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Meet 2012 Golden Heart finalist Kristen Ethridge

 Today we’ve got another in our series introducing members of the Golden Heart Finalist Class of 2012: I’ll be interviewing Kristen Ethridge, finalist in Inspirational Romance.

 Once she got the hang of using a pencil, Kristen Ethridge was bitten by the writing bug. She wrote her first poem on the back of scrap paper in first grade, had her first publishing credit in a local newspaper in third grade, and wrote her first book—a sweeping, Civil War epic of ten pages in fourth grade. Her most recent manuscript, LANGUAGE OF LOVE, is a 2012 Golden Heart finalist.

 When she’s not writing, Kristen, a proud Baylor Bear, works in Corporate Communications for one of the world’s largest companies and loves attending as many Baylor sporting events as she can. She lives in North Texas with her husband, daughter (and Ethridge 2.0 on the way this fall), and two self-important poodles.

 You can find Kristen online at www.kristenethridge.com and on Twitter at @kristenethridge. She took a break about a year ago when she realized she was spending more time online trying to be a writer than actually writing…but she promises to do better with her blogging. Pinky swear.

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Tell us a little about your Golden Heart finaling book:

LANGUAGE OF LOVE finaled in the Inspirational category and is targeted at Love Inspired. Here’s what I envision how the back cover would read.

Who wins when an immigrant’s dream collides with a prodigal son’s return?

Graciela Garcia de Piedra’s family emigrated from Mexico to Port Provident, Texas, in search of a better life. Now she wants others to have the same opportunity to live out the American dream through her school, where she teaches English as a Second Language.

Jake Peoples returns to his hometown to prove he’s more than his past mistakes and to claim his place as president of the development company owned by his family, one of the Island’s oldest and most powerful. The only piece of property standing in the way of the new condo project that will secure his future is Gracie Garcia’s school.

Although they both talk in English, Gracie and Jake don’t speak the same language. Where he sees profit and loss, she sees people and love. Can this teacher help a reluctant prodigal learn that God’s dreams are always bigger than our own?

What was it like when you got the phone call telling you you were a finalist?

I had actually forgotten it was GH call day. I was taking my daughter to a doctor’s appointment we’d had on the calendar for a while, so that was all I was thinking about. When the phone rang, I almost didn’t pick it up because my cell phone said it was a number from Denver, and I don’t know anyone in Denver. But the kiddo was happy and quiet in the back seat watching a Dora DVD, so I went ahead and answered.

I basically started bawling right in the middle of the toll road and the kiddo thought something awful had happened. I had a hard time explaining to her the concept of “I’m crying because I’m happy.”

I have several friends who have been GH finalists with some outstanding manuscripts. I never in a million years thought I’d be “one of them.” I’m so incredibly thankful to be able to say I’m a Golden Heart finalist. It’s like a honest-to-goodness dream come true.

Just wait until she sees you in your Awards Ceremony gown! My little guy (who was four the first time I finaled) told me, “Mommy, you look just like a princess.” I lived on that quote for a loooooong time. Speaking of time, how long have you been writing romance, and how many manuscripts have you completed?

I’ve been writing since my first poem in first grade. But I realized I wanted to write category romance when I was 17 and my dad signed me up for a continuing education class on fiction writing at the University of Houston campus near our house. It was taught by Pat Kay, and the whole world of Harlequin and Silhouette was opened up to me. When I was in college, they launched the Love Inspired line, and I have wanted to write for it ever since. It suits my love of Happily Ever After paired with the Greatest Happily Ever After There Is.

Including LANGUAGE OF LOVE, I’ve completed 3 manuscripts, but one was completely lost in Hurricane Ike when my study took a total bath. Most everything I wrote and studied about writing prior to 1998 was washed away. I’d really like to re-write that book, though. I loved the characters and the story. I also have a Chick Lit manuscript that I love—but nobody wants to touch Chick Lit with a 10-foot-pole these days. I hold out hope that GORILLA DATING is the manuscript that changes someone’s mind about not publishing Chick Lit.

You lost a manuscript to a HURRICANE????? Okay, that’s terrifying. Pardon me a moment while I go email all my manuscripts to myself so they’ll be waiting for me in cyber-space when the next big earthquake hits. (And how great that you want to re-write the manuscript you lost! I bet it will actually turn out even better than the first time. And I have to say: Oh, man—if GORILLA DATING is ever in print, I’m buying a copy that day, based on the title alone.)  

What kind of books do you most love to read?

I like romance a lot, historical and contemporary. I especially love to read books that my friends have written, no matter the genre. I love a lot of the classics that I read growing up and through school. I also have a weakness for food magazines and blogs. Cooking is my other love. I like comedy and anything that would qualify as a “chick flick.” Fluffy does it for me.

What’s your biggest source of inspiration?

Life. I see or hear things all the time that make my wheels turn. Sometimes it’s five minutes later that I think “that would make a good story…what if…” and sometimes it’s two years later.

Just the other day, I saw a Zach Galifinakis-type guy in a booth at Chick Fil A with his own hand-held blow torch, caramelizing a crème brulee for this adorable little blonde. It was so totally out of the norm that I KNOW it will wind up in a book one of these days.

Gorilla Dating, my Chick Lit, was actually started because some friends asked me to write up several observations I’d made about my worst date ever.

I love the Chick Fil A story—that manages to be completely romantic and kinda terrifying at the same time.  So once you have your ideas, what is your writing process like? (How do you find time to write and/or how do you balance writing and the rest of your life? Plotter or pantser?)

I am SUCH a pantser. I’ve tried to be a plotter. I just can’t. At least not until I’m about 10,000 words or so in. I have to get to know the characters and I confess, I love it when they speak to me. In every book I’ve ever written, there’s a moment where they say or do something and I go “I DID NOT KNOW THAT!” and I love it. It totally inspires me to keep telling the story. I usually think of a title and create a story and characters from there. It’s totally backwards, but it works for me. I’m a little afraid of what it says about me!

I’m fortunate to have a wonderful job where I work from home, so I will often turn my lunch hour into writing hour, and take lunch at a time where I’m ready to write. With a four-year-old and one on the way, I don’t get to do a lot of writing in the evenings and I’m definitely not a morning person. No one would want to read anything I got up at 5:00 in the morning to write. It would probably be grumbly and bitter.

Are you going to Nationals (and have you ever been before)?

Right now, I’m definitely planning to. I’ve never been before, and I’m really excited about it. Of course, I’ll be eight months pregnant then (I’ll stand out!) so there could always be a change of plans due to that.

Wow–that’s intense! I’m pretty sure one of the Rubies was at about that stage at Nationals 2009. So you’ve got a pretty serious work-in-progress going on in your family life. What about your writing life? Do you have a WIP book? Care to share what it’s about?

Yes. I’ve actually got two I’m working on, both also targeted for Love Inspired. I’ll do the same thing I did above and give you what I envision as back-cover copy.

Second Chance Cinderella

Ten years ago, Dan Clark was the prince charming of Blue Creek, Texas. Everything he did turned to gold, except for the gold ring on his finger.

When Meg McMahon got the call that her former foster mother needed her help, she knew she had to return to Blue Creek for the woman who raised her–even if it meant coming face to face with the ex-husband who put his career before her.

Now, the high school football coach must get past the Monday morning quarterbacking to team up with the woman he could never forget in order to help a student avoid his teacher’s mistakes…and get a second chance to win the over the love of his life.

Labor of Love – the story of the sister of the heroine in my GH finalist, Language of Love

Midwife Gloria Garcia Rodriguez transferred to work in a freestanding birth clinic because she knew she’d never again be able to set foot in the same hospital where her husband and newborn daughter died.

Dr. Pete Shipley knew he was made for more than routine baby deliveries, as he counted the days until he could leave Port Provident and join an international mission team of doctors.

But when Hurricane Henrietta roars ashore on Provident Island, Gloria must overcome her fears to save her own life and those who stayed behind alongside a doctor who must learn that you don’t need to leave home to serve others. Can they heal patients after the storm…and their own broken hearts?

Wow—it sounds like your core story is about facing the past and healing. Both books sound great!

What’s the best tip you can give other writers?

Stay true to your dreams. When God puts a dream in your heart, he doesn’t leave that dream unfulfilled. Listen to your heart and never stop working to your goal. Seeing a dream realized isn’t without sacrifice and dedication—there is no fairy dream-fulfillment godmother who fulfills dreams overnight. But when you’re doing what you know in your heart you’re supposed to be doing, with time and hard work, you can get there.

So what’s your dream for where you’ll be in five years?

In five years, I’d love to have built a great career with a publisher like Steeple Hill, putting out about three books a year. I have a single title that keeps floating in my mind right now that I’d love to get to a point where I put it on paper.

I’d also like to be living on a few acres with my family and my hypothetical miniature donkey, whom I shall name DonkeyHote.

I love that you have named your hypothetical miniature donkey. May he be more than hypothetical someday soon! (And better you than me….at the moment, I’m pretty much overwhelmed with our stinky dog.) Beyond being a writer, what’s going on in your life?

I have a four-year-old…there’s always something going on! We are also expecting our second in the fall and are looking forward to that.

What’s one crazy fact about you that most people who meet you probably wouldn’t guess was true?

I have a WNBA Championship ring. I worked in marketing and PR for the Houston Comets my first year out of college. They did not hire me for my free-throw abilities, I assure you. But I do have a theory now that all employers should give me jewelry.

I can totally get behind that philosophy. And how cool that you have a WNBA ring!!!  I would totally tell everyone I was one of the players (and I’m barely 5’5”, but I don’t care).

What question would you like to ask our readers to get the conversation going today?

What’s your dream? Have you kept working towards it or have you gotten sidetracked? If you’ve gotten sidetracked, what’s one thing—small or big—that you could do today to get back on track?

LEAVE A COMMENT AND HAVE A CHANCE AT WINNING A FUN PRIZE FROM KRISTEN:

My friend Vicky Dreiling has her third Regency romance on the shelves—HOW TO RAVISH A RAKE debuted the day after the GH/Rita announcements! Vicky is a TRIPLE Rita nominee and I’ll give away one copy of HOW TO RAVISH A RAKE to celebrate all the Golden Heart and Rita fun! 

 

39 responses to “Meet 2012 Golden Heart finalist Kristen Ethridge”

  1. Elisa Beatty says:

    Welcome, Kristen!! Delighted to have you here today!

    I’ll take a crack at the question you asked: boy oh howdy do I know about getting sidetracked–a crazy day job, two young kids, health issues, you name it. I’m on California time, so I’m sending this comment the night before most people will read this blog, but I vow to get up and start writing by 5 tomorrow morning so I can put it at least an hour before I have to head off to work.

    Oh, and thanks so much for offering up HOW TO RAVISH A RAKE to a lucky commenter! It’s got such amazing buzz around the internet! Rubies aren’t eligible to win, but I know someone out there will really enjoy it!

    Have a great day on the blog!

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  2. Lovely to meet you, Kristen. And, if I recall correctly, Elisa, Jenn was our pregnant Ruby in 2009.

    As for the questions: Yep. And everytime it hangs on, somebody steps into my path and says something like, “Are you a writer? You speak like a writer.”

    Last time, got sidetracked for nine years. Didn’t trust myself. Once again, something serendipitous happened, and my current CP came into my life. Then Hubble’s numerous surgeries kept knocking me flat, but I’m still here and still going, much of the credit for which belongs to be Ruby cheerleaders and my friend and CP who keep believing I can do this even when I don’t.

    If I get knocked off track these days, I cry to my Ruby sisters. They give sympathy, encouragement, and tough love in the right measure. I hope the 2012 class finds their way to providing the same kind of cohesiveness. It’s truly a blessing.

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  3. Beth Langston says:

    Congratulations, Kristen, on your GH final. I hope you can work out going to Nationals. Attending with a gold heart on your nametag is so much fun. You really feel like a princess the whole conference.

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  4. Kristen,
    Great post and I totally agree with following your dream. When God makes you a promise, He will deliver. We just have to be ready to receive it.

    Wishing you luck at Nationals, even though we’re in the same category. And I hope Ethridge 2.0 decides to wait until August for his/her debut so I can meet you.

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  5. Kristen, I’m so very excited for you!!! Everyone, Kristen and I have been friends for well over a decade, and I’m so thrilled for her. This is definitely our year, girlfriend. Can’t wait to see you in Anaheim!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Awesome to have you here, Vicky!

      Congratulations on the huge success of HOW TO RAVISH A RAKE! And on being a TRIPLE Rita nominee!!! That’s just astonishing. Good luck on all three!

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      • Elisa, I had zero expectations about the RITAs. The night before the announcements, my friend Shana Galen sent me a direct message on Twitter saying she dreamed that I finaled. I scoffed – now way. I was just excited to enter for the 1st time. Get this, when the call came I didn’t recognize the caller ID – and I hung up LOL. Yes, I hung up on my 1st RITA call. Sooo me. LOL.

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  6. Tammy Baumann says:

    Hi Kristen,

    Lovely post! I think we all get sidetracked and lose focus at times. It’s easy to do when most of the people in our lives are not writers and have no idea how hard it is to be published. In fact, most of my non-writer friends have stopped asking about my writing, and that’s fine with me.

    Whenever I take a break to re-group, it isn’t long before my CP’s will ask what I’m doing and why I’m not doing it! They say things like “The answer is always ‘no’ if you don’t ask” and as many other clichés as they can think of. (I think they save them up to motivate me because they can’t put them in their own books!) But with their encouragement, I always seem to find a way to get back at it and forge on.

    Congrats on your final, and I hope to meet you in Anaheim!

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  7. Terri Osburn says:

    What a fun interview! Congrats on the final, Kristen. I’m very proud to be in the class of 2012 with you. And I too hope the little one cooperates so I get to meet you in Anaheim.

    Took a long time for me to start chasing dreams. Too many years were spent just surviving or chasing something but with no idea WHAT I was chasing. When I first started writing I was a single mom with a full-time job working on a college degree in my spare time. (Ha!) I took writing workshops and classes, attended conferences and retreats, but I couldn’t get anything actually written.

    When the degree was done, then I had all that craft knowledge and motivation to put pen to paper. Or rather, fingers to keyboard. Within a year I had a finished MS. I’ll never forget that feeling of accomplishment.

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  8. Taline says:

    Kristen, you are such an inspiration! I don’t doubt that you’ll accomplish all of your goals. I’m thrilled for you and wish you the very best in every one of your efforts, writing and otherwise!

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  10. Kristen, so nice to have you on the blog! My heart dropped to my toes when I read about you losing a manuscript to Hurricane Ike! I couldn’t imagine that. Congrats on your GH final! LANGUAGE OF LOVE sounds like just the kind of book I’d love to read. Best of luck with it!

    As for my dream…it’s always been to tell stories that resonate with people. Hopefully I’m managing to do that. Although some days, writing feels like pulling out my fingernails one by one! 😀

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  11. I’d forgotten it was GH call day, too, Kristen, when I got the call. That’s too funny. Super congrats on the final. This interview was so fun! I find pantsers to be mystical creatures that I will probably never understand. LOL.

    Thanks for being with us today! ~D~

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  12. Great post, Kristen! I totally agree with the, “Listen to your heart…” advice. Hmm…my five year dream is to have several books out in my first series, and for them to have found an audience. I have another series in mind I’d like to launch. There are no donkeys in my future. 🙂 But, I wouldn’t mind living a little closer to my literary landscape–coastal South Carolina. We lived there for a while years ago, but made a career-related move back to the Upstate. The ocean has been calling to us ever since.

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  13. Congratulations! I can’t wait to meet you in Anaheim, Kristen. I lost about a 100 pages once, and it was horrifying. I can’t imagine losing an entire book. I have a couple under the bed that are bad enough that I need to rewrite them from scratch. But at least I’ve got them to refer to. I didn’t realize we have a TRIPLE Rita finalist this year. I think Vicky may be the first Triple in RWA history.

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    • Laurie, I have no idea about other triple finalists, but I imagine it’s happened before. To be honest, it didn’t seem real until the box with 3 RITA pins came in the mail. I totally identified with Kristen. When the 2nd call came (after I hung up on the 1st one LOL), and Lorraine Heath told me I triple finaled, I burst into tears. Anyway, I’m so very excited for Kristen – she’s such a smart and talented lady. Fingers crossed for a win, Kristen!

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  14. Welcome, Kristen, and congratulations!! (Or maybe I’ll say “howdy!”…I lived many years in San Antonio and still miss it!)

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  15. Great post, Kristen. I once lost a chapter and thought there was no way I was going to be able to reproduce what I had written the way it just flowed out of me; probably one of the best chapters I’d written to that point. Ho hum, I sat down and rewrote the chapter. Didn’t think it was quite as good as the first but would go back to it. Six months later, I moved and found the original chapter under a box under my bed. Guess what? It was exactly…I mean word for word, comma for comma, what I had reproduced! Oh, yeah, during that move I got sidetracked for oh, about ten years.

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  16. Addison Fox says:

    Kristen:

    Welcome and sending you very big congratulations!!

    What a wonderful post and interview. This particularly resonated with me:

    “Stay true to your dreams. When God puts a dream in your heart, he doesn’t leave that dream unfulfilled. Listen to your heart and never stop working to your goal.”

    What a lovely way to put into words the things we’re called to.

    Addison

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  17. Hi, everyone! I’m so glad to see everyone over here. Thanks for stopping by and making me feel so welcome. And I love seeing so many of my 2012 GH friends here!

    Kathleen, I think if/when I rewrite The Bachelor and the Easter Bunny, I’ll make some fundamental changes. But I enjoyed the story so much, I think those characters need to have their day again! Would that make it WIP #3 in progress?? Might be too much for a pantser like me to stay focused on 3 at once!

    Anne Marie, I love San Antonio. I could seriously just eat my way around town. We got to spend a few days there in December when Baylor went to the Alamo Bowl. My tummy left so happy.

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  18. Wonderful post, Kristen! I loved the Chick Fil A story. 🙂 And I completely identify with “stay true to your dreams.” There’s nothing more satisfying than when your hard work pays off. Congratulations on Finaling!

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  19. Rita Henuber says:

    Congrats Kristen and welcome to the GH family.
    They say every thing happens when it’s supposed to but not always when we want it.
    But losing an MS -I don’t know about that.

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  20. Mark Carroll says:

    I would just like to say as a male, I have entered the sacred GH space to lend support to my favorite chick lit author. As a former Austin Area Gorilla Date, I apologize for our species.

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    • Mark, thanks so much for coming over here.

      You know you have a good friend when a guy wades into a site of romance writers!

      And seriously, although we were all single in Austin at the same time, I can pretty much guarantee you that you in no way, shape, or form resembled the Gorilla of whom I wrote. I am pretty sure Sarah would have had the same reaction I did!

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  21. Nikki McIntosh says:

    Great interview Kristen … I am intrigued by Gorilla Date … looking forward to meeting you in person.

    Nikki

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  22. Kat Cantrell says:

    Hey Kristen! Great post. 🙂 I can’t wait to read your books as I’m positive you’ll get The Call very soon! By the way, I am in love with your titles. All of them. I should hit you up to title my manuscripts because it’s clearly one of your many gifts. Hope to see you soon!

    My dream is write as many books as I can and I can always do more to realize that! So on that note, I’m off to go do revisions.

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  23. Congratulations on your GH final, Kristen. Enjoyed your post, the fact that you have a WBNA ring and LOVE all your titles. Really hope you get to go to the conference!

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  24. Congratulations, Kristen, on the GH final, and I love your Chick Fil A story! Hope to see you at the National convention.

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  25. Thanks to everyone who stopped by this afternoon! I have loved hearing so many inspiring dreams!

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  26. robena grant says:

    Lovely post. Congratulations again on your GH final, Kristen. I love all of the titles of your manuscripts. : )

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  27. Diana Layne says:

    Congratulations, Kristen, thank you for sharing your story with us!

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  28. AJ Larrieu says:

    I can’t wait to read Language of Love. Thanks for sharing & Congrats!

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  29. Jean says:

    Kristen,
    Eight months’ pregnant? OOeee, you go girl! Just let RWA know in advance so that all the EMTs are present for the awards ceremony–lots of excitement We love ya, and don’t want you streaming/screaming live as you welcome a new addition to your family.
    So many good wishes going your way. And today is the day, no?
    Good news to come….

    Jean

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  30. Elisa Beatty says:

    And the winners of copies of Vicky Dreiling’s HOW TO RAVISH A RAKE are:

    Deborah Wright and Nikki McIntosh!!

    Congrats, winners! I’ll get your email addresses to Kristen and she’ll get your prizes out to you!

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  31. Rubies, I guess y’all are good luck! Language of Love just sold to Love Inspired this morning. 🙂 Maybe I should update my interview!

    Thanks again for hanging out with me yesterday.

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