Thursday, June 29, 2006

Lost in Story

So I'm driving along the other day, with my teen son in the front seat, and my daughters and friend in the back. The girls are chattering on and my son's agitated, but do I notice? Nuh-uh. I'm lost in my own story world, creating a scene that'll knock the wind out of my readers (okay, so I'm at least hoping for this...)

Finally, my incredulous son shouts, "Mom! Don't you hear what they're talking about?"

To which I respond, with equal annoyance: "No! I was in Chapter 2!"

Anybody else been there?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Summertime blues

I have a confession to make. The kids have been out of school for nearly two weeks, the sun's a shinin'--but I've yet to make it to the beach. I live near the coast, and let me tell you, not lounging on the sand during the summer is just so wrong. I don't know what's the matter with me, but for some reason, I suffer from forgetfulness, meaning, I forget that every year I get all giddy waiting for summer, and every year I forget that I end up spending my days playing taxi-mama.

Not that I'm bitter. At least my left arm's nice and tan from ridin' around all day with the window down. (Big baby whine here.)

I'm thinking tomorrow I might find a free hour, say, somewhere between driving to and from VBS, waiting for the repair guy to show between 1 and 5, and picking up oldest from youth group. One can hope, eh?

Recent Reads:
Breaker's Reef by Terri Blackstock
A Garden in Paris by Stephanie Grace Whitson

I'll be hitting up the bookstore later this week to load up on more books and take said reads straight to the beach for some lazy day lolling. At least, that's my intent. (Note to self: teach kids that, unlike what I may have said in the past, loafing can be a good thing.)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Missing in Firefox!

Eek...several of you have let me know that my sidebar doesn't appear in Firefox. Until recently, I didn't know what Firefox was (she said, sheepishly). Anyhoo, I'm trying to get this fixed. If anybody out there has any inside advice on this, give me a holler, will ya?

On another note, hope you're enjoying the summer! The pic at the top left of my blog (and I sure hope that's not missing!) is from my recent trip to Catalina Island, just off the Southern California coast. Pretty, isn't it?

Question of the week: Where are you vacationing this fine summer of 2006?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

It's Official: I'm a Blogging Chick

Hey, meet my new friends at the Carnival of the Blogging Chicks! Or find them name by name on my sidebar. Happy blogging :-)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

No Fear

Had the neatest experience the other day. A friend called to say that her son had been experiencing bouts of fear. Um, no. That’s not the neat part (silly); it’s what happened next.

She and her husband spent time with their child, praying and talking with him, and showing him they cared. The next day, she opened up her copy of Focus on the Family Magazine and noticed an article on childhood fears. Huh. She flipped to the page and began comparing the list of suggestions to what she and her husband had done, checking off as she went. “We did this.” Check. “We did this one.” Check, check. “We did that too.” Check, check, check.

Then she noticed that I was the author.

She called that same day to tell me that God had used that article to confirm much to her and her husband. Can anyone say, “humbling?”

It was.

Frankly, I’d been a bit cranky about that piece, noting just days earlier that my jokes had been edited out (well, I never…) And some of my cute little anecdotes didn’t make the cut either (so it’s really not about me?) Obviously, though, what God wanted in, stayed in, and he’s already begun using it as only he does: to instruct, to comfort, to confirm.

In spite of me.

(p.s. I wrote this piece a few years back. My daughters are older, and they'd like you to know that :-)

Friday, June 16, 2006

I Am...

Okay, so I couldn't stand Sharon Hinck's pathetic begging anymore (see comments
from June 15), and finally decided to tell you which Becky Miller friend I (supposedly :-) resemble most from Sharon's highly-scientific quiz:

High tech, high powered, successful. You always rise to the top in any situation. You’ve got your life under control, so it’s sometimes tough to lean on God, but you’re willing to ask Him the hard questions.

I'm thinking that yes, I do have control issues. Not so sure about the high-tech, high powered thing though, LOL.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Here's your sneak peek! The pub. is still tweaking, so let me know what you think!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Crazy day in the Carobini household. Two graduates in one week, plus we're hosting "Ditch Day" for our daughter's class. Hubby thinks it's just so wrong to let kids have a ditch day, but what can I say? Mama's a pushover. (And frankly, he's really an old softy...)

ANYWAY, I just got to take a peek at the cover for CHOCOLATE BEACH. Yay! The designer over at Bethany House came up with a very cool idea, and I'd love to get your reaction. I'll try to post it in between festivities...probably late tonight.

Hope you'll stop by!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

ABCs of Me--I got tagged!

Jamie tagged me with this meme. Hey, thanks a lot, girlfriend.

Accent: Not unless I'm lapsing into my sorry high school Spanish. Hola! Que tal! Como se llama dice?
Best personality trait: Hubby says I'm "witty." (Oh brother.)
Chore I hate: Cleaning toilets!
Dad's name: Dan
Essential make-up/skin care products: Eyeliner. (I agree with Jamie on this one!)
Favorite perfume/cologne: sea air
Gold or silver?: Yeah right--it's diamonds, baby, all the way.
Hometown: I'm FROM Eagle Rock, CA. Isn't that a cute name?
Interesting fact: I used to be a ghost writer
Job title: Author (sounds kinda snotty though)
Kids: Three.
Living arrangements: Too close for comfort, hahaha...(jk kids!)
Mom's birthplace: Los Angeles
Number of apples eaten in the last week: Does apple pie count?
Overnight hospital stays: Too many to mention (although some were for giving birth and that's a good thing...)
Phobias: Public speaking. SNAKES.
Question you ask yourself a lot: Why did I say that?
Religion: Christian
Siblings: 2 brothers
Time I wake up: 7 a.m. (Time I get up is another story...)
Unnatural hair color: Used to be a blondie. Well, sort of. I overbleached and the hairdresser was unable to get any other color to "stick".
Vegetable I Refuse to Eat: cabbage (blech)
Worst habit: Changing my mind. Although, now that I think about it, that's a good thing. Then again...
X-rays?: Again, too many to mention.
Yummy food I make: Brownies (um, those who previewed my book, you knew that was coming, didn't you?
Zaniest trait: Again, I asked hubby. Apparently my degree of zanyness is so high, he can't just pick out one.

I tag Camy.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Sharon Hinck is in the House!

Sharon’s here to talk about her debut novel, The Secret Life of Becky Miller, just released by Bethany House Publishers.

Check out what's on the back cover:

Becky Miller is a young mom who wants to do Big Things for God. Her vivid
daydreams help her cope with the pressure to be a Wonderful Wife and Marvelous Mother. Yet the tape going through her mind continues to play:

YOUR MISSION—support your husband when he loses his job, nurture an eccentric circle of friends, raise perfect Christian children, cook delicious
meals in a spotless kitchen, lead the women’s ministry at church, and live a
life filled with Meaning and Purpose.

How does this supermom react when her grand plans start to fall apart?
What will it take for her to turn off the tape and listen to God’s voice

Hey Sharon, where did Becky Miller come from?

My friends and I commiserate all the time about some of our shared challenges
as moms, wives, and Christian women who want to make a difference in the world. Becky is an exaggerated version of all the good-hearted (but unhealthy)
driven-ness that plagues our lives.

It’s been said that you should write what you know. What aspects of this book come from within you?

That saying has always confounded me, because I don’t know much. :-) But I did
weave a lot of unusual experiences from my life into Becky’s fantasies. I’ve been scuba diving (and was horrible at it), I’ve done short-term missions in Hong Kong
(a great setting for a secret agent scene), I’ve been in television studios and on stages. I’ve been a ballerina. So I used my “inside feel” for some of those things. I also know about over-achieving to the point of craziness, and convincing myself it’s what I’m supposed to be doing and ignoring God’s gentle nudges to step back, rest in Him, and let Him steer the course. I do have children, so I could stir up the not-so-far distant memories of sleep-deprivation and diapers. The plot is pure fabrication...none of Becky’s experiences with her volunteer position or the magazine article, or her sister (I don’t have a sister) have happened to me. But I’ve felt the disappointment of pouring out work for God and feeling unappreciated or misunderstood. My husband and I have struggled with times of career challenges. I’ve wrestled with doubts through some severe health crises (though nothing like what happens to Becky ever happened to me).

I guess in summary, the HEART is very much from my experience, but the SPECIFICS
are Becky’s unique story.

So, do you think that many women have a ‘secret life’?

I think everyone dreams of doing something beyond themselves...serving God in a way that makes a difference...being the “hero” of our own life story and making courageous choices when they are needed. What’s interesting is that the exciting and heroic adventures are often NOT the big successes (from a world’s perspective) but the small loving acts, and worshipful attitudes we embrace each the midst of the very ordinary.

So true! Sharon, how do you as a writer keep the creative juices churning?

Honestly, I’ve always had a brain that doesn’t turn off...and now I’ve found a use for it.

What sage advice did you receive on your journey to publication?

All the usual – I’ve posted some of the things that helped me on the writing resources pages of my website, But one thing that particularly helped my journey: “Write the next book.” While my first manuscript circulated, I wrote the next and the next. I was building the writing muscles I needed and also not fixating on “finding a publisher.” THE SECRET LIFE OF BECKY MILLER was my fifth completed manuscript. I know for authors cherishing their one, first novel, it’s hard to think about moving forward before finding a home for that one. But keep in mind that your first precious baby may well get a contract after your later books break in.

Reflect on the past year. Is writing, editing, and promotion like the good, the bad and the ugly? What was it like and what did you learn for next time?

I once went down a huge water-slide and as I began the descent, I started to panic. I tried to press my palms against the sides to slow me down and that hurt. I wanted to control my speed and couldn’t. Then I stopped fighting it and let the water carry me. I swooped around curves, and glided down into the waiting pool and felt like I was flying. I scrambled out of the water and marched straight to the stairs to do it again. In the writing life, many, many things are out of our control. Trusting God’s purposes, relaxing, and screaming a little all make the ride more fun. Digging in my heels, grabbing for the sides, and resisting the water all make me miserable. Some days I’m taking the slide with a head-first dive. Other days I’m shivering at the top thinking the structure looks like it needs new rivets. But it’s a very fun adventure.

Well said. What are your future projects?

March, 2007 RENOVATING BECKY (Bethany House) - Becky and her family buy an old farmhouse to fix up, hoping to find the simple life. Becky’s mother-in-law moves in, her best friend pulls away, work pressures mount, and Becky wants to fix it all.

March, 2008 IN THE KEY OF MOM (Bethany House) - An orchestral flutist is raising her teen daughter alone, and finally gets her long-delayed chance to play professionally. But someone is sabotaging the concertmaster, and Amy sets out to solve the mystery before the problems destroy her chance at her dream. She wasn’t counting on her daughter’s new venture into cheerleading, or Clara’s persistence in uncovering the truth about her biological father—or the tug toward a spiritual journey Amy didn’t want.

I’m currently working on a fourth book for Bethany House. I’m also developing a project with another publisher that I hope to be able to announce soon.

What are your goals?

to get better at this.
to get better at crafting words that sing
to get better at waking up with a smile and trusting God during the work
to get better at not obsessing over reviews, sales, critiques
to continue to appreciate the opportunity and the wonderful supportive people that are part of the process

From Sharon:
Julie, thanks so much for letting me visit your blog on the beach. I’m SO jealous of your access to beaches. Minnesota has a lot going for it, but sadly, no oceans. I can’t wait for your book to come out next year!

Thanks, Sharon—by the way, the Becky Miller Friend’s Quiz is too cool. Readers, check it out here. If ten or more of you take the quiz and post your answers, I’ll reveal which Becky Miller Friend I am most like…on Monday.

Have a beachy keen weekend!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Beach Reads

Lots of posts out there about summer reading. As for me, I've got the following stack (so far) sitting on my nightstand:

A Garden in Tuscany by Stephanie Whitson
A Girl's Best Friend by Kristin Billerbeck (can't believe I haven't gotten to this one yet.)
Alaska Twilight by Colleen Coble (again, I'm behind on my reading...)
Emma by Jane Austin (um, yes, classics are a good thing.)
Blah, Blah, Blah--Making Sense of the World's Spiritual Chatter by Bayard Taylor (theology unmasked!--non-fiction by debut author and friend.)

Add to my list! What are you reading this summer?

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Picked up my copy of The Secret Life of Becky Miller from Barnes & Noble, and it's already dog-eared from being schlepped around while I play taxi-mama. I'll be interviewing the author, Sharon Hinck, on Friday, June 9, so stop on by for a chat, won't you?