Character Sketch: Naidenne Grinager Davidson

Naidenne was most requested to be featured as this month’s Character Sketch.

If you want to know more about the background of a character in any of my books, be sure to leave your request in a comment. I will be featuring one character sketch on this blog each month, as long as there is interest.

Character Name:  Born Naidenne Grinager. (Introduced in Seadrift) Married Rev. Scott Davidson (…and Something Blue)

Role in Story: Naidenne is Bunny Elder’s first friend when she moves to Bannoch, OR (Seadrift, Something Blue). She is the main character in The First Ladies Club, the first book of that series.

Occupation: Real estate agent/owner of property management company. Also runs a local crafts boutique in a corner of her real estate office.

dream-of-curlsPhysical Description: Naidenne, in her early forties, is almost six feet tall, slim and attractive, with riotous curly red-gold hair she struggles to tame.  Until meeting Bunny and getting a little help with her style, Naidenne dressed as inconspicuously as possible in a uniform of straight dark skirts and business-like shirts and jackets. She tried to control her frustratingly independent hair by skewering it into a knot on the top of her head. Once Bunny convinced Naidenne of her model-like beauty, she discovered her own sense of style, shook out her glorious hair and left the dowdy wardrobe behind. These changes soon caught the attention of Scott and resulted in their marriage.

Personality: Modest and unassuming. Although capable and assertive in her business life, Naidenne’s childhood left her scarred and emotionally insecure. Meeting and marrying Scott has changed that. She has blossomed into a confident and kind wife and mother.

Habits/Mannerisms: Unusually for such a tall woman, Naidenne has excellent posture. She is invariably kind and compassionate.

Background: Naidenne, an only child, was raised in various small towns in Oklahoma by parents who were both Pentecostal preachers. She enjoyed a life centered on the rousing church services until she was thirteen, when a painful experience with the visiting evangelist during a revival meeting turned her away from the church and made her distrust all clergy. Because of their lack of support at this time, she is now estranged from her parents. Meeting Bunny, and falling in love with Scott, allowed her to get over her earlier trauma and begin to find her way back to God.

Internal Conflicts: She has residual issues of confidence and trust from that early episode. Being the tallest girl in school made her want to disappear in social settings, but she has overcome those feelings, for the most part. It is important to Naidenne to raise her small daughter, Talitha Joy, with a healthy self-image, so she strives to model that.

External Conflicts: Naidenne is kidnapped and assaulted in The First Ladies Club. She must escape from her attacker, an escaped convict. In the other books where she appears she has only normal relationship issues with her sister-in-law, Rosamund, church members, and the other wives in the First Ladies Club, but thanks to her generous nature, these never grow to the level of conflicts.

Second Saturday Author Interview with Angela Carling

Today we are visiting with delightful author, Angela Carling.

Angela Carling was raised in Palm Springs California, but lives in Arizona with her husband, three kids and five felines.  After years of denial she finally admitted that she is a hopeless romantic which led her to write her first Young Adult book, Unbreakable Love. Since then she’s published three more books, Shackled, Becoming Bryn and The Secret Keeper. Shackled won the silver IPGA award in 2012 and has been optioned as a screenplay. Angela always eats the frosting off her cake and leaves the rest, and can be caught singing in public bathrooms for the acoustics.  When she’s not writing YA novels, she’s mentoring teen writers, making pizza with her family or dreaming of taking a nap, not necessarily in that order.

1109_Carling_Headshots_091

Thanks so much for dropping by, Angela.

Although, like me, you are a California girl, you now live in Arizona.  Would you like to tell us a bit about your life in the desert and how you came to live there?

I’ve actually lived in a desert most of my life in Palm Springs, California, except for college, some church service work in North Carolina and a five year stint in Washington State. After 9/11 all my husband’s colleagues were losing their jobs at Boeing. He was offered to transfer to Arizona and even got a raise. We were so grateful; we bought some flip-flops and packed out suitcases. It’s true the desert is warm, but we love it because you can be outside year round and the people are very kind. Plus, we get to have a pool!

That is a plus! When you get stumped on a storyline, a quick dip in the cool blue must recharge your batteries. You are a Young Adult author. What made you decide to focus on the YA audience?

 I haven’t decided if I never grew up or I just enjoy the stories about teens and young college students. I also mentor a group of ten teen writers and think they are a blast….so likely…I never grew up 🙂

Your book Shackled won the silver IPGA award in 2012, and has been optioned as a screenplay. Congratulations!  Has there been any progress towards a movie production?

 The writers of the screenplay are twin brothers and work together on all their projects plus hold day jobs so I know they face heavy challenges timewise and financially!  Last I heard they were still working on funding, but as I’ve learned from my fellow authors, Hollywood moves at a snail’s pace and is finicky. For now, I’m keeping with my fingers crossed!

We will all keep our fingers crossed for you, too. You published your first book yourself and the next ones show Acacia, and Az Publishing, LLC.  Are the Acacia and Az Publishing your own imprints or small publishing houses? If they are your imprints, what are the issues (legal and otherwise) other authors should know about establishing their own imprint when self-publishing? This is a subject of interest and controversy among indie authors, so I’d love your input. If traditional small publishers, do they do much promotion for you?

Actually Acacia published my first three books but the owner passed away quite suddenly. Her husband shut down the business and released all the authors from their contracts. I then had to republish them on my own and learn overnight how to be a self-published author.  I didn’t start an imprint. I published them under my own name. AZ Publishing was also a small publishing house. I did that by choice, so I’ve never established my own imprint (yet 🙂) What I have learned is that there are benefits to a small publisher just like there are to a large publisher. In fact, many bloggers won’t even look at your work without a publisher behind it. However I’ve almost gotten to a point where I’ve learned enough about the industry that a small publisher doesn’t make as much sense for me. No matter how great they are, they do not have the resources to get the kind of visibility that you need and they take a large portion of the profits. So I was doing all my own marketing and making a fraction of the money. As far as legality goes, I haven’t hit that problem yet. If I did start my own publishing company it would likely be to help other authors, not just myself.

I am excited though, the second book in the Secret Keeper series comes out in March. It is called In the Dying Light and I am going completely Indie. I’ll let you know how it goes.SecretKeeperFrontCover

Please do, we are all interested.  You have a degree in Psychology. Do you feel that it helps you with your writing?

I do! People who love psychology enjoy observing and understanding what makes people tick. Characters are simply made up people and if we write them correctly, they’re layered and broken and fascinating. The Secret Keeper is really a study of human behavior and how we handle our mistakes. That’s what makes it so easy to relate to Winter and Liam. We all wish we could take back some mistake that we’ve made 🙂

Do you have a current project you would like to share about?

I do! As I mentioned earlier the second book in the Secret Keeper series comes out mid-March. The second installment of Winter and Liamin-the-dying-light-Amazon’s story is called In The Dying Light and we get to see what happens after Winter’s bargain with the Secret Keeper. Just like the first book you can plan on some heart pounding and heart wrenching moments! Just for you guys I’m going to share the cover, even though the official cover reveal  isn’t quite yet.

Thanks for sharing, Angela. It was super having you here.

Thanks for stopping to read my interview. Come and find me. I love to connect with my readers.

You can connect with Angela:

Website http://www.angelacarling.com/

Blog http://www.angelacarling.blogspot.com/

Twitter https://twitter.com/angelacarling

Facebook https://twitter.com/angelacarling

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/5331346.Angela_Carling

Youtube https://www.youtube.com/user/ThePajamWriter/videos?view=0

Instagram   https://www.instagram.com/angelacarling/

To purchase The Secret Keeper

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Angela-Carling/e/B006P15NOG/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/angela-carling

Smashwords  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/541474

bookstore http://www.ibookstore.com/products.php?i=1936037920

As a thank you for stopping by, Angela left you this sneak peek excerpt from The Secret Keeper:

Over and over in my head I repeated, “She can make my secret go

away.” I’m not sure if I was trying to convince myself, or trying to keep myself from going nuts, but the phrase calmed me as I drove.

I found Lejo Street and began the steep climb to the top. The houses in this neighborhood were small. Most were weathered if not completely forgotten. Pines grew too close together. Piles of rusted tools and long-forgotten bathroom fixtures littered the landscape, hidden only by overgrown grasses and neglected Quakies. No wonder everyone thought it was creepy.

My heart rate quickened with the ascent, and my palms left sticky sweat on my steering wheel. I wiped them on my jeans only to have the moisture build up again immediately. Soon there was nothing but dense forest; a blur of green, broken only by the ashen skies above. The rain came down in unyielding sheets and I turned up the windshield wipers.

Back and forth they went like a giant metronome, keeping in step with my nervous heartbeat.

I strained to see out the windows until all at once there was nothing in front me but a large rusted metal gate and a cracked wood sign, painted long ago, that declared, “No trespassing.” Beyond the gate, through the trees and the rain, I saw the pale blue house that the girl in the park had described.

One more time I said out loud, “She can make my secret disappear.”

I’d almost convinced myself now. I had to be convinced, what with the dilapidated house in the middle of nowhere and the stormy weather.

Everything screamed “Don’t go in!” but I was driven to try something, anything, not to lose my best friend and boyfriend.

I climbed from the car and ran until I reached the porch, slipping and having to catch myself as I tried to take the stairs too fast. Light spilled out through a crack in the curtains, letting me know someone was there.

I lifted my hand to knock on the old splintered door and froze. I didn’t know the secret keeper’s name. How would I address her? Before I could decide what to do, the heavily scratched door handle turned and the door opened a crack. My mouth fell open. The eyes that peered through the opening were surprisingly young.

My throat felt tight as I swallowed and it sounded loud to me. I could turn and run. Everything in my gut told me to go, but I stood like a marble statue frozen by my anguish.

“Who are you looking for?” she asked.

Her melodic voice made me think of dozens of wind chimes all tinkling at once. Still, I felt uneasy. I made myself spit out the words. “The Secret Keeper.”

An excruciatingly long minute passed and I thought she might tell me that I had the wrong house or that I should get off her property.

Finally, in a voice no louder than a whisper she said, “Come in. I’m The Secret Keeper.”

Distractions

images writerBefore I retired from my day job a few months ago, my weekday hours between eight and five belonged to my employer. I was forced to be organized and focused in order to write in the small amount time belonging to me. I longed for the day when I could retire and devote myself full time to my writing.

When that glorious day came and I cleared out my desk and said good-bye to my coworkers, I gave myself a couple of weeks to relish my newfound freedom, then, when I was through decompressing, I tried to approach my writing desk like I had my old office; sitting down around 8 a.m. with plans to work until noon, break for lunch, then get back to it. I repeat: that was the plan.

I soon succumbed to the seductive idea of unlimited time. I didn’t need that strict organization or laser-like focus, anymore, so I cut myself some slack. While I simply couldn’t afford to be distracted in my former schedule, now I found myself available to socialize, to start household projects, to stand and chat with the plumber while he fixed a faucet, to linger over my lunch, or take an extra walk when the day was fine. My manuscript grew at a snail’s pace, but my burden of guilt doubled by the day.

Most beginning authors, especially indies, struggle to balance time spent networking on social media and doing promotions with producing more and better content. Surprisingly, that balance is even harder to find for the newly retired. At least, it has been for me.

I’ve discovered two things: one, I don’t need to feel guilty when I don’t write. I write for the joy of it. No one but me is making any demands upon me. (Well, blessedly, some of my precious fans occasionally urge me to hurry up and produce the next book. Thank you!)  My second discovery is that there is no such thing as limitless time. I must set priorities and goals and work on them on a regular schedule, blocking out segments of time off along with the daily word counts.

Of course, these rules don’t just apply to writers.

 

 

 

The Character Sketch

When I begin a new work, or whenever a new character pops up in the narrative, I like to complete a brief synopsis of the character’s background and personality.  This adds depth to the people populating my books, as well as providing me with a place to go to compare what I plan for a character to do or say, so it doesn’t appear “out of character” in the finished work.  The writing software I use, Scrivener, has helpful templates providing prompts about the character being created.

Even though only brief glimpses of a complete character may appear in the story, these sketches provide continuity and a firm foundation for the person’s motivations and actions.

I thought it would be fun to share a bit more of the background of some of the people you meet in my stories, so from time to time, beginning with this post, I will be revealing information from the background sketches of my favorite characters.

Do you want to learn more about one of my characters? Leave a comment and I will be happy to schedule that person for my next Character Sketch post.

It seems appropriate to begin with the character who ties all my work together, the indomitable, Bunny Davis Elder Banks:

Character Name:  Born Leveline Davis – preferred nickname “Bunny”

Role in Story: Protagonist in the Bunny Elder Adventures series, she also pops ups for cameo appearances in the First Ladies Club books.

Occupation: Former pastor’s wife and secretary/reporter on a small town newspaper (Hollow), turned free-lance writer (Seadrift), and  currently an aspiring novelist (First Ladies Club)

Physical Description: Bunny is a petite woman in her mid-fifties with a sweet smile, mischievous blue eyes, and soft honey-blond hair sprinkled with silver and gray. She struggles to combat a tendency to chubbiness by eating less than she’d like, doing yoga and taking long walks.

Personality: Bunny is a devout Christian, constantly humbled by her own disobedience and failings. Nevertheless, she is determinedly optimistic, with a penchant for plain speaking.

Habits/Mannerisms: Constantly looking for the best in people and circumstances often gets Bunny into trouble. Without looking for it, she stumbles into some pretty scary situations involving a varied collection of bad guys who want to do her harm.

Background: Bunny is the youngest of three sisters raised in a small mountain town in Northern California. She married her high school sweetheart, Max. Although this early marriage was short-lived, Bunny and Max were never completely out of each other’s heart.  On the rebound, she married Rev. Eustace Elder. The marriage, though lacking joy, lasted until his untimely death (Hollow), when Bunny had to start over as a middle-aged widow. For a short while she lived in southern Idaho with her sister, Linda (Vain Pursuits) before relocating to the Oregon Coast (Seadrift).

Internal Conflicts: Bunny has all the same needs and desires as any woman. Most of her internal conflicts involve reconciling these temptations with her determination to be faithful to God. Her on-again-off-again relationship with Max is just one her issues.

External Conflicts: Bunny must deal with a deranged serial killer (Hollow), smugglers and the Italian mob (Vain Pursuits), human traffickers and a new love interest (Seadrift), Somali pirates (…and Something Blue), and a kidnapped friend (The First Ladies Club). You might say she has an overabundance of external conflicts.

Notes: Bunny steps out of the books and drops in to host my blog from time to time, as well.

[These Character Sketch categories are taken from the Scrivener software Character Sketch template.]

Interview with Author, Krysten Lindsay Hager

Today I am interviewing fellow author, Krysten Lindsay Hager.

Thanks for joining us, Krysten. We are all eager to get to know you and your work.Krysten Lindsay Hager

Your genres are children, teen and YA values and virtues fiction. What led you to focus your writing for young people? 

I loved reading when I was growing up and so many of the middle grade and young adult books I read then shaped me as a person. I remember reading on my bed one day and thinking how amazing it must be to be the author of the book I was reading and how it must feel to touch people’s lives that way. I always wanted to write a book that did that for someone else and I wanted to write teen fiction since it had touched my heart.

Have you found today’s youth to be receptive to the values presented in your work? Perhaps you would like to share what values and virtues you are trying to promote.

I have gotten a lot of messages from young readers who feel like my characters are dealing with the same things that they deal with, such as self-esteem issues, frenemies, social media influences and self-image issues. My characters talk about things like dealing with feeling anxious, feeling like they don’t fit in and having to conform to fit in and those are all things I dealt with growing up. I want to promote that even though we see certain images in the media, that much of that is false—even your best friends Instagram pics can be modified and filtered to look better than they do in reality. I want teens to realize that their value isn’t in their appearance or the things they own or how popular they are, which is something they are really bombarded with in the media. Being a good friend and having your focus on what’s really important and staying true to your values are the things to pay attention to—not who is dating who and what bag everyone is carrying.

You lived in Portugal for a time. What took you there, and what are your strongest impressions of the place and its people?

We moved to a Portuguese island because of my husband’s job. What I first noticed there was the more laid back pace. People will sit and talk over a cup of coffee for hours and enjoy each other’s company. There was less of a focus on schedules and to-do lists and a slower pace of life. I found that when I moved back to the U.S., you could really see a change in me. I drove a few of my family members crazy because they would discuss the “itinerary” of the day while we were eating and I’d say, “Wait, let’s just enjoy our meal and then we can figure out what we want to do or play it by ear.” I really irritated my aunt with that. It was such a foreign concept to her to not have a plan ready to go.  Religion is a big part of their culture, which is something that I was brought up with as well, so it felt familiar to me and I enjoyed going out on Sundays and seeing that the focus was on spending time with family and friends.

Like you, I’ve lived in South Dakota. Coming from California, I noticed the cultural differences. What are the biggest differences you notice between South Dakota and Ohio, where you now live?

I moved from Michigan to South Dakota and I remember people would stare at my clothes and not in a, “Oh I want to buy that,” kind of way! At the time, that Jennifer Lopez urban style was what was in style where I was living and working, which was between Detroit and Flint, Michigan. So when I moved to South Dakota, it seemed like every time I’d meet someone they’d say something like, “Oh you’re not from around here.” It would make me laugh a little bit. There was a lot of Scandinavian culture there, which was interesting to me. I liked learning about that. I was in a couple of writing groups at the time and at one event I was introduced as the “ethnic” writer. I guess it was because I was working on my thesis about Polish-Americans at the time. When I lived before in Michigan, no one batted an eye when I began my thesis on that, but in South Dakota, it stood out more. Ohio is much more like Michigan in some ways, but I live in the southwestern part and you do feel more of the southern pace here than you do in Michigan.

How long have you been writing? Is it your full-time occupation or do you have another job?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I started going to writing conferences straight out of high school. I freelanced and have worked as a journalist, so it’s always been about writing for me. Now my focus is on fiction and other types of creative writing and I seemed to have put journalism behind me, but who knows if I’ll ever go back to it.

How many books have you published?

I have three young adult novels published and two coming out next year. My books are: True Colors, Best Friends…Forever? and Next Door to a Star. My other books coming out are, Landry in Like (out January 12, 2016) and Competing with the Star (out March 22).

Can you give us an idea of your writing schedule?

I don’t have a set schedule. I usually do my business admin side of writing first to get it out of the way and off my mind. I write at night and in the early morning. I edit as I go, which is something a lot of writers prefer to do at the very end when they are finished, but I find it helps me to get back into the story easier if I begin with some editing before I begin to write.

Do you have a current project you would like to tell us about?

I am editing Competing with the Star now, which is the sequel to Next Door to a Star. In this book, we see the growth of my teen character Hadley as she and her new boyfriend form a deeper bond as he confides in her about his grandfather being diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson’s. It brings the two closer together, but then we see people interfering with the relationship and Hadley’s insecurities about never having a boyfriend before and looking at his exes (as well as finding out he had a crush on their friend, a former TV star) really messing with her self-esteem. I love the scenes between Nick and Hadley and the way she navigated through friendships, betrayals and handing her insecurities. She also makes an unlikely friend who has her back through all of it.

Sounds like an interesting book. I’m sure your young readers will love it.

Thank you so much for sharing today. Where can we learn more about you and your work?

Website: http://www.krystenlindsay.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KrystenLindsay

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

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/krystenlindsay/

Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/Krysten-Lindsay-Hager/e/B00L2JC9P2/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Instagram http://instagram.com/krystenlindsay

Readers, please come back 2/13/16, for my next Second Saturday Interview, when we will be meeting another Young Adult author, Angela Carling, whose latest release is The Secret Keeper, a powerful story of human fallibility, sacrifice, and timeless love inspired by a small town in Heber Arizona. Here’s a little blurb:  

       When Seventeen year old Winter Merrill chose to make a bargain with the mysterious Secret Keeper, she knew there were rulSecretKeeperCoveres. The most important one, the next time you have a secret, you will not be able to tell it….even if you try.
What she didn’t know is that her next secret if not told, would destroy her life and the life of Liam, the only boy she ever loved. Can Winter find a way out of the dark bargain that binds her tongue or will her deal with the Secret Keeper bring devastating consequences unimaginable even to her?

 

New Year + New Friends = New Opportunities

This month I have the honor of being the Spotlight Author on the fun website “FolksTalesThings”,  a joyous, eclectic site run by my author friend, Barbara Martin. A visit to the site is like wandering among the merchandise in a great old country store and bumping into friends, old and new. I’m excited to have a featured spot in such a charming atmosphere and to have the opportunity to make new friends for Bunny and the quirky bunch of pastors’ wives in the First Ladies Club.
     As you might suspect from the characters in my books, I’ve spent much of my life in small town churches, many of those years as the pastor’s wife. My characters tend to be compilations of people I’ve actually known. Like those real people, they have struggles with their faith in good times and bad. The bad may not have been as bad as the troubles I give my fictional characters, but the strength of faith they use to surmount them is as real as real can be.
     I hope you will explore the worlds I’ve created and enjoy the thrills and chills along with the humor and warm fuzzies I provide to help balance the scary bits…and as you read, please don’t be too hard on my characters when they stumble. Many of us in the real world have scars and bruises from similar slip-ups, as well.
     To learn more about me and my books, please drop by my website http://jbhawker.com/, anytime.  And have a joyous, blessed New Year!

Christmas in Bannoch

creche

Christmas is next week, so today we are checking in on our friends in Bannoch, Oregon to see how they are planning to spend this Christmas. It should be interesting because for Bunny and her friends in the First Ladies Club Christmas is a highlight of the year.

Bunny (Bunny Elder Adventures series) is packing today for her trip to Boise, Idaho, where she will spend a white Christmas with her sister, Linda and family.  She smiles as she tucks a small nativity set made of seashells and driftwood into  her bag to add to Linda’s collection. It is sure to bring back memories, fond, not-so-fond and hilarious, from the sisters’ trip to Italy to acquire a special Neapolitan crèche.  (You can read about their adventures in Vain Pursuits.)

Across town, in the Bannoch Community Fellowship parsonage, Bunny’s good friend Naidenne Davidson (The First Ladies Club) is happily baking gingerbread men with her small daughter, Talitha Joy, while husband and father,  Scott, with the help of his brother-in-law, Len Spurgeon, wrestles the family Christmas tree into place in the high-ceilinged, old-fashioned dining room .

“We’ll miss you and Rosie this Christmas, Len,” Scott says, standing back to check the tree. “I think it could be just a hair straighter, but it’s a real beauty!”

“It should be, after lugging it half a mile down the hillside,” Len replies. “but you’re right. When it’s decorated, it will be a stunner. Rosie says you absolutely must take dozens of photos of the tree, the Christmas Eve service, Christmas morning and all…and she wants you to post them on Facebook, so we can see them right away.”

“Are you sure you two want to travel all the way to Southern California for Christmas?” Scott asks. “My sister has never had a Christmas away from home, you know.”

“Oh, I know, but this is Rosie’s idea. Ever since she was a youngster she’s dreamed of Christmas at Disneyland. My brother’s family live in the area, too, so we will get to fulfill her dream and catch up with my family at the same time.”

“Oh, Mommy! Come look at the tree! It’s so big…it didn’t look so big when we picked it out,” Talitha cries, running into the room and flinging her flour-covered arms around her father’s legs.

Scott sweeps his daughter into his arms with a laugh.

“As soon as we are through with the baking…and get washed up…we can decorate the tree,” Naidenne says, walking into the room wiping her hands on her apron. “Will you need help bringing the decorations down from the attic, Scott?”

“Can I help, Daddy?” Talitha asks, patting him on the cheek.

“I thought you wanted to finish the cookies, first,” Scott says.

“It takes too long. Mommy can do it. Right, Mommy?”

“Sure. You have been a big help with the baking, but now it’s Daddy’s turn to have a helper,” Naidenne grins at her husband as she speaks.

The happy family continues with their holiday preparations just as many of their Bannoch neighbors are doing.

Few of the town’s ministers and their families will be traveling during this special Holy season. Their lives will center around their church, congregation and the special services of celebration. There is no need to remind any of them of the true reason for the season.

Rev. Merrill Bishop (A Body in the Belfry) and her nephew, Ryan, are in the grand First Baptist Church sanctuary where Merrill is helping the ladies decorate the pews and altar rail, while Ryan and his friend and church musician, Peri, practice the special music for the Christmas Eve communion service.

In the midst of this happy work, a woman staggers in from the foyer, backwards. She’s pulling something. Dressed like a gypsy with a many-layered full skirt and flowing shawls, she tugs a large wicker basket up the aisle.

“Judy! What have you got there?” Merrill cries to her friend, Judy Falls, wife of the Presbyterian church pastor (read Judy’s story in A Corpse in the Chapel coming in 2016).

“Do you need help?” Merrill asks.

Giving a last mighty tug and losing her grip, Judy plops down on her backside with a laugh before responding.

“I’ve been trimming the wild holly bushes for the hanging of the greens and seem to have gotten carried away. We have all we can use at my church, so I’m toting the bounty around to see who else can use it. It would be criminal to snatch these beautiful branches from their home in the woods and then just throw them away.”

“You’ve come at just the right time. Look ladies! More greenery, just what we needed,” Merrill calls to the other women.

Joyful scenes like these are taking place in all the churches and parsonages in town as these friends from the First Ladies Club share the special happiness each experiences in her own way while celebrating the birth of their common Savior.

May I join them in wishing you all a Blessed Christmas and a spirit-filled New Year!

If you want to keep up-to-date on all the happenings in the lives of these women and their friends, please sign-up for my periodic email newsletter.

Interview with Author Cindy Davis

Today we are fortunate to have author Cindy Davis join us.

Welcome, Cindy. It is so good to have you here today.DSCF5792.JPG

In visiting your author page on Amazon, we see you are a very prolific writer, with work ranging from Westerns, through Women’s Fiction and Mysteries. Just how many books have you published to date?

The westerns were a series for kids. They are out of print—still showing available on Amazon. I mostly write mysteries. I have, I think 16, two series and several stand alone titles. I cut my teeth on the Bobbsey Twins, moved up to Nancy Drew and graduated to Agatha Christie. My favorite TV character is Jessica Fletcher.

How many of your books are fiction? Thirteen: one women’s fiction and the rest mysteries. What is the subject of your non-fiction titles? Two were walking tours of a very historical area in southern NH; one is a self-help guide on editing: You Have the Power, Self-edit Your Way into Print.

The earliest book listed on Amazon seems to be Final Masquerade published in 2003.  Can you tell us a little about it? It was my first. I finished the first draft in three months. I typed THE END and burst into tears. At that very moment, my husband came home from work. Naturally his mind went in a whole other direction—he thought I’d crashed the car. The story was inspired by a homeless woman we saw riding a bicycle with a kerosene can on the back. With it, she heated a car she lived in—on land that she owned. I wondered what made a person live in this manner, and the story was born (which was entirely fiction).

How long did it take you to write, from when you finished that quick first draft to the thrill of publication? As I said, the first draft took only three months. Two more months of edits, then a few months looking for a publisher. It’s since been through three more printings and has been re-titled Take the Money and Run.

What is your timeline for new releases, currently? A long time. I had three life changing events over the past two years and it pretty much brought my writing to a halt. In August, I vowed to get back on track. First, complete the sixth in my Angie Deacon mystery series—which I did this past weekend. It’s currently out with my beta readers. Second, to write book four in the Smith & Westen series. Third, to write the romantic suspense stimulated by my trip to Italy. It’s going to use many of the same characters from A Lethal Dose of Love.

I noticed you have gone through a number of small publishers and are now with Enigma Books. Can you share a bit about your experiences working with the various boutique publishers? They’re all pretty much the same. Some faster. Some with a bit more promotion. I think through the years, I graduated to publishers with whom I felt the most at home. Originally I took the first one that said yes. Right now, I have a few self-published books. The others are with two publishers: The Wild Rose Press and Champagne Books.

Many of my readers are independent authors. What do you think are the advantages of using a small publisher, rather than going indie? You get professional editing for one thing. And professional cover design. As an editor, I have so many self-published authors come to me AFTER they’ve put a sub-par book online. Books need professional service no matter what method you plan to use. What other services do the publishers provide for you? They do the layout and formatting and submission to the right venues. One of my publishers, The Wild Rose Press, does a phenomenal amount of promotion. That’s not to say I don’t have to do a lot myself, but it’s nice to have a backup with an excellent reputation in the business.

You have lived in New England most of your life, but recently visited Italy, one of my own favorite places. What one impression of Italy has stayVolterra,street2ed with you the strongest since returning home? A week before I left for Italy I bought a home in Florida. If I hadn’t done that, I would now be living in Volterra, Tuscany. I LOVED the ambiance, the views, the people. I am planning a return trip to set a book there.

Since expanding your career into freelance editing, what are the most frequent mistakes you find in the manuscripts you’ve edited? First, as mentioned above, authors who think that because they’ve put there book on Kindle or wherever, that it’s a given that it’ll sell. They see NO sales and/or bad reviews, then come to me for mending. Huge mistake because your name has already been out there. If you want to know the biggest mistake I see in manuscripts, it’s probably that authors don’t understand deep point of view. Too many think it’s putting thoughts into italics when it couldn’t be further from the truth.

I understand you have a new book out this month. Would you like to tell us a little about it? Stone Cold Sober is the sixth in my Angie Deacon mystery series set at Stone-Cold_Sober-CoverPrintNew Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee. My heroine Angie, runs a community theater. Her partner has just left for Broadway and all the responsibility is on her shoulders. She’s so proud when she hires her first leading man. The problem? Wives keep popping up like dandelions in a field. When multiple wives find out about each other…nothing good can happen.

This sounds like a fun read, Cindy.  I’m sure many of us will be checking it out.

Thank you so much for being with us today. You have a world of experience to share. If readers would like to find out more about you, your books and your editing services, where should they go?

Please click on any of the links below:

 www.cdavisnh.com.

www.fiction-doctor.com.

www.writerscollege.com/

indieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop

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Hello, wonderful readers! Bunny Elder Banks here to welcome you to J.B.Hawker’s B.R.A.G. blog party. J.B. is too shy to brag about herself, so, since I was in town, I offered to be your hostess.

I actually don’t mind, since J.B. never would have won her two B.R.A.G. medallions without my help.

If you think it is easy being the heroine of one of J.B.’s books, well…you can just think again. The things she puts me through!

You know, she looks like such a sweet little church lady, but some of the things swirling around in her imagination…my dear, I mean, really! It’s all right for you who only read about these things, but I have to live them.

Dealing with the serial killer in Hollow, her first Medallion winner, was an eye-opener, believe me. She took an innocent story about a small town Halloween decorating contest and almost got me killed.

When she took me off to Italy in Vain Pursuits, her second award-winner, I thought it was going to be my reward for what she did to me in Hollow…no such luck. She got me kidnapped by the Mafia in that one. Well, she did give me a few romantic scenes with my Max, so I guess I will forgive her. Still…you should just read what she gets me up to in Seadrift and in …and Something Blue.

I thought when she concluded that series with such a nice, happy ending, Max and I could retire in peace. But then what does she do? She kills him off! And brings me back to Bannoch in The First Ladies Club to help rescue her latest victim (what does she have against pastors’ wives, anyway?).

Oh, I know, she hints in A Body in the Belfry that maybe Max isn’t quite as dead as we were led to believe (led to believe by you-know-who), but with her fascination with dead bodies, what am I to think?

Now, where was I? Oh yes, I’m here today to welcome you to J.B. Hawker’s BRAG Christmas Blog Hop… and to brag about her, I suppose. Hmmph! I don’t think so.

Oh, well…it is the Season of Peace and Joy, so I guess I can cut her some slack. The poor dear probably doesn’t have much excitement in her own life and needs to live vicariously through mine.

Best wishes to you all for a Blessed Christmas and happy reading.

The next stop on the indieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop is tomorrow, December 8 with Vinnie Hansen  who is probably much kinder to her characters than you-know-who.

Until next time…bye from your pal, Bunny.

The Big Day, Dec. 1

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Click on the Book image to buy now

On December 1, 2015, A Body in the Belfry will be available in all formats.  I’m discounting the digital version (Kindle, ePub) to only 99 cents for a limited time during the launch. After that, it will return to the regular price of $4.99.  Those who have pre-ordered will get the $.99 price.

I’m excited to have this book “out there” because I think it shows how I’ve grown as an author.

Please share the promotional discount with your friends who read cozy mysteries and Christian fiction, so they can take advantage of the low price.

If you read and enjoy this, or any of my books, please consider posting a review. Reviews really do make a world of difference to authors.