Friday, January 4, 2019

Home

Guest Amy Anguish


Home.

Just four short letters, and yet, it’s a word that packs a powerful impact. Think about all the songs and sayings related to it.

“Home is where the heart is.”

“There’s no place like home.”




“Home is where you hang your hat.”

“Who says you can’t go home?”

You get the idea. Okay. So, home is important. We all have one, right? That depends on how you define home. If you simply define it as the address where you receive your mail, then yes. We all have a home. If you define it as something deeper, a system of roots, a place full of memories and love and growth and all that entails, then no. Some of us don’t have that. Not in one place, anyway.

I’m a preacher’s kid. My daddy has always preached in small congregations in small towns. Unfortunately, that meant we moved every few years. I’ve never lived anywhere longer than six years. When people ask me where I’m from, I simply say “the south.” It’s easier than saying, “Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee.” I’ve added Texas to the mix since I got married, for the record. I grew up everywhere. As a child, that was hard. After all, no one wants to leave their best friends behind, start a new school, try to fit in. Especially in high school. College was a balm to my soul, with all those people who just accepted me because almost none of us had been there our whole lives.




Now that I’m an adult, I can see benefits to the way I grew up. After all, not having an earthly place to really think of as home keeps me focused on the heavenly one I’ll get one day. And it’s helped me lose any shyness I had when younger, giving me a willingness to put myself out there and find friends. And it’s helped me help my husband learn to acclimate to new places as we’ve moved around in our fourteen years of marriage (he grew up in the same place his whole life).

The more I write, the more I find my “lack” of a home has also affected my writing. “Home” has become almost a recurring character in my stories. It started out sneakily, but has become more and more prominent.

In my novel, An Unexpected Legacy, my characters Jessica and Chad are both transplants to the central Texas area. After they start dating, they find out their families are actually from the same small town in Arkansas--the town Jessica thinks of as home because of all the good memories with her grandparents and aunt there. Unfortunately, when her aunt demands she quit dating Chad, that sense of home is ruined for Jessica unless she can figure out what the aunt has against her boyfriend.

In my novel coming out in April, The Greatest of These, two sisters Faith and Hope are thrown together for the summer, despite not getting along. Faith has chosen to live in Texas with her husband Sam. Hope made her home in Mississippi and hates to leave it, but needs a job. Hope has to overcome her prejudice against the state of Texas as well as realize that location isn’t so much what makes a home as the people.

I have a couple of other stories still in edits before I can have them published, too. In one, Michelle moves back to her small hometown after being away for several years. But everything is not the same, including her best friend, Greg. She comes back with dreams, goals, and a baby, and has to figure out how to fit back in to the place she loves most. And in another, my character, Adrian, is a lot like me. She grew up a preacher’s kid, moving every few years. Unfortunately, that caused her to give up on God and choose to live working a job that doesn’t allow her to settle. After all, if she never settles anywhere, she won’t have to go through the pain of leaving friends behind. She also has to learn the true meaning of home.


The house in Kansas where I lived as a baby.

I didn’t set out to write my stories to be so “home-centric,” but it’s there in each. It’s not necessarily the main struggle or even the main theme, but it’s big enough that you know it’s there. Each character has to realize that home is more than just a place. It’s wherever you can be yourself, be comfortable, be loved. Because without love, it’s just a place.

Last summer, I was privileged to attend the Ken Ten Writers’ Retreat in Tennessee. In one session, Linda Fulkerson, an author who is amazing at marketing, told us that to market well, we have to figure out what our platform is. Then, we need to write about that. At the time, I wasn’t sure what my platform was, besides getting the stories out of my head and into people’s hands. But the more I think about it, the more I think it’s “home.”

After all, everyone wants a home. It’s a God-given desire, the longing for a place to belong, to be comfortable, to be loved. And if I can tie that in to my stories, as well as the longing for our eternal home, that sounds like a great platform, a way to reach out to my readers and find a common ground.


The house my husband and I bought last year here in Tennessee.
What about you? Do you have a theme that is so big you can almost call it a character? Do you have something in your past that sneaks its way into your stories and somehow ties them all together? I’d love to hear about it!

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Amy will be doing a giveaway today! Just let us know you'd like to be entered.



When Chad Manning introduces himself to Jessica Garcia at her favorite smoothie shop, it's like he stepped out of one of her romance novels. But as she tentatively walks into a relationship with this man of her dreams, secrets from their past threaten to shatter their already fragile bond.  Chad and Jessica must struggle to figure out if their relationship has a chance or if there is nothing between them but a love of smoothies.


Amy R. Anguish
Author of An Unexpected Legacy

Amy R. Anguish grew up a preacher's kid, and in spite of having lived in seven different states that are all south of the Mason Dixon line, she is not a football fan. Currently, she resides in Tennessee with her husband, daughter, and son, and usually a bossy cat or two. Amy has an English degree from Freed-Hardeman University that she intends to use to glorify God, and she wants her stories to show that while Christians face real struggles, it can still work out for good.


42 comments:

  1. "Have you lived in this small town all your life?"

    "Not Yet."


    Hi Amy:

    What I do, in much the way you use 'home', is maximizing the setting. I want to always have a very interesting setting that many people, even millions of people, have either visited or want to visit someday. I would also want there to be an event or series of events, going on during the story, that helps make that setting famous.

    I call doing this 'adding extra value' to the story. I'd like readers to feel like they learned a lot of interesting things in addition to reading a compelling story. I'd also like readers to remember the experiences they enjoyed in the book perhaps even more than the story details. For example, like having a story set in Albuquerque when the hot air balloon festival is going on. I'd have the reader vicariously enjoying the hot air balloon ride. (It's important to five-sense the copy when you do this.)

    I also want the setting to take on the importance of a major character. In addition I want a story that could only have taken place in that setting. If the story could happen in any small town, then a powerful marketing tool is lost.

    BTW: I grew up much like you did. My father was an engineer and we moved from the east coast to the west coast with points in between. When asked where I am from I just give the location which determined the way I speak.

    I'm interested to read what you've done in your home stories.


    When asked, "Are you going home for the holidays," where is that 'home'?

    It's where your mother lives even if it is a small apartment three states away and all the kids live is big houses!

    Vince

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    1. Vince, I have to agree that going home is wherever my parents/family are. :) It's just really nice to have the house feel familiar, a place where I feel comfortable and like I belong. I didn't grow up in my parents' last house, but they lived there through most of my married life, so it became home.

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    2. Vince, yes. We just back last week from spending time with my parents. Of course, they had been living with my Grandma to help take care of her, so that made it feel even more like home. Since they're about to sell that house, there's no telling where we'll spend holidays next year, but as long as it's with family, that's okay.

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  2. Amy, welcome!! I'm so glad you joined us! I love your post and have loved figuring out my life theme. I've found I often write about forgiveness and also about being loved and accepted for who we are.

    I look forward to hearing everyone's main themes!

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    1. Thanks for having me today. Being loved and accepted is something I definitely struggled with in the past. Being the "new girl" wasn't always easy. That's definitely a theme that resounds with me. :-)

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    2. Yes, definitely being the new girl would make that tough!

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  3. Good morning, Amy! Thank you for being with us today!

    I can relate to your moving around a lot growing up -- I lived in something like 10 places from the time I was in 2nd grade until h.s. graduation. I think the appeal of "home" -- in the here and now and eternally -- is a universal longing, so your stories with their "home" theme should appeal to many!

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    1. I agree, Glynna, about the universality of that.

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  4. You've got me beat, Glynna. I think we only moved eight times between birth and high school. Ha! I have discovered most people either move a lot, or stay put.

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  5. Please enter me in the drawing for the book.

    I can so relate to this. I am also a PK. I attended 11 schools from Kind. to 12th grade. Dad's ministry was that of going in and straightening out church problems. It takes a special man for that job. Then when I grew up I was missionary for 27 years. I didn't just stay in one country or one state or town. My friends teased me that I didn't say "Lord send me anywhere," but "Lord send me everywhere." I've lived in Georgia, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina, spent a summer in the Amazon region of Brazil, Africa, Missouri, Utah, Nevada, back to North Carolina where I now live only 37 miles from my birthplace. I have come a complete circle. Amazingly the adventures from all these places are finding themselves in my writing.

    Have a great day everyone

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    1. Wilani, that's amazing!! You have certainly circled the globe and the U.S.!

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    2. Wow, Wilani! It definitely takes a special man to be able to go in where there's problems and help fix them. And living in another country blows my mind. Good for you!

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  6. I love and always thought home is where your parents live, we moved many times when younger but my parents have been in this house over 20 years. My children also thing home is where we are. I think maybe from some of there items have moved along with us.

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    1. Ha! Every time I visit my mom I feel like she sends something of mine back with me. I look forward to the day when I can visit her and not have some of my things there. :-)

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    2. Melissa, our house has become a storage area for my son and his wife! :) They moved from renting a 3-bedroom house into a small loft apartment in Atlanta, so they moved a good bit of stuff to our attic! I'm so thankful we have a nice big attic. Oh, we also inherited their really cool grill--at least temporarily. haha

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  7. I am one of those people who was born in a place, never lived any farther than 20 miles away and I am often caught saying "when I was home" when speaking about my youth. Even though my life with my husband has long exceeded the 18 years that I spent with my parents and brother!
    I would love to be included in your drawing!

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    1. Connie, that's an interesting thought! I never tend to realize how much more time I've spent married than I spent at home growing up.

      See, just then I called it "home!" :)

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    2. Connie, I am fascinated by people who live in one area their whole life. This spring I will have been my husband's girlfriend longer than I wasn't. Love that!

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  8. Hi Amy!

    Your post resonated with me! This whole concept of home is so important that my tag line is "Bringing you home..."

    I'm also a PK, but we only moved once while I was growing up. However, the possibility (threat?) was always there. We always expected to move, but God had other plans. After my husband and I got married, though, the moving started. I don't even count the times we've moved anymore.

    BUT, retirement has helped. We're staying put in the same city we've lived in for almost eight years now. The longest we've lived anywhere.

    That longing for home... We talk about this house or that house as being home, but really, the longing is for our heavenly home. That's an address change that I'll welcome when the time comes!

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    1. Jan, I'm so happy for y'all to be able to stay put now! We're thrilled to have bought our first house in our 50's (lived in wonderful parsonages before). I have to say owning a house adds a whole new level to the term "home." But really, those parsonages truly felt like home because we were all together. This house we're in now will probably never feel as much like home as the last parsonage we were in, where we lived for 16 years.

      Home is truly where people are. But I think in our stories, that longing for home is also about a sense of place.

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    2. Jan, the longest I have ever lived anywhere is six years, but we bought our house last year so we're hoping to stay put for a while. :-)

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  9. This is a great post, Amy. Home is very important to me. I have lived in the same state--Nebraska--my whole life and have never felt the need to leave. I have set the novel I am writing in Nebraska with a tornado as the central event, and my characters are trying to identify where there home is as well.

    Please enter me in the drawing.

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    1. Sandy, that's wonderful! And a great way to write what you know!

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    2. Thanks Sandy. Ooh. A tornado. *shiver* We get those around here in TN, too. Definitely a scary way to be uprooted.

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  10. Hi Amy! From one PK to another -> *waves* (But I'm probably a tad older than you. Like maybe... "way" older. Lol)

    I love that you've incorporated your life experiences into your writing platform. "Home" is so important to me. And great call on the sisters' names - I think those might be a pretty popular combination. *wink*

    Blessings on your writing and congratulations on your release!

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    1. Hello to you, too. Age is just a number. I will say I am older than people usually think I am.
      I lived giving the sisters those names. I let them have a family joke that they were glad to not have a third sister, and she would have been Charity...making her the greatest. ;-)

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    2. Cindy, it's amazing how many PK's and preacher's wives we have around here!

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  11. Hi, Amy! Welcome and what a lovely post! As a transplanted Kansan, "There's no place like home" has a special place in my heart! :)

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    1. I was born in Kansas, but only lived there two years so I really don't remember it. But we drove through there a few years ago and I took my picture with Dorothy and the gang at the welcome center. I've always lived that movie and book series. Maybe because I started in Kansas and have a mom named Dorothy? :-)

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  12. I loved this post! I'm not sure I have a theme that runs through all my books, though I start out with a theme for each one. A topic I think I have at least touched on in all my books is that of pride vs humility. I seem to have a sixth sense about someone's ego, especially in the main character of a book.

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    1. I am not sure I would want that sixth sense. But I 'm sure it helps your writing. Thanks for sharing!

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    2. Lila, I love that theme. I've written it a couple of times. My characters had to move from pride (trying to make their own path) to the humility of admitting that they need God's help (and that God has a perfect plan). It's a lesson God has taught me while writing those books!

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  13. I love the saying "Home is where the heart is" because that can mean anywhere! At your residence, or at your church, or maybe even a work environment. Where you find love is where you can find home :-)

    For me, my home is where my residence is because my family is there and it's where I feel at peace. I look forward to coming home after a day of grocery shopping, or running errands or any number of things that keep me from being at home. It's a place of familiar things and brings me comfort & peace :-)

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    1. Oh I forgot to add, please include my name in the book giveaway. Thank you for the chance!

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  14. That's exactly how home should feel, Trixi. Somewhere we can be ourselves and comfortable. :-) Thanks for stopping by.

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  15. I posted a comment earlier today, but it doesn't look like it posted. Hopefully this one will go through. I love the theme of home, how it's found in your writing. In fact, my husband and I were just talking about that today. He was a missionary child and moved from the US to Holland back to the US and then back to Holland. Each time, he had to relearn the new language, whether it was Dutch or English. He always felt like he didn't fit in, and no place felt like "home." But his parents' love for him ended up being "home." We were literally talking about this today. :-) I don't need to be entered into the giveaway. I already have a copy of An Unexpected Legacy. :-)

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    1. Sandi, so cool that you were just talking about this topic today! Thanks for sharing your husband's growing up experience.

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    2. Yes. I imagine missionary kids have it even harder than preacher kids. It is funny how you were talking about this the same day as my post, though. :-)

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  16. I grew up in the military so I relate to the constant moving. While living on Air Force bases kids became friends fast because we were all going to move. I always felt accepted. Then we started living off base and those kids were critical and cliche. It took awhile to find friends. The longest I lived anywhere was 4 years. After I got married I finally got to settle down. We've lived in the same city for 40 plus years. Your stories sound interesting.

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    1. Kids can be so mean. I guess I had never thought about how different it would be on base versus off. Thanks for commenting!

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