The picture above isn't actually from my new book, Faith & Hope, but it is from a time when I was starting to think about the story line. This picture is from late summer 2011. My husband and I were fixing our house up to sell because he had taken a new teaching job in another city. My sister and mom had come down to help for a few days. I am the one on the right and my sister on the left. I had been working all summer at Camp Doublecreek in Round Rock, TX. Let me tell you, it's a great camp, and I had a blast. But it was hard work. However, please note the AMAZING tan I had that year. I do miss that part.
At that point, my plot consisted of throwing two sisters together for a while who didn't get along. It was very loosely based on my own relationship with my sister. Don't get me wrong. I love my sister and always have. But we had several years where we didn't see eye-to-eye at all, and got along much better when we lived three states apart. So, my brain played with the idea of, "What would happen if two sisters who barely got along with each other were forced to live in the same house again?" Then, I had to figure out what would force that to happen. Several years before this, my sister had lost her teaching job. I though, okay. Why not use that. So, would she move for a job? Sure. But would it need to be permanent or temporary? What would she do? Then, I got the job at Camp Doublecreek. Perfect. A temporary summer position for the fictional sister to be able to work that would be in the area of her other sister. I didn't actually end up writing the novel for a few more years, after I had worked out a few more plot points in my brain.
In my book, Hope ends up spending the summer working at Camp TwinCreeks. See the resemblance? I fully admit I based the summer camp in my book on the one I worked at. What's the point of having all these different jobs throughout the years if I can't use them in my books? It's hot, sweaty, and exhausting. But it's also fun and ends up rewarding Hope in more ways than one. You'll just have to read the book to find out how!
To give you just a little extra, I went back and found a post I had written for the blog I kept back then at the end of the first summer I worked camp, and I'm sharing it below. Enjoy!
I worked at camp all summer and all I got was. . .
This week, I'm introducing you to the other main character in my newest book, Faith & Hope. Obviously, her name is Hope. She's Faith's younger sister.
She lives in Oxford, MS, teaches high school math, rooms with her friend Cassidy, and loves TexMex. Problem is, she's been laid off and no one else is hiring right now. What's a girl to do? Her mom suggests she go live with big sister Faith way over in Texas. Hope can imagine nothing worse. Although she does love a good chicken enchilada.
My husband and I had never considered moving to Texas when we first married, but we ended up living in the Austin area two years into our life together. It was a bit of culture shock at first, but we grew to love it. Some of the experiences that happen in my book happened in my real life all those years ago. Even though I had sworn to never move to that state, it has come to be one I consider home, and I'm missing parts of it now that I'm back in Tennessee.
In honor of Hope, I tried out a new recipe on my family the other day. I've pinned several recipes mentioned in the book over here on my Pinterest board dedicated to this book. I hope you go check them out, as well as looking around at other pins I've saved on there that reminded me of the escapades the girls go through during their summer together.
If you had to move to another state, could you find something good in the situation? Chicken enchiladas with sour cream sauce are definitely something good I found in Texas.
Nothing makes a book feel more real to an author than seeing the cover for the first time. To see the title and your name there mixed with images that depict something about your story ... it's thrilling.
Last week, my cover artist, Diane Turpin, sent me a photo that was fairly close to what I wanted. I asked her to change just a few things, but I think she did a great job finding models that matched my mental images of my two main characters, Faith and Hope.
Are you ready to see it, too?
How about now?
Can I get a drum roll please?
Okay, okay. Without further ado ...
Hope is on the left and Faith on the right (opposite in the small picture). But I think it looks very Texas-y, don't you?
What do you think?
My new book, Faith & Hope, will be out in less than 40 days! Can you believe it?
To get you even more excited for it, I'm going to be doing some posts over the next month or so to help you get to know some of my characters a little better, and give you a peek into their lives.
Today, we're talking about Faith McCreary. She married her college sweetheart, Sam, and they're happily living just north of Austin, Texas. Now, after four and a half years of infertility struggles, they're finally expecting their baby. Needless to say, she's thrilled.
Faith teaches preschool during the school year, helps with a summer camp most summers--although the doctor has warned her against getting too hot while pregnant--and sells stamps so she can support her card-making hobby. Because she loves to make cards, she's had tons of ideas over the last few years of just how she could announce her pregnancy to family and friends. Unfortunately, the timing of this year didn't work out. She isn't due until December, so an Easter card won't cut it. Maybe for Mother's day.
Good news. Because she can't use the idea for herself, she's sharing it with you today in case you know someone who might like to send a cute card like this. Want to know a secret. This could be used for anything? You could make the inside into a chick with your child's picture as the face instead and send to a grandparent. But for today, here's what Faith would do.
First things first, let's gather some supplies. You need:
First, I used my envelope to measure and make sure I cut my eggs out small enough to slide inside. To do that, I folded the white to the right size and used the envelope as a template to cut a regular shaped card first. After you get your rectangle, cut it into an egg shape. You might want to use some scrap paper to make sure you get it the right shape and size and then trace onto the white to cut out that way. Cut the yellow into a slightly smaller egg. You should end up with two white eggs and one smaller yellow one.
Time to crack the shell! Figure out about where on the egg is the widest, and mark it on either side with a pencil so you can have a goal for cutting. Only on one white piece, cut a zig zag across the widest part.
Now, we assemble. Glue the bottom half of your cracked shell, only around the edges, to the bottom of the uncut white egg. Then, using your brad, fasten the top piece at a corner so it can open and close. Make sure your yellow part still fits. If you're like me, you might have to trim the edges again.
Time to decorate our yellow part. On one side, I wrote "Hatching this September." Obviously, you can use whatever phrase fits you best. "Happy Spring" or "Happy Easter" would also be cute. On the other side, I attached an ultrasound picture (this one happens to be of my son from several years ago).
I hope you had fun with this. I can't wait to share more of Faith's story with you!
Did you have any fun ideas for announcing your pregnancy? I'd love to hear about them!
Ever read a book and absolutely love it only to discover that you sort of already know the author? No? Well, I did. I read this amazing book, Irish Encounter, and pretty much couldn't put it down. Then, after I signed a contract with Mantle Rock Publishing for my book that's coming out in April, I was thrown into a Facebook group with Hope Dougherty, the author of that book. Even though Hope and I haven't gotten to meet face-to-face yet, I'm thrilled to have her here on my blog today so you can get to know a little more about her and her books, too.
Hope, I read your book Irish Encounter and thoroughly enjoyed it. I know the heroine owns a yarn shop in your story. Did you have to research yarn to write it, or did you already know a lot about it because of your love for crochet?
I do love crocheting and knew some things about yarn, but I visited a local sheep farm to find out more. Carolyn Beasley, the farmer, was patient with all my questions and showed me around her family farm. She shears the sheep and sends the wool to Maine to be spun into yarn, although she can spin it herself. She tried to teach me on a beautiful spinning wheel, but I need more practice. I took a dyeing class with her. I have three skeins of hand-dyed yarn still waiting for the perfect pattern!
I have tons of yarn waiting for projects, too, although none of mine are that special. That sounds like so much fun!
Your descriptions of the area in Ireland were beautiful. Have you been to Ireland? Is that what inspired your book, or did you go specifically for writing research?
Thank you. I’ve been three times in 1993, 2000, and 2007. The last two times were for home exchanges. We swapped homes with families in Galway and Bandon, County Cork in 20000 and in Blessington, County Wicklow in 2007. We had wonderful experiences that I drew on for Irish Encounter, and I researched on-line what I didn’t know. I’m ready for another trip. Galway is my favorite international city!
Tell us about your other books. Are they similar to the first?
Mars...With Venus Rising is a sweet romance set in Mars, Pennsylvania, near where we lived for fourteen years. Because of a childhood tragedy, Penn likes her life to be calm and predictable. John is a bungee-jumping pilot who enjoys life to the fullest.
Rescued Hearts is a Romantic Suspense. I love reading suspense but never thought about writing one. Our sheriff graciously granted me an interview and then connected me with two undercover detectives. I also attended the Writers’ Police Academy to learn about writing suspense. Mary Wade is a children’s clothing designer who accidentally gets into trouble. Brett is the undercover deputy who saves her.
Ooh. Those sound like fun! What inspired you to start writing? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I used to teach English before my children were born. I think most English teachers desire to write a book. I did, but the process intimidated me. Instead, I wrote articles for newspapers and local magazines. In 2009 when my oldest daughter was weeks away from high school graduation, I began to consider life after children. I wanted to focus on writing, not teaching again. Irish Encounter grew from a daydream I had when I was supposed to be writing something else.
Daydreams are where a lot of my writing comes from, too. Is that where a lot of your story ideas come from? Where else? Are you working on anything new right now?
Story ideas come from different places for me—a daydream, a former job, a surprise thought. I use lots of family and personal stuff in my stories, but they’re little things. For example, I have two sons, Lane and Quinn. In Irish Encounter, I named a street Quinn Lane. That street makes me smile. People who know me pick up on the little things and enjoy finding the “Easter Eggs.” I’ve never used a story from my real life as a plot point.
I just began a new story this week, but it’s going very slowly. I have more questions than I do answers!
I know you live on land that used to be your grandparents' farm. What is it like to be surrounded by that kind of heritage? Does any of it play into your stories?
Honestly, I do feel the weight of living on that land. We host a family reunion for the descendants of my great grandparents every June. One of the original five children, my great aunt, is still alive and joins us. The older ones tell stories of working the farm, sending brothers to fight in WWII, pulling practical jokes. The best part of the day for me is sitting around the tables after the meal, listening.
That sounds like an amazing heritage. I hope you're writing down all the stories to save for later!
Okay, let's wrap up with something fun. Can you tell us one interesting thing about yourself that very few others might know?
I know how to drive a lot of different vehicles. I can drive a tractor and a stick shift. I’ve soloed a Cessna 150 several times. People are always shocked to hear I drove a school bus during high school. Eons ago, my county allowed students to drive those buses. Yes, I’m serious. Sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds were responsible for transporting precious cargo in those huge tin cans without seat belts! Shocking, but true.
Thanks so much for having me. These were fun questions!
Thanks for joining us, Hope! This was a lot of fun.
If you'd like to learn more about Hope and her books, check out the information below.
Hope holds a Master’s degree and taught at East Carolina University and York Technical College. Her novels include Irish Encounterand Mars…With Venus Rising. A member of ACFW, RWA, SinC, she writes for SeriousWriter.com. Residing in North Carolina, she and her husband enjoy visits with their daughters and twin sons.
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After almost three years of living under a fog of grief, Ellen Shepherd is ready for the next chapter in her life. Perhaps she’ll find adventure during a visit to Galway. Her idea of excitement consists of exploring Ireland for yarn to feature in her shop back home, but the adventure awaiting her includes an edgy stranger who disrupts her tea time, challenges her belief system, and stirs up feelings she thought she’d buried with her husband. After years of ignoring God, nursing anger, and stifling his grief, Payne Anderson isn’t ready for the feelings a chance encounter with an enchanting stranger evokes. Though avoiding women and small talk has been his pattern, something about Ellen makes him want to seek her—and God again. Can Ellen accept a new life different than the one she planned? Can Payne release his guilt and accept the peace he’s longed for? Can they surrender their past pain and embrace healing together, or will fear and doubt ruin their second chance at happiness?
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This is a place for me to tell you about what I'm writing, talk about the process or where some of my ideas came from, or even have other authors come in and talk about their books.
Authors I Love to Read (in no particular order)