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NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – LYNN DEAN

reposted from 22 February 2016

 

Why Writers Write

…or why this writer writes, anyway. 😉

 

I applied for a job after my last child graduated from high school. Since we homeschooled I hadn’t worked outside the home in quite a while, so putting together a resumé was something of an ordeal. How could I explain the twists and turns of my life?

 

As I wrote I began to see a sure direction in the seemingly random path of my life. In college I studied architecture but married after graduation instead of completing my masters and certification. I could design homes without the certification, and that’s where my heart was. Through many relocations and child-raising years, I drew custom house plans from a home office—a situation that gave my life balance. When our homeschool co-op needed a drafting teacher, I volunteered. They approached me about a high school writing course, and I accepted that position as well. I’d always loved writing and had written a state history course, Discover Texas, for my own children.

 

slide 1

 

That experience was more or less like writing ten separate-but-related research papers, turning out one per month for each chronological era. I’d learned a lot of shortcuts between the first chapter and the last, so I knew I could teach high school students to write a research paper efficiently and make it interesting. While researching Discover Texas I’d also discovered many inspiring human interest stories. After my first child graduated, I tried my hand at historical fiction. The result was More Precious Than Gold, the first novel in an inspirational series. I was hooked…but life was busy. Discover Texas had become a cottage industry in its own right. Children graduated high school, then college…then marriage proposals and wedding plans and more moves. I got to put my architectural talents to work remodeling the house we left and the one we moved into, juggling time to help aging parents with moves of their own. Frustrated, I made time during one quiet month to enjoy combining my love of architecture and writing in a project just for fun—Home Sweet Hole: A Folio of Feasible Fantasy Floor Plans. I told myself I was just “keeping one foot in the water,” but the little book came out about the same time as the Lord of the Rings movies and surprised me by becoming a very good seller. Encouraged, I waded cautiously back into writing—this time returning to non-fiction to produce a series based on my most popular homeschool convention presentations. How to Teach the Way Your Child Learns and How to Make Learning Meaningful, Memorable, and Fun are published, and the final two books in the Homeschool How-To series will release by summer.

 

slide 2

 

In the end I didn’t get the job I applied for, but I commented to a family member that I was glad I wrote the resumé. It helped me see how everything I did fit together—even if it sometimes didn’t seem to while I was doing it.

 

She responded, “Oh. Well, I’m glad. You never really decided what you wanted to do when you grew up.”

 

Gotta admit—that stung. I wanted to snap back a protest. “Oh yes, I did! I wanted to do it all…and I did!”

 

Instead I bit my tongue, but as usual I’m putting down in writing all the things I wanted to say but couldn’t.

 

You’re welcome. 😉

 

Writers write down the things they can’t say out loud. Most of us are introverts. It isn’t easy to speak publicly until we’ve had time to organize our thoughts. Writing gives us that time. Besides, the largest group I’ve ever spoken to at a convention was about 200 people. My books have been read by thousands of people—not enough to be called best sellers, but still a larger audience than I could have reached any other way.

 

Writers have something to say. Because I spend a lot of time quietly observing and “living inside my head,” I have many perspectives to share. Writing is a comfortable way to do that. It’s not “pushy” or confrontational. No one is obligated to buy or read what I write, so it’s almost as if readers are inviting me to share with them personally.

 

Writers write to help others. I like doing that! I wrote Discover Texas because I didn’t want my children to be bored with history, and there was no hands-on history course available at the time. Other homeschool parents liked it and asked if I’d publish it for their children. I’m writing the Homeschool How-To series to explain how and why hands-on learning works. I wrote More Precious Than Gold to show how God take difficult circumstances and turn them into a blessing, and I wrote Home Sweet Hole because…well, sometimes we just need a “happy place” to dream a little, even if it’s imaginary.

 

Often, writers want to help without hurting your feelings. We can say things through our characters that we wouldn’t and couldn’t tell you to your face. Instead we tell you a story like the one Nathan the prophet told King David. For example in the beginning of More Precious Than Gold the heroine, Eliza, is having a pity party—and she has every reason. Both her mother and her fiancé died in a war that she had no part in. She heads west to New Mexico Territory to escape her grief and runs headlong into the man who caused it. At this point she has to decide whether her faith in God is just lip service or if she really trusts Him in both good times and bad.

 

Writers get a rush out of creating. Lest you think that writers are motivated solely by noble causes, I must admit that telling stories is just plain fun! There’s something about creating characters who will come to life in readers’ imaginations that gives me the same satisfaction as creating plans for a home that will envelope a family. Besides, I rather enjoy telling people what to do…but only in the kindest possible way. 😉

 

So that’s my story. All of our lives are a story, really, just as history is a story—the story of God working out His plans and reconciling the world to Himself, one life at a time.

 

Whatever direction your life and work take you, if God called you to it, He can use it even if the path is not always direct.

 

 slide 3

 

Growing up in Texas, I dictated my first stories to my mom before I was old enough to write them down myself. She humored me, for which I am grateful, and I’ve been telling stories in one form or another ever since.

I write about the things I know. The things I love. God, family, history, and how those things fit together.

 

slide 4

 

You can find Lynn at:

http://www.amazon.com/Lynn-Dean/e/B008520VOA/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1454871821&sr=1-2-ent

www.discovertexasonline.com

 

http://www.handsonhomeschoolresources.com

 

 

New Week New Face, #NWNF, Guest Post, Lynn Dean, Discover Texas, More Precious than Gold, Home Sweet HoleSave

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* I’ve fallen behind on some of my reviews. So this week I’m playing a bit of catch up. ENJOY!

 

BOOK REVIEW – MORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD by LYNN DEAN

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A real ghost town comes to life in this award-winning story of love, forgiveness, and the sovereignty of God. [taken from the blurb on the back of the book]

Okay, so confession time, right here before I start this review….. I am not a big fan of western romance, nor especially of Amish fiction! There! I said it! I was given a copy of this book by a friend of mine – she happens to be the author – and in spite of personal preferences, I wanted to read her words.

 

All that said, historical fiction is my favorite genre – so imagine my delight to discover that More Precious Than Gold is, in fact, historical fiction. Set in the west. With romance thrown in.

 

The quintessential struggle, find in God a faith more precious than gold [taken from the blurb on the back of the book], is at the center of this story. A turbulent era, post Civil War unrest sends Eliza Gentry to live with relatives in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to escape the heartache and grief the war imposed upon her: the death of her fiancé.

 

An independent woman in an era when women were still subject to their men, Eliza is accustomed to making her own choices and decisions. She finds in New Mexico a land no less wild and untamed than the home she left in Texas.

Ms. Dean has woven together fictional elements with historical facts to create an authentic story tapestry; she knows her history and she knows her fiction. The characters come to life with genuine crises and believable reactions. My heart ached for Eliza with the struggles life threw at her, and delighted with her as she began to realize her own worth in God’s eyes: more precious than gold.

lynn

 

Author Bio:

Growing up in Texas, I dictated my first stories to my mom before I was old enough to write them down myself. She humored me, for which I am grateful, and I’ve been telling stories in one form or another ever since.

Fast forward more years than I’ll admit to. Children grown. House quiet. Finally more time to get serious about writing for publication, and what an exciting time to write!

I write about the things I know. The things I love. God, family, history, and how those things fit together.

 

Environmental Design was a relatively new field when Lynn Dean studied at Texas A&M University’s College of Architecture, but earth-sheltered housing is nothing new.

Most of the designs she created for private clients during her 30 year career were more-or-less traditional, but there’s always been a warm place in her heart for sustainable housing featuring small, intimate spaces that nurture the soul.

She’s harbored a warm place for creative writing, too, with the same hand-crafted appeal for small, intimate genres. Lynn writes mostly historical Christian fiction, but it was only fitting that her dual interests should combine in this fictional work of fantasy design.

 

You can connect with Lynn at:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wordsworth-PublishingLynn-Dean/161921870546466?fref=nf

 

 

 

#lynndean, #morepreciousthangold, #sangredecristo, #civilwar, #yankees, #rebels, #freedmen, #indians, #discovertexas, #homesweethole

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Please give a big welcome to LYNN DEAN.

 

 lynn

 

rem: Welcome Lynn, glad to have you here! Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

LYNN: I’m a Texan, born and bred. Lived in the Rio Grande Valley, in Austin, Waco, College Station (whoop!), and Del Rio before hubby’s job took us to State College, Pennsylvania and Spangdahlem, Germany. And then, because God has a sense of humor, we landed right back in Waco for several years where we raised our kids before relocating to San Antonio–the heart of Texas history!

rem: That’s a mini geography lesson on Texas right there!! Tell us three things about yourself.

LYNN: Odd facts are always more interesting, so I’ll go with these three:

  • I love words and speak smatterings of five languages, though I’m only fluent in English…and some days I’m not even sure about that one. 😉
  • When I was a kid, I used to build fairy houses out in the garden–complete with bluebonneted belles in buttercup ball gowns. I was always vaguely disappointed that no other residents moved in…at least, none that I noticed.
  • I was one of those children with such a vivid imagination that I probably spent more time living inside my head than I did anywhere else because it was more interesting there than anywhere else. Except for Disneyland. I came out for Disneyland. 😉

rem: Love the odd-and-more-interesting factoids! And I could claim any or all of these for myself…   Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

LYNN: Other than the Bible (which is infinitely interesting because I see something new every time I re-read a verse), the most tattered books on my shelves are C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books. Susannah Kearsley’s delightful time-travel stories are solid contenders for 3rd place.

rem: Good choices, all. What is your most treasured possession?

LYNN: I’m more into people than things, but if the house were on fire I’d probably grab the pin drive with our family photos on it and the white monogrammed wedding stocking my great-great-grandmother knitted while her fiance was away fighting in the Civil War. It stays in the Christmas chest, otherwise, and we hang it up once a year just because we like the story.

rem: What a wonderful family heirloom! What is your greatest fear?

LYNN: I ain’t skeert o’ much…except if something threatens my kids. Then I hit my kneeler!

rem: That protective Mama Bear personna, I know that well! What is your favourite quotation and why?

LYNN: Oh, so many! The first that came to mind when you asked was, “It is what it is”, because we can’t begin to deal with things until we call them what they are, right?

rem: Can’t argue with that! What do you most value in a friend?

LYNN: Integrity. Like the favorite quotation, I guess I like people who are what they are, too. I also deeply value loyalty and a willingness to think deeply.

rem: Me! Too! If you don’t have your integrity, what do you have? What quality do you most admire in a woman?

LYNN: I admire women who know who they are in the Lord and who are too busy fulfilling His purposes for their life to bother with trying to meddle in anyone else’s.

rem: Identity [in Him] is my platform in my writing. And well, pretty much across the board! Dogs or Cats? Which do you prefer?

LYNN: Cats, though I have one of each. My dog demands attention. My cat is content to “just be.”

rem: Good choice! 😉 What is your Writing Routine?

LYNN: Well, now, that’s a good question, and if I had a consistent routine, there’s no doubt I’d be able to finish more and faster. 😉 I tend to be more productive later in the day…or night, so usually I try to do my mundane chores early in the day so that I can dive into creative projects after lunch without the nagging encumbrance of an unfinished to-do list. Anyone who’s been a daughter, wife, and mother, though, will understand that that list is never truly “finished”.

rem: Lynn, I think you are the first to concur with that “nagging encumbrance of an unfinished to-do list.” Most [or all] guidelines I’ve seen for writing routines suggest writing first thing in the day, before email, before Facebook, before breakfast even! I can’t imagine! What are your Top Writing Tips?

LYNN: Keep it real. That may sound a little strange coming from someone who writes fiction–especially since I love fantasy and time travel as well as historical fiction. But I think readers enjoy stories about people they can identify with rather than some heroine whose biggest problem in life seems to be a broken fingernail. We like to explore why people do the things they do, what they learn, and how they make the best of it.

rem: Fiction, and even fantasy, has to have an element of reality to it to make it believable! Tell us a little about your writing journey.

LYNN: My mom wrote down my first story. (I was 5 and couldn’t write yet.) It was a silly story about a bear named Lumpity-Bumpity who caught a squirrel stealing from his hoard of acorns and turned him over to shake them out of him, yet they parted friends. The story had a beginning, a middle, and an end, and the characterization was strong, though the plot development was somewhat predictable. 😉 It was important, though, because my mother’s enthusiasm convinced me that I could tell stories people would enjoy reading.

My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Cathey, also encouraged my love of story by purchasing a creative writing kit that I absolutely tore through whenever I completed my assignments early. I mention these as my beginnings because you never know what impact your encouragement (or criticism) may have on a child.

So I’ve always told stories, but I treasure these encouragers because there are far more people who will counsel you that you can’t make a living writing, especially if you write fiction, and so you should “get your head out of the clouds and choose something more practical.” And so I majored in architecture (fairy houses, remember?), which, oddly, is often no more lucrative as a profession. I did love it, though, and residential design became a business I could do from home, which allowed me to homeschool our children…which lead me back to writing.

We needed a Texas history curriculum that would be both factual and fun, and I couldn’t find one, so in 2000 I wrote Discover Texas. Students spend a month in each of ten eras (almost like time travelling) where I collected the best resources I could find–unit studies, field trips, library books, websites and the like–and wove them together in a fast-moving story with colorful illustrations. Sixteen years later, it is still my top seller and has opened the door to many other speaking and writing opportunities.

In the course of research, I discovered so many human interest stories that I began to write Christian fiction (history is HIS story, right?) beginning with More Precious Than Gold, the story of a grieving spinster who heads to New Mexico territory to escape her grief and runs headlong into the man who caused it. That story will continue in Stronger Than Mountains and Love Like a River.

And then there’s Home Sweet Hole, which I cannot explain except to say, “Fairy houses, remember?” When the movie version of The Hobbit came out, I was enchanted and began to wonder what those under-the-hill houses behind the stage-set facades might look like. Also majored in architecture, remember? Specifically Environmental Design (earth-friendly architecture), so I knew a thing or two about underground houses and I had a bit of time over Christmas holiday, and voila! I’m pleased to say that many readers have enjoyed it, as well.

I also enjoyed doing the illustrations for Discover Texas and Home Sweet Hole, and that’s led to my illustrating a couple of other books and projects for friends.

 

Texas Civil War Generals John Bell Hood, Sullivan Ross, and Albert Sydney Johnston.

Texas Civil War Generals John Bell Hood, Sullivan Ross, and Albert Sydney Johnston

 

rem: What a great story, from Lumpity-Bumpity to Stronger Than Mountains! I loved More Precious Than Gold, and have a copy of Home Sweet Hole – my favorite design is Hornblower Hill.

hornblower hill

 

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

 

LYNN: I get to live in my head a lot–it really is very interesting in there–and I get to share the things that go on in my head with other people, which seems to make us both happy. I also like that they pay me for making them happy, sometimes years after I’ve moved on to another win-win project. Turns out, writing isn’t so impractical, after all. 😉

rem: What is the hardest aspect of being a writer?

LYNN: I really have more ideas than I have time. Stories, characters, and projects can be like unruly children squabbling over who gets to be first to come out. When my head gets noisy like that, it’s hard to concentrate on any one of them. 😉

rem: Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

LYNN: Hmmm…of my own characters, I like Jake from More Precious Than Gold. He is “a man’s man”–a strong but gentle leader. In many ways I modeled him after my husband, so that may be why he has my heart.

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In fiction by others, I’d have to go with Michael Hosea, the hero of Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love, for the same reasons.

rem: What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?

LYNN: More Precious Than Gold is about trusting the sovereignty of God, even through painful circumstances. Only He can see the end from the beginning, but when we get to the end of the story, then we will understand why each scene He allowed was necessary.

rem: I got that from reading it, that was her journey all along. What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

LYNN: I was fortunate to meet up with an extremely encouraging editor at my very first writers’ conference. She read two of my manuscripts and commented that she’d buy “anything you write” if only her company had a place for it, but alas being a writer of historical fiction is rather like being a crippled man waiting beside the Pool of Bethesda. So many wait year after year for a spot to open.

Self-publishing was surprisingly easy! I’m so grateful that we live in a time when there are so many wonderful options. I understand that I write for a comparatively small niche that might not be financially competitive for a publishing company, but I’ve had few troubles finding my own niche and building a mutually beneficial relationship with readers.

rem: Like this reader! Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?

LYNN: That question would be nearly impossible to answer, since everything I have out currently is so different. I used to tell our daughter that she was “my favorite oldest daughter” and our son that he was “my favorite young man.” So I may have to stick with answering that I’m proud of Discover Texas because, as my first ebook published when no one even knew what that was, it was a monumental struggle, but I did it! And I love More Precious Than Gold because of the way the characters sprang to life and took the story places I did not expect it to go. And I love Home Sweet Hole because, well, it was just a ton of fun. 🙂

rem: That’s kind of like asking which child is your favorite isn’t it….. What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?

LYNN: If you’ve always wanted to write a book, do it! You’ll never know if you can until you try. Someone will enjoy it, even if that’s only you. (I actually have a story in mind about a woman who is terminally ill before her niece discovers that she has a drawer full of unfinished, unpublished stories and how that discovery changes both of their lives.)

rem: That’s great advice; I know a few who are “gun shy” and won’t let themselves get started. Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

LYNN: I am almost finished with Stronger Than Mountains, but had to take a break from writing to tend to book fair season for Discover Texas and to complete an illustration project for a friend’s book about the Texas Rangers. I’m really eager to get back to it, though, because I left Zeke and his boys in a terrible predicament, and it’s up to me to write them out of there! 🙂 Can’t wait to share it with readers, because there will be many who will find Zeke a more appealing hero than Jake–which, in my mind, is saying something (especially after the way he acted at the start of the story)!

rem: Poor Zeke! Then again, I seem to recall he rather deserves it… You are passionate about Texas history. How did you become intrigued with that and how does it play into your writing?

LYNN: I commented a bit on that earlier, but you should also know that I hated Texas history in school. I was looking for an engaging history curriculum because, as a homeschool mom, I didn’t want to inflict boredom on my children. My husband, on the other hand, loved Texas history because his mom told him the story of the various heroes and their struggles, and then they would visit the various historical sites that were nearby. He and his brother ran around and got covered in the dust of history! When he said that I remembered that wonderful Mrs. Cathey brought an old sheet and some broomsticks and let us build a teepee on the playground when we studied Native Americans. History is more than just the names and dates of dead people. We can make it come alive with stories! And then if we follow through with learning adventures that help students experience for themselves what happened, the subject becomes meaningful and memorable.

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I talk a lot about learning adventures on my blog at http://www.discovertexasonline.com/blog. Right now I’m doing a review of the History Channel mini-series Texas Rising–what’s fact, what’s fiction, and what’s anybody’s guess. Check it out! 🙂

rem: Funny how Father God will take the thing we hate and turn it to our passion! You also studied Environmental Design. Tell us about that.

LYNN: Ah! Well Environmental Design is basically environmentally-conscious architecture. Green building, if you will. It’s not as new as you might think, though people are just now beginning to take a strong interest. My own home is rather traditional, though I’ve enjoyed adding my own touches here and there. Basically, we bought a 40+ year-old ranch and gutted it much like you’d see on HGTV. I especially enjoy finding ways to get a quality, hand-crafted product using affordable, re-purposed materials. For example, the brass chandelier we removed from the old dining room is enjoying a second life in a tree over our outdoor patio.

Home Sweet Hole was fun because, even though it’s presented as fantasy, the floor plans in it are completely build-able using any number of earth-sheltered methods.

Architecture, fantasy, and history are recurring themes in my life, and writing has become a way of tying everything together and presenting it in a God-honoring package. 🙂

 Home Sweet Hole cover_Bonus edition

 

“In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit…”
but Hobbits aren’t the only ones with down-to-earth dreams.

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This folio of “feasible fantasy” floor plans gives you a fun-loving peek inside a dozen earth-bermed dwellings in an imaginary borough of burrows–all drawn to scale as if the builder, himself, were offering an open house tour.

 

rem: Lynn, thank you so much for joining us today and for your great answers!

 

 

Author Bio:

Growing up in Texas, I dictated my first stories to my mom before I was old enough to write them down myself. She humored me, for which I am grateful, and I’ve been telling stories in one form or another ever since.

Fast forward more years than I’ll admit to. Children grown. House quiet. Finally more time to get serious about writing for publication, and what an exciting time to write!

I write about the things I know. The things I love. God, family, history, and how those things fit together.

 

Environmental Design was a relatively new field when Lynn Dean studied at Texas A&M University’s College of Architecture, but earth-sheltered housing is nothing new.

Most of the designs she created for private clients during her 30 year career were more-or-less traditional, but there’s always been a warm place in her heart for sustainable housing featuring small, intimate spaces that nurture the soul.

She’s harbored a warm place for creative writing, too, with the same hand-crafted appeal for small, intimate genres. Lynn writes mostly historical Christian fiction, but it was only fitting that her dual interests should combine in this fictional work of fantasy design.

 

You can connect with Lynn at:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wordsworth-PublishingLynn-Dean/161921870546466?fref=nf

 

 

#lynndean, #authorinterview, #homesweethole, #morepreciousthangold, #Texashistory, #discovertexas

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