Thursday, November 6, 2008
So the question remains, where is Kathleen? Her family has been frantic with worry, and I can't even imagine what they must be going through right now. Nothing about her disappearance seems to make sense. She had been looking forward to one of her daughters coming home for a visit and she seemed excited about what lies ahead for her.
Kathleen is such a positive, vibrant person that everyone who communicates with her has come to love her. Kathleen always has something positive to say about everyone and has always encouraged her friends in all of their endeavors. Now all of those friends are praying for her. We are praying for her safe return, and we are especially praying for her family in this difficult time. Hopefully they know that they aren't alone. We are all missing Kathleen.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Look what I found! I decided to check my publisher's website today to make sure my new book was listed on their site. Lo and behold, not only was my new book, Royal Target, listed there, but so was my next book. Lockdown isn't even scheduled to come out until February 2009, so I never dreamed that the cover image would already be available on the internet.
I did know that the cover was done, but I hadn't yet seen a copy until I found it on Covenant's website.
Oddly enough, I spent the day working on another book, one that spins off of this one and Freefall.
I'm having to remind myself that it takes a great deal of discipline to write novels. I know that I will ultimately spend hours at the computer and that if I'm lucky, the story will take on a life of its own. I hope and pray that will happen, while dreading that possibility at the same time. I know that if a story is really going to work, it has to find its own life. The problem is that when that happens, I find myself putting everything else on hold so I can stay at my computer and find out how the story ends.
Seeing a cover image like this one, or anticipating my author copies arriving in the mail for Royal Target, reinforces the fact that all of the hard work is worth it. Now I just have to keep myself at my desk enough hours of the day so that I can get to the good part, whatever that might be.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I look back at that particular spring and I'm amazed that three completed manuscripts were created in that short period of time. I also keep wondering what I have to do to recreate the magic that happened in those few months. I remember getting up early each morning, beginning my day at the computer around 5:30 or 6:00AM. I wrote for an hour or two, taking many breaks to get my kids off to seminary and three different schools. My son was taking naps at the time and he went down for a three-hour-nap each day. He was good-natured enough that he often played for an hour before falling asleep and let me rob another hour of writing time in the afternoons.
Although the days of my son napping are long gone, I have resolved to wake up early again and try to recapture that quiet time before my house comes to life...complete with sound effects. It amazes me how much more productive I feel when I get up that extra hour or so earlier and have some time to myself doing something I truly enjoy. Now if I can just find that magic again and hope my alarm clock and I can get along for a whole month.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Overall, the contractor was okay, but.... Let's just say, I'm used to running the job myself. When we finished off our own basement, I hired all of the subcontractors, bought and ordered all of the supplies. I did everything from sweeping up after my brother while he and my dad were framing the basement for us to screwing in drywall. And let's not talk about painting. I'm more experienced than I would like to admit...and I have the wardrobe to prove it.
I had hoped that using an experienced contractor would make this process easy this time, but it wasn't to be. Instead we stumbled over one delay after another. What took my family four weeks to do, the contractor took more than twice that long. Now, I realize that eight to ten weeks is pretty normal for finishing off a basement, but I'm not a very patient person. This is why when our contractor didn't show up for the last day of the job, my husband and I went over to Mom's house and finished it ourselves. The contractor had a valid reason for not being there, but we were ready to be done.
Now we just have to move everything into the newly finished basement. Have you ever seen what a ton of fabric looks like? Believe me, I won't need to hit the weight room for a work out for a while yet.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
I love books, so I knew that I walking into an LDS bookstore with a credit card could be ... well... dangerous. I decided before starting my book tour in Utah that I would be really good about not buying any books, at least not until I had a chance to decide which ones I really wanted.
After hanging out with Jeri Gilchrist (pictured with me and David Wooley), I knew that I had to get her book. Jeri is so much fun and I have heard wonderful things about her new book, Shadow of the Crown. Another book I was determined to come home with was Servant to a King by Sariah Wilson. I was lucky enough to hang out with Sariah on the first day of Booksellers and it was so great to get to know her. After visiting with so many incredibly talented authors, I wasn't sure which other books I might want to bring home for me and my family.
During the excitement of Booksellers, I had forgotten that for the better part of the summer, my fifteen year old daughter had been harassing me about buying her some books. Not just any books. She wants the sequels for a particular book she had been given when the summer began.
Since we don't have an LDS bookstore near us, I told her that I would buy her the books she wanted when I went to Palmyra, NY for my book signing there during the Hill Cumorah Pageant. I called her up to find out the titles only to find that Latter-day Harvest was sold out. I then promised her that I would buy the books when I went out to Utah for Booksellers. After all, I knew I would be visiting more than a dozen LDS bookstores so surely I could find her the books she wanted.
I visited seven bookstores on my first day in town, and completely forgot about my daughter's request. I then spent the next two days at Booksellers having a blast...and still forgetting about the books my daughter wanted. When I talked to her on Thursday night, she reminded me of her request. I told her to text me the name of the books, or at least the name of the author so I could get them for her. She then proceeded to tell me the author was David G. Woolley. My response, "Oh, you mean the same David Woolley I was hanging out with today?" Her response: "WHAT?!?!" Okay, so I have a little trouble with my memory.
I had already thought how ironic it was that when talking to David, I discovered that he loves soccer. I mentioned that my husband used to play semi-pro ball in Utah and found that David knew many of his former teammates.
Later that evening I went to visit some friends that I've known since college. While there, I relayed the story of how annoyed my daughter was that I had been hanging out with one of her favorite authors without realizing it. My husband's childhood friend, Greg, looked at me confused. He then responded, "That's right. David Woolley does write books." Come to find out that they know David quite well. David has coached two of their sons in soccer. In fact, Greg has told David about his old roommate (my husband) who played soccer at BYU and then played semi-pro. Yes, David, everyone is telling you about the same person. Talk about a small world!
The good news is, I did manage to find the sequels to David's first book in his Promised Land series and bring them home to my daughter. Needless to say, I haven't seen her much since I got home!
Friday, August 1, 2008
So ladies, tell me how you came up with the idea of writing together.
We were vacationing together in Moab, Utah, when Nancy said, “Why don’t we write a book together?” We sat down right then and brainstormed about what we wanted the themes of our novel to be. We still have the notes that Carroll wrote in aqua ink!
I know you three have vacationed together a lot. What’s your favorite vacation spot?
Our favorite place is Carlsbad, CA, but Moab, Utah, and Sedona, Arizona, are right behind.
I went to high school a few miles from Sedona. What did you enjoy the most there?
Carroll: The fantastic red rock scenery and the energy of the place. Even though it’s become incredibly commercial, there still is a grandeur and spirit about it that touches me deeply. I love parking off Red Rock Loop just past the high school at sunset. If you walk out to a vantage point and look east, you can watch the formations turn even more fiery as the sun goes down.
Lael: I especially enjoyed the cave dwellings we climbed up to. I liked thinking about the safety factor of being open only on one side so that you could always see what was coming at you. And I loved the view from up there, the canyons and streams and mountains.
Nancy: I liked the fantastic air and the fabulous company as well as the place.
I know Surprise Packages is the last book in your trilogy, The Company of Good Women. Tell me what makes your trilogy unique.
It’s the story of three women in three different parts of the country and their quest to become Crusty Old Broads—written by three women from three different parts of the country who are self-professed Crusty Old Broads! Readers praise it for offering a realistic—but hopeful—view of the issues faced by LDS families.
With such a successful partnership in writing this series, you must have all learned to use each other's strengths. What do you each consider to be the main thing that each of you contributed to this latest book?
Carroll: The technical part of merging text form all of us and making all the corrections on the galley proofs.
Lael: I had the great good fortune of having studied for many years with Helen Hinckley Jones, whom I and the rest of her students regarded as the best writing teacher in the world. (At last count, the old students we know of have produced well over 1,000 books.) So I passed along what I learned from her about structure and substance.
Nancy: I’ve learned so much from Carroll and Lael through the last two books we didn’t have to make anywhere near the amount of changes on my manuscript as before!
How long did this book take you to write?
Carroll: About a year, which was four months past the deadline our editor gave us. Aargh, as Deenie would say. We were wiped out after meeting the deadline for Three Tickets to Peoria and we were starting from scratch. We had a structure to work from but nothing—nada, zip, zero—on the page. That, plus the complexities inherent in a book written by three co-authors, put us way behind. But we’re very happy with the way the book turned out and the early response to it.
Lael: ‘Nuff said.
Was this one easier to write than the first two, or did you find it difficult to tie up all of the details as you concluded this trilogy?
Carroll: We’re all “big picture” thinkers, so keeping track of all the details over three books—names, dates, events—was a challenge. But the greater challenge was bringing home the three storylines in a way that would satisfy us and, more particularly, the readers. For me personally, book three was easier to write than book two, because my character, Erin, was moving past the trauma of her divorce from Cory, and I got to write the romance between her and Vince.
Lael: After we got going, I found the last book a bit easier than the others because we had the characters set in our minds by then and didn’t have to work too hard to figure out how they’d react to a new challenge.
Nancy: I agree with both Carroll and Lael. And I found the third book easier because I have learned so much. But I struggled with not including every thing I wanted to readers to know about all the characters who have lived in my head for the last four years.
What is your favorite part of Surprise Packages?
Lael: Gradually bringing Juneau and her husband, Greg, closer so that eventually they “speak the same language.”
Carroll: The romance between Erin and Vince Gerlach. Much of the Erin material is quite serious and dramatic, but the romance was fun to write.
Nancy: Deenie discovering that being a Mormon woman raised in Utah doesn’t make her better than other people. She learns a lot about herself and other as she sees life with this new self-awareness.
What age group do you think your books appeal to the most?
Carroll: Women from the twenties onward.
Lael: I’d say thirtysomething and beyond.
Nancy: The most interesting responses I’ve received have been from readers 65+ who consider themselves Crusty Old Broads already and feel they have found a voice in our books.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
That no matter what situation a person is in any moment, the story isn’t over yet. Never, never, never give up—on others or on yourself!
Do you three have a new project in the works?
We have an idea for a book that will have the same format as the series—we’ll each write from the viewpoint of a character. It’s a stand-alone novel set in Powell, Wyoming, during World War II. But it is on the back burner while we’re working individual projects.
Finally, have you decided if the three of you qualify yet to really be considered "Crusty Old Broads?"
Carroll: The answer to that is on our blog: crustyoldbroads.blogspot.com: In our trilogy, "The Company of Good Women," a COB—a Crusty Old Broad—is a woman who, in the face of whatever life sends her way, "pulls up her socks and goes on." We all feel that we’ve pulled up our socks many times!
Lael: I’m old enough now that if I haven’t achieved Crusty Old Broadhood, I’ll never make it. I’ve had a lot of experience in pulling up my socks and going on. I like the description of a COB that Nancy provided in the first book: “’Like a fine sourdough bread,’ Willadene added. “Warm and nourishing with some real texture.’”
Nancy: As Deenie would say, “Heckuba! I think I was born a crusty old broad. Just without the experience and the wisdom.”
Now that we've all seen how this book came into being, check it out here!
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Royal Target is different than anything I've ever written before. It has been a lot of fun throughout the writing process, the main character proving to be an unusual balance between carefree and dedicated. I also thoroughly enjoyed writing about the CIA life that I was once a part of. (You can all decide how much is based on fact and how much is pure fiction.)
Since all of my previous books were targeted for the suspense genre, I was understandably surprised to see a romantic style of book cover. This is especially true since the past several edits of this novel had been focused on helping me beef up the suspense.
Still, I think the cover does capture the fun and romance that is a significant part of the story. It fits the book perfectly with one possible exception. Will the men who traditionally read my novels be willing to read this one...and will they dare be seen in public reading a pink book? I'd love to hear all of your opinions on this one!
Friday, June 6, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
As I considered how much I enjoyed the look of my house with that pear tree in bloom, I couldn't mind too much that it was losing it's blossoms because the cherry trees in several nearby yards were now coming into full bloom. I love the Washington, DC area during this time of year as it comes alive with color. In fact, when my husband considered briefly taking a job outside of Virginia a couple of years ago, the thing I thought I would miss the most here (besides my friends) was the dogwood tree in the backyard.
Year after year I look forward to seeing it wake up each spring, first with beautiful white blossoms and then with brilliant green leaves. I think those two or three weeks that my dogwood is in bloom reminds me how quickly time passes and how I need to enjoy each moment while it is here.
I've always been the type of person who is planning for the future, and I often forget about the present in the process. So as spring is in full force here in the shadows of the nation's capital, I'm planning on enjoying every minute of it. I hope all of you do too.
Friday, April 18, 2008
I know some people see emergency vehicles on their roads often, but here in suburban Virginia they are not terribly frequent, especially in the middle of a weekday. Another thing that heightened my concern was the direction the fire truck was traveling. It had clearly come from the station to the east of me, and my neighborhood is one that is served by two stations. Rarely does this particular department go further west that where I live. It did today.
As I watched it travel at high speeds past me, a police car pulled onto the road, also with its sirens on. My concerned heightened as I considered that they were headed toward the high school where my two oldest children attend. Being an overprotective and sometimes paranoid parent, I did what anyone would do. I passed the turnoff to my house and drove by the high school just to make sure everything was okay. To my relief, the only emergency vehicle in sight was the deputy's car that is always parked out front.
I headed back home, still with a prayer in my heart for whoever had called those emergency vehicles. As I sat down to start working on another novel I thought about the many situations we have faced in my area over the past few years. The sniper attacks were perhaps the most stressful although 9/11 certainly probably ties with it. Then there are a few personal incidents when friends and family members were taken to the hospital, some surviving, some not. As I tried to turn my focus to more positive thoughts I realized that perhaps I spend too much time thinking about suspenseful situations. Then again, truth is usually stranger than fiction.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
He lost his battle with cancer last week at the age of 18 and the green ribbons the students wore to remember him have been prominent around school. The students have lost one of their own, but they have come together to remember him and support those closest to him. Some days have been more difficult than others since his death. His long-time girlfriend watched prom invitations get handed out knowing that the dress she had already bought would not be seen by Justin. This young woman and so many others at school have shown such strength and courage that it's difficult not to admire them.
Today I walked the halls of the school to see many wearing Virginia Tech t-shirts, some with green ribbons pinned to them. Today is the first anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting, a day that is close to all of us here in Virginia. As my heart aches for those who have lost loved ones, I find myself drawing on those emotions as I prepare to start writing yet another book. I don't know what will come when I sit down at my computer. I only know that these everyday heros will continue to feed my characters' emotions and refuel my well of ideas. I can only hope that those who inspire me will all find their happily ever after.
Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
There was a great sense of comraderie, people visiting with those nearby, children running around in the grassy area at ten o'clock at night, card and board games being played everywhere. Even the bicycle cops and park rangers were friendly as they patroled the area, greeting the campers as they made their rounds.
As the seven o'clock hour approached (that's AM), everyone had to break camp and many were in the process of eating breakfast and beginning to form the line to receive our tickets. On the first of my multiple trips to the van to load up, I noticed an older man sleeping on the sidewalk. I remember wondering if perhaps I should wake him up so he wouldn't miss out on getting his tickets. When I passed him a second time, I noticed that his blanket was a bit tattered, and he was using a backpack of some sort as a pillow. The thought occurred to me that he wasn't one of the many who were camping out by choice, but rather he was sleeping on the street because he had nowhere else to go.
I was considering what I might be able to do for the man when I returned for the third time. I couldn't help but smile when I noticed a woman placing a brand new package of donuts, some water bottles and other food at the man's side. While he slept, she quietly returned from where she came leaving the offering for the man she had never met. With a nod of approval, I passed by grateful that the spirit of Easter is still alive and well.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I start thinking about all of the plot lines that have been developing in my mind just waiting for this time of the year so that I can sit down at my computer and really let them take shape. Then I remember about taxes.
Generally filing my income taxes aren't that complicated. I plug all of the numbers in, I e-file and wait a week or two for my refunds to appear in my bank account. Unfortunately, it isn't always quite that simple. You see, over the past few years I have been collecting people, friends and family, that I help with their taxes. I don't do this as a business or anything. It's just one of those friendly offers of, "Hey, maybe I can help you out with that." Am I insane or what???
Last month I finished my taxes along with my sister-in-law's and my neice's. A few days later my nephew arrived to work on his, which were thankfully very simple. My mother-in-law made her appearance on Monday. Anticipating her visit, I had to finish up the taxes for my father-in-law's trust. Then of course there are the tax relief papers that need to be filed, estimated taxes, etc., etc. I could go on, but you get the picture.
My list of tax filings I have yet to complete is down to only three. If only those birds would stop chirping outside of my window, maybe I could concentrate and get them all finished. Oh yeah, I love the spring.
Friday, February 29, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I would love to say that this bit of service kept me from thinking about the impending arrival of my books, but I admit I had a few moments when I wondered if the UPS driver would think to put my package in a plastic bag to protect it from the falling rain. Thankfully, I have a very efficient UPS delivery man and my box was sitting on my front step in a large plastic bag when I got home.
I pulled the package inside, ripped away the wet plastic and rushed to my desk to grab a pair of scissors.... No scissors. Two pairs are usually in my pencil holder on my desktop, but both were missing. I pulled open my top desk drawer to find my third pair, the pair that I keep hidden from the rest of the family. Nothing.
Refusing to get annoyed at my children for borrowing my scissors and not returning them AGAIN, I pulled open my husband's desk drawer to borrow his. Again, nothing. Now, at this point I am wondering how I can have a family with six people in it and have four pairs of scissors disappear in a matter of a day or two. The only scissors I could find were the three pairs I had purchased at Costco a week before, all still safely guarded behind the thick plastic packaging. Of course, they didn't do me any good because I couldn't open them without... you guessed it... scissors!
Still too excited about my books to get annoyed at my children, I went into the kitchen for the kitchen scissors only to discover that they too were not where they were supposed to be. I did a quick search of the kitchen counters and finally gave up. Instead I ran up to my bedroom and found the last pair of hidden scissors.
Still wondering who in my family is hording the scissors, I opened up the package and pulled out my newest creation. The cover looked even better than I had imagined, and I am looking forward to stealing a few minutes (or hours) in the next few days to read my book and see how it turned out.
I just hope everyone else doesn't have this much trouble getting to a copy of my book!
Friday, February 22, 2008
If nothing else, this buys my husband a brief reprieve of listening to me say, "I want to read my book!" Okay, I'll probably still be saying it, but at least I won't run to the window every time I hear a delivery truck outside.
I know this may seem odd to some people, but I really look forward to reading my finished novels. Even though I read each of my books dozens of times during editing, I always love the moment when I have the actual book in my hands and I can see what ended up on the pages. The transition from rough draft to finished product is often so subtle that I sometimes forget how the latest version played out, especially since the editing was finished months ago and I've long moved on to other projects.
Now if I can only wait until Tuesday....
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
As I began reading this latest review which posted yesterday on AML's website (http://www.forums.mormonletters.org/yaf_postst319_Abramson-Freefall.aspx), I was thrilled to see that it was entirely positive. Excited by the reception my novel had received, I e-mailed it to my husband. His response was almost immediate, and extremely humorous. He wrote back something along the lines of "Sure you're a good author and everything, but he didn't answer the really tough questions like will she make me dinner or will she ever find her desk under the mount of paper."
Maybe making dinner isn't my strong point, and yes my desk had been buried for the entire four months of swim season, so I could hardly do anything but laugh. Admittedly, I had spent several hours over the weekend clearing off my desk, and I fully acknowledge that my husband does his fair share of cooking and then some. My response was simply, "Hey, I can see my desk. As for dinner...." Is it too much to hope that he'll be willing to cook dinner tonight...again?
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
The thing that has struck me this week is the fact that I am beginning to get e-mails about my newest book, Freefall, and I have yet to even see a copy of it. This isn't a new occurance, but I find humor in the situation just the same. One would think that the author would be one of the first people to see a new publication, but that simply isn't the case in my genre. The books ship out to the stores to get them on the shelves about a week before my author copies are sent to me. The fact that I live on the opposite side of the country from my publisher adds to the number of days I have to wait to see my latest creation.
So now I play the waiting game, each afternoon hoping that the UPS truck will drive down my street and deliver the package that I am waiting for. In the meantime, I'll keep my fingers crossed that people in the West are reading my book and enjoying what I've written as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Monday, January 28, 2008
My focus was somewhat scattered with trying to prepare and also going about my normal daily activities. As I struggled to keep up with everything, a few simple moments stood out to remind me how lucky I am. One day late last week my husband gathered his keys and informed me that he was going to the grocery store. This is a chore I normally take care of and by the state of the refrigerator, I clearly had neglected my duties over the past week or so. He teased me a bit when he said that he had to go since his wife kept forgetting. In his typical good-natured way, he did the shopping so that I would have one less thing to do as I prepared for the big meet.
I was thinking of how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful husband when I stopped by the nearby cemetery. My brother-in-law died a few years ago at only 32 years old and is buried a short distance away from where my friends' recently buried their twin 15-month-old sons. I can't say why I've been drawn to visit the cemetery so much recently, but each time I drive that way I find myself stopping in and driving to the back to visit these two gravesites. I look down at the simple markings and marvel at how tragic their deaths were and how lucky I am to have my family healthy and whole.
My husband had everything well under control when I left for the meet, and I remember resolving to enjoy the day. I was looking forward to the motivational speech that the team's captains had prepared and the girls were so excited about the possiblities. The girls won the first event, and then the second. There was a great photo taken after the conclusion of the second event in which the girls who came in first and second were hugging each other after the race. The winner was a senior captain, the second-place finisher a freshman.
It was early Sunday morning when I arrived home after the district championship meet. I shifted the trophy in my hands as I slipped through the door and tip-toed up the stairs to check on my sleeping children. Once I was assured that they were all well, I looked down at the trophy and smiled at the many wonderful memories that had been made that night. My team swam so well and had so much fun cheering for each other. More than anything though, I was grateful to be home and know that my family was safe and all was well.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
While in Utah a week or so later, I met some authors from LDS Storymakers at the LDS Booksellers convention. They explained that the Whitney awards are a new program that recognizes LDS authors. Authors have to receive at least five nominations to be eligible for the award, and then a panel decides which five books in each category will be the finalists.
With that information I pretty much discounted the possibility of becoming a finalist. It was great that I was nominated, especially by another author, but since many people I go to church with don't know that I write (unless they happened to see my name in a catalogue or a copy of my book at an LDS bookstore), I figured I would end up with just the one nomination.
Several weeks later I received some more good news when an e-mail informed me that I was in the top ten of the Deseret Book's bestseller list. I was excited about this milestone even thought I have tried not to let such things take too much importance. Instead I try to stay focused on writing stories I enjoy and hoping that others will enjoy them with me.
This morning I received a string of e-mails relaying the information that the finalists for the Whitney awards would be posted this morning at 7am MST. It was about 8:30 here in Virginia so I went about my business for an hour or so before I got back on my computer and checked my e-mail. I had one from another author who was understandably excited that she had made it as a finalist.
Curiosity got the best of me and I decided I would see who else made the list. Since I didn't really expect to see my book on it, I started looking through each category, noting the books that I have read and others I am considering adding to my list of those I would like to read. I took note of the best novel of the year nominees, then the best new author books. I saw that a book I read this summer, Counting Stars, had also made it as a finalist in the Romance category. Then I got to the Best Mystery/Suspense category and stared. My book was the first one listed. (I'm sure this is because I'm first alphabetically, but I was still shocked!)
The other books in the category are all ones I have heard good things about and I amy truly humbled to find my book displayed beside those of several talented authors. After overcoming my shock of seeing my book on the finalists list, I find myself excited about all of the authors who are undoubtedly sharing the same euphoria that I am, the idea of being recognized for creating something worthy of recognition when the product is simply the result of doing something we love.