Thursday, April 26, 2012

Movie Re-Makes -- Dark Shadows!

There are some stories that are retold to a new generation and are true to the original, yet updated for modern tastes. How many versions of A Christmas Carol have you seen?

Recently I saw both the newer and the original version of True Grit. I enjoyed both and was amused that the script was nearly word-for-word identical. Honestly, I liked the newer version. 

Now I'm awaiting the May 11th theatrical release of Dark Shadows. While the title may not mean much to many people, if you were a teen girl in the years between 1966 and 1971, you remember rushing home from school to catch the latest episode of the soap opera.

I had even convinced my mother to have the TV on when I breezed in from school. And if I was late, she'd watch the first few minutes and report to me so I could keep up with the story. 

So are you from the 60s and 70s? Did you watch Dark Shadows? Are you going to check out the movie version?

In other news, the actor who brought Barnabas Collins to life, Jonathan Frid, passed away two weeks ago today. I wonder what he thought of the upcoming movie.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Writing in Limbo

My first two (published) novels were contemporaries, meaning they are set in the present time. Mostly, I wrote about stuff I knew, and that didn’t require research.

Right now I’m in a crazy in-between place in the writing process. A place I’ve never found myself before. A crazy, limbo-like writing situation—and limbo is something the dictionary calls a region on the border of heaven or hell. Yup, that sounds right.

Lately I’ve been wondering about the delirium that gripped me when I decided to write a historical novel. Actually it’s worse than that—I’m writing a time travel historical novel, so I have the pleasure of researching more than one time period for this book.

And thus I find myself wanting to plug away on my word count instead of doing research. I just want to push ahead with the story, but those pesky little historical and geographical details are screaming to be accurate.

If I don’t write, I feel unproductive. But I need to research to be able to write. I’m stuck in a region on the border of heaven or hell: limbo. Good news—I trust I’ll survive.

The photograph above illustrates where I'm going in my research. Can you guess where/when that is?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Another NEW Titanic novel!

In keeping with my Titanic novel theme this week, I'm delighted to introduce you to another new Titanic novel, TITANIC: Voyage of Intent by Mary Davis. Mary is a Colorado author who I've known for over a decade.

I've already read this book, and I'm thrilled to share it with you. Actually, I had a very late night because I didn't want to stop reading. Yes, it that's good!

TITANIC: Voyage of Intent is about a young woman who follows a murderer to save her brother.

Will trying to save her brother's life cost Brenna her own?

Brenna Kelly's brother has been accused of a murder he didn't commit and sentenced to die. Brenna follows the real murderer aboard the luxury liner Titanic to find the proof to save her brother from the gallows. Little does she know that her fate is as tenuous as her brother’s.

Cliffton Statham is charmed by Brenna and sets out to help her and win her affections. But his flimsy relationship with his uncle puts his future in jeopardy, and he must decide between Brenna and saving himself. Can Brenna find the proof she needs in time? Will love be a help or a hindrance?

Will the icy waters of the Atlantic be the end of them all?


Mary, tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

That’s hard to say. I think maybe all my characters might be an offshoot of myself, in one warped way or another. I pour my heart into them and feel what they feel. Some might be an aspect of myself. Others are the opposite of me and are how I might imagine I would be if I were like them. For instance, Marty in Marty’s Ride: Marty is brave and races after danger to save her nieces. I’m more like Piglet. “I-I’m j-just a little bit af-fraid.” Also, Brenna in my latest book that is set on the Titanic: She follows a murderer to save her brother. I would love to think that I could do something like that, but more likely the Piglet side of me would come out. But I can live vicariously through my characters and do things I never could or would do in real life.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

I have written over a dozen books both historical and contemporary romance. My first published novel is a romantic comedy. This most recent one is a historical romance. Several of my books have been put into compilations. You can see all my published books on my Web site. The one’s you don’t know about are the unpublished ones. I have half of written WWI novel, the first of a trilogy, I still hope to get published one day and a story set in the future but not sci-fi. Both are romances. And in the next few weeks, I’ll be self publishing a historical novella set in Colorado I wrote many years ago that never found a publishing home. I also have a time travel that is looking for a home as well as a historical novel.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

Many ways. I use a baby name book and go through the same pain I did in naming my children. I collect names from movie and TV credits. Someone else went through the pains to name their children. And some times my characters name themselves. It’s nice when they let me know. Some times a character will keep it a secret and make me figure it out. But I can’t write a story about a character until I have a name. The right name.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

Dyslexia. I don’t know that I have overcome it, I don’t think I can. But I have learned how to cope with it. I have learned how to do things my own way, but don’t ask me what I do different from you non-dyslexic types. I have been asked how I do things different, but that would mean I understand how the rest of you think to know how I’m different. Maybe you can tell me how you think different from me. One thing that is difficult is spelling. I swear my Spell Checker is going stop telling how to spell the same words over and over and over. I swear some times I can hear it saying to me, “If you don’t know how to spell that word by now, I’m not going to tell you.” Also, if I can’t spell a word close enough for Spell Checker to find the right word for me, I think of a synonym that I can spell and look that up in my thesaurus. And in that word’s synonym is the word I want.

How can readers find your book on the Internet?

The Kindle version is available on Amazon. Soon TITANIC: Voyage of Intent will be available for Nook and other eReaders as well as a paperback version.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

This week: new books featuring the Titanic

Unless you live under a rock, you know that the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster was commemorated on Sunday. The Titanic movie's been released in 3-D, there was a Titanic mini-series on television last weekend, and to continue satisfying our Titanic curiosity, there have been new novels written that feature the tragedy.

Today I'm pleased to introduce Titanic: Legacy of Betrayal by Kathleen E. Kovach and Paula Moldenhauer. (I bought the eBook on Friday and have only read a few pages. I'm absolutely intrigued and can't wait to get back to it!)

A secret. A key. Much was buried when the Titanic went down, but now it’s time for resurrection.

April 1912 - Olive Stanford boarded the Titanic determined to protect all she held dear. Her secret will go with her to the grave—but how can she face the afterlife carrying the burden of her actions?

April 2012 - Portland real estate agent, Ember Keaton-Jones distrusts men, with good reason. Ever since her great-great-grandfather, Thomas, deserted the family after the fateful sinking of the Titanic, every Keaton male has disappointed. Ember is on the brink of a huge sale when a stranger shows up with a key to a century-old secret challenging everything she believes. She meets forward-thinking Jeff Dawson who is working in the family’s musty antique shop and finds an unexpected ally in unlocking the mystery of her past. But can they undo the legacy of Thomas Keaton's betrayal?

Carefully researched, this engaging tale includes true stories of the Titanic embedded in historical fiction.

Both Kathy and Paula are good friends of mine, and I'm honored that they agreed to stop by my blog for a visit.

Paula, what is your favorite turn of phrase or word picture, in literature or movie?

It’s hard to pick a favorite, but this one from Jane Austen’s, Persuasion, is one I treasure, “I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant.”

I see myself in it, especially in my spiritual walk. A while back I was in a difficult season and felt angry with God. Then I struggled with the guilt of those emotions, which hurt just as much. As I wrote out my struggles, the Holy Spirit helped me process. Suddenly those words spilled upon the page, “weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant.” It was like the Lord showed me my heart. Sure, I was human. I’d been weak and resentful, but I’d never stopped loving Him, and He knew it. It was very comforting.

Kathy, when did you first discover that you were a writer?

I have told stories all my life, even before I knew how to write. My mother would ask, “Now, Kathy, is this a real story or a made up story?”

Once I learned how to put words on paper, I wrote a poem about a fat cat in a black hat. I sold hand-written copies of that poem to my friends, complete with a drawing of a fat cat in a black top hat that looked more like a dusty snowman with whiskers. I charged a nickel and I made 25 cents. This, in my mind, made me a published author. After that, I wrote poems, short stories, I even became an award-winning author when I won the 9th grade writing contest with my entry, “I Was A Female Dog, An Autobiography By George.” It was a true story—about my female dog named George.

Paula, how do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

I’m not sure I do, but this seems a very important question! Besides writing and serving as ACFW CO coordinator, I’m mom to four, ages 14 – 20, two of which we still homeschool. Right now they are all living at home. What keeps me sane is Jesus, Jerry, and my prayer group!

I also crave quiet time and the beauty of nature. It shows when I don’t take enough quiet hours to curl up in a soft chair and prayer journal or read with a cup of hot tea close by (lady grey in the morning, white pear in the afternoon, chamomile in the evening). If it’s a cloudy day or dark, I light candles. Sometimes I listen to classical or worship music—something without words. I need to smell the flowers—literally. I do better when I take time to walk in the sunshine with my husband. (I need to get back to that. He’s worked up to walking/jogging 3 or 4 miles a day while I’ve sat at the computer eating dark chocolate. *sigh*) The jokes of my teenage boys, the delight of my daughter, and the hugs of the whole family also ground me. Two months ago I started a gratitude wall. So far I’ve recorded 116 blessings in colored sharpie. I try to write three a day. It’s too easy to focus on the problems or the stresses instead of the moments of joy and beauty we’re always surrounded with.

Kathy, what makes you feel alive?

The Colorado Rocky Mountains. My husband and I love to camp and fish, and I feel energized when I smell a crackling fire, or cast a line into a mirrored lake. Odd that I love the mountains when so far the books I’ve published are set in Florida, San Francisco, and Southern Oregon. My first book was set in Colorado, but it hasn’t been published. I cut my teeth on that piece, and it shows. lol

Please tell us about the collaborative writing experience.

Paula: The story brought out our strengths. Kathy loves to plot while I tend to do a really rough skeleton and fly by the seat of my pants. We plotted carefully at first. I learned a lot, though I kept teasing Kathy saying, “Can we start writing now?” But our writing styles and personalities blend very well. We’re both pretty easy going and have similar passions, so most of the time we found collaboration only strengthened our original thoughts. I think it strengthened my understanding of story structure and plotting. It also gave me some good “friend” time with someone I already adored.

Kathy: And I could say the same thing. (Hugs to Paula!) I wouldn’t write with just anybody. But Paula exudes so much grace that I knew if we had any misunderstandings they would be resolved quickly. Titanic: Legacy of Betrayal is a contemporary story with a historical frame. She started writing the contemporary heroine’s point of view and developed her while I worked on the hero. But she was also researching the historical. When that storyline started to become more than we had originally planned, she asked me to take over the contemporary so she could concentrate on the historical. We essentially wrote two different stories, and I like that better.

What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

Paula: We’re super excited about the story. It feels like a high-concept idea with lots of intrigue and a strong romance thread. We’re also excited about writing a story that is a little outside the traditional Christian publishing market. We wanted to tell a story that might help someone who doesn’t know Jesus consider who He is. While we hope our Christian readers follow us, we tried to write in such a way that someone without faith will find it believable—and maybe even wrestle with God’s place in his or her life. Much of it explores the idea of generational bondage—how the choices of those who’ve gone before us affect how we think about life.

Readers can find Titanic: Legacy of Betrayal on Amazon, and will be coming soon on Nook. There will also be a physical edition. We’ll post information here as it becomes available.

Writers, you can find some wisdom from Paula, Five Tips for the Publication Journey, on The Inkwell Blog.

Please stop back on Thursday--I can't wait to introduce another Titanic novel to you!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Another good book: Wish You Were Here

In the past year I've become acquainted with another local author, Beth Vogt. I'm delighted that my occupation has allowed me to meet so many interesting and talented people. Beth's a down-to-earth, fun lady, and I'm honored she's my friend.

Her debut novel, Wish You Were Here, releases May 1st. An especially fun part of the novel for me was that it was set in Colorado, in places I'm familiar with.

I read the book and was delighted to offer my endorsement:

One kiss can change everything! Wish You Were Here takes the reader on an emotional journey with Allison Denman as she struggles to find her place in this world. Allison comes to grips with the truth that playing it safe is not the same as living to the fullest—a good lesson for all of us. Beautifully written, Wish You Were Here is a lovely debut novel by Beth K. Vogt that illustrates the plans we make may not be God’s choice for us. A fun and satisfying read!

You can pre-order it on Amazon now! And you can learn more about Beth at her website.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dear auto manufacturers: Where's the common sense?

Occasionally I'll see or hear something and wonder what's happened to common sense. So today I'm offering you a rant . . .

Lately I've been hearing about the amazing touch screen displays that will be commonplace in new cars.

Do we really need another distraction? Another reason to take our eyes off the road? Aren't enough tragedies caused by something other than driving capturing the attention of the driver?

Here's another touch screen I found online. It does so much, it's amazing. Or is it? I like push button radios in cars. You can feel the button you want to push. You don't have to take your eyes off the road.

With texting and talking on a hand-held phone being the cause of so much misery and death, why are the automobile manufacturers eager to put another distraction into our cars?

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Snow on Tulips and God's Gifts

This is an encore post, one I wrote in 2010. This past Tuesday's spring snow brought it to mind. It's a good post to ponder -- timely for me in so many ways.
I hope you feel the same . . .

The past few days have been lovely -- warm and sunny. People have been breaking out their sandals and wearing T-shirts without jackets around here.

I've been delighted to see my tulips pushing through winter's barrier. I noticed them springing from the rock-clad earth in their emerald majesty, asserting their desire to grow and bloom. But now they've hit a snag, or so it seems. The cold and the snow has cloaked them in a chill that will temporarily suspend their growth.

Life can be like that, and sometimes we can feel a bit like those tulips. Things are clipping along, we're accomplishing what we need, and then we're emotionally or spiritually covered in a dusting of snow.

Perhaps the path we'd been on seems troublesome to follow. It's not difficult to assume all is lost, our goals are slipping from our grasp.

But for the tulips, the late-winter snow is a blessing. My dad used to call a late snowfall poor-man's fertilizer. Turns out that expression is more than folklore. Snow has nutrients and, of course, moisture. What seems like a hindrance is actually beneficial. Snow that falls on thawed earth penetrates into the soil, delivering nutrients and moisture that promote growth and health.

So if you feel like you've been stuck or hindered by the unpredicted, don't stress. Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. James 1:2-4 (The Message)

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Fifty-Seven Truths I've Learned in my Fifty-Seven Years, part 4

Thank you for joining me on this journey of presenting some of the truths I've learned in my lifetime. I hope to keep learning and growing.

I'm not sure how old I was in the photo on the left or why I looked so serious. Perhaps even then my intuition told me life is a roller coaster. One day can be fabulous and the next a heartbreak. Fortunately I'm one of those gals who brush off the dust of bad circumstances and move forward.

Here's the final installment of my 57 truths learned in my 57 years:

1. Take care in sharing personal information. Some people actually care, but the others are just curious.

2. For your health, shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Buy and eat fresh, not processed, foods.

3. Remember the 1st rule of etiquette: Never make someone else feel uncomfortable!

4. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Finish a job you’ve started. People respect people who follow through.

5. Do the right thing.

6. Don’t hold on to your regrets. Move forward with lessons learned.

7. It’s okay to put space between you and someone who tears you down. You don’t owe allegiance to anyone who doesn’t have your best interest at heart.

8. Use things, not people, and love people, not things.

9. There is room for both holistic and traditional medicine in your life. Be wise with your health.

10. Do unto others as you would have done to you.

11. Speak the truth in love.

12. Don’t worry and fret about growing older. It’s better than the alternative, and each decade has its own appeal. It is true that with age comes wisdom.

Please feel free to share some of your truths! I'd love to hear them.