Monday, April 30, 2007
I've had my nose pressed against the window each day, waiting for our mail carrier. Today, my author copy of The Restorer is HERE!!!! And it's gorgeous, and smells so good (ah, I love the smell of fresh ink), and it's the PERFECT size. What magic made 477 pages fit into the right shape...? It's just such a WELCOMING size and feel. Not too bulky...nice readable size type...just right. I LOVE it.
Wow. I'm so stunned it'll take awhile to sink in. In some way or other I've been at work on this book for nearly five years. That's a much longer pregnancy than for my kids - even all of them combined.
What a BEAUTIFUL fulfillment of a dream. It's perfect.
Remember how the Israelites built a "standing stone" when they finally entered the promised land? This book is a sort of standing stone - a tangible reminder that when God nudges me to do something, even if it seems crazy (like write a fantasy book and try to get it published in CBA) - that He is ABLE to do amazing things.
I'm not sure where all the other copies of the book are - on the way to a distributor warehouse? In trucks on the way to stores? We're about two weeks from release date, and I'm not sure of all the process these dear books go through on their way to reach the stores. I do know that the official release date is May 15, so when you stop at your local bookstore, you can ask them if they've ordered their copies yet. :-)
In the meantime, I'm hugging my copy and thanking God for inviting me along on this adventure. The adventure of life, the adventure of serving Him, and the specific adventure of writing this book.
P.S. Scroll down to see the book-trailer if you haven't seen it yet. :-)
The Restorer (NavPress, 5/2007)
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Yesterday I received this fun photo in the mail from Mount Hermon, showing Dave Talbott and a hint of the background foliage that makes this particular writer's conference beautiful and idyllic. Seeing this reminded me again of how deeply touched and encouraged I was by the award. I continue to feel that someone slipped up and let me sneak in to a party where I don't belong. The whole professional writing world is so far beyond me. I'm only a novelist by an act of mercy and grace . . .
but then, that's what all our lives are. A gift of grace. So I guess it's okay to feel uncertain, befuddled, and persistently grateful.
Happy weekend, everyone!
P.S. coming soon - "The Story Behind the Restorer" and "Seeking the Restorer" (a contest)
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Five years ago when I began dabbling with the idea of a fantasy novel that had the tone of a contemporary women's fiction, I immediately was confronted with the harsh reality that certain genres are more difficult to place with a CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) publisher (and that was the target audience of these stories).
I understood the market realities, but the story wouldn't let me go. So I wrote the first three novels in the series. I kept praying, talking about the book with editors, and watching for an open door. Still, I often felt like a gawky junior high girl in a home-made dress sitting alone at school lunch and staring longingly at the table of "cool kids," knowing I didn't fit in.
Imagine my surprise and delight when I got my latest Writer's Digest and read something I've suspected for quite awhile now. In an article about "Fantastic Fiction," Jordan Rosenfeld wrote, "Recently, readers have been eager to read contemporary fantastic literature--and publishers are taking note."
She quotes agent Simon Lipskar as saying, "Anybody being honest about the current market will acknowledge that fiction that's not entirely of this world is red-hot."
Indeed, my market proposal for The Restorer included mention of the many bestsellers in the general market that are written with a contemporary voice and include fantastical elements.
So far, the ripple of this trend has been felt in Young Adult Fiction (with fantasy authors Wayne Batson and Bryan Davis hitting the CBA best-seller lists in those categories) and perhaps the effect will build in the adult fiction readership of CBA as well.
I'm no longer sure if my stories are going against the tides or surfing the wave of a new hunger for imagination, metaphor, and the hero's journey in fiction. I do believe that for the pure joy of being lost in a story, and for the inspiration that comes from vicariously experiencing epic struggles and courageous choices, the fantasy genre has a lot to offer. Happily, my adult contemporary fiction fantasy series found a home at NavPress and the first book releases on May 15, 2007.
Will it be a fantasy that gets invited to sit at the table with other genres? I'm not sure. I do know that I've run into MANY authors recently who've whispered to me, as if it's a frightening secret, "I really want to write a fantasy novel one day." These are successful novelists in other genres - but they are also hoping that doors will open for more speculative ficiton. Whether this change is driven by the authors who stubbornly keep creating these wonderful stories, or by courageous editors, marketing teams, sales staff, and store buyers, or by the public who search out and request these titles, I believe the tide is turning. In the meantime, here's to all the great authors who are swimming against the tide, writing the books of their heart, and waiting to catch a wave.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Ever wish you could "test drive" a book before buying it? Christian Author Network's new online book club, "You've Got Books!" lets you do just that!
Here's how this free service works. Once you subscribe to the CAN book club, you will receive a two minute sample of a book by great Christian authors via email each weekday. By the end of the week, you'll have read a chapter or two of the book. By then you should have a pretty good idea if you'll enjoy the rest.
Over the next few months we're going to get a glimpse of some great novels by Judy Miller, Louise Gouge, Sharon Hinck, Judy Baer, Shelly Beach, Susan Marlow, Maureen Lang, Jill Nelson, Lori Copeland, Mary DeMuth, and Camy Tang.Yes, you may have spotted my name there. :-) The first chapters of The Restorer will be featured in mid-May!
Click on over to "You've Got Books!" to sign up!
The Secret Life of Becky Miller (Bethany House, 2006)
Renovating Becky Miller (Bethany House, 2007)
Monday, April 16, 2007
Return of the Guardian-King by Karen Hancock releases this month. Woo hoo!
Last month I shared how spec-fic author Randy Ingermanson made a huge difference in my entrance into the writing profession. God brought one other published author into my life who served as an example and mentor early on, and who deeply affected my approach to this calling. You guessed it. Karen Hancock!
I don't remember now what first prompted me to get up the nerve to email her. I think it was to see if she would be attending Mount Hermon as I prepared to go to my first conference four years ago. Today when I rummaged through my files, I found print-outs of long, meaty email conversations from back in 2003, so it was early in my novel journey.
I didn't get a chance to meet Karen in person until ICRS last summer. But I'd already learned she was wise, warm, funny, kind, gentle, and generous. Over the years, I've shared many of my questions and struggles with her about the emotional and spiritual challenges of being a writer. What I admire most is her tenacious focus on the truth that matters - on living lives of obedience and faith instead of striving and fretting.
If you read her blog, you've been blessed by her honesty about these themes, and about the temptations that rise up for writers to focus on deadlines, sales numbers, "fitting in," reviews, and distractions. She's been my role model of someone who withdraws from the clamor, listens to God, and writes. She also fits in-depth study of the Word into her daily life.
Perhaps that's part of what makes her prose so rich--that and the tremendous gift God has given her. Some authors write fast-paced stories that are like magic-marker line drawings with a bit of color sketched in. Karen's books are oil-paintings instead. Layered with colors and texture. If you haven't yet tried her books, get The Light of Eidon and begin the series. You'll be immersed in a journey that will feed your own courage and nobility.
Karen, thank you SO much for all the wisdom and encouragement you've shared - both by your example, and by the counsel you've offered me about specific questions! And thank you for obeying God's call and writing such amazing books.
Be sure to visit the other participants in this month's blog tour for reviews of her new book, interviews, and other interesting posts. I've listed their links in the right-hand column (scroll down to the CSFF Blog Tour list).
When I read the first book of the series, The Light of Eidon, I wrote this review - which applies even more to the other books in the series:
Her created world is alive with interwoven societies and people groups, conflicting loyalties, strange cultures, and creatures painted with vibrant description. Yet the novel never bogs down in those details. I believe that is because of Ms. Hancock's power in sharing authentic and multi-faceted characters that we deeply care about. I felt a visceral level of shared experience as I traveled with Abramm through tragedy and hope.
A great book leaves me changed at some level. Light of Eidon, with its unflinching look at the battles of life, has inspired new courage in me for my own day's challenges.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
I just received a lovely email from a reader who is planning to give copies of "The Secret Life of Becky Miller" and "Renovating Becky Miller" as gifts to friends for Mother's Day. Reading a story about someone who "gets it" - who goes through the struggles of conflicting priorities that women face these days - especially when that story is wrapped in giggles - does seem to be a great gift.
It occurred to me that a lot of SONS and HUSBANDS and FATHERS and guy friends are going to be searching for creative gifts for the women in their lives. "She's on a diet and yells at me when I buy chocolate, flowers don't last very long, what do I do?"
Try the gift of mom-lit. Or any great fiction. You'll find amazing Christian authors and their books through my links in the right-hand column. And then be sure to ALSO arrange a little quiet time so she can read. :-)
Pick stories that are uplifting and have some long-lasting inspiration woven among the escapist adventure and humor. You'll be her hero!
Thursday, April 05, 2007
I just got in last night from my week at Mount Hermon, have no voice, over four hundred emails in my box, and a heart full of joy.
Here’s what is so cool. I went to Mount Hermon asking for a few drops of encouragement and some new direction. I went feeling weary, discouraged with myself, painfully inadequate for the work I’ve been doing and still have ahead. I'm blessed with DEAR encouraging publishers and editors and agent, and wonderful, caring friends and family. Yet even with that support, I confront my weaknesses daily as I try to grow as a writer. I was tuckered out and couldn't see beyond my inadequacies lately.
One after another, God led me to conversations, interviews, meetings, classes, deep times of prayer with others, and worship times that spoke to a deep place in my heart. Sometime Sunday afternoon I realized, “I’m me again!”
It was HIS work, because I had TRIED to resurrect some joy or courage but couldn’t. He did major healing in my spirit.
It made the Monday night award that much more special (I was named 2007 Writer of the Year). It was a celebration of a miracle He had worked in my heart all week. I KNOW that my validation comes from Him and not human recognition. But that He chose to give me a precious gift of affirmation like this was a tender treat from Him. He is so very very kind and gentle with me.
I asked for a few drops of encouragement and He gave me an ocean.
He is so good.
The photo shows me with the awesome Reagen Reed - my editor for the Restorer books. She is such a treasure and it was a BLAST to hang out in person with her for the first time.
In my last blog post, I wrote about God's plot twists. How fun that I got to experience one this week!
BLESSED Holy Week, dear ones. He is risen indeed.