An ocean crossed

I am pleased today to share with you some good news about a good friend. Gina Holmes, whose wonderful blog Novel Journey I have linked to ever since I started Edgewise, is celebrating the release of her debut novel, Crossing Oceans.

I had the immense pleasure of reading this book for endorsement a few months ago and I can still see the characters in my head, can still hear Jenny whispering love notes to her little girl whom she sometimes calls “Bells.” I love that!

Gina has filled her website with all kinds of good stuff about this book – there’s a lovely book trailer there – and she shares how she got published on Chip MacGregor’s blog. It’s rewarding as a fellow author to see how she kept at her dream. She saw there was a big ocean to cross and she kept at it. She didn’t give in or give up to become a mere builder of sand castles. Not that there is anything wrong with sand castles, but you DO know what happens when the tide comes in, right?

Here’s a bit about what this book is about: “Sometimes love demands the impossible . . .

Nothing deepens a stream like a good rain – or makes it harder to cross. Jenny Lucas swore she’d never go home again. But life has a way of upending even the best-laid plans. Now, years after she left, she and her five-year-old daughter must return to her sleepy North Carolina town to face the ghosts she left behind. They welcome her in the form of her oxygen tank-toting grandmother, her stoic and distant father, and David, Isabella’s dad . . . who doesn’t yet know he has a daughter. As Jenny navigates the rough and unknown waters of her new reality, the unforgettable story that unfolds is a testament to the power of love to change everything—to heal old hurts, to bring new beginnings . . . even to overcome the impossible.”

And a great Q and A:

How much of Jenny did you draw from yourself?

Friends could probably be more objective in answering this question than I am. The honest answer would be maybe a little, maybe a lot. Each of the characters is drawn from parts of me, the good guys and the bad. I’ve got enough attributes and flaws to go around! Mostly the characters are their own creation though. They borrow a little from me, a little from others, and each takes on their own persona as well. It’s a combination.

Probably the one who’s most based on myself is Bella. She’s the glue that brings the two families together. I’ve always been a mediator type of person. I think most middle children probably are. However, I was more like Eeyore as a child than Isabella’s sunshiny self.

As you reviewed novels and talked to a lot of novelists who have had varying degrees of commercial success, was there ever a “dark night of the soul” where you decided this just wasn’t what you thought it was going to be, just wasn’t worth pursuing?

Not worth pursuing? No way! There are so many worthy stories to tell, and it’s my burning desire to do that. Not to say that I didn’t have fleeting moments of despair along the way, particularly when I came close to getting a contract, only to see it fall through at the last minute. But those moments really were fleeting, and I knew God’s timing would be perfect … and it was.

You have written several as-yet-unpublished novels, all of them in a completely different genre—thriller/suspense. Crossing Oceans is quite a departure. Do you prefer or find your voice more easily in one or the other?

I grew up reading suspense, so naturally that’s what I thought I should write. I did okay with it and got some recognition in a contest and came close to getting contracted, but ultimately none of those suspense novels ever sold. Then I started reading some really amazing novels outside the suspense genre, and it was like another world opened up to me. It was no longer a thriller I longed to write, but a story that would change lives the way the books I read had changed mine. When I started Crossing Oceans, I presented it along with a suspense novel I was working on to my agent, Chip MacGregor. I asked which one he thought suited me better. He told me both were good, but that Crossing Oceans seemed more like my true voice, or something to that effect. It turned out to be a turning point and absolutely the right advice. I’m now writing what comes naturally and absolutely loving it. Chip’s a genius.

How did the idea for Crossing Oceans come to you?

I’m not exactly sure where the idea came from, but when I write, I’m usually working out something in my personal life, past or present. Often it’s not until the story is done that I figure out exactly what. I think with Crossing Oceans it probably was my relationship with my parents. They divorced when I was a baby. For the first years of my life, I was with my mother, and then when I was in second grade, I went to live with my father. I know what it’s like to be torn, like Isabella, between two families who don’t always like each other but who all love the child they share. Then again, maybe I wasn’t working out anything! Maybe I just fell asleep watching something about a dying mother, and woke up thinking I had a brilliant idea.

Do you ever find your Christian worldview a challenge to convey in your writing or as you communicate with other novelists in the industry?

It’s not difficult to convey in my writing, I don’t think. At least not today. Hey, I’m a sinner. I wish I wasn’t and I try not to be, but I always seem to fall short. It’s the same for my characters. The thing with me, and them, is we get back up, dust ourselves off, and try to do better next time. My faith, in all its imperfection, isn’t lip service. It’s who I am. What I believe. That comes out in my conversations, my choice of clothing, music, friends, and in my writing. It’s very natural for me.

As far as other novelists go, I guess it’s not a challenge. I’m a Christian and not everyone’s going to agree with what I do, or what I write, or what I believe, and that doesn’t matter. My mother said when I turned forty that I would stop caring so much what people thought and really start being who I am. I’m almost there and, as usual, she was right. I would say that in my personal life, everyone who truly knows me is well aware that I’m a Christian. I don’t hide it in my professional life either.

Way to go, Gina!

On Monday I will share how I capitulated and became a tweeter.

Author: Susan

This post has 1 Comment

  1. Clair on May 1, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    I requested this book from my library and look forward to reading it.

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