Hey there, Seekerville! I always love stopping by here. Where else can you get a great cup of coffee and a nice muffin straight out of the oven while you catch up with some of the nicest people in and around the book world? I’m so excited that Tina invited me back and I’m looking forward to hanging out today.
Before we get started…is there any zucchini bread? If you haven’t heard, I’m expecting Ethridge 3.0 early next year and zucchini bread is kinda my thing right now. I blame Candace Calvert—she’s been posting a lot about her bumper harvest of zucchini on Facebook lately, and well…you know how cravings go!
One of the most common adages about creative pursuits is that “life imitates art.” And with the writing I’m doing now, that is SO very true. When it came time for me to go back to Port Provident and catch up with the characters, I knew I wanted to test the citizens of Port Provident and put them in situations that would push them in both their relationships and their faith.
Because Port Provident is loosely based on my former home of Galveston, Texas, there was no question about what was brewing for the residents.
A hurricane was on the horizon.
Hurricane Hope is headed for Provident Island, and I know hurricanes pretty well because I lived in Galveston in 2008, when Hurricane Ike rolled ashore.
Hurricane Hope is basically the fictional version of Hurricane Ike. I took my memories of before and after the hurricane (I wasn’t actually on the island for the hurricane itself—I had a six-month-old and we evacuated the day before) and layered them with experiences of my friends and other Galvestonians to create what I hoped was a very realistic look at going through a major natural disaster.
Second Chance Sweethearts, my July Love Inspired release that follows the hurricane and brings together former high school sweethearts Gloria Garcia Rodriguez and Rigo Vasquez, got four stars from RT and I think the line in the review that made me smile the most was “the scary reality and power of the hurricane is made clear in Ethridge’s writing.” Ha! Mission accomplished!
And what goes better with an actual storm than a stormy reunion? It was a lot of fun to make Gloria and Rigo’s relationship mirror the hurricane. There was a lot of sound and fury as they were forced to rely on each other during a very uncertain time, and then as the water rolled away, they struggled with the realities of rebuilding—in this case, not just the town, but their relationship.
One of the things I knew while I was writing was that Gloria and Rigo’s story was not the end of Port Provident’s story. And one of the realities of the recovery process was that a lot happened in a very short time to us as we lived it. I wanted that for my readers, to share in the experience of walking through a storm and challenges and triumphs associated with the recovery and rebuilding that happens after the wind and the waves recede.
So be looking for the following books in the series in the months to come. I’m inviting my readers to become honorary citizens of Port Provident and to get to know the characters and to walk with them as they grow and experience the rebuilding—not just of their lives, homes and businesses, but of their faith and relationships as well.
But probably the project I’m most excited about bringing out is Storm Surge, my first non-fiction book. Releasing on September 13, the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Ike’s landfall in Galveston, Storm Surge is a memoir that contains short Bible-based lessons based on the life lessons I learned from a hurricane. I wanted to write Storm Surge because I knew that not everyone would go through a hurricane, but everyone goes through storms in their lives, and I knew that the lessons I learned could help others rise above the winds that rock us all.
So I guess you could say that I’m definitely one of those people for whom art comes from life—and I’ve never been more excited about a writing project. I would love to invite you to click the “follow” button over on my Amazon page so you will receive notifications when the next books in the series go live—there will be a pre-order in early July, so I hope that you won’t miss out!
What about you? How have you been inspired to create something based on life experiences? Do you volunteer with a group that helps cancer patients because you’re a survivor? Did you adopt a child because you went on a mission trip and fell in love with the people of the country and wanted to make a greater difference? Did you choose your career because of the impact of a person or event in your life?
I can’t wait to hear how experiences have encouraged you to do more and create more!
I’ve got a couple of giveaways today for two random commenters… I’m giving away a Kindle copy of Firefly Summer, Kathleen Y’Barbo’s new release. Kathleen has told me this is the book of her heart, and the character of Bonnie Sue in the book is based on her own mother. See, life and art can intersect anywhere!
I’m also giving away a Kindle copy of Isaac’s Storm, the definitive book on the Great Storm of 1900, the deadliest storm in American history and the second most financially-devastating hurricane in American history. The 1900 Storm hit Galveston, Texas 108 years and six days before Hurricane Ike came ashore. I’ve read this book and was caught up in the turn-of-the-century resilience shown as the citizens of Galveston survived and rebuilt the island with incredible determination.
This is me in September 2008—wearing my “I Don’t Like Ike” shirt—posing with one of the more unique finds from our home after the Hurricane—a 1981 can of Pepsi that had been left inside of the area behind our fireplace. We found it when we tore out all the drywall as part of the rebuilding process.
The writing bug bit Kristen Ethridge around the time she first held a pencil. A 2012 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award Finalist, Kristen was discovered by Harlequin through their 2012 So You Think You Can Write contest.
She writes contemporary inspirational romance for Harlequin's Love Inspired line, as well as sweet contemporary romance. Her favorite stories are filled with love, laughter, and happily ever after--and her favorite happily ever after is the story of God's love. Although she has fun creating characters, Kristen's favorite people are her family. She lives in Texas with her husband, children and a self-important poodle. Visit her online at www.kristenethridge.com.
Nurse-midwife Gloria Rodriguez prides herself on her independence—but right now she needs help. There's a hurricane approaching and she has one very pregnant patient on her hands. With so many people already evacuated, the only one Gloria can turn to is Rigo Vasquez, chief of the beach patrol in Port Provident. The man she holds responsible for the death of her husband. Rigo needs to make amends for his past mistakes, and Gloria's desperate phone call opens the door to make things right with his first love. Rigo is honor-bound to keep her and her patient safe, but once the storm passes, will Gloria still need him?