Follow by Email

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Books For a Cause

This offer closed on September 29th, 2017. If you are still interested in participating, please contact me individually. If the fundraiser is still open, I'm happy to work with you!

I am the third of nine children. When you're part of a big family, when THEY marry, your family gets even bigger and lucky for me they married really cool people. My younger sister, Crystal (Her name is--and I'm not kidding--Crystal Snow White. Is that not awesome? Sadly she stopped at four kids, I was rooting for seven just to make the most of things 😏 ) married Jairus White. They were high-school sweethearts so I have known Jairus for a loooooooong time--I knew him back when he had a full head of hair, I kid you not. I also know his siblings, including his sister Jenny. Jenny is remarkable. She has a master's degree in Social work and is an LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker.) For many years she worked for organizations that helped people who were chronically homeless transition from the streets to a place of their own with supports to help them maintain housing. She worked as an outreach therapist to clients in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. She has also been a host home provider for adults with disabilities, both having them live in her home and providing respite care for other care providers for many years.  

In 2012, Jenny met Chris, a Chinese immigrant who came to Utah after converting to the LDS faith. He was already an engineer in China, but had to start over once he got here. They were both in their 30's, and they both wanted a family. They attended months of pre-marital counseling in order to ensure they were compatible and had a shared vision of their future. I was able to follow this circumstance as it happened and it was fascinating to me. Things were different for them than for most, in that shared goals and commitment brought them together before those things developed into love. They married in 2013 and Jenny continued to work while Chris finished his civil engineering degrees. They had their first son, Henry in 2015--chubbiest cheeks I've ever seen--just before Chris graduated with his bachelor's degree. Chris continued to finish his Master's degree the following year.  Chris took a job with an engineering firm in Idaho shortly after graduation, and Jenny was able to be a full time mom, which she had wanted for a long time. 

In 2016 they learned they were expecting again. At four months gestation they learned that their baby--another boy--had a serious heart defect. The defect is called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) and means that the left side of his heart did not develop correctly. They have to essentially remodel his heart so that the right side does everything for his entire body. The repair requires three surgeries, the first 4-6 days after birth ( Dieter had his at 2 days because it was so severe, his aorta and valves were 1/10 the size they needed to be and were restricting worse everyday.) The second surgery will take place when he is about 4-6 months old.  The third surgery will take place when he is about three years old. It's a new type of treatment and has only been in use for about 30 years. Because Chris's job is new, he had limited options for time off and took most of his time when Dieter was born and had his first surgery.  They have health insurance--thank goodness--but need to keep the job secure and can't afford to take any additional leave. There is a $14,000 out of pocket maximum. Depending on the timing of his second surgery, they may need to turn around and pay this again for 2018 as well. They have a two year old. They live about 360 miles from Primary Children's Hospital. They have a lot of hope, but there are also a lot of considerations they have to deal with. 

Dieter Shengxian Chen was born August 14th 2017 at the University of Utah Hospital. He was immediately sent to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Primary Children's hospital and will be there for a long time. Jenny is staying in Provo, at a friends town home, 45 minutes from the hospital. Chris works in Nampa, Idaho Monday through Thursday then comes to Salt Lake on the weekends--good friends are covering the expenses for him to fly back and forth so that he can travel more safely and spend as much time with his family as possible. Henry is being cared for by family most of time.  The family continues to see the amazing blessings they have been given through this ordeal. They continue to exercise faith, patience and hope. Deiter has good days and bad days, he's needed additional surgery to help with his breathing. He is on a feeding tube, but making progress. We hope that soon he will have more good days than bad. Jenny is at the hospital daily.  She uses a breast pump so that he can receive his mother's milk through his feeding tube. Things are going well, but are still very hard. 

My sister Crystal put together a You Caring account in hopes of raising money to be used toward the deductible and portion of expenses that won't be covered in other ways.  The Chen's greatest desire is to one day be able to "pay it forward" as soon as they are able.

There's not much I can do, but in considering the situation I realized there was something I COULD do. I write books. When I publish a new book I get what are called author copies--copies for me to do with as I please. I give them away to my family members, people who helped me with the book, and via contests on social media. But I currently have quite a few books on hand. So, I am making them available to you guys in exchange for you to donate to Jenny, Chris, Henry, and Deiter. 

Here's how it works:

Click on THIS LINK and make a donation. Any amount, whether it's $5 or $50 or $5,000 (insert grin.) Come back here and post that you made a donation--don't tell me how much. Please include in your donation something that can be shared with Jenny and Chris: a scripture, a quote, a personal encouragement. And then email me at kilpack@gmail.com with the subject line "Donation for Dieter" and tell me what books you would like. I will send you one copy of how ever many titles you would like THAT I HAVE ON HAND, which are the following:

Anthology Collections in which I participated:
  • Timeless Romance: All Regency (limited copies)
  • Timeless Romance: Spring Vacation (limited copies)
  • Christmas Spirit (limited copies)
  • A Mother's Prayer (limited copies)

LDS novels:
  • Tempest Tossed
  • Unsung Lullaby
  • Sheep's Clothing (limited copies)
  • Her Good Name
Culinary Mysteries:
  • English Trifle
  • Black Berry Crumble (limited copies)
  • Pumpkin Roll
  • Tres Leches Cupcake (limited copies)
  • Rocky Road (limited copies)
  • Fortune Cookie (limited copies)
  • Wedding Cake

Newport Ladies Bookclub:
  • Daisy
  • Shannon's Hope (limited copies)
  • Tying the Knot (limited copies)
Historical Romance:
  • A Heart Revealed (limited copies)
  • Lord Fenton's Folly
  • Forever And Forever (limited copies)
  • Lady of the Lakes (limited copies)
  • The Vicar's Daughter (limited copies)
  • ARC of All That Makes Life Bright (limited copies)
Audio:
  • Pumpkin Roll
  • Banana Split
  • Baked Alaska
  • Rocky Road
  • Fortune Cookie
  • Wedding Cake
  • A Heart Revealed (limited copies)
  • Lord Fenton's Folly (limited copies)
  • Forever And Forever
  • Lady of the Lakes (limited copies)
  • The Vicar's Daughter (limited copies)

These books are available on a first come, first serve basis, I will try to keep up with this list as titles are gone. I also hope you will share this opportunity with others. 

Thank you so much for your support, whether through a prayer, adding their names to a temple roll or prayer list, or via this option. A lot of people doing a little can become a whole lot. 

By the way, Dieter means Warrior :-) Lets help the fight!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Overdue Update

It's been awhile and I haven't given an update on how goes the writing for a really long time. I've got some exciting things happening, which makes now a good time:

My third Regency Romance--The Vicar's Daughter--has just been released, people who pre-ordered have started receiving their copies. You can read the opening chapter on my website. It's a country regency, meaning it isn't dealing with London and titles and whatnot, and I really enjoyed writing this book. I'm finishing up a sequel to it right now and hope that it will be out this time next year--cross your fingers for me.

My third Historical Romance--All that Makes Life Bright--will be coming out in Fall 2017. This book is about Harriet Beecher Stowe and her husband Calvin. There's a women's fiction feel to this story, as they are married throughout, but it's still a romance in that they come together and figure one another out. This book really spoke to me on a personal level and I hope readers find it as powerful for them.

AND FINALLY, my big news that I am so excited to share!! Back in 2015 I signed with my wonderful agent, Land Heymont (Here's how he and I got together.) At that time he was with The Seymour Agency and helped me with my current publishing relationship with Shadow Mountain. He's helped me with several contracts since then while also shopping some work to national publishers, in 2016 he established his own agency, The Tobias Agency. Publishing is competitive, it takes quality work, time, and industry savvy to get a national contract. Lane helps with all those aspects and I have loved working with him. He's tenacious and yet calm. Last Tuesday, while visiting my parents, I got an email from him where he'd forwarded a rejection from an editor we were really hopeful for. She had liked the story but her review team hadn't liked it quite as much. She gave us the reasons why. I asked Lane if I should work on those changes, maybe I'd missed the mark and the unusual format hadn't worked like I wanted it to. He told me not to worry about it, that there were other editors still looking and if they all passed then we would go back to the feedback and see what we thought. I appreciated the calm and pushed it out of my mind. the next day--like, the VERY next day--he called me. Alicia Condon, an editor at Kensington Publishing, had loved the book and wanted to make an offer. Not only did they want to offer on that book, they wanted to make a 2-book deal! Kensington publishes the mass market paperback novels you see in grocery stores; a whole new format and level of distribution for me. I am so excited that they saw good stuff in my story, and so grateful for Lane's calm assurance that kept me from stressing about issues that were not necessary to stress over. The title they've chosen is As Wide as the Sky, which I absolutely love. It will be published under the pen name, Jessica Pack. You can read the basics about the book HERE.

I've heard for years that publishing is scary, that people are intimidating, and that there's a lot of negativity in the industry. There is negativity and low moments and frustrations and events that make you question yourself. Absolutely. But there are good people who work hard and want quality work and are willing to take chances. I've been publishing for 18 years now, but I didn't really have a career until 9 years ago when Shadow Mountain took a chance on my first culinary mystery, and I haven't had this kind of national reach until now, thanks to Lane and Kensington. A career in writing is about building blocks, and sometimes it's slow and sometimes that's because you have stuff you need to learn until you're ready to have both feet in this pool. Keep at it, remain prayerful of the direction that's right for you, look for writing opportunities of every kind, set goals you know you can reach in order to build up your confidence, and never forget that editors and agents are just people, doing their best just like you. The magic happens, and then you find yourself at a new level with another level calling out for you. Keep climbing. Keep learning. Stay humble, and learn from your mistakes rather than marinate in them.

Thanks for sharing this happy news with me! :-)