This book is for sale on Amazon right now for $2.99 However this book will be offered for free on Memorial Day Weekend, (May 24-27), plus for one day at some point in the future.
When Lives are Shattered by War
Love Needs to Work Its Miracles
Just As Love Provided
Healing in the Past
Healing in the Past
Love is Still Doing it Today!
Now you can read the story behind the story. Sandra Leesmith reveals why a decades old story is so needed for today's world.
Vince: Hi, Sandra, before we start the serious questions, tell us about your RV. I’ve read that you write in a RV mobile home as you travel around the country. That will seem like the dream life to many Americans. What do you have to say about this? How does it match up to the dream? How does this kind of lifestyle affect your writing style?
Sandra: Hi Vince, traveling in an RV is a dream life for my husband and me. My husband is a biologist and loves the outdoors. I grew up in California and spent much of my childhood in the outdoors also. When we married, he was still in school so we had summers off. We spent them camping as that was all we could afford to do. We both ended up teaching with summers off and no income so we continued to camp. Over the years we evolved from a tent to a small 13-foot trailer to a van to a series of motorhomes. So spending time in an RV equates to summers, time off from work and generally lots of fun.
Traveling in our RV enables us to explore nature, visit historical sites, and meet people. In the old days before satellite television and cell phones, our only entertainment was books. We packed up books and spent all our evenings reading. Oh I do miss those days. Smile. ☺
One of my favorite authors was Janet Dailey. At the time she was writing for Harlequin. She lived in an Airstream and traveled all around the United States. She wrote a novel set in each state. When I was asked to write during the summer for a project with Arizona State University, I chose Ms. Dailey as a role model and started writing romance. I fell in love with writing. It was even more fun than reading.
To this day I still love to explore nature, visit historical sites and meet people. I find they stimulate stories and give me information for my characters and novels. Life in the RV gives me more time to write. The RV only takes twenty minutes to clean and the house takes hours. There is no yard-work while in an RV and you spend very little time shopping because there is no place to put new stuff. This equates to great writing time.
Vince: you could have written about any topic as a beginning author. Why did you pick this particular topic for “Love’s Miracles”? I would think that this subject, the harsh after-effects of war, would be a major challenge to write about – especially for a young author.
Sandra: Love’s Miracles was not my first novel. I think it was probably about the tenth one I had written. It was the third novel purchased for publication. (Some of those early novels are still collecting dust in the storage shed. LOL) So I didn’t really start with such intensity.
I was a young woman during the Vietnam War. My brother served eight years in the Air Force in Vietnam. He worked in air traffic control, but volunteered to fly rescue missions in the helicopters. I heard many stories from him.
The times were troubling. I was horrified at how our American heroes were treated with such disdain. It was simply in my heart to write the story. When I started the research, I learned even more heartbreaking stories. I saw all around me men and women who had experienced the horror of war and were hurting. It is in my nature to want to fix things. Of course I can’t, but I wanted my heroine, Dr. Margo Devaull to help them heal.
A writing room with a view
-- will travel
However, I must confess that helping vets heal was not my purpose when I wrote the book. I wanted interesting characters. I found that characters who had been in danger were more interesting because you could add depth. It turned out that my book helped a lot of vets, but it was not my intention when I wrote the book. In fact it was rather humbling when I received all the letters from vets who had been helped.
Of course I know now that it is through a relationship with God that you begin to even have a chance to heal. I think that comes across in the story without getting hit on the head. And I was blessed to have met a critique partner who worked at the VA hospital in Reno. She helped quite a bit with the depth and intensity of the story.
Vince: What did you learn from writing this book that you didn’t know before? Authors talk about character ARCs – that is, how characters change and grow during the course of the novel and how they are different people at the end of the book than they were at the start. Did you experience a personal ARC while writing this book? In other words, do you feel writing “Love’s Miracles” changed you or your outlook on life? I know this is a personal question but reading books can change people. Writing them probably can change them even more so.
Sandra: Interesting question Vince. In those days, we didn’t have all the insights that we have now. I didn’t know about character ARCs. I didn’t really know much about the writing craft because there was very little information out there at that time. The only reason my stories show character ARCs are because I read so much that I had internalized the sense of story that was needed. Plus I had a wonderful editor, Beth Lieberman.
In that sense, I grew as an author. When you work with a wonderful editor, you can’t help but grow as an author. It was subtle however. I couldn’t draw an ARC showing my learning curve.
Personally, I grew to have an empathy and understanding of the horror of war. It was surface and second-hand. But I had led a sheltered life that was full of love and caring. It was difficult to even imagine the things my brother and friends had experienced. I saw the effects that the war had on them and that concerned me. I think we all learned from that experience. We lost our air of innocence. I notice now that people from my generation go up to vets in public and thank them for serving our country. This warms my heart.
Vince: When you look back at the ‘you’ who wrote this book in 1989, how does that ‘you’ compare to the ‘you’ of today? What would you tell the ‘you’ today if you could go back in time and talk to her?
Sandra: The “me” now certainly knows more about the craft of writing. I know what character ARCs are. I know what plot points are. I know the difference between active and passive writing. I would definitely be bossing the old me and telling her how to write. Smile. ☻
But the old me had a passion that makes up for the lack of knowledge. The old me had much more idealism and a sense of purpose to right the wrongs one saw in society.
Hopefully the me of today has more wisdom, patience, and hope. I definitely have more faith in God. This gives one a sense of peace, especially when you see the horrors happening today. Social media makes it all known. I don’t think youth today has the innocence that we were blessed with.
Vince: I know commercial writing styles have changed somewhat since “Love’s Miracles” was written and yet you decided to keep it as it was originally written. Do you think the story you tell in that book is more powerful when told in the style of the time period covered in the book? Wasn’t there a temptation to edit the book given what you know now as a more experienced author?
Sandra: Another interesting question. Amber Stokes, my editor and I debated whether we wanted to change the writing style to a more active tense. In fact, I had decided to do so. But when I started, I realized that it would basically be a rewrite of the whole book. I think I would have even been tempted to change some of the character ARC. Amber and I decided to leave it as is to keep the flavor of a historical which by now it is.
Vince: With a title like, “Love’s Miracles” some readers may assume that this is a Christian fiction book. Is it and, if not, do you consider it as expressing essential human values? I know you’ve written a serious book on the nature of virtue. This is not an easy topic. Tells us about the values that are evident in “Love’s Miracles”.
Sandra: Warner actually picked the title. It went along with the marketing plan for the month it was released. There were similar titles by each of the publishing houses.
I like the title because I think the main theme, is how the miracle of love can heal and transform lives. The main premise however, is forgiveness. The characters need to forgive themselves in order to move on with their lives.
This book is not specifically a Christian book. Love and forgiveness are definitely important gifts in the Christian life. Christian values are exhibited by the characters. But most Christian fiction does not like to deal with violence and because of the nature of war, there is violence in this book.
Vince: I think the times are more right today to receive this book than they were when it first came out. I would think reading this book would be especially helpful for the loved ones of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. Vietnam was over forty years ago and yet the pain people suffer has not changed. Who do you see as the primary reader for “Love’s Miracles”? Young people today or older people who lived during those turbulent times?
Sandra: The only reason I could see for the times being more right today for Love’s Miracles is the element of time. Pain is easier to deal with at a distance. So for older people, it will be easier for them now because there has been time to separate the individual from the pain. It’s like you and I not wanting to read a story about Alzheimer’s because we have recently had to deal with it. The pain is too recent and raw. But maybe forty years from now, it can be looked at from an objective vantage. I think older people of the boomer generation will be more objective and able to read about the Vietnam War now because of the time element.
Those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan might still be too raw. Their emotions might be too tender to deal with the traumatic issues Zane deals with in Love’s Miracles. However, if any of them do read it, I would hope that they would be encouraged to know that love does truly heal and miracles do happen, especially if you trust in God.
|Sandra playing pickleball|
Sandra: You are welcome, and thank you, Vince. It is an honor to be featured on Philosophy of Romance.
About the Book
Dr. Margo Devaull came to Dominic Zanelli's mountain retreat confident that she could help this Vietnam veteran overcome the torment that kept him apart from the world. But her training as a psychologist had not prepared her for the tragic, explosive contradictions brewing inside him. For here was a sensitive artist who could be gentle – and a man whose eyes flashed with violence and pain when he told her to leave and never come back. Yet Margo did come back, slowly gain his trust, and awaken the sleeping needs of his heart. Only by reliving her own wounded past and helping Zane confront a terrible memory from the war could she set them both free – and save their last chance for love.
Teaser from Loves Miracles
The high heels of Margo’s boots echoed as she walked across the uneven planks of the porch. She knocked.
She listened for sounds within the rustic A-frame cabin.
Where was Zanelli? Vinnie had assured her that he’d told his brother they were coming. She turned and scanned the edge of the woods. An eerie silence settled around her. Odd shapes took form in the dark shadows of the redwood forest. Margo shook off the uneasiness and tamped her growing irritation. She wasn’t going to be able to interview Zane if she couldn’t find him.
Suddenly, a shrill cry cut through the stillness. Margo stiffened. The cry echoed again and chills raced down her spine. It sounded like an animal in pain. She’d never heard the sound before but sensed it with bloodcurdling certainty. It came from the rear of the cabin.
“Love’s Miracles” -- A Romance as Moving Today as the Turbulent Times it Portrays!