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Archived / Author Q & A's > Q & A Spoiler Free/ Tosca Lee author of The Line Between & A Single Light

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Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 402 comments Mod
We are very excited to have Tosca Lee joining us for a Q & A on January 15. We will be asking her questions of both of her books and her writing style. More details to come.


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 402 comments Mod
The Line Between US kindle book is on sale for $1.99 till Jan 15. It's now on sale for Canadians too but I am not sure for all long.


Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews (lindsaylivi) | 79 comments Mod
Very exciting Brenda! Thank you for organizing this!!


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 402 comments Mod
Thank you, Tosca for joining us! I am going to get started and add some questions over the next couple days.


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 402 comments Mod
Today we are focusing on The Line Between and A Single Light but I am also curious about your other books. Can you tell us a little about some of your other books?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 402 comments Mod
What does your writing day look like to you?

What is the one thing you struggle with the most in your writing process?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 402 comments Mod
How did you come up with the idea for this series?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 402 comments Mod
What came first for you the plot or the characters?


message 9: by Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews (last edited Jan 14, 2020 12:05PM) (new)

Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 402 comments Mod
How did you go about creating your characters? Were any of the characters harder for you to write than others?

Do you have a favourite character that you liked writing more than any others?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 402 comments Mod
Did you plot out the stories or did it come together as you were writing? Did you have The Line Between completed and then wrote A Single Light or did you mapped out them together?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 402 comments Mod
What do the titles of each book mean to you?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 402 comments Mod
Things get pretty intense in A Single Light and became quite the action-packed race against time. How were you able to maintain that tension? Was that something you mapped out or did the story guide you?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 402 comments Mod
How did you choose the names for your characters? I personally love the name Chase. It's my son's name.


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 402 comments Mod
Is there anything you hope readers will get from your books?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 402 comments Mod
Are you working on anything else right now?


message 16: by Tosca (last edited Jan 15, 2020 05:12PM) (new)

Tosca Lee (toscatoscaleecom) Hello, Traveling Sisters!! Thank you for inviting me to join you this evening!! It's been such a pleasure to get to interact with you this last year as these books have come out, and I so appreciate your readership, reviews, and the way you advocate for books, readers and authors!

I'm starting with the question of how I come up with character names, and the answer is that some of my choices are very deliberate, and some just happen. On the deliberate side, there's Wynter, who is named after my step-daughter, who was the same age when I began writing The Line Between. Chase (love this name!) was a name that came along as I was looking for something that would go with his rugged but restless spirit.

Then there is the Reverend--a minor character who was named Carolyn Richtel after the real Carolyn--a hospice worker in AZ--bought the spot in a charity auction. I haven't always gotten to do this, having written books that were biblical or historical in nature in the past, so it was really fun for me to be able to offer a spot up in this way.


message 17: by Tosca (last edited Jan 15, 2020 04:19PM) (new)

Tosca Lee (toscatoscaleecom) On character names part 2...

One of my favorite names was for Piper's husband, Jax--nicknamed Jax Daniels. Btw, Piper was original Carolyne before the charity auction happened.

In the sequel, my new favorite character, Otto, was named after one of my longtime fans' last name. I really love incorporating the first and/or last names of fans and sometimes post while I'm writing asking for volunteers--with the caveat that I reserve the right to make them jerks or kill them. ;D


message 18: by Tosca (new)

Tosca Lee (toscatoscaleecom) Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "Today we are focusing on The Line Between and A Single Light but I am also curious about your other books. Can you tell us a little about some of your other books?"

The Line Between was #10 for me, and the sequel, A Single Light, was #11. These are current day thrillers set in the Midwest where I live, but my early novels spanned anything from post-apocalyptic/dystopian (The Books of Mortals series with Ted Dekker--Forbidden, Mortal, and Sovereign) to biblical and historical fiction (Havah: The Story of Eve, Iscariot, and The Legend of Sheba). I'm really excited to share that Havah is coming out January 21 on audiobook finally after over a decade, and The Legend of Sheba is releasing in February after five years! The Legend of Sheba was very special to me as I wrote it, because I was falling in love with my husband, whom I met in 2013. Parts of it were written at the farm house (he is a handsome farmer :) while I visited, and when the book came out, he propose to me during my first book signing for it at B&N.

The Progeny and Firstborn as the thriller duology I wrote right prior to The Line Between, and these two books are a glob-trotting thriller adventure that travels from the U.S. to Eastern Europe. For this series, I put many of the pictures from the research trip that appear in the book on my Pinterest page. So if you choose to read them, you can follow and see the real locations on my board "The Real Progeny."

I should also add that I love doing fun things like this for my books, which is why I decided to share one of the little inside things I did for The Line Between on my site and blog, and it is this: I buried a code in The Line Between, and then put a "Code" menu item on my site at ToscaLee.com. So that if you read the book and think you found it, you can enter it there and--if you are correct--unlock a big chunk of the sequel, A Single Light. :)


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 402 comments Mod
Each question is on a message number and you can reply to each question directly by using the reply under the question.


message 20: by Tosca (new)

Tosca Lee (toscatoscaleecom) Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "What does your writing day look like to you?

What is the one thing you struggle with the most in your writing process?"


I don't have much of a typical writing day--every day can be different depending on what stage of writing I'm in: brainstorming, outlining, drafting, rewriting, editing... And often in between books, I don't write--mostly because I'm playing catch up with everything else and trying to pick up all the balls I dropped while working. That's the hard part for me: I seem to only be able to focus well on one thing at a time!

The other thing that makes my schedule unpredictable is that when I married my single father husband (you can learn more about him at @TheFarmerBryan on Instagram), I became an insta-mom to four. So this-single-city-girl-turned-farmer's-wife-and-mom-of-four has had some steep learning curve lessons in country life, kids, and trying to find time for everything! :D But I've loved every minute of it.


message 21: by Tosca (new)

Tosca Lee (toscatoscaleecom) Writing day part 2...

I can tell you that drafting is probably my least favorite part of writing. I know that's where the magic happens--and fun, unexpected things do occur! But it's also a very messy process and is the least contained part of it. I really love rewriting because finally those sentences start to sound smoother and things make more sense. :)

As for "typical," though, don't be fooled by images from awards banquets and trips to NYC--98% of this job involves sweatpants with dog goobers on them and ponytails with dirty hair. ;)


message 22: by Tosca (new)

Tosca Lee (toscatoscaleecom) Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "How did you come up with the idea for this series?"

I was on my way to meet with my publisher about what my next two books should be and I had just seen a headline a few nights before about a reindeer in Siberia that melted in the permafrost. The carcass turned out to be filled with anthrax and a nearby village got sick and a young boy died. I remember thinking this was fascinating and terrifying, and added the idea of a disease coming out of the permafrost to my list of idea scenarios--which also included a story about a young woman leaving a cult and starting over in the outside world, among others.

My publisher, when we met, said, "I like these two. I think you should put them together!" I thought he was crazy at first. But then I went home and started putting it together, and really enjoyed the story!


message 23: by Tosca (new)

Tosca Lee (toscatoscaleecom) Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "What came first for you the plot or the characters?"

So, given that the story was informed by headlines (melting permafrost and scary stuff in it) and real attempts on the U.S. grid (I put notes in the back of my books for those interested in their own research), and the situation of a young woman starting over after cult life, I knew the bones of the plot first. But I had to still meet and get to know Wynter as a character. It was a delicate balance, trying to find this feisty young woman who matures into a fierce heroine, but who is so oppressed and trying to conform to the rules of the only life she has known at the beginning of the book.

Now, after having written two books about her, I have to admit, she's really hard to leave behind.


message 24: by Tosca (new)

Tosca Lee (toscatoscaleecom) Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "How did you go about creating your characters? Were any of the characters harder for you to write than others?

Do you have a favourite character that you liked writing more than any others?"


I really like the idea of slipping into another character's shoes and skin. Generally, writing characters is one of my favorite parts of creating stories because it seems like you can never make them too complex or multi-faceted--because real people are like that. Every now and then I have to revisit a character because I just know there's more to them--and I need to dig that out a bit more. This was the case with my initial pass with Wynter. I had to find where she was walking that line between knowing something was off in the cult, but also trying to adhere to the only world system she knew. It took a few tries, and ultimately I had to rely on my own very strict and sometimes difficult religious upbringing for reference. It was hard to go there, but once I did... things made more sense. That's the common ground I met Wynter on.

As for favorites... Otto in A Single Light has become my new favorite. I knew there would be someone to come along in that story--I just didn't know who or what he'd be like until I got there. And then there Otto was. I don't think I've giggled quite as much as I did writing his scenes.


message 25: by Tosca (new)

Tosca Lee (toscatoscaleecom) Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "Did you plot out the stories or did it come together as you were writing? Did you have The Line Between completed and then wrote A Single Light or did you mapped out them together?"

Hahaha, I ought to let my editor friend who goes through all my manuscripts before I turn them in to my publisher answer this.

The short answer is that I normally plot a little more than I did on my initial draft of The Line Between. There are two genera camps in the novel-writing community--the plotters and panthers (who write by the seat of their pants). I am a plotter with some pantsing tendencies. But I still have to plot. So the initial draft of The Line Between did not come together. It was a mess. I had to rewrite it from the ground up a couple times before it finally worked.

My editor friend said, "Um, we need to talk before you start the sequel." And we did, and I laid that baby out in enough detail that I knew what was going on and the writing flew by and was SO much easier. You'd think after a dozen books (I've got a couple that haven't sold yet) I'd know better, but we all keep learning along the way.

To the other part of your question: the smart thing to do would probably be to plot the second book before writing or at least finishing the first one. But in both my duologies, I did not do this. So by the time I finished the first one, I knew I had written myself into a challenging corner, and that my job in the second book was to write myself out of it--preferably at a faster pace with higher stakes than the first book, if possible. :) And I think that was kind of the fun of it--that I was in the same situation as my characters. But I have to admit that it has made for sleepless nights. I remember gearing up to write Firstborn (the sequel to The Progeny) and thinking, "How does one take down an entire European cabal???" :D


message 26: by Tosca (new)

Tosca Lee (toscatoscaleecom) Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "What do the titles of each book mean to you?"

The Line Between in the story, at least, is reminiscent of that first step Wynter takes from the "safe" confines of the cult out into the secular world. For me, it's about that thin and nebulous line between sanity and madness, clarity and confusion, right and wrong in a world where everything seems blurred.

There's a moment in A Single Light when Wynter actually wonders if the world has become so terrible that it isn't worth saving. So the title is about this idea that it only takes one good person or deed or word to save a life or the world a moment at a time.


message 27: by Tosca (new)

Tosca Lee (toscatoscaleecom) Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "Things get pretty intense in A Single Light and became quite the action-packed race against time. How were you able to maintain that tension? Was that something you mapped out or did the story guid..."

So this time I mapped it--mostly. I always leave some wiggle room and I didn't realize that there'd be as much to the drama underground at the beginning of the book. But when I got in there, I really loved exploring it and the claustrophobic feeling of the situation. So there's always a little discovery along the way, but in order to make up for the time I spent rewriting the first book so many times and to maintain the relentless pace of the action, I had to be very cognizent about events and the passage of time vs. the stakes Wynter and Chase were up against. It was a very intense three months of writing for me with a lot of all-nighters or 4am bedtimes.


message 28: by Tosca (new)

Tosca Lee (toscatoscaleecom) Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "Is there anything you hope readers will get from your books?"

The first thing is entertainment. I really hope readers who come to my stories get the escape that we look for in fiction. Beyond that, I hope they get a few heart palpitations (:D), or that they sigh or laugh or are just so in the moment that time slips by and suddenly it's well past bedtime. I hope they're inspired and learn or think about something new, too. But above all, I hope they enjoy themselves.


message 29: by Tosca (new)

Tosca Lee (toscatoscaleecom) Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "Are you working on anything else right now?"

I am! I am rewriting a WWII novel that I coauthored with Marcus Brotherton (who wrote Grateful American with Gary Sinise) and the opening of a new historical thriller. But I'm also playing catch up after a 2019 filled with two book releases and some 50 appearances. Being in the middle of renovation at the farm house, I'm feeling a strong compulsion to clean out cabinets, which I find really, really satisfying. :D

The other fun thing I'm working on is a writer's workshop I'm creating with authors Nicole Baart and Kimberly Stuart--two Midwest author besties from neighboring Iowa. We are so excited to launch Alchemy Writers' Workshop this June in Sioux Falls, SD. (If anyone wants to know more about that, they can go to: www.alchemywriter.com.)


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 402 comments Mod
Otto is such a great character and we chatted a bit about him in our group discussion. We all loved him. We loved the dynamics between Wynter and Chase.

You achieved that with me for sure. I found both books entertaining and I was lost in the story reading them quite fast.

I think you got to all the questions. Thank you so much for joining me and answering my questions. I really enjoyed learning more about you and seeing some insight into the stories. I look forward to what you have coming up next.


message 31: by Tosca (new)

Tosca Lee (toscatoscaleecom) Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "Otto is such a great character and we chatted a bit about him in our group discussion. We all loved him. We loved the dynamics between Wynter and Chase.

You achieved that with me for sure. I foun..."


Thank you so much for having me here, and for including The Line Between books in your group!!

Sending love from Nebraska!
~Tosca


Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews (lindsaylivi) | 79 comments Mod
Thank you for visiting with us Tosca! I loved reading all of your answers to our questions!


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