Books by Melissa Bowersock

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Coming Soon: Sonnets for Heidi

I've just finished the first draft of my latest book, Sonnets for Heidi. Here's the first cut of the book description:

When her mother died, Trish Munroe inherited the care of her elderly Aunt Heidi, who suffers from Alzheimer's. But after Heidi's own death, Trish uncovers a forbidden family secret that takes her on a journey of the heart she never imagined.

This story is quite a departure from anything else I've written. It's at once tragic yet heartwarming. And this is one of those books that led me on quite a journey, as well, taking me places I never planned to go and becoming so much more than I had first thought. By the time I got to the end of the book, my heart was breaking and I was crying my eyes out. Always a good sign, even if I am a mess by the time I'm done.

The book is now in the "cooling off" phase as I await feedback from my beta-readers. It's really hard not to go back in and noodle it, but I want to have fresh eyes when I go back to it. And the noodling process is so much more mechanical than the writing process; I'm not sure my brain is ready for that yet. I'm still basking in the afterglow. 

Stay tuned for more info about the book's progress and the upcoming release date. I'm guessing it'll be after New Year's. Can't hurry art. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Veteran's Day Special

Once again for Veteran's Day (and maybe some early Christmas shopping?), I'm putting my non-fiction book, Marcia Gates: Angel of Bataan on sale for just 99 cents. This is the award-winning true story of a courageous Army nurse and prisoner-of-war who just happens to be my aunt. 

This book was truly a labor of love. I had always heard growing up that my aunt was a prisoner of the Japanese during WWII, but not much more beyond that. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Wisconsin Historical Society had in their archives two scrapbooks that were created by my grandmother during my aunt's time in service, filled with letters, photos, news clippings, telegrams and every other bit of information from that agonizing time. I knew the story needed to be told, and I knew if I didn't do it, no one would. 

I've been hugely gratified by the way this book has touched others. It has garnered several awards and was featured in a TV documentary Our Wisconsin: The Military History of America's Dairyland. Here's a sample of some of the very nice reviews the book has received:

Nurse Gates' amazing valor and her mother's drive reminds us to never forget the human dimension of combat. A reminder indeed that loved ones suffer as much at home as those on the battlefields. Inspirational. 

Her spirit came alive on the pages of this factual account of her Japanese captivity.

Enjoyed this book from cover to cover.

If you like history, true stories, stories of dedication and commitment and humble bravery, you might enjoy this book. During this time of remembering and honoring our veterans, I believe it's important to keep their stories alive. I hope you will join me in honoring all the men and women who have served our country.

Watch the book trailer here

The Kindle version is on sale this week, through November 15, 2015.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Serious Research

A while back, I wrote about my experience with JustAnswer, a service to hook up a researcher with an expert in order to get good information on a myriad of subjects. I found it to be a good resource for quick questions and answers. But what happens when you need more?
Last year I started on a new book that’s based on the archaeology of 1,000-year-old Indian ruin sites near my home in north-central Arizona. I’ve found out that the Verde Valley of Arizona is virtually pocked with Indian ruins; the estimation is that there’s a ruin roughly every 1.8 miles. It’s no surprise that the Indians farmed this bountiful valley, and apparently they built their small community units with enough surrounding space to farm, but close enough to visit back and forth without too much travel. Seems like an idyllic existence. Unfortunately, as much physical evidence as we have of their activities, we don’t have a lot of cultural evidence for their family organization, spiritual beliefs or ritual processes. The Sinagua (named by the Spanish, Latin meaning “without water”) left no written record. The closest we can get to their cultural life is by looking at the Hopi (the Sinagua’s suspected descendents) and extrapolating backward a bit.
Luckily our modern archaeological processes are quite a bit easier to research. Sometimes. I thought getting this kind of information would be easy; just get interviews with the folks at the local archaeology organization, find out what their processes are, how they survey a site, how they report their findings. Pretty straight-forward. But in my first interview with a veteran surveyor, many of my questions brought forth the response of, “I can’t tell you that.”
Come to find out that there are SO many ruins in this area, primarily on National Forest land, and so few resources to survey, restore, protect and interpret them, that most of them just lie hidden in the brush. And because of that, the archaeology community is very careful about disclosing any information that could lead pot-hunters to the sites.
Wow, who knew? I go looking for data and I get intrigue.
But I totally understand. It’s an amazing thing to find a ruin and see a 1,000-year-old tiny corn cob (maize) lying on the ground, or to hold a piece of pottery and wonder who made it all those years ago, and what did they use it for? Matter of fact, it was these very experiences that hatched the idea of the new book in my brain, ergo the research.
Which has now become a two-pronged issue. The main one for any writer is to write authentically. It would be irresponsible to write about archaeologists bulldozing a site and grabbing artifacts off the ground. It would also be completely unbelievable. I want my book to be as real as possible, so I continue gathering research, wending my way around the “I can’t tell you that” details. As I’ve told the folks whose brains I am picking, it’s not really about disclosing in the book all the information I’m collecting. It’s more about not including erroneous information. If they can’t tell me exactly how they go about their process, I need at least to know how not to do it, so I don’t inadvertently weaken the authenticity of my story.
The second issue, the new one, is to not reveal any information that could expose a site. At first I was going to use an actual site for the location of my book, but now that’s changed. In order not to reveal any sensitive information, I’m creating an entirely fictitious site. This opens up all sorts of new possibilities, as I can configure my site any way I want: pit houses, dancing grounds, calendar stones, artifacts. None of it will be real, and yet it will be as real as I can possibly make it.
If I told you any more than that, I’d have to kill you.
Originally posted on Indies Unlimited on June 10, 2014.