Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Odds & Ends

I'm tying up all sorts of loose ends these days. Or, more accurately, I'm trying to. I can't believe how stressed out I am about leaving my kids! I'm squeezing in as many physical therapy appointments as I can this week... To little avail so far. I just can't relax until everything (or almost everything) has been taken care of. And blogging one last time is on my to-do list.

Since I'm dealing with the details right now, I figured I'd do the same in this final blog before Spain. A quick run-down:

  • I got an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) for Summer Snow yesterday! I can't tell you how fun it is to hold the book in my hands, even though it's not the "real deal." Anyway, this is the beginning--Snow will be in stores before you know it. And if you can't wait, pre-order. Right now Snow seems to be doing better than Leaves on Amazon. (Not that I can claim to understand what the rankings mean.) Go figure!
  • I've blogged before about our involvement with a church and orphanage in Monrovia, Liberia and promised that we would have a website for you to visit soon. Well, we've finally got it up and running! Our non-profit is called One Body One Hope and it is designed to support the ministries of Abide in the Vine (the founding church) and Christ is Our Hope (an orphanage for 51 orphans). 15% of the proceeds from Leaves and Snow will go to the kids at Christ is Our Hope, where we provide food, shelter, education, and regular medical attention. More than anything, we are committed to being transformational--we don't believe it is enough to provide food and shelter for these kids. We want to change their lives. Check out the website to learn more. We are currently seeking approximately 20 more sponsors...
  • Finally, I'd like to announce a little contest! I've been told that the best marketing is done by word of mouth--and I believe whatever I hear when it comes to this sort of thing! Marketing and publicity is not really my forte. But since I like to do what I can, I thought I'd try to get the word out there a bit more. I'll give away a signed copy of Summer Snow to one person who goes to Amazon and writes a review of After the Leaves Fall. Preferably a nice, 5-star review! He-he-he! Anyway, all you have to do to enter the drawing is post a review and email me to let me know about it. I'll throw your name in the pot and pick a winner on February 14. Awww, Valentine's Day! How sweet is that? Of course, you won't get your book in February, you'll have to wait until I get my copies. But hey, it'll be like getting a present! You'll open your mailbox one day and voila! A new book. Signed nonetheless with my ridiculously messy signature.

I think that's everything. I gotta run--so much to do before we jet off to Spain! Hooray! Can't wait to tell you all about it. In the meantime, take care and keep warm (it's -10 here today!).

I have to add a brief P.S. Guess what I got in the mail this afternoon? A package from Author Relations at Tyndale telling me that After the Leaves Fall has gone to a third printing! How cool is that? I just might smile all the way to Spain. Wait, I was going to do that anyway... :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I write on Wednesday mornings, and this morning I am curled up on the couch in my parents' all season's room. They are both at work, so I have the house to myself. The fireplace is on, there's a foot of new snow outside (and more falling), and I have a hot mug of Starbucks coffee. Yay Starbucks! We don't have a Starbucks in our little town, but a friend of mine brought me a bag of Casi Cielo the other day and I ground beans for myself this morning. Yup, this coffee is almost heaven. Ah, the small pleasures.

And speaking of small pleasures (while, rather appropriately, speaking in Spanish), I thought I'd share with you a HUGE pleasure that is consuming my thoughts these days. I'm leaving for Spain soon! Yippee! I've wanted to travel to Spain ever since my very first Spanish class when I was a little freshman in high school. Sadly, the language lost it's luster for me after only a month of lessons, but somehow I fell in love with it again in college and graduated with a Spanish minor. I've been to Mexico and Central America, but never to Europe. Wow, I'm so excited I can hardly stand it.

Aaron and I are going with another couple and staying in a villa on the Costa del Sol. It's off-season in Andalucia, which is just fine by us. We're not going for the beaches. We're going for Granada and the Alhambra, Seville, the White Cities, possibly Morroco, and definitely a horseback riding tour through the Sierra Nevadas. Maybe a wine tour? Maybe a little antiquing in the famous markets? I think we need to stay longer.

Anyway, just thought I'd share. I'm not even taking my computer along so I won't blog for a while. (Though I'll try to get another blog or two in before we leave.) More than anything, I didn't want you to worry (he-he-he!)--I didn't drop off the face of the earth, I simply flew to the other side of it.

For your viewing pleasure... A shot of Seville and one of Rondo, one of the White Cities.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

First Love

I have love on the brain. Not sure why... Maybe it's because I just wrote a short scene depicting my protagonist's first crush. Maybe it's because I had a girls' night out on Saturday and watched 27 Dresses. Maybe it's because I'm crazy about Ingrid Michaelson's new CD--especially "The Hat," a sweet and soulful song about first love. (Sidebar: you have to check out her CD. It's a little bluesy, a little folksy, a little jazzy and a lot of fun. She has a great sound.) Anyway, all this talk about first love has me thinking about my own.

My first love was the first boy who I found attractive on a million different levels. Of course I had found boys "cute" before, but my first love was funny, charming, intelligent, talented in so very many ways, and attractive on top of it all. I got to know him as a friend over the course of two and a half years, all the while loving him in secret and mourning every time he fell for another girl--and fell all over himself to race to my side so he could tell me all about it. Sigh. Anyway, when he finally woke up and realized that he loved me, too, I had just found the strength to let go of him. It was too late. (Sounds a bit like the plot of 27 Dresses, actually.) Awww... Isn't that a sad story? Tragedy in the fragility of our full little hearts and all that sappiness.

Actually, tragic or happily-ever-after, I just adore these sorts of stories. We are so complicated, our stories are so multi-layered and diverse, so esoteric and unplottable. I adore the fullness of life, and love, that God allows us to experience. And I find the pain beautifully bittersweet--maybe not at the moment, but oh, the perspective afterward...

I digress. What I actually wanted to do with this post was solicit YOUR story. Who was your first love? Do tell. No names, please, but do take a moment to come out from lurking in cyberspace and share your tale. Did you marry him/her? Come to your senses and realize that he/she was really all wrong for you? Pine over him/her for years? If you don't feel comfortable posting a comment, feel free to email me:

As for me, I didn't marry my first love. I married my last, and best, love. And I like looking back at the journey that led me to my Aaron, knowing that every step along the way, even the heartbreaks, were designed to prepare my heart for his. Awww... isn't that just the sweetest thing you've ever read? Don't you hate it when the truth is so disgustingly saccharine? Hmmm... What does this post make me? A cynical romantic? A romantic cynic? A big softy with a jaded crust? Crusty? He-he-he! Whatever, just take a minute and tell about the person that made your young heart go pitter-patter.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Interview on RelzReviewz

There's nothing terribly interesting for me to blog about these days, so why don't you pop on over to RelzReviewz. I did an interview with Rel about After the Leaves Fall, Summer Snow, and life in general. She also has lots of other interesting interviews and insightful reviews--you won't be disappointed! Click here for the interview and here for the review of Leaves.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Up and Coming

Happy Monday! It's a new week and I always like to start my week out with happy things. Thus I attend a wonderful Monday morning Bible study, and go easy on myself for lunch by having frozen pizza with my fam. Thus I'm sitting in a sunny patch on my living room floor with the intention of blogging about other such happy things... :)

As you already know, After the Leaves Fall is out in stores and Summer Snow is available for pre-order. I'm an author! (How in the world did that happen?!?) Anyway, it looks like I'm going to be the author of more than two books. And here I would have been happy with one!

Just before Christmas my fabulous agent Danielle Egan-Miller of Browne & Miller in Chicago negotiated another two book contract for me with Tyndale House Publishing. I could not be happier. I absolutely love Tyndale. Working with them has been a dream come true. And I get to keep doing it! Dreaming it? Either way, I'm thrilled.

The first book is tentatively titled The Moment Between and I am already up to my eyeballs writing it. Having a blast, I might add. To pique your interest, I thought I'd give you a quick run-down. This is my own short synopsis and I tend to stink at writing them, so I apologize in advance for any lack of succinctness or cohesion. I hope it sounds like a good read to you! Enjoy!


Abigail Bennett is driven. She’s an ambitious, self-possessed, and very successful accountant in a well-established Florida firm. Abigail is convinced that nothing can shake the strong foundation of the world she has carefully constructed for herself. Until the unexpected happens, and she is pushed to the brink of something she has never experienced before: obsession.

Although it is completely against her nature, although it defies all conventional wisdom and threatens to ruin her life, Abigail begins to unravel. She abandons her job, her swanky apartment, everything to chase down the object of her obsession. He’s a bartender and an aspiring pilot. His name is Tyler Kamp.

Abigail’s journey is awash in memories of her childhood, for even as she races into her future, her past continually pulls her back. Though she tries to ignore each painful recollection of her younger days--a time filled with strict religious rules and regulations, and peppered with the errors and expectations of her aging parents--Abigail’s youth cannot be ignored. And at the center of it all is Abigail’s relationship with her younger sister, Hailey. Hailey is indefinably needy and strangely toxic, dangerously beautiful and frighteningly volatile. Abigail finds herself replaying her youth, desperate for clues and longing for a chance to atone for long-ago mistakes.

Past and present finally collide when Abigail’s obsession forces her to chase Tyler from Florida all the way across the continent to British Columbia’s fabled Summerlands. Torn between grace and condemnation, redemption and revenge, Abigail faces the implications of living a less than perfect life. Can Abigail ever forgive Hailey? Can she forgive Tyler? And, maybe most importantly, can Abigail ever forgive herself?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Oh, my goodness my brain is mush. I've been writing for two days straight more or less (with about a million interruptions a day, of course) and I feel like breaking something. This lovely little section of novel #3 was supposed to be done weeks ago. But then we all got sick, celebrated Christmas, and spun our wheels trying to get back on track. Now I'm feeling behind, and this frantic push to finish the section I'm currently working on is killing me. I'm almost there! The conclusion is only a page or so away! Why can't I pull the trigger???

Take a breath, Niki. Whewwww... Okay, here's my dilemma. In After the Leaves Fall and Summer Snow, my chapters typically ran about 2,000-3,500 words in length. My new book doesn't have chapters so much as it has sections: long segments of three different POVs broken up by smaller scenes. So although each section has smaller components, I still see each one as a whole. And this whole is closer to 6,000-8,000 words at a time. Here's the kicker: because I view these larger sections as one complete unit, I can't function properly until the whole darn thing is done. It consumes me. It renders me useless for anything but writing until I have put the entire section behind me. Seriously, it's bad. My oldest son wanted me to play race cars with him this afternoon and I zoned out so completely thinking about my book that he had to jump up and down on my stomach (I was laying on my back) to get my attention. Poor kid! I feel like a terrible mother.

Anyway, I've been thinking about balance in life and wondering what it is that YOU do to keep yourself sane and your priorities straight. I could use a little advice. A friendly pointer? A ghost writer? Just kidding. I love my writing, I love my family, I love my life. It's just that sometimes it all starts to swim together and I have a hard time keeping everything where it should be. Post a comment, send me an email. I'd love to hear what you have to say. In the meantime, I'd better get back to writing. The kids are asleep and if I don't finish this tonight... Well, I'd rather not think about it!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Summer Snow Cover

I am in such a great mood today. I finally feel good. Yay! That in and of itself is enough to put me on cloud nine. But there's more: I got to write this morning, I'm having my new dining room set delivered this afternoon, and I'm going out with friends tonight. Sometimes it just feels like everything is coming up roses. Oh! And did you see who responded to my last post? William P. Young, the author of The Shack. I'll never wash that post again. He-he-he!

Anyway, in the spirit of feeling happy, I thought I'd share with you something that absolutely thrills me: the cover for Summer Snow! Isn't it fabulous? Didn't Jessie (the artist) do an amazing job??? Oh, and did I mention that Summer Snow is already available for pre-order? Just click here.

Enjoy! I hope your weekend is shaping up to be as lovely (if not lovelier) than mine.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Shack

Happy 2008!

Wow, I’m old. Aren’t we all? I remember thinking that 2010 had to be on the very edge of eternity (or infinity or some other impossibly far-fetched and far-off age). And now that distant future is only two years away. Yikes. Next thing you know we’ll be wearing spandex head-to-toe and transporting ourselves around by disassembling our atoms and shooting them across space. Oh, I hope not. I rather like my body in one piece.

Anyway, to start off the New Year in blogland, I’ve decided to write a book review. I wanted to do something stellar, something cool and stylish and very 2008ish. So I'm writing a book review. Does that qualify as cool? I hope so, because I’m crazy about this book and excited to do what I can to promote it.

The book in question is The Shack, by William P. Young. Have you heard of it? I hadn’t up until my sister-in-law introduced me to the book when we were in Canada. But apparently it’s BIG NEWS because last time I checked it was #113 in sales on Amazon. Is everybody and their dog reading it? They should be. At any rate, I apologize if you’re already in the know and my little review is old news. If not, you better hop on the bandwagon (or is it off?) because you gotta read this book.

The Shack is a slim little novel about one man’s face-to-face encounter with the trinity. When Mack’s six-year-old daughter is kidnapped, and evidence is found that she has been brutally murdered, Mack’s faith in God begins to deteriorate. He finds himself entrenched in what he calls The Great Sadness, a deep and bottomless pit of sorrow that threatens to consume him. Then one day, Mack receives a letter from God; an invitation, really, asking him to return to the very shack where all of Mack’s worst nightmares seemingly came true. What he encounters there will change everything… I wish I could tell you more, but believe me: you don’t want me to.

I can’t tell you how this book impacted me. It read like a novel, but in many ways it felt more like a theological treatise. I learned so much about the nature of God, the person of the Holy Spirit, and the mystery of Jesus that I am still processing certain scenes and conversations. In some ways it was shocking and unexpected; in other ways it was almost blissfully familiar and reassuring.
The writing wasn’t always spectacular, but it didn’t need to be--it reminded me of a letter from a dear friend, quirks and all.

I’d love to say much, much more (or, better yet, to chat all about it with you over a cup of coffee), but rather than muddy the waters, I’m going to leave the ball in your court. I highly recommend that you go out and buy The Shack. It'll challenge you, I promise. (I'll give you one little clue: God is NOT a white-haired, elderly, Gandalf-type grandfather figure.) But that's okay. I happen to like being challenged. And hey, if and when you do buy it, and when you’re done reading, email me. I’d love to talk all about it…