Divine Appointments, Snow Globe Connections Series #2Divine Appointments, Snow Globe Connections Series #2
Charlene Baumbich
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Josie Brooks, at the age of 47, thought she was leading an enviable single life. A successful consultant, she calls her own shots, goes where the money is, and never needs to compromise. But her precisely managed world begins to falter during a Chicago contract when an economic downturn, a bleeding heart boss, and the loyalty and kindness between endangered employees ding her coat of armor.

Throw in hot flashes, a dose of loneliness, a peculiar longing for intimacy, an unquenchable thirst-not to mention a mysterious snowglobe with a serene landscape, complete with a flowing river and lush greenery that seems to be beckoning her in-and Josie's buttoned-up life is on the verge of coming completely undone. Maybe her solitary existence isn't as fulfilling as she has convinced herself to believe.
     


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 Our Interview with Charlene Baumbich


 

What is your favorite Bible verse?
 
Phil 2:15, 16shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm a country girl at heart, married by choice, a mom by the usual methods, a grandmother by grace, a writer and speaker by God's sense of humor (and mine), AND, I'm perky and fascinating, that is when I'm not cranky.  Oh, and I am determined and stubborn, a couple of my best and worst traits.

What inspired the concept for writing Divine Appointments?

Listening to life.  I don't find stories or come up with concepts; they find me.  It's like they—both the stories and the characters—are  already "out there," and if I stay open enough, pay close enough attention to details, they show up and say, "Follow me."  Or whisper, "What if …"

This can happen many times a day, but the majority of the temptations are fleeting in that I forget about them.  However, the stories that are meant to be mine stick around.  Eventually, curiosity piques and Spirit stirs a sense of what I might learn, and then, I must obey.

How did you choose the setting for your story?  How did you choose snow globes as the theme for your series?
 
While bringing the main character, Josie Brooks, into focus in my mind's eye, I "saw" her riding the Chicago "L". Seriously, stories run like a movie in my head.  As for the snowglobes, I talk about that here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUpsEoYgLoI

How many books will be in the Snow Globe Connections series?

 

I'm currently working on book #3, yet untitled, due out 9/2011. We'll see!

Is any part of Divine Appointments factual?
  
When writing fiction, writers engage in lots of research, sometimes for the simplest things.  Or we draw "a fact" from a real-life experience but then let it grow its own fictional legs.  So, many tidbits are factual, including Garrett's Popcorn (yum), the Newberry Library, the economic climate ….  All the characters are of course fictional, but quirks and pleasures, shortcomings and attributes of many people I know in real life (including myself), and strangers I observe along life's journey, work their way into the fictional folks.

How closely is Divine Appointments based on your real life experiences?
 
Emotional truths are always based on real life experiences.  Like my characters, I have feared, laughed, lost, loved, and been loved.  I write from my gut.

How long did Divine Appointments take you to complete?
 
I write at a book-a-year pace, which includes think time, writing, smoothing, editing, tormenting, celebrating, living life (how can I write about real life situations it if I'm not living real life?), more rewriting and more rewriting and editing.  And filling out questionnaires. 

What is the symbolism for the title Divine Appointments?

I didn't title the book. Folks at my clever publisher, Waterbrook Press, did.  But I have a feeling we've all had those moments when we've known: this (this moment, the feeling that I know that I know that I KNOW—even when we don’t know WHY we know—God's hand is in this) is a Divine appointment!


Do you have a favorite character in Divine Appointments? Why?

I do not have a favorite character. I adore them equally for the different enrichments they bring to MY life, whether that be by good or bad example. Every time I'm writing a new scene, I'm glad for everyone in it—even if I'm mad at the way they're behaving.  I weep with them, and I thank them for making me laugh.  By the time I'm to the end of the story, I am utterly gobsmacked at how much they've each taught me.

If characters don't entertain me, push my buttons, surprise me, resonate within my soul, make me curious or furious, they don't show up in the book. 

How much research did Divine Appointments take?

Medium amounts of making sure I got landmarks correct, Josie's job properly represented, and of course how much yellow wonderfulness ends up on your fingertips when eating a giant bag of Garrett's Popcorn, Chicago Mix, of course. (Had to test this twice. ☺) Although this is my eighth novel, it's the first one set in a real place, so I was on high "careful" alert with Real Places and Things.

What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing Divine Appointments?

Not a "fact" per se, but a renewed sense of how much we really do need each other.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
 
--Letting my characters behave the way they DO rather than the way I'd like to make them behave.  I've been blessed with wonderful reader mail affirming how real my characters are, how relatable they remain.  I think that is a direct result of letting them be as imperfect as myself, even when I try to warn them.

--Focus is always a problem. Authors are responsible for much more than writing the books.
--Staying a pleasant person, at which I often fail. When I'm in the thick of a writing flurry, interruptions make me Really Cranky.  Really.  Did I say REALLY!?

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

The exhilaration of chasing the story.

What writing clubs or organizations do you belong to?

Authors Guild, American Society of Journalist and Authors, Society of Midland Authors, ChiLibris, Arbor Hill Poetry Group

What were your favorite books as a child?

Hats for Sale, fairytale classics, some poetry … eclectic, really. Having said that, I wasn't a big reader. I was too busy exploring the world, pretending, daydreaming, building rocket ships and worm castles.

What is your writing style?   (Do you outline? Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants?   Or somewhere in-between?)

Total punster. Total.

Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?

They arrive with a full life of their own, but some of them start talking about it sooner than others.

What other new projects do you have on the horizon?
  
Always have lots of ideas percolating, and of course I'm working on Snowglobe Connections #3.

 

Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?

Every newspaper and magazine editor who gave me a chance to express myself, tell a story, and find my voice, especially Pat Colander.  Madeleine L'Engle's nonfiction books gave me courage, especially Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, and Circle of Quiet.  Terri Castillo is an editor and a friend who knew I could write fiction before I did.
But before them, my parents, who knew how to tell and honor and file real-life stories.  And always, how to laugh—even in the midst of trials.

What message would you like your readers to take from Divine Appointments?

I hope they find glimpses of themselves somewhere in the pages, and take away whatever they most need to learn.  We are each such unique people, yet, we are in this life together.

What is your greatest achievement?

The ability to laugh at myself.

What is your goal or mission as a writer?

To entertain and inspire.

What do you do to get away from it all?

Lunch with friends. Or breakfast or dinner or beverages.  OR, I moo at the cows.  (Seriously.)  OR, during some of my favoritest [sic] moments ever, I'm smart enough to allow my grandgirlies to remind me that life is one giant and awesome adventure.

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