Monday, December 22, 2014

Kristin Harmel's wonderful "life"....plus a book giveaway

I have a confession to make: I am jealous of Kristin Harmel. And it's not because she lives within spitting distance of the Magic Kingdom and goes there almost all the time. (My kids would be jealous though!) What I'm jealous of is the fact that she can write an amazing novel that just takes my breath away and makes me wish that I could write even half as beautifully. And I'm also jealous of anyone who is reading her latest novel, The Life Intended, because they're getting to experience for the first time what I'm already done experiencing. I have to live vicariously through their reading to get these same feelings back. Needless to say, The Life Intended has earned a spot on my list of top five favorite chick lit novels of 2014. I will be reviewing soon, but I needed you to know this fact in advance.

Kristin was last at CLC in 2012 (and you'll notice that blue really is her color), shortly after I met her in person for the first time. Since then, we met again during my family's trip to Disney World. My mom felt like she was meeting a celebrity and could not stop singing her praises. I felt bad that Kristin had to put up with my lack of a voice at the time, and that we got lost on our way to meet her and she had to wait longer than expected. She was really nice about it and I definitely appreciate that. About a year after our last meeting, she got married and will be celebrating her first anniversary in a few months! Before she does that, she has a big date coming up, as The Life Intended is being released on December 30th! Thanks to Gallery Books, THREE lucky readers in the US and/or Canada each have a chance to win this novel, along with a copy of her 2012 sensation The Sweetness of Forgetting! That's double your reading pleasure to start off 2015!

Visit Kristin at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

What did you learn about yourself from writing The Life Intended?
That’s a great question. I think I learned more about my own feelings about motherhood – one of the themes that’s explored in the book. I also dug into some of the choices I’ve made over the years with the realization that, like the main character Kate, I didn’t always choose happiness in the past because deep down, I didn’t always feel I deserved it. In writing each of my novels, I’ve explored some of my own issues, and I think The Life Intended really helped me to grow in some ways.

There is a lot of focus on hearing loss in The Life Intended. What inspired you to write about this topic?
I know this sounds crazy – especially since the book is about vivid dreams -- but I honestly woke up with the basic outline for this novel in my head one morning a couple years ago. I jumped out of bed and began scribbling madly in order to get as much of it as I could down on paper before the thoughts flitted away. Hearing loss was a piece of this from the beginning, as was Kate’s career as a music therapist, largely because I liked the idea that she had spent her whole career helping other people heal by using sound – and suddenly, she was being faced with a situation in which sound was a bit trickier to use. She basically had to learn a new skill set –which I liked as a platform for character growth – and in the midst of all that, she also had to finally learn to turn her therapist eye inward and help herself too.

What is the best compliment you've ever received about any of your books? What is the most helpful constructive feedback you've received?
I think one of the most interesting compliments I’ve ever received was from a woman who called me after reading The Sweetness of Forgetting and told me that when I wrote about the Albanians helping German Jews escape persecution in World War II, I had essentially captured her own family’s story perfectly. She said it was like reading her own history. That really blew me away. I also received letters from several readers who said that The Sweetness of Forgetting had helped them to open up a discussion with their own mothers or grandmothers, and that they felt their relationships had undergone a major change for the better. I love knowing that something I wrote had the power to spark a positive change in someone’s life.

Constructive feedback: I started off a decade ago as a chick lit writer (now I write women’s fiction that’s deeper and more mainstream), and when I wrote my first novel in 2003, I was 24 years old, had no idea what I was doing, and assumed I had to include a sex scene because a lot of the chick lit I was reading at the time included some pretty racy stuff. So I awkwardly fumbled my way through penning a sexy interaction between the main character her love interest, and when I got my first round of edits back from my very lovely editor, Amy, she had a lot of kind words to say about the book in general… but I believe her words about the scene in question were something along the lines of, “Please don’t ever do that again.” Ha! Honestly, I think it was just because I was only 24, and I wrote the whole scene thinking to myself, “Oh my gosh! My mom’s going to read this! My dad’s going to read this! My grandparents are going to read this! I’m mortified!” Also, it wasn’t really intrinsic to the plot; I had added it in only because I felt I had to, and I’m sure it read awkwardly. Still, more than a decade later, I still think of that constructive criticism – if you could call it that – and laugh!

Do you have any winter holiday traditions that the season will not be complete without doing?
There’s a movie from the early 1980s called The Night They Saved Christmas that has been my favorite holiday movie since I was a little girl. It’s a little cheesy, but I absolutely love it, and it’s always how I visualized Santa Claus when I was younger. It’s never really Christmas until I’ve pulled that out and watched it! Beyond that, I just got married this year, and my husband and I just bought a house together, so we’ll begin establishing our own traditions, starting now!

Since you got married recently, what is your favorite memory from your wedding?
One of my favorite moments from the wedding was the moment that the door to the chapel opened and I saw my husband-to-be standing on the altar and many of my closest friends and loved ones sitting in the room. I immediately teared up; it was just such an awesome moment to think of all the love in that room, and to think of the fact that I was about to walk down the aisle to the absolute love of my life.

We were also fortunate enough to end our wedding with fireworks at Disney’s Epcot. They have a French pavilion there, and since my husband proposed in Paris, it was really amazing to end our wedding celebration in Orlando’s version of Paris, under a starry sky with fireworks overheard. It was truly memorable.

What is one of your goals for 2015 (doesn't have to be writing-related)?
One of the themes of The Life Intended is that we have the right – and the responsibility – to choose happiness for ourselves instead of settling for less. So that’s one of my resolutions for 2015: to choose to be as happy as I can be by making good, self-respecting choices. I also hope to finish my next novel and to finally learn to write a screenplay!

Thanks to Kristin for a lovely chat and an unforgettable novel. Thanks to Gallery Books for sharing this novel (along with "Sweetness") with our readers.

~Introduction by Melissa Amster

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


US/Canada only. Giveaway ends December 28th at midnight EST.

40 comments:

Janine said...

One of my big goals for 2015 (and I know it sounds so typical), I want to try to stress less. In the past I let everything get to me and I end up physically sick from it. I need to try to think of my health. Hopefully I can do it and it doesn't go the way losing weight always does when I say I will do that at the beginning of each year.

faithspage said...

Have more family time!! Forgive quicker and have fun

Kristin Harmel said...

Good goals, Janine and Faithspage!

Bonnie Franks said...

Health allowing, I hope to write something. Sounds decisive, right? It's just that I have so many years' worth of ideas and cannot decide which way to go with time being a constraint. So we'll see. Oh, and world peace. :)

susieqlaw said...

Get and stay healthy! Continue to make lifestyle changes and continue to lose weight.

momof4inmd said...

I lost 30 lbs over 2 years ago and completely changed the way I ate. Sadly, I have regained every pound. My goal is to get my focus back and make the changes needed to eliminate those unhealthy lbs.

Shelby N. said...

I haven't really thought about new goals for the new year yet. I'll go with a simple one for now...to read 95 books next year. This year so far I'm on my 89th, and I've really slowed down in the last month or so.

Book Mama said...

One of my goals is to pay off all of my debt. I would love to be debt free and actually enjoy the money I work so hard at earning.

Kristin Harmel said...

Love the goals, Bonnie, Susieqlaw, momof4inmd, Shelby and Book Mama! :-)

JJT said...

A happy and healthy year!

Sharon said...

I'm aiming to lose 10lbs.

huelsebusch@earthlink.net said...

To be healthy! In every way exercise,eating etc.

traveler said...

I hope that my health improves and will give me more strength and energy so that I can enjoy and look after my grandchildren. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Suburban prep said...

I hope that life will be a bit better for me, family and friends.
I hope that health will be better.

Laurice said...

I want to get serious again about eating healthy. I've been slacking!

Jessica Meddick said...

I've been doing crossfit for a couple of months now and my goal is to keep doing it all year long.

Bonnie K. said...

Having a new goal is almost like a New Year's resolution that most likely I will break. But here goes, I will attempt to lose weight for better health and be able to walk a little better.

bluedawn95864 at gmail dot com

RW1010 said...

We're going to eat healthier & walk more. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!
RW620{at}aol{dot}com

Lori Weller said...

Have more time with my daughters.

Nova said...

one goal of mine is not worry so much about things i cannot change.

Nova said...

one goal of mine is not worry so much about things i cannot change.

Susan R said...

My main goal for 2015 is to go for a long walk every day. We are going to Europe in the fall and I need to be able to walk long distances due to the type of tour we are taking.

Allison Smith said...

Get published:)!

Anita Yancey said...

I hope to eat better, lose a little weight and read as many books as I can. Thanks for having the giveaway.

OnDBookshelf said...

Don't obsess about the small stuff, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and take time to relax (and read).

Bec said...

I would love to reconnect with people I have lost touch with over the years.

Vivian Vereeke said...

I would like to feel better in 2015. I want to get back into the aquatone class I was attending, and just move more in general. The more I move, the better I'll feel, the more I'll move (the opposite of the cycle that got me here in the first place!).

Susan T. said...

My goal is to be nicer to everyone. I've been dealing with a serious illness and it has made me grouchy! I'm going to try to not let my frustration make be a grump!

Jen said...

Be in the moment

Mary Jo Burke said...

Don't sweat the small stuff

bn100 said...

exercise more

Carol Fragale Brill said...

Start a new blog, or re-imagine current blog, www.4broadminds.blogspot.com/

Hailey Fish said...

I have two goals: finally lose that last 40-45 pounds I've been meaning to lose for the last year. I'm sick and tired of being unhealthy. I would also like to be a lot more active on my blog. It seems like a great idea, you meet tons of awesome women, sometimes men too, and you can review up and coming new books! Who wouldn't want that?

Margie said...

One of my goals I'd to eat healthier and get more exercise.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Connie said...

I had total hip replacement on Dec. 1 so my goal is to be mobile once again.
Connie

Ruth Lyons Mazur said...

I'm hoping to be able to travel to Massachusetts to visit family, especially my 93 year old mother. I haven't been able to travel, so I'm praying that I'm well enough to make the trip.

StereoQueenBee said...

HEALTHY AND MORE SOLVENT!

Meg Munson said...

One of my goals it so be more organized in 2015! Looking forward to reading this book!

Lauren McCormick said...

I want to eat healthier and exercise in the hopes of losing weight!!

Bridget O'Neill said...

My main goal is to exercise more!