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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It's a Book Birthday Celebration! Interview + Contest!

Hi there!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers….the place where every day is a celebration of the bookish variety and you’re always welcome to join the fun.


Today, I’d like to wish a very special HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY to author Charlene Ann Baumbich as her latest book FINDING OUR WAY HOME hits store shelves everywhere!  *blows party horn…tosses confetti*  It’s the latest installment in a series that will touch your heart and make you appreciate the things in life that really matter.  For a sneak peek at this new title, check out my review in yesterday’s post.  Now, for the main event….

For those of you that don’t know this author, I highly suggest you check out her website, read her books, or simply follow on Twitter.  She’s a wonder lady and always happy to share a sparkly thought with you over many a topic.  As I’ve shared my reading adventures with you throughout the course of the Snow Globe Connections series, I thought it was high time that we met the author behind the works a little more intimately…and being the generous person she is, my request for an interview was granted! 

The results?  A bit on the lengthy side (which is totally my style and the answers are SO worth it!) and a joy to share….so please, put your hands together as we welcome Ms. Charlene Ann Baumbich!


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Interview:  Author Charlene Ann Baumbich 


In Finding Our Way Home, you provided a first hand glimpse of the beauty and majesty of the ballet world.  How was it getting the research for Sasha's back story?  Were you ever a dancer or inclined to be one?


How was it getting the research? Well, it was a lot of things, including enlightening, overwhelming, intimidating and creatively constipating. 

Aside from social dancing, my dance experience consists of a couple years of tap lessons, way back before fifth grade. I basically went into this story having to learn everything—or so I thought. I read nonfiction books on dancers in transition and a handful of memoirs. I watched endless YouTube videos and Googled until my fingers were nearly numb.

For awhile, I creatively constipated myself with the dichotomy of too much knowledge that was also never enough. I convinced myself that the one true thing I knew for sure was that even though Sasha showed up in my head; a professional dancer should be the one to tell her story.

But I had a contract and a deadline. So now what?

After weeks of doing nothing other than more research and fretting, one day a powerfully quickened image of Sasha came to me. She was sitting in a rocking chair with a beautiful shawl wrapped around her shoulders. She was already injured, which is not how I thought the story would begin. I said to myself, you’re mostly Irish, you’re a storyteller. Just start there. Trust what you’ve taken in already. Watch her closely, listen, pay attention …

As soon as I set my hands on the keyboard to describe the vision of her in that chair, I could feel her pain and regret. Yet when she slipped into a memory of a specific moment on stage, I was there with her too.

Once I began to write, the story unfolded in amazing ways. I had to remember that my job wasn’t to teach everyone about the professional life of a dancer. It was to tell a good story about Sasha’s life, then, of course, Evelyn too.

Afterward, I had the book vetted by a couple dancers, to make sure I didn’t dishonor the profession with inaccuracies.


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I know you said these characters danced into your mind....but after writing their journeys, do you feel closer to either of them?


I feel extremely close to both Sasha and Evelyn. I wish I could run next door to visit them, drink iced tea, learn what’s new in their lives. It was difficult to leave them at The End.

While chasing their story—and writing as fast as I could to keep up with their unfolding lives--I cried with them, laughed with them, felt their frustrations, rode the waves of their highs and lows. I sometimes even YELLED at them when I could see their stubborn mistakes taking a toll, or leading them down a wrong path. Luckily, they were both headstrong and had a right to their own mistakes. 
The emotions of their most gut-wrenching torments were so relatable. (Why is it, I wondered, we so often hurt the ones who love us the most?) Then, their bright moments arrived with such sparkle and shine, the redemption was palpable. Isn’t God good to keep extending us grace?!

Specific Sasha closeness:
Although I’ve not suffered her same type of injury), I have twice broken my leg. It’s incredible how quickly your life can change. One minute you’re running down the stairs, and the next … Pain. Anger. Reliance on another for the simplest things. It’s a terrible struggle to regain both your physical and emotional strength, especially in your darkest hours.

Also, I must confess that my own stubborn pride sometimes keeps me from what’s best, not only for myself, but for those around me. L Pride is so blinding and misleading. Pride is a very bad guide.

Specific Evelyn closeness:
I’ve been her age. I was attracted to a couple Bad Boys. I remember the lure of lust.

I was blessed by a special closeness with my father. I loved fishing with him. Writing the scenes about Evelyn and her dad and fishing made me feel close to my dad, who’s been gone since 1998.

Like Evelyn, I usually look for the Bright Side of things, unless I’m tired, and then I’m just cranky. Evelyn is a great study in optimism.

Don’t misunderstand: It’s not that I’ve lived their scenarios, or that these are MY stories. Goodness not! But I could relate, especially to the emotions. Their duo definitely highlights the gift and goodness of friends who stick with us. Great lessons from those two, whom I’d like to publicly thank for showing up in my head!

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This book joins its predecessors in the Snowglobe series and though it doesn't bare that trademark cover, it fits right in.  Tell me, what sparked the idea for this series in the first place?


I can do you one better! I can let you watch and hear about it, straight from my lips...





 
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The addition of a "love story" for both characters was a great detail and did well in showing their emotions about things outside of "work".  I'm curious though....what made you decide to add it?  Was it always there?


I never decide to add anything, unless it’s a specific detail an editor wants after a first read. The characters decide. Show me. Lead me.

I refer to myself as a story chaser. In other words, I don’t outline. I write by the seat of my pants. I write about the events as they unfold in my head. I start with a character and a dilemma.

When Sasha showed up, I wondered, What comes next for someone in this position? Does she even know who she is after she lost her career? After all, one thing I’d learned to be true: the life of dance is all consuming!

Perhaps, in part, these questions were spurred on by Divine Appointments, the book I wrote just before this. One of those themes was how we deal with unemployment, how we handle losing our work identities. To add a physical distress to that? Unimaginable—or was it?

Sasha came to me and demanded I tell her story. Pretty much the only things I intuitively knew about her were that she’d been a world renowned dancer, that she’d suffered a career-ending injury, and that she was isolated. To be honest, I wasn’t sure she had a love interest, let alone the likes of Donald Major, a man who adored her, and who suffered his own torment after the accident. The man who’d held her in a lift when the accident took place.

As for Evelyn and Jordan, when I sat down and began writing, I didn’t even know Evelyn was IN the story! Both she and her love interest were a surprise to me. However, I learned about her fiancé in the first chapter when she kept flashing her engagement ring around. J

Evelyn’s “love story” was an interesting one to follow. I remember telling friends at the end of a writing day, “Wow. I STILL have no idea about the integrity of this shady kind of guy!”



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Each of the books in this series has been connected in some way, generally by the appearance of and magical aspect of the snowglobe featured.  In this story however, there is a more direct connection and we even get to "talk" with a character from a previous book...Burt Burt.  Tell me, was it like welcoming an old friend when writing him into the story once again?  What made you decide to connect Evelyn's character that way?


Since I didn’t know there was an Evelyn in Finding Our Way Home, I sure didn’t know we’d see Burt Burt again. But boy was I excited when I found out Evelyn was his granddaughter! I didn’t know that until she got on her bicycle and headed for the butcher shop. I’m sure I hollered BUUUUUUUUUUUURT! when I realized the connection.

I loved getting to know Burt Burt while writing Stray Affections. Readers adored Burt too. (YAY!) He’s a quirky butcher with a fun sense of humor and a giant heart. (Evelyn’s positivity is so much like her grandpa’s.) His love story in Stray Affections was so … tender and dear. It was so honestly good to “see” him again, to get to hang with him, watch him at work, wielding a clever, slicing meat and serving samples of his special Burt’s Durves. And loving. Burt loves so very well.

Before starting this series, I wrote the Dearest Dorothy series. In some ways, Burt Burt reminds me of Arthur Landers, although Arthur was much more of a trouble maker, someone who liked to stir up the pot. But they both have such wonderful big hearts and great humor. I’ve always loved working with male characters.

 


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The message of Grace in both word and simple prayer is evident throughout the story.  How has it applied to your life?


First of all, since I am by no means a “preachy” storyteller, thank you for noticing the evidence of Grace. It is my heart’s desire to entertain, yes, but also to send hope and love into the world via the power of story. And to extend grace.  YAY!

Madeleine L’Engle once wrote that her stories were smarter than she was. I know exactly what she meant. Stories better illustrate grace than any amount of preaching I could deliver, so I let them lead.

Having said that, I cannot write about what I do not know. As a Christian, I know grace. Grace is everything. Grace can’t be earned. In other words, it isn’t my striving that “makes grace happen.” It isn’t because I’m a “good girl” that God showers me with grace and covers my every mucky mess with love. Rather it’s because I’m such a mess, and because God loves me so, that God saw fit to save me from myself.

Every day, the more aware I become of how inadequate I am in so very many ways, how short I fall from getting things right, it grows more remarkable to me that God loves me. When I watch the news, I think, And God is present in that too, mourning, holding, hearing, guiding …

I wouldn’t be who I am without the presence of God’s grace. Like Eleanor said the first time she prayed over dinner, “Grace. Amen.” When Sasha questioned if that was the entire prayer, Eleanor responded, “What else do we need or need to remember?”

 
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Quid pro quo
Favorite author.... Depends on the day and mood, and my needs.

Favorite book.... The answer to this question changes too, but today I’ll go with The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Right now I'm reading.... (Just getting ready to start) The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose

If I wasn't an author, I would have been..... A torch singer. I love Karaoke. Singing anytime, anywhere.

One thing I know now that I wish I knew then... Seriously, I wouldn’t trade today’s “knowledge and maturity” for yesteryear’s naïveté and mistakes. I’m the me I am now because of those mistakes and what I’ve learned through them. Ten years from now, I’ll be the me I am then because of the mistakes I’m still making today. The beauty is that no matter what, God, grace, family, laughter, love, friends and random acts of kindness see us through.

The best advice I have for future authors... Know what you’re getting into. These days, writing the story is only a part of what’s expected. Trust the story more than yourself. Don’t try to be a wordsmith; it usually shows. Semi-colons are no longer in favor, but perhaps you can revolt. : ) Relentless pursuit!

 

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Thank you so much for the wonderful answers, Ms. Baumbich!  It’s great to see the connection you have with your characters and the fate that awaits them.  Your works are not all sunshine and roses, they reflect life as it can happen from time to time…but in the end, you leave readers with a renewed awareness for the joys that surround them and hope for a better tomorrow.

Now, how would YOU like to check out this latest work for yourself?  Remember, it’s IN STORES NOW so it should be readily available at your favorite bookstore or online outlet…BUT…I’ve one more way for you to meet this work face to face.  That’s right…you guessed it…it’s CONTEST time!

Thanks to the generosity of the author, we’ve got one copy up for grabs!  Here’s the scoop….


The prize:








How to enter:
Fill out the form RIGHT HERE.
For those that prefer extra entries…don’t worry, there are plenty of opportunities for them.  ^_^






Rules:
Open to U.S. entries only, no P.O. Boxes please.
Entries accepted March 13th, 2012 through March 23rd, 2012, midnight CST.  Comments are lovely, wonderful, magical even….and most appreciated, but in order to enter, you MUST fill out the form. 




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So there you have it.
Another great read to potentially add to your wish list….and it even comes with a message of good will and love in our hearts.

Congratulations once again Ms. Baumbich on this latest release.
Best of luck to one and all on the contest!

Until next time...happy reading!




2 comments:

Charlene Ann Baumbich said...

Thank you, Dear Lady, for the terrific thoughtful review, and for the opportunity to talk about my quirky process.

THANK YOU!

GMR said...

Charlene Ann Baumbich: My pleasure! Thank you for the fantastic answers. Most enjoyable read and interview experience. ^_^

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