ANN H. GABHART has published over twenty novels for adults and children including her bestselling Shaker novels. A native Kentuckian, Ann lives on a farm in Central Kentucky. She’s blessed with three children and nine grandchildren. Scent of Lilacs, the first book in the Heart of Hollyhill series, was a Booklist Top Ten Book in Christian Fiction. The Outsider was a finalist for ECPA Christian Fiction Book of 2009. Visit Ann’s website, www.annhgabhart.com or share her writing adventures down on the farm on “One Writer’s Journal." And now Jocie Brooke, the lovable character from Ann’s Hollyhill books has her own blog, hollyhillbookofthestrange.blogspot.com.
SCENT OF LILACS
by Ann Gabhart
Published by Revell
ABOUT THE BOOK
Life-changing events rarely happen in quiet Hollyhill, Kentucky, and when they do, they are few and far between. But for young Jocie Brooke and her family, they happen all at once during the humid summer of 1964. Though on the surface things are just fine, it seems like everyone in Jocie’s life has something they’re not saying, something they’re hiding from her—and from themselves. As Jocie digs into her family’s past, she stirs up a whirlwind of discoveries. Will she find the answers everyone so desperately needs? Or will her questions lead to truths better left hidden?
Combining unforgettable characters, true-to-life struggles, and the perfect dose of humor and nostalgia, this riveting story from bestselling author Ann Gabhart explore the very essence of new life and love.
Readers, buy your copy of Scent of Lilacs today!
AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR FEATURE AUTHOR
Dark Valley Roads and Bright Mountain Trails
by Ann H. Gabhart
At the tender age of ten, I picked up a pen and started writing a mystery with a character based on me. Naturally. Wait, I’d better clarify that. She was based on what I wanted to be like and not how I really was–a very shy, farm girl. But my heroine was with it. Jo could solve mysteries like the Hardy Boys. As well as I remember, she wasn’t a bit shy, and she was really cute too.
So it all began. In the years since, I’ve had my mountaintop moments as a writer and my times of walking through discouragement valley. As a young writer, I was like someone walking along a beach picking up shells with the hope that each new wave of creativity would wash up the perfect story that might get published. I wrote one piece after another. A few did actually get printed in magazines and Sunday school papers. Then I wrote a novel and my writing goals shifted. No more short pieces for me. I wanted to write books.
My first book didn’t find a publisher. My second book didn’t find a publisher. My third book did. Talk about a mountaintop moment! My printed words inside a compelling cover were going to appear on store shelves everywhere. That was way back in 1978. I wrote another novel and Warner Books published it too. Two published books had to mean I’d found writing success. I was on my way!
Then I tumbled off that mountaintop down into discouragement valley. I wrote two more historical novels that were “not quite right,” according to the letters I got from editors, but they never said what was not quite right about my stories. I wrote more books. Got more rejections. My agent said my books were “too clean,” so I decided to reinvent myself and look for a new audience for my “too clean” stories.
That decision took me up some more mountain trails while eleven of my coming-of-age stories for young readers were published. I liked writing for young people, but alas, I took another tumble off the writing success mountain. My new stories began collecting rejects again. This time the trudge through discouragement valley went on for years. I began to wonder if I should just give up writing. Maybe I should concentrate my effort on work that promised a sure return instead of the hope of someday pay.
But I couldn’t quit. Writing is part of who I am. So I set out to once more re-invent myself as a writer. Since it was more than obvious I wasn’t cornering any markets, I decided to write the book I wanted to write instead of one I thought an editor might like. I came up with a story about a young girl and her father, a small town newspaper editor during the week and a preacher of a country church on Sundays. The characters and story are completely fictitious, but the background and setting came straight from what I remembered about my little hometown in the Sixties.
Jocie turned out to be a great character who sprang right to life in my imagination, and it was pure writer’s luck that Wes fell out of a Jupiter spaceship as he was passing over Hollyhill. Of course, that’s just a story Wes makes up for Jocie, but his and Jocie’s Jupiter talk adds a few smiles to the story. I stirred in some more eccentric small town characters including a crazy old aunt named Love who tries to keep Jocie in line by quoting Scripture at her. But all is not as it seems in my little town of Hollyhill or even with Jocie’s Aunt Love. While Jocie is bemoaning the fact that nothing ever happens in Hollyhill, a whirlwind of discoveries suddenly threatens everything she thought was true about her life. And of course, Jocie loves the scent of lilacs.
The characters in Scent of Lilacs found a home in my heart, and I was anxious and eager to tell their stories. The book snagged a loving editor on its first trip out and once more, I was up on one of those writing peaks. A low point came when Scent of Lilacs went out of print after a couple of years, but now the story is back as the first book in the Heart of Hollyhill series. Orchard of Hope and Summer of Joy will also be back out in the coming year and my Hollyhill characters will have the chance to find new readers.
Early on in my writing career I read something about treating rejections and acceptances the same – as the imposters they might be. Either one can knock a writer off course, because to be successful a writer has to keep plugging whether on the dark valley road or the sparkling mountain peak road. Up or down, a writer has to keep writing. That’s what writers do. That’s what I did.
To celebrate Scent of Lilacs back in print, I’m having a Celebration Giveaway on my website, www.annhgabhart.com. First prize is a beautiful lilac leather-bound Grandmother’s Bible. Several other prizes too. Details on my website News & Events Page. Deadline for entries is April 1, 2013.
Reader Question: Have you ever experienced a time of discouragement that made you feel like giving up on a dream? If so, were you able to overcome it or did the Lord use the discouragement to push you toward a new goal or dream?
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Thank you, Ann, for sharing with us today.
This week, the drawing is open to US/Canada residents only.