I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Friday, August 31, 2012

Staring Brilliance in the Eye

You stare at the blank page, brain ticking, fidgeting and fumbling with the keyboard.

You hope that within the next moment, something brilliant will come across your mind. 

Five minutes pass, then ten. You think, something better happen soon ‘cause Facebook is calling. Come on brain, you can do this. Wow me!

The truth is, we all want to be brilliant. As Christians, we want to be brilliant spiritually as well. We want our words to so impact someone’s life that they believe that our words came directly from the throne room to their ears.

Here’s where you think I’m going to chastise you for thinking like that.

In some ways, I am.

We all have lived long enough to know, it is not about us, it is about HIM.
That’s true. But…

It’s about us too.

It’s okay to want people’s lives to change because of something we have written. In fact, we should expect it. (God is in our lives and that’s going to spill out into everything we do.)

What’s not okay is to focus on that. To strain and fidget and bawl and fight until our words are everything we dreamed they would be. Writing IS hard. It IS work and we do not belittle what it takes to pour our blood upon the pages. It is right that we should be poured out.

It is not right that we be poured out so we can be brilliant. It is right to be poured out because HE his worthy. His will supersedes my will. His glory must be my focus.

Lee Strobel once told this story at a writer's conference I attended. It's not verbatim but the gist is there.

Two angels are called into the throne room and give assignments to go to the earth and work helping the people they were sent to. One angel was sent to live in opulence in a palace and help the great leader of the house. The other was sent to the gutters to help the poor and destitute. The thing is, neither angel cared which assignment he got, they both just wanted to do the will of the Father. 

Okay so that was completely miniaturized, but the point stands. HIS will, prevails.

If we do His will and seek His glory, we cannot help but be brilliant because it is Christ that will flow through us, untainted by our ego.

The Bible tells us: Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galations 5:25)

Go be brilliant today.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Truth!

Happy Wednesday!

This is Alena!

Have you ever noticed writers typically aren’t the most socially outgoing group?

Especially this one. 

Okay, I love kids and enjoy having them around.  Other than that, give me a laptop, a nice view and a cup of coffee or tea and I’m set.  Best day ever. 

When I found out the next step on my writing journey was to attend a conference.   I was a more than a little intimidated and woefully unprepared.

Was I even ready?

Have to put myself, my baby (aka my manuscript) out there? 

When I found out the cost, I was further taken back.

Was I truly ready to spend the Benjamins? 

Was I serious about becoming a published author?  

Would this really help me become published?

I wasn’t convinced.

But the writer in me kept urging me on.

Do I? Don’t I? 

That pesky voice in my head kept asking questions.

What should I expect when talking to an editor or an agent?

Was I truly ready for this? 


Where can I go to get answers to all the questions I had about writers conferences?

Well I’m excited to say there’s a new book in town, just in time to help those of us attending The American Christian Fiction Writer’s (ACFW) Conference in Dallas, Texas this September – or any future conference, for that matter.

It’s written by best-selling authors Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck, along with the My Book Therapy MBT coaching staff. I’ve had a sneak peek and can tell you it’s to help you be prepared for a writers conference! (Full Disclosure: That may be a self-serving comment since I was one of the writers.)

Here are some of the topics it covers: 

  • Budgeting for a conference
  • Business cards
  • Pitch sheets
  • Choosing the right workshops to attend
  • How to handle yourself at appointments
  • Conference etiquette
  • How to pack for success

To start it off, MBT is offering a free excerpt, when you LIKE their Facebook page (just click).
Alena T.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Weird Thing about Writers...or at least one weird thing

by Teri Dawn Smith

Writers can't exist without faith.

We may not know what we will write next—whether it’s a blog post or the next chapter in a book.  Writers often do not even know what the next book will be about.

 But one thing we do know—we will write something.

God somehow placed it in our genes. The next blog post, the next chapter, or the next letter—it comes to us. In the night. In the early morning hours. In the middle of a conversation. (Pardon us if we suddenly tune you out. We’ve probably had sudden inspiration.)
I’ve even had to pull over on the side of the road and rummage in my purse for pen and paper. Otherwise I might not get that tidbit of insight again.

Recently my brother phoned my mother and asked how I was. I overheard my mother try to explain that I was “working with words.” In truth, I was adding words to my Random Word Box.  It must have sounded strange to my brother—except by now I’m sure he’s used to his sister being weird.

I hope he also saw a tidbit of faith in my heart.

Faith that I will someday need the words in my box.

Faith in the process of randomness.

Faith that the book industry survive.

Faith I can still write.

Faith the Lord will continue to take care of my parents.

My brother never said anything to me about this strange practice his sister has of writing down choice words. Maybe he’s getting used to my weirdness.

Or maybe he just has faith.

How has faith popped up in your life? Are you one of these weird folks who can’t keep from writing? What other strange qualities have you noticed in writers?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fun with Fiction Quotes

Photo credit: stock.xchang
~Melissa Tagg

I'll admit: Every once in awhile a girl just runs out of legit things to say.

Key word: Legit. 'Cause don't get me wrong, I can ramble with the best of them.

But Fridays are "fiction days" here at the MBT Ponderers, and since brilliant thought seems to have escaped me for the moment, I thought I'd steal from others' thoughts. Thank you, Google.

A man's face is his autobiography. A woman's face is her work of fiction. ~Oscar Wilde
My makeup stash fully agrees.

A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction. ~Virginia Woolf 
Amen, sister. I've got the room, but I'm not so sure about the money. I haven't gotten brave enough to pull a bank job yet. Or propose to a wealthy man.

I read the newspapers avidly. It is my one form of continuous fiction. ~Aneurin Bevan 

I object! I have to. I'm a former newspaper reporter.

Truth is so hard to tell, it sometimes needs fiction to make it plausible. ~Francis Bacon 

And this is why I love stories so much. A compelling story can convey truth in an amazing way.

Fiction is about intimacy with characters, events, places. ~Robert Morgan 

I love this because it's exactly the experience I hope readers have with my stories--intimacy. A closeness, a relationship.

Basically, fiction is people. You can't write fiction about ideas. ~Theodore Sturgeon 

This one made me think. Ponder, if you will. :) And I think I agree. Great fiction may spur ideas, it may build new thoughts and even inspire dreams, but people make the story...people are the depth...people, both the reader and characters, they breath life into the story.

Fiction is the truth inside the lie. ~Stephen King
And this is my favorite. 

Any of these quotes stand out to you? What do you think of that last one? Do you know any other great quotes about fiction?

Melissa Tagg

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Step Back in Time With Me...

by Pat Trainum writing as P. T. Bradley

This is Wednesday Friendship day and I want to bring back my dear friend Sandra Robbins so she can tell you about her latest release, Angel of the Cove. She’s been a great encourager to my writing, but let’s get to her new book.

Sandra, this is a fascinating book. Where did the idea for Angel of the Cove come from?

I have always enjoyed studying history. It fascinates me to find out what the world and the lives of the people who inhabited it were like in times past. The Smoky Mountains have always held a special attraction for me because of the rich history from the Cherokee who lived there to the bustling tourist attraction the area has become today.

A visit to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park will give you an insight into the past especially if you take the time to explore places like Cades Cove. Having visited the Cove on trips to the Smokies, I became interested in the people who lived there in the past and what their lives were like in this remote valley deep in the mountains. This interest led me to research more about the families who were forced to sell their homes and farms to the government when the Park was established, and it saddened me to think of how devastating that must have been for those whose families had called the Cove home for generations.

So as a tribute to those hardy people I decided to tell the fictional story of one family who called the mountain valley home. Angel of the Cove is set in 1894 and introduces the characters of Anna Prentiss, the young girl who comes to the Cove for the summer, Simon Martin, the mountain preacher, and Granny Lawson, a mountain midwife.

One of your characters is a midwife. How hard was that to research?
It really wasn’t that difficult to research. The internet is filled with all kinds of information about the birth of babies and about the problems midwives encountered in mountain areas. With the Cove being so remote, the midwives were the most respected women in the community that really seemed more like a big family. They were called granny women or sometimes angels, thus the name Angel of the Cove.

There is one scene toward the end of the book where Anna must go alone to deliver Martha Martin’s baby because Granny has suffered an accident and can’t walk. When she arrives, she finds the baby is breech. I did a lot of research for that scene. Again the internet is a great tool because I found not only descriptions of a breech delivery, but I also found pictures of what it would look like. Even after I wrote the scene, I wasn’t sure if I had accurately portrayed what would have occurred in the event. So I checked it out with an obstetrician who told me that was exactly correct. I think it’s very important for writers to remember there are people all around us who have expertise in different areas. We should never overlook these experts.

I know this is the first of a series. When does the next book take place?

The second book in the series is Mountain Homecoming. It takes place in 1914, twenty years after Anna first came to the Cove. During this period in the Cove’s history, life was changing for the people who lived there. Lumber companies had discovered the vast tracts of timber covering the Smokies, and they hurried to take advantage of the virgin forests. In those days there was little thought to the environment, and the primary logging practice of companies was to clearcut everything in their path. The Little River Lumber Company alone bought up 86,000 acres of mountain land and began an operation that would continue until the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Mountain Homecoming is the story of Matthew Jackson who returns to live in Cades Cove and Rani Martin, Simon and Anna’s only daughter. As they face a changing future, they must also confront the problems of the past. This is a story of God’s faithfulness throughout the generations.

Angel of the Cove is a great example of how we can be so intent on our own desires we miss God's plan. Has there ever been a time in your life when you chose His plan over what your heart wanted? Leave a comment and tell me how it turned out.

Monday, August 20, 2012

It's All About Perspective

Have you ever had one of those mornings when you are trying to herd three kids under the age of 6 out the door in time to only be 10 minutes late to the dentist? My friend had one of those days last week. She finally had the kids fed and dressed and in the minivan and the only thing left standing between her and a free toothbrush and smiley face stickers happened to be a set of train tracks.

As she approached the tracks, the lights started flashing and the familiar warning bells clanged. As she sighed and tried to estimate the length of the train and the number of minutes this translated into, her five year old daughter Ellie squealed and started bouncing up and down in her seat. “Look, Mommy, we get to see a train!"

We GET to see a train.

What for my friend was a common sight, an inconvenience, really, was the highlight of her daughter’s day. She couldn’t wait to tell Daddy about the train. Even the dentist heard about the train between Mr. Suction and the power toothbrush.

How often do we see obstacles as inconveniences or a source of frustration? Writing is a hard road filled with many “trains.” What if instead we chose to have Ellie’s perspective? What if we saw the trains in our path as opportunities, placed there by God Himself?

Can you remember a time in your life where something that seemed to an obstacle was actually a blessing when you changed your perspective?



Image from freephoto.net

Friday, August 17, 2012

Writing with Your Eyes Wide Open

Photo by rrezendes/stockxchng.com

by Beth K. Vogt

“Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas a every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” ~ Orson Scott Card (1951-), American author

I’m writing this blog post on Thursday, August 16, at 3:41 PM (MST). I know this for a fact because I just checked my iPhone, which happens to be smarter than I am.

Since it’s midday, I’ve walked past at least 500 story ideas today – at least in Orson Scott Card’s estimation.

How many new story ideas did I jot down so far?


And yet … as I’ve gone through my day today did I even look for potential story ideas?


So let me mentally back up and scroll through Thursday (so far) and see if I can come up with a few story ideas. Orson Scott Card doesn’t say they have to be great story ideas … just ideas.
Here goes:
Jo, the adorable puppy
  1. My daughter has a new puppy, Jo. She’s adorable. And Jo, in all her cuteness, has this droll habit of picking up pine cones and carrying them in her mouth whenever we go on a walk. So … if I were a children’s author maybe I could come up with a story about a puppy and a pine cone.
  2.  Here’s something straight out of the news: Thursday was the 35th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death and thousands of devotees converged on Graceland to remember the singer. What if I wrote a story about a young woman who was roped into helping her mom get to Graceland to take part in an Elvis memorial … and what if there was an Elvis impersonator involved … Wait. Has this been done?
  3.  Oh, here’s one compliments of USAToday.com: Actress Jenny McCarthy broke up with Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher saying they decided “to turn our romance into an amazing friendship.” Doesn’t that sound like a contemporary romance novel premise?

For the sake of word count (any of the Ponderers will tell you I am a Word Count Counter), I am stopping with three story ideas. But I have to say that Mr. Card gave me lots to think about – and reason to walk through my days with my writer-eyes wide open.

What about you? What story ideas did you miss yesterday? Or what story ideas have you walked by today?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pondering Places ~ Jim Rubart

It's the end of summer's lazy days. It's time to get out of vacation-mode, back on a diet, and buckle down to finish that next manuscript. One fun way to get motivated (yet put off working just a wee bit longer) is to see where other authors write.

Somewhere around thirty years ago, I began a Ponderer "column" called Pondering Places. Anyone remember that? Author Deborah Raney showed us the amazing office where she does much of her writing. You can see it here. (Although, you know, she may have changed it since then. It's been that long.)

I decided today is the perfect day to resurrect Pondering Places. Is that all right with you? Today we have the honor of featuring author (and marketing guru) Jim Rubart.

James L. Rubart is the bestselling author of Rooms, Book of Days, The Chair, and the upcoming release Soul's Gate. When he’s not writing, he loves water skiing with his amazing wife and two teenage sons ,as well as dirt biking, and jumping off cliffs. He’s the owner of Barefoot Marketing and lives in the Pacific Northwest. Visit his online home at www.jimrubart.com.

Jim says, "Our house was built in 1988. The style back then was to have a 20 foot ceiling in the entry way. Think of an elevator shaft. For years I walked in my front door and stared up at what I considered wasted space.

 "I thought, 'What an awesome writing room that would make! All I’d need to do is put in a floor.'

"So I did. It’s a secret room I get to through a tiny door in the back of my youngest son’s closest into our attic, then another small door into my haven."

Jenness says, "How awesome is it to have a secret writing room? Somewhere where you can't see the piles of laundry/dishes...and where they can't see you... :-) Love it."

What do YOU like best about Jim's writing space?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Going for the Gold

By Jennie Atkins

I watched Michael Phelps swim his way to his final victory. Twenty-two Olympic medals to his name. He tested his endurance, he shattered records, and he kept his goal in mind. Did you know the greatest number of medals won by any one person at the Olympics had been 12? He surpassed it by 10. No small feat.

His first races in this year’s Olympics weren’t as impressive, but he kept pushing forward, not letting his mistakes or failures slow him down. He analyzed what he did wrong then got back in the water swimming harder and faster than before.

1 Corinthians 9:24 states: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” That’s exactly what Michael Phelps did and why he’s been labeled, The Greatest Olympic Athlete of All Time.

I look at my life and wonder…am I an Olympic runner? Sometimes I believe I wouldn’t have even made it to the tryouts. Other times, I’m ahead of the pack sprinting to the finish line the goal clearly in sight.

As writers, are we doing our best, practicing, learning as much as we can so we can go to the race and win? Then, as in Phelps case, when he made it to the Olympics, faltering on his first races, do we keep going or do we give up? When we receive a rejection do we stop there, or learn from it? When we get a bad critique, do we throw it into the trash, complaining about the person who wrote it, or do we get over it and press on?

I have written six manuscripts with none of them being published yet. Do I complain? Do I get frustrated? You bet. I’ll be the first to admit my guilt. But when I finally put things into perspective, I go back and reconsider the information I was given and try to learn from it. Try to see if truly my work of art (and I use that term loosely because I know I’m still a work-in-process) is flawed.

I also have faith that God instilled a dream in me and that he wouldn’t give it to me if he didn’t want me to go for the gold and win the race. My prayers are that I am running the race God has given me in such a way as to win His prize. How about you?

What are you doing to Go for the Gold?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Fiction Q & A w/Davis Bunn, Part 2

Heidi here, still trying to stay cool in Spokane Valley! As I wrote in last month’s blog post, I’m a huge fan of Davis Bunn. I also wrote that he had not one, but two books release last month, and I was given the opportunity to be part of his blog tour for both. Today I'm sharing a second Q&A with one of my favorite authors of Christian fiction, this time about his newest release Hidden in Dreams. Released on July 3rd by Howard Books (home of our very own Beth Vogt!) Hidden in Dreams is the sequel to Book of Dreams, but I assure you, it stands on its own. I know this for a fact, because I waited purposely waited to read Book of Dreams, just to make sure!

I literally read this book in one sitting. I could not put it down. The story is captivating, and frighteningly realistic. As a writer, I appreciated the actual writing; Bunn crafted some pretty amazing sentences. As a reader, I loved that just as I thought I had it figured out I realized I was wrong. That doesn’t happen often, and I loved the twists. On a side note, I really enjoyed the Florida background. Specifically Melbourne, Florida. I’ve actually been to Melbourne, where I joined my fellow Ponderers for Susan May Warren’s first DeepThinker’s Retreat

Now. I have to go read Book of Dreams!

About Hidden in Dreams           
Just when the world’s foremost expert on dream analysis, Dr. Elena Burroughs, thinks she is getting her life back under control after losing her position at Oxford University and the man she hoped to fall in love with, she is approached by Rachel Lamprey, the product manager of an innovative new ADHD treatment about to hit the market.

Rachel asks for Elena’s help with a clinical trial participant who has had a disturbing dream foretelling a cataclysmic global financial collapse. But even more alarming is the fact that fifteen people scattered across the globe—including Elena herself—begin to experience the same repetitive, devastating dreams of economic ruin just as one bank crisis follows another, suggesting that these aren’t merely dreams.

As Elena searches for answers in her professional networks, she is forced to form an unlikely alliance with her most vehement critic and is drawn back into the spotlight as the public face of the so-called dreamers. As Elena and her collaborators attempt to discover the dreams’ source, the clock ticks down to devastation. Suddenly, it’s no longer just about the dreams. It’s about survival.

(Read Chapter 1 of Hidden in Dreams here for free!)

Q & A with Davis Bunn 
When you wrote Book of Dreams, did you have plans for this sequel, Hidden in Dreams? 

Two months after Book of Dreams was released, I had the call every author dreams about and yearns for—a vice president of NBC/Universal suggested we discuss the possibility of turning it into a television series. I was put in touch with one of their producers and over the next six months began working up the basic structure of what this program might look like. One of the ideas I found most appealing became the basis for Hidden in Dreams. There is as yet no firm decision about the television project. But it has been a blast to even be considered.

In writing a sequel it’s always a challenge to include enough back story to satisfy those who haven’t read the first book while still making sure the book stands alone. How do you approach this dilemma? 

You’re right, it can indeed be troublesome, but this time it all fell together very easily. The structure just flowed. That sometimes happens, where the story seems to create itself. I wish it was true all the time. I can’t even say why it was such a smooth process with Hidden in Dreams. But there was a sense of impatience about the back story, as though I needed to fit in just a few paragraphs, but I couldn’t allow myself or the reader to be drawn too far from this new story’s flow.

You’re writing about two women in this novel. Is it ever a challenge to write from the female point of view?

Learning to write from a woman’s point of view is very difficult for a male writer, as it usually is for a woman author writing a man’s story. Before I was published, I became friends with a husband and wife team who were both opera stars. The woman often sang a male role in a Mozart opera that was originally designed for a young boy, but which nowadays is usually sung by a woman with a slightly lower range, called a coloratura. 

I discussed my difficulty with her, of trying to make my women sound real. She told me that my trouble stemmed from working on a woman character from the outside. It wasn’t about making women ’sound’ anything. It was all about making the character live from the inside-out.

As I worked on the point of view issue, trying to put my friend’s challenge into practice, I also began going into any meeting with a woman carrying a secret tape recorder, and taping everything that was said. I then went back and wrote out every word. It was perhaps the most boring month of my entire writing career.

But gradually I found that I could ‘hear’ the speech patterns of these women, and reshape them into structures that fitted around what was happening in my stories. And through this exercise, the emotional content that lay behind the dialogue, the person who was expressing herself, became more real, more solid.

And then I met my wife, Isabella. And the process of instruction at the intimate level of a God-centered marriage began to unfold.

Why do you write fiction? 

I became a believer at age 28. Up to that time, ever since graduating, I had been working in international business. I came to faith while working as a consultant in Germany. I started writing two weeks later. Up to that point, I had never picked up a pen in my life to write anything longer than a business report. But I had always been an avid reader. And the moment I started, that very first instant, I had the sense of invitation. It was the first time I had ever experienced that incredible sense of being drawn in a new, divinely inspired direction. 

I wrote for nine years and finished seven novels before my first was accepted for publication. Simply because I had received a sense of calling did not mean I was ready to serve. First the diamond had to be polished. Hard and painful as that was.

What is your goal as a novelist? 

I want to combine a truly entertaining read with a powerful after-effect. My dream is that long after the book is set down with a satisfied sigh, there are still images that surface, lessons that can be drawn, genuine hope and healing and challenges and inspirations. I want my writing to be worthy of the gift.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to give away Rare Earth last month. That means I now have a copy of both Rare Earth and Hidden in Dreams to give away! Check out my Rare Earth Q & A from last month (here) and comment, and all non-Ponderer commenters will be entered to win it. In addition, I will give away a copy of Hidden in Dreams to one non-Ponderer reader who comments on this post. If you comment on both, you'll get two entries for each book! I will draw both names at random on August 24th.

Your turn: Have you ever had a recurring dream? Have you ever had a dream about something that later actually happened?

Legal stuff: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Million Colors

Photo by ariana873/stockxchng.com
By Delores Topliff

Joyce Justice of Portland, Oregon, is my friend and my cousin. Though she lives on the west coast and I’ve seen her seldom since childhood, email keeps our friendship alive. She is truly the most expert knitter I know, a true knit-wit, even recently knitting Britain’s entire royal family.

Her recent report about attending a 2012 Sock Summit with her daughter Eileen contains correlations to life and writing. Joyce wrote:

It was an awesome experience to attend the only sock knitting show on earth. Eileen and I went Friday, although classes and demos lasted for three days. It was well organized with many hundred people attending. I visited delegates from Boston, Salt Lake and Newfoundland, hearing about their projects and classes. Though it was a warm day, many wore hand-knit socks and shawls.” (That sounds like annual national ACFW banquet night when many wear costumes.)

The highlight was the sock museum with actual samples of footwear throughout history. There were 138 display booths from all over the U.S. with shops offering every imaginable color and texture of yarn along with endless knitting patterns, and every imaginable related product.

We learned that the human eye can identify a million colors.

I was grateful for many seating areas to sit and relax.  We especially liked Village Spinning and Weaving in Solvang, California, whose display covered six booths. I found books, tiny size 2 1/2 birch sock needles, and special yarn for two pairs of socks. One will be a light gray heather merino and alpaca blend from Peru; the other has the darker colors of black-watch plaid with a Lurex sparkle of made in Romania.

Though I’m no expert knitter, Joyce’s report made me want to go see all the colors too. Since childhood I’ve tried to describe and name every shade of green—and still can’t finish. The same is true for tints of red and blue -- but even more so for subtle personality variations that differentiate writing characters or real-life friends. There are never any two exactly alike, but all are interesting and delightful.

What about you? Look around today at knitting colors and friends to catalogue their qualities in the accurate, satisfying ways. Have fun.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Celebrate with Us as Author Lisa Jordan Releases Lakeside Family

Hi, Roxanne Sherwood here, and I'm excited to bring you one of my favorite writers and fellow Ponderer Lisa Jordan, author of the newly released Lakeside Family.
In the space of a minute, Nick Brennan learns he has a nine-year-old daughter--and that she desperately needs his help. All this time, his high school sweetheart, single mother Josie Peretti, thought he knew about their child. And that he just didn't care. About the ill little girl--or Josie, the woman he's never forgotten. But Nick made a long ago promise never to forsake his family the way his father did. A promise he vows to make good now . . . if only Josie will bless him with a second chance.
Roxanne: What was your inspiration for Lakeside Family
Lisa: When I wrote Lakeside Reunion, I wanted a fun name for a coffee shop. The phrase “cup of Joe” is common, so I took that and gave it a little twist to create Cuppa Josie’s. So I created the character Josie as owner and operator of her shop. Then I decided she’d be Max’s daughter. Our Ponderer Ginger mentioned she’d like to know Josie’s story, so I pondered why was she a single mother? What happened to Hannah’s father? Then I needed a reason why Josie would have to contact him. Most mothers would do anything for their children, including looking up heartbreakers from their pasts. Pieces fell into place and Lakeside Family came about.
Roxanne: It's interesting to hear how you brainstormed this story. I think every mother can relate to Josie’s dedication to her daughter, Hannah. But thankfully most of us don’t have critically ill children. But one of your readers has experienced Josie’s journey with her own critically ill child and said you’d captured her feelings. How did you manage to get so many details right?
Lisa: I’m so blessed to have two healthy boys. While I don’t know anyone directly with a child who has leukemia, my niece has special needs and physical challenges that have affected my sister. I kind of pulled on some of the heart-wrenching pain she experienced as she worked full-time to provide medical benefits, raced my niece to the ER when she experiences major health issues, constantly staying on top of everything…it’s very tough for parents and their children. Also, as I was writing the end of the novel, we learned my mom needed triple bypass heart surgery. After I saw her in recovery, the enormity of the situation hit me and I had an emotional meltdown in the waiting room. I drew on that pain and channeled it into Josie, especially when we almost lost my mom.
Roxanne: Wow. That's a lot to go through. I'm glad your mom is doing well now. You’ve raised two grown sons and you’re an early childhood educator of preschoolers, yet Hannah’s character, a nine-year-old girl, is so realistic and well-developed. Who inspired her? 
 Lisa: I have a degree in early childhood education so I have a little bit of a background in child development. Hannah’s sweetness comes from my niece who is the sweetest person I know. I watched young girls at church to see how they’d talk and act. Children are pretty resilient, but they still struggle with their own insecurities. I wanted Hannah to be a well-behaved child to show Josie’s parenting, but still have a bit of a tween attitude. Hannah struggles with her own issues, but she also acts as a small voice of truth for her parents.

Roxanne: Why did you choose Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit," as the key scripture for this story?
Lisa: Faith is easy to have when things are going well. But God allows tough circumstances to draw us closer to Him. Josie was a Christian, but she needed hope in knowing God would watch over Hannah and meet her needs. Josie needed to believe God was in control. Josie needed to trust in God. The verse was a perfect theme for my story of hope.
Roxanne: Yes, Josie must learn to trust and to put her hope in God. Authors usually learn lessons of their own when writing their novels. What did God teach you while you developed this story?
Lisa: Shortly before I began writing this book, my husband lost his job due to economic downsizing. We lost his primary pay, his health benefits and the financial security that goes with it. I admit to having shaky faith. A friend sent me a card of a fountain spraying water with Romans 15:13 on it. The card is pinned to my bulletin board by my desk. I needed to trust God to provide for us. Suddenly I became the primary breadwinner. And God provided, in spite of my shaky faith.
Roxanne: Hannah’s life depends on a bone marrow transplant. Should readers get involved in the National Marrow Donor Program?
Lisa: YES! YES! YES! So many aspects of this story were God-ordained. As I began plotting this story, our Ponderer Amy took a job with the National Marrow Donor Program. Then I learned a local friend had just returned home after being a bone marrow donor for a man in France who had leukemia. The more research I did, the more I realized how important it is to step out of our comfort zones and be willing to make a sacrifice for others.
Please please please consider registering to be a bone marrow donor. Visit Be the Match at www.bethematch.org for more information.
Roxanne : What do you hope readers will learn from reading Josie and Nick’s story?
Lisa: I hope readers will understand families are unique. None of them are perfect. Second chances can change lives. Parenting a child with a life-threatening illness or caring for a family member with special needs demands a lot of time, patience and strength. If you know such a parent or person, encourage him or her. Offer to fix a meal. Offer to run errands. Offer to help in some way.
Roxanne: As someone who's been in need, I can second that. Your help will bless that person so much. I loved Agnes, Josie’s feisty best friend, and I bet other readers will too. Will Agnes have a story of her own? If so, can you share any details?
Lisa: Agnes is one of the best secondary characters I’ve written. She’s larger than life and kind of took on a personality of her own. I loved writing her so much that I decided she and Ian James, Josie’s claims adjuster, needed their own story. Ian and Agnes have been childhood friends, and Ian has been sweet on her since the first time the transplanted Texan moved next door. Agnes and Ian’s story will be about restoration and falling in love with your best friend.
Lisa is celebrating Lakeside Family with a month-long party of giveaways, including a Coffee Lovers and Tea Lovers baskets. For more details and to enter the gift basket giveaways, leave a comment here
Thanks for joining us today, Lisa!

Readers, if you have a question for Lisa about her plotting process or would like to know more about her Shelby Lake series, please leave a comment at the end of the post. Lisa is also giving away a signed copy of Lakeside Family to one commentor. 
 Bio: Married 23 years to her real life hero, Lisa Jordan knows a thing or two about romance. She and her husband have two college-aged sons and will be facing an empty nest soon. By day, Lisa is an early childhood educator, and by night, she is a contemporary romance novelist with Love Inspired. Lakeside Reunion, her debut novel, is a 2012 Carol Award Finalist. Lakeside Family, her second novel, released in August 2012. She is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Agency. In her free time (ha!), Lisa enjoys good books, chick flicks, crafting with friends and feeding her NCIS addiction. To learn more about Lisa, visit her website at www.lisajordanbooks.com.