Book Journeys – Reality TV Style   

I just finished fellow Alleycat and dear friend, Krista Phillips’s upcoming novel The Engagement Plot and people…

It was SO MUCH FUN!!!

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I’ll let you read the blurb HERE – but today on Book Journeys we’re going to travel to various places that the characters visit in the book.

If you do not know, it’s a story about two reality TV stars whose onscreen relationship took a pretty nasty turn and now they’re both trying to pick up the pieces of their very public explosion.  I don’t want to give too much of it away, but you need to know three things:

  1. Krista might deny it, but she writes some super duper kisses
  2. The coffee scene. I mean, seriously. You’ll know it when you get there. LOVED IT!
  3. Will has toes of steel.

Our first stop on this book journey is Embarrass, Minnesota

Embarrass, Minnesota - 15 Most Unfortunate Town Names (funny town names, funny city names, weird town names, strange town names, bizarre town names) - ODDEE
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Embarrass, known lovingly as The Cold Spot, got it’s name from the river’s notorious ability to confound/confuse explorers/travelers who were trying to navigate their way through its waters. Early explorers were French, and since the French word for confound/confuse/complicate is similar to ‘embarrass’, the name stuck.

Finnish Dovetail House circa 1900 Embarrass, Minnesota
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A small mining town, Embarrass is known for its Finnish-American Homestead Tours, Ice Candle festivities, small town aura, and…ice fishing (which you read about in the book 😊) Our heroine, Hanna, grew up and lives here.

Which is VERY different than the two homes of hero William Preston.

Downtown Nashville TN [OC] [5660x3773]
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William works as a high-class CEO in Nashville. Now we’ve looked a little at old Nashville last time with Tamara Alexander’s book, but today we’re going to see a few pics of downtown Nashville. “Music City U.S.A” is the largest city in Tennessee and features various ‘parts’ of the city for various tastes 😊

Music Row in Nashville, Tennessee (aka Music City) I can't wait till October and I get to see and experience this!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so exited.
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The Central business district, where our hero Will works, is on the northern side of the city and features Tennessee Bicentennial Mall. The cityscape really is pretty (as far as cities go 😉)

The Parthenon Centennial Park, West End Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee 37203 USA 615-862-8431
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Because of its musical history, Nashville is home to some of the top recording studios in the nation. It also boasts from great history, from Belle Meade Mansion to the Parthenon, there’s PLENTY to see and experience. And DO NOT forget Music Row!!! (such a colorful place)

21074264_10214025730218015_1511006592_n.jpgKrista’s characters also spend time in the NY/NJ area where Will’s parents live. I LOVED meeting them and I’m sure Krista has a much better picture of their house in mind. But isn’t it just BEAUTIFUL!!!

As November draws closer, I’ll have my review for The Engagement Plot featured, but for now, I just want to introduce you to Krista’s story world AND…of course, introduce her swoony hero on Saturday.

Krista Philips.jpgTo learn more about Krista, check out her new website at www.kristaphillips.com

And learn more about The Engagement Plot HERE (or pre-order…because you’ll want to read it 😉)

Pepper

Finding Faith and Focus in Friendship

AlleyCatPensacolaLife is filled with lots of people.

Some you are born with. Some who visit for a while and then are gone. Some who come to challenge and refine you. And some one who to stay, as constant influences and encouragement.

Through the development of a writing blog about 5 years ago, God has brought some of the most amazing women into my life. We all have different personalities, comes from different backgrounds, and have (sometimes) very different views on various theology, but God has bound us together in an amazingly beautiful way.

In the highly competitive profession of writing, we encourage each other to reach for our dreams. We pray for each other, weep with each other, and have fun together. We travel hundreds or thousands of miles to celebrate a baby’s impending birth!

Like we did last weekend!

alleycatpensacola3Seven Alleycats came to celebrate Alleycat, Ashley Clark’s coming baby – or ‘kitten’ as we refer to the babies born to alleycats. This will be our first official boy kitten 🙂

It’s was so sweet to share her joy in person and spend time encouraging each other in story and life.  I love how God uses all these ladies to bring different perspectives and joys into my life.

Life is an even more amazing journey with such sweet partners along the way.

Celebrating a Dream Come True

10703511_10152380630076453_1262269125577226364_nMy good friend and fellow author, Ashley Clark, had a fantastic post on The Writers Alley yesterday. It caused me to ponder this whole transition from one side of ‘published’ to the other.

A few weeks ago, Ashley was kind enough to remind me of something.

I’d lost sight of celebrating.

That may seem really strange for someone who has waited over ten years to get “The Call”. I should have been swinging from rafters, blowing up balloons, dancing the Snoopy Dance that Beth Vogt is often sharing, and reveling in the reality that this writing dream of mine was finally coming true.

But I didn’t take the time to do it.

10410810_687711704630281_2999907603008707572_nTruth is – my life didn’t change all that much from before and after. I was still busy. I still had deadlines (just different kinds), and I still had to fit writing into the regular everydayness of being a wife, mother, and speech-language pathologist. There didn’t seem to be TIME to celebrate!!

There were three new deadlines to meet, so I just scheduled them into my life as a usual course and didn’t STOP to celebrate.

What was I thinking?

I wasn’t. I was resorting to my usual survival skills without celebrating something BIG God just did in my life!

So it took a friend to hit me upside the head with an encouraging word to help me realize what had happened.

mama'ssigningI’ve had a dream come true. A lifelong dream. A dream God started cultivating in me when I was a little girl. To be a writer. To see one of my stories in print. To have the opportunity to share the beauty of God’s love through the avenue of storytelling.

That’s worth celebrating.

And God didn’t just answer my dream with one book. Within three months I had three contracts. WOW!

So today … I’m celebrating a dream come true.

My husband’s taking me to dinner tonight so we can celebrate too.

Nothing changed on the outside really. I’m still busy. I still have deadlines (just different kinds). I still have to fit writing into the regular everyday things, but … my perspective has changed. I’ve stopped to be thankful for this long-awaited moment instead of pushing it behind all the things I ‘have to do next’ in my day.

Today, as I sit here with my stuffy nose, I’m celebrating all the wonderful family and friends who’ve dreamed this dream with me. I’m celebrating hard work and diligence. But mostly, I’m celebrating God’s timing. His perfect timing in making this dream come true.

Thank you all so much for your encouragement, support, guidance, and laughter along the way. I’ll still need it, as I hope I can also give back to you!

mama's crazy bookCome celebrate with me.

I’m not new to deadlines – as a speech-language pathologist and university instructor, I’ve had deadlines on a smaller scale for a long time.

Year To Date: Change and Abide

christmas2014familyWell, it’s been quite a year – probably one of the most difficult ones of my life, and that’s saying something. For the past three years I’ve chosen a ‘one word’ to focus on throughout the new year. In 2014 my word was Change – and it has definitely been a year of change, transitions, upheavals, and surprises.

In February my husband was offered a full-time job that fit his skill-set and passions perfectly – Pastor of Music Ministry in a  church in Asheville, NC. This meant relocating our family from a place we’d lived for eight years, from a house I’d spent two years renovating, and from a job as a university instructor I loved with friends I adored. For the next four months, my husband stayed in Asheville most of the week and commuted home to us (about an hour and a half drive) for Friday and Saturday. There was so much to do to prepare for the move, of course, including finding a house, checking out schools, and looking for a new job for me. Those months were tough as the rest of our family prepared to transition to our new home with hubs.

IMG_1526Within this craziness, I had three wonderful opportunities. The first was to make a surprise road-trip to St. Louis to visit my crit partner and brand new mom, Amy Leigh Simpson. Along the way I had lunch with Julie Gwinn and dinner with friend and Alleycat, Krista Phillips. IT was a fantastic break in the middle of all the transition.

Secondly, I worked at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference as support staff for Edie Melson and Alton Gansky. It was so much fun to have the opportunity to give back to a conference and a community who had been such an encouragement to me over the years.

Last but certainly not least, was signing with my amazing friend and agent, Julie Gwinn. Wow, what a great match! I’m so thankful. She’s been a wonderful encourager and herald for my stories

IMG_1008We moved to Asheville in the middle of June, the same day I started my new job in a private outpatient clinic. The summer moved along at record speeds and I tried to learn a new paperwork system and adjust my skill set to meet the demands of something quite different than I’d done the previous thirteen years. I missed my colleagues, my students, and teaching. My kids were adjusting to missing their friends and school.

But behind the scenes, Julie was working her magic by beginning a massive network of my writing. She edited my manuscripts, encouraged me in the move and the writing journey, and believed in my writing more than I did at the moment. At the beginning of September, I received my first contract offer. My fun, 10646741_10204870944154085_8514285265217180766_nAppalachian modern day My Fair Lady story, A Twist of Faith, was headed to publication. I officially signed the contract at ACFW with many of my wonderful Alleycats present. God certainly knew what I needed most when he brought them into my life!!!! They’d been such a part of my writing journey I couldn’t imagine signing without them to celebrate with me!!

This conference I also spent time with fantastic encouragers like Jeanne Wynn, Julie Lessman, Beth Vogt, Susan Mason, Rachel McMillian, the amazing Janice Thompson, Jim Rubart, and SO MANY MORE! Wow, I’m blessed!! It was an amazing boost of support to head me into the next big transition.

 

In the middle of November, I received a contract to be a coauthor for a YA book coming out in 2015 associated with a new video game. The game creators, 2nd City Studios, have developed a Steampunk-like game called The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance. It’s been such a fun experience to get to work with these guys in creating a companion novel to go along with their MMO Role Playing Game.

On the heels of this contract came another at the beginning of December – a three-book deal with Vinspire Publishing for my historical romance series, Penned in Time Series. I can’t tell you how fulfilling it was to have an editor be as excited about my book as I was.

jetpackwithcutieI’m in awe, a bit overwhelmed, and really nervous about making this all work for 2015 while being a mom of 5 FABULOUS and FUNNY kids, wife of a minister, and full-time SLP, but I’m finding great encouragement in my new Word for 2015: Abide.

There are many things in this world. Good, bad, crazy, painful, thrilling, unpredictable – but one thing remains the same. God, and his ever-present, all-consuming love for his children.

In John 15, Jesus talks about how to abide, but what does abide mean? In a very generic way, it means to ‘live’, kind of like I abide in my house, but there is much more to it.

It means to rest, to find security, shelter, a ‘framework’ for my life, the structure for what is true and certain.

It’s a beautiful thing to consider abiding in Christ. There is a comfort, strength, and rest in it. It gives us strength because we know our foundation is secure and we’ll always be welcome. We are not called to abide with him because of our goodness, strength, power, beauty, or anything else of our own making, but all because of Christ’s love. That’s it.

As I go into 2015, I pray that throughout all the change, transition, and new adventure, I will keep my heart, mind, and spirit at home in Christ’s love.

Happy New Year and many blessings for 2015

Come help me Welcome…

Karen Schravemade – the newest writer for The Writers Alley.

Check it out at http://thewritersalleys.blogspot.com

Fun Posts and a new Review

Hey guys,

I’m blogging at The Writers Alley on Monday about the Green Eyed Monster 😉

But Sunday, don’t forget to stop by and check out Jennifer Slattery’s post-conference tips.

And my review for Deeanne Gist’s newest novel, Love on the Line, is up at www.pepperbasham.com

A Day Off to WRITE

I can’t remember the last time I had a day off JUST TO WRITE!

The last day off I took to write, two of my kids got sick the night before and were home from school with me.

But today….

TODAY……

I am sitting at the kitchen table staring at an empty house and getting ready to open up a manuscript to DIVE INTO.

FOR. THE. DAY!! (or until 3:30)

It’s my big attempt to get ready for ACFW which happens in THREE WEEKS! I will get to meet CASEY HERRINGSHAW, ANGIE DICKEN, MARY VEE, WENDY MILLER, and SARAH FORGRAVE!! My ALLEY CATS!!!

Did I mention Casey is a FRASIER FINALIST!!

Did I also mention I get to stalk…er…meet RUTH LOGAN HERNE!!!

Anyone else get excited about writing days? I’m feeling very Connealy-esque here. Might have to shoot somebody! 😉

Indiana Jones – Plotting like the Movies ;-)

I’m blogging at The Writers Alley today about plotting with Indiana Jones.

Stop by and have a little fun with me and our whip-weilding hero. And join The Writers Alley for the next two weeks as we talk about story structure by using some of our favorite movies.

It’s Summer at the Cinema

Meet Me at the Movies!

A Visit with Author Krista Phillips

If you don’t know this already, I am a member of a fantastic group writing blog known as The Writers Alley. It’s such a fun place to be – with nine awesome aspiring authors to help bounce ideas, share prayer requests, enjoy funny moments, and gab about writing. Interestingly enough though, many of us have never met in person. We started the Alley online last May with five: Mary Vee, Casey Herringshaw, Krista Phillips, Sherrinda Ketchersid, and me.

In the fall of 2010, God sent five other authors our way: Julia Reffner, Angie Dicken, Sarah Forgrave, Wendy Miller, and Cindy Wilson.

Since ten is one of my favorite numbers, I think our group feels pretty complete. But what would make it even better is to get to meet in person.

We’re all scattered throughout the U.S. so that makes meeting very hard, but this weekend I had the opportunity to meet Krista Phillips. Unfortunately, we met at the hospital where she’d just brought her sweet baby girl, Annabelle, back to the PICU. To learn more about Krista’s amazing journey with Annabelle this past year, you can visit her fantastic blog here.

It’s such a blessing to meet any of these ladies who’ve inspired and encouraged me so much this year. I was grateful to meet Wendy, Sarah, Angie, and Cindy at ACFW last year (and that was WAY before The Writers Alley ever came to be – cool, huh?!?)

With ACFW 2011 just around the corner, I look forward to meeting more of the Alley Cats. Particularly, Casey and Mary – but we’ll be joined by Sarah, Wendy, and Angie too.

Other writing buddies will be there – such as the EXCELLENT Seeker-gals! Oh dear, I love them!

And friends, Carol Moncado, Keli Gwyn, Laura Frantz…and so many more!

Any writing pals-meetups in your future? Whether at ACFW or otherwise?

Also, here are a few pics of the Parthenon in Nashville- a exact replica of the original Parthenon in Greece.

Love at First Thought with Siri Mitchell

Oh boy, a new week of wonderful guests. Wanna know who’s stopping by?

Well, Wednesday, the lovely Patti Lacy is my guest.

Friday, we get to enjoy the sweetness of Audra Harders.

But today…

Get ready for the fabulous Siri Mitchell.

I just received Siri’s newest novel in the mail. A Heart Most Worthy. I can’t wait to read it. Siri is one of those authors who really likes to challenge herself as a writer. If you’d like to learn more about her versatile novel-writing background, check out this interview at The Writers Alley.

Siri gives us some insight about where her ideas come from. Check out the wonderful list of inspiring thoughts.

It seems like most of my recent novels have begun with something — some fact, some picture, some idea — that makes me go ‘hmm…’

A Constant Heart — Women poisoned themselves with their cosmetics.

Love’s Pursuit — A woman could be accused of doing something terrible (even though people ought to have known better) simply for what she was wearing.

She Walks in Beauty — Women ruined their health by wearing corsets.

A Heart Most Worthy — A group of woman at a dressmaking shop sewed wedding gowns for each other >>> to which was added the fact that Italian immigrants were the second most lynched group in America (after African Americans)

Hannah’s Heart — (I’m currently working on this one) There was at least one Quaker spy and there were several Quaker generals during the Revolutionary War. What made them decided to abandon their believes and take sides?

Other facts that have struck me and are waiting to be turned into stories somehow: Did you know if you put daffodils and tulips in the same vase, the daffodils will poison the tulips?; a woman who feels the urge to constantly re-arrange her furniture; in France, the Havilland China company imported American painters for their dishes — these people were regularly attacked and couldn’t go anywhere at night.

Rarely do any of these facts or ideas have anything to do with a plot. Sometimes, they’re not even about people…which can present some problems since novels are about people. But I just note them all down on a spreadsheet and when it comes time to choose what to write next, I review all the ideas and see which ones my subconscious has been working on.

My contemporary novels were different. Kissing Adrien was inspired by a non-fiction manuscript I’d written. Something Beyond the Sky was inspired by my own experiences as a military wife. Chateau of Echoes was my last-ditch attempt to get published, so I threw in all the elements I liked to read in a novel; I was also feeling homesick for France, so I imagined myself up in a castle. The Cubicle Next Door began as a book about a girl who used to be nice, but Jackie sort of hijacked it. Moon Over Tokyo I think was written in an attempt to explain Japan to myself.

Ideas are everywhere! I can’t turn all of them into novels, and sometimes my skill set has had to grow in order to be able to turn one of them into a novel, but somehow my brain seems to know which ones will work and which ones are just interesting facts to know.

Isn’t this fascinating?!? Look at all the various ways Siri finds her inspiration. Wow! And she has a wealth of books to prove that inspiration does pay J If you’ve never had an opportunity to read a Siri Mitchell book, get to Amazon or your nearest bookshop TODAY!! They are worth it!

And have I mentioned that she is SUPER sweet in person. Really, truly!

 One quick inspirational ‘beginning’:

2 Timothy 1:8-10

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Our good works, our writing, our love…none of them make God love us any more than he already does. You know why? He already loves us completely. He brought us into His kingdom as sin-cloaked rebels transformed by the grace of Jesus Christ. We were hand-picked, just because of love.

His love.

Extravagant, beautiful, unconditional, and far beyond our understanding.

He saved us. He called us.

Just because of love.

Grace.