Monday, November 28, 2016

DO YOU KNOW WHAT I KNOW? - Becky Melby - A Book Giveaway, Print in US, Ebook Foreign

Welcome, Becky. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
My husband claims all of my heroines are part me and friends have said they can “hear” me in my character’s dialogue. I certainly use my own experiences, hopes, joys, and struggles to create characters, but I don’t intentionally shape them to be like me. Usually, I end up wanting to be more like them.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Maybe starting a writing career on a whim. My friend Cathy Wienke called one morning back in the early nineties and said she’d just literally thrown a book at the wall because of its unrealistic dialogue and predictable plot. “We should write our own,” she said. And so we did. We started plotting that very moment and nine months later gave birth to Beauty for Ashes.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
When I was seven, my dad used to bring small pads of paper home from work, and I would turn them sideways and pretend they were my books. One of the first stories I wrote was “How Valentine’s Day Started.” I remember drawing stick figures with hearts around them—I was a romance writer way back then! In high school, I wrote angst-filled poetry and then moved on to short stories for Sunday School take-home papers. My dream was to publish my first book by the time I was twenty-five. I missed it by about seventeen years. Beauty for Ashes came out the year I found out I was going to be a grandmother.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Ninety percent of the fiction I read is Romance or Women’s Fiction. I love dual-time novels—I’ve always enjoyed comparing life in the past to how we live today. I like humor—whatever happened to chick lit? At the moment, I’m in the middle of four books—an audio dual-time novel I listen to in the car, a Christmas novella on Kindle, and another dual-time in print, plus an inspirational nonfiction book. I love biographies but haven’t carved out time to read one lately. 

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I’ve had to say no to some really wonderful opportunities to serve. Years ago, I thought I could do it all—lots of volunteering while homeschooling four sons and writing. The pace was exhausting. To this day, I wonder if my kids look back at their childhoods and all they remember is Mom yelling, “Hurry up!” It took seeing writing as a ministry to allow myself to step back. And I’ve also come to realize that time with my grandchildren is doing the thing God put in front of me in this season. I can’t do it all, but I pray I can bring some Truth to light for my readers and my grandkids.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
I chose the first name of the hero in the story I’m working on right now from my Facebook Friends list. That’s a great source. And then I had fun telling my friend I was naming a character after him. Most often, I use baby name sites. I look up names according to birth year or ethnicity. Cemetery records are great for finding surnames in a specific locale and era.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
My four sons. My boys are amazing husbands and dads. I love watching them interact with their kids and nothing warms my heart like seeing how tender each one is with his wife. They are all extremely creative in unique ways—art, business, home projects. I give God all the glory for their character, but I’ll take a bit of cred for the creativity. Moms, let your kids make messes—it’s how they learn. Then teach them how to clean up!

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I’d probably be my favorite dog, a golden retriever. I like the simple things in life—good food, a walk, napping in the sun. I see myself as a faithful, loyal friend who’s pretty easy-going (though my hubby would disagree at times, especially if I’m on a deadline). I want people to feel comfortable and at home in my “territory,” but insult or threaten my people in any way and I’ll bare my teeth!

What is your favorite food?
Cheesecake Factory Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake. Not on a daily basis, of course. Then again . . . I’m gluten intolerant, and this decadent dessert with layers of flourless chocolate cake, ganache, and mousse is gluten free. If only they could make it guilt free, but at 860 calories per slice, that’s not going to happen!

When I had a slice of that, I took ¾ of it home, then had dessert for almost a week. There is no way I could eat the whole slice. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I still struggle with being too nice to my characters. That’s the gift of mercy gone awry. One of the best pieces of writing advice I ever received was, “Love your readers enough to make your characters hurt.” Readers want reality, and real life is messy and painful. Sometimes I have to go back and add more pain and conflict because, in the end, the dénouement is sweeter when we have cried and wrung our hands right along with the characters.

I’m a lot like that, too, but this year, I’ve really poured on the terrible external conflict for my heroines. Tell us about the featured book.
A week before Christmas, a phone call from the obstetrician’s office goes to the wrong person, igniting a yule-log-size blaze of misunderstandings for two couples. Elizabeth Schmidt is hurt, Bethany Schmidt is confused, and Pastor Jay Davidson is wondering if God is asking him to play the part of Joseph in real life and not just in the church Christmas program.  

The spark for this story came from a real life event. When I found out I was pregnant with our first child, the bill from the clinic went to my husband’s aunt and uncle, whose daughter was also Becky Melby. The poor girl was only fifteen at the time! We’ve had a lot of laughs about it over the years and when I asked my husband to brainstorm with me for a Christmas novella, he brought this up and we took off with “what ifs” that resulted in Do You Know What I Know? It’s a light read with touches of humor, but it also deals with some serious subjects like adoption, infertility, and learning to trust God with your future.

Please give us the first page of the book.
“I can’t go to rehearsal. I can’t look at him.” Crumpled letter clutched to her chest, Bethany Schmidt paced from the bottlebrush Christmas tree in one corner of the church office to the door and back. Worn oak boards creaked beneath her striped-stockinged feet. Misty, her pink-haired friend, sat on the floor, painting her toenails and doing a fairly good job of stifling laughter.

Bethany waved the letter. “How can I be Mary to his Joseph with this on my mind? He’ll see it in my eyes. My deceit, my betrayal. I feel like a prisoner.” Forearm pressed to forehead, she sighed. “A prisoner of the heart.”

“Wow.” Misty Kowalski stopped stifling. “This is rare, even for you. Forgive me if I’m not as empathetic as you’d like. You know I love you, but as a pathetically single midwife living at a maternity home with a leaky roof and linoleum floors, it’s hard for me to feel bad that you have to choose between the career of your dreams and a guy who’s crazy about you.” She picked at a smudge of purple. “If it’s advice you want, knock down those prison bars, girlfriend! Ditch the job and go with the guy. How many men are going to look twice at a thirty-something single mom church secretary? This might be your last chance.”

Bethany crumpled the letter and threw it at Misty. “But what if it’s not a chance at all? We’ve only had two dates.”

“Pastor Jay’s been swooning over you since the day you moved back. And I have never used swooning in a sentence before, I promise. That’s how sure I am he’s nuts over you.” Misty tightened the cap on the bottle of polish. “Why not just lay it all out? ‘Hey, dude, I’ve got this great job offer in the Show Me State, so show me you love me or I’m outa here.’ See? Easy peasy.”

“Are you kidding?” She pictured the man with the thick dark hair that curled above his ears, the brown eyes that made her melt like butter on pancakes. “You know him. He’ll say he wants me to chase my dreams, follow my calling. But what if he’s my calling?”

I like this already. Actually, I received my copy over the weekend, and I’m starting to read it today. How can readers find you on the Internet? -- Please sign up to join my Second Chance Circle and receive a free short story.

Thank you, Lena. It’s a great honor to spend time with your readers.

I’m thrilled to have you, Becky, and I know my readers will enjoy your book as much as I will.

Readers, here’s a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.
Do You Know What I Know?

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book - print in US, ebook foreign. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Google+, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link:


Melanie Backus said...

Oh boy! What a book! Thank you for sharing and this giveaway opportunity.

Melanie Backus, TX

Linda Kish said...

This sounds great. Count me in. I'd love to see how this plays out.

Linda in CA

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Cynthia Ruchti said...

I've had the privilege to pre-read "Do You Know What I Know?" and I can tell all your readers that it is a WONDERFUL, fun, and yet heart-gripping book!

Becky Melby said...

I had some "what a book" moments while writing this, Melanie! The characters kept surprising me and I had to shift gears to catch up. Thanks for commenting!

Becky Melby said...

Hope you get the chance to read it and you like how it plays out, Linda!

Becky Melby said...

You warm my heart, dear friend.

Susan Johnson said...

This sounds like a great book. Loved the first page.
Susan in Texas

Connie said...

This first page has certainly left me wanting to read more! Thanks for sharing!
Connie from KY

Loraine Nunley said...

This sounds like a fun read. Becky is a new to me author and I would love to read her book. Thanks for the interview and the giveaway!

Loraine in TX

Anonymous said...

Sounds good Becky. I don't see how anyone can read several books at same time and keep your mind straight on each story. And would take me forever to finish. I love to read and don't feel like a slow reader but must be since my girls finish sooner . Would love to win. Thanks to Lena and you for a chance. Maxie ( Texas )

Becky Melby said...

I will confess it sometimes takes me a minute to remember who-what-when-where when I pick up a book, Maxie!

rubynreba said...

Love the title and cover. I'm looking forward to reading this book.
Beth from Iowa

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

I don't usually break into my guests conversations with my readers, but I had to this time.

I read a lot of Christmas books from September through the end of the year. I just finished reading this one, and it stands out from most of the rest. You really don't want to miss it. If you don't win a copy, get a copy and read it. All the way through, I wondered how she would get the main characters out of their dilemma, and the story kept unfolding with characters I loved, situations that were so real-life they leapt off the page, and the true Christmas message woven through in a unique way that no one could keep from understanding it.

Becky Melby said...

Thank you, Lena. That is a precious comment coming from such an accomplished writer. Thank you again for the opportunity to interact with your readers.

SavingsInSeconds said...

I'm pinning the all the great reviews.
Dianna in TN

Becky Melby said...

Thank you, Dianna!

Terrill R. said...

I recently purchased the first two books in Becky Melby's Lost Sanctuary series after blogger Kav Rees highly recommended them. That and Lena's glowing comments above have me excited to finally read this book and my recent purchases. ASAP!

Terrill - WA

Sharon Richmond Bryant said...

Enter me!!
Conway SC.

Becky Melby said...

Hope you enjoy them, Terrill. And can I borrow your name for a character??