Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dawn's Early Light

by Kerry Blair


The last time my son was a youth speaker in sacrament meeting, he was assigned to speak after the bishop's daughter, a girl known for her spirituality, intelligence, and eloquence. He wrote a talk -- his mother saw to that -- but when it was his turn to speak, he folded up his notes and shoved them in his pocket before approaching the stand. He carefully adjusted the microphone, made eye contact with the congregation, said, "What she said. In the name of . . . " then sat back down.

Following Stephanie and Julie in the blogging rotation around Thanksgiving, I know just how my son felt. I'm grateful for so much, but unable to express myself quite as well as my fellow Writers. (I do, however, edge out the Frog.) So . . . in regards to Thanksgiving: What she said.


Since we're "officially" entering the Christmas season today, I have a gift for you: a heads up about one of the best series you'll read this, or any, year. (Also a chance at winning great prizes!)

The series is Free Men and Dreamers and the author is L.C. Lewis, a truly remarkable writer. I'm not the only one who thinks so. Laurie was a double finalist in 2008's National Best Books Competition. (Yes, wow.)

The series is set against the background of the War of 1812. Many characters are the firstborn American generation--children of the Founding Fathers; the generation who received the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (It gives me goose bumps just writing it.) It began with Dark Sky at Dawn and continued in Twilight's Last Gleaming. (If those last three words sound familiar, well, yep, that's what the book's about, all right.) At long last for Laurie's legion of fans (look for me in the front row) Volume Three, Dawn's Early Light, has just been released.

True confession: I am a snob when it comes to historical fiction. (And some other things, too, she hastened to admit before Anonymous could point it out in the comments.) I am an American History junkie, I freely admit. I read it, watch it, study it, and live in it. (That latter thing because of my love of antiques. More than one of my kids' friends have asked them if our living room is a museum.) Because of this fixation, I read very little American historical fiction. Frankly, the errors, oversights, and twisting of facts to facilitate a storyline tend to annoy me no end. (I've thrown more than one book across the room, I'm embarrassed to say.) Thus, when a good friend at Covenant gave me Dark Sky at Dawn I waited until I was desperate for something to read before finally picking it up. True story: from the time I first picked up Free Men and Dreamers I have had trouble putting it down. Dawn's Early Light may, in fact, be my favorite.

Laurie is an incredible writer. Her characterization is brilliant and her voice sparkles. The stories move along and are often breathtaking in complexity and meaning. But that's not even what I love the best. What I most admire and appreciate is the thousands of hours of research, thought, preparation, and prayer Laurie has put into this gift to latter-day patriots. Her work and and thought and inspiration show. My gosh, does it show! Many of her sources are original -- meaning she tracked down actual historical documents herself, rather than pulling a book off the shelf and thereby relying on somebody else's possibly flawed and/or biased scholarship. This is rarer in writers of modern historical fiction than you can believe. What is rarer yet is the . . . meaning . . . Laurie brings to her work.

I have to confess: I don't really know Laurie Lewis. I met her once -- at the Storymaker's Conference last spring. She was pulling books out of a box in the bookstore. I stood star-struck -- as I usually am around writers I admire. But she's very kind, very gracious, and incredibly humble. (If I had written this series I would not be humble; I would be insufferably proud of myself.) I tell you that I don't know her because I want to make it clear that what I'm going to say next is "gospel according to Kerry" and Laurie may not even like me saying it. When I was reading an advance manuscript of Dawn's Early Light, more than once I thought, This woman was called (foreordained) to write this series. She has had some serious heavenly support.

Anyway, when Laurie offered to stop by the Frog Blog on her release tour, I hesitated one-eighth-of-a-second before shooting off an e-mail, begging her to make it on a Friday. And now, I fear, I can't do it justice. I've also promised 14 people supper at 5 PM. It is now 4:55 and, alas, I cannot write reviews and cook at the same time. That is the bad news. The good news is that I can give you an opportunity to enter Laurie's contest. All you have to do is ask Laurie a question in the comment on this blog before December 18. That's the day Laurie will draw winners (from the combined sites on this tour) for an autographed copy of her new book and (or) an incredibly beautiful "Liberty" necklace. As a bonus, she'll answer all your questions in a future blog.

And when she answers your questions (around the 18th) I will also include the review I owe you. (Not that I haven't hinted strongly already that I love this book!) I wish I could do it now, but I am way outnumbered by a hungry mob. (Each of whom I am grateful for.)

Read this book. Ask Laurie a question. Have a marvelous weekend with your families. Love you all!


At 11/27/2009 8:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The gospel according to Kerry Blair? Halleluja, brother, amen. I see the blairing lights. I have been saved in the Kerfully wroght words of the master author once again.

Thank you sweet Kerry, for the the review, the fun blog, and I won't point out your snobbish historical fiction fetish this once. But only this once.

Do you know anymore good historical fictions I should read?

Happy Thanksgiving you Arizona snowbird. I'll see you when the ice melts on Lake Woebegone.

At 11/27/2009 9:18 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Wow, this sounds like an incredible series!

My question for Laurie is: what first gave you the idea for setting a historical series during the War of 1812?

At 11/28/2009 12:16 AM, Blogger Laurie LC Lewis said...

Dear Kerry,

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your undeserved comments, and let me tell you a secret. You're partly the reason this volume exists at all. Your kind praise during that brief meeting last spring saved me from throwing in the towel on the series. So thank you for the beautiful comments, and especially for giving me the desire to get back to work.


At 11/28/2009 7:08 PM, Blogger Daron D. Fraley said...

This DOES sound like a great series. I will have to add it to my Goodreads list right away.

My question for Laurie:

I am a lazy writer... I imagined a world where I could make everything up and do very little research (OH the joys of writing in the Fantasy/Speculative Fiction Genre!), and therefore to me, Historical Fiction writers are in a rank all their own. As you have done your research, do you find that keeping track of all your notes and sources, etc., is difficult to do? How do you keep it all straight in your head? Do you have to read and re-read the sources multiple times to accomplish the task?

OK, sorry. That is more of a compound question. Or you can count it as three.

At 11/28/2009 10:17 PM, Blogger GoletaGlenns said...

Hi Laurie!

What is the most surprising question you have been asked at an author signing?

At 11/29/2009 2:09 AM, Blogger Lora Dawn said...

My question for Laurie:

How do you pace yourself as a writer?(as in, what are your prods and patterns that keep you writing as life plays out it varieties?)

At 11/29/2009 10:56 AM, Blogger Why Not? Because I Said So! said...

I really want to read this series! I love historical fiction. Thank you for the wonderful review Kerry!

My question is...what other time periods would you like to write about? Also, how many months of pre-research do you do before you actually sit down to write your books?

At 11/30/2009 11:32 AM, Blogger Krista said...

My question for Laurie: How much farther do you think you will take the series? There is so much to write about, is it overwhelming to choose the story lines you will follow?

At 12/19/2009 1:48 AM, Blogger Laurie LC Lewis said...

Lora Dawn, you're a winner on my Blog Tour! Your prize is an autographed copy of "Dawn's Early Light." Please contact me at with shipping info. Thanks, and congratulations!


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