Wednesday, June 03, 2009
IMHO is thrilled to welcome our first inspy author ever, Deeanne Gist. Deeanne was recently nominated for her second RWA RITA® award for Deep in the Heart of Trouble. I read Heart and was so impressed by her very human, flawed, and yet faithful characters, I asked Dee to be a guest here this month. Dee terms what she writes “edgy inspirationals.” To understand what this means, watch her as she discusses her controversial Christian romance, Courting Trouble, which inspired the 2008 RITA® nominated release of Heart, with Lifetime TV’s Romance columnist, Michelle Buonfiglio here.
Her new release, A Bride in the Bargain, is now available, and Dee will be putting an autographed copy of it in the June “Weddings and Beginnings” gift basket this week.
Dee didn’t set out to be a bestselling author of inspirational romance, but she’s found a measure of success at whatever she’s tried her hand at. After a short career in elementary education, she retired to raise her four children. Over the course of the next fifteen years, she ran a home accessory and antique business, became a member of the press, and wrote freelance journalism for national publications such as People, Parents, Parenting, Family Fun, Houston Chronicle and Orlando Sentinel. In addition, she acted as CFO for her husband’s small engineering firm--all from the comforts of home.
Squeezed betwixt-and-between all this, she read romance novels by the truckload and even wrote a couple of her own. While those unpublished manuscripts rested on the shelf, she founded a publishing corporation for the purpose of developing, producing and marketing products that would reinforce family values, teach children responsibility, and provide character-building activities.
After a few short months of running her publishing company, Dee quickly discovered being a "corporate executive" was not where her gifts and talents lay. In answer to her fervent prayers, God sent a mainstream publisher to her door who licensed her parenting I Did It!® product line and committed to publishing the next generation of her system, thus freeing her to return to her writing.
Eight months later, she sold A Bride Most Begrudging to Bethany House Publishers. Since that debut, her very original, very fun romances have rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere. Add to this two consecutive Christy Awards, two RITA nominations, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.
Dee lives in Texas with her husband of twenty-six years and their two border collies. They have four grown children. Visit her blog to find out the most up-to-the-minute news.
IMHO: Welcome, Deeanne. This month’s theme on IMHO is “Weddings and Beginnings,” which seems appropriate for your book, but you’ve dealt with that particular theme many times in your novels. Can you tell us a little about why that is?
DG: Sure, TJ, and if I had to give what I’m about to say a title, it would probably be “WHAT WAS I THINKING?” Let me explain by starting with this Scripture:
“‘It is not good for man to be alone.’”
I can never read this particular Scripture without a smile. Had I been the one translating the Hebrew, I’d have put: The Lord God said, “What was I thinking!”
The idea of a man without a woman’s influence has been the underlying theme of many a romance novel. What is it about men that makes us women want to roll up our sleeves and civilize them?
What is it about men that makes them recognize on some subconscious level that they need that civilizing influence?
I’m always on the lookout for fascinating little tidbits in our country’s history that I can use as the foundation for my novels. And I find myself gravitating toward the ones where there is an all-male society, then suddenly—gasp—a woman arrives.
1644: The Crown wanted to establish Jamestown. The men said, “We aren’t staying here without women!” So the Crown emptied the prisons of all their female felons. Shipped them to Jamestown and sold them as brides for their weight in tobacco leafage (because tobacco was the cash crop). The women became known as Tobacco Brides.
That really happened. Totally true. I fictionalized what happened to one of those women. (A Bride Most Begrudging)
1849: In the early California mining camps, there were no women. So the men threw themselves into the most colorful and violent “social life” ever to flourish in America ... then came the women.
That really happened. Totally true. I fictionalized what it would be like to be the very FIRST woman to hit San Francisco’s shores. (The Measure of a Lady)
1866: A man in the Washington Territory could have 640 acres of land for free IF he had a wife. So an entrepreneur told the bachelors, “For every man who pays me $300, I’ll bring him a bride from the east.”
The men paid up. The entrepreneur went east. But he told the women he’d guarantee them jobs as domestics and he made them pay their way. Never mentioned anything about being a bride.
The women signed up. He took them to Seattle. Dropped them off.
The women went to their “employer’s” door and knocked—expecting a job. The bachelor opened it expecting a bride.
That really happened. Totally true. I fictionalized what happened to one of those women. (A Bride in the Bargain)
So, what about you, IMHO readers? What are some of your favorite mail-order bride stories? Or stories where a lone woman enters an all-male society? What is it about these stories that intrigues you?
IMHO: Those are great questions, Dee! Okay, folks, you heard the lady…leave your comments for Dee and get the ball rolling. Remember, this month the gift basket will include autographed books from Deeanne Gist, Kathryn Albright, Gemma Halliday, and Kathy Carmichael, as well as a $20 gift card from Target to get you started on gifts for June weddings, or even Dad’s and Grads. Comment away!