Tuesday, March 20, 2018

#Giveaway Twenty-One Steps of Courage by Sarah Bates **Review & Interview**

Twenty-One Steps of Courage


In 2006, with wars in the Middle East raging, Rod Strong enlists in the Army to seek the goal his father did not achieve when he tragically died in the Gulf War. His objective: The Old Guard regiment, the elite Soldiers who stand as Sentinels at the Tomb of the Unknown in Arlington Cemetery. He overcomes the setbacks that litter his path until an unexpected firefight in Afghanistan changes his life forever.

Review:
I'm pro-military and support our troops 100% so I was excited when I came across the opportunity to read this book. There are some topics that come across our sphere that just humble us, The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier is one of those topics (and places) that humbles me. The author, Sarah Bates, uses her skilled talent of storytelling and articulation to compose this adventurous narration that is completely compelling and pretty darn authentic. The story is smooth, fast-paced, enticing, and brave. I loved the research that Bates clearly used in writing this story. I look forward to reading more from Bates in the future.



Author Interview:


Where do you get your ideas?
I wish I knew, because I’d go to that well often! It would be so easy. Sometimes they come to me when I read a news item, or hear a fragment of conversation by a stranger, or in the case of Twenty-One Steps of Courage, I listened to a Fourth Grade teacher tell her students about the Sentinel Guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns. She had repeated some odd information about the guards never being able to swear or drink alcohol for the rest of their lives. Almost immediately I suspected that wasn’t the case, and thought, “I wonder what would happen if…?” That evening I scribbled the loose plot in a notebook I carry.
What is your writing process like?
First I write a general outline–I always know the ending of a story. Then I write and research, write and research–rinse and repeat while the plot changes to accommodate the details of the story. I write five days a week, usually starting at about 10 AM and I write until my cat needs feeding at 5 PM.  I only write on the weekends if I am closing in on a chapter or I’m bored with my other pursuits.
What advice do you have for writers?
Don’t skimp on research. Don’t copy someone else’s plot. Make sure what you write has a genre with a fan base. Avoid clich├ęs unless they come out of the mouth of a character. Avoid “-ly” words. Use active verbs and present tense. Self-edit first draft, then self-edit second draft, then when you are certain you are finished, hire a professional editor to go through your manuscript and don’t argue when changes are suggested. The editor’s job is to make sure your story is saleable.
What is the first book that made you cry?
I don’t think that’s ever happened. Sorry.
Do you find it easier to write character and dialogue for the opposite sex because you are the opposite sex? (A woman writing a man’s part and dialogue for example).
I don’t have any problems with this, largely because of two things: First, for many years I wrote advertising copy that is by nature lean and by extension masculine. Second, to write a man’s voice well, I had to listen/read male dialogue. Writing a woman’s voice is easy for me. I just write words I would say, and then cut the dialogue by about half.
What is your writing Kryptonite?

Coffee, water, music that suits the story I’m writing.

 Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
Yes. War & Peace. I tried to read it, and I know it’s a literary icon, but my brain refused to let my eyes see the page any longer.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing, if at all?
The first book, sixteen short stories coauthored with a colleague, proved that my writing voice was legit. After praise for that book, I moved into long fiction knowing that I could do it.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I am the queen of research, but as I said in the response to “writing process”, for me it’s organic. I research, as I need information. For example, again for Twenty-One Steps of Courage, when I couldn’t “hear” the voices of Soldiers I went to the National Training Center in the Mohave Desert and lived with Soldiers undergoing cultural training before they deployed to Iraq. I then visited The Old Guard at their post in Arlington, and spent time at Walter Reed Medical Center talking to doctors, physical therapists and some of the grievously injured men and women recuperating there. For The Lost Diaries of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, I spent a week in Johnstown, New York where she lived as a girl. A tour guide traipsed me all over the town, into her church, the courthouse where her father tried cases, her school in Troy, New York. I stood on the porch of the home she rented with Susan B. Anthony that was their getaway for speech writing.



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