Monday, October 24, 2011

Walt Mussell and Beautiful Ornament Giveaway

Yes, you can win this beautiful handmade ornament. Read on to find out how!

Today we have a special guest. Walt Mussell. I've known Walt for quite a few years now through the Georgia Romance Writers. Walt has written a great book that I know some editor is going to snatch up. Walt just won the Maggie Award of Exellence a couple of weeks ago.

We asked Walt a few questions.

Tell us a little about your manuscript.

My manuscript is the first of a trilogy set in 16th century Japan. However, though there will be characters and a plot line that runs through all three books, a reader won’t need to have read one book to be able to understand the next one.

The first story, the one that won the Maggie, is called The Samurai’s Heart. The heroine, Sen Goami, returns to her hometown after ten years away. However, the homecoming is a sad one as it’s marred by the news of the deaths of her elder sister and her husband. As the remaining child, Sen must now find a man willing to marry into her family’s swordsmith business.

The hero, Nobuhiro Tokoda, is the prodigal third son of a high-level retainer at Himeji Castle. Born with a limp that made training to be a samurai impossible and faced with a harsh father, Nobuhiro leaves the castle and apprentices himself to a swordsmith, the heroine’s father. Through this honorable trade, Nobuhiro hopes to prove his worth to his father.

Nobuhiro would seem to be the ideal husband for Sen and her parents press the issue. However, during her time away, Sen became a Christian and seeks a Christian husband, a task made difficult as Christianity has been banned. For Nobuhiro, Christianity is dangerous as it caused the death of his best friend and would prevent any hope of reconciliation with his family.

Books 2 and 3, called The Samurai’s Soul and The Samurai’s Strength, take place in Osaka and Kyoto. Book 2 takes one of my favorite passages from Acts and places it in a Japanese context. Book 3 weaves two piece of Japanese history and addresses a “what if” question that fascinates me. I hope it all works.

When did you first discover your love of history?

Elementary school. I read a lot of American history back then and begged my parents to take me to places like Williamsburg and Yorktown. As I got older, I became fascinated with British history and the Vikings. (I particularly like the Vikings. Why I don’t know?)

When I moved to Japan in the early 90s, I went more for business reasons and because I’d acquired an interest in Japan overall. However, I fell in love with the history of the country after I got there.

What do you like best about writing? Creating characters or developing the plot?

Plot. Most definitely plot. As I mentioned above, my stories are meant to be independent of each other. However, my trilogy has a number of items and individuals (under fictional names) that should be recognizable to a Japanese person or a student of Japanese history and hopefully add depth to the plot. My story is written with the idea of being able to translate it into Japanese.

My love of plot may explain why the first agent who requested a full on my story (over two years ago), rejected it saying that the characters didn’t capture her as she would have hoped. I’ve spent a lot time since that day working on characters, deep POV, and trying to better bring my reader into the story. Haywood Smith taught me some
techniques for trying to bring out my characters better and then reviewed my first attempts. Camy Tang has done some wonderful posts on deep POV over on the Seekerville blog and these have also been helpful. I’ve learned a lot.

How does it feel to be the minority at the writing meetings? :)

Still weird at times, though my wife would tell you that I probably like it that way. Wonderful people have gone out of their way to make me feel comfortable at meetings. At the same time, there’s a reason why kids aren’t allowed at meetings. What goes on there is a serious conversation about writing and trying to improve one’s craft. Writers can be shy. However, when it comes to a craft discussion, writers are definitely blunt. (It’s the only way to improve.) At the same time, the discussion is primarily from a female POV. Consequently, there are days when I do get embarrassed.

Oddly, though, I wonder if I don’t kill the conversation at times. No one has ever made me feel unwelcome. But, there are certain topics that women don’t discuss in front of men. There must be days like that.

Lindi here. I've had the pleasure of reading The Samurai's Heart all the way through. Walt had sent me the first 3 chapters to look at and I had to read more. As he sent more, I'd ask for more. I fell in love with his characters. The story was riveting and the romance---well, it was very nicely done. :)

Also, the Maggie award winner gets a beautiful Maggie medallion. Walt told me one question he gets asked a lot is what is he going to do with the medallion? He said his wife is going to try and make it into a tie clip. :) I told him that was very clever and something I could never do.:)

Leave a comment and/or question for Walt to be entered in the drawing for the ornament. Walt's wife handmade this especially for our giveaway. Isn't it beautiful!

Thanks again Walt for being here. Can't wait to have you back when you announce that first sale!!

We'll keep the drawing open through Saturday night and announce the winner on Sunday.


  1. Walt, great post! I've only gotten to read a few pages of your story so I can't wait until it goes on sale. I'll definitely be in your line at GRW for my autographed copy.

    I think you've found one of those hard to find unexplored niches in the market. No one else has even attempted to explore the Ancient Japanese culture. That's a bonus for you.

    Wishing you the best, and I can't wait for you to announce that first sale contract at one of our meetings.

  2. Hi Walt! Welcome to FAITH! The story sounds great. Especially between the hero and heroine and the fact that the heroine is Christian in a forbidden land. I'm already wondering how everything plays out.

    Congratulations on the Maggie win!! I'll be right behind Dianna when you sale to buy that first book! And she's right, you're writing on a subject that's not yet tapped. It's all in God's time!

    The ornament is beautiful! And I can't win 'cause I'm a FAITH girl. Does your wife ever make these to sell?

    Thanks for being here!!

  3. Walt--thanks for being here today.

    Dianna--Walt has found an unexplored niche. I think it will work to his advantage. I knew nothing about his time period, yet I found the story to be amazing.

    Christy--The ornament is beautiful!

  4. Dianna - In my research, some authors have had great success with Japanese settings, but what is rare is an all Japanese cast of characters. Books that have made this work have been serieses and mysteries. It's yet to be tried in the inspirational market.

    Christy - Yes, my wife does make these to sell.

    Also, with the heroine, it may be a forbidden land, but it's still her home. She's trying to survive in it.

  5. Lindi - Thanks. It's great to be here.

  6. Walt, It was so great to meet you and your wife at the Maggies a few weeks ago. I just hope the next chapter of this win gets you the agent of your dreams.
    I can't wait to read this book when it comes out (and it will!). It sounds wonderful.

  7. Hi Walt,
    Congrats on the Maggie! You obviously have a very clever wife...ornaments and tie clips? Wow.

    Are the second & third books set in the same time period? How many years separate each of them?

    Along with everyone else, I'm looking forward to you selling this book...and the others in the series...and having you sign at GRW.


  8. Walt, welcome! What a great interview!

    Again, congrats on the Maggie! I hope to get to see your tie clip soon. :)

  9. Sharon - It was great meeting you, too. One of the wonderful things about M&M is that my wife gained an appreciation of how big a deal the Maggie was. She was surprised.

    Sandy - Thanks. Yes, the books are set in the same time period. The whole series occurs over four years (1587-1591) with Book Two in Osaka and Book Three in Kyoto.

  10. Missy - Thanks. I hope to show it off soon.

  11. Walt, nice to see you, my friend!

    Honey, what makes a person study a time period like that?

    Did you use a time machine to travel back? What is it inside you that likes unusual and very climactic settings????

    Did you always love history?

  12. Walt--IThe conflict in that first book sounds fabulous!!

  13. And congrats again on the Maggie!!! Those of us from Seekerville are SO PROUD of you --and pleased that all your hard work is paying off!

  14. Great post Walt. Shogun is on my top five list of all time great reads, and this looks to be as intriguing. Let me know when it becomes available. Japan was not a frequent stop on my circuit, but I lived in Singapore and Taiwan for ten years, and have always been fond of Asian mystique (and cuisine). Just got back from the NJRW conference, so I know what it feels like to be the lone Y chromosome among the double-X’s.

  15. a wonderful posting...i enjoyed reading it :)

    what a beautiful ornament...your wife is very talented...thanks for sharing it.

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  16. HI Walt and Lindi!

    Walt, your story sounds wonderful and very different from most of the CBA romances. I bet my husband would love it--and so would I. Maybe foreign settings will be the next new trend.

    The beautiful ornament would look fantastic on my tree!

  17. Ruthy - What is it in me that likes unusual settings? My wife would say it's just me being different (and she's partially right). However, I did become fascinated with the time period when I lived in Japan (MANY years ago). The intrigue will match anything in European history. Moreover, though, I became interested in what happened in Japan with regards to Christianity and that's why I like that time period.

    Also, I always loved history, but I particularly enjoy details that are outside the norm. There are so many things in history that we take for granted without understanding what really happened. A better comprehension of history leads to a better understanding of current day.

  18. Hi Walt!!

    I never knew your book was part of a trilogy! Awesome!!

    I am looking forward to buying it very, very soon.

  19. Walt, I studied Japanese history, it is fascinating!

    And your wife is very talented! Beautiful ornament!

    I heard that men are reading more romance now because they can do so on an ereader without anyone knowing since there's no cover :) So you're not alone in writing or reading romance :)

  20. Glynna - Thank you. As I often tell people, Debby Giusti helped me develop my synopsis for a story set in medieval Japan. All of the people in Seekerville have been wonderful to me and I'm forever thankful.

  21. Walt, I'm thrilled about your Maggie win--so exciting!

    Years ago when Shogun came out, I was absolutely enthralled with both the book and the TV series, and now I can't wait to read your story! The premise sounds fascinating, and I'm sure your research, plotting, and character development are impeccable! I hope to be reading the published version very, very soon!

  22. Tina - Yes, it is a trilogy, but the stories are independent. The elements that tie them together do have an historical basis. The biggest challenge is not getting so caught up in the history that I forget the story.

  23. DT - Thanks for stopping by. Yes, being that lone Y chromosome at an RWA conference has both its good and bad points, summed up only by the fact that people remember meeting you. :-)

    I never made it to Taiwan, but I did love my visit to Singapore.

  24. Karen - Thank for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

  25. Cara - I think foreign settings are catching on. I was extremely excited to hear about Debbie Kaufman's The Doctor's Mission with its setting in Liberia. Hopefully, more foreign settings will occur.

    Also, I'm flattered to hear that your husband would enjoy my story.

  26. What a lovely ornament! Your wife is so creative.
    Please add my well wishes to the stack. I've also read the opening to Samurai's Heart and feel it would be a perfect addition to inspy historical romance

  27. Eva - One of the funniest writers I know, Robin Kaye, once signed a book of hers for me by saying I shouldn't be seen reading it on a plane. The e-reader definitely makes reading such books possible.

  28. Myra - I hope everything is correct. I read a lot of Japanese history and I'm always finding things that suggest I should change items in my novel, and it can be something as simple as the color of the rice my hero eats (brown or white). That scares me sometimes.

  29. Jeannie - Thank you. I'm hopeful that a story like this can find a home in the inspy historical market. It would open a niche for what is a fascinating bit of history that has already seen success in literary, YA, and fantasy.

  30. Hi, Walt. Great post. Your story sounds absolutely fascinating, and I can't wait to read it. Congrats on the Maggie Win, and I can't wait to congratulation you on a publishing contract.

  31. Hi Walt,
    What an interesting interview! I can't help but think of Memoirs of a Geisha or something close to it... and a series! You have a lot on your plate! Can't wait for your manuscript - a Maggie winner! - to become a book! I'll be there waiting for my autographed copy!

  32. Hi Walt and Faith ladies! Congrats on the Maggie, and what a talented wife you have! I'm am not very good at crafts myself, but can admire someone else's work!

  33. Well you sure caused a lot of female conversation here, Walt! Thanks for being with us :-)

  34. Beautiful Ornament. Walt, you might wish to contact

    They might invite you to talk about your book.

  35. Keena - Thanks. I remain hopeful that a publisher will like it enough to take a chance on it.

    Anju - I hope it becomes a book soon, too.

  36. Walt, thanks for visiting F.A.I.T.H. And your story sound VERY intriquing. Congrats on the Maggie.

  37. So exciting to see everyone today! Thanks for stopping by. Lindi can't get on blogs at work, but she'll check in as soon as she gets home!

  38. This DEFINITELY sounds like the kind of book and the kind of series I'd be interested in; in fact I don't think I've even heard of another story in English set among the secret Christians of Medieval Japan.

    Are there any?

  39. I've said it before, but will say it again. I am so looking forward to this series! I plan on buying copies for myself and most of the reading population in my family. LOL

  40. Keena - Thanks. I hope that the contract comes soon.

    Anju - I'll be happy to autorgraph it when it does. Can't wait until your book comes out next month.

  41. Debbie - I find myself constantly amazed at how creative my wife is. It's hard to explain, but she is amazing.

  42. Angela - Part of me hopes that my story will appeal to males as well. According to Cara above, it does. :-)

  43. Giora - Thanks. I had to look that organization up. My wife is fond of the Toronto area. It would make her day.

  44. Mindy - Thanks. I hope to have it published soon.

  45. Fred - Shogun is the cloest anyone gets in the western world. In Japanese literature, check out the works of Shusaku Endo, which are available in English.

  46. Victoria - Thank you and thoanks for stopping by. I appreciate it.

  47. Hello all!! You guys have had fun while I was at work! I'm blocked at work from blogger. Love the comments and all the love for Walt--a great guy with a lot of talent, and a talented wife!

  48. Lindi - Thank you for the kind words.

  49. Hi Walt~

    Love the ornament and I can't wait to read your book! I've been fascinated by it since we talked about it the first time. Congrats again on the Maggie--it was well deserved.

  50. Robin - Thanks. I'm still amazed that I won.

  51. Sorry I'm late to comment, but my old and new computers were in the shop yesterday.

    Every time I think of your Maggie win, Walt, I get a mile-wide grin on my face. I'm thrilled for you. I look forward to the day that story is on the shelves.

  52. My husband goes to Japan quite frequently on business. He has
    been fortunate to see a lot of historical places there! What is your favorite historical place in
    Japan that you have seen thus far?
    The ornament is gorgeous...
    Many thanks, Cindi

  53. Keli - Thank you. I hope that day is soon, but I know I have a long way to go. So many Maggie winners, like yourself, now have either published books or books soon to be published. Can't wait for yours.

  54. Cindi - One of my favorite places for historical is Shizuoka, a place no one talks about. What I liked about Shizuoka is that the places were amazing but so few of the signs were in English. I felt like I'd found something undiscovered.

    For tourist places, I love Hokkaido. However, if you gave me only one place in Japan to see again, I would probably visit temples in Kyoto during autumn. The leaf color there is amazing.