Yours truly had the distinct privilege to sit between the esteemed Mary Connealy and Julie Lessman at the 2010 ACFW conference where I was graciously invited to write a guest blog when my book released.
I’m currently embroiled in my SMP (Shameless Marketing Phase), but the Lord is my Partner in this fascinating writing journey, and I prefer to think of it as following His will by sharing the stories He’s laid on my heart. If you like a story where you can escape with well-drawn characters, lots of romance, humor and fun repartee, emotionally-involving drama and a hint of mystery in an adventurous plot, then I hope you’ll add my debut novel, Awakening to your reading list! Here’s the back cover copy (short version):
Lexa Clarke signs up for a short-term summer mission in San Antonio with TeamWork Missions, hoping to make a difference in the world. TeamWork director Sam Lewis has a job to do and can't afford to be distracted by the petite, feisty blonde. But when she tumbles into his arms from the top of a house they’re rebuilding, Sam suspects his life will never be the same. A God-fearing man. A God-seeking woman. It’s a combustible combination.
I’ve noticed something about Seekerville. You like to talk about food, especially chocolate – a lot. I fit right in! For the record, I’m a certified chocoholic but prefer homegrown Hershey’s to fancy Godiva. You also talk about history quite a bit, probably because a number of you either write and/or read historical fiction. Although my novel is set in 1997, Sam in Awakening is a huge history buff (and prefers peaches to chocolate). Quirks, pet peeves, expressions and habits infuse life into characters. One of Sam’s quirks is that he starts spouting history lessons as a way of dealing with stress.
Like Sam, I believe in fun facts to know and tell. If you’re a reader, I hope you appreciate when characters leap off the page and into your heart and mind. As a writer, I’m sure you understand how life experiences lend invaluable insight into the human mind and behavior. Awakening is actually loosely-based on my love story with my husband, Jim. Here are a few observations from my own personal archives, all of which have helped me in character-building and plotting:
*I’ve “been around” in the nicest sense of the word. In a nutshell, I was born in IN, met Jim (from RI) in TX, moved to CA, married in KY, honeymooned in HI, moved to PA after the birth of our first child, had two more children, moved to MA, then came to my senses and moved back to “home in my heart” (Kentuckiana, where IN meets KY at the Ohio River). Jim’s in ministry, and thank the Lord for a highly-adaptable family. Sam asks Lexa where home in her heart is early on, and it throws her a bit. She figures it out.
*I’m short. Going back a minute – growing up, I was always the cheerleader teetering at the top of the pyramid and thrown around by virtue of being the shortest. Wised up in high school and became a pom pon girl (also the end of my so-called athletic career). Being short does have advantages, and for some reason tall men (like my Jim) often gravitate toward short women. Case in point: Sam Lewis and Lexa Clarke. Sam’s 6’5” and, although petite, Lexa has long legs and is much better proportioned than me. It’s called living vicariously through your character.
* I’m impatient. That particular fruit of the Spirit called patience eludes me. I have a sign in my kitchen which reads, “Lord, grant me patience, but hurry!” Sam and Lexa can be impatient, but they’re also strong, determined, resourceful and resilient when it counts.
*I’m getting older by the minute. If you're scratching your heads and asking, “Who are some of those people she just mentioned?” I was officially old when someone gave me a quizzical look when I mentioned Barry Manilow. For the record, I also adore Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams! Jerry Vale, anyone? Sam and Lexa are my core characters in a series, and while they naturally grow older, they will always be young and vibrant in my heart.
Thank you for allowing me to share a little about my story (both fictional and personal) today.
For a chance to win an autographed copy of Awakening, answer this question: What one quality must a Christian romance have to make it a book you’ll never forget?
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JOANN DURGIN BIOGRAPHY
JoAnn Durgin lives with her husband and three children in southern Indiana. An estate administration paralegal in a Louisville, Kentucky, law firm, she also works part-time at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. A graduate of Ball State University, JoAnn’s debut novel, Awakening, a contemporary romantic adventure, released in late 2010 from Torn Veil Books of Winnipeg, Canada.
She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) as well as its Indiana chapter. JoAnn finaled in the 2010 Romance Writers of America/Faith Hope & Love Touched by Love contest in the long contemporary romance category. She has either won or been a finalist in My Book Therapy flash fiction contests and was a “Best Back Cover Copy Blurb” champion on the Clash of the Titles website. JoAnn is also a regular blog contributor with Reflections in Hindsight and Hoosier Ink. Visit JoAnn at her website at http://www.joanndurgin.com/