Friday, February 29, 2008

Archived Interview

Well, yesterday I had the chance to spend a little time with Steve Bonenberger at Business Talk Radio Network. Originally the interview was supposed to lead off the second hour of Steve's program, Nexus Found, but for whatever reason he decided to switch my segment to the first hour. I was pretty excited about that since the first hour of Steve's program airs twice: once in the evening and once in the morning. My mom was the only person who caught it live this morning at 7:00 central time. Anyway, Steve already has the interview archived. If you'd like to hear it, click here and then choose the following segment: 2/28/08 - Hour 1. There is a minute or two of commercials and then the interview is the first thing you'll hear. It runs about 13 minutes.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Fun Book News

I love getting the mail these days because it seems like there is always something fun in it! I look forward to political updates from Newsweek, unexpected letters from friends, and surprise packages from Tyndale. I've gotten two such exciting packages lately and I thought I'd share the news with you.

First, I learned that Leaves is going to be translated into Dutch! The Dutch title is Lichtval and the cover is a totally new design. When it's up on the
Kok website, I'll link the jpeg so you can see it. I think it's really interesting! Anyone fluent in Dutch besides my in-laws?

Also, yesterday I received the official audio copy of After the Leaves Fall. It's an 8 cd, 9 and 1/2 hour listening experience!
Recorded Books has published this version and I have to admit, it sounds pretty neat. The reader, Johanna Parker has a really great, lilting voice with a bit of a southern accent. Easy listening, though not for me because it's a little like hearing yourself on an answering machine or seeing a photo that someone took of you when you weren't aware they were doing it. It's a strange feeling to say the least!

Anyway, just thought I'd share. I have to phone Steve at
Business Talk Radio Network (see yesterday's post about the radio interview) in a bit so I'd better get going. I've got laundry to fold, a dirty diaper to change, a dishwasher to unload, and it would be nice to change out of my pajama pants before I have to sound professional!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Radio Interview

On Thursday, February 28 (that's tomorrow!) I'm going to be doing a radio interview on Business Talk Radio Network. Steve Bonenberger hosts a show called Nexus Found on the network, and he regularly highlights authors, artists, musicians, and entreprenuers. The show airs weekdays 8-10pm EST. If you would like to tune in live, I will lead off the second hour of the show (9pm EST). Or, if you would like to catch the show after the fact, you can check out the archives for the Nexus Found program. I'm not very tech saavy, but Steve graciously walked me through the process of tuning in and I'll try to do the same for you!

1. Go to Business Talk Radio Network.

2. Click on the "Listen Live" tab if you intend to listen live. OR

3. Click on "Archives/Podcasts."

4. Find Steve Bonenberger's profile and Nexus Found.

5. Click on 02/28/08 - Hour 2.

Happy listening!

Monday, February 25, 2008

When it rains...

Sometimes when it rains, it pours. And sometimes when it rains, the roof leaks. Like now. Like my roof, leaking through the ceiling in the laundry room and bathroom. My house is dotted with pots and pans, never mind water puddles where new bubbles erupt in the plaster and we haven’t had the foresight to place extra pans. My spirit is sinking in the deluge. And my sons are, as ever, helpful: they flooded the bathroom yesterday with the intent of making a “surprise lake.” When I opened the bathroom door and found them standing in a half inch of water and soaked to the bone, they yelled: “Surprise!” How could I be mad? They were just trying to speed up the slow, soggy process that will eventually end with our home sunk in a gooey little pond.

Okay, I’m being melodramatic, but this winter is kicking my butt! Not only is our roof leaking, there is nothing we can do about it (too much ice built up on the roof). Add that to the fact that it’s still snowing, everyone and their dog is sick (the county health authority actually closed down all the nurseries in our area due to “epidemic outbreaks” of influenza--been there, done that), and confinement is starting to equal conflict in nearly every relationship I hold dear. Sigh.

But I’m not blogging to complain. I’m blogging in an attempt to lift my spirits. I know some lovely ladies who do a thing called “Thankful Thursday.” Well, I can’t wait for Thursday to indulge in a little thankfulness. My manic Monday is in desperate need of a little perspective. So, without further adieu, five things that I am thankful for on this crazy, snowy Monday:
  1. Upcoming events! I am going to the Calvin College Festival of Faith and Writing in April. On top of three incredible days of hobnobbing with fellow writers and lovers of all things literary, I am going to take an extra couple of days and write! Oh I am so excited… And if that isn’t cool enough, I am also going to ICRS (International Christian Retail Show) in Orlando this July. I love this writing gig!
  2. Clarity! I had a major plot breakthrough in my work-in-progress this weekend. I can’t believe how much purpose and direction it has given me. (Special thanks to my critique partner, Todd.)
  3. An understanding hubby! Of course we snap at each other, but when we do we get to kiss and make up. We’ve done lots of snapping and lots of making up in the past few days.
  4. Gorgeous kids! Sure, my little one refuses to answer if I ask, “Do you love mommy?” But that doesn’t mean he and his brother aren’t completely adorable. Good thing I think their cheeks are utterly irresistible or I would have gone loony when I saw their lovely lake surprise.
  5. Music! Even though my boys are stuck on International Harvester (cheesy but totally fun country song with lyrics like: “I’m a God-fearin’, hard-workin’, combine driver, hoggin’ up the road in my p-p-p-p-plower…”), a little music in my day gets me dancing around the kitchen even when water is p-p-p-p-ploppin’ from my ceiling.

Whew! I made it. Maybe this winter isn’t so bad after all… Wait a second, I am going loony...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Birds and the... Fish?

Our oldest son is four years old and I have to admit: "the talk" has never even crossed my mind. He's a preschooler for heaven's sake! But, sadly, they do grow up way too fast, and I learned this morning that my husband and I need to be better prepared. For your reading pleasure, our family breakfast conversation:

Setting: In the kitchen at the bar. On one end of the counter is a new ten-gallon fish tank with only five survivors from the original cast of nine. Aaron and Nicole (aka: Daddy and Mommy) are chatting over a cup of coffee. Big Boy is eating his fourth slice of toast and has chocolate sprinkles (a Dutch breakfast treat--don't worry, we made him eat eggs, apple, and peanut butter toast before breaking out the sprinkles) from ear to ear. Baby is putting squares of peanut butter toast in his hair.

Nicole: Hey, look at that! I think our tiger barbs are getting a little friendly.

Aaron: That would explain why the big one has been so aggresive chasing the other fish away. Mimicking amorous male fish: 'Can't a guy get a little alone time with his lady?'

Nicole: Laughs. Look, the shark is jealous. Mimicking the shark: 'You never hang out with the guys anymore! She's got you wrapped around her little fin...'

Aaron: You know, if they do mate, the other fish will probably eat the eggs. Do tiger barbs lay eggs?

Big Boy: What's mate?

Aaron and Nicole exchange meaningful glances.

Nicole: Ahem. Why don't you field this one daddy?

Aaron: Well, Sweetie, that mommy and daddy fish love each other very much and I think they would like to make some baby fish.

Nicole: Aghast. I think you could have avoided this conversation entirely by saying that they were just snuggling.

Aaron: Oh.

Big Boy: How do they make baby fish?

Nicole: Knew that was coming. Reaches over to Baby and begins to tickle his knees.

Baby: Laughs hysterically.

Nicole: Sorry honey, mommy can't hear you.

Baby: Continues to giggle.

Aaron: Begins to tickle Big Boy, too. All-out tickle fest ensues. Topic of "mating" is happily forgotten. Until next time...

Oh my goodness, that was close. Any suggestions/help/advice for round two? I know my son--he won't forget! Can't I just freeze him at this sweet little age???

Monday, February 18, 2008

Monday Reviews

It's a bit of a melancholy Monday in my corner of the Midwest. The weather is miserable (I am so sick of snow!), my kids have cabin fever, and my husband just got diagnosed with Influenza A. The boys and I got the flu shot, but Aaron refrained this year. Sucker. Although, I guess we're not in the clear! Apparently the shot this year is only working on 45% of the different flu strains. Yuck. Anyway, I'm feeling a little bummed, so I thought I'd cheer myself up by talking about books. Books can always make me happy! In case your week is looking anything like mine, here is my recommendation on how to spend (and how not to spend) your cooped-up time.

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

Synopsis: Set in Paris at the beginning of World War II, Suite Francaise is a mosaic of stories comprising the details of life in Nazi-occupied France. As the Parisians flee the city, we are drawn into their firsthand accounts of life on the edge of sanity. As a successful writer living in Paris during the first half of the twentieth century, Irene brings a haunting and almost biographical feeling to this book--you aren't just reading about the war, you're living it.

My Take: As a writer, I was drawn to Suite Francaise because it is, essentially, a manuscript and not a completed novel. Irene Nemirovsky was a Jew, and in 1942 (in the middle of writing the stories that would comprise Suite Francaise) she was deported to Auschwitz where she died in the gas chambers. I began my reading of Suite Francaise by skipping to the end and devouring the appendices. Appendix I contains portions of Irene's handwritten notes. Appendix II is a collection of different correspondence dating from 1936-1945. I consumed the letters with my heart in my throat and my tears rippling the pages as I read Michel's (Irene's husband) tender pleas for someone to help free his wife. The entire book has an intensity to it that is astonishing not only because Irene is a brilliant writer but also because we know the ending and she does not. It is stunning and beautiful, hopeful and haunting. I loved it.

The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle

Synopsis: Sarah Laden is a recent widow and the mother of two difficult boys. She is just starting to put her life back together when she interrupts a suicide attempt by her best friend's son, Jordan. In the ensuing fall-out Sarah's world is shattered. After Jordan is hospitalized, it is quickly discovered that he has been horribly sexually abused and all evidence points to his parents. Sarah is shocked and horrified, torn between defending her best friend and coming to the aid of the terrified Jordan. Eventually, Jordan is released into Sarah's custody and she begins the careful process of picking up the pieces for herself and the young men in her life.

My Take: I hated this book. I can't put it any more bluntly that that. The first 100 pages were like a nightmare. I wish that I could erase the things that I read about Jordan's awful abuse and the way in which his own parents exploited him and other children. This book looked like such a redemptive, hope-filled read when I picked it up, but after the first section I was so longing for the light at the end of the tunnel that I skimmed all the way to the end of the book. I needed to find something worth clinging to. Sadly, I did not find any sort of promise until the very last pages and even then it seemed thin and incomplete to me. I can't believe I did this, but I chucked The Kindness of Strangers in the garbage! Don't worry, it was my book to throw away, not the library's. But still, I am usually a very open-minded reader and unafraid of sensitive subject matter, so for me to detest this book so thoroughly is really alarming. True, my aversion might have much to do with the fact that I am the mother of two young sons, but still, be warned if you decide to pick it up.

After that bummer of a review, I feel like I should give you a few fun freebies! Here are some of my recent favorite reads:

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
A story about friendship and betrayal set in 19th century China. I found it melancholy but rich and deliciously fun to read--just don't expect to walk away feeling light and happy!

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Gothic and mysterious. Full of intrigue and unexpected plot twists. Perfect for a stormy night and nice glass of rich Cabernet Sauvignon.

Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen
There's lots of buzz around this book and I have to admit I enjoyed it. It's captivating and easy to read, though I found the ending to be a little too easy. It's a rough book that ends up unexpectedly (and a little tritely) happily-ever-after. Nevertheless, I found it to be a good beach read.

Bel Canto by Anne Patchett
Everyone is talking about her new book, Run, but don't miss Bel Canto! It's set in a hijacked mansion in South America and is so gloriously romantic and redemptive, I couldn't put it down.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Before I left for Spain I announced a little contest. It was my intention to draw the name of one person to receive an autographed copy of Summer Snow (when it comes out, of course). All you had to do was write a review of After the Leaves Fall on Amazon. Well, five lovely ladies were gracious enough to take me up on my offer. So... I've decided to give away five signed books instead of one! Carey, Miriam, DW, Kristi, and Anna: you all win! Miriam, I know where you live, but as for the rest of you, I'm going to need some info. Please email me privately with your mailing address. I can't wait to send you your copies!

Since it's a special day (Happy Valentine's to y'all), I'll leave you with some special pics of me and my honey. Did I mention that Spain was incredibly romantic???

Here we are sitting on the wall at the Alhambra. After realizing how high up we were, Aaron convinced me to sit on the bench instead of on the edge.

This photo was taken on the hike up to the Alcazaba in Malaga. It was our very first real day in Spain and one of my very favorites--everything was so new and exciting!

Sigh. This fuzzy picture is the only photo I have of our one special night out. We splurged on our second-to-last night and went to a spectacular restaurant on the beach called Bruno's. We ate wild salmon with gorgonzola and had crepes suzette for desert. Oh well, it's crystal clear in my memory even if it's not otherwise well-preserved!

Monday, February 11, 2008


I’ve been tagged! Miriam at In His Grip has tagged me to tell you seven random facts about myself. Oooo! How exciting--I haven’t played tag since elementary school. Here goes.

  1. I bite my fingernails. I wish I didn’t and I know it’s a terrible habit, but I just can’t seem to stop. It’s an unconscious action that I’m not even aware of doing--and I usually do it when I’m writing, reading, watching a movie, or doing something else that completely occupies my mind. Any advice to help me quit?
  2. I’m a very girly-girl. In fact, I have a friend who insists on calling me “Princess,” though I tell him it’s a misnomer. But I do love French manicures and getting my hair done. And nothing compares to wearing a dress and a pair of slinky high heels.
  3. Oddly enough, I can also be a real tomboy. I love animals and I spent two years of my life working on a dairy farm. I milked in work boots, cut-off jean shorts, and t-shirts with the sleeves ripped out (I’m sure I was quite the sight!). When I worked the 3am shift I drank a liter of milk straight from the tank after we finished at dawn. And though the cows could toss me around with a shake of their huge heads, my boss told me I had a real gentle hand with the animals and they were always good as gold for me. Well, except for the bull that tried to gore me. But that’s a different story!
  4. I’m afraid of heights. Sort-of. I love roller coasters and I used to love climbing trees (haven’t done that in a while), but when I’m not strapped in or completely in control of my surroundings heights scare me. When we were in Spain we took a cable car to the top of the rock of Gibralter. It was horrible. I think I had vertigo because the whole time we toured the top I kept losing my balance and tripping over things!
  5. I have always wanted a brown-eyed baby. Though my eyes are green and my husband’s eyes are blue, my paternal grandmother has beautiful brown eyes and I always hoped that her genes were recessive and would pop out in one of my children. Who knew that God would grant me my wish for a brown-eyed baby by making me the mother of an Ethiopian born child? I feel so blessed. And nothing compares to his gorgeous chocolate eyes!
  6. I’m a natural blond. Though I am a girly-girl and have been tempted many times, I have never dyed, highlighted, or low-lighted my hair. I keep waiting for it to turn brown, but it just doesn’t.
  7. I love the little things in life. Knowing that there is a new box of cereal in the cupboard (I love cereal) can put a smile on my face as I’m falling asleep at night. Unwrapping a nice bar of soap and drinking in the scent thrills me. Flavored lip-gloss makes me smile. It doesn’t take much to make me happy!

There you go, seven random facts. I don't know if they're interesting, but they are random! Anyway, now I'm supposed to tag seven more people. Problem is, I don't even know that many bloggers and the ones I do know just did this exercise. So I'm going to be rebellious and tag no one.

PS - Don't forget to post a review of Leaves on Amazon if you are interested in winning a signed copy of Summer Snow! I'll announce the winners tomorrow evening so you still have time. (Check out this post for more info.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Home from Spain

We're home! I think I'm still a bit jet-lagged, but I'm feeling incredibly refreshed and wonderfully blessed. And though I miss the sunshine of southern Spain, it is good to be home. The trip was indescribable. I wish I could sum it all up (and I'm sure I'll try in subsequent posts), but for tonight I'm going to leave you with a few photo highlights. These are some of my fondest memories from Spain.

One of my favorite mornings consisted of a little girl time. Lisa and I braved the wild Malaga traffic to seek out Calle San Miguel in Torremolinos. Even better than the shopping was the cafe con leche and shared chocolate croissant!

Unexpected alleys with bright buildings and lovely cafes surprised us at every turn. Though I adored the countryside, wandering the cities was a rare treat. We were even lucky enough to run into a full-fledged Carnival! Being swept away by the crowd was exhilirating.

The Alhambra was definitely unforgettable. I'm sitting on the wall of the Moorish fortress (the Alcazaba) and the palace of King Carlos V is in the background. I didn't realize until after the picture was taken that I was sitting at least a hundred feet above the gardens below!

Okay, I have to post one more Alhambra picture. Here are Aaron and I standing in front of the famous reflecting pool in the palace of the Nasires. The room behind us was the very room where Queen Isabella commisioned Christopher Columbus to go in search of the New World. So very cool.

Well, that's it for now. Do I still have any readers out there after being gone so long? I sure hope so! If there are a few of you still kicking around, I hope you have a lovely week. :)