I am so excited to tell you about my friend Debby Mayne's new book, Pretty is as Pretty Does (check out the gorgeous covers below). This page-turner is the first in a series of three. It definitely tops my list of favorite books. Debby is such a good writer that when I read these characters, I catch myself praying for them as I read, only to remember they are just characters!
I would struggle writing first person, let alone multiple first person, but Debby nails it. I got so caught up in all the lives of her characters. I found myself laughing, crying and cheering them on. I had a minute with her and here's what she had to say:1. Tell us a little bit about the Class Reunion series.
There are 3 books in this series: Pretty is as Pretty Does
(10-year reunion), Bless Her Heart
(15-year reunion), and Tickled Pink
(20-year reunion). They're all written in multiple first person point of view so readers can feel what they're feeling as they get ready to face their classmates. 2. Where did you get the idea for the Class Reunion series?
My mother-in-law was voted "Most Beautiful" back in high school, so when she got her 50-year invitation, she went on a diet, had a facial with microdermabrasion, bought a Cadillac, and had her hair done a different color. I asked her why, and she said she didn't want to disappoint anyone. That sparked the idea for the series.
Most people look back on their high school years with an emotional memory. Regardless of how successful they become as adults, they generally resort to who they were when they go back to visit.3. How many books have you had published, and what types of books are they?
I've had more than 30 books published. Until this series, they were all romances, mysteries, and devotionals. This is the first women's fiction series I've sold.4. Would you like to write more women's fiction in the future?
Yes, I absolutely would. It would have to have a theme I can relate to and feel that others will enjoy. I have some seeds of ideas, but I'm not ready to share anything just yet.5. Can you tell us a little bit about you?
I grew up in an Air Force family that moved every few years. I was born in Alaska, and I've lived in Mississippi, Oregon, Japan, Hawaii, and Tennessee. My dad retired from the Air Force the year I graduated from high school, so we went to college together at the University of Southern Mississippi. My husband and I have been married for about 33 years. We have 2 daughters, Alison and Lauren, 2 sons-in-law, Jason and Ryan, 2 granddaughters, Emma and Sophia, 1 grandpuppy Cody, and 2 grandkitties Maddie and Olive. 6. What are you currently working on?
I'm writing the first draft of Trouble in Paradise, the second book in my Uptown Belles series for Charisma House. These are fish-out-of-water stories with southern heroines moving up to New York City for various reasons. The first book, Missing Dixie, is due to release in Spring 2014.7. Please share an excerpt of one of the Class Reunion books.
Here is the first page of Pretty is as Pretty Does
We are thrilled to announce
Piney Point High School’s
10 year reunion
on June 7, 2003, at 7:30 PM
in Piney Point High’s
Newly renovated gymnasium.
Attire: Sunday best.
RSVP: Laura Moss 601-555-1515
PS: There will be a pre-party
At Shenanigans in Hattiesburg
Starting at about 5:00 PM.
Wow. Ten years. As I read my high school reunion invitation a second time, I can’t help but smile. Although I own one of the most successful businesses in my hometown of Piney Point, Mississippi, I’ve lost track of most of the people I graduated with.
Knowing the people I went to high school with, this is going to be one crazy event—that is, if everyone attends. I’m not surprised Laura added a pre-party to the invitation. Her husband has never attended any social event before pre-partying his face off—even in high school. Pete Moss graduated with the distinct honor of high school lush, and as far as I know, he continues to hold that honor, which is ironic since I don’t remember Laura touching a drop of anything stronger than her mama’s two-day-old sweet tea.
You can grab a copy at Amazon.com
The three book series is published by Abingdon Press
Be sure to visit Debby at DebbyMayne.com
Well, this looks a little gross, but I've started something new. Something good. Juicing.
I'm the kind of gal that doesn't always read the directions, or the recipe. I just start throwing things in. Not sure that will happen again. I chopped up and threw in an entire beet. Ish.
I am proud to say I still drank the entire glass of veggies. It took me three hours, but I got it down. As someone who NEVER eats her veggies, this is a big, big step. So, starting off with a giant (well, ok, not so giant) glass of beets, spinach, romaine, kale, carrots and an apple was interesting, to say the least.
I know this new adventure will be something that my body will thank me for later. Without all the beets. Maybe a few. Mmm...
I recently had a chance to talk with actress and author Mara Purl about her latest release, Where the Heart Lives,
the second book in the Milford-Haven series. She's received rave reviews. Here's what she had to share with us:
1. Tell us a little bit about your series, the Milford-Haven saga.
On one level, the Milford-Haven Novels are pure escape. Get in your virtual car, drive up the virtual California coast and arrive at this gorgeous little fictional town: Main Street and its shops, cafes and art galleries; Touchstone Beach and its long blustery walks; the private art studio of Miranda Jones; the environmental offices of Samantha Hugo; the cozy Sally O’Mally’s café; the romantic Michael’s Restaurant with its view of the lighthouse. Lose yourself in characters’ problems and leave your own behind for a while. In the process, gain perspective and feel refreshed.
On another level, the series in an invitation for a woman to get in closer touch with her own heart. The essence of the series is this: in your heart of hearts, what did you always want to do? Are you doing it yet? If you don’t yet know what that might be, you start to find it with book one, What the Heart Knows. If you don’t yet know where you truly want to live, you continue exploring with the new book, the second in the series, Where the Heart Lives. And there are three more books in this pentalogy that will focus on Why, When and Who.
Ultimately, the saga will contain ten novels, and at least twice that many short stories. And these can be read in order, or out of order. But I personally feel its most fun to read them in chronological order. That’s how I enjoy reading books.
2. Tell us about some of the characters in your new release, Where the Heart Lives. Do you see yourself in any of them?
The story’s protagonist is wildlife artist Miranda Jones, who grew up privileged and has left the comfort and connections of her San Francisco-area home and career, following her heart to the small coastal town of Milford-Haven, about four hours south, along what’s called the Central Coast. It’s far more rugged and undiscovered than either San Francisco to its north or Los Angeles to its south. She has two close friends who, oddly enough, don’t like each other. Sally O’Mally has also followed her own heart to Milford-Haven having left the farm where she grew up in Arkansas. She’s feisty, stubborn, true-blue and has a heart of gold. But she does indulge overhearing as much gossip as she can in her restaurant. Meanwhile, Samantha Hugo, who’s about twenty year’s Miranda’s senior, is an accomplished PhD environmentalist with a successful, passionate career. But she has followed her “head” to the Central Coast, and abandoned her “heart” a long time earlier. When her marriage collapsed, she gave up her son for adoption—and that now haunts her as she begin to try to find that son.
I do see myself in two of my characters in particular . . . Miranda Jones and Samantha Hugo. Both are interested in ecology and wildlife, as I am. Miranda is an artist, and so am I, though my art is in writing, theatre and music, where Miranda’s is in fine art. Samantha, who’s in a more mature chapter of life, has reached a point where she’s connecting a lot of dots between her inner and outer worlds. She’s dealing with personal issues, but also with global ones, realizing that every personal breakthrough is also in some ways a global one. She realizes how very connected we truly are to the world around us.
3. How did you get interested in the area you are writing about?
It all started when I was invited to spend a summer performing in Cambria, California. The play was Gardner McKay’s Sea Marks and my co-star and I both felt so passionate about this play that we were honored to accept this job. We were at a precious jewel box of a theatre, the Pewter Plough Playhouse, which at that time was starting to attract audiences from San Francisco and L.A. Though we performed in the evenings, during the days I began to explore life in that part of the world and became intrigued by the eclectic groups of people who lives there, and the fact that there seemed to be a lot of artists and craftsmen on one hand, but also developers and builders on the other hand. I also got fascinated by life in a small town, having grown up in a huge city. It struck me as a wonderful framework for storytelling. Characters began to arise in my imagination and pretty soon I found myself writing this story. It wouldn’t leave me alone . . . and still won’t! And I still adore the Central Coast. I’m so excited that the last stop on my current book tour will actually be in Cambria . . . where the whole story began!
4. What places did you visit on your Where the Heart Lives book tour?
This has been the most extraordinary book tour ever, so far. It was really a “concept” tour, in that the book and the book tour were connected at the core.
The map of the California tour closely resembles the book cover of Where the Heart Lives! And we decided to focus on only independent bookstores for this whole tour, which I am so enjoying. I love indie bookstores and respect their booksellers, who know their customers, and know what books they’re likely to enjoy. The tour included stops in Malibu, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Solvang, Menlo Park (near San Francisco) and Cambria. In addition, the tour included a huge loop through Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona with stops in Taos, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Sedona, Prescott, and Phoenix. What a joy to connect with readers in so many locations! And what’s SO exciting is that even after the physical tour concludes, the blog tour will continue and I’ll be blogging about all these stops along the way. It may actually take me through the end of the year before I complete the blogs, because so many interesting things are happening along the way!
5. Tell us a little bit about you, and some of your favorite things to do.
By now I’m sure you can guess that one of my favorite things to do is spend time in Cambria, Morro Bay, Santa Barbara and other locations along the Central Coast. These are places that truly feed my soul. I love being there alone on my writing getaways, and I also love sharing them with my family. I also enjoy exploring cities. I grew up in Tokyo, which I love; my husband and I adore hiking up and down the amazing neighborhoods of San Francisco; I enjoy special regions of Los Angeles like Little Tokyo with its multicultural delights, Malibu with its coastal pageantry and sense of community, and Hollywood, with its rich history. Add to the list of favorite cities New York and Paris. Of course, I love to read! I love theatre and film. And my husband and I dance the Argentine tango.6. What is your favorite part of writing? What is your least favorite part of writing?
There’s really no “least favorite” part of writing itself. But what is sometimes challenging is the degree of time and focus it requires, and how that impacts the other parts of my life. As I work my way into a novel, I tend to get more and more absorbed in the task, and in the fictional world and all its possibilities. I write longer and longer hours and begin neglecting other things, like walking, exercising, cooking, seeing friends. . . . I don’t ignore my husband, but even he begins to feel I might fall through the rabbit hole! So the challenge for me is maintaining balance. I’ve made a life-long practice of hiking and walking. My best friend Erin Gray and I used to hike almost every morning before beginning work on the non-fiction book we co-wrote. My husband and I often start our mornings with a hike. And enjoy long walks in the mountains and hills, and along the ocean. Not only is it good for the body, it’s good for the soul. To put it in Milford-Haven terms, it’s good for both head and heart.
Thanks so much for sharing with us! We look forward to reading Where the Heart Lives.
You can visit Mara at www.marapurl.com
Be sure to head over to her website, www.marapurl.com
, to download a FREE copy of her book, When Whales Watch
It's amazing to me that God can love me unconditionally. It's not that I go out of my way to upset Him, but there's plenty of days I need to be spending time with Him, only to skip right over and go do something else I think is more important.
Each time--thankfully--He reels me back in and reminds me just how much I need Him.
While reading through my devotional, Seeking Purity,
I came across something very profound. Laura says, "Hear me loud and clear when I say this: God is not like us! Amen! He is not upset with us if we are coming up short. He loves you and this love is not based on a feeling, it is based on Christ, on truth, on the choice He made to love you unconditionally. Feelings change with conditions, but God's love for you stands firm."
What a blessing to know that God will love us NO MATTER WHAT! I don't have to perform, I don't have to grovel when I mess up. I can come to him with my whole heart, and He will take me just as I am.
He continually loved the Israelites, in spite of themselves. Each time, He drew them back in and loved them unconditionally, just as He loves us. The Israelites were and are worthy of His love. So are you!
I love the fact that God had so many prophets throughout the Bible. I'm sure they walked back into their tent each night so frustrated with people not listening to what God wanted for them.
I would've been one of the top non-listeners. I tend to have a mind of my own. I'm sure the hubs could fill you in on that one quite easily. :)
Laura tells us in Seeking Purity,
that the Lord warned the Israelites many times through His prophets. I'm so grateful to know that I wasn't the first one to put up a fight when it came to listening.
She goes on to tell us that when we read 2 Kings 17:14-23, we will see that God makes it very clear that the Israelites were not to have idols, among other things. In her research, she found that in the NIV the word "idols" is used. But in the KJV and the NASB, the word "vanities" is used in its place. She says, "A word study will further clarify this for us: 'vanities' and 'vain' are translated in the Hebrew as hebel
and habal. Hebel
, meaning 'vanities' is a 'breath or vapor,' and habal
is 'to act emptily, to become vain or to be vain.'"
Wow! That's quite a statement. A breath or vapor doesn't last long. At all. I don't know tons about science, but I've learned enough to know that a vapor is gone pretty darn quick. Kinda puts things in perspective.
In my daily life, it's easy to find things that seem important. Cars, clothing, purses, Starbucks (yes, you read that correctly. We all have different things we love - ha ha!). But trying to get a bigger paycheck just so I can have more Starbucks won't work. It won't last (except around my waist). Focusing in on "idols" will be a waste of breath - literally.
God placed his prophets in the midst of Israel to bring them closer and fully to Himself. They are in the pages of His word so we can look back and learn, and see that He still wants us closer and fully to Himself. Fleeting moments of vapors just don't seem to measure up - and never will. I'm so thankful we serve a God that still wants every part of us!
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