Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wind, Waves, and Writing

with guest Kristen Ethridge. 

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?


Ruth Logan Herne said...

All-important coffee is here!!!!!! With zucchini bread!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

You guys are weeks ahead of us with zucchini, et al.... So I'll live vicariously through your bread, although I still have a bag of shredded, frozen zucchini in the freezer. We love zucchini bread.

Congratulations on the baby! Oh, I love me some babies!!!!! How exciting!

I like reflecting real life in stories. Storms and hard times happen, and I love a well-spun story that follows the realism of roller-coaster life and using storms as reflective nuances works great.

I've watched the TV specials about the great hurricane in Galveston and read about it. You look back at the mistakes made and it's a humbling view. We are so utterly human. I use the Galveston tragedy when I'm talking about weather changes and how little data we actually have because data from a hundred years ago was still very inexact... Galveston illustrates that. And how many millions of years has the earth existed???

I'd be more inclined to jump on board climate change if we could get a five-day forecast right!

I love that we have early warning systems now for hurricanes and tornadoes, and that adds real natural drama to a story! Those sirens mean business.

Great thoughts today! Thank you for hanging with us!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Kristen!!! You have to tell us more about your personal experience. You lived right in the path of the Hurricane? So you had to rebuild your entire home? Tell us a little about what happened for you. How much warning did you have? Would you have done anything differently?

I am ever grateful for the tornado warning system in Tulsa when I lived there.

Tina Radcliffe said...

AND CONGRATULATIONS ON 3.0. I love new versions...I mean babies.

Kav said...

Now I'm craving zucchini bread right along with you. Haven't had any in ages but the zucchinis around here are just starting to flower. I will have to wait (impatiently.)

I love reading the notes in the back of a book and discovering that an author has personal experience that led to writing the book. Definitely adds an extra reader thrill for me.

Tina Radcliffe said...

BTW, I followed you on Amazon. Can't wait for Storm Surge

Jackie said...

Hi Kristen,

Living in Kentucky, I've never experienced a hurricane. We've got plenty of tornadoes though. Even yesterday, a big storm blew through knocking down trees and telephone poles. Nothing like the sound of storm sirens to raise your blood pressure.

I love your book cover, and I'll definitely look for your book. Congratulations on your coming baby and on your book.

Tina Radcliffe said...

That's some storm, Jackie!! And Bogger is working via phone again!!!!! Hurrah!!!!!!

Caryl Kane said...

CONGRATULATIONS on Ethridge 3.0! Zucchini bread is the bomb diggity. Ladies, have a Terrific Tuesday.

Audra Harders said...

Hi Kristen and welcome to Seekerville. Congratulations on 3.0! You just gotta love the latest and greatest, LOL!

I can't imagine living through the anger of a hurricane. So much wind, debris and WATER! Here in Colorado we have our share of tornados, but, for the most part, they're dry. Where do you run to when a water is churned up all around you?? Oh, you brave, brave girl!

Audra Harders said...

Zucchini bread. God's gift to rampant-running squash plants as salsa is to bumper crop tomatoes.

Bring it on!!!!

Mary Curry said...

Good morning, Kristen.

Congrats on 3.0. Exciting times ahead.

Growing up on the East Coast, I've seen a few hurricanes, but by far the worst I remember was Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. It was one of the few times I've been glad my NYC house came with storm shutters! We were lucky to avoid flood damage because we live on high enough ground, but the devastation here was brutal.

People are still trying to recover a few years later. Plus the losses are felt forever. I just had a conversation last week with a new teacher. We were chatting about decluttering our classrooms. I mentioned that I had to do the same for my house. She lowered her head and said, "Sandy did that for me."

Your books sound fabulous.

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, Kristen! Congrats on #3! :) And like Tina, I'd like to hear more about your and your friends' personal hurricane experiences and how you wove them into the story. Your "Storm Surge" sounds like a book worth reading, too!

Blogger hasn't allowed me to comment in Seekerville since Friday--so let's give it a try here...

Glynna Kaye said...

YAY! Blogger cooperated!

By the way, y'all...this is June 30. Your next six months' "New Year's Day" starts tomorrow -- are you ready to roll?

Vince said...

Hi Kristen:

Glory Be!!!

You Might Save Gracie - But Look Out for Her Sister!!! 5-Star Entertainment!

"There may be a sequel about the avenging sister, who is a midwife by the way. I'd like to see the man that will be able to deal with her!"

From my review of "Saving Gracie", February 23, 2013

Well, I've been waiting over two years for "Second Chance Sweethearts". I think we met in Tulsa at the WIN chapter and you were not sure if you'd write Gracie's story. It seems you had a lot going on in your personal life at the time.

I'm so glad you found the time. I think 'Gloria' is totally simpatico with Julie Lessman's 'Charity' for being a strong willed character. It will take some really strong hero to claim her. I was imagining a bull rider or at least one tough Gaucho!

Thanks for the heads up on Kathleen's, "Firefly Summer". Kathleen's so good that if this is the book of her heart, I can't even imagine how good it is! Please enter me in the drawing. I read "Isaacs Storm" when it came out. Fantastic! So I was really ready to read "Saving Gracie" and appreciate it.


P.S. I just loved Maeve Binchy's "Firefly Summer" and midwife heroines are an auto-buy for me. Ruth just wrote a midwife story. Life's good!

Vince said...

P.S. I got mixed up above and called Gloria, Gracie. That's why I don't like main characters to have names that start with the same letter. I think Gracie and Hope would work just as well. : )

Tracey Hagwood said...

Hi Kristin,
Hurricanes provide an excellent backdrop for a story and yours sound like a good one. Like TINA and GLYNNA, I enjoy hearing how people have overcome their own storms.

Living in coastal Virginia, we have ridden out our fair share of storms. The one that impacted us personally the most was Ivan in 2004. We had planned our daughter Noelle's wedding for Sept. 19th. She wanted an outside beach wedding and was willing to take the chance on the weather (sigh) The first of the week, Ivan hit Jamaica, completely wiping out the resort her honeymoon was booked at. By the end of the week we were hammered with wind and rain. On Sat. we had to make the decision about our plan B, moving the wedding inside. Sunday morning the winds were still blowing 35 MPH. We still had a beach wedding, but inside behind a full wall of windows.

Mu daughter learned two valuable life lessons that would serve her well in her marriage. The marriage itself was more important than the idea of "the dream wedding" and as with the honeymoon having to change to Mexico, you have to be adaptable and bend or life's storms can break you.

Myra Johnson said...

Welcome, Kristen! We lived in Houston for 13 years, including during Tropical Storm Allison and Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, but thankfully had moved farther north by the time Ike blew through. It was heartbreaking to see Galveston's destruction in the news!

One of the life experiences I have drawn on for my books is volunteering with a therapeutic horseback riding center, also during our years in the Houston area. Those experiences came into play briefly in One Imperfect Christmas and formed the basis of my "Horseman" series for Heartsong Presents (now available as Truly Yours Digital Editions).

Congratulations on your books AND on Baby Ethridge #3!

Julie Lessman said...


And, oooooooo, zucchini bread ... one of my FAVES!!

You said: "It was a lot of fun to make Gloria and Rigo’s relationship mirror the hurricane."

Now that line right there spoke to me LOUD AND CLEAR and immediately made me want to read your book because I love, Love, LOVE the head-butting kind of relationships where couples spar and spark enough to light up the sky!!

I utilize my life experiences in my books ALL THE TIME, but I'm afraid they're nothing life-changing like cancer, or adoption, or a career that greatly impacted my life. Most of my "life experiences" in my books have to do with incidents that helped my marriage to grow. As a strong-willed woman who was very independent and on her own, most of my family thought I was courting divorce when I married an easy-going guy who seemed to be a pushover. Uh, WRONG! God enrolled me in the School of Hard Knocks in Submission 101, in which I had to learn how to respect my husband and help him be (and me too) the best person and husband he could be ... BY being the best person and wife I could be!! Those are the lessons (and crazy stories) that I impart in most of my books because nothing has changed my life more than those golden nuggets from the hand of God! :)

Great post, Kristin!


Julie Lessman said...

Kristin, I recently read Beth Vogt's new novel, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, and it was set smack dab in the middle of a hurricane, too, which really added to the story and the excitement! Great situation to stir up some romance with a hurricane or twister! :)

VINCE SAID: "I think 'Gloria' is totally simpatico with Julie Lessman's 'Charity' for being a strong willed character. It will take some really strong hero to claim her. I was imagining a bull rider or at least one tough Gaucho!"

Poor Charity -- Vince won't give her a break!! Although I know plenty of people who would -- across the neck! ;) Surely "Gloria" is not that bad, I hope ...


Mary Curry said...

I remember reading a book about the Galveston hurricane. It was an old time historical romance but I have no clue what the title was.

I just have this very vivid image of people clinging to some sort of ride in an amusement park or on the boardwalk (if there was one).

Sarah Claucherty said...

Congrats, Kristen! Babies are just the sweetest :)

Mmm, zucchini bread sounds good! (...surreptitiously hiding the nearly-ready-to-pick zucchini in my garden...)

Like Julie, none of my life experiences that I've used in my writing have been on the same scale as a hurricane or adoption. I tend to use the emotional and family interaction ones as building blocks for characters and their growth. Although I have experienced a flood and a couple tornadoes...something to consider writing about now!

Thanks for dropping in at Seekerville!

Tracey Hagwood said...

I just pre-ordered your new book after reading those opening pages on Amazon, I'm glad it'll be out tomorrow, not too long a wait. I know what I'll be reading right after I finish Audra's Rough Road Home (loving it, Audra).
That's the thing about TBR reading lists like we talked about at Seekerville last week, mine is fluid and constantly changing.

Mary Curry said...

I found you, Sarah! I was looking all over for zucchini for my Yankee Belle Cafe post for tomorrow. I finally found some (so yours is safe for now), but the pickings in the northeast are pathetic so far.

On the other hand, our weather is cool and breezy and just delightful so I'm willing to wait on the zucchini.

Kristin, there's a bakery near here that makes amazing zucchini muffins. Now I want one.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy kept me sleeping in the Omaha airport one night because they closed La Guardia.

Lawyer Boy lives on Maiden Lane... flooded. All the new, beautiful businesses that tried to start up in Lower Manhattan after the housing bubble crash of 2008 were flooded.

Zach had to sleep on friend's couches for two months, and when they re-opened the high rise, they were running the entire lower financial district on mammoth generators, mid-winter and spring, with huge cords going inside the building from the street.

And Mary Curry's right, the damage done to underground circuitry and businesses is still being felt. The NYPD museum that used to be by the seaport is on the first floor of my other son's apartment building on Wall Street. Years later, the effects are still there.

I think that's the "story" side of big storms... the initial acute thrust... and then the lingering chronic pain.

Mary Hicks said...

Congrats on the new book, Kristin!

Going through a hurricane is something none of us want to do—you're a brave girl to recall the event and share the experience with others. We have tornados here in Oklahoma—when we hear the warning sirens I run to my 'hidy-hole' in the ground!

Tracey Hagwood said...

My SIL Dave (the one my daughter married during Ivan in 2004) is a fireman/paramedic and a FEMA team member. His first deployment was to NY during hurricane Sandy. He was there a week and although we've had destructive storms here in VA., like Isabel in 2003 leaving us without power for a week, he said he'd never seen anything like the devastation of Sandy.
We experienced Sandy too, but I think the northern states took the brunt of it. I still think about those parents who were separated from their daughter, who didn't survive. So tragic.

Keli Gwyn said...

Wow, Kristen! I can't imagine experiencing a hurricane. That had to be so scary. What I find interesting is how we learn to cope with the natural disasters inherent to the area we call home. The thought of a hurricane or tornado freaks me out, but earthquakes not as much. I guess that comes from being a native Californian and having felt the earth move under my feet on numerous occasions.

I use my life experiences to add depth to my stories. My beloved mother-in-law lost a fifteen year battle with breast cancer back in 1997. We lived nearby during her final years and were here for her at the end. Going through that left a mark on me. I've used my experience in my March 2016 release, A Home of Her Own. The heroine of the story comes west to care for the hero's mother who is battling--you guessed it--cancer. Writing that story was tough at times as I recounted my memories of Mother's last days, but doing so enabled me to add realism to the story. There are two scenes that cause me to burst into tears every time, even though I wrote the words and know exactly what is coming.

Missy Tippens said...

Welcome, Kristen!! Great post. I had a tornado scene in one of my books (A House Full of Hope) that I ended up writing into the story after one hit near here. It hit my cp's neighborhood, and as she described it to me, I decided to write about it!

Missy Tippens said...

I'm crazy for zucchini bread!! You have me drooling with that photo.

Congrats on the new baby on the way!

Missy Tippens said...

Jackie, you made me realize I need to call to check on my parents in KY!

Missy Tippens said...

Tracey, that's such a great lesson for your daughter. But I'm sure that was majorly stressful leading up to having to make the decision about what to do!

Kristen Ethridge said...

Hey everyone!I am way behind in joining all of you for zucchini bread because Ethridge 1.0 has caught a stomach bug and I'm doing glamorous mom things with sanitizer this morning. Please pass the Thieves oil!

I'm reading through all the comments now and will be chiming in!

Mary Curry said...

Tracey, please thank your SIL for me.

My school took in students whose schools had been destroyed. Our task was to give the children a place where life could be normal for a little while each day. They left at various times during the year as their own schools reopened, but some stayed on for the whole year and even beyond.

Natalie Monk said...

Hi, Kristen! Your book cover is lovely! Thanks for sharing your experiences and how you incorporated them in your stories! There's nothing like personal experience to bring striking emotion to the page.

Kristen Ethridge said...

First, to everyone who clicked the preorder and follow buttons, THANK YOU! <3 MUAH! I do hope you enjoy the story!

Lots of crazy nature stories here! So, we left Galveston behind 4 1/2 years ago and came back to Dallas...where we have tornadoes regularly (the siren is just behind my house!), this summer we've had crazy insane flooding in my little suburb, and I even felt my first earthquake not terribly long ago--we've had 2 that I've felt in the past 6 months. CRAZINESS. But it's good to see I'm not alone!

Vince, I hope you enjoy Gloria's story. I remember how much you liked her in Saving Gracie!

Myra, I love the horseback center idea. We have one not too far from where we are living now.

Julie, those are DEFINITELY the life lessons we ALL learn along the way!

Tracey, oh my goodness, that is a crazy story! I'm happy though that your daughter was able to regroup and have her special day elsewhere. Mexico is one of my favorite places, actually. We just got back from there last month.

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Kristen. You certainly have a scary example of writing from life. Hopefully most of us will only experience the destruction of these terrible storms through stories like yours. Hope you were insured for Hurricanes.

I think most stories come from what we've experienced, good or bad. Perhaps not the same events we write about, but situations that shaped us and produced emotion we can go back to when writing our stories.

Congrats on the new baby on the way. Babies are the best!

Now I'm craving zucchini bread. Off to grab a moist slice.


Janet Dean said...

Mary Curry, the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and others had to be hard to witness personally! Thankful you escaped the worst of the storm. The new teacher's comment touched me and would make a powerful line in a book.


Meghan Carver said...

Good morning, Kristen, and congratulations!! What an amazing blessing to have another baby!

When I was a child, a tornado (I live in the Midwest) tore through the next town over. I remember huddling with my brother in the bathtub in the middle bathroom of our house. It was scary enough. I can't imagine the terror of a hurricane!

Janet Dean said...

Tracey, we have to hold our plans in loose hands, always hard to do, especially with weddings. The lessons your daughter learned are important for all of us. I try to remind myself every day to hold my plans in loose hands, to be pliable enough to bend in life's storms and even in good times to God's plan for my day.


Sandy Smith said...

Kristen, this post was quite interesting to me because the book I am writing now is about a tornado hitting a town. I know a lot about tornadoes living in Nebraska. Our town was hit by one 7 years ago. They have such an impact even years later. My sister-in-law was in the Omaha tornado in 1975 when she was only 11 and to this day she and her parents talk about it as if it happened yesterday. They describe in vivid detail what it was like huddling in the basement and hearing the sound of all the glass breaking in the house. That is the kind of image I am trying to create in my book. The rest of the book will be about the rebuilding process and the hope it brings to the characters. I will have to read your book.

Congrats on the new baby.

Please enter me in the drawing. The book about the Galveston hurricane of 1900 sounds very interesting.

Kristen Ethridge said...

I decided to put the Galveston/Hurricane specific stuff in a separate comment.

One of my most prized possessions is actually a first edition (plus the two salesman's samples) of "Galveston: The Horrors of a Stricken City"--the first book written after the 1900 Storm. For being 115 years old, all three books have held up well, and it's crazy to read the accounts of the day the way they were told in all that turn-of-the-century "journalistic glory."

So...in 2008, we both lived in Galveston and owned a business right on the beach. Our store sat about 17 feet off the ground and we still had 2-3 feet of water inside of it. So that can tell you just how high the water got in some areas.

Here's a then and now look at the store... Our store was at the top of those stairs on the side. The "Ike" photo was taken pretty early on the day before. By the time the storm fully rolled through, all of those stairs were gone and the playground was a wadded up mess in a sinkhole probably about 8 feet deep. When we finally were able to get back in to check on the store, we had to go up the concrete handicapped ramp on the side because the stairs were all gone. We encountered a dead 8-foot long rattlesnake and I may or may not have taken off screaming and decided that hiding in my husband's truck was a good idea. HE could check the store. If there were rattlesnakes bigger than me around there, I wanted no part of it. Until the day we left, there was a dead rattlesnake stain on that ramp. Freaked me out every single time. Blech.


As for our house, we lived in the last subdivision behind the Seawall. We fared worse than some, better than others, and in many cases, far better than others--even though the FEMA inspector declared the contents of our home to be a total loss. We did have to take out everything pretty much down to the studs, to the ceiling in some rooms, to 4 feet in others.

One experience that I really tried to bring to the book was some sensory experience because that's a huge trigger with me and Ike. I still have a few things that "smell" like Ike, and when I'm around them, it is hot, stressful, mosquitoey, awful September 2008 all over again, just like THAT. My editor did ask if I really needed to talk about all the smells and sludge because they're not really romantic. Sadly, no, they're not, but they very much are a part of it.

Kristen Ethridge said...

My post was too long, so I had to cut it into two...here's the second part:

So many scenes in the book are from my experience--when Gloria's cleaning out a cabinet and it's like a fertilizer bomb. That was our garage. Obviously everything that smells. The duct-taped refrigerators on the curb. The endless sea of trashbags cleaning out the restaurant (just be glad I didn't include a real-life recounting of cleaning out an ice cream freezer that had been without power for two months--the NASTIEST thing in my life.) When Rigo hops on the ATV to go downtown, my husband actually helped our Beach Patrol team take ATVs to the lot. The building Rigo works in is our building on the beach. The Beach Patrol officers, Rigo included, are all modeled after our friends on Beach Patrol--their offices are right above where our store was, and they became close friends. The first responder dinner at Porter's is modeled on a dinner that the Gaido family hosted in the parking lot at their restaurant, which has been a Galveston institution for more than 100 years. Even Gloria's delivery experience is tied up in a life event for me--both of my girls were born outside of a hospital setting--one at home and one in a birthing center.

Basically, you don't have to look far in the book to find something that happened to me. I wasn't there for the actual storm (we evacuated) or for the first 8 or so days afterwards (the island was locked down and we were barred from returning) so I did rely on a book called Infinite Monster, written by my friend Leigh Jones, the lead reporter on Ike for the Galveston County Daily News, for actual accounts of the night itself and the immediate aftermath.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I love the things that bring folks together after chaos and tragedy.

That's the pioneer mentality that settled this great country!

Mary Curry said...

Kristen, your comment about the smells of Ike resonated with me. To this day, a certain kind of high, September blue sky puts me back in 2001 instantly. I'm not sure I could even describe how that sky is different from other September skies, but my body knows and reacts.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Kristen, Welcome to Seekerville today. And yes, using real life experiences really does enhance the story. I did use hurricanes in CURRENT OF LOVE, but fortunately have never lived through one. Earthquakes, water spouts, monsoons, yes I have survived those. smile

I agree with JULIE. That line where you state you're comparing their relationship to a hurricane is intriguing and a good pitch line as it made me want to read the book also.

Thanks again for coming. And yes, thanks for the zucchini bread also--one of my favorites.

Jan Drexler said...

Hi Kristen!

Congratulations on the new release! I'll be on the watch for Second Chance Sweethearts.

And don't tell Ruthy, but I still have zucchini left in the freezer from last year. Zucchini bread is one of my favorites :)

Tracey Hagwood said...

Mary Curry, Thank you, I'll tell Dave, we are so proud of his servant's heart.

Kristen, yes it was a crazy event for sure. We had a beautiful site at Fort Monroe in Hampton Va., a concert size gazebo on the bay. The reception was a mile down the road in the officer's club. We moved the wedding there. We arrived early to set up and found the staff was still cleaning up from the late wedding the night before. All our family and friends pitched in and we helped the staff get the room ready. My husband was down on his hands and knees scrubbing the dance floor 5 hours before the wedding. One of those glamorous parenting things you talked about, lol.

Janet, over time we learn to hold our plans loosely as you say. A hard learned lesson for my young daughter, who I must say was a little hysterical starting with the honeymoon problem, thinking she had lost any chance of going anywhere, but we got it transferred, God's grace since the company didn't normally do that kind of thing.

Courtney Ballinger said...

My town has experience with tornadoes, unfortunately. My parents' house was built on land that previously held a home destroyed by a tornado. We remember exactly where we were when that storm hit...

I've always been fascinated by tornadoes though.

Never gone through a hurricane, but deep water freaks me out, so I'm sure it'd be terrifying.

Kristen Ethridge said...

I love all these stories of different weather events that y'all have experienced... and the love for zucchini bread! You all have made me feel so welcomed already today! And it's only noon here in Texas! Still half a day to go! MUAH!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Publishers can expect a flurry of disaster stories coming at them!!!

Kristen Ethridge said...

A flurry, Tina...cue the snow and avalanche stories!

Myra Johnson said...

MARY CURRY, I understand what you're saying.

For me, there's one certain day in September each year that tells me the seasons are shifting. The light changes, there's a different smell in the air . . . It evokes a first-day-of-school sort of memory. And also a kind of sadness because it's my first hint that summer is over and winter isn't far behind.

Kristen Ethridge said...

Oh, Myra...that day for me when we lived in Galveston was always Harvest Moon Regatta day in October. By that time, our store would be closed for the offseason, the tourists would be gone, and there would be a beautiful fall Gulf breeze. We'd go sit on the deck of our favorite restaurant for a few hours with friends and watch hundreds of sailboats as they would race toward Corpus Christi, further down the coast. My favorite day of the year. One of my life goals is to get to where I can still take off every Harvest Moon Regatta day and go down to Galveston and just sit and watch the boats.

Debby Giusti said...

Kristen, sorry I'm so late joining you today!

How creative to set your series around the hurricane and it's aftermath. Hubby and I were in Sandestin, FL, when Ike blew by, headed your way. The huge waves were amazing. The day was sunny and bright with this horrific surf gobbling up everything in it's path. We were both praying for everyone farther west.

I remember reading about that 1900 storm. Oh my. Folks caught without much warning. I recall a family in the second story, watching the water rise. Don't know if it was a book I read or an article in a newspaper, but it was all so real.

Glad you could use that terrible situation in your life and turn it into something good. Talk about a true life story!

Is there any zucchini bread left? Hope so!!!

And new life! How special is that. Sending hugs and love to you and soon-to-be-born baby!

Debby Giusti said...

As writers, don't we use everything? Each story is a compilation of life experiences, some important, others not so much. Sometimes it's hard to separate the fact from the fiction.

Myra Johnson said...

Sounds perfectly lovely, Kristen! Makes me wish we'd had a chance to see this while we lived in Houston. We used to go down to Galveston to spend the day a few times every year. Shop along the Strand, eat shrimp at Benno's, drive up and down the Seawall, walk the beach. We don't live nearly that close to the Carolina coast now, but our daughter & family will soon be less than an hour away from the beach, so we hope to visit often!

Becky Dempsey said...

I agree that in some ways, lots of our lives end up in our stories. I did choose to be a Kindergarten teacher (Pre-mommy days) and I had a wonderful Kindergarten teacher. Not that I consciencely thought, "I really liked Mrs. Block, I want to be a Kindergarten teacher like her" but I'm sure that it helped form my idea.

Vince said...

Hi Julie:

Poor Charity! I was trying to give her a break! My comment about Charity being a strong willed woman was meant as a compliment not a criticism. I admired the way she ran down to the newspaper office to have it out with the new boss -- fully willing to fight for her husband.

Brava Charity!

Kristen Ethridge said...

Seekers, I'm kind of excited right now...and since we're hanging out today, I just had to let y'all know...

If you like this Port Provident: Hurricane Hope series, the next book will be out August 1! The pre-order went live just a few minutes ago!

As you can tell by looking at the cover, these next few books will not be out through Love Inspired--but I promise they'll be the same great type of sweet, inspirational romance.

And the best part is that the pre-order is set at 99cents! On release day, it'll go up to regular price, but I wanted to give a special treat to my readers who want to pre-order it now! :) I didn't realize the pre-order was going to be live today, but since it is, I'm doing a happy dance!!!

I'm honestly not sure how to make a link show up in comments here, but if you cut and paste this, it will take you to the pre-order!


Mary Connealy said...

Kristen I just love you saying you wanted the hurricane and the romance to reflect each other.

So stormy relationship. How cool. I've used weather to forecast danger before, but never though of having it echo the relationship..

This is a great idea. Thank you for this post.

Mary Connealy said...

PS some zucchini bread would be very good right now!!!!!!!!

Mary Connealy said...

VINCE I get the confusion. I just read a book where there was a scene with three woman, not all major characters...which is why it probably happened...who'd notice if they weren't ever together.

But it was like, Sara, Suzy, Sandy. And they're talking and doing something and my HEAD IS SPINNING?

One of them was the heroine of the current book and at some point I even forgot which one she was.......

Mary Connealy said...

PSS We had new potatoes last night for supper. Our first garden food. Soooooo amazing.

Kristen Ethridge said...

Thanks, Mary!

And I love potatoes. This baby is DOWN with the carbs.

Jill Weatherholt said...

Congratulations on your books and the baby, Kristen. I look forward to reading Second Chance Sweethearts. I've never experienced a hurricane first hand, but I have evacuated while living in Florida.
One of my favorite published short stories was inspired by my mother and her daily struggles with dementia. When we write what we know or have experience, it comes from the heart.
Thanks for visiting Seekerville.

Mary Connealy said...

I know to avoid carbs but FRESH new potatoes are just worth breaking the rules.
My husband brought in about a dozen of them, the size of a golfball. He didn't dig them up, he robbed the hills, which leaves the plant alive so the rest of the potatoes keep growing.

Chill N said...

Your books sound super, Kristen!

As I was reading your post, I hoped you had read Isaac's Storm :-) Great account of the 1900 storm. I was impressed with how the author made the storm a character. It sounds like you've done the same thing in Second Chance Sweethearts. Congratulations on both books!

Nancy C

Chill N said...

I note from the comments that I'm not the only one who's had trouble with Blogger the past few days. While I'm sorry others had problems, too, I'm relieved to know Blogger wasn't picking on just me :-)

Nancy C

Kristen Ethridge said...

Nancy--I loved Isaac's Storm. I hope my book is half as engaging! I couldn't put it down. I think I read it all in two days. And it only took me that long because I had to work.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Nope. It was a Blogger war, Nancy C. I think the siege is over.

Tanya Agler said...

Kristen, thank you for a post filled with lots of info to think about.

I lived in FL during Hurricane Frederick, but it was nowhere near the magnitude of Hurricane Sandy or Hugo.

Congratulations on your pregnancy (Ethridge 3.0).

My oldest daughter has recently been diagnosed with a rare genetic condition, and I'm trying to figure out some way to incorporate that into something positive.

Janet Dean said...

Tracey, nice to hear that God had her honeymoon covered. He cares about the details, but trusting them to Him isn't easy.


Debby Giusti said...

Tanya, sending prayers for your daughter. Hope you find a great doc who has answers for every problem!!!


Mary Preston said...

We have cyclones here. Usually very wet & windy.

I fell into my career. Not as painful as it sounds.

S. Trietsch said...

Good morning! I'm a day late reading this but better late than never ;-) I was born in Galveston County hospital (long ago...) but no memories as my parents moved to Dallas when I was a babe in arms. We've vacationed there numerous times and the 1900 hurricane has always fascinated me!

My career has taken many turns and facades over the years but I always come back to enjoying the creativity of writing aspects of my jobs (which include HS English teacher, recruiter: resumes, asst children's minister: curriculum and church office admin: newsletters, bulletins, etc.).

So, now my first fictional WIP is marching on and takes place in TX and GA.


Sandy Smith said...

Kristen, I just picked up Second Chance Sweethearts at my local Walmart! Looking forward to reading it.