Wednesday, November 07, 2007

In Search of Eden by Linda Nichols - Review

In Search of Eden by Linda Nichols
softcover, Bethany House Publishers
ISBN: 0764201670
448 pages

Linda Nichols embraces the hurt and questions that plague mothers when they give a child up for adoption, in her book In Search of Eden. I found her story full of heartache and hope.

Miranda DeSpain has been wandering through life for 11 years, jumping from job to job, from one town to another. Unable to forgive herself for giving her baby to another, Miranda floats through her life without a purpose. When her mother gets ill, Miranda makes the long journey home to care for her, dreading the thought of taking care of a mother who showed her no love. In the process she uncovers clues to her own past that’s mysteriously linked to her mothers’. A past she never had closure on.

Miranda sets out on a new adventure in search for a baby she never knew and forgiveness she can only receive from her Heavenly Father. What she finds along the way kept me turning the pages and cheering her on in her quest for Eden.

Joseph North keeps his town and family close and protected. Taking his job as a police officer in Abingdon, Virginia seriously, he’s suspicious of a new young woman in town. One that likes to keep to herself and one that he finds himself surprisingly attracted to. His constant questions and her refusals to answer them, come to a head the day Joseph discovers an old picture of his niece, one Miranda treasures with all her heart. . .

Linda Nichols weaves a wonderful story of second chances of acceptance, forgiveness and love.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Courting Trouble by Deeanne Gist - Review/Interview

Courting Trouble by Deeanne Gist
Softcover, Bethany House
ISBN: 0764202251
336 pages

Deanne Gist’s Courting Trouble made me laugh, made me cry, and made me ponder the actions and choices of the heroine in her book.

Essie Spreckelmeyer has endured thirty years, and has, in many of the townspeople’s minds, failed to catch a husband. Impatience leads her to try and give God a helping hand with the project. Listing the attributes and drawbacks of the eligible men in her small home town of Corsicana, Texas, she randomly picks the first one her finger lands on and sets out on the mission of seizing herself a man.

What follows in a hilarious dose of Essie’s outgoing and somewhat unconventional personality on the men of Corsicana. From her ability to catch snakes, or flying through town on her bicycle, the local residents get a glimpse of Essie as well as her ankles!

What starts out as a mission to get what she has longed for, Essie journey’s through a painful chapter in her life leads to decisions she will come to regret, and find peace with.

Although Ms. Gist’s book is not the ordinary romance novel I was expecting, I find myself contemplating the story and how Essie’s journey is a mirror of many woman’s, and how letting go and letting God is more satisfying than anything Essie can cook up.

I am looking forward to reading the next chapter in Essie’s life with some impatience of my own!


Gail: Deeanne, I loved your book Courting Trouble. Although not the typical ending in most romances, I left the story feeling very satisfied with the ending. Can you tell me what inspired you not to create that typical ending in Essie’s story?

Deeanne: I originally had every intention of having a traditional ending, but while I was working on Essie’s character arc and praying over it, I realized that my character thought she wasn’t a whole person without a man. The Lord stopped me and said He had several gals (real ones) who thought the same thing.

I put my pencil down, telling Him how sad that was because all those girls needed was Him. He agreed, then told me that is what He’d like my main character to learn. I immediately began to argue with Him, stressing this was a romance and if my character’s big epiphany at the end was that she didn’t need a man, then ... where would the romance come in?

But the Lord was through talking. He said what He had to say. Now He expected obedience. I knew, in theory, it was literary suicide to write a romance where the girl didn’t get her guy at the end, but the only thing I fear more than having one of my books fail, is being disobedient to the Lord. So ... that’s why Essie doesn’t get her man at the end.

Gail: I think the Lord knew what He was talking about! You took a great step of faith in writing a "unromantic" romance. But you have always taken that step of faith with your writing. Your books fall into the “edgy” Inspirational Fiction category. What made you interested in this genre?

Deeanne: I am, for the most part, a secular fiction reader. When I began reading secular romance, the protagonists were of high moral fiber. But as the years went on, the bar kept getting lower and lower until now, in some cases, the bar has been thrown completely out the window. So, the Lord challenged me to write a book for Christians who weren’t currently reading Inspirational, but were reading secular fiction. So, that’s what I did. Because my target market has a fairly high tolerance for fiction with a bit of an edge to it, my work has been tagged as “edgy.”

Gail: What message do you hope readers leave with after reading your books?

Deeanne: I try to leave that between the reader and Lord. I don’t usually set out with a specific agenda (though I did in Courting Trouble, but that’s more the exception for me). The goal I have for my writing is that I use my gifts and talents to glorify the Lord. The rest is up to Him.

Gail: Do you have a favorite scripture verse?

Deeanne: You know what, I really can’t say I have a favorite. There are so many awesome ones, I couldn’t possibly pick. I was just reading 2 Kings last week and ran across the story where the king of Aram surrounded the city with an army of horses and chariots. Elisha’s servant walked out of the house, saw them and completely freaked out. Elisha told him not to be afraid, then said to the Lord: “O Lord, open his eyes so that he may see.” And He did. And the servant then saw that the hills were covered with horses and chariots of fire. Is that just the coolest thing? I love that!

Gail: I think there are many things the Lord chooses not to reveal to us, if we could see, I think we would be blown away at His awesome power. Speaking of revealing things, can you tell us anything about Deep in the Heart of Trouble the sequel to Courting Trouble?

Deeanne: Yep. In Deep in the Heart of Trouble, Essie gets her man. At the start of the book she has been walking joyfully in her singleness for 4 years and is so fulfilled that when the Lord brings a flesh-and-blood man into her life she is rather resistant to the whole thing.

Gail: Do you feel you and Essie share some personality traits? Which ones?

Deeanne: I’m sure we do. I think I leave a little bit of myself in each of my characters. But since I don’t do it on purpose, I couldn’t really tell you which parts are me and which aren’t. If you asked my sister, though, she’d be able to tell you. On second thought, let’s not ask my sister. ;-)

Gail: Hmm, I know what it's like to have sister know all your bad habits, in my case she shares them with me, so I'm pretty safe! Tell us what is a typical day in your life?

Deeanne: I write full time. In the mornings after I’ve had my quiet time, worked out and had a cup of peppermint hot chocolate, I settle in with my computer. I usually take care of administrative duties in the morning (emails, phone calls, mail, paperwork, etc). Then in the afternoons I write up until quitting time.

Gail: Can you share any insights about the publishing process with us?

Deeanne: Your publisher, editor and marketing department know what they are doing. Trust them.

Gail: What was the hardest part of Essie’s story for you to write?

Deeanne: The ending was the hardest part of Essie’s story for me to write. Even though it seems like having Jesus Christ as her groom would be a very fulfilling ending, romance readers have certain expectations. And the gal getting her man is one of them. So, to convince the reader that Christ really was enough without sounding preachy or gooey was very tough.

Gail: One fun question Deeanne – what is one of your worst habits and are you willing to share it with us?

I “graze” instead of eating properly. When lunch time rolls around, I’d rather have a Ding Dong or a bag of mini-Oreos than make myself a sandwich. Terrible habit. I keep telling myself I need to treat my body better. But, Oreos are so much more yummy than a turkey sandwich, you know?

Deeanne Gist has won the Christy Award for Best Romance in 2006 and 2007. Her book Bride Most Begrudging has sold over 100,000 copies. Courting Trouble so far, has hit three best seller lists. She was also nominated for the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance in 2007.

Thank you so much Deeanne to take time out of your busy schedule to chat with us!!