Saturday, May 31, 2008

Robin Lee Hatcher returns to her roots in WAGERED HEART

I'm so excited about my good friend Robin's latest book. Here's a bit about it: 

When Bethany Silverton left the genteel life of Miss Henderson’s School for Young Ladies back in Philadelphia for the raw frontier town of Sweetwater, Montana, she had no idea how much she would enjoy the freedom and danger of this wild country.

A conservative preacher’s daughter, Bethany can’t resist the challenge of charming the most attractive cowboy in town into attending her father’s new church. She never dreamed that the cowboy would charm the lady.

But Hawk Chandler isn't the only man vying for Bethany's affections. Ruthlessly ambitious Vince Richards thinks Bethany is perfect for him: attractive, gracious, just the woman to help him become governor. And he is determined to get what he wants at any cost.

Drawn to one man, an obsession of another, Bethany's quiet life is thrown into turmoil. She wagered her heart on love. Now she has gotten more than she bargained for—and the stakes are about to become life and death.

Romantic Times Book Reviews says: "Hatcher knows how to pack romance, laughter, tears and lovable characters into her stories."

Relz Reviewz says: "Robin Lee Hatcher's latest offering is a romance reader's delight! The romantic tension between Hawk and Bethany ignites on their first meeting and doesn't let up until the final page. While the outcome is a forgone conclusion, Robin's talent with the written word and her unerring ability to create engaging characters, sets this story apart from most other historical romances. Hawk and Bethany's journey is fraught with misunderstandings, personal tragedy and the schemes of a treacherous man adding excitement to a tale that overflows with simmering attraction and blossoming love. Interspersed with humour and electrifying dialogue, Wagered Heart is a summer treat not to be missed."

About Robin
Robin Lee Hatcher discovered her vocation as a novelist after many years of reading everything she could put her hands on, including the backs of cereal boxes and ketchup bottles. The winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction (Whispers from Yesterday), the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance (Patterns of Love and The Shepherd's Voice), two RT Career Achievement Awards (Americana Romance and Inspirational Fiction), and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award, Robin is the author of over 55 novels, including Catching Katie, named one of the Best Books of 2004 by the Library Journal. 

For more information about Robin and her books, visit her web site at and her Write Thinking Blog at

A note from Robin:
I began my career as a novelist writing historical romances, a natural fit for a booklover who has always loved history and is a romantic at heart. When God drew me out of the general market in order to write faith-based fiction, I discovered I also had a passion for telling contemporary stories that tackled relevant topics of our time--alcoholism, marriages in crisis, prodigal children, faith in light of tragic loss. But that didn't mean I lost my love for historical romantic fiction. I didn't. I just wasn't writing them very often. That is about to change.

Wagered Heart is my first faith-based historical romance release in three years. I loved watching Bethany, a preacher's daughter, and Hawk, a rancher, come to life on the page, and it was great fun immersing my imagination in 1880's Montana. Wagered Heart will be followed in January by another single title historical, When Love Blooms. This book is also set in the 1880's but this time in the rugged mountains of central Idaho where Emily, a young governess, falls in love with her employer, a man who thinks she is ill-suited for the hard life he could offer her. 

After that?  I am currently writing the first book of a new series that feature heroines who have unusual jobs for their time; the series opens in 1915. Plenty of problems and romance ensue. In other words, I'm having a wonderful time when I sit down at my computer each day.

Angie here again:  I'm sure you'll want to check out Robin's latest arrival.  Enjoy! 


Friday, May 30, 2008

Movie Recommendation

Somehow, through the magic of Netflix, I discovered a delightful little film--and when I say "little," I mean little.  

IN THE ARMS OF ANGELS is only fourteen minutes long . . . but it packs a lot into those fourteen minutes.  It's a simple story set in the nineteenth century, and the tale has a Little House on the Prairie feel.  But it's a sweet story you can watch with the entire family.  I liked it so much, I'm going to ask hubby to show it to some of the middle schoolers on Sunday.  

So if you have a chance to rent this film, give it a shot.  You can even watch it two or three times in an hour.  :-)


P.S.  Did I mention that I finished my rough draft?  Now I'm doing a bit more research to fill in some major gaps in my legal knowledge.  :-)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Book Giveaway

Today let's play a game. 

Wednesday afternoon the UPS man brought me a new book--it's a three-in-one book of my novels THE NOTE and THE PEARL with my pal Terri Blackstock's COVENANT CHILD (a wonderful read!).  

The book is a nice hardcover, and I believe it's being produced as an exclusive for somebody or other--which means you can't order it anywhere else.  

I would like to give a copy away to someone who leaves a comment.  I'm thinking of a number (key: MDA) and I'll send the book to the comment number that matches the number I'm thinking of. U.S. mailing addresses only, please--it's a thick book.  :-) 

I'll jump in once someone has won the book. Feel free to comment more than once as long as someone else comments between your comments.  

Thanks for playing! 


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

She'll Clean Out your House

A hilarious article in our newspaper this morning. (At least I thought it was funny.) 

Apparently a man (whose wife was out of town), found maid services on the Internet.  NUDE maid services.  At $100 per hour.  So he called and engaged the maid to clean his four bedroom, three-bath house. 

When his wife came home, however, she discovered that the maid had cleaned out her jewelry box.  Apparently the man left her alone for a few minutes while she cleaned the bedroom. 

Now--I'm not in favor of stealing, but something in me thinks that man got exactly what he deserved.  From his wife.  :-)


Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Sunday's New York Times reported the death of Dick Sutcliffe, 90, who died on May 11 in Dallas. Dick Sutcliffe is most known for having a great idea--using animated characters to teach religious principles . 

I grew up watching Mr. Sutcliffe's brainchild, "Davey and Goliath," on Sunday morning television.  I found it interesting to learn that Davey's best friend, Jonathan, was black and one of the first instances of an interracial friendship in a television series.  

According to the Times, in the late 1950's, Mr. Sutcliffe was living in Massapequa, NY, and working in New York City for the United Lutheran Church as a producer. "The Lutheran Church was interested in using this newfangled thing called television to reach folks," his daughter told the Times. They thought about having a pastor deliver brief sermonettes, but Mr. Sutcliffe said, "The theology is fine but it's not good for television." 

And so Davey and Goliath were born. Sutcliffe hired Art and Ruth Clokey, who were pioneers in the field of claymation, and Nancy Moore wrote most of the scripts.  

My hat's off to Mr. Sutcliffe. If you weren't lucky enough to grow up with Davey and Goliath, you can check them out at  Or click here


Sunday, May 25, 2008


I don't particularly like to discuss politics on my blog, but something happened this week that bears discussing.  It began when a friend emailed me with the news that John McCain had rejected Rev. John Hagee's endorsement because Hagee was "anti-Semitic." Ha!  

I wrote back saying, "That's not true. Hagee would sooner stomp on his own mother than say anything against the Jewish people." I know Pastor Hagee, and I know his heart . . . and his courage. He loves the Jewish people, he loves God, and he's not afraid to say what he thinks.  

Turns out that someone went through his sermon archives in search of something volatile (I suspect they were trying to do to McCain what someone else did to Obama re: Reverend Wright) and they came up with a 1990's sermon from the book of Jeremiah (16:15-17) --where the prophet said that God would send a "hunter" who would chase the people of Israel as a means of returning them to their promised land.  Hilter, said Hagee, was one of those hunters, because prior to WWII, the Jews weren't eager to return to Palestine. After the Holocaust, however, everything changed.  

The moment I read the details, I found myself in agreement with Hagee's interpretation of that passage. Much of prophetic scripture, you see, has two meanings--a literal meaning for the time in which it was written, and a prophetic meaning for later. The verse we all quote from Isaiah (7:14): "Behold, a virgin shall conceive" was referring to Isaiah's wife in his time (read on through 8:1-4) and the Hebrew word for "virgin" meant "young woman."  But that verse also refers, of course, to Jesus Christ, who was born of a literal virgin 200 years later. This is known as the "Law of Double Reference." 

(This doesn't apply to every prophecy, but to many). 

So whenever I read the prophets, I always consider what their words meant in their time (the exile to Babylon, the return, the sin in the divided kingdoms) and what their words could mean in our time (which I believe to be the latter days).  I'm not dogmatic about my opinions, because God is free to fulfill his word however he wants to do.  :-)  After all, many of the most learned scholars of Jesus' time missed his coming because they were stubbornly clinging to their own visions of a Messiah who would come to rule and reign. 

But I digress.  Anyway, as soon as I understood why McCain had rejected Hagee's endorsement, I was troubled.  I know that it's not politically correct to believe that God could be involved in tsunamis, earthquakes, or Holocausts, but when you understand the doctrine of God's sovereignty in all its fullness, you do understand that he is either Lord of all, or he's not Lord at all. 

In my book THE PEARL, a couple's adorable five-year-old son is killed in a freak accident with a car.  The mother, Diana, cannot understand why God would do such a thing.  When the pastor suggests that God didn't will it, she says, "Oh, yes he did. Because to say that he had nothing to do with it means he was either asleep at the wheel or he stood by and did nothing while my beloved son died."  

I know this is a hard truth--that God can use evil for his purposes--but we see it illustrated over and over again in Scripture.  God used the freely-committed evil of Joseph's brothers to save a nation from famine. God used the evil of Judas and jealous religious rulers to crucify Christ, who had to die in order to provide salvation. Over and over, God used the evil of other nations to judge the nation of Israel.  God does not sin and yes, he is love. But often we are so caught up in our grief and pain that we cannot see the love behind the hurt. 

I was ruminating on all these things, and today I found this article on the web.  I loved this quote:   

Orthodox Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg, of Congregation Rodfei Sholom in San Antonio, appeared at an afternoon press conference yesterday to say Mr. Hagee's "words were twisted and used to attack him for being anti-Semitic."

In actuality, Mr. Hagee "interpreted a biblical verse in a way not very different from several legitimate Jewish authorities," the rabbi said.

"Viewing Hitler as acting completely outside of God's plan is to suggest that God was powerless to stop the Holocaust, a position quite unacceptable to any religious Jew or Christian," the rabbi said.

Exactly right.  I am sorry that McCain has rejected Hagee's endorsement because it reveals a true lack of knowledge about God and his authority over the affairs of men. But I don't expect politicians to be theologians. Bottom line, I wish McCain and his team had refused to rise to the bait--because that's exactly what this was, bait.  Furthermore, I suspect that whoever instigated this tempest in a teapot is dancing in glee, and that's downright annoying. 

BUT--I am once again reminded that in tough times--and I've had my share--I can rest in the fact that God is in complete control of everything that touches me (and you).  Everything.  Including this election. 

And that brings a peace beyond human understanding.  


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Happy Saturday!

Photo: an elk I startled on our way out of Estes Park . . .  (yes, she's real! Just meandering through downtown . . . ) 

The WIP is now up to 50,000 words--a major miracle, considering that this week I spent way too much time playing the rice/word game and tweaking a computer program.  I LOVE my Libronix electronic Bible study program, and they've come out with a new version for Mac.  So I spent most of one afternoon transferring my 1700 electronic books to the mac beta version, only to find that the program is really not ready for prime time--searches crash, nothing prints, and the footnotes don't automatically append.  It will be wonderful when it's working, but for now I have to stick with the Windows version. 

My Google alert told me about something kind of fun tonight--the woman who writes this blog asked her readers for their top book recommendations--and she received over 400 responses. From those she compiled a list of top books and top authors, and guess whose name was at the top of the author list?  Tee hee.  I tell you, it's a good thing to have a name that begins with the first letter of the alphabet.  :-) 

Well, if it's Saturday, I'm cleaning my house.  The woman who has helped me clean for over fifteen years has retired, so I'm back to cleaning everything myself.  Which makes for a lot of fur, especially in my office.  So excuse me while I go fetch the vacuum . . . 

Have a great weekend! 


Friday, May 23, 2008

A contest for you!

The ladies who run Chapter a Week are holding a contest--and I think you'll want to enter this one!


Here's the official scoop:  

We had such a great response to our last book giveaway that we've decided to make it a regular event! So we are giving away a ten-pound box of autographed Chapter-a-Week books to one Chapter-a-Week member for summer reading fun.

Simply send an email with "Chapter-a-Week Summer Reading Giveaway" in the subject line to and you'll be entered in the drawing. The deadline for signing up is June 6th and the winner will be announced June 13th. Get your entries in and be sure to tell your friends to sign up for Chapter-a-Week!

 To qualify, the return email address must be on the Chapter-a-Week membership list.  Continental U. S. residents only, please. Industry professionals should refrain from entering, and though we'd love you to share our books with your friends, these books are not for resale.

Thanks and happy reading!

Your friends at Chapter-a-Week

 * * * 

 As for me, I've been busy churning out words for the WIP.  They're pretty stinky words, and I'm learning how much I don't know about being a lawyer.  Worst of all, I can't trust what I see on my favorite crime shows because I know they take liberties on TV . . . and I want to be as accurate as possible in my novel.  So I'm relying a lot on books and lawyer friends.  :-)  

My husband and I went to see PRINCE CASPIAN  this week--and we both cried through most of it.  I'm not sure many other people were crying, but when you understand that Aslan is Jesus, and when you see the way he rules over his creation--well, I started sobbing every time that lion appeared on screen.  Just couldn't help it.  I think I'm going to be a blubbering mess in heaven for at least the first thousand years.  

Have a great day! 


Thursday, May 22, 2008


In this morning's paper I read that Maria, the five-year-old daughter of Steven Curtis Chapman, was killed in an auto accident yesterday.  This is especially poignant to me and my husband because the Chapmans, like us, were firm believers in international adoption.

Please pray for this family at this time of grief.  

The following video, from SCC's site, is hard to watch--but in time, I think it will stand as a joyous celebration of life and family. Even in the midst of suffering, God is faithful and good. 


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Movie recommendation: PRIDE

I just finished watching PRIDE, a based-on-a-true-story film about a black swim team in 1974. Maybe I liked it because I was the age of those kids in 1974, but it's a wonderful film about overcoming adversity through perseverance and hard work.  Plus, since we've talked a little about racism this month, it's a startling reminder of the way things used to be. A good movie for parents and older children to watch together.  

Best of all, at the end of the movie they show pictures of the real swim team founder and tell us that he's still working with swim teams today.  Gotta love that! 


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Learn a New Word and Feed the Hungry

On Marlene Bagnull's web site I discovered a fun distraction--plus, it really helps feed the world's poor (it checks out on  It's a little vocabulary game, and a sponsor will donate so many grains of rice for every word you get correct. 

I played until I got my score up to 50 and had donated 3,060 grains of rice--doesn't sound like much, does it?  But if we play every day, we'll not only be improving our vocabulary, we'll be helping feed someone else for the day! 


P.S.  My cousin tells me there's a similar site for feeding animals here. Click away! 

Monday, May 19, 2008

Home Again

Good to be home again, but a mountain of things to clear off the desk.  But I wanted to share a few pictures--these are of the YMCA and the gorgeous mountains, and one of our Nangie groups--the advanced Nangie, which means all of these folks have been with Nancy and me at least one other time.  Aren't they a good lookin' bunch? 

I love how the statue of the children spells out "YMCA." 

Hope your week is off to a great start! 


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Jim Bell. Writer. Lawyer. Friend.

My pal Jim has a new book out.  And he's into podcasting now. What's podcasting?  (asks my mom).  It's . . . well, take a look here.  :-) 

If you've never read one of Jim's books, you are in for a treat. He's great. 

If it's Sunday, I'm flying home after a great conference in Estes Park, CO.  Nancy Rue and I had some great students in our Nangie clinics, but now I'm ready to go home, see my puppies, and get back to work.  

A big hello to Kerry and Jackie, who took us out for Italian food on the last night. Enjoyed the fellowship! 


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Are these people CRAZY?

Okay--when you have a spare six minutes, sit down, plant your feet firmly on the floor, and watch this video clip.  

Ohmigoodness!  I think you'd have to be a mountain goat to walk that path when it was repaired, but to walk it now?  

I couldn't do it.  


Friday, May 16, 2008

Update on the CF Husband

If you've joined me in reading the blog "Confessions of a CF husband," you'll be delighted to know that the little family is now home!  Read this incredible story here.  

Rejoice with the family and all those who have prayed for them. God is good! 

I'm up here in Colorado, where it snowed today.  The CWCC is going great and my pal Nancy and I are teaching another "Nangie" clinic--two of them, in fact.  We have great and enthusiastic students and all is going well. 


Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Wager Trailer

is where to go to see the trailer for THE WAGER, which releases this week and stars Randy Travis. (I haven't seen the movie yet, but I've read the book and it's wonderful.) 

This movie is from my buddy Bill Myer's novel, and Bill got to play a homeless man. Should be a great movie!

Photo: Bill in full grunge mode.

You can order The Wager on Netflix or buy a copy here.  


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Groomer Has it

I discovered Project Runway (reality TV in which fashion designers are given a challenge each week) last season and loved it.  Was lacking something to watch to fill that creative void when I discovered Animal Planet's "Groomer Has It" TV show.  It's exactly like Project Runway, but it features dog groomers!  

LOL!  It's hilarious.  Each week the remaining designers are given a challenge--and it's always far out.  They've had to groom long-haired cats, sheep, puppies, poodles, etc., plus they have "quick snip" challenges that have to do with doggie first aid, doggie fashions, getting along with picky customers, etc.  

I've actually learned a couple of things, but I enjoy rooting for the groomers.  So far I like Jasper.  :-)  The program airs on Saturday nights (and repeats during the week) if you'd like to take a peek.  


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

May 13

Photo:  my rose bouquet.  :-) 

Today is my 28th wedding anniversary.  And because I'm leaving tomorrow to teach at the Colorado Christian Writers' Conference, my hubby surprised me with twenty-eight beautiful roses on Monday--so I'd have some time to enjoy them before taking off.  

He went to his favorite florist and told her he wanted twenty-eight roses, one for each year.  She went into the back to pull the flowers together, and when she came out, she was grinning. "You're never going to believe what the total is," she said. 

"What?" he asked. 

She smiled again.  "Twenty-eight dollars and twenty-eight cents." 

LOL!  I love it.  He has also hidden 28 little florist cards with sweet messages all around the house.  I still haven't found about twenty of them.  :-) 

Tonight we're going to see The Lion King.  What a great way to mark twenty-eight years. 


Monday, May 12, 2008

Books on the Move

Being a bibliophile, I loved reading this story in my local paper. I think it's a grand idea for Christian books to be rolling up to nursing homes and jails--to people who wouldn't ordinarily be able to attend church or even know that Christian books (especially Christian novels) exist!  What a cool idea. 


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Things to Ponder . . .

A happy mother's day to all of you!  

My Aunt Irene sent these to me, and I thought they were cute.  :-)


If 4 out of 5 people SUFFER from diarrhea...does that mean that one out of five enjoys it?


Why do croutons come in airtight packages? Aren't they  just stale bread to begin with?


If people from Poland are called Poles, then why aren't people from Holland called Holes? 


If a pig loses its voice, is it disgruntled?


Why is a person who  plays the piano called a pianist, but a person who drives a racecar is not called a racist?


If it's true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the others here for?   


If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, then doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked, and dry cleaners depressed?


If Fed Ex and UPS were to merge, would they call it Fed UP? 


Do Lipton Tea employees take "coffee breaks?"


What hair color do they put on the driver's licenses of  bald men?



I  thought about how mothers feed their babies with tiny little spoons and forks, so I wondered what do Chinese mothers use. Toothpicks?


Why do they put pictures of criminals up in the Post Office? What are we supposed to do, write to them? Why don't they just put their pictures on the postage stamps so the mailmen can look for them while they deliver the mail?


If a cow laughed, would milk come out of her nose?


Whatever happened to Preparations A through G?


As income tax time  approaches, did you ever notice : When you put the two words "The" and "IRS" together, it spells


Happy Mother's Day !

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A new story

Did I mention that I dreamed a plot the other night?  Most stories I dream are complete nonsense when I wake up, but this one actually made sense.  And it charmed me, really, so much that I can't get it out of my head even though I'm working on something entirely different. 

It keeps coming to me in bursts and snatches, so this morning I typed out the first two paragraphs, just so I'd have a starting point . . . when I finally get around to writing it.  And find a publisher who wants to BUY it. 

So here it is.  It's completely different from anything I've ever written (notice the omniscient POV), but I like it.  I hope you do, too.  

The miracles began on the day Riley Drummond began having problems with his telephone. The instrument turned balky, interrupting his conversations and blasting his ears with intermittent blasts of static. Though in months past he had experienced trouble with a gasping air conditioner and a groaning freezer, those appliances continued to pull their weight, cooling customers and freezing the ice cream sandwiches and popsicles so beloved by the little ones who regularly followed their mothers into the Siloam Drug Store. 

Because the telephone was an important lifeline between Riley and his customers—or, more precisely, between the pharmacist and sick folks—this irritating illness would simply have to be diagnosed and repaired at the first possible opportunity. So Riley called the phone company and, in between bursts of white noise and spatters of random rock music, requested a visit from the first available technician. 

Ta da!  And that's all I have for now.  


Friday, May 09, 2008

Dolphins at Play

Don't forget--tonight (Friday) the Hallmark Channel is running "The Note" again at 9 p.m. EST.  Check your local listings if you missed seeing it at Christmas time! 

Where is the time going?  This week has flown by, and next week I'm heading to Estes Park to do a Nangie U session at the CCWC! 

If you doubt the emotional nature of animals, check out this video of dolphins playing with "bubble rings" they create themselves.  Be sure to read the explanation below the video.  So cool! 


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Controlling Interest, by Elizabeth White

I'd love to tell you about my friend Beth's new book, CONTROLLING INTEREST.  Keep reading for the full scoop! (Isn't she cute?) 

by Elizabeth White


Matt Hogan's Memphis detective agency has been on the skids since a recent attack of conscience cost him an important case.  When a wealthy investor steps in and saves River City Investigations, Matt thinks all his prayers have been answered-until he finds out that with the investor comes a new partner.
Fresh out of criminal justice school and a two-year stint in the Tunica County Sheriff's Department, Natalie Tubberville is out to prove she can cut it in the world of private investigations. But her reluctant partner is just as determined to have nothing to do with her--until Natalie makes him an offer he can't refuse!  If Matt solves the next case before she does, she will return her share of the company.
And the race is on. As two strong personalities compete, mutual attraction grows…while a simple case of a runaway bride threatens to become an international incident. Will Matt and Natalie call off the competition-or discover an entirely new arrangement?

An Interview with Beth:  

Q: I love research! What's the craziest thing you ever did in the name of research?

You mean besides get married?? JUST KIDDING! Once when I was working on "The Trouble With Tommy," I went on a coon hunt with my uncle and my son. I did not carry a gun--but my son did. He was about fourteen at the time and had never been hunting before. You coon hunt at night, so we all wore these helmet like hardhats with headlights on the front. We put the dogs in their carrier on the back of the four-wheeler and they're barking their heads off as we drive through the woods. Finally we stop and let the dogs out and follow them, listening for the change in their baying. When a dog trees a raccoon it's very distinct. Even an ignoramus like me can hear it. So my son was so excited he could hardly hold onto the bullets as he loaded them in the gun. I won't go into the details, but it was hilarious and gross and totally a South Mississippi experience.

Q: I've been frog gigging--you do that at night, too, and in an airboat.  (Yuck.)  Okay, here's sometihng more predictable:  Who's your favorite author?

I have lots of favorites, but I've always loved Max Brand. His real name was Frederick Faust--and he wrote totally campy westerns back in the 1920's and 30's. In fact he created Destry of Destry Rides Again and Dr. Kildare! His heroes were daring and funny, and he's the only male writer I know who could consistently do a decent romance. You gotta check him out!

Q: I will!  Never read him.  BTW, I hear you're in grad school at the moment. What's up with that?

I had this idea that I wanted to teach college writing instead of middle school language arts. And I loathe education courses, so the only option was an English/Creative Writing program. It's actually been a lot of fun. I'm taking a poetry writing workshop this semester, which I totally suck at, but it scratches a creative itch I didn't even know I had. I should graduate with my masters at the end of the summer--I have one more course, screenwriting, to take. Spielberg look out!

Q; Screenwriting sounds like fun.  What motivated you to write this book?

Well, I wanted to write a sequel to OFF THE RECORD, using private detective Matt Hogan as my new hero. Which brought to mind one of my favorite TV shows from the 80's, Moonlighting. So my son and my husband and I did a little brainstorming about Matt's agency being invaded by a rich rookie "girl" detective--and Natalie Tubberville was born. Matt and Natalie needed a case to solve, so we came up with this runaway Pakistani bride scenario. It just got crazier from there. I think this story is a lot of fun.

Q: What was the most fun experience you've ever had as a writer?

Writing is not fun. I'm serious! Researching is fun. Answering fan letters is fun. Writing answers to blog interviews is even fun. Walking through a bookstore and seeing my name on a shelf is fun. Writing is, like someone said, "like shoving a refrigerator uphill." Well, okay, if you insist. I adore writing the scene at the end where the hero and heroine get together. I just melt into a puddle every time. We old married people know that the real work begins there, but gosh, don't you just love that hopeful spot of pure joy?

Q: Oh, yeah.  My hubby (a pastor) married a couple the other day, and the bride was weeping--tears of joy, I suppose.  He told the crowd that I cried all the way down the aisle and throughout the ceremony!  But I'm happy to report that somewhere alone the way, I stopped.  :-) 
If an aspiring author were sitting across from you at your kitchen table, what piece of writing advice would you give them?

Anything that's worth having is hard to get.
Amen, sister!  So true.  That works for writing AND marriage. 

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

BOM: Questions and Answers

Time for your questions and (hopefully!) answers!  

Linda wrote:  You probably addressed this in a BOM for DSLN before I came along, but did you observe the embalming process in your research? Or just read about it/interview morticians? It's fascinating. (Although I'm sure some folks with non-medical backgrounds are a bit grossed out by it!) Believe it or not, I had always wondered about getting the clothes on; that was an "aha" moment in the first book! 

Unfortunately, with the advent of all the new privacy laws (Hippa, anyone?), I was unable to observe an embalming--and believe me, I was ready and willing.  So most of my research came from books, photographs, and interviews (and once you announce that you're working on funeral homes, morticians seem to come out of the woodwork!) 

And it just so happens that one of my Tyndale editors grew up in a funeral home.  She has been a great asset--she gave me the idea for the funny flower arrangements and the funeral singers, plus I had written a scene in book three where Jen and Gerald sit down to eat a steak in the prep room.  My editor said that didn't feel right.  "Too weird?" I asked.  "No," she said. "There's always an odor in that room . . . not very appetizing."  

Ah.  That's the sort of thing you can't always get from a book.  :-/  

I certainly hope the embalming stuff didn't gross anyone out, and I tried to ease my readers into it just as Jen is herself "eased" into it.  Book one--the barest trace, book two, a complete description of an arterial embalming, book three, the cavity embalming.  And frankly, that's as far as I want to take it.  Any more would be gross for grossness's sake.  

Susan asked:  did you and your editors disagree over how much of the body preparation process was acceptable to include? I ask because I find all that sort of thing fascinating, and I think that I would include far more than most people would care to read, initially. 

Actually, the embalming you see is the embalming I put in.  :-)  After 20 years in this work, I think I've developed a pretty good instinct for knowing how much is too much.  And you can be descriptive in a way that is clinical rather than gross (" She searched for the carotid artery" as opposed to "her stomach clenched as her gloved  fingers eased into the warm opening and she tried not to think of fish guts").    So actually, none of my editors ever remarked on the level of detail . . . and none of my readers have complained.  Yet.  :-) 

Linda asked:  So you were really on Live with Regis and Kelly? How cool is that! Do you have a clip on your blog somewhere? 

Yes, and of course! You can watch the actual clip here and read the story behind it here.  

And Linda asked:  How do you decide on a title and how much attention in the book that situation gets? It took a while to get to Levina, and it was a pretty subtle thing. One sentence in the midst of preparing her body, and the timing of her death was as Jen was struggling with the racial issues. In some books, like The Note, the title is obviously a theme throughout, and others seem to be something plucked out of the book. Or am I missing something huge here?!

And was there a particular reason you chose Percy for his "special" role as opposed to Tyler or Toby? 

Regarding titles:  most of mine are more thematic and obvious (The Note, The Elevator), but my editors and I titled the Fairlawn series at the outset, so the books would have a "connected" feel.  We tried to find titles that worked in one way with the dearly departed, but yet also applied to Jennifer's life.  I'm not sure Jen always wore red, but the first and last title apply as much to her life as to the obvious story.  :-) 

And as for Percy--yes, I wanted to use him so Jen could have a direct encounter with Percy's people.  And if you've read the book, that'll make sense.  

Holly asked:  When you begin to write something new, how does it feel in your spirit? Are you eager, tormented, passionate, completely distracted by it or another feeling?Also, what part of writing do you NOT enjoy? 

When I begin a new book (like I'm doing now), I usually feel . . . distracted.  The story's not "together" enough to hold my interest, and first drafting is hard work. Literally like creating something out of nothing.  It's hard to stay in the chair and get my 5,000 words per day slapped onto the screen.  But even harder than the first draft is the proposal, because that requires talking about the book as if you know how it's going to turn out. I usually have an inkling, but that's about it.  After all, the "unexpected" often happens in my stories! 

But I'm happy to say that I'm now 10,000 words into my newest book.  :-)

Thanks for coming along for another BOM!