Aug 19, 2008

Blog Tour: Surprise Packages by Nancy Anderson, Lael Littke, and Carroll Morris

I'm happy to be able to review the third book in The Company of Good Women series, Surprise Packages by Nancy Anderson, Lael Littke, and Carroll Morris.

Three authors? Yes, each of these women wrote from a single character's point of view. I was quite surprised with the seamless transition from character to character. It's hard to tell the book was authored by three different women.

The story begins fifteen years after Deenie, Juneau, and Erin meet at Education Week at BYU. Each of the three women has personal challenges in their lives they are trying to work through and overcome. Through e-mails, phone calls, and visits, the three women support each other in the face of whatever lifes brings. All the while trying to become self-proclaimed 'Crusty Old Broads'.

So, what exactly is a Crusty Old Broad? According to the authors, a Crusty Old Broad is a woman who, in the face of whatever life sends her way, "pulls up her socks and goes on." Throughout Surprise Packages this is exactly what the three women do. They each face difficulties, but they keep on going. Through personal tenacity and the love and friendship from each other they face life head-on and plow through the challenges and triumph in the end.

I admit this is the first book I've read in the series. I enjoyed it. I loved the idea of the friendship between the three women carrying them through hard times. It was very intriguing to me the way each of the authors wrote one character and then they meshed the stories together.

However, It was a little distracting to me to have so many characters and to jump from one character's story to another within the same chapter. I also am not really a fan of reading so many e-mails. It felt a little impersonal and like it took me out of the story somehow.
Overall, Surprise Packages was a fun read and I'm looking forward to reading the other two books in the series. The authors are delightful ladies and I've included a few interview questions below.

If you'd like to meet them, they will be signing books at BYU Education Week (seems fitting for this story, don't ya think?) on Thursday, August 21st in the BYU Bookstore from 1:30-3:30. Drop by and say hi!

How did you come up with the idea of writing together?
We were vacationing together in Moab, Utah, when Nancy said, "Why don't we write a book together?" We sat down right then and brainstormed about what we wanted the themes of our novel to be. We still have the notes that Carroll wrote in aqua ink!

What were the biggest challenges you faced as co-authors?
1. Merging files and making corrections. On the first book, Lael was the manuscript master. For the last two, Carroll took on that job.
2. Literary liposuction. The story of each character--told completely--would have filled its own book. So cutting the text without gutting the story was a challenge.
3. Writing the third book of the series. We knew we where we were going in the first two books, but none of us had written ahead in book three. We only had general ideas about where it would go.
4. Making the series add up to something. We wanted our readers to finish the series feeling that they'd been changed by the time spent with Deenie, Juneau, and Erin. We hope they will periodically read the series over, like visiting old friends.

Do you three have a new project in the works?
We have an idea for a book that will have the same format as the series--we'll each write from the viewpoint of a character. It's a stand-alone novel set in Powell, Wyoming, during World War II. But it is on the back burner while we're working on individual projects.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
That no matter what situation a person is in any moment, the story isn't over yet. Never, never, never give up--on others or on yourself!

What a great question to end with. Surprise Packages is an inspiring read about all that and more. Pick up a copy. You won't be disappointed.

You can read more about the authors and the other books in The Company of Good Women series on the authors' blog or at their website, Virtual Sisters.


Tristi Pinkston said...

Fun review and interview, Kim! Thanks!

Carroll said...

Kim, thanks for hosting us on our virtual book tour for Surprise Packages. It's great to see how the network of LDS writers supports each other by letting readers know what good books are available. We hope to return the favor for everyone on our tour someday!

Re: the e-mails. Oh, how we longed to write more of the book "on scene." But when there's a word count to hold to--114,000--you do what you have to do! :)

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