Tuesday, January 09, 2018

AN UNTIDY END - Candice Prentice - One Free Ebook

Welcome back, Candice. It’s been a long time since you were on my blog. By the way, I love your head shot. You are looking so good. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
A lot, I've discovered. Funny about that. At first I didn't think so, but I realized that each heroine has a piece of me. It might not be a big piece, but there are parts of my personality or my experiences, or maybe just things I've learned along the way, in every main character.  

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
The latest quirky thing? Nasal irrigation. Weird, right? Sounds awful, but it's recommended by doctors for sinus health, which is why I'm doing it. And it's an experience like none other except maybe inhaling water up your nose while swimming.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I can't say for sure. As a kid, I wrote stories in my head. As a 9th grader, I wrote them during Biology—not the best way to get a good grade. In 10th grade, I discovered the thesaurus. And in 11th grade, I was blessed to attend a school that had a creative writing class as an option instead of just plain English. I think that's when I first became conscious of my love for writing.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Mysteries first (cozies in particular, which is what I write). Both contemporary and historical. I like suspense, too, although I avoid the graphically scarier ones now. I don't want to think about serial killers when I walk my dog at night.

I really enjoy historical non-fiction, and that includes journals. I have quite a collection of non-fiction on my shelves. I tend to read about a certain topic or period of time all at once, and I collect books about it. For instance, I began reading about women homesteaders, so then I read and collected all the books I could find about them. But my most interesting "book-ish" collection is an assortment of antique Victorian autograph books. While they aren't exactly books, or informative like journals, they do give an interesting insight into that period of time.

I’d love to see that collection. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I don't run. (Laughing, here.) Seriously, my schedule is my own to make, and I refuse to be driven by circumstances or unreasonable demands as much as possible. In the past, I tended to just go with the flow. I didn't stop to consider whether or not I should do an activity, I just did whatever came along. I wasn't disciplined with my time, and that affected my ability to accomplish the things I needed to accomplish. It also affected my health. Now I approach my days with prayer, planning, and purpose.

Things really changed for me in the past few years. I've had some serious health issues, and I finally had to make some hard and fast rules about how much exposure I would allow myself to craziness, drama, and activity. With the Lord's help, I've developed habits that help me survive and stay well enough to write and live a quality life. I eat good food, I exercise, I meditate in the Word, and I spend time in prayer every day. I limit my television viewing, exposure to the news, and online activity, particularly things that stir up negative emotions. I strive for peace in my home. And while I love and care for other people, especially when they're hurting, I don't allow their emotional state to affect my emotions—at least to the best of my ability. I just can't afford to.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
I eliminate all the names I've used in recent books, then I look in a baby name book for names the might be appropriate for the characters in question. And I try to avoid using names with the same first letters or similar sounding syllables in a book. If a character has a particular nationality or heritage, I'll pick a name that is appropriate for that.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I don't have one single accomplishment I look at and think that's what I'm most proud of. Usually my favorite accomplishment is last the big one I finished. At the moment, that's a quilt I made as a gift for my sister.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I would be a horse. Horses can run fast and jump high—there's a feeling of freedom when I imagine that. And they're strong, graceful, and beautiful. Horses are intelligent enough to be service animals. They're also capable of deep bonds, with each other and with humans.

What is your favorite food?
That's a hard question to answer right now because (due to health issues) my diet is severely limited. So . . . at the moment, my favorite food would have to be oatmeal. A close second is a fresh, red delicious apple.

I love both of those, too. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
My health. I reached a point where I couldn't write due to the issues I was suffering. But I'm so much better now. God is faithful. Through a number of sources, including a holistic medical doctor and some insight into neuroplasticity, the Lord showed me how to make changes that took me from being mostly bedridden to being up, living, and working again. I am truly grateful to be writing again!

And I’ve missed your stories. I’ve always loved them. Tell us about the featured book.
It's a cozy mystery called An Untidy End. The thing that makes it special to me is the characters. Instead of one sleuth, I have three: the main heroine named Lily, an elderly woman named Florence, and a ten-year-old girl named Maddie. The interplay between them is fun. Lily is an ex-Navy chief with a degree in Homeland Security, who chose the unlikely job of personal assistant to a wealthy widow. While walking the estate one day, she stumbles upon a body.

Lily is on a journey of restoration. In future books, she will continue to grow and heal from things in her past—and Florence will help.  Florence is a feisty seventy-five-year-old, and she's a particular favorite of mine.  She's witty and quick to say what's on her mind, but she's also kind and loving. I love her reactions to certain thing, like social media. Here's what Florence says about that:

"Social media?" She [Florence] glanced over at me. "Lily, this is exactly the problem with computers and this online phenomenon. It's irrational. You call something on the World Wide Web social? When individuals sit alone and stare at a computer screen? How can something be social when people aren't in the same room together?" She shook her head. "And they say I'm demented."

Please give us the first page of the book.
During the twenty years I served in the Navy, I willingly endured certain indignities on behalf of my country, especially when I was out to sea. Things like lack of privacy and the constant drama of all the sailors who lived and worked in close quarters.

When I retired and made the unlikely decision to take employment as a personal assistant to a wealthy widow, I thought those days were behind me. I anticipated that I would do my job and then disappear into the background, like vanilla extract in chocolate cake. I naively assumed that no one would have expectations of me beyond those required by my job. And, I thought, I'd finally be able to avoid human drama.

The irony of my foolish assumptions wasn't lost on me as I slid under Florence Beasley's king-sized bed to retrieve the upper plate from her dentures. Her television blared from the sitting room of her suite as I scooched along, inch-by-inch.

Being under the bed brought to mind weird thoughts about living. Perhaps because that's where some people hide their clutter. Or maybe because that's where drooling childhood monsters live. But, for whatever the reason, I was struck by the messiness of life. Birth is turbulent. Living is unpredictable. And death is. . .untidy.

From the side of my eye, I saw the toes of two brown leather shoes belonging to the other Beasley in the room, my employer, Belle Beasley, otherwise known as Lady B to her staff.

"Lily, do you see it?" The crisp, white bed skirt quivered as she began tapping her foot.

"Not yet," I said with all the vigor I could muster while confined in a fifteen-inch-high space.

As I wiggled farther under the bed, a shriek came from Florence's television, accompanied by swelling waves of eerie music. Perhaps that was why I was thinking about the untidiness of life and death. The victim on the crime show flickering across the room was about to die. A very untidy ending, indeed.

"Turn that down, Florence!" Lady B snapped at her elderly sister-in-law.

"If I do that, I can't experience the drama." Florence's words were muddled minus her top plate in her mouth.

"We don't need more drama. You've provided quite enough."
"Lady B, I think I see it," I said, forestalling an argument between the two. "Florence was right. It landed in the corner."


Another scream ripped through the room then gurgled to a stop. The music continued in a frenzy of violins that brought to mind spurting blood and tell-tale splatter on walls.

Lady B murmured something under her breath and stepped away from the bed. I heard the click of her low stacked heels on the hardwood floor. Then the clamor from the television abruptly ended.

"I declare, Belle," Florence said. "Body Count is one of my favorite shows. It's only on Wednesday mornings. Now I'll never know what happened."

"I'm sure the show is a repeat, and you've seen it at least once." Lady B's harsh words reverberated through the suddenly silent room.

"Well, I never," Florence said. "You're a little hostile today, aren't you? What's wrong? Did you fall out of the wrong side of the bed?"

"I'll refrain from answering, otherwise I'll say something I regret. . .something about throwing dentures and acting like a toddler, perhaps?" Lady B walked back across the length of the two rooms. The bed skirt billowed as she returned to her original position at the edge of the bed.

I’m eager to see what happens next. How can readers find you on the Internet?
You can find my book here: An Untidy End

I really enjoy interacting with my readers and would love for people to visit me, make comments, and read my blog articles, now that I'm back and writing again.

Thank you, Candice, for sharing this new book with us.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the ebook. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

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The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

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Natalya Lakhno said...

Lena, thank you for interview! I've been introduced to another new author :)
I haven't read any Candice's books yet.

Natalya Lakhno from Citrus Heights, CA

Candice Prentice said...

Thanks for reading the interview, Natalya! I appreciate you visiting.

Kay Garrett said...

Totally love cozy mysteries! AN UNTIDY END sounds just perfect and is now on my TBR list.

Love the statement Florence made about "Social media". Made me chuckle and want to read more about Florence for sure.

Loved the interview because it gave me a chance to get to know the author as well as about the book. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
Kay from Mountain View, AR
2clowns at arkansas dot net

Candice Prentice said...

Kay, thank you for reading my interview!

VanG said...

Thank you for the interesting interview. I have yet to read anything by this author and would love to win a copy of this book. Thanks for the giveaway. Blessings!
VanG in NC

Candice Prentice said...

Van G. Thanks for reading my interview!

Connie said...

Thanks for sharing your first page and offering this giveaway.
Connie from KY

Candice Prentice said...

Connie, thank you for reading my interview.

KayM said...

This book sounds great! I'd love to win a copy. Thank you for the opportunity.