Bonnie and her husband live in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon.
They recently celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary. Bonnie worked for the Forest Service for 20 years and helped her husband with a fly fishing shop for many years. This is her first published book and she is understandably very excited. I'm going to ask her a few questions about the book and her experiences while writing it.
Give me a brief overview of your book.
Passages Across Time brings a modern day woman in touch with women from long-ago. Can the past help her find her future? CJ has lost her faith in God and in herself after a disastrous broken engagement. Returning to the country home where she grew up, she begins to find peace. She also rediscovers the love of her childhood crush, Sam.
An unexpected windfall gives her the opportunity for the adventure she has always dreamed about. While CJ is torn between her desire to travel and her growing love for Sam, she discovers a different treasure, letters written to her by her grandmother and journals written by her great-grandmother. Will she find her own answers in the choices these remarkable women made? Will she renew her faith in God?
What made you decide to write a romance?
I always thought that I would write children’s books, but my heart was just not in it. This story came to me one morning and I realized that this is the book I was meant to write. I am sad at the turn of modern romance books, and their graphic content. Christian romance was my clear choice, and I loved combining the story of a growing love with a growing faith.
Are you an organized writer, using a formal outline and following a clear story idea from beginning to end, or did your book just evolve as you wrote it?
I have to laugh as I answer this one. I started with a basic overview of this story, but it made twists and turns as the words flowed out, often surprising me. For example, I decided that CJ should travel, but how did I manage that? If she stayed working in her office in the city, when would she have time to travel? And how would she fall in love with Sam, back in the country? Suddenly the entire story changed, not just for CJ but for her grandmother and great-grandmother. The words just kept coming. I then wrote the ending, and filled in the middle.
We are both well past our thirties, how is this book different than it might have been years ago?
I did start a novel in my thirties, but never finished it. As I look back now, I can see how bad it really was. I simply did not have the life experience to craft a really good book. Now my characters have depth, based in large part on all of the people that I have known in my life. I have experienced love and loss, success and disappointment, triumph and tragedy. This experience translates into a believable story.
What was the most difficult part for you to write?
The middle. The beginning just rolled off of my fingers, and the end nearly wrote itself, but filling in all of the details that make up the core of the book took work. Description comes easy to me, but I struggled with dialogue. A wonderful editor, Rosemarie Fitzsimmons, gave me the help I needed to bring life to the characters.
How long did it take you to write the book, and how long to get published?
It took a year to write, and a year to get published. I made some mistakes as the process unfolded. The first publisher I looked into with my on-line research at had a word count requirement of 45,000. I hit that mark and submitted my book, only to have it rejected within two hours (I don’t think they actually read it.) That was when I discovered that most publishers require 60,000 words. Rewrite time. That was when the book got better. More meat and less fluff. More context, more dialog, more interaction between the characters. I found another publisher, submitted, and was rewarded with a request to submit the entire book. A week later, they politely rejected it, letting me know that I did not meet the required formula. There is a formula? Yes, the hero and heroine have to be together on 50% of the pages. There has to be an HEA (Happily Ever After.) Girl meets boy, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl have a problem, resolve it and live HEA. Not exactly the story I wrote, though it has the required happy ending. More online research revealed a good Christian publisher, and I submitted a third time. They accepted! I was so excited, that I threw my laptop in my husband’s lap so that he could read the email. That is when he read the fine print, where they asked for money up-front. It turns out they were a vanity press. SIGH.
Then I found Booktrope and Vox Dei. It took 12 weeks before they read my book, and just as I was about to give up and look into self-publishing, I received an acceptance email. They have been wonderful to work with, and I am so glad that God led me to them.
Do you plan to write another romance?
Oh yes, The Story of the Year is well underway. I have over 25,000 words and the ending, I am just working on filling in the middle. It includes a newspaper reporter, a forest fire (and a cute firefighter), an old diary, and Christmas. It is totally separate from my first book, though there are some similarities. I can’t wait to see where the story goes!
Gloria, thank you so much for allowing me to take part on your blog. Good luck with Bring A Cowboy Home.
Passages Across Time link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Passages-Across-Time-Bonnie-Howell/dp/1513708449/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1454612985&sr=1-2
Writing on the River Blog link: http://www.writingontheriver.com/blog.html