Sunday, November 30, 2008

Why not a few more?

Here are a few more pictures.  

The blue, blue waters of the Caribbean. 

Eric, mi nuevo amigo. He's 17 and wanted to practice his English; yo necessito practicar mi Espanol. :-) 

The adorable children of Guatemala. 

An expert demonstrating the proper way to zip-line.  (As opposed to hanging on with both hands and screaming). 

The waterfalls we hiked to in Guatemala.  :-)  Beautiful! 


More Vacation pics

More pictures . . . 

"Angela Street" in Key West (couldn't resist.) 

An odd elevated house in a Mexican village. 

Part of the Mayan ruins in Mexico. 

And one of my favorite events:  at Santo Tomas in Guatemala, the entire town comes out to bid the boat farewell.  Taxis and buses line up and blow their horns, dancers come, even a group of nuns!  Construction workers join in the fun, merchants who sell their wares--people play music and dance--notice the tiny little girl down front in the line.  Click on the pictures to enlarge and enjoy.  :-) 


Vacation Pics!

We're home!  And here are some vacation pictures. 

In random order--the beginning of US 1, and mile marker zero. 

The very skinny dogs that seem to run wild in Guatemala. 

Ernest Hemingway's house.  (Key West)

Our zip-lining and rappelling group.  We jumped off the equivalent of five story buildings! (Belize). 

Hubby and I in full gear.  :-) 

More to come. 


Friday, November 28, 2008

On my way home . . .

It's been a relaxing week--and exhausting--and I'm glad to be headed home.  I'll post some pics as soon as I have dependable Internet service again. 

In the mean time, I hope you ate lots of turkey, got your shopping safely done, and have begun to decorate your home for Christmas!  :-)  Have fun! 


After Thanksgiving Tradition

Actually, I didn't establish this tradition; Lisa Samson did.  But since I sent her the mp3 recording with which she began the tradition, I feel qualified to pass it on. 

Here it is:  now that Thanksgiving is behind us, it's time to begin the Christmas season.  And what better way to do that than to listen to a classic, Oh Holy Night.  This is a Youtube Video, but there's nothing to watch.  Just sit back, close your eyes, and listen . . . then come back here for the recap.  

I actually heard the story behind this song--no, it's not a live performance.  But someone was in a recording studio, and after the paying talent left, one of the sound engineers recorded his own version.  Or something like that.  In any case, here's to a classic song and a famous rendition!  Long may it play! 


Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Blessed Thanksgiving to You and Yours

Give thanks for family and friends . . . 
For all good things come from the Father above. 

The Lord always keeps his promises;
He is gracious in all he does. 
The Lord helps the fallen
and lifts those bent beneath their loads. 
The eyes of all look to you in hope; 
you give them their food as they need it. 
When you open your hand, 
you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing. 
The Lord is righteous in everything he does;
He is filled with kindness. 
The Lord is close to all who call on him,
Yes, to all who call on him in truth. 
He grants the desires of those who fear him; 
He hears their cries for help and rescues them. 

I will praise the Lord, 
and may everyone on earth bless his holy name forever and ever. 

--Psalm 145:13-21. 


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Some Vacation Pictures

If it's Wednesday, the hubster and I are out rappelling or exploring ruins or something . . . but I thought I'd share some pictures from Key West and Tampa Bay.  Enjoy!  

If you see a house here, that's Ernest Hemingway's house.  :-)  If you see no pictures at all, well, that means I'm not having much luck with the satellite signal.  :-(


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sylvia Plath Poem

I finished the fourth and final Twilight book yesterday.  And yes, Bella is a little over-the-top in her adoration of her boyfriend, but Edward is the soul of prudence and restraint. Bella doesn't believe in religion, Edward is convinced he no longer has a soul and is damned. 

Aren't these wonderful topics to encourage discussion? 

While the fourth book is over-the-top in many ways--it's really different from the other three--I found myself thinking that it's almost a perfect metaphor for heaven. SPOILER HERE:  After Bella receives her "vampire body" and is experimenting with all the things it can do, I kept thinking of what heaven will be like in our new, transformed spiritual bodies. Paul wrote about them, and I can't help but think we'll experience the same delight Bella felt.  

Anyway--if you go looking for things to find wrong about these books, you're sure to find them. But if you settle back and enjoy them, I think you'll find much to discuss with your daughters and friends. I'm looking forward to our book club discussion on the first book.  I'm already halfway through it for the second time.  :-)

A poem today--and a challenge. 

It is a terrible thing
To be so open: it is as if my heart
Put on a face and walked into the world.

Sylvia Plath, “A Poem for Three Voices”

Isn't that profound? 

The challenge is simple:  caption the photo.  :-)


Monday, November 24, 2008

The Twilight Saga

I heard about the Twilight books some time ago:  teenage girl has a vampire boyfriend.  

I thought the idea sounded silly.  

Then I heard the stories were remarkably chaste--and the vampire boyfriend was a "good" vampire who only ate animals, not people.  And the author, Stephanie Meyer, was a Mormon mother with three sons, not some zany with a point to prove. 


Then I heard they were making a movie.  And that the books had sold over 17 MILLION copies (that's a lot of books).  

Then one of my (adult) girlfriends read all four books and just kept gushing about them. I mean  GUSHING.  So last month at our book club I suggested the first book, TWILIGHT, as a possible title.  Never mind that we usually read books that are a little "higher brow."  I thought it might be nice to see what all the fuss was about, and the other ladies agreed. 

Well.  I'm here to testify that I could not put these books down. 

I read the first in a couple of days.  I read the second in one day--at long stretches, where I hardly got out of my chair.  As I write this, I'm into the third book and I've just come from the movie, and I'm pretty sure that by the time you read this, I'll be done with the fourth book and probably starting the first book over again. 

Why do these books fascinate?  Several reasons I can see.  First, they are filled with tension.   Second, the author absolutely NAILS what it's like to be a teenage girl.  The protagonist is clumsy, introspective, feels like a fish-out-of-water, daydreams, and comes from divorced parents. She's Everygirl.  The love interest, Edward the Vampire, is NOT the bad boy dark angel he's been often been assumed to be.  He's protective to a fault, chivalrous, caring, intelligent, and beautiful in face and form.   Not hard to see why the girls are swooning, huh?  He's superman, and he's always there to swoop down and rescue Bella, the protagonist. 

One note:  these books are NOT demonic.  The "otherworldly" elements are confined to vampires and werewolves--no evil spirits, demons, etc.  I don't like stories that fictionalize things that are real.  I don't mind stories that fictionalize fantasy.  

Furthermore, the "I want to bite you, I'm drawn to bite you, but I can't because it would hurt you" is clearly a metaphor for sexual temptation.  And the way Edward treats Bella with tenderness and respect is quite noble.  

If your teenage daughter hasn't read these, might be a good idea for you to read them together and talk about the books.  Does your daughter want an "Edward" or a "Jacob?"  (She'll know what you mean.)  The books even have discussion questions at the end for further reflection. 

Caveat:  I haven't read the fourth book yet, and I understand that in it (trying not to give a spoiler) . . . well, let's just say the relationship deepens in a mature but appropriate way. This may not be a volume you'd want your younger girls to read.  That's a decision only you can make.  I can't say more because I haven't read it yet. 

These books are impossible to put down--and I rarely say that about any book. The adventures are adolescent, but they've made me feel seventeen again . . . and that's not an easy thing to do.  :-)  

The movie?  Like all movies, if you read the book first, you'll be able to "fill in the pieces" as you watch and you should find it an enjoyable experience.  I would definitely recommend reading first.  

So--who else has read them? What did you think? 


Sunday, November 23, 2008

I'm off . . . on vacation!

If this is Sunday, I'm heading out on vacation!  Hubby and I are taking a cruise, leaving the country, and we'll probably be incommunicado for a few days.  But I promise to share pictures when we get back, and then I really have to get to work! 

As you may recall, I've been not-under-a-deadline for the last couple of months, and my time of leisure is coming to an end.  It's been fun--I've done lots of reading, lots of research, and written several proposals.  I've rid the house of rats.  Time off is good for the soul. 

But hey--we also have a new Book of the Month coming up--the new edition of DREAMERS is hitting the market in December, and my box of books arrived the other day, so I'll have to give a copy away.  So please stay tuned! 

Off to sea!


Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Book Quote Game

The Book Quote Game

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence along with these instructions in a note to your wall, and post your sentence in a comment here as well.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual.

The above comes from Kay Day's facebook page . . . and is perfect because I've been getting ready to go on vacation and have very little to say! 

My book:  DREAMERS, by Angela Hunt (I know that's cheesy, but it's closest because it just came in!) 

"This lad, when correctly harnessed, would pull more than his share of the workload." 
What's yours? 

Friday, November 21, 2008

Me and Glen

I had a thoughtful moment yesterday when I realized the date was November 20th. That day will forever belong to Glenn, the young man you see pictured with a very young me.  That photo was taken in 1977, the year we sang together in the ReGeneration. 

Glenn was my "mike partner"--meaning that we shared a microphone, a stage position, and pretty much sang into each other's faces every night. Glenn and I had something else in common, too, though we only talked about it to each other.  You see, ReGen had ten singers and was known for its exceptionally low bass singer and very high soprano singer.  When those two were respectively lifting the rafters and growling like a bass fiddle, someone else had to cover the lead, so there was another first soprano and another bass.  That would be me and Glenn.  We often joked about being the anonymous "couple on the end", i.e, spare parts, but it really wasn't a big deal.  And trust me--once I developed nodes on my vocal chords, I was grateful to not be the only one singing the soprano part. 

Anyway, Glenn was like the brother I never had.  His birthday was Nov. 20th, mine was Dec. 20th. We wore the same size shoe.  (Not sure I should confess that in public.) :-)  He was funny, charming, handsome, and his voice was like velvet.  I still love listening to him on the albums we recorded. 

Glenn was also the first person I knew personally who died of AIDS.  I didn't find out until a couple of years after he died, because we'd come off the road and gone our separate ways. I knew he was living a gay lifestyle, but he would never admit that to me. 

He brought the AIDS crisis home to my heart. When I heard the news, I mourned him and wrote his mother, who wrote me back and gave me the full story about how Glenn had gone home to his family and had been reconciled with the Lord and his parents before he died.  

Ever since, I've had a heart of compassion for gay people . . . yes, I'm appalled by the way some have refused to accept the will of the majority with Proposition Eight out in California, but still I think of Glenn . . . and I know there's hope.  But we have to see people as people, and not as groups or causes. 

I don't think this post really has a point today, other than to take a moment to reflect upon a young man who lived briefly . . . but touched more lives than he knew.  


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rest in peace

Found my first dead rat today.  Outside, right by the place where I figured they were getting into the house.  

Now . . . do I owe him a rat funeral?  I do feel grateful that he died outside the house, rather than IN it. 

Maybe I could establish a little rat graveyard in the flower beds . . . 


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Black Hole

My hubby and I found this short video the other day--it's cute.   Gary saw the punch line coming a mile away, but I was caught by surprise.  :-) 

Speaking of mouse holes, we have rats in our attic.  Ugh. Especially around dusk, I hear the pitter patter of little feet over my head . . . 


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Love Those Grandbabies!

Because I don't have grandbabies yet, one of my dear friends was kind enough to share pictures of her adorable granddaughter. 

Can't you just SEE this girl's personality?  


Monday, November 17, 2008

Historical Fiction?

What have I been doing lately?  Writing proposals.  Researching.  Learning about neurolinguistic programming. And getting ready to write an article on historical fiction. 

A couple of months ago, Robin Jones Gunn and I put our heads together while we went out for Five Guys Burgers--and a Five Guys Burger can inspire you to move mountains.  :-)   Robin really has a heart for Christian writers overseas, and she knows that they don't have a wealth of conferences to attend like Christian writers in the States do.  One organization, Media Associates International, helps foreign writers learn the craft, but they can always use donations.  So--how can American novelists help? 

We enlisted dozens of our writing friends, and we're helping compile a handbook for writing Christian fiction--involving over 100 authors, I think, and covering every topic we could think of.  The resulting book will be published by Tyndale House, and all royalties will go to help finance scholarships to MAI's international writers' conferences.  I'll let you know more when the book is ready to roll off the presses. 

So--I've already contributed an article on my plot skeleton, and today I have to write an article on writing historical fiction.  I've already asked my Facebook friends for points to cover, but I could use your help, too:  why do you like historical fiction?  As a reader, what makes historical fiction enjoyable or special from contemporary fiction? 

Thanks for dropping by today.  Ahh--by this time next week, I'll be on VACATION!  

Photo: My six-year-old only-bloomed-once orchid is blooming like crazy! Buds all over!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Amazing Woman

Elsi sent me a link to this video of an amazing Chinese woman!  It's in Chinese, but that doesn't matter because the images speak for themselves.  Enjoy--and be ready to be inspired! 


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Just a-swingin'

Do you remember swinging as a kid?  There is/was a little neighborhood park around the corner from my house, and I remember going there and swinging . . . and no matter how hard I pushed and pulled and tried to go high, I never seemed to move beyond a certain point of the arc . . . and I think I would have scared myself silly if I had. 

To recapture the experience, watch this video . . . just be sure to hang on to something while you're watching! 


Friday, November 14, 2008

Art in Water?

I love the way some artists are able to see the potential for art in ordinary things--trash, paper, architecture, water? 

Take a look at this water fountain in Japan.  Watch the art as it falls.  Amazing, isn't it?  


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Netflix Origami

I've been a Netflix member for years . . . in fact, I hardly ever go to the theater anymore, because it's just so nice to have movies delivered to my home.  

Anyway, my friend Kathy directed me to this page for Netflix origami.  Now those of us who hate throwing anything useful away can recycle our disposable Netflix mail flaps and create something truly fun.  Isn't that little box adorable?  I want to learn how to make that one so I can amuse my dinner companions whenever I'm at slow-moving banquets . . .   :-) 


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ever Wanted to Make a Foreign Film?

LOL! Here's your chance!  Watch this example and then make your own subtitled movie. What fun! 

BTW, I'd like to call your attention to a new entry on my blogroll (that list of blogs to the right).  This is the place where I mention Blogs That Did Not Ask to Be Here.  :-)  These are the blogs I love to visit myself, when I have time. 

The new entry, Dirty Harry's Place, is by a blogger who primarily blogs about values in film and the film industry.  But I've really enjoyed and agreed with his blogs on politics--read his entry for November 9th, if you have a minute.  From what I've read, I think he's a classy, articulate, hero kind of guy.  And I don't even know his name!  :-) 

Now, speaking of film, enjoy this Bollywood movie (films made in India are "Bollywood" films. Some of them are really fun.) 



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Marching to a Different Drummer

Do you have a child who marches to the beat of a "different drummer?"  If so, you should appreciate and enjoy this little film, created by four students.  It lasts eight minutes, but it's really precious.  

And a heartfelt salute to those who have served our country in times of war and peace. Have a memorable Veterans' Day! 


Monday, November 10, 2008

Christmas Gift-Giving Ideas

If you're like me, a sense of frustration can grow with the approaching Christmas season.  When the children are grown, it's easy to look at our gift list and realize how blessed we truly are--because we don't really need anything under our Christmas tree.  

I also pity the poor postman, who has already begun bringing me pounds and pounds of Christmas catalogs.  I have a tendency to order online and from catalogs, so that means I get a ton of them every autumn. 

Last week, however, the mail man brought me a little catalog that has really tickled my fancy. I call it "Cows for Christmas" or "Heifers for the Holidays" and maybe you'll like the idea, too. 

The book is filled with ideas for gift giving:  for instance, for $120, you can give a goat to a poor family in Peru. The goat can supply a family with several quarts of milk a day, plus provide them with the means to make cheese, butter, ,or yogurt. The goat manure is used to fertilize a family's garden. And if someone else in town has a male goat, there will soon be little goats running all around . . . 

Or, if you'd like to spread your gifts around, $10 will buy a share in a goat.  Your gifts will be combined with others to provide a goat.  

Isn't this a great idea?  The little catalog from explains how you can give pigs, heifers, sheep, rabbits, bees, water buffalo, and seedings.  Most of all, your gift can give hope

So visit and request a catalog . . . or place your order online.  I'm going to talk to the hubby about doing this for Christmas.  Why give someone another appliance to stick under the kitchen counter when you could give a sheep to a family who knits?  :-)  


P.S.  This review of THE FACE released today. Amazing, isn't it? 

WOW!!!  This one single word sums up this powerful novel.  Phenomenal author Angela Hunt never disappoints, and THE FACE is the best novel she has penned to date.  I predict it will make a huge impact and win a multitude of awards.  Every single character is vibrant and over-the-top, bringing each and every page alive and pulsating with life, and the characters themselves jump right off the paper and into your heart.  Written in alternating chapters that feature Sarah's and Renee’s first person voices, THE FACE is a commanding piece of work.  It’s a blockbuster novel that deserves every award out there.  I don’t have the power to bestow such accolades, but I can award it a Perfect Ten.  Even at this early date, I will also pronounce THE FACE to be a strong contender for RRT's Best Book of the Year award -- it is nothing less than an extraordinary work of fiction.

Diana Risso

Sunday, November 09, 2008

When the Telemarketer Calls . . .

When my daughter was a baby, I remember having her on the changing table when the phone rang.  In that instant, as I debated leaving the baby on the table to answer the phone, it occurred to me that I PAY for that ringing annoyance.  So why should I risk my child's life in order to answer a ringing phone? 

And that was the day I stopped answering the phone--and that was before called ID was invented.  Ever since then, especially since the advent of caller ID, I think of the phone as something expendable, like a blender.  It's nice to have when I need it, but it's certainly not a necessity.  

I'm sure this philosophy has spared me from many a conversation with telemarketers.  But sometimes one of those calls will still slip through, usually when I answer because I'm expecting a call from someone else, or because I thought I recognized the number in the caller ID window. 

Some brilliant European folks have come up with an answer:  the telemarketer counterscript.  You can find it here.    It's simple to use:  the minute you realize you have a telemarketer on the line, start asking questions and filling in blanks.  Turn the tables. 

I find the idea so intriguing that I might actually pick up the phone one of these days . . . 


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Book Club Reads DEWEY

Yea--finally!  JAN won the contest, as, after much counting, I figured out that THE FACE was my 111th book. (I've actually written 112, as LET DARKNESS COME) is finished, too, but that wasn't the question. 

SO--Jan, would you please email me your address?  I'll get 2 copies of THE FACE right out to you!  

This month my neighborhood book club read DEWEY: The Small Town Library Cat That Changed the World.  We all agreed that the book isn't exactly high brow literature, but it gave us several hours of enjoyment.  Myself, I went through nearly a box of tissues as I read.  :-) 

Enjoy the photos.  We had club members bring photos of their own kitties, and Margaret brought those adorable cookies!  

Bottom line:  we highly recommend the book, especially if you have a love for cats!  

(Hint: click on the photos to enlarge and see the detail on those cookies! They're adorable!) 

Dewey Readmore Books has his own web site.  You can check it out here.  


Friday, November 07, 2008


Questions and Answers about THE FACE?  

Update on the contest:  Last night I had to print out a book list and count 'em up.  I did not count books that have been published in new editions, nor did I count story collections in which I had a story.  I did count books I've ghostwritten (don't do that any more), so that's going to make it difficult for any of you who are trying to count on  

I think I'd better take Clyde's idea and run with it.  Since we're no where near the number, why don't you guess the number?  The Face is my ____th book.  The person who first gets it right will win TWO free copies (thanks for bearing with me).  Have fun! 

Kathy asked:What would you do if you didn't agree with the edits? How much leeway/say do you have in the editing process?

If I feel STRONGLY about an issue and can make a case for it, then I usually do and it usually stays.  Most of the time, however, I appreciate my editor's experience and opinion, and defer to her judgment.  

Linda asked:

How hard was it to research the CIA stuff? Were there things you wanted to find out and couldn't? (or they'd "tell you but then they'd have to kill you?!)

LOL.  No--most of the CIA info was either found in books or on the Internet--and you'd be surprised how much you can find on the Internet.  Some of the other material was written by ex-CIA agents who have written books about their work for the Agency.  

And did you write the chapters in order (switching back and forth from Sarah to Renee) or did you sometimes write several focused on one and then fill in with the other?

I think there were a few times when I wrote a long stretch of Sarah chapters, followed by a stretch of Renee chapters, but I usually write chronologically.  Occasionally, however, I break up those chronological passages and insert the other character's chapter just to heighten the suspense.  

Lori asked:  
How long did it take you to write The Face?
I think I spent about five or six months on The Face.  I did take a little longer with this one, handing it in on October 1,  2007.  

What is your most favorite book that you have written?
I honestly don't have a favorite--that would be like picking a favorite child!  If pressed, I usually say that my favorite is the one that just left my desk!  Whew! 

Tammy asked if I am a Red Hatter--actually, I suppose I am.  I was a Pink Hatter in the Heavenly Daze chapter of the RHs, so now that I've turned fifty, I'm sure my hat is red!  My RH name (chosen by the HD ladies) is "Her Royalest Angel of Heavenly Daze." :-)

And are there going to be any more Heavenly Daze books?  At this point, it doesn't look like it.  Sorry. 

Thanks for your questions!  And thanks for coming along for another book of the month! 


Thursday, November 06, 2008

BOM: Results and Reader Reaction

Publishers Weekly's Best Books of the Year! 

“May you live in interesting times” is a quote commonly attributed to Confucius, probably erroneously, but Robert F. Kennedy did use it in a speech in 1966, adding a rueful twist: “Like it or not, we live in interesting times....” Regardless of your thinking on these current times, they are certainly anything but boring, and we feel the same about the books published this year.

Once again, we take the opportunity near year's end to review the year in books, highlighting the very best of what American publishing had to offer in fiction, poetry, nonfiction, comics, religion, lifestyle and children's. 

Mass Market
No One Heard Her Scream
Jordan Dane (Avon)
Dane crafts this debut murder mystery with tight plotting and smooth prose, and adds a few sparks to create a story that appeals to mainstream thriller readers as well as romantic suspense fans.
The Face
Angela Hunt (Mira)
Compelling characterization drives this enthralling tale of second chances and new beginnings, centered on the struggles of a young woman born without a face.

Deadly Deceptions
Linda Lael Miller (HQN)
Miller's second Cave Creek supernatural mystery is packed full of plot twists and smart romance, painting crime-solver Mojo Sheepshanks as much more than just another quirky psychic.
Heart of the Wolf
Terry Spear (Sourcebooks/Casablanca)
A werewolf woman defies the alpha male of her pack in this supernatural romance, with chemistry that crackles off the page and a richly depicted pack dynamic.
Private Arrangements
Sherry Thomas (Bantam)
Deft plotting and sparkling characterization mark this superior debut historical romance, wherein an English lord agrees to grant his wife a divorce if she produces an heir within a year.

Other reader reactions are beginning to trickle in on this blog, so I won't repeat them for you.  I'm just happy that a book I labored long and hard over seems to be accomplishing what I hoped for in the marketplace.  

Tomorrow:  Q&A, so don't forget to leave any questions you might have! 

P.S.  Randy Alcorn has some great thoughts on his blog. Worth checking out! 

Oh--and I promised to give away a copy of THE FACE, didn't I?  Okay, here's how we'll do it.  THE FACE is the (number) book I've had published.  It may take us two days to come up with that many comments, but I'll add them up and the person who comments at that number will win the free copy!  Please, make sure you don't leave two comments in a row (if you can help it.)  

Have fun!  Just say "hi" if you want to.  :-)


And now--the debut of our new trailer!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

BOM: The Editing

My editor liked THE FACE when I handed it in, but she had a few major suggestions.  First, she was afraid the discussion of waterboarding, etc., would become dated, so she advised cutting it all out.  Second, in my original draft, I had Dr. Mewton jump out a window at the end of the book, and my editor suggested that I change that.  So I suppose Dr. M owes her life to my editor.  :-) 

My editor had some other suggestions about things to cut, mostly flashbacks that I had added in order to fill out Sarah's character a bit.  My editor thought they weren't necessary, and I agreed.  So out they went.  

The rest of the editing was fairly painless, at least as far as I can remember.  At first THE FACE was going to be released through Steeple Hill, the inspirational imprint from Harlequin, so I wrote discussion questions for Christian book clubs.  Later, Harlequin decided to release THE FACE through Mira, a general imprint, so I wrote discussion questions for more general book clubs.  The questions for Christian book clubs, however, are on my web site. The difference? The questions for Christians group work more at unpacking the spiritual metaphors in the novel.  

It's funny--I've seen the book described as Christian fiction and "not Christian fiction," so I suppose it depends upon what the reader brings to the tale. 

Tomorrow: results and reader reaction (provided that we have some by then.)   :-)  And don't forget--if you have any questions, leave them in the comments for our Q&A session on the seventh. 


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

BOM: The Writing

Writing THE FACE was challenging, especially at the beginning.  I had a dickens of a time trying to figure out whether it was Renee's story or Sarah's story.  I designed a plot skeleton featuring Renee, then I did one featuring Sarah. 

Finally, I realized that since I knew the ending (no spoiler here)--the story needed to belong to Sarah.  Though Renee was almost a second protagonist. 

Fortunately, at the time I was reading A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS, which is a splendid read, if you're interested.  Like THE FACE, it is a story about two women, and it solves the "problem" of having two protagonists in much the same way.   (I'd say more, but that would involve revealing a spoiler, so I'll hush now.) 

As I wrote, I included a lot of information on the CIA--on (real) black sites, on torture, on waterboarding, and brain printing.  Some of that info hit the cutting room floor, as you'll learn tomorrow as we discuss the editing.  

When I had the manuscript in passable shape, I sent it to MG, my favorite test reader, who added his usual astute comments and helped me tighten things up. :-)  I use his initials only lest he be deluged with desperate writers looking for an expert editorial eye . . . 

Tomorrow: the editing 

Please join me in praying for our country's future today. 


Monday, November 03, 2008

BOM: The Research

THE FACE required quite a bit of research in several areas:  first I read a book on beauty and its effects on people--and yes, there are effects.  Even babies show a pronounced preference for symmetrical, or "beautiful" faces.  Beautiful people do generally have an easier time of things.  

I also had to research the obvious areas:  the CIA, face transplants, Treacher Collins Syndrome, and poppy/opium production. Though I've been a huge fan of the TV show Alias, I quickly discovered that I couldn't rely on the show for any research--the show is designed for drama, not reality, and most of the situations in it are unreliable.  I did manage to sneak a reference to the show into the manuscript, though.  :-) 

When it came to the story's setting, I relied on a trip my husband and I paid to Spain last spring. While we were driving up the coast, I spied an old church on a rocky mountain out in the sea.  The mountain was big enough for only one building, but the place was haunting in its beauty.  That's the location I had in mind when I wrote the story.  (I've uploaded a photograph). 

The information about the trauma drug and "brain printing" is absolutely accurate, as is the computer jargon, if you're into that sort of thing.  And yes, if you had a give a gun to a blind man, you'd give him the one I described near the end of the book. I have to thank my friend and gun expert Tom Morrisey for that information.  

So--as with most of my books, I spent a few days doing "big picture" research, then I jumped in and began writing.  I looked up the smaller things as I went along and discovered what I needed.  It's all a learning process. 

Tomorrow: the writing. 


Sunday, November 02, 2008

BOM: How the idea germinated

The idea for THE FACE stemmed from a TV show I saw on the Discovery Health Channel.  The special was about Juliana Wetmore, a little girl born with Treacher Collins syndrome . . . the most severe case ever recorded. This child was literally born without a face.  (Photo: a current photo of Juliana. I love her spirit!) 

Now, my book is not about this child, who is very young and still undergoing the many surgeries she will need in order to have a "normal" face.  You can read this little girl's story on her web site here.  

As many novelists do, I took the truth of her story and asked myself, "What if?"  What if another child were born like this? What would happen if she didn't have all the surgeries necessary to be accepted in society? What would happen if we fast forwarded 20 years and she were a young adult?  

Add to that mix my ALIAS infatuation and desire to write about the CIA, stir together my fascination with facial expressions and their link to emotions, and add a sprinkle of family relationships--and that's how you come up with a story like THE FACE.  

My main purpose, however, wasn't to discuss faces--those were a means to an end. I kept thinking about that song, "We Shall See Him As He Is" and about how we don't discover our true self--the person we were meant to be--until we meet Christ. But certain things are necessary--certain sacrifices have to be made--before we are ready to begin a new life as a new creature. So I used this story to illustrate a spiritual truth. I hope it will resonate with you. 

If you haven't read it yet, I hope you enjoy the story. And do check out Juliana's page--this is a Christian family, and they have faced incredible struggle and pain in order to help this precious little girl grow and gain confidence.  I know they would appreciate your prayers. 

Tomorrow:  the research. 


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Book of the Month: The Face

I've been waiting for what feels like ages to tell you about the origin and development of THE FACE.  I'll share how the idea germinated and talk about the writing, editing, etc . . . so stay tuned over the next few days! 

Library Journal just issued a review: 

"Because of her severe facial deformities, Sarah Jane Sims is a secret to the world, kept that way by the CIA after her parents' deaths. When her father's sister, Renee, reads some old letters saved by her mother and discovers that she has a 20-year-oldniece, Renee is determined to find out what happened to Sarah Jane and whether she is still alive somewhere. Hunt's skill at developing interesting characters and tense stories (The Elevator, Doesn't She Look Natural) makes this title a worthwhile read. Hunt also weaves in real-life CIA techniques that will fascinate readers. Including themes of beauty and love and what makes a person beautiful and worth loving, this book is recommended for CF and women's fiction collections." --Library Journal, November 1, 2008. 

I'll be one of the first to say that THE FACE is not overtly Christian--I wrote it for the world at large, but there's a metaphor involved, and the metaphor is extremely Christian. You'll be able to find discussion questions for Christian book clubs on my website.  (Warning: spoilers found there.) 

In the mean time, here's a sneak peek: 

Orphaned and severely deformed, from her earliest moments Sarah Sims has been kept hidden away in a secret CIA facility—until an unexpected discovery gives her an opportunity to make a life for herself at last.

Now Sarah has an ally, a long-lost aunt who has discovered her true identity. Aided by this brave psychologist, twenty-year-old Sarah must find the courage to confront the forces that have confined her for so long. And the strength to be reborn into a world she has never known. 

Tomorrow:  how the idea originated.