Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Apparently I Told the Story

I gave the full edited MS of SEASONS IN THE MIST to my crit partner Janny over the weekend. Mind you, she's seen pieces of it as it's grown, but never the full.

I'm tearing up now, because here is her assessment of the part she has read so far:

"...your characters have a relaxed sense of humor that shines through; I think that many historical romance writers are so cognizant of the necessity to put in crackling sensual tension that the characters almost end up being too intense and focused on those things, to the exclusion of being balanced human beings (unbalanced, unrealistic human beings in romance books? Surely I jest!).

"And, of course, because there's a spiritual content to yours that is more straightforward and wholesome than secular medievals tend to have, the entire world and the people in it 'hang together' better. One temptation that contemporary writers always have to fight is the tendency to forget that their heroines cannot be modern women in costume dramas--they have to sound, as much as possible, like women of that time WOULD sound, act, and yes, even think. This is hard for most of them to do, especially in the area of faith, religion, and/or the Church.

"In that sense, your characterization of Michael is especially wonderful--he balances the hard (and sad) reality of clerics who don't do their jobs and/or aren't educated properly and/or are lazy against the spiritual reality that, in fact, this is all the people HAVE and that no servant of God is gonna be perfect anyway. There's an almost tender regard he has for the human weaknesses of the priests and other clerics in this book that I think would ring much truer to the time period than the more cynical, jaded, or sarcastic viewpoints that so often show up on the part of characters in other medievals. In that sense alone, you've already risen above the crowd.

"And it goes without saying that as a Catholic, I'm thoroughly sick of reading contemporary liberal anti-Church speeches coming out of characters who wouldn't have made those speeches in the times in which they lived. You not only stayed out of that trap, but you made the character come alive as a man of faith as a result. To which I can only say, 'Brava!'"

As I say, this gets me, like, all misty. I've aspired to something and apparently in my crit partner's eyes, achieved it. All glory to God. This is a story I've wanted to tell for years, and it seems to me a very wondrous and humbling thing that it'll be coming out to the world in general.

If there's a point to this post is: they say, "Write the book of your heart," and it's true. I was told this piece would never sell. I put it away assuming the industry was right and I was all wet, that it would never find a home and I alone would travel this road along with my characters. I guessed wrongly. A most humbling thing.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Interview with One of the Up-and-Coming

Just when you thought it was safe to venture back onto my blog...

Another entry!

Today we're chatting with rising author Lisa Lickels. I posed a few little questions:

Deb: Want to tell us the title of your new book and what it's about?
Lisa: The title is MEANDER SCAR. Tag line: Love can heal even the deepest scars... Just when Ann is ready to move on with a new love, she learns the truth about her husband's disappearance.

Deb: What makes your book stand out?
Lisa: Besides the title? LOL. There's the idea of what happens to all those people who go missing and are never found, tied in with an over-the-top wonderful young man in love with his former next door neighbor lady, outrageously dysfunctional family life...a boatload of generational issues to address. My theme is "what makes a family?" I held my husband's youngest brother, then a USC psychology professor, hostage on a car trip in California to discuss the topic. Then I plotted the book while sitting at a picnic table in Yosemite while they bonded, crawling around on rocks.

Deb: What a visual! If you weren't writing in your current genre, in which would you write? And why?
Lisa: I'm not currently having that issue, as I have yet to discover what genre I'm really supposed to be writing. As a historian, I should like writing historicals, but I don't. As a HUGE Anne McCaffrey and Star Trek and Star Wars fan, I might consider writing fantasy/SF, but the thought scares me to death, even though I'm often told I live on my own planet. I'd like to move toward the literary side of life, but don't tell anyone, 'cause nobody wants to represent or publish literary as it doesn't sell and only gets Pulitzers. MEANDER was supposed to be more literary, but they made me change the ending, except for the last line.

Deb: If you could grow up to write like someone else, who would it be (i.e., what writer do you most admire)?
Lisa: Me, looking toward the ceiling, "May I never grow up, please, God." I adore Ray Bradbury who also happened to publish the best book of the twentieth century in the US.

Deb: Were you born in the right century? If you could pick another era, which would you choose?
Lisa: I think I could handle being a pioneer woman, except for slitting the goat's neck and things of that type (Cold Mountain reference) and butchering, but I guess I'd have to get used to it, since vegetarians didn't do very well over the harsh prairie winters. And not being able to vacuum cobwebs would kinda drive me nuts, but that's why God made brooms and low ceilings in soddies.

Deb: Describe your ideal G-rated romantic evening.
Lisa: Nice meal we make together, well, he grills. Venison in his special marinade. Mushrooms. A walk on the pier at Port Washington as the sun goes down. A turtle sundae at Culver's. A slow ride back through the Kettle Moraine. Listening to Prairie Home Companion and having a beer. Oops, can I say that for "G"?

Deb: Sure! This isn't a stiff sort of blog...Does your book have a heart-thumping hero? What makes him heroic?
Lisa: Oh, absolutely. I have a wonderful fantasy life. Ann, the heroine, thinks Mark's eyes are the color of bluebird feathers in the sunshine (really, the feathers are black unless the sun shines on them), and dimples that probably turn his secretary's knees to pudding every morning. He is still a virgin at age 35 because he thought being married was worth the wait, and he's a great, kind, gentle lawyer. Oh, yeah, and smart - got a full scholarship to Georgetown. And rich. Did I say that already? And has great manners, and drags Ann to church. Sigh. Besides the fact that he's not really much of a Plan B kind of guy, he might be perfect.

Deb: Sounds heavenly. What's your next project (the one you're either currently writing or canoodling)?
Lisa: I'm pretending to work on the third book of the Buried Treasure (or Judy Winters if you've seen it on Amazon) cozy mystery series that no one wants since Heartsong Presents: Mysteries folded. Actually I'm about 2/3 of the way through the draft. Also I'm editing another romance with some great suggestions from some new friends. THE LAST DETAIL was originally written a couple of years ago to pitch during Heartsong's wedding year, but I had to kill someone. Heartsong doesn't really approve of that bumping off characters, so I rewrote the thing for a couple of other markets who still weren't taken with the body count. Now I'm just rewriting it like I always wanted it to turn out and we'll see what happens.
"Can real love survive a tumultuous courtship and marriage between a business woman and a busy pastor? Amalia, a sheltered young woman, and confirmed bachelor missionary Merit learn to accept God’s interference in their plans when he throws them together in an unlikely romance."
I'm also tinkering with a story line I pitched at a conference a couple of years ago. My local crit group likes it. I'm really gonna get stuck writing romance, aren't I?
Oh! Except for the radio drama series I'm writing for FreeQuincy Radio Theater. "As the Neuron Turns," a radio soap opera, will be out on Podcast in the fall. We're recording the vocals now and doing sound effects over the summer. Sometimes I can't believe myself.

Deb: Wow! And I thought I was busy! Where can fans buy your book, and in what format(s)?
Lisa: MEANDER SCAR releases on February 15 from Black Lyon Publishing. It will be available in print and e-book formats, including Kindle. The first chapter is posted on my website for your previewing pleasure. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Fictionwise, and will carry the book.
Author: Lisa J. Lickel
ISBN: 978-1-934912-23-2
Price: $16.95 paperback
Price: $8.00 Ebook (PDF format)
Pages: TBD paperback

Deb: Sounds great. Do you have a blog and/or website of your own?
Lisa: Sure do.

Lisa, thanks for a fun interview. MEANDER SCAR sounds fun and different.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

For You, Part Two - Another Book Review

Yes, I know...what's Kinnard about? TWO in a WEEK?

Yes. Get a lawyer.

Today's confection is Betsy St. Amant's A VALENTINE'S WISH (Love Inspired, Feb. 2010, ISBN 978-0-313-87581-8). And for all you FTC types, I bought this book with my hard-earned, so there.

A VALENTINE'S WISH tells the tale of Lori -- broke, unemployed and boyfriendless as V-Day approaches. It's Andy's story also, a youth pastor who's told by his church board that he'd better look for a wife toute suite because of another local youth pastor's scandalous conduct with one of his young flock.

How do they meet, you ask? Oh, don't worry, they're already best friends. Though for some couples this is an easy slide-in to True Love, for this pair it's anything but. Andy's gotten used to seeing Lori as a pal. Lori's accustomed to being the Invisible Woman as far as romance is concerned. These two have a bit of heavy sledding before arriving at Hearts and Flowers Bliss!

Ms. St. Amant has crafted a tale that reads as slick and smooth as some of those chocolates her heroine's been consuming. (Though Lori does gain 4 lbs. during her work at a candy store, never a zit to be seen! It's not fair!) The book is a treat for the reader and will go down as easy as Cadbury's Royal Dark. Though I don't often buy Steeple Hill, this one is the exception sort of book that always catches me as a pleasant surprise.

Five stars.