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.

 

 

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Tips for Writing a Stellar Novella Part 2

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Peg Thomas is back today to continue her tips for novella writing. Last week she talked about word count and having a complete story. There is a link at the bottom for part one if you missed it.

Timeline

Another simplification is the timeline. Where a novel may span a year or more, a novella needs to be shorter. This creates some issues with romance, since the characters won’t know each other very long. This is where the writer gets creative. In Her Redcoat, Laurette and Henry meet several times in the forest and that’s enough for them to fall in love. How is that possible? They are lonely people on the frontier. I used the time and place make it feasible.

A Pinch of historic flavor

Simplify the history and the setting. They should be a flavoring like a pinch of salt and not an all-you-can-eat buffet. If you’re writing historical you must have some history, but you’ve room for just a touch. It’s easy in a novel to let history overtake the story, and that’s a bigger danger in a novella. Your setting should be minimal, not portrayed with long, drawn out paragraphs of the sunrise or someone’s ancestral home. In some novels, the setting is almost another character, but you can’t do that in a novella.

Which scenes to cut

In any story, you should cut scenes that don’t move the story forward, but that’s critical in a novella. Even if it’s a great scene with stellar writing. Even if it’s your favorite scene. Even if your mother loves it. If it doesn’t move the story forward, it’s got to go.

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Click her to order this collect that contains Her Redcoat

Pegg has a few more tips to share so tune in for Part 3 next Tuesday and if you missed part one check it out.

 

Pegg Thomas lives on a hobby farm in Northern Michigan with Michael, her husband of *mumble* years. A life-long history geek, she writes “History with a Touch of Humor.” When not working or writing, Pegg can be found in her barn, her garden, her kitchen, or sitting at her spinning wheel creating yarn to turn into her signature wool shawls.

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Tips for Writing a Stellar Novella, Part 1

Novella Tips

Have you ever read a novella that felt like the story stopped with the word count? All of a sudden your at the last page and you felt cheated. Today I welcome Pegg Thomas, editor, author, Managing editor of Smitten an imprint of LPC to share the formula for writing a successful novella.  A novella that keeps you reading and gives the reader a sigh-worthy ending. Today and the next two Tuesdays Pegg will be giving us the tools we need to nail down a great novella.

When Cindy asked me to do a guest post on how writing a novella is different than writing a novel, I thought it would be simple. The answer is obvious—use fewer words. But the real knack for novella writing is learning how to use fewer words.

In my genre, historical romance, full-length novels average 85,000 words. Novellas average 25,000 words. If you’re any good at math, and I’m not, this means you have roughly 30% of the words in a novella that you have in a novel.

Let’s first consider what we can’t leave out.

A novella must be a complete story. That means it must have a hook, a 1st plot point, a mid-point shift, a 2nd plot point, and a climax—a full story structure. Along with that, it must have fleshed-out characters with their own goals, motivations, and conflicts that build their character arcs. You still need to use all the senses as you write. Bring a bit of smell, taste, touch, sound, and sight into your novella to make it real. And in my genre, there needs to be both history and romance.

So what can we leave out?

It’s not so much leaving out as it is simplifying. Novellas typically have fewer secondary characters, for instance. There isn’t the word space to develop any character that isn’t necessary. Even if the character is oh-so-cute and lovable—axe it if he or she isn’t essential to the story. If the heroine is one of fourteen siblings, at least ten of them need to remain off-screen.

Subplots, which are essential to a good novel, get squeezed out of the novella. There may be one, but it won’t get the full attention that it would in a novel. It’ll be more of a mini-subplot. For instance, in Embattled Hearts, the main plot is Alannah escaping her abusive stepfather, and Stewart helping her as they fall in love. The subplot is the end of the Pony Express. I didn’t spend much time expounding on it, but it’s mentioned a few times and things are happening that the reader sees. In a full-length novel, I’d have explored that subplot more.

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Click here to buy this collection with Pegg’s novella Embattled Hearts

Next Tuesday Part 2:  Trimming the timeline, history backgroound and setting.

Pegg Thomas lives on a hobby farm in Northern Michigan with Michael, her husband of *mumble* years. A life-long history geek, she writes “History with a Touch of Humor.” When not working or writing, Pegg can be found in her barn, her garden, her kitchen, or sitting at her spinning wheel creating yarn to turn into her signature wool shawls.

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Celebrating Secret & Charades One Year Birthday and a Giveaway

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Today marks the first birthday of my debut novel Secrets & Charades. She had a long gestation period. Twelve years from concept to publication. Ten years in the writer’s womb doing rewrites, submitting proposals and receiving about 20 rejects. (The exact number escapes my memory. All new mothers forget the painful parts.)

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My award. I am so blessed.

Labor began when I won the Editor’s Choice Award in 2014. This resulted in two more years of laborious rewrites and editing with two wonderful book labor coaches Molly Really and Andrea Merrell.

 

Before my baby arrived, I had to wait for the Cover Design and do marketing to announce its release. I post the ultra sound photos of famous actors and models who represented my characters.

Talked about the historical content.

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When the Cover Design was finished, I posted it on my social media so everyone could see the cute outfit my novel would be wear.

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The big day came, March 15th, 2017 we had a wonderful launch party where I gave gifts to my guest to celebrate the arrival of my baby. A few weeks later I had a live launch and my guest cooed over my darling.  Recently, Secrets & Charades won the Maxwell Award. A proud mother moment.

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A year later it still has decent ratings. A sibling will arrive in May. My Contemporary Romance, New Duet is different from my Historical Romance. They will compete for my marketing time. Although we all know the newborn gets the most attention. Hopefully, by 2019 there will be some more Historical Romances joining my book family. I imagine a few contemporaries as well.

Oh, Secrets & Charades is being cloned as an Audio book coming soon. I am so excited. (More on that in another post.)

Thanks for stopping by and helping me celebrate and reminisce.

The Giveaway

I am giving away one autograph copy of Secrets & Charades and a $10 Amazon card to one lucky winner. Share this blog on your social media and post in the comments on the blog that you did, and you’ll be entered in the giveaway. Be sure to leave your email written as myname at my server dot com. I’ll contact the winner next Friday.

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Introducing Jennifer A. David and A Give-a-way

Today I welcome Jennifer Cvalbar AKA Jennifer A. Davids.  She is a fellow-author with the Smitten Imprint for LPC historical romance writers. I am delighted she is visiting. This is my first author with a pen name. Welcome Jennifer. I’m curious to learn a little about your writing journey. Jennifer A Davids_photo

A ninth-grade creative writing assignment. That’s how it all started. I wasn’t expecting the story I turned in to be anything special. Honestly, I was just hoping for a good grade. So when my teacher stood in front of the class and said my story had gotten an A++ I couldn’t believe it. Especially since I had stayed up late the night before I turned it in finishing it. I’ve been putting words to paper ever since. Fast forward to February 2010 when my writing journey took a new turn and I was offered my very first contract with Heartsong Presents, the then book club imprint of Barbour Books. I published three books with them before the imprint was sold to Harlequin. You can find all of them in one book titled Brides of Ohio.

Since that last Heartsong book, a busy season of life happened. My two children went from being fifteen and eleven to being twenty and sixteen. But I did write another book, my first stab something longer than a Heartsong. It was quite a challenge but I’m so excited that A Perfect Weakness will be released by Smitten, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, on July 25, 2018.

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Interesting.  How did A Perfect Weakness evolve?

The inspiration for A Perfect Weakness came from one of my Heartsong books. At the time, Heartsong Presents was still in business through Harlequin and I wanted to write another book for them. One of my secondary characters in Wounded Heart had great hero potential and I often wondered what he did after the events in that book ended. So I decided to find out. But as I started working out the story it grew and grew and became way too long to be a Heartsong length novel. So I erased any connection the story had to Wounded Heart and made it a full-length novel—well, almost. I may have left a small ‘Easter egg’ for a reader of Brides of Ohio to find. A very small one. I’ll have to see who catches it. J

Makes me want to read Brides of Ohio in preparation for this books release. Let’s talk about you. Here’s one of my favorite questions to ask authors. If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

“Sketch out the whole plot before you start to write.” I used to get so excited about an idea that I would start writing and then just stop when I got to a point where I had no idea what happened next. All the enthusiasm would leach away and there I would sit with just a beginning that headed nowhere. So I do a rough outline/draft of the whole book in Scrivener now. But I don’t act as if every plot point is written in stone. I let it move around and I’ll change something or go a different direction if need be. But it does give me enough of an idea of where the story is going so that I don’t abandon it.

 

Great advice. Do you have a favorite genre you love to read for fun?

OK that’s like asking which kid is my favorite. I write historical romance and while I do read a lot of that genre I don’t always read there for fun. It depends so much on my mood. If I want to read fantasy, I’ll default to The Lord of the Rings or the Narnia series. If I want a classic, Jane Eyre or The Count of Monte Cristo. I also enjoy reading Erik Larson who writes wonderful historical non-fiction.

Thanks for much for sharing. Now if any of you are curious about the Brides of Ohio series make a comment to be placed in a drawing for an e-book copy. I’ll draw a name on Friday and contact the winner. If you are new to my blog, please leave an email address written with the word at and dot in place of the symbols. I’ll forward your address to Jennifer.

More about Jennifer

Jennifer A. Davids is a self-professed book nerd. The shelves of her office are overflowing with books and there are stacks of them by her bedside. When she’s not reading, she’s dreaming up a new story to tell her readers. She is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in English Education. She lives in Central Ohio with her husband, two children, and two cats.

Connect wiht Jennifer A. Davids on Social Media

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Web Page

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Order Links for Brides of Ohio

Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/y8xp3zwh

Barnes and Noble: https://tinyurl.com/y9uxobn6

Christianbook.com: https://tinyurl.com/ydgw2s57

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A Visit with Author Lindsey P. Brackett

BrackettLWEB(1)Today I welcome Lindsey Brackett to talk about her debut novel Still Waters. The setting is the same as a favorite mystery writer of mine. So, I had to have her as a guest. Love the story. Made me want to visit Edisto Beach. Welcome Lindsey. Tell us about your novel.

My debut is Still Waters, a Lowcountry story about the power of family and forgiveness. The novel released in September with LPC Books and is enjoying great reviews—including 4 Stars from the Romantic Times! It’s the story of Cora Anne Halloway who has just graduated from college. Cora Anne had a plan that didn’t involve her grandmother’s ramshackle beach cottage or Tennessee Watson, the local builder dedicated to the preservation of Edisto Island—and her heart. But as tends to happen, life has sent her back to the one place she doesn’t want to be, even though it’s the one place where she may find her peace

What inspired you to write your book?

This novel really started with a place—Edisto Beach, where my family spent most summers of my childhood. When I first decided maybe I could actually do this, write a book, all I knew was I wanted a story set on Edisto. From there I began to build characters and to discover what brings them back or makes them stay away. As I grew as a writer, and began to understand how little I knew about novel structure, the plot changed many times, but ultimately it has always been a story of homecoming, relying on the power of family that ties us to a place.

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There is a sprinkling of a faith message throughout Still Waters. Do you have a favorite verse that resonated with you as you began this project?

My prompt for Still Waters was 2 Corinthians 4:18. I just love that “focus on the unseen… for what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.” I really need to stick it on my laptop for all those times social media wears me down.

Love that verse. Now tell me who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My husband is my rock. He’s always encouraging about anything I’m doing. Specific to writing, I have a small group of friends who have banded together to push and uplift one another. I know I can send them chapters or scenes and they’ll read and offer me feedback. I also know they’ll answer if I call in tears on a random Tuesday because things just aren’t going my way.

Every writer is always told to read extensively in the genre they write in. What genre do you read for fun?

I LOVE to read. Southern literary fiction is my favorite and To Kill A Mockingbird is my favorite book. Right now I’m reading a lot of Joshilyn Jackson, Karen White, Charles Martin, Kristy Woodson Harvey, and Julie Cantrell. I’m a sucker for a good romance, too, and I like Susan May Warren, Rachel Hauck, or Pepper Basham for the best kissing scenes on paper.

Where is your favorite place to write?

On my back porch with a glass of sweet tea (or a cup of coffee right now). I also tend to get up before the rest of the house, and I tuck myself into an old wingback chair of my grandmother’s, put my feet on the ottoman and write before I do anything else. With four kids, my days can get hectic, so it’s a relief to know writing happens when I’m at my freshest—and most open.

 

Share with us the quirkiest thing you’ve done to promote your book?
This year I’ve been tapped (pun totally intended) to participate in my local community’s biggest fundraiser: Dancing with the Stars for Hope which benefits our domestic violence shelter and the Rotary Club. This event pairs well-known community figures with “professionals” and we have a dance competition. People vote for their favorite teams (only $1 a vote) and there are lots of opportunities to win great raffle prizes. I’m paired with my friend, Jeremy, the high school theater director. We’re both theater nerds, so we’ve done several shows together and while we haven’t made a concrete decision about our routine yet, no doubt it will be epically theatrical. Right now, through November 30, our fundraising promotion is a donation of the proceeds from my book sales. So, there’s no better time to buy, support a local author and a great cause! Voting and prizes are not limited to North Georgia—anyone can go online and support us or enter to win raffles over on my Facebook page, Lindsey P. Brackett.

Want to help support our team_For every copy of Lindsey's book sold November 15-November 30, a portion will be donated to our team's fundraising efforts forDancing with the Stars.(1)

I love it and know you’ve given my readers a new way to look at marketing.

What a great way to discover a new author and support a worthy cause. Purchase Still Waters and do both.

Thank you so much for stopping by, Lindsey. You are an inspiration.

Dancing with the Stars Link: http://www.dancingwiththestarsforhope.com/vote-for-teams.html

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LindseyPBrackett/

Bio:

Award-winning writer Lindsey P. Brackett once taught middle grades literature, but now she writes her own works in the midst of motherhood. A blogger since 2010, she has published articles and short stories in a variety of print and online publications. In both 2015 and 2017, she placed in the top ten for Southern Writers Magazine Best Short Fiction. Previously, Lindsey served as Editor of Web Content for the Splickety Publishing Group, and currently she is a general editor with Firefly Southern Fiction, an imprint of LPC Books. In addition, she writes a popular column for several North Georgia newspapers.

Still Waters, influenced by her family ties to the South Carolina Lowcountry, is her debut novel. A story about the power of family and forgiveness, it’s been called “a brilliant debut” with “exquisite writing.” A Georgia native, Lindsey makes her home—full of wet towels, lost library books, and strong coffee—at the foothills of Appalachia with her patient husband and their four rowdy children.

Connect with her at www.lindseypbrackett.com, where she Just Writes Life, on Facebook as Lindsey P. Brackett, on Instagram @lindseypbrackett, or on Twitter @lindsbrac.

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Grace Award Winner Sandra Ardoin

Today I welcome Sandra Ardoin recent Grace Award winner for her book  A Reluctant Melody.  Congratulations, Sandy. Sandra Ardoin_Headshot

Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

Thanks so much for letting me share a bit about myself and my writing with your readers, Cindy!

I began writing in 1986. (Yes, all the way back then.) I started out with greeting cards and poster quotes—even had the fun of seeing a poster with my quote in a MOVIE! After a while, I wrote short stories for children’s denominational publications, then for adults. While being a SAHM, I only worked part-time until about 2008-09. That’s when I felt God opened that door to writing novels. From then on, it’s been my full-time job.

What is your latest published project?

My second book, A Reluctant Melody, came out last year. It’s the story of a secondary character from my first book, The Yuletide Angel. In A Reluctant Melody, Kit Barnes is a man saved from his wild lifestyle by grace. Now, he wants to open a mission for drunkards in a home owned by Joanna Stewart. Joanna, a woman whose affections he once stole from his brother, has yet to find that grace and must choose between protecting herself from a second betrayal by Kit and protecting her best friend from an abusive spouse. It’s a romantic story of secrets, second chances, and redemption.reluctant melody

How do you research for your book?

My research is mostly done online. There are some things I must know are possible before I begin the story—places, time frames, the best area to set the book, etc. However, many of the tiny details are researched as I go. It’s not an ideal way to do it, and I’m trying to get to a point where I can make a note and write on, intending to check the facts later.

A Reluctant Melody takes place in a fictional town, but is set in the North Carolina area in which I live, so setting wasn’t hard to write. And Google Books is my friend. I find so much information in the books of the era. I’ll even use them to check proper word usage. Chronicling America is a gold mine of information through the pages of the newspapers of the time. For instance, in my (as-yet-unpublished) novella about the Nome gold rush, I found quite a bit of detail through issues of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, including the ship my heroine would have taken from Seattle to Nome.

What inspired you to write your book?

I love reading a book and picking out a secondary character whose story I would like to read. This happens even in my own stories. I always find characters I think will make great heroes and/or heroines for another book. That’s how Kit came to be the hero of A Reluctant Melody.

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

I wouldn’t say I realized it was a calling. I consider it more a ministry. God has allowed me to do something I truly enjoy that helps this highly shy introvert to speak of the gospel. Writing was something I’d wanted to do for a long time and never had the courage to tackle. When I was still single, I took a writing class and thought I’d use it as a second income (hear me laughing!). I was hooked.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

I have several. Jeremiah 29:11 is a biggie for me with my writing, but Isaiah 55:8-9 are amazing for keeping my perspective as to who God is and who I am. Then, there are numerous verses in Colossians—one of my favorite books—such as Colossians 1:17 – “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Isn’t that encouraging?

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

“You got it all wrong, kid.” I’d tell myself that writing is harder than it appears. Finding a publisher is even harder. And NEVER EVER do it for the money. 😊

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

Other than writer friends who are incredibly encouraging, I’d have to say readers who leave reviews are my best support system. I don’t expect everyone to like my stories, but I’ve been blessed by good reviews so far. Even ones that are critical in some way are helpful, as long as they contain information I can use to make my next books better.

Available on Amazon

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

At this time, I write historical romance and it’s my go-to for reading. However, I thoroughly enjoy romantic suspense or mystery. I will read straight romance, but anything that has mystery and danger is tops on my reading list. I don’t even want to know what that says about me.

Where is your favorite place to write?

When my daughter moved out to be on her own, I took over her bedroom—something I’m not sure she’s gotten over yet. I painted, added my desk and other furniture, decorated with fun writerly things and antique knick-knacks, then shut the door on the real world.

How can people follow you and your work?

If anyone wants more info about my writing and what’s coming up, I’d be thrilled for you to sign up for my Love and Faith in Fiction newsletter and receive a FREE short story when you do. My emails go out quarterly, unless an exciting offer pops up that I think you should know about.

BIO:

Sandra Ardoin writes inspirational historical romance. She’s the author of The Yuletide Angel and A Reluctant Melody. A wife and mom, she’s also a reader, football fan, NASCAR watcher, garden planter, country music listener, and antique store prowler. Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Join her email community to receive occasional updates and a free short story.

 

A Reluctant Melody – 2016 Grace Award Winner

Kit Barnes’ drinking ruined more lives than his own. Now sober, he wants to make amends by opening a mission for drunkards. The most suitable location belongs to Joanna Cranston Stewart, a love from his sordid past and the one person he hurt the most.

A pariah among her peers, Joanna is all too eager to sell her property and flee the rumors that she sent her late husband to an early grave. But she will let the gossips talk and the walls of her rundown property crumble around her before she’ll allow Kit back into her life.

When a blackmailer threatens to reveal her long-held secret, she must choose between trusting Kit or seeing her best friend trapped in an abusive marriage.

Will Joanna risk another betrayal? Or will she find a way through the pain of the past to love and trust again?

Links to purchase:

A Reluctant Melody

Readers, please share what comment of Sandy’s resonated with you?

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