My next big thing (which is the same as my current big thing)

Thanks to Alison McLennan for this gentle shove out of my comfort zone and straight into the blog hop “My Next Big Thing.” You are doing God’s work, friend.

What is the working title of your book or project?

A Measure of Faith. Though I recently started toying with Generations of Grace.

Where did the idea come from for your book or project?

Almost 15 years ago, my mom and I put together a scrapbook for my grandfather’s 75th birthday, and through that project I learned things about him I never knew. Like he was a gymnast in college. And he had some amazing war stories. I started talking to him about his life after that and I put his life story together in a “book” of sorts. Two years ago, I decided to take those stories, and some of my own, and weave them into a novel.

What genre does it fall under, if any?

I’m going to say inspirational fiction, which seems really vague.

If applicable, whom would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

I like Amy Davidson for the granddaughter, Penny.

amydavidson

Her boyfriend, Jake, would be a little like  Michael Angarano.

michael angarano

For Frank, the grandfather, Robert Duvall comes close.

robert duvall

His wife, Mary, would be Gena Rowlands.

gena rowlands

What is a one-sentence synopsis of your manuscript or project?

Ditto on the hating this part, but I know I need to do it. One sentence? That’s tough.

A college student on the verge of dropping out of school and breaking off a confusing relationship with her boyfriend discovers some surprising details about her family and learns that her grandfather’s past offers hope for her future.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m not interested in self-publishing at this time, so when I finish, I’m going to aim for traditional publication through an agent.

How long did it take you to finish the first draft of your manuscript?

I’ve been working on it, off and on, for a year and a half, and my goal is to finish it in the first half of this year.

What other books or stories would you compare this story to within the genre?

I haven’t read it, (I should, though) but the description of Tricia Goyer’s Remembering You would be similar. Truth be told, I need to read more WWII fiction so I know what’s out there.

Who or what inspired you to write this book or story?

See my previous answer about my grandfather’s life. Also have to give credit to my husband who is always telling people I’m writing a novel. Sometimes I want to “shush” him, but if he’s telling people I’m doing it, I better do it!

What else about this story might pique the reader’s interest?

Some scenes will take place during World War II on the island of Okinawa.

And to follow in my fellow writer/blog hop sisters’ footsteps, I will give you an excerpt, even though it feels a little bit like standing naked on my front porch. Please be kind. This is from what I’m calling the prologue to the book.

May 1945

Frank Jones uttered a mild curse as his truck bounced across a sorry excuse for a road.

“Sorry, Mom,” he said to the emptiness of the truck. Cursing wasn’t part of Frank’s usual vocabulary, but there was nothing usual about this time of his life. Sometimes he imagined the roads he traveled were winding, country roads and he was cruising in his car with his best girl by his side instead of hauling bombs in the back of an Army truck on an island in the South Pacific.

Another bump reminded him this was no joy ride.

Only a few more miles to Kedena, Frank reminded himself, scouting the trees for familiar landmarks in the pale swaths of light from the truck’s headlights. He’d made this run from the motor pool area to the air strip dozens of times, and even in the dark, he could find his way without too much trouble.

The truck climbed a slow hill and the air strip came into sight in the valley below. Frank breathed a sigh of relief at the thought of another mission almost completed. One more mission closer to home, he thought.

He smiled as he pushed the truck onward toward the air field.

The blare of the air raid siren interrupted his thoughts of home, and Frank immediately killed the truck’s lights, as he’d been trained to do. At almost the same time, the air field disappeared.

Frank swore again, not bothering to apologize to his mother this time.

Black darkness swarmed the truck like flies on roadkill. Frank pressed on. There was no way he was going to be caught in the jungles of Okinawa with a bomb in his truck during an air raid. He intended to deliver the bomb as he’d been instructed. His memory served him well as he inched along the road to the air field.

An MP blocked his path at the entrance.

“Are you deaf, boy? We’re in the middle of an air raid. Get that truck out of here!” the MP shouted at Frank.

“Where am I supposed to take it?” Frank shouted back.

The MP suggested something obscene to which Frank saluted and backed the truck up. His options were limited, especially in the dark. He followed the road around the air strip hoping he wouldn’t end up in the water.

Around the north side of the air strip, Frank was stopped by another MP, who told him to turn around and head back the way he came. The drone of the air raid sirens added to Frank’s growing frustration. He’d never hear a plane coming and if a bomb dropped within (how many feet?) of him, he’d be dead before he knew what hit him. He turned the truck around in wide spot in the road and prayed he’d make it back to the gate in one piece.

“I thought I told you to leave solider!” the MP yelled as Frank approached the gate.

“You did,” Frank said. “And now I’m back. And I’m not leaving until you find someone to unload this bomb.”

“You’re out of line soldier,” the MP warned.

“I know,” Frank said. “But I don’t have any plans to die today, so you either find someone to unload this bomb and I’ll get off your air field or I’m going to drive this truck right onto the air field, park it and run like hell until the sirens go off. Your choice.”

He couldn’t explain where the courage came from, but Frank didn’t move a muscle while the MP considered whether he was bluffing. After a few seconds that seemed like hours, the MP opened the gate and radioed a crew to come unload the bomb.

Frank was a follow the rules kind of guy, but in war, rules were made to be broken.

They unloaded the bomb and sent Frank on his way with directions that would lead him back to the motor pool area even without lights. As Frank pulled out of the air field and back onto the road, the sirens stopped. He flipped on the truck lights and pushed the truck as fast as it could go through the jungle back to the motor pool.

He wasn’t prepared for what he found when he arrived.

Though the air raid presumably had been aimed at the airfield, bombs had fallen on the motor pool area. The same place Frank and his bombs could have been if he hadn’t stood his ground at the air field.

By the grace of God, he had missed an appointment with death.

Frank opened the truck’s door and fell to his knees in gratitude.

If war was good for anything, it was to deepen a man’s faith in God.

February 2007

Frank woke from a dream about that night with the sound of air raid sirens ringing in his ears and the smell of charred everything tickling his nose.

Except the sound was coming from just outside the bedroom door, and the smell was real.

As the ear-piercing beep of the smoke alarm jarred him awake, Frank thought: Did I forget to change the battery?

Then he smelled it: smoke, rising to the second-floor bedroom he shared with his wife, Mary, for five decades. Mary was awake now, too, confusion written on her face. Frank scrambled out of bed faster than his 82-year-old body intended, creaking and groaning with every movement. He grabbed Mary’s robe, draping it over her shoulders as he led her down the stairs. Smoke filled their nostrils as they reached the foot of the stairs. The front door was only 15 feet away. He knew they had to move fast, but his body wouldn’t cooperate. His eyes watered and phlegm built in the back of his throat.

In second that felt like an eternity, they were outside the house, the frigid February air shocking him like an ice cube down the back of his shirt on a hot summer day. Mary, regaining her wits, frantically ran to the neighbor’s house to call 911. Frank turned back toward the house. How bad could it be? he thought.

The last thing he heard before stepping back inside his burning home was his wife calling his name from the sidewalk.

Now  it’s my turn to tag some people.

Abby Frye, Real Life Wonder Woman

Carol Cool, I’m No Superstar

Lisa DeLay, blog

Are you game, ladies?