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A Time for Every Season… by Sherrie Hansen Decker

One of the parts I like best about starting a new book is choosing the location where my story will be set. Local traditions, distinctive scenery, and quirky bits of historical lore can all be used to enhance the plot and bring life to your characters. Layering and interweaving them together or using symbolism to enhance the plot is pure fun for me.  Choosing the right season for your story is another fun exercise. My latest book, Love Notes, starts just about this time of year, when late summer / autumn is turning to winter.  The conclusion of Hope Anderson and Tommy Love’s story falls on Christmas Eve with a tender carol about hope, joy, peace and love. Maybe that’s why I’ve been thinking about autumn and the images it brings to mind.

But first, I’m going to backtrack a bit. I have to admit that autumn is my second favorite season. My bed and breakfast, The Blue Belle Inn,  is named after a spring flower, and painted in springtime colors, so you can probably guess what my favorite season is.

To me, spring is a season of hope, and new beginnings. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t start Love Notes in the spring. Because for Hope and Tommy, certain things had to come to an end  – die – before any new growth could occur. Dreams, self, old business.

I love spring, when the first blossoms start to poke out of the brown, colorless, still-half-frozen ground.

Spring has humble beginnings, and finishes with a truly glorious display.

Fall, on the other hand, is slow and mellow. It sneaks up on you. Why is it that we think summer will never end? I mean, we know colder weather is coming. Fall is about denial.

Fall is the season of being finished, pleased with yourself, satisfied and content. Fall is the time of year when the fruits of your labors are seen to completion.

Now I sound like a farmer’s daughter, which I am.

Fall is nature’s last hurrah.

Fall is frisky squirrels scurrying frantically about, getting ready for winter.

Are your characters driven – under a tight deadline? If so, maybe fall is their time.

Fall is yellow, orange and red… exactly what we expect, most of the time. But fall is also every color of the rainbow.

Fall is full of surprises.

Fall is hazy nights, full of dust and chaff, and beautiful sunsets.

If fall is hazy, summer is lazy. The time when we go on vacation, take siestas, and stop to smell the roses.

Summer can bring stormy weather.

Summer is unsettling, volatile. Things can blow up in a hurry.

Summer can be crazy.

Summer can be relaxed. Sweet. Wet. Wild.

Summer is a blaze of glory. Hot and humid. A time when things grow and burst into color. Everything is at it’s best in the summertime.

Summer is the perfect time to lean back and enjoy a day of basking in the sun or relaxing on a porch swing.

Summer is sentimental.

Summer is a time when I take nothing for granted, because I know it won’t be long before…

Fall. And fall is fleeting. The inevitable frost kills things, makes things colorless and grey.

And fall, after all, leads to winter. Winter…  it’s icy cold. If you’re not careful, it will freeze your little tush off. The tip of my nose is always chilly in the winter.

Winter is a time of desolation. Isolation. Winter is beautiful, even majestic, in it’s own way, but so frigid and unyielding.

Crisp, clear. Blustery, blue.

Merry, dear. Winter has its own set of wishes, its own brittle warmth.

Which season is your favorite? What time of year were you born in? Have one or more seasons impacted your life? After all, we’re all characters living out a story line. Wild Rose of Scotland, the book I’m working on now, starts in the spring when the rhododendrons are in bloom. But there’s a long, hot, oppressive summer in store for Rose before she finally feels the graceful acceptance of fall.

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Nip It In the Bud by Sherrie Hansen Decker

A friend of mine at Gather.com posted a photo today of her peach tree, laden with fruit almost ready to pick. Thoughts of enjoying juicy, ripe peaches fresh from the tree, still warm from the sunshine, made me mourn all over again for our own lost crop.

Our cherry, pear and apple trees at the new parsonage in Hudson, IA burst into bloom early this spring, each delicate blossom filling my head with thoughts of spiced pear jelly, fresh-baked apple pies and sitting on the back steps eating dark, sweet cherries and spitting out the seeds.

The trees were still in bloom, along with two rows of raspberry bushes, when we had a hard frost. We hoped it wouldn’t matter, but now it is summer, and there is not a single piece of fruit to be found on any of our trees. Nipped in the bud, literally. Thanks to a drought this summer, and to many excessively hot days, our corn crop doesn’t look much better.

It’s painful to watch hope turn into disappointment. When hopes are crushed by random acts of nature, it’s one thing, but I especially hate it when something you’re excited about fizzles and dies because someone purposely takes a pin and pops your balloon.

I recently felt this way when I got a note about my new Christian Inspirational novel, Love Notes.  The caller had read Love Notes, and was distressed because she didn’t feel she could recommend it to her friends, even though she liked the book very much, because it contained a word that is evidently not allowable in Christian fiction. I immediately deduced that the word was spoken by Billy Bjorklund, the vulgar, hate-crazed bad guy of Embarrass. On doing a search later that day, I discovered that I used the word 8 – 12 times. I will be the first to admit that the word is probably considered offensive, but I personally do not consider it a swear word, or I never would have used it.  Her suggestion was that instead of using the word, I should have said “He swore profusely,” or “He called her every bad name he could think of,” or “He uttered a string of expletives.” Both my husband and I agreed that if we read any of these phrases in a book, we would think of words far worse than what currently comes out of Billy’s mouth, which starts with a b and ends with a ch.

So, as Barney Fife always said, “We’ve  got a situation on our hands.” The logical action, since the last thing I want to do is to offend the very readers I’m trying to attract, is to (also compliments of good, oldBarney) Nip it in the bud!”  I spoke to my editor, and they agreed that I could edit the word out of future copies if I wanted to.

So my dilemma is this: I truly feel like I am da..ed if I do and da..ed if I don’t remove the word. Here’s why:  Some of the Christians I know will never even pick up a copy of Love Notes because I have previously written books that include steamy scenes. I’ve already been judged, pegged and deemed irredeemable. Others, even if they are not offended by the word Billy utters 8-12 times, or even if I take it out, will find something else to be offended about. Tommy Love, my hero, has been divorced twice. He encounters groupies. He’s going through a midlife crisis and thinks he wants to write hip hop. Billy, the bad guy, has a beer in one scene. He does several wicked and dastardly things. He thinks heinous thoughts. Evil is not glorified in this book, but it is present, an adversary to be overcome.

And if I leave the word in? As we’ve learned this past week, a person can also get into trouble for simply being open about their faith and beliefs. It’s certainly possible that other readers, some of whom do not share my Christian beliefs, may conversely be offended by certain God things and events in this book. God is at work in the lives of the characters in Love Notes, convicting, guiding, making things of beauty out of chaos. This may not sit well with some. Being openly Christian is not exactly a popular thing in today’s culture.

My conclusion is that if I try to re-write the book with the intent of offending no one, it would very probably  end up so watered down and without heart that no one would want to read it.

So, I guess what I’m saying is, take me as I am or leave me. My books have always been honest, candid and character-driven. Each of my books, steamy or inspirational, contains references to faith and old-fashioned, traditional values, and Scripture-based wisdom. I have always tried not to unduly offend while at the same time being true to my characters and the story as it comes to me.

My closing thoughts. Christians, be careful that you are not the hard frost that freezes the blossoms off the fruit trees. Sadly, at this point, I think the best thing for me to do may be to stop labeling Love Notes as a Christian inspirational, which I think is a shame, as it has a beautiful Christian message about the God-given gifts of hope, joy, peace and true love. I will say that if you are a Christian reader, it’s your loss if you let one somewhat offensive word ruin a perfectly lovely love story.

Now the song Accentuate the Positive is running through my head. Personally, I prefer its attitude to Barney’s  “Nip it in the Bud.”  So take me or leave me, just as I am. Thankfully, God does.

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“Love Notes” Cross World Puzzle with Solution

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I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Dog-gone-it, People Like My Books – Daily Affirmations with Sherrie Hansen Decker

One of the most nerve-wracking things for an author to do is to wait until the first reviews of their new release start appearing. Not only is it gratifying when people affirm your work, but there’s a very real and wonderful kind of connection that occurs when you find that a book you’ve written alone, and characters that have, up until this time, existed only in your mind, have spoken to and touched other people. It’s not that I don’t have confidence in my own work and a strong belief in myself (yes, it does lurk somewhere deep inside me), but when that magical connection occurs… it’s a joyous thing. I don’t know how else to describe it, and for an author, that’s very telling!

I’ve listed below some of the ever so nice things people are saying about Love Notes. If you want to read the full reviews, check them out at Amazon or Goodreads. And next time you read a book you like, consider posting a review, however short or lengthy. Your kind words and the fact that you “get” the author’s characters or theme will mean the world to them.

Here we go:

 

“Sherrie Hansen Decker’s Love Notes is Christian romance where fiction is lifted up, not bogged down by faith… This story kept me glued to the page, never knowing how I wanted the tale to end, but always sure the author would end it well. After all, she’s very clearly listening to the author of our lives as she writes these lives—Christian fiction indeed, where honest humanity meets heavenly hope.” (from a review by Sheila Deeth)

“Sherrie Hansen will keep you turning the pages as you are drawn in for a marvelous journey of two people discovering first of all themselves – their weaknesses, but also their strengths – and, inevitably, each other.” (from a review by Gabriela Scholter)

Ever since I read the next review, I’ve been telling people that Love Notes is better than air conditioning!

“Sherrie describes the setting so well that I could see and feel the near frozen temperatures and the cold water of the Lake. I could see the fog coming off the water and feel the fear of the character as they struggle to start the boat that is stranded on the Lake. I could feel the coldness in the air so much that I went outside and read the next few chapters just to get warm again.” (from a review by Connie Cowger)

"I would subtitle Sherrie Hansen Decker's inspirational romance, *Love Notes*, 'When Dreams Collide.' The hero, a famous pop singer-songwriter, and the heroine, an owner of a failing MN resort are both burdened with the "dead" past. But neither see it that way--until forced to. A cast of interesting and very alive characters and plenty of intriguing plot twists make for a satisfying read." (from an endorsement by Lyn Cote, author of the Women of Ivy Manor series.)

You can purchase Love Notes, form your own opinion, and even write a review at Second Wind Publishing.

And if you’re awaiting the first review on your new book, a nod from your boss, or whatever, try a Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley. It will make you smile!

 

 

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In Defense of Love by Sherrie Hansen Decker

A couple of my friends were chatting on Facebook the other night. The first one asked for recommendations on what books to read this summer. At the end of one of her comments, she said, “Don’t bother to recommend romances, they’re a waste of time.”  When I responded, another friend said they weren’t referring to the kind of romances I write, but the ones that have no plot, and are just an excuse to include one sex scene after another. (I’m paraphrasing as best I can remember… but bottom line, they were not being complimentary to the romance genre.)

Forgive me if I confess to being a bit offended. And forgive me again when I say, I know exactly what they mean.

I’m reading a romance novel right now that’s written by a best selling author and published by a major house.  It has no plot to speak of.  Basically, something bad happened, long before the book began, and the book is spent reliving the past and discussing its implications on the present and future – ad nauseum. I like the characters, but all they ever do is go to work, go on dates, and make love. They sit and think about things – a lot. They talk about things, but they have no real goals, no motivation. No one is trying to keep them from attaining their non-existent goals. They are surrounded by friends – loving, supportive allies who want them to resolve their problems and be happy. They rehash the same old things again and again. I must care enough about the characters to find out what happens to them, because I’m still reading, but I find myself skimming over entire scenes because I am bored.  This is not a good thing.

It irritates me that authors who have the honor of being published by major houses write such drivel. It irritates me that readers, who are obviously buying their books by the thousands, don’t have higher expectations. It irritates me that their publishers don’t demand more from them. But most of all, it irritates me that I am being lumped into the same category as these writers, and writers who write the literary equivalent of porn flicks, just because I write romance.

To assume that my books have no worth simply because they end happily, and include a love story, is just plain insulting.   Reviewer Sheila Deeth called my first book, Night and Day, a thinking woman’s romance. I love that phrase. I have much to learn as an author, and Night and Day is certainly not perfect, but it’s also not trite, mindless, or a waste of time. Here’s what Sheila said:

“Some romances, you know exactly which protagonists are going to get together. You know it will be perfect. You’re just waiting for the characters to work it out for themselves. But Sherrie Hansen’s Night and Day isn’t that kind of romance. These characters are all too real and too flawed for a perfect world. They’re stubborn. They cling to dreams and don’t want to compromise. Their relationships struggle to pass each all-too-human hurdle, and even as the story nears its close, it’s not clear which lives will stay entwined and which connections will quietly unravel. Is love just an idealized dream after all, or are dreams the stuff of love?

Sherrie Hansen creates sprawling farm and comfortable home, American countryside, Danish streets, wobbling bicycles, squabbling siblings, lovers’ arguments… Her scenery and her characters are all equally real, from Anders despising all things American, to Jensen delighting in all things historical, to practical Ed and misunderstood Tara, and parents who’ve moved away to Arizona. The love in these pages isn’t syrupy sweet, the characters aren’t cutouts chasing after dreams, the internet’s not perfect and neither is love, or homeland. But the mysteries of a hundred-year-old romance have messages for an all-too-modern internet relationship, and the lessons of lilacs cut to make them bloom are relevant to all.

I loved following these characters as their relationships grew. I loved wondering what choices Jensen would make, and whether she and Anders could ever turn fairy-tale into reality. I loved the side characters. I loved the conversations. I loved the world…

Sherrie Hansen’s created a thinking woman’s romance, as full of depth and feeling and love as any other, but seasoned with history, internet, real relationships, common sense and hope; a wonderful novel, highly recommended.”

And one more thing, while I’m on the subject of romance. You could do worse. My husband and I just finished listening to all three books in the Hunger Games trilogy. Despair, disillusionment, detachment, and depression – from beginning to end. I’m of the opinion that this world needs a few more happy endings. I believe the world needs a little more love.  And if people find a little hope, joy, peace and love – a little romance – in the midst of all the negative things that pervade our world, is there anything so wrong with that?

I write novels that are commonly known as romance novels. Because romance novels have negative connotations for so many people, I chose to use the word love in the title of my blog, fearing if I used the word romance, most people wouldn’t even read the article. But don’t be mistaken. I’m proud to be a writer of love stories. I’m a thinking woman, and the romances I write are well worth a few hours of your time.

Take a chance on a real romance. You’ll find plenty to hold your interest… action, adventure, worthy protagonists and antagonists, symbolism, meaning, depth.  Try one – you’ll be surprised at what you might learn.

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Interview with Sherrie Hansen Decker, Author of “Love Notes”

What is your book about?

Hope Anderson’s heart is finally starting to thaw. Tommy Love is treading on thin ice — he wants the only thing Hope has left.

For Hope, recreating the past — reopening Rainbow Lake Lodge and seeing it bubbling with families, children, and laughter again – means new life. It’s the only way she can honor her late husband’s legacy.

For Tommy Lubinski of Tommy Love and the Love Notes fame, Rainbow Lake means coming home — peace, quiet, seclusion — and a second chance at stardom. Once he’s bulldozed the lodge and built his dream house overlooking the lake, everything will be perfect.

Hope is sinking fast, but she’ll be fine if she can just keep her head above water until spring. Tommy’s troubles run a little deeper, but there’s no need to worry for now… Rainbow Lake is frozen solid. Or is it?

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

Tommy Love is a fading pop singer / songwriter who wants to write one more big hit (hip hop, to attract the new generation), and Hope is a widow of two years who is trying to reopen the family resort where her husband was raised. I loved writing Tommy Love. He’s irreverent and clueless and has a huge ego on the outside, but inside, he’s lonely and insecure and afraid of being a nobody again. Tommy grew up Tom Lubinski in a shack on the edge of Miller’s Swamp. In his mind, building his dream house overlooking Rainbow Lake will make everything okay again, and he’ll be able to write another hit song, and he’ll be unforgettable to a whole new generation.

Why will readers relate to your characters?

Baby-boomers will love Hope and Tommy. Hope is 38 years old. Tommy is in his late 40′s. Who doesn’t get to that stage of their life and on some level, think, it’s all downhill from here, the best is behind me. Except, in many cases, what lies behind hasn’t even been all that great… and you fear it’s too late to do anything about it, that you’ve used up all your chances, and that things can only get worse… Both Tommy and Hope are making one last ditch effort to carve out a legacy for themselves, to secure their future. Anyone who has failed at love or had their dreams dashed for whatever reason will be able to relate to the hope that somewhere out there, you might get a second chance.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

I hope each reader will have their faith in miracles renewed. I’m a firm believer in second chances. I know from personal experience that God can take the most adverse scenario and make something beautiful out of it – in His time.

What was the most difficult part about writing the book?

My biggest challenge is finding the time to write. I own and operate a B&B and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn in Saint Ansgar, Iowa, am a pastor’s wife, a sometimes musician, and maintain 4 houses in 2 towns, an hour and a half apart. Life is crazy busy. But I love to write – have to write – so I find the time. I juggle as best I can and try not to let too many balls drop.

What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?

I had my own second chance at real life romance and remarried after being single for almost 20 years. Whereas my first four books were fantasies about what could happen if I ever found love again, Love Notes is written with a firm belief that happy endings — miracles — can and do happen in real life. Love Notes is the first of my books written by a married woman. It will be interesting to see if my readers notice a difference in my perspective.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

Love Notes is my first Christian inspirational novel and certainly reflects some of my deepest beliefs about my Christian heritage. In other of my books, the main characters have been rebelling against the very faith Hope clings to in Love Notes. So yes, my Christian beliefs definitely color my writing, whether in shades of guilt or hope. In Love Notes, I love it that Hope’s strong faith is intact even though she’s lost everything dear to her, including her husband, who died in a tragic car accident. Tommy has everything a man could want, yet he is cynical and discontented and very short on faith. In the end, Tommy finds hope, joy, peace and love where he least expects it — as have I on several occasions!

What are you working on right now?

I’m currently working on a book that I started a couple of years ago after a trip to Scotland. It’s called Wild Rose. The main character is the pastor or St. Conan’s Kirk on Loch Awe. I’m loving the interactions between the church ladies and Rose, who is, well, a bit wild. I’ve also started a sequel to my first book, Night and Day, called Daybreak in Denmark. I’ve also got a great idea for a book set in the Florida Everglades and at a famous hotel on St. Pete’s Beach called the Pink Lady. It will involve gangsters, an heiress, and a 75 year old mystery.

What writer influenced you the most?

Maud Hart Lovelace, author of the Betsy Tacy books, set in fictional Deep Valley, Minnesota, my home state, greatly impacted my life as a young person. (Think Little House on the Prairie but set during the Victorian era.) Maud’s main character, Betsy Ray, longed to be a writer, and set the stage – really formed the expectation in my mind – that I would write a novel one day. The Betsy Tacy books are wonderful (and back in print thanks to Harper Collins). One of the guest rooms at my B&B is named “Heaven to Betsy” in honor of the tomes.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

When I was just starting to write, I went to a writer’s retreat at Glen Eerie, the Navigator’s castle in Colorado Springs, sponsored by Victoria magazine. Madeleine L’Engle (author of Newbery Award winning A Wrinkle in Time) was the guest speaker. There were only about 20 of us there, so our conversations were deep, meaningful, and intensely personal. Madeleine said that she got 27 rejection for A Wrinkle in Time before it was accepted for publication. Each time she mailed the manuscript out, she addressed a second envelope to a different publisher. Each time it came back, rejected, she would immediately put it in the second envelope and mail it off again.

Have you written any other books?

I wrote four other books that are published under the name Sherrie Hansen. My first book, Night and Day is set in southern Minnesota and Denmark and features a modern day internet romance, and old fashioned love story, and a hundred year old mystery. The Maple Valley Trilogy, Stormy Weather, Water Lily and Merry Go Round, is set in fictional Maple Valley, Iowa, and Red Oak, Minnesota. Each book features a special quilt, and one of three sisters, each of who has her own set of troubles.

Does your understanding of the story you are writing change during the course of the book?

I start the story, my characters finish it. Themes come to me as the book goes on, and often, when it’s totally finished. Sometimes I have to rewrite the beginning of the book, because by the time I’m done, I know the characters so well that I think they would never say or do the things they did at the beginning of the book.

Who designed your cover?

Lonnie Arnevik, a good friend of mine from Thompson, Iowa, designed my book cover. She’s an amazing artist, and a wiz with graphic design.

Where can people learn more about your books?

Love Notes was released on June 4 and is available at amazon.com, smashwords.com and http://www.secondwindpublishing.com.

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Excerpt From “Love Notes” by Sherrie Hansen Decker

Hope Anderson’s heart is finally starting to thaw. Even Tommy Love’s is melting around the edges. They both want Rainbow Lake Lodge. Only one of them can have it. For Hope, recreating the past – reopening the lodge and seeing it bubbling with families, children, and laughter again — means new life. It’s the only way she can honor her late husband’s legacy. For Tommy Lubinski of Tommy Love and the Love Notes fame, Rainbow Lake means coming home – peace, quiet, seclusion – and a second chance at stardom. Once he’s bulldozed the lodge and built his dream house overlooking the lake, everything will be perfect. Hope is sinking fast, but she’ll be fine if she can just keep her head above water until spring. Tommy’s troubles run a little deeper, but there’s no need to worry for now… Rainbow Lake is frozen solid. Or is it?

Excerpt:

Tommy lifted his suitcase chest high, handed it to her, and eyed a handful of scraggly, roadside weeds that looked sturdier than they were because of the half-inch of ice coating them. Grabbing a handful, he tried to hoist himself up out of the ditch. And slid backwards. Three times.

“It’s wicked stuff,” she said, trying to hide a laugh. “Here. I can help if I set these down.” She laid his suitcase on the snow-covered ground and perched his precious guitar on top of it.

So she was gorgeous and thoughtful. That didn’t mean she could run Rainbow Lake Lodge all by herself.

She took off her mittens and dug the heels of her boots into the gravel at the shoulder. “Let me give you a hand.”

“I’m fine,” he said. And he was, once she’d helped him out. The woman had a strong grip – he’d give her that.

“What brings you to Rainbow Lake?” Hope asked as they headed into the woods, toward the lodge he was going to bulldoze.

“Um… I had a gig at the Indian Casino at Fortune Bay the night before last,” he said, not wanting to say too much. “I have a small plane that I use when I’m in Minnesota. I was on my way to the airport.”

She looked over her shoulder at the Porsche as if realizing that his car was pointed in exactly the opposite direction that it would have been had he been telling the truth.

“I must have taken a wrong turn,” Tommy said, stopping to shift his weight as he skated along on the icy road. His guitar was lighter than his suitcase and he felt totally unbalanced. “I couldn’t see a thing with that sleet coming down.”

“I was just thinking that you’re mighty fortunate that you weren’t in the air when this weather started up. Or it could have been your plane that crashed instead of your car. In a lake instead of a ditch.”

He looked her in the eye for the first time and nodded.

“I learned a long time ago that God has ways of getting us where he wants us to be,” she said. “Usually at the precise moment he needs us to be there.”

He assimilated her words and chose not to respond. What he wanted to say was, if you really believe this, how do you make sense of the fact that a drunk driver just happened to come around a blind curve on the wrong side of the centerline at the exact moment your husband was coming upon the same curve from the opposite direction? He wanted to ask it, but how could he, when he wasn’t supposed to know her, or that her husband was dead?

“I grew up in Embarrass, you know,” he said, not knowing whether he should just keep his mouth shut or try to distract her from asking him point blank what he was doing in her ditch, and why he was snooping around her property.

“I think David did mention it now that I think about it. I didn’t grow up around here, so I’m a bit clueless when it comes to who went to school with whom and that sort of thing.”

“Then I guess I could ask you the same question,” he said, feeling safe, for the moment anyway. “About what brought you to Rainbow Lake.”

“I’m renovating a lodge and a cluster of cabins that’s been in my late husband’s family for almost half a century”, she said, not mincing any words. “I hope to be ready to reopen on Memorial Day weekend, but there have been a few glitches and things aren’t moving along quite as quickly as I’d hoped.”

“They never do,” Tommy said, trying to convince himself that he wasn’t the jerk he felt like. She needed to sell this place — it was what was best for her. Everyone knew it except for her. Besides, it wasn’t as though he had just randomly decided he had to have her land. Billy had made it clear that Hope was going to lose the property regardless of the fact that Tommy was in the picture. Somebody was going to buy the place. Why shouldn’t it be him?

He’d nearly convinced himself he was right when they turned a corner and he saw the lodge poking through the trees off in the distance, looking as big and grand as the Emerald City at the end of the yellow brick road.

Maybe it was the snow, or the fact that he was chilled to the bone. Maybe it was the way Hope kept referring to the lodge with such love in her voice — whatever, he was mesmerized at first sight. Until that moment, he’d only seen the roof and the top few feet of the exterior that had been visible from the lake. The plane had revealed even less because of the dense ground cover and tall trees. He’d really had no concept of what the place was like. So when the rough hewn timbers and river rocks and old green mortar started to appear through the thick veil of lacy snowflakes falling from the sky, he felt like he was on the inside of some kind of pretty little snow globe, walking toward the fairy-tale-like building in the center.

Get a grip, he told himself. Stay cool. Be objective.

“This is it,” she said. “‘Home Sweet Home.’”

Don’t let her get to you. It wasn’t as though he was going to be evicting her and her six children. She was young. She had options – or would have, when Billy convinced her she needed to relinquish the land and Tommy paid her more than it was worth.

Who was he kidding? Not only was he inside the snow globe, some maniacal kid was shaking it as hard as he could. He was so shook up he could barely swallow.

***

Sherrie Hansen Decker lives in a 116-year-old Victorian house in northern Iowa who, just like her, got a second chance when she rescued it from the bulldozers grips and turned it into a bed and breakfast and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn. Love Notes is Sherrie’s fifth book to be published by Second Wind Publishing, and her debut Christian Inspirational novel. She attended Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL and University of Maryland, European Division, in Augsburg, Germany. Her husband, Rev. Mark Decker, is a pastor and Sherrie’s real life hero. She enjoys playing the piano with their worship team, needlepointing, renovating and decorating historic houses, traveling, and going on adventures with her nieces and nephews.

Love Notes was released on June 4 and is available at amazon.com, smashwords.com and http://www.secondwindpublishing.com.

Click here for an interview with: Sherrie Hansen Decker, Author of “Love Notes”

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Introducing the Authors of Second Wind Publishing

I thought a fun way to introduce the authors of Second Wind Publishing, LLC (or at least the ones who wanted to be introduced) would be to have them answer three simple questions so you can see how different authors perceive themselves and their writing. The questions:

1. What is writing like for you?
2. What is the most thrilling thing about getting published?
3. What is the most humbling thing about getting published?

Nancy A. Niles, author of Vendetta:

1. Writing is something that I can’t not do. It’s my best friend, sometimes a pain in the neck, but most times just something that I need to do for my own peace of mind.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the encouragement it has given me to keep writing and keep allowing myself to express more freely and deeper. I think all those rejection slips had an effect on me and now being published is having a strengthening and very positive effect on my writing.

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is knowing that for a few hours the people who read my novel will be taken away from their problems and be in my world. It humbles me to know that for just a short time I can give them a little escape from their troubles. It is quite a blessing.

Laura S. Wharton, author of The Pirate’s Bastard:

1. Writing is like exercise. Sometimes, it’s really hard to get up at 4:00 in the morning to begin writing…the warm covers are oh so snuggly. Other times, the adrenalin rush about an aspect of the story-in-process surging through me has me up at 3:00, sitting still for three hours, and then reluctantly stopping so I can prepare myself and family for the work/school day ahead. Like exercise, it has to be done nearly every day to accomplish anything close to completion.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is reading reviews from unknown readers – and seeing that they really loved my story.

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is seeing typos after publication of what I thought was an error-free book.

Nichole R. Bennett, author of Ghost Mountain:

1. Writing is in my blood. I don’t mean that I come from a long line of authors, because I don’t. But I have to write. I have to get those words out of my body and onto paper. Some days those words flow and there is no stopping them. Other days I struggle over each and every letter. Either way, writing is something I have to do. Just like eating or breathing.

2. The most thrilling thing is knowing that I am living my dream. Yes, it can be hard, but this is what I want to do and I’m doing it. How many people can truly say they get to live their dream?
3. I’m not sure there’s a humbling moment for me. I knew going in that writing would take some thick skin and hard work. I knew not everyone would like my work or appreciate the time and energy that it took to get where I am. That’s okay. I’m just grateful for the opportunities I have had and that there are people who do like it!

J. Conrad Guest, author of Backstop: A Baseball Love Story in Nine Innings and One Hot January:

1. I haven’t found anything that provides the level of satisfaction writing provides me—the highs of crafting a perfect sentence, of self-discovery and exploring the universal themes of love and loss, dying and death, salvation, redemption, and keeping my parents alive and making them proud.

2. As writers, I think we all believe our work is the greatest since Hemingway, and seeing our work in print is affirmation, a thrill, that our work has merit—even if it isn’t really as good as Hemingway.

3. I find nothing humbling about getting published (I write with publication in mind), save for the process. By the time I receive my first proof copy, I’ve gone over my manuscript a dozen times or more and have probably a half-dozen drafts. An editor has gone over it, found several typos I’ve missed, and made suggestions for changes—some with which I agree, but most I discard. So I find it maddening and, yes, humbling, when I start reading my proof copy and find ways to improve the narrative, to rewrite a passage and, worst of all, I find a typo! I’m a perfectionist, so, yes, it’s humbling to learn I still can improve upon the process.

Eric Beetner, co-author of One Too Many Blows to the Head and Borrowed Trouble

1. Writing is lonely and tiring. Even writing as a part of a team like I do with Jennifer is still lonesome. We live on opposite coasts and only communicate through email. I never show anything to anyone for critique. Never let early drafts out to the public. So having her around is also an act of real trust. We show each other our naked first drafts and still expect that we’ll respect each other in the morning.

2. I find that it is too easy to only hear from a friendly audience of family and friends so the biggest thrill for me is when a total stranger says or writes something good about my writing. I know it is genuine. Being published lets that person have exposure to my work and find something in it that resonates or entertains. That’s why we’re here, right?

3. Oh, brother, what hasn’t been? I’ve had signings at book stores I respect (and where I shop) I’ve been in panel discussions alongside authors I admire. I’ve met writers as an equal – a fellow published author, not just a fan. All that has made me feel grateful beyond words.

DCP_0851-136x150Lazarus Barnhill, author of The Medicine People and Lacey Took a Holiday:

1. A few years ago I came back to writing fiction after a self-imposed twelve-year period during which I did not write, and found about twenty ideas of books rattling around in my head. My first official act was to get a notebook and list the novels, outlining them to the degree they had “marinated” in my imagination. For me, writing is getting out of the way and allowing those stories that germinated so long ago to take root, flower and bear fruit.

2. The thrill comes from somebody you don’t personally know buying a book, or seeking you out intentionally at a book signing. It’s also thrilling when someone asks you a question about your story in such a way that you know they have read it with comprehension.

3. A couple things strike me right away. First is the praise I often get from my colleagues. When another writer whose work I admire compliments my work in a way that reveals I’ve accomplished precisely what I set out to do in the story—that is humble. The second thing is when people I know hunt me down and pester me until I get them a copy of one of my books. And sign it to them personally. I’m not accustomed to adulation.

lucy_balch-113x151Lucy Balch, author of Love Trumps Logic:

1. Writing is like I’m in a time machine. I can work for hours on a story and it always feels like much less time.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the knowledge that, finally, I’ll have something to show for the five years I’ve put into this obsession. Maybe I haven’t been selfishly squandering huge amounts of time?!

3.The most humbling thing about getting published is the realization that so many good writers have not yet been given the opportunity to publish. Is my book worthy of the privilege? As an unpublished author, I can always tell myself that my book will be well received when given the chance. The reality might be different. I hope not, but it’s a possibility, and once a book bombs there is no going back to the fantasy of it doing well.

jwcomputercatmail2-133x157Juliet Waldron, author of Hand-Me-Down Bride:

1. I write historicals, so writing for me is like entering a time portal—or, sometimes, like stepping out of Dr. Who’s callbox after accidentally pushing the wrong button. I have an idea of what may be there when I first look around, but I often find the world I’ve entered to be surprisingly different from my preconceptions.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting/being published is having someone you don’t know leave a message or write a review that totally “gets” the book. Shows I wasn’t as off-base as I sometimes—in those dark 3 a.m. moments—imagined.

3) The most humbling thing about getting/being published is that we have so much competition, and that there is a great deal of good writing out there. After publication there is the (IMO) far less agreeable marketing to do. The playful creation is now complete.

TracyB_3-134x150Claire Collins, author of Images of Betrayal and Fate and Destiny:

1. For me, writing is a journey. I don’t always know the final destination until I start traveling, but it’s always a rewarding trip.

2. The most thrilling thing about being published is when people read what I’ve written and they like it. I write for myself because writing is almost a compulsion for me. Readers enjoying my writing is a bonus.

3. The most humbling thing? All of the work it takes to get the books out and maintain a normal life while still trying to write. I realized pretty quick that I wasn’t superwoman. I’m still trying, but someone keeps standing on my cape.

mickeypic_1_-124x149Mickey Hoffman, author of School of Lies:

1. For me, writing is like being in that space just after you woke up from a dream but you only remember half of the dream and you spend all your waking moments trying to flesh it out.

2. I had some stories to tell and now I feel like they’ll be heard. And it really is thrilling. I feel like I’m white water rafting and I don’t need a boat!

3. I’ll be awed that anyone would take the time to read what I’ve written when they could be doing something more valuable with their time.

Deborah_J_Ledford-114x160Deborah J Ledford, author of Staccato and Snare:

1. I am an entertainer. I don’t write for a cause or to pose my own thoughts or impressions on issues. My only function is to provide a suspense-filled, exciting ride the reader won’t want to stop until they reach the very last word.

2. The most thrilling thing about being published is seeing the words I’ve worked so diligently to craft actually in print. If what I present happens to be worthy enough for readers to tell others about Staccato, that’s all I could ask for.

3. Everything about being published is humbling to me. That readers would seek out Staccato, then take the time to escape from their lives for a while, makes me more grateful than anyone could possibly know.

Sherrie_-_book_2-120x154Sherrie Hansen Decker, author of Night and Day, Stormy Weather, and Water Lily:

1. For me, writing is like a dream vacation – a chance to escape the realities of my everyday life and travel to some faraway world where I can see the sights and meet new people.

2. For years, I wrote and wrote, wondering if anyone would ever read my words. What a wonderful feeling to be writing for readers who are eagerly awaiting my next release!

3. Every time I think I have a perfect draft, I find more errors glaring out from the pages of my proof. Very humbling . . .

Norm2-140x151Norm Brown, author of The Carpet Ride:

1. As a retired computer programmer, I see a lot of similarities between writing a novel and creating a complex software program. Both processes require an enormous attention to detail. All the little parts have to tie together in a logical way and a good flow is critical. And it’s hard work to get all the “bugs” out of a book, too.

2. The most thrilling thing for me was pulling the first copy of my book out of the box and holding it in my hands. It was exciting to see something that I actually created.

3. The most humbling thing for me about being published was discovering how much I have to learn about promoting my book. I’m still learning.

biopicsmall-136x139Jerrica Knight-Catania, author of A Gentleman Never Tells:

1. Writing for me depends on the day. Some days it’s the most wonderful romp through my dream land and other days it’s like getting a root canal.

2. Knowing that someone else believes in your work enough to put it in print is just about the most thrilling feeling. It’s great to hear friends and family say how much they enjoyed my work, but to have it validated by professionals is a whole ‘nother ball game!

3. I’m not sure I’ve been humbled at all! Haha! But I’ve never really had unrealistic expectations of myself or my work. . . . I’m prepared to correct mistakes and make cuts/edits as needed. I’m just grateful every day for the opportunities I’ve been given.

Lindlae_Parish_photo-129x151Dellani Oakes, Author of Indian Summer and Lone Wolf:

1. Writing is like a discovery process. I start with a beginning line, an idea or even just a character’s name and watch as the characters lead me where they want me to go.

2. I loved the fact that I finally was validated. Someone did think I was worth publishing and I wasn’t just “Wasting time with all that writing.”

3. Humbling? Wow, I think the most humbling – perhaps humiliating – step in the publishing process is all the rejection you get until someone finally says “Yes, we want you!”

Margay_touch_up-129x150Margay Leah Justice, author of Nora’s Soul:

1. For me, writing is like creating a baby. There is the conception (what a wonderful idea!), the writing/rewriting period (gestation, anyone?) and the birth (I can’t believe it’s finally here!). And then you nurture it for the next couple of years as you slowly introduce it to the public – and hope they don’t think it’s an ugly baby.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the sense of accomplishment when you see it in print for the first time and you discover that people actually like it!

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is seeing the book in print for the first time and realizing that all of those years of struggling, writing, rewriting, submitting – all boil down to this one little book that you can hold in the palm of your hand.

Chris2-132x150Christine Husom, author of Murder in Winnebago County, Buried in Wolf Lake, and An Altar by the River:

1. Writing is multi-faceted for me. It is a joy, but also pretty hard work at times. I do much of my writing in my mind and when I finally sit down to get it on paper, it often comes out differently. I spend more time mentally forming plots and picturing scenes than I do writing them. I love having a whole day here and there to sit at my computer and concentrate on writing. If I have problems with a scene, I skip ahead to the next one so I don’t get frustrated.

2. The most thrilling thing about being published is getting my books out of my house and into readers’ hands–hoping people get some enjoyment reading them.

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is seeing mistakes and typos in what I thought was an error-free manuscript!

Amy_12_1-113x151Amy De Trempe, author of Loving Lydia and Pure is the Heart:

1. Writing for me is like unmapped journey, I never know what turns, obstacles or excitement is about to unfold.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is seeing my name on a book cover.

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is finding out how supportive and happy my friends and family really are for me.

maggiemed-138x150Mairead Walpole, author of A Love Out of Time:

1. In some ways, writing is a form of therapy. Not from a “work out my issues” standpoint, but rather it allows me to escape from the day to day stresses of the world. I can let the creative, sometimes a little off-beat, imaginative part of my soul off the leash and let it run. Some of my very early writing did dip into the realm of “working out my issues” and those stories will never see the light of day!

2. Can I channel my inner Sallie Fields and run around saying, “They liked it, they really liked it…”? No? Darn. Seriously, I think it is the whole – I did this – aspect. Someone read the book and thought it was worth publishing. That is pretty cool no matter how you cut it.

3. Opening yourself up to criticism, being vulnerable. Sure, you know that not everyone is going to love your book, and intellectually you know that some people will hate it and think you are a hack, but when someone actually expresses that to you it is a whole new experience. It can be very humbling.

IMG_4132-use-115x154Suzette Vaughn, author of Badeaux Knights, Mortals, Gods, and a Muse, and Finding Madelyn:

1. I’m like a humming bird on too much caffine. I write in waves. When the wave hits I can put out several thousand words in an unbelievably small amount of time. Then when I’m not in humming bird mode I edit.

2. The most thrilling is probably the fact that there are people out there that I don’t know that have read my book and liked it. I had the pleasure a few times of meeting them and there is some twinkle in their eye that is amazing.

3. My son is always humbling. I recieved my proofs in the mail and my then seven year old son didn’t fully understand what it meant that I’d written a book. He flips through the pages looking for hand-writting. “I get in trouble when I write in books.”

jjdare-139x150JJ Dare, author of False Positive and False World:

1. Writing is like being in a triathlon for me. I power write for days or weeks at a time, then crash for awhile with the help of Tylenol and chocolate. Writing is a scary, exciting roller-coaster. It is exhilarating and draining, and Iwouldn’t do it any other way.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the very act of being published! Something I wrote is out there, available for anyone to read. Holding the hard copy of my book in my hands gives me the good shivers. The other thrill is the pride in my family’s voices when they introduce me as “The Writer.”

3. The most humbling thing is feeling responsible for the places I take my readers. During the time they’re walking with and living the lives of the characters in my book, my readers are taking the same roller-coaster ride I took to write the
book.

pat-135x150Pat Bertram, author of More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I:

1. For me, writing is like the world’s longest crossword puzzle, one that takes a year to complete. I like playing with words, finding their rhythm, and getting them to behave the way I want. I like being able to take those words and create ideas, characters, and emotions.

2. Someday perhaps, I will find the thrill of being published, but to be honest it was anti-climatic. I am more thrilled at the thought of what the future might bring now that my books have been published.

3. I had no intention of answering these questions. After all, I was the one who collated all these mini interviews, but a fellow author said, “This is your party, too. People will tune in because of you. They want to know more about YOU. Don’t cheat your fans and followers.” Now that’s humbling.

Click here to read the first chapters of all Second Wind novels: The Exciting Worlds of Second Wind Books

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