Books Of Note – Fade To Blue

I realize I’ve been stacking up a few novels I’ve wanted to review, and it’s time to rectify that.

Contemporary Christian women's fiction

Today’s novel is Fade To Blue by Julie Carobini (B&H Publishing).

The Story.
After Suz’s husband divorces her, she and her son Jeremiah retreat to her brother’s central California coastal home where she wants to recoup and start again.

Little does she know what this move will bring, but as the pieces of her new life begin to sort themselves out, her ex-husband makes contact, tells her how he’s a different person after a stint in prison, and makes plans to be involved in their son’s life, if not in hers as well.

Suz wants to support her ex-husband’s fledgling faith and wants to do what’s right in God’s eyes regarding her family, but she’s also got a new job, new friends, and an old flame to deal with. On top of everything, her brother has some strong opinions about what she should do.

Lest I forget, let me mention first, the setting of this story is rich. Julie Carobini has obviously done her homework, injecting appropriate details about Hearst Castle where a part of this story takes place. These particulars make the story more believable and help to pull the reader into “the fictive dream.”

In addition, Julie is adept at creating believable characters that I care about. Suz Mitchell is another in the growing cast. She is vulnerable because of the circumstances her ex-husband has put her through, but she is nobody’s victim. She has a plan for her life and the drive to get started.

At the same time, she struggles with guilt, the desire to do her job well, to fit in with her co-workers, respond to the whispers at church about her divorce, honor her brother, find a way to get out on her own as soon as possible. And then there is Seth, the man from her past. In other words, this character is a complex, realistic person.

The story is not action drive in the sense that adventure or romance fills every page. But in a quieter way, it is nonetheless a page turner because Julie created intrigue. Various characters have something they’re holding back, something that motivates their actions and keeps the outcome in doubt.

The “second chances” theme is woven throughout the story, and because of the way things work out in the end, the issue is not cut and dried. In other words, Julie gave thoughtful attention to the fact that second chances don’t necessarily end well.

I don’t remember specifics, but I recall thinking that there were some uneven places in the writing — perhaps suffering from a demanding deadline. I suspect most readers won’t think twice about writerly distractions.

This is an enjoyable piece of women’s fiction. Yes, there is some romance, but I wouldn’t characterize this story in that genre. It’s primarily for Christians — some of the key internal conflicts are ones only Christians experience. Consequently, I highly recommend this one for any reader who enjoys Christian women’s fiction.

Published in: on August 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm  Comments Off on Books Of Note – Fade To Blue  
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Fade To Blue And Julie Carobini

Writer friend and fellow SoCal resident Julie Carobini just released Fade To Blue (B&H Publishing) and is currently touring the Internet and holding various book signings at local book stores. (She has a signing down my way this coming Saturday).

I jumped at the chance to host one of the blog tour days. It’s a delight to have Julie share some thoughts about writing especially in light of yesterday’s article, “Where Are We Going?” And as a double treat, I’ll be posting a review of Fade To Blue (available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble,, and many of your fine local book stores) some time later.

In case you’re not familiar with Julie’s work, she’s the author of five novels and countless non-fiction articles. Her specialty, as you can see if you visit her blog or web site is beachy fiction. If you’d like to follow Julie’s cyberspace tour, you’ll find a list of her stops here. Tomorrow is Pam Wiseman‘s turn to feature Fade To Blue.

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Writing At The Crossroads
By Julie Carobini

I found myself stuck. In my last book, A Shore Thing, one of the supporting characters, Suz, continued to pray for her soon-to-be ex-husband, even as he sat in jail for committing a felony. In Fade to Blue (released this month), Suz became the heroine. I already had a strong sense of her character, so I began the process of asking, “What if …?” and applying those questions to this very real person in my mind. Eventually, I found myself with more questions than answers.

What if …

But just when she does …

What if …

And at about that time …

What if…

As I followed single-mom, Suz, it quickly became apparent that one aspect of the story—her divorce in the midst of faith—would become an issue. So I continued to write and plan, to follow Suz on her path of finding out what she wanted to do, and to learn if her desires matched up with her faith.

Inevitably, my heroine found herself at a crossroads.

May I be honest? If faith wasn’t a thread in this story, I could let my character do or say whatever pop culture dictated. The issue of her divorce might not have been an issue at all and some other conflict would have risen to the top of the plot point chain. In Suz’s case, however, her faith is the point on which she pivots, so how could I ignore her struggle?

As Christians who write, we have to be so careful, though. I’d never want to steer someone wrong, or, as the Bible says, to “cause my brother to stumble.” Yet I have no interest in sermonizing either. Instead, I want my characters, no matter what the issue, to struggle with their decisions the way we all do at times. And that means that as writers we too have to press in to those corners where we inevitably find ourselves.

The answers don’t always come easily. If you write, maybe you’re like me, and you often find yourself listening to the voices of many more than your muse. There are readers, of course, but also reviewers, editors, sales and marketing—even critique partners—all who have opinions about what our characters should or should not do. Daunting, isn’t it? But in Jeremiah 6:16, the Lord gives this advice to savor: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”

To writers, this verse suggests standing at the crossroads with our characters. It suggests contemplation, prayer, and continuing to show up and write even through the tough patches.

With Fade to Blue, after I prayed and wrestled to the point of a near-ulcer over my heroine’s decisions, my pastor “happened” to deliver a sermon that provided the perspective necessary to taking that first step out of her crossroads—and I was ready with pen in hand. Don’t you love when that happens? No peptic medication necessary!

I love what Donald Maas says in Writing the Breakout Novel: “Some say success as an author requires a big ego: I say that it requires a big heart.” So true. Not only that, I believe that those big hearts must be softened by our experiences with God’s grace.

Next time you find yourself at a crossroads in your novel, don’t shy away, instead press in. Pray hard. Shut out the voices for a while. Instead, think about what it’s like to hold a seashell, constantly turning it over in your hand. Though they’re often tossed into the sea with nary a glance, seashells are intricately beautiful—even when broken. The more you examine your characters lives, no matter how shattered or sinful they may be—the more beauty can be found. Why? Because it’s in those dark places where God’s grace shines brightest.

Published in: on May 12, 2011 at 5:18 pm  Comments (4)  
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