Janet's Jargon

Fun lifestyles, charitable acts, great fiction, author support, Patrick and Grace Mysteries, Keith clan trilogy,

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Taking the World by Storm

For months before her book was released, Joyce Anthony declared in her signature line, and to anybody who would listen to her, that she was "about to take the world by Storm." I sort of chuckled at her high hopes and expectations. Every new author, I thought, figures the same thing. I know I did. What I didn't realize was that her book, Storm, was so powerful that once you read it, you will never look at people or life in general the same way again. I am pleased and proud to be a part of Joyce's Blog Tour with her stopover today. And if you haven't read Storm yet, or if you don't know what to read next, make Storm your next choice. I know you won't be sorry. And now, without further ado, I bring to you...(drum roll, please!) Joyce Anthony!

1. Storm is filled with spiritual (not religious--there is a big difference) references and insinuations. You could not have written this book without having a strong faith of your own. When did you realize how important faith was to you, and how did it come about?
I realized just how strong my faith was when I found myself alone with a five month old baby, no income and in an apartment I knew I couldn't afford. At that point in my life--God was my only hope--and He came through for me. Since that time, I have found my faith deepening constantly,

2. I know that you have a menagerie (i.e. zoo) of your own. Did you think about how much comfort the ending would be for pet lovers who have lost their four-legged family members?
I never thought about how the ending would affect those who lost a furry friend--I'm glad that is something it does, however. There are many moments in this book that found their way into the story without me realizing it.

3. I loved your references to the railroad. Is there some significance to railroads for you? If so, what is it?
I have always loved trains and railroad tracks. When I was a little girl, I would look down the empty tracks and imagine what it would be like to follow them until they ended--I somehow felt what was at the end was so much better than where I was--safer, happier. With Storm, I decided to see just what WAS at the end of the track :-)

4. How long did it take you to write Storm? It seems like you must have lived and breathed the storyline, as it is so "real" to the reader. How did you feel when you finally finished it?
The actual writing took two years from first word to last period. Before that, I spent nearly six months turning it over in my mind, doubting my ability to write, etc...
I did literally live this book--day and night--many parts came as I woke from a dream and had to write--when I got stuck, I'd pray that God would point me in the correct direction--and the next day I'd write.
I was actually scared when I finished it. I put so much energy into Storm I wondered what would come next--and the thought of rejection was overwhelming.

5. You have a teenage son, who I happen to know is a wonderful young man, and that you homeschool him. Do you think you had to sacrifice some of the time with him when you were working on the book? Did he ever indicate that he felt like he had suddenly become "second fiddle" to a man that didn't really exist--except in your mind?
I do believe time with him was lessened--but not once did he complain. Shane is an incredible young man. He is the one who kept pushing me forward--reminding me I should be writing when I did other things. He is my biggest supporter when it comes to writing.

6. When you started the book, did you KNOW who Storm really was, or did that take you by surprise as much as it does the reader of the book?
That was the one thing I did know. It actually made it hard to write, because he needed to discover that for himself and I wanted to "help out" :-) There were a lot of surprises in Storm--but this wasn't one of them.

7. Now that you are moving into the marketing phase of your first book, what do you plan to do to make this wonderful work known to the entire world? Is Oprah in the cards? If you could be on one of the major TV talk shows to discuss Storm, which one would you prefer?
I have started sending out press releases/reviews to all the newspapers and the libraries. I am gathering a list of every bookstore I can and will be calling each one personally to ask that they order at least one copy of the book (although I'm hoping for more).
The thought of being on Oprah scares me--but I plan on mailing her a copy also. I'm not big on talk shows--most are so controversial--but Oprah has a classier program.
Truthfully? The one person I always wanted to be interview by was Barbara Walters--that woman knows how to conduct an interview!!!
I'd like to see Storm become a weekly TV series (I think the way it is set up it is possible) or a movie--but that's just a dream.
I also want it translated into Spanish and done as an audio book.
I don't want much, do I??

8. I know this will probably sound strange, but then you know I'm not "normal" anyway. LOL! Do you think you have ever "seen" Storm? I mean, has he manifested himself to you in a physical presence?
Yes, I believe he did--over twenty years ago and only for a brief moment--a moment of intense eye contact that has stayed with me since.

Thank you so much for stopping by, Joyce. I'm thrilled for you to have this life-changing book out for people to read it. I wish you the best of luck with it.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter--a new take on an old tale

OK, I admit it is long past sunrise, when the first Easter escapades were supposed to have occurred. I make no apologies; it's been a busy day. My husband and I did go to church this morning. Let me give you a bit of background.

We had a pastor (a couple of pastors ago) who was a combination minister/psychologist. We thought that was a great idea--until he began to question almost everything in the Bible. He would start out pretty good, but then he would take a sharp turn (I'm not sure if it was to the left or the right) and would continue with "Now what it says is not really what it means. Here's what I think it means..." And it was pretty hard for him to instill faith in anybody in the congregation, since he didn't claim to believe much himself. Maybe it's something with a scientific mind or something. I never quite figured it out. He was a nice enough fellow, but...well, you get the picture.

The next pastor was much better, but we knew it was just a stopgap. He was elderly, retired, and the last I heard after living in North Dakota for most of his life he decided to stay in Hawaii when he went there to visit his son. I can't say I blame him. He was much better in the sermon department, and he did seem to have a sincere faith, which to me is crucial for a minister.

So when his time ran out (at least in our church) we really lucked out. We got a fellow who is originally from Ohio, but he has lived in ND long enough to know that we ain't perfect--weatherwise or peoplewise! He seems to accept us anyway, which is a big plus for a minister. He has a delightful sense of humor, sort of a dry wit. You don't see it coming, and when it strikes it sometimes takes a minute or two to sink in, but then you realize just how funny it really was. In my book, he's a definite keeper. His name is Keith Mills. If you ever wander into Grand Forks, ND, I would like to invite you to a Sunday service at the Federated Church to judge for yourself.

Anyway, today was Easter Sunday. I guess I'm as guilty as the next person of thinking I "know it all" when it comes to the old familiar stories in the Bible. Keith does tend to keep it new and fresh and often puts a slightly new slant on things, and at the beginning of today's sermon, he said that was what he was going to try to do.

But he was way past that point. We have a "step story" where all the kids go up and sit on the steps that go up to the altar and podiumns. He started today by telling the kids that he was going to tell them a mystery story.

I am a writer. In fact, most of you know that I write mysteries. I have my Patrick and Grace Mysteries (you can see all about them at http://crumbycapers.tripod.com ) and soon I will also have my first Max Stryker Mystery out (go to http://janetesmithstarbooks.tripod.com ). So when Keith started talking mysteries, I figured he had wandered over into my territory.

I had never really thought about the same old Easter story in terms of a mystery--until today. He had the kids spellbound when he told them about Mary Magdalene going to the tomb and finding the stone rolled away. He plaited them with questions such as "How could anybody roll away such a big stone?" "Where would they have taken the body of Jesus, if it was robbers?" "If it was robbers, why did they stop to take time to put the wrapping from around his head in a neat pile? When you have done something wrong and you want to get out in a hurry, do you stop to fold up your clothes first?" "When the disciples went running back to the tomb after Mary told them that Jesus was MIA, what did they expect to find? Were they looking for clues to solve the mystery of the century?" "When they got back to the tomb and Mary saw the angels inside, who did she think they were?" "What about the Roman soldiers? They were supposed to be guarding the tomb? What had happened to them?"

So yes, I looked at the same old familiar tale in a totally new light. If it hadn't already been written, it would make a great mystery!

And now, a reminder that on April 23rd, we will be having a real Storm here at my blog. Joyce Anthony will be my guest. And in keeping with the "Book 'em, Danno" (or "book 'em, Storm!"--available on amazon.com and lots of other places)--here is your next trivia question. For many years Hawaii 5-0 was the longest running TV police show on TV. It has been replaced by one other program as the holder of that honor. What show holds the record now, and when did Hawaii 5-0 start and end?

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Life-changing events

There are a few things that come along that alter a person's life forever. Usually, they include marriage, births, deaths, divorce, winning the lottery, losing a fortune, getting hired, getting fired, etc.

For people who love to read (and thanks to Harry Potter that number is growing, especially among our young people), the pages of a book occassionally hold that same power. For me, the one book that I have credited for years with changing the way I look at the world was Norman Vincent Peale's book The Power of Positive Thinking. After my mother and dad read it and I heard them discussing it at great length, I decided to read it myself. That must have been back in about 1952, shortly after the book first came out. It was the "talk of the town," so to speak. I was sure that I would never find a book that would have that same effect on me.

And then along came Storm! This book is so different from Norman Vincent Peale's book, but it packs the same powerful wallop! The author, Joyce Anthony, is a newbie to the world of publishing. This is her debut book--not just the first book she has had published, but the first book she wrote! I have gotten to "know" Joyce, thanks to the Internet and the phone, so I have no doubt that all of her books will be as good as Storm, but I'm not sure she will ever top it. I guess I can understand that, at least to a point, as Dunnottar was the first book I ever wrote, the first one that was published, and now--7 years and 14 books later--it still outsells all of my other books. Once in awhile an author just stumbles onto something that "works."

In honor of Joyc'e book, I am pleased to be a part of her current Virtual Book Tour, where she will be visiting various blogs all month long. You can see the complete list of where she will be and when at her website, http://joyceanthony.tripod.com . She will be here on April 23rd.

I admit to not watching a lot of TV, but one of my old-time favorites was a very suave, debonaire PI from back in the '50s. I will try to post a new trivia question about the program almost every day, so stay tuned. For today, guess the program. Clue No. 1 is "Book 'em, Dano." And if you want to have some fun with Joyce, "book 'em" over on Amazon with your own copy of Storm. You won't be sorry. I guarantee it!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

USPS Strikes Again!

OK, yesterday I got a credit card in the mail for Monday Knight. I know, you've read all about it, so I won't bore with a repeat of the details. About a week ago we got a letter from someone that lives right here in our own town. It was mailed at the main post office--and it was delivered to ours EIGHT DAYS LATER! I don't think it would take that long to get from one end of New York City to the other. I mean, Grand Forks North Dakota isn't really THAT big!

My husband and I run a charitable organization, Mission Socorro. We have had a PO Box in East Grand Forks, MN, on the other side of the Red River. Mission Socorro has always been non-discriminatory as far as race, sex, and religious beliefs. We follow the example of Jesus, and He never turned anybody away regardless of what they had been. Oh, yes, he had a bit of trouble from time to time with the Pharisees, but He welcomed the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the fishermen, and anybody else who came to Him with an open heart.

Today's mail showed just how ecumenical we had become! We got a letter from an Evangelical Free Church in Fargo, ND (75 miles to our south). That isn't so funny. It was addressed to Mission Socorro at our P.O. Box number. Again, no problem. But the person to whose attention it was addressed was "Father Gerald Potter."

We have known Father Potter for many years. He used to teach at the Religious Dept. of the University of North Dakota. He used to be fascinated by our big old ('79)bright yellow Lincoln. One time when I was at his office at UND, before he retired, he grinned broadly and said he would like to show me his sword collection. He explained that he had been fascinated by swords for years. He then opened a drawer in his desk and took out a whole pile of pictures he had collected from all those fancy places like Danbury Mint. He came up with the theme we use on our letterheads: "Mission Socorro is the gospel in action." After our great flood of 1997, when we were all evacuated to the Grand Forks Air Force Base, he kidded me because when they needed a pianist for the Catholic services that were held at the school that housed the hundreds of people who were refugees with physical problems or challenges, I was the best they could dig up! Ah, yes, Father Potter and Mission Socorro go way back. I just wish he would get back from Rome, where he has reportedly gone for Holy Week, so I could make his life complete by letting him know that he, a Roman Catholic priest, has joined ranks with Mission Socorro. At least that's what the Evangelical Free Church thinks!

Long live the Brotherhood of Christianity!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Reality Check?

Authors are weird people. If you are one, you know that. If you've ever known one, you most likely wondered about them. They insist that their characters are "real people" who run around in their heads and manifest themselves in strange ways. They sometimes even insist that their characters "tell" them how to write their stories.

But the question comes to light once in awhile, "When do the characters become real to other people?"

I write a lot of books, in a lot of different genres. People often ask me, about Patrick and Grace Mysteries and why I chose them to pattern my favorite senior sleuths after them. These are people I have never met! Impossible? Of course it is. But I tell them that "Patrick and Grace are a little bit of everybody, but not really anybody." I love it when my readers identify with my characters.

It is probably true, however, that the character from my first Women of the Week series, Monday Knight, has captivated people's imaginagion more than any of my other characters. She has her own website at http://meetmondayknight.tripod.com , she has her own blog there, she has been invited on outings on a mountain top in Connecticut to view the planets when they line up, she has been taken on a tour down the Amazon, had a game made for her, gets her own email (she has been forgiven college loans, had more *ahem* enhancements than any man could ever want, has had mortgage approvals, been granted various college degrees), and once in awhile she even gets her own snail mail. She has accumulated more free AOL and Earthlink hours than I could ever hope to get, gotten free pantyhose samples (I know they were hers, even if they hadn't had her name on them, as they were way too small for me!).

Today was another example of how "real" she has become. She got a notice in the mail for a pre-approved Advanta Bank Credit Card. It boasted No annual fee, 0% finance charges for 15 months, and a $50,000 card limit. Yes, this was no ordinary credit card; it was a "Platinum Business card." It even offers a 5% cash back or free travel. How can you top that?

I decided that the honest thing to do was to call the company to let them know the real scoop behind Monday Knight. I got a very delightful young woman on the phone. She told me that her name was Krissy A. (She said she was not allowed to give out her last name.) I explained who Monday Knight is. She laughed with me as we discussed--of course, my books. She said she loves to read, but she usually doesn't read fiction, but she had been thinking about trying a few novels. So, when I told her a bit about Monday Knight, including the fact that it is a contemporary romance novel, she said, "I am going to go over to Amazon and look for your books. And I am definitely going to order it." She laughed again, then added, "I will tell my husband about it and let him see how it is supposed to be done!" Mr. A, you are in for some fun in your future! Monday Knight and her Dr. White can give you some pretty good pointers, inlcuding what kind of flowers a woman REALLY wants!

Krissy A., if you read this, I'd love to have you leave a comment. If you can't make it "take," just sign it as an Anonymous and include your name in the body of your comment. And happy reading! Thanks for making my day--and Monday Knight's!