Monday, February 28, 2011

An Interview with Author Jody Hedlund

Today I have a special treat…!

The beautiful Jody Hedlund.
Facebook: Author Jody Hedlund

Jody Hedlund, author of The Preacher's Bride has graciously taken time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions. Sit back, grab some chocolate and enjoy!

And, if you read all the way through this post, there is another possible treat in your future!! [no cheating by skipping the interview!]

Hi, Jody.
First of all, let’s get the important stuff out of the way. What is your favorite “I need food and I need it now” food?

Apple, blueberry, cherry crumb top pie from Grand Traverse Pie Company. It’s to die for! When I have it in the house, I usually sneak a piece for breakfast. After all, with the crumb top, it’s almost like a breakfast buckle, right?
Oh, Jody, a woman after my own heart! I may or may not have had a Reese’s Peanut Butter egg for breakfast last week!

If money were absolutely no object [a girl can dream can’t she?], what is one place you would love to go with only your husband?
I’d love to take a research trip to England. I know my husband would enjoy going too and would put up with my obsessive need to read about and study all the historical details of everything I come across.
And as a family?
My children on the other hand don’t have as much patience for my appetite for history. So I’d love to take them hiking in the Rockies or to Yellowstone.

My daughters and I have had the pleasure of meeting you at a book signing. I could gush on and on about you but I’ll let you tell a little about yourself.
You’re too sweet, Deanna! I loved meeting you and your daughters! It was one of the highlights of the book signing! 
But about my family. My husband and I will be celebrating 20 years of marriage this summer. We’ve been blessed with five children ranging in age from 13 down to 5, with a set of twins in the mix to keep things lively. And if that wasn’t busy enough we have five pets—a dog, 2 cats, and 2 hamsters.
Gush warning! Jody was so warm and gracious when we met her at a book signing. I believe we were one of the first stalkers groupies people there. Jody recognized Writer Daughter from her blog picture and came up and gave her a nice hug. It is so nice to be noticed. You know?! Jody and Writer Daughter spent time talking in between book signing and others gushing over the book. Writer Daughter received some great advice! Jody is just a nice, nice person. The.End.

Wife, mom, teaching mom [Jody teaches at home], writer/author, chauffeur, cheerleader…the list could go on and on. How do you personally find balance?
It’s definitely not easy! And I continually struggle to stay on the balance beam without falling off, especially with so many demands clamoring for my attention.

I’ve had to learn to live by 3 S’s: scale back, simplify, support.

1. I’ve had to scale-back my commitments, outside activities, and involvements.
2. I’ve also simplified my life as much as possible: meals, closets, clothes, shopping, housework, etc.
3. And I often must rely on the support of my husband, children, and friends; and of course I must continually rely on the Lord.
Note to self. Must.Learn.3.S’s.

Our daughter has the passion/calling to write. We know there is rarely glamour or money to be made in the writing world. In fact, it is hard work! What keeps you writing?
Ultimately, what drives most writers is the need to tell a story that we can share with others. We love telling stories. But even more than that we want to share the stories with others. And the more I hear from readers who’ve enjoyed my book, the more I want to continue to bring them pleasure.
Have you always had the dream/passion to write?
I have always had a passion to write, and I grew up filling notebook after notebook with stories. I didn’t seriously begin writing novels and pursuing a writing career until after college. When I graduated with my Masters in Social Work, I was only able to find a part time job. I used the “free” time to start writing and began to learn all I could about fiction-writing.
Parents were people without children once. (it seems so long ago!) We’ve all had dreams/passions. And to a lot of parents, teaching their children at home is a passion/calling during this season of life. However, what would you say to a parent who feels called by God to pursue another passion while homeschooling or having an outside job?

Yes, I truly believe God gives each of us gifts, talents, and abilities that he wants us to use for his glory. I have a homeschooling friend who is incredibly gifted at serving. She puts care packages together for dozens of people at Christmas, she sends goodies to soldiers, and she is the first to bring a meal to anyone in need. She’s really passionate about it, and even though she’s homeschooling, she still finds time to use her gifts.

Since all of us are created so uniquely, we can’t compare and try to keep up with each other. Rather I believe we should be searching our hearts, looking for how God’s specially designed us to serve him. Mine happens to be through my writing. He’s opened doors for me to pursue this particular gift right now and bring him glory through it.

I believe if we’re truly laying our passions before Him, and seeking to serve him, he’ll direct us in what he wants us to be doing in different seasons of our lives.
The Preacher’s Bride is inspired by John Bunyan's, writer of Pilgrim’s Progress, wife Elizabeth. Tell us some behind the scenes things that went into the writing of this book.
I lovingly refer to The Preacher’s Bride as my “nap time book” because during the year that I wrote it, my two youngest were still taking naps and that’s about the only time I could find to write.

And The Preacher’s Bride was the first book I wrote after coming back from a long writing hiatus. I’d taken many years off from my writing while I was having all of my babies and during our beginning years of homeschooling. So The Preacher’s Bride will always hold a special place in my heart for helping me get reacquainted with my writing.
I heard Jody on a local radio station a few weeks ago. When giving an overview of The Preacher’s Bride, one of the things she stated was the story shows a person doing something hard instead of finding the easy way out. It made me think, how most of us do try to find the easy way out of a difficult situation. Sometimes in life we just need to buckle up for the ride when it is difficult. Hard choices need to be made. Even though it isn't fun, most of the time, you’ll find the biggest blessings when life gets really hard.

You have a new book hitting shelves the beginning of September 2011. Can you give us a glimpse of the story line?
My next book is called The Doctor’s Lady and it releases in September. It’s very different from The Preacher’s Bride in that it has a completely different time period and setting. But it’s similar in that it’s another “inspired-by” novel.

The Doctor’s Lady is a fictionalized story based on the first American woman to travel overland West to Oregon as a missionary to the natives. It’s a marriage of convenience story, but also the tale of how a young woman overcame the odds, endured a dangerous journey, and found true love along the way. In the process, her strength and courage paved the way for all the women who came after her.
I can’t wait! I can’t wait! I can’t wait! I can’t wait…..

What does a “typical” day look like for you?

I generally wake up a couple hours before my kids. That gives me time to have a cup of coffee and read my Bible. After that, I read emails and try to answer a few. Then I attempt to get a jump start on my writing goal for the day.
Once the kids start to wake up, I pack up my story. I focus on our homeschooling for the day, which usually runs from about 7:30 until 2:30 or 3:00.

Finally, when the kids are busy doing their afternoon jobs, practicing piano, and getting ready for evening activities, I once again attempt to settle down for a little bit of writing.

Then after the kids are in bed, I finish up anything I wasn’t able to get done during the day. When I’m actively writing a first draft, I usually set a daily word count goal of writing 1000 words and I don’t go to bed until I get it down.
And for those who don’t know….1000 words is work!

Teaching at home parents often have the funniest stories about something their young child said or did. Without thinking too hard about it, what is the funniest story that pops into your head at this moment?
The most recent incident involved my two youngest children, ages 5 and 7. After they finished school one morning, they went upstairs to play in their bedrooms, or so I thought. I was busy checking math and helping my oldest son with a paper, when it struck me that my two youngest were too quiet. (Isn’t that usually the clue that they’re up to trouble!)

So I headed up to see what they were doing. They were in the bathroom, and when I opened the door, it looked like a second flood had taken place. Water covered the floor and dripped from the sink. And animals were everywhere—stuffed animals.

“We’re giving all our animals baths in the sink,” my youngest exclaimed with a happy smile, wet from head to toe.

And later, while I was hanging up two dozen soaking stuffed animals to dry in the laundry room, and explaining to my youngest why they couldn’t give baths to stuffed animals, I had a terrible time holding in my laughter!
You are stranded on a tropical island (it is winter back home in MI). You’ve been in paradise for a week. No one around but natives, who keep to themselves, monkeys, bugs, who leave you alone (imagination is great isn’t it?!), coconuts and berries. And through the miracle of imagination, you have your laptop with Wi-Fi. You find yourself under a palm tree (in a comfy lounge chair, of course) while the breeze is blowing gently through your hair. Your eyes are closed, your body relaxed. A small smile appears on your sun-kissed face as you sigh in contentment. Off in the distance a sound of a plane, getting closer, getting closer….. What will you do:

A. Signal the search plane?
B. Hide further under the palm tree?
C. Do a happy dance?
D. Once the plane lands you make a deal with the pilot to come back next week? OR
E. Other : _______________________________

After a week, I would definitely pick A., signal the search plane! I’d be so ready to see my family again and get hugs and kisses from everyone! But I’d also make arrangements to get stranded again—maybe once every winter!

Thanks so much, Jody, for the wonderful interview!

As a special treat, Jody has offered to give an
autographed book to one person who comments. It truly is a wonderful read!

To win a copy of The Preacher’s Bride, leave a comment by 11 PM EST on Sunday, March 6th with your email address in the comment.[to avoid spammers, write your email in this format: myemail AT provider DOT com]
You must live in the continental United States to be eligible to win. And the winner will be picked randomly using Tru Random Number Generator.

The winner will be notified by email (no email addy left in win) and also announced here on Monday, March 7th.

Let the comments begin!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Spread the Love and Beauty

Or maybe the title should be Valentine Potpourri.

And, let me be the first to say, Valentine's Day is about love; whether you are single or married, it is about love. Love of God. Love of people. Love. Don't beat yourself up if you are single. Enjoy it. Love your friends, your mom/dad, brother/sister, niece/nephew, etc.

Buckle we go...

David Crowder Band singing How He Loves...'nuf said and enjoy.

I found this cute free down-loadable beauty eye chart (Valentine, love, inner beauty...get the connection?) Writer/Cos Daughter printed all the colors out in 3.5x5 size to give to her fellow cosmetology students and teachers. (someone decided to relive her elementary years and have the girls and teachers bring valentines for one a potluck. I personally think it was just an excuse for a potluck...but let's keep that one between us! ☺)
I printed off a few of these for both daughters and put them in 8x10 frames. They.look.adorable.

Is this just the coolest or what?!
Don't forget to check out the rest of her site.

Then I decided to avoid housework and made this...

dark gray words is the chorus of Beautiful by MercyMe.
Verse in the middle is by Jesus, of course!
I think the next time I make something like this I'll put the lines farther apart. Trial and two closest friends.

Writer Daughter has a wonderful post here and here.

And, have you seen the commercial about "I love us"?

You have to admit, this is kind of cute. I especially enjoyed the part where the pregnant woman patted her husband's belly while the narrator talked about "growing".

Have a great day! Spread the love.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Off My Bookshelf

Two books are off my shelf at the moment.

Great books.

One is thought provoking and deep. The other is just as great in its own way.

The first is One Thought Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I'm only on chapter three but may I just say WOW! I am not one to highlight in a book but Ann has caused me to break my own rule. And if the writing and deepness of the book is not enough, I'm watching the videos online after I read each chapter. Again, WOW! So far she has written about a painful experience when she was four, about God, about her life now, about how grace, thanksgiving and joy are connected and about God. It isn't one of those trite "I'm perfect and do everything right because I believe in God" books. It is real. It is honest. And it is most importantly relates to most humans if they are honest. And the videos are the frosting to my cake...and I like lots of frosting!

The second book is a lighter book. A you-have-me-giggling book. Save The Date by Jenny B Jones. I'm a little over half way done with this book but it calls to me. "Deanna, don't do the laundry...pick me up instead." "Deanna, don't feed your family...can't you see your need to find out what happens next?" Yeah, that kind of book. Will Alex be a stand up guy or be what everyone believes of him? Will Lucy use her sarcasm for good or evil? Matt. What is up with Matt? I can't figure out if I should love him or hate him. I'm seriously a little suspicious of that man. And Julian...I love that quirky guy....I need a Julian living in my house just for the entertainment factor only. Hmmmm.....these are the things that keep me up at night. And, how can I not love Jenny B Jones. After all, I did name her next YA book...There You'll Find Me. Okay, so I participated in a poll...but still, she picked the one I voted for so that makes me an influencer...right? (don't judge me people!)

Well, that is what's off my bookshelf.

How about you?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Wind Doth Blow & We Shall Have Snow

Over the last few days many have been preparing for a huge winter storm coming our way. In fact, I was awaken at 4:50 a.m. by the weather radio blaring on about a Blizzard Warning. Oh. Peachy.

When I heard about this storm approaching and its timeline, I decided Sunday after church would be a fine time to get a gallon or two of milk and other essential items. I seriously thought ice cream an essential item but wondered about the chill factor on my body and decided against the wonder they call ice cream.

Many, many people were in the store gathering items. This morning, on the news, there were pictures of empty store shelves from the night before. I've even heard grumblings that we really are not having a blizzard heading our way, but, instead, a conspiracy by the weather personnel to jump start the economy.

Preparing and grumblings. It really got me thinking about Christian preparedness. Have I been preparing for Christ? Am I one of those grumbling that I haven't time to read the Bible or pray or just know God more? Am I too busy preparing for earthly things that I miss the Spiritual preparation? Why can't I make it my priority?

Good thing God is patient! Good thing He extends His merciful grace!

Bundle up.
Keep warm.
There's a blizzard out there!
Well, at least a lot of blowing snow out there!!