Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Falcon and the Sparrow by MaryLu Tyndall

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Falcon And The Sparrow

(Barbour Publishing, Inc - August 1, 2008)


M. L. Tyndall

M. L. (MARYLU) TYNDALL grew up on the beaches of South Florida loving the sea and the warm tropics. But despite the beauty around her, she always felt an ache in her soul—a longing for something more.

After college, she married and moved to California where she had two children and settled into a job at a local computer company. Although she had done everything the world expected, she was still miserable. She hated her job and her marriage was falling apart.

Still searching for purpose, adventure, and true love, she spent her late twenties and early thirties doing all the things the world told her would make her happy, and after years, her children suffered, her second marriage suffered, and she was still miserable.

One day, she picked up her old Bible, dusted it off, and began to read. Somewhere in the middle, God opened her hardened heart to see that He was real, that He still loved her, and that He had a purpose for her life, if she'd only give her heart to Him completely.

Her current releases in the Legacy of The Kings Pirates series include: The Restitution, The Reliance, and The Redemption.

When Mademoiselle Dominique Dawson sets foot on the soil of her beloved homeland, England, she feels neither the happiness nor the excitement she expected upon her return to the place of her birth. Alone for the first time in her life, without family, without friends, without protection, she now faces a far more frightening prospect, for she has come to the country she loves as an enemy—a spy for Napoleon.

Forced to betray England or never see her only brother alive again, Dominique has accepted a position as governess to the son of Admiral Chase Randal, a harsh man, still bitter over the loss of his wife. Will Dominique find the strength she needs through God to follow through with the plan to rescue her brother? Will Chase find comfort for his bitter heart in God's arms and be able to love again?

And what new deceptions will they both find in France when they arrive to carry out their plan?

If you would like to read an excerpt of The Falcon And The Sparrow, go HERE

Interview with MaryLu

MaryLu holds a special place in my heart, not only for the books she's written, but also for the dynamic writer she is. She truly has a heart for the Lord and it shows in her writing. Three years ago, when I was first going full-time with my editing service, I was a reader for Greg Johnson, WordServe Literary. One of the first manuscripts he sent me to read and review was The Redemption by M. L. Tyndall. As I read through her proposal, I wondered how on earth she was going to pull off a book about a Christian pirate. It seemed such an oxymoron. But very soon I was captivated, couldn't put the book down. Greg took her on, soon had a contract for her three books, and The Redemption was a 2007 Christy finalist in the historical category. When I finally met her in person at ICRS a couple years later, it was like meeting a good friend I hadn't seen for a while. God used this experience to confirm to me that going full-time into editing, reviewing, judging, and the many other things I've done as part of my job was exactly what He'd planned for me.

So with that introduction, I asked MaryLu some questions to help us get to know her and her work better.

How did you get started writing, and where has that journey taken you that you may not have expected starting out?
I’ve always written. As a young girl, I wrote stories, poems, and novels for entertainment. I excelled in my English classes but never considered writing as a career. Everyone told me I needed something more “substantial” to pay the bills! In my twenties I wrote a couple novels in my spare time and then again in my early 40s I picked up the pen again (or the computer keyboard) and decided to write an adventurous tale about Christian Pirates—a story that I’d had mulling about in my mind for some time and just had to get out! Still I had no hope of every seeing anything published. I was well aware of the slim chances of that in today’s competitive marketplace. But God had other plans! Miraculously, He opened door after door for my first published book, The Redemption. Since then I’ve had three more books published and six more under contract, so you definitely could say this journey has taken me by surprise.

How do you balance family life with writing?
Being a housewife, wife, and mother (cook, chauffeur, laundress, counselor, nurse, and all the other things we women do!) and managing a full time writing career has been challenging at best. But it’s always been important to me to keep my priorities in line. God first, family next, and then career. Each morning I set a word count goal for the day, or perhaps a goal to finish something for marketing, or work on my blog, or website or newsletter. I make it reasonable depending on what else I have on schedule for that day. And then I stick to it, even if it means I’m up late at night to finish. If I’m under a tight deadline, I’ll put off some of the things that don’t matter such as housework and cooking (ordering pizza is always a welcome event in my home!) and I will only answer my phone or the door to my office for family emergencies. All in all, if you place God first in everything, He will give you the time to complete the tasks He asks of you.

How does your walk with the Lord affect your writing? And how do you balance time with the Lord with your writing schedule?
Without the Lord, I wouldn’t have a writing career, nor would I have anything to write about, so my time alone with Him is the most important part of my day. That happens first thing in the morning before I get inundated with emails and other tasks pulling me in a million directions. If I didn’t spend time in the Bible and talking with Jesus, I doubt I could handle all the difficulties that come with being an author. My writing is a ministry through which I hope and pray that the words and stories God gives me can reach those people out there who need them the most, and hopefully draw them into the Savior’s loving arms.

Since my blog is geared to writers who want to improve their self-editing, could you briefly take us through your process of writing a novel—from conception to revision?
Idea: Unlike many writers, I don’t have an abundance of story ideas floating around in my head. When my publisher asks me for a new proposal, I immediately bend my knee and ask God what spiritual topics He wants me to address. So, I guess you could say that I usually start with a spiritual truth or theme that I want to get across. Once I have that, I choose a time period and location that excites me, then move to defining the main characters and plot. Depending on how much research I must do, I spend a couple weeks refining the idea and writing up a proposal.

Development: Once my publisher accepts the proposal, we sign a contract in which I am given a deadline to complete the novel. Though I consider myself more of a seat-of-the-pants writer, I do draw up a simple outline of the beginning of the novel, the 3 major crises the hero or heroine encounter, and the ending. As I’m working on this outline, ideas will come to me and I’ll jot them down on the appropriate place on the outline. I spend a great deal of time on character development. I keep a chart of each character that describes their role, physical attributes, goals, fears, weaknesses, strengths, ticks or quirks, and their spiritual journey. I decide how they will change both spiritually and in character throughout the story, and I list events that happen to aid them in that change. At this point, I also spend time doing research on the time period and place I’ve chosen. Sometimes this part of the writing process can take a couple of months, but it is extremely important.

Writing: I start at chapter 1 and dig in. On a good day, I can get 2000-4000 words written. I try and follow my outline as much as possible but sometimes the characters take off in a direction I wouldn’t have foreseen. For me, the first 30K words are the hardest part of any novel. I really struggle with these first chapters because I don’t know the characters as intimately as I’d like to at first. But once the characters begin to speak to me, the words fly onto the page. Each chapter gets sent to my critique group for analysis.

Self-revision: When I’m done with the novel, I print the whole thing off and then take a week off and do something else. When I come back to it, I read it word for word out loud and run each scene through a checklist I have for things I need to watch out for. Things such as character motivation, emotion, narrative, tension, dialogue beats, chapter endings, wording, character change. I make any changes I deem necessary and then turn it in to a freelance editor (Susan Lohrer) that I hire to polish it up. After that, it goes to my publisher.

Publisher: I’ll see the novel several more times after this because my publisher hires another editor to go over the novel with a fine-tooth comb and I’ll work with her back and forth to correct anything else. Then, I’ll see the galleys later on in the process and that will be my final chance to change any minor thing I see.

What kinds of things do you have to revise once the editor at a publishing house gets done with your manuscript?
Of course that depends on the novel, but in the four books I’ve had published, I’ve revised nearly everything you can think of! Making characters stronger or sometimes softening them a bit, bringing secondary characters more on stage, deleting scenes, adding new ones, clarifying confusing sections, deleting words or gestures not appropriate to my publisher’s standards :), changing words not appropriate for the time period, and of course the usual grammar and punctuation errors.

Would you tell us a little about your future projects?
I’m very excited about the series I’m working on now called, Charles Towne Belles. The three books are set in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1718 and revolve around three sisters, daughters of a British Admiral stationed there. Each sister represents a seed found in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. In The Red Siren, the first book, the heroine becomes a secret pirate in order to procure enough money to protect her sisters from unwanted marriages, but her plans are thwarted when she falls in love with a Navy Captain hot on her trail.

Finally, would you discuss The Falcon and the Sparrow? The research, the idea, and the scope of the project?
The Falcon and the Sparrow takes place in London of 1803 during a time of great upheaval in Europe due to Napoleon’s rise to power. The story revolves around a young orphaned lady, Dominique, who is being forced to spy on her homeland Britain or her only brother will be executed by Napoleon. She is sent to the home of a British Admiral to procure secret naval documents for the French, but once there, she finds herself torn between her growing love for the admiral and his son and saving her only brother. What’s special about this story for me is that the heroine, Dominique, is not like most heroines you find in Romances. Dominique is shy, insecure, and nervous. She battles constant doubts about God, her faith, and whether she is pursing the right course. Yet, I wanted to show through her story that though we may feel unsure and frightened, God does not abandon us and He will give us the strength we need when we need it.

I had to do quite a bit of research for this book because I had very limited knowledge of this time period and place. I spent a month going through every book I could find on Regency London. I read online articles, subscribed to British magazines, and enlisted the aid of a Regency expert.

Thank you so much, MaryLu! We appreciate your time and the opportunity to spotlight your work.
Thank you Margie! It’s been my pleasure.

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