inspire me. Sometimes a theme will bring a story to life in my mind. These often come from personal experiences or the day to day lives of people that I know. A portion of scripture will send a zinger straight into my heart and out of that a story will grow.

The bottom line is that I want to write stories that touch the hearts and minds of readers and always honor God.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
I’ve had so many exceptional days. God has blessed my life. However, if I must choose one day it would have to be the day my first child was born. It was more than personal joy. My eyes were opened to the depth of God’s love. The moment my son was laid in my arms a love like none I’d ever known captured me. It was so amazingly powerful. I knew that nothing would ever break the tie between me and that little fellow. I knew, that if need be, that I’d die for him. It was then that I caught a glimpse of what God’s love for us is like.

How has being published changed your life?
Life is more complicated. I love to write and create stories, but after signing my first contract writing became a job, which included deadlines, expectations and lots and lots of work.

It was also the fulfillment of a dream. An opportunity to share my stories with others, a chance to make a difference in the world, and a gateway into a new and interesting world filled with exceptional people.

A writer’s life is not demanding, but I’m grateful to be living it.

What are you reading right now?
Same Kind of Different as Me. It’s a true story, and I’m loving it.

What is your current work in progress?
I’m working on two books simultaneously. Both are books of my heart—the must write kind.
One is a contemporary story about five mismatched friends who set out on a cross country trip hoping to rediscover what most take for granted, a “normal” life. They find much more—friendship and dreams long forsaken.
The other is a true story that I’m writing as a memoir. A Cherokee woman who grew up in an Athabaskan village during the 40’s and 50’s asked if I would write her story. At first I didn’t think it was for me . . . that is until she started telling me about her life. Soon I was crying and thinking that maybe I was meant to write it.
This gal has lived an incredible life—some of it is magical and some is so tragic that I’m in awe when I see how God restored the spirit of a battered girl who grew up to love him and understand how great his love is for her. I can’t wait to share this story!

What would be your dream vacation?
My physical limitations make a dream vacation impossible to achieve so I’m going to take my physical condition out of the picture and imagine what if . . .

I’d spend a week or two packing into the mountains on horseback, camping in a tent and fishing the high mountain lakes. I can’t think of anything I’d love to do more. I used to ride with my sister when I was young and I’ve always had a love of horses. Just thinking about such a trip makes me smile. Thanks for asking the question. J

How do you choose your settings for each book?
Each book is different. My first book, The Journey of Eleven Moons, was inspired by an experience my grandmother had when she was young. She grew up on the Aleutian Islands and that is where she witnessed a tsunami hit the shore, so naturally that is where the story took place. Another series emerged while I was doing some historical reading on Russia and Stalin’s reign of terror. Therefore, the background was Russia. Two of my series were placed in Australia. That happened simply because my publisher asked if I could write a story that took place in that exotic land. And my roots are in Alaska so many of my stories are set in the northern frontier.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Condoleeza Rice. She has an amazing history, and there is something so solid and steady about her that raises my curiosity. I’d love to chat with her and get to know more about the person who lives behind that quiet smile and serious dark eyes.

What three things about you would surprise readers?
I’ve been asked this question before. I’d like to share something readers haven’t heard before. Here goes.
·       I’m insecure about my writing. Most people assume that because I’ve written so many books that I would have gotten over that. Not so. When a book releases I am on pins and needles as I wait to see how it is received.  I’m not unique. I know a lot of writers who feel the same way.
·       I’m a slow reader. I love to read, but I wish I could step up my pace. It takes me too long to complete a book. If I could read faster I’d get to read more books.
·       I never wanted to be a writer. I’ve always loved to read, but it wasn’t until 1989 that I got the itch to write. And after an accident left me unable to work, God handed writing to me as a gift.
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
Writing and the business of writing takes so much of my time I have little left for hobbies. I do love to fish in streams and lakes and I enjoy boating. One day, when I retire, I’d like to learn to quilt. I love quilts of all kinds. They are one of my favorite things.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it. 
Too much to do and too little time.  Several family members, including my mother and grandchildren, live close by. I’m involved in their lives, and although I love to spend time with them, the fun eats into my working time. 

The job of being a writer includes as many hours involved in social media work as it does in actual writing, which makes for long days and lots of working weekends. I try to choose wisely where to spend my time. Family is the highest priority. I also keep an eye out for the best choices for promotional opportunities. The market is in a constant state of flux. I try to be involved only in those market sites that can be of real help to my career.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Accept the slow pace of the writing journey with gratitude. Most writers work at their craft for years before they actually find an agent and a publishing house. It feels like it’s too hard and takes too long, but all those hours working and growing are a benefit to writers. It means their first book on the shelf will be one of quality and they won’t have to feel embarrassed about it in years to come. It will be a positive introduction of their writing. It’s painful to have books “out there” that you’d like to snatch off the shelf.

Tell us about the book.
I love this description by reviewer, Ann Shorey. I hope she doesn’t mind my borrowing it.
Kate believes she’s living her dream when she and Dr. Paul Anderson marry. After all of the hurdles their relationship faced, now life promises smooth sailing.
But some promises can be misleading. Kate visualizes her life as an Alaskan bush pilot continuing without a hitch. Unfortunately, Paul has other ideas, especially after they learn they are expecting a child. Demons from his past haunt him, and Kate is unable to break through the barriers he’s erected around himself. She wants one thing, Paul wants another. As their life unravels, Kate comes to believe she’s lost Paul for good.

Joy Takes Flight is an engrossing story, filled with authentic details of Alaska in the 1930’s. Reading Leon’s skilled descriptions of flight in a bush plane will have you clinging to the edge of your seat.
Joy Takes Flight is the thrilling conclusion to Leon’s Alaskan Skies series. If you haven’t read the first two books, hurry out and buy all three! You’re in for a treat.

What do you want readers to take away from the book?
There is more than one themes in the series, but the one that speaks most loudly to me says, that we each have a path to walk, and our path doesn’t look like anyone else’s. God has an individual plan for each of us and He has a purpose in that. If we want to live within His will we need to begin with Him. If we surrender our lives to Him there is nothing we can’t do and even though life may throw darts it can still be filled with joy and adventure.

What one question would you like us to ask your readers?  
Joy Takes Flight begins with a wedding and it’s not what I would call typical. If you are married what one thing stands out about your own wedding day most? If you’re single, what do you hope your wedding will look like? Or maybe you never plan to marry—that’s okay, it’s not for everyone.

Tell us about the giveaway you’re offering.
I’ll be giving away a copy of Joy Takes  Flight, book three in the Alaskan Skies Series.

Enjoy the following excerpt:

 Kate sat on a chair, her bouquet in her lap. How could Paul do this to her? Tears slid down her cheeks. They’d talked and talked about their future and dreamed of what could be. She sniffled into a handkerchief. Now none of it mattered. He just couldn’t do it.  Kate’s heart squeezed painfully. She doubted it would ever mend.
Helen and Sassa had gone to speak to the guests. Kate couldn’t bear to do it. Muriel knelt beside her and rested a hand on her arm. “Don’t give up hope.”
“If he wants to be here and can’t make it, then something terrible has happened. Maybe someone should call the hospital.”
Muriel looked stricken, but she smiled and managed to speak calmly. “I’m sure there’s an explanation. One day, when you look back on your wedding, you two will laugh about this.”
Kate compressed her lips. “What explanation can there be?” She knew. Love was just too great a risk. Whatever secret he’d left behind in San Francisco still had ahold of him. If only he would tell her, maybe she could help.
Sassa’s laughter echoed from the church entrance. Kate stood, hope stirring. Was it Paul? Was he here? She headed for the door, but before she could grasp the knob, the door swung open.

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Christina (Berry) Tarabochia said...

Love Bonnie, and love her writing! Just a comment that it's hard to read the dark gray font on the gray background ...

Christina (Berry) Tarabochia said...

Aw, thanks for changing it! Much easier. :)

Bonnie Leon said...

Hi Christina. Thank you for your kind words -- love you too. And it's been too long since I've seen you. I think it's time that you and your mother took a trip south. Maybe we could meet half way -- for lunch or something. :-)

Jo Huddleston said...

The thing I remember is trying to throw the bouquet to my maid of honor and her pushing girls aside to make sure she caught it!

Bonnie Leon said...

Jo, isn't that funny how women really want to catch the bouquet. I wonder why that is--symbolic?

Thanks for sharing.

Bless you.

Pat Waight said...

Love Bonnie's writing style and looking forward to all her new books

Scribbler said...

My husband and I were married in Bahrain, the island nation next to Saudi Arabia, because Saudi Arabia, where we worked, did not have a church, but Bahrain did. I remember the Egyptian Christian minister who married us.
Ann Gaylia O'Barr

Tina Pinson said...

I had three wedding dates. Hubby was in the Navy, so the first was in June, because I wanted a summer wedding around my birthday. He got order to go to see. The second was in December, an outdoor winter wedding with capes and muffs. It was going to be beautiful. Hubby was on his way home, two weeks out and the ship was turned around and sent back to the Indian Ocean because of the Hostage Crisis.

Finally in March he made it home. Our wedding was a mixture of winter and summer.

Bonnie Leon said...

Thank you, Pat. :-)

Bonnie Leon said...

Ann, how strange to think that an entire country doesn't have a church. So glad you found a way and a minister.

Bonnie Leon said...

Tina, I'm trying to imagine a summer/winter wedding. I'll bet it was beautiful.

I met my husband when he was in the navy. He was shipped overseas and was gone 10 1/2 months. We got married when he returned. I'm so thankful his ship didn't get turned around. We'd already been separated for so long.

_ said...

Was married in Anchorage so long ago. All Saints Episcopal Church. It was raining. My boss gave me away and his wife gave me a reception. So many memories of Alaska. Thanks for the stories.
Janis Lane
Sandpiper Affair
Gone to the Dogs