Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Thank You To Book Reviewers

I'm stunned / honored / blessed by the reviews for Until I Found You. To everyone who has posted your thoughts, THANK YOU. And I'm not talking about just the 5 stars, though of course I love those. This is for everyone who has taken the time to read the book and offer a thoughtful opinion.

I use reviews to learn. If eight people mention "a little bit of telling," it means I have a little bit of telling. And if eight people make the same remark about a character being less than I intended, I look at that character to see where I could have been clearer. 

The other side of the coin are the reviews that capture the spiritual heart of the story. For those of you who have shared your enthusiasm on Facebook, Twitter, etc., I'm honored beyond words. My goal has always been to write fiction that speaks to the human soul, lost or found. If just one person is somehow helped by this book, my job is done. (If you've read it, you know about Nick. That scene in the truck with Colton? Yep. Autobiographical.) 

One of the things about Until I Found You is that it's hard to categorize. It's a contemporary romance, but it also has a women's fiction-y aspect to it. It has touches of humor, but it's not a rom-com. There's a danger element, but it's not romantic suspense. And while it's a romance, the heart of the book is really the spiritual journey. I guess that makes it Christian romantic fiction with humor, danger and big ugly birds called California condors.  

I just wanted to express my thanks to those who have taken the time to read and write about the story. There are 56 reviews on Amazon right now. I'm truly honored by each and every one.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Those Moments

You know those moments when you're living "your everyday walking around life" (as the Message Bible puts it)  and God's presence, his grace, is just overwhelming? Those moments have been washing over me in waves.  Big roaring waves that knock me on my back, drown me in his love, and then recede enough that I can find my feet again.  

My fifteenth book hits the shelves this week. Amazon has had it for a couple weeks, and so far readers like the story.  Last night I sat in church with a friend and listened to the song Oceans and heard a message about "remaining in the vine."  A quiet desperation rose up inside me.  I don't ever want to wander from that vine, yet I know I will.  My humanity is ridiculously stubborn, and I can talk myself into (and out of) just about anything.  Romans 7 is way too familiar to me. (Christian will recognize the verses where Paul says something like, "I do what I don't want to do, and I don't do what I do want to do.")  So here I am today--clinging to the vine.

And yet . . . as I write that, I'm thinking, "Well, that's just stupid.  Why cling when I can abide? Why struggle to do and to be, when Christ is and has done. 

My mom used to like a song by singer Mike Adkins. That old album is long gone, but it had this lyric: "It's not in trying but in trusting." 

So today is going to be about trusting and resting in what Christ has already done. ,

I'm also going to my home church this morning, shopping for birthday gifts, cleaning bathrooms, walking the dog, working on revisions, doing a load of laundry, and stopping at Kroger. That's my everyday walking around life, and I'll be abiding as I go about the day.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Day In The Life . . .

I'm sitting here looking at my calendar, which is a computer  Post-it Note listing dates and commitments. It's extra  long right now, because Until I Found You officially releases May 6th.  I'll be blogging six times this month (dates to be announced via Facebook and Twitter), sending out a newsletter, attending a Word Weavers meeting and planning for Inspirational Pens on Fire in June. 

Add in a trip to the dentist with a family member, shopping for three birthdays (May is a big month for us!), Mother's Day, an anniversary, and getting ready to be a grandmother to twin girls due in August, and you get a feel for the pace around here.

Did I mention I work part-time in a doctor's office? 
And that I have revisions coming for Together With You? 
Then there's that new proposal for two new books for Bethany House. I sent it off last week. The  ideas are  burning right now, and I want to get as much roughed out as possible. 
And church . . . It's more than "on the list." It one of the things that fills the well. I thrive on the teaching, loose myself in the worship and am blessed by friendships. 
Yes, things are hopping right now. But you know what?  It's all good. Deuteronomy 33:25 says:  "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be."  That's from the KJV.  It tells me that God knows the schedule and he has everything under control.  

Friday, April 18, 2014

Saw Books Being Born--Literally

I'm back from the two-day trip to Bethany House! What a blast! I enjoyed every minute--from chatting about future projects with my editor to eating Korean food with the marketing team. Being videotaped for the Bethany House YouTube Channel was a bit nerve racking, but in the end I enjoyed it. I can talk books and writing all day, and that's what I got to do for two solid days.

One of the highlights of the trip was seeing the print shop. The tour started with a look at how covers are produced, then we passed through a warehouse full of stacks and stacks of rolls of paper. There were all sizes for different sizes of books, plus there were lots of shades of white. I  felt like a character in "Honey I Shrunk the Kids."

Next we saw how pages are printed. They're done 16 at a time, then folded into what's called a "signature." The signatures are then assembled into books. A machine stacks them, the covers are glued on, they're trimmed, and they go down a conveyer belt into boxes.

I will never forget the next moment of the tour. I was watching hundreds of books come down the belt when I realized they were the paperback version of The Message Bible. My husband has bought dozens of these over the years and given them away. Seeing those books come down that conveyer belt by the hundreds was just amazing. It really was like seeing a book being born.

More on the trip next time . . . Maybe the story about lunch at the Korean Karaoke Bar. Good times!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Book Sightings

Oh what fun!  Yesterday a friend came up to me at church with her brand new copy of Until I Found You.  Apparently Amazon shipped early, because the book wasn't supposed to come out until May 1st. 

Another friend posted fun pics on Facebook, so I know the book is flying across the country even as I type.

This is a fun time, especially since the story is getting good reviews.  There's a new one up on Barnes &Noble from Library Journal.  Here's the last little bit:  "VERDICT A delicious romance, with a leisurely pace and a lighthearted story line. Readers seeking a simple, straightforward tale of love without too much tension or angst will find much to like here."

Maybe best of all, I'm eager to get to work on something new.  My two weeks off has been really nice, but I'm ready to get back to those early mornings. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

My Husband Finished Reading The Book

I walked through the door yesterday with shopping bags in hand.  There was no sign of my husband, so I checked the back patio where the likes to read, relax and smoke an occasional cigar.  There he was with Until I Found You in hand with about 20 pages left to read. He looked up with so much feeling in his eyes--good feelings--that I melted right there.

"Honey, this is great," he said. "You nailed it . . . just nailed it."

Yep, I got teary. Even better we talked about the book and he gave me new insights into the story. In a way, every reader completes a book when he or she reads it.  The parts my husband particularly liked were different from my favorite parts, which tells me the book is well rounded and speaks to people on different levels. 

He picked up a lot on the corporate world, and how Kate handles problems so decisively. As for the romance, it's definitely not his thing (no dead bodies, mysteries to solve, or crimes to avenge), but he picked right up on the relationship and the differences in how men and women communicate.  Kate talks a lot more than Nick.

Maybe best of all was his reaction to the spiritual questions that Kate and Nick both ask.  "It's authentic," he said. "Very real world."  Hooray!  That was the goal . . . to write a book about a modern day woman on a spiritual journey that leads to faith in Jesus Christ. 

So that's the end of this little story.  I hope readers everywhere enjoy the book and see at least a sliver of themselves in Kate and Nick.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Husband's On Chapter Ten

I was up late last night following the UK basketball game.  Basketball isn't my sport of choice, but you have to respect the local team, especially when they've done so much.

So I was still awake when my husband said he was going to bed so he could read some more of my book.  "By the way," he added. "I'm on Chapter Ten. It's good."  It's not his genre of choice, so I take that as high praise.

He's enjoying it, but I have to say, it's a strange feeling to have someone who knows you inside-and-out read a book you've written. You know the saying, "Write what you know?"  That applies to internal conflict as well as external plot and setting.  There's a lot of me in Kate--her insecurities, where she's vulnerable, that determination to hang on and keep all the balls in the air--but she's still fictional.  So is the entire story. And yet . . . it's real to me.

Kate's faith journey is a lot like mine. More on that later!