Friday, April 20, 2012

The Unsinkable Yvonne Lehman

I have the pleasure of hosting my dear friend Yvonne Lehman. Yvonne and I go wa-ay back. We're both Heartsong Presents authors and first met each other at the Romance Writers of America Conference in Chicago. We, and other HP authors, had dinner on Navy Pier with our editor. Remember, Yvonne?  :)

Today, Yvonne is a multi-published author with a new book release. Yvonne, please tell us about it.

The book is based on the true event of the Titanic's sinking, and of passengers lost and saved. Basically it’s the story of one ship, two families, three generations.
        Lydia Beaumont and her new friend Caroline Chadwick plan Lydia’s wedding aboard the “grandest ship ever built.” Yet their lives take a tragic turn when the “unsinkable” Titanic goes down.
        This epic tale of faith and perseverance follows their lives and the lives of their descendants as they struggle with all that was lost on that fateful night and what the future holds for those brave enough to face it.

                                           For a sneak peek into the story, CLICK HERE.

And for those of you who might not know Yvonne, here's a little bit about her.

Yvonne Lehman, an award-winning, best-selling author, founded and directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for 25 years. She now directs the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat at Ridgecrest/LifeWay Conference Center in Ridgecrest NC. She mentors for the Christian Writers Guild, and teaches at conferences. Her second novel in a Washington DC series, A Knight to Remember is an April release and the third, Let it Snow is scheduled for December 2012. Eight E-books are in Barbour Publishing’s debut line, Truly Yours.  
Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the Titanic (Abingdon Press) is her 50th novel.

 Yvonne will be giving away a FREE COPY of her book, Hearts that Survive. Leave a comment at the end of this interview, and you'll be entered into the drawing. The winner will be announced on either Sunday evening or Monday morning.


 What motivates you? 
               Yvonne: What motivates me while I’m writing is simply discovering what these characters are doing with my idea, how they deal with the problems that arise to thwart their goals, what they’re learning, how they’re falling in love, what kind of personality traits surface, what they learn about themselves, and what I learn about myself in the writing of the story. 
               Ideas are motivated by good or bad experiences in my life or the lives of others. These panoramic mountains where I live motivates the setting of many stories. Sometimes a single sentence inspires a story, such as—my daughter’s friend said to her, “I married him for his money, why can’t I love him for it?” I know a book was in that statement. It became on of the stories in my South Carolina collection.
               The motivating force for my latest book, Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the Titanic, was Ramona Richards (Abingdon) saying “Yes” to my proposal. Getting the book out in time for the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking resulted in my writing 120,000 words in six weeks and then having two weeks to revise.

     How does your faith affect your daily life?
               Yvonne: It convinces me there is no life, only existence, without faith in Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I know trials become growing experiences and will end up in a book. It’s too easy to accept the good, but it is the negative that turns me to God and convinces me again that He is in control. My puny efforts can accomplish little, but with Him I can have confidence and hope.

      How much spirituality do you weave into your story?
                Yvonne: I tried writing a story without God in it to see how it turned out. I tore that meaningless story into pieces. Spirituality naturally comes into the story because God is in my life and when a character has conflicts, goals, purposes, trials, then the character embraces or questions God, or another character does it for them.  Whether or not God works in a life, is real, or cares is always a concern in at least one character’s life because that’s realistic even if it’s an atheist saying he/she doesn’t believe in God.

       What is your greatest challenge in your writing?
                      Yvonne: Trying to handle my own career according to the way I think it should go. I don’t like it when my agent says “Wait, before we submit this,” or my editor says, “Let talk, later.” I have to rethink and remind myself that I pray for the agent and the editor and that God will direct them, me, and my career.  Writing is so much my life that I tend to think it’s over if contracts aren’t coming in and all my ideas aren’t going out as novels. I have to stop and think, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT) – Yes, a challenge.

            What message do you hope to convey to readers, either in this latest book or in all your books?
                       Yvonne: This is what I hope to convey particularly in Hearts that Survive: No matter what the tragedy, the loss, or the devastation, there is hope. Not that God sank the Titanic, but he certainly could. He can take a sunken, devastated life and give it hope and meaning. Hope is something I try to convey in all my stories.

              Do you believe there is evil in the world and, if you do, how do you portray it in your novels (or do you portray evil in your novels?
                       Yvonne: This is a tough question for me to answer. Evil is so obvious, I don’t know how anyone can deny it. If we know ourselves, and the scripture, we can be aware of its potential. Most of the conflicts, problems, illness, death, etc. in my stories is not portrayed as evil, but as part of the human condition or life on earth.  Deliberate violence or hurt against others is portrayed as evil.  The difference may be something I need to make clear in my stories. (Thanks for that question.) Bad or negative things may be within a character’s control along with the help of God. Evil is often outside our realm of control because it involves another person’s choice, intent, and actions.  Perhaps that’s why in his model prayer, Jesus prayed asking God to, “Deliver us from evil.”

              As an author, what are your goals for the future?
                         Yvonne:  My goal before getting published was to get ONE book published and the natural result, since God led me into writing, would be fame and fortune. After the ONE book, my goal was to publish another and maybe that one would achieve fame and fortune. Hearts that Survive is my 50th book and my goal is… well, you got it.  I do have goals of every idea being turned into a published book. I have more realistic goals of specific books being published. Having written for over 30 years, and growing in faith, my deepest desire is what I wrote at the bottom of a page where I listed five goals. I wrote, “No. Six goals. Whatever God has in mind for me. He’s better at this than I am. I want the desire of His heart for me and our books.” That’s what I aim for – to get me out of the way and let God. That too, is a challenge.

             Did you ever have a memorable book-signing? (Sad, humorous, or awesome?) If so, please share it.
                Yvonne: At my first book signing I arrived 30 minutes early to be on time for the buyers who would be lined up around the block. One person was there to buy my book. The next one came two hours later. Sad, because I was a new unassuming writer with great expectations.
                Another was when we moved to NC and I’d already prepared the public by having a well-known columnist write about me and my entrance into these mountains. He wrote a glowing report about me and my two books. I was interviewed on the local TV station and was promoted in the newspapers. At the signing I sat at the big glass window, looking out at the empty street. The bookstore manager reminded me that even famous authors have book signing flops. Then I saw a car drive up and park. A woman got out, looked at me and a glorious expression came over her face and her eyes widened. I thought finally, someone who appreciates literature. She ran in, rushed up to me, held out her hand in which she had money, and she said, “Do you have any change. I don’t have a thing for the parking meter.” Humorous…now, not then.

               However… I’m scheduled for a three-day book signing April 27, 28, and 29 at the Titanic Display in Pigeon Forge TN. Visitors go there for a specific reason and that’s to find out information about the Titanic. They have to leave through the Gift Shop where I’ll be signing. Now, isn’t that going to be…awesome?

            How do you deal with rejection letters or an irate reader?
                   After 30 years of being a writer, I’ve learned returns are for a reason although I can’t figure out some of them. If a reader asks a legitimate question or wants to discuss my writing, I respond. I don’t respond to an irate reader because I feel their problem is within themselves and their need is greater than I can meet. What bothers me is when a reviewer sees herself as a critic, telling the reader whether or not they should read the book. There is a diversity of readers and there’s a need for diverse writers.

       What’s next for you as an author? Any books in the hopper?
                         Yvonne: I want to follow up the Titanic book with another story based on a true event. For many years I’ve been fascinated with the story of Japanese and German diplomats and families of diplomats being interned at a resort surrounded by barbed wire fencing and “protected” by 25 American Border Patrol guards during WWII. With three enemy nations together, all was not peaceful. This historic resort is a couple miles from my home.

Yvonne, thank you for being my guest!!

For more on Yvonne, visit her website at:
And don't forget to leave a comment and enter the drawing for Yvonne's latest book, Hearts that Survive!

1 comment:

Deborah Raney said...

I loved Yvonne's book. It made me think of so many things I hadn't thought of before concerning those survivors. Wonderful story, beautifully written.

You don't need to enter me in the drawing because I already have a copy, but I just wanted to encourage anyone who hasn't read it to sign up! It's a keeper!