Who is your biggest encourager for your writing success?

My mother died a few weeks ago. She was my biggest supporter and fan from the very first poem I wrote in third grade until the day she died. Until she could no longer see well-enough to read, she read every word I wrote. Her encouragement kept me pressing forward, crafting words.

Mom loved her kindle she could make the words extra large
and enjoy reading once again. She loved a good story.

Writer’s need to surround themselves with encouraging people. I am grateful for my writer friends and my sister, Linda, who fill the void my mom left. Building a fan base is hard, stepping out to gather them in is an even bigger challenge.

That’s why I need my cheering section. I need my Word Weavers and ACFW critique partners. Without their input, I wouldn’t be publishing my fifth and sixth historical romances in 2021.

The writer friends I’ve met at conferences and in writer groups on social media make me feel less like an odd-ball while crafting fiction. I need the Serious Writers Family Facebook group and Serious Writer Club to give me additional tools to market my work. I need my editors who have such a gentle way of helping me polish my novels.  

Everyone one of these wonderful writers has become like family to me. And after losing my mom, they are more precious than ever. Some have so much more experience and can offer me wisdom and insights into writing craft. Others are like younger siblings. They look to me for help and encouragement.

Writing is a lonely endeavor. And if I had isolated myself, I’d have become weary and my words stale. And I am confident, without their support, that my mother’s passing would have derailed me and I would have given it all up.

Because of this wonderful support, I’m getting my writing legs back and doing a slow plod toward the goals I need to reach before my next book releases. My creative juices are finding their flow.

I know my mom is looking down from Heaven able to once again see every word I am writing. The thought makes me smile and empowers me to keep writing.

Who is your biggest supporter?

Check out my upcoming historical romance newest release. It’s available on Amazon for preorder.

Pat Nichols Turned to Novel Writing after Retirement

Today I welcome Pat Nichols to Jubilee Writer, she and I have a lot in common. We share a publisher and are both members of Word Weavers and ACFW. And …well, I’ll let her tell her very interesting story. Pat

Eight years ago, my husband and I completed our retirement-travel bucket list, prompting the question, “What’s next”. Having spent twenty-five years in the corporate world, I was accustomed to meeting deadlines and accomplishing goals. It might sound crazy, but I kind of missed the fast pace. Not enough to get back in the rat race, mind you. But enough to consider starting a second career. One I believe God prompted me to pursue. Writing novels.

While I cut my teeth on two, not-ready-for-primetime manuscripts based on real people, three fictional characters began to form in my mind. Strangers with different backgrounds. Emily, from a small southern town, and Rachel, an Atlanta native. And Sadie, a convicted felon returning to the scene of her crime. They eventually found their way into my third manuscript.

From the beginning I’d planned to create an ongoing saga with a small town functioning as a key character. Thus, I researched everything I could find about series, finished book one, and began writing the sequel. Late in 2017 I was blessed with a contract from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Months into the editing process readers chose The Secret of Willow Inn as the title. It will be available on Amazon presale in late September or early October and released January, 2019. Earlier this year, I received a second contract for book two in the series, scheduled for release January, 2020. I’m currently working on book three and plan to continue the series until it comes to a logical conclusion sometime in the distant future.

I first realized a calling to write in the eighties during a three-year assignment as a public relations manager. Creating articles and stories for newspapers gave birth to my passion. Many years and numerous assignments passed before the opportunity to tap into my creativity resurfaced. Now with my computer sitting on a lap desk, I write five days a week from a recliner in my living room. The thrill of deadlines and goals mingled with the flexibility of retirement.

In addition to my friends in the North Georgia ACFW chapter and my Word Weavers group, my wonderful husband of fifty plus years is my best support. Although he doesn’t read novels, he listens to my draft, catches errors, and provides excellent feedback.

A friend recently asked how long I planned to continue writing. The answer? Until God takes me home or I wake up one morning and totally forget where I left my computer. I’m counting on the first happening before the second.

I feel the same way, Pat. Thanks for sharing your encouraging story.

Here’s Pat Nichol’s bio:

Pat Nichols launched career number two as a novelist, proving it’s never too late to follow your dreams. Drawing on years of corporate experience working with hundreds of amazing women from all walks of life, she creates stories about women who face challenges in the pursuit of their dreams. She lives in an Atlanta suburb with her husband of fifty plus years, is the mother of two, and grandmother of three. She is grateful for God’s blessings and unfailing love through all of life’s peaks and valleys.

Visit her on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/pat.nichols.52459

https://twitter.com/PatNichols16

https://patnicholsauthor.blog

 

Instagram

 

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Back Cover Copy of The Secret of Willow Inn:

Two women fighting for their dreams, one who’s long lost hers, are united by tragedy and a long-held secret.

Pregnant with her first child, Emily Hayes is eager to help her mother finish transforming an estate into the Willow Inn and write a novel about Willow Falls’ colorful history. A tragic event threatens her parents’ plans to refurbish an abandoned hotel and transform the obscure Georgia setting into a tourist destination.

Sadie Lyles left Willow Falls a murderer who’d killed the town hero. She returns as a despised felon and seeks solace in the town’s café. Emily struggles to unite the close-knit community and becomes Sadie’s biggest advocate. She strives to uncover the truth about the crime and save her town from dying.

To appease her father, Rachel, a VP in his Atlanta real-estate-development firm, relegates her acting dream to secret performances for imaginary audiences. After meeting charming, flirtatious Charlie Bricker, manager for Willow Falls’ future vineyard, she vows to break free from her father’s control.

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Researching a Contemporary Novel in a Foreign Setting

Norma 2017 2

I am thrilled to have Author Norma Gail as my guest today. After reading her novel Land of My Dreams I fell in love with Scotland. She’s agreed to share how she did her research to make her setting so believable. By the way, Land of My Dreams just received the Bookvana Award. Way to go Norma. I’ve got my notebook out and my pen is ready.

LoMD Bookvana cover

Accuracy is a challenge faced by every writer, no matter what your genre. A contemporary setting can be just as challenging as a historical one. When I decided to set my debut novel, Land of My Dreams, in Scotland, there was quite a learning curve. During a two-week vacation, I barely glimpsed the top of the ben (mountain) when it came to understanding the language and culture necessary to portray Scottish life with accuracy.

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Photo provided by Norma. Sheep farm in Scotland.

 

More than just the northern part of Great Britain, Scotland is a unique and unusual place. Everyone knows about kilts, bagpipes, and castles, but little else. I’m from New Mexico, and as one of my main characters remarks, “Scotland and New Mexico are as different as water and dust.” So what can you do when your setting is unfamiliar? The internet is wonderful, but some things are hard to understand if you haven’t been there.

If you can travel to your setting, stay in small hotels, get out among people, and make opportunities to talk with them. Develop the art of observing small details. Take photos of everything, but also make notes about things that strike you as different, food, architecture, speech, and music are easy. I created a file of over 400 photos, some from our trip, but most from various websites about the area around Fort William, and Loch Garry. I set it up as a screensaver on my laptop. Now, whenever I walk through the room, I catch a glimpse of scenes that trigger thoughts of what might take place in such a setting. Watch YouTube videos where people describe the countryside or talk about some local event.

A selection of pictures Norma took of Scotland for her research.

A Scottish accent either confuses the daylights out of Americans or makes them swoon. I love their unique English, peppered with Scots, a Germanic language, and Scottish Gaelic, a native Celtic language. Fun words such as bubbly jock for turkey, tattyboggle for scarecrow, and clishamaclaver for chatter or idle talk make me giggle. Pesty insects are wee beasties, and they might refer to a disturbance to as a stramash or kerfuffle. The first time we ordered water with a meal, the waiter asked if we preferred “still or sparkling”.

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Highland Games

Scots might be among the toughest people on earth, plans continuing in spite of the weather. While we layered shirts, sweaters, and rain jackets for the Highland Games, children sported shorts and sleeveless shirts. A dapper, elderly couple, him in his kilt and her in a tartan skirt, eating ice cream cones in the chilly weather, declared it a “Lovely day!” It was August, after all.

Determined to eat what the Scots eat, I ordered their national dish, haggis, a “pudding” made from the heart, lungs, and liver of sheep, minced fine and mixed with spices and oats. Imagine this mixture, resembling dark, coarse sawdust, sewn into the stomach of a sheep and boiled. It wasn’t bad. We ate in small local restaurants so we got a real sense of local flavor.

I have a playlist of Scottish music on my phone. Yes, I love bagpipes, but much is traditional and some is contemporary. I listen as I drive and remember the images that spring to mind. I read Scottish news from time to time. It’s necessary to know what kinds of issues affect the lives of your characters, like the recent referendum on Scottish independence and Brexit.

I met Scottish editor through ACFW who combs through my manuscripts to make certain things are accurate. She suggests words, customs, or a change of scene that might work better.118 D&N Old Town Weaving Co 5x7(1)

The time you spend creating your story world is never wasted. Above all, strive for accuracy. Readers will never go for a book that doesn’t ring true to life and believable.

© Copyright Norma Gail Holtman, June 12, 2017

 

Thanks for the great information, Norma.

Here’s how to follow Norma:

www.normagail.org      

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorNormaGai

http://pinterest.com/normagailth/boards/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7874459

https://twitter.com/Norma_Gail

https://www.instagram.com/normagailwrites/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Land-My-Dreams-Norma-Gail/dp/1941103170

Do you have any questions for Norma about research? Post in the comments.

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