Marian P. Merritt - Lagniappe

Where the Bayous Meet the Mountains

Monday, August 10, 2015

Bonnie Leon - To Dance With Dolphins

Good Monday Morning Readers!

Today, Bonnie Leon visits Lagniappe to discuss her latest release, To Dance With Dolphins. 

Welcome, Bonnie!

Tell us a little about To Dance With Dolphins.

Claire, Willow, Tom and Taylor are part of the same support group and live with chronic illness.  Seeking a more meaningful life, they decide to travel from Oregon to Florida to swim with wild dolphins. Their first day out, they run into trouble and take on a hitchhiker, Sean, and although the last thing he wants is to be harnessed to a group of disabled travelers, he agrees to become their driver.

They set off across the country, hoping for the courage to follow their dreams. The journey is a difficult one, but the travelers soon realize that following God might be even harder.

What is the best WRITING advice you’ve received?

“The best way to learn to write a book is to write one.”

In 1993 at my first writing conference, Lauraine Snelling gave me that advice when she encouraged me to write The Journey of Eleven Moons.

She was right. I returned home after the conference and went to work. I didn’t know much about the logistics of putting together a novel, but I jumped in and started writing anyway. With the help of a critique group I completed that book, my first one ever, ten months later. I’ve been writing ever since.

Give readers your brand/tagline and share how you came up with it.

My tag line is Unveiling Truth Through Fiction

When it was time to create a tag line I wrote a list of words that described who I am and what I hoped to accomplish as a writer. I’ve always have been a person who believes that the truth should not be compromised in our personal lives or in God’s Word. And it is my desire that those who read my stories will better understand the truth and be set free from their troubles. After all, God’s Word says that the truth shall set us free.

Jesus used stories to help people see the truth. And I agree with his methods.  J

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Camille Eide has recently published two novels, Like There’s No Tomorrow and Like a Love Song. She’s a brilliant writer and her story topics are fresh and perfect for the contemporary market. I can’t wait for her next one.

Another one to watch is April McGowan. Her first two novels are Jasmine and Macy, listed under healing fiction, an accurate a tag line. She’s a wonderful writer and you don’t want to miss her stories.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

These days, it’s time management. It seems there’s always so many other needs crying out for my time. And too often a day slips by with little productivity. And the older I get the more difficulty I have with the discipline of staying in front of my computer and working, rather than keeping touch with friends on Facebook—my partner and nemesis,

What was one of the most surprising things you've learned while writing your books?

I was and continue to be surprised at how a story flows from my mind. I plot out a book, but there are always surprises, unexpected twists and turns and characters that do something I’m unprepared for. When I begin and there are no words on page one, I’m always swamped with uncertainty and wonder how I’m going to pull it off again. I go to work anyway and throw the story down on the page. That first run through is always a wreck, but after multiple edits the story miraculously finds its way and comes together. It’s a beautiful mystery to me.

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

The best thing a reader can do to help make a book successful is to tell other people about it. Word of mouth can make all the difference. Publishing houses can’t continue to publish books with low sales, so please, readers, get your megaphone out and announce your favorite books to other readers.

Many lovely stories have remained mostly invisible because no one heard about them. It’s very sad.

Where do you write? Can you describe your favorite writing place? (If you’d like to send pictures that would be great! Attached to the email please don’t embed in the Interview word doc.)

I have an office. When I created it, I imagined it would be a place of peace and order. It’s not. Somehow or other, things get left out, are not filed, and research items tend to get stacked on my desk or most convenient location.

However, I have a spectacular view from my office window and whenever I feel the need to get away, I just spend a bit of time enjoying the splendor laid out below my home. 

Here's Bonnie's view from her office: 

What an awesome view!!

What can we expect from you in the future?

Presently I’m working on another contemporary with a working title of Morning Glories. It’s the story of a woman called McKenna who lives in San Francisco. She works for an Ad Agency and has wandered into the lie that work is all she needs. She no longer has time for the little things in life, the things that offer flavor and joy.

The death of her Aunt Jean turns McKenna’s life upside down. And a relationship with a new man in her life isn’t what she thought it was.


Socks or slippers or both?  Slippers
Vacation: Beach or Mountains?  Beach (I live in the mountains)
The Voice or American Idol?  The Voice
Birthday Card: Email or Snail Mail?  Snail Mail
Pride and Prejudice or Gone with the Wind? Pride and Prejudice

Steel Magnolias or Fried Green Tomatoes?  Steel Magnolias

Twenty-two-year-old Claire Murray has suffered from a mysterious disease for years. Her social circle has shrunk to a small support group for people with chronic illness and disability. But what if life could be about more than doctors, pain, and medications?

Claire and three others—old grouch Tom, hippy-holdout Willow, and moody Taylor—hatch plans for a cross-country trip to swim with the dolphins in Florida. Only a day into the trip, they unexpectedly need help. And who happens to be hitchhiking along the highway but a young, good-looking loner named Sean Sullivan? However, the last thing he wants is to be harnessed to a bunch of ailing travelers.

Though the journey proves difficult, following God’s plan might be even harder. Will they find the courage to follow their dreams and dare to live again?

Buy link: Amazon           

Bonnie Leon is the author of more than twenty novels, including the recently released To Dance With Dolphins and bestselling The Journey of Eleven Moons.

June 11, 1991 a log truck hit the van she was driving, and her world changed. The accident left her unable to work, and after months of rehabilitation she was told by physicians that she would never return to a normal life. Facing a daunting fight to reclaim her life and in search of personal value, she discovered writing. She has been creating stories ever since.

Bonnie is familiar with the challenges of disability beyond her personal experience. Her sister endured the debilitating illnesses of lupus, MS, and Bi-polar disorder. And her daughter is grappling with the chronic progressive disorder of syringomyelia.

Through chronic pain and disability Bonnie found new purpose. She enjoys speaking for women’s groups, teaching at writing seminars, and mentoring young writers. She also administers an online support group for those living with chronic pain and disability and is a participating member of the Syringomyelia and Chiari Network.

Connect with Bonnie 

Twitter                        @Bonnie­_Leon

She is married to her teen-age sweetheart, the mother of three grown children, and grandmother of eight. Bonnie and her husband Greg live in the mountains of Southern Oregon.

Readers, thanks for visiting Lagniappe!

Bonnie's parting thoughts and question for you:

To Dance With Dolphins is all about the characters. The cross-country journey is fun and the theme is important, but when I contemplated writing this story I knew the bottom line was that I needed to create meaningful and realistic characters, people that readers care about.

What hooks you into a book most, the characters or the plot?

I pray you find 
"a little something extra" 
in each of your days.



Marian Pellegrin Merritt said...

Bonnie, for me, it would have to be the characters!

Ann Ellison said...

Enjoyed the interview. I have enjoyed any of Bonnie's books that I have read and look forward to reading this one. It is the characters that pull me into a story.