Eight Questions (a blog hop!)

Today, I'm participating in my first-ever blog hop, invited by Jordyn Redwood, author of medical suspense novels. If you're an author (published or not) and would like to participate, leave me a comment with your e-mail address and I'll link to you here. Your post must be set for Jan 10, 2013.

It's simple: answer these questions about your current WIP.

1. What is the working title of your book?

Do No Harm


2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I made a commitment to myself early in 2012 to to finally do something I've dreamed about since childhood: write a novel. Since I have a fulltime day job that takes up way too much of my time, I decided to use things I had some personal experience with, while purposefully making it not be a book about me. So I started from some church conflicts that I experienced when we first moved to Texas from up north, and built from there.


3. What genre does your book fall under?

Women's fiction–I suppose it would be inspirational women's fiction.


4. What's the synopsis of your book?

Do No Harm is the story of a disgraced Seattle obstetrician whose efforts to fit into her new Texas home are stymied by family conflicts, cultural differences, church politics, and ghosts from her past.


5. Will our book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I hope to have it traditionally published, but I'm a first-time novelist and have no agent yet. I do have dreams of someday signing with a particular agent who I've admired for about 25 years. At the 2012 ACFW conference in Dallas I was fortunate to meet her briefly, and after reading my opening pages she asked me to send her the manuscript when it's completed. So I'm working hard to get it in shape to send to her, hopefully by the end of January. 


6. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I wrote the first words back in February 2012, although the idea's been floating around in the back of my mind for several years.


7. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

This one's tough for me. Perhaps Need You Now by Beth Wiseman, or maybe The Church Ladies by Lisa Samson.


8. What else about your book might pique a reader's interest?

If you've ever been hurt by “church people,” you might find this book interesting.  

Jordyn– thanks so much for allowing me to participate in this parade.

Check back to see who else will be participating in the blog hop next week.
Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

Book Review (& FREE BOOK): Need You Now by Beth Wiseman

When everything that matters most to you seems to be falling apart, where do you turn?

After the safety of one of their children is threatened, Darlene Henderson and her husband Brad move their family from Houston to the tiny town of Round Top, Texas, moving into the old fixer-upper farm left to Darlene by her grandparents. Adjusting to the change is more difficult than any of them expected, especially for 15-year-old Grace, who becomes a cutter, using a dangerous and self-damaging way of coping with stress.

The move also begins to take a toll on the couple's marriage when Darlene decides to take a job outside the home in an effort to make new friends in the community. As the domestic tension rises, both Darlene and Brad begin to wonder whether the shared faith that has carried them through difficult times in the past will be strong enough to help them now.

To make matters worse, Darlene begins receiving inappropriate attention from the widowed father of the autistic young girl she works with at the school for special-needs children where she's employed. Unfortunately, this attention comes at a time when she's feeling vulnerable and unappreciated at home.

The small-town life that they though would be a haven from big-city dangers might just prove their undoing.

I received my review copy of Beth Wiseman‘s recently released novel, Need You Now, several weeks ago. Unfortunately, I had overcommitted myself to reading (judging two fiction contests and reading chapters from my critique group). Adding this to the heavy obligations of my law practice and a long daily commute left me with too much to do and not enough time to get it done. I put my review copy of the novel on my desk and planned to get to it “soon.” Every time I saw it on my desk I felt guilty. “I need to get that read so I can write the review I promised.” But other deadlines pressed and it got put off.

Last week I finally couldn't stand the guilt, so I picked it up at about 7 pm on Wednesday, determined to get some chapters read before bed.

At midnight (on a work night! when I had to get up at 5 am!) I finally put the book down, having read it to the end. That's how compelling I found this book.

Beth Wiseman is an award-winning, bestselling author of Amish fiction. I've never read her other novels, but the description of Need You Now (her first contemporary novel) intrigued me, so I happily accepted a review copy. She opens the story with a clever and suspenseful scene that immediately grabs you and draws you into the story. One by one, Wiseman layers on the complications and the conflicts, creating a family that the reader cares about in a situation that any of us might find ourselves in. There is no good place to put this book down–and that's why I ended up reading the whole book in one marathon sitting. Wiseman keeps you reading to find out whether these people will survive the crises that threaten to destroy this family. Will Darlene and Brad find out in time what their son is up to, and what Grace is doing to herself? Will Darlene be able to resist the temptation of a kind, understanding, attractive man? And will Brad emerge from his preoccupation with work in time to save his marriage?

I thought this book was a well written and engrossing story of how a family can fall apart little by little when nobody's paying attention, and how total destruction can be averted if people are willing to take the right steps at the right time. The characters are well drawn and believable. Although I've been employed full-time for quite awhile, I recognized in Darlene many of the career moms and homemakers that I've known, and, in fact, myself when I was at that stay-at-home mom stage of my own life. She loves her family and loves making a home for them, but sometimes feels isolated and unappreciated–even a little invisible to her family.

If I have any reservations about this novel, it's that I felt like a little too much blame was laid at Darlene's feet for taking a job instead of staying at home. There were a few places where I felt like the implication was that if she'd been home, none of this would have happened. Maybe, or maybe not. Darlene wasn't the only parent not paying close enough attention to what the kids were up to. Throughout the novel, Brad was completely preoccupied with his work and his hopes for making partner at his accounting firm. And frankly, those teenaged kids seemed a little ill-equipped to handle life–and just a little petulant about being asked to get their own breakfast sometimes.

Nevertheless, this is an outstanding novel that both entertains and challenges the reader. Maybe the lesson to be learned from the Hendersons' story is that family is just too important to take for granted.

I heartily recommend Need You Now to my friends who enjoy women's fiction. You can learn more about Beth at her website, and connect with her on Facebook. Need You Now is available in bookstores. You can find it both in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

Would you like a free copy of Need You Now? Leave a comment (and your email address) below. I'll draw a name later this month.

Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .

Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog

Enhanced by Zemanta

Women of Faith – Dallas

It's been a week since I came home from the Women of Faith conference in Dallas. I originally intended to blog about it during and then right after the event. But I decided to wait — to give myself some time to absorb the experience and think about what I'd seen and heard there.

I'm not a fan of big crowds, and this type of event usually involves too much hype for me, and not enough “meat.” So after signing up to attend, I had second thoughts, and might have bailed if not for the fact that my oldest daughter also registered to go. Once I got there, though, I found myself enjoying it, and I'm glad I went. I came away with some inspiration and motivation to take some steps in my own life that I'd been thinking about for awhile.

The Women of Faith conference took place at the American Airlines Center, the big arena where the champion Dallas Mavericks play, and where I've attended concerts by big acts like Celine Dion, Rascal Flatts, Rihanna, and Keith Urban. I appreciated how well orchestrated the event was. The big crowd of women attending moved quickly through security. Every session began precisely on time, and ended when scheduled, without feeling rushed. Even the delivery of the box lunches went smoothly and quickly — with some 25,000 (? blind guess) women to feed, I expected long waits in line to get my sandwich and apple, but they moved everyone through the lunch line posthaste. These may seem like minor details, but to me, the timeliness and precision with which the event was run evidenced a respect for the attendees' time, and I appreciated it.

I wish that this respect for others had been shared by all of the attendees, but unfortunately that was not the case. I was unpleasantly surprised by how rude the women were — walking down the aisles or around the back of the room while the speakers' were talking, carrying on full-voice conversations, completely oblivious to (or uncaring about) the fact that their voices were disturbing and distracting the other participants who were trying to hear the speakers. Similarly, a woman sitting next to me took a phone call during one of Andy Andrews' segments and proceeded to carry on a phone conversation right there in her seat, without so much as an “I'm sorry” to me and without an effort to lower her voice. Unbelievable. If this had happened once or twice I could have understood it in a room that size, but this was a pattern throughout the event. Apparently Christians are not immune to the rampant bad manners infecting our society. It's shocking to me how perfectly willing people are to interrupt others and/or disrupt events like this as if theirs are the only purposes or rights that matter.

Despite those distractions, the Women of Faith “Over the Top” conference was well worth attending. Each session began with a brief time of “praise & worship” music led by the Women of Faith worship team — four attractive women with beautiful voices and gorgeous harmonies that caught the crowd's attention and got them focused and ready for the speakers. The music was well done — God-centered lyrics well sung. The program was engaging and nicely paced. Patsy Clairmont and Andy Andrews in particular were great speakers — both are very funny but also managed to convey profound messages through their humor. Their multiple presentations were supplemented by inspirational talks by the other guests, including Lisa Welchel, Brenda Warner, and Sandy Patty, and musical performances by Mandisa, Sandy Patty, and Amy Grant.

I took notes throughout the event so that I would remember, and could later ponder, some of the speakers' comments that most caught my attention. The thoughts that lingered for me? Patsy Clairmont insisting that “Your will is stronger than your emotions.” So often we (especially we women) feel that we're at the mercy of our emotions, but Patsy told us that that's not true — we can choose to control our emotions. She encouraged us to put boundaries on our emotions, reminding us that the Bible tells us that “a fool vents all her feelings.” The starting point, she said, is to harness our thoughts. Some thoughts are not worth our time, so we should refuse them (“casting down imaginations”), replace them with better thoughts (“think on things that are true, good, lovely . . . “), and repeat that process as many times as it takes until we have our minds and emotions under control.

Andy Andrews addressed a similar theme from different angles. He is hilariously funny, but shares a profound message through his humor. I have a lot of notes from his various talks, but one of his statements that struck me the most deeply was that in this society that is so obsessed with “feelings,” the cold, hard truth is that nobody really cares how you feel; they only care how you act. He went on to point out that nothing ever happens to you because of how you feel, only because of how you act / what you do.

As a woman who has often struggled with how and when to act on my feelings, I'll be meditating on those statements' truth for a long time.

This was a well planned, well executed event. The speakers all were engaging and inspiring. Although I was to some extent reluctant to go, I'm now very glad I went. Perhaps the best thing that happened to me at the event was something Andy said near the end of his first session. I should preface this by saying that one of the reasons I first considered going to this event was a bit of restlessness I've felt during recent months, a feeling of sadness that, as a woman in her early fifties, all the great experiences of my life are behind me, and a wondering about what's left for me in the years I have left. Andy made a statement that went straight to my heart. Basically, it's this (and of course I'm paraphrasing):

If you're still alive, then your purpose for being on the planet hasn't yet been fulfilled. That means that your best days are still ahead of you, because the fulfillment of your life's purpose is still in your future.

 That's what I needed to hear — a “word in due season” that brought encouragement at just the right time. And that's why, when the Women of Faith conference comes back to Dallas in 2012, I plan to be in the room.

Book Review: A Slow Burn, by Mary DeMuth

Last night I finished reading A Slow Burn , a recently released novel by Texas resident Mary E. DeMuth. This is the second novel in her Defiance Texas Trilogy, a series that tells the story of a tragic event in a small east Texas town and its impact on the people who live there. I read A Slow Burn right after finishing Daisy Chain, the first book in the trilogy. Unfortunately I can't tell you about A Slow Burn without including a spoiler for Daisy Chain, so if you haven't read the first book, maybe you should just stop now, take my word for it, go buy that book, and read it before you read the rest of my review. I am very glad I read these well written books and wait eagerly for the release of the third and final novel in the trilogy.

I am struggling to find words to describe A Slow Burn and how it made me feel, so let me start by saying I strongly recommend both books. The stories have a suspenseful throughline — in Daisy Chain, a 13-year-old girl goes missing and ultimately is found murdered. At the end of A Slow Burn we still don't know who killed young Daisy Chance, and throughout the story the town of Defiance, Texas, is on edge because the killer is still at large. Each of the books is told from a different point of view. Daisy Chain is told mostly in the voice of 14-year-old Jed Pepper, Daisy's best friend, while A Slow Burn is told mostly from the perspective of Daisy's mother, Emory, a single mom with a wounded, sordid past. Both characters are struggling with grief. Each of them at times seems to be losing the battle with overwhelming guilt over their respective roles (real or perceived) in Daisy's disappearance and death.

Mary DeMuth writes with a lyrical grace that borders on poetic, deftly creating a world you experience with all of your senses and characters who live and breathe. These books don't sugar-coat the world they portray, though. Jed and Emory and the other people living in the wake of Daisy's death are all the more compelling for the real-world anguish they endure — various key players suffer the effects of drug addiction, anger, infidelity, domestic abuse. DeMuth pulls no punches in showing the awful consequences of these things, with heartwrenching impact on the reader at times.

But — and this is a critical “but” that makes these books must-reads — the entire, often heartbreaking, tale is suffused with a subtly and artfully conveyed message of hope: grace and mercy are available and abundant, and healing is possible for even the deepest of soul-wounds. The last few chapters of A Slow Burn included events that surprised me and left me . . . almost unable to breathe as I experienced the depths to which a broken soul can take a person — and the unimaginable lengths to which grace will go to rescue that broken soul. In the context of an engrossing story about a child's death and a mystery killer, A Slow Burn asks the question (among others): can a person's sin take her to a place so dark, so far, that grace can't reach her there?

The book's back-cover copy says it well: “[T]his suspenseful novel is about courageous love, the burden of regret, and bonds that never break. It is about the beauty and the pain of telling the truth. Most of all, it is about the poiwer of forgiveness and what remains when shame no longer holds us captive.”

I don't feel like I've done this book justice — I want to say I recommend these books to anyone who enjoys fiction, but they run deeper than that. Unlike some “Christian fiction” that reads like a thinly veiled (and badly written) sermon, Daisy Chain and A Slow Burn simply tell a riveting story and, while doing so, show a vivid picture of how God's grace can reach into the darkest situation and bring light.


Awhile ago I blogged about my perceptions of Texas drivers. I laughed out loud this morning when the local Fox affiliate ran a news story about a new survey that was done recently and named the DFW area as having the second-rudest drivers in the country. Only New York drivers were worse. I told you! See link below to read the story.

DFW Drivers Among Rudest in Nation

Shared via AddThis