Friday, March 30, 2012

Sweet Glory and Giveaway with Lisa Potocar


Sweet Glory is a great book I just recently finished, and I am thrilled to have the author, Lisa Potocar, as a guest today! This is Lisa's first published book, and I think it would make a great gift for any female in your life~ especially with its gorgeous purple cover. How about in an Easter basket? What a great way to educate and inspire at the same time.
Jana Brady is a teenage girl who disguises herself as a boy, "Johnnie," to join the Union army during the Civil War. The story revolves around Jana, and the others in her unit who experience the thrills and the horrors of the war. Along the way, there is a special guy who suspects Jana's true identity and works hard to find out the truth. . . .  You can find Sweet Glory on Amazon by clicking here.

My Amazon Review: 
In reading this book, the Civil War came alive for me. The reality of what it was like for young soldiers to go into battle was so descriptive, I think the author was somehow there. The characters were so likable, and there was a sweet love story interwoven. There was also enough suspense built up that I followed it to the end-- I knew that our main character was going to make it out of her predicament, but I just didn't know how. Then the HOW was surprising and unpredictable, but still completely on track with what I knew of her!
While this was more of a story behind the Civil War, the author stayed true to historical accuracy, and she even points out in the back of the book what is fact. This was a great addition to put in, especially for younger readers. It's obvious when a story is a labor of love. The author's passion showed through every page, and I am hoping that she will write more books like this one! It is worth the read, especially for any patriotic American!

Lisa, welcome to A Story Club!
Will you tell us how you found the idea for your book?
First, thank you, Christina, for having me as a guest on your “A Story Club.” Great title for a blog! Second, I greatly appreciate your lovely introduction of me, your kind words about Sweet Glory, and your enthusiasm for my “Fact and Fiction” section—that was a fun document to write.
Anyhoo—it’s a long story, but I’ll do my best to abbreviate how I happened upon the idea behind my story. I’ve always loved to read/I didn’t always love history—at least not until I was well into my thirties. After great reluctance, I was coaxed into touring some of the colonial homes in Newport, Rhode Island. In one such residence, the guide (dressed in period garb) exorcised some ghosts with his melodic voice; they came out to play with me, and, magically, brought my senses alive to the past—I found an appreciation for it in everything around me--the furniture, d├ęcor, and household implements. I returned home from my sojourn, eager to feast upon historical fiction, amongst my favorites: John Jakes’s Kent Family Chronicles and North & South trilogy. (Though, more recently, I’ve become a HUGE fan of award-winning Kaki Warner’s historical romances, including her Blood Rose Trilogy and Runaway Bride Series). Er…uh…yes…back to the “how” in your question. The more I read, the more my curiosity especially around the Civil War times grew. When I began digging into non-fiction, I stumbled upon this little known fact: at least 300 women disguised themselves as soldiers to fight for their country too. One woman—a soldier, nurse, and spy—kept calling to me from the graveyard of records as though she wanted me to tell her story. Aha! My main protagonist, tomboy Jana Brady, who trims her auburn tresses and rides off as Union Cavalryman Johnnie to fight in the American Civil War, was born.
How did you decide the best way to balance your historical facts with the fictional story?
Wow! This is an incredible question; one that I’ve never been asked or thought about before. But it does resurrect that overwhelming feeling of me swimming (maybe even a few times nearly drowning) in volumes of historical facts—all of which could thrill readers if sketched in artfully, only a fraction of which I knew I could possibly use—or else write an encyclopedia of Civil War times—NOT! Because I couldn’t decide which to toss and which to keep, I turned to my characters for help. And they didn’t disappoint! All through the writing of my story, they’d tickle my brain to remind me of something exciting in my research that would work well for them in given scenes or situations. Come to think of it, it was quite the bizarre but reciprocal relationship: The “real” me thought out and wrote their fiction while they, the imaginary, pointed me to the facts. No...I’m not cuckoo. Just ask my characters. LOL!
Are you currently working on another project, and can you tell us anything about it?
am! And ever so gleeful to have marketing and promotion and social media reined in enough to allow me to be back playing the mad scientist in my cellar lab to create my brain children. I’m actually experimenting with two separate projects: The first is salvaging large chunks of a full-length historical novel (also set during the Civil War, only in the South) that I wrote some time ago—my stepping stone to Sweet Glory—to weave into a new idea that I’m really gung ho to sit down and mold. The second is a sequel to Sweet Glory. I never even would’ve entertained the notion if it hadn’t been for readers demanding one. It took some time for me to imagine such a story, especially one geared more to young adults but with adult appeal. I don’t quite have the ending worked out for it yet, but I’m hoping that with a little more digging in the archives, another little exciting morsel will reveal itself as it did for Sweet Glory.


What have you enjoyed most about publishing your first book?
I’ve been having a grand old time, getting back out into the public, meeting new people, and presenting my novel’s subject, which has been near and dear to my heart for many years now. I’m so appreciative of the warm receptions I’ve received and of the great interest in my story everywhere I’ve gone. 


What is your advice for aspiring writers?

Four things:

1. Read! Read! Read! -- Especially books in your chosen genre and for your targeted audience.

2. Hop on opportunities to hone your craft via writing classes, workshops, and/or writers' group meetings.

3. Make sure your writing is the very best it can be before you send it out to agents and publishers-- seek feedback from these experts via writing contests, activities for this at conferences, your targeted audience, and/or book clubs and join a critique group-- though for the latter,  it can be difficult to find one in your area that's compatible with you and your writing.

4. NEVER EVER give up on your work or believing in yourself!

Thank you so much, Lisa! I'm so happy for you and honored that you gave of your time to do this. I'm excited to hear there's going to be a sequel!
Readers, it is your turn! Lisa is generously giving away two signed copies of her book, Sweet Glory.


Winner Update: Debbie and Marne Ann! Please send your mailing addresses to me at cmlass@sbcglobal.net. Congratulations!

What about you? Has history ever surprised you? Do you have a question or comment for Lisa?

29 comments:

  1. What a wonderful interview, Lisa. And what a fun blog, Christina. I also espouse Lisa's creedo to never give up. Heck, it took me twenty-five years to finally send my book out, and it was released the year I went on Medicare. So it can happen, no matter how old you are. Great message. Lisa. Great book. I hope it does as well as it deserves!

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    1. Medicare...huh? Why you look and act like a spring chicken! And the way you keep churning out books, I'd say you are springier than most... Anyhoo, thanks for dropping by to share your journey and to pump me up with your kind words about my interview and story!

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    2. Thanks, Kaki! We are glad that you didn't give up. . .even after 25 years!

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  2. Lisa! A big huge congrats on a great book. Are you starting to work on another one? Will it also be set in the Civil War or will you explore other amazing times in history?

    Best,
    Tes

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    1. Did you say, "great book?" Move over, Billy Bear (my three-foot-high marketing & promotions manager, who will be taking me on a book-signing tour, dressed in his Union cavalry garb), and make way for my new mouthpiece, Tes Hilaire...LOL! Back to your question: I'll be sticking with the Civil War period, and I have two great ideas for stories (well...I think) for which I hope to create a "trademark" for myself. That's all I'll give away for now--until it's decided on April 6th which two persons win a copy of Sweet Glory. Thanks for your kindness and curiosity, Tes!

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    2. Hi Tes! Thanks for coming by and for inspiring Lisa to slip out the information about Billy Bear, and this other secret that she'll let us in on soon...

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  3. I am looking forward to reading this...I love romance and the Civil War era. Sounds like a great combo! Good luck!

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    1. Yay! I'm always happy to hear that there are reading enthusiasts of this era and genre! I genuinely hope you enjoy my story. Perhaps you'll be one of the lucky winners of a free copy of Sweet Glory since I see you followed the instructions to give yourself an extra chance to win! Thanks for "Liking" me!

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    2. Thanks for coming by today! I didn't really know I like the Civil War era- can't really say I've read much in that era, but this book intrigued me!

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  4. I love historical fiction! Sweet Glory sounds great! Good interview. I especially liked the fact that 300 women disguised themselves as men. Lisa, good luck with your sales. Send a flyer about your book to 7th grade teachers! I liked the book trailer on Facebook.

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    1. Yahoo! Another lover of historical fiction...and I thoroughly enjoyed learning all about the motivations behind these women enlisting--part of the presentation I've been giving to library and neighborhood book clubs, historical societies, community centers, etc. I especially LOVE your idea to send out a flyer to 7th grade teachers--I've made a few contacts with the schools, but I've had no luck getting my foot in the door as of yet. Perhaps this will do the trick! Thanks for your visit and sage advice, Gail!

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    2. Thanks for visiting! Getting a flyer out is a great idea. I would have enjoyed reading this for school!

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  5. Great interview, Lisa! I LOVED Sweet Glory! Your passion for history and animals came shining through bringing the whole story alive for me. Are you going to give us a little teaser as to Sweet Glory's sequel??? Pretty please?
    Also, I'd love to see a picture of Billy Bear and you.
    Christina thanks for having Lisa and you ask great questions, making a very interesting blog!
    Theresa

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    1. Thank you! I think she is a great person as well as author! I offered to post a picture, but she says she doesn't have one yet. . .so we will have to wait.

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    2. Thanks, Theresa! I get goose bumps every time I hear my story has found another fan! I super appreciate your recognition of my passion for history and animals; the former found in touring the battlefields and places in my novel, the latter from having grown up with dogs and the neighbor's horses. I'd love to live on a ranch in the wide-open spaces, like those depicted in Kaki's novels, surrounded by mountains, a lake, and horses and keeshonds! Oh well...I can still dream...can't I? When I have a moment, I'll post a pic of my keeshond pups and Billy Bear on my Facebook Page. Though, I'm waiting on UPS to deliver the last two pieces of Billy's costume, supposed to arrive today--UGH!!! If they don't, a picture of him will have to wait until after the next book-signing (tomorrow) and his first public appearance with me. The only teaser I can give you right now (because I don't want to spoil the ending of Sweet Glory and thus give away which character from it will be the main voice in the sequel) is that if you know anything about post-Civil War events, then you can probably figure out where the story will lead. Maybe not--'cause come to think of it, there was a whole lot going on then! BTW, I agree...Christina's questions are great and were such fun to answer!

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  6. Hi Lisa, I'm Christina's mom, and really enjoy her blog. I too am anxious to read your book. Christina keeps me in the loop of very good reading. Thanks for the interview on her blog.

    Barb

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    1. I am blessed with "Sweet Glory" to have you stop by, Barb! If it wasn't for you, neither Christina nor I would be playing interviewer/interviewee today...so I have you to thank as well as Christina for giving me this wonderful opportunity to spread the word of my story...LOL! I hope Christina's endorsement of Sweet Glory lives up to your expectations. Enjoy!

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  7. Hello! Your interview was great fun to read...it reminded me of my love for historical fiction. When I went back to college at 27 I started reading again (for fun) and couldn't get enough pieces of history, especially about heroines. Thanks for sharing your story and teaching us a piece of valuable information, most young girls today have no idea what girls went through at their age!

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    1. Awwwwww....you are so welcome, Erin! And thank you for taking the time to visit and leave a heartfelt comment. We are so far removed from the outset of the Civil War (151 years ago this April) that I think it's difficult for any of us to imagine the days when women had to scratch and claw their way into roles dominated by men---that is unless we stumble into a well-researched book, both fiction and non-fiction, that can bring that piece of history alive for us. I can recommend quite a few that helped me with my own research, and I hope you will find that I did them justice in my own recording!

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    2. Thanks for coming by, Erin! (AKA my sister :0)

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  8. Lisa,
    Fantastic interview! I love the story behind your story. Now I MUST go get your book. It sounds fantastic!
    Thanks,
    Marne Ann

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    1. I'm blushing--thank you, Marne Ann--love your name! I hope you find Jana's journey to be one of "Sweet Glory!" Actually, another story behind the story, behind the story...as you all may well know, our country, starting in 2011 to continue through 2015 as various battles and events arise, is in the thick of commemorating the Civil War's 150th anniversary. You may not know, though, that the Washington National Archives has an exhibit that features some of the more esoteric stories during this time. Guess what one of them is? Yup...women who disguised themselves to fight as soldiers in this war. Talk about great timing for my story's release---I come from good genes, but I don't think I'll be around for the next tribute to the Civil War, fifty years from now---YIKES!

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    2. That IS good timing! Thanks for coming by, Marne Ann! I thought the book was a refreshing change of pace from some of the other books I've been reading. You'll enjoy it, and probably share it with someone else!

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  9. Lisa,

    First congratulations for completing the task and actually being able to hold your book in your hands. And it is really exciting to hear you have a new project brewing. Best of luck with "Sweet Glory"

    Kevin Wolf

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    1. Sorry it took me so long to reply to you, Kevin! I was away all day at an event, but I super appreciate your stopping in and your well-wishes. It was a dream of mine (ever since I could read and write) to create a story that just might entertain someone somewhere some day; I never dreamed it would turn out to be historical fiction and pretty in purple. I am relieved to have another project brewing--it gets rather depressing when all you want to do is write, but the till is dried up with ideas.

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    2. Thanks for coming by Kevin, and lending your support! I agree that the best feeling has to be holding that finished book in your hands, and then knowing that people are reading and enjoying it!

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    3. Hi Lisa, I loved your book! It's so important to have female leads in stories especially for young people. So keep writing! You are amazing, Love Cathy Roberts

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    4. Hello my dear friend, Cathy! It means a lot to me that you loved my book 'cause I know you wouldn't have said it if you didn't mean it! But it means even more to me that I have your support, including access to your brains every now and then when I'm in a creative stupor---LOL!

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