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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Historical Suspense Writer Peggy Blann Phifer Visits

Today I welcome Peggy Blann Phifer to Jubilee Writer. This is the kind of guest blog I look forward too. I started writing novels when I was fifty thus the blog name Jubilee Writer. Peggy is a great model for my theme. Hello, Peggy, let me give you a cyber hug and offer you a seat at my kitchen table. Let’s get started.

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Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

I was a late bloomer as far as this writing thing goes. Unlike many others, I didn’t always want to write or be a writer. I didn’t start this journey until age 50. That happened when, while on a lunch break at work, I finished a book I didn’t particularly like, put it down and commented to my friend, “I can write better than that.” And she said, “Then why don’t you?” So, I did. But it wasn’t quite as easy as I thought. Ha! Many false starts, giving up, starting again, but I found that once bitten, I couldn’t NOT write.

 

What is your latest published project.

“Whispering Hope” is my third published book, released in early May of this year. It’s a historical romantic suspense set in 1930 during the Prohibition years. It’s a story that formed in my mind many years ago, but I was hesitant to start it. I knew it would take a lot of work and a ton of research. But it kept bugging me. I’d work on it, set it aside, pick it up again, and so on. Then, about a year ago, after learning there weren’t many novels out there set during this time in American history, I determined to dust it off and finish it.

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How do you research for your book?

It took a ton of research. I bought books dealing with bootlegging, illegal liquor coming into Wisconsin from Canada and smuggled down to Chicago. Books about Al Capone and the others making a fortune from it, and the efforts of Federal Agents attempts to shut them down. I even bought a used copy of the book “The Untouchables” written by Eliot Ness from which the TV show of the same name was based on. It was a fascinating search through this era leading up to the Great Depression.

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

Start sooner!

 

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

My reading tastes are rather eclectic, but I generally like to read what I write, which is romantic suspense. But I also like political thrillers.Somehow Christmas Will Come Final

 

Peg is giving away an e-book version of Whispering Hope to a lucky commenter.  Ask Peggy any questions you may have about her writing. Please comment on this blog, not on other social media where this will appear if you wish to be part of the give-away drawing.

 

Other books by Peg:

“To See the Sun” – contemporary romantic suspense set in Las Vegas.

“Somehow, Christmas Will Come” – women’s fiction with a touch of romance.

 

Bio

Author Peggy Blann Phifer, a retired executive assistant after twenty-one years in the Electrical Wholesale Industry, lives in the ‘boonies’ of NW Wisconsin. A late bloomer, Peg didn’t start taking writing seriously until age fifty.

Her debut novel, To See the Sun, a contemporary romantic suspense, released in January 2012. A second novel, Somehow, Christmas Will Come, contemporary women’s fiction with a touch of romance and mystery, released in November 2014, revised and re-released in late 2015. A new work titled Whispering Hope, an historical romantic suspense, set during the years of Prohibition, released in early May 2018. Her work has also appeared in numerous anthologies over the past five years.

 

Peg is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. When she’s not writing, Peg enjoys reading, blogging, and sharing her home with her daughter, son-in-law, and a Border Collie mix dog named Rocky.

Social media and buying links

Blog/website: http://whispersinpurple.blogspot.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pegphifer

Twitter: www.twitter.com/pegphifer @pegphifer

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/pegphifer

Google+: http://plus.google.com/+AuthorPeggyBlannPhifer/posts

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/pbphifer

Email: pbphifer@centurylink.net

Purchase link for Whispering Hope: https://amzn.to/2KURU8x

Purchase link for To See the Sun: http://amzn.to/1ikiBEc

Purchase link for Somehow, Christmas Will Come: http://amzn.to/1MeSpok

 

If you enjoy these author interviews subscribe to Jubilee Writer and get the latest ones in your inbox. Also don’t forget to comment on this blog to enter the giveaway for an e-book of Peggy’s latest release Whispering Hope. Winner will notified by email on Friday.

 

Authors and Book Cover Creation

Creating a cover design is a fascinating process. My publisher provided a questionnaire for me to fill out. It gives the artist clues into my story world. Up until this point I had no idea what I wanted. The questions help get the creative juices flowing. The first few questions are basic: Title, author’s name. taglines, theme.

The next set of questions delves into specifics about the main character. What does your hero look like? Any distinguishing marks? Same questions for your heroine. This is where I get to give a clear description of the physical features of my characters. I had the option of adding photos of my ideas about the characters.

Who do my characters look like

The question about what actor or actress do you see playing them in a movie sent me to the internet to find photos. Did you know if you type in red-haired actresses with green eyes that you’ll find a large selection of photos? Evangeline’s hair is burgundy rather than carrot colored. I already had a picture of a model with burgundy hair but looking at more faces really helped narrow down an idea.

I have pictures of Tom Selleck, John Cusack and Sam Elliot all in cowboy garb that give me a feel for Jake. Evangeline looks a bit like Maureen O’Hara or Lori Loughlin (she’d have to dye her hair.)  I found a wonderful picture of Emma Stone. So I am adding photos of these actors to the form.

A fun exercise for you and your story, search the character description: cowboy, regency, blond soldier sees what comes up. If you’re a plotter and an outliner, you have probably already picked out your pictures before you started writing. What you want on the cover may be clearly define in your head. But, if you’re like me and lack artist know-how, you’ll be relying on the designer to bring your idea to reality. FYI: The publisher usually gets the final say on your cover. This is a good thing because they know what sells.

More details

I couldn’t find a picture of my ranch so I settled for writing a description. I got to choose whether I want people on the cover or a landscape. There is lots of room at the bottom of the form for more notes to further clarify.

Note all the covers of fellow-authors I’ve added to this post so you can get a better idea of cover design.

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Mystery Cover

 

Mercy Rains

Historical landscape cover

Genre and time period are important questions as well. Secrets & Charades is set in 1870s so costumes on the cover need to resemble the period. The hoop skirt was no longer in fashion but bustles were popular.

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Fantasy Cover

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Police thriller/ fantasy cover

A fantasy cover might have someone dressed like Star Wars characters. The focus might be on an object that is key to the story line. Perhaps a space ship, a sword or a dragon take center stage in the story.

Comparing covers

There is a place on this form to add comparables. So, books with similar themes (remember that part in your proposal?) can now be used as examples. Those covers show what’s selling.

 

Not good ideas

If the hero is very tall, then he shouldn’t be the same height as the heroine on the cover. Unless of course she is very tall, too. I actually saw this on a cover. Until I read the story I didn’t realize the hero was well over six feet tall. Once I knew this, the cover was a bit disappointing.

If the story takes places in the winter in Florida, it will look different than winter in Alaska. That also goes for trees not native to the area. This will date me, but the movie Wayne’s World was supposed to take place in Aurora, Illinois. One scene in the movie had palm trees in the background. I suppose comedies can get away with that. Book covers not so much.

If your genre is horror you wouldn’t want a sunny sky.

A romance—unless it has vampires or some violent fantasy theme—is not going to have blood and gore on the cover.

Capturing emotion

The form asked me to describe the tone, mood, and attitude. One or two word descriptions can make a big difference in helping the designer get a taste of my fiction world. I had to google these terms to get a deeper understanding of the literary significance. I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer so I don’t always have a tone or mood in mind until my characters speak to me.

Defining the tone and mood can make a difference in a novel’s content so it should reflect on the cover. A romantic comedy design is going to look different from a romance with a broken-promise-restored theme. The same with a thriller with a sullen cast of characters versus one with a hopeful mood.

Photo sites give lots of options

You may prefer symbols or settings for your cover. My fellow-writer Gloria Doty has a modern-day cowboy romance series. She opted for boots and a Stetson on the cover of Bringing  a Cowboy Home. She wanted her readers to enjoy their own images of her characters. Photo websites have lots of these sorts of images.

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Publishers purchase the cover art and, if you self-publish, you’d do the same. Linda Yezak has a great cover for The Final Ride. She created it herself using pictures of a model she found online. She purchased the rights to use her likeness. This helped her create her cover.51jgIj4jqfL

Being sure your cover reflects your story means more sales. So, I am taking extra time to fill out this form. Hopefully the designer will get me. If the cover catches the reader’s eye, then they will pick it up. If you’re self-publishing, spend the money on a quality cover. I can’t wait to see what my cover will look like. I’ve been impressed with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas cover designs. The reveal of my design is some months away. But the process begins now.

The back cover is just as important as the front cover. I’ll talk about the process in the next post.

Anyone like to share their experience with cover designs?

 

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