UPDATE: THE WINNERS OF THE DRAWING ARE: KATHY EGER AND BRENDA MURPHREE. Congrats, ladies. If you will e-mail your snail mail addresses to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’ll get your copies in the mail ASAP.
As you know, my husband and I are in the process of getting some of my older titles updated and back in print and e-book formats through our Raney Day Press. When I ordered a couple of copies of each of my Hanover Falls Novels series, I was so excited seeing the covers in print for the first time that I almost missed a “big” problem. Can you see what it is?
Yes, somehow, the middle book in the series got printed in a larger size than the first and last books! The problem is all fixed now, and anyone ordering the series will get three books all the same size. Meanwhile, I have two BIG copies of Forever After, Book 2 in the Hanover Falls series, to give away. I’ll tell you how to enter at the end, but first I’d like to tell you a bit about the writing of the Hanover Falls novels.
These books were first published by Howard Books/Simon & Schuster. My idea for the series came one morning when my husband, Ken—as he often does—laid a newspaper clipping on the table beside my breakfast plate. It was a story about a fire that had killed several firefighters and told how this community of firefighting families had pulled together to support one another after the tragedy. “It sounds like a Deborah Raney novel,” Ken said.
I read the news story and was moved. Immediately, this cast of characters began to form in my mind. I contacted my niece’s firefighter husband, who not only let me borrow his training manuals for the next couple of years but patiently answered my questions and gave me great insight into the firefighting “family.”
Wanting to change every detail from the real-life story, I decided to build my story around a fire in a homeless shelter. But I would need to do a ton of research since I’d never even been inside such a shelter. I don’t think it was a coincidence that shortly after, our small-town church got involved in a ministry to a local homeless shelter. I wanted to be upfront about my motives, so asked the volunteer coordinators if they would be opposed to me volunteering with the intent of researching for a novel. They smiled and said they just needed warm bodies to serve, and as long as my motives weren’t sinister, they’d be glad to have me.
My first night at the shelter turned out to be a researcher’s dream: a new fresh-out-of-jail admittance from the no-admit list, a mild altercation between a client and a volunteer (not me!), a bottle of vodka discovered hidden in a hallway and the subsequent (negative) Breathalyzer test on the suspect, a chance to pray with a man on suicide watch, and a phone that rang virtually the entire 5-11 shift.
Only after I arrived home did I glance at my calendar and realize I wasn’t supposed to show up for my shift until the following Sunday night! (Which I did, and NOTHING happened that night! Good for the shelter, but not so much for the researcher.) God knew when I needed to be there, and I couldn’t have asked for better research material. Still, it was sobering to come out of my little cozy-life cocoon, and as God always has done through my writing process, he grew me so much during those years I spent volunteering at the shelter.
The books got written, I got stretched in sometimes painful yet wonderful ways, and now, almost a decade after the idea was conceived, these books are available again through Raney Day Press, with beautiful new covers designed by my husband.
These books do each stand alone, but they are also more intertwined than any other series I’ve written. So while you’ll get a complete story reading any one of them, you won’t get the whole story. This drawing is for the middle book, but I hope you’ll start with book 1, Almost Forever, and enjoy the entire series! (To order, simply click on the cover images above.)
To enter the drawing, simply leave a comment on this post. I’ll choose two winners at random and announce them on this post tomorrow night.