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Shannon Winslow Presents Leap of Faith from Her New Crossroads Collection

By Mariagrazia @SMaryG
SHANNON WINSLOW PRESENTS  LEAP OF FAITH FROM HER NEW CROSSROADS COLLECTIONLeap of Faith: Write What You KnowWho hasn’t wondered at least once how life would have changed by making an alternate choice at some crucial moment in the past? Where would you be today if you’d turned right instead of left at an important crossroads or been able to sidestep a particular misfortune? Or perhaps you’ve daydreamed about a different life altogether, in a different place and time.That’s what the stories of my new Crossroads Collection are all about: turning points, possibilities, and second chances. Each book features a new hero/heroine who’s given the extraordinary gift of a second chance at life, the chance to answer for themselves the intriguing question “what if?” The first two books feature Ben Lewis (a struggling minor-league baseball player) and Hope O’Neil (a Jane Austen-obsessed college student). Their unique personalities and choices take them on radically different adventures.
Maria Grazia has graciously offered to host both these new novels on blog tour today – Leapof Faith here, and Leap of Hope over at My Jane Austen Book Club..
Leap of Faith: Second Chance at the DreamAt the Crossroads Center, they’re in the business of granting second chances. And their newest client is Ben Lewis, a former star athlete who never recovered from the death of his dream to make it big in the big leagues. Now he’s being offered the opportunity to return to 1991 and try again, this time without the illness that originally ended his baseball hopes. What’s the catch? He will pay for his second chance by forfeiting his memories of the first… and possibly along with them, the love of his life. Can he find his way home to the woman he’s long forgotten but never stopped missing? Or will reaching for the brass ring with both hands cause the treasure he once possessed to slip forever from his grasp?
As you can tell from this back-cover blurb, the story deals with love and the forces that draw people together or keep them apart, same as my previous novels. In every other way, though, Leap of Faith represents a major departure for me. Instead of a Jane Austen style heroine in a historical English setting, we’ve got a modern American man on a time-slip adventure. But, believe it or not, Jane Austen herself provided me a perfect segue into a story set against the backdrop of “America’s game”: baseball.
And it was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, base ball, riding on horseback and running about the country at the age of fourteen… (Northanger Abbey, chapter 1)
So if I need permission to take this little detour in my writing career, I figure I have it! Besides, we often hear authors advised to “Write what you know.” In this book, I come closer than ever before to following that recommendation. At least Leap of Faith takes place within my own lifespan and mostly in places I’ve actually seen with my own eyes. It’s a world I’m already familiar with, so less research. Right?  Maybe, but I still ran up against a few hurdles.
The majority of the story takes place from 1991-1993. Recent history, but much has changed since then, especially in the realm of technology.  “Give that girl a cell phone!” suggested a writing critique partner at one point. But, wait. Did people have cell phones in 1991? How about personal computers and the Internet? We take them for granted as integral parts of our lives now… but not then. I had to remember what life was like without them!
Next issue: I’d never written a male protagonist before. Fortunately, I’d lived with a total of three men. Wait, it’s not what you’re thinking. I meant one husband and two sons. So I do have some working knowledge of how men operate, and I could always ask them stuff! My husband and three other male friends read the book when it was done to be sure I didn’t have my guy, Ben, doing/saying anything a guy would never in a million years do/say.
Finally, the baseball issue. Let me be clear; this book is not about baseball. Baseball is just the interesting backdrop for what happens when Ben gets his world-class do-over. Still, I wanted to avoid making any glaring errors that would detract from the story. I knew next to nothing about the behind-the-scenes stuff I needed, unfortunately. But I was lucky enough to find a wonderful source on the internet – a blogging minor-league ball player! The blog itself was a gold mine. Then, since its writer invited e-mail questions, I asked for more help and got it! (Thanks Chris!)  Along with the challenges, though, I discovered there were definite advantages and special joys to my “write what you know” project. For example, I could (and did) hop in my car to scout locations in the Seattle area, where much of the action occurs. I had the fun of sending my characters off to some of my favorite landmarks (Mt. Rainier National Park, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, the Ballard locks, Seattle Center), experiencing these places again through new eyes as I wrote. And I could certainly speak with a lifetime of authority about the infamous Seattlerain! Here’s a short excerpt on that topic, as told through the eyes of the story’s female lead:…Afterward, they drove back by way of Ballard, buying lunch at a sandwich shop to eat in the park-like setting at the locks. They strolled down to the water and picked a spot on the inviting stair-stepped lawn overlooking the ship canal that connects Lake Washington and Lake Unionwith the Sound. Boat traffic was brisk, Gail noticed, with a variety of colorful craft straining for open water, their occupants in high spirits. No one could resist an unseasonably warm March day, with everything bursting into bloom at once, least of all sun-starved Seattleites. It seemed outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds had only been awaiting this engraved invitation to emerge from their winter hibernations.Gail could appreciate the feeling. She had certainly weathered harsher climates elsewhere, but no place with more sodden, steel-gray days. It wasn’t so much the total quantity of water that fell from the sky here, she had decided, but the number of weeks and months it took to reach that total. That’s what grated away at your spirit: the constant drip, drip, drip. If the Inuit people had a hundred different words for the snow that constantly surrounded them, then the same should be true for the variations of Pacific Northwest precipitation. She’d noticed the forecast wasn’t given in black and white – rain, or no rain – but in shades of gray: partly cloudy, scattered showers, patchy morning fog, and her personal favorite, drizzle. No wonder that a clear blue sky was celebrated like a national holiday, especially in early spring.No, it doesn’t always rain in Seattle; it only seems that way. But let me invite you to come for a visit anyhow. We could meet for lunch! I recommend July or August, when it’s too hot other places and just right here. Or if travel isn’t in your budget, how about a book? Novels have the amazing power to transport readers to places they’ve never been, times and lifestyles they’ve never experienced. I hope Leap of Faith will prove that kind of magical departure for you.Have you been to Seattleor plan to visit? Where is your write-what-you-know spot? What about the concept for this book intrigues you? What would you do with your second chance if you received one?
Shannon Winslow
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