Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Slice of Heaven on Earth

Tuesday morning I left my home bright and early to trek north to Wisconsin to the setting of the story I am working on -- working title "Above All Else." I have set my story in this particular spot because the publisher I'm targeting had suggested the locale for one of their stories in the line they are releasing over the next couple years.

Little Hope, Wisconsin is no more than four corners three miles south of Waupaca. Starting out, I knew that the only thing of significance there was the Red Mill, an old grist mill that was built and put in operation in the 1850s. I knew that a family had purchased the property back in the late 60s and had refurbished the mill, and had added a covered bridge and a very small chapel. But I wasn't prepared for what I actually experienced upon arriving there -- the presence of God in such a remarkable way.

Everything about this precious spot glorifies God. God the Creator, God the Protector, God the Peace-giver, God the Shepherd. I wanted to stay there and go no further. Set next to the Crystal River, with birds singing in the pines overhead and trails to follow, you feel so close to God and so far from the busyness of life.

It was hard to tell the owner, Don, goodbye and be on my way, but I had other places to visit and see. And see I did. I'm ready to return to my WIP with renewed vigor. I could never have done the place justice without seeing it for myself.

My opening scene has the heroine recalling how her uncle calls Little Hope a slice of heaven on earth and she wonders how could a place with only a river, an old mill, and nothing but trees and meadows be that. She'll learn by the end of my story that it is just that because He is there. Of course, I know He is everywhere because He has promised to be with us until the ends of the earth. But I think He has a very special presence in places that are designed to give all glory to Him. And the Red Mill in Little Hope, WI is such a place.

It was a very special couple of days.

The Winner of Ruby Among Us Is . . . .

Bonnie Leon!

As soon as I get Bonnie's mailing information I'll get it to Tina and she'll be sending a spanking new signed copy of Ruby Among Us to Bonnie.

Thanks everyone for joining this contest. Check back because I'm sure to have another giveaway contest very soon!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Contest Deadline for Ruby Among Us is Extended

Due to unexpected circumstances I will not be drawing the winner's name for "Ruby" tomorrow night, but will draw it instead on Thursday morning.

So, if you've not yet left a comment for winning this book, scroll down to the post just prior to this one and leave your name and contact info on the comment page!

Be sure to check back on Thursday to see who wins the book!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Win An Signed Copy of Tina Ann Forkner's Ruby Among Us!

A couple weeks ago I received an endorser copy of Tina Forkner's debut novel, Ruby Among Us, in the mail. To be honest, I didn't know a lot about the book other than I was intrigued by the title. For the next few days life got in the way and I didn't have time to really get into reading the book except for the first few chapters. Finally! Last weekend I was able to sit down and really start to read. And, I couldn't stop until I came to the last page!

I have done a lot of research in my own family history and can so appreciate the desire of the main heroine's hunger to know her heritage. Trying to learn your heritage when most of the people who could have told you about it have passed away is difficult. How many times have I wished that my grandparents were still alive so I could pick their brains? Hundreds. How much information is lost forever because in my twenties when they were still alive, I wasn't that interested? Only God knows.

Unlike me, Lucy DiCamillo, the character from whose viewpoint the story is told, has wanted to know her family heritage from a very young age. Having lost her mother, Ruby, when Lucy was only eight, she was raised by her grandmother, Kitty. Lucy has only vague memories of her mom and their life together before her mother's death. Kitty has answers to Lucy's many questions, but she is hesitant to share them all. As the past's truths are slowly revealed, Lucy grows as a person and rediscovers a faith in God in the process.

Forkner's writing is deep and pulls the reader into the hearts of these three women, all connected through family heritage, all so similar to each other, while at the same time so different. You will love this book!

Tina agreed to answer some questions that I had after reading this wonderful book, AND . . . she has agreed to provide a signed copy of Ruby Among Us to a single winner whose name is pulled from the comments left on this post. Sorry, only U.S. residents, please.

So without further delay. Let's get on with the interview. Tina, thanks so much for joining us on A Writer's Journey.

  1. Ruby Among Us is your debut novel. Is this story your first novel you ever penned?

I’ve been writing steadily since I was a kid, but Ruby Among Us was the first novel I actually completed. Before Ruby, I studied writing in college and wrote fiction, poetry and essay, but I still have more to learn!

  1. Trace for us your road to publication. Did it go through many drafts before it caught the attention of an editor? How long did it take you to write the story?

I finished Ruby Among Us before it found an editor, so I took it through several drafts prior to that point. My writing is what some people call organic and the nature of it is to go back and rewrite over and over throughout the entire process.

I was invited by an editor to submit my work during an ACFW conference, but it was rejected. My publishing contract didn’t come until I found an agent who ultimately sold my manuscript to Waterbrook Press. Having an agent really was a blessing in my case.

I have been writing for years and years and it took me nine months to write Ruby Among Us, but I am blessed that my publishing contract came much faster than anyone ever expected. I am just very blessed.

  1. The setting is in the Sonoma Valley in California . Is this an area you are familiar with even though you live in Wyoming? What led you to set the story there?

During my mid-twenties I lived in Sacramento where I attended school at Sac State. During those 5 years I spent a few weekends a month either visiting the Sierras or going to visit friends in Santa Rosa. So, I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Sonoma Valley during the visits to Santa Rosa. During that time, the setting just grew on me. I loved the gardens, the vineyards, the people and everything about the area.

  1. How much research was involved in putting this story together?

Honestly not a lot. For the setting, I drew from my own experiences of living and traveling in that area. For cultural relevance, I sought advice from friends who are Hispanic and Mexican-American. They helped me with some naming and just making sure I was accurate in my portrayal of a family that has a mixed heritage.

  1. Talk a little about the three women in your story. You weave these ladies’ lives together so intricately. Three generations, so much alike and yet so different. How did their characterizations evolve as you wrote the story.

I think Ruby was the first character to evolve. From the very beginning I was writing about a single mom and I was a single mom, so it just came naturally.

Kitty, the grandmother, evolved by accident. I knew she would be important because I wanted to have that grandmother-granddaughter bond, but I had no idea she would become such a powerful character. She was just the rich, wonderful older woman who came along and directed the whole thing!

Lucy’s character, the granddaughter, also developed as the story unfolded, but because I already knew she was going to be struggling with trying to remember her mother, I shaped her personality around that. Lucy really had to be the kind of person who doesn’t watch television very often or care a great deal about the internet, or pop culture. So Lucy ended up being a very introspective person who doesn’t explore much beyond her own home and expresses her longing for her mother’s memories through artistic endeavors. She is in many ways a recluse surrounded by an artful life.

I also happen to come from a family where there were lots of aunts always around. I think the weaving of their lives and generations wormed its way into the book.

  1. According to your bio, you serve on your county’s foundation of board of directors. Describe your work and how it helps your writing career or doesn’t help.

I absolutely love working with my library. In fact, just last weekend, my library was the recipient of Laramie County Library of the Year Award as showcased in the Library Journal.

I can’t take on too many volunteer projects, so one rule I made was that it had to be something I’m really passionate about and doesn’t work against my being an author.

You’re a writer too, so you know how easy it is to get overwhelmed with volunteer activities. Sometimes we forget to let people know that we have jobs! Writing is my job and the library just fits so perfectly with that.

At the library, I get the opportunity to work with people who first and foremost love to read books. And sometimes I even get to meet other wonderful writers when they make appearances. It’s inspiring to me and it feels good to give back.

  1. Describe a typical day for you and how you fit writing into the mix.

It has changed a lot now that I’m published. In addition to writing, I also have to take time for publicity and other things that fall into the “business” of writing. Most mornings I try to get up by 6:00 am. I do a quick email check, spend some time chatting with my husband before work, get kids situated and try to be writing by 9am. I like to write for a few hours, take a break to work out or eat, and then writing a little more. This of course is the perfect day. It rarely actually happens exactly that way.

  1. Is there a sequel to Ruby Among Us? If not, what are you working on now?

I have a second book coming out from Waterbrook Press in 2009 that is a standalone, but uses the same setting and gives many glimpses of some of the characters from Ruby Among Us.

Thanks so much Tina, for taking the time to answer my questions. You can visit Tina at her website at:

Now it's your turn! Click on the link to comments below and leave your name and contact information so that I can put your name in the hat to win a signed copy of Ruby Among Us.
U.S. residents only. I will be drawing the name on Tuesday evening, June 17th. You have until 6 p.m. Central Daylight Time that day to get your name in.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

It's Conference Season!

The writing conference season has actually been in full gear for several months, but May began the season in earnest with the Colorado Christian Writers Conference in Estes Park, CO and Ridgecrest in North Carolina. Last year I had a wonderful opportunity to attend the Colorado conference, but this year I stayed closer to home.

This past week Write to Publish happened right in my own backyard on the campus of Wheaton College. I was able to attend two of the four days and had an awesome time.

I had two goals in mind and accomplished them both: An invite to submit a proposal for Murder for Breakfast and an invite to submit an article to a magazine I had targeted. In addition to those blessed events, I connected with a number of ACFW members and made some new friends as well.

This is just a warm-up as far as I'm concerned. The ACFW National conference is coming in September and I've already got my editors picked out that I hope to have appointments with and am working hard on the ACFW Mentor of the Year award. The person has been chosen by the members at large and I'll soon be going out to order the award which I'll carefully cart with me to Minneapolis. Of all that I do as secretary, this is one of my most enjoyable jobs. I love surprises, and it is always a joy to see the shock on the face of the winner when I announce the name. I'll have to keep the secret all the way until our awards banquet that Saturday night. That's always fun when I see the unassuming person at meals or in workshops throughout the days prior to the banquet. I want to sing out "I know something you don't know." LOL

At Write to Publish I was free to go and enjoy. I helped out the director for a few days prior to the conference, but my time was my own at the gathering itself. I enjoyed the teaching of Rene Gutteridge in the continuing fiction class, learned how to write a good query letter in another workshop, and how to be disciplined in my writing, among the many other classes I took. Conferences are invaluable for so many reasons, not only for making contacts with editors. Networking, learning about the publishing industry--it's trends, what publishers are publishing what genres, getting to know authors and editors better, and just plain old having a good time :-).

If you write fiction and haven't yet decided on a conference to attend this year, please consider ACFW which will be September 18-21. Registration will be opening soon. You can read more about the conference at the ACFW website.

For fiction writers, there's none better than the ACFW National Conference. I'll be writing more about it later, but I just wanted to whet your appetite a little!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The winner of Deadly Exposure by Cara Putman is ....


Beth has been notified and as soon as we have her mailing address Cara will send her a signed copy of the book.

Thanks everyone for participating in the contest.

CFBA Featured Book: From a Distance by Tamara Alexander

I've known Tammy Alexander since back when she was an unpublished author, and it's been fun to see her grow into a published author with a huge fan base. Tammy has a knack for finding story in places that are not so unusual for historical novels, but in the twists and turns of life. I'm happy to feature Tammy and her latest book here as part of this week's CFBA tour.


Tamera Alexander is a bestselling novelist whose deeply drawn characters, thought-provoking plots and poignant prose resonate with readers. Tamera is a finalist for the 2008 Christy Award Remembered, and has been awarded the coveted RITA® from Romance Writers of America Revealed, along with Library Journal’s Top Christian Fiction of 2006 Rekindled. Having lived in Colorado for seventeen years, she and her husband now make their home in the quaint town of historic Franklin, Tennessee, where they enjoy life with their two college-age children and a precious—and precocious—silky terrier named Jack.

A Note from Tamera:

Stories are journeys, and each story I write is a journey for me.

Rekindled began with a dream—the image of a man returning home on horseback. He came upon a freshly dug grave and when he knelt to read the name carved into the roughhewn wooden cross, he discovered the name was…his own. The inspiration for Revealed grew from two characters in Rekindled whose stories needed to be told. But even more, whose stories I needed to tell. Writing Revealed was a very personal journey for me, and a healing one. For Remembered, I met that story’s heroine (figuratively, of course) while strolling the ancient cobblestoned pathways of a three hundred-year-old cemetery in northern Paris, France. And From A Distance came from a question I was struggling with in my own life at the time, “What happens when the dream you asked God for isn’t what you thought it would be?”

For me, the greatest thrill of these writing journeys is when Christ reveals Himself in some new way, and I take a step closer to Him. And my deepest desire is that readers of my books will do that as well—take steps closer to Him as they read. After all, it’s all about Him.

In the Potter’s Hand,



What happens when dreams aren’t what you imagined,

And secrets you’ve spent a lifetime guarding are finally laid bare?

Determined to become one of the country’s premier newspaper photographers, Elizabeth Westbrook travels to the Colorado Territory to capture the grandeur of the mountains surrounding the remote town of Timber Ridge. She hopes, too, that the cool, dry air of Colorado, and its renowned hot springs, will cure the mysterious illness that threatens her career, and her life.

Daniel Ranslett, a former Confederate sharpshooter, is a man shackled by his past, and he’ll do anything to protect his land and his solitude. When an outspoken Yankee photographer captures an image that appears key to solving a murder, putting herself in danger, Daniel is called upon to repay a debt. He’s a man of his word, but repaying that debt will bring secrets from his past to light.

Forced on a perilous journey together, Daniel and Elizabeth’s lives intertwine in ways neither could have imagined when first they met . . . from a distance.

If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE

“…a rich historical romance by possibly the best new writer in this subgenre.”
--Library Journal

“…a most amazing story. The characters are more than words on the page; they become real people.”
--Romantic Times

Buy it at Amazon!