Hi Carrie! Welcome back to Stuff & Nonsense. You have been a busy lady this year. What was your favorite activity during the summer?
Writing! I wrote “The Christmas Challenge” novella and worked with four different editors this summer on three different projects!
Traveling!!! I went to Michigan to do more research for The Christmas Challenge, to do a two day book signing event at the lumber museum where my great grandparents’ cabin is situated.
Researching !!! I did research this summer, in Michigan, for another series (the first novel in the series is a finalist in the Maggie’s Award for Excellence, so prayers are appreciated!)
What are you reading?
Just finished Cynthia Hickey’s and Niki Turner’s lovely novellas and a new novel by Caryl McAdoo, whose writing voice is the closest to mine that I’ve seen yet. Loved her book “A Vow Unbroken.” I’m back to reading Jody Hedlund’s latest, which is also set on Mackinac Island, like my series, but eighty years earlier in time. I started reading it but had to take a break because it was interfering with my own writing. But I’m taking a little time off from the island (my story world!) while I promote “The Fruitcake Challenge” which is set outside Mackinaw City in 1890, and is just across the straits from Mackinac Island. And by the way, that is not a typo. Mackinac Island but Mackinaw City. Don’t ask!
Tell us a little bit about your novella and why you wrote it?
I was invited by my friend, Gina Welborn, to join this group of eight authors who wanted to publish a series for Christmas. It is called Christmas Traditions, and Cynthia Hickey has led off the series with her lovely novella, Handcarved Christmas. Niki Turner’s novella Sadie’s Giftreleased last week. My novella should release by September 15th.
I’d had the “What if?” of imagining a camp cook desperate to find her way out of the lumber camps but determined to do so and a former teacher, now a lumberjack, butting heads and falling in love. I wanted both of them to find hope in their situations. My inspiration song for my wring was Danny Gokey’s “Hope in Front of Me.” Here’s a link to the lyrics https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KIhYZQ_ovw
The Fruitcake Challenge was a very fun project and inspired by my real-life lumber camp cook grandmother and my mother, who helped out in the cook shack as a girl. So writing the story of a cocky axman who challenge’s a camp cook to make a fruitcake “just as good as” his mother made, has been like taking a walk down memory lane.
I love my spunky heroine, Jo! And I did a “cheat”—I named her after Josephine March, one of my favorite heroines ever! And the hero, Tom, got his first name from my son’s friend who was bemoaning the fact that his name had some bad associations, e.g., Doubting Thomas. I’d told him there are lots of heroes named Tom and so I made mine one! My husband’s last name is Jeffrey and so Tom Jeffries was “born.”
This new novella is called “The Fruitcake Challenge.”
What is your favorite dessert to make?
Well, you’d think after writing about so many different ways a fruitcake could be made that I’d say fruitcake but I like those quick chocolate lava cakes. I made this recipe recently, substituting Colonial Williamsburg’s “Heritage Chocolate,” which has a lot of spices in it, for the regular chocolate. http://www.anoregoncottage.com/quick-and-easy-lava-cakes/
Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
Yes, I have an as-yet-unpublished manuscript that is my favorite. It is currently titled “The Overseer’s Daughter” and I simply loved the heroine, the hero, and their story as well as the setting. The story made the rounds to most of the CBA publishing houses, except a few. Still praying it will be published traditionally.
I’m also very fond of my Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance novella because of the theme of obedience plus a cast which includes multi-racial characters—something you don’t see too much of in inspirational fiction.
I only write because God calls me to do so. Logically, I see no good reason for people to write Christian fiction—it has to be a calling. It’s very hard work with little return. God has encouraged me through people he’s put around me to lift me up on my journey. And when I’ve been ready to give up—He’s granted me awards or lovely reviews, etc., to urge me to keep writing.
If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
The hardest thing is cutting a story while still maintaining the integrity of what you’ve written. Writing the story “Snowed In” for Guidepost Books was one of the easiest and most enjoyable things I’ve done (on the first draft). It was awesome “spending time” during 1945 at my great-grandparents’ log cabin (which is where it was set.) But when I had to trim 20% of the story down (which was within the guidelines of what was contracted for, so I’m not complaining, I’m simply stating the facts) that was so difficult that I had to enlist two freelance editor friends to help me do so. Lesson learned. I’d stay at the lower end of guidelines for future submissions.
Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
My mother died four years ago. There’s a lot of Ruby in Jo Christy. She loved my husband and found him funny but rarely did she get to observe Jeffrey in his “I’m almost always right” mode—which is what my character Tom Jeffries stays in until his character arc changes. Mom started life out in Kentucky and was then dragged off to the North woods to lumber camps, by my grandfather but she found her way out of the camps by getting jobs in the last community where they’d lived. So I’d say Jo is my favorite character for her determination and spunk and because she reminds me of my mother!
What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
Don’t ever give up hope! God has a plan for you. It may not look like anything you wanted to do. In fact, it might look like the exact opposite of what you were aiming for. Trust God and He’ll bless you with a future better than you could have imagined for yourself!
Thanks for having me on your blog, Anne, and thanks for being part of the Christmas Traditions series Promo team!
Thank you for being here, Carrie! It's always fascinating to learn more about a favorite author.
Links to purchase Carrie's books:
A Cup of Christmas Cheer, Guidepost Books
Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance
Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/murray-puras-cry-of-freedom-volume-1-return-to-shirley-plantation-murray-pura/1114941171?ean=2940016542836
God’s Provision in Tough Times
Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D. (www.carriefancettpagels.com) “Hearts Overcoming Through Time,” is an award-winning Christian historical romance author. Carrie’s novella, The Fruitcake Challenge, releases September, 2014. Her short story, “Snowed In,” appears in Guidepost Books’ A Christmas Cup of Cheer (2013). She’s the Amazon best-selling and top-rated author of Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance (2013). Her Historical Genre winning short story, “The Quilting Contest,” will appear in Family Fiction’s The Story 2014 anthology. Carrie is a finalist in the 2014 Maggie Awards for Excellence for her unpublished novel, Grand Exposé.
Carrie is offering an E-book copy of “The Fruitcake Challenge” novella and an autographed paperback copy of her novella, Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance.
To be entered in the drawing, leave a comment telling us what you most look forward to at Christmas. Ends Sept 12th. Paperback to US ONLY.