Friday, June 15, 2007

Taking a break

Hello to the few, the proud, the FreshBrewedWriter readers! I'm taking a bit of an Internet sabbatical from blogging and internet life, and I'll see you back here after Independence Day.

If you were a Glass Road PR Book Tour winner and haven't notified me of your address, please do so and I'll mail your books after I come back online in July. If I return and no addresses are waiting for me at freshbrewedwriter [at] gmail.com , then there will be new names drawn.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Book Blog Tour Giveaway Winners

The winners are:


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~drumroll~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Bygones (2 copies):

Linda (Granny Fox) and Cheri (Kudzu and Koolaid)


Fair Game: Kelly from MyUtopia


Gone With the Groom: Stephanie G (Life in Overdrive)


Veil of Fire: Moved to another giveaway.

If you're a winner, please email me (freshbrewedwriter [at] gmail.com) and send me your address! I would love to get these in the mail by Saturday, after which I don't have regular email access.

Thanks again to Glass Road PR for the giveaways!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Blog Book Tour Giveaway details

I have two copies of Kim Vogel Sawyer's Bygones and one copy each of Fair Game, Veil of Fire, and Gone with the Groom to give away, compliments of Glass Road Public Relations (they provided the books, I'm mailing them to the winners myself!).


If you'd like to enter, be sure to comment either here or under each of the book blog tour entries below for each of the books by TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2:00 PM CENTRAL DAYLIGHT TIME. At that time I'll choose the winners out of a basket (or hat or bowl!) and get their addresses and mail them by the end of next week.


Thanks!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Veil of Fire Glass Road PR Book Blog Tour

Welcome to one modest stop on the Glass Road Public Relations Book Tour! Each day this week I'll feature a book and give you information about it, as well as a chance to enter a contest to win the book! Remember, email me (freshbrewedwriter [at] gmail.com) or leave me a message or comment for a chance to win this book. If you want to be in a drawing for more than one, that's fine, just indicate which title(s) you're interested in! Currently I have five books in my hands to give away.


Today's book is VEIL OF FIRE by Margo Schlalesky. Here's a super interview with the author!


Glass Road Blog Tour Interview Questions


For VEIL OF FIRE


By Marlo Schalesky





  1. Where did you birth the idea for this book? When? How did it come about?

People often ask where I get my ideas for my books. My answer? You never know! For Veil of Fire, the idea was birthed at my favorite Mexican restaurant in the mission town of San Juan Bautista. There I was, sitting with my family, nibbling chips and salsa, when a wedding party came by. The bridesmaids were dressed in beautiful turn-of-the-century style gowns. As they passed, my mother-in-law began to tell me of the dresses that her great grandmother, who lived in Hinckley, used to sew for the rich ladies in Minneapolis and St. Paul. From there, came the story of the great Hinckley fire and the rebuilding that this woman, my husband’s great-great-grandmother, was a part of. And finally, I heard the tale of the mystery figure in the hills, a person burned beyond recognition. A person never identified, living as a hermit until one day he just disappeared.


At that moment, the first inklings of the story that would become Veil of Fire were born in my heart. Who was the hermit in the hills? What happened to him? And how would I solve the mystery if I could? As I pondered those questions, I knew that I had to write the hermit’s story. Had to explore what it would be like to lose everything, even your identity. Had to hear the hermit’s voice in my mind, and hear the story for myself.


So, the writing of the book became for me a process of discovery, as I hope it will be for my readers. I hope that as the mystery of the hermit drew me, so too it will draw others to this story of how fire can change you, take from you, and in the end, may just set you free.




  1. Can you explain the research process, since this is such a historical novel?

The research for Veil of Fire was particularly fascinating not only because of its link to my personal family history, but also because of the incredible first-person accounts of the fire that were written by people who were actually there. These stories are compiled into a book written entirely by survivors who recount their personal experience of living through the firestorm that swept through their town. I read about a man whose hat lifted from his head and exploded above him as he ran through wind and fire. I read about another whose horse raced beside the Eastern Minnesota train as fire billowed around him. The horse swerved into the smoke, and the man was never seen again. I read about a boy racing down the tracks, falling, and surviving as the fire roared over him. I read about fire on the surface of the Grindstone River, darkness broken only by bursts of flame, the St. Paul and Duluth engine backing up to Skunk Lake through blinding heat and smoke. I read about a train trestle disintegrating into flame moments after a train passed, about Jane Tew praying on that train, and the brakemen who saved them all.


Those eyewitness accounts, as well as information gathered about the fire from other sources, created the realistic feel of the fire and its aftermath in Veil of Fire. Plus, you can be sure that if something seems almost beyond belief in Veil of Fire, it will be drawn from an actual account that came directly from the research, so amazing were the real stories of the fire on that day!


Today, a number of books about the fire, as well as artifacts, photos, and other articles can be seen at the Hinckley Fire Museum in Hinckley.




  1. What takeaway points do you hope your readers pull from this book?

Once, when we were children, we believed in miracles. The impossible was only a prayer away. Fairy tales were real, and dreams were free. Where did we lose the ability to trust? When did we stop daring to believe? What happened to us?


Life happened. Failure, discouragement, pain, loss. Somewhere, somehow, life burns us all. And we realize that this life we live is not the one we once dreamed. The realities of life scar us. Doubts rise. Fear whispers that hope is gone. And what was once a simple faith can fail in the face of that fear.


In the midst of life’s disillusionment, choices appear. Do we retreat? Hide our hurts far from probing eyes? Do we embrace bitterness and cynicism? Do we use deceit to try to obtain our goals? Do we give up, give in, forget that we ever dared to dream?


Or is it possible to reach the high places of faith in the low valleys of life’s reality? Can we still live a life of bold faith, of fierce hope, when fairy tales don’t come true? How do we live this life that God has given us when it’s not the life we dreamed?


These are the questions I wanted to explore in Veil of Fire. These are the questions which underlie each character’s journey in the aftermath of the great fire of 1894.


So, for those burned by life, for those who carry scars that cannot be seen, for those who have retreated for fear of more pain, this story is for you, this journey from the hidden places of pain to a new hope in the unhidden truth of Christ’s love.




  1. Can you share with your readers something God has been teaching you lately?

Through some recent tragedies and through writing Veil of Fire, God is showing me that I cannot measure his love by my successes and failures, or even by my happiness. Who I am on the inside, how I am being shaped into the likeness of Christ, the character of my life – the color and beauty of it – are what are important to God. And to create that color and beauty, sorrow is necessary. Hurtful things happen.


So, I’m starting to understand that my life, too, is a story that God is writing. And since the best stories have conflict, disappointments, and plenty of action, I shouldn’t be surprised when my life takes a turn and my faith is challenged once again.


And yet, my sorrow matters to God, my tears are counted by him as precious. He does not leave me alone in my hurt. He touches me, he heals me, he creates beauty from the ashes of my pain.


So I’m learning to walk through the fires in my own life. And to dig deeper – not to answer the question of why but the question of who – who is God really, who am I, and who is he making me to be? Those are the questions that matter. Those are the things that help me to face my own fires, accept my own scars.




  1. What book are you currently reading?

Why, the New Testament, of course . . . in Greek! Now, before you start thinking that loving Greek makes me too scholarly to write a decent novel, you should know that even though I just completed my Masters at Fuller (that’s a Masters in Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary – so cool!), it wasn’t my desire for an “A” that made me fall in love with New Testament Greek. After all, most students get through Greek class as fast as they can and then forget it. I might have too.


But one day, as I was sitting there in class, learning forms and tenses, my professor happened to mention something interesting. “Did you realize,” he said, “that the Greek word for truth and the word for unhidden share the same root.”


Ah, in that moment an idea came to me, a little whisper from the heart of God. Truth. Unhidden. Truth. And I began to see the connection between truth and what it means for those who hide in their pain.


That idea became the basis for the theme in Veil of Fire. So you see, I can’t help loving the Greek. I can’t help wanting to read the New Testament that way. After all, who knows what I might discover next.




  1. Which character in Veil of Fire do you most relate to, and why?

Even though I base no character on myself, they all reflect a little of me – my questions, my struggles, the issues that have shaped and molded me. In Veil of Fire, this is particularly true for the hermit in the hills. Just as the hermit questions God’s love, believes “I am Esau, unchosen, unloved,” so I too have struggled with those same feelings, doubts, and questions. I, too, have cried out to God, “Why don’t you love me?” For the hermit, it was a question born out of fire, abuse, and disfigurement. For me, it was a question that came out of failure, infertility, and miscarriage. So, in many ways, the hermit’s questions were my own, the answers mine, the external scars reflections of my internal ones, and in turn, I think, symbols of the scars of us all.




  1. When writing Veil of Fire, did you plan the plot before sitting down to write the story, or did the plot develop as the story progressed?

I am a “headlights” writer, which means I can see the chapter I’m writing and a few chapters ahead. I may also glimpse a few “signposts” in the distance. The funny thing about Veil of Fire is that I wrote three quarters of the book thinking the hermit in the hills was one character only to find out as I neared the end that I was wrong! And the impact of that discovery was both a shock and a delight. Suddenly, I understood what God was getting at through the theme and nuances of character in the book.


And truly, while I may complain that it would be easier to write a book if it were all mapped out (it certainly would be quicker!), this sense of surprise and delight is one of things that I love about the writing process. I love when the story and characters take on a life of their own. I love to discover what God has been planning for a story all along. And I love to be surprised by a sudden turn of events. And I know if I’m surprised and delighted, my readers will be too.




  1. Do you have an organized office and set times to write, or do you find yourself writing at unusual times or places? Explain.



  1. How long did this book take to write? Did you deal with any writer’s block? If so, what exercises did you do to “unblock”? And what food or beverage did you crave most when you were dealing with writer’s stress?



  1. What book project can we expect from you after Veil of Fire? Can you give us a sneak peak of the storyline?

After Veil of Fire, I’m writing 3 contemporary novels for Waterbrook-Multnomah. All of them are “Love Stories with a Twist!,” a new type of story that I think will knock readers’ socks off.


The first, Beyond the Night, releases in May 2008. With groovy 70’s trivia and a whopper of an ending twist, this one was as fun to write as it will be to read. Here’s a blurb about it:


They say love is blind. This time, they’re right.


A poignant love story . . .


A shocking twist . . .


Come, experience a love that will not die.


Nicolas Sparks (The Notebook) meets M. Night Shymalan (The Sixth Sense) in this moving story of two people trying to find love in the dark. A woman going blind, a man who loves her but can’t tell her so, a car crash, a hospital room, and an ending that has to be experienced to be believed. Watch for it next May!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I'm going to miss you, girlfriend. See you in Heaven.

NattiePattie


Point of Grace, "No More Pain"



She sits by the window with wandering eyes
She has a song in her heart
And a golden disguise
Her body is torn because age doesn't heal
She's not letting on
About the pain that she feels
But she knows in her soul
That it won't be too long
'Til Jesus comes back
To carry her home...

Where there will be no more pain
No more sorrow
No more waiting
For elusive tomorrows
There will be no more pain
No more dying
No more striving or strain
No more pain

My mind's eye remembers the trouble I've seen
All I have been through,
And how I long to be free
But I learn by her patience that I need her resolve
To wait for the opening of eternity's halls
And I know that in time we will stand side by side
When Jesus comes back receiving His bride


And there will be no more pain
No more sorrow
No more waiting
For elusive tomorrows
There will be no more pain
No more dying
No more striving or strain
No more pain


Nattie

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Meeting Her Match

Meeting Her Match by Debra Clopton

Sheri is bound and determined to steer clear of the Mule Hollow Matchmakers. She even goes out of her way to formulate a plan to catch them at their own game! She enlists the help of Pace Gentry, a new cowboy in town, against his better judgment. In the meantime, Sheri and Pace find themselves attracted to one another, but mismatched in their faith. Will the plan work, or will it backfire on Sheri?

Sheri is one of the feistiest heroines I’ve come across in the Love Inspired line of inspirational fiction. At times she was exasperating, but at other times, quite endearing. I enjoyed her very much.

Pace, well, he’s a strong silent type of a cowboy. He’s a new Christian, and he’s trying to understand how to follow God’s will. He doesn’t approve of Sheri’s plot to foil the Matchmakers of Mule Hollow, and yet he finds himself in the plot anyway.

I really enjoyed this story and of course, I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for Mule Hollow. I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in the series!

www.debraclopton.com

Newbery Award Books Reading Challenge

UPDATED: November 18, 2007: COMPLETED

June 2007: **I told Nattie in a text message last week while she was in the hospital, that getting cancer was no excuse not to read! I was totally teasing her, but her cancer is NOT going to stop me from participating in her challenge. So let's keep reading our Newbery books in her honor and make her proud for when she returns online. Oh, and when you see that Newbery name or seal on the book, think of Nattie and pray for her. Pray hard.**


July 2007: Of course, now we are completing the challenge in her memory. I think of her whenever I see that Newbery seal on these books.

Nattie, thou art nutso. But I can't resist. Besides, I have two little girls who need a read-aloud list for the summer, and how convenient that I own three of these six already!

1. The Tale of Despereaux - Kate Di Camillo (LOVED Winn-Dixie, so this one should be a good one too.)

2. Island of the Blue Dolphins - Scott O'Dell (I actually met Mr. O'Dell in 1983, and he autographed my book. It's upstairs. I read and reread this one.)

3. A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle (First read this in 5th grade, and lo and behold my oldest daughter is finishing 4th grade. I KNOW she'll love this one! It's upstairs too.)

4. Jacob Have I Loved - Katherine Paterson (I met Mrs. Paterson in 1984 and bought this book at the reading she gave; she autographed it in her neat, even handwriting. It, too, is upstairs. This book resonated with me as a teen. Not sure it's good for reading-aloud but I'll love a reread myself.)

5. The Westing Game - Ellen Raskin (I actually own this book but cannot find it, so I'll find another copy! LOVED IT. I still find myself remembering lines from it. "Object of the Game: Twin!" If you've read it, you'll remember that part. I think this will be an EXCELLENT read-aloud this summer.)

6. Sarah, Plain and Tall - Patricia MacLachlan (Never read it, never even got through the Glenn Close/Christopher Walken movie. I've always wanted to read it, however.)

I was really surprised as I looked through both the Newbery Award and Newbery Honor Book lists, how many I read as a child and young teen. I must've had great librarians at school and in the community!

Blog Tour Day 3 - GONE WITH THE GROOM

Welcome to one modest stop on the Glass Road Public Relations Book Tour! Each day this week I'll feature a book and give you information about it, as well as a chance to enter a contest to win the book! Remember, email me (freshbrewedwriter [at] gmail.com) or leave me a message or comment for a chance to win this book. If you want to be in a drawing for more than one, that's fine, just indicate which title(s) you're interested in! Currently I have four books in my hands to give away; the rest are more than likely en route to me.

janice


This is Janice Thompson, and her latest release is GONE WITH THE GROOM.


groom (Gotta say I LOVE the cover!)


From Amazon:

The best laid plans of brides and men go awry when Annie Peterson's future son-in-law Scott disappears. Have pre-wedding jitters caused Brandi's fiance to take flight, or are more sinister forces at work? Surely Annie can solve the riddle. But who could be behind this apparent kidnapping caper? Maybe the drug company Scott works for has hidden motives. Perhaps it's the handiwork of Otis, Scott's deceitful dad. But then again it could be the shady wedding photographer, or the "political enemies" of Scott's mother. Will Annie solve the mystery and recover the missing groom, or will she suffer "regrets only"?


This is the book that was being held hostage for me at the UPS warehouse here, where they're open from 5:00-6:00 pm each day. (Yep, you read that right, one hour a day.) Therefore, I haven't read it yet. But it sounds really intriguing and it's going proudly into Mt. TBR, which is growing faster than I can read, and that's saying a LOT right there.


OK, on to the Real Stuff, like the super-cool Glass Road PR interview with the author!


1. What book is coming next?
There will be three more Annie Peterson mysteries after this one: PUSHING UP DAISIES, THE PERFECT MATCH, and CATERING TO DISASTER. They will all be released as part of the new mystery line at Barbour Publishing (Heartsong Presents Mysteries).

2. What book are you working on now?
I just turned in a Heartsong romance titled WHITE AS SNOW - about a young woman who can't stand football. She lives in the Pittsburgh area, and eventually (of course!) falls in love with a professional football player. I had a lot of fun writing this one. Why, you ask? Because I'm not a football fan! Figure skating, yes! Gymnastics, of course! Football. . .are you kidding?

3. What book are you reading now?
I just read a really funny book by Ray Blackston call FLABBERGASTED. It was kind of like chick lit for guys. I ear-marked all of the pages that made me laugh out loud. By the time I got to the end, I think I'd ear-marked over forty pages! I also just read a really great non-fiction book by Lee Ezell called FINDING GOD WHEN LIFE'S NOT FAIR. In it, she talks about the death of her husband, and her bout with cancer, ten weeks later. I could relate to so much of what she was going through (refer to question below)

4. How do you deal with your other obligations (family, church, etc.) when it's crunch time near deadlines?
This has been a tough year for me. During the writing of GONE WITH THE GROOM, I lost my father to bone marrow cancer. It was an awful time for our family. Then, the week before the book was due, my married daughter (Randi) became very ill during her 33rd week of pregnancy and the baby (Madysen) had to be delivered early. She was only four and a half pounds, but (thank God!) is just fine now. Then, about the time the book went to the edit stage, my sister passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly. This week, as I began marketing the book, one of my best friends suddenly passed away. It seems like every time a tragedy strikes, I'm on some sort of deadline. I don't resent that fact, (though at times it's tough to keep going). I find the writing to be a blessing, particularly in light of the fact that I "need" the humor of light-weight stories like GONE WITH THE GROOM to bring a smile to my face. God always helps me with the obligations/deadlines part. I'm totally dependent on Him for those things. Wouldn't have it any other way.

5. What's your favorite worship song, and why?
If you had asked me this question one year ago, I would have answered "Amazing Love." It's been my favorite for years. But this year, I'm very drawn to a song called "Praise You in this Storm" (by Casting Crowns). The lyrics are so true of my life right now:



I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

(Praise You in This Storm, words by Mark Hall/music by Mark Hall and Bernie Herms)

Trust me when I say that it is possible for believers to go on praising, even when the storms are blowing out of control around you.

6. What do you crave (beverage or food) when you have writer's stress?
I am addicted to Diet Dr. Pepper. And when I'm really needing a treat, I turn to Earl Grey tea (like Annie Peterson) or even Chai Latte. When all else fails, I reach for a piece of cheesecake.

7. Where did you birth the idea for this book (and the series)? When? How did it come about? Did any of the experiences in the story happen to you personally?
I have four daughters in their 20's. Two of them got married in 2004 within four and a half months of each other. It was a stressful time, but I always knew I'd eventually be able to use the information in a story. Just about the time I thought I could rest, my third daughter got engaged. Her wedding just took place six weeks ago. Three down, one to go! As for how I decided to turn these books into mysteries (instead of traditional romances)... I asked myself the question, "What would you do if you had to pay for two weddings and didn't have the money to do so?" Out of that, the first book (THE WEDDING CAPER) was born. After that, I got to thinking, "What would you do if the groom disappeared just before the wedding?) Out of that, GONE WITH THE GROOM was born. And so on, and so forth.


8. If your book was turned into a movie, who would play the main characters?
Wow. Never thought about that before. Who would play Annie Peterson? If she were still alive, I might pick someone funny like Madeline Kahn. If she were younger, maybe Carol Burnett? Diane Keaton might work, (though, Annie is really only turning 50, so even Diane might be a bit too old). As for the twin daughters, I think it would be fun to have someone like Jennifer Garner play dual roles. Or, hey...what about the Olsen twins? They could split the workload, and they're about the right age. As for the husband (Warren) I wouldn't want to go for anyone terribly famous, because I wouldn't want him to outshine Annie. For Sheila? Someone quirky like Bette Midler or even Kathy Bates would do - in flamboyant colors, of course.

9. Which one of your characters is most like you, and why do you say that?
I'm a lot like Annie Peterson, truth be told. I find myself "in over my head" a lot, and I tend to think I can solve most any problem. She's going through some empty nest issues, and I can certainly relate to that. Like Annie I also find myself turning to God for the real answers. I'd like to say I'm funny like Sheila, but I patterned that character after my best friend Kay, who always keeps me laughing. Kay is always coming up with funny sayings, and all-the-more, now that she knows I need material for Sheila to use.

10. What do you want your readers to know about you?
I love God with my whole heart, and no matter what troubles come my way, (no matter what mysteries I need to solve) I will never ever give up on my faith. Never. I will keep on keeping on, no matter what!



Thanks, Janice!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Fair Game - Book Blog Tour Day 2

Welcome to one modest stop on the Glass Road Public Relations Book Tour! Each day this week I'll feature a book and give you information about it, as well as a chance to enter a contest to win the book!

Remember, email me or leave me a message for a chance to win this book. If you want to be in a drawing for more than one, that's fine, just indicate which title(s) you're interested in! Currently I have three books in my hands to give away; the rest are being held hostage at the UPS place in town, which I have yet to find.


Anyway, without further ado, here is today's book: Fair Game by Carol Cox! (I haven't read this one yet.)


Book Description
Dinah Mayhew takes on more than just a job at the Chicago World's Fair when she sets her cap for Seth Howell. As Dinah and Seth team up to help Chicago's unfortunates, romance fairly blossoms. But matters take a turn for the worse when Cousin Gladys appears on the scene and starts looking for love in all the wrong places. Upon Gladdie's sudden and mysterious disappearance, Dinah and Seth begin searching for answers, only to find themselves trapped in a maze of secrecy and deception. Will they live to expose the truth or find themselves facing the point of no return?

Now here is an interview with the author, Carol Cox!


1. What book are you working on now? Can you give us a sneak peek of the storyline?


Sure! Asking an author to talk about her books is never a problem. It's getting her to know when to stop talking that can be tricky. : )


I just turned in the manuscript for a title in a brand-new fiction series from Guideposts called Mystery and the Minister's Wife. There are five authors working on the series, and the one I've just completed will be book four.


Currently, I'm working on another story set at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair for Barbour Publishing. Like the first two, Ticket to Tomorrow and Fair Game, this one will have the splendor of the fair's WhiteCity as a backdrop. . .along with some of the less savory elements in Chicago's underworld.


The storyline revolves around Emily Ralston, a worker at the fair’s Children’s Building, and Stephen Bridger, one of the exposition’s Columbian Guards. When a little boy is abandoned at the Children’s Building, Emily and Stephen join forces to reunite the child with his family. Tracking little Adam’s family down proves to be more challenging than they expected when their efforts make all three of them targets of a cold-hearted criminal, and their lives—as well as their blossoming romance—are at risk.


And there’s good news for those who have followed the first two books--quirky Mrs. Purvis will be back, along with brief appearances by Annie and Nick from Ticket to Tomorrow and Dinah and Seth from Fair Game.



2. What takeaway points do you hope the reader pulls from this book?


Like many of us, Dinah wants to serve God but isn’t sure about what He wants her to do. She has to learn to focus on Him, rather than circumstances, to guide her. She also discovers that He can use her willingness to serve despite her shortcomings.



3. How do you deal with your other obligations (family, church, etc.) when it’s crunch time near deadlines?


After living through the crunch time for over twenty titles, my family is pretty well trained. : ) They know there will be days when I’m bleary-eyed and uncommunicative and they’ll have to take care of their own meals, laundry, etc. for a time. I appreciate their support so much! In return, I try very hard to be available for family time at some point during the day, even when the deadline is pressing hard. I don’t want to fall into the trap of focusing on what we’ll do together once the current deadline is out of the way and lose out on the precious time we have right now.


I recently gave a talk to our local ACFW group on time management. The preparation for reminded me that I knew what to do to make life run more smoothly, but didn’t always follow through on that. I’m working hard a planning my time better so those deadlines don’t crunch quite so hard.



4.Where did you birth the idea for this book? When? How did it come about?


My mother taught me to read at an early age, and books have been a major part of my life ever since. One I remember in particular was published in the 1940s and contained the history of the United States in mock newspaper format. As a little girl, I would spread the book open on the living room floor and spend hours poring over stories of long-ago events.


When she passed the book along to my son several years go, I thumbed through it again and discovered a story that grabbed my interest and wouldn’t let go. It contained only a brief mention of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, but that was enough to set me off on a trail of research and discovery.


The World’s Columbian Exposition (the fair’s official title) may not be familiar to many of us, but we’re all quite familiar with the things that originated there. Juicy Fruit gum, for instance, along with Cracker Jacks and Shredded Wheat. All of those were introduced at that fair. So was the concept of the midway. The star of the midway, the Ferris wheel, was created specifically for the exposition. It was a huge structure, rising nearly 250 feet in the air and capable of carrying over 2,000 passengers at a time.


A setting like that is more than enough to spark an author’s imagination! Right away, I knew there were stories to tell, and characters starting appearing on the scene and taking on a life of their own. It has been an adventure to follow along and record their stories. It truly was a fair to remember!



5.Can you share something with our readers about what God has been teaching you lately?


Currently, it’s all about focus and priorities. I keep going back to Jeremiah 29:11, where God reminds me His plans are to give me a future and a hope—not to burden my life and overwhelm me. My husband pastors two churches and runs a saddle shop in what we laughingly call his spare time.In addition to writing, I homeschool our fifth-grade daughter and help out at the shop a couple of days a week. With all we have going on, it’s easy to get sidetracked and put off doing things until later. But “later” never comes. When I procrastinate, I wind up in a time crunch that puts me—and my family—under a lot of stress. Remembering to keep God as my number one priority at all times is a must! In addition, I’ve posted some little signs in my office and at the top of the to-do list I keep on my laptop. These say “Focus!” and “Do It Now.” Small reminders, but they’re helping me keep on track.



6.Which one of your characters is most like you, and why do you say that?


In Fair Game, I can definitely see similarities to myself in Dinah. Dinah wants so much to be used by the Lord, but focuses on her weaknesses instead of her strengths. She has to learn that God is looking for obedience and a willing heart. It’s easy for me to focus on all my shortcomings rather than on what He can do if I’ll just step out of the way and allow Him to use me as He sees fit.



7.Do you pre-plan character development and then let them run with the story, or do you plot the story in advance?


I’m definitely a plotter. It’s far easier for me to have a road map at the beginning of a journey rather than to try to find my way as I go along. But that just gives me a guide. It doesn’t mean I’m locked into a rigid outline. There are still plenty of surprises that come up along the way to keep things fresh and interesting.


8.Do you have an organized office and set times to write, or do you find yourself writing at unusual times or places?


At the moment, we’re reorganizing our storage space. As a result, there are crates of books stacked all around my office. Having to maneuver past them would normally drive me crazy, but I’m trying to live with it for the time being.


I do have a regular writing schedule, but having a husband in ministry means I have to be flexible. When a call comes asking us to visit a critically ill church member, I can’t turn that down because it conflicts with my writing time. When “life happens” and my schedule doesn’t work out the way I planned, I’ve learned to redeem the time by being ready to write whenever the opportunity arises, even if it’s just for a few minutes at a stretch.


That can mean working in places most people don’t consider the typical writing environment. Living in a remote area, we spend a fair amount of time on the road just to run errands and do shopping. Most of my books have large sections that were written while we were on the road. . .with my husband driving, of course. : ) We heat our home with a woodstove. There’s nothing like that old-timey feeling of warmth, but in the early mornings it can be downright cold in the house until the fire gets built up again. I’ve been known to curl up with my laptop on the wood box next to the stove and write until the place thaws out a bit.


The important thing is to be ready to seize those moments whenever—and wherever—they arise. Even small increments of time can add up to a considerable amount of writing accomplished.



Thanks Carol, and thanks again to Glass Roads PR, the host of this blog tour!

Monday, June 04, 2007

GLASS ROAD BOOK TOUR - BYGONES

Welcome to one modest stop on the Glass Road Public Relations Book Tour! Each day this week I'll feature a book and give you information about it, as well as a chance to enter a contest to win the book!

To enter the contest, you can either leave a comment with your email address, or email me directly at freshbrewedwriter (at) gmail.com with your email address. I'll contact the winners for address information, etc. Six winners will be chosen (I have two copies of one of the books to give away).

Today's book is BYGONES by Kim Vogel Sawyer!

Back cover:

Twenty-three years ago, Marie Koeppler left her Old Order Mennonite family and faith to begin an exciting new life with Jep Quinn. But her husband's early death cut her dreams short. Widowed and alone, Marie makes just enough to survive and raise her daughter, Beth, in the outside world.

Ensnared by life's rhythms, Marie has but a faint memory of her former life in Sommerfeld, Kansas. That is, until ex-beau Henry Braun suddenly shows up, bearing news: An elderly aunt has died, leaving Beth a house and small cafe back home. But there's a hitch. To claim the inheritance, Beth must temporarily reside in Sommerfeld.

Reluctantly, Marie and Beth return to the Mennonite community Marie had once abandoned. .....

I have read this book and I can recommend it for fans of Beverly Lewis's Amish stories. Sawyer's book includes a mystery, a romance or two, some fun characters, and a good story to tie it all together.

And now, here's an interview with the author!

1. What sort of research was required to write a book like Bygones, to assure its authenticity?

You should see my "research book" shelves...full! LOL I did a lot of reading, but I also did some "on the street" research. Just a few miles from my hometown is a small, Amish-Mennonite community, so I wandered the streets there. I visited with a handful of young women who were willing to share some thoughts with me. Then I prayed it would be all right! I didn't want to perpetrate stereotypes or myths about this gentle, dedicated group of people. One thing I learned is that each different sect has its own set of "guidelines" concerning what is and isn't acceptable, so I finally just had to say, "Okay, this is what I'm using" and call it quits for my fictional community.

2. Why do you think readers have an interest in the Amish/Mennonite way of life?

There's a peaceful simplicity to their lifestyle that I think we who are caught up in the hustle-and-bustle full-of-technology world find intriguing. I would imagine nearly everyone, regardless of contentment in life, occasionally finds himself longing for a simpler time. They live their faith so openly with their distinctive clothing and modes of transportation--it just captures our attention. I found it interesting in my research to discover not all people are born to the Mennonite/Amish faith, but choose it later in life. So there must be an appeal.

3. Which character in Bygones can you most relate to, and why?

It might seem a little strange, but I most closely relate to Henry Braun. I tend to be fiercely loyal and want to believe the best of those I love. I suppose I can also relate to Marie as a mother of three girls--I understand that mom/daughter bond and the desire to protect and provide for your child.

4. What’s your favorite writer’s block trick?

Prayer, followed by going back and rereading what I've already written. I ask God to open my heart to the characters again, and by going to the beginning, I can emerse myself in the story once more. I usually munch dark chocolate while I'm doing the rereading, too. :o)

5. What do you crave (beverage or food) when you are under “writer’s stress”?

Hm, I am a dark chocolate-aholic, so I crave it whether I'm under stress or not!

6. Can you share something with our readers about what God has been teaching you lately?

I've been so amazed at the Holy Spirit's empowerment in my life. I am a bashful person--I've never liked being front and center or a part of large crowds--but writing kind of throws you out there. Your book is being read by people you don't know, and people are calling you to come speak, and sometimes it can be overwhelming. But God whispers, "Peace, be still," and reminds me I can do everything through His strength. Then, when I face that audience or read reviews, and somebody picks up something from the written or spoken words that's beyond the message I planned, I know God is at work behind the scenes, using my humble offerings to impact lives for Him. He's reminding me again and again I don't have to be perfect, I just have to be willing, and He can use this tarnished vessel. He truly is an awesome God.

7. What book are you currently reading?

I am currently reading The Book of Boston: The Victorian Period as research. :o)

8. What would most surprise our readers about you?

I have a little bit of an ornery streak inherited from my meek, innocent-looking mother. LOL I love a good practical joke, and it usually catches people by surprise because they wouldn't expect it of shy, introverted Kim. Of course, now that I've stated that, I might have to curtail my joke-playing!

9. What book is coming out next? Can you give us a sneak peak into the story line?

The next story will be the second in the Sommerfeld Trilogy, called Beginnings. This story focuses on Marie's daughter, Beth, who has chosen to remain in the community of Sommerfeld to open her own business, but feels alienated from the community. Two men--one Mennonite and one "worldly"--will vie for her attention, and Beth must dig deep into her heart and new-found faith to discover where she truly belongs in the world. I hope readers will enjoy her journey of developing trust in both God and man.

10. Give readers one good reason why they should read Bygones.

I think those who read Bygones will leave with an appreciation for deep-rooted faith and a healthy respect for those who live differently among us as an expression of their faith.

11. What takeaway point do you hope readers pull from the book?

Holding onto anger leads to regret and pain, and it can have a trickle-down effect through the generations. Jesus told us to "forgive seventy times seven," and He said it because he knew the heartache of holding onto wrongs. While writing this story, I faced a situation that brought great pain--someone else's choice had impacted my family tremendously, and I admit to feeling bitter. But writing about Marie and her family helped me get a perspective on what could happen in my family if I didn't forgive and let go. It isn't easy, but it's necessary, and the positive results are well worth the effort it takes to say, "I forgive." I hope the story will help others move toward reconciliation if they harbor a bitter resentment toward someone.

12. Where did you birth the idea for this book? How did it come about?

Oddly enough, I was contacted by an editor at Barbour who had learned I have a Mennonite background. Barbour publishes Amish fiction, and they thought it would be interesting to juxtapose that lifstyle with the Mennonite. So I was asked if I'd like to submit a story using a contemporary Mennonite setting. I'd had no aspirations in that direction, but once asked, this character--Marie--just sprang to life in my head. The story went in about four different directions before playing out with the adult daughter, the beau-left-behind, and the faithful, prayer-warrior aunt. And, as I said, God used it to bring a sense of healing in my own heart during its writing, so I believe it was God-inspired.

13. If your book was turned into a movie, who would play the main characters?

I have always said if one of my books becomes a movie, I get to play somebody important! LOL In this case, I would have to be Marie--I'm "kind of" the right age. *ahem* And if I were Marie, then I would choose Mel Gibson or Tom Selleck as Henry, since John Wayne isn't available. *wink*

14. Are your characters from real life experiences?

A compilation of people you know? Since writing is personal, it's hard to avoid bringing real-life situations into the fictional communities and characters. In the case of Bygones, Lisbeth is a combination of an aunt with whom I spent a great deal of time when growing up (my Aunt Lois) and my mom, who is my biggest prayer warrior. Consequently, the character of Lisbeth is quite special to me. The other characters in this story are pure conjecture.

Thanks so much for the opportunity to visit with you!

All We Ever Wanted: A Review

All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin My rating: 5 of 5 stars All We Ever Wanted is worthy of the buzz it's receiving this summer. I h...