A Catch-up Interview and Some Other Stuff

One of my blogging friends tagged me with a few blog awards (her blog is called Joy In the Moments). The first two were in June (or May—I forget because it’s been so long), and I’m only now getting around to answering them. So Char, this post’s for you (and for anyone else who’s interested)!

During this post, I’m going to be talking about my second book. It’s completed and turned in to the publisher. I’m still referring to it at book two because I don’t know what the final title will be.

1. Which genre best describes your current WIP?

Historical Suspense

2. Who do you consider the audience?

People who are too old to play with plastic army men.

The book is written for the LDS market, and should appeal to both adrenaline junkies and history buffs.

3. How did the idea come to you?

I knew where I wanted my characters to be in book three (Yugoslavia), and as I was doing research, I found out that a lot of Allied airmen crashed in Yugoslavia on their way home from Romania. So I though my commando team could crash in Yugoslavia on their way back from a mission in Romania. I ended up taking out the plane crash, but the commando mission in Romania stuck.

4. Are you an organized outliner or a pantser when you write?

I’m kind of a mix. I start with some ideas in my head and write the scenes that are vivid in my mind. Then I go back and figure out the rest of it. But sometimes I get stuck, and that’s when I start outlining. I’m noticing a pattern though—each book I write has more and more of an outline, and each book I write (so far) is coming a little more quickly. I suspect there’s a correlation between the outlining and the writing speed, so I think I’m turning into an outliner.

5. Is this book part of a series/sequel or standalone?

The book being discussed is the second in a series. All the books can be read alone, but involve the same characters. The book I’m currently writing is the third book in the series.

6. Did your research lead you to new twists or scenes for the story?

Yes. You can see the answer to question #3 for one example. The other biggest one would be kind of a plot spoiler if I mentioned it, so I won’t. I feel I’m constantly trying to manipulate my plots so they involve a historic event or looking for the perfect historical event to fit within my plot.

In book two, I did some research on the German army in Marseilles, France, and with that information I created a character who is a decent man, just on the wrong side of the war. I tried to convey the feelings a German officer in Marseilles would have felt when Hitler ordered them to hold out at all costs, even when they lacked the manpower and supplies to do so.

7. Some agents suggest comparing your work to that of a published author. Can you think of a good comparison for yours?

On the national market, I’d say Jack Higgins or Alistair MacLean. In the LDS market, Sandra Grey or Traci Hunter Abramson (except my books take place during WWII and Traci’s take place during the present day).

8. Who is your greatest cheerleader/supporter for your writing?

One of my little sisters. She had a degree in military history and grew up reading all the same novels about WWII guerillas. She’s one of my test readers, and few things make me happier than seeing her comments that say what I’ve written jives with her research, and that she had to read it twice because the first time through she was too caught up in the story to notice typos or stop and make comments.

9. Seated next to you on a plane is one of your dream agents. Do you have a 3-sentence description of your WIP ready to pitch?

Since I’m happy with my publisher, I’m not really looking for an agent on this project. But if I was, I might say something like: My book is suspenseful enough to make you bite your nails, romantic enough to make you sigh, and deals with aspects of WWII that haven’t been overdone—the invasion of Southern France and the situation in Romania, both during the summer of 1944. It’s about friendship and trust and duty and unintended consequences. It also kept most of my test readers up well past their bedtimes.

10. Book covers and ads often carry a short excerpt from the story. Would you share your choice with your readers?

Give the signal,” Peter said.

Quill let out a bird call. It wasn’t very life-like, but it would warn the team to move away from the bridge so they wouldn’t be injured when it exploded.

Seconds later, huge floodlights glared through the night and settled right on Peter and Quill. A dark-haired junior officer who looked like he could have just strolled off a movie set appeared. “Hands up,” he said in slightly accented English, pointing his rifle at Peter. Quill obeyed. Peter took a half-second to calculate—he knew he could blow the bridge before the other man’s finger pulled the trigger. So Peter slammed the lever down as hard as he could.

11. When your book is published, how will you celebrate?

I’ll go to the local Seagull book store and smile when I see my book on display. They give whatever is new from Covenant prominent placement, and it’s a thrill to walk into the bookstore and see your book front and center.

OK, now I’m moving on to the other tags. The Lucky 7 tag works this way: You go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript, go to line 7, and post the next seven sentences/lines. (I’m not doing exactly seven lines, but close. Also, keep in mind that these lines may change after my editor looks at them, and the page numbers on my word doc won’t line up with the final printed text.)

Here’s an excerpt from the seventh page of the manuscript:

And these are your parents?” He pointed to the family picture. Genevieve nodded, feeling a new jolt of pain run through the left side of her body as she moved. That side had hit the wall the hardest. She held the bottom of her rib cage with her forearm, trying to hold back the spread of pain. “And are they also dead, mademoiselle?”

Yes.” Her mother had died when she was three, her father when she was thirteen.

Why, Mademoiselle Olivier, you appear to be completely alone in this world. How pathetic.” With those words, Tschirner tossed all three pictures across the barn. The glass shattered and Genevieve automatically moved to retrieve them. She only moved an inch before Siebert seized her arms and jerked her to her feet.

And here’s part of page seventy-seven:

When the meal was finished, Nelson wandered over to Luke and handed him a glass of milk.

What’s this for?” Luke frowned at the glass.

Tears, then, for babes—blows and revenge for me! And milk for a homesick American ninny.”

Leave him alone,” Peter said.

Of course. Please accept my apology, Mr. Lucaciu.” Nelson turned from Luke and smiled at Peter. “I’m sure you have never been homesick, Lieutenant Eddy. What is there to miss about a poverty-ridden farm in the middle of Idaho?”

The last catch-up tag is the Reader Appreciation Award. I’m supposed to tell something about myself. You can find a lot about me on my “about A.L.” page, but here’s most of the bio I’m hoping to put in the back of book two:

A.L. Sowards grew up in Moses Lake, Washington, then came to Utah to attend BYU and ended up staying. She wrote most of [whatever book two ends up being called] while her toddler twins were sleeping and did most of the revisions while they were supposed to be sleeping, but were really using their crib mattresses as trampolines.

So Char, better late than never, right? And anyone else who’s read the entire post—thanks for sticking around! I think I’m supposed to tag someone else—so if anyone wants to be tagged, let me know and I’ll add you in.


  1. Awesome! Don’t feel bad about taking your time to do these award/tags. I always procrastinate them for months before i usually pack in a few all together too. I loved your Q/A’s though and was captivated by your excerpts from ‘Book 2’. Your writing is excellent, and that’s so cool that your sister–the history buff–gets caught up in your story. Very nice compliment. Congrats on your next book to come out. That’s exciting.


    1. Thanks, Char! I’m excited about this next book (don’t get me wrong, I was excited about the first one too). I’m glad you liked the excerpts–I was a little nervous to post just a few lines because it’s such a short little blurb. Thank you for inspiring this post!


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