Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Meet my friend, Kathleen Kovach

Hey, Kathy, welcome to rachelhauck.com! For all y'all out there, I've known Kathy for about six years, first meeting in Kansas City at the first ACFW conference in 2002.

While I haven't been an integral part of her writing career, I've watched and cheered from the sidelines! I'm so pleased with her writing success.

So, Kathy, thanks for stopping by. Tell us about this book. I love the cover.

Florida Weddings/Merely Players is about a dolphin trainer who masks her emotions while making her ex-boyfriend now turned A-list actor jump through hoops.

What's the scoop on your hero and heroine?

Bethany Hamilton works with her father, the senior trainer at the Gulfarium in Northwest Florida. She basically doesn't know what to do with her life, so she sticks with the familiar. She grew up at Sea World San Diego, and is comfortable with marine mammals. After shadowing her father, she longs for a career of her own so she becomes involved in dolphin therapy.

Brick Connor, aka Ricky O'Connell, is an A-list movie actor, but feels stuck in playing one role. He also feels he'd like to contribute to society. This involves breaking out of his type-cast role as a Bond-type character and make movies of substance.

In Hollywood High, Brick and Bethany were boyfriend and girlfriend. Brick had an abusive father, so he sought refuge at Bethany's house, where Christian love wrapped his hurting soul like a quilt. On the first page, we see the end of their senior year. Brick (then Ricky) is excited to tell his girl that he's gotten an agent. At this point he fully expects her to join him in his career. All throughout high school they had been popular in all of the drama productions. However, Bethany must say goodbye.

The story picks up again ten years later, and we find out that they haven't seen each other in a decade. Bethany feels Brick has abandoned her for the big screen. When they meet again through a location shoot at the Gulfarium, Brick remembers his love for this special girl. And moreover, the values her family had taught him. Bethany is obviously wary of this guy, and tries to avoid him, but . . . well, this is a romance, after all.

You mentioned dolphin therapy. Sounds interesting. Can you tell us about more about that?

At the Gulfarium, which is a real place, by the way, Janet Flowers created a program called the JF Dolphin Therapy Project, a program that helps children with disabilities to enhance their treatments by rewarding positive behaviors. In the case of a fictional character—Kevin, a boy with autism—any acknowledgement on his part was cause to celebrate. He eventually comes to a place where he can throw a ring to the dolphin and she loops it on her nose. This causes a small grin which elicits excitement for his parents who had never seen him smile. In Emily's case, a girl with Down Syndrome, they work on her speech. When they get to the point where she can say the "th" sound in Bethany's name, she's allowed into the water with the dolphin as a reward. I ran these scenes past people who had children with disabilities and was given suggestions. In the end, those particular test readers said I had captured their child perfectly.

Have you always loved dolphins?

As a matter of fact, no. Some people are ga-ga over them, but my interest was kindled when I heard about the therapy project at the actual Gulfarium. I had a friend whose children were diagnosed with autism, and even though she'd never used the program, she had researched it. The idea sparked in my writer brain, and after several morphed tries, Merely Players was born.

Really cool! So, I see you have another novella, and great cover. Tell us what what Love Letters is about?

This is a novella collection with Mary Davis, Sally Laity, and Jeri Odell. Each story is connected by generations, the heroines all daughters of the previous story's characters. All stories have to do with unique expressions of love.

Mary's story, "Love Notes," opens in Texas 1910. Her heroine, Laurel, is courted with sheet music by an unseen stranger who is adding words when she's not around.

My story, "Cookie Schemes," opens in San Francisco 1955. My one-sentence blurb is "A traditional fortune cookie maker woos a thoroughly modern woman with scriptural wisdom."

Sally's story, "Posted Dreams," set in 1980 deals with a shy woman, Bethany, who leaves Post-It notes around town, all expressions of her hopes and dreams. One man reads them and is touched, then seeks to learn her identity.

And finally, Jeri's story, "eBay Encounter," taking place in current times, is about Jonica, an inexperienced eBay buyer and antique store owner. She continues to run up prices on items another person wants, and they annoy each other until . . . Well, as I said above, this is a romance, after all

My heroine, Prudie is a recent college graduate in a time when marriage and family were the highest goal women could attain. She wants more. Alex is a traditionalist, and because of his grandfather's will, is seeking a wife to inherit the elder's restaurant—known for it's delectable fortune cookies. Alex copies scripture verses to put in his cookies and uses them more for ministry than for profit. When Prudie goes to work for Alex, their two worlds collide. Alex begins to woo her with cookies, and Prudie, angry at God for allowing a tragedy several years earlier, rejects the scriptures chosen especially for her. Do these two ever resolve their differences? You guessed it, this is a romance, after all.

I found out in my research that fortune cookies were not invented in China and did not originally hold Confucius "wisdom." The first inventor, a Chinese man in Los Angeles, made little cakes and tucked words of encouragement written on slips of paper inside. He then gave those to the homeless. My hero's grandfather picked up that tradition and he, along with his Chinese Christian mentor, created a scrumptious recipe that eventually made their restaurant, Woo With Sweet, a local favorite. A word about the restaurant, the mentor's name was Ho Woo and he wanted to woo his customers with sweet words, thus the scripture filled cookies.

Mary spearheaded this project by asking the ACFW loop if anyone would want to join her. She had the basic idea, so we dialogued with each other until we fine tuned it. This was all done by email. The hardest part was making sure our heroines were either old enough or not too old to have children. Mary kept moving her time frame back (for very good reasons,) making Laurel a really old mom for my Prudie. After some additional research, I realized that during the two world wars, it was common to have two sets of family. Boys would die in war, and their parents would go on to have more children. Prudie is of that second set, having three older brothers and four older sisters.

Thank you, Rachel, for giving me the opportunity to talk about my babies. . . er. . . I mean, books. These characters are so real to me, I feel I'm bragging on my children whenever I'm interviewed.

Kathy, it was great to have you! The novellas sound fabulous!

More on Kathy!
Kathleen (known as Kathy by her friends) believes that if they'd done an ultrasound on her mother while she was with child, they'd have found a writing instrument clutched in her tiny hand. After a lifetime of writing short stories, plays, and poems, God finally released Kathy to write as a career in 2002. This happened at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference where she won first place in the unpublished writers contest for her article "If Anyone Hears My Voice." She also met her editors, Jim and Tracie Peterson from Barbour's Heartsong Presents, who became intrigued with her heroine's profession, a dolphin trainer. By 2006, that novel, Merely Players, became published, and then in May of this year it was bundled with two other stories by Lynn Coleman and Kristy Dykes under the title, Florida Weddings. In 2007, Kathy teamed up with Mary Davis, Sally Laity, and Jeri Odell for Love Letters, a Barbour novella collection about unique expressions of love, (hers takes place through fortune cookies.) Heartsong holds a readers poll every year, and in 2008, Kathy placed in the upper five of the Favorite New Author category.

After her contest win at CCWC, Kathy became leader of her local critique group, JOY Writers. She joined a local association, Colorado Writers Fellowship, and also a national organization, American Christian Fiction Writers, www.acfw.com. Her affiliation with ACFW eventually led to a position as the Colorado Coordinator, and she just recently moved up as the Rocky Mountain Zone Director.

Kathy lives in northeast Colorado (out where the buffalo roam) with her husband of 33 years. She has two sons, three grandchildren, and two grandpets - all of whom, at one point or another, have taken advantage of the revolving door on her empty nest.

Please visit her blog at www.kathleenekovach.blogspot.com for a complete list of blog tour stops for Florida Weddings. In addition, her website is www.kathleenekovach.com.


Paula said...

Thanks, Rachel! Great interview.

And Kathy--so much fun in even these short interviews. You're living up to that "spiritual truth with a giggle" tag.

Loved both of the stories you wrote about here. And I couldn't be prouder of my friend, the author, Kathleen E. Kovach. :o)

BTW, if readers of this blog are interested in more of Kathy's writing story, I've republished Kathy's article, "Take Your Passion and Make It Happen," on my blog at:

Megan DiMaria said...

It's a joy to know Kathy. Her humor is contagious and her writing is fun and clever.

Thanks for posting this interview, Rachel.

A prisoner of hope,

Debra Ullrick said...

What a fun interview. Thanks for letting us know about it, Kathy.

I LUV your stories! Especially, Merely Players. It was fun and unique. A spring rain of a book for sure. And I love Dolphins. I've always been fascinated by them and their friendliness. After all they're a fish. Well, maybe a mammal. I don't know. *smiling*

Anyway, great interview.

Debra Ullrick
The Bride Wore Coveralls
Available now through Heartsong Presents.

Lynette Sowell said...

Great interview! :)

Kathy Kovach... said...

Popping in a day late to say thanks to my friends for their wonderful comments!

I love you all,