Monday, June 30, 2014

FIRST BLUSH - Rebeca Seitz - One Free Ebook

Readers, I first met Rebeca at the fourth American Christian Fiction Writers conference that was in Nashville, Tennessee. I had emailed a need to the ACFW loop prior to the conference. I needed to go to a Walmart (my husband worked for Walmart in Texas) to buy some candy for the book signing at the conference. Rebeca offered to take me. Little did I know just how far the closest Walmart was from the hotel where the conference was held. During that long ride to and from the store, I came to be delighted with knowing Rebeca.

Bio: An award-winning novelist and President of the first public relations firm dedicated to representing entertainment created from a Christian worldview, Rebeca has worked with various national media outlets, including The Today Show, USA Today, National Public Radio, Southern Living, Good Housekeeping, Real Simple, and Good Morning America. She is recognized for her groundbreaking research into the behaviors of Christian consumers as well as development of public relations standards specific to creators of values-driven, entertainment-oriented products. She also co-chairs the non-profit SON: Spirit Of Naples, which equips and encourages Christians creating mainstream, commercially-viable media content.

Welcome back, Rebeca. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
Two reasons: (a) I’m a fan and (b) the voices in my head speak in this genre. Ha! Seriously, contemporary women’s fiction is my favorite genre to read, so it’s the one I’ve spent the most time enjoying studying. If I wanted to write historical, I’d read historicals. If I wanted to write thrillers, I’d read thrillers. I do read those genres and more, but the ones that I gravitate to for pure pleasure are contemporary women’s. The second reason is because the characters, who pop up in my imagination’s eye, are walking around in the world of this era.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
The day I voluntarily kissed my husband for the first time. We’d been married for seven years and enjoyed the bliss of becoming parents twice (a son, then a daughter). I had a lot of warped and damaged parts to my sexuality from years of mistreatment prior to our marriage. While we had an active, um, married life, I had never kissed him first. Having experienced the danger and pain of awakened sexuality, I’d long-ago decided to simply let it go. The thought of initiating something like a kiss was as far removed from my daily thoughts as how to spend a billion dollars.

I’d spent about a year (with help) working hard to uncover, handle, and heal from my past when I happened to walk through our breakfast room and see Charlie standing at the stove in the kitchen. Love—for his patience and grace toward me during this process—just overwhelmed me. I want to kiss him, I thought. It shocked me, this wanting of a physical overflow of my mental emotion. Before any of my past could rise up and talk me out of it, I walked straight to him and stopped. He looked up and smiled a smile that went all the way to his sparkling green eyes. “Yes?” he asked. And I reached up and kissed him.

Freedom.

How has being published changed your life?
Knowing that my words will be seen by others both forces and frees me to think more, to marvel more, to consider more. When characters speak or storylines unfold, the reactions of others to those scenes play into my consideration of whether to keep the words or trash them. Will readers believe this? If not, why not? Is it important that they believe this? Why do I think so? There is also the fear of revealing myself past the point of my own journal. Much of my emotion, thought, and belief go into my stories and that personalization of the process can make for a very bruising time when reviewers and readers aren’t delighted with the product. I find myself vacillating between, “I’m a writer and that’s the story, so there,” to “I’m a writer and have a responsibility to the reader.”

That’s why I don’t read many reviews of my work. What are you reading right now?
Oh goodness, this list could go on for a while! Let’s see –
1) I’ve begun a book on the history of southwest Florida so that I can better understand my new hometown and the setting for my current series
2) I’ve re-started my read of The Rock That Is Higher by Madeleine L’Engle to connect again with a brilliant, faith-filled, female writer of fiction
3) I’m always in the midst of a re-read of a Jennifer Crusie novel—the current one is Charlie All Night. I study her writing as she’s a master with character, dialogue, and plot development.
I recently finished The Rosie Project (really fun contemporary) and The Road to Testament (very nice southern story) and 30 Days Hath Revenge (interesting thriller) and The Sinner’s Garden (well-done contemporary Christian fiction)
4) I’m nearly finished with this month’s issues of Christianity Today and More Magazine, just started the new issue of Discover last night
5) Every morning starts with a read of the Naples Daily News
6) I read a TV pilot script this morning and am halfway thru the feature film script I need to finish by tomorrow
7) Am about 1/3 of the way through a manuscript I’m editing for another writer
8) And, most nights find me reading Giraffes Can’t Dance or Push the Button or Tap the Magic Tree or something similar to my daughter before bed. Occasionally, my son then lets me take over his dad’s spot in the rocker in his bedroom and read a portion of one of his I Survived books (though he says his dad has a better reading voice – I agree!).

What is your current work in progress?
I’m writing Second Glance, the sequel to First Blush.

What would be your dream vacation?
A 2-month tour of Europe with my husband, children, and a trustworthy nanny.

How do you choose your settings for each book?
Oh no. I’m supposed to choose? Shoot. Well, um, I’m out. J Seriously, the characters I’ve written about are women who just show up in my mind. They’re always walking when they show up, sometimes talking. For First Blush, it was Elizabeth Bakersfield walking down a sidewalk that I recognized here in Naples. So, poof, setting chosen.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
This answer would change depending on when you asked me. At the moment, I’d choose Darren Aronofksy – writer/director of the movie Noah. I’ve read interviews he gave and am intrigued by his creative process, by how he approaches his quest to grow faith and find truth. I’m attracted to people who like to contemplate, especially over a long meal, and who do so from a motivation of wonder. There is freedom in knowing at the outset that we may not find the answer or even agreement this night, but we can continue on the journey toward it by accepting an unfettered, honest contemplation of thought.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
Thinking. Can thinking be a hobby? I hope so. It is a delight to simply sit and think over ideas, emotions, reactions, considerations. I also like to ruminate while accomplishing something, so running (I’m in training for a half-marathon) is another hobby.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
To date, my biggest challenge has been carving out time to write. I’m Owner and President of Glass Road Media and Management and CEO of SON: Spirit Of Naples. That doesn’t leave time in the workday for writing, really. Afternoons and evenings are eaten up by being a wife and mom and daughter-in-law and PTO member and church-goer and neighbor and friend and all those relationships that make for a rich life. When I had a TIA (micro-stroke) in November 2012, I realized my life needed more simplicity and less work. It’s been a year-and-a-half process, but 2014 is beginning to see the fruit of those efforts to pare down. That, in turn, allows room for my mind to wander—and when it wanders, stories are born.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Hmm. My advice is mainly driven by my experience owning and running Glass Road Media. Our sweet spot is helping authors in the beginning. That advice is this: Calm down. When I teach at writers conferences or read emails from new authors, there is an underlying current of borderline hysteria that runs throughout. They give me the sense of people feeling pressure—to find an agent, to get published, to figure it out, to build a platform, to learn social media, to get it done, to land on a bestsellers list, to arrive, etc. I understand. I’ve felt it, too. There is such peaceful freedom, though, in the reminder to seek first the kingdom of God and know that all things will be added to you. Answering a calling doesn’t mean you achieve the vision tomorrow. It means you make a choice today to take one step. Tomorrow is tomorrow and comes with its own steps. I have to remind myself of that sometimes, too, so I guess I’m writing these words to myself even as I type them to beginning authors!

Tell us about the featured book.
First Blush is my foray back into writing after a five-year hiatus. It’s the firstfruits of my efforts to pare down and allow my writer self to live and breathe again. Our heroine, Elizabeth Bakersfield, is a 30-year-old woman living in Naples, Florida, who doesn’t quite have anything figured out. Her husband left with a Miami Dolphins cheerleader, her career is non-existent, her rent is due, and she has yet to master the art of being a Bakersfield (of those Bakersfields) in this town. She accepts a job at Ganderley’s—effectively putting her in charge of millions of dollars of antiques that are loaned out like a high-falutin’ library—and promptly lands in a social scandal that would have her mother disowning her faster than a Lamborghini can hurtle down the Tamiami Trail. Good thing there’s a good-looking Brit to help out.

Please give us the first page of the book.
 “But why?”

I heard the NYC din of horns and traffic in the background. “Marcy Bedelmeier, are you walking to work again? Your feet are going to cramp by lunchtime.” I could just see her pounding the pavement in four-inch heels that would bring her into the “average” height category.

 “Cabs are expensive,” my best friend defended.

“Which is why God made subways.”

“God made feet. The other guy made subways and he maintains his reign of the domain to this day.”

I pulled into the parking lot of Ganderley’s. “Another reason for you to come to Florida. No subways here.”

“Don’t get sidetracked. Why did your mother borrow from Ganderley’s?”

This was a good question. My mother – Mrs. James D. Bakersfield IV of the Bakersfield fortune – could buy anything she wanted for her various parties and functions. Why she’d borrowed this particular vase made zero sense to me. I’d asked for a reason as she watched Mildred, the house manager, wrap it in bubblewrap – for the ride, dear – but no reason had been forthcoming.
           
“Beats me.” I glanced at the safety-belted vase in the passenger seat and tried to remember other reasons for various odd items arriving in our home over the years. “Maybe the roses on it perfectly matched the arrangements she ordered. Maybe some long-lost cousin brought it over from England. Maybe it was the exact 8.25 inches she needed for the lily stems.”

“Rich people are weird.”

“And then they die.”

“And leave all that money to the next generation of weirdness.”

“We’re going to be such fun old ladies.” I parked the jeep and turned it off. Checked my hair in the mirror. Yep, still brown. Still curly. Still a mess. “You at work yet?”

“Nearly. You found work yet?”

“Still looking.” Finding a job is difficult when your mother requires that it meet her societal standards and you don’t hold a doctorate in anything and your MRS degree went out the door with a trampy little redheaded cheerleader. I’d be happy making pizzas somewhere, but that would not sit well with Mrs. Bakersfield. For some reason, I still care about keeping Mrs. Bakersfield happy. Honor thy mother and father, I suppose.

Honoring parents was getting very close to bidding parents adieu. My landlord won’t care about Mother’s standards if I don’t bring him the rent that’s due in two weeks.

“Okay, I’m here,” I told Marcy. “Call ya later?”

“Wave to the beach for me.”

I dropped the phone into the cup holder. It needed to charge because, yet again, I’d forgotten to plug it in before falling into bed. I unbuckled the vase and hefted it into my lap. “You’re coming with me, kid.”

A warm, salty breeze swept little stray leaves around my sandals as I walked to the front door.

Ganderley’s is an odd duck in the odder town of Naples, Florida. We are the only city in the world with two Ritz-Carltons and two Waldorf-Astorias (though one of the Waldorfs was just bought). We have more golf holes per person than any other town. And there is a non-profit for every cause you can think of. Wanna save animals? We’ve got it. Save children? Yep. Save babies, women, breasts, prostates, beach, seagrass, turtles, eyes, heritage…you name it, there’s a group here working to take care of it. Our snowbirds have their Maseratis and Porsches shipped down in November and December, join up with them mostly in January, and enjoy the sun, sand, and warm breezes through Easter. During those four months, there are fundraisers and parties almost every single night. Lately, the events had started creeping into November and December, too.

In the midst of all this nuttiness is Ganderley’s. It started when two sisters’ husbands went to the Big Guy in the Sky within a month of each other, leaving their dearly beloveds with eight houses, two yachts, enough vehicles to start a car lot, thousands upon thousands of books, and more antiques than the Road Show could cover in a decade of episodes. Esther and Elva Ganderley, having already helped most of the causes in town, decided to share the wealth.

Literally.

Fifteen years later, Esther and Elva are getting on in age and enjoy having the town’s Who’s Who (or their help/kids) come see them to borrow books, cars, antiques – whatever is wanted or needed. It’s like a library on steroids. See something you like? Borrow it. Bring it back in two weeks.

I climbed the wide, easy steps to their front porch and opened the massive teak door.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
I blog (infrequently – more so since a post went viral and the media circus hit) at www.rebecaseitz.com. I write about my half-marathon training journey at www.rebecaruns.com. Glass Road can be found at www.glassroadmm.com. SON can be found at www.spiritofnaples.com.

Thank you, Rebeca, for sharing this new book with us.

Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
First Blush - Kindle


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10 comments:

Linda Kish said...

I can't imagine borrowing such things but then I'm not rich either. I'd love to read this book.

California

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Mary Preston said...

Being calm helps with all things I find. A lovely interview thank you.

Mary P

QLD AUSTRALIA

Jan Hall said...

I love the idea of a library on steroids. I am looking forward to reading more about it. I loved the revealing and informative interview.
Jan in sunny West Texas.
fishingjan[at]aol[dot]com

Sierra Faith said...

Thia book looks good!!!

Sierra
Indiana

Anonymous said...

What a fun read this should be! Loved the interview, too. Thanks.

Julie (WI)

Patty said...

Always looking for good contemporary fiction. This sounds like a good one.

Patty in SC

Danielle Hull said...

GREAT interview! Now I want to spend some time with Rebeca! From Indiana.

kam110476 said...

Hi Rebeca & Lena! First Blush sounds so cute - I'm totally hooked already! Thanks for the chance to win a copy! And thank you Rebeca for sharing your sweet and very touching story of the first kiss you gave your husband!
Kristen in OK
kam110476 at gmail dot com

sm said...

We visited Naples, FL a couple years ago and went on the Tamiami Trail and on to the Everglades NP. Your book sounds very good and it's obvious I like the setting and location. sharon, CA wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

Tonja Saylor said...

I love the title!
Tonja in VA