Today on The Overweight Bookshelf I welcome author Jill Stengl to celebreate the release of her new book Until That Day. This is Jill’s first book in several years and today she is going to give readers some insight in to why this book and why now.
Jill Stengl is the author of numerous romance novels including Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award- and Carol Award-winning Faithful Traitor, and the bestselling novella, Fresh Highland Heir. She lives with her husband in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, where she enjoys her three cats, teaching a high school English Lit. class, playing keyboard for her church family, and sipping coffee on the deck as she brainstorms for her next novel.
She blogs at Books, Cats, and Whimsy. Do stop by and follow her to keep up with all her writing and reading-related activities!
Colette and her brother Pascoe are two sides of the same coin, dependent upon one another in the tumultuous world of the new Republic. Together they labor with other leaders of the sans-culottes to ensure freedom for all the downtrodden men and women of France.
But then the popular uprisings turn bloody and the rhetoric proves false. Suddenly, Colette finds herself at odds with Pascoe and struggling to unite her fractured family against the lure of violence. Charged with protecting an innocent young woman and desperately afraid of losing one of her beloved brothers, Colette doesn’t know where to turn or whom to trust as the bloodshed creeps ever closer to home.
Until that distant day when peace returns to France, can she find the strength to defend her loved ones . . . even from one another?
“Jill Stengl is one of the rare authors with the ability to transport the reader to another world–a delightfully rich world of scent and sight and sound.” – Kim Vogel Sawyer, bestselling author of Echoes of Mercy
“Award-winning author Jill Stengl has created her greatest work yet in the inspiring and moving Until That Distant Day.” Jill Eileen Smith, bestselling author of the Wives of King David series.
QUESTION: This is your first publication in several years. What was it about this specific story that brought you back in to publishing your work? Was the process of this book different from your previous novels?
Thank you for joining my blog tour, Lydia! Okay, first I will answer your second question: Yes. Oh my, yes. And to explain why, I will—sort of—answer the first question and try to keep it brief!
In February 2013, at age 51, I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer and had a partial mastectomy. There is nothing quite like a cancer diagnosis to shock a person into realizing how quickly life slips past! Always I had intended to return to writing someday; only when I realized that a finite number of “somedays” are left to me did I buckle down to work.
One of my longtime goals had been to rewrite an old novella set during the French Revolution into a longer and more serious work. But the only style of writing I knew was simple genre romance. I had no idea how to plot a complete novel or how to write characters with lives, emotions, and goals apart from romance. My first efforts fell quite flat. I kept slipping back into cheesy old habits. You know, like, when in doubt, add another romantic encounter or kissing scene. If the hero lacks character, describe his muscles of magnitude, his chocolate-brown eyes, and his dreams of the heroine. That sort of thing.
I finally put together a decent plot outline and wrote a draft by autumn. Yay! My first completed draft in eight years. But it was dreadful! The framework of a good story was there, but the characters were cardboard cutouts that acted parts and spoke lines with no conviction or personality whatsoever. They were symbols, not people. My patient yet relentless editor (Anne Elisabeth) rightly diagnosed that I was afraid to let myself go. It is far easier for a writer to make a character preach a neat little sermon than to expose his/her spiritual questions. It is far easier to focus on shallow thoughts and physical reactions than to delve into the souls of characters and develop relationships.
So, while recovering from a bout of pneumonia and four fractured ribs from coughing so hard (Have I mentioned that 2013 was not My Favorite Year?), I rewrote the entire manuscript, condensing the story into a three-month period—which forced me to leave questions unanswered. I allowed Colette to tell her story as she wished rather than forcing her to reveal every heart palpitation or secret desire. And my characters must continue seeking God and learning how to live in relationship with Him long after this book ends.
Yes, this book is very different from anything I have written before. It was a learning process, and I could not be better pleased with the result. I hope it is as satisfying to read as it was to write, and I hope the next one will be better still!
Thank you so much for sharing a small part of this very personal journey Jill!
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May 13 – Giveaway Winner Announced