Monday, November 16, 2009

Guest Blogger Annalisa Daughety

I’m thrilled to stop by the Edit Café to talk about my new release from Barbour! Love is a Battlefield, the first book in the Walk in the Park series released in October. Each book in the series will take place in a different national park. I worked for a time as a park ranger at Shiloh National Military Park, where Love is a Battlefield is set, so the book is particularly close to my heart. I never realized you could fall in love with a place, but that’s exactly what I did while working at Shiloh.

I’ve always been fascinated by history, so the chance to spend my days immersed in the past was very cool. There was only one main drawback--it gets hot in Tennessee, especially in July and August. Believe me, I gained a new appreciation for air conditioning as I stood out in the heat, dressed in head to toe wool in a replica Civil War uniform, talking to visitors about the life of a soldier. I’d top the program off by firing a musket a few times. Despite the heat, that was one of my favorite interpretive programs. So much so, that I’d often volunteer to do it.
It was while I was at Shiloh that I really began to have an appreciation for America’s National Parks. They are each such a treasure. But the idea for a book series using parks as settings didn’t hit me until years later.

In 2007, I entered a partial manuscript titled A Walk in the Park in the ACFW Genesis contest in the “chick lit” category. It was the precursor to Love is a Battlefield—a story about a park ranger at Shiloh. When I received word that I was a finalist, I was elated. I’d never attended a writing conference before and had no idea what to expect.
I’d chosen Becky Germany for my editor appointment, figuring that even though I didn’t have anything to pitch to her, I’d talk to her about a few ideas and maybe see if she could offer me any insight as far as what she might be looking for. I almost canceled the appointment. Would she be mad that I’d taken up her time if I didn’t actually have a story to pitch?

But as I sat in class the first morning of the conference, an idea began to form in my head. What if I re-worked my original idea about a park ranger? At that point, I only had a few chapters written, so it wouldn’t be tough to change. As I jotted down notes, my chick lit story about a park ranger morphed into a contemporary romance series. The characters, settings and stories were so clear to me, it was all I could do to just get it down on paper. (I’m sure whoever was teaching the class thought the blond girl in the back was a wonderful note taker!) Soon, I was in my hotel room frantically typing. Yes, I admit, I skipped the rest of the day’s classes, and the Walk in the Park series was born that day in Dallas, Texas.

The following day, I had my meeting with Becky and was a nervous wreck. I’d come to the conference not really planning to pitch a story to her at all and yet there I was with an idea for a series. She was so nice as I went through each title in the series: Love is a Battlefield, set at Shiloh Battlefield. Love is Monumental at the Washington Monument. Love is Grand at the Grand Canyon. Becky gave me her card and told me to send a full proposal! That took the sting out of not even placing in the Genesis contest.

Fast forward to the 2008 conference. By then, Becky and I had gone back and forth on the manuscript for Love is a Battlefield. It was actually a finalist in the Genesis contest—this time in Contemporary Romance. I received two wonderful surprises at the conference that year. Becky awarded me a surprise contract for the series and Love is a Battlefield took first place in its Genesis category. I think it took a couple of months for my feet to touch the ground again.
And now, two years after the initial idea, Love is a Battlefield has hit the shelves. In September, when Becky held up a “hot off the press” copy at the conference in Denver, it was all I could do not to bounce out of my seat.

I’m as excited about the series today as I was when the idea first began to take shape. It’s my hope that readers will feel like they’ve taken a little mini-vacation to a national park as they read.

Now I’m in the process of writing Love is Grand. In fact, tomorrow I’m headed west—to the Grand Canyon, to spend a few days there exploring and talking to rangers about what it’s like to work at one of the most visited places in the world. If the internet connection works (I’ve read reviews that it can be iffy) I plan to blog (www.princessofpatience.blogspot.com) from the Grand Canyon Wednesday-Saturday. If you want to follow along on my journey, I’d love to hear from you! In fact, I’ll give away three copies of Love is a Battlefield when I return—I’ll pull from the names of those who comment on my travel posts!

9 comments:

Erica Vetsch said...

I'm so happy for you! Love is a Battlefield is in my TBR pile right now!

Annalisa Daughety said...

Thanks, Erica! I hope you enjoy it!

Cecelia Dowdy said...

Wow! Sounds wonderful! I look forward to reading your stories, Annalisa!

Aaron McCarver said...

Great story, Annalisa! I am so thrilled for you and look forward to seeing how God will use your work in the future. It was great to get to talk to you at ACFW this year. Oh, and I can still see "Love Can Move Mountains" in the Great Smoky Mountains, "Love Is Golden" in Klondike Gold Rush Parks in Alaska or Washington, or "Love Takes Flight" at Kitty Hawk. Or many more.

Carrie Turansky said...

Hi Annalisa, it was great to hear the story behind your series. I received a copy at ACFW, and I am looking forward to reading it!
Congratulations to you!
Carrie

April said...

This book is a must read. I have already read it.You want be sorry to read it. It was wonderful.
tarenn98[at]yahoo[dot]com

Annalisa Daughety said...

Thanks, Cecelia!

Aaron, it was great to see you at the conference! I like these park suggestions!

Thanks, Carrie! I hope you enjoy it!

April, I'm so glad you liked it!

Lisa Faye Harman said...

I love the idea for this series! Thanks for sharing your publishing story.

Ausjenny said...

Ok I know im really behind but I have to say I LOVED this book I really want to visit the Battlefield.
On my list of places to visit was Gettysburg but Also my friend who lives in Georgia near the Tennesse boarder. Shes near a battle field also. But reading your book I want to go to Shiloh also.