Monday, February 27, 2017

How Research Changes You - Guest blog from Elizabeth Musser


Anne is on a writing hiatus preparing for her upcoming novella release from Barbour Publishing (more on that to come in the future!). So we are delighted to have guest blogger and author, Elizabeth Musser here on the CCC blog today. She is introducing you to the research an author will do for their novel and how that research changes you! (And she's going to give away a copy of her latest novel!) ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France.  Elizabeth’s highly acclaimed, best-selling novel, The Swan House, was named one of Amazon’s Top Christian Books of the Year and one of Georgia’s Top Ten Novels of the Past 100 Years.  All of Elizabeth’s novels have been translated into multiple languages. The Long Highway Home has been a bestseller in Europe.

For over twenty-five years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions’ work in Europe with International Teams.  The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren who all live way too far away in America. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog. See photos from scenes in The Long Highway Home on Pinterest.

 Please help us welcome, Elizabeth!

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On a blistering day in Montpellier, France, I walked through the city’s majestic square, flowers and fountains splashing their welcome as I hurried along the wide open space. I found my way to the public library, hiding myself in the stacks as I searched for books on Algeria’s War for Independence from France.

Before moving to France as a missionary, I didn’t even know that Algeria was located across the Mediterranean Sea from France! But getting a contract for my first novel changed everything. That was back in 1994, way before internet. I actually had to go to a library, check out a book—in French, no less—or maybe search through micro film, watch documentaries and interview people who had been involved in some way in this war.

And it changed me, all this research.

Suddenly I understood a lot more about the racial tensions in France. So when seated around the dinner table for a four-hour-long meal, I carefully asked questions and found my French friends surprised and intrigued that I knew so much about this war.

Fast forward to 2010 when our mission agency asked my husband and me to take on a new role called Pastors to Workers.  Our home base remained in France but our territory included from Ireland to Ukraine.  We traveled to 13 different countries, interacting with workers on 25 different teams.
Suddenly, I was seeing up close ministries I had been hearing about at missions conferences for so many years.  Our job was to listen, counsel, laugh and cry, pray and listen some more to these dear workers who were indeed pouring out their lives for the physically and spiritually oppressed: refugees, students, gypsies, trafficked woman, secular humanists, pilgrims, artists. 

One ministry to refugees birthed outside of Vienna in the 1980s particularly stirred my heart. In our pastoral role, Paul and I had the privilege of interacting not only with our colleagues who ran The Oasis ministry center but also with refugees.  We heard stories of men, women and children fleeing persecution along what is called The Refugee Highway and finding hope at The Oasis where believers served up coffee and Christ. 

These displaced people, mostly young Muslim men, played chess and Uno with the missionaries and volunteers.  Some watched the Jesus film in their own language.  Others attended clandestine Bible studies.  And a few left with Jesus in their hearts.

One of the things that struck me from attending The Oasis was something each of us can learn.  Do what you can.  Offer a smile, a sack of clothes, a warm meal, a whisper of hope, a Bible.  The Lord wasn’t asking me to solve the huge worldwide dilemna of refugees.  But I felt that I could do something—and that ‘something’ was to write a story that tells a few of their stories.  The Long Highway Home is fiction, but it is based on many, many stories of refugees finding hope in the midst of the horror as Jesus reveals Himself to them in the most surprising ways.  And I wanted to tell the story of hard-working missionaries who are giving their very lives for these people.

Because of my personal interaction at The Oasis and the long months of research, I look at the present day refugee crisis with a different filter, a filter that says simply: do what you can.

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The Long Highway Home

Sometimes going home means leaving everything you have ever known.
When the doctor pronounces ‘incurable cancer’ and gives Bobbie Blake one year to live, she agrees to accompany her niece, Tracie, on a trip back to Austria, back to The Oasis, a ministry center for refugees that Bobbie helped start twenty years earlier.  Back to where there are so many memories of love and loss…

Bobbie and Tracie are moved by the plight of the refugees and in particular, the story of the Iranian Hamid, whose young daughter was caught with a New Testament in her possession in Iran, causing Hamid to flee along The Refugee Highway and putting the whole family in danger.  Can a network of helpers bring the family to safety in time?  And at what cost?

Filled with action, danger, heartache and romance, The Long Highway Home is a hymn to freedom in life’s darkest moments.



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26 comments:

  1. I've never read any of your titles, Elizabeth. Looking forward to reading them!

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  2. Initially research sounds boring but I bet it can be quite exciting with new discoveries that can be incorporated into a novel.
    Not read any of Elizabeth's novels.....yet.

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    1. Gail, yes, research can get pretty exciting--especially when a new piece of information leaps out at you that you can include in the novel!

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  3. I have read all of her books, more than once! Just wish there were more. But I do appreciate the job she and her husband do. And the research she is able to do

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    1. Merci! And I am humbled and encouraged that you've read all my books. Bless you!

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  4. I have read ALL of Elizbeth's books and am anxious to read this one! Thanks for the giveaway.

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    1. Merci, Jackie! Bless you for encouraging me today.

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  5. I have read the books..especially liked The Swan House setting in GA because I am familiar with it. Well-researched places add a lot to my enjoyment of books.
    Jenny cjmosley2002@yahoo.com

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    1. So glad you've enjoyed my novels, and esp. The Swan House--it is my story, even though I was only 2 when the Orly crash happened. But Mary Swan is a lot like me, lives in the neighborhood where I grew up and goes to the same school...name changed=) Blessings to you, Jenny.

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  6. Secrets of the Cross trilogy is one of my favorite series, and IS my favorite from Elizabeth Musser. I'm anxious to read her latest novel which is soon available.,

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    1. Merci, dear Carol! So glad you enjoyed The Secrets of the Cross trilogy! Blessings!

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  7. I've read Words Unspoken and I really enjoyed it. I'd love to win her newest book. It sounds really good. I think an author works really hard on research that they do for a book. Depending on the subject matter it can take a lot of time and devotion to get the finished result to appeal to readers. That is something I cherish when reading a book. I especially enjoy historical novels.

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    1. Thanks, Rebecca, and so glad you enjoyed 'Words Unspoken'--just a little tidbit about research for that novel. My sweet dad helped me create the rogue stock broker as Daddy was a stock broker. I grew up hearing all about stocks and bonds but I am hopeless with that kind of thing so Dad walked me through it all. Very fun.

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  8. I have read most of Elizabeth's books and enjoyed them all. I can tell they are very well researched. I wonder if it would be hard to know what research to include in the story and which to leave out. I would think they would find out many interesting things researching their topic.

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    1. Bonjour, Pam, and so glad you have enjoyed my novels. About research, I often think, "Lord, I've spent hours and days and even weeks researching this part of history that will ultimately only be a paragraph in the actual book. Ugh!" But the research is so necessary to make the story believable and also just so that I will understand the period of time I'm writing about.

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  9. I haven't read any of Elizabeth's books. I know that when I do research of my own, it helps me be more informed about issues.

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    1. Amen,JJ. Hope you'll have a chance to read one of my books soon. Blessings!

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  10. I was moved to tears by the end of The Long Highway Home. It opened my eyes to what is happening to Christian refugees - and non-Christian ones - fighting for their lives on the other side of the world. I want to join Elizabeth in doing what I can to help them.

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    1. Thank you, dear Deb! You are such an encourager! Hugs and blessings!

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  11. What a sweet privilege to have read many of your books! Pixi Winters put me onto to you. I don't recall meeting you but I was apparently in church with you many years ago in Columbia, SC! Blessings on yours and Paul's missionary work.

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    1. Thanks, dear 'grandmommy'! Pixi is such a sweetie. Our home church is Cornerstone Pres in Columbia, SC. Perhaps we'll meet again there someday. So glad you have enjoyed my books! Blessings!

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  12. I love Elizabeth's beautiful writing voice and have enjoyed several of her stories!

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    1. Thank you so much, Britney, for encouraging me today. And thank you for the beautiful review you left on TBCN about Searching for Eternity. Blessings on you!

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  13. Elizabeth, I've not yet had the pleasure of reading your stories.

    I'm amazed by the interesting facts that authors uncover during their research.

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    1. Thanks, Caryl, and yes, truth is much stranger than fiction and it's very exciting when I find a special nugget as I'm doing research.

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