Thursday, February 28, 2013

On Tuesday, we introduced you to Dani's latest romantic suspense release, Shattered, from Bethany House. Today we learn more about Dani the author.

1) Have you always wanted to be an author? If not, what made you decide to write, and how long have you been at it?

I have always loved daydreaming and making up stories. I dabbled with creative writing growing up, but set it aside. It wasn’t until after the birth of my youngest daughter and a bout with a serious illness that I really felt God stirring me to start writing again.

I started slowly. I spent a lot of time simply reading novels, seeing how they worked, and analyzing why I fell in love with certain characters and not others. I attended writing conferences, joined a writer’s group and devoted regular time to writing. I was also blessed with an amazing mentor who really shepherded me in the craft and writing life. I wrote for close to seven years from the very initial thought of ‘I think I’ll try and write a novel’ to receiving my first contract. 

2) Have you ever had a funny experience connected with being an author? For instance, has someone ever overheard you discussing the merits of one murder weapon over another or caught you shooting at a can of gasoline to see if you could make it explode?

Absolutely. I was flying back from an ACFW conference with a fellow romantic suspense writer and friend. We were brainstorming about the best way to keep someone captive in your home without your neighbors becoming suspicious. We carried on for well over an hour before we noticed people were staring at us, and then it hit. We laughed and tried to assure everyone it was okay—we were writers brainstorming stories. They smiled, but I don’t think they all bought it. I think several were expecting to see us on the news.

That's funny! I wish I could have have been there to see their reactions!

3) What do you love about being a writer, and what do you like the least?

I love so many aspects of being a writer—developing characters, creating story worlds, brainstorming with my editors, seeing the stories turn into books on the shelves, and most especially, connecting with readers. What I like least are deadlines, but it’s good I have them or I’d tinker forever. 

4) Are you a plotter, a pantser, or a combination?

I always say I’m a panster, but I’m starting to believe I’m a combination. I have a general premise in mind, an idea of where I want the story to end, and who my main characters are before I sit down, but I don’t fill out an outline or scene-by-scene cards. I don’t fill out character sketches or interviews. I just let the ideas rumble around in my head a bit, do some research, let the story percolate and then sit down and start writing.

I work the same way.

5) What do your kids think about your being a writer?

I think they really enjoy that I write, but at the same time, it’s got to be a little strange being a romantic suspense author’s kid. My oldest is an adult and my “baby” is only months away from becoming an adult so the following won’t sound quite as horrific, hopefully J It’s not unusual for a topic of conversation around our house to be about the best way to dispose of a body, or how decomposed a body would be after a certain amount of time. My girls also help with proofreading, brainstorming, and everything in between. I’m very blessed!

6) Do you like to listen to music when you write?

I would love to listen to music while I write, but I find it too distracting. I end up typing the lyrics.

I'm exactly the same way. Whether or not it has lyrics, I listen to music too actively for it to stay in the background. I also like what you said in your Tuesday post -- I had no idea you'd be talking about music earlier when I asked this question -- but it definitely sets the mood and evokes emotion.

7) Writing is a sedentary occupation. What do you do for exercise?

My favorite form of exercise is hiking, but any type of walk outdoors is great. We have an elliptical and stationary bike for rainy and especially cold days.

That's where you and I differ. I just plain doing get enough exercise.

8) Do you have any pets? Do you own them, or they you?

We have a Black Labrador who thinks he’s a lap dog, a miniature dachshund who thinks she’s a lion and a goldfish named Freddie. Our Lab, Jack, definitely owns me. He’s the sweetest thing ever.

Thank you, Dani, for visiting us on The Borrowed Book!

Readers, make sure to stop by tomorrow and participate in our drawing. One lucky person will win a copy of Dani's new release, Shattered.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Last week I wrote about the sewing machine patent wars between Elias Howe and Isaac Singer. As I wrote that blog article, it occurred to me that the people who invented the first sewing machines were men, yet now it seems mostly women use them (there were no men in my quilting class). Then I was heartened to discover that a woman named Helen Augusta Blanchard developed techniques for zigzag stitching and overseaming.

Helen Blanchard was born in Portland, Maine on October 25, 1840, although that date isn’t certain. She had five siblings. Her father was a well-to-do ship-owner and businessman who suffered financial losses in the business panic of 1866. That resulted in the loss of the family homestead. He died leaving the family in financial trouble.

Personal details about Helen Blanchard’s private life are sketchy, but as far as I can determine, in the late 1970s or early 1880s, she established the Blanchard Overseaming Company to market her inventions. Her first invention was the over-seam of the long stitch in 1873. In 1880 she invented the sewing and trimming seam, and in the same year the zigzag stitch for hat.

She also founded the Blanchard Hosiery Machine Company in 1882. She moved to New York in the early 1890s, and continued to patent a variety of inventions, including a pencil sharpener and a hat sewing machine.

When I discover accomplished people like Helen Blanchard, I want to know what made them tick. What gave them the drive to dream and then take it a step further and make it real? Is it upbringing? Genes? Necessity? And in this case, what gave Helen the courage to invent and patent her inventions in an era when women couldn’t even vote?

Helen profited from her commercial ventures and was able to buy back the family homestead in Portland that her father lost so many years before. That must have been gratifying for a woman like her, and it makes me wonder if the family’s losses so early in her life left a mark on her—perhaps the family lost some of their social standing when her father lost so much. I can only speculate. At any rate, she returned to live on the family homestead in 1901. She continued to patent inventions until she suffered a stroke in 1916. She died in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1922 and is buried in the family plot in Portland.

One of her machines (1873) is on display today in the Smithsonian's Museum of American History.

If any of our readers have more information about this interesting woman, I’d love to hear from you!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Do you remember where you were when you first heard “A Spoonful of Sugar” or “The Cha Cha Slide?” I bet both bring back a very distinctive memory. Do they remind you of a certain time in your life? Who you were with when you heard them? What you were doing at the time? A Spoonful of Sugar brings back two special memories for me. The first time I heard it was as a kid, watching Mary Poppins on my neighbor’s brand new VCR. The second time, I was watching the musical on Broadway with my young daughters. Both instances remind me of very different periods in my life—one of my childhood and the other of when my girls were younger. Music has the ability to trigger our memories, to transport us back in time, and to revive emotions with a simple melody or chorus. For example, every time I hear the theme music for Indiana Jones, I feel adventurous. 

How does this relate to writing? Many writers listen to music while writing. It helps get them in the mood and helps bring emotions to the surface. It’s a fantastic, creative tool for writers. Unfortunately, I can’t write with music playing or I end up typing lyrics rather than dialogue. However, I still love combining the power of story and the beauty of music. 

As I write, my stories play out like a movie in my head and songs spring to mind. While I don’t automatically match a specific song to a specific scene, I always know the tone and feel I’m going for. After the scene is written, I’ll go and search for a song that fits. Lyrics are most important to me when choosing a song, but melody is up there. Melody helps create mood and indicates the level intensity within a scene. 

With my latest release, Shattered, I went ahead and compiled a playlist of songs. As I listen to the soundtrack, I can feel the emotions Piper and Landon are experiencing at different points throughout the story. The really cool thing is that I’ve had readers email and ask if a particular song went with a particular scene because they felt it was the right fit. I love that!

As writers, we are always looking for ways to bring added depth and emotions to our stories. I believe music is one way to do this. Not only will it cement scenes in your mind, but hopefully will also be a fun extra for readers to resonate with. 

To see an example, you can visit the Fun page on my website and listen to Shattered’s soundtrack. 

Writing inspirational romantic suspense, most of the songs I choose reflect faith, romance and adventure. I hope you’ll enjoy the soundtrack and the story. Here’s a little glimpse at Shattered: 

Piper McKenna couldn't be more thrilled that her prodigal brother, Reef, has returned to Yancey, Alaska, after five years. But her happiness is short-lived when Reef appears at her house covered in blood. A fellow snowboarder has been killed--but despite the evidence, Reef swears he's innocent. And Piper believes him.

Deputy Landon Grainger loves the McKennas like family, but he's also sworn to find the truth. Piper is frustrated with his need for facts over faith, but he knows those closest to you have the power to deceive you the most. With his sheriff pushing for a quick conviction, some unexpected leads complicate the investigation, and pursuing the truth may mean risking Landon's career.

With Piper waging her own search, the two head deep into Canada's rugged backcountry--and unexpected complications. Not only does their long friendship seem to be turning into something more, but this dangerous case is becoming deadlier with each step.

Come on back Friday when Dani will be giving away a copy of her latest release, Shattered.

Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of one’s fath and plenty of romance. She’s a huge fan of dark chocolate, is always in search of the best iced mocha and her dream is to one day own a little cottage on a remote stretch of beach. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters.

Monday, February 25, 2013

About this Feature: Writing letters to characters and/or authors is nothing new, but here's the twist: these letters will be all about borrowing, in keeping with our blog title. They can be funny or serious, sweet or sassy, short or more in-depth. My hope is that the letters will be entertaining or inspiring to read and will show appreciation to authors - and to the Lord for giving us creativity! (You can click the button and then scroll down to read previously posted letters.)

I'll plan on sharing a letter every other week. If you'd like to submit a letter of your own to be posted here, feel free to e-mail me at

Today's letter is for the Kensington family from Grave Consequences by Lisa T. Bergren:

Dear Kensington Family,

I hardly know how to address such an illustrious and prosperous family, but I could not forego the opportunity to tell you how much I am enjoying reading about your travels. The first chronicle of your Grand Tour was quite engaging. Please find included in this letter a link to my critique of the book. I am not even a quarter of the way through this second chronicle, but I am already intrigued by your continuing trek. I must admit that Cora's adventurous spirit is admirable - as is that of your whole company. The suspense that follows you, the dangers you embrace, and the places you have visited thus far are thrilling!

I realize that it is hardly appropriate for me to ask this question, but might I be able to borrow some funds, as well as your bear [tour guide] and his nephew, for a few weeks? I would dearly love the opportunity to take a tour of my own. Since I have recently graduated from university, I feel this would be a wonderful time in my life to tour Europe, study the past, explore different places, experience new cultures, and see a little more of the world than what I have been exposed to thus far. 

I cannot offer much by way of interest on such extensive loans, as I currently owe much on loans used to help pay for my education. But your generosity would be very highly appreciated, and I would be pleased to speak of such kindness far and wide. With the general acceptance of Cora Diehl into the Kensington family, I am given reason to hope.

I eagerly await your response. Should your answer be in the negative, though, I will understand. I have been given many blessings, and just as you all must be discovering, being with family and friends, no matter where that may be, is an especially dear blessing.

With Regard,
Miss Amber Stokes

You can purchase Grave Consequences now on! (Grave Consequences is the sequel to Glamorous Illusions.)

And be looking for my review of this book on my personal blog, Seasons of Humility - coming in March for the Litfuse Publicity blog tour!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

In C.S. Lewis’s classic theological sci-fi tale, Perelandra, the main character, Dr. Elwin Ransom, is sent on a journey to the planet Venus—or, in their language, Perelandra—which is in its own Eden, with the mission of averting the new world’s impending Fall. He finds it a world of floating islands in a vast, warm ocean, and there he comes face to face with this world’s Eve—a beautiful, innocent woman destined to be the mother of all Perelandra’s living. He has the unenviable task of explaining our world’s psychology:

“ our world not all events are pleasing or welcome...”
“But how can one wish any of those waves not to reach us which Maleldil [the Creator] is rolling towards us?”

Ransom counters by pointing out her own disappointment, however momentary, at seeing him, a stranger, when she’d hoped for her husband, this world’s Adam.

She grasps the concept, expands upon it, and summarizes,

“... You could send your soul after the good you had expected, instead of turning it to the good you had got. You could refuse the real good; you could make the real fruit taste insipid by thinking of the other.”

So very often... I find myself in that place. Grasping for what used to be—or for what I think should come ahead—that I cannot focus on and savor the gift that God has placed in my hands, today.

And then there is the place of knowing something is coming—of seeing two or more alternate paths before me, but dreading them all. I shared before how I stood in that place many years ago after the birth of my sixth baby—I didn’t think I could face the possibility of his surviving as a medically fragile child, but losing him completely was hardly a better alternative.

I’m facing a similar crisis in our family’s future, one thankfully not as dire as the life of a child hanging in the balance. But oh, I find myself full of terror for whatever might come, standing in that trough between waves. This is not the response the Maker of the sea would want me to have, I know.

I wonder, when Jesus invited Peter to step out of that boat and onto the surface of the stormy lake of Galilee, was Peter terrified? He had to be. Sure, he must have been drawn by the lure of adventure—he was a strong, hearty fisherman, quicker to act than think—but to say his heart didn’t pound or his head didn’t swim (no pun intended!) as he climbed over the side and onto the waves, well ... I can’t imagine that.

Of course, there’s the other time, when Jesus lay asleep in the back of the boat, and the storm came up, and the disciples feared for their lives before finally going to wake Him up. He stilled the storm, then rebuked them for their lack of faith.

What’s the difference, then? Maybe it’s daring to step out of the boat, to come where He calls me, however crazy it looks, regardless of how my heart pounds with terror—as opposed to continuing to deal with a crisis on my own strength, not wanting to “bother” Him with my paltry fears, until at last I’m driven to His feet by my desperation.

All right, then. As the Lady in Perelandra says,

“I thought … that I was carried in the will of Him I love, but now I see that I walk with it. I thought that the good things He sent me drew me into them as the waves lift the islands; but now I see that it is I who plunge into them with my own legs and arms, as when we go swimming. I feel as if I were living in that roofless world of yours when men walk undefended beneath naked heaven. It is delight with terror in it. One’s own self to be walking from one good to another, walking beside Him as Himself may walk .... The world is so much larger than I thought. I thought we went along paths—but it seems there are no paths. The going itself is the path.”

I’ll step out, Lord—and I’ll walk, wherever You might call. Help me to embrace the waves You roll toward me.

Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matthew 8:25-27)

But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. (Matthew 14:30-32, both NKJV)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Happy Saturday, BB fans! Thanks to everyone who participated in our "puzzling" Friday giveaway! Keep all those facebook and Twitter notifications, coming!

This week's winner is Sylvia - Ring of Secrets by Roseanna White! 

Congratulations, Sylvia! Thank you all so much for stopping by The Borrowed Book!

Friday, February 22, 2013

It's Fun Friday at The Borrowed Book!

To enter:

Leave the time it took you to complete the puzzle in the comments section as well as your email address for notifying you if you've won. Winners will be drawn from ALL of the times, so the person with the fastest time may not be the actual winner, but by leaving your time, you double your chances.

Want another entry? Tweet your puzzle time and mention The Borrowed Book, get another entry. RETWEET our Tweet, get two entries!

Post your puzzle time on BB's Facebook wall guessed it...get another entry!

Post it on your OWN Facebook wall and you could get as many as FIVE entries.

It's all a way to spread the word about the great giveaways on BB. So c'mon! Help us spread the word, and have a little fun at the same time. :-)

This week's puzzle feature is brought to you by Roseanna White and her newest release, Ring of Secrets.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My days, when I'm writing, begin at about 5:30. I have in the past set the alarm for this lovely, dark hour, but lately my cat has been playing the role of alarm clock and revving her engine right in my ear at that time every morning--even on weekends. Sometimes at 4:30. But I digress. ;-)

I'm a morning person, so I don't stumble out of bed, I bounce. (Don't hate me, LOL. I start stumbling at about 9 p.m.) I tiptoe down the stairs, praying with every creaking step that my also-morning-person five-year-old son doesn't wake up. As I pass through the darkened living room, sweeping my foot out lest I step on said engine-revving cat or her sister, I nab my laptop from the end table that doubles as my desk. A few more steps and I'm in the kitchen, squinting against the sudden light. I put Mr. Laptop down on the counter and instruct Mr. Coffee to dispense his life-giving brew. Then I pull over a stool and get to work.

My actual desk, before I got the flag, set up for the creation of
Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland (Summerside, 2011)
I have a desk. Really, I do. It's in the former-nursery that's now our family school room, and it's lovely. Antique (a.k.a well worn), with my Jane Austen action figure perched happily on top, and a Betsy Ross flag hanging right above me. But the wi-fi signal is terrible, so I rarely use it when writing. Which means my home school binder has taken up residence there, and that sucker is HUGE! Where would I put the laptop anyway?? ;-) Later in the day, after the kids are up, the computer will therefore move to the aforementioned end table in the living room. And by the end of the day, the kiddos will have amassed a pile of toys on my few inches of space there, LOL.

My little boy usually wakes up at a 6, which begins the scavenger hunt of my day. Breakfast for him, drink for him, toy for him, second breakfast for him...then his sister will usually fumble her way down the stairs, and we get to repeat the process. When I remember, I exercise at 7:30. When I look down at my clock and realize it's already 8:24, I say "Shucks. No time..." Shower, and then the school day begins.

I have a vague awareness of the fact that other writers count on those school hours for work. As a home school mom, it's the other way around for me. I count on the morning hours, our breaks, and sometimes the evenings for making progress on those word-count goals. I've gotten pretty good at getting writing done in five minute chunks. It sometimes makes me cranky, LOL, but I manage.

My end table desk...absent the laptop solely for the purpose
of taking a picture when I signed the contract for Ring of Secrets.
But writer/teacher/mommy aren't my only hats, and usually at some point in the day, I'm slipping into my editor's role. I'm an acquisitions editor and designer for WhiteFire Publishing, which means emails, designing covers and promo material, reading submissions, chatting with the other editors, and, oh, editing. 

The awesome thing about this arrangement is that everything's right here, and I can bounce back and forth between the things needing my attention, be they kids, cats, husband, authors, or my editors. The drawback, of course, is that everything's right here, and I can't ever focus on just one thing, LOL. But I love my jobs--all of them. To the point where I don't say things like, "I need some time off!" I say, instead, "I need some time to work!" Evidenced by the fact that my five-year-old has taken to saying, "Pretty pretty please with work on top?" ;-)

I'm pretty constantly wondering what new task will prove too much...but thus far, I'm doing pretty well just giving it all to God, begging my mom and mom-in-law to babysit every now and then, and hanging on for dear life. 

Glamorous? No. But oh, how blessed I am to be doing what I love!

Order from Amazon | Order from B&N | Order from ChristianBook

Editor's Note: Roseanna is giving away a free copy of her new release, Ring of Secrets. Stop by tomorrow to enter. In addition, everyone who participates tomorrow will be entered in a bigger drawing (to be held on March 30) she's conducting for lots of exciting prizes valued at a total of $150. Don't miss it!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Last week I introduced the history of the sewing machine by sharing some of my own sewing history. I could continue my personal sewing story with tales from the quilting class I took yesterday where I felt totally incompetent as I tried free motion quilting for the first time. But I’ll leave that story for another time—after I’ve had some time to develop my skill.

Instead I’ll blog about my promised topic: the sewing machine patent wars.

In1834 the first somewhat successful sewing machine was invented by Walter Hunt. Poor Walter was a brilliant inventor, but a very poor business man. He didn’t pursue a patent for his machine for fear of putting seamstresses out of business. That kindness lost him a fortune. (Walter Hunt also invented the safety pin and sold the invention for the equivalent of $10,000 today. W.R. Grace & Co. acquired the safety pin patent in 1849 and made millions from sales.)

The next sewing machine inventor, Elias Howe, Jr., had a bit more business acumen than Walter Hunt. In May of 1846, Elias was awarded a patent for a lock-stitch machine using two threads, a shuttle, and a curved needle with a point at the bottom end. Suspicion was rife that he took ideas from Walter Hunt’s invention, but that was never proven. 

Elias tried to sell his machine in Europe, but to no avail. His patent machine never worked well. In fact, it was only after a lot of modification that it stitched at all. When he returned to America, he discovered several companies making sewing machines using ideas that were similar to his. That made him angry, and he began taking people to court.

Despite the ongoing court battles, Elias’ lockstitch mechanism continued to be adopted by others who were developing innovations of their own. Isaac Singer, a name most of us recognize, invented an up-and-down motion mechanism instead of one that went side-to-side. His was the first truly successful sewing machine, and it went into mass production in the 1850's. Along with the up and down motion, Singer's machine used a foot treadle. All previous machines used a hand crank.

But Elias Howe wasn't giving up. He sued Isaac Singer for patent infringement and won in 1854. If Walter Hunt had patented his invention, Elias Howe would have lost his case and Isaac Singer would have won. Since he lost, Isaac Singer had to pay Elias Howe patent royalties.

Between 1854 and 1867 Howe earned close to two million dollars from his invention. During the Civil War, he donated a portion of his wealth to equip an infantry regiment for the Union Army as well as serving in the regiment as a private.

There's more to the sewing machine story, and I'll cover some of that next week. But in the meantime, can you imagine what these men would have thought if they could see the machines we use today?

Newsletter Subscribe



Blog Archive

Powered by Blogger.

Historical Romantic Suspense

Historical Romance



Popular Posts

Guest Registry