Goodness!!!!! It has been a busy, busy, busy week or two. Last week I taught two camps and had rehearsals several days, so it was crazy. Plus, I'm supposed to have a draft of Book 3 in to the publisher by August 1st.
At any rate, I mentioned I was going to be on That Literary Lady's blog talk radio show. It was a lot of fun, actually. She was a delightful hostess and the other guest didn't make it, so I got the whole 30 minutes.
If you want to hear the interview, it's available right here.
I'm excited tonight to be on That Literary Lady's radio show! Tune in to the URL at the bottom of the photo to join us. You can call in to join the fun at the number on the picture as well.
One of the things I really like about the internet and social media is that I've been able to meet some wonderful, wonderful people all over the country. Over the years I've met people I have come to consider friends--even though I've never actually spoken with them in person. One of these friends has just published her debut novel and I am so excited for her!
It's been an insanely busy few weeks and I have enjoyed reading this book at night to unwind a bit. Here's the cover blurb:
Kate Sinclair wasn't planning on inheriting her family's 100-year-old farmhouse. She wasn't even planning on going back to Rose Creek. But when her aunt unexpectedly passes away, leaving her the house, she finds herself forced to confront her past, including the family she hasn't spoken to in years.
When she finds a journal belonging to a distant ancestor in the attic of the old house, she begins a journey that reconnects her with her faith, her family, and herself.
But trouble looms. Kate's new love interest, Andrew, has a past full of secrets. And the state department of transportation wants to bulldoze the old farmhouse for a highway project. Will Kate be able to see through Andrew's past? Most importantly, will she find a way to save her house and hold onto the fragile threads that tie her to her family?
Jenny has a warm, engaging voice and is particularly gifted with setting. The house almost becomes a character because it is described in such a beautiful way. The same with the location of the story--I very much felt that I was there.
The book is a clean romance and is geared towards Mormon female readers, but there is more to the book than the romance, describing as it does the protagonists spiritual journey and conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The theme of family, particularly family history and inter-generational relationships, resonates through this book.
Jenny was kind enough to answer some questions about her work:
1. What inspired The House at Rose Creek? The novel is about a woman named Kate who finds an old journal in the attic of her family’s century old farmhouse that was written by her great grandfather four times over. I actually wrote a short story about the grandfather first then Kate’s story evolved from there. I love family history and I love the idea that the things we struggle with, the human struggles that we endure are the same, no matter the century we live in. The book is about romance and conversion, but it’s also about that family connection that we have to our ancestors.
2. How long did it take you to write The House at Rose Creek? When do you write? I have six children, so finding time to write is never easy! Mostly I write late in the evenings or early in the mornings. Sometimes I’ll find little snatches of time during the day, but it’s rare. I’ve learned not to stress when days go by and I don’t have time to write at all, but I’m happier when I get to write a little, so I try pretty hard to stay consistent. The House at Rose Creek took me three months to draft, then another six months to edit and revise.
3. Is there a sequel? There isn’t a sequel, but my second book takes place in the same mountain town, and has a few characters in common. If you don’t read the first one, the second one can absolutely stand alone. But if you do, you’ll enjoy getting a little update as to what Kate is up to after her story is over.
4. Is Rose Creek a real place? YES… and no. Though the name is fictional, everything about the town, from the mountains to the description of Main Street really is an accurate description of my hometown here in Western North Carolina. It was much easier describing a place that I know and love so well.
5. Kate experiences quite a bit of opposition when she decides to join the LDS Church. Is this based on real experience? Absolutely. I grew up in Western North Carolina, as one of the only Mormons in my entire high school. Nearly every conversation that Kate has with her family in regards to her conversion were influenced by real conversations I’ve had with others. In many ways, things are much better now, even than they were fifteen years ago, but there are still a lot of misconceptions about Mormons and what they believe, particularly in the South. Conversion is a different experience here, when there is so much religious feeling that exists already.
Jenny Proctor was born in the mountains of Western North Carolina, a place she still resides and considers the loveliest on earth. She hikes to spend time with her family, runs because her love for food requires it, and writes because it keeps her calm in an otherwise crazy world. She believes that life in the south has a certain flair to it--and works to capture that flair in her novels.
I got a little sick late last week and dropped the ball on the blog tour updates, so I'm a little behind.
Today, Jinky was kind enough to say: " . . . you cry, you smile, and you're promising yourself to read the next installment even if it means skipping a meal to pay for it. Truly a beautiful book with an equally handsome cliffhanger." Read the whole thing here.
Author Dorine White also had a perceptive review. I appreciate her thoughts because her review of The Kindling actually helped me improve Penumbras): "The story ends with a cliff hanger that will have readers wanting book 3 right away. 4 Stars!" Read her whole review here.
Another authorial review came from Rebecca Jamison: "Penumbras has a balance of action, romance, and character growth." Read Rebecca's whole review here.
Andrea, at Literary Time-Out said: "I found myself very emotionally involved-I even cried a few times!" Read the whole thing here.
And, my friend Julie Ford was generous enough to say : " I can’t remember the last time I read a sequel, or second installment in a series that I can honestly say is better than the first. Now don’t get me wrong, the Kindling is great, which makes the fact that Penumbras is better all the more exciting." Read more here.
Since the publication of Penumbras. I have received two questions repeatedly. The first is about the ending. I blogged about that here. The second question is about Lexa. Specifically, when did she become a drama queen.
That is a good and perceptive question, and there are a few answers. First of all, I teach middle school. And having fairly sudden changes is pretty normal. That happy, bubbly 6th grader can turn into a brooding 7th grader almost over night. But beyond that, Lexa has always had some dramatic tendencies. For example, there was a fight she and Melanie had in the beginning of The Kindling when they were trying to decide what to do about the teachers following them—I think that suggests or foreshadows the more dramatic incidents in Penumbras.
The thing about Lexa is that she is extremely dramatic. She lives her life in very vivid emotional terms--she is hot, or cold, high, or low, ecstatic, or discouraged--there isn't that much gray to her. In The Kindling, she was always extremely excited. She talks in long sentences without pausing much. In that book, she had just finished playing the lead in the school play, and everything about the Magi world was new and exciting—most of the time, things went her way.
In Penumbras, however, things start not going her way and so her mood shifts. We've all had times when we've perhaps over-reacted. And she doesn't mean t0 be a drama queen. She just feels things very strongly, and sometimes her responses are not carefully thought out because she's such a spontaneous person.
I will say that she’s very sorry for that now. Those last few chapters really put her through the ringer. Much of Book 3 is about her not only feeling remorse, but trying to fix some of the mistakes she made. In fact, in my own mind, Book 3 is called "The Redemption of Lexa Dell." That won't be the title--just how I see it.
Yesterday ended up being crazy so I didn't get to talk about the stop on the blog tour. Lara, from Overstuffed was kind enough to take a chance a year ago and review The Kindling. Fantasy wasn't really a genre she loved. But she did anyway. And now, here we are a year later and in her review of Penumbras, she gave me possibly the best compliment I've ever received: " I highly recommend this series--both for you and your children! It's absolutely delightful. And, of course, I am waiting with great anticipation for the next intallment. I'd even be willing to stand in line at a bookstore dressed up as Dr. Timberi if it meant I could read it faster."
Lara's a perceptive critic--go see the rest of what she has to say here.
Also, today there are two features. First is an interview with author and Irish Dancer Extraordinaire, Christy Dorrity. You can go visit Christy's website here.
Finally, Heather at Nightly Reading also did a feature. You can visit her here.
Today there is not one, not two, but three reviews on blogs! How cool is that?
First up is the multi-published, multi-tasking Rebecca Talley! She was kind enough to say:
"Penumbras is an engaging read for everyone. It targets middle-school readers, but I found myself cheering for the characters. It also has some tender scenes that made me teary, especially at the end. There's plenty of action and some intense scenes as well, but I loved the relationships between the characters and their growth." Read the whole review here.
Next of all is Shauna, who was wonderfully enthusiastic! She said, "Oh I really, really, really like this series! And so will you! Fun, magic, mystery, danger, darkness, goodness, light, friendship, action and adventure...it's all in there! And OH. SO. GOOD! I couldn't put it down!
Just as good as the first book!"
Read the whole review here.
And, finally, is Cathy who wrote a thoughtful review and also posted an interview. If you are wondering where in the world the title came from, you can find out there. Cathy said, "I LOVE this series. It's the perfect series for kids in the Middle grades, there's action, adventure, and even a touch of love. The characters in these boks are so well-written they feel as though they could be your best friends. I love the way that they are individuals and that they face natural consequences for the way that they act and treat others." Read the whole review here.
Thank you to Cathy, Shauna, and Rebecca for letting me stop by!
First of all, thank you, thank you, thank you, for the response to Penumbras! The feedback I’ve been getting has been so kind and generous. That means a great deal to me. I really enjoy and appreciate the emails and reviews.
I’ve noticed two recurring themes or comments in the feedback I’ve received and I thought it might be worth addressing those two things. The first theme is the ending, and the second is about Lexa becoming such a drama queen.
I start with the ending first. I know it leaves things hanging. And I’m sorry for that. I really am! I thought long and hard about ending it where I did. I didn’t want to be coy or too clever, and I didn’t want to be disrespectful to the reader. When you invest the time to read a book, I think the author has a responsibility to treat you in a courteous way. And I know that sometimes cliffhanger endings can feel like just a cruel way to get you to buy the next book.
That definitely was not my intent! Cross my heart. I spent a great deal of time thinking about the ending. In the final analysis, I stopped where I did for a few reasons, some artistic and some more mundane. Let’s start with the mundane. The publisher gave me a word-count limit for this book. They are constrained by the cost of printing, shipping expected sales, and other details.
So, that gave me some parameters. I have a certain amount of story to tell, but I have to fit that story into a particular serving size. I could have ended it in two other places. One would have been right after the fight in the theatre with Lady Nightwing and (what I hope was) an important revelation. Originally, that was the ending. However, upon reflection, I felt like that was too abrupt. There was no closure at all—not in terms of plot and not in terms of emotion. That really felt disrespectful to the reader.
The other option was to end it after the summer at Mockingbird Cottage and maybe spend more time developing the training and Conner’s new powers. I thought about that for a long time. A long, long time, actually. But with that option, the seemed to run out of steam. And, then came an even bigger concern: Book 3. I thought about all the things I still had to cover in Book 3, and I realized that I couldn’t finish the story if I had to include everything that is now the last part of Penumbras.
So, based on these parameters, I wrote what is now the last scene. I felt like it was important to show that Lexa had learned some things. She needed a chance to start to redeem herself, and I needed to show that she and the others were starting to come back together after being a bit estranged. I felt like this ending at least resolved the immediate chord, so to speak, with many of the characters, although there is clearly a big question left to be answered. But I tried to make it so that there was a bit of emotional resolution.
I have been asked many times already if there will be a Book 3. Yes. There will be. I think it would be extremely rude and disrespectful for me to leave it here and not provide closure. I am working on Book 3 now. Ultimately, the publisher will have to decide if they want to publish it and I don’t have control over that. But if they choose not to, I will pursue other options. Even if I just put it up on my website—I won’t just leave you hanging!
I appreciate, more than I can say, your support and patience!
The other question I’ve had is: “When did Lexa become such a drama queen?” That is a valid question. And I will answer it. But this post has already become longer than I thought, so I’ll do it in another post.
I had a lovely interview and review today with Melanie over at Mel's Shelves! She asked some great questions and you can find out about how much of these books are based on my real-life job as a middle school teacher, among other things. Melanie wrote a great review and said:
"I enjoyed The Kindling but I absolutely loved Penumbras!! We've met the main characters and have seen them interact with each other and now they're getting the training they need. Conner and Melanie like each other and Lexa and Melanie are best friends so they each have a lot of emotions to work through. It's not smooth sailing for any of them and we certainly see some flaws. I liked that, though, because it's very realistic." Read the whole thing here.
Yesterday was kind of crazy with theatre camp and also rehearsals for the fall musical--so I didn't get to talk much about the blog tour. So, with a review yesterday, and a review, and an interview today, there is lots to talk about!
Yesterday's review was one I enjoyed because Rebecca picked up on some of the non-magical themes in the book: "[Penumbras] shows some of the issues teens face, even without having magical abilities, and the process of dealing with disappointment, turning like into love, and feeling left out." Read Rebecca's full review here. The cool thing is that Rebecca just got a contract on a book--so she'll be having her own debut novel soon
Today's review comes from Paula at Community Bookstop. Paula was kind enough to review both Penumbras as well as The Kindling and to name both as "Favorite Reads of 2013." Paula said, "What an incredible story with so much going on and the ending was incredible such a major twist to the whole story! I really can't wait to see what book three will have."
See Paula's full review here.
Finally, the Cover Contessa, was kind enough to interview me and she's sponsoring an e-book giveaway of Penumbras! She asked some great questions that made me think. I hope you like reading them too! And, don't forget the special e-book giveaway at her blog. See the interview here.
And, of course, there is the $50 Giveaway. You can join here.
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