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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Book One in the International Mission Force series



About Book

Nicole Wise loves her new life in Prague almost as much as she loves telling people about Jesus. But when an election upset changes the balance of power in the formerly communist country, Nicole’s outspoken attempts at evangelism lead to her parents’ arrest on espionage charges.

Teaming up with Jakub, a handsome, young Romani Czech, who has grown up homeless, Nicole and her little brother, Adam, evade corrupt authorities by hiding out in underground tunnels of the ancient city while hoping to find evidence of their parents’ innocence. Their last resort is to make the proof public in a desperate bid to save them before it’s too late.

When Nicole and Adam’s parents are caught in a standoff between political forces that threaten to erupt into a bloody civil war, Nicole finds herself standing alone against an army, faith her only defense.


About Author
FELICIA BOWEN BRIDGES’ adventure began as an Army brat, living in eight states and two foreign countries by the age of fifteen. Felicia’s nomadic childhood inspired novels which reflect God’s power in the lives of His children and inspire others to follow Christ with child-like abandon. CzechMate is the first in The International Mission Force series which chronicles the epic adventures of teens serving in exotic places. Both CzechMate and the second book in the series, Where Heaven Meets Earth (re-titled BoliviaKnight), have won awards at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. CzechMate is available for order now! She also writes non-fiction short stories based on her personal experience and centered on God’s grace. Felicia’s short stories have been included in Then Along Came an Angel, Messengers of Deliverance and God’s Provision in Tough Times. 

Interview


Welcome to my blog Felicia.  Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about yourself and your latest book.


Q:
Tell us about your latest worktitle, genre, etc. — and why you wrote it?
A:
My debut novel, CzechMate, is the first in the International Mission Force series. It’s a young adult action/adventure about a young missionary in Prague who must prove her parents are innocent of espionage before it’s too late. My hope for the International Mission Force series is to provide an exciting read that introduces readers to another culture and inspires future missionaries.
Q:
What draws you to your genre(s)? Why is this type of story compelling to you?
A:
Originally, I was inspired to write this story after my daughter and I returned from a mission trip. She wanted to read about missionaries, but the only books we could find were biographies from a century before. I thought, what could be more exciting as a teenager than living abroad? What if there were stories about such teenage missionaries that also incorporated geography, history, politics and folklore? Personally, I love a story that keeps you turning pages into the wee hours of the morning because you just can’t put it down.
Q:
What is your writing process like? Do you map the whole thing out or do you just let it unfold?
A:
With CzechMate, it was entirely organic. The story unfolded slowly over several years in fits and starts and then was redesigned, sanded and polished for several more years as I learned more about the craft. With the second book in the series, BoliviaKnight, which will be released in December 2016, a looming deadline added a sense of urgency. A basic plot outline was essential in order to meet the deadline while planning two weddings for my daughters in less than six months and working full-time! Although the creative process still resulted in the original plot evolving, the basic outline really helped me meet my deadline.
Q:
What kind of research was involved?
A:
In writing CzechMate, I spent immeasurable hours in research online to learn about Czech history and folklore. I even had the opportunity to return to Prague and visit the Prague Underground in order to gather more information, as well as visiting the site for the standoff at the climax of the book, Prague City Hall.
Q:
How much of YOU makes it into your characters?
A:
My heroine is more who I wish I were than who I am. Although she incorporates some of my weaknesses, such as being at times overzealous or rushing into things, her courage, faith and strength are characteristics I admire.
Q:
How do you balance the need to have time to write with the needs of family, society, etc.?
A:
This has been especially challenging since I signed my first contract last October. The way that I find balance is to order my priorities in a way that honors God and trust Him to provide the time needed for everything else. In practical terms, that means my day starts with spending time in the Bible and in prayer. I work a full-time job as an HR Manager with the Division of Public Health which often requires additional hours or bringing work home. My evenings include preparing dinner for my family (two sons remain at home and, as I mentioned, my two daughters are recently married). Most of my writing is done after the rest of the family heads to bed, making my night-owl tendencies a huge blessing. Numerous times in the run up to my deadline for BoliviaKnight, when I thought it was hopeless, God provided circumstances that gave me extra time to write because of a holiday, illness or snow days.
Q:
Have there been any authors in particular, that inspired your writing?
A:
My two most favorite authors are Jerry B. Jenkins and Ted Dekker. Mr. Jenkins was the keynote speaker at the first writers conference I attended in 2010 (Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference) and a major reason for my attendance. Sitting in his thick-skinned manuscript review was a great privilege and he has continued to be an encouragement to me on the journey. Ted Dekker is keynoting the ACFW Conference this August, which will be my first time attending ACFW.
Q:
Is there a story you want to tell behind or about your work(s)?
A:
The experience that prompted this particular story involved the election that the Czech Republic was facing in 2004 during our first missionary trip to Prague. I was surprised to learn that there were Communists actively campaigning to return the country to communism. Many people were unhappy with some of the “progress” that free enterprise had brought to their country. Organized crime, corruption, prostitution and pornography were just a few of the Western influences which had flourished in their newfound freedom. Understanding the complexity of the issues they faced provided a more compassionate and inclusive view of the people.
Q:
What other projects are you currently working on or about to start?
A:
In addition to final edits on BoliviaKnight and plotting for Book 3, which will be set in Kenya, I am also working on story ideas for a crossover trilogy which will provide similar insights into another culture, along with action and adventure. I’m hoping to pitch this idea at ACFW.
Q:
Could you share some of your marketing strategies?  Which ones are the most effective in your opinion?
A:
I have so much yet to learn regarding marketing! And with limited time, I have more ideas than hours in which to implement them. One of the most successful events I’ve planned was my CzechMate Online Czat. For 2 hours, I posted Q&A about the book, my writing process, and getting published, as well as pictures and music from Prague and answered comments and questions from my readers. I also had drawings throughout the time for free books, gift cards, and a charm bracelet based on the protagonist in the book. The charm bracelet was a huge hit and I may start selling those on my website to help generate some marketing funds for items like a book trailer, banner ads, etc.
Q:
What would be the top five, (or 3 or 1 or however many) things you would tell aspiring authors?
A:
My number one piece of advice is to attend a regional writers conference, and if you’re in the North Carolina/Virginia/South Carolina/Tennessee area, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in Black Mountain is my favorite. Don’t tell yourself you aren’t good enough, aren’t ready or aren’t a “real writer.” There is no such thing. Second: WRITE! It is so easy to let life get in the way of your writing. Write something every single day, even if it is just to journal about your feelings. Third, build relationships with other writers, especially ones who will hold you accountable for #2. The best way to find these people is via #1. Fourth would be: SUBMIT! That is absolutely the hardest part of the writing process, in my opinion. Pressing send on a proposal and manuscript and praying that the person on the other side of that inbox loves your baby is the most daunting thing I’ve ever done. Finally, don’t ever give up. In Tae Kwon Do, they say, “A black belt is a white belt who never gave up.” A published author is just an author who never gave up. If you write, submit, revise, resubmit and repeat and keep on repeating, you can do this!

Again, thanks Felicia for taking the time to share your knowledge with us. We appreciate you and your work.

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