Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Surprise Packages

Hey all, I got to read a review copy of the newest book in the Company of Good Woman series. It was quite a read. The authors have done a great job of showing the challenges and triumphs in the lives of three everyday women. Of course I'd like to give them each a sword and magic powers and see how they fare against a horde of invading fairy monsters, but all books can't be fantasy, I guess. And I have a feeling that the three women in Surprise Packages would probably make out heroically in whatever setting they end up in. Sometimes just living a good life is more heroic than anything else.

Here's some more info about the book and an interview with the authors.

In an unusual approach to novel-writing, Nancy Anderson, Lael Littke and Carroll Morris each wrote from a single character’s point of view. Seamlessly knit together, their characters’ compelling stories have made the first two novels in the series Deseret Book bestsellers.

Surprise Packages (Deseret Book, $17.95, Softcover) begins fifteen years after Deenie, Juneau and Erin meet at Education Week at BYU. Deenie, now living in Gainesville, Florida, wonders if "a new where calls for a new who.". Juneau's feelings of guilt come to a head when a secret from her childhood resurfaces. And Erin takes a risk when she has a second chance for love—with surprising results.

Surprise Packages is the best book of the series! —Erma Carrier

I’m inspired by the character's spiritual strength and real-ness. —Vicki Wright

The Company of Good Women series is an endearing tribute to women and every kind of love they experience—times three. —Ginger Franz

Interview Questions forAnderson, Littke, Morris

Surprise Packages is the last in your trilogy, The Company of Good Women. Tell me what makes your trilogy unique.

It’s the story of three women in three different parts of the country and their quest to become Crusty Old Broads—written by three women from three different parts of the country who are self-professed Crusty Old Broads! Readers praise it for offering a realistic—but hopeful—view of the issues faced by LDS families.

Where are you from?

Lael is from Pasadena, CA; Nancy is from Sandy, UT; and Carroll lives in Green Valley, AZ.

How did you come up with the idea of writing together?

We were vacationing together in Moab, Utah, when Nancy said, “Why don’t we write a book together?” We sat down right then and brainstormed about what we wanted the themes of our novel to be. We still have the notes that Carroll wrote in aqua ink!

What experience did you have that made a novel a feasible project?

Carroll is the author of several fiction and non-fiction books published by Deseret Book. Lael as over forty YA books (Deseret Book and national publishers) to her credit. Nancy, though at the time unpublished, had been working on some book ideas.

How long did it take until the first book came out?

We got the idea in 1998 while on vacation in Moab. We wrote “at it” for several years—we finally got serious when Deseret Book expressed interest in what we were doing. The first book in the series, Almost Sisters, was released in July of 2006, about eight years after we first got the idea.

What were the biggest challenges you faced as co-authors?

1. Merging files and making corrections. On the first book, Lael was the manuscript master. For the last two, Carroll took on that job.
2. Literary liposuction. The story of each character—told completely—would have filled its own book. So cutting the text without gutting the story was a challenge.
3. Writing the third book of the series. We knew where we were going in the first two books, but none of us had written ahead in book three. We had only general ideas about where it would go. 4. Making the series add up to something. We wanted our readers to finish the series feeling that they’d been changed by the time spent with Deenie, Juneau and Erin. We hope they will periodically read the series over, like visiting old friends.

What is your personal favorite part of Surprise Packages?

Lael: Gradually bringing Juneau and her husband, Greg, closer so that eventually they “speak the same language.”
Carroll: The romance between Erin and Vince Gerlach. Much of the Erin material is quite serious and dramatic, but the romance was fun to write.
Nancy: Deenie discovering that being a Mormon woman raised in Utah doesn’t make her better than other people. She learns a lot about herself and other as she sees life with this new self-awareness.

How did you come up with the title Surprise Packages?

That comes from a talk the three of us heard when we were vacationing in Sedona. The speaker said that when we make a decision, we’re wrapping up a package that we open in our future. In book three of the series, the three women open the packages created by the decisions they—and others—made in books one and two.

Are the characters and events in the novel based on someone you know or events in your own life?

Lael: Many incidents are loosely based on my own or a friend's experiences, but I changed them to suit my purposes.
Carroll: As authors, we throw everything we’ve experienced, heard about, read about, wondered about, and imagined, into the great stew pot in the back of our minds. As it bubbles away, all those elements emerge in a new form—fiction that’s as real as life itself.
Nancy: It’s true that we start with what we know or know about, but then the characters take over. Some plot lines are the result of our characters refusing to go where we want them to!

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

That no matter what situation a person is in any moment, the story isn’t over yet. Never, never, never give up—on others or on yourself!

Are there any similarities between you three and the three characters in the novel?

There are some superficial similarities. For instance, Carroll and Nancy (actual sisters) met Lael (their virtual sister) at a Women’s Conference. Deenie, Juneau, and Erin meet at Education Week. The three authors have vacationed together every year since then; they drew on their experiences to describe the vacations the characters go on together. Nancy actually appliqued denim jackets for herself and the other authors. They wore the jackets when they were on vacation in Moab—and they did stop traffic, just like the characters in the book!

It sounds like you three have vacationed togeter a lot. What’s your favorite vacation spot?

Our favorite place is Carlsbad, CA, but Moab, Utah, and Sedona, Arizona, are right behind.

Do you three have a new project in the works?

We have an idea for a book that will have the same format as the series—we’ll each write from the viewpoint of a character. It’s a stand-alone novel set in Powell, Wyoming, during World War II. But it is on the back burner while we’re working individual projects.

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Blog Tour Hosts:
August 1st: Candace Salima
August 1st: Tristi Pinkston
August 1st: Shirley Bahlmann
August 2nd: Traci Abramson
August 2nd: Keith Fisher
August 4th: Don Carey
August 4th: Alison Palmer
August 4th: Jewel Adams
August 5th: Lynda Bennett
August 7th: Nichole Giles
August 8th: Karen Hoover
August 8th: Karlene Browning
August 15th: Stephanie Humphries
August 18th: Jen Lords
August 20th: Kim Thompson
August 21st: Heather Moore
August 22nd: Alison Palmer
August 23rd: Heather Justesen
August 26th: Marsha Ward
August 27th: Stephanie Black
August 28th: Rebecca Shelley
August 28th: Anne Bradshaw
August 29th: Carole Warburton
August 30th: LuAnn Staheli
August 30th: Tristi Pinkston

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Breaking Dawn

Of course I read it. Actually, I read it out loud with my 12 year old daughter. We finished up Sunday night. Didn't do anything but read Saturday and Sunday except attend church. My daughter is very bright and figured out much of what would happen early on, so she didn't have too many surprises. That just made her happy of course, because things turned out the way she wanted them, with one exception at the end, which I'm not going to mention at this time so as not to spoil the story for anyone who hasn't finished it yet (I know there must be a few people in the world who haven't, because my sister was still reading last night and not even half way through).

As for me, I thought it was brilliantly done especially the tasteful way the more mature content was handled. I very much enjoyed the book, and probably will read it again on my very next day off.