Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Unbreakable by Nancy Mehl

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Bethany House Publishers (February 1, 2013)


Nancy Mehl


Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband Norman and their dog, Watson. She’s authored thirteen books and is currently at work on her newest series for Bethany House Publishing.

All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “It’s a part of me and of everything I think or do. God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan especially for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”

She and her husband attend Believer’s Tabernacle in Wichita.


Mennonite Romantic Suspense Sure to Thrill Readers

Gentle and unassuming Hope Kauffman has never been one to question or try to make changes. She quietly helps her father run Kingdom Quilts and has agreed to the betrothal her father arranged for her with the devout but shy Ebbie Miller.

Despite Hope's and other Kingdom residents' attempts to maintain the status quo, changes have already begun to stir in the small Mennonite town. The handsome and charismatic Jonathon Wiese is the leader of the move to reform, and when one of Kingdom's own is threatened by a mysterious outsider, Jonathon is one of the first to push for the town to arm itself. Hope's fiance, Ebbie, is at the forefront of those demanding the town stay true to its traditions of nonviolence.

When strange incidents around town result in outright attacks on several townspeople, Hope can't help but question what she's always been taught. As the town that's always stood so strong together is torn apart at the seams, Hope is caught between opposing sides, both represented by those she has come to care for. With tensions high and lives endangered by an unknown threat, Hope fears Kingdom can never survive in one piece.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Unbreakable, go HERE.

Interview with Nancy: Nancy Mehl is a friend of mine, and I'm so glad she agreed to the interview so I can introduce her to you.

How did you get started writing, and where has that journey taken you that you may not have expected starting out?

Well, I never expected to write Mennonite-themed novels. I started out writing mystery. A certain publisher, looking at a cozy mystery proposal that started out with an Amish background, asked me to make some changes that would turn my mystery into romantic suspense. I made the changes, and now I’m starting work on my seventh Mennonite novel. Some people might wonder if I’d rather be writing mystery. Mystery is still my first literary love, but I’ve had two publishers that have encouraged me to include my mystery side in my writing. So I have the best of both worlds. Mystery and suspense. I love what I’m writing now.

How do you balance family life with writing?

Actually, it’s just my husband and me now. Our son, his wife, and our new grandson are living in Missouri. I have plenty of time to get my work done and still spend time with my husband. When we move to Missouri, that will change. I’ll have to make some adjustments, but I’m happy to do it. I miss my children and my grandson so much, I’m willing to do whatever I have to do to make it work.  

How does your walk with the Lord affect your writing? And how do you balance time with the Lord with your writing schedule?

I put every book in His hands before I start writing. I ask Him to say what He wants to say through it. He’s so good to help me, even giving me plot ideas. Just wish He wouldn’t wait until I get in bed at night to pop great concepts into my head! LOL!

I try to get up early and spend time with God before my day starts. This way I can protect those precious moments from any surprises that might pop up. Besides, I think putting Him first pleases Him.

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?

Oh, my. That’s a big question.

I usually start out with just a synopsis. I’m the kind of writer who has to start a story before I’m ready to do much plotting. I need to know my characters and my surroundings before my entire plot becomes clear. I try to do a character outline at the beginning so I don’t lose track of my characters. This saves me from getting a note from my editor asking why someone’s eyes changed from blue to green in the middle of my story! LOL! About one quarter into the story, I can begin plotting. I might write down some ideas – or put different scenes I know must take place on 3 X 5 cards. I put these cards in a certain order, but many times, that order will change as I near the end of my novel.

Two important points: I don’t do substantial edits until after the story is done. I do quickly edit a chapter after I write it, but then I go on. Too many writers get stuck editing and never get to the end. If you hold on to most of your edits until you’re done, you’ll not only finish your novel, you’ll get to see your work with fresh eyes when you start back through it. That helps a lot.

When I’m finished, I send my completed manuscript to my editor.

And then…a whole new round of edits begins!

What kinds of things do you have to revise once the editor at a publishing house gets done with your manuscript?

They’ll point out mistakes in details, question certain choices in an effort for consistency, and evaluate the level of suspense. I’m blessed to have incredible editors who give me great input.

Would you tell us a little about your future projects?

In September, the third and last book in my Road to Kingdom series, UNFORESEEABLE, will be released. Bringing a serial killer into Kingdom was quite a challenge. I think my readers will like the results And it ends with a major twist. I took this story in a direction I haven’t done in any of my other Mennonite-themed books.

In 2014 a brand new series begins. Tentatively titled the Sanctuary Series, it will feature two stories told through the eyes of non-Mennonite characters. Also, two of my favorite characters from the Kingdom series will make an appearance! I’m excited to merge these two series. I think my readers will be happy to see these characters again so I can complete their “star-crossed” story.  

Finally, would you discuss Unbreakable? The research, the idea, and the scope of the project?

Unbreakable was a novel I had to write. After four previous Mennonite-themed books, I felt it was time to address the elephant in the room. How could I write about the Mennonite way of life and not talk about their commitment to nonviolence or passive resistance? Not being Mennonite, I’ve leaned heavily on a wonderful lady from Goessel, Kansas, to keep me on track. Judy Unruh is a church historian and has been with me from the beginning, providing answers to all my questions. But when I told her what I was contemplating, she was less than confident in my ability to portray the importance and passion behind this core Mennonite belief. I’m happy to say that when she read the manuscript, she told me I’d pulled it off. High praise indeed.

I presented two points of view in Unbreakable. Jonathon Wiese is convinced that protecting the people he loves means he must be willing to do whatever is necessary. Ebbie Miller decries violence of any kind and chooses not to pick up a weapon under any circumstances. Both men love Hope Kauffman. She isn’t sure which one is right, but when her life is at stake, the choices they make, though thoroughly different, are each made out of devotion.

I never pick a side in Unbreakable. I leave that to my readers. In the end, I hope everyone takes away a deeper understanding of both sides. Something we desperately need in our current political and religious environment.

Thank you so much, Nancy! We appreciate your time and the opportunity to spotlight your work.

Thank you, Marjorie. I’m thrilled to be with you. Now may I take a moment to sing your praises? You’re a dynamite editor, and I highly recommend you to anyone out there who needs an editor they can trust. You’re a joy to work with and a blessing to know. 

Aww, thanks, Nancy! 

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