Friday, August 29, 2008

Fantasy Fiction Book Tour - 2008

I'm getting SO excited about hanging out with seven other wonderful Christian fantasy authors! October 3-12, we'll be traveling from Canada through Seattle, Portland, down the west coast to the L.A. area and finishing in San Diego.

Here's a taste of the fun we'll be having!

Hope to see you there!

Sharon Hinck
Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction Tour 2008

Saturday, August 23, 2008

If I Were In the Olympics

I love the Olympics.

I'm not a huge sports fan, but when the Olympics roll around, I'm riveted.

As a former choreographer, the gymnastics thrill me . . . and rhythmic gymnastics. Oh, and the diving and its artistry . . . and for that matter the grace of pole vaulting and the beautiful strides of the runners.

But I also have bitten down my fingernails in the past days of viewing. The tension drives me crazy. The years and years of sacrifice and training that come down to, in some cases, a few SECONDS of performance. The danger as athletes crash from the high bar or slip on the balance beam. The pressure.

Gets to me every time.

I decided that if I were ever an Olympian, I couldn't be in any sport where a hair-breadth mistake means ruin. The track and field dashes, the swimming sprints. I'd want to know that if I were a bit slow off the block, I could still make it up somehow.

I also couldn't work with props. No relay batons for me. Way too fickle. And apparatus like uneven bars or rings? Not for me. Hurdles? I just know they'd jump up and bite me.

Team sports have always been a problem for me, because I'm terrified of letting others down--which always tended to paralyze me when the kickball was heading my way in third grade recess.

Come to think of it, I'm not good with anything flying toward me - so that leaves out basketball, volleyball, soccer, even ping pong. I tend to duck and close my eyes.

Rowing looks tranquil in the midst of the grueling hard work - but I'd worry about tipping the boat over or dropping my scull.

I also wouldn't want my fate in the hands of subjective judging. Someone on a panel blinks while I'm sticking my landing after a tumbling pass, or doesn't notice my competitor's bent knee in her lay-out back handspring, and I miss the bronze by a tenth of a point. Too heartbreaking.

I suppose if I were in the Olympics, I'd want to run the marathon . . . just me and the road and plenty of time to overcome mistakes. But since I can barely jog around the block, it's not going to happen.

So instead, I'll say a thank you to the gifted men and women who give me a jolt of inspiration each time the Olympics roll around.

I'm in awe of all the athletes willing to take those risks and show us what dedication and sacrifice can bring to innate talent.

And I'll breathe in the lesson they teach me as I ponder Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

If you were in the Olympics, what event would you compete in?

Sharon Hinck

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Book Cover Contest

I think that the cover for Stepping Into Sunlight is a great example of the amazing work by the artists and designers at Bethany House.

Right now, the cover of Stepping Into Sunlight is up at Stepping Stones Magazine which is running a contest for book covers.

Be sure to check it out, take time to look at ALL the beautiful entries - and you can vote for your favorite (the instructions are on the contest page.)

Also, please email me through my website if you would like some bookmarks for yourself and friends. They feature a design based on the cover and are also works of art. :-)


Monday, August 18, 2008

Welcome for Book Groups reading The Restorer

If you are part of a discussion group who is reading The Restorer or any of The Sword of Lyric books, this is a personal greeting for your group, along with answers to frequently asked questions.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Unprecedented Author Event !!!

Multi-author Book Signing - Mall of America

What: ACFW booksigning
Who: 127 Christian novelists
Where: Best Buy & Sears Rotundas and connecting hallway, Mall of America, Bloomington, MN
When: Saturday, September 20, 2008
1-3 p.m.
Why: To meet your favorite authors

This is an amazing gathering of some of the top fiction writers in our field, and a fun opportunity to meet the authors, bring your books to be autographed, and celebrate the wide array of genres represented. It's FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

Here's a list of participating authors:

Tamera Alexander
Jennifer AlLee
A.K. Arenz
Diane Ashley
Karen Ball
Janet Lee Barton
James Scott Bell
Joseph Bentz
Terri Blackstock
Robin Caroll
Patricia PacJac Carroll
Jeanie Smith Cash
Eleanor Clark
Debra Clopton
Gloria Clover
Brandilyn Collins
Mary Connealy
Lyn Cote
Kathryn Cushman
Margaret Daley
KM Daughters
Susan Page Davis
Mary Davis
Janet Dean
Megan DiMaria
Brandt Dodson
Lena Nelson Dooley
Cecelia Dowdy
Sharon Dunn
Wanda Dyson
Lynette Eason
Meredith Efken
Leanna Ellis
Sharon Ewell Foster
Miralee Ferrell
Tina Ann Forkner
Darlene Franklin
Jonathan Friesen
Rhonda Gibson
Terri Gillespie
Debby Giusti
Beth Goddard
Cathy Gohlke
Rene Gutteridge
Cathy Marie Hake
Kelly Eileen Hake
Karen Harter
Rachel Hauck
Roxanne Henke
Cynthia Hickey
Patti Hill
Sharon Hinck
Joan Hochstetler
Steven Hunt
Angela Hunt
Denise Hunter
Jennifer Johnson
Jenny B. Jones
Golden Keyes Parsons
Deb Kinnard
Julie Klassen
Kathleen Kovach
Harry Kraus
Patti Lacy
Maureen Lang
Jeanne Marie Leach
Tosca Lee
Julie Lessman
Michelle Levigne
Sherri L. Lewis
Elizabeth Ludwig
Christine Lynxwiler
Richard L. Mabry
Sharlene MacLaren
Gail Martin
Debby Mayne
Vickie McDonough
Andrew McGuire
Susan Meissner
Becky Melby
Dana Mentink
Amber Miller
Judith Miller
Sara Mills
Siri Mitchell
Nancy Moser
Janelle Mowery
Elizabeth Musser
Mark Mynheir
Jill Nelson
Mae Nunn
John Olson
Donita K. Paul
Trish Perry
Marta Perry
Allie Pleiter
Cara Putman
Deborah Raney
Sandra Robbins
Paul Robertson
John Robinson
Martha Rogers
Cynthia Ruchti
Gail Sattler
Kim Vogel Sawyer
Shelley Shephard Gray
Virginia Smith
Lynette Sowell
Candice Speare
Kathryn Springer
Denice Stewart
Sarah Anne Sumpolec
Michelle Sutton
Camy Tang
Donn Taylor
Janice Thompson
Cindy Thomson
Missy Tippens
Carrie Turansky
ML Tyndall
Amy Wallace
Susan May Warren
Linda Wichman
Beth Wiseman
Cheryl Wyatt
Kathleen Y'Barbo


Please come out and find me! If you bring a copy of Stepping Into Sunlight to be autographed, I'll have an extra special gift for you (while supplies last). :-)


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Heartbeat of the Home

There is a woman whom I suspect is an angel in disguise.

Her name is Cynthia Ruchti.

Last fall, I met her as I was waiting for the shuttle to the airport in Dallas after a writer's conference. We talked about the writing journey and her eyes sparkled as I shyly told her a new concept that I was playing with for a novel. She instantly "got it" - and encouraged me in my unusual idea.

Then last winter, out of the blue, she emailed and said, "For some reason, God has put on my heart to pray for you today. You might think this sounds weird, and I don't know if anything is going on with you, but I wanted to let you know I'm praying for you."

Very kind; but hardly remarkable, right?

Wrong. That very morning as I read that email, I was about to go to the hospital for an angiogram--and based on my earlier tests, the surgeon was preparing us for the possibility of bypass surgery. I was trying to muster my very feeble courage and her email reminded me that God was very present. (By the way, when they roto-rootered my arteries, they didn't find the expected blockage - hooray!)

I heard from Cynthia again the day before I left for my road trip to South Bend a few weeks ago.
She had read an early galley of Stepping Into Sunlight and sent this email (snippet shared with permission):

“After finishing it, I wanted to press it into the hands of everyone I meet and say, ‘THIS! This is what my God is like! This is where you can find hope! This is what it means to live for Christ even when things are horrifically ugly around you. This is healing. This is what it looks like to hurt and to heal.’ No pious platitudes. Reality Faith.”

I printed out her email and brought it along to help bolster my courage for all the drop-in visits to stores, and the television interview. She didn't know how precious her timing was. She also didn't know that I'd been confronting some intense discouragement in recent days.

Then she did something even more remarkable.

She told me about the magazine her ministry puts out, and asked if she could feature info about Stepping Into Sunlight in the Fall/Winter edition, which will come out in October.


See what I mean about suspecting she's an angel constantly on call to jump in and bring encouragement?

Bethany house created a GORGEOUS page for the magazine.

I got a glimpse of the mock-up for the upcoming magazine, and it's jam-packed with articles and photography and scriptures of hope.

Please check out the website of Heartbeat of the Home. You can also find out if you are in the listening area for her radio program at that site. And you can learn more about the magazine and access back-issues. You can also read some of Cynthia's thoughts on her blog, Splashing in the Deep End.

In the novel Stepping Into Sunlight, Penny is led to do a small step of kindness for a new person each day--as part of her journey toward healing.

Cynthia reminded me again that when we take a risk and reach out to do something kind, God can use us to make a tremendous difference. Pain, discouragement, and suffering feel like overwhelming enemies sometimes, but
God's grace is ALWAYS bigger - and sometimes He lets us be part of offering that grace to others. I'm so grateful Cynthia was a conduit of God's grace in my life through her kindness.

Sharon Hinck

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Day of Vacation

After the busy couple of days of traveling to talk about Stepping Into Sunlight, Ted and I spent a day relaxing before heading home.

The first photo shows a ridge we climbed in a state park near Wisconsin Dells. It felt good to work our muscles a little after all the hours in the car, and the scenery fed our souls.

While up on the ridge, we watched some eagles, and captured this one rare shot from overhead. I think this is the first time I've gotten a picture of a soaring eagle while looking down from above.

We also found a monastery not far from the Dells that had the Stations of the Cross in a wooded setting. We found it and walked quietly along the path, pausing to read aloud the scripture verses and prayerful liturgy at each stop. With a backdrop of tall pines, lush ferns, nearby creek, and solitude, it was a very moving and strengthening experience.

As I pondered the cross that Jesus was willing to carry for me, I prayed for the courage to bear my own little crosses in life with more strength, submission, and gratitude.

Have you ever walked along a trail and felt like the journey was a time of prayer?

I'm so glad that God has put the beauty of mountains, oceans, trees, rivers, flowers and deserts into this world and continues to allow us to meet Him in all those places . . . as well as in cathedrals, churches . . . and our own living rooms.


P.S. - if you haven't found it yet, be sure to check out the Penny's Project blog, where you can join Penny Sullivan (the character in Stepping Into Sunlight) as she seeks to do a small step of kindness for a new person each day.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Stops #9 & #10 - Sharon and Ted's Excellent Adventure

One of the fun things about store visits, was that I spotted many of my friends. T.L. Higley was everywhere – several copies deep with her new book. Katie Cushman was on some key front tables, as was Robin Parrish. Sherri Sand had shelf space with her debut novel at almost every store. Donita K. Paul had long rows of all her dragon books, and Susan May Warren was prominently featured in most of the stores—often on the end of the row. Those are just a few of the examples that had me smiling.

After hours of traffic around Chicago, we stopped in Elgin for one of our last two store visits.

The manager, Kerrie Vujnovich, of the Family Christian in Elgin greeted us with a huge grin and thanked me for coming in. She shared her enthusiasm for the new store’s growth, in spite of challenges of the economy or competing stores. She described herself as an avid reader, and was delighted to get signed book-plates and bookmarks from me. She said there are some fiction readers on her staff who would be thrilled. I felt very blessed to be wrapping up my store visits with this extra-positive experience. Please stop in and visit her!

With one last bag of goodies to deliver, we stopped in at an independent bookstore in Janesville, WI, called BookWorld. A cozy seating area is surrounded by loads of shelves with an eclectic mix of genres. I found quite a bit of Christian fiction (Jan Karon, Bev Lewis, Jerry Jenkins) intermingled with all the other fiction. It was fun to see these voices side-by-side with various NYTime bestsellers. The young clerk told me how much she loves working among books. We both agreed that books are like friends—and spending time in a bookstore is a dream job.

Feeling like I’d done all I could to let a few more retailers know about my books, and happy that I’d offered a bit of gratitude and encouragement for all their efforts, Ted and I headed to KFC for a well-earned supper.

The next day we did a little hiking in Wisconsin. I'll share some photos from our downtime next.


Friday, August 08, 2008

Stops #7 & #8 - Sharon and Ted's Excellent Adventure

We stopped into the Mishawaka Borders store, and had a great talk with one of the managers. They had a healthy section of Christian fiction and he said it does very well for them. In fact, he said they are thinking they may need to begin to sub-categorize by genres within the Christian fiction section, because there are so many books now.

One thing he mentioned echoed something several other retailers had said. “It’s good you’re making visits to stores. You can’t rely on the industry to get your books on the shelves these days.”

I’d heard that message even before my first novel was contracted, and I understand the value of making connections with the folks who do the work of getting my books into the hands of readers. But it does raise the question for me—how do I balance speaking, media interviews, bookstore visits, and office work with my primary calling to write fiction?

Recently I was privileged to hear a top best-selling author speak about marketing. She said she spends about ten hours doing office/administrative/marketing work for each one hour she actually writes. It has clearly worked, and is the right balance for her. But if I did that, at my modest writing pace, it would take me the rest of my life to complete another novel. So I'm still chewing on how God is calling me to spend my hours.

One last stop in Mishawaka, at the Barnes and Noble. One of the staff at the information desk was happy to have me sign the books they had on the shelf. They had a huge section of Christian fiction, and I thanked them for carrying such a great variety.

Tomorrow - ending the road trip on a high note. :-)


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Stops #5 & #6 - Sharon & Ted's Excellent Adventure

After the television show taping, Ted and I headed to the South Bend, Indiana, Family Christian Store. Jacqueline Johnson was so fun and hugely encouraging to me. If you live anywhere near, be sure to stop in and see her. They had the largest stock of my books I’d found so far.

There I met up with Kelly, a teacher, writer, and fan of Christian speculative fiction. She'd heard I was going to be in the area and wanted to meet. That's Jacqueline on the left, me in the middle, and Kelly on the right in the beautiful Family Christian store.

Then it was time to hit the road again. Next stop, Family Christian Store in Mishawaka, Indiana. Marie kindly took time to visit with me. She showed me to the books by me that they had on the shelf, and had me sign the copies. I left bookmarks and autographed bookplates there, too, so if you live near Mishawaka, stop in and ask about them.

Reports on more of my ten stops tomorrow!

Book Tag

A brief interruption to my road trip report, because the awesome Merrie Destafano tagged me for a book list game.

Becky Miller at A Christian Worldview of Fiction listed five MUST Read novels and five Keep Your Eyes on These novels, then she tagged five bloggers who posted her list on their site. They may then add one book to each list but must also subtract one book. Finally they should tag five other bloggers, link back to the person who tagged them, and comment to this post so visitors here know to check out how they may have changed the list.

(Just a note - I haven't read all of these, but I'm passing along Becky and Merrie's recommendations and plugging in one of my own.)


My additions are in bold.

Five MUST Reads:
Demon: a Memoir by Tosca Lee (NavPress)
Broken Angel by Sigmund Brouwer (WaterBrook)
To Dance in the Desert by Kathleen Popa (Cook Communications)
The Restorer by Sharon Hinck (NavPress)
Healing Promises by Amy Wallace (Waterbrook/Multnomah)

Five Keep Your Eyes On These:
Scarlet by Stephen Lawhead (Thomas Nelson)
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson (WaterBrook)
Auralia’s Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet (WaterBrook)
Shade by John Olson (B&H)
The Legend of the FireFish by George Bryan Polivka (Harvest House)

The bloggers I’m asking to post the lists (and make one book-for-book change to each list if they wish):

and since I noticed a couple of these friends were already tagged...I'll add another.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Interview on The Harvest Show

If you've been following my blog, I've been posting about my road trip to South Bend and the great bookstores I visited along the way (which I'll continue with tomorrow). The purpose of the trip was for an interview with The Harvest Show on Friday, August 1, 2008.

Friday morning I was excited to head to the studio. We'd spent about twelve hours on the road the day before, so even after two cups of extra-strength English Breakfast tea, I wasn’t sure I was capable of speaking coherently, but we prayed for God to guide my words.

We found the LeSEA studio and had fun learning about their international broadcast ministry. We sat in the studio while they taped the live show. Because they had some unexpected extra features, they decided to tape my interview after the show, and it will air on August 7th. That was nice, because I had a chance to watch the show, and get to know more about the co-hosts.

Kelly Morgan and Chuck Freeby were as easy to talk to as old friends. At one point, I almost referred to something Chuck had said in a devotional thought during the live show…then I remembered that I couldn’t reference it because my interview would air a week later! Eeek! I caught myself just in time. Ted said it went well, but of course once it was over, I thought of things I wished I’d said. Still, I was able to share my passion for Christian arts, and for the new book.

Here I am on the set of The Harvest show with Chuck and Kelly. Kelly is holding a copy of Stepping Into Sunlight.

During the taping of the live show that day, one of the staff read some email prayer requests from viewers struggling with depression and anxiety, and it reaffirmed to me how many people will be encouraged by this new novel.

I'm so excited for its release, and praying God accomplishes His purposes with this story.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Stops #3 & #4 - Sharon & Ted's Excellent Adventure

Buffeted by some strong wind gusts, and racing ahead of black thunderclouds, we pulled into Rockford, Illinois and stopped at a Borders store. We met a manager, Mike, who talked about some of the books that have been doing well (like Stephanie Myers' books). He also shared how well religious fiction does for them, and we had a nice chat.

We continued toward Chicago and reached the outskirts around 2:30, but even at that time of day, got caught in hours of bumper-to-bumper traffic. We made it to the LifeWay Christian store by Moody Bible Institute, and Ted drove around the block while I went in to meet the staff. Audrey, the assistant manager, showed me her fiction section and was very warm and welcoming, as were Hector and Manny. I discovered we had a lot in common. When I worked at a Christian bookstore, years ago, all my paychecks went straight back into buying things from the store. ☺

Audrey said that keeping the store thriving is a challenge. They can't compete with online prices, or Walmart. But they see their work as a ministry, and care about relationships with their customers.

If you are in the Chicago area, you’ll love the warm welcome of the staff at the LifeWay store. I left plenty of bookmarks with them, and signed bookplates for the upcoming release of Stepping Into Sunlight.

Sharon Hinck

The Secret Life of Becky Miller (2007 ACFW Book of the Year - 2nd place, Lit category)
Renovating Becky Miller
(2008 Audie Award Finalist, ACFW BOTY finalist)
The Restorer
(2008 Christy Award Finalist, ACFW BOTY finalist)
The Restorer's Son (Romantic Times 4.5 stars, Reviewer's Choice Award - Road to Romance, ACFW BOTY finalist)
New Releases:
The Restorer's Journey
Symphony of Secrets

Coming Soon:
Stepping Into Sunlight

Stop #2 - Sharon & Ted's Excellent Adventure

Our second stop on Thursday, July 31, was nearby, at a Barnes & Noble in Madison, Wisconsin.

Amy Rabe, one of the managers, was happy to chat with us. She shared that while sales are going up and down in other categories, religious fiction continues to grow. She was warm and helpful, so if you have a chance to visit the store, be sure to look for her.

Two bookstores in a row. Two gracious managers named Amy. I realized later I should have told them that the heroine in Symphony of Secrets is named Amy!

We continued driving toward Rockford, Illinois when things began blowing across the freeway. We turned on the radio to hear there were severe thunderstorm warnings. The skies got dark but we kept going. We were hoping to get past Chicago before rush hour.

A report on more stops as well as the television interview coming up next!

And stop by Faithchicks where I'm blogging today.

Sharon Hinck

The Secret Life of Becky Miller (2007 ACFW Book of the Year - 2nd place, Lit category)
Renovating Becky Miller
(2008 Audie Award Finalist, ACFW BOTY finalist)
The Restorer
(2008 Christy Award Finalist, ACFW BOTY finalist)
The Restorer's Son (Romantic Times 4.5 stars, Reviewer's Choice Award - Road to Romance, ACFW BOTY finalist)
New Releases:
The Restorer's Journey
Symphony of Secrets

Coming Soon:
Stepping Into Sunlight

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Stop #1 -Sharon & Ted's Excellent Adventure

Thursday July 31st, Ted and I hit the road at daybreak heading from Minneapolis to South Bend so I could do a television interview.

We pulled off the freeway occasionally looking for bookstores – just so I could pop in and say hello to retailers who make my job possible. We saw lots of lovely little towns, but not many bookstores. However, we kept seeing the word “book” as in “Scrapbook.” As Ted put it, “Scrapbooking is alive and well in rural Wisconsin.”

Eventually, with a combination of Mapquest, my daughter's help from home using Google, and a little serendipity, we found bookstores and managed to visit ten different stores on the way to South Bend and back. For the next several days, I’ll feature some of the stores I visited and the great managers I met.

Our first live contact was a Family Christian Store in Madison, WI. The very gracious Amy Oleszek gave me a warm welcome. She showed me the fiction shelves, which had some of my books (hooray!) I asked how the store has been doing, since so many retailers are struggling these days. She said that sales were down a little last winter, and as she prayed about it, she resolved to trust that God is in control. She also began to come in early and walk through the store praying over it. It’s been doing better recently, and she's continuing to trust God. I loved her example of committed service and quiet faith.

The store was beautiful, and I told her that I pray for Christian bookstores often because I know they are more than just stores, but also a place of ministry. Amy agreed. She feels called to be there to answer questions, help people find books they need, and pray for her customers. She also made my day by telling me that their fiction section has been strong.

So if you’re in the Madison, WI area, be sure to stop by and say hello to Amy. I left some bookmarks with her for my most recent book and my upcoming book, so ask her if they still have some when you visit her store. ☺

Sharon Hinck

The Secret Life of Becky Miller (2007 ACFW Book of the Year - 2nd place, Lit category)
Renovating Becky Miller
(2008 Audie Award Finalist, ACFW BOTY finalist)
The Restorer
(2008 Christy Award Finalist, ACFW BOTY finalist)
The Restorer's Son (Romantic Times 4.5 stars, Reviewer's Choice Award - Road to Romance, ACFW BOTY finalist)
New Releases:
The Restorer's Journey
Symphony of Secrets

Coming Soon:
Stepping Into Sunlight