Thursday, April 30, 2009

Two New Jane Kirkpatrick books

It's been such a hard, crazy week, I didn't get a chance to read this new novel by Jane Kirkpatrick, A Flickering Light.

What I have read was beautifully written. Here's a summary.
Returning to her Midwest roots, award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick draws a page from her grandmother’s photo album to capture the interplay between shadow and light, temptation and faith that marks a woman’s pursuit of her dreams.

She took exquisite photographs,

but her heart was the true image exposed.

Fifteen-year-old Jessie Ann Gaebele loves nothing more than capturing a gorgeous Minnesota landscape when the sunlight casts its most mesmerizing shadows. So when F.J. Bauer hires her in 1907 to assist in his studio and darkroom, her dreams for a career in photography appear to find root in reality.

With the infamous hazards of the explosive powder used for lighting and the toxic darkroom chemicals, photography is considered a man’s profession. Yet Jessie shows remarkable talent in both the artistry and business of running a studio. She proves less skillful, however, at managing her growing attraction to the very married Mr. Bauer.

This luminous coming-of-age tale deftly exposes the intricate shadows that play across every dream worth pursuing—and the irresistible light that beckons the dreamer on.
To order it from Random House, click here.

Jane Kirkpatrick's other featured book is Aurora: An American Experience in Quilt, Community, and Craft.

This is an beautiful and interesting nonfiction book about a Utopian community in Oregon in the early 1900's. Here's a summary.
Wrap yourself in a fantastic journey,
a remarkable commitment, and a spare and splendid story

Master storyteller Jane Kirkpatrick extols the beautiful treasures, unknown to a wider public, rediscovered in the Old Aurora Colony of Oregon’s lush Willamette Valley. The people and legacy of Aurora, a utopian community founded in the mid-1800s, will stir your imagination, hopes, and dreams; and remind you that every life matters—that our lives are the stories other people read first.


Unique and treasured quilt pattern variations

More than 100 photographs, many never-before published, from 1850 to today

Cherished stories from Aurora descendants

Rich images of fine crafts from the Aurora Colony and private collections

An introduction by renowned American artist John Houser

Aurora is about the difference every ordinary life can make—and a beautiful celebration of a time and place in which people expressed their most cherished beliefs through the work of their imagination and hands.
To order Aurora from the publisher, click here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Linore Rose Burkard

I thought it would be fun to learn more about the author of Christian Regencies, Before the Season Ends and The House in Grosvenor Square, Linore Rose Burkard. Here's a Question and Answer session with out intrepid author.

Linore, what drew you to writing Regency Romance novels?
Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen books gave me a love for the period, and there weren't any Christian regencies to be found. I wanted to change that.

Where did you find your inspiration for Ariana and Phillip?
I think they're both amalgamations of people I've read about and/or known. All of my characters are very real for me, so I suppose I've had to pull them from the world in some way or other.

What do you think we could learn today from how society operated in the Regency period?
England in the 1800s is a world away from the 21st century. Times have changed, but people haven't. Men and women of the time were concerned with their appearances, their finances, their futures, finding the right spouse, and so on, just as we are, today. How they went about pursuing these ends is where all the difference lies, however, and this is precisely where the interest and adventure opens up for writers; We get to bring to life the means and methods of everyday life and timeless concerns from the regency. It is fun and enlightening as a glimpse into the past, but readers can also identify with the basic human need to be genuinely loved for oneself, no matter the setting or time period, and to be certain of one's convictions concerning life, eternity, and faith. Having said that, it is good to remind modern readers that valuing one's purity can be mainstream, as it was then; or that the struggle to find a true love and a sense that one's life has value, has always been a human issue.

What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
I hope my readers will feel as though they've been transported to the Regency for a good, satisfying visit; While they're visiting, they'll be reminded that God is involved in their life, and that happy endings are possible for everyone.

Any Regency romance is going to be compared to Jane Austen's novels ~ how are your books similar / different?
I don't think most regencies are written with this comparison in mind at all. However, other people say my book is "Austen-like." That is a huge compliment, and one I would love to live up to.

Do you have more Regency novels planned?
Right now I'm working on my third book in the series,The Country House Courtship. I have a few more regencies in mind also, which I hope to have published after TCHC.

Can you give us a sneak peek into The Country House Courtship?
Country House is the third book in the Regency Series, and gives one of the minor characters from the first books her own "day in the spotlight," her own romance. It begins about five years later (about 1818) and sees Mr. O'Brien (a curate, now) to a happy marriage of his own.

Do you ever bang your head against the wall from the dreaded writer's block? If so, how do you overcome it?
I do something else. If I can't write a scene for a book, I can always update my website or blog, or do an article for someone, or answer interview questions. I can't really force a scene when it isn't coming; A real block means I need to think about the story more; that something isn't fleshed out enough in my mind to write it out in a compelling way. So getting busy doing something else is the best thing I can do for the book and for me (rather than beat myself up). It allows me to think about what is missing in the scene or in the character until I can get back to writing it more confidently.

Novelists sometimes dig themselves into a hole over implausible plots, flat characters, or a host of other problems. What's the most difficult part of writing for you (or was when you first started on your novel journey)?
I think for me the biggest challenge was to believe that I could write a novel in small increments. As a mom of five, four of whom are still home year-round (one is in college), having frequent interruptions is a fact of life. Writing takes a concentration so deep so that when I first started doing scenes, I would find myself getting woozy after standing up. I was shocked at the level of exertion it took to use my brain that hard, I guess! It happens less now--I guess I've grown accustomed to it. And I've learned to appreciate those small blocks of time. Ten minutes in a waiting room can yield a part of a scene I couldn't get done at home. Every little bit counts. I don't despise small beginnings. There are times when I'm in a deep level of involvement with a story or a character, and then getting interrupted can break the mood; but I'm getting better all the time at picking up where I left off, no matter how deeply I've got to dive to get back into the character or situation. For people like me with busy households, this is a must-have ability. I believe it can be the difference between making that deadline or not.

How did (or do) you climb out (overcome it)?
If I do get stuck at some point in the plot, I let it simmer in my mind. I also exercise--for some reason, when I am physically active, my brain gets going in a way that doesn't always happen when I'm sitting with my laptop before me. Swimming and doing the treadmill (walking) almost always result in wonderful new ideas I just can 't wait to get on paper. Sometimes, I've even had to stop walking and run to the pc just to get the idea down so I don't forget. By the way, I always pray for the right idea, too. There is no better writer than God.
The second "nifty" way to solve a plot (or other) problem in a book is to let it sit awhile without reading it. When you come back to it after a long enough interval (as long as you can give it) solutions just present themselves. I find the same thing happens to me with crossword puzzles--if I'm stuck, I put it down and when I come back to it--even an hour later--the word is there. So the key is, give yourself permission to take a break.

Some authors report writing 5-10 thousand words a day. Do scenes flow freely from your veins, or do you have to tweeze each word out?
In general, I write more than I need and later have to cut back. I don't use a word count, but I may set a goal of one chapter a day or two chapters for a busy week. Other times, I don't think in terms of chapters at all, just events. I may break an event down into four scenes, say, and so my goal for that day will be to get the whole event on paper. In other words, finish the four scenes. Life changes so rapidly with the children, that for me, a hard and fast writing goal just wouldn't work. And, I focus on results, not time spent. Instead of, "Now I'll write for three hours," I say, "Now I'll have this or that happen to a character, or, 'I'll show a different side to this person." When I have accomplished that goal, no matter how long it took, I feel satisfied, and only then.

Thanks for letting me post this fun Q & A, Linore!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The House in Grosvenor Square - Review

This is the sequel to Before the Season Ends, which is one of my favorite books from the last few years. I loved that book, and The House in Grosvenor Square is just as brilliantly conceived, and brilliantly written, as Before the Season Ends! The last half of the book is so exciting that I don’t recommend trying to read it when you have a limited amount of time! Or when you’re trying to clean up your house because company is coming over, like I did! I simply couldn’t stop reading. Such a fun book.

When the story opens, it is only eight days until the Paragon, Phillip Mornay, marries his true love, Ariana Forsythe. But strange things start happening, making everyone, even Ariana’s aunt, Mrs. Bentley, extremely anxious to get this marriage done! Things go missing at Mornay’s beautiful town house on Grosvenor Square whenever Ariana visits. Then an attempt is made to abduct Ariana. Things go from bad to worse and no one knows who to blame or what will happen next! Will Mornay scandalize himself by the steps he must take to keep his bride safe?

This book will keep you on the edge of your seat, flipping the pages as fast as you can, until the very end! I have to say, I’ve rarely ever felt so attached to two characters in someone else’s book! These characters are so real to me, and I find myself hoping there’s at least one more book starring Ariana and Phillip Mornay. I can’t bear to let them go! They’re just too fun.

As you can tell, I highly recommend this book!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

And the winner of Before the Season Ends is ...

Cheryl! Congratulations, Cheryl. You're going to love this fun romance. I think the sequel is just as fun, although I'm not finished with it yet! Happy reading!

And if you didn't win a copy, you really should get one. I am amazed at how well this author writes the Regency period. The language seems so authentic, not to mention all the wonderful period details. And yet you never feel as though she's trying to regurgitate all the research she's done, the way some books read. Very well done and highly recommended!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The House in Grosvenor Square

Keep commenting to win Before the Season Ends by Linore Rose Burkard.
I just thought I'd let you know that I got The House in Grosvenor Square yesterday, which is the sequel to Before the Season Ends, and it's great! I'm having to read it slowly because of demands on my time, but it's wonderful so far. You really need to read Before the Season Ends to appreciate it, so I want to encourage you to get this book if you don't happen to win it. It is sooooo good and really fun. If you can't afford to buy it, ask your library if they will get it. They will usually buy whatever their patrons request.
Just a thought!
I will do the drawing for Before the Season Ends in a day or two, so don't forget to comment!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Giving Away Before the Season Ends

If you haven't read Before the Season Ends by Linore Rose Burkard, you're missing a wonderfully fun, satisfying romance. It is definitely one of my very favorite books of 2008. And the sequel, The House in Grosvenor Square,

was just released this month! So in honor of the new release, I'm giving away a copy of Before the Season Ends. Here's my review from a few months ago:

Do you like a funny, exciting plot and quirky, memorable characters reminiscent of Jane Austen? If so, you’ll love this story, Before the Season Ends, by Linore Rose Burkard.

Miss Ariana Forsythe, a nineteen-year-old beauty, is being packed off to her wealthy aunt’s home in London to escape an unsuitable match in her little hamlet of Chesterton. Ariana, excited about this new adventure, is also wary of the lack of morality she’s afraid of meeting with in fashionable London. She must guard herself against all the blackguards and rakes, especially the infamous Mr. Phillip Mornay.

Ariana is a delightful heroine, artless and funny and worthy of her sparring partner, Mr. Mornay. The two of them are so good together, I couldn’t help being reminded of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett. The story zips along and never fails to entertain and delight. The author, moreover, has obviously done her research, and the whole thing is full of authentic speech and clothing and descriptions, enough to make you feel you are right there in Regency England.

I thoroughly enjoyed this Regency romance from beginning to end. It’s exactly the kind of story I like to read but rarely ever find. Funny, touching, romantic--I highly recommend it.

Leave a comment if you'd like to win it!