Wednesday, May 27, 2009

CFBA Blog Tour - Rose House by Tina Ann Forkner

When I had the opportunity to read an early copy of Tina Forkner's Rose House for review on this blog I snagged it. I read Tina's first novel, Ruby Among Us, which I adored, and that was all I needed to know. The day the book arrived in the mail I started reading, and I wasn't disappointed.

Although not directly a sequel to "Ruby," the setting is in the same fictional California town of LaRosaleda with the focal point being the rose-covered cottage on the Frances-DiCamillo vineyard property. The cottage almost becomes a character in the story as much as Lillian Diamon, the heroine. Forkner's words draw the reader into the setting in such a gentle way that you feel as though you are right there inhaling the roses' sweet scent.

Romance, intrigue, family tension and God's sustaining love all combine to make Rose House one great read that needs to be on your summer reading list.


Tina Ann Forkner writes contemporary fiction that challenges and inspires. She grew up in Oklahoma and graduated with honors from CSU Sacramento before settling in Wyoming. She lives with her husband, their three bright children and their dog and stays busy serving on the Laramie County Library Foundation Board of Directors. She is the author of Ruby Among Us, her debut novel, and Rose House, which recently released from Waterbrook Press/Random House.


A vivid story of a private grief, a secret painting, and one woman’s search for hope

Still mourning the loss of her family in a tragic accident, Lillian Diamon finds herself drawn back to the Rose House, a quiet cottage where four years earlier she had poured out her anguish among its fragrant blossoms.

She returns to the rolling hills and lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley in search of something she can’t quite name. But then Lillian stumbles onto an unexpected discovery: displayed in the La Rosaleda Gallery is a painting that captures every detail of her most private moment of misery, from the sorrow etched across her face to the sandals on her feet.

What kind of artist would dare to intrude on such a personal scene, and how did he happen to witness Lillian’s pain? As the mystery surrounding the portrait becomes entangled with the accident that claimed the lives of her husband and children, Lillian is forced to rethink her assumptions about what really happened that day.

A captivating novel rich with detail, Rose House explores how the brushstrokes of pain can illuminate the true beauty of life.

If you would like to read an excerpt from Rose House, go HERE

You can order it at Amazon!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

You Can Go Home Again - Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

From the age of two until my mid-twenties I called a certain southern Wisconsin town home. When my family moved to Lake Geneva for my dad's job, the town was mostly tourist with a spattering of industry. Over the years more industry moved in, but that didn't take away from the main draw--the beautiful lake.

Ever since the 19th Century, Chicagoans have flocked to this gorgeous area which sits about 12 miles north of the Illinois-Wisconsin boarder. During the 1800s, wealthy industrialists built their "summer cottages" on the lake. Many of these mansions still stand today and are the focal point of the excursion boats that travel the 26 miles of shoreline. During summers the wealthy families moved out to the "country" to escape the summer heat of the city. And after the Chicago fire, some had to make their Lake Geneva homes semi-permanent while their city homes were being rebuilt.

But that isn't the only history to be found in this slice of heaven on earth. During the early 1930s the city passed a vote to erect a new "recreation building" using WPA funds. The project provided jobs during the depression and gave the town an energy of excitement. The building was erected in an amazing five months and contained a bath house on the first level along with concessions to feed hungry beach-goers and a state-of-the art ballroom with a parquet wood dance floor on the second level. Wayne King and his band appeared at the grand opening in May 1933, and after him, many of the big bands played there including Tommy Dorsey and Louie Armstrong. Named the Riviera, the building was recently refurbished to its original glory and now hosts wedding receptions, meetings, and, of course, dances. In fact, when I attended a high school reunion a year and a half ago, that is where it was held. That's a picture of it at the top of this blog.

The Riveria is the feature of my new WIP which will be set in the 1930s when the Riv was first built. I am so jazzed about this subject and excited to feature my hometown in a story. Last Thursday I drove up there (about an hour's drive away) and spent the day pouring over microfilm copies of the local paper during that time. This week, I hope to go back and visit the museum and scour their folders, gathering facts and ideas to incorporate into my story. Even though I grew up there, I realized I really knew so little about how the building of the Riviera came to be.

I have many memories of lazy summer days on the beach, countless boat rides around the lake when my high school boyfriend worked on one of the excursion boats, learning how to water ski behind the ski boat of a classmate, hikes along the lake shore path, and the plain old joy of growing up in a small town.

Many of the pics in this video showcase the Riviera. I hope you'll check back again to see what's next on my writing journey as this story comes together!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

When Did I Ever Have Time to Go to Work?

A little over 3-1/2 years ago I took early retirement from a job I'd worked at for almost 20 years. Five days a week I was out the door by 7:20 a.m. and didn't return until 5:00 p.m. or later. I had to squeeze writing time into the evenings and weekends, or days off. Still, I managed to hammer out several novels over the course of about eight or nine years.

I'm still hammering out novels and, in addition, performing duties related to my ACFW board position, doing volunteer work in an ESL program sponsored by the high school district, leading Bible study, and doing a number of other things. I'm still up at the crack of dawn, but at least if I want, I can stay in my jammies till later in the morning. At least on days I'm not volunteering! And, I don't have a commute. Especially nice on snowy days.

I have to ask , "When did I ever find time to go to work?"

I can't imagine not having something to do. If I weren't a writer I'd be looking for another thing to occupy my time. Maybe working part-time in a book store or doing more volunteer work.

God has granted me the love of writing and the ability to write. And I love it! I am so blessed.

Just some thoughts on a sunny May afternoon. Now I'd better get back to that novel I'm working on!