Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Review and Interview: Treasure Blume

This week I had so much fun reading The Unlikely Gift of Treasure Blume. It's an ugly duckling story along the lines of Big Stone Gap and My Big, Fat Greek Wedding. Treasure Blume was born with the "gift" of being extremely unlikable. The only people who can stand her are children and senior citizens. I totally related to Treasure and her dilemnas. She was lovable and hilarious while also inspiring me to try a little harder.

At the beginning of the book, Treasure is living away from her family for the first time in her life in order to accept her first job as an elementary school teacher. Unlike most books I read, this one was not full of life-and-death adventures. It's definitely a character-driven novel, where most of the action centers around the elementary school or Treasure's involvement in a senior citizen dance team. I found it to be a refreshing and original Romance with excellent writing.

I hope you'll enjoy reading my interview with Lisa R. Harris:

Rebecca: What was your inspiration for writing The Unlikely Gift of Treasure Blume?

Lisa: I started writing Treasure Blume after a no-good, very bad, horrible day when it felt like everyone I talked to that day hated me: the bank teller, the checker at the grocery store, the pest control guy. I was so frustrated. Then I thought, "What if my life was like this everyday?" and that was the first seed of Treasure Blume. I was working in my garden, and when I walked back into my house, Treasure Blume walked in with me. That night, after my children were in bed, I wrote 15 pages of background material on her: what she looked like, what her family was like, what her job was, etc. 

Rebecca: I love how you took a horrible day and turned it into something awesome! You're a busy mom and a writing instructor at BYU. How do you find time to write?

Lisa: I usually write during my summer breaks at night time, after my children go to bed. It took me several summers to complete and edit Treasure Blume.

Rebecca: I write a lot on summer breaks, too. What's your favorite indulgence?

Lisa: British Period Dramas on PBS (like Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife) and Cadbury mini-eggs (I bought enough to last me until next Easter).

Rebecca: I love Downton Abbey, too. I have to confess, though, I haven't gotten up the courage to watch the latest episode yet. Which of your characters do you like best and why?

Lisa: Grammy Blume was the most fun to write. She would say things that surprised me and made me laugh out loud. I had a hard time reining her in. She would have taken over the whole novel, if I'd have let her. She is a spotlight stealer.

But I do love Treasure a lot. Like her, I've had instances where I said exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time. What I admire most about Treasure is that she never lets episodes like that get her down.

Rebecca: I like that about Treasure, too. What book have you read lately that you really liked?

Lisa: I just finished Jennifer Nielson's new book The Runaway King. I love all her double meanings and plot twists.

Rebecca: Ohhh, double meanings and plot twists. I'll have to check that one out. What advice do you have for other writers?

Write. Every day. Turn off the editor in your head, and get the words onto the page. Even if you think it isn't very good, save it. Then come back to it later, with fresh eyes. 

Rebecca: Great advice! Anything else you would like to add?

I am just so grateful to the people who have embraced Treasure, quirks and all. It's been such an adventure to bring her to life. You can find more Treasure at www.treasureblume.com and on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TreasureBlume

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Thank You Basket for a Bishop

My husband is an LDS bishop. He stays really busy helping other people after he gets home from his full-time job. All his church work is unpaid, but we're definitely paid in other ways. The other day, someone dropped an anonymous package off for him. I thought it was so sweet and clever, I wanted to share.

Here's what was in the package:

A thank-you note

A tissue box with this note: You have comforted those who stood in need of comfort (and even dried a tear or two.)

Pen with this note: You have signed your name in numerous places of responsibility

A foot care kit with this note: You spend lots of time on your feet ministering inside homes.

Hand sanitizer with this note: You have reached out to the hands which hang down.

A sleep kit from Jet Blue with this note: You have lost plenty of sleep over problems you didn't create.

Scented candle with this note: Your home is a respite from the difficulties you may be confronted with.

Lotion with this note: Your wife makes the rought spots a little softer.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Book Review: Replacing Gentry

Replacing Gentry is a book that's near and dear to my heart. I was one of the beta readers last summer, and I've seen Julie N. Ford, the author, labor through the process of bringing this book to life. I love the characters, and it was really fun to read the final version. It's a Romantic Suspense that will definitely keep readers on the edge of their seats.

The beginning of the book is similar to Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. Marlie meets Daniel, a wealthy widower. The two are complete opposites--Marlie a liberal social worker from California and Daniel a conservative state senator from Tennessee. Still, they fall in love and decide to marry. That's when the intrigue begins as Marlie unravels the mystery of Daniel's former wife Gentry's death.

The book takes off in unexpected directions. There are some science fiction and political elements that intrigued me. Without giving anything away, I'll just say that one of my favorite plot elements has to do with a secret society.

Maybe it's because I'm a Southerner living in the West, but I loved the insights into the Southern lifestyle. The book is set in Tennessee. Marlie's descriptions of Southern etiquette, weddings, and family quirks made me laugh. Julie's great at describing settings and characters in a way that helps the reader feel like she's actually there.

This is a mainstream novel, so it contains a few elements that may be offensive to some of my readers--a little marital steam, some teenage drug use, etc. It was clean enough for me, but it would be too racy for my daughter. If you prefer a squeaky clean read, check out Count Down to Love, another of Julie's books.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring Break Pictures

We just got back from our fabulous trip to Virginia, where we got to see a lot of family. It's always great to be with the people I love. It was also fun to see my little nephew take his first steps. I didn't think I'd be around for another baby's first steps until I had grandkids, so that was fun. My brother's older son also became a good friend with my youngest. It was fun to see the little cousins connect. As a bonus, I get to count a tiny portion of my trip as a tax write-off because my books are based in Virginia, so part of every trip is research.

Here are a couple of pictures of Great Falls and the woods around the falls. Great Falls is one of my favorite places. It's featured in my book, Persuasion.


The trees in Virginia are huge. It's always a thrill for my boys to be out in the woods, playing in the creek and climbing trees.