Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Having a Heart on Fire

Hi Friends,

Well, I'm working on starting my next novel (so far called "Shades of Morning" - we'll see if that title sticks), which, if all goes well, will come out in March 2010. Yes, I mean 2010 - The book coming out after Beyond the Night released March 2009, and that one's already written (we're working on the back cover copy now and will soon plunge into edits!).

Meanwhile, it's time to get going on my third book with Multnomah Publishers, and the third of the love stories with a twist! (And oooo, I'm liking this one!). Anyway, for this one, I wanted to try a character (the "hero") who, in the backstory, is young, enthusiastic, and on fire for Christ. And I find, as I'm pondering my character, I'm remembering a kid named Randy.

Even after twenty-plus years, I still remember Randy. He was at my high school for only a year, a funny looking kid, with curly dishwater blond hair and wire-rimmed glasses.

But it wasn’t his appearance that caused me to remember him long after he’d moved away. It was his heart. Randy loved Jesus. You could see it in everything he did – from walking around campus in his fluorescent orange “Jesus” T-shirt to the way he carefully placed his Bible on his desk during class.

But Randy wasn’t flaunting his religion, nor was his goal to witness to the rest of us. No, Randy did what he did out of passion – out of heart afire with love for God. He couldn’t help it. When he spoke of Jesus, his eyes glowed. When he opened his Bible to share a verse, he couldn’t keep the smile from his face. And that’s what made me listen. That’s what made me remember.

In other words, Randy was like the bush that God spoke to Moses out of (see Exodus 3 for the full story). You remember, it goes something like this: "There the angel of the Lord appeared to him [Moses] in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up (Exodus 3:2)." The bush was on fire, it didn't burn up, and someone could hear the very words of God speaking from that bush. So, like I said, Randy was like the bush – on fire for God, but not burned up. And I, like Moses, had to go over and see what it was all about.

So, when I think about Randy, I find that I not only want my character to resemble him ... I want to be on fire too. I want to act, to speak, to burn with love not because I'm supposed to, but because God is in me. I want His passion, His love, to envelop me, to draw others to the light - not because I'm a fancy bush, but because God is speaking through the fire.

That's the beauty: God within us, speaking to others out of the fire in our hearts.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

SKID by Rene Gutteridge

Hi Friends!

Got a great book to tell you about today -- SKID by my good friend Rene Gutteridge. I love Rene's books, and I'm looking forward to getting into this one. Rene is great at combining just the right amount of fun humor with intriguing plot and captivating characters. So, all her books come highly recommended by me! :-)

So, here's a bit about this newest in her "Occupational Hazards" series:

Blissfully unaware that Atlantica Flight 1945 from Atlanta to Amsterdam is about to make aviation history, First Officer Danny McSweeney focuses his energies on navigating the turbulent personalities of an eccentric female captain, a co-pilot with a talent for tactless comments and conspiracy theories, and a lead flight attendant with an outsized attitude that definitely exceeds the limits for carry-on baggage.On the other side of the cockpit door, the unscheduled in-flight entertainment includes a potbellied pig, a jittery diamond courier, and the recently jilted Lucy Meredith, whose personal mantra of “What Would Oprah Do?” will be challenged by the sudden appearance of her ex and his new traveling partner. On her left sits Hank Hazard, whose unusually polite but constant requests–prompted by his covert role as a spy for the airline–test the limits of the crew’s customer service. But as Lucy and the rest of the crew discover, Hank’s odd behavior is linked to a quiet faith that may play a key role in the fate of everyone on board. Especially when an unexpected traveler sets this already bumpy flight on a course toward the unfriendly skies.

And a bit about Rene:
Rene Gutteridge is the author of twelve novels, including the Boo series, the Storm series, and the novelization for The Ultimate Gift, as well as Scoop and Snitch, the first two Occupational Hazard novels. She lives with her husband, Sean, and their two children in Oklahoma City.

And the link to Skid on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400071593

Monday, May 26, 2008

SisterChicks Go Brit!


Hi Friends!
Just a word about Robin Jones Gunn's newest in the Sisterchicks! series -- Sisterchicks Go Brit. If you haven't discovered these books yet, they're LOTS of fun. Check them out at Robin's website www.robingunn.com or www.sisterchicks.com.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Rocky Paths & Breathtaking Views

Hi Friends,

First, I wanted to share some news, then a few thoughts on rocky paths and breathtaking views.

So, to the news:

1) Veil of Fire won another national contest this week - the Wisconsin Romance Writers' Write Touch Readers Award Contest. The neat thing was that it took first place in the Mainstream w/Romantic Elements category. Encouraging to see an inspirational book win in a non-inspirational category (it was up against all different kinds of books). Yay, God!

2) Got my author copies for Beyond the Night yesterday. They look great. It was so fun to hold one in my hand. Can't wait for you all to be able to get a copy too. June 17th's comin'!


Now, on to the thoughts . . .

I've been considering lately when it is that we can usually best see God's glory. When is our vision clearer? When are we most likely to catch a glimpse of the wonder? And as I was thinking, I was reminded of a hiking trip to Yosemite from several years ago.

On that trip, the hiking trail zig-zagged up the mountain in a long line, studded with stones. I shifted my backpack and continued the climb. At points, the path narrowed to a thin strip or rose at angles steeper than I’d expected. In other places, I stumbled over sharp rocks covered with moss. At one point, a stream blocked the trail, forcing me to balance precariously on a fallen tree trunk to continue my journey. The trek was more than a casual Sunday hike, but I deemed it worth the work, for the view from the trail was breathtaking. Snow-capped cliffs lifted majestic faces over the lush, green valley. Proud pines rose like mighty sentinels guarding the sky. Rare flowers, dressed like princesses at a royal ball, swayed in the breeze. These sights could only be seen from the mountainside. And I knew that as I climbed higher, I would see things even more lovely.

Life is like that, too. And walking in God’s ways is a lot like hiking. The climb can be difficult, and the path rocky, but the view is beyond compare. With each step, we see more clearly the glory of God.

So, today, if rocks pile up before you, take a moment to look at the view – the tall pines of God’s love, the soaring cliffs of his righteousness, and the multi-colored flowers of His daily blessings in your life.

Look up, breathe deeply, and keep on going up the path. And may His wonder surround you at every step, whether rocky or smooth.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

NEW VIDEO TRAILER! AND MORE!!

Hi Friends,

Got some exciting things to tell you about, and I couldn't wait! So, here's a day-early post. Instead of my regular story with a spiritual point, it's news day!

First, you've gotta check out the new video trailer for Beyond the Night! So cool. Here it is:

video

Also, you can view this video, plus a fun on-site Stanford video and an audio clip from me on my website. Check out my new player with all this neat stuff on the front page of www.marloschalesky.com -- click on the player on the bottom left hand column.

Also, in other news . . . Veil of Fire just won the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence Contest in the Inspirational category (a part of RWA - Romance Writers of America). Yay!

And, I've moved my song player to my blog here (see it just to the left!), so you can now listen to worship music while you read my blog, if you'd like.

And finally, did ya notice the new "Subscribe to this blog" button there on the left too? Well, make sure you subscribe!!! That way you won't miss any of my blogs! So, go on, click that subscribe button and enjoy.

Okay - one last thing -- leave a comment and let me know what you think of the trailer! Beyond the Night releases June 17th. Fun fun!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

She Always Wore Red by Angela Hunt

Hi Friends,

Got a great new book to tell you about today -- She Always Wore Red, by Angela Hunt published by Tyndale House. If you haven't read an Angie Hunt book before, well, you're missing out! She's one of my favorite authors. So, read on for a bit about this new book and for an interview with Angie . . .

The Blurb about SHE ALWAYS WORE RED:
Jennifer Graham—mother, student, and embalmer’s apprentice—could use a friend. She finds one in McLane Larson, a newcomer to Mt. Dora. While McLane’s soldier-husband serves overseas, Jen promises to support McLane, then learns that her tie to this woman goes far deeper than friendship. When a difference of opinion threatens their relationship, Jennifer discovers weaknesses in her own character . . . and a faith far stronger than she had imagined.

A Romantic Times Top Pick! “Be prepared to shed a few tears in Hunt’s emotionally gripping tale, the second in the Fairlawn series. With themes of family, friendship, and trusting God, the plot is enhanced by realistic and engaging characters. Jennifer’s growth as a character is evident, and the supporting cast enhances the story in a significant way. “ --Melissa Parcels, Romantic Times reviewer


An Interview with Angela Hunt about She Always Wore Red, the second title in the Fairlawn series:

Q: What's up with the funky photo?
A: Tee hee. It's my "serious author" photo. I snapped it myself, sitting at my computer. Notice the funereal pose.

Q: The first book in this series is Doesn't She Look Natural? Do people have to read the first book in order to understand the second? (And congratulations on the Christy Award nomination for that title!)
A. Thank you--I'm honored. And no, people don't have to read the first book first, though it's always nice to read the books in order to get a sense of the story and background. But all the books will work as single title reads.

Q: The Fairlawn series is set in a funeral home. Did you observe the embalming process in your research? Or just read about it/interview morticians? It's fascinating. (Although I'm sure some folks with non-medical backgrounds are a bit grossed out by it!) Believe it or not, I had always wondered about getting the clothes on; that was an "aha" moment in the first book!
A. Unfortunately, with the advent of all the new privacy laws (HIPPA, anyone?), I was unable to observe an embalming--and believe me, I was ready and willing. So most of my research came from books, photographs, and interviews (and once you announce that you're working on funeral homes, morticians seem to come out of the woodwork!)

It just so happens that one of my Tyndale editors grew up in a funeral home. She has been a great asset--she gave me the idea for the funny flower arrangements and the funeral singers, plus I had written a scene in book three where Jen and Gerald sit down to eat a steak in the prep room. My editor said that didn't feel right. "Too weird?" I asked. "No," she said. "There's always an odor in that room . . . not very appetizing."

Ah. That's the sort of thing you can't always get from a book. :-/

I certainly hope the embalming stuff didn't gross anyone out, and I tried to ease my readers into it just as Jen is herself "eased" into it. Book one--the barest trace, book two, a complete description of an arterial embalming, book three, the cavity embalming. And frankly, that's as far as I want to take it. Any more would be gross for grossness's sake.


Q: Did you and your editors disagree over how much of the body preparation process was acceptable to include? I ask because I find all that sort of thing fascinating, and I think that I would include far more than most people would care to read, initially.
A. Actually, the embalming you "see" is the embalming I put in. :-) After 20 years in this business, I think I've developed a pretty good instinct for knowing how much is too much. And you can be descriptive in a way that is clinical rather than gross (" She searched for the carotid artery" as opposed to "her stomach clenched as her gloved fingers eased into the warm opening and she tried not to think of fish guts"). So actually, none of my editors ever remarked on the level of detail . . . and none of my readers have complained. Yet. :-)

Q. How has working on this series changed your attitude about death?
A. I'm utterly at peace about it--not in a hurry to pass on, you understand, but very relaxed about the process and my final destination. Doing research has also convinced me that I want to be buried, not cremated, and that I'd be better off buying my casket online.

Q: Can you give us a hint about what happens in the third and final Fairlawn book?
A. Sure. People die and Jennifer buries most of them. It's a funeral plot.

Q: Groan. That's not much of a hint.
A: I don't like to give all the plot twists away! Okay, here's a blurb from the back cover copy (yes, the book is finished and handed in): In She's In a Better Place, the third book of the Fairlawn series, Jennifer Graham is now running the Fairlawn Funeral Home. Her work takes on a new dimension when Gerald Huffman, her assistant and mentor, reveals that he has a serious illness. When she learns that he and his daughter haven’t spoken in years, Jen decides to help them reconcile . . . but things don’t go exactly as she planned. Once again, the mortuary is a setting for lessons of laughter, love, and life.

Q: The setting--a funeral home--is unique, but these books are really about the typical challenges that face women today, right?
A: Oh, yes. Jennifer is a single mom juggling school, motherhood, and a career--and I think most modern women can relate to her. I certainly can.

Q: Anything else you want to add?
A. (whispering) I think you're supposed to ask where they can order it.

Q: Right--where can people order this book?
A: Thanks for asking! You can order it from your favorite online bookstore. Or, to make it simple, just click here: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1414311702/booksbyangelae0d

For more information, visit http://www.angelahuntbooks.com/

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Seeing God's Gifts in Your Life

Hi Friends,

Today, I've again been thinking about how God brings the unexpected into our lives. But this time, I'm not thinking of unexpected difficulties. I'm thinking about those unexpected gifts that surprise and delight us. Small things, even, that make us smile. Reminders from God that He loves us, that He's there. That He cares.

It reminds me of a time when my husband brought me one red rose. Just because. It happened like this . . .

"Just because I love you," Bryan leaned down with a big grin to plant a kiss on my forehead.

I looked up to see a beautiful rose, blushing deep velvet red.

"For me?" I blinked once to be certain that my eyes and nose weren't deceiving me. The vision of the rose remained.

My husband smiled and brushed my cheek with his fingertips. "Just for you."

"But why? It isn't my birthday, or our anniversary. It's just a regular ol' day."

"Just because I love you," he repeated. "Do I need any other reason?"

I shook my head and gently touched one soft petal, as the fragrance of Bryan's love for me filled the room.

One red rose. It was exquisite; a special, simple gift of love, given with no strings attached, given "just because," to remind me that my husband loves me, even on plain, ordinary days. I didn't deserve it. I hadn't done anything special. He just wanted to show me once again that he loves me just for being me. Such love is precious.

There's only one person who loves me more than my husband, and that is Jesus Himself.

As I sat inhaling the flower's sweet perfume, I realized that God gives me, His beloved bride, roses too; those small blessings in my life that are tokens of His love, that He gives "just because He loves me."

His gifts to me are free. They require only my acceptance. So often when I consider the free gift of God's love, I think of Jesus' death for me on the cross, and I stop there. But God did not stop there. The gift of His son was only the beginning. Every day is filled with little reminders of how much God cares for me, His way of saying "I love you still." Pleasant surprises, little ways that God works on my behalf, simple serendipities that give me joy -- yes, God brings me roses too, not because I've been good, or because I've been especially diligent in my devotions, but just as demonstrations of His overwhelming love for me. No strings attached.

But, do I miss the roses from God? How many do I overlook because I forget to look up and receive? Do I fail to recognize and accept the little gifts of God's unconditional love, the gifts He gives me every day, not because he must, but simply to show me again that He is so much in love with me? How many times does He reach out to me saying, "Here, my love, I'm giving you this show you again how much I love you," and I brush past Him, unaware?

As God showed His love for me in Jesus, so He affirms it in a thousand little ways every day of my life. I don't need to earn His love. His outpouring of love is not contingent on my actions. He simply loves me. I just need to open my eyes and see the rose, breath deeply and smell the beautiful fragrance of God's love, and reach out with a thankful heart to touch the soft petals of His gifts.

And so, with one red rose I am reminded again that "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32 NIV).

Monday, May 5, 2008

Controlling Interest by Elizabeth White

Hi Friends!

I've got a new novel to tell you about today -- Controlling Interest by Elizabeth White. Read on to find out all about it and also an interview with Elizabeth. Great stuff!

What It's About:
THERE'S TROUBLE IN RIVER CITY...Matt Hogan's Memphis detective agency has been on the skids since a recent attack of conscience cost him an important case. When a wealthy investor steps in and saves River City Investigations, Matt thinks all his prayers have been answered-until he finds out that with the investor comes a new partner.

Fresh out of criminal justice school and a two-year stint in the Tunica County Sheriff's Department, Natalie Tubberville is out to prove she can cut it in the world of private investigations. But her reluctant partner is just as determined to have nothing to do with her--until Natalie makes him an offer he can't refuse!

If Matt solves the next case before she does, she will return her share of the company. And the race is on. As two strong personalities compete, mutual attraction grows…while a simple case of a runaway bride threatens to become an international incident. Will Matt and Natalie call off the competition-or discover an entirely new arrangement?

Zondervan ISBN 0310273056

Interview QUESTIONS:

What's the craziest thing you ever did in the name of research?
You mean besides get married?? JUST KIDDING! Once when I was working on "The Trouble With Tommy," I went on a coon hunt with my uncle and my son. I did not carry a gun--but my son did. He was about fourteen at the time and had never been hunting before. You coon hunt at night, so we all wore these helmet like hardhats with headlights on the front. We put the dogs in their carrier on the back of the four-wheeler and they're barking their heads off as we drive through the woods. Finally we stop and let the dogs out and follow them, listening for the change in their baying. When a dog trees a raccoon it's very distinct. Even an ignoramus like me can hear it. So my son was so excited he could hardly hold onto the bullets as he loaded them in the gun. I won't go into the details, but it was hilarious and gross and totally a South Mississippi experience.

Who's your favorite author?
I have lots of favorites, but I've always loved Max Brand. His real name was Frederick Faust--and he wrote totally campy westerns back in the 1920's and 30's. In fact he created Destry of Destry Rides Again and Dr. Kildare! His heroes were daring and funny, and he's the only male writer I know who could consistently do a decent romance. You gotta check him out!

I hear you're in grad school at the moment. What gives?
I had this idea that I wanted to teach college writing instead of middle school language arts. And I loathe education courses, so the only option was an English/Creative Writing program. It's actually been a lot of fun. I'm taking a poetry writing workshop this semester, which I totally suck at, but it scratches a creative itch I didn't even know I had. I should graduate with my masters at the end of the summer--I have one more course, screenwriting, to take. Spielberg look out!

What grabbed your interest to write this book?
Well, I wanted to write a sequel to OFF THE RECORD, using private detective Matt Hogan as my new hero. Which brought to mind one of my favorite TV shows from the 80's, Moonlighting. So my son and my husband and I did a little brainstorming about Matt's agency being invaded by a rich rookie "girl" detective--and Natalie Tubberville was born. Matt and Natalie needed a case to solve, so we came up with this runaway Pakistani bride scenario. It just got crazier from there. I think this story is a lot of fun.

What was the most fun experience you've ever had as a writer?
Writing is not fun. I'm serious! Researching is fun. Answering fan letters is fun. Writing answers to blog interviews is even fun. Walking through a bookstore and seeing my name on a shelf is fun. Writing is, like someone said, "like shoving a refrigerator uphill." Well, okay, if you insist. I adore writing the scene at the end where the hero and heroine get together. I just melt into a puddle every time. We old married people know that the real work begins there, but gosh, don't you just love that hopeful spot of pure joy?

If an aspiring author were sitting across from you at your kitchen table, what piece of writing advice would you give them?
Anything that's worth having is hard to get.

Please visit Beth on the web at http://www.elizabethwhite.net or http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509505831

To buy CONTROLLING INTEREST: http://www.amazon.com/Controlling-Interest-Elizabeth-White/dp/0310273056/