Thursday, November 1, 2007

A Special Interview, A Special Series, and an Extra Special Giveaway!

I recently began reading The Homeland Heroes series a few weeks ago, and I was captivated not only by the story, but by the powerful redemptive message portayed in the series.

Not one to stay silent, I fired off an email to the series' author, Donna Fleisher, and made a wonderful and dear new friend! We sat down to email an interview together, and it sparked a HUGE red, white and blue giveaway in honor of Veteran's Day and all who have served our country.

So, without further ado, I present Donna Fleisher, an amazing Veteran and author!

1) What was it that sparked your story of Chris and Erin?

The initial spark came from a newspaper photo of U.S. Army nurses caring for an injured Iraqi POW during Operation Desert Storm. One nurse in that photo captured me. I saved the photo, not really knowing why (this was before I ever even imagined I wanted to write novels). Five years later, when Chris and Erin and the story they wanted to share with me showed up on my doorstep in a giant box with a bright red bow on it, I pulled that photo back out and knew immediately that the nurse who had so completely captured me was U.S. Army Lieutenant Erin Grayson Mathis.

(By the way, you can see that photo on my blog: It's in the photo galleries, and Erin's the one on the left.)

2) Did you ever have an Erin in your life? Or a Chris?

Well ... no. Not really. I have a core group of about ten best friends, but we're all busy with our lives. We're great friends, but we don't keep in touch like we want to. Truth is, I've been single all my life, and without sounding pitiful, I'll just say that I've always wanted an Erin in my life -- a true best friend. Being able to witness the intensity, beauty, and purity of Chris and Erin's friendship has been an honor. I appreciate them allowing me to share it with others. It's the type of friendship that challenges us all: true and pure love lived selflessly, just as Christ Jesus loves us. I've loved a few friends like that on occasion, but never long enough. I'm more of a recluse. I'm not very sociable, so I really have to work at being available to others.

3) Many in your family have served in the military. Were the Desert Storm scenes in Wounded Healer autobiographical, and if not, who told you their stories?

Yep, my dad, brother, and I were all in the Air Force. I was released from active duty in July 1990, just before Saddam started his hijinks in Kuwait. I watched the build-up of Desert Shield give way to Desert Storm on the TVs in the student union of the University of Oregon. In 1997, when it came time to write the war scenes for the original version of Wounded Healer (which I called Tender Heart of a Warrior), I did a little bit of research, but, and I'm embarrassed to say this, I basically made up what I didn't know. On the story's complete overhaul in 2003, with the Internet readily available, I researched and rewrote all those scenes to make them more realistic and authentic. I found an amazing book describing almost every move the 101st Airborne Division made during Desert Storm. Now I'm confident the details are accurate. At least I don't have Marines out in western Iraq anymore. (The Marines were all fighting in Kuwait.)

4) Some of what Chris deals with comes from serving in wartime, but some of it comes from life in general. Tell my readers about the power of God to heal all wounds in a person's life.

Ahh ... our God is all about truth, justice, and holiness, but He's also about mercy, love, peace, healing, and rest. All the things this world is not. Our God is true, and giving ourselves to Him is the most natural thing we can do. Our beings crave Him, for we were made by Him for Him. When we trust our lives to Him and allow Him to do and be in us all that He desires, the love and peace and rest He offers heals us -- heals every part of us, every wound, every hurt, every concern. As He works in us, He also works through us to touch others. He uses us to heal others. Nothing is too difficult for Him. Through His Son, Christ Jesus our Lord, we are healed. Nothing compares with the rest He offers. All we have to do is say yes to Him when He says, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavily burdened. I will give you rest." YES!! : )

5) Something that always strikes home to me is the incredible sacrifice on the part of the families of those who serve. In a way, Erin was still on a battlefront, even here at home, when she ran to help her friend. What creates that kind of friendship?

Awesome question. All I know is that it's something deep inside, something real, compelling, almost tormenting. It is the purest and sweetest kind of love, and I believe it comes straight from the heart of our Lord Jesus. I know it did for Erin. True love like that has nothing to do with physical desire. There was nothing selfish in Erin's concern. She cared about Chris, about her soul. In the quiet hours before the war, when Chris opened her heart just enough for Erin to peek inside, that was all it took. I've seen peeks of my friends' hearts, and these peeks are what compel me to stay open and avaliable to them, no matter what. One such friend is the one that Wounded Healer is dedicated to. Audra helped me understand why Erin needed to do what she did for Chris. Being able to write about such a close friendship has helped me more fully understand the type of relationship my Lord wants to have with me, and I with Him. It has been an amazing and humbling journey.

6) What's the one message you want your readers to come away from this series cemented in their hearts?

I would love for my readers to come away thinking about their own friends, those whom the Lord has placed in their paths to love. He longs to love them through us -- it may be the only way He can reach some of them. As we love them, if we truly love Him, His love will flow through us. It takes courage and faith, but it's always worth it. And it's always worth it for Him, cuz He loves us all so much and doesn't want anyone to live without Him.

7) The loneliness of Chris' story in Wounded Healer resonated with me. And I know that serving in the military can create a loneliness due to being away from family for extended periods. What can we do to help our men and women in uniform combat that loneliness?

One of the best things about being in the military is that sense of belonging, that all are brothers and sisters working together for the common good. But even with that sense of "family," nothing compares to the servicemember's real family left behind at home. That is where the loneliness threatens to destroy.

To help, we must first start by sincerely wanting to help, by keeping the needs of our military in our thoughts, our hearts, and our prayers. We must not allow the busyness of our lives to cause us to forget what they are enduring willingly to keep our world safe and free. We must care deeply about each servicemember and his or her family. On the news, in our towns, when we hear about individual servicemembers, we need to pray specifically for them and the situations they are enduring. We must care for their families during their deployments and separation. And we must do all we can to meet their needs when they return home, to love and treat the broken, the wounded, and the hurting.

On my website I've compiled a list of great places to start. Check out this page for more info: Especially with the holidays approaching, please consider sending care packages, books, non-perishable food items, or other fun stuff though one or more of the established programs. It's so easy, and our thoughtfulness will go a long, long way.

In honor of Veteran's Day, in honor of those whom the Homeland Heroes Series is written about and dedicated to, let's give away some books! From now until November 11th, leave a comment here for Deena and let her know what books you would like to win. Do you already have Wounded Healer and Warrior's Heart? Then ask for Valiant Hope and Standing Strong to complete your set. Don't have any? Request the entire series if you think it sounds like something you'd love to read. Do you know a servicemember or veteran who may be interested? Request a book or books for them. You have until November 12th, 2007, when Deena will randomly draw five winners from her list of names. If your name is drawn, whatever you asked for, that you will win!

Thanks for being such awesome readers!!
With love to you all, His love,

And I "ditto" that thanks to all of MY sure to leave a comment (and a tribute to a man or woman in the military if you'd like) to enter to win...I'm drawing the winners on Veteran's Day (November 12th)

Happy Reading!



Barbara H. said...

I enjoyed this interview. I read the first book in the series but not the sequel, so I'd be interested in Warrior's Heart and the following two.

Barbara H. @ Stray Thoughts

Kristina said...

This interview was fantastic!! Thanks for sharing!

Laura said...

Thanks for the interview. I haven't yet read any of the books in this series, but they definitely sound like ones that I should put at the top of the reading list.

Brittanie said...

I have the first one but please enter me to win the rest. :)

Ausjenny said...

Thanks Denna and Donna for a great interview.
I have read the first 3 and book 4 is on its way.
I love this series and I have learnt alot from them.
(im not entering but had to reply)

Jenny said...

How cool is that Deena! The series sounds great. I would love to read it but would need all of the titles as I hadn't heard of it before. So if it is possible to request the whole series then please count me in :)


ForstRose said...

Hey Deena it's me again. Sound like fun books. Go ahead and enter me for the series as I haven't read any of them yet. I know what Donna means about working on being there for friends. I'm extremely introverted and most of my friends are very extroverted so they love being around lots of people where I prefer one on one or just a couple of them around at once so I can have a "real" conversation. said...

We'd love to have this book.. Chris lost his cousin in the airforce last year and we are still not over the shock. (he was 27) Since we have both spent alot of time watching anything military related on the history channel. We would both enjoy reading it but I think Chris especially would love this one.

windycindy said...

Hi, My father-in-law is a retired Air Force Lt.Colonel who served in Vietnam. I think my mother-in-law and him would enjoy this special giveaway! Thanks, Cindi

lace said...

I haven't read any of these books so the entire series would be wonderful.

I don't have any close family members who are still in the military but I have some friends whose family members are.

ChristyJan said...

What a great interview.

I haven't read any of these books so any of the titles or even the entire series would be wonderful.

Karen said...

Great interview! Please count me in. Thanks!

kpuleski at gmail dot com

JB Mall Enterprises said...

great interview, i must say i haven't heard of this series, but that's what so great about your site - you put things out there! please count me in.


NeedANap2 said...

Please count me in! :)

needanap2 [at] gmail [.] com

robynl said...

I haven't read any of them either so if I'm not sounding too greedy put me in for all of them or just one would be lovely. Thanks.
My father-in-law served in the Army.