I Find You Not Guilty!

MP900385346[1]That’s right. I’m not guilty of indulging in guilty pleasures. I know the evidence is stacked against me, but–

What evidence you ask? Well, let’s see …

First there are the Marvel Avenger movies–I blame this obsession on my husband. He won the four free tickets to Thor in 2011. Thor? Really? Why on earth would I want to watch that? So, wrinkling my nose, I went to the movie … and fell in love. Seriously, ladies, Chris Hemsworth looks very nice up on that big screen. Not to mention, I loved the movie, the story line, the supporting cast, everything about it. Yes, I was hooked, and now I’m a full-fledged Avengers fan. Captain America? Oh yeah. Iron Man? All three movies. The Avengers? Saw it seven times in the theater. Yes, I said seven. That included an Avengers movie marathon that showed six Marvel Avenger movies in one day, including two Iron Man movies, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, ending with a midnight showing of The Avengers. I won’t tell you how many times we’ve watched The Avengers at home–I probably can’t count that high.

Thor The Dark World

Thor: The Dark World comes out in November 2013. Captain America: The Winter Soldier releases in April of 2014. I have to wait until May of 2015 for The Avengers: Age of Ultron. 🙁 Thanks to my husband, I just can’t get enough!

So, is that it for evidence against me?

Movie PopcornWell, not exactly. You see, when we attend movies, it’s a requirement to eat popcorn soaked in butter and sprinkled generously with salt. (You do realize that popcorn is merely a tool to eat butter and salt, don’t you?) Our family even has movie-theater popcorn-eating down to a science. We purchase one refillable bucket and bring four large bowls with us. No reaching across for that next handful, no sirree. (Actually we use large Country Crock containers. With the cover on, it’s easy to shake it, spreading the butter and salt evenly–as I said, we have it down to a science!)

But, naturally, healthy doses of buttery, salty popcorn shouldn’t be relegated to theaters only, it’s also the perfect snack to enjoy during your favorite TV shows like Blue Bloods (the family actually prays together on the show!!!) and Once Upon A Time and Falling Skies. Then there are the new shows coming out this fall that I can’t wait to see that will perfectly satisfy my popcorn cravings: Once Upon a Time in Wonderland and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — Yep, those Agents of Shield are Avengers. 🙂 And, no, I’m not obsessed. Seriously!

You say their’s more evidence that I indulge in guilty pleasures? Hmmph! You’re going for the jugular, aren’t you?

Believe it or not, this has absolutely nothing to do with Avengers, but it is certainly a pleasure. Ever tried Fannie May Chocolates? The Trinidad with its rich, creamy chocolate center, coated in white chocolate mixed with toasted coconut. Then there’s the vanilla buttercream covered with dark chocolate, and the Carmarsh — caramel and marshmallow topped with chocolate. Your mouth watering yet? See, you’d be hooked too!

Then there are good books, quiet time, day trips up the North Shore … Ahh yes, I partake in it all!

So, with all that evidence stacked against me, how was I exonerated, you ask? Let’s just say the jury couldn’t turn down my my 2 Pound Box of Fannie May candy bribe. 😉 Hey, no pointing fingers. You wouldn’t have turned down the bribe either!

(It’s just a good thing the prosecuting attorney never discovered my Lays Sour Cream & Onion potato chip obsession–that might have put it over the top …)

What pleasures are you *not* guilty of?

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Love's AwakeningOn Distant ShoresSince we know most of our Inksper friends have reading on their list of guilty pleasures, we’re giving away a (gently used) copy of Sarah Sundin’s On Distant Shores to one lucky reader, and a copy of Laura Frantz’s Love’s Awakening to another reader. Every time you leave a comment on posts dated September 9, 2013 through September 20, 2013, your name will be entered.
The two winners will be chosen after midnight on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 and posted on Saturday, September 21, 2013!

Three Special Guests

With Marlene traveling more than the Travelocity gnome these days, she asked me to make sure her day to blog was covered. She feared not having reliable internet service wherever she found herself on this fine Thursday.

I gladly accepted the challenge myself given the subject of research because I wanted to share how three authors I know approach their research. If you are a reader, I think you will grow to appreciate their books even more. If you are a writer, I think you’ll admire their devotion to the craft. If you’re both, like me, I think you will enjoy hearing their stories.

Judith Miller

More than WordsJudy’s book More than Words just made #17 on the ECPA Bestseller list! More than Words is the second book in the Daughters of Amana series. When I think of commitment to research, Judy always comes to mind. Recently, I traveled with Judy to Amana for Oktoberfest where we were both signing books. I got to see firsthand the respect of the people of Amana there for her work. We walked into the museum and the curator greeted her by name. That alone says volumes.

I met Judy in April of 2008. She was returning from a trip to Amana for research and it was already her second trip there. She did not begin writing her first book in the series, Somewhere to Belong, until Not only has she made several trips there, she has crate of books and a host of personal sources.

Judy’s attention to details makes her work come to life. She has told me she works hard to get things “right” out of respect for the people who live in the area and the history. “History is a funny thing,” she said. “People in an area feel like they ‘own’ it. If I’m sharing it with the world, I want to treat their history with respect and make sure the details are correct.”

And whether she is writing about the Pullman company, carousel painters, or the Amana colonies, her attention to detail makes the time period come alive.

Click here to learn more about More than Words and all of Judy’s other books. 

Laura Frantz

Morrow LittleI asked Laura to tell us a little about the research she does. Since her first two books are set in the 1700’s, research for these earlier time periods is especially difficult. Laura’s newest book, Courting Morrow Little, released in   Here is her response:

“The very word research involves work . To me it’s like a treasure hunt, unearthing just the right character name in census records for your time period (Ann or Martha, not Daniella or Mystique), uncovering the right medicinal herbs and treatments (ginseng for stamina, sassafras for purifying the blood), digging up archaic fashions (clocked stockings and pudding caps) and exploring old recipes (apple tansy, coffin pie, spoonbread).

My favorite way to research beyond looking things up in books or online is to spend time in the actual setting of my novel. For my purposes, it’s Kentucky, frontier forts, and the hills and hollows there. I’ve discovered that the best research books are often sold at these historic places and they’re often not available anywhere else. I rely heavily on the Draper Manuscript Collection (considered the Bible of frontier fiction for Kentucky and Ohio, etc.) and publications from the Kentucky Historical Society.

All in all, I love research almost as much as writing so it’s really not work to me. If I hadn’t majored in English in college I would have chosen history. A happy day is one that’s half filled with research and half filled with writing (not editing) – and a few Lindt chocolates and Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry!”

Laura’s next book, The Colonel’s Lady, releases in August 2011.  Click here to learn more about Laura’s books.

Sarah Sundin

A Memory Between UsI asked Sarah if she’d share a little about her WWII research for her Wings of Glory series. A Distant Melody was book 1 in that series and  book 2,  A Memory Between Us released in September.  Because Sarah is writing in a more recent time period, she has to be extra careful. There are still people around who lived through these experiences. Sarah gladly sent this:

“I started off with some basic texts on World War II to remind myself of everything I’d forgotten since high school. Man, that was a lot! First I read everything pertinent on the shelves of my local library. I found bibliographies helpful to point me to great resources—some appeared in multiple bibliographies or just had intriguing titles. For free, my local library can obtain books from other libraries in the county, and for a small fee, they’ll locate books throughout the nation—one of my favorite books came from the Library of Congress. Very cool. And some of my favorite books (including a reprint of the B-17 flight manual) came from online historic aviation sites.

Of course the internet was vital. I found great historic maps of Riverside and Bedford, complete combat chronologies of the Eighth Air Force, and oral histories of flight nurses.

For atmosphere, nothing beats being there. Every time the B-17s come to our local airport, I stroll through to smell the oil, feel the metal, and realize just how cramped those men were. I was also blessed with an opportunity to visit England and Germany, and to walk the ground my characters walked.

I have to confess, I have over two hundred books and websites in my bibliography for this series. Yes, that’s sick. I started with basic texts on World War II, then got more detailed. Bibliographies are a great resource—when a book is mentioned in multiple bibliographies, it warrants attention. On the internet I found a company that sells copies of the actual B-17 pilot’s manual and the training film, which were pure gold! For A Memory Between Us, I did lots of research into nursing during World War II, flight nursing, and Army hospitals.” 

Click here to learn more about  A Memory Between Us and Sarah’s next book. 

I want to thank all three of these talented authors for sharing today. What a treat to have you! 

Leave a comment today to be entered in a drawing for a copy of Sarah Sundin’s A Memory Between Us. I just happen to have an extra on my shelf.

Interview with Author Sarah Sundin

We are in for a treat today!  Author Sarah Sundin has come to visit. Her debut novel, A Distant Melody, has received wonderful reviews.

I met Sarah at the ACFW conference last fall. I don’t remember if we looked each other up or just ended sitting by one another, but as two of Revell’s unknown author’s we had an instant connection. She had her arm in brace at the time, and maybe she’ll tell us more about that. 🙂 I was immediately impressed by her ready laughter and she already had her cover with her!

That book, A Distant Melody, has been one of my favorite reads this year. It’s a beautiful love story with several spiritual lessons that combines the details of  WWII, the excitement and realities of  flying B-17’s, and a love story about two people who are not physically perfect in the eyes of the world. Sarah takes her characters to the hard places and brings them back through God’s love.

Sarah lives in northern California with her husband and three children, an antisocial cat, and an overly social yellow lab. She works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies.

Her next book in the “Wings of Glory Series” is  A Memory Between Us and releases from Revell in September. So, without further ado, here’s Sarah.

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Where is the coziest spot in your home?

My family room. Cushy sofa and chairs, blanket and pillows, fireplace, photos and mementoes—oh yes, and my husband, three kids, and yellow lab. Plus, there’s easy access to the chocolate stash in the pantry.

If you could pick a theme song to play every time you entered a room, what would it be?

I guarantee you it would not be, “Sarah, Smile.” I hated that song. It was popular when I was in junior high, and I was very quiet. Everyone thought it was hysterical, absolutely hysterical, to sing it whenever they saw me. “Sa-rah….smi-ile!” Well, what if I didn’t feel like smiling, huh?

A Distant MelodyWho is your biggest cheerleader?

I’ve been blessed with so many cheerleaders. My entire church family has prayed for me and encouraged me through this whole adventure. Also, my writers group and my book club have cheered me on. The journey to publication is rocky and emotional, and I couldn’t possibly have done it alone. 

What is the biggest writing challenge you’ve encountered this past year – craft, career, writing life, etc? How did you solve it?

My writing life. This past year I’ve made the transition from casual writer to professional author. Although I’ve always put a lot of hours into my writing, my mindset has had to change. I also had a few challenges—I broke my wrist this summer, which led to meeting a major writing deadline typing one-handed on Vicodin. Oh yes, and a yellow lab puppy who wants to play, play, play. Currently I’m working on time management, goal-setting, and efficiency.

 What challenges did you face in researching and writing this particular book?

As a reader, historical inaccuracies throw me out of the story, so I wanted my own novels to be as accurate as possible. That meant gobs of research. For example, the heroes in this series are B-17 bomber pilots. But I’ve never flown a plane. So first I read a “How to Fly a Plane” book to get the basics, then purchased copies of the actual B-17 pilot’s manual and the training film (pure gold!), and ran the flying scenes past a pilot friend. Because I love research, one of my biggest challenges was knowing when to stop researching and get back to the story.

How did you and your husband meet?

We met in pharmacy school at UC San Francisco. He was a third year student and was the director of the orientation program when I was a first year. I say he took the position to meet girls. He says I picked him up. The first day of orientation, we had a picnic in Golden Gate Park, and he was wearing a UCLA T-shirt. Since I was also a Bruin, I introduced myself. Both of us had decided we weren’t going to date that year—for different reasons—but God had other ideas. We were married two years later.

A Memory Between UsWhat scripture has touched or spoken to you lately? Or do you have one you hold onto?

John 15:5 is my theme verse right now: “’I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing’” (NASB). Learning to abide in Him is a lifelong lesson for all of us, but He’s impressed it on me lately. Everywhere I look, this concept and this verse popping, a sure indication that the Lord wants to get my attention.

CONTESTS AND WINNERS AND INTERVIEWS . . . OH MY!

Just a quick note to announce the winner from our giveaway! The winner of her very own copy of Kaye Dacus’ recent novel A CASE FOR LOVE is Jaclyn!!  Thanks, Jaclyn, for reading and commenting! Hope you visit OFTEN!

A Distant Melody cover_sm

And an important announcement! This Thursday, April 29, Author Sarah Sundin will be our special guest!  Be sure to stop by and check out another great author interview! Her new release, A DISTANT MELODY, is book one of her WWII series, Wings of Glory!

Have a great weekend, and look for a new topic next week – Navigating the potholes on your writing journey. Visit with us, tell us about YOUR journey, and hear about a variety of potholes, a variety of roads, and a variety of takes on something that means a lot to the ten writers on Inkspirational Messages.

See you soon!

Hunkilicious Heroes

When was the last time you had to wipe the drool off the page as you were reading? You know, an author creates a hero with so much hunkiliciousness that he sends you into a dreamy swoon?

Not too long ago, I read about these heart-stopping heroes on a couple of other blogs. So, for the next two weeks, we here at Inkspirational Messages want to examine some heroes in some favorites reads who wear the “hero” title better than most. What made these not only win the heart of their lady, but also of the readers? Are there any magic qualities? Perfect formulas? We’ll talk about some qualities that stood out to us.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Did the title above bring strains of  Aretha Franklin’s hit song to your mind? I doubt  it was the first thing you thought about when the subject of “heart-stopping” heroes came up. But if you’ll hang in here with me, I hope to show you why I think this is one key ingredient in making a masculine specimen on the page worthy of admiration.

Not long ago, when a couple of us gathered for lunch, Mary Connealy and I were talking about raising daughters. She has four (all grown) and I have two (not grown). She said she told her daughters to make sure they married someone they could respect. That brought to mind a lesson I had at Christian college based on Song of Sololmon. (Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, but it was a great class.) Our instructor told us, “Solomon was respected by everyone; not just one love-blinded female.”

A Distant MelodyBut what does this have to do with heroes that make your heart sing? I think when an author creates a character that the reader can respect, he or she has provided the basis of making them a hero we’ll love. Recently, I’ve been reading Sarah Sundin’s excellent book, A Distant Melody. Walt, the hero, isn’t the best looking flyboy in the fleet and he has his flaws, but he’s a man of character. You can’t help fall in love with that. Even when a decision is personally painful to him, he makes the right choice. This kind of honorable character makes him as swoon-worthy as any James Bond.

Along with that, others respect Walt. His friends speak well of him. It leads the reader to think, “Hey, if they trust him, so can I.”  

While sometimes the respectability comes from character, other times a book develops it by focusing on a character’s outstanding ability in their field. While I can’t think of a book right now like that, the character “House” is a perfect example. You don’t have to like house or even want him as your doctor, but you can’t help but respect his abilities.

Now it’s your turn. Can you think of any other books or television shows with heroes you found you respected? What about them did you find respectable?  And what do you think about encouraging your daughter to marry someone they can respect? Is the respect of others a reliable gauge? Let me know what you think. I’ve still got two daughters to raise.  🙂