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Christy Catherine Marshall

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April 9, 2007

Our guest this week is Christine Lynxwiler, a mom and writer who lives with her husband and two daughters in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains.

She’s author of several novels, including her most recent, Promise Me Always, which I reviewed for this month’s CWO Book Buzz.

Welcome, Christine! Your book has inspired me to get outside and do some gardening!

Can you tell us a little about your main character, Allie Richards, and what she’s gotten herself into in this novel?

Ever since she worked for a lawn service/landscaping company in high school, Allie has dreamed of having her own. When she marries, she puts her dreams on hold to support her husband through med school, but he gets hit by a car and killed when he’s still an intern.

Left with a mountain of debt and two young daughters, Allie forgets her dream. But when she’s fired from her secretarial job, her Pinky Promise friends convince her to go out on a limb and enter a landscaping contest.

As a young widow, raising two daughters on her own, what kind of struggles does Allie encounter?

Allie has to deal with the same problems most moms do — children who love each other, but don’t always like each other. She definitely wishes that she could turn them over to the other parent sometimes, but that’s not an option for her. She’s on call 24/7 and has to worry about being solely responsible for putting food on the table.

Can you give us some details about the Pinky Promise Sisterhood? What role do these friends play in Allie’s life?

The Pinky Promise Sisterhood formed out of necessity. Sometimes you have to have someone who will keep your secrets.

From the time in second grade when Lark and Allie found out they had matching Dukes of Hazzard lunchboxes, they knew they’d each found a friend. But when Lark told Allie that she’d never had a daddy and showed her how to pinky promise not to tell, the sisterhood was born.

A few years later, rich but unhappy Victoria was allowed in, and then when the trio were young adults, they befriended Rachel, seventeen, unwed and pregnant. Secrets bound them together to start with, but now love keeps them from ever forsaking each other.

You introduce a romantic hero in this novel, Daniel Montgomery. What do you think holds Allie back in trusting him?

When you’re writing first person, from the heroine’s point of view, I think your hero has to be larger than life. Daniel Montgomery fits this bill. He’s a risk-taker on a Harley.

But at the same time, he’s compassionate, solid, and safe. Allie can’t see past the first part. And she’s afraid. Afraid to trust anyone who can’t promise her always. And we know there’s only One who can do that.

As a writer, do you see yourself in Daniel?

Maybe, but to be honest, I saw myself in Allie too. Even though their dreams were very different, hers — to start her own landscaping company, and his — to write the Great American Novel, they both took a chance on achieving their goals. Following any dream is a scary, albeit rewarding, journey.

Yes, that’s true. There’s a strong theme of gardening throughout Promise Me Always. Are you also a gardener?

I’m not a gardener anymore. But I still think about it a lot. My deadlines have been so back-to-back for a while now that I don’t get my hands off the keyboard long enough to get them dirty.

For three years when we lived in Powder Springs, Georgia, I worked for a landscaping company. When I first started, it was a lawn service, but even then I liked the satisfaction that came from mowing a lawn, weedeating, edging it, and standing back to admire my work.

Then my boss expanded into landscaping and I LOVED it. I worked until I was seven months pregnant with my first daughter, then quit. But I’d always rather be outside.

I’ve been on a pressing deadline lately and Saturday, I took my laptop outside and wrote while my husband planted in the garden.

Sounds like fun! How does Allie grow spiritually as a Christian woman during this novel?

When the story starts, Allie has fallen into the trap of thinking she’s in control of her life. She doesn’t like things that mess with her perfect plan.

By the end of the book, she has to admit that God is the only One in control. I can’t speak for all Christian women, but I know that as I wrote the parts where Allie was literally forced to put things in God’s hands, I squirmed. I am a bit of a control freak, so this book was cheap therapy for me.

What’s next in the Pinky Promise Sisterhood series?

Right now I’m working on Rachel’s story. She’s a chiropractor who is happy living alone with her two dogs. But when she ends up taking care of a rebellious teenage girl for the summer whose only love is horses, it’s hard to handle it without some help. Along Came A Cowboy will hit the shelves in the spring of 2008.

Wow — you’re definitely staying busy with deadlines! In your Novel Journey interview, you detailed your journey to publication. What has surprised you most about being a published novelist?

I thought my life would change considerably when I got published. But it hasn’t. I still have fears and insecurities, bills and dirty dishes, good days and bad days.

Before I was published it seemed like publication was the goal, the end of the journey. Now each story is just a signpost along the way toward growing as a writer and as a person.

Do you have any advice for moms who try to squeeze in a little writing time while they’re also busy raising a family?

My only advice for moms is kids grow up fast. My little one was tiny when I started writing. Now she’s ten. I’ve missed too many chances to read a story to her because I was writing one. That’s my new goal. Be more responsible about my word count so that my house doesn’t have to become a one-parent household around deadline time.

On the other hand, don’t use your kids as a cop-out, a reason not to write. Carve out some time each day. A fulfilled mom is a great mom!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I have to put in a plug for the book I just turned in titled Forever Christmas. This is written in a voice similar to the Pinky Promise books.

Forever Christmas is set in Jingle Bells, Arkansas, a little town where, according to the welcome sign, “The Spirit of Christmas Lives In Our Hearts All Year Long.” Former runaway bride, Kristianna Harrington, has to fight to save the town she loves without losing her heart in the process.

I’ll be posting the cover or at least a link to the amazon page for the book on my website in a few days.

We’ll have to check that out — thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Christine!

Thanks for having me, Heather. It’s been fun!

You can keep up with Christine Lynxwiler’s writing and family life via her website, which she updates regularly with an awesome blog!

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