Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hairsprays and Runways . . .


Written in the airport--

Yesterday I was at the salon having my roots done--and my stylist has this nifty new toy.  Mounted next to each chair is a touch screen, so you can watch a streaming video, browse for new hair styles, or select your next Redken products while you're getting your hair colored or buzzed or whatever.  Pretty cool, huh?  Pretty soon you'll be able to visually "try on" your new hairdo before you take that first cut!  

Speaking of such things, I was writing on a writer's email loop about how writers are like fashion designers--just as you can recognize the quirkiness of a Betsy Johnson dress or the clean lines of Ralph Lauren, you can also recognize certain hallmarks of your favorite author.  Anyway, after I posted that note, all of the Project Runway addicts came out of the closet!  (I confess, I'm hopelessly addicted.) 

I started to watch PR because my daughter is in fashion (trust me, I'm not), and I wanted to understand some more of her world.  Fascinating!  In my mind, I keep changing it up for writers--take a group of them, give them a challenge, send them off to write a short story, and then read it before a group of judges.  Hear, "I can't believe you're giving us first-person narration again--can't you take it to the next level?"  LOL!  

Anyway, Project Runway is coming down to the big finale and I'm not sure who to root for.   Christian is talented, but he needs to learn some humility.  Jillian is talented, but she could use some sparkle.  Rami was my favorite, but he was hard on Sweet Pea when they were working as a team, and I'm a little tired of the Grecian goddess look. 

(The photo is of Christian's winning look for "art as fashion" week.  You're not supposed to actually wear it, just . . . admire it.  I mean, how could pants that tight be comfortable? I really do love the white blouse, though.) 

Anyway--there.  My confession for the day.  

Taking it back to writers (other than me, please):  what are some distinguishing characteristics that you know you're always going to get when you pick up a certain writer's book?  Anything come to mind? 

~~Angie 

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Off to Ireland . . . via NYC !

Like my "Raise the Stakes" tee shirt?(It's a writing mantra.)   Don't think I should wear this to the airport tomorrow, though.  :-)

I'm not sure how regularly I'll be blogging for the next week because I'm heading to Ireland with some gal pals--in fact, you may know some of them.  We've been calling ourselves the "Irish Vagabonds," and Terri Blackstock, Wanda Dyson, and Linda Windsor have agreed to come with me to Ireland.  I hope they are all packing a spirit of adventure, because it's cold and wet over there right now, and I think I might have to drive . . . on the "wrong" side of the road yet.  (Don't tell my husband.) 

This will be my third time to visit the Emerald Isle, and I know I'll love it once again.  One of God's most beautiful places . . . and with some of the friendliest people. 

In any case, I'll try to check in and we do have a book of the month scheduled soon . . . so I'll try to squeeze that in (or maybe we'll just skip this month).  All depends upon if I can find a point for wireless internet access.  But I hope to keep in touch and send photos.  :-)  

So if you think of us, please pray for a safe trip, lasting impressions (so we can write about this in some way), and creative refreshment.  

~~Angie 

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Meet Tricia Goyer and her latest book!


I'm happy to tell you about my friend Tricia Goyer's latest historical novel. A Whisper of Freedom is book three in The Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War series. Battles heat up…not only those being waged by the soldiers on both sides fighting for Spain, but in the hearts and minds of the men and women who must sacrifice more than their dreams to save the lives of their loved ones.

In this meticulously researched novel, brave and idealistic Sophie, Philip, Jose, and Deion realize their only hope for freedom is escaping Spain's borders.

By continuing the story of this band of volunteers during the Spanish Civil War, A Whisper of Freedom proves that there are whispers of hope and liberty that resonate through even the darkest night.

Q and A with Tricia

Q. A Whisper of Freedom is Book #3. Did the story wrap up like you expected?
 
A. Good question, I'd have to say yes ... and no. The basic plots points that I envisioned at the beginning of the series still happened. It was the characters that had minds on their own. They did things, said things, were involved in things that I didn't suspect when I started the series. It was exciting and fun to write!
 
Q. A Whisper of Freedom ends with Europe on the verge of WWII. Are you going to continue the series?
 
A. I'd love to! But ... I have no current contract to do so. I would LOVE to see what happens to Philip and Sophie and Jose and others during the war. I have a feeling there would me more spying, more intrigue, and more ways God uses ordinary people in extraordinary ways.
 
Q. Who is your favorite character in A Whisper of Freedom?
 
A. Are you kidding? That's like asking which kid I love best. Each of them are unique and special :) 
 
Q. There are some very interesting plot twists concerning stolen gold. Is this gold completely fictional?
 
A.  It's true! While I was researching for novel #1 I read about gold that was stored in the bank vaults of Madrid. Before The Spanish Civil War broke out Spain had the fourth largest gold reserves in the world. Afraid that the Nationalist would conquer Madrid and take the gold, they used it to buy arms and troops from the Soviet Union. The gold was transported by ship to Russia, but the amount that left the vaults and the amount that arrive in Russia is a different quantity. I found the "missing" gold to be a good opportunity to wrap my story around.
 
Q. Have you gotten any feedback from your story?
 
A. Yes, so far the early reviewers have been pleased. I've gotten comments that they story surprised and pleased them with the various twists. Also, many, many people appreciate that I brought this part of history to life.
 
Q. What does your writing day look like?
 
A. Every day is completely different. With kids, and homeschooling, and appointments, and shopping, and church, and (the most important) family activities, each day is different. Actually ... that's not completely true. There are a few things I do first every day ... no matter what's going on. I always have quiet time in the morning--Bible reading, prayer, journaling. I always have a time of prayer and Bible reading with my husband, John. And I try to exercise. If I'm not running out the door, I spend 30 minutes on my exercise bike and I read as I pedal.
 
Q. What is your favorite part about writing fiction?
 
A. I have a few favorite parts. I love researching. I love really, really digging in and giving my characters deep motivations, needs, and desires. I also love being "there"--which is getting so caught up in the fictional world that it's as if these characters are real, and I'm really there.
 
Q. You've written seven historical novels now--four about World War II and three about The Spanish Civil War. Would you ever consider writing a contemporary novel?
 
A. Actually, I've done it. I'm working on contemporary novels for Guideposts, as part of a continuing series called Home to Heather Creek. I wrote novel #2 titled Sweet September. It will be out the end of June. I had a great time, and I'm exciting to be writing more contemporary novels in the future.
 
Q. Do you have any more historical novels in the work?
 
A. Yes, actually I'm working on a historical, action-packed spy novel with my friend, Mike Yorkey, titled The Swiss Courier. Having a Swiss wife, Mike adds a nice International flavor to the books. He's also great writing action scenes. Think Mission Impossible set in WWII.
 
Q. He has his own Swiss Miss!  (I crack myself up!)  Have any of your novels been translated into other languages?
 
A. Yes. Some have been translated into German and all of them in Dutch. What's really cool is that I've heard they're "best-sellers" in Dutch. I'm ready for a trip to Holland!
 
Q. What advice do you have for those who want to write historical fiction?
 
A. First of all, reading LOTS of historical fiction and figure out what you like best and why. Second, read books on writing fiction ... as many as possible. Third, write, write, write. Give yourself goals and stick to them. Fourth, attend a writer's conference. I highly recommend the American Christian Fiction Writer's Conference (www.acfw.com) and Mt. Hermon Christian Writer's Conference. The workshops are great. The teachers are amazing. And meeting other writers is one of the best things you can do to further your career.

I have to put in a plug for both conferences, as I'll be teaching at both of them in this coming year.  In fact, Mt. Hermon is just around the corner!  Thanks, Tricia, for stopping by. 

If you're interested, you can order Tricia's book here

~~Angie
 

Monday, February 25, 2008

This and that and Martian Child


Many  thoughts today, so I'll just spill 'em.  First, I watched two movies over the weekend--"Becoming Jane" and "Martian Child."  Both I would highly recommend, and they both happen to be about writers, though neither character is anything like the writers I know.  (For one thing, they have way too much free time.)  

"Becoming Jane," of course, is the story of Jane Austen, who died at 42 after having produced books that are still selling today.  Lovely film, if a bit bittersweet. 

"Martian Child" is the story of a widowed novelist (John Cusack, whom I've always thought adorable), who decided to adopt a special needs child who thinks he's from Mars.  I wouldn't say this movie is for children, as it's geared completely toward adults and it's not a comedy, though it has many charming moments. 

The crux of this film--the climax or bleakest moment or whatever you'd like to call it--is especially powerful and gave me an epiphany for my own story-in-progress.  Good writing here. 

There's another scene that I found poignant.  John's editor, who has been hounding him for the first draft of his next book in a science fiction series (who hands in a first draft?  I'd sooner chop off my arms), has this big party with lots of big wigs and asks him to ceremoniously hand over the draft.  He gives her a manuscript, but it's not the book she's expecting--instead, it's a tender character story called "Martian Child."  She is furious and says, "Why can't you be who we expect you to be?" And this brings him an epiphany --an insight into this boy he's been trying to reach.  

I had a taste of that myself today--I got an email from a reader who said she only read half of "Doesn't She Look Natural" because it wasn't like my other books.  

Well, okay.  The Fairlawn books are character novels; the other books she mentioned were high concept plot-driven stories.  Two different animals, and it's completely okay to prefer one over the other.  

But I kept hearing Anjelica Houston (who plays John Cusack's editor) shouting, "Why can't you be who we expect you to be?" 

I have to write the stories God gives me.  Like 'em or loathe 'em,  it's okay.  But please allow me the freedom to write outside any particular box.  Some stories I write for believers, some I write for the world at large. Some are high-concept, some are about ordinary people doing ordinary things . . . with a twist.  Some I haven't even begun to define yet. 

Like the Martian child, you see, I've learned that life inside a box is not nearly as rewarding as life on the outside. 

~~Angie 

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Dolls gone bad . . .


Did you hear about the talking Elmo gone bad?  I read it in yesterday's St. Pete Times.  Apparently there's a variety of Elmo known as the "Elmo Knows My Name" doll.  You can program in your child's name, his friends' names, and some of his favorite foods.  

Melissa Bowman, who lives in Florida with her son James, gave her son the doll for Christmas.  Elmo did fine until it was time to change the batteries.  After that, Elmo began to say, "Kill James!"  

Eeek .  Melissa wasn't aware of it until she heard her son saying, "Kill me!" 

Double eek.  

I've seen quite a few movies with dolls gone bad--and even Seinfeld's Kramer was afraid of ventriloquist's dummies.  I think I'd probably flip if I heard my child's doll saying such a thing. 

James' mother contacted Mattel, who agreed to replace Elmo or refund her money.  No one is sure how the little boy's Elmo became corrupted, but Melissa Bowman says she's locking it in the closet at night. 

~~Angie 

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Rain!


We had an honest-to-goodness rainy day today.  It's nearly two o'clock and the sun is peeping out from behind a curtain of cloud, but I loved this morning.  It didn't sprinkle, it poured.  So I got dressed in my gardening clothes, put on some flip flops, and drove down to Home Depot, which I knew would NOT be crowded. 

I was right.  They had closed the exit to the garden department, so I shopped happily there, getting watered along with all the plants.  I chose geraniums and a nice pot of verbena, then went inside to pay.  And then I splish-splashed my way back out to the car, aware of all the rain-suited employees huddled under the overhang and no doubt envying my who-cares-about-water attitude.  

Then I came home and planted those plants in the wet ground.  I don't know why this was so much fun, but it was.  Me with wet hair, wet clothes, wet plants--and grateful for the rain.  

~~Angie

Friday, February 22, 2008

Adult Children


Once upon a time, in a country not so far away, children grew up, left home for college, and got married. By age 25 or so they were ensconced in families of their own, and the cycle began all over again . . . 

That's not happening any more.  I left home at 18 and married at 22 (the very DAY after my college graduation), but I don't see anything close to that happening with my children or most of the children of my friends.  I'm not sure why society has shifted, but it has, and parents are often at a loss when dealing with these twenty-something children who are not ready (or willing) to be on their own and not quite children, either. 

My good friend Allison Bottke has written a book, SETTING BOUNDARIES WITH YOUR ADULT CHILDREN, that may be a lifesaver for you or someone you know. Allison did tons of research, speaking with parents and other authorities, about how we can love our children without enabling them. About how we can honor God in our child-rearing efforts at an age when child-rearing is usually long finished. 

If you have a twenty-something child, you need to read this book.  Seriously. I have seen so many parents nearly bankrupt themselves and completely drain themselves emotionally because these ought-to-be-grown children can't seem to stand on their own two feet. We seem to be very good at making excuses for them, and not so good at setting boundaries . . . 

(Just this morning on GMA I watched a mother defend her "wonderful" son who had hired hit men to kill his parents. Parental love is a powerful thing, but boy, can it be blind . . .) 

Allison lists six steps to SANITY, and then explores them: 
  1. Stop enabling, stop blaming yourself, and stop the flow of money
  2. Assemble a support group
  3. Nip excuses in the bud
  4. Implement rules and boundaries
  5. Trust your instincts
  6. Yield everything to God.

I highly recommend this book.  You can order it here. 

~~Angie 

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Want a little dog?


I've been working HARD, so I haven't had time to think much about blogging. 

I did, however, discover this gem, which is worth a quick peek.  After you see it, you'll understand why I like big, slow dogs.  :-) 

~~Angie 

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What a horse!

Kay Day (don't you love her name?) sent me this video.  You might want to grab a tissue. Who knew that a horse and rider routine could be so moving?  

~Angie
video

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mars Needs Women . . .


Remember that line from that silly sci-fi movie in the sixties? 1967, to be exact. 

Anyway, when I read the following in Monday morning's paper, I thought it was a joke.  So I read it again. And again. Then I sat there, shaking my head, realizing that this little exchange says a lot about a dictator and a country that does not value human life--born, unborn, or female.
 
Recently released historic documents reveal that in 1973 Henry Kissinger held trade talks with China Chairman Mao Zedong.  In the spirit of detente, Mao Zedong made Kissinger an offer that is not to be believed: 

"You know," he said, "China is a very poor country. We don't have much. What we have in excess is women. So if you want them we can give a few of those to you, some tens of thousands . . . Do you want our Chinese women? We can give you ten million." 

Kissinger's diplomatic response? "We will have to study it." 

Arrrrgh!  I think I'd have climbed over the table to throttle the man.  Good thing I'm not a diplomat.

Ten million women . . . can you imagine? 

~~Angie 

Monday, February 18, 2008

Yippee!


My taxes are done!  :-)  I tell you, what did we do before Turbo Tax?  I love having everything on computer! 

And thank you for your kind comments about my "sadness" post.  This is probably going to be a long-term situation, and I don't feel sad unless I think about it, so I'm striving to turn my thoughts into prayers, my sadness into hope, and my pain into story.  And through it all, I know the Lord is faithful.  

Hope your week is off to a great start! 

~~Angie 

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sharon Hinck and SYMPHONY OF SECRETS


Symphony of Secrets a new novel by Sharon Hinck (Bethany House Publishers)     
Talented flutist Amy Johnson's dreams come true when she wins a spot with the Minneapolis Symphony. But this amateur sleuth has trouble concentrating on the notes as she begins to see devious motives behind her fellow musicians' many mishaps. Meanwhile, her musically talented daughter wants to give it all up for—gasp—the cheerleading squad! What's a musical mom to do? Can Amy fine-tune her investigation before the symphony is forced to close and she loses not only her dream job but her promising new relationship with its conductor? 

Q: What'd you mean by the title, Symphony of Secrets
A: On an obvious level, Amy tries to uncover answers to the mystery of who is ruining the symphony, and the secrets of her various “suspects”. But a key element of the story is that Amy has been keeping family secrets for many years and is finally forced to face them. There is also a growing awareness of the “secret” (hitherto unknown by her) work of God, which plays out in her life like the movements of a symphony. Her life is really a symphony of secrets. 
Q: Why did you decide to add a mystery to the mix?  
A: I’ve always loved Dorothy Gillman’s “Mrs. Pollifax” books (a retired garden-club woman joins the CIA) and Jill Churchill’s “Jane Jeffrey” novels (a suburban mom solves murders) so I thought it would be fun to make Amy a bit of an armchair detective (at least in her own mind). It made for a fun combination. 
Q: My book club read the first Mrs. Pollifax novel. It was inventive! Your Becky Miller books took us into the world of a mom with big dreams. How does Amy differ from Becky? 
A: I love exploring the heroic in people the world considers “ordinary” - like moms. Like the Becky Miller books, Symphony of Secrets includes a strong story thread about parenting, but the dynamics of a young single mom with a teen daughter are an interesting new twist. Their banter has a bit of a Gilmore Girl vibe to it – full of affection but a little dysfunctional – which adds to the fun. 
Q: Is there a love interest for Amy? 
A: I hadn’t planned for one when I began the book, but a certain character walked into a scene, tossed some musical scores on a table, put his feet up, and was so dynamic, I fell in love with him. So Amy did, too. The story isn’t primarily a romance, but in between trying to raise her daughter, hide family secrets, and save the symphony, Amy is further befuddled by the romantic feelings she works hard to ignore. 
Q: Well, I don't blame you for keeping him around! Are you at all like Amy?
A: My editor told me that of all my characters, she sees a lot of me in this one. That cracked me up because as I shaped Amy, I made her cranky, with little people skills, and hapless in her crime-fighting efforts. But I have to admit, my editor is right. There are some similarities. Although I’m not a professional concert musician, as a writer, I’m familiar with the neurotic-artist tendencies that were so fun to develop in Amy. I share with her the passionate desire to create something of beauty, the massive insecurities, and the bulldog determination to pursue what matters. 
Q: What is the spiritual theme of Symphony of Secrets
A: God loves us enough to come and meet us through the avenues that we understand. He finds ways to speak our language. I’ve seen many examples of God wooing someone toward Himself through that person’s passions. Amy understands the world of music and God coaxes her to consider spiritual issues through the beauty of music that is already alive in her heart. 
Endorsements:
“It’s official—if the book says Sharon Hinck on the spine, I’m buying it! Symphony of Secrets hits just the right tone, weaving harmonies of mystery, family, and the life of a symphonic musician—a topic I’ve not experienced in fiction before. The melody is God’s love, subtle yet persistent and so perfectly pitched that I’ll be humming that tune for a long time to come. This is a great read and a perfect gift for anyone who finds joy in music.” -- Kathryn Mackel, Vanished 
  "What a delightful story! I fell in love with the characters on the first page and didn't want to let them go. If you love music, as I do, you'll especially enjoy this engaging tale of lost dreams and second chances. Like a Haydn serenade, your mind will dance along the story line at an engaging pace, allowing your imagination and sense of humor to absorb the melody of its plot. WithSymphony of Secrets, Sharon Hinck makes beautiful music with her words!" -- Mindy Starns Clark, The Million Dollar Mysteries series."   
Visit Sharon at www.sharonhinck.com.   You can order Symphony of Secrets here. 
~~Angie

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Well, lookee there . . .


I was flipping through pages of the Wall Street Journal and saw this ad.  LOL! 

This is almost what I look like, every day. Except I have two mastiffs, and they're usually sleeping at my feet.  And I'm not a man. And there's an apple on my computer. 

Okay, so it looks nothing like me at all. But I still love the picture. 

Have a great weekend! 

~~Angie  

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sadness


I am sad. 

There, I've admitted it.  I've been sad for a while and resisted blogging about it, but the more I thought about it, I realized some of you might be sad, too.  So here you go:  it's okay to be sad.  

Sadness is not depression.  I know depression, though not well, and I know it comes on like a thunderstorm and hangs overhead without rhyme or reason. I know depression is often due to things beyond our control (like hormones and brain chemistry), and when I'm occasionally depressed I can't even figure out why.  Depression is the blues, it's the blahs, and it's hard to shake off. 

But sadness . . . that condition results because something or someone is doing/has done something that evokes sadness in us.  I'm not going into my reasons for my sadness (some things, after all, are too personal to publish even on a personal blog), and it's hard enough to admit that sadness exists in an otherwise perfectly contented life. 

The other day I watched HAIRSPRAY, the movie, and as it opened, the main character came out singing a song. The gist of it was "Hello, beautiful day, I'm ready for an adventure," and I gaped at the actress with a feeling of deja vu.  I used to feel exactly like that.  In high school and even into college, I was one of those googly-eyed, eternally optimistic people who loves life and really doesn't feel sad about much. 

Then I began to experience life.  And, as I was reading this morning, I learned that "Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us."  (Ecc. 7:3).  

How nice . . . I'm being refined.  :-/  And here I thought that was for snooty girls in finishing schools. 

I don't want pity, though I would be grateful for a few prayers. My faith has never been stronger and my marriage is great. I'm not suicidal and I'm not depressed.  I'm able to put my sadness on a shelf and do my work and write happy stories and pepper my emails with smiley faces. 

But the sadness is there, just beneath the surface, cresting and retreating like waves on a shore.
 
Today one of my characters said something I've been thinking, and we stopped and wept together.  Me and Gerald, in the funeral home, crying over the little boy on the table and a whole lot more.  (I've given Gerald a sadness akin to mine, and I'm not sure he's entirely grateful.) 

So . . . if you're sad, I want you to know I understand. And God understands. Jesus wept over his friends and he wept over Jerusalem. And the Father says our tears are so precious that he keeps them in a bottle (Ps. 56:8). 

And remember--the story isn't finished and through it all, we're being refined.  So hold your heads up, dear ones. And know that every tear has been counted and treasured. 

~~Angie 

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day


CJ Darlington has asked several Christian novelists for memories of their most memorable Valentine's Day.  You can read them here

And here's my story: 
My husband has a boyish sense of humor.  A couple of years ago I woke on Valentine's Day morning to find a single candy heart on my desk--the first place I stagger each morning. I popped it in my mouth and enjoyed it while I was checking my email.  

Upon reaching the kitchen, I found another candy heart on my placemat.  I ate it, too.  And then when I went to the cupboard, I found another one by my vitamin bottle.  You guessed it--I ate it. 

I figured my hubby was Hansel-and-Gretling--leaving me a sweet trail of candy hearts, and somewhere, I'd find the big payoff--the entire bag of candy.  

Imagine my surprise when I opened the trash can and found the rest of the candy hearts, still in their bag, in the trash.  When he came into the kitchen, I pointed at the now-trash-tainted candy and said, "What gives?" 

Turns out that the carefully-selected and strategically placed candy hearts had messages for me . . . messages I couldn't read without my reading glasses.  (He threw the rest in the trash because I am on a perpetual diet.) 

The moral of this story?   When love enters its second decade, it's time to buy candy hearts with large print .  :-) 

Happy Valentine's Day! 

~~Angie 

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pets and Pretties


Remember the six-word memoirs from the other day?  Kathy Mackel invited some writing friends to describe their PETS in six words--and of course, I was only too happy to write about Babe and Charley: 

Do my job. Foam and growl.  --Babe

Look mastiffly. Bark deep. Hide quick.  --Charley. 

 
And about the photo . . . I love pretty tech  gadgets, so I splurged on the new Macbook Air.  This baby weighs less than three pounds, and it's the perfect traveling companion--full size screen and keyboard, room enough to carry the WIP and important files.  Love it! 

(I'm not fit for public consumption in that picture, but isn't the computer pretty?) 

~~Angie 

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Country Quiz


I've been hard at work on SHE'S IN A BETTER PLACE, also known as "Fairlawn #3," so I haven't had time for thinking of much else.  

So here's a little something for you to try.  According to my score, I'm a "geography genius," but trust me, I didn't feel like a genius as I was trying to place these images.  Felt more like a dunce.  :-) (And if 70 percent is genius, well . . . that test is graded on a CURVE!) 

So . . . how well do you know the countries of the world?  Take this quiz and let me know how you did! 

~~Angie 

Monday, February 11, 2008

Diann Mills' Awaken my Heart



Awaken My Heart by DiAnn Mills - www.diannmills.com

 

 

Awaken My Heart by DiAnn Mills tells the unlikely love story between 18-year-old Marianne, a wealthy rancher’s daughter, and the infamous Mexican rebel leader warring against her father.

 Click HERE to learn more and to enter sweepstakes for free stay at a Bed & Breakfast of your choice!

 1803, The Colony of Texas Journey back to the early days of southwest history  when the Spanish ruled the vast territory of Texas and padres instructed the  people in the ways of God. Step into the world of handsome vaqueros and brightly dressed dark-eyed maidens.   The time is 1803. This is the era of Marianne Phillips and Armando Garcia, two people separated by race and culture but destined for love. Marianne is the daughter of a wealthy American rancher, a man who will do anything to please the Spanish and secure his land. Armando is a Mexican peasant, a rebel according to the Spanish. He has committed his life to helping the poor rise from poverty and the oppression of the ruling Spanish. Armando and Marianne . . . Two unlikely people who have little in common. Or do they? Open this book to a romance that will live in your heart long after the story is told. Curl up in a serape and listen to the strum of a Spanish guitar. I invite you to read with your heart and become a part of a love story that only the hand of God could orchestrate.  

What reviewers are saying about Awaken My Heart:

"Awaken My Heart is a terrific early nineteenth century Texas Colonial romance starring two caring protagonists who in many ways seem like a North American Romeo and Juliet. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action . . . DiAnn Mills provides a delightful historical that brings to vivid life a time and place that rarely if ever has served as the background." - Harriet Klausner

"Awaken My Heart is a colorful inspirational tale of romance and adventure! -Diana Risso, Romance Reviews Today

Q & A with the author - DiAnn Mills

Q: Welcome, Diann!  You’ve been writing historical fiction for a long time. What interested you in the 1803 time period?

A: I love Texas history, and I have an appreciation for the courageous men and women who built this state. Early Texas is a mixture of Native American, Spanish, black, and various European descents. Each race offered us a rich cultural heritage, a heritage that we should be proud.

Q: Does  Awaken My Heart have a particular theme?

A: The theme is courage: courage to stand up to political and social factions that vie against God and what He desires for His people.

Q: Armando Garcia is quite the rebel!  Do you think this type of hero glorifies rebellion? 

A: Not at all. Armando had much to learn about the difference between his own desires and what God required of him. Once he realized his stand needed to embrace truth, he was on the right road.

Q: Marianne Phillips has a streak of rebellion in her. How was it channeled?

A: Marianne kept much of her rebellion inside because she knew God expected her to honor her parents, and in many instances, her father’s wishes. Once she saw that she had to make a choice between obedience to her father and obedience to God, she found strength to do that which was right.

Q: What is your biggest challenge in writing?

A: Always the characterization. I crave three dimensional characters that will experience growth. Understanding and acting upon their motivation takes time! Sometimes I simply have to “live” with them for awhile. J

Q: So how do you develop your characters?

A: Through time, patience, people-watching, viewing them through unusual situations, brainstorming, and consulting many books about the psychology of personalities. And that’s just the beginning!

A: I use the Myers-Briggs personality profile.  It helps a lot!  How much of yourself goes into a character?

A: I attempt to keep myself excluded from the process, but I admit that an opinion or a trait appears now and then.

Q: LOL!  For me . . . well, let's just say that it's not on a mere whim that I call my blog "a life in pages!"   What's next in the pipeline for you? 

A: I’m currently writing a romantic suspense for Tyndale, the second book in the Behind the Sunglasses Series. I’m also preparing various historical fiction proposals.

Q: What advice do you have for any new writers out there? 

A: To read in the genre in which they want to write. To read the books written by those authors they admire. To read books about the craft. To write everyday. To become active in a writer’s group.

Q: And before we go, how can readers contact you? 

A:  My website is www.diannmills.com.  Thanks!

Thanks for dropping by! 

~~Angie