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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Spotlight on Christy Barritt and Hazardous Duty

Spotlight #2 for this week. You get an added bonus. :) Both chances to win a free book will be available until next Wednesday, March 7th.

Christy Barritt is the author of Hazardous Duty, a chick-lit mystery about a sassy crime-scene cleaner who likes to stick her nose into police business. In an interview, Christy shared where she got the idea for Hazardous Duty, what scenes she enjoyed writing and what's next in her publishing career.

Order your copy today!

1. This book features a heroine with a rather unique occupation. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

While writing for another publication, I learned about crime scene cleaners. I had no idea! As soon as I heard that was an actual profession, I knew it would be the perfect career for an amateur sleuth in a mystery novel. Shortly after, Hazardous Duty was born.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Gabby St. Claire and Riley Thomas? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone? Or what was the inspiration behind their development?

There's a little bit of me in each character that I write. I initially came up with Gabby's back-story as a result of my own past. Gabby had to give up college in order to take care of her family. I gave up a job at a publishing house in order to move home and take care of my father after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. That's where the similarities end, however. I have a wonderful, supportive family, unlike Gabby. Gabby and I also have our love of music in common. I'm always quoting music lyrics or bursting into song. I liked the character of Riley because he shows that Christians screw up, that we're not perfect. Too often I think that Christians feel they have to be perfect—something that's unobtainable. There's an old bumper sticker that reads, "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven." How true.

3. What themes exist in Hazardous Duty that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

The overall theme of the book would be faith verses science. That's something I really wanted to touch on in the book, to show that the two could walk hand in hand. But overall, I wanted to be realistic. Every day we learn little lessons in life. Sometimes, we have to learn our lessons the hard way, to be knocked over the head with them. Other times, we learn lessons through quiet observation. I didn't want any theme to overwhelm the book. I just wanted readers to enjoy the ride. :)

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

The most difficult parts to write were the ones that dealt directly with forensics. I'm not scientifically-minded … at all. So I really had research those parts. I also had to talk to police officers and lawyers and an actual crime scene cleaner in order to portray accurately things in the novel. All the parts that required that research scared me and at times bogged me down. I really liked writing the scenes were Gabby interacted with people—especially Riley, Sierra and Parker. I had a lot of fun with my secondary characters.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

My next book is called The Grim Sweeper. It's book number two in the "Squeaky Clean" series. Gabby finds herself in the middle of another police investigation when she comes upon a dead Elvis in the crawlspace of an abandoned house. The mystery goes from there! I haven't been given a release date, but I'm hoping to find out something soon! I'll be sure and let you know when I do.

Thanks for the interview! I enjoyed it… and I can't wait to read your book when it's released after the first of the year!

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We loved having you here, Christy. Readers, don't forget to comment and be entered for a chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Christy's book.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Bonus Spotlight on Annette Irby and Love Letters

We wanted to get this feature posted around Valentine's Day, but power outages and real life got in the way. However, we're still in the same month, so here's an extra spotlight this week and an extra chance to win a free book.

This one, though, is an e-book, and it will be e-mailed to the winner. And don't forget to check the comments of previous spotlights for the winner announcement. At least one winner every week here.

Annette M. Irby enjoys writing songs, articles and novels. Her work has appeared in Northwest Christian Author, The Christian Journal, the devotional The Secret Place, and the 365-day devotional book Penned from the Heart, vol. XII and XIII (SonRise Publications, 2006 and 2007). On line, you can read her articles at or She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Northwest Christian Writer's Association. She was a finalist in ACFW's Genesis Contest, 2006. In January 2007, her first book, "Love Letters," released through The Wild Rose Press ( Married since 1991, she lives with her husband and three children near Seattle, Washington. For more information, please visit her website:

1. Your book addresses a topic that affects thousands of married couples today...lack of real communication or the inability to be truly vulnerable and open. What gave you the inspiration for this story?
A few Christmases ago, during vacation, I was reading Christmas novellas. As happens often when I read, I became inspired for my own story in a novella form (with a completely unique plot). The story actually began as a Christmas-centered novella about a married couple and a writer's deadline. Since then, it's changed into a Valentine's Day/Tenth Anniversary story. This aspect of their inability to communicate clearly and be vulnerable was an aspect that developed after the original version.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Jordan and Randy? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

I always draw from myself (at least on some level) in order to paint a character. Like Jordan, I have misunderstood the love and pure motives of those around me, whether that love originates from God or family members. As for Randy, I wrote him as a guarded man because of fear. I can relate with that. I think readers will, too. It's natural to try to protect ourselves from pain by guarding our own hearts. What's challenging is that once we shut down any part of ourselves, we limit the experience/expression of other parts of ourselves, too. We have to entrust our whole selves to God in order to be free.

As for traits that were theirs alone—Randy's battle with anger and Jordan's ongoing bitterness towards her husband.

3. What themes exist in Love Letters that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?
That the path to freedom begins at the cross of Christ. Like Christian in the Pilgrim's Progress, we have to lay our burdens down there so that Jesus can take them. Unforgiveness or bitterness will only keep us from our destinies, not to mention happiness, freedom and love. You have to take risks when it comes to love in order to fully experience it and even to elicit it from your spouse. Wives need affection from their husbands to thrive and that wholeheartedly loving her makes him vulnerable. Husbands need support and respect (as well as love) from their wives in order to thrive and that supporting him is risky sometimes.

That you can get free from the past.

Jesus is the key for true romance.

At first, I had written the conversion scene of Randy's as a reference in his thoughts, but not a flashback. In one of our final edits, I added the scene. I hope the reader will see that the key to life is deciding what to do with Jesus' sacrifice—taking it seriously. Do you believe it? If so, how will it affect your life from this point forward? How will it affect your relationship to/with God? It's like this: He died for your sin so you wouldn’t have to be separated from God for eternity. What is your response to that?

Another later development, from the first version of the story, were the misunderstandings between Randy and Jordan and how there are two sides to their problems.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

The most "painful" aspect as a writer was the thread of their misunderstanding. It's difficult seeing both sides so clearly in a dispute. (I know, these characters aren't real.) But, since I chose to write in each of their POVs, I became acquainted with each of their reasons for being angry or avoiding the other person. The heartache was palpable. That and I found myself feeling sick sometimes right along with Jordan. Is that good, or bad?

My favorite scenes were ones where Randy would imagine himself with the courage to risk everything by taking a passionate step toward his wife, that after ten years of marriage, he would make a change and just go for it—put his heart out there.

I also loved the storm scene where Randy is outside his grandfather's cabin, unafraid of the storm. The very fact he faced that blizzard demonstrates he wasn't entirely paralyzed by fear. He could face it, if he needed to.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

Currently, my agent is pitching my next series—a trilogy of novels around three sisters and their spiritual journeys to better apprehend God's love in their own lives, not to mention romance in their personal lives. I enjoy writing Christian romance; I get to delve into the lovesickness of the Bridegroom God who pursues His people relentlessly. I will update my website with news on this front when I have some. :) In the meantime, I have two anthologies, another trilogy and a new series in the works. I consider this calling a joy and a gift.

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Thank you, Annette, for allowing your book to be featured here at A Fiction-Filled Life. We look forward to hearing from you. Readers, don't forget to post a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for a free copy of Annette's book. Have a great Monday!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Arrival in Philadelphia -- Journey to New Castle

Today, my story will not be long. When the ship stopped in Philadelphia, we planted our feet on dry land and bowed down to give thanks to God Almighty for bringing us here safely. Others who traveled with us were not so fortunate. Their lives were not in vain, but I offer a prayer for their families who will learn of their deaths weeks or months from now.

Philadelphia reminded me a lot of home, with its cobblestone streets, carriages, women and men dressed in fashion and the children running to and fro, carefree. Although we were not among those in the poorer parts of the ship, our health still suffered greatly. We could not tarry long, however, as we had to make our way to New Castle, where our new life awaited. After securing horses and a carriage for our belongings, we began our journey into the Three Lower Counties.

We mostly walked. To carry our gear—tools, tents, and food—we had a large, heavy wagon pulled by a team of strong horses. The road through the woods was sometimes just a path that we had to clear of trees. We helped the horses by pushing the wagon as they strained up long, steep hills and by guiding the team across streams and rivers. It was very important that everyone worked together, and we traveled with a small assembly of 9 others. At night, the we found a comfortable camping place near a spring or clear creek. Everyone had jobs, and Mar cooked meals over a campfire—the chicken was especially delicious.

We slept in blankets on the ground under the stars, sometimes putting up a tent. One of our group slept in a hammock that he strung between two trees. After breakfast, the journey continued. We met interesting people along the way: innkeepers, millers, or farmers from whom we bought grains, hay for our horses, and food. Most of the people we encountered spoke English or German, so we had no difficulty communicating. As we got closer to our destination, we saw more and more people and the area became more populated nearer New Castle.

I look forward to our new home and feel the excitement of beginning life anew here. I only pray it will bring Papa the great success he seeks.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Spotlight on Sharon Dunn and Death of a Garage Sale Newbie

The author today began her foray into the world of chic lit mystery with Cow Crimes and Mustang Menace. With engaging wit and memorable characters, her Ruby Taylor series included wry humor along with a crime to be solved. Now, she's back again, but this time she's exploring the world of garage sale bargain hunters.

Buy Death of a Garage Sale Newbie from

Sharon Dunn lives with her hubby of twenty years, three kids, and three cats. Book two in her Ruby Taylor mystery series Sassy Cinderella and the Valiant Vigilante won the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. When she isn't writing, she is usually being the mom taxi or making pets out of the dust bunnies under her furniture. You can read more about Sharon and her books at

1. You're back again with another sassy murder mystery. This time, you're celebrating coupon-clipping bargain hunters. What gave you the inspiration for this story and this upcoming series?

Like the main characters, I love to bargain shop. I am into garage sales, clearance racks and punch cards. Writing the Bargain Hunters series combines two of my favorite things: women bonding through shopping and a fun, follow the clues mystery.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Suzanne, Kindra and Ginger? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

Some of the things the women discover are similar to my own. The romance between Ginger and her husband Earl was inspired by my experience of rediscovering my hubby and falling in love with him all over again after weathering some health and financial trouble. All the bargain hunters come together because they need to cut costs. Like them, I am Little Miss Coupon Clipper, but their reasons for needing to stay on a budget are completely their own. Suzanne, for example, was buying designer clothes for her kids to make her feel like a better mother. Ginger teaches her how to stay on a budget and not use shopping to fill an emotional hole. Though I think I have shopped to fill an emotional hole now and then, designer kids clothes were never my downfall.

3. What themes exist in Death of a Garage Sale Newbie that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

I knew when I started that the whole series would explore the theme of Christians and money. Although Garage Sale Newbie is humorous, I really want to examine how we as Christians are supposed to respond in a world that says you get your worth from what you own. As I was writing Garage Sale Newbie, I saw that these women may have been brought together by the need to stay on a budget but they become a support network for each other in deeper ways. The conversation between them just happened. In early drafts, that theme of women supporting women started to emerge. I tend to focus on getting the clues laid out right in early drafts, but the relationship between the women was so precious. I brought that out more in later drafts.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

I love the banter between the women and the relationship that Ginger has with her wannabe inventor husband Earl. That was fun to write. I don't think that there was a part that was difficult. The whole time I am writing a book, I have a love/hate thing going on with the manuscript. There are times I want to push the delete button on the whole story because it doesn't look like I will ever get the book to match the vision I have in my head. Other times, I will read over a passage and laugh or be moved emotionally, or on the edge of my seat because a character I care about is in danger. During those times, I think "hey, this book isn't half bad."

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

Book Two in the Bargain Hunters, Death of a Cute Teddy Bear, series comes out January 2008. This time the bargain hunters head down to Nevada to shop at the outlet capital of the west, attend the world's largest garage sale and help Earl get one of his inventions off the ground.

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Thanks, Sharon, for being in the spotlight. Everyone, don't forget to post a comment for a chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Death of a Garage Sale Newbie. The books haven't shipped yet, but we'll get the winner a book as soon as they're available.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Never Despise Meager Beginnings....Small Deeds DO Count

It's something I'm having a lot of trouble doing lately. And it's not a good thing, either. I've got at least 3 web site clients whose sites need to be updated, several novella proposals to submit, 2 books to send to an editor, a sample to send to a potential agent, another proposal to get to another editor, not to mention my FT job as inventory supervisor at work during the week. We're in the middle of publisher returns and are only at 60% of our goal with just 1 week left.

I used to think that everything I did was to keep me busy and that not a lot of it was any big deal to anyone else. Then, today, I read in my daily devotional not to "despise meager beginnings." This brings to mind the book by Janette Oke, Love's Enduring Promise. That was what Missy's father told her about Willie, when he lended his hand to help them and ended up confessing that he cared about her.

It also served as a reminder to me that even the little things I do in my writing or my fellowship with other writers/friends or my web site work for clients or even my "out-of-the-way" work at the all means something to someone.

So, send that email. Make that phone call. Write that article, story or book.

David had a sling. Rahab had a string. Dorcas had a needle. All were used by God. What do you have? John Wesley said, "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can." With God, small deeds count!

You just never know where your words or deeds might touch or inspire someone else.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Passage to America

I do not know when I will have the time to post my letter back home to my cousins, but I pray I will arrive safely to see this rich, new land Papa has promised. There is on board these ships terrible misery, stench, fumes, horror, vomiting, many kinds of seasickness, fever, dysentery, headache, heat, constipation, boils, scurvy, cancer, mouth rot, and the like, all of which come from old and sharply-salted food and meat, also from very bad and foul water, so that many die miserably.

Thanks to the Almighty God, Papa has many years' service to the King in his army. We secured a small room on the same level as the captain's quarters. Had we been forced to become indentured to a colonist in order to pay for our passage, I fear the threat of being separated would have broken Mar's heart. But so many on this ship have that fate awaiting them when we reach land once again, if they are still alive when we do.

Already, we have seen no less than twenty-six passengers forced through a loophole and dropped into the sea. Parents are watching their little children suffer from disease and sickness and grieving all the more when they see them buried at sea, no resting place on this earth to be had, but devoured by the monsters of the water.

I have heard Papa talking with other men about what will happen when we reach Philadelphia. No one is permitted to leave the ship except those who pay for their passage or can give good security from a promise of indentured service; the others must remain on board the ships till they are purchased and are released from the ships by their purchasers. The healthy are naturally preferred and purchased first, so the sick must remain on board in front of the city for two or three weeks, and frequently die. Those who can pay their debt and are permitted to leave the ship immediately, might recover and remain alive.

It is thankful, I am that I will not have to serve until the age of twenty-one. Papa has already purchased land in one of Pennsylvania's lower three counties. We have a carriage awaiting us in Philadelphia to take us to New Castle. It is there where we will open a candleshop and work until Papa can build our house on our land. Then, we will live and work the land and make of it a beautiful place to be.

I only pray these dreams of Papa are right. So much sorrow and sadness and broken dreams are here on this ship. I long to walk on dry land again and see the smiles of those who are living carefree once more. Let this journey end soon.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

CFBA Blog Tour: Sally Stuart's Christian Writer's Market Guide

I'm so happy to be able to share this special bonus this week with you. This book has been an undeniable help to me in my writing career. And I know countless others who have reaped the benefits of this publication to the tune of 5- or 6-digit book contracts!


Sally E. Stuart is the author of thirty-four books and has sold more than one thousand articles and columns. Her long-term involvement with the Christian Writers' Market Guide as well as her marketing columns for the Christian Communicator, Oregon Christian Writers, and The Advanced Christian Writer, make her a sought-after speaker and a leading authority on Christian markets and the business of writing. Stuart is the mother of three and grandmother of eight.


Sally Stuart's Christian Writer's Market Guide is THE ultimate source and reference for anything and everything in the Christian (CBA) market. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, poetry or prose, short or long, adult or children's, want to attend conferences or speak at them, are looking to connect with other writers in your area or start a group...and so much more...this book is for you.

For more than twenty years, the Christian Writers' Market Guide has offered indispensable help to Christian writers. This year, for the first time, this valuable resource comes with a CD-ROM of the full text, so you can search with ease for topics, publishers, and other specific names.

The 2007 edition also includes up-to-date listings of more than 1,200 markets for books, articles, stories, poetry, and greeting cards, including information on forty new book publishers, eighty-three new periodicals, and thirty-four new literary agents. Perfect for writers in every phase, this is the resource to get noticed–and get published.

It contains listings for: 695 periodicals, 228 poetry markets, 355 book publishers, 133 online publications, 29 print-on-demand publishers, 1185 markets for the written word, 321 photography markets, 31 e-book publishers, 122 foriegn markets, 112 literary agents,and 59 newspapers.

It also gives you comprehensive lists of contests, writers groups and conferences, search engines, pay rates and submission guidelines, editorial services and websites.

Christian Writers’ Market Guide is a 'must have' for any serious Christian writer that is looking to get published!

The book link is:

Sally's website is:

Check it out! And if you have it already or have used it or even heard about it, share your thoughts or even questions in the comments.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Spotlight on...Nicole Seitz and The Spirit of Sweetgrass

I always love spotlighting a debut author because I know my time's coming very soon. Just 10 months away. :) Today, it's Nicole Seitz in the "hot seat" with a charming tale that gets right at the heart of South Carolina culture. If you ever wanted to know anything about the folks whose rich heritage stems from this state, check out her book.

Nicole Seitz is a South Carolina Lowcountry native and freelance writer/illustrator published in South Carolina Magazine, House Calls, The Island Packet and The Bluffton Packet. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Journalism, she also has a bachelor's degree in illustration from Savannah College of Art & Design. Nicole is an exhibiting artist in the Charleston, South Carolina area, where she owns a web design firm and lives with her husband and two small children.

1. Your debut book celebrates the rich heritage and culture of the lowcountry of South Carolina. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Looking back, I can see so many factors that led to the writing of this book—so many things that God placed in my life to lead me to The Spirit of Sweetgrass. Yes, I did have an "epiphany" while I was driving home past sweetgrass basket stands when I was expecting my second child. The idea struck me with such force—truly from out of nowhere—that I had to grab a pen and start jotting notes on the back of a receipt. But even before that, I can see how my upbringing on a Southern sea island (Hilton Head Island) inspired me. I grew up in a place with a strong Gullah/Geechee population, but I never understood the importance of it all until I moved to Mount Pleasant, SC, where one of the most visible Gullah art forms is celebrated--sweetgrass basketry. Somehow, and for some reason, God chose to open my heart, my mind, and my spirit a few years ago to the plight and struggles of my African American neighbors, and I'm so grateful for it. I'm changed because of it.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Essie Mae and Daddy Jim? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

"Daddy Jim" is named after my grandfather who passed away in 1996. He was a quiet, gentle man who, to this day, remains a calming force in the lives of those who knew him. My character, Daddy Jim, shares his admirable qualities.

"Essie Mae" is a true Southern lady. I've been blessed with many strong Southern women in my life to model this for me, but Essie Mae is really an amalgamation of two women: my grandmother, and a sweetgrass basket weaver/nanny who took care of me while on bed rest with my second pregnancy.

Growing up, my grandmother was strong-willed and feisty, yet loved each member of her family with everything she had in her. She'd do anything for her children and grandchildren. My grandmother is the one person in my family who taught me to love the Lord. She would tell me not to drive anywhere without buckling Him in and going "first class." She's now 89-years-old and lives in a nursing home in North Carolina. I have seen my mother's anguish over the years, watching her mother get older. Making the decision to put a loved one in a home is never an easy one, but it's something I know many families are faced with, so I wanted to include it in the book.

The African American woman who cared for me and my daughter when I was on bed rest added her voice and her "praises to Jesus" to my sweet Essie Mae, fortifying her character.

3. What themes exist in Spirit of Sweetgrass that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

One of the most overt and important themes is that we are all connected, past, present, and future. What we do with our lives is so important, and if we live as God intends, I believe our impact on earth does not end when we get to Heaven.

Another important theme: family. If you are blessed to have it, next to God, nothing is more important than family. That's something I hope readers take away from this book.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

I won't say exactly which scenes were the most difficult because I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say if you read a scene that packs an emotional wallop—trust me—it did the same to me when I wrote it. Often those scenes seemed to write themselves, and I found myself in tears when it was all over.

My favorite scenes to write were the first few in Heaven when I allowed my mind to soar with the possibilities.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

My next book, tentatively titled Trouble the Water, should come out from Thomas Nelson in early 2008. When the lives of three very flawed, Southern women intersect in a sea island’s secluded Gullah community, they must learn the hard lesson that no woman can be an island, that in order to be whole again, they must lean on and ease the suffering of the other.

Trouble the Water is a soul-baring tale about the freedom of faith, the nature of survival, and the mysterious powers of sisterhood. Narrated by three distinct voices, it’s all at once heart-wrenching and humorous, giving glimpses of island life and unique Gullah/Geechee culture. The title is based on the lyrics of an old black slave spiritual about healing and freedom, "Wade in the Water," and on John 5:4 (KJV):

"For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had."

Thank you, Amber, for having me! It’s a thrill to be able to share my work and my journey.

God bless,

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We're glad to have you, Nicole. Everyone, don't forget to comment for your chance at a free autographed copy of this book.

Monday, February 12, 2007

TAG! You're It!

Rachel Hauck tagged an author-friend of mine, Kristy Dykes, who "tagged" me along with 5 others. Two of them, Ane Muligan and Lena Dooley, have already responded, and now here's mine:

Six Weird Things About Amber:

1. I can't settle on a name to which I answer when called, so I usually sign my emails as "Tiff/Amber." First and middle together. I usually go by the first and my books will be published under the middle.

2. I have an alterego online that I assume when I wish to remain anonymous.

3. I have several Hollywood connections and can pick up the phone to call the home of an international celebrity...and have her recognize me.

4. I own a pair of Tiki-bird slippers of a rather substantial size. :) They are renowned in the ACFW writing world and I'm forbidden to attend an annual conference without them.

5. My dog cleans up after dinner and carries plates/dishes to the kitchen. He also deposits trash in the cans when directed and carried canned beverages to anyone in the house.

6. At any given minute, there is at least one other character in my head...sometimes more than one. So, I regularly suffer from split-personality issues as the characters battle for control. Then again, as an author, that's not unusual.

Now, here's who I've tagged:

Stuart Stockton
Shannon McNear
Heather Tipton
Camy Tang
Meredith Efken
Michelle Sutton

Let's see if they play too! :)

But anyone else, feel free to participate as well in the comments or on your own blog/web site. Would love to know I'm not alone in being "weird." :)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Argghh! Ye Scurvey's Got Yerselves Another Clue....

For ye scalawags fighting for your spot in the crew on The Reliance, here's the next clue. Don't forget to email Cap'n Ronie with your answer. Learn more about this contest here.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Spotlight on Sharon Hinck and Renovating Becky Miller

By Sharon Hinck
Bethany House Publishing (2/2007)
# ISBN-10: 0764201301
# ISBN-13: 978-0764201301
320 pages including movie list and discussion guide

Becky Miller believes in fixing things: children, friends, mother-in-law, sister, church . . . and her husband. So renovating a run-down farmhouse is right up her alley--the perfect antidote for the pressures of modern life.

But Becky's pursuit of the simple life is soon threatened. Her mother-in-law moves in, her son finds trouble at school, her sister arrives for a visit, her best friend is acting weird, all while work stresses mount. Worst of all, her marriage is in need of some major remodeling of its own.

Cinematic daydreams provide Becky with heroic drama. Maybe that's why she escapes into the scenes so often. In real life, everything is a muddled mess.

Who knew one old house could lead them to the brink of bankruptcy? Or that Becky's physical handicap could threaten to steal their dream?

Can Becky stop fixing everyone else and let God renovate her heart so she can find her own happy ending?

1. Book #2 in your Becky Miller series. The first captured the funny bone of your readers while hitting the mark on balancing being a supermom with everything else life throws at you. Now, Becky's back with some changes. What gave you the inspiration for this one?

Hi, Amber! Thanks for inviting me to visit today!

My husband and I are idealistic do-it-your-selfers who get in over our heads all the time. With Becky's tendencies to dream big, I thought it would be fun seeing her take on the optimistic challenge of renovating an old house. And it was a good symbol for the ongoing heart-renovation that God was working in her life.

2. What is your favorite experience that influenced the character of Becky? What aspects became traits that were hers and hers alone?

I'm a wife, mom of four, have done church work (many many years ago), and have survived several major home remodeling projects. I'm also part of a small group women's Bible study. Those life experiences helped me understand some of what drives Becky. But she's her own woman. And even though she cares deeply for others and tries to fix problems that aren't hers to fix (which I can relate to) she is better at saying, "no" than I am. She's also braver at taking on new challenges—especially spontaneously opening her home.

3. What themes exist in Renovating Becky Miller that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

I used to be a choreographer, and was always struck by how audience members brought themselves into a work and interpreted it through their unique perspective. I think novels function in the same way. Readers of the first novel have written me to say that they read a section to their husband to help explain the insecurities they felt as a woman, while others were encouraged by the example of someone battling a physical disability, while others told me they re-examined their parenting after reading the book. I hope God will use this second book in similar diverse ways. It's a fun, fast-paced, whacky story—but the challenges Becky faces ring true. I don't write with an intention of showing the best way to be a mom, wife, friend, or servant of Christ. I write about the struggles my friends and I face daily. Yet as the fictional characters explore those problems and questions, watching their choices and experiences can bring inspiration, courage, and insights.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

Scenes with my favorite characters suffering are the most difficult to write. I end up caring about them like friends, and I feel cruel writing all the tough things that are part of the story arc. I love writing the scenes where God shows up in surprising ways...through the words of an unexpected person, a small act of kindness, or a whispered answer during a prayer time.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

The Restorer releases in May from NavPress, and is about a soccer-mom pulled through a portal into another universe where she is called upon to fill a role like the biblical Deborah for a nation that is threatened on every side and struggling to follow the One. Susan is a heroine I think we can all identify with—and even though the storyline is more of an adventure/fantasy than the mom-lit style of the Becky Miller books, it contains many similar elements of a woman who is a wife and mom, and seeking to serve God on some difficult paths—and a profound journey of faith.

* * * * *

Thank you, Sharon, for joining us here at A Fiction-Filled Life. Readers, don't forget to enter a comment for your chance at a FREE autographed copy of Sharon's latest release. Sharon will be here to respond and chat with you.

I also encourage you to visit the other blogs as part of this tour. Travel with other blog readers and posters and enter for more chances to win a free copy of this book. :) Here's the rest of the schedule:

February 8, 2007 Camy Tang
February 9, 2007 Meredith Efken
February 10, 2007 Cara Putnam
February 11, 2007 Tricia Goyer
February 12, 2007 Robin Miller
February 13, 2007 Cheryl Wyatt
February 14, 2007 Novel Journey
February 15, 2007 Mary DeMuth
February 16, 2007 Jennifer Tiszai
February 17, 2007 Margaret Daley
February 18, 2007 Pamela James
February 19, 2007 Alison Strobel
February 20, 2007 Tasra Dawson
February 21, 2007 Danica Favorite
February 22, 2007 Deborah Khuanghlawn
February 23, 2007 Niki Nowell
February 24, 2007 Dan Case
February 25, 2007 Katrina
February 26, 2007 Melanie Dobson
February 27, 2007 Valerie Comer
February 28, 2007 Narelle Mollet
March 5, 2007 Julie Carobini

Monday, February 05, 2007

SuperBowl Mania!

Here in the USA, the SuperBowl is a major event nationwide. Whether you're a fan of football or not, millions of people tune in to watch or at least have the TV on in the background while doing other things. Even if you're standing around a table of food while others sit in the TV room watching, you're still participating in the celebration.

Last night, I attended a party with a handful of friends and had a great time. Throughout the entire evening, though, I was struck with the appeal and draw of the SuperBowl, even for those who don't care for sports. It's all about the camaraderie and laughter and fellowship.

Or it's all about the commercials. LOL!

Either way, there is a substantial draw that has millions buzzing about it the next day and for days...even come.

Sometimes, books are like that. When a good book is discovered, the reader tells someone else about it. The more people who talk, the more who buy the book, and the more popular that author becomes. Sometimes, you can't really pinpoint why a certain book has that appeal. Sometimes, readers simply relate and share their enjoyment--even if that enjoyment was for a different reason.

So, did you do anything for the SuperBowl last night? And if not, how about a book? Can you name a book that's had a large appeal and you thrilled when you discovered others who also read/loved it?