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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Breaking down

Last night I did something I've never done before...

I broke a 1 inch pine board completely in two!!!

Okay, that may not be exciting to you... but it totally was for me! Adrenaline rush and hand slaps and cheers from the class and all.

Here's the play by play: David and I lined up together to break boards. He went first.

First try, he split the board clean in two.

So, of course, I had to do it too. ;-) And I did. Woot!

It was such a cool feeling to know I'd focused on a task and succeeded. So much of writing and mommy-ing doesn't afford that instant gratification.

The coolest part was I did it! My hand went through wood. And I felt just a tad of superhero-ness. ;-)

After our first try went so well, David and I decided to do synchronized board breaking.

I so wish I had pictures... it was a hoot. David counted down, and then on three we slammed through the boards.

But... alas.... I'm still old and my hands are screaming at me today and one is a nice reddish blue color.

Truth be told... old has nothing to do with it. I just got so focused on breaking the board because David did that I forgot to use good form.

My sore hand is teaching me all about focus and good form.

So next time I'll split the boards without taking home a blue and red trophy. :-)

Okay, now it's your turn. What new thing have you tried and found out you could do? Share the excitement. And maybe even the lessons learned.

I'm all ears. And sore hands. Prayers appreciated. :-)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dinner with a writer

Last Friday, my husband began the descent into craziness.

See, it all started with a fantastic meeting David and I had with my awesome agent, Chip. In the process of discussing book ideas, David and I had a minute to discuss meshing new plot ideas with old, and he was a huge help.

I didn't think anything of this, because David and our kiddos have helped me work out story ideas many times over the past four years.

Then we went out to dinner to celebrate Healing Promise's IRCC win. And, of course, I was talking book ideas the entire drive and scribbling notes like crazy.

I love this part of the writing process, especially when God pours out the ideas and my husband assists in organizing them.

A while later, our elegant dinner at Chateau √Član started normally enough.

Well... normal for us, anyway.

My husband placed a menu back on the table and it slipped into a water vase...

Said vase dumped over onto my lap and streamed down the table. The water kept coming and coming.

We had a good laugh about it though.

Then we went back to discussing books.

That's when it happened.

As you all know, I'm a writer. And writers aren't normals.

I can hear many of you laughing. Other's thinking, "Oh... that's what's wrong."

My husband is a normal, most of the time. So I thought nothing of starting a game I play when I'm out somewhere around people I don't know.

I surreptitiously pointed to an older couple and asked what they did for a living. We discussed this a while and then moved on to another couple.

Pretty soon, David had concocted this story about one of these men doing business deals out on the golf course and being forced into some shady situations, unwilling to share these things with his wife. As happens when we hide things, this man kept turning a blind eye to his downward spiral and was about to fall into...

I forget the rest of the story. See, I was so shocked and bewildered to be sitting next to a once normal man now spouting suspense plot outlines.

Then it hit me. Eureka! I've finally done it!

Insert evil "bwah ha ha ha" and hand wringing here.

I've finally done it.

I've turned my husband into a writer!

So now I'm wondering.... who's wants to take me out to dinner next?! :-)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Praise God for wow moments and loved ones

Many moons ago, I shared the story of when I received "THE CALL" and a was offered a three-book contract by my dream publisher.

If you'll remember, my reaction was not dancing or celebrating.

I got sick.

Really.

But I distinctly remember the reason wasn't so much fear as the overwhelming responsibility to give readers a story that touched their hearts and drew them closer to God.

When I contemplated that...then the fear kicked in.

It didn't last long. Not when I started sharing with friends and they did the dancing and celebrating.

I couldn't help but join in.

What a difference it makes to share the joys with my family and friends who have also shared the teary bumps in the road.

Unlike that "CALL" years ago, today I received another very cool call. This time from a number I vaguely recognized but let go to voice mail because I was working.

My hubby was upstairs, and all the sudden I hear him pick up the phone.

Silence for a few beats.

By now my ears pricked up.

And sure enough his voice rose an octave and he came thundering down the stairs, phone in hand, smile on his face.

"I think you want to take this call."

Okay.

So I took the phone and the delightful Nancy Farrier explained that my second novel, Healing Promises, won first place in the romantic suspense category of the IRCC!

Wow!

This time I wasn't queasy at all. In fact, I nodded and babbled and blinked a few times before it sunk in that I'd won.

Then I danced.

A little while later, at dinner, my hubby called everyone to attention. He then proceeded to announced that a very special, award-winning author was their special guest tonight.

Our children didn't exactly get it, so he continued and explained that I'd won first place in a very amazing contest.

That's when the high fives, way-to-gos and lots of hugs and smiles started.

I didn't have time to get teary since we were all laughing too hard at David's silly introduction in a very exaggerated British butler voice.

A while later I logged on to Facebook where a flurry of congrats hit me and made me smile.

All the kind words in addition to the congrats made me cry.

Really.

That's when it sunk in that today was a day to celebrate.

And I'm still beaming.

So my very special, tear-dropped thanks to you all for praying through the tough times and dancing with me in the good.

Today's a day I celebrate you! Thank you for making this day even more amazing!

And thank you, Daddy, for such a sweet kiss. Not only is Your timing always perfect, but Your gifts are always good.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn

I'm so excited to give a shout out to Liz Johnson, my publicist at Multnomah, who is now not only an amazing publicist, but she's also a talented author.

Here's a bit about The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn and about Liz, then a fun interview and how you can get a copy of this great new book...

The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn

Myles Parsons is just another inmate in Kenzie Thorn’s GED course until he kidnaps her, offering only a feeble explanation–that he’s actually FBI Special Agent Myles Borden. Terrified, Kenzie doesn’t want to believe his story of being undercover to protect her. Moreover, she can’t believe that someone might really want her dead.

But just when Myles thinks he has her out of harm’s way, his plans start to fall apart. He attempts to take Kenzie to a safe house—but the stubborn woman won’t go! So together they must uncover the clues that will reveal a most shocking perpetrator. All the while Myles tries to keep his distance from Kenzie … but finds himself falling in love.


After graduating from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff with a degree in public relations, Liz Johnson set out to work in the Christian publishing industry, which was her lifelong dream. In 2006 she got her wish when she accepted a publicity position at a major trade book publisher. While working as a publicist in the industry, she decided to pursue her other dream-being an author. Along the way to having her novel published, she wrote articles for several magazines and worked as a freelance editorial consultant.

Liz lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she enjoys theater, ice skating, volunteering in her church’s bookstore and making frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her nephew and three nieces. She loves stories of true love with happy endings. The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn is her first novel. Keep up with Liz's adventures in writing at http://www.lizjohnsonbooks.com/

An Interview with Liz

I love writing and reading about the FBI and enjoyed your FBI guy a lot! What resources did you use to research your suspense novel?

Wow, that’s a great question. I spent a lot of time reading other novels about FBI agents, Navy SEALS, and other elite military men. It helped me get a feel for how Myles, my FBI guy and hero, should feel on the page. I did a lot of research and reading on the official FBI website to learn more about the organizational structure, titles, and things like that. I also did a lot of research online about the Oregon State Prison system. While the Evergreen campus is fictional, it was important to me to find the right titles and phrases in the system. But I have a terrible habit of reading up on these things and then throwing them out the window as I write. After all, it’s fiction, and I love taking a bit of liberty with my writing.

What sparked the idea for The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn?

It’s hard for me to pin down one specific spark for this book. There are a lot of little ones. I think that a big part of developing Kenzie’s story was where I was at in my own life. I had just made two major moves in the span of six months, and I was 1100 miles from my family. I felt like the only one I could lean on was God, so reliance on Him became one of the key themes of Kenzie’s story. I also had a friend from high school who made some really poor choices and ended up in prison for five years. His sister asked me to write to him, and I did. For five years we wrote back and forth, and his letters made me wonder if there was anything that would cause someone to willingly go to prison. It all just developed from there.

How did you decide on the names in your book: Kenzie Thorn and Myles Borden?

Well, with Kenzie, her name was just always there. Before I even started the book, I knew I wanted to title it The Kidnapping of … someone. I’m a big fan of alliteration, so I was looking for a K name. I just tried a bunch of combinations, and when I landed on Kenzie Thorn is was just so perfect. It fit perfectly as I needed her to share her grandfather’s name. Mackenzie was easy to split up so he is called Mac. As for Myles, I’ve just always thought that was a tough-guy’s name. It seems strong, and now I can’t imagine him with another name. Right before I started writing the book, I had seen The Prestige, which has a character named Alfred Borden. It was stuck in my head, and while Myles is nothing like Borden in the movie, I just couldn’t get it out of my mind.

What is the spiritual emphasis for this story that you pray touches readers' hearts?

I really pray that readers will be reminded that the eyes of the Lord are on those that fear Him. I pray that they’ll recognize that God can be relied on in every situation, no matter what.

Share a little about your background and how you started down the writing path.

I’ve always loved reading and writing, so I knew from a young age that I wanted to work in the Christian publishing industry. After college, finding a job—especially one in publishing—was harder than I thought it would be, so I signed up for the Christian Writers Guild apprentice course. I learned a lot about writing over the 2-year correspondence course, and I continued playing around with stories (terribly written stories) until I was hired into the industry in 2006. And then it was a my good friend and fellow publicist Kelly Blewett who told me she couldn’t wait to read the book I had told her I wanted to write. Her accountability got me from the dreaming stage to the sitting down and really working out The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn.


Find The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and CBD. You can include any or all of these links.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Sunset Beach

Summer is the perfect time for a story that whisks you away to a beach setting (minus the sunburn and sand) with characters you'd love to hang out with in real life.

And I have just the story for you all that I've read and loved.

Trish Perry's new novel, Sunset Beach.

I've said before that Trish is one of my all-time favorite authors. I fell in love with her writing as I read her debut novel: The Guy I'm Not Dating. She made me laugh and cry and close the book with a satisfied smile.

Trish is also a dear friend and a very classy lady. In fact, she so impressed my daughters when we caught up with her in DC last year that they still talk about how nice, pretty, and funny she was. All of that translates into her stories.

My thoughts on Sunset Beach:

First off, isn't the cover GORGEOUS?! It makes me smile just looking at it.

Sunset Beach is an upbeat, engaging story with depth that translated into real life for me. One of the main story lines involves Sonny's quest for answers about her family that her mother has kept secret all her life.

Sonny's questions and the consequences of her digging into the past really got me thinking about how I teach my children about their extended family. Even though I've never even thought about acting like Sonny's mother, there are things in everyone's past that are easier left unsaid. But God has kept me open and honest with my children as we talk about life and faith and God's Word.

So while Sunset Beach made me think, it also left me glad for the path I'd chosen to walk with my daughters.

There are some heavy moments and deep themes of forgiveness and brokenness, but they're handled with grace and Trish's uncanny ability to make human nature ring with authenticity and yet still sparkle and make you smile.

Here's more about Sunset Beach and some really cool questions to learn more about Trish.

About Sunset Beach:

Sonny Miller is tired of not knowing who she is. Soon she’ll begin graduate school to earn her masters in Psychology. But how can she counsel future clients about their identities when she isn’t even sure about her own? To that end she has cooked up a little meeting at a certain beach house in San Diego.

Sonny’s mother, classical soprano Teresa Miller, isn’t aware she’s about to be reunited at the beach house with her sister, Melanie Hines, after 25 years of estrangement. And Sonny isn’t aware her mother has invited a surprise guest of her own. Russian adoptee, Irina Petrova, finds herself dragged along on a trip so tumultuous she summons her handsome concert violinist brother for moral support.

The four women converge on the funky little beach house in San Diego, each with her own disappointments and hopes about family, identity, and love. For Sonny, the trip reveals all she expected and more than she ever dreamed.

About Trish:

Award-winning novelist Trish Perry has written Sunset Beach (2009), Beach Dreams (2008), Too Good to Be True (2007), and The Guy I’m Not Dating (2006), all for Harvest House Publishers. She writes a monthly column, “Real Life is Stranger,” for Christian Fiction Online Magazine. She was editor of Ink and the Spirit, the newsletter of Washington D.C.’s Capital Christian Writers organization (CCW), for seven years. Before her novels, Perry published numerous short stories, essays, devotionals, and poetry in Christian and general market media.

Perry holds a B.A. in Psychology, was a 1980s stockbroker, and held positions at the Securities and Exchange Commission and in several Washington law firms. She serves on the Board of Directors of CCW and is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers group and Romance Writers of America. Perry lives in Northern Virginia with her teenaged son.

Interview with Trish:

Tell me a little bit about your background and your family.

I’m the middle child; middle girl. I was raised as one of five kids by my British mum and my WWII Air Force vet dad. I lived in Newfoundland (Canada), California, Colorado, and finally Virginia, which I’ve called home for the greater part of my life. I love it here. Most of my family still resides in Virginia, which is a bonus.

My late sister lived a rough lifetime of medical problems, which had a distinct bearing on our family lifestyle and our sensibilities toward the hardships of others. Her eventual death may have been a blessed relief for her, but it was a huge loss for us. The loss is what brought me to the Lord.

Both of my children are believers, which brings me such peace. I have a 29-year-old daughter, who is one of the coolest, smartest, most intuitive women I know. She’s blessed me with a remarkable grandson, now five. And my 16-year-old son is brilliant and funny, and he tells me daily that I’m weird (but I can hear the “I love you” in there when he says it).

What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies?

Novels and films are constants in my life; if I’m home and not working, I’m usually absorbed by one of those. I love good stories. I enjoy varied styles of music. I love to sing and served on my church’s worship team until my writing schedule got so busy. I still serenade the neighbors on occasion, whether they want me to or not. I’m a self-admitted former disco queen, and I still love to dance. And I make sure to get together with girlfriends at least once a week. Socializing, dining, and laughing—it’s like having your batteries charged!

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Well, hands down, I’d have to be able to teleport. Frankly, I’d travel a lot more if it weren’t for airports! I would have chosen the superpower of flying, but who wants to carry all that luggage in the air? If I could teleport, I could have my luggage in my circle of teleportability (you have heard of those, yes?), and it would teleport with me, free of luggage searches and additional-baggage fees.

What has God been teaching you lately?

I’ve been blown away by how clearly He forgives my weaknesses. Things have occurred in my life over the past 18 months for which (right or wrong) I carried a burden of guilt. You know, that feeling of “how did I contribute to this mess?” Yet He has blessed me so abundantly in the midst of my feelings of conviction, that He amazes me daily with His obvious love. The blessings keep me humbly aware of how much I need Him. And they instill in me such a strong desire to serve Him and to follow His guidance and will.

What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most?

I love writing dialogue. What a control freak’s dream, to have control over what everyone says, including the antagonist. If only life were that easy, LOL! But truly, sometimes a scene simply shapes itself right before my eyes when the characters are engaged in dialogue. I don’t know quite what will be expressed sometimes, and I love it when it flows even faster than I seem to be able to think it.

When you write do you generally know where you’re headed or are you sometimes as surprised as your characters about the way things end?

There is always surprise, no matter how well I plan out a book’s progress. I was just talking with my editor about that the other day, the fact that the initial summary I write might change a bit as events unfold around my protagonist. I think that’s happened with every book I’ve written. I typically write a summary, which tells me generally where the story will go, and then I write a sentence or two per chapter idea, and then I start hammering away on Chapter One. As I write actual chapters, the events between “Once upon a time” and “The End” evolve in more significant ways than I expected in the first place. It’s an exciting process!

What would you say to someone who wants to become a published author?

Give the endeavor to God first. And daily. When doubts arise (and they will), you must be able to fall back on the knowledge that your efforts are for Him. And know that He will never show you the way by crushing your efforts with rejection and desolation. If He wants you to do something other than writing, He’ll lovingly draw you to that other endeavor.

That said, take all the practical steps to learn the craft and the business. Read (both how-to’s and novels), write, network, and submit. Over and over again.

Where did you get the idea for Sunset Beach?

The setting (the funky little house on Mission Beach) and time frame (one or two weeks’ time) were already established for me by my publisher. All of the books in The Beach House series fall within those parameters. But the characters and their stories formulated over time.

First I dreamed up Sonny—a young woman who had lived her entire life devoid of details about her family background, thanks to her secretive mother. Sonny had reached a point where she wanted to take control of her own life. Her mother was the barrier to that, so Sonny needed to both go around her mother and barrel headlong towards her. The hidden details about Sonny’s past arose as I created each new character. Even though my own family is close and forthcoming about our family history, there have always been fuzzy areas about which I’ve wanted to know more. I imagined how difficult it would be if your entire family history were fuzzy. I know I’d be compelled to act as Sonny did.

What are the major themes of the book?

My books always end up having a broad overall theme of the importance of seeking God’s guidance in everything. That’s never been deliberate—that’s just the way my stories work out. But for Sunset Beach, the most important theme entails our personal identities and how we determine them. Upon whom, or what, do we base our beliefs about who we are, what we’re worth, what our purpose in life is? A subtheme in the book has to do with the struggle to approach romance and passion appropriately. I think that’s a tough one for every single person I know, and it brings us right back to that whole seeking-God’s-guidance-in-everything theme.

What kind of research did you have to do for the book?

For the setting, I had already done quite a bit of research on Mission Beach and Pacific Beach for my previous book, Beach Dreams. And I read both of Sally John’s books in the series, which were the best research material I could ask for. But for Sunset Beach, I wanted to branch out some, so I sought help from friends from the surrounding areas and businesses that operated in San Diego and elsewhere in California. Also I was blessed by coming across a fellow writer who was able to answer my questions about Russian orphanages, which I coupled with online research. Finally, with regard to the psychological aspects of the story, I leaned on my own education, my textbooks, and on research available through various psychological studies and educational sites online. I’m not a fan of research, but those particular searches were fun.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

First, I hope they’ll find the book entertaining. I want them to enjoy Sonny’s journey and the way her discoveries uncover secrets and feelings for the people around her. I hope they’ll be amused, but only when I mean them to be! On a grander scale, I hope readers will be touched by the whole issue of personal identity and how God factors into that. I never want to write a preachy book—but I certainly enjoy hearing when my books are inspiring. My prayer before every book I write is that God will give me the story someone somewhere needs to read in order to feel more of what He wants them to feel. Then I leave it up to Him.

Other Blog Tour Spot Bloggers talking about Trish and Sunset Beach:

A Peek at My Bookshelf
A Spacious Place
Blog Tour Spot
Book Junkie Confessions
Book Nook Club
Cindy’s Stamping and Reviews
Cornhusker Academy
Drive Home Productions
Edgy Inspirational Author Blog
Fictionary
Fresh Brewed Writer
Gatorskunz and Mudcats
Giving Up on Picture Perfect
Heart Chocolate
I Don’t Wanna Blog
J’s Spot
Lighthouse Academy
Net’s Book Notes
Our Family’s Adventures
Real Women Scrap
Refresh My Soul
S.A.G.A
Scraps and Snippets
Sherry Kyle
Springs Writers
The Friendly Book Nook
The Sarah Jane Diaries
The Writing Road
This That and The Other
wandering, wonderings of a whacked-out woman
Word Up Studies
Word Vessel

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Here's to a Happy Fourth of July!

My family and I are celebrating many things today.

The freedoms we enjoy

The men and women who are serving and have served to keep us free

The history of our nation

Family and friends

Faith and forgiveness

Hotdogs and hamburgers

Slip and slides

Laughter and love

Ice cream

Fireworks

Songs about our heritage

Prayers for our nation

Along with many today, we're celebrating. Because for all that the world might say about our nation, it's still our home.

We're still free. And that's worth singing about and enjoying the day.

I pray you will wherever you are too.




 
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