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Welcome To SORMAG's Blog

Monday, February 09, 2009


Stand-In Groom
When wedding planner Anne Hawthorne meets George Laurence, she thinks she’s found the man of her dreams. But when he turns out to be a client, her “dream” quickly turns into a nightmare. Will Anne risk her heart and career on this engaging Englishman? George came to Louisiana to plan his employer’s wedding and pose as the groom. But how can he feign affection for a supposed fiancée when he’s so achingly attracted to the wedding planner? And what will happen when Anne discovers his role has been Stand-In Groom only? Will she ever trust George again? Can God help these two find a happy ending?

Kaye Dacus is an author and editor who has been writing fiction for more than twenty years. Pursuing her passion for writing, she earned a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She is a former Vice President and long-time member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and is also a founding member of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers. Kaye lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and writes contemporary and historical romances.

What would you like readers to take away from your book?

There are several themes in this book, and I hope that different readers will be touched in whatever way they need to be encouraged through the story, whether it's remembering that compromising our Christian ethics leads to pain-for us and others around us-and that until we're willing to face our pasts, to forgive those who've wronged us and stop holding grudges, we're never going to be able to move forward into the happy endings God has prepared for us.

Why did you choose to write this book?

As many people have probably guessed, the inspiration for Stand-In Groom came to me after watching the movie The Wedding Planner. I wasn’t happy with the way that the romance in that story revolved around the breakup of an engagement. As a writer, most of my ideas come from asking “what if” questions. What if a wedding planner thought she was falling in love with the groom of the biggest wedding she’s ever planned . . . but then he turned out not to be the groom? And the story grew from there. But really, does an author "choose" a particular book to write? I think it's kind of like asking an adoptive parent why they chose to adopt that particular child when there were so many others available. I know it sounds trite to say so, but I felt as though God was telling me that this was the story I was supposed to write.

What did you learn while writing this book?

Not being married myself, I was amazed to find out just exactly how many little tiny details there are that go into planning a wedding. When I get married, I’m definitely hiring a wedding planner—or eloping! But it also made me seriously look at my own life, to see if I was holding on to any bitterness or pain from the past that I needed to deal with, and it made me look at my own sense of ethics and values and make sure that I am the best worker, the best representative of God, that I can be in all my business dealings.

What was your favorite scene from the book?

My favorite scene in the book would have to be when Anne and George dance to Dean Martin’s song “That’s Amore.” It was so much fun to write that scene, and now every time I hear that song, it makes me think of that scene.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

One thing I hear quite often when I tell people I'm a published author is, "Oh, I've always thought about writing a book." The retort I always want to come back with is, "Oh, I've always thought about becoming a doctor (or whatever profession they hold)." What most non-writers don't understand is that writing is like any other profession---it takes years of training and study just to get to the point where we're ready to start thinking of ourselves as "writers." And that's just the first step on a long and arduous journey. There are so many aspects to the business of being a published writer that even I, as someone who worked in the publishing industry for years, didn't realize. It isn't just sitting down and writing a story. It's about learning and honing a craft, like an artisan.

What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?

"Above all else---FINISH YOUR FIRST DRAFT" (Davis Bunn, 2001 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference). I heard that at the first writing conference I ever attended, and it changed my life. Even though I'd been writing since thirteen or fourteen years old, and even though I had a "story" that was nearing the 200,000-word mark, I'd never written a complete draft. I'd never written "the end" with a neatly wrapped-up conclusion to the plot. Within a year of hearing those words, I'd completed one manuscript and was working on the second. And with each one that I finished, I learned more about the craft of writing than I ever did by sitting in a classroom.

As a first-time novelist, how would you describe the first moment you found out that your book was going to be published? What did you do to celebrate?

At first, I wouldn’t allow myself to believe that it was true until I had the contract in hand—we’d had a false-positive with another publishing house a few months before this (with another manuscript), so I was being true to my “Thomas” nature and not believing it until I touched it with my own hands. To celebrate, I called a few close friends (it happened close to Christmas, so I wanted to surprise my family then) and had a lovely steak dinner that night. To surprise my parents, I mocked up a fake book cover, complete with the publishing date, printed a couple of high-quality copies, and framed them---one for my parents and one for my grandmother. When my dad told me over lunch on Christmas Eve that the only thing he wanted from me for Christmas was a signed book contract, I knew I couldn't wait any longer. So when we got back to the house that evening, I gave it to them in private---the framed "book cover" to Mom, and the copy of the contract I'd brought with me to Dad. It will stand in my memory as the best Christmas ever because I know that I was finally able to truly give them what they'd always wanted from me.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

As someone who is equally as analytical as I am creative, it’s hard for me sometimes to turn off that internal editor, the critiquer in my head, who tells me as I’m in the writing process that what I’m putting down on paper isn’t good enough, that it’ll never be as good as so-and-so favorite author’s work. This has actually gotten worse since becoming a contracted/published author. So I just have to ignore those negative voices and keep reminding myself that until God tells me otherwise, this is what He’s called me to do, so I need to keep on writing.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

I think most of my readers would be surprised by the fact that I don't like what are called "chick flick" movies. I avoid them like a muddy dog avoids the bathtub---most of the time have to be dragged kicking and screaming to see them. Yet that's the type of stories I write. But give me the latest spy thriller or fantasy or superhero film, and I'm there! College football on a Saturday afternoon? I'm your girl. Sappy, tear-jerker romance---no way! Now, that's not to say that I don't enjoy a good romantic comedy with intelligent humor, but those are so hard to come by these days that it's easier to just avoid them all.

Now that you’ve reached the published goal, what three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

First, I've always prided myself on being someone who works extremely well under a deadline. I didn't realize how much having a publisher's deadline, a deadline reinforced by a contract that I signed, would change not only how I work but how I view my writing---and my entire writing process. I've had to go from being a seat-of-the-pants writer to a loose-plotter. No longer can I just take my time and see where my ideas take me. Because I have deadlines to meet, I have to write every day; and because I have to write a certain number of words every day, I have to know where I'm going when I sit down to do it.

Second, my life, on whole, didn't really change that much. People don't look at me and instantly recognize that I'm a published author (not that I expected them to). The biggest change that's happened to me since reaching the published goal is that I went from being a full-time editor and part-time writer to a full-time writer and a part-time editor.

Third, even though I knew this would be the case when I entered this business, nothing happens on the timeline I want it to. Everything seems to take a lot longer than the amount of time I'm prepared to wait (and I hate waiting---not blessed with patience here), whether it's feedback on the manuscript I turned in before Thanksgiving, advance checks, cover art, or getting a copy of the actual book in my hands. I should have been prepared for this---I worked at a publishing house for a few years. I know what goes into the production process---and all of the details of the business end of things. It's just a lot different on this side of the fence.

If you could have dinner with 3 authors to talk with about their writing (living or deceased) who would you invite and why?

Aside from the authors that I have had the opportunity to do this with (at conferences or other gatherings), the three I'd choose would be Julie Garwood, Willo Davis Roberts (who wrote my favorite YA books that I read as a teen), and Madeleine L'Engle. Their books had a profound impact on me as I was growing up and starting to test my boundaries as a writer.

What advice would you offer to someone whose book is about to be released?

Don't have any expectations. Positive or negative. Enjoy any praise that comes your way; ignore the negative comments. Don't expect bunches of "fan mail" within the first few weeks of your book's release. Don't expect non-writers to get as excited about seeing your book on the shelf as you are; but the week your book is supposed to release, start carrying your digital camera around with you so you can get a picture of that very first book sighting. Figure out something you can say that's reflective of you, easy to remember/write, and yet doesn't sound like a stock-phrase for when people ask you to sign their copy of your book. And most of all, enjoy the experience of your first book coming out. It'll never happen again.

Our theme for this month is Writing the book, what advice do you have for starting a book?

As Obi Wan Kenobi put it in Star Wars, “Let go of your conscious self and act on instinct.” When you sit down to write, there can be nothing self-conscious about it. There can be no fear of embarrassment, no worry of what others will think of you. Stephen King puts it this way in On Writing: “write with the door closed . . . Your stuff starts out being just for you.” Even if you are intent on the pursuit of publication, you cannot be thinking about that when you sit down in front of that blank computer screen. You have to let go of every outside influence but the story. You have to let yourself go and allow yourself to become immersed in your characters, in your setting, in your plot. You have to let go of everything your left-brain is trying to trip you up with (You can’t use passive voice!; Are my critique partners going to ding me on this?; Does this fit with so-and-so house’s guidelines?), and be obedient to the story wanting to be told. Let go of the voices (internal or external) telling you that what you write will never be good enough. Let go (and banish forever) the thought that if people knew what you were doing, they’d laugh at you (just think about those hoards of people out there who “want to write” but never do). Let go of the notion that you have to write within certain genre guidelines or in the certain manner of a highly touted author or a particular publisher’s expectations. Let go of anything that limits you. (Excerpted from "Becoming a Writer: So You Want to Be a Writer?" on http://kayedacus.com/)

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

I love to hear from everyone!

Website: http://kayedacus.com/

E-Mail: kaye@kayedacus.com

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

I have two books coming out in July: Menu for Romance, a follow-up book to Stand-In Groom, and Ransome's Honor, the first book of a new historical trilogy with Harvest House.

Menu for Romance:

After eight years of unrequited love, Meredith Guidry makes a New Year’s resolution to find someone new and end her single status before the year’s over. Executive Chef Major O’Hara has foresworn relationships, knowing he could never saddle the woman he loves with a family situation like his. But when it seems he’s about to lose Meredith Guidry to another man, he realizes he must concoct a MENU FOR ROMANCE to win her back.

(Available for pre-order on Amazon.com and ChristianBook.com, in stores July 2009)

An excerpt of the first chapter can be found here: http://kayedacus.com/2008/02/20/introducing-menu-for-romance/

Ransome's Honor:

July 1814. The war with France is over, but the battle of hearts has just begun.

Julia Witherington swore she would never forgive the man who made her believe he loved her and wanted to marry her—then walked away. Royal Navy Captain William Ransome has convinced himself that not proposing to Julia twelve years ago was the honorable thing to do. When Julia is forced by a conniving aunt and wastrel cousin to forge an arrangement to marry William Ransome to protect her inheritance, she must set aside her anger and wounded pride to learn what love and honor really mean.

From the ballrooms of Portsmouth across the Atlantic to the hunt for pirates in the Caribbean, it’s not just the seas that are tumultuous in this historical romance trilogy!

(Available for pre-order on Amazon.com, in stores July 2009)
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