Blog

Interview with Gina Holmes

Please welcome, novelist, Gina Holmes.  Gina is the founder of popular literary site, novelrocket.com. She is a two-time Christy and ECPA Book of the Year finalist and winner of the INSPY, Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and Carol Award. Her books regularly appear on Christian bestseller lists.

 

Gina, tell us a little bit about your newest release, Driftwood Tides.

 

Driftwood Tides tells the story of an aging, alcoholic driftwood artist turned beach bum, Holton Creary, and young Libby Slater. Libby grew up with an absent father and a loving but cold, socialite mother. Leading up to her wedding, Libby and her groom-to-be go through genetic testing and she learns her blood type doesn’t match either of her parents. She confronts her mother and is reluctantly told that she’s adopted. She goes searching for her mother, Adele, only to find her husband, Holton Creary lying face down on the carpet of his Nags Head beach shack.

 

She lies about her real identity until she is finally found out. Holton does not welcome the news. He never knew the wife he had given saint status too had given up a daughter for adoption. Together the two search to find the truth about Adele, Libby’s father and themselves.

 

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

 

At its heart, Driftwood Tides is really about discovering who we are, whose we are, where we belong and the need to accept and bestow forgiveness.

 

Why did you set the novel in Nags Head?

 

Oh, how I love that place! I’m not sure there’s a more peaceful setting in all the world. And the further out I get from civilization, the happier I am. I love the sand dunes, the untouched nature, the quaint towns. Just everything! (Well, except sand in my bathing suit maybe J)

 

You seem to have a recurring theme in your novels about absent fathers, if it’s not too personal, why do you think that is?

 

It is too personal, but I don’t mind answering (wink!) When I was 6 years old, I was packed up by my stepfather and driven to my father’s house. Overnight I had a new Mom, new sisters and brother, house and life. It was as traumatic an experience as I can imagine. There were few explanations that made sense to me and I missed my other family desperately. I think ever since I’ve been trying to settle some pretty deep-seated questions. Writing books is wonderful for that.

 

The novel you’ve written that seems to be a fan-favorite is Crossing Oceans, do you ever see yourself writing a sequel?

 

I love that book too. Makes me cry just thinking about certain scenes. I would love to write a sequel, prequel or off shoot stories. I love those characters dearly. I’m under contract for three different novels, so I’m not sure when I’ll have the time, but I’d love to explore Craig’s story and of course, Bella’s. I miss Mama Peg very much!

 

You’ve said that your favorite novel you’ve written is Wings of Glass. Why is that your favorite?

 

Well, for storyline, I think Crossing Oceans is the strongest. I think my writing in Wings of Glass was my best, plus when I was very young I watched my mother in one abusive relationship after another, and then two of my sisters. I had been there too, despite thinking I was better than that. I know the mindset that keeps a woman (or man) in a relationship like that and I wanted to give insight to those who don’t understand. I’ve received enough letters to know I did what I set out to do.

 

You’re originally from NJ but write all your novels from the South, why do you set your novels down South if you’re from up North?

 

Ha, you found me out! Yes, I was born and raised in NJ. As much as I love my friends and family, I am definitely more suited for the slower pace of the South. I’ve lived in Southern VA for half of my life and I plan to spend the rest of my life here if I can help it. I try to write books from settings that make me happy. So I write where I want to be. (Although, I’ve got to say, NJ food is amazing and you’ve got to love a boisterous NJ laugh!)

 

What do you like most about being a writer? Least?

 

Most, I like being able to have a platform to share lessons I’ve learned in my life that I know others would benefit from. And more than that, I just love to tell a good story.

 

Least, would be the unpredictability of the business. Sometimes it seems so random and the lack of control makes me uncomfortable sometimes. (Which is probably right where God wants me!)

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?

 

My advice is pretty much always the same. 1. Write. So many people want to have written but don’t actually do the work. 2. Get to a writers conference because there’s so much  you don’t know, that you don’t even know you don’t know. If you don’t you’ll be spinning your wheels for years, wasting valuable time. 3. Run, don’t walk, to the nearest bookstore and buy yourself a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. Then apply it. (Best money I ever spent!) 4. Join a good critique group and get a nice thick skin, ‘cause you’re sure going to need it!

 

If you could go back to the pre-published writer you were, knowing what you do now, what advice would you give her?

 

Well, I wouldn’t have told myself how many novels I’d write that would never see the light of day, because I would have given up. I wouldn’t have told myself how little money there is actually to be made or how lonely writing can sometimes be. I wouldn’t have told myself that I’d still have a day job with 4 novels out in stores, including 3 bestselling novels… okay, but that wasn’t your question… I would tell myself to relax. Some of this, most of this is, is out of your hands, and that’s okay. It’s not going to be at all what you think it is, but it’s going to be so much more. You won’t get rich, but you will touch lives. At the end of the day, that’s going to be exactly what will fulfill you.

 

Where can readers find your books and more about you?

 

Thanks for asking. My books are in B&N, BooksaMillion, Amazon, Lifeway, Parable, Family Christian and hopefully a good number of independent bookstores. You can find me at Ginaholmes.com. Thanks so much for hosting me!

 

 

Today’s FBI

Today’s FBI

 

Most of my readers know that I was once employed in clerical support with the Indianapolis office of the FBI. I also come from a long line of police officers that runs along both sides of my family and that spans most of the last century. This background inspired my desire to write crime fiction.

 

While attending the recent Thrillerfest in New York this past week, I had the pleasure of meeting some of the Bureau’s finest. These three agents, all supervisors with the NY office, held the audience spell-bound with stories of some of their more interesting cases. I had the pleasure of speaking with one of them shortly afterward and was pleased to find him as dedicated and forthright as the agents and other Bureau personnel were in my day. Back then our chief concern was violent crime. Most of the work I did focused on the Soviets and Eastern bloc activities as well as public corruption. Today, though, these young men are charged with a much wider and much deeper array of issues. Cybercrimes, for example, did not exist in my FBI. Currently, it is among the greatest areas of concern. But if my impression of today’s FBI is valid – and based on the young man I met, I believe it is – we have little to fear. Today’s FBI is better than ever.

The Changing Tide

My wife and I were on the shore of Maui one evening, watching the moonlight on the water as the tide came in, enveloping us. We had stood in nearly the same place earlier in the day, watching ships on the horizon as the tide rolled in, again enveloping us, but rising higher on the shore.  Despite the fact that we were in the same place, the scene changed from one of sunlight dancing on the ocean to one of absolute darkness broken only by the seemingly incandescent glow of a full moon.  But in the midst of the change, one thing was certain.  The tide rolled in with consistency even though it was different each time.

Change is inevitable. Those of us who write – and even some of us who read – bemoan the changes we see in the publishing industry.  We do so because change nearly always brings uncertainty, even when such change is often in our best interests.  When I was younger, I didn’t like change either.  But as I grew older, I learned to accept it.  Now, I’ve learned to embrace it.  Want to know why?

Because: this too shall pass away.  Even the change we see now will change.

I am a traditionally-published author.  I have written several crime thrillers in that venue and have done quite well.  I have published short stories and have had a play of mine adapted by a dinner theatre.  But I am about to embark on a new ocean.  I am going to self-publish the next novel in my Colton Parker series.

Am I excited? Yes. Concerned? You bet.  But the changes we have seen in this business have had many more positive implications than negative.  Yes, the gatekeepers are no longer in charge of the doorway, but that change has opened the channel for a host of new writers, many which are quite good.  Of course, there is a flipside, too, and we often see work that should never have seen the light of day.  But that was true in the traditional publishing model too, wasn’t it?

Embrace the change. Adapt. Books are still being written, still being published, and still being read. And that’s a good thing.

The Week That Was

The Week That Was
In a world that changes with each passing second it’s nice to know that some things remain the same.
Two icons of a past era – my era – were challenged this past week and both were able to hold their own.

The passing of Sammy Terry (Bob Carter) was a blow to all Indianapolis Baby Boomers. Bob, and by extension, his alter ego Sammy Terry (a play on Cemetery), reigned supreme over the local horror market for almost 30 years. Each Friday night, along with George, his rubber spider friend, Sammy would introduce the great classic films of the horror genre while entertaining us with his witty repartee during each commercial break. Long after the show’s demise, Carter continued to entertain his audience through live performances. His passing was a blow to all of us.

But alas! Sammy lives in the form of Carter’s son, Mark, who has donned his father’s creation with equal aplomb and amazing similarity. Godspeed Mark.

Another icon, one more nationally known, Clayton Moore, was able to hold his own as the Lone Ranger in the face of Disney’s abysmal film of the same name. It is not the first time that Moore has been able to retain his place in our collective consciousness as the intrepid Ranger.

Klinton Spilsbury (remember him? Heard from him lately?) ventured onto the silver screen in his own ill-fated endeavor as the silver-bullet firing Ranger, going down in the annals of Hollywood as one of the worst films of all time. In short, it was a classic example of how to not make a film. Spilsbury’s appearance as the Lone Ranger came during the lengthy court battles in which Moore sought (and won) the right to retain the mask that had endeared him to so many of his young fans. With the release of Disney’s The Lone Ranger, Moore’s place behind the mask seems secured for a very long time.

Banning Bibles at Walter Reed and Newtown Tragedy Linked

Like all right-thinking Americans, I was appalled by the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut that took the lives of multiple innocents, most of them children. And, like all Americans, I have followed with interest the resurrection of the national debate on gun banishment. But unlike most in our national press corps, I have tried to look past the issue of the tool that was used in this horrendous crime and more toward the root of its cause. It is often difficult in an emotional crisis such as the Newtown murders to simplify the basis of such a tragedy to a single cause. In this case, however, I think it can be done with a degree of certainty. This wasn’t my belief early on, although I did tend to see a foundational flaw which could trigger such a crime. In fact, it wasn’t until I read of Walter Reed Hospital’s ban on the Bible that the concept of a single cause began to jell.

The tragedy at Newtown was not the first of its kind, nor will it be the last, regardless whether our constitutional right to keep and bear arms is banished. Law abiding citizens do not misuse guns. Criminnals who respect no law, do that just fine. The questions isn’t whether ignoring another basic right afforded to us by the constitution will protect us from ourselves, but whether the open attack by our government on the first of the bill of rights – freedom of religion – hasn’t served as the cause for this tragedy. I argue that it has.

The banishment of religion from the public discourse (and you can read here, The Banishment of the practice of Christianity) up to and including removing the Ten Commandments from court house lawns, has spawned a generation which adheres to a philosophy of “no line in the sand”; which adheres to no standard of morality other than its own. Lincoln said, “The philosophy in the school room of one generation becomes the philosophy of government in the next”. In 1962, the US Supreme Court ruled that prayer in the classroom was unconstitutional. In essence, that after 184 years of doing this, we were now incapable of praying in the classroom without harm to ourselves and our children. This ruling was not based on the constitution, of course. How could it be? Instead, it was based on a letter written by Thomas Jefferson. And now, 50 years later, we watch as our children are gunned down in the classroom even as we prevent them from praying to God. Nevertheless, we ignore our own culpability in this tragedy and argue that it must be the gun that is responsible. We do this even as we allegedly clamor for our politicians to take away yet another constitutional freedom that we apparently can’t handle. And we do all of this at the same time a US Army hospital is banning the Bible from its premises, and from the hands of wounded US soldiers who fought for the constitutional right to read that same Bible. Admirably, Walter Reed has rescinded its decision, but only after the outcry of some in Congress.

Many would say that the tragedy in Newtown is a senseless one. I disagree. In light of our rejection of God, the murder of our children in Newtown makes perfect sense. In our quest to become increasingly secular, we will watch as more children die before our eyes.

These are the fruits of fifty years of removing God from the public discourse.

I think Lincoln was right. Don’t you?

Banning of Bible and Newtown Tragedy Linked

Like all right-thinking Americans, I was appalled by the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut that took the lives of multiple innocents, most of them children. And, like all Americans, I have followed with interest the resurrection of the national debate on gun banishment. But unlike most in our national press corps, I have tried to look past the issue of the tool that was used in this horrendous crime and more toward the root of its cause. It is often difficult in an emotional crisis such as the Newtown murders to simplify the basis of such a tragedy to a single cause. In this case, however, I think it can be done with a degree of certainty. This wasn’t my belief early on, although I did tend to see a foundational flaw which could trigger such a crime. In fact, it wasn’t until I read of Walter Reed Hospital’s ban on the Bible that the concept of a single cause began to jell.

The tragedy at Newtown was not the first of its kind, nor will it be the last, regardless whether our constitutional right to keep and bear arms is banished. Law abiding citizens do not misuse guns. Criminnals who respect no law, do that just fine. The questions isn’t whether ignoring another basic right afforded to us by the constitution will protect us from ourselves, but whether the open attack by our government on the first of the bill of rights – freedom of religion – hasn’t served as the cause for this tragedy. I argue that it has.

The banishment of religion from the public discourse (and you can read here, The Banishment of the practice of Christianity) up to and including removing the Ten Commandments from court house lawns, has spawned a generation which adheres to a philosophy of “no line in the sand”; which adheres to no standard of morality other than its own. Lincoln said, “The philosophy in the school room of one generation becomes the philosophy of government in the next”. In 1962, the US Supreme Court ruled that prayer in the classroom was unconstitutional. In essence, that after 184 years of doing this, we were now incapable of praying in the classroom without harm to ourselves and our children. This ruling was not based on the constitution, of course. How could it be? Instead, it was based on a letter written by Thomas Jefferson. And now, 50 years later, we watch as our children are gunned down in the classroom even as we prevent them from praying to God. Nevertheless, we ignore our own culpability in this tragedy and argue that it must be the gun that is responsible. We do this even as we allegedly clamor for our politicians to take away yet another constitutional freedom that we apparently can’t handle. And we do all of this at the same time a US Army hospital is banning the Bible from its premises, and from the hands of wounded US soldiers who fought for the constitutional right to read that same Bible. Admirably, Walter Reed has rescinded its decision, but only after the outcry of some in Congress.

Many would say that the tragedy in Newtown is a senseless one. I disagree. In light of our rejection of God, the murder of our children in Newtown makes perfect sense. In our quest to become increasingly secular, we will watch as more children die before our eyes.

These are the fruits of fifty years of removing God from the public discourse.

I think Lincoln was right. Don’t you?

Banning of Bible and Newtown Tragedy Linked

Like all right-thinking Americans, I was appalled by the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut that took the lives of multiple innocents, most of them children. And, like all Americans, I have followed with interest the resurrection of the national debate on gun banishment. But unlike most in our national press corps, I have tried to look past the issue of the tool that was used in this horrendous crime and more toward the root of its cause. It is often difficult in an emotional crisis such as the Newtown murders to simplify the basis of such a tragedy to a single cause. In this case, however, I think it can be done with a degree of certainty. This wasn’t my belief early on, although I did tend to see a foundational flaw which could trigger such a crime. In fact, it wasn’t until I read of Walter Reed Hospital’s ban on the Bible that the concept of a single cause began to jell.

The tragedy at Newtown was not the first of its kind, nor will it be the last, regardless whether our constitutional right to keep and bear arms is banished. Law abiding citizens do not misuse guns. Criminnals who respect no law, do that just fine. The questions isn’t whether ignoring another basic right afforded to us by the constitution will protect us from ourselves, but whether the open attack by our government on the first of the bill of rights – freedom of religion – hasn’t served as the cause for this tragedy. I argue that it has.

The banishment of religion from the public discourse (and you can read here, The Banishment of the practice of Christianity) up to and including removing the Ten Commandments from court house lawns, has spawned a generation which adheres to a philosophy of “no line in the sand”; which adheres to no standard of morality other than its own. Lincoln said, “The philosophy in the school room of one generation becomes the philosophy of government in the next”. In 1962, the US Supreme Court ruled that prayer in the classroom was unconstitutional. In essence, that after 184 years of doing this, we were now incapable of praying in the classroom without harm to ourselves and our children. This ruling was not based on the constitution, of course. How could it be? Instead, it was based on a letter written by Thomas Jefferson. And now, 50 years later, we watch as our children are gunned down in the classroom even as we prevent them from praying to God. Nevertheless, we ignore our own culpability in this tragedy and argue that it must be the gun that is responsible. We do this even as we allegedly clamor for our politicians to take away yet another constitutional freedom that we apparently can’t handle. And we do all of this at the same time a US Army hospital is banning the Bible from its premises, and from the hands of wounded US soldiers who fought for the constitutional right to read that same Bible. Admirably, Walter Reed has rescinded its decision, but only after the outcry of some in Congress.

Many would say that the tragedy in Newtown is a senseless one. I disagree. In light of our rejection of God, the murder of our children in Newtown makes perfect sense. In our quest to become increasingly secular, we will watch as more children die before our eyes.

These are the fruits of fifty years of removing God from the public discourse.

I think Lincoln was right. Don’t you?

Why I write

There are a lot of pleasures to be found in writing. If you’re like me (may God help you if you are) you like to learn new things. Traveling, watching a documentary, visiting a museum, having a good conversation or reading a book – all are grist for the mill. But the best outlet I’ve been able to discover is writing.

When I write, I can become anyone I want; A Private Eye, a cop, a spy, a terrorist – anything. And I can travel to any time or place I desire. It’s liberating.

For someone like me (us) who view life as far too short to experience everything we want to experience, writing gives us the chance to do all we want to do. It gives a chance to live vicariously while learning something different.

But what if you don’t write?

Read.

I will do a book signing this afternoon at my local Barnes and Noble. I’ve done enough of these now that I pretty much know how it’s going to play out. AND THAT’S WHY I DO THEM.

I’ll get a chance to meet readers who were entertained by my previous work and who want to read my latest, The Sons of Jude. They’ll tell me how it transported them away from their troubles and allowed them the opportunity to see how others deal with the issues they are facing. And that, my friends, is the chief pleasure to be found in writing – providing others with the opportunity to escape and enjoy seeing the world through the eyes of others; to learn something new; to experience something different. There’s nothing like it.

The Sons of Jude

Some Thoughts

My latest novel, The Sons of Jude, was inspired by a quote from Sean Connery’s character in The Untouchables. In the movie, Connery says that St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes – and policemen. A bit of research revealed that St. Jude is also the patron saint of the Chicago Police Department.

When I wrote The Sons of Jude I wanted to tell the story of a working cop. I did NOT want to write a police procedural. Instead, following Joseph Wambaugh’s approach, I wanted to tell the story of how the job works on cops, rather than how cops work on the job.

Being a police officer, regardless of the department, town or city, is a difficult, often thankless job. Every police officer knows that each day on the job could be his/her last. Going home alive (see the aforementioned Connery character) is job one. And every officer knows that success today does not change the landscape for tomorrow. The battle against good and evil, of maintaining order, begins anew the following day. I’ve tried to capture a bit of that in The Sons of Jude. I’ve tried to capture camaraderie that exists among any group of people who face a common danger and the pitfalls that often exist when such danger is faced on a daily basis. Our police officers face a difficult task, so thank one today. Maybe you can pick up the tab if you see an officer or group of officers having lunch. It’s a nice way of saying “Thank you”.

 

 

A Matter of Trust?

 

This past week we’ve seen yet another public act of violence.  Jeffery Johnson felt he had the right to take a life because of issues with his boss. The result of this perpetrator’s actions is that he and his intended victim, Steve Ercolino, are dead and several innocent bystanders – people who had no part in this feud, but who were going about their daily lives – were injured. Recent reports indicate that Johnson had no intention of returning to his apartment, clearly indicating he was anticipating his death by police or by his own hand.

Johnson’s feud with Ercolino is not uncommon. Many of us in the workplace have issues with our employers or co-workers; many neighbors have issues with each other. Disagreements are part of our daily lives. Sometimes we are the victims of the thoughtless actions of others; sometimes we are the ones who inflict the pain. But in no case does this give any of us the right to take another’s life – simply to settle a score. And that appears to be exactly what Johnson has done.

In a democracy like ours, we have public institutions that are designed to safeguard our rights and to protect our liberties. The emphasis on “our” is intended.  When someone like Johnson decides he has the right to take a life, he has struck a blow against our public institutions, our public values. He has, in short, attacked all of us who want a civilized society that lives by the rule of law rather than the whims of man.

It is true that, at times, that our public institutions fail us. It is true that juries are often indifferent, prosecutors overworked or disengaged, and those who are guilty go free. But the answer isn’t to circumvent the system and take a life. The answer is to engage in the process and ascertain that corrupt judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and indifferent jurors are removed from the judicial process. It is imperative that all of us take a greater hand in the institutions which have been entrusted to us by our forefathers and which we will pass on to on posterity. It is incumbent on all of us to maintain institutions in which we can place our trust. Without them, we are disconnected – fragmented – into over 300 million individuals, each with their own idea of what constitutes justice. And where does that leave us?

 

Thoughts?