Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Diving Into Historical Fiction: Interview with Patience Marie Bledsoe

I'm very excited to have my friend, Patience Marie Bledsoe, here with us today! Patience writes historical novels and is currently crafting her “Along the Shore” series for publication. She has spent many years studying novel-writing. Patience, it's my pleasure to have you on Honey Rock Hills!

Thank you so much, Kenzi! It’s my pleasure and an honor to be here as well. :)

(Kenzi) First question to get us started is how long have you been writing, and what sparked your desire to write novels?

(Patience) Well, I’ve been writing for around seven years, and believe me, I have learned a lot in those seven years and still have so much to learn. To be honest, the desire to write flamed into existence because of Lucy Maud Montgomery and “The Anne of Green Gables Series”, but the desire to use my pen for the Lord came after He saved me in August of 2009.

(Kenzi) What are some of the most important lessons the Lord has taught you in your writing journey?

(Patience) The writing journey has definitely brought joys and struggles, and it’s really been one of learning and growing. There are several lessons the Lord’s taught and is teaching me, but one of the most important lessons is that it’s not easy to be different; it’s not easy to stand for truth. It’s much easier to just “go with the flow”. But no matter how alone I feel in this process, no matter how many people disagree, God’s favor, blessing, and His smile are worth it all. In the end, all that matters is God’s blessing and what He wants.

The other important lesson God’s continuing to teach me is patience (and yes, I do need more of my name ;)). It takes a lot of work and a good deal of time to see a novel through from beginning to end, and it’s easy to get discouraged and harbor thoughts of giving up or trying to rush things. A line from a Veggie-Tales song comes to mind often:  “If I’m willing to wait, my work will be great. With patience, I’ll do things right!” That is so true and applies beautifully to writing. :)  

I want the “Along the Shore” series to be the best it can, so it’s better to do things right instead of rushing through it just to get it done and out there. It sure feels like it’s been a long process with this series, and I still have four books left to write and a whole lot more editing to do. Yet the Lord is teaching me to be patient though, and just keep taking one step at a time. :)
“This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)

(Kenzi) Very true! So what is your favorite part of the writing process?

(Patience) Writing the novel itself is by far the most exciting and enjoyable of the process to me—I love everything about it. It’s so amazing to see the story come together page by page, chapter by chapter. I can’t explain how it quite feels, but it’s wonderful. :) Now editing and revising . . . That’s another story. ;) 

(Kenzi) Let's talk for a minute about your coming series "Along the Shore." Could you give us a brief summary of Along the Shore
  
(Patience) I’d be happy to! The “Along the Shore” series is currently composed of seven books: Dreams Along the Shore, Beyond the Shore, Love Along the Shore, Return to the Shore, Girlhood Along the Shore, Home to the Shore, and Grace Along the Shore.

Set around a small town on the Connecticut coastline, the “Along the Shore” books follow four women with their own journey and struggles in life. Beginning with Frances Kennard and coming at last to her twin daughters, the “Along the Shore” series has many excellent themes, several of which are salvation, love and forgiveness, trust, faith, and finding grace and joy in our new life with Jesus. Join Frances Kennard, her step-sister Virginia, and Frances’ twin daughters (Sadie and Sophia) on an unforgettable journey “Along the Shore”.


(Kenzi) What gave you the idea for Frances’ story?

(Patience) I’m not for sure exactly. I needed a novel idea for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month—it takes place every November) in 2013, and this picture came to mind of a young woman dreaming on the shore; and I could just see her there. The title and the main character came into existence almost at the same time, and the Lord just continued to lead and bless as the work on Frances’ story moved forward. 

(Kenzi) What led you to choose the early 1900s as the time period for the "Along the Shore" series?

(Patience) That’s a little difficult to explain. ;) Most of the novels I’ve read have either been written or set in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and that gave me a lift in doing a book myself in the same time period. There’s so much I love about that time period.  

My next step was choosing the year, and I ended up choosing the year 1908 as the setting for Dreams for a few reasons. It was during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt (don’t ask me to explain my fascination there), and I was also pretty familiar with this year as it was the publication of Anne of Green Gables, and Kevin Sullivan had set the movies around that time. At present, my series goes from the Edwardian era through the Roaring 20’s.

I didn’t quite see it at the time, but God had me choose these years for a reason. It has turned out to be the perfect time period for the entire “Along the Shore” series. I couldn’t imagine it any other way! :) 

(Kenzi) When you wrote the first novel, Dreams Along the Shore, did you write it with the intent for it to become a series, or was it originally a stand-alone novel?

(Patience) It was originally a stand-alone novel. :) I had tried writing a sequel to a novel earlier in my writing journey, and it failed and will never see the light of day. I didn’t want that to happen to Dreams and stood firmly against doing a series – at least then. ;) Yet as my friends read Dreams and gave feedback on it, they asked and told me in different ways that I couldn’t end there; they wanted to see what happened to Frances after the closing of Dreams. 

So, I began praying and seeking the Lord about it . . . And I started thinking about it – you know, tossing around some different ideas and such. As the praying and thinking continued, God started bringing a plot to mind. Beyond the Shore soon came into being, and it in turn led to the other books that now make up the “Along the Shore” series! :)  

I am in awe at how the Lord has led each step of the way, and how He has brought so much out of this. He showed me what He wanted from this journey along the shore, and turned a stand-alone novel into a whole series. Little did I know the long and amazing journey I was embarking on back in the summer of 2013!

(Kenzi) Describe your writing process from conception to completion? 

(Patience) Wow, that’s a hard question – a hard one at least to not go on and on forever about. ;)  After I come up with an idea and flesh that out a little bit, the next step is outlining. I didn’t use to outline my novels, but after reading Outlining Your Novel (by K. M. Weiland), I always do some outlining before diving into the writing process. This helps me get a grasp of the framework for the novel, its foundation, message, etc. This is where the unknowns are asked and, at least to some degree, solved in order for the writing itself to go as smoothly as possible.

Then the actual writing of the novel comes. :) Writing is only a part of a whole, long process—just a slice or two of a whole pie. I started Dreams for NaNo in 2013 and finished it at the end of January in 2014, but other books have taken longer than that—it really depends. Some books are harder to write than others; sometimes life gets in the way; or sometimes something unexpected comes up.

After writing the book, I print up a copy and bind it. This is a wonderful feeling! :)  After all the hard work, the tears, and the struggles, you’re at last holding your own work in your hands! There’s nothing quite like it. :) But then I set it aside for a couple weeks. Now during this time, I don’t even look at it. I tried this trick after hearing about it from the writing blog, “Go Teen Writers”, and it’s an awesome idea. 

When I come back to the novel after that specific time has passed, I have a fresh mind and eye. Now this is the time for edits, and one has to get ready for a long and painful haul. Editing is a long and tedious project, but it’s also very necessary. Without it, the novel can’t go anywhere promising. My first step is to go through my hard-bound copy with a red pen, getting everything I see – little mistakes, marking things that are confusing or need changed, and slashing here, there, and everywhere until the poor thing bleeds. After this comes the part of employing those changes into the draft on my laptop.  I go through several drafts and revisions, and one thing that has really helped me is to read my novel aloud. It’s amazing what you catch! As the author, you can be so blind to some things, and reading aloud helps to cure this problem. :)

This process is an ever-learning one. :) I am excited to see what I continue to find out and learn as the journey continues!

(Kenzi) How do you research for your novels?

(Patience) The internet is a tremendous blessing in this area. There are so many links and websites available with valuable information to everybody, including the writer. Like I mentioned earlier with the “Along the Shore” series, I had read several novels in this same time period so that really helped me get a good grasp of the times. Also, encyclopedias and books are another great tool that I’m grateful to have for research.  Research can be time-consuming, and sometimes it’s difficult to find exactly what you need and are looking for, but research is a very important key for historical fiction. Having a good understanding of the time period your novel’s set in brings such a depth and life to it!

(Kenzi) What are the advantages and challenges of writing a series?

(Patience) It has been a fun and special journey spending so much time with this cast of characters, and also seeing the new ones that come into the story as time goes on. I love seeing how they grow and what lessons they learn. With writing a series, however, it’s very important to have a plot and story that carries from the first book to the last, and that you don’t drag things out, drop the reader’s attention, and bore them. 

One of the most challenging things I have faced in writing the “Along the Shore” series is trying to keep the main character’s voice the same; and when I switch POV’s in the last three books, the challenge that arises there is keeping all the main characters’ voices distinct from each other.

Another thing that poses a challenge is keeping track of everything with all the secondary characters – like eye color, hair color, shape, etc. It’s just awful when one character has sapphire eyes in the second chapter, and at the mid-way point they suddenly return with hazel eyes. ;) Outlining, character interviews, and just jotting things down in a notebook really helps keep everything straight.
A series is a lot of work; but it is fun, rewarding, and challenging. 

(Kenzi) Although the "Along the Shore" series is written in first person, I know you’ve had some experience with writing in third person in the past. What do you see as the pros and cons of both POVs?

(Patience) Well, third person and first person both have their own strengths and weaknesses, and it really is up to each writer to use whatever works best for their story. Some stories work better in third person; other stories rather demand first person. Yet the most important rule to remember with POV (point of view) is that you want to do what you think is best and what is best for your story.

I began with third person, and as a general rule, third person is the easiest. One of the pros with third person is that you don’t have to show what the character is thinking all the time. You can be as close or as distant as you’d like. Another thing is you can switch to another character’s POV much easier than with first person. This can be very helpful, especially in certain circumstances. For example, you want to show what’s going on at the house next door that will have an effect on your main character later on

One fault—or weakness I should say—with third person is that readers can’t be as intimate with your main character(s) as they could be with first person. Also, another weakness of third person is that it’s easy to tell things instead of showing them. A very important rule in writing is showing vs. telling. Like the quote goes, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
There are other things I could cover here, but for the sake of time, let’s now take a quick look at first person.

First person POV gives readers the ability to look at life through your character’s mind; they see what she/he is thinking, feel their emotions, and all in all get to know that character on a basis that third person doesn’t enable. When I tried first person, I fell in love with it. :) It’s difficult to do more than one POV in first person though; it is possible, but quite the challenge. I’m attempting that for the fifth novel in the “Along the Shore” series, so we’ll see how that goes. :) 

Also, unlike third person, first person limits you as to what you can cover, because you can’t describe what’s going on next door, or what’s going on with your villain, if you just have one POV character in first person.
 
(Kenzi) A thirteen year old young lady comes up to you and says, “I think God is calling me to be an author.” What would be the most important advice you would give her?

(Patience) Ask God to lead, guide, and give wisdom each step of the way. Seek Him at all times. If the Lord continues leading in this direction, put Him first in your writing. Wield the pen for His glory. Write for Him. Begin each writing session with prayer—prayer for you as the writer, prayer for wisdom and direction, prayer for your writing and God’s help. He will be that Voice behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” Be attentive to His Voice; listen to others and learn all about the craft. Read books—but don’t make the mistake that in order to write you must read all the best-selling novels out there; the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, and we must honor Him with our reading choices as well. And most important of all, sit at the Great Author’s feet and learn from Him.

Fun Questions :)

(Kenzi) Things you enjoy doing when not writing?

(Patience) Reading, crochet, helping around the house (and don’t call me weird, but yes, I do love housework!), taking care of my goats and kitties, baking, cooking, talking to friends, walks around our property, and being with my wonderful family.

(Kenzi) Could you share with us your salvation testimony and life verse?

(Patience) I grew up in a Christian home for most of those growing-up years. It wasn’t until shortly before my 15th birthday that the Lord saved me thoughI professed Christ before then, yet deep down in my heart I knew I wasn’t truly saved. There was a lot of conflict, but as always, Jesus came off Victor, and He saved me – praise His Name!! That’s my testimony in a very abbreviated version. :)

There are many verses in the Bible that I love, but I’d probably consider Isaiah 26:3-4 my life verse (or passage ;)): “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength”. That passage has been such an anchor to me in so many situations! 

(Kenzi) Favorite time period and why?

(Patience) History in itself is just fascinating to me; I love learning about it all, so it makes it difficult to choose a favorite time period. The Reformation, Revolutionary War, Civil War, late 1800’s through early 1900’s, and World War II are a few I particularly love and enjoy learning about though. :) 

(Kenzi) A special memory with your family?

(Patience) Oh, we’ve made so many special memories together! :) It’s difficult to pick, but I love our vacations to Branson, Missouri. We have so much fun down there, and the Ozarks have become almost like a second home for me. :) We love going to Silver Dollar city together, camping at the Wilderness Campground, watching the amazing biblical productions at Sight & Sound Theatres, and just all in all have a blessed time down there! :)

(Kenzi As a native Missourian, I'll join in that cheer for Branson!) So if you could go anywhere in the world (other than Branson ;)), where would it be?

(Patience) Anywhere in the world . . . Oh, there are so many places I’d like to go! I’d love to see Europe and Israel though: Europe because there’s just so much to see there, and Israel because it’d be so neat to see the places of the Bible. Have I mentioned that I love history?!

(Kenzi) Tea or coffee drinker?

(Patience) Definitely tea. :) A couple of my friends are trying to convert me to a coffee/Starbucks lover though, and although I must say that Starbucks is a neat place – especially for someone who loves writing—I just haven’t developed that taste for coffee yet. ;)

(Kenzi) Your favorite books?

(Patience) Oh wow . . . I’ll try and narrow this down though, because the list could go on forever! Elisabeth Elliot’s books (specifically Passion & Purity and its sequel, Quest for Love), The Last Sin Eater (by Francine Rivers—I like several of her books actually), The Hiding Place (by Corrie Ten Boom), “The Chautauqua Series” (by Isabella Alden), and Pilgrim’s Progress (by John Bunyan). Lady in Waiting (by Jackie Kendall and Debby Jones) is also a favorite of mine, and I highly recommend it to every Christian young woman out there.

(Kenzi) Your favorite historical figure (not including biblical figures) and one question you would ask them if they were alive now?

(Patience) Corrie Ten Boom is definitely one of them. :) Although she’s detailed it so well in her writings, I would love to sit with her and listen to her testimony and personal experiences and hear about the Lord’s faithfulness and hand in her life during all those years. Not one particular question comes to mind, but that’s what I’d love to do.

(Kenzi) It's been a delight chatting with you, Patience! Thanks so much for letting us learn more about you and your writing! Any thoughts you would like to share in closing?

(Patience) Nathan the Prophet told David a story of a man with a lamb. That story resonated with David in such a way that David saw his sin and repented. Jesus taught those here on earth with parables and stories. Using the tool of writing—whether it is novels, short stories, articles, blog posts, etc.—we can wield the pen for His glory, and by His will, help, and strength, we can make a difference. What an honor to write for Christ, to reach people for Him, and help others to closer fellowship with Jesus!

Thank you for having me, Kenzi! I’ve enjoyed being here on “Honey Rock Hills”. :) If any of the readers here have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments. :) I still have a lot to learn as well, but I’d be more than happy to try and answer your questions and help! May the Lord bless you as you follow after Him and His will for your life! :) 

Patience's Bio

Patience M. Bledsoe wields the dedicated pen for her Savior.  Homeschooling allowed her to pursue her interests in the pages of history, learning the rules of the English language, and spending hours with pen and keyboard. She combines her passions into one:  creating novels set in eras gone by, with characters whose daily struggles in life and relationships mirror those we face today.
Patience has always been an avid reader, enjoys steaming mugs of tea, and finds lovey-dovey kitties irresistible. A homeschool graduate, she currently resides with her family in the Midwest, and along with writing, keeps up a busy life as a lady in waiting. Patience is a member of ACFW; Dreams Along the Shore is her debut novel.




To connect with Patience: 














Note: Interviews on HRH are for educational purposes only. Some beliefs and views expressed here or in the material of those who are interviewed, may not reflect those held by HRH. As always prove all things and hold fast to what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
 

17 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed reading Patience's interview! Glad y'all did this! I learned a few good tips about editing! :)

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  2. Thanks, Miriam! I learned a lot from interviewing Patience too. ;) And I'm glad to have found your blog via Google+ and can now follow you there! :)

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  3. Thank you very much, Miriam! I'm so glad it was helpful. :) We need all the tips we can get with editing. ;)

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  4. Good interview! Good job, both of you! :)

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  5. Nice interview! I really enjoyed it.

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    1. Thank you, Damon! I really enjoyed interviewing Patience too! :)

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    2. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :) Thanks for reading!

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  6. I want to read this series. :) It's wonderful to hear what God is doing in the life of one who is chasing Him with her whole heart and soul!

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    1. Thank you very much, Erika. :) Your words have both blessed and encouraged me!

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    2. I agree, Erika! :) Thank you for your encouragement to Patience!

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  7. Great interview! :D I especially liked the last part about using the gift of writing to bring glory to God and make a difference for Him :) And I can't wait to read Patience's books when they come out! :D

    ~Fraulein Author Sierra

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    1. Thank you so much, Fraulein Author Sierra! :D And just think of the big difference we can make for Him when we all work together. :) Aw, thank you! I can't wait for you to read them too. :D

      ~Captain Author Patience ;)

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    2. Amen, Sierra! And I'm looking forward to when Patience's books are published too! :)

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