Thursday, November 29, 2007

LeAnne Hardy Interview

I'm interviewing LeAnne Hardy, author of Glastonbury Tor, over at Favorite Pastimes this week. Here's an excerpt:

What is the message you hope to get across in the story?

I needed a character who was strongly motivated to stay at the monastery until the bitter end, even though any young person at the time would be able to see there was little future in it. Colin’s bitterness against his demanding and abusive father seemed like a good motive. Gradually, the whole theme of forgiveness came into focus—not only Colin’s need to forgive, but also his need to be forgiven. Plenty of other characters in the book are called upon to forgive as well, and it is Colin’s experience receiving forgiveness that sets him free to give it. But the overwhelming message I want to get across is the power and glory of our great God who forgives and makes it possible for us to forgive—that King greater than Arthur that I fell in love with as a teen. After being a Christian center for fifteen hundred years, Glastonbury, today, is overrun with New Age theology. Horoscopes are routinely included with your B&B. The last time I was there we had to step around the crystals on the Tor. I would love to claim it back for Jesus Christ.
Michelle Sutton reviews the book there as well and if you post a comment at Favorite pastimes you can be eligible to win a copy of Glastonbury Tor.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

CSFF Blog Tour Day 3: Scarlet

A couple of you asked for the link to my interview with Stephen Lawhead. If you scroll down to day one of the blog tour, you'll see two links for a part one and a part two. Again, this is my interview from last year around the release of Hood.



Scarlet

The King Raven Trilogy - Book 2
By Stephen R. Lawhead

Buy this book





From the back of the book:
After losing everything he owns, forester Will Scarlet embarks on a search for none other than King Raven, whose exploits have already become legendary. After fulfilling his quest--and proving himself a skilled and loyal companion--Will joins the heroic archer and his men.

Now, however, Will is in prison for a crime he did not commit. His sentence is death by hanging--unless he delivers King Raven and his band of cohorts.

That, of course, he will never do.

Wales is slowly falling under the control of the invading Normans, and King William the Red has given his ruthless barons control of the land. In desperation, the people turn to King Raven and his men for justice and survival in the face of the ever-growing onslaught.

From deep in the forest they form a daring plan for deliverance, knowing that failure means death for them all.

Scarlet continues Stephen R. Lawhead's riveting saga that began with the novel Hood, which relocated the legend of Robin Hood to the Welsh countryside and its dark forests. Steeped in Celtic mythology and the political intrigue of medival Britain, Lawhead's trilogy conjures up an ancient past and holds a mirror to contemporary realities. Prepare for an epic tale that dares to shatter everything you thought you knew about Robin Hood
Chapter One begins with:

So, now. One day soon they hang me for a rogue. Fair enough. I have earned it a hundred times over, I reckon, and that's leaving a lot of acreage unexplored. The jest of it is, the crime for which I swing is the one offence I never did do. The sheriff will have it that I raised rebellion against the king.

I didn't.
When I began reading I admit that I struggled with the language of the first chapter. I'm not one who can easily jump from one style of writing to another, and this sort of Welsh speak--a very close first person--was hard to understand at first. But after a while I grew to love Will Scarlet. Lawhead's creative techniques never fail to amaze me. Becky Miller said it well at her blog:
From that point, I became intrigued. The story, for the most part, is a first person recitation to a priestly amanuensis who is recording the condemned man’s “confession.” The storytelling device intrigued me as a writer, as did the frequent interruptions to show a growing relationship between the scribe, Odo, and the condemned, Will.

The effect was to give the story a bit of a herky-jerky feel, especially when occasional chapters popped up written in third person from the point of view of the antagonist. But rather than spoil the story, I felt the unique twists added dimension, and clearly, as the tale played out, were absolutely necessary.

As a writer I often think ahead of the story, considering the direction I might take things--a game I play to see if I think at all like the author. I'm sure you do the same.

Will brings us up to date with the happenings in the forest and how he came to be waiting for his untimely death. I had hoped that the last third of the book would reveal the freeing of Will by his forest companions and was curious as to the method. I was not disappointed.

As to the story setting in Wales, Lawhead had this to say in my interview with him last year:

BG:Book One in the King Raven Trilogy is the re-telling of a familiar tale, only re-imagined and placed in a different setting. What was your inspiration to write Robin Hood in this way?

SRL: For King Raven, I’ve used a similar approach to the one I used with my series, The Pendragon Cycle. Thus, the story I tell, while containing some familiar elements, is far, far different, unfolding in a different time. Also, the setting is new and different – not Sherwood, for example, but the wilds of Wales. Many of the familiar characters appear in interesting new roles and guises. So, there are surprises all along the way – fascinating incidents and details most people will never have read about.

BG: Why did you put him in 11th century Wales?

SRL: Because that’s where he belongs! Actually, this is what I like to do: take a popular tale of legend back to where it began … as opposed to where it ended up. The thing is, whenever you get an enduring hero – like Robin Hood – you have to ask yourself: how did his story get started? That’s the question that interests me, and sometimes the answer can be very surprising.

Most writers seem only-too-willing to replay the same accepted version of the beloved outlaw over and over again – a version largely cobbled together during Victorian times and flogged by Hollywood.

As a result most people assume a fairly tame, swashbuckling tale which takes place in the high middle ages, involving a lot of aristocrats swanning around a balmy Sherwood Forest full of Merry Men singing Hey-nonny. However, the real Robin Hood was likely born in the devastating clash between two completely different cultures – British and Norman, following the devastating invasion of 1066 – and the root of the story is darker, more earthy and elemental. There is far more to Robin Hood than most people realize.

BG: That’s because, as you mentioned, we all grew up on Hollywood’s version of the stories. Tell us how Hood is different.

SRL: In the famous words of Pat Lobrutto: This ain’t your mama’s Robin Hood. Forget green tights, forget a lot of merry men ho-ho-hoing in a tame arboretum.

My Robin Hood is raw and elemental and he lives in a dark, forbidding forest. Sure he has charm, but he’s also a haunted man: haunted by the memory of his mother, whom he loved, and his father, whom he hated. My Robin Hood is a British freedom fighter – but often a reluctant one – who must make his way in turbulent times. I think readers will find that he’s a complex, compelling character.

BG: I’m always curious how much of a story is fact and how much is fiction and if separating the two is difficult for the author.

SRL: I wouldn’t call it difficult – I’d call it fun. I like weaving together the known threads of fact and the suppositions of fiction. The idea is to create a seamless whole out of the two. And the two elements – fact and fiction – aren’t really competing. In each case, it’s all about the story. Factual history is already a story – and creating a more personal story out of the mega-story of historical events seems a very natural thing to me.

BG: You’ve said in a previous interview that you seek out writings from local and amateur historians hoping to find an “unorthodox premise.” Was there any such “unearthings,” any surprises, while researching for Hood?

SRL: Quite a lot, actually. One of the most surprising was the probable genesis of the legend – not Sherwood, but the primeval forests of the Welsh borders known as the March. In other words, it is highly likely that Robin was a British freedom fighter, not an English lord. He was fighting for his people and his homeland in Wales, not squabbling over a titled estate near Nottingham. When you look at the evidence, you begin to see new possibilities for this story that have yet to be explored.

Another thing that surprised me was how late what I call the ‘accepted version’ of his story appeared. It wasn’t until six or seven hundred years after his birth, so to speak, that anyone tried to stitch all the various parts of the legend together to form a continuous narrative story. Before that there are only bits and pieces of anecdotes, incidents, poems, and songs by dozens of different writers in many different times and places. That leaves a lot of territory completely uncharted, and ripe for exploitation.

I don't have enough time today for further discussion regarding Byzantium and Song of Albion. Maybe another day! Visit other participants:

Be sure to visit the other CSFF Blog tour Participants.

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Wayne Thomas Batson
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Kait
Karen
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Mike Lynch
Margaret
Karen McSpadden
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Lyn Perry
Deena Peterson
Rachelle
Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachelle Sperling
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Jason Waguespac
Daniel I. Weaver
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

CSFF Blog Tour Day Two: Stephen Lawhead's Scarlet

I've previously reviewed Hood for Favorite Pastimes along with my interview with Mr. Lawhead. I enjoyed the time he took in Hood to set the stage for this series, helping us to know how this re-imagined Robin Hood came to be.

During a chat session on Dancingword.com last year, Lawhead revealed that some have told him they don't like long drawn out story and descriptions, but then turn around and, practically in the same breath, say that he took them deep into the story world. They could hear, feel, and see everything. Truly, you can't have it both ways. I believe that is one of many things that lifts his work to a higher level, he stands out among the masses. Though his books haven't climbed to become New York Times bestsellers (to my knowlegde) they have longevity. How many writers can find a book they wrote over a decade or two ago, still standing on the shelves, readers still recommending them?

I first heard of Song of Albion from an editor who'd given me a critique of a few chapters of the fantasy I'd written. He wrote down a list of his favorite fantasies, not all of them Christian, suggesting that I read Song of Albion first. Though I admit it took me around a hundred pages before I was drawn into the story, I entered the story world/other world when the character did and not a second before he was ready. I understood the why's of his journey and the important foundation for the whole series. I long to go back to that world again when I have more "time-between-time" from reading and reviewing current novels.

Byzantium is another amazing journey that everyone should take if not for the history alone. Lawhead has an incredible technique for taking the reader through the story, then at the last possible moment, when the impact will be at it's stronger, revealing a great epiphany--the spiritual meaning of it all.

I'll be back to share my review of Scarlet and to share what I believe to be the moment of great "revelation" in both Song of Albion and Byzantium. I'd love to hear your thoughts as well.

Be sure to visit the other CSFF Blog tour Participants.

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Wayne Thomas Batson
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Kait
Karen
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Mike Lynch
Margaret
Karen McSpadden
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Lyn Perry
Deena Peterson
Rachelle
Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachelle Sperling
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Jason Waguespac
Daniel I. Weaver
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

Monday, November 26, 2007

CSFF Blog Tour: Stephen Lawhead's Scarlet


Welcome to the CSFF Blog Tour featuring Stephen Lawhead's Scarlet, the second book in his King Raven trilogy.

I count Stephen Lawhead as one of my two favorite authors, Song of Albion my all-time favorite read. I adored Byzantium as well. Now I can add Scarlet to that list. I had hoped to post an interview with him but I don't have it in my hands yet and I'm not sure that I will for this tour. So I'm including the link to the interview I did with him last year regarding Hood over at Favorite Pastimes. The link is also included at Stephenlawhead.com under interviews. But it will only take you to the first part of the interview. Click below for both parts of my interview with Stephen Lawhead.

Interview Part 1
Interview Part 2

Later today or tomorrow I'll post my review of Scarlet and I hope to discuss what I love about his other books.

You can visit Stephen's website at http://www.stephenlawhead.com

Be sure to visit the other CSFF Blog tour Participants.

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Wayne Thomas Batson
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Kait
Karen
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Mike Lynch
Margaret
Karen McSpadden
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Lyn Perry
Deena Peterson
Rachelle
Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachelle Sperling
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Jason Waguespac
Daniel I. Weaver
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

Keep Me In Suspense Interview


I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holidays! I'm still trying to figure out what to do with all the left overs. The Keep Me In Suspense team has an interview with me today regarding my upcoming release, Seasons of Love. If you'd like to be eligible to win a copy of my book, be sure to post on the contest page over at Keep Me In Suspense.


Blessings!
Beth

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Cranberries

I love the setting of my new novel, which releases next month to the Heartsong Presents book club. Cranberry farming fascinates me. When I began my research Ocean Spray didn't have their awesome website. You can even watch a video to learn about cranberries.

http://www.oceanspray.com/fall/

I posted a couple of recipes from their site:

OATMEAL CRANBERRY WHITE CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES

RATE THIS RECIPE
Read Reviews (9)
INGREDIENTS:

2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 6-ounce package Ocean Spray® Craisins® Original Sweetened Dried Cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in sweetened dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

Makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen cookies


HOLIDAY KISSING BALL

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Read Reviews (2)
SUPPLIES:

5” foam ball
Red acrylic craft paint
24-gauge beading wire
Hot glue gun/glue sticks OR wooden toothpicks
1-2 12-oz. bags Ocean Spray® Fresh Cranberries
Desired holiday trim: ribbon, mistletoe, holly, ivy, bells

DIRECTIONS:

Paint foam ball with red craft paint. Set aside to dry.

Cut an 18" piece of wire and fold it in half. Push folded wire all the way through the center of foam ball, leaving a 1” wire loop extending at bottom of ball and 3” of wire extending at top.

Using hot glue gun or toothpicks, attach cranberries to ball, covering it completely. Twist wires at top of ball into a simple hook for hanging. Use ribbon to tie mistletoe and other desired holiday trim to wire above and below ball, and hang with hook.

Kissing ball will last several days. Discard once berries begin to soften. To extend the life of your decoration, you can spray with an even coating of shellac.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You can find more recipes at http://www.oceanspray.com/recipes/popular.aspx

Thankful Publishing News

Barbour authors have much to be thankful about this Thanksgiving.

Barbour Publishing Affirms Commitment to Fiction
Signs Exclusive, Multi-Book Contracts with Five Authors

Demonstrating its continuing commitment to fiction, Barbour Publishing has signed five authors to exclusive, multi-book contracts. Current authors Mary Connealy, M. L. Tyndall, Christine Lynxwiler, and Kelly Eileen Hake, along with new author Marcia Gruver, will write a combined 30 books for Barbour over the next few years.
Read the rest of the article here:
http://www.barbourbooks.com/news/detail/barbour-publishing-affirms-commitment-to-fiction

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Shadow of Treason Blog Tour


Read the first chapter of A Shadow of Treason here, or Buy This Book!

Q and A with Tricia!

Q: A Shadow of Treason follows A Valley of Betrayal. This is the first time you've written books as a series instead of stand alone. Which way do you like better?

A: I love writing in series. It was great to continue with the same characters. In my stand-alone books I fell in love with these people and then I had to say good-bye after one book. It was wonderful to be able to continue on.

Q: In A Shadow of Treason Sophie must return to the person who betrayed her in an effort to help the Spanish people. It makes the book hard to put down because the reader has to know how Sophie's heart will deal with it. Why did you decide to make this an element of the book?

A: There are very few of us who go through life without giving away a part of our hearts to someone who didn't deserve it. Even though Sophie had the best intentions, she gave away her heart and she was hurt-not only that she must revisit those emotions.

I wanted to include this element-to delve into the topic that emotions are sometimes as big of a trap as any physical cage. Emotions are real and they guide us -- even when we don't want to admit it. Poor Sophie, not only does she have to deal with a war around her -- she also has to deal with a war within herself. It's something I've battled, and mostly likely others have too.

Q: There is an interesting element that arises in this book and that is Spanish gold. I know you can't tell us what happens in this book, but can you give us a brief history of this gold?

A: Sure. When I was researching I came upon something interesting. The Spaniards, as we know, had taken much Aztec and Inca gold during the time of the conquistadors. Well, at the start of The Spanish Civil War much of this gold was still held in Madrid. In fact Spain had the fourth largest gold reserves in the world at that time. The Republican government was afraid Franco would take the city and the gold. They had to get it out of Madrid and this included
transporting priceless artifacts. The element of gold does make its way into my story. It was great to include this little-known (and true!) element into my story.

Q: Another historical fact I learned about was the Nazi involvement during this time. Not only were the Germans active in Spain, but they had spy networks busy around the world. How did you find out about this?

A: I love reading tons of research books. Usually I find one little element that I dig out and turn into a plot line. This is what happened with my plot-line for the Nazi pilot, Ritter. I dug up this bit of research of Nazi involvement in Spain -- and the United States -- because a lot of people aren't aware of the Nazi involvement prior to WWII. The truth is they were busy at work getting the land, information, and resources they needed far before they threatened the
nations around them. The Germans knew what they wanted and how to get it. And most of the time they succeeded!

Q: A Shadow of Treason is Book Two. When will Book Three be out? Can you give us a hint of how the story continues?

A: Book Three is A Whisper of Freedom. It will be out February 2008. The characters that we love are all still in the midst of danger at the end of Book Two. Book Three continues their stories as we follow their journeys in -- and (for a few) out -- of Spain. It's an exciting
conclusion to the series!

Q: Wow, so we have a least one more fiction book to look forward to in the near future. Are you working on any non-fiction?

A: Yes, I have two non-fiction books that will be out the early part of 2008. Generation NeXt Marriage is a marriage book for today's couples. It talks about our marriage role models, our struggles, and what we're doing right as a generation. It also gives advice for holding it together.

I've also been privileged to work on the teen edition of Max Lucado's book 3:16. It was a great project to work on. What an honor!

Tricia Goyer has published over 300 articles for national publications such as Today's Christian Woman, Guideposts for Kids, and Focus on the Family, and is the co-author of Meal Time Moments (Focus on the Family). She has led numerous Bible Studies, and her study notes appear in the Women of Faith Study Bible (Zondervan).

She has written seven novels for Moody Publishing:

From Dust and Ashes (2003)
Night Song (2004)
Dawn of a Thousand Nights (2005);
Arms of Deliverance (2006)
A Valley of Betrayal (2007)
A Shadow of Treason (Fall 2007)
A Whisper of Freedom (February 2008)
Night Song was awarded American Christian Fiction Writer's 2005 Book of the Year for Best Long Historical. Dawn of a Thousand Nights won the same award in 2006.

Tricia has also written Life Interrupted: The Scoop on Being a Young Mom (Zondervan, 2004), 10 Minutes to Showtime (Thomas Nelson, 2004), and Generation NeXt Parenting (Multnomah, 2006). Life Interrupted was a 2005 Gold Medallion finalist in the Youth Category.

Also, coming out in the next year are: My Life, Unscripted (Thomas Nelson, 2007), Generation NeXt Marriage (Multnomah, Spring 2008), and 3:16-the teen version of the a book by Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson, Spring 2008).

Tricia and her husband John live with their three children in Kalispell, Montana. Tricia's grandmother also lives with them, and Tricia volunteers mentoring teen moms and leading children's church. Although Tricia doesn't live on a farm, she can hit one with a rock by standing on her back porch and giving it a good throw.

Tricia's Website:
http://www.triciagoyer.com

Tricia's blogs:
http://triciagoyer.blogspot.com
http://genxparents.blogspot.com
http://mywritingmentor.blogspot.com
http://www.myccm.org/triciagoyer
http://www.shoutlife.com/triciagoyer


Blessings!
Beth

It's off!

I sent my cozy mystery proposal out tonight. Now it's the waiting game. Only I'm not playing. I'm moving onto the next project.

Blessings!
Beth

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Upcoming Interviews and Blog tours

I finally looked up from a few writing projects today and realized that Thanksgiving is fast approaching. Yikes! I had to spend the afternoon cleaning out my refrigerator to make room for all the holiday related stuff. Aren't you glad I didn't take pics and share them with you?
Oh that reminds me --if you go to my website, you can see images of the Oregon coast that I took, even a slideshow. Of course, you do need to have a high speed connection. (You can click on my website on the sidebar)

All that to say this is a quick post to let you know what's coming so you'll be sure to check back. I'm posting on Tricia Goyer's blog tour this Friday and the week after Thanksgiving is CSFF's blog tour for Stephen Lawhead and his new release, Scarlet. I'm supposed to have an interview, but no promises. Expect interviews with Terri Reed and Kathleen Morgan as well.

The last few weeks I've sent off two proposals and I'm working on polishing a third. It's for a cozy mystery. I've never written in first person so I was pleased to discover how much I enjoyed that point of view.

Thanks for your patience with the quick update. I'll attempt to post something interesting tomorrow!

Beth

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lisa Harris Interview on KMIS

Lisa Harris is a good friend and co-host of Keep Me in Suspense. Today she's being interviewed at the KMIS blog regarding her latest release, A Matter of Trust. This book is one of the three  in the Massachusetts Weddings series along with my own Seasons of Love, due out next month!

Be sure to enter the contest to win her book. You can read the blog here.

Visit Lisa's website. 

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Author Jill Eileen Smith gets her first contract!!

I've known Jill Eileen Smith for several years, having met her at an ACFW conference. She's been a dear friend and encourager. Her love of Biblical Fiction has finally prevailed. . .

I'm proud to announce that Jill has landed a three book contract with Revell, for her Biblical series - Michal, Abigail, and Bathsheba.


A BIG CONGRATS TO YOU JILL!!!

You can read more about Jill at www.jilleileensmith.com.

Blessings!
Beth

Friday, November 09, 2007

Book Winner!


Congratulations, Melanie Dickerson! You've won Your Chariot Awaits! Please contact me with your snail mail address. 

Beth 

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Blog Tour: Informed Consent


Sandra Glahn, ThM, teaches in the media arts program at Dallas Theological Seminary, where she edits the award-winning magazine Kindred Spirit. The author of six books and co-author of seven others, she is pursuing a PhD in Aesthetic Studies (Arts and Humanities) at the University of Texas at Dallas . She recently released her first solo medical suspense novel, Informed Consent (Cook). She is the co-author of three other such novels, which include the Christy Award finalist, Lethal Harvest.

What’s Informed Consent about?

Jeremy Cramer, the next Einstein of research, is a medical resident specializing in infectious diseases. While working on a way to revive water submersion victims, he makes surprising discoveries, while also living with massive guilt over incidental infections that occur (which he could have prevented). Even as his marriage teeters, his career continues to skyrocket. Then, with a few twists along the way, he finds everything he has fought for threatened by the most personal, most heart-wrenching, choices of all.
I love exploring bioethics, and this book allowed me to consider end-of-life issues, patient rights, a compassionate response to HIV-AIDS…lots of edutainment.



How did you come up with this story? Was there a specific 'what if' moment?

The story had a thousand or more “what if” moments. I’m pursuing a PhD in Aesthetic Studies, and I worked on the setting, characters, a lot of the plot, as well as my narrative voice during three novel-writing classes taught by a novelist who writes fiction reviews for Publishers Weekly. And I got some great feedback from fellow students who don’t believe in Christ about ways to address faith issues more naturally. I also took a Dante class, which influenced my choice to give my characters five of the seven deadly sins. (I’m saving the other two for a future work.) But the elements in the plot designed to keep readers up at night came through a brainstorming session with medical doctor, William Cutrer, with whom I’ve coauthored three medical novels.

Do you ever struggle with writer's block? If so, how do you overcome it?

Never. I know…I almost feel guilty saying it. I attribute that to my second grade teacher, who had me write one story a day and raved about whatever I wrote. By the time I was old enough to realize nobody’s that good, it was too late. A brain has two sides, right? The creator and the editor. And she allowed the creator to run wild without introducing the editor. Ever. And as a result I have an extravagant sense of confidence about the first draft. Then I re-read it, and it stinks. Totally. But it’s too late. It’s already out there. And nobody ever complains about editor’s block. I’m not saying I recommend her style. Surely a second-grade teacher should help a student with grammar and spelling, right? But she never mentioned it. And that approach worked for me.
What is the most difficult part of writing for you or was when you first started on your writing journey?

I still struggle with expressing character emotion. I feel like I’ll insult the reader if I stop to say “the shock of the news hit like a two-by-four in the back of the head.” I figure if I tell the horrible circumstance, the reader has enough imagination to feel what any normal soul would feel. I want to say simply “His dad died in a plane crash,” and let the reader fill in the emotional blanks. Yet everybody experiences shock and grief differently. For some the room spins. For others it shrinks. For some it grabs in the pit of the stomach. Or it feels like a physical jolt. It’s part of my job as a developer of character to choose how this character will react and respond. When the emotions get intense, I need to slow down and let the reader enter the character’s head. But I’d rather get on with the plot.

How did you get started in the writing world?

After I graduated from college, I worked for a 700-employee financial services company where my boss thought I had some writing talent. I got my start twenty years ago working as the editor of employee publications. When the company sold, everybody got laid off. I mourned over leaving a job I loved, but it was the best thing ever for my career. Suddenly I had 700 business contacts all over Dallas.

I started a free-lance writing business, and one of my first clients was the music producer for Barney and Friends. Another client was Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS). I edited (and still edit) their magazine, Kindred Spirit. I dabbled in some classes in DTS’s media arts program, and I learned about Joseph Campbell and myth and about Hebrew narrative and Gospel storytelling. I figured if I could tell better stories, I’d write more engaging non-fiction. I had no aspirations ever to write a book, certainly not a novel!

Thanks to Sandra Glahn!! For more information visit:

Sandi's blog site:
http://aspire2.blogspot.com/

Sandi's website:
http://www.aspire2.com/index.html

Blessings!
Beth

Book Review: Your Chariot Awaits

I won't announce the winner of Your Chariot Awaits until the end of this week. There's still time to enter the drawing by posting a comment.

Title: Your Chariot Awaits
Author: Lorena McCourtney
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 13-978-1-59554-279-3
Genre: Mystery

In the course of one week Andi McConnell turns sixty, loses her job, breaks up with her boyfriend, and receives an unexpected inheritance from an eccentric rich uncle—a sleek black stretch limousine with bulletproof windows. She knows it’s totally impractical—yet the limo has an allure that Andi can hardly resist. The allure is considerably dampened, however, with the discovery of a dead boy in the trunk. So Andi joins forces with a nosy but charming former TV private eye in a bumbling and often hilarious attempt to find the killer.

Lorena McCourtney’s latest release, Your Chariot Awaits, is a joy to read. The first in her Andi McConnell Mystery series, the cozy plot is fun and interesting, and the writing is pure pleasure. I laughed out loud at the witty and humorous turns of phrase and imaginative descriptions. Here’s one example from a scene where Andi drives her limousine through the neighborhood.
All around the circle, doors opened and people stepped out to stare. It was like synchronized cuckoo clocks.
In another scene she describes a gentleman wearing a toupee as looking like he’d collided midair with a crow. I roared with laughter at this, unable to keep from reading out loud to my husband while he attempted to watch his sci fi movie. I admit, I’ve never been much of a fan of cozy mysteries, but Lorena has changed all this for me.

Blessings!
Beth

Friday, November 02, 2007

A Few Questions for Lorena McCourtney

I met Lorena several months ago when she sent me Stranded, the fourth book in her Ivy Malone series, to review. We discovered that we live in the same small town of Southern Oregon. It's a blessing to know her and to have a writing buddy who lives nearby--something I didn't have in Texas. So it's with great pleasure that I welcome Lorena to my site with this interview. Be sure to post a comment if you'd like to be entered in the book drawing for her latest release, YOUR CHARIOT AWAITS.

Beth: Plug time, tell us about your newest release?

Lorena: YOUR CHARIOT AWAITS is Book #1 in my new Andi McConnell Mysteries series from Thomas Nelson. Andi is an older woman who is astonished to find she’s just inherited a limousine. Except for that, however, it’s been a bad week for Andi. She’s been downsized from her job, dumped by her boyfriend, and depressed about an upcoming birthday. And now, worst of all, is the dead body in the trunk of that new limousine.

Beth: I read the book and I can't tell you how much I enjoyed the story, most of all the writing--it was pure joy. Well, I need to rephrase that. I hope to tell you when I write my review, how much I enjoyed it. Now tell us, what is your creative process for writing your cozy mysteries?

Lorena: The cozy mysteries I’ve done so far have all been series books, where the same main character continues from book to book. So my first task is in creating that main character, someone who is interesting and likeable. In my earlier series, the Ivy Malone Mysteries, the main character discovers she seems to have aged into invisibility. That came from my own life! So there’s a lot of me in Ivy, and, from the response I’ve had from readers, “invisibility” resounds with them too. In this new series, Andi is also an older woman, but she’s open to new adventures and relationships, interested and caring about people, so I think she’s also likeable.

After creating that main character, I have to think about the murder. Who’s murdered? Why? Who did it? How is my sleuth going to apprehend that person?

Beth: To add to solving those mystery questions, do you have a message you hope to get across in this story?

Lorena: In YOUR CHARIOT AWAITS, Andi isn’t a total disbeliever, but she has an experience that truly opens her eyes and heart to God’s existence and power. So, basically, the message of this story is that its never too late to come to know the Lord.
Beth: Do you tend to see that same Christian theme or message in your books? What are some of the themes that are recurring.

Lorena: Yes, familiar themes do reappear. One comes from the well-known line in Hebrews, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” I’ve come back to this several times, with the theme that God will never abandon you. He’ll always be with you and looking after you – although not necessarily in the way you hope it would happen.

Beth: Isn't that the truth! Now down to the business of writing. What does your typical day look like?

Lorena: I start out with the usual stuff: feeding the husband and picking up the deepest clutter around the house. I start my writing day with a time of Bible reading and prayer, often with the little devotional pamphlet Our Daily Bread as a guide. I check my e-mail (gotta see what’s going out there in the world!), then get to work. I break for lunch with my husband, then another shorter time of reading and prayer before I go back to work. I work until around four o’clock. But not all that time in my office is actual writing, of course. There’s research, promotional work, more e-mail checking, etc.

As you can see, the life of this writer, at least, is more on the humdrum than glamorous side! My son is grown, and I’m always amazed at the writing accomplished by women who are raising small children, perhaps even holding down a job too.

Beth: I'm amazed, too, when I managed to accomplish anything writing-related. (I have four children at home) What do you believe is the most important thing an author can do to catch an editor’s eye?

Lorena: Over and over we’re told that editors decide in the first couple of pages, perhaps even the first couple of paragraphs, whether they’re going to keep on reading. So I think we need a beginning that will grab a reader’s interest. But at the same time I think this needs to be something really relevant to the story, not just a few startling lines that then take a lot of backstory or explanation. I tend to start my mysteries earlier on than many writers do, in that the murder may not take place until 7 or 8 chapters into the book. This is because I like the murder victim to be a real person to the reader. But I realize many writers, and readers, like to jump right into the murder.

Beth: Those first paragraphs or pages are the toughest part of writing for me. What would you say was the toughest part of the writing craft for you to learn? Any tips for others who struggle with this same element?

Lorena: In writing romances, the hardest part for me was having a realistic conflict between the hero/heroine. Something that was a real conflict, not just a misunderstanding, but also something that could be overcome, so that a happy ending was possible. In writing mysteries, the hardest part is balancing clues among possible suspects so that it isn’t obvious too early who the killer is, but giving enough clues to make the identity of the killer believable at the end.

It also took me a while to learn to write a story in actual scenes with meaningful dialogue. A scene needs “walls” around it. Not actual walls, of course, but it needs to be in a specific place, among people who are interacting with each other with more than insignificant dialogue, and an ending to the scene. Early on, I tended to write a meandering narrative with some stray dialogue here and there, without getting it into an identifiable scene.

Beth: No matter how many books you've written, there is always something more to learn. I appreciate you joining me for this interview, Lorena. Any closing thoughts you’d like to share?

Lorena: My advice to anyone trying to write is to read, read, read. And study as you read. If a book is so good you can’t study while you’re reading it, then that’s the book you should go back to and read again.

Great advice! Thank you again for joining us and thanks to all you readers. If you'd like to learn more about Lorena or contact her, you can visit her website at www.lorenamccourtney.com.

Don't forget to comment to be entered in the drawing for YOUR CHARIOT AWAITS.

Blessings!
Beh
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