An Interview with Candee Fick

Today Candee Fick, fellow-LPC author is with me today. I enjoyed her debut novel Dance Over Me and today, along with getting to know her, she’ll share  her newest release Focus on Love.

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Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

The seeds for my writing journey began at age four when I first learned how to read and unlocked the power of imaginative stories. As an avid reader, I found a happy escape inside the pages of a book and often found myself inventing alternate endings or adventures for my favorite characters. However, there came a time when I found the latest book unsatisfying and soon began dreaming new stories of my own.

Of course, once I deliberately began to write for publication rather than personal entertainment, I quickly discovered how much I had to learn! While fiction was my passion, my first published works came through non-fiction articles and books. However, once I mastered bits of the fiction craft, I haven’t looked back. Multiple attempts at the ACFW Genesis contest eventually led to a victory and finally my first fiction contract.

What is your latest published project?

My latest project, Focus On Love, was released on February 13th of this year, just in time for Valentine’s Day. It tells the story of a photographer-turned-actress who meets a freelancer who has put his career on hold. When he shows her what true love is all about, her life may never be the same. While perfectly okay as a standalone the picks up right where Dance Over Me left off (and I’m thrilled to say I’ve just officially signed a contract for the third book of the series.)

Focus on Love cover from LPC

How do you research for your book?

With contemporary settings, most of my research revolves around the professions of my characters. For example, Liz is an actress at a dinner theater and they are about to present White Christmas followed in a few months by Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  I needed to know how many people would be in the cast for each, character names, songs in the stage version, and so on. Since Liz and Ryan are both photographers, I needed to research specific types of camera lenses, wedding photography, and then created a fictional magazine publishing empire to hire Ryan.

What inspired you to write your book?

This particular book came to life while writing a previous story about Liz’s roommate Dani. While weaving bits of her character into the narrative, I found myself wondering more about what made her tick. Why did she hold God at arm’s length? If she was so good at photography, why was she an actress instead? And finally, what would it take to change her mind? Once I got to know Liz, her story just had to be written.

When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

At first, my desire to create fictional worlds for readers was purely for the entertainment value. I wanted to write the kind of books I like to read. But then I found spiritual truths about God creeping into the storylines as my characters struggled with the obstacles they faced. Suddenly, I wanted to show authentic Christians wrestling with the tough issues against the backdrop of God’s unfailing love. That’s when writing became more of a calling.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

I’ve got several favorite verses that have carried me through difficult times in the past. But the most recent actually inspired The Wardrobe series: “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17) For me, this verse paints a comprehensive picture of God’s unfailing love. Dani discovered that God never left her and in fact rejoices or dances over her. Liz’s fears are quieted with God’s love. And soon Gloria will learn that God sings and then begins to sing a new song herself.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

It’s a long journey so don’t lose heart. But it’s a journey full of personal discovery and some of the most amazingly supportive people you’ll ever meet along the way. Just keep writing…and reading…and learning. And never lose the joy that made you want to write in the first place. If you don’t love your story and characters, no one else will.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My husband tries to be supportive, but bless his heart, he only reads the Bible and the sports page. For me, my local writers’ group has become that vital foundation. At every monthly meeting, we start off by sharing what’s new in our writing worlds. My goal has been to always have something to say that shows my progress. That accountability and group of cheerleaders keeps me coming back to the keyboard on the rough days.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

I read it all as long as it’s clean and the favorite of the week depends on my mood. Sometimes I need a little adventure with a YA dystopian tale or romantic suspense or mystery. Other times, my real life is a tad too chaotic by itself and I crave the escape into a simpler historical or fairy tale retelling. Romance and romantic plot threads are always high on my list but the setting and genre can vary widely.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I recently co-sponsored two trips to a castle to teach middle schoolers about writing fiction. While most of the day was consumed with teaching and mentoring and chaperoning…I still got up early and headed to the library to write every morning. My imagination could simply dance across the page and I wish I could always write there!

However, in real life, I write either at the desk in my office before the family wakes up…or at Starbucks while my daughter is at work nearby. Both seem “literary” to me but are also places where my muse knows to show up and help me get words on the page.

More about the author:

Candee Fick is a multi-published award-winning author. She is also the wife of a high school football coach and the mother of three children, including a daughter with a rare genetic syndrome. When not busy with her day job, writing, or coaching other authors, she can be found cheering on the home team at sporting events, exploring the great Colorado outdoors, indulging in dark chocolate, and savoring happily-ever-after endings through a good book.

Focus on Love teaser:

Get free first chapters: http://eepurl.com/1OSfH

Check out her other books:

Find all of her books: https://www.amazon.com/Candee-Fick/e/B0056B94VE/

Visit her:

http://www.CandeeFick.com

BLURB for Focus On Love:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946016411/r

Free-spirited Elizabeth Foster turned her back on her father’s photography business to pursue musical theater, but a career on the stage remains second to a career behind the camera. The possibility of a one-show contract means she’s a few weeks from unemployment forcing her home, and her dreams of pursuing professional photography reemerge. With photography and theater opportunities unfolding before her, Liz faces her biggest challenge yet—listening to her heart.

Meanwhile, sought-after photographer Ryan Callahan has put his career on hold to help his sister’s family, but the promise of a bigger assignment could lure him away so he can begin building a family of his own. With professional opportunities and personal obligations pulling at him, Ryan faces his toughest challenge—balancing family, relationships, and work.

If given the choice, what dreams would develop for Liz and Ryan? And will they learn to trust each other enough to focus on love?

 

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Why I Set My Novel in My Hometown

 

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Aurora, Illinois has the Fox River flowing through downtown

 

 

The idea for New Duet ruminated in my mind for a while before I chose a setting. During that time, my husband and I went to a First Friday celebration. (Aurora, Illinois has fun events downtown every first Friday during the summer, starting in May and runs until September.)  The theme for that Friday was spotlighting local artists.

 

My husband and I walk around downtown visiting art galleries and stores, bars and restaurants that featured artists and photographers’ offerings from Aurora and surrounding areas.

 

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Isabell Wilson is inspired by this sculpted water fountain called The Dancing Stones

 

When we visited some artist’s studios, I knew my characters would meet in Aurora. Isabella has an art degree from a Chicago art school and yet, she married a music minister and never create art again.

Isabella needs to rebuild her life after her husband’s untimely death. Resurrecting her art muse in a city that supports the arts was a perfect plot twist.

 

Aurora has a diverse ethnic population of over 200,000. Museums, fun restaurants and the beautiful Fox River gave me scene settings—not to mention possible date opportunities in Chicago, 70 minutes to the lake shore by car. The local college and wonderful local architecture play a part in my story.

 

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The Paramont Theater a great place to see Broadway quality productions

 

The biggest challenge for me is I’m directionally challenged. My sweet hubby double-checked all my physical references and made sure they were on the correct street and my characters were headed in the right direction.

An extra bonus to placing my setting in Aurora are local book signings. I’ll be signing books at If These Walls Could Talk this summer.  This lovely framing store is also a gallery for local artists to display their work.

 

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If These Wall Could Talk Framing and Gallery

 

A wonderful scene in New Duet takes place in that shop. The co-owner and gallery manager, Jennifer Rauch was happy to feature me on…drum roll… First Friday in August. What a great cycle of creativity.

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Buy Link Click here

If any of you are in the Aurora area the First Friday in August come by and say hello. I’ll be sharing more behind the scenes things from New Duet in future posts. Don’t miss out. Subscribe.

 

 

 

 

A Visit with Meghan Kelly Audiobook Narrator

Meghan Kelly hsI am so excited to welcome the narrator of my audio version of Secrets and Charades to Jubilee Writer. I had a great time working with Meghan Kelly. She is a wonderful professional. I thought it would be fun and interesting for all of you to get a behind the scenes look at the creation of an audiobook and the life of a narrator.

  • How long have you been recording Audio books? And how did you get started?

I started doing audiobooks almost 5 years ago.  I had been doing Voice over work for several years and was always a voracious reader so when I came across the platform ACX I was thrilled.  And also hooked!  I was lucky enough to get work immediately and I haven’t stopped!

  • How long does it take to record a book?

It’s much more time consuming than most people think.  You can’t just walk into the booth and give a perfect read…unfortunately that just doesn’t happen.  Each finished hour of audio takes approximately 6 hours to produce.  That includes initial read, prep, recording, editing, proofing, pacing and mastering.

  • What’s your favorite genre to record?

I love Love LOVE Historical Romance!  I do a lot of Romance in general but I have a soft spot for Historical fiction.  My Mom loved it and I think that’s where I got it from.

  • How do you find your projects?

I work primarily through ACX and submit auditions to projects I’m interested in.  I also work with a few of the smaller publishing houses.  Although I’m working toward transitioning to the bigger ones.  With over 200+ audiobooks under my belt I think I feel ready!

  • Do you need special equipment?

Yes, I have a custom home studio at home that my wonderful husband built.

  • Walk us through a typical recording day.

I do most of my promotional work, answer emails, read auditions in the mornings.  Then I record usually everyday from 12-5 and edit in the evenings (if I have not been fortunate enough to be able to bring on an editor).

  • How is a narrator compensated for their work?

With ACX I do a mix of Royalty Share books and Per Finished hour projects (paid for work no royalties).  Publishing houses are straight PFH projects. 

  • What is the most difficult part about your job?

Lack of promotion and support on the sales of RS audiobooks.

  • Tell us what lead you to embraced audiobook narration.

I was that girl in HS who was totally into Drama and Choir.  I was lucky enough to sing at every function (shows, concerts, games, graduation) and then I went off to college to study musical theatre and Opera.  The Opera part was a mistake…I wasn’t as suited as I thought.  I did not fare well in competition. I also was not getting the acting roles I had always been able to get back home.

 Crushed, I switched schools and majors and didn’t sing again for 12 years.  After college I still wanted to work in the Entertainment business some how…so I moved to NYC and managed to get a job in Casting/Talent Agenting.  

After 2 years there I moved back to Detroit area and became a Franchised Talent Agent for 6 years.  That’s when I fell in love with Voice Over work.  Burning out from the hard work of a talent agent. And being requested by clients to audition for commercials, industrial work etc.  I gave it a shot and did pretty well.  Also, from the urging of a very dear friend I auditioned for ONE Rock band on a NYE resolution and got it which lead me to singing in bars, restaurants and festivals for 15 years.  

  • I have to know why you auditioned to narrate Secrets & Charades?

Because I LOVE Historical Romance and the Book cover was beautiful!  Once I read the book and realized how talented you are I was absolutely Thrilled!!

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Well, I’m blushing. Thank you do much for a peek into your world, Meghan.

My audiobook is available  on Amazon audibles  and iTunes. Those who prefer disks can find those on Amazon as well.  Meghan Kelly does great work and I’m honored she chose my novel to audition for and I’m glad I chose her.  If you love to listen to audios, grab a copy. There’s a free sample to listen too. You’ll be hooked.

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If you’d like to continue to follow this blog and learn more interesting things about the writing business, and read fun interviews please subscribe before you exit. You will recieve new blogs as I post them right in your e-mail.

Catherine Brakefield shares her writing journey

 

Cathy holding Destiny's Whirlwind Never, never give up! I am living my dream-come-true in my Destiny saga! Swept into Destiny was published in May 2017, and this is Destiny’s Whirlwind debut! Destiny of Heart is scheduled for late 2018, with Waltz with Destiny for spring of 2019.

Looking back, I can see the hand of God orchestrating the events leading up to this Destiny saga, and the people who helped make my dream come true.

 

I grew up with free technical apparatuses: black and white television set, no computers, no internet, and, would you believe—no cell phones. If I wanted three dimensional characters, I read a book. The rhyming sonnet of words and flowing musical notes of the written language captivated me, but I never dreamt I’d become a writer!

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I entered the job force after high school and went to night-school for college, focusing on business. I acquired a secretarial position and worked my way up the corporate ladder to purchasing director. Meanwhile, I wrote stories. I was an avid Jesus follower. I never missed Billy Graham on television.

I married a wonderful man. Then three years later, became pregnant. While reading Decision Magazine one day, I noted a writing competition. I entered and won a trip to the Billy Graham headquarters, which was then in Minneapolis, MN., for the Billy Graham School for Christian Writers. My daughter was born four months later. I left my job to be a stay-at-home mom, planning to write the great American novel!

Then my grandmother came to live with us. Gran had severe rheumatoid arthritis. Later, she had a stroke, shingles, an amputation, and another stroke. My writing took a detour into the inner recesses of my file cabinet. Baby bottles, diapers, special care for Gran, and doctor visits took over.

Little did I know I was now enrolled in God’s School of Christian Learning. From those twelve years Gran lived with my family, the inspiration of this Destiny saga evolved, and the idea of writing a faith-based epic historical romance formed.

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Beginning in the Antebellum Era this four book saga transports readers into the Civil War, Gibson Era, Spanish-American War, World War I, Great Depression, the Big Band Era, and through World War II.

My books did not arrive without conflict. I would often pray, arguing with God! I wanted my characters to be the perfect individuals like I wanted in myself, my husband, and my children. God let me know—that was not His plan.

Take courage! We serve an awesome God who carries my imperfect characters through their mishaps into a heart-wrenching climax!

What has been the outcome so far for Destiny’s Whirlwind?

Some of my readers have bought more than one book. One reader, when purchasing Destiny’s Whirlwind told me that her teenage son is reading Swept into Destiny for his history and literature class. She asked me if my publisher would consider making two different covers. Her teenager wanted to take it with him to class,but didn’t want to carry around a book that had a girl on the cover.

My readers are as diverse as my characters. And come back each time for my next book, like my Amish friend.

I am blessed by my publisher, Tamara Clymer; editor, Debra L. Butterfield; and agent, Cyle Young who have stood by me in this adventure to do God’s will. Yes, my characters are flawed, some more than others. I obeyed God and by writing of my characters’ constant failures, I witnessed—the love of an unfailing God!

  Destiny’s Whirlwind, Book 2: Bound by her words… Collina McConnell promises her dying father to uphold the legacy of their Kentucky estate. Rough Rider Franklin Long offers his help. War is declared and he leaves for Cuba. He holds the key to her heart, but will he return? As Collina fights to keep her promise to her father, the words of Esther 8:6 ring in her thoughts. “How can I endure to see the evil that will come to my people?” https://www.amazon.com/Destinys-Whirlwind-Destiny-Book-2-ebook/dp/B07C6NSCSZ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1524488271&sr=8-2&keywords=catherine+ulrich+brakefield

Swept into Destiny Book 1: One brave decision leads to serious consequences. Maggie Gatlan is secretly educating the slaves at Spirit Wind Manor when she meets Ben McConnell, an Irish immigrant. Civil War erupts and Maggie must choose. Does she care more for Ben or for her beloved South? https://www.amazon.com/Swept-Destiny-Catherine-Ulrich-Brakefield-ebook/dp/B0719RRHXG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1524488327&sr=8-1&keywords=catherine+ulrich+brakefield

 

Wilted Dandelions The story begins in 1837. Rachael Rothburn is a high-spirited woman who feels she doesn’t need a husband. She wants to become a missionary and travel out west to share the salvation message with Native Americans. Jonathan Wheaton desires the same. They agree on a marriage of convenience and in the process of co-existing, they discover God doesn’t create coincidences—He designs possibilities. https://www.amazon.com/Wilted-Dandelions-Catherine-Ulrich-Brakefield-ebook/dp/B01349SZKA/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1524488327&sr=8-4&keywords=catherine+ulrich+brakefield

Bio:

Catherine says, “My readers inspire my writing!”

Catherine is an award-winning author of faith-based historical romance Wilted Dandelions. Her new Destiny series begins with Swept into Destiny. The second of her four-book Destiny series Destiny’s Whirlwind has just been released.

She has written two pictorial history books: Images of America: The Lapeer Area, and Images of America: Eastern Lapeer County.

Her short stories have been published in Guidepost Books True Stories of Extraordinary Answers to Prayer,  Unexpected Answers and Desires of Your Heart; Baker Books, Revell, The Dog Next Door, Horse of my Heart, and Dogs/Rescue scheduled for October, 2018 publication; CrossRiver Media Publishers, The Benefit Package and Abba’s Promise; Bethany House Publishers, Jesus Talked to me Today.

Catherine Brakefield

She is a longtime Michigan resident; she enjoys horseback riding, swimming, traveling the byroads across America, and spoiling her two handsome grandsons and two beautiful granddaughters! She lives with her husband of 45 years and their Arabian horses in the picturesque hills of Addison Township.  Visit her at CatherineUlrichBrakefield.com; Facebook.com/CatherineUlrichBrakefield; and her blog; Hopes, Hearts and Hoofbeats.

www.CatherineUlrichBrakefield.com

Download a free bonus chapter from my publisher, CrossRiver Media.

Blog:  www.Hopes,HeartsandHoofbeats

Author Facebook:  www.Facebook.com/CatherineUlrichBrakefield

Twitter: www.cubrakefield.com

Linkedln:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/catherine-brakefield-4710b315/

I very much enjoy Catherine’s books and look forward to the next installment. 

If you love learning about authors journeys and other writerly stuff please subscribe. You’ll receive the latest blog post in your email.

Reflecting on a weekend writer’s retreat

How about a mini-conference?

This past weekend was my local Word Weavers’ retreat, titled Cultivate. Attendees got a taste of what a writer’s conference is like without taking a week off or spending a lot of money.

Everyone left at the end of the sessions rejuvenated and encouraged.

 

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Erin Curtis, President of Word Weavers, Aurora,IL chapter gives opening address.

 

Writers are a lonely breed because other people don’t understand us. We wonder sometimes if this writing journey is worth it. But get a group of us together and we come to life.

No one thinks our love of words is peculiar. We discuss our characters and plots like they are real people and events. Friendships are renewed, and new ones forged.

Add a couple of workshops with Ginger Kolbaba and Rowena Kuo then finish with a critique session, and you’ve got a day of inspiration to recharge the wordsmith in all of us.

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Ginger Kolbaba. Author and Speaker shared her expertise

More than once I heard attendees tell me how at-peace it felt to be there. They didn’t know there were groups like ours. One woman said she was so surprised others liked her work. Sharing our word babies with anyone besides our mother can be daunting.

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Rowena Kuo, CEO of Brimstone Publishing taught a session

Retreats and conferences help writers realize they are not alone in their pursuit of publication. They have comrades-in-arms to battle discouragement.  Registration, breaks, and lunch serve as opportunities to build a network, and in the classes we learn what we didn’t know or had forgotten about our craft.

It’s a wonderful thing.

 

 

Share your small retreat experience. I’d love to hear about it.

 

An Interview with Carol Guthrie Heilman’s Agnes Hopper

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Welcome Carol, I  heard you found a transcript for an interview with Agnes Hopper. Tell me how she came to be first.

Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar began as a short story that ended when the seventy-plus widow ran away from her retirement home. When the curtain dropped on the final scene, I squirreled the story away. Months later, when I pulled it out and reread it, doubts about the conclusion gnawed at my writer’s gut. Would a feisty, headstrong, outspoken woman such as Agnes escape into the night and never be heard from again? “What if” questions began popping into my mind and would not leave me alone

And so I began a long discussion with Agnes. What if you bumped into an old friend who lived there and then you stayed around long enough to make some new ones? What if you began to realize the administrator of the home ran a tight ship for sinister reasons? Would you care enough to stick around? To become a voice for those who were afraid to speak up?

The novel evolved from there. Along the way Agnes and I fell in love with some quirky characters. Writing Agnes’ story has been an exciting journey. Her second book, Agnes Hopper Bets On Murder, has a release date of April 15th. We are conspiring on her next adventures in book three with a working title of: Agnes Hopper Acquits an Arsonist.

I dearly love the elderly, and that’s a good thing because now I am one. Agnes has a spunky spirit much like my mother’s and the humor often comes from my daddy, who was an Appalachian coal miner.

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The following interview takes place between a reporter, Jenny Lee Jones, from The Timely News of the small town of Sweetbriar and Agnes Hopper. The newspaper runs a weekly series called About Town and Sweetbriar’s retirement home was next on the list. Future installments will include Blind George’s Pool Hall, the Kut’n Loose Beauty Shop and Rodeo Rags.

The scoop on the initial interview with Jenny Lee Jones of the Timely News

Agnes Hopper:

As we had agreed by phone, I met a reporter on Sweetbriar Manor’s porch while the other residents were either napping or watching soap operas. A slight breeze carried the scent of confederate Jasmine trailing up a nearby lattice as we settled ourselves in our rockers.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Thank you for talking with me this afternoon, Mrs. Hopper. When I spoke with Miss Johnson, she said I was welcome to interview any of the residents—except you because she had recently determined you did not possess a sound mind. Naturally, my suspicious antennas went up, and since the cook informed me your administrator will be gone until suppertime, I made a beeline over here.

Agnes Hopper:

She said that did she? I’m not surprised. She runs a tight ship around here for reasons yet to be determined, but I’m working on it. Leave your card and when I figure out what’s really going on around here, I’ll give you a call.

Jenny Lee Jones:

You realize I don’t have to reveal my sources if you would like to speak up now.

Agnes Hopper:

Oh that woman would know. I’m not worried about myself, you understand, but there has to be a reason for a friend’s nightmares or fear in another’s friend’s eyes or . . .

Jenny Lee Jones:

Mrs. Hopper, why would you think your suspicions have anything to do with Miss Johnson?

Agnes Hopper:

Let me be perfectly clear. I will expose our unscrupulous administrator when the time is right.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Will you give me the exclusive when you do?

Agnes Hopper:

Agreed. Let’s change directions for now. Call me Agnes. Everyone does except my friend, Smiley. He’s called me Sis from my very first day

Jenny Lee Jones:

And why is that?

Agnes Hopper:

I think he knew right off I was madder than a wet hen to be in this place, and a little scared, too, so he tried to show me he was on my side and willing to be my friend.

Jenny Lee Jones:

So you’re saying you didn’t want to live here?

Agnes Hopper: I had no choice.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Could you explain that, Agnes?

Agnes Hopper:

First off, my little farmhouse burned to the ground. Who would’ve thought a pot of beans left on the stove could do such as that.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Is that when you moved here?

Agnes Hopper: Moved in with my daughter, Betty Jo. Me and my pet pig, Miss Margaret, that is. We lasted six months. My daughter and I came to the conclusion we couldn’t tolerate each other any longer.

Jenny Lee Jones:

You don’t say. I understand the Manor doesn’t allow pets. What happened to Miss Margaret?

Agnes Hopper:

My dear son-in-law, Henry, came to our rescue. Miss Margaret spends her days at his hardware store. He drops her off each evening at Ben Blair’s Llama Farm just outside town, plus she’s there on Sundays. Everyone loves the arrangement, except me. I miss her sweet presence something fierce.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Yes, well . . . Why did you choose a pig as a pet in the first place?

Agnes Hopper:

She did the choosing. My husband, Charlie, brought her to the house soon after she was born. The runt of a litter and her brothers and sisters kept her from her mother’s tits. We bottle-fed her for six weeks and then took her back to the barn. Well, that sow wouldn’t have anything to do with her. First thing we know Miss Margaret was on our front porch whining and crying like her little heart was broken. From then on, she was ours.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Let’s get back to the reason I’m here. Sweetbriar Manor advertises a rewarding, enriching lifestyle. Perhaps you have misinterpreted some conversations or even let your imagination run away with you. Miss Johnson has had a stellar reputation since she’s come to Sweetbriar.

Agnes Hopper:

For a reporter, you’re not a good listener. When I have my ducks in a row, I’ll contact you. If I’m right, that woman will end up in prison.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Have you considered counseling? You’ve had to grieve over losing your husband, your farmhouse, your pet pig, and your daughter’s hospitality. Sometimes anger makes us lash out at anyone who tries to help.

Agnes Hopper:

Like Miss Johnson?

Jenny Lee Jones:

She thinks you’ve demonstrated some irrational behavior, like when you talk to your dead husband, for instance.

Agnes Hopper:

My Charlie is a comfort and he can make me laugh when things get tough.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Have you made any other friends here? Besides the one who calls you Sis.

Agnes Hopper:

Pearl, my best friend in high school, lives next door. Then there’s William who always chews on a fat cigar and calls me Red, because my hair reminds him of his mother’s. Francesca, his sweetie, thinks she better than the rest of us, but she can play a mean piano. And Alice is a dear, frail lady who writes poetry, talks in riddles, and keeps some secrets bottled up inside. And the one who calls me Sis? He’s a small man with big brown eyes that could melt a rock. They’re all my friends, and if they don’t start speaking up for themselves—I’m going to have to do it for them.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Why should you get involved? If you stir up trouble, you could be asked to leave.

Agnes Hopper:

I have a plan. Even if Miss Johnson shows me the door, and even if our good sheriff won’t listen to me.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Have you always been this . . . this

Agnes Hopper:

Outspoken? Gutsy?

Jenny Lee Jones:

Overly suspicious.

Agnes Hopper: I have a sensitive nose and I smell something rotten in this place. Expect a call from me in about six weeks. Or maybe less.

We stood, shook hands, and said our good-byes. I hurried inside. It was past time to get this show on the road.

 

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Another adventure with Agnes Hopper.

What a fun interview. Thanks for sharing it. I’m part way through my copy of Bets on Murder. Can’t wait to find out who done it. Agnes is a fun detective. Click here to order.

About Carol:

Carol Heilman, a coal miner’s daughter, married her high school sweetheart, a farmer’s son. She began writing family stories, especially about her dad’s Appalachian humor, for newspapers and magazines. One day her mother said, “We don’t have any secrets any more!”

Carol’s books, Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar and Agnes Hopper Bets On Murder, were inspired by her mother’s spunky spirit and her dad’s humor. She is the recipient of two Carrie McCray awards for writing excellence.

Carol lives in the mountains of NC with her husband of fifty-plus years. They love to play cards, go antiquing, hike, and visit grandsons on the east and west coasts.

 

 

How to have a New Attitude about an Interrupted Writing Schedule

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I love those perfect writing days. The ones where I can check every item off my writing to-do list and my heart swells with satisfaction at a job well-done. But those are few and far between.

I know my limits

Most weeks I need to decide what I can get done based on the hours available and my fatigue level. I’m a morning person, by 9 pm my brain is often mush. Therefore, I rarely attempt to write after 8 pm. I’ve done it, but I don’t plan it.

Writing around a work schedule and homework

Then I must factor in my work schedule. The days I work eight hours I pencil in smaller projects such as writing blogs or critiquing a piece or two. Editing a chapter of my WIP or if I’m super inspired, I’ll write a rough new chapter. Again, knowing the later it gets, the less productive. Add to that, every week day hubby picks granddaughters up from school, and we help with homework. Frustration abounds for me with the new core curriculum and no phonics. It can be an energy and creativity drainer. Making my brain turn to mush earlier.

Organizing my days off

On my days off I may need to take my mother to a medical appointment. I may have a hair appointment or some other meeting that cuts into my productive time. Let’s not forget the never-ending cleaning of the house. (Which as a writer we pretend is not needed until company is coming. Actually, that is me always. 😊)

Working around a week of interruptions

Then there are weeks when schedules have to be set aside for more important things. This is one of those weeks. A friend’s funeral takes precedence over my schedule. My husband and I volunteered to pick up another friend at the airport yesterday, and the wake is today and the funeral tomorrow. I want very much to be a part of my friend’s send off. So, rather than freak out about what I can’t get done I redo my to-do list.

Knowing the funeral would change what I had planned for later in the week, I made adjustments. Monday and Tuesday, I critiqued other writer’s projects and got a smaller project of mine revised and sent off early. Wednesday, I wrote this blog and did some revisions on my novella before I took my mom to the doctor. Then we picked up my friend at the airport, which included flight delays. They had us playing the waiting game. I took out my notebook and sketched out a speech and research questions for my novel while we waited.

Today my plan was to get up early, post this blog and do what I could before work. I work four hours this afternoon. So, I’ll check my to do-list for what I can accomplish this morning. After work I’ll go to the wake and spend time with many who loved our friend. I have no plans to write tonight. But it could happen.

Friday is normally my write-for-six-hours day. But the funeral and meal after will take up most of my day. I’ll do what I can before it and, if I feel up to it, I’ll do something afterward. But I have no plans for tomorrow. Emotional days are not always ideal for creativity.

Saturday I’ll use to catch up on my writing new chapters and revisions. But if old friends are in town from the funeral and want to get together, I’ll do that and reorganize my to-do list next week.

A New Attitude about interruptions

A writer’s life is always interrupted. Our best-laid plans can get side-tracked. We can get bitter about all the time robbing, or we can get better at using the time we have each day. I am no expert on time-management. My emotions and exhaustion from the day can weigh heavily on what gets done. But I remind myself of a quote from Anne of Green Gables. “Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.” Then I wake up on that tomorrow and begin all over again.