Friday, July 23, 2010

Going Home Again for Scene Research - A Blessing!

Yesterday I traveled north about an hour to my hometown of Lake Geneva, WI for a research trip of a different kind than I'd done. I've been spending a great deal of time there over the past year doing research for my current Work in Progress (WIP), a 1933 novel set in Lake Geneva at the time the Riviera lakefront building was built.

Riviera Ballroom Orchestra Pit
Now that I have the manuscript completed and it is in the tweaking/editing stages I felt something was missing from pivotal scenes. The most important locale I wanted to revisit was the Riviera ballroom on the building's second floor. This ballroom at one time saw the likes of Tommy Dorsey, Louie Armstrong, Wayne King, and many other big bands entertain dancers.

I had been in the room as recently as two years ago for a high school reunion, but back then I had no idea I would be writing a story set there and I was too interested in seeing people and observing how good the ladies looked, while the men ... well, I'll leave it to your imagination!

Yesterday I met the Harbormaster and he let me inside to wander the room. Aside from a woman decorating table stations for a wedding to take place there this weekend and a college-age guy mopping floors, I had the room to myself. The mirror ball was turned on and it spun and spun, flashing tiny lights onto the original tile ceiling like tiny stars. If chairs weren't already set up for wedding guests, I'd have spun around like the dancers of 1933 at the grand opening dance with Wayne King and his orchestra. I refrained, but I could feel the atmosphere all the same.

I also went out onto the open terrace that overlooks the lake, another place a scene between my heroine and hero takes place, and imagined their conversation and where they stood.

View from intersection of Main & Broad Streets toward lake.
Later, my friend who was with me and I walked around town as I got a perspective of what my characters could see and couldn't see. I'd thought the Riviera could be seen from the main intersection, but I was wrong. I walked down the street to the point where the building could be seen and snapped a picture.

Lastly, we went to Flatiron Park where one of the most romantic scenes in my story takes place next to a statue called the Three Sisters or Friends. There, I acted out the scene, taking both roles LOL. My friend cracked up. She probably thought I was nuts, but she was kind. I didn't expect her to understand because she doesn't write stories.

I'm home now and about to go to those scenes and tweak them while the memories of my feelings are fresh.

We're not always able to step right into the actual settings of our stories, and even now, it isn't exactly the same as 2010 Lake Geneva is a whole lot different than 1933 Lake Geneva. Some of the buildings that were there then have been replaced with modern hotels and high rise condos, but my imagination and pictures of the past work well.

When I finish this story, I have a pack of new ideas to plot for other stories in this wonderful town I grew up in. Never have I appreciated it like I do now.

And one thing I learned ... in many ways you can go home again.

If you want to see more pictures of my research day in Lake Geneva go to my FaceBook page.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

CFBA Book Tour - Stars in the Night by Cara Putman

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Stars In The Night
Summerside Press (July 1, 2010)

Cara Putman

I am so excited to present my good friend Cara Putman's new trade Romantic Suspense from Summerside Press called STARS IN THE NIGHT.

Every book I've read from Cara has been a treat, especially her World War II homefront books. With Stars she has taken a different and fresh view that will appeal to many. We've all heard how the movie stars of Hollywood rallied around the troops, either by joining up themselves or, if they could not, by entertaining the troops.

Cara came across something I had not heard about before, a Hollywood Caravan Train packed with A-list stars that traveled across country, entertaining people at different stops and encouraging them to buy war bonds. Cara's creative writer brain went to work and thought what if there were a second train of B-list stars that went out a few weeks later, and what if there was someone bad on board who wanted someone dead. Well you get the idea.

The story will keep you turning pages until the end just to find out who done it. But you will also be enamoured by the Hollywood scene and what likely went on behind those movie sets back in the days before television and DVDs when movies were the main form of entertainment outside of radio.


A Word From Cara:

I graduated from high school at sixteen, college at 20, and completed my law degree when I was 27.

My writing journey started in 2005 when I decided to write my first novel. Now I have eleven books published with more on the way.

People say I've accomplished a lot and that I must have life by the proverbial tail. Hardly! I grew up as a home schooled kid when home schoolers were misunderstood and oddities.

I struggle with balancing my writing and law career, plus being a good mom and wife.

I often fear people won't like my books.

I've walked through the deep pain of miscarriage.

Really, I'm just like you – I don't have it all together and have gone through tough times. But in His strength, I've discovered a strength I never knew I had. A strength I want you to discover, too.

In the end I'm just an ordinary mom who has seen God do some wonderful things as I've been obedient to step into the calling He's led me into.

Stars in the Night Background

Stars in the Night was an idea that had begun to percolate in my mind. I’d written two World War II series and was actively looking for my next setting. My husband, a huge World War II history buff, and I were kicking ideas around, and I’d decided Hollywood was probably the next place for me. I’d gone to the library and gotten a stack of research books when I got the call. An editor I knew but had never worked with wanted to know if I might be interested in a new line they were starting. As we talked, I got so excited. And then she emailed me their guidelines, which listed that Hollywood was a location they were interested in setting books.

Only God could have known ahead of time. But because I followed His prompting I was ready to run with an idea. Stars in the Night is the result.


Hollywood 1942. When attorney Audra Schaeffer's sister disappears, Audra flies to Hollywood to find her.

Any day Audra might have been flattered by the friendly overtures of Robert Garfield, a real-life movie star. But on the flight from Indianapolis to Hollywood, Audra can think of little else than finding her missing sister. When Audra arrives in the city of glitz and glamour, and stars, and learns her rising starlet sister has been murdered, all thoughts of romance fly away.

Determined to bring the killer to justice, Audra takes a job with the second Hollywood Victory Caravan.

Together with Robert Garfield and other stars, she crisscrosses the southern United States in a campaign to sell war bonds. When two other women are found dead on the train, Audra knows the deaths are tied to that of her sister.

Could the killer be the man with whom she's falling in love?

If you'd like to read an excerpt of Chapter 1 of Stars In The Night, go HERE.

Contest: Lots of opportunities to win and great prizes, and the grand prize contains some of Cara's favorite classic movies as well as all of her WWII novels: Launch Contest!

Monday, July 19, 2010

ACFW Carol Awards Finalists for 2010 Announced!

A couple weeks ago, ACFW announced that their Book of the Year award would henceforth be called the Carol. The award is named after Carol Johnson of Bethany House, who took a step of faith years ago and signed an unknown author named Janette Oke to write her prairie romance stories. As far as Christian Fiction goes, the rest is history.

Over this past weekend the finalists for this years contest were announced. First, second, and third place winners will be announced at the Awards Banquet to be held Sunday, September 19th at the ACFW Conference in Indianapolis. They are as follows.

Congrats to all of you!

2010 Carol Award Finalists
Debut Author
Talking to the Dead - Bonnie Grove (David C. Cook Publishing, Nicci Hubert - Editor)
The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn - Liz Johnson (Steeple Hill, Elizabeth Mazer - Editor)
Eternity Falls - Kirk Outerbridge (Marcher Lord Press, Jeff Gerke - Editor)
Michal - Jill Eileen Smith (Revell, Lonnie Hull DuPont - Editor)
The Unfinished Gift - Dan Walsh (Revell, Andrea Doering - Editor)

Contemporary Novella - 6 Finalists due to a tie
One Child - Barbara Cameron (Thomas Nelson, Natalie Hanemann - Editor)
When Winter Comes - Barbara Cameron (Thomas Nelson, Natalie Hanemann - Editor)
A Mule Hollow Match - Debra Clopton (Steeple Hill, Krista Stroever - Editor)
The Great Christmas Bowl - Susan May Warren (Tyndale House, Karen Watson - Editor)
A Change of Heart - Beth Wiseman (Thomas Nelson, Natalie Hanemann - Editor)
A Choice to Forgive - Beth Wiseman (Thomas Nelson, Natalie Hanemann- Editor)

Historical Novella
Home Again - Victoria Bylin (Steeple Hill, Emily Rodmell - Editor)
A Breed Apart - Vickie McDonough (Heartsong Presents, JoAnne Simmons - Editor)
Beloved Enemy - Vickie McDonough (Heartsong Presents, JoAnne Simmons - Editor)
Christmas Bells for Dry Creek - Janet Tronstad (Steeple Hill, Tina James - Editor)
A Shelter in the Storm - Carrie Turansky (Barbour Publishing, Rebecca Germany - Editor)

Long Contemporary - 6 Finalists due to a tie
The Familiar Stranger - Christina Berry (Moody Publishers, Paul Santhouse - Editor)
A Widow's Hope - Mary Ellis (Harvest House Publishers, Betty Fletcher - Editor)
The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow - Joyce Magnin (Abingdon Press, Barbara Scott - Editor)
White Picket Fences - Susan Meissner (Waterbrook Press, Shannon Marchese - Editor)
If Tomorrow Never Comes - Marlo Schalesky (Multnomah, Julee Schwarzburg - Editor)
Nothing But Trouble - Susan May Warren (Tyndale House, Karen Watson - Editor)

Long Contemporary Romance
Critical Care - Candace Calvert (Tyndale House, Jan Stob/Lorie Popp - Editors)
Seaside Letters - Denise Hunter (Thomas Nelson, Ami McConnell/Jessica Alvarez - Editors)
Just Between You and Me - Jenny B. Jones (Thomas Nelson, Natalie Hanemann/Jamie Chavez - Editors)
Plain Promise - Beth Wiseman (Thomas Nelson, Natalie Hanemann - Editor)
The Hope of Refuge - Cindy Woodsmall (Waterbrook Press, Shannon Marchese - Editor)

The Case of the Mystified M.D. - A.K. Arenz (Sheaf House, Joan M. Shoup - Editor)
Under the Cajun Moon - Mindy Starns Clark (Harvest House Publishers, Kim Moore - Editor)
A String of Murders - Darlene Franklin (Heartsong Mysteries, Susan Downs - Editor)
Polly Dent Loses Grip - S. Dionne Moore (Heartsong Mysteries, Susan Downs - Editor)
Pushing up Daisies - Janice Thompson writing as Janice Hanna (Heartsong Mysteries, Susan Downs - Editor)

Long Historical
A Bride in the Bargain - Deeanne Gist (Bethany House, David Long/Julie Klassen - Editors)
Fit To Be Tied - Robin Lee Hatcher (Zondervan, Sue Brower/Leslie Peterson - Editors)
Look to the East - Maureen Lang (Tyndale House, Stephanie Broene - Editor)
Love's Pursuit - Siri Mitchell (Bethany House, Dave & Sarah Long - Editors)
Stealing Home - Allison Pittman (Multnomah, Alice Crider - Editor)

Long Historical Romance - 8 Finalists due to a tie
Paper Roses - Amanda Cabot (Revell, Vicki Crumpton - Editor)
Cowboy Christmas - Mary Connealy (Barbour Publishing, Rebecca Germany - Editor)
Montana Rose - Mary Connealy (Barbour Publishing, Rebecca Germany - Editor)
The Frontiersman's Daughter - Laura Frantz (Revell, Andrea Doering - Editor)
The Believer - Ann Gabhart (Revell, Lonnie Hull DuPont - Editor)
A Passion Denied - Julie Lessman (Revell, Lonnie Hall DuPont - Editor)
Love Finds You in Poetry, Texas - Janice Thompson writing as Janice Hanna (Summerside Press, Rachel Meisel - Editor)
The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper - Kathleen Y’Barbo (Waterbrook Press, Jessica Barnes - Editor)

Short Contemporary
His Cowgirl Bride - Debra Clopton (Steeple Hill, Krista Stroever - Editor)
Autumn Rains - Myra Johnson (Heartsong Presents, JoAnne Simmons - Editor)
A Wagonload of Trouble - Vickie McDonough (Heartsong Presents, JoAnne Simmons - Editor)
A Texas Ranger's Family - Mae Nunn (Steeple Hill, Melissa Endlich - Editor)
Dreaming of Home - Glynna Sirpless writing as Glynna Kaye (Steeple Hill, Melissa Endlich - Editor)

Short Contemporary Suspense - 6 Finalists due to a tie
Evidence of Murder - Jill Elizabeth Nelson (Steeple Hill, Emily Rodmell - Editor)
Final Warning - Sandra Robbins (Steeple Hill, Tina James - Editor)
Murder at Eagle Summit - Virginia Smith (Steeple Hill, Krista Stroever - Editor)
Scent of Murder - Virginia Smith (Steeple Hill, Krista Stroever/Tina James - Editors)
Double Take - Jenness Walker (Steeple Hill, Emily Rodmell - Editor)
Code of Honor - Lenora Worth (Steeple Hill, Patience Smith/Tina James - Editors)

Short Historical
Her Patchwork Family - Lyn Cote (Steeple Hill, Tina James - Editor)
The Glassblower - Laurie Alice Eakes (Heartsong Presents, JoAnne Simmons - Editor)
The Outlaw's Lady - Laurie Kingery (Steeple Hill, Melissa Endlich - Editor)
All That Glitters - Lynette Sowell (Heartsong Presents, JoAnne Simmons - Editor)
The Unfinished Gift - Dan Walsh (Revell, Andrea Doering)

Speculative (includes Science Fiction, Fantasy, Allegory) - 6 Finalists due to a tie
Eternity Falls - Kirk Outerbridge (Marcher Lord Press, Jeff Gerke - Editor)
The Vanishing Sculptor - Donita K. Paul (Waterbrook Press, Shannon Marchese - Editor)
The Word Reclaimed - Steve Rzasa (Marcher Lord Press, Jeff Gerke - Editor)
Starfire - Stuart Vaughn Stockton (Marcher Lord Press, Jeff Gerke - Editor)
The Muse - Fred Warren (Splashdown Books, Grace Bridges - Editor)
By Darkness Hid - Jill Williamson (Marcher Lord Press, Jeff Gerke - Editor)

Intervention - Terri Blackstock (Zondervan, Sue Brower/Dave Lambert - Editors)
Lonestar Secrets - Colleen Coble (Thomas Nelson, Ami McConnell - Editor)
Exposure - Brandilyn Collins (Zondervan, Rachelle Gardner/Sue Brower - Editors)
Salty Like Blood - Harry Kraus (Howard/Simon & Schuster, David Lambert - Editor)
Breach of Trust - DiAnn Mills (Tyndale House, Karen Watson - Editor)

Women’s Fiction - 7 Finalists due to a tie
Sweet Waters - Julie Carobini (B&H Publishing, Karen Ball - Editor)
Leaving Yesterday - Kathryn Cushman (Bethany House, Dave Long - Editor)
Sweet By and By - Sara Evans & Rachel Hauck (Thomas Nelson, Ami McConnell - Editor)
Never the Bride - Rene Gutteridge & Cheryl McKay (Waterbrook Press, Shannon Marchese - Editor)
Yesterday's Embers - Deborah Raney (Howard/Simon & Schuster, David Lambert - Editor)
Above All Things - Deborah Raney (Steeple Hill, Krista Stroever - Editor)
The Summer Kitchen - Lisa Wingate (New American Library/Penguin, Ellen Edwards - Editor)

Young Adult
Who Made You a Princess? - Shelley Adina (Hachette FaithWords, Anne Goldsmith Horch - Editor)
Always Watching - Brandilyn & Amberly Collins (Zondervan, Barbara Scott - Editor)
I'm So Sure - Jenny B. Jones (Thomas Nelson, Natalie Hanemann/Jamie Chavez - Editors)
So Not Happening - Jenny B. Jones (Thomas Nelson, Amanda Bostic/Jamie Chavez - Editors)
Unsigned Hype - Booker T. Mattison (Revell, Andrea Doering - Editor)