The excitement builds, and the day approaches when Novel Matters, will go live.  Six talented authors, Bonnie Grove, Sharon K. Souza, Latayne Scott, Debbie Fuller Thomas, Patti Hill, and Jennifer Valent will join me in this amazing group blog to discuss the reading and writing of beautiful fiction.

Reading…

Writing…

Hmm… Makes Reading, Writing and… What Else is There? sound a little redundant, doesn’t it? Which is exactly why this will be my last post on this blog.

But I just posted the first entry on my new blog, Ever Mindful, where I will focus on all those other things besides writing, like the walks I take around a beautiful nearby lake. And the pictures I take there. And the books I read…

Well, there will always be books.

I hope you will join me there.

stevebonenberger-interview

Steve Bonenberger is passionate about the dreams and successes of entrepreneurs, and to help them, he’s putting together a great new microfinance project called Angels in Action. He’s a generous man.

And today his generosity extended to me, when he devoted ten minutes of his Business Talk Radio program to my newest novel, The Feast of Saint Bertie.

It was a wonderful time. I hope you’ll check it out, if only to hear me sort out what exactly is my life’s mission – on the spur of the moment, as you listen. (I’d never been asked that before.)

You’ll also hear my advice to aspiring authors (or artists, or inventors), and how I decided a long-cherished bit of writing wisdom wasn’t so wise.

Have a listen:

I so wish I could dance in the streets over President-Elect Obama. I’ve read his book, The Audacity of Hope; I’ve listened to many of his speeches, watched the debates, listened to the way he answered viewer questions at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. What I have seen is a smart, principled, straightforward, thoughtful man.

I like him. I really like him, and the night he won  the election, I felt… happy. Almost entirely happy. This was the man who reminded me why I was once a Democrat. The newscast turned its camera to the laughter and dancing and tears and rejoicing at Martin Luther King’s own Ebeneezer Baptist Church in Atlanta Georgia, and I wept tears of my own.

But I didn’t vote for Obama. And the reason I didn’t was the FOCA, a law that threatens the few protections we have for the unborn.

I would love to believe that we are beginning a new conversation in this country, a conversation in which all voices are heard and respected. I think that too often we have behaved as though people who disagree with us were totally wrong, that they never had a point worth considering. In the matter of abortion, we have acted as though we could protect either the mother or the child, and we have rarely sought a third alternative, to protect both. I fervently wish to see that change.

But the FOCA would halt the conversation by muffling the voice of every American who feels that pictures like this do not represent emotional manipulation or religious bias, but simply the truth.

I’ve always tried to avoid politics on this blog, though on occasion I found issues that were too compelling. This is one of those occasions.

If you agree with me, I hope you will go to Fight FOCA and sign their petition.

‘Nuf said.

Something exciting is coming up in January, and today, the ladies pictured at left and I got together to put a name to it:

Novel Matters.

It’s a group blog about our favorite topic, the reading and writing of richly crafted, sumptuous fiction. Many of us got together in Sonoma recently (I said that just to make you jealous), and today we chatted online for something like two hours.* We’re gathering some great ideas for topics you’ll love to read about and giveaways you’ll love to win.

I’ll tell you more as the launch date approaches, but for now, let me introduce my new blog partners:

Upper left is Debbie Fuller Thomas, whose debut novel, Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon released June 1, 2008.

Upper Center is Patti Hill, whose latest novel, The Queen of Sleepy Eye just released in September.

Upper right is Sharon K. Souza, whose latest, Lying on Sunday, also released in September.

Center left is Bonnie Grove, whose novel, Talking to the Dead will release in 2009.

Center, um… center is Jennifer Valent, whose first novel, Fireflies in December, will also release in 2009.

Center right: You know me.

Lower left is Latayne Scott, whose novel, Latter Day Cipher, will also release in 2009.

All of these women are talented authors, with lots to say about what goes into great writing. Do stay tuned. This is going to get interesting.

What will happen to this blog? There will be changes. First, I intend to spend more time here, but also the topics will be less about books and writing (since that will be the subject of Novel Matters) and more about personal thoughts.

Starting soon. I’ve got some ideas brewing right now.

*What did we accomplish in those two hours? We came up with a name for the blog. But we had such fun doing it, I can’t wait to welcome you into our conversations!

Let me check my calendar…

Is it September 1st? It is?

Then the day has come! The Feast of Saint Bertie is officially released for purchase.

I’m writing this from a hotel room in Vancouver, Washington. When my first novel was released, I was visiting Ferndale, California. It’s not like I get out all that much, but for some reason I can’t seem to stay home for my release dates. It’s a strange feeling. Like missing the birth of your child.

But it does call for a celebration, doesn’t it? I’ve got some ideas:

  • If you have a reading group and would like to consider The Feast of Saint Bertie for your next book, let me know your address and the name of your group, and I’ll send you a free copy.
  • If you’re one of the first ten to buy The Feast of Saint Bertie within the month of September, I will send you either a second copy to give to a friend, or else I’ll send you a copy of my first novel, To Dance in the Desert. Just let me know where and when you bought the book, your address, and which of the two options you prefer.
  • If you are hosting an event with twenty or more attendees, and would like to include The Feast of Saint Bertie in a prize basket, please let me know the name and date of the event, the estimated number of attendees, and of course, your address.

Care for a sneak peek? My publisher, David C. Cook, has put together a pdf excerpt which you can download here.

If you’d like to know where to buy the book, I’ve put together all the options, here.

I’d love to hear from you. If you’ve read either of my novels and would like to comment, or if you’d just like to say hello, please drop me a line.

Gayle Roper is the accomplished novelist who a few years back encouraged me to write a novel of my own. So when Dee Stewart put out a call for two bloggers to review Gayle’s latest, Fatal Deduction, I jumped at the chance. Gayle is an a great mentor, and a kind lady. Besides, this way I got to read her novel early. What a pleasure.

In the story, single mother Libby Burton is compelled by the provisions of her aunt’s will to live in the same house with her twin sister, Tori, who she’s never gotten along with. Even though Tori and Libby look just alike, Tori still somehow manages to make Libby feel bland by comparison. Worse, Tori’s shady lifestyle casts a dark shadow on Libby, endangering her and her teenage daughter, Chloe, when a dead body turns up on their doorstep with a warning note – or rather a warning crossword puzzle – for Tori.

Of course, this is a romantic mystery, so Drew Canfield, the single father across the street, is on hand to help Libby sort through her feelings about her sister, as well as her painful past. But can this tender relationship survive the turmoil brought on by Libby’s family?

Fatal Deduction is a delightful, intricately plotted romantic mystery. I loved the characters, or else loved to – well – dislike them. I chewed off the fingernails on one hand while gripping the book with the other, worrying through the story, puzzling over the crosswords that (no kidding!) serve as clues throughout the book, smiling at the tense, fun, unexpected resolution.

Gayle Roper has written more than forty-five novels over a period of more than thirty years, and has won multiple awards for her excellent work. Fatal Deduction may be her best yet.

Be sure to read Dee Stewart’s post, and Brandon Satrom’s post on Fatal Deduction. (Those are links to their blogs. I’ll provide specific links to the posts as I have them.)

Also, Monday would be a great time to click on over to Twitter, because the three of us are going to discuss the book in a Twitter Chat. I’ll post the link here on Monday. I hope you’ll join us.

UPDATE:

I’m still new to Twitter, and I obviously have a lot to learn. Case in point, I didn’t know what a Twitter Chat was. So here’s the scoop, copied almost directly from Dee Stewart’s post, since she’s the expert:

Now here are the details on how you can participate in our live Twitter chat on Monday.

  1. Read the book. If you don’t have it, goto your public library or buy it a your local store. If you still can’t snag a copy between now and Monday, don’t worry. Download this excerpt, to warm you up. You can still chat. After we chirp this book, you will go and get it.
  2. Get a Twitter Account, if you don’t have one. Twitter is a miniblog platform that you can link to your blog and read via your cell phone. So you can participate via SMS technology, if you don’t have internet access.
  3. Follow me, Kathleen and Brandon. Here are our usernames:
    1. http://twitter.com/deegospel – Dee/ Me
    2. http://twitter.com/kathleenpopa – Kathleen
    3. http://www.twitter.com/thesatch – Brandon
  4. Participate in Christian Fiction Blog’s Weekend Chatterbox Question here and at Twitter. Come to the site for the chatterbox question, if you are an email subscriber or read the most current post.
  5. Join us Monday, 5/9/08 2PM EST, 1PM CST, 12PM MST, 11AM PST to read, chime in and participate in the book chat.
  6. If you decide to join us, leave me a comment, so I can follow you and add you to the discussion.

I love discovering new writers. Well all right, Athol Dickson is not a new writer to anyone but me. But this is my blog. He’s new.

When I listened to the audio of River Rising, I was blown away by the story about the small town of Pilotville, Louisiana, a haven of equality in the deep South of 1927, and about the miracle man who exposes and transcends Pilotville’s shameful secret. I thought, What a beautiful book. Wonder what else he’s written.

I went for another audiobook, because I had deadlines, and my sitting down time was largely taken up with edits and such. I needed something I could listen to when I wasn’t sitting down.

Which meant my next listen would be The Cure, the only other Dickson novel that had been recorded. 

Like River Rising, it was both elegant with spare writing, and rich with an artist’s use of language. It had an interesting plot line, about the town of Dublin, Maine where a cure for alcoholism had been found, and about the questions and intrigues surrounding that discovery.

I had questions of my own. Having had some experience, growing up among the people of Alcoholics Anonymous, I took special interest in the direction the story took. Would alcoholics really flock to such a cure, when so much of their addiction is characterized by denial? Would an out and out cure be the only or even the best solution? I’d known enough recovering alcoholics to observe that the struggle builds into people a kind of gentle strength. Would that strength be lost to an easy cure? (Then again, could we spare that strength to save the lives of those who never do recover?)

Even with his fine writing, Dickson would have a hard time winning me over to this story.

But he managed to do just that, with an ending that first distressed, then surprised me, and at last left me satisfied and renewed.

I’ll leave it at that, because I don’t want to spoil the experience for you. But read or listen to River Rising. And when you’re finished, go get The Cure. Both are wonderful. And by the way, both audios are extremely well narrated.

Now I can hardly wait to read his Winter Haven.