Welcome to Nancy Bolton, author of both contemporary and historical stories. She’s sharing her writing life and a peek at her release from Prism Book Group, The Right Ingredients. (Details for the giveaway are at the end of the post)
Tell us a bit about you and your background.
I live in rural upstate New York. It’s humorous how most non-New Yorkers think if you say you’re from New York, that you’re from New York City, or another large metropolis. It’s funny because New York is a big state, and has tons of state parks, forests and long stretches of sparsely populated back roads. Like the dirt road I live on! I’m married for 41 years, have 5 sons and two grandchildren, a boy and a girl.
What are your hobbies away from the computer?
I like to cook, and am in the process of learning how to lacto-ferment instead of canning. Very interesting and much healthier! Plus I like to knit, crochet, garden, and listen to music.
Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?
Usually the characters.
If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.
Classical, especially Beethoven symphonies conducted by Leonard Bernstein. That’s my standard. Then, when writing historicals, I also listen to music of the time period. It really enhances the writing experience for me.
Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?
I usually have more than one story going, so if I hit a snag with one, I work on one of the other ones, until I’m refreshed. Also, during those times, I try to get caught up on household tasks like cleaning and organizing. I’m usually always behind on those. Really behind!
What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?
How many times I repeat words or phrases. Embarrassing! But I’m learning!
Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?
I also have historical romances, women’s fiction, a fantasy I’m working on, and a children’s book I’ve started.
Do you use visual aids (storyboards, Pinterest, collages) when plotting or writing?
When I write historicals, I do. I like to look at pictures or drawings of the people and objects during the time period.
In what genre do you read?
I read practically everything! I’ve got an extremely curious mind.
What do you hope readers gain from your stories?
I hope they gain an understanding of how faith and love are relationships that challenge everyone in different ways. I find the exploration of these vital relationships endlessly fascinating!
Thanks for interviewing me!
Ann’s hectic work responsibilities demand all her time and effort, and what was once a useful, satisfactory life has become a burden. Her bakery partner Susan has lost none of her enthusiasm for their business, and Ann can’t understand her exuberance, or her friend’s Christian faith. So she trudges along, hiding her dissatisfaction from Susan, resigned to a life of work, sleep and problems.
Unexpected comments offered by two different people cause a crack in Ann’s armor and her thoughts careen into unexpected directions. Attention from a young widower with a son challenges Ann’s resolve to stay safe and uninvolved. Susan’s example of faith through trial furthers Ann’s curiosity about God. Ann must choose to step toward the unfamiliar freedom of giving and receiving love, or stay in the shadows, stuck in the grip of past hurt and long-standing barriers.
From a review:
“This debut novel reminds me of the early Mitford novels. A slice of life story with a gentler feeling to it. Some interesting plot twists surprised me, and I fell in love with the characters.” –Lena Nelson Dooley, multi-award winning author of the McKenna’s Daughters series–Maggie’s Journey, Mary’s Blessing, and Catherine’s Pursuit
Ann hoped the bakery stayed empty of customers. She needed every bit of concentration to decorate the cake the way she envisioned it. Her light blue eyes scrutinized the last patch of undecorated surface. Almost done. Shifting on the chair, elbows planted on the low icing table, she pressed her lips together and leaned closer. She calculated the perfect angle to hold the frosting bag.
A stray hair drifted into her line of vision and she blew out a quick upward breath to deflect it. How on earth could any strand escape her coiled braid? She should have worn the hairnet. But hairnets were old-womanish. Still, she preferred them to the flimsy paper hats she and Susan wore the first year they opened the bakery. They never fit well, and exasperated her by sailing off her head when she rushed past the ceiling fans.
The bell on the bakery’s front door tinkled. Ann sighed and wished Susan would return from deliveries. She glanced through the archway and out the picture window. Maybe she’d appear. No such luck. Oh, well.
“Be right there,” she called. Ann set down the icing bag, rose from the chair and angled her hips to slip past the table. As she stepped sideways, two bees zoomed in and flew toward her. She startled, brushed both hands to scare them away and lost her balance.
In helpless shock, her stomach fell as her forearms, palms and chin landed on the cake and sunk in. She groaned, lifted her head and stared in total horror. Loud moans erupted.. “No, no, no.”
As though a protest would change anything. Tears gathered. She drew away from the cake, and straightened up. One little wobble, and her handiwork was destroyed.
“Are you okay?”
Ann stared at a tall, sturdy man in jeans and a tee shirt. He stood in the archway between the front and back rooms and surveyed the scene. “I’d have stayed out there, but I heard you cry out and thought I’d better check on you.”
Ann’s lip trembled. She pushed against the tide of emotion. No tears in front of customers. The two bees danced on the frosting, poking around on her ruined cake. “It’s all their fault. I tried to do everything right, and see what happened?”
She pointed a frosted finger at them, while her tears overflowed. Through the blur, she glanced from the excited insects over to the man. She blinked to clear her vision. His eyes were sympathetic, and his mouth wore a suppressed grin. He stood in a firm stance, yet appeared poised to offer assistance. Ann searched for a clean part of her arm and brought it up to first brush the tears, then the frosting beard off her chin. She must look like some sort of clown.
The merriment left his face. “I’m sorry. I think maybe they flew in when I opened the door. Can I help?”
“That’s kind.” Ann attempted a smile. “But I don’t think you can fix this cake. And please don’t feel bad about the bees. They love to break in here with all this sugar.”
She strode to the sink and turned on the water to wash off the pastel colored mess. “I’ll be out front in a moment.”
Ann finished her clean-up, wiped off her chin, hands and arms, and dabbed the towel on her eyes. She tied on a clean apron, straightened her shoulders and stepped to the front room of the bakery.
“Well, you look better.” He laughed. “I’m sorry, but that was pretty funny.”
Ann imagined her ridiculous appearance before she cleaned up and couldn’t help joining him. When their laughter subsided, he asked, “Feeling better?”
“Thank you, yes.” She needed a laugh.
“I’m glad. Must’ve been frustrating.” His obvious sympathy unlocked her natural reserve.
“I’ve decorated it for almost an hour, and now I’ve got to start the whole thing over from scratch. My business partner isn’t back from deliveries and I have more cakes to make.” She didn’t like to complain.
Take a breath. She shrugged. “… Anyway.”
He grinned. “You seem pretty young to run a bakery.”
“I don’t feel young today.” She grimaced and shook her head. “I guess it’s technically not a bakery, either. We only make cakes and cookies. Susan and I work here together, four years now, since college.” She blew out a breath. “Gets pretty crazy sometimes. Who knew the organic cake business would be so popular?”
He chuckled. “I’m not surprised, after all the raves I’ve heard. You know, I’ve had days like yours.” He stretched out his hand. “My name’s Tom Tillman. Sure hope your afternoon gets better.”
She clasped his offered hand and gave it a shake. “Ann Shaw. Around here most days are hectic, though I don’t usually fall on the cakes. I want to thank you for offering to help.”
“Wish I could have. I’m a capable farmer, handy with the livestock, but no good at cake fixing. Or baking, which is why I’m here.” He spread his hands out towards the display case.
“Hey, how ironic. A farmer with the last name Tillman. Till-man. Do you get teased?”
“Sure. Especially back in college. They loved to goof on me and make up nicknames. They also told me I had no choice in professions because of it.”
They shared a laugh.
“So, that’s why you’re a farmer?”
Tom shook his head. “No, I’d be one even if my name was… Ann Shaw.”
Ann’s cheeks grew warm at the way his tone dropped. She’d never connected to a customer so fast. He was easy to talk to.
Nancy Shew Bolton is a wife of 41 years, mother of five grown sons, and grandmother to a boy and girl. Ever since she learned to write, she would jot down her thoughts and impressions in little snippets of inspiration in the form of poetry, song lyrics, or short essays. About six years ago, she decided to try her hand at writing a full length book. She’s since written five works of fiction, two non-fiction, and is working on an idea for a children’s book, as well as more fiction manuscripts. Writing a full-length work is much more challenging than she thought, and she has received so much valuable assistance from other writers, especially from the ACFW critique groups. Her husband has been supportive of her long hours spent at the keyboard. Many thanks to her beloved Johnny! And now she’s under contract with Prism Book Group with a novel set to be released in September 2014! What a journey! She thanks God and His Son for her life, her loved ones and the spark of creativity inside every person. She believes each person is a unique creation, with their own special voice and place in this amazing universe. God’s handiwork amazes her every day!
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I’ll give away a free copy of The Right Ingredients to one lucky person who leaves a comment here.