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Monday, April 30, 2007

7 Weeks Down; 13 to Go!

One more week down, and now it's only 2 weeks until Stuart and I see each other again. Just 10 more work days and 2 weekends. 14 days. Coming down to the home stretch. This will be the first time we've seen each other since getting engaged. We're both excited and counting down the days. :)

At least I have the wedding planning to keep me busy during the week, but even that doesn't always fill the long, lonely hours. *sigh* Of course, Stuart recently got a cell phone with Verizon, so we can alleviate some of that by talking on the phone and not running up huge long-distance bills. We also have instant message too. It's difficult, but manageable.

Now, for the wedding plans. Here's what was accomplished this past week:

* scheduled an appointment with a possible event planner to oversee the day of the wedding and help with decorating the reception hall -- meeting with her this afternoon
* received a referral for a videographer to document the wedding along with the photographer we have
* brought home two dresses that were ready for pick-up, one bridesmaid and one matron of honor
* checked in with final bridesmaid about booking her flight and buying her dress
* had a meeting with my financial advisor to go over our respective budgets and what our combined income/bills would be once we married; sought advice on a few topics Stuart and I had discussed
* met with my matron of honor to plan the bridal shower and bachelorette party (yes, I'm involved in those; the time factor isn't allowing for too many surprises)
* placed the order for the invitations, napkins and keepsake bookmarks
* inquired with hotels and restaurants about blocking rooms for out-of-town guests and searching for a rehearsal dinner location (no luck yet)
* began preliminary inventory (DVD collection)
* asked a friend to come over tonight to help with sorting what I have, what I'm taking and what I'm leaving (will know more once I get back from visiting Stuart

I think that's all for now. Stuart and I have our first premarital counseling meeting this coming Wednesday. Should be interesting with him on the phone and me in the room with the pastor. I'll be the one getting scrutinized while he can make faces, give me the "eye" or do any number of things with no one seeing him. Ha! Just wait for the final session together a few days before the wedding. He'll be in the hot seat then. :)

Please keep us in prayer, that the Lord will continue to shine his favor on us and the plans and give us strength. Thanks!

Friday, April 27, 2007

CFBA Blog Tour -- Bonus -- The Heir by Paul Robertson

In place of Raelene Strattford's next journal/diary entry (the main character in my upcoming book), I'm featuring a bonus spotlight and opportunity for another FREE book. It isn't autographed, but still a great read!

Check out the CFBA blog for others featuring this book to increase your chances at winning.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing


(click the title to buy your copy)
Bethany House March, 2007
by Paul Robertson


Paul Robertson is a computer programming consultant, part-time high-school math and science teacher, and former independent bookstore owner in Blacksburg, Virginia. This is his first novel.


Jason Boyer Just Got an Inheritance to Die For

The fortune wasn't supposed to befall him. Jason Boyer had known all along his father's business empire would pass to different hands. Which suited him just fine. The money was crooked and the power corrupt. But when an accident claims the old man's life, everyone is stunned by the unveiling of the will. With the passing of the Boyer crown, power-hungry politicians and shady business partners all try to force Boyer's hand. Fighting the temptation of influence and riches, he simply wants to be a better man than his father--but attempting to stand for what’s right soon brings murderous consequences. As those closest to him are endangered--and news emerges that his father's accident may be something more sinister--Boyer finds himself fighting for his soul…and his life!

Is There Any Escape for The Heir?

All the money he could ever crave. In the splintering crash of a car plunging through a railing, Jason Boyer's life is changed. All the fame he could ever desire. But the last thing he wanted was the throne of his father's corrupt business empire. All the power he could ever wield.

The estate should have gone elsewhere, but the will was changed. And now everything is Jason's. But gaining the whole world just might cost him his life.

THE HEIR is a Grisham-like tale of intrigue and murder with a lot of humor and well-drawn minor characters.


"In THE HEIR, Paul Robertson serves up politics, privilege, and murder with a side of acerbic wit. What a fabulous book--a great mix of angst, humor, and ultimately, hope." --T.L.HINES: author of Waking Lazarus and The Dead Whisper On

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Post a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of this book. And who knows, perhaps Paul will drop by for a visit. :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Spotlight on Amy Wallace and....Ransomed Dreams

Who is Amy Wallace?

What a sweeping question. Wife, homeschool mom, writer, youth Bible study teacher, and chocoholic are some of the hats I wear. But getting to the heart of who I am can be summed up in a few short words: I’m a daughter of the King learning to live and love with laughter. My greatest passion in life is to know God and show others how He heals hearts and how to they can glorify God by enjoying Him forever.

Ransomed Dreams
ISBN: 159052747X
Order your copy today!
Publisher: Multnomah Fiction

Can Dreams Be Redeemed?

Gracie Lang is being watched by a man who will stop at nothing to hide the truth from her. Having lost the only man she ever loved and the children who were her world, Gracie embarks on a quest to find out what really happened. Then she meets Steven Kessler, a Crimes Against Children FBI agent, assigned to uncover an international plot to kidnap the British Ambassador's daughter. Steven awakens more than memories; he revives the possibility of a life Gracie desires. A life where healing and peace crowd out the nightmares. But his case and her past are dangerously connected. Suddenly, Gracie must decide if she's able - let alone willing - to pay the required ransom to redeem dreams and restore hope.


1. This is book 1 in your Defenders of Hope series, a set focusing on 3 FBI agents who "risk their lives and hearts serving in the Washington DC Crimes Against Children Unit." What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Ransomed Dreams started as a literal dream about a mom in trouble and an FBI agent's wounded heart. As I did the research and met with a Christian federal agent, one comment about an agent my advisor knew who had ended his life due to the diagnosis of cancer sparked the idea for book 2. But that story grew in depth as God allowed me to walk through some very close friends' cancer journeys. And book 3 grew out of a secret that came to the forefront in writing part of a secondary character's story in book 2.

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

Gracie embodies my greatest fear and Steven and Gracie both personify my struggle with the issue of forgiveness. But it was fascinating to watch these characters become less and less about me and more about universal flesh and blood pain that people deal with and how they heal. Gracie's quest for answers became hers alone pretty early on in the writing, as did Steven’s compartmentalizing life into bite-sized pieces he could conquer.

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

The theme of forgiveness is an integral part Ransomed Dream's story, but there were other themes like the human desire to understand the painful why's of life and the message of hope and healing that are less overt but interwoven into the fabric of the novel. My prayer is that in seeing different ways the characters process the circumstances of their lives, readers will see forgiveness and healing "with skin on" so to speak and be drawn closer to the Lord in the midst of enjoying an action-packed story.

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

So many of the emotionally-charged scenes were difficult to write, the prologue especially. It didn't help that my family often ran errands in a blue van very similar to Gracie's and were late enough times that a well memorized prayer about not wanting to live Gracie’s life ran through my head.

My favorite parts to write were the scenes with Clint and Steven. I love their friendship and how they are both fiercely loyal and always ribbing each other. I also had a great time writing the epilogue. It was a perfect balance in payoff to the pain of the opening scenes.

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

Book 2 is due out in April of 2008. This story explores how an FBI agent and his oncologist wife handle the diagnosis of cancer and a serial killer who eludes capture. Everything is reduced to one all-important question: Can God be trusted?

Book 3, set for an April 2009 release, intertwines a woman's healing from sexual abuse with the FBI action plot centering on a racially motivated killer. The main question explored in this book is: What is justice?

I've already heard plenty of groans about the long wait for the rest of the series, but to help abate that some I have a few fun ways to pass the time:

* Check out the fun story-related quizzes updated monthly on my Defenders of Hope website.
* Subscribe to the DOH newsletter to receive an inside peek into the writing life, kid-friendly recipes, and special tips and website links for keeping kids safe. I plan to start talking about how I created the characters for the Defenders of Hope series and some of their backgrounds that don’t explicitly make it into the books.
* Join the Heart Chocolate community via the discussion boards. Please feel free to ask questions or just chat about the DOH books, writing, mommying, or anything else of interest. I hope you’ll join me there!

Thanks so much for allowing me to be in the spotlight here! It’s been fun visiting with you today.

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Thank *you*, Amy. We're glad to have you here. Readers, don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Amy's book. Winner announced next week here in the comments on this post.

Monday, April 23, 2007

6 Weeks Down! 14 to Go!

Stuart and I were talking the other day about how long it's seemed since we last saw each other. Hard to believe it's only been 6 weeks. We still have 3 more before my trip out there for 8 whole days. By God's strength, we'll make it. Not easy in the least being apart from the one you love and when you're planning a wedding, it's even harder. While there are certain aspects of a long-distance relationship that I feel are beneficial for a couple, I don't recommend it in the long run.

Anyway, this past week has been quite productive. We:

* found a DJ and hired him (was very impressed with his knowledge, samples and demonstration)
* got 2 more men measured for tuxes
* changed the tux style since the original one didn't look right; too baggy and not classy enough
* picked up 2 bridesmaid dresses
* selected the pattern for the flower girl's dress and learned that her grandmother would be sewing it
* FINALLY organized all my wedding papers and receipts and information into an "accordian" file for ease of access
* began entering information into my wedding planner guide
* began search for restaurant locations for a rehearsal dinner and ruled out a few; will search again this week
* put in a request for a block of rooms at a slightly upscale local hotel for the out-of-town wedding guests and family
* had an intitial pre-marital counseling meeting to set up the first meeting with Stuart and me both and laid out the tentative plan for the wedding

Now that all the major things are done, we're down to the nitty-gritty details. I know I better find something else to occupy my time, or I'm gonna start wondering why we pushed back the wedding date so far. *winks*

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

CFBA Blog Tour Spotlight

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:


Navpress Publishing Group (January 15, 2007)
by Annette Smith


In 1997, Annette was working as a home health nurse. She traveled the back roads from house to house, caring for ill and injured, homebound people. Because of her unique position in the lives of relative strangers, she often found herself bearing solitary witness to intimate behind-the-scenes situations full of grace and meaning. The desire to honor both a particular patient and a poignant scene involving the woman and her husband prompted Annette to write a fictionalized story, The Anniversary.

That first story appeared as a column in the Houston Chronicle newspaper and as an essay in Today’s Christian Woman magazine. Later it became a chapter in Annette’s first and best-selling book of short stories, The Whispers of Angels, that has sold more than 100,000 copies

Since then, Annette has penned four more books of stories, two volumes on parenting, and the Coming Home to Ruby Prairie trilogy.

Annette and her husband Randy, a High School teacher and coach, make their home on a wooded lot in Quitman, Texas. They are the parents of two young adult children, Russell and Rachel, both out on their own. Wally, a grateful, rescued mutt provides warmth and entertainment and keeps the Smith’s empty nest from feeling too lonely.

In addition to writing, Annette continues to serve part-time as a registered nurse. She finds the people she works with and the patients she cares for provide great inspiration for her fiction.


Joel Carpenter did not plan for his life to turn out like this. He never meant to be a single dad, working at a hair salon in Eden Plain, Texas. But after making a careless choice four years ago, his marriage was permanently shattered. Now at twenty-seven, he finds himself juggling custody of his preschool son with Kari, the ex-wife he still loves, and sharing Sunday dinners with a group of other single dads.

Joel regrets the choices that brought him to this place, but it's not until the worst happens that he learns how much he still has to give. In the midst of deep tragedy, he learns that forgiveness is way more important than freedom. Hopefully it's not too late!

A BIGGER LIFE is a story of love in the midst of heartache, and friendship in the midst of real, everyday life.

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Post a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of this book. Also check out the comments at CFBA to see who else is featuring this book so you can increase your chances at winning.

Monday, April 16, 2007

5 Weeks Down; 15 to Go!

This past weekend wasn't quite so action-packed as the past 4 weekends have been. Then again, with so much that's already been completed, running around like a chicken with my head cut off won't be least not until the few days before the wedding. :) And I'll have my fiance here to help keep me calm.

Last week, mom and I worked on the guest list (and I got an estimate from Stuart for his list) so we could order the invitations and reception/response cards, napkins, etc. It's going to a rather large wedding but a small, intimate reception. Would that I could invite everyone to both, but that's far too cost-prohibitive. At least everyone who wishes will be able to celebrate with us at the ceremony.

I did find out that my ringbearer was measured for his tux, and now three of my bridesmaids have purchased their dresses. That only leaves 1 more bridesmaid to get her dress and 4 more men in the wedding party to get measured. As it stands, we have one style picked out, but in 4 weeks when I'm in Colorado Springs visiting Stuart and his family for a week (YAY!), he and I will go check out styles in the formal shops there to get a visual idea of how the one I selected will look. I'm still not 100% convinced, but who knows. My first instinct could prove to be the best.

Tonight, mom and I have a meeting with one DJ, and tomorrow, we have a meeting with another. Then, after work tomorrow, I meet with my pastor who will be marrying us (Pastor Chris) for an initial pre-marital counseling meeting. Given Stuart's and my "unique geographical situation" this will be interesting. :) We'll work it out though. It will more than likely mean a conference call...even if there *is* something wrong about me sitting there in the room getting red-faced at some of the questions while he can be on the phone where no one sees him! Oh well, at least we'll have a final session the week before the wedding where we'll be together.

I'll report back next week with results from the DJ meetings. The last major item on my checklist. After this, it's all details and fine tuning what we've already got booked.

You know, it's quite freeing planning a wedding when you know God's in the middle of it!

Until next week...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Spotlight on Mary Connealy

It's Wednesday again, and y'all know what that means. I trust everyone had a blessed Easter, whether you were celebrating in church or having fun with the kiddies running around finding Easter eggs.

Today's spotlight author has recently had some fun with a few of her books as well. Learn about her below.

Mary Connealy's writing journey is similar to a lot of others. Boil it down to persistence, oh, go ahead and call it stubborness. I just kept typing away. I think the reason I did it is because I'm more or less a 'dunce' around people--prone to sit silently whenI really ought to speak up (or worse, speak up when I ought to sit silently).

So, I have all of these things I want to say in my head--the perfect zinger to the rude cashier, that you think of an hour after you leave the store; the perfect bit of wisdom when someone needs help, which doesn't occur to you until they solve their problem themselves; the perfect guilt trip for the kids, which you don't say because you're not an idiot. I keep all of this wit to myself, much to the relief of all who know me, and then I write all my great ideas into books. It's therapeutic, if nothing else, and more affordable than a psychiatrist.

Then a very nice, oh so nice publishing company like Barbour Heartsong comes along and says, "Hey, we'll pay you money for this 45,000 word therapy session." That's as sweet as it gets!


1. You've chosen the setting of the Klondike Gold Rush. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Golden Days is part of a three book series set in historical Alaska for Heartsong Presents. I was asked by a very kind, generous Cathy Marie Hake to be involved in this series. Cathy had picked the state she wanted to pitch to Heartsong and we brainstormed the books together so our characters are consistent. My book, Golden Days, is book two and Kathleen Y'Barbo is the author of book three. You can see that I fell in with such talented writers. What a blessing!

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

I find myself writing heroine characters all that time that my opinion...nothing like me. Instead I think of Amy as being how I'd LIKE to be. So strong, brave, competent at everything they do. Vocal about how they feel and what they want. I spend my time spreading oil on troubled waters, I think. I'm very much the mom, "Now you kids quit fighting." Discovering characters is one of my favorite parts of writing. It always takes me a while to really get a handle on them in a three-dimensional way, but I enjoy the process of getting to know them. So even though the basic traits of Amy and Braden were there when I started, making her so angry about her father disappearing and making Braden fight his need to care for everyone, and at the same time he’s denying that need, he's going around caring for Amy 'Just This Once' was fun.

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

The basic theme of Golden Days is that waiting on the Lord, and doing things in God's time is the path to happiness. One of the basic scriptures in Golden Days is from Isaiah 40:31. "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." I love the promise of that verse, that to WAIT on the LORD will renew your strength. To WAIT on the Lord shall lift you up on wings as eagles. We are so focused on doing in this world that waiting seems lazy and wrong. But God’s promise is that, if you wait on his timing, great things will happen.

In Golden Days Amy is the one who pushes, refuses to wait. She heads for home before she's healthy. She has feelings for Braden before his grieving has run its course. She just can't wait. That feels wrong to her. She's been raised to care for herself and she has faith in God, but she also believes God expects her to take action, or rather she wants to take action and she isn't about to be patient, even if she feels God guiding her to wait.

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

For me the most difficult parts are also my favorite. I love creating complex scenes, lots of characters, lots of movement and dialogue. If possible I like everybody to be talking over each other, misunderstanding each other. I like their words to break in, in such a way that the sentence reads in a comedic way, like she starts a sentence, he ends it, they're both talking about different things and the combination of the words is a joke. And, if possible, others get that joke and they don’t. This is tricky. And it needs to be done with a lot of what I think of as wordsmithing. Going over it again and again, leaving it and coming back. Making it sharper. Making the dialogue and everyone's reactions sing. Trying to make sure it's written in a way that reader can follow but the characters maybe can't, and the reader needs to get all of it.

My favorite scene in the book is when a bear attacks. The lead up to this is chaotic and, I hope, really funny, then the bear makes it all worse. This was fun to write and I got it almost like I wanted it. But it can always be better.

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

Golden Days is my second book in 2007. My first, Petticoat Ranch is in bookstores now. I just signed a contract for a sequel to Petticoat Ranch called Calico Canyon. If you've read Petticoat Ranch, you'll know about the prissy schoolmarm, Grace Calhoune and the boisterous Daniel Reeves and his five unruly sons. This is the flip side of Petticoat Ranch. I dropped Clay into an all-girl family, now I'm dropping Miss Calhoune into an all boy family. Grace gets Daniel's boys expelled from school. He gets her fired. Through a perfectly innocent compromising situation they are married within twenty-four hours. No two people have ever been more unhappily married. It's got the same elements as Petticoat Ranch, historical western, suspense, romantic comedy, but it's more of a flat out comedy than Petticoat Ranch is. Calico Canyon is scheduled for release next summer.

Then I've got a fourth book coming Christmas of 2008. Of Mice...and Murder, from the new Cozy Mystery line Heartsong Presents Mysteries. Carrie hates mice and loves the big city. So why is she living in a huge mouse infested house in her dinky hometown? The dead guy in her pantry closet is the most interesting thing that's happened since she came home. Of course the carpenter who’s helping her trap her mice and solve the crime is pretty interesting too.

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Thank you, Mary, for joining us today. Looking forward to the sequel to Petticoat Ranch! Readers, don't forget to leave a comment for your chance at a FREE copy of Golden Days. And look in last week's spotlight for the winner of that book.

Monday, April 09, 2007

4 Weeks Down; 16 to Go!

It's been 4 weeks since Stuart and I set the wedding date. Last week, I shared a few things about what we had accomplished. Since the majority of my time to work on the planning falls on the weekend due to my work schedule, I've decided to use Mondays as my update days.

Some of you have told me privately that planning a wedding in under 5 months might be stressful and difficult. So far, it's been the exact opposite! In fact, things have gone so smoothly, there's no doubt in my mind that this is what God wants for both Stuart and me. It's exciting to be traveling that path and having that assurance.

By the end of the first week, I had the church booked, the reception hall done and my gown purchased. By week two, we added the photographer, caterer and cake decorator as well as the selection of the tuxes for the men in the wedding party. When week three came to a close, the florist and bridesmaid dresses could be checked off the list as well. And now comes week four.

I'll confess that for these past four weeks, I've been feeling so disconnected from everything--like I was planning someone else's wedding. A lot of that was because 3 out of 4 of my bridesmaids are scattered across the country and my fiance is 2000 miles away. So, I haven't had a "touch point" here for camaraderie. Email and instant message are fun and help, but nothing beats the in-person contact. That all changed this past weekend.

I had a wonderful phone conversation with Stuart Friday night, and we didn't want to say goodbye. Then after a dream-filled sleep, two of my bridesmaids (Robin, from Nashville, and Angie, who lives here) joined me Saturday morning for dress shopping from the styles I'd selected. The moment we were together, my spirits lifted, and I started feeling much better. An hour later, they'd purchased their dresses and we had the selection nailed down. We parted ways after discussing a bridal shower in early June when Robin will be in town again. There was a spring in my step and a light feeling in my heart. Finally, I was feeling a true part of things.

The rest of the day was spent buying wedding favor components and other decorative essentials at 30% off with a coupon! Saved over $100 plus whatever we're saving by doing a lot of the decorations ourselves. Then, I spent 2 hours going over invitations and selected those. The order will be placed this week. Also found a possible hair stylist company that will bring their salon to us on the day of the wedding at the church, made an appointment with a possible DJ, and settled on a theme for the wedding. This alone helped with the "connection" of everything.

So, my spirits are much better and it's starting to feel "real" for maybe the first time. Thank you for sharing this journey with me. I'll be back next week with more.

Friday, April 06, 2007

A New Friend and Hope for the Future

The ships arrive and depart from the bay, all with some place to go or bringing new people and supplies to town. I am sitting on the banks as I write this, wishing for something more than the life I now have. Do not misunderstand; this life in the Colonies has been one of adventure and surprise, but I cannot help but long for the familiar days of my life in England. I was comfortable then. I knew what to expect out of the people there. I had my place, and my future was all but guaranteed.

Now, working in the candleshop Mar and Papa own and living in the quarters above the shop, I find I long for more. There are many other residents here in town who are near my age, but they seem to have a life that is so foreign from my own. I try to get involved, but I find that I simply do not see things from the same perspective as they. I am learning, though, thanks to Kaariana, a young girl I would have to consider my greatest friend here.

She came into the shop a few weeks ago and asked if I would like to join her for a refreshment on the town green. After receiving Mar's approval, I left. We quickly found much in common, despite our different backgrounds, and she has been a constant companion every since. We do almost everything together. I must admit that her presence has made the lonely days much more bearable.

As we begin to head into the summer months here, I find the weather to be quite different than it was back home. Mar has had to purchase lightweight fabric for new clothing, and we often leave our windows open abovestairs to release the oppressive heat that gathers at the higher levels.

I still long for home, but each day here is lessening that desire. Perhaps I can find comfort in this new life. Papa and Mar wish I would try. For them, and for me, I will.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Spotlight on Kim Vogel Sawyer

You know, the best part about these spotlights is not only introducing you to new authors and books, but having the great opportunity to spotlight friends of mine too! Today, we have Kim Vogel Sawyer. We met at the very first ACFW conference (then ACRW). Her quiet manner touched a chord in me, and it's been great watching her grow from the timid writer she was to the tug-on-your-heartstrings author she is today. She's answered God's calling and He's blessed her for it.

Kim Vogel Sawyer is a wife, mother, grandmother, former teacher, lover of cats and chocolate, and--most importantly--born-again child of the King. She is active in her home church where she teaches adult Sunday School and participates in both voice and bell choirs as well as leads the drama troupe. In her spare time she enjoys quilting, calligraphy, and acting in community theatre.

1. Your book addresses a topic that affects thousands of married couples today...commitment. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

This story was birthed in an unusual way. Our church hosts a bonfire and hayrack ride every October. In 2004, the hayrack ride took us past an abandoned farmstead. It was dusk, lots of long shadows and a whispering breeze offering a lullaby. We slowly drove past the barn, ad I got a "zing" of awareness--I knew a story was hiding there. When we pulled alongside the house, in my mind I pictured a young mother with a child clinging to her skirts while she hung laundry on the line. The weariness etched in this woman's face told of a deep heartache. By the time the hayrack ride was over, she had introduced herself to me and shared her secret heartache...I love my husband, but he doesn't love my Lord. What a tremendous conflict that would be for her! Especially with all of the other harships at hand--Depression, drought, unwanted pregnancy...and no shared faith? I didn't exactly plan the issue of marital commitment, it just became a natural outgrowth of this woman's deepest pain and desire to be one with her husband in all ways.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Anna Mae and Harley Phipps? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

The only thing I have in common with Anna Mae is facing separation from a husband. My husband is in the military and is often gone for long stretches on various duty (he is being deployed to Baghdad in September, so I have another time of separation around the bend). I could well understand her angst as she watched Harley head down the road away from their home. I think she's a lot spunkier than I am, though! Harley's stubborn pride, his desire to take care of his family at all costs, is a lot like my husband, now that I think about it.

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

Seeking God's will, and finding our hope in Him, are the themes I always want to ring through any of my stories. The things of this world--the good, the difficult, the joyful, the heartbreaking--are all temporal, but our relationship with God is eternal. So I hope to always point the reader to a more intimate walk with his/her Father. As for one that developed on its own...the character Jack became more central than I originally intended. As his story unfolded, a theme of how devastating selfishness can be came to light--devastating to the person who chooses self over God, and devastating to all who love him.

Buy Your Copy Today!

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

I have a real problem writing stinkers. I work so hard to avoid conflict in my own life, creating a character who deliberately wreaks havoc is hard! My favorite parts were the scenes with Dorothy. She is so honest and funny without meaning to be--I really liked bringing her in and letting her add some lightness and gentle humor. I also love the final scene--which I will not divulge lest it give something away!--but every time I read the story's end it makes me cry.

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

Releasing at the same time as Where Willows Grow is my first full-length contemporary women's fiction with Barbour. Titled Bygones, it is the first of a three-book trilogy set in an Old Order Mennonite community. The story features Marie, a woman who was raised Old Order Mennonite but abandoned the community to marry a non-Mennonite. Now, more than twenty years later, an unusual stipulation in a will brings her back. The opportunity for reconciliation with her family exists, but long-held regrets and anger separate her from her earthly father as well as her heavenly Father. A story of reconciliation and the power of forgiveness, I hope it is well-received by readers.

Buy Your Copy Today!

Thanks so much for the chance to visit with you! I enjoyed it!

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Thank *you* Kim for joining us. Readers, make sure you leave a comment for a chance to enter the drawing for a free book. Winner will be announced next week in the comments of this post.

Monday, April 02, 2007

3 Weeks Down; 17 to Go!

I have had several requests of folks who are not local and wish to be kept up to date on my wedding plans. So, I am now going to take my "write anything Mondays" and use this space each week to recap progress or setbacks, or even wacky fun associated with planning a wedding.

My fiance gave me 4-1/2 months to plan this and he lives in Colorado, so he's not even here to see me get all frazzled. Of course, he reads this and talks with me every night, so he knows. :) Now, all of this is doable, but it meant a massive attack at the beginning to get the major details out of the way. Now, we're settling into somewhat of a routine. Weekends are the primary time for wedding work, so Mondays will be perfect as everything will be fresh in my mind.

First on the list is the talk with the possible planner/decorator. Because I haven't had much luck gathering support from friends or others from my church, the task of doing all the crafty decorations, centerpieces, church aisle bows and wedding favors seems a bit daunting. So, we've got a request for a proposal from the planner. We'll see if she's within our budget. Otherwise, we might just have her do the reception hall decorations.

The best part about that meeting was her asking me what ideas I had for decorating the hall. I gave her the "deer in the headlights" look and told her "I have no clue." When I said colors, flowers, bows and other fru-fru stuff was out of my league, she smiled and told me I needed her. :) Well, yes, either her or someone else who's good at this crafty stuff. That's not me. I'm far better at design and funtionality as well as practicality. Color swatches, fabric samples, coordinates? You're speaking a whole other language!

So far, here is what we have done:

* church booked
* reception hall booked
* cake decorator done and cake designs chosen
* florist selected, bouquets and boutonnieres chosen
* photographer hired with a BIG discount
* gown purchased
* bridesmaid dresses selected with bridesmaids still to choose their styles
* tuxes possibly chosen, but not 100% sold on style, waiting on groom to get fitted

We've begun compiling small items for decorating and jotting down other ideas to go with the mish-mash of a theme planned, but that's all for now. Come back next week for more fun.