Happy New Year! I pray that God blesses your year in a special way. There's something about a new year stretching out in front of me that gives me a sense of peace and excitement for how God will move in my life during that year. :)
Today I'd like to welcome Connie Lounsbury. How did you develop a love of story?
At a small country school, where I attended while in the third grade, our teacher read to us each morning for about 10-15 minutes from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book, A Long Winter. I sat transfixed at my desk, shivering along with Laura and her family when fierce snowstorms forced cold wind through cracks in their house, and I felt their hunger when food became scarce.
After our teacher turned our focus to other subjects, my mind remained on that story and I longed to pick up that book and continue reading. It was difficult to wait until the next day for more.
We were not allowed to bring books home from that school, and because my family lived with both material and spiritual poverty, my only reading materials at home were the words on the oatmeal box, and any other containers in our cupboard. How I longed for a book of my own!
When I was in fifth grade, we had moved into the town of Park Rapids, Minnesota where the school allowed us to bring books home. I was in heaven! The stacks of books I took home allowed me to experience much more of Laura Ingalls’s life, but also took me to many places, such as to Canada to experience life as Rebecca on Sunnybrook Farm, and to Maine as I read, My Love Affair with the State of Maine. Over and over I transported myself elsewhere.
Oh, how I love a good book!
I can relate. My love of writing started with reading the Little House on the Prairie series too. How does your faith and spirituality work in with your writing?
Philippians 4:13 – “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” is the verse that I lean on in the firm belief that IF I do everything through God, I can do it.
Therefore, I have the courage to begin writing a book, knowing I can do it. I can finish it. I can get it published.
Another verse I always keep in mind is Isiah 55:9 – “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
So, every morning as I sat in front of my computer ready to work on my book, I prayed, “Okay, Lord. Here I am. Tell me what to say that will glorify you.”
I never had writer’s block, and my thoughts just continued to flow. I truly believe it was not just me. Colossians, chapter one, talks about how God created everything, and all success comes from Him. “…in Him all things hold together.”
Now that I am in the necessary promotional phase of an author’s life, when I begin to feel stressed because I don’t have time to do everything I should be doing, or I get frustrated at my inability to understand how to navigate all the social media sites on which I am expected to maintain a presence, I try to stop and reaffirm Philippians 4:13 and Colossians 1:16-17.
I know that God is in control, and what I am doing, will be enough. Because all success comes from God.
Navigating social media and promotion phase is a tough stage. :) Where did you get the inspiration for your latest book?
After I wrote Kathleen Creek I knew I wanted my next book to be about the goodness in people. Kathleen Creek was based on a true story, and in it, a lot of people did some terrible things. I needed to divulge the truth, but I prefer to believe in the goodness of people, rather than the bad.
So, I spent a lot of time trying to decide how I wanted to show love, kindness, and goodness in people and I thought about the year my mother had come to live with us. She loved to crochet, and did it beautifully. At Christmas time, she told me she wasn’t going to give her grandchildren gifts because she couldn’t afford it.
While I assured her that no one expected a gift, and that it was okay, I also suggested that her nine grandchildren would cherish a small, hand-crocheted star or snowflake tree ornament made by her. One skein of crochet thread would probably make them all, and her grandchildren would love having such a keepsake.
Mom didn’t make the ornaments, although she would have had time, and she passed away before the following Christmas. She could not see that she did not have to have much money to be generous to others.
So, I decided to use a hobo – a man who had nothing – to be the one to show goodness to others.
In my new book, A Hobo’s Wish, after a tragic mistake during the Great Depression, Dr. Pete Walters becomes penniless, forced to ride the rails along with thousands of others, surviving by trading labor for food, or asking for handouts. Will he find the trust and the love he doesn’t believe he deserves when he hops off the train at Kathleen Creek, Minnesota, or must he leave again when someone exposes his past?
Sounds interesting. How much time do you spend researching before you write?
Oh, my gosh! A lot. That’s because I’m not smart enough to keep all my books in the same era. Also, because I want to be as accurate, and sensory-accurate, as I can be.
For A Hobo’s Wish, an era before I was born, I watched many documentaries on the Great Depression of the 1930s, I researched the internet, and I read about a two-foot stack of books on the depression, hobos, and the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) camps.
I also interviewed many people about what they were told by their parents or grandparents about that time in life. However, stories were often sketchy, mostly about hobos sleeping in their hayloft, or their mother or grandmother handing out food to the hobos.
After I had decided the path I wanted to put my character on, I took a 3,100-mile car trip along much of that path to experience first-hand what he would have seen, smelled, and heard on that trip. Of course, many things had changed during the past 80 years, yet much of nature would be similar. Even some of the train stations were still there.
I traveled with my two sisters, and partway into that trip, my sister Rennie said in a concerned voice, “Connie, you do know that Pete isn’t real, don’t you?”
I guess I did a lot of talking about what Pete would have done, or did, in the different situations and places. I assured her that I do know that Pete isn’t real, but “he is very real to me.”
And part of that research is creating a character from that era – a character that you know well. One who becomes very real to you.
It must have been a fun trip with your sisters. What is one thing you hope readers will take away from your story?
I hope that people might start “seeing” the homeless people they encounter, and look at them without making assumptions about who they are or why they are homeless. And I hope I have given my readers a few ideas about how they might creatively find ways to bless others, even if they do not have much money.
Some of my readers have remarked that they found it helpful to learn how Pete found a way to forgive himself. And it was hopeful to see that people can change.
Great message. Where can readers connect with you?
I want to interact with my readers, and am attempting to be available via social media, but ask that they try to overlook any goofy mistakes I might make. I seem to be somewhat technically-challenged.
My new blog, Blessings for a Simpler Life, is finally up and running and I think I can remember how to get another one out. To subscribe to this weekly blog, just go to my website, www.connielounsbury.com and add your email address. I will try to get a new one out each week. I will attempt to offer a little blessing of information on making life easier, writing, good books, financial information, and other things I have learned over the past 75 years.
I want to hear from my readers about the things they have learned as well. So, readers, let’s talk.
I am also on Facebook at www.facebook.connielounsburyauthorspeaker. You can see what I am up do there.
You can find all my books (8) on my website and see where I will be speaking next. In addition to speaking at women’s events for Stonecroft Ministries, I speak at churches and conferences about How God Speaks to Ordinary People. I also speak at libraries and historical centers about Hobos of the Great Depression and Women Hobos of the Great Depression.
I hope to see many of you at an event and/or hear from you on my blog spot.
What other social media sites should I become active on? I’d love to hear where you go on social media. Twitter? Instagram? LinkedIn? Where would I see you?
Looks like you are off to a great start with social media, Connie. Thanks for stopping by today. Praying God blesses your writing.