Happy Monday, folks!
I hope you had an awesome weekend and are ready to kickoff some bookish greatness! Today I have the awesome Bonnie Leon with me today. We’ll be talking about her latest book, One Hundred Valleys. The cover is absolutely stunning. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee) and chat with us!
Toni: Tell us a little about yourself?
Bonnie: I’m sixty-eight years old so there is a lot of story to tell, too much for this piece of the blogosphere. So I think it best to begin with my first wobbly steps as a writer.
I was in my late 30’s when the writing bug bit me, when I was suddenly compelled to write. I filled legal pads with vignettes, poems, personal experiences and short stories. I loved every minute of it. That year I attended my first ever one day writing conference and was encouraged by a visiting author to continue writing. And I did … until a loaded log truck tipped over on a winding country road and hit the van I was driving. That accident changed everything – my entire life.
Though thankful to have survived the accident, I was left with permanent injuries and chronic pain. I was unable to return to my job, unable to properly care for my home and family, and unable to take part in family fun. I fell into a deep depression. One day, when it all felt like too much, I cried out to God and asked Him to give me something to do that mattered. He led me back to my writing. In the weeks and months that followed he threw open every door and introduced me to the writing world.
After a four day writing conference I returned home and over the next eight months I wrote my first book, The Journey of Eleven Moons. Incredibly that first book sold to the first publisher to look at it and quickly became a bestselling novel.
I’ve been writing ever since.
My husband and I have been married nearly 49 years and our children are grown as well as some of our grandchildren. We’ve been living on the same small farm for forty years here in Southern Oregon.
A few years ago I was hit by another challenge. When my doctor told me I have MacTel 2, (which is slowly taking my central vision) I thought my writing career was over, but I was wrong. These days I write more slowly, about one book a year. I don’t know what the coming months will bring, but I’ve learned that God walks with me through every dark valley as well as along the mountain tops. And so I press forward trusting in Him.
Toni: Wow, you’ve got a lot going on. I’ll be praying for you! When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Bonnie: That question comes up often and I’m never certain of the correct answer. When I was a child, I don’t recall dreaming about becoming a writer. However, a friend of mine tells me that when I was a young teen I told her that one day I would write books. I’ve always been a lover of books and especially enjoyed school project that required story-telling. So, I suppose there was always a writer inside me, but I didn’t meet her until I was nearly forty.
Toni: I’ve been a lover of books since I was a child but writing came later, so I understand. 🙂 What’s a normal writing day like for you?
Bonnie: My gosh, I wish there was a “norm”. Living with chronic pain tends to dictate my schedule. Each day is a surprise.
A good writing day begins with time in God’s Word, and then on to my computer and social networking. That seems to help wake me up. I break for lunch, then return to my laptop and the real work of writing. Afternoons are the best for story-telling and editing. Evening are saved for blogging, research, and promotional work.
There is so much to be done I often work on weekends, but try to take at least one day to rest and do something that’s purely for pleasure.
Toni: Rest is so important! Now let’s talk about your book a little bit. What life verse would your main character choose and why?
Bonnie: Emmalin would choose Isaiah 55: 8-10, which says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it …”
Emmalin finds herself living a life she would not have chosen and as she struggles to find her way verses such as these are a comfort and reminder that God’s plan is always best.
Toni: Great verse! What message do you hope readers will get out of reading your story?
Bonnie: No matter how bleak or terrifying a situation may seem, God has not forgotten us. He is in control. He has a plan for each of our lives and will stand with us when we face trials. His way is always best even when it’s not what we had hoped for.
Toni: Amen. Why should a reader choose your books if this is the first time they’ve heard of you?
Bonnie: I love readers. They are the reason I can continue to write. When I’m creating a story I think of them. What do they expect from me? And what does God expect? I think the answer is the same – that I do my best and I am not afraid to share the truth.
I work hard to create characters that are real. People are not all good or all bad. So I present characters who are flawed but not without hope. And the stories I tell are about things that touch the human heart, they are about real life, and often times lives that are set in extraordinary circumstances. I always want my stories to say something that matters for I have never forgotten my prayer many years ago. No matter what the setting or who the characters are who are living out their lives in one of my stories there needs to be an underlying reason that it be told.
Toni: “Flawed but not without hope” I love that! How can we pray for you?
Bonnie: I very much appreciate the prayers of my Christian brothers and sisters. I count on them. I hear from followers who occasionally remind they pray for me every day. That means so much to me.
My most important need is that I do not dishonor God in my work or my life. I long to tell stories with sound truths and Biblical accuracy.
I need prayer to help me navigate each day. Sometimes it’s difficult to not get discouraged because I am never free from pain. It can be a heavy weight, too burdensome to carry alone.
And as my eye sight diminishes writing becomes more difficult. I ask prayer for God’s will concerning my vision. And that part off my vision is that I will see the goodness and beauty in the world around me.
Thank you all.
Toni: I’ll be praying for these things! Last, can you tell us what’s next in your writing?
Bonnie: I am already into a new contemporary romance set in the wine country of California. I’ve had a great time creating the story and its characters and I have several chapters completed. The working title is Morning Glories. But, as is often the case, there is a historical romance calling to me as well. It is percolating in my mind and I will start working on it as soon as I can make time.
Toni: Thank you so much for joining me today. Readers, do you have any questions for Bonnie?
About the Author
Bonnie Leon is the author of twenty-two novels, including the recently released Return to the Misty Shore, the popular Alaskan Skies and bestselling The Journey of Eleven Moons.
Bonnie’s books are being read internationally and she hears from readers in Australia, Europe, Poland, and even Africa. She enjoys speaking for women’s groups and mentoring up and coming authors.
Bonnie and her husband, Greg, live in Southern Oregon. They have three grown children and seven grandchildren.
About the Book
After the death of her mother, Emmalin Hammond discovers she is not the heiress she’d always assumed she’d be. The revelation exposes her fiancé’s true intentions when he withdraws his marriage proposal, leaving Emmalin heartbroken and humiliated. When she discovers the father she believed to be dead is still alive and living in the Oregon Territory she decides it is time to meet the man who has been hidden from her all of her life.
Accompanied by her Uncle Jonathon, she sets out for the Oregon Territory in search of answers and hoping for a renewed relationship with her father. When tragedy strikes, she confronts the terrifying challenge of completing her quest alone. Faced with few options, she entrusts her life to a mountain man named Jacob Landon who agrees to transport her to a small settlement in Southern Oregon called Deer Creek, a place also known as the Land of One Hundred Valleys.
Emmalin is not prepared for the hardships of life in the Oregon wilderness. Each day presents a new challenge. Newfound friends, including the reserved Jacob Landon, who unexpectedly stirs her heart, come alongside to help her adapt. Yet she feels out of place. Should she brave the arduous journey back to Philadelphia for the life she once knew or remain and hope for something better in the Oregon wilderness?