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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Spotlight on Trish Perry and The Perfect Blend

Don't forget the rules of the spotlights here. Answer the question associated with this spotlight in the comments in order to be entered in the drawing.


Award-winning author, TRISH PERRY is an award-winning novelist who has written The Perfect Blend (2010), Sunset Beach (2009), Beach Dreams (2008), Too Good to Be True (2007), and The Guy I’m Not Dating (2006), all for Harvest House Publishers. Her monthly column, “Real Life is Stranger,” appeared in Christian Fiction Online Magazine during its inaugural year. She was editor of Ink and the Spirit, the newsletter of Washington D.C.’s Capital Christian Writers organization (CCW), for seven years. Before her novels, Perry published numerous short stories, essays, devotionals, and poetry in Christian and general market media. She will release several new books in 2011.

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

The Perfect Blend
by Trish Perry
Published by Harvest House


Steph Vandergrift left everything to elope with Middleburg attorney Rick Manfred, who then stood her up at the altar. Too embarrassed to return home, Steph hopes to earn enough to get by until she can decide what to do next. Tea Shop owner Milly Jewel hires her and appreciates the extra help at the tea shop.

Also appreciative of Steph is Kendall James, one of the kindest, most eligible bachelors in the area. But by the time Steph feels able to consider dating again, her run-away fiancé returns and tries to win her back. Steph is wary, but she and Rick always blended so well.

Christie Burnham, the frank-talking equestrian from whom Steph rents a room, and her frillier sister Liz become fast friends and confidantes to Steph. Between the two sisters, there isn't much any man is going to pull over on Middleburg's newest bachelorette and tea shop employee.

Readers, buy your copy of The Perfect Blend today!


1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

The series idea was planted by my editor at Harvest House while she and I brainstormed a year or so ago. The first thing I thought of for the series was Milly Jewell, the tea shop owner. I based her a little on my British mum—a version of her at my current age. And then for The Perfect Blend I wanted to create a young heroine who would have a reason to work for Milly while taking the reader on a tour of the town and its inhabitants. So Steph’s predicament—being stranded in a new town, struggling with independence and the need to feel accepted—evolved from that.

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

I think all of us, at one time or another, experience self-doubt and the need for assurance from others that we’re valued. I’ve certainly experienced that at points in my life. We all thrive on knowing we contribute in some way. These are the issues I’ve shared with Steph. The way she stumbles along, the disoriented state through which she sometimes acts, are all her. But I can imagine getting to the point she gets in the story, where your heartbreak and insecurity guide your decisions. Those decisions might be awful in real life, but they make for fun (and funny) reading!

3. If your hero/heroine were an ice cream flavor, what would he/she be and why?

Oh! I found the perfect flavor for Steph: Baskin-Robbins’ Acceptance Peach. It was a flavor back in 1976 during the Presidential election. It fits for Steph because she wants so much to feel accepted, and she really is such a peach. A total sweetheart, even though she’s a bit of a mess. I think I even described her creamy cheeks as being like ripe peaches when she smiles (which she does, more and more, as the story develops).

4. Are there any themes in The Perfect Blend that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

I never really zero in on a major theme when I first get started. I do allow one to develop as I go, and then I tweak during my rewrites to hone that theme. I’ve mentioned the natural human need for acceptance several times above, and that was what developed through Steph’s experiences. And the verse that came to mind as I finished the book was 1 John 4:19: “We love because he first loved us.” Regardless of how we interpret the attitudes of others, we can always embrace the fact that God accepted us so fully He sacrificed His most precious Child for us. You can’t be more accepted than that, can you?

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

The most difficult parts involved the hero’s teenaged brother, Chip, who has a disability. The boy has a fantastic attitude, as did my late sister, Noreen, who lived with a similar disability. But Noreen’s situation was much more dire than this boy’s, so life was harder for her. I know Chip’s ability to thrive was possible, because Noreen managed to live to the fullest until her health deteriorated. I think I wrote Chip’s life the way I wish it had been for my sister.

My favorite parts to write were the romantic exchanges between Steph and the hero, Kendall. They were playful with each other almost immediately, thanks to his personality. I love that.

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

I have a few releases coming up, but I think the next book to release will be the second book in The Tea Shop Series, Tea for Two, which releases April 1, 2011. Here’s the blurb:

Zack Cooper tries his best to raise his children, but he's losing his grip on them in their teen years. They've both had scrapes with the local law.

Tea Shop owner Milly Jewel has the perfect woman in mind to help Zack. Counselor Tina Milano meets weekly at the tea shop with her women's group. Milly encourages Zack and Tina to work together to draw the teens back before they get in even hotter water. Milly never thought things might heat up between Zack and Tina. Or did she?

Tina's connections with the Middleburg police department prove a mixed blessing for Zack and his kids. Both her best friend and old boyfriend are officers on the force.

And when Tina's women's group gets wind of her personal pursuits and clashes, they want to help. The group's meetings at the tea shop take on a slightly different flavor. Tina wonders who, exactly, is counseling whom.

* * * * *

Thank you, Trish, for being in the spotlight with us.

ENTRY RULES Readers, answer the question associated with the spotlight in the comments, then leave your email address for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of The Perfect Blend. If you do not answer the question, you will not be entered.

Question: Do you struggle, or have you struggled, with feeling you aren’t accepted? How do you deal with that awful feeling?

Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname You won't be entered in the drawing without it. If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.


Ann Lee Miller said...

I think we all struggle with this sometime. I eventually remind myself that God completely accepts me.

Pencildancers said...

Do we ever stop struggling with this? :)
I have to repeat over and over, 'they' aren't in charge, God is.

Peggy Blann Phifer said...

Yeah, I did . . . in high school. This was in the 1950's and those days I was surrounded by more "Fonzie's" than "Ritchie's" - know what I mean. I didn't live that kind of life so it was hard for me to feel accepted. Besides, I was booksih, and, well, they weren't. It wasn't until close to the end of my freshman year that I finally found a fast and true friend with similar interests. She was a warm blanket for me during those years. Sadly, we lost track of each other after a while. But I'll never forget her.

I'd love to win Trish's book.

Peggy Blann Phifer said...

Oops! Email contact is
pbphifer at gmail dot com

Sorry 'bout that

Edwina said...

I definitely have struggled with feelings of not being accepted or not belonging. I think most people do struggle with this at various times in their lives. The way I deal with it is to remind myself that I am where God wants me to be, pray that the other people there will understand that I'm where God wants me to be and try to be pleasant to everyone.

I would love to read this book - it sounds great!


Wendy said...

Yes, I struggle with not being accepted. It is hard being 40 and single. I don't really fit in anywhere. Two years ago I moved to a new church. I totally love it and know this is where God wants me but I am struggling to find friends my age. 99% of the women are married and don't think to include me in bible studies or activities. It is hard to break in when your life doesn't look like the norm. I desire to be married but since that hasn't been God's plan yet, I work hard on trying to be where He wants me. That currently is in senior high ministry and I totally love it but I am lonely for peer conversation.
I spend a lot of time in prayer and focusing on God and what He wants out of me at this season of my life.

Paula said...

I think we all do sometimes. Once I asked my roommates at a writer's conference when I would outgrow being intimidated by people and worrying about fitting in. They laughed and said, "in about 10 years" at the same time. (Both were older than I.)

I do think I am better as the years roll by, but there are always those moments. What helps me the most is beginning to grasp how completely the LORD accepts me.

Trish Perry said...

Thanks for featuring The Perfect Blend, Tiff! It's fascinating to read the comments above and see how many of us think of peer acceptance first when answering this question. The Psych student in me wonders how many of us struggle(d) with trying to feel acceptance from our parents. Trying to measure up to expectations. Sometimes that kind of struggle seeps into our peer relationships, don't you think?

Anne Payne said...

Before I read the comments, my first thought wasn't peer acceptance, but parental acceptance as Trish just mentioned. I struggled with this until I received Christ as my Savior, and as I've grown in my walk with the Lord through the years, He has healed me of the hurt from the past and I don't struggle with that anymore.

I would love to read this book. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.


Jo said...

I have definitely struggled with that and especially when I was younger. Now that I am more mature and walking with the L-rd, not quite as much because I know that He made me who I am.


Lori (sugarandgrits) said...

I have always struggled with being accepted, and still do. Once I married my wonderful hubby, a lot of my anxiety went away, but not completely.

I've recently started a new job, so that's a whole new set of peers to worry about.

Even though I know I'm perfectly acceptable in God's eyes, I still have a hard time letting go of the anxiety.

I can't wait to read Trish's newest book -- all of her books are wonderful!

Thanks bunches,

sugarandgrits at hotmail dot com

runner10 said...

I have struggled with not being accepted. I choose to focus on positive things and don't worry about the negatives.


Sylvia said...

Oh, I've been looking forward to reading this book!

You asked if I ever struggled with feeling accepted. Hmm...not particularly. I guess I just assume that if people don't accept me than we're not meant to be close friends. Now, I might feel differently if I moved to a place where I didn't know a single soul. I've always lived in places where I knew people already.

Sylvia said...

My e-mail address is nina4sm[at]gmail[dot]com .

karenk said...

i think that we all have these struggles...we just have to press on.

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

When struggling of acceptance I pray and focus on the positive in my life.

squiresj said...

I struggle all the time with feeling accepted. I'm struggled all my life with it. Jesus is the only one I feel truly has accepted me and likes me as I am. In fact it's odd I came here today because I am feeling unaccepted right now. I pray and I pray and pray and all I want is a friend who will love me for who I am.
jrs362 at hotmail dot come

Cherie J said...

I struggled with this during my teen years. It took me years and much prayer to overcome my feelings of not feeling accepted. It takes time to understand that what is truly important is how the Lord views us, not others.


Bluerose said...

Oh, goodness! I struggle every day with that. I tell people I have social anxiety. :)
I've always been extremely shy, so i've never really fit in. I take shy to a whole new level!

Carolynn said...

I do struggle with not feeling accepted. I take all these feelings to Jesus and realize that with Him I am never turned away or ignored.
I try to reach out to others who might be feeling unaccepted and be a friend.

carolynnwald [at]hotmail [dot]com