Autumn Fires

FallMeme

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes
The gray smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!

A poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, from A Child’s Garden of Verses, 1885

Virginia Smith – Authorview

Virginia Smith Headshot Reduced

Today’s guest is multi-published Virginia Smith, a fellow Kentucky author.  She’s really showing versatility with her latest release, The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade, The Tales of Goose Creek B&B. It’s been compared to Jan Karon’s Mitford series, with intrigue, humor, and romance. I love the sound of that.

So, Virginia, tell us a little about your new series– The Tales of Goose Creek B&B

Parade - website lgIt’s about the lovable, laughable residents of a small town called Goose Creek, Kentucky. In The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade, we meet Al and Millie Richardson, a near-to-retirement-age couple who are at odds over her desire to sink their retirement funds into the purchase of a falling-down Victorian house with the idea of turning it into a bed and breakfast. Al is absolutely against the idea and digs his heels in, but in a match of wills, he secretly fears Millie’s is the stronger. In the meantime, the town’s iconic water tower needs to be repainted, and the community is in an uproar over the mayor’s idea to hire an outsider for the job. And meanwhile, a new veterinarian moves to town and unknowingly insults one of the oldest—and most influential—residents.

The publisher summarizes the series like this: “Get lost in a novel that reminds you why you love reading.”

In writing the first book, what inspired the story/situations?

My publisher, Harvest House Publishers, contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in trying something new. They were looking for a series about a small town with quirky residents, lots of humor, and subtle wisdom. They thought my writing style was well suited to that kind of book. Was I interested? You bet I was! My first three novels were exactly that—small towns, lots of humor, quirky characters. I’ve written in a lot of styles since then: romance, suspense, mystery, historical, contemporary, even biblical fiction. But from the moment I put the first words on paper, I was in love with Goose Creek. In some ways, this style of writing is like returning to my roots.

Wonderful! Please tell us about your main character(s). What endears them to you?

This book has several main characters. In fact, you could almost say the town, Goose Creek, is a character itself. But among the residents there are a few who take center stage. There’s Al and Millie, the late-middle-aged couple who buy the old house in order to open a bed and breakfast. I have to confess that there is a lot of my husband and me in that couple. I absolutely love their relationship, quarrels and all. Then there’s Dr. Susan, the veterinarian. I love her blundering mannerisms and sincerity.

Is the location real, or based on a real location?

Goose Creek is a fictitious town, but it is based on Midway, Kentucky. Midway is a charming town not far from my home in Frankfort, and like Goose Creek, its Main Street runs one-way on each side of a railroad track. Midway is one of those towns that cropped up around the railroad back in the mid-1800’s, and while many of those communities closed up, Midway survived. Its claim to fame is that Jesse James’ mom was born there.

Can you give us a sort of “snapshot” (brief description) of any important secondary characters you love?

Since this book has an ensemble cast, there are several characters who aren’t necessarily center-stage, but give the story so much flavor and fun. One is Mayor Jerry Selbo. There’s an interesting story behind his character. My church holds an annual auction as a fundraiser, and people donate all kinds of stuff to be auctioned off. When I was working on this book, my donation was the chance to be a character in one of my books. Jerry Selbo, one of my friends, won the auction. At first I was simply going to name a character after him. I made him the mayor of Goose Creek. As I was writing, I couldn’t help but picture the real Jerry as I was writing about Mayor Jerry, so some of his mannerisms and personality came through. I loved him so much he’s become a continuing character in the series. In the next book, Renovating the Richardsons, Mayor Jerry Selbo has a significant role.

I like recurring characters. They give a series continuity and draw the reader in faster. I haven’t read the book yet, so tell me what you hope will draw readers to this series?

The humor, of course. I love to laugh, and I think there’s a lot of funny stuff in these stories. But the messages really do run deeper than that. They’re about relationships, and cooperation, and compassion, and the need to see other people’s viewpoints.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Horatio - website lgThough The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade is officially the first book, I launched the series on August 1 with the release of an e-only novella, which is a story roughly one-third of the length of a novel. It’s called Dr. Horatio vs. the Six-Toed Cat, and it takes place five years before the opening of Parade. In that eBook you’ll meet Millie and Al, and you’ll discover the origin of the town’s beloved six-toed feline pets.

I read the novella and was delighted with it. I look forward to reading the series. What’s up next for you?

At the moment I’m working on the third full novel in the Goose Creek series, The Room with the Second-Best View. I really do hope this series is well-received by readers so I can keep writing Goose Creek stories. We have to wait and see what the readers think of Parade. In the meantime, I’m working on an unrelated book. I don’t want to say too much, but I’ll tell you this: I’m taking pottery lessons as part of my research.

Oh, boy! One of the things I love about writing is research. I know from past experience, you love to actually get into the roles you write. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions.

Local readers, Virginia Smith and Ann Gabhart will be signing books at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington, Kentucky on October 6th at 7 p.m., so mark your calendars and plan to attend!


Virginia Smith is the author of more than two dozen inspirational novels, an illustrated children’s book, and over 50 articles and short stories. An avid reader with eclectic tastes in fiction, Ginny writes in a variety of styles, from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense. Visit her on the web at www.virginiasmith.org. Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ginny.p.smith

Links to purchase The Most Illegal Goose Creek Parade:

Parade - website lgAmazon.com:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0736964770/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0736964770&linkCode=as2&tag=nexstecri-20&linkId=KRYS6RDH4HZLXXIR

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-most-famous-illegal-goose-creek-parade-virginia-smith/1120894191?ean=9780736964777

Christianbook.com:  http://www.christianbook.com/most-famous-illegal-goose-creek-parade/virginia-smith/9780736964777/pd/964777?event=ESRCG

Links to purchase Dr. Horatio vs. the Six-Toed Cat:

Horatio - website lgKindle:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00X4WA3R6/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00X4WA3R6&linkCode=as2&tag=nexstecri-20&linkId=U6E2VKMYRP4O3KNT

Nook:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dr-horatio-vs-the-six-toed-cat-virginia-smith/1121879000?ean=9780736964838

CBD.com:  http://www.christianbook.com/horatio-the-six-toed-cat-ebook/virginia-smith/9780736964838/pd/77087EB?product_redirect=1&Ntt=77087EB&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP

The Right Writers Conference

childrenpolaroidI was a daydreamer as a child. Actually, I haven’t changed that much–I’m still a daydreamer. My childhood wasn’t always easy, so I tended to find a happier place and hang out there. The place I found was usually in my head and possibly connected to the latest book I’d read, or something I’d watched on television.

As a stay-at-home mom raising three young boys, I found another reason to retreat to the happy place. I began to write stories. At first, it was a hobby. Then, as I wrote more and more, it began to be something else.  A calling. And I knew, even if no one ever read anything I wrote, I’d still write.

But others did read my stories. I entertained family and friends. They were impressed and encouraged me to pursue my interest. I took a writing class at the local college, and the professor encouraged me to keep writing.

BettynJenn2
Jennifer Hallmark and me at the Atlanta Christian Writers Conference

This past week, I attended a writer’s conference. I sat in classrooms with accomplished writers and writers on the way. Men and women who’d found their calling, their niche, shared what they had learned along that way. I soaked it in and used my pen for the first time in a long time, taking copious notes. Because what they’d found, I wanted.

Many professionals must continue to educate themselves in order to compete in their field. Writers are no different and conferences–good conferences–provide those opportunities.

Possibly even greater than the knowledge we receive at writers’ conferences, are the connections we make. There’s nothing like face-to-face discussions with friends we’ve made on Facebook and Twitter, or sitting down with someone who looks familiar, only to find they’re a multi-published, award-winning author. Gee, she seemed so normal.

I’d like to finish with this thought, shared with me by a new friend:

What I think is so great about these conferences is–how giving these authors are–they all want you to succeed, as they have.

And here’s why they’re so ready to share their hard-earned secrets — at some point, someone did the same for them.

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Perception

Art. According to Webster’s Dictionary, art is something created with imagination and skill that is beautiful, or expresses important ideas or feelings.

You might be wondering what that has to do with perception. The best and most beautiful art inspires. It touches the heart, or spurs the imagination. But do we all perceive it the same?

_MG_0490 as Smart Object-1Photography as art can please the eye…

9a4ea-kalnik2b050stimulate the imagination…

cooking-chocolate-674508_1280even make you hungry.

oldhouseFor a writer, a photograph can spur a memory, and inspire a story. One person’s perception.

Because…

writing is also art. It is definitely something created with imagination and skill. The outcome can be beautiful, thought-provoking, expressive.

Poetic…prosaic…melodic…

These three words sound nice, but two of them can imply beauty. One of them means ordinary, commonplace, run-of-the-mill. Prose: ordinary language.

Why did I toss an ordinary word in there? To show how perception plays a part in everyday life. The most ordinary things become extraordinary on occasion.

bird-838735_1280Gaze at this photo for a moment.

What stirs inside you? Feral. Stark. Dangerous.

But quite ordinary, if you’re the bird.

My aunt lost her sight and had a difficult time adjusting. She lived in a rural area, bordered by several acres of woods. She lived in fear of stepping on a snake, or touching poison ivy, so she seldom went outside. Her world was dark. Feral, stark, and dangerous. A world haunted by memories of what she could no longer see.

A friend of mine also lost her sight. Perhaps it was her age, she was younger when it happened, and she adjusted to it. Her world was filled with light, but not the kind you see. We stepped out onto her back porch on a beautiful day.

I took a deep breath and exhaled, thankful for the gift of sight.

She touched my arm. “Isn’t it a lovely day?”

I said yes, but wondered how she knew.

She gave a soft laugh. “I feel the air, the warmth of the sun. I hear the birds singing, and I know it’s a beautiful day.”

We live in troubling times, often bombarded by shocking images and violent words. Your perception, when your soul is darkened by worry, fear, even weariness, or illness–any or all of these things–can send you into a panic. You may want to withdraw and stay inside your shell, where it’s safe. Until you can’t function.

But when your soul is full of light, your perception is enlightened also. You see beyond the ugliness of the images. It doesn’t make them go away, but your perception helps you deal with what you see. It’s not always easy. I start each day with prayer. It calms me and turns my thoughts to something or someone other than myself.

Whoever looks at me is looking, in fact, at the One who sent me. I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won’t have to stay any longer in the dark.–the words of Jesus Christ, John 12:45-46 The Message

Perception.


 

Annabelle's Ruth FRONT final CoverI think you’ll like my latest release, especially if you’re a fan of the biblical story of Ruth. It’s inspired by Ruth, set in 1950’s rural West Tennessee. Annabelle’s Ruth is book one in the Kinsman Redeemer series, from Write Integrity Press.

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And I am one of several Write Integrity authors featured in the romantic novella, Unlikely Merger, just 99 cents on Kindle.

You can find all my books here: Betty Thomason Owens at Amazon.com

What’s Up?

WorkinProgress-MeA work-in-progress. That’s what’s up with me. I’m always trying to improve myself and update my knowledge of various computer technologies. As a writer, I run into glitches all day long and have to solve problems and iron out difficult wrinkles in the system or on my webpage, etc. If I had to wait for someone else to do it…well…it might actually be quicker than me working through a learning process. But now I know how to do it myself!

As of yesterday, my website is now located right here. Moving from Blogger to WordPress was an adventure (extreme understatement). But I love the results! What do you think of it?

That is, if I can remember what I did.

I’m also nearing the end of a work-in-progress–my second book in the Legacy series, Carlotta’s Legacy. This has been a learning process also, and extended beyond my self-imposed deadline more than I care to admit. I’m pleased with how it’s turned out. I hope my editor and publisher agree.

Those of you who’ve read Amelia’s Legacy, will remember Nancy’s perky best friend Rebecca Lewis. Rebecca falls on hard times and has to make some tough decisions. She may have second thoughts, but backing down is not in her makeup. Though she’s knocked down again and again, she keeps getting back up and back in the game.

I have to admit, I’m kind of crushing on Rebecca’s love interest, Riccardo Alverá. He’s an Italian count faced with some tough decisions of his own. To prepare myself for this story, I watched several movies from the era (also set in Italy). In Love and War (a Hallmark movie), Tea With Mussolini, A Month by the Lake, and Enchanted April. There are numerous wonderful novels set in the pre-WW2 era. And fantastic YouTube films about everything from sailing on an ocean liner (in the 1920s & 30s!!) to harvesting olives.

512px-French_Broom2One of my absolute favorite websites, because it was so informative, was Anne’s Italy. And then I happened across a list on YouTube that included movies and photographs from Umbria, which is the setting for Carlotta’s Legacy. Oh the hours I spent watching these beautiful scenes! If I had a bucket list, visiting Umbria would be at the top.

As I write this post, I’m a matter of weeks away from the release of Annabelle’s Ruth. See information below. This story is close to my heart, because it’s fashioned after the Book of Ruth and loosely based on some of my mother’s life experiences. It’s set in a small town where I spent part of my childhood. Here’s a sneak-peek at the setting for Annabelle’s Ruth (Pinterest Board).

I’ll keep you posted on these releases. Follow this blog or like my Facebook author page, to keep up with what’s going on (and help me reach 500 likes this summer). For instance, next week, the Authorview post features Becky Wade and her hot new release, A Love Like Ours. You will want to be here for that.


bluetick-coonhound-2Annabelle’s Ruth is a 1950’s era “Ruth” story, set in the area of Trenton, Tennessee. Constance “Connie” Cross determines to follow her mother-in-law, Annabelle, east to Tennessee after their husbands perish in a fishing boat accident. After Southern California, 1950’s West Tennessee gives Connie culture shock. How will she adapt to her new life amid the cotton farms, rank with prejudice?