Monday, August 4, 2014

Meet Jocelyn Green - plus a GIVEAWAY!

UPDATE Sunday, 8/10/14 10:00 PM CDT


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Timestamp: 2014-08-11 03:06:09 UTC

Congrats to Allison! Email me your address by Saturday 8/16/14 at 11:59 pm CDT, Allison, and I'll send the book your way!

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I am thrilled beyond belief to welcome Jocelyn Green to the website today. I met Jocelyn two years ago at ICRS when she was promoting her first novel, Wedded to War, and we immediately became friends. I am a huge fan of her novels and she is a delight--so genuine and kind, and lots of fun as well. We roomed together this year at ICRS and had a wonderful time connecting at the end of each of our crazily busy days. Our room rang with laughter as we shared stories. We never did manage to have an official interview (not that Jocelyn would EVER not show up if one was scheduled! Grin!), so we made do via email. All this did was make me want to go back and do it all over again! Grab your favorite iced drink and enjoy getting to know a phenomenal author and my friend, Jocelyn Green. And be sure to enter the giveaway for an autographed copy of her latest novel, Yankee in Atlanta at the end of the interview!

I am so glad to connect with you again! I loved your first two novels, Wedded to War and Widow of Gettysburg. And of course, Wedded to War was a 2013 Christy finalist in two categories! I must say, though, that Yankee in Atlanta exceeds even those. It is phenomenal! What sparked your love for this era and led you write this Heroines behind the Lines series?

Thank you Linda! My love for this era is really fueled by my love for these women I represent in the novels. The Civil War is interesting and tragic on so many levels, but when I read the diaries of unsung heroines a few years ago, in a basement archives in Gettysburg, I really felt like these women were speaking to me. I could almost hear their voices, and they were blowing me away with their stories of faith and courage. I was stunned by their strength and by the fact that I’d never been taught much about women’s contributions during the Civil War. I was researching for a nonfiction book (Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front) but at that point I imagined the possibility of a historical novel series. Thankfully, my publisher agreed that these are stories that should be told.

Since it came out a couple of years ago, it had obviously been a little while since I read Wedded to War. As I continued my way through Yankee in Atlanta, I realized that several of these characters appeared in that first book. Did you plan this when you wrote Wedded to War?

Not at all! But after Wedded to War came out, so many readers asked what happened to Ruby O’Flannery, I wanted to give them a satisfying conclusion to her story. So I connected a bunch of dots in Yankee in Atlanta, and I think it worked well.

While Caitlin McKae is the main focus of this book, Ruby is a strong secondary character who touched my heart. I ached for what she went through! Without giving any spoilers, can you share a bit about her and what we can learn from her?

She’s a very interesting character, isn’t she? We first meet Ruby in Wedded to War. She’s an Irish immigrant whose first husband, Matthew, goes off to fight with the 69th New York regiment. His pay doesn’t come for months, and her needlework simply does not provide her with enough money for rent and food, so she makes some desperate choices in order to survive. By the end of Wedded, she has a baby and turns her back on a seedy lifestyle, choosing to become a new creation in Christ instead.

In Yankee in Atlanta, she’s a domestic, and her son is two years old. She’s doing weekly Bible studies, and life is better than it has ever been. But her past creeps up behind her and tries to drag her back into a world of vice and pain. She fights tooth and nail for the sake of her son.

Perhaps my favorite passage in this book is one I marked in chapter seven, when Caitlin is remembering the last conversation she had with her father, when things were so desperate during the Panic of 1957. She refused to attend a prayer meeting with him, saying it wouldn't feed their family. He responded, "'Prayer may not always change our circumstances. But it always changes us.' He smiled. 'That's why I go. My faith is not a talisman. 'Tis the anchor in the storm.'" Do you think some today who profess to be Christians, especially here in the USA, see their faith more as a talisman than an anchor? What is the danger in that and how can that be avoided?

Yes, I do. The danger in thinking of our faith or our salvation as simply a good luck charm is that it ignores the main point, which is our relationship with Jesus Christ. God never, ever tells us that as His children life will be without pain and trials. In fact, He tells us the opposite. What He does say is that He’ll never leave us nor forsake us. Through everything that happens, our relationship with Christ should deepen.

One good way to avoid that talisman mentality is to focus not on our circumstances, but upon the character of God. When it feels like He doesn’t love us, take that thought captive to the Scriptures. What does the Bible say about it? He says He loves us, over and over. I’m a big proponent of pinning down those niggling doubts with the Truth of God’s Word.

Life isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to bring glory to God.

I have long been a fan of Civil War era fiction. Your novels are unique in that they are historically accurate and portray the setting so well without providing so many details that parts become dry and monotonous, causing me to begin skimming paragraphs or even pages, as I have done with other books in this genre. I know you do a tremendous amount of research. How do you find such a great balance in knowing what to include and what is just information that helps you write the story better?

Thank you! I do love research, but battle details, for example, can get tedious. I only put as much in as my character would experience, which means I don’t have to explain the generals’ strategies, and exactly how many troops were where, etc. I figure there are plenty of other books which do that. I strive to boil the Civil War down to the personal experiences of my characters. What did they feel, see, hear, smell, taste? If it’s personal to them, and only if it helps move the plot forward, it will probably be interesting. And if it isn’t, I chop it out. I have pages and pages of “chopped copy” that just didn’t make the cut.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Or a little bit of both? Do your characters ever surprise you or are you always in complete control?

Generally, I’m a plotter. But looking at my outline for Spy of Richmond and then at my finished manuscript, you’d think otherwise. I make a lot of changes along the way. But I need an outline to help me get going or I’m overwhelmed with too many possibilities.

Sometimes the characters do surprise me. They won’t let me continue writing if I’m headed down the wrong path. It’s a weird, fierce form of writer’s block, like Balaam’s donkey. :-)

What was the most difficult aspect of this book to write and why? What part, if any, flowed the smoothest?

Battle scenes are always hard. Especially after writing the Gettysburg book, it was a challenge for me to describe similar things (shooting, being wounded, artillery, etc.) in a different way. I want the scenes to be vivid, but not graphic. That can be difficult. But the scenes that made me cry or feel sick to my stomach were the one in which Ruby’s son is in danger, and one in which a group of deserters were executed.

The part that flowed the smoothest for me: does the “About the Author” section count? Ha ha! Seriously, for some reason, I felt like I had to fight for every chapter, almost every scene of this book. I’m not sure what it was, but my process felt extremely constipated. I was fact checking up to four sources for a single scene to make sure I got the details right, and keeping up the two story arcs (in New York City and in Atlanta) stretched me. I can’t think of anything I wrote that came easily.

What message do you want readers to take away from Yankee in Atlanta?

Yankee in Atlanta is about divided families, conflicted loyalties, and hearts refined by fire. But even through all of that, for all of the characters, these verses from 2 Corinthians 4 seem to resound: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” In the end, there is hope. There is rebirth. It was true for the characters in Yankee in Atlanta, and it can be true for every single reader, by God’s grace.

You just finished writing the fourth (and final) book, A Spy in Richmond. Can you give us a sneak peek into it? Does it have any connections with any of the previous three books?

Yes I did! Yahoo! Here’s the book blurb:
Trust none. Risk all.

Richmond, Virginia, 1863. Compelled to atone for the sins of her slaveholding father, Union loyalist Sophie Kent risks everything to help end the war from within the Confederate capital and abolish slavery forever. But she can’t do it alone.

Former slave Bella Jamison sacrifices her freedom to come to Richmond, where her Union soldier husband is imprisoned, and her twin sister still lives in bondage in Sophie’s home. Though it may cost them their lives, they work with Sophie to betray Rebel authorities. Harrison Caldwell, a Northern journalist who escorts Bella to Richmond, infiltrates the War Department as a clerk–but is conscripted to defend the city’s fortifications.

As Sophie’s spy network grows, she walks a tightrope of deception, using her father’s position as newspaper editor and a suitor’s position in the ordnance bureau for the advantage of the Union. One misstep could land her in prison, or worse. Suspicion hounds her until she barely even trusts herself. When her espionage endangers the people she loves, she makes a life-and-death gamble.

Will she follow her convictions even though it costs her everything–and everyone–she holds dear?

So we actually do have several ties to previous books here, which really surprised me, but it works. Harrison Caldwell, Bella and Abraham Jamison are all main characters, and they are from Widow of Gettysburg. We also see Dr. Caleb Lansing from Wedded to War, and Susan Kent, the villain from Yankee in Atlanta, is Sophie Kent’s half-sister who comes back to town after the siege of Atlanta. Spy of Richmond can be read as a stand-alone, but it will be more fun if a reader has read the series in order.

If you had lived during the Civil War, which of your four heroines would you have been most likely to be and why? Or would you have been one of the secondary characters?

Oh, what a good question. I share a few qualities with each of the different heroines, but I probably relate most to Sophie Kent for a couple of reasons. First, she’s a writer. Second, she has an overdeveloped sense of guilt, and so do I. (I don’t recommend it.) And third, she feels compelled to do something, rather than just be an observer.

What's next on your horizon after this series is completed? Do you foresee writing more fiction? Do you want to continue in the Civil War era or move onto something else? Is more of your non-fiction for military wives and families ahead?

Honestly, Linda, I don’t know what’s next on the horizon. I am open to more fiction, including but not limited to the Civil War, but I miss writing nonfiction, too. I have a germ of an idea for a nonfiction for moms (not necessarily military moms) but it’s very embryonic at this point. I have lots of ideas for both fiction and nonfiction, but I’m praying God makes it clear which direction I should take, since writing is an investment that requires sacrifice for the entire family.

I know you are a busy wife and mom. When you aren't juggling writing and family duties, what do you enjoy doing in your free time, say if you had a whole day to yourself?

If I had a day to myself, I would read something for fun, eat pie, go for a walk by the river, and watch Les Miserables while eating Tostitos and salsa con queso. Or a documentary on The Plague. One of those. Ha ha ha  Or maybe I’d go antiquing with my mom and daughter… If I get up really early I bet I can do it all!

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

You’ve done a great job with your questions!

Thank you so much for chatting with me!

It’s absolutely my pleasure.

Click the links to read my reviews of Jocelyn's novels:

Wedded to War (includes my 2012 interview with Jocelyn)
Widow of Gettysburg
Yankee in Atlanta

Readers, you can learn more about Jocelyn at her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. You can also visit her Heroines Behind the Lines website to learn more about her Civil War books, characters, and settings, as well as Faith Deployed, her website for military wives.


Today is my birthday, but YOU get the gift! I have an autographed copy of Yankee in Atlanta provided by Jocelyn and Moody/River North Fiction to give to one of my readers! Just leave a comment on this post by 8:00 pm CDT Sunday (8/10/14) and I will randomly choose a winner. Continental US residents only, please. You must include an email address to be entered. Earn up to two additional entries by sharing about this post on FB or Twitter and leaving additional comment(s) with those links. One entry per comment. Limit three entries per person. Void where prohibited.


View blog reactions


Diana Ferguson said...

Happy Birthday!!

R Merr said...

I posted a link to the giveaway on a Twitter

R Merr said...

I posted this on my FB page. ( it should be public)

R Merr said...

Happy Birthday! Thanks for the giveaway! Ewe_r_merritt( at)yahoo( dot)com

traveler said...

Happy Birthday! Best wishes. Thanks for this lovely giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

petite said...

Enjoy your special day. Many thanks for this feature and giveaway. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

Nancy M. said...

Happy Birthday! And thanks for offering one of us a gift! Great interview filled with good questions. Nancycooks4u(at)gmail(dot)com

Lynda E. said...

Well, happy birthday! Thanks for the gift and for the wonderful interview--I can't wait to read this latest installment. Danandlyndaedwards (at)msn (dot)com.

Katie Edgar said...

Happy Birthday! Thank you for this fun interview and chance to win the book! katie07edgar(at)gmail(dot)com

Deanna Stevens said...

Wishing you a totally special day on your birthday~ :)
d_stevens310 (at)

Peggy D said...

I hope you have a wonderful birthday. I would truly enjoy a copy of Yankee in Atlanta (especially signed)

Pam K. said...

Happy Birthday, Linda! How nice of you to give away one of Jocelyn's fabulous books to celebrate. I read Wedded to War and Widow of Gettysburg. They are probably the best books set during the Civil War that I've read. I'm very much looking forward to reading Yankee in Atlanta (I'd love to win it) and Spy of Richmond. I like that we'll be able to read more about some of the characters of the first two books.

Mona said...

The fifties are fabulous! I heard once that if you haven't grown up by the time you're fifty, you don't have to. I'm sticking to that and enjoying life. Hope you are as well. I've read "Wedded to War" with the others on my list to read. Looking forward to learning more about the Civil War through Jocelyn's books.

Mona said...

oops, forgot to leave an address,
Still looking forward to reading more on the civil war.

Cheryl Barker said...

I would love to win Jocelyn's newest book. Have loved her others!

ckbarker at gmail dot com

Cheryl Barker said...

I shared about the giveaway on Facebook on my Cheryl Barker, Writer page.

ckbarker at gmail dot com

Mary Potter Kenyon said...

Would love to win this book! I love Jocelyn's writing~ Happy birthday,
Mary marypotterkenyon@

Meghan Gorecki said...

I love Jocelyn's entire series thus far and am SO excited for this one. Seriously she is one of the best historical authors I've ever read--and I've read a lot. ;)
Awesome, fun interview and a lovely peek behind the scenes in her books!


Allison said...

Always excited for new Christian fiction!

Anonymous said...

Love Civil War novels. Hope to win yours!

Thank you for giveaway.

Beckie B. said...

Loved Widow of Gettysburg. Looking forward to this one too. Thanks and happy birthday! msudawgtooATcomsouthDOTnet

Danie Walther said...

Happy Birthday Linda!
It was nice getting to know you. I love reading about the Cival war, this books cover is so pretty. Thanks for writing about the Cival war, we need more christian fiction books like these ones. I will have to make sure that I find the first books that you have written and read them

Jocelyn Green said...

Hi everyone, it's so nice to see all of you here! I see some familiar people and some new ones, too. Linda, thanks so much for turning your birthday into a gift for the rest of us! This was a great interview, with some questions no one had asked me before.

For those of you who haven't read the Heroines Behind the Lines series yet, I hope you'll check out the web site to learn more about it. Thanks for your interest!!

Nancy M. said...

I also shared on Facebook!

Patty said...

Special thanks to Jocelyn for keeping history alive, or bringing it to life for a new generation. I look forward to reading this series.