An Outer Banks Fishbowl With Colleen Coble! (from Lisa Wingate)

Happy Monday, Everyone!  It’s time for another BelleView Fishbowl day and this time I’ve invited the sweet, talented, and super-productive Colleen Coble.  This woman actually told me she gets (and I quote) bored sometimes if she’s not writing two books per year! How’s that for someone with a serious head full of stories? Considering everything else she does, that’s amazing.

I know you’ll enjoy the visit with this “Wonder Woman” writer as much as I did!

Lisa: People often ask me, when did I start writing or when did I know I was a writer? Honestly, I can’t remember a time when my head wasn’t filled with stories. Back in the day, we spent our childhoods pretending every patch of woods was Sherwood Forest and every muddy Creek was the Amazon or the Nile. We ran around the neighborhood making up Let’s Pretend stories, largely because, if it wasn’t Saturday morning, there was nothing good on TV and we were bored. Colleen, where did your love of stories begin?

Colleen: From the time I first could hold a book, I’ve loved them. I wrote my first story in first grade about a horse that had twin colts. The teacher praised it and the seed was planted. My dream was just to have a book in the library! And even now, seeing my books in the library is a thrill. Your childhood sounds a lot like mine. There was a small pond in a woods at the fringes of our subdivision. My brother and I built a raft out of logs and rope and set out to sea. My parents would have been horrified if they knew!


Favorite First Books!

Lisa: Colleen, you and I first met about ten years ago when several publishers sent their authors to a big grand opening signing at an H-E-B superstore in Central Texas. Back then, you were part of a fairly new group called American Christian Fiction Writers.  Colleen, what inspired you to devote your time and energy to a group that would bring like-minded writers together? What do writers gain from community?

Colleen: I so well remember that signing, Lisa! It was such fun! When I first started writing, I didn’t know another soul with that same, seemingly silly, dream. I often felt I was wandering in a wilderness of confusion and heartache. It’s hard to get published. Hard to take the rejection. I read books on the craft of writing, but that wasn’t enough. I went on scholarship to my first writers conference, the Midwest Writers Workshop. I met others who were pursuing this crazy dream called writing, but I still longed for companions who wanted to write from a Christian worldview. I’ve found that with ACFW, and I want others to know the joy of knowing they are not alone. The training found at ACFW is second to none as well. The fun thing about writing is you never arrive. There is always more to be learned about our craft, and it’s fun to do it with friends!


Writing is more fun in great company

Lisa: So, we’ve been hanging out in the “story universe” together (great minds think alike!) The Prayer Box and your Hope Beach books are all set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, a place I absolutely love. In truth, though, the original setting of my story was the Texas coast. I always knew Iola Poole’s prayer boxes would be discovered in a hurricane ravaged house, but it was a reader friend who convinced me that the Outer Banks was the perfect setting for a book. Colleen, what caused you to choose this remote strip of islands and its hardy, friendly people as a backdrop for your Hope Beach novels? Did you know the place beforehand or discover its secrets as you worked?

Colleen: I did not know the place before I decided to write a series set there. I’d heard about it, of course. Then some friends from church went to the Outer Banks on vacation and came back raving. They said I should check it out for a setting. When I was noodling on the idea for my next series, I knew I wanted a beach location, something remote too. I did some research on the Outer Banks, then went out for a week and knew I’d found something special. I love Ocracoke, and I patterned my little Hope Island after it. I love the fact you can’t get there except by ferry. Perfect!


Research can be fun too… LOTS of fun ;)

Lisa: For me, the Outer Banks was such a rich, unusual, mysterious setting, it became like another character in the story for me. There’s something about the idea of island life, about being close to the sea.  I can’t sit by the water without coming both into myself and out of myself. When I study the complex colors and patterns of shells and sea life, the random treasures deposited by the tide, even the patterns in the sand, I’m reminded of God’s fingerprint on everything, of His ability to manage infinite details in incredible ways. Colleen, what does the sea say to you? What does it say to the characters in your stories? How did it influence the stories you’ve told in the Hope Beach books?

Colleen: I feel exactly the same, Lisa! Hawaii has always been another favorite of mine, and I’ve written 5 stores there soo far–and counting. The beauty is a glorious reminder of all God does for me every day. And since I write romantic mysteries, I really love a setting that is almost otherworldly. Beach settings do that for me. I can’t quite imagine living next to that kind of power every day. The ocean is mysterious and can change at a moment’s notice.

My Hope Beach stories have Coast Guard protagonists in them too, and I have such respect for those men and women. The more I have read about them, the more I realize they are the unsung heroes of our country. I also put my heroines on a remote island where they have to dig into their inner strength. That’s always fun. I love strong characters! Don’t give me some whiny heroine. I want a woman who is going to take whatever troubles come her way and let God help her turn them into something that strengthens her and ministers to others.


The sea inspires both people and stories

What’s next?

Lisa: The Tidewater Sisters novella will is coming in ebook in July, and The Story Keeper releases in September

Colleen: Seagrass Pier will be out in July, and I’m eager to hear what readers think! Rosemary Cottage was my first book to hit the USA Today bestseller list. Readers really seem to love that setting.


Coming up next…

Colleen, thank you so much for joining us in the BelleView Fishbowl this week! We’ve loved every minute of it.

— Lisa

To celebrate this seaside time with Colleen, we’re having an Outer Banks giveaway. One lucky winner will receive autographed copies of Wildwood Creek and Rosemary Cottage AND a set of handmade Sea Glass Jewelry from Sandy’s Seashell Shop.  To enter, leave a comment at the bottom of this post, answering the question of the day. The contest ends Friday, and we’ll announce the winner on Saturday.  So that we can contact you (if you win) please leave an email address in your comment.


To enter, answer the question of the day. Don’t forget to leave an email address ;)

Question of the day: What’s your favorite memory of a childhood book and what was the book?

The Prayer Box — Selected as One of Booklist’s Top Ten of 2013!



Click for peek at The Prayer Box

 Click for sneak peek at The Sea Glass Sisters





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Selected among BOOKLIST'S Top 10 of 2012 and Top 10 of 2013, Lisa Wingate weaves Southern settings with elements of women's fiction, history, and mystery to create stories that Publisher's Weekly calls "Masterful" and Library Journal refers to as "Lyrical and beautiful." She is a seven-time Carol Award nominee, and a two-time Carol Award winner. She once dreamed of making the Olympics and winning the National Finals Rodeo, but was thwarted by an inability to do a back flip on the balance beam and parents who wouldn't finance a rodeo career, so she took her first-grade teacher's advice and became a writer instead ;)

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  1. Gin Tadvick says

    I loved Rosemary Cottage and am now reading the Prayer Box. Can’t wait to read more by book Colleen and Lisa!!

  2. Patty says

    I grew up in a very small town, and the library was a block away! I was back and forth from home to the library several times a week, especially in the summer One of my favorite books/series as a kid was the Black Stallion series. I read through most of those several times…

    • Lisa Wingate says

      As a horse-crazy girl, I was obsessed with The Black Stallion and all the Marguerite Henry books. I read them until the covers fell off — had my own copies, as mom had signed me up for the “horse book of the month” club somewhere. The days those packages came were like Christmas!

  3. says

    Gorgeous covers, ladies! Can’t wait to read these stories. Keep ’em coming! :) Anne of Green Gables was my all-time favorite series. I loved Anne so much, I wanted red hair just like hers!

  4. Lisa Campbell says

    The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was my all-time favorite as a child. I had my own paperback copy, but the library had a gorgeous red hardbound copy with gold lettering on the cover. I checked that book out at least once a year. That reminds me I’ve been meaning to visit my hometown library next time I’m in town to see if they still have that edition.

    • Lisa Wingate says

      Loved, loved, loved The Secret Garden! In our old neighborhood, there was a burned-down house foundation. I loved to imagine that the outlines of the raised gardens and the stone patio fence out back were my secret garden!

  5. Dara Gentry says

    The Bearinstein bears,The Baby Sitter’s Club, and Little House on the Prairie were my favorites growing up!!!!!Looking forward to reading these :)

    • Lisa Wingate says

      I know the Berenstein Bears by heart, still. Read it many times to my boys and many times in the dentist’s office waiting room as a kid. They were always good for a laugh, with their hairy legs and funny feet 😉

  6. Andrea Saucier says

    The Mandie Books by Lois Gladys Leppard. My mom use to read them to me every evening. I loved the expressive way she read, the special time spent with her, as well as the mystery and adventures each book held for me. How I wanted to be just like Mandie and have a life full of exciting adventures. :)

    • says

      Lois was quite a character, Andrea. She was this tiny little lady and was very outspoken. I loved her. I was an adult and a writer by the time I met her so I never read her books but she was so interesting.

  7. Judith Barnes says

    Nancy Drew for me. I thought it was great that she was always prepared for whatever emergency came along.

  8. Diane Peterson says

    I loved so many books as a child but a couple series that stick out for me are the Boxcar Children series and the copies of mother’s Nancy Drew books :-)

  9. Chris says

    I loved Charlotte’s Web . . . we had visted my cousins farm and they, rather cruely in my view, killed a runt pig while we were visting . .I just heard it scream didn’t watch. I remember how I thought after seeing how big the mama was that it was a miracle that any of them lived . . . she could squish them easily . . .and that they shouldn’t kill it just because it was the smallest. Not a farm girl for sure! : ) Would love to win, thanks for the chance!

  10. Peggy Detweiler says

    I too was a horse crazy kid (and still am). My favorite childhood books were anything written by Patsey Gray. I am even collecting her books now as an adult and re-reading them.

  11. Shannon S. says

    I loved checking books out at the school library and can’t even remember how many times I checked out The Boxcar Children. I had to buy it recently for my daughter’s Kindle since she’s an avid reader too.

    I really enjoyed this “interview” with Colleen Coble. I’ve been a big fan of hers for years!

  12. Diane W. says

    My favorite book when I was yonger is The Yearling. I started reading it at summer camp and did not finish it before camp ended. When I got home I could’t wait to go to the library and check it out so I could finish it. I think I was in third or fourth grade.

  13. says

    I a lot of Judy Blume when I was a teen. In elementry school, I loved the bears, Berenstein Bears? Have they been around that long? I have always liked owning my books, though I read so much now, I have started using the library.

  14. says

    Welcome to our porch, Colleen! I love your idea of setting stories in Hawaii. Why didn’t I think of that?! :) Thanks for sharing your talents and memories with us today. We’re honored to have you at SBV. Cheers, Julie

  15. says

    Enjoyed the conversation from you two super storytellers. :) My childhood fav– Charlotte’s Web. Don’t even get me started talking Wilbur or we’ll be here all day. :)

  16. Eula McKown says

    I rode a school bus to and from school, about 25 miles one way, so I did a lot of reading while riding. One book I loved was The Boxcar Children. I thought it was neat that the children lived in the boxcar. As a twin, I loved reading books about twins, but I can’t remember the names now. I also read many of the Sugar Creek Gang series and loved them.

  17. says

    I used to crawl under our weeping willow tree to escape into another world. I remember reading…Back Stallion, The Secret Garden, but my favorite was Little House on the Prairie. No matter what they faced, it kept me turning the pages and learning how they survived.
    This is a great contest and would LOVE to win.

  18. Virginia Rush says

    I loved the interview and wish we all could have been sitting on the outer banks, talking about it.

    the encyclopedia set we had a big book of stories that I would just look and look at until I could finally read it. My mom didn’t finish 3rd grade, when her mom died she and her siblings had to get out and work the farm. so I didn’t have anyone who could read to me. but I knew this book was a great great thing. and when I could finally read…I truly saw that IT WAS A GREAT THING. I wore that thing out. after moving away from home, my mom stored the books in a barn and I never got that one book back. but it’ll hold special memories always. loved your interview, you two really think alike..

    looking forward to both new books from you two.

  19. Jordan Sims says

    I have so many childhood memories that involve reading late into the night with a flashlight as I munched on a Granny Smith apple. :)

    My favorite, however, is easy to pick out. As I read Anne of Green Gables, a feeling came over me that there was something special about this book in my hands. I vividly remember reading about the babbling brook on the first page and wondering what adventure I was about to embark upon. I remember feeling that her breaking the slate of Gil’s head was completely justified and the sense that something spectacular was forming between them. I remember my heart hurting when Anne was forbidden to speak to her bosom friend, Diana. I remember how I felt when Gilbert introduced Anne to Captain Jim as his wife. I devoured the series and I remember really letting the beauty of the words sink into me…even if, at nine years old, I didn’t know what all of the words meant. To this day, (I’ll be 21 on Saturday), it is my all time favorite story. It comes alive to me every time I read and it and I am always, ALWAYS struck by that same beauty I fell in love with so many years ago. Anne has honestly shaped so much of who I am today.

  20. Amy Lorenzen says

    The Little House on the Prairie and the others in that series, although this one was my favorite. Read the series over and over and also all of the Nancy Drew books.

  21. Meagan says

    Some of my favorite books as a child were Babysitter Club, Nancy Drew, Boxcar Children, Ramona and Beezus, and Saddle Club. I also loved Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle. I have a lot of good memories of enjoying these stories and going on adventures, just by turning a page. I have always loved to read, and I am thankful that my parents encouraged me and always provided books for me.

  22. Susan Johnson says

    One of my favorite memories is my Grandma reading stories out of a Bible story book. I have a picture of my daddy reading to me and my sisters, but I don’t know what book it was.
    I am a fan of both Lisa Wingate and Colleen Coble.
    susanmsj at msn dot com

  23. Stephanie A. says

    I remember one summer my mom had us participate in the local library reading program. She took us to a mobile library which I thought was the coolest thing ever! They had Cherry Ames series and I loved them!

  24. Joelle S. says

    While it’s so hard to choose just one, my favorite childhood book is probably The Secret Garden. There’s something so timeless in that story! I spent countless hours pretending to be Mary Lennox, (although my gardens never quite turned out)! I think every child dreams of a secret place they can escape to from time to time.
    Jmsfarmgirl (at) hotmail (dot) com

  25. D Stevens says

    I loved any horse story & Nancy Drew was a fun read. I still love horses & detective stories!
    d_stevens310 @ live . com

  26. Linda McFarland says

    As a child I loved any Little Golden Book and also loved Black Beauty…always loved to read! Would love to win, thanks for the opportunity…Linda

  27. Susan Roberts says

    My Mom had a copy of BEST LOVED POEMS OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE that her grandmother had given her that my two sisters and I read all the time. One year when we were in our early teens we got into a discussion over who would get the book when my Mom died (my Mom was probably all of 35 at the time) and she wasn’t too happy with the discussion. The next Christmas, she gave each of us our own copy of the book.

  28. Janice Burzlaff says

    Behind our house at State College, Mississippi was a huge cedar tree; my dad said it was probably a hundred years old. There was rope swing hanging from one branch and there was a cement slab beneath the tree where my sister Kathy and I and our friends would play. But my favorite memory of the tree was the large wide branch where I used to sit to daydream or read. I especially remember reading Little Town on the Prairie while sitting in this special spot.

  29. says

    My family moved from a neighborhood full of kids to a very quiet street with few kids but the library was across the street. It became my favorite place. Though it’s unoriginal, I was crazy about Nancy Drew books like “..The HIdden Staircase”and traded with friends, finishing one and starting anotherone.
    .I still love the library!

  30. Tanya says

    I loved the interview!
    My favorite childhood book would have to be The Hobbit. We had a copy with pictures in it. At night before bed my dad would sit next to me and read some of it to me. One of the best memories I have of him.

  31. says

    Welcome to the Porch, Colleen! I love books like the ones you and Lisa are offering in this contest. When my busy schedule won’t allow a vacation, delving into stories set in popular get-away venues lets me escape my to-do list . . . at least in my mind! Good luck to everyone entering to win!

  32. Sarah Jo Jackson says

    I loved Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Lois Lenski, and when I was a little older Grace Livingston Hill. Those books really date me–I’m 71!

  33. Katie Addington says

    My favorite books when I was young were the Little Golden Books, especially The Monster at the End of this Book and The Tawny Scrawny Lion. My mom really put the suspense into The Monster at the End of this Book. :)

  34. Anonymous says

    Hi, Colleen and Lisa!!

    Loved your post and learning more about the settings for your books!! Oceans, beaches, and islands are some of my most favorite things – I’ve been to many beaches, and seen both the Atlantic and Pacific (from Hawaii also), but have yet to visit the Outer Banks (although I’ve been near them) – which I’ve wanted to do for years!! SO glad that both of you have written books set in the area!!

    Growing up – my favorite book was “Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories”, which I read to my children, also. I loved the morals lesson contained in each of the short stories and it was hard to limit myself to just one story each night!!

    Thanks for the opportunity to win some of your wonderful books!!


    • Lisa Wingate says

      Hi Bonnie! I hope you get the chance to visit the Outer Banks! It is such a beautiful place!

      I too love books that teach moral lessons 😉

  35. says

    Fist, thank you Lisa for this wonderful post. And oh how I love Colleen Coble. What a treasure of a woman in every way. She has stewarded her gifts and hearts and the gifts and hearts of others so well.
    One of my favorite childhood books that goes to being part of what birthed my love for fiction is “The Lord of the Flies.” Crazy maybe, but that book captured me. My mom always bought us a golden book every time she went to the grocery store. We didn’t have a lot of money, so she nurtured this gift in me and both of my brothers. But reading that book in middle school just took my love of reading to another place. Thank you for the reminder…

    • Lisa Wingate says

      Good heavens! Lord of the Flies gave me nightmares… although I have to admit, as English class reads went, I was much more captivated by it than most!

      and yes, Colleen is a treasure!

  36. says

    My Friend Flicka, and Smokey the Cow Horse were my favorite horse books. I kept them checked out of the library as much as I could, and was sorely disappointed when someone else had them checked out. I also loved the Nancy Drew, and Boxcar Kids series. My favorite Bernstein Bears book was the one about the honey tree. I can’t seem to find the title, but I loved it. :-)

    • Lisa Wingate says

      Oh! Will James and Smoky the Cowhorse. Some of my faves. Also loved My Friend Flicka. Horse-girl classics!

  37. Melanie Backus says

    Two fabulous authors! It is our lucky day sure enough. I loved Old Yellar and The Yearling. There were so many great books when I was a child just as there are so many great books today. Talents and blessings abound. Thank you both for what you do and for sharing those wonderful talents. It is greatly appreciated.

    melback at cebridge dot net

  38. steph j says

    My favorite childhood book was berenstain bears. Now I read them to my children. I love all of them. My favorite is the new baby one. I also like little house on the prairie too.

  39. Laurie Gommermann says

    In third grade our teacher had everyone give a talk about our favorite book. I picked THE CRICKET IN TIMES SQUARE. Touching story about the love and friendship that develops between the cricket, Chester, and the little boy, Mario whose parents run a news stand in Times Square. Chester’s voice attracts attention and brings money to the news stand. Chester doesn’t like the fame and wants to return to the country in Connecticut. Both are willing to sacrifice want they want for their love and caring for what the other needs to do.

    I also love Don Freeman’s Corduroy and Winnie the Pooh and Eric Carle’s animals/insects Brown Bear etc and Eric Hill’s Spot stories.

  40. says

    My favorite childhood book was The Secret Garden. Just yesterday I was reading it to my 4 year old granddaughter, Ella. She was curled up beside me, twisting my hair and listening so intently. The book I bought her came with a necklace with a key charm on it. I hope yesterday will become a sweet memory for her.

  41. Katie says

    The My Friend Flicka series, Little House on the Prairie series, Nancy Drew, anything with horses in it! I love reading!


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