Thursday, February 28, 2019

THE SECRET OF WILLOW INN - Pat Nichols - One Free Book

Welcome, Pat. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I never considered this question. I suppose authors subconsciously transfer some of their personality into their characters. For me, that would be Emily, who’s an aspiring writer.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Many years ago, a friend and I did a silly stand-up comedy routine as little old ladies for an Elk’s club talent show. That marked the beginning and end of my show biz experience.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
During my twenty-seven-year corporate career, several jobs gave me the opportunity to dabble in creative writing. It didn’t come full circle until 2014, nine years after retirement when I wrote my first manuscript.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
My library features a wide variety of authors including Francine Rivers, David Baldacci, John Grisham, Joel Rosenberg, Eugenia Price (my mom’s favorite author), and a number of books by talented writer friends.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I laugh, read, watch movies, and when things get really tough, turn it all over to God.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
For my main characters, I begin by researching popular first names in their birth years and in the region where they were born. From that list I select names that fit their personalities and are easy for readers to pronounce and remember. Last names are also selected by region.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
In my personal life, it’s my family and celebrating fifty-plus years with Tim, my high-school sweetheart. Our marriage and love sustained us through many peaks and valleys. Now, in our senior years, we enjoy each other’s company more than ever and like to joke that together we make one whole person.  In my professional life, it’s launching my second career as an author at the age of sixty-eight, proving it never too late to follow your dreams.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A dog, a Labrador or Golden Retriever to be exact. Although we no longer have pets, we’ve had five black labs over the years. Why a dog? Because they are loyal, lovable, and smart.

What is your favorite food?
Hmm, that’s a tough question. My favorite meal is cedar-planked smoked salmon with dill sauce, a salad with goat cheese, dried cranberries, and sweet balsamic dressing, a sweet potato, and key-lime pie for dessert.

Yum. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Inexperience. My first manuscript included every mistake new writers make times a hundred. So, I buckled down, studied the craft, rewrote the manuscript and began a second. By the time I started number three, I’d honed my skills. However, I continue to learn.

I started writing in my 40s. I’m now in my 70s, and I’m still learning. Tell us about the featured book.
My debut novel, The Secret of Willow Inn, is the first book in the Willow Falls Series. It is the story of three women, strangers whose lives are drawn together by a 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 and help save the town from dying. 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 Streetman, 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.

Please give us the first page of the book.
As far back as Emily Hayes could remember, her heart yearned for a sister. She directed her earliest requests to Santa Claus, which made Christmas mornings a confusing blend of excitement and disenchantment. Later she bargained with God. He disappointed her too. When she learned where babies came from, she petitioned her mom with promises to keep her room clean and be the best sister in the whole-wide world. Nothing worked. At some point the pleas stopped, but the lingering desire left a hole in her heart.

Thursday morning, she stepped outside the white-columned-home converted to a hospital and traced her ultrasound image with her finger. It wasn’t at all what she’d expected. She pressed her hand to her chest to ease the fluttering sensation, slipped the photo in her jeans pocket, and texted her husband. Have results. Meet me in the park in five.

A cool breeze nipped her cheeks and rustled the new crop of leaves on the mature willow-oaks lining Main Street. She dropped her phone in her purse, pulled her sweater tight, and crossed the two-lane road to the sidewalk fronting a grand estate. White columns extending from a railing supported the roof over the wide, front porch. The home was weeks away from final transformation to the Willow Inn, thanks to her parents' first effort to save their town from a slow, painful death.

The second stood next door—an abandoned four-story brick hotel. All they needed to bring it to life was a boat-load of money. If everything fell into place, their ship would come before they returned home. A bird fluttering to a nest in a tangle of ivy summoned images of new beginnings and eased Emily’s tense shoulders.

She wandered past the hotel to the adjacent lakeside park and settled on the foot-high retaining wall at the water's edge. She gazed across the street at the picturesque, century-old Main Street storefronts. Pepper’s Café’s faded awning flapped in the breeze and triggered memories from her childhood. Picnics in the park with her friends. Hiking with her dad to the waterfall. Begging her mom for a sister.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Readers, here are questions for you to answer in the comments to be in the drawing.
Who was the Indian chief who rode in Roosevelt's inaugural procession? 
Who wrote the Star Spangled Banner?

Thank you, Pat, for sharing this debut novel with me and my blog readers.

Readers, here are links to the book.
The Secret of Willow Inn (Willow Falls Series) - Paperback
The Secret of Willow Inn (Willow Falls Series Book 1) - Kindle

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. 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.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

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.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Google+, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link:


janice sisemore said...

Would love to win. Oklahoma

Linda Kish said...

Francis Scott Key

I'd like to read this book. lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Pat Nichols said...

Thank you for commenting. I'm delighted you'd like to read The Secret of Willow Inn.

Melanie Backus said...

Love the cover and would to read!
Melanie Backus, TX

Kay Garrett said...

Thank you for the interview with Pat Nichols. Love learning more about author's whose books I enjoy reading. I would love the opportunity to read "THE SECRET OF WILLOW INN". Love the storyline and just know that it would be a book that I would greatly enjoy reading. Feel in love with the cover on sight. It reminds me of our little town which is pretty much unchanged by time.

Appreciate the chance to win a copy!
Kay Garrett from Mountain View, AR
2clowns at arkansas dot net

Robin in NC said...

This book sounds very intriguing! Thanks for sharing!

Robin in NC

Unknown said...

I have read her book. Being from a small town my favorite thing about Pat's writing was the setting and characters she chose. They reminded me so much of my life when I was young. It was like a visit home each time I read. These things really drew me into the characters and Pat did a great job using many language phrases which were so natural for me. The plot of the story easily flowed along like the evolving lives and gossip of people in a little community including loyalty,tragedies,offenses, comforting friends. People who sticking together through thick and thin.I've always thought growing up in a small town teaches people how to get along with people whether you like them at the moment or not. LOL. Yes, of course, there were twists and turns and some shockers along the way. Just loved the book.

Vivian Furbay said...

What is interesting is the one lady supporting the one who returns as an ex convict. Vivian Furbay of CO

Connie Porter Saunders said...

I love this cover. It reminds me of what our small town once enjoyed...stores and cats parked along the streets!
Connie from Kentucky

Pat Nichols said...

Thank you for posting. I'm glad you like the cover.

rubynreba said...

Love small town books!
Beth from Iowa

Sharon Bryant said...

Enter me in your awesome giveaway!!
Conway SC