Sunday, July 15, 2007
Lightning and Lace (Vol. 3 in Texas Legacy Series) by DiAnn Mills
|COMMENT this week for a chance to win a print copy of Lightning and Lace, Lanterns and Lace or Leather and Lace signed by Diann Mills|
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Award-winning author, DiAnn Mills, launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. Currently she has over forty books in print and has sold more than a million copies.
DiAnn believes her readers should “Expect an Adventure.” Her desire is to show characters solving real problems of today from a Christian perspective through a compelling story.
Six of her anthologies have appeared on the CBA Best Seller List. Three of her books have won the distinction of Best Historical of the Year by Heartsong Presents. Five of her books have won placements through American Christian Fiction Writer’s Book of the Year Awards 2003 – 2006. She is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader’s Choice award for 2005 in the long contemporary and novella categories.
DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Chi Libris, Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope and Love, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a mentor for Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writer’s Guild.
She lives in sunny Houston, Texas, the home of heat, humidity, and Harleys. In fact she’d own a Harley, but her legs are too short. DiAnn and her husband have four adult sons and are active members of Metropolitan Baptist Church.
To find out more about DiAnn and her books, visit www.diannmills.com.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Clouds of Secrets Loom Over a Texas Town
Too many people are hiding things in this town. Afraid of someone or something.
A preacher - disarming and dangerous - arrives in Kahlerville, Texas, incognito. From what or whom is the bespectacled and bearded Travis Whitworth hiding?
A mother - widowed and wandering - attempts to rise from the ashes of mourning. Will Bonnie Kahler find the strength to conquer the demons within and face the evils without?
A boy - unruly and undisciplined - is fighting against what life has handed him. What will it take to turn Zack Kahler around?
A banker - deceitful and dubious - casts suspicions on the new preacher and Zack when a woman turns up dead. Will Lester Hillman hang the murder on innocent men?
Two men - determined and driven - desire to make the same woman their own. But only one can win her. What will it cost -heart or life?
When the storm retreats, who will be left standing.
Kahlerville, Texas 1898
In the predawn hours when the darkness of earth stood ready to relinquish its cloak, Bonnie Kahler reached to touch the opposite side of the bed. Empty. Just as it had been for the past two years, nine months, and nineteen days. Every morning she woke to the hope that Ben hadn’t been taken from her, and his body didn’t lie in a cold grave while she struggled to keep a feeble hold onto sanity.
Some days Bonnie believed she could cast aside her sorrow and raise her children alone. She could be strong, decisive, and not let her widowhood affect her every step. On those days she believed God still cared about her, and He would show her how to fight the blackness engulfing her very soul.
This was not one of those days.
Bonnie drew back her hand and took a deep breath. Her head pounded. Zack and Michael Paul needed breakfast and a smiling mother before they left for school. Lydia Anne needed a mother who played dolls and dressed her sun•kissed hair with ribbons and bows. All three of her children deserved a mother who understood she carried the roles of both parents. The boys loved to fish, but she hated the thought of handling dirty worms and slimy fish. Far too long she’d expected her brothers and stepfather to fill Ben’s shoes.
Help me, Lord. I want to climb out of this selfish hole and live for You. I want only truth in everything I do.
Refusing to wallow in self pity one minute longer, Bonnie swung her legs over the side of the bed and walked to the open window. She pushed aside the curtains and listened to the rooster give his call to morning and the cattle answer in response. This had been Ben’s favorite time of the day.
“Bonnie, come watch the sunrise. It’s prettier than most,” he’d say. And she’d crawl out of bed to join him. Not that she shared his enthusiasm for the day’s beginnings, but because she loved him.
Today the sun barely lit the horizon in colors matching the fall leaves carpeting the ground outside her home. Odd, how they glittered like jewels in the pale moonlight when only a half moon illuminated them before the sun pushed it from sight. Autumn ushered in painful memories of Ben’s last days—the persistent cough that decimated his body and took his spirit to a place where she could not go.
She slowly turned to the nightstand where Ben’s Bible rested. Most days she shrank back from looking at it and exploring the Words that promised to sustain her. But she always thought about reading the familiar passages. Beside the Bible sat an empty wine bottle. She startled. Had she drunk that much last night? A friend had suggested she drink a small glass of wine when she couldn’t sleep. Last night the wine tasted as sweet as her life had been with Ben, and today guilt consumed more than an empty flask. Her family would be appalled. Seeking their guidance crossed her mind, but she was too ashamed of her inability to cope after all these months.
“I will not give into this,” she whispered. “Dear Jesus, help me.”
The day’s activities scrolled across her mind. She needed to meet with Thomas in the next few minutes. He was a good foreman who knew her failings, yet he always took the time to review the past week’s work and show her where every penny was being spent or earned for the Morning Star Ranch. Soon, maybe today, she’d take more interest in the ranch.
Michael Paul wanted to take piano lessons, and today she’d make the arrangements with her sister•in•law to teach him. Lydia Anne needed more attention from her mother, the kind of attention that didn’t result in frustration and tears from both of them.
A twinge of fear took root in Bonnie’s heart. She’d been summoned by Zack’s teacher. His unruly behavior had caused problems at school, all of which had begun when his father died.
“Don’t make excuses for him,” her mother had said. “Force him to face up to the consequences of his mistakes. It you don’t, he’ll continue to torment Michael Paul and Lydia Anne. The older he gets, the more his tendency will be to bully you. Now is the time for Zack to understand rules and authority.”
How could Bonnie instill those values in her son when she couldn’t bring herself to discipline him? He grieved for his father. All of them did. How could she help her precious children when she shared their misery?
Bonnie lifted her shoulders and swept her finger tips across the Bible, a milestone, for she hadn’t been able to complete that small gesture of respect for months. Her other hand grasped the wine bottle and she set it by the chamber pot.
I’ll drink tea to help me sleep. I’ll listen in church this week, and I’ll try very hard to take Mama’s advice. She nodded to punctuate her thoughts. The Reverend planned to retire soon; perhaps she’d garner the strength to ask him for counseling.
With more determination than she’d felt in months, Bonnie dressed and descended the stairs to begin her duties for the day. She heard Juanita humming a Spanish tune in the kitchen and smelled the nutty aroma of coffee.
“Buenos dias, Miss Bonnie.” Juanita clasped her small hands together and smiled broadly. “Another beautiful day, I think. Si?” She poured Bonnie coffee and added a brilliant smile.
“Thank you.” Bonnie wrapped her fingers around the cup. She envied Juanita’s iridescence—always happy, beautiful, passionate about her faith. “I think the day is as beautiful as you and I choose.”
“Then we choose the best.”
Forcing a smile, Bonnie told herself that soon she’d not force joy. It would return. Life was about to change. It had to. A rap on the door indicated Thomas had arrived to discuss ranch business, and today Bonnie planned to listen.
How old were you when you began writing?
Actually I was in the second grade. I wrote poetry and stories. Then I remember filling up a Big Chief pad with my first book - a western. I don’t remember what happened in the story except the hero always rode off into the west at the end of each chapter. I imagine it resembled Wagon Train, since that was my favorite TV show at the time. My goodness, I hope some of your readers know that classic!
What is your most important aspect of writing?
Without a doubt, it is characterization. I’m a character-driven writer, and that means my goal is to write real “people” who react and respond to the events and happenings in their lives according to their traits. When you consider how long we have lived to develop our character, then you have an idea the formidable job a writer has in developing credible, colorful, and compelling characters. Characterization drives plot. Stop for a moment to consider your favorite books or movies. The plot may have intricate twists and turns, but it’s the characters who become unforgettable.
How do you write? Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story?
I write with a "what-if" mindset. This comes from reading the newspaper, hearing a personal story, TV or movie, or the late night news. Characterization is my most important factor after the what-if question. Then the world of the story pulls together as I deepen characterization and ask myself "what is the worst possible thing that could happen to this character?"
Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
Both, but mostly imagination.
Out of all the characters that you've written, who is your favorite and why?
I would say there are two: Casey O'Hare from Leather and Lace. She was a lady outlaw with a sordid past, but she fought the odds against her with God's help to make right choices and glorify God. The second character is Paul Farid from When the Lion Roars and When the Nile Runs Red. (The latter is a September release by Moody Publishers.) Paul is an Arab Christian who once persecuted the Southern Sudanese, but God touched him and he has never been the same.
Do you have a favorite genre?
That’s like asking a mother which child is her favorite!
I enjoy writing historicals because of the romance of an older era. The obstacles that stood in the way of these people bred courage and strength into their lives. Their problems weren’t any different than the ones we face today, but how they solved them (character) presents an intriguing writing project for me.
I enjoy writing a contemporary because it is who we are today. Our lives are fast-paced and stressful. We are courted by TV, movies, magazines, and newspapers. Every headline, every magazine article, every viewed program spark ideas of how a character could handle a problem. I thrive on suspense and the challenges of a protagonist who lives his/her life from a Christian point of view.
I’ve never tackled sci-fi, fantasy, children, or speculative. But who knows?
What part of the writing process is your favorite?
I don’t think I have a favorite because the process all builds to a finished project: a novel that inspires and entertains.
I’ve already stated how I feel about characterization.
Plotting is an extension of characterization.
The actual breakout of words on paper and seeing the story come to life thrills me.
Editing to make my novel the best.
Marketing and networking is an opportunity to promote the story God has given me and to make new friends.
What part of the writing process is your least favorite?
The scary part. When the book is released. I think of it like a mom who sends her precious child to the first day of school. She wants the child to behave and have everyone love him/her, but what if the child comes home with a note that says the child was naughty?
How do you balance your personal and writing time?
This is a hard one. My husband and I both work at home, and it is hard to shut the door and call it a day. God calls us to rest and obedience to Him means we take a break to refresh ourselves.
What do you feel is the key or keys to continuous publication?
I’d say it is a mixture of things. Striving to always make the next project better than the previous. Bathing the project with prayer. Listening for the voice of God. And, for me, mentoring new writers. I love to help someone achieve their writing goals.
I hear you and other writers use the word “passion” when you speak about writing. What does that mean to you?
Passion in writing involves a number of aspects. At least it does for me. Passion for writing is like telling a pastor to preach his best sermon, a singer to sing his favorite song, a dancer to reenact the finest performance, or an artist to transfer a dream onto canvas. Many times a writer has this type of feeling or a passion for a topic or story idea. The writer can not, not write it.
How do you feel about critique partners?
Mine are fantastic. I like another set of eyes to read my work critically. I want to know if it works and what doesn’t. Are the characters real? Is the plot believable? Does the dialogue seem to lift off the page? And have I added the right amount of sensory perception.
Where did you get your inspiration for The Texas Legacy Series?
For years I had this idea about a lady outlaw who decides that she’s had enough and leaves the gang. Along the way, she finds the Lord, but the guilt and shame of her past plague her journey. That was Leather and Lace. In the writing of the first book, I realized the hero had a brother and sister. Each one had a story that begged to be told. Lanterns and Lace is about the younger brother, a doctor who adopts an infant from a dying prostitute. Lightning and Lace is about the sister who is forced to face life as a widow and runs head-on into a man who is attempting to live down a troubled past.
What tips can you give for new writers?
1. Write everyday.
2. Establish a time and stick to it.
3. Read your genre and out of your genre.
4. Attend writing conferences
5. Be diligent to the craft.
6. What you learn, pass on to someone else
7. Be teachable – both mentally and spiritually
What would you want readers to take away from your books?
I want them to see a Christian character reacting and responding to the problems in their lives as believers who make mistakes.
What are you reading right now?
A book by Tricia Goyer. Actually it is for endorsement - A Shadow of Heaven from the Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War.
If you could be anyone or anything that you wanted, who or what would you be?
Just me. I have much to learn in this life, and I want to see what all God has in mind.
Lightning and Lace by DiAnn Mills
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books
Release Date: March 1, 2007
$9.97 from Amazon
Purchase Lightning and Lace by DiAnn Mills HERE!!