No More Mr. Nice Guy!

- by Charlotte Hubbard

Breath Of SpringI’m getting ready to speak to the local chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers, on the topic of how to write and sell a series. As I was skimming the Series Overview I wrote as part of my original proposal for the Seasons of the Heart series, back in 2010, these lines leaped off the page about one of my major characters:


Their bishop, Hiram Knepp, focuses them on God’s will for their lives in Willow Ridge and in the outside world they separate themselves from. As he offers thanks for the meals served up in the Sweet Seasons Cafe, his mellow voice . . . and his patience will bless you as you enjoy these stories of his Plain flock, the sheep of his pasture.

My mouth dropped open. This is so not the Hiram Knepp we now love to hate! And it’s a perfect example of how characters can change dramatically between the time a writer first conceives of them and when they take on their own lives as the story actually gets written. Indeed, the man you might picture from the above quote would seem to have angel-white hair and wings with a halo, when in fact, in this fourth book of the series, BREATH OF SPRING, Hiram Knepp has gotten himself excommunicated from Willow Ridge for owning and hiding a car—among other things. And at one point in this story, he shows up with a short English-style haircut and a close-clipped goatee, both of which have been dyed coal black!

As I think back over Hiram’s slip-slide from grace, I realize it started in SUMMER OF SECRETS, the first book of the series, when Hiram was pestering Miriam Lantz to marry him and she refused . . . and with each refusal, he thought of the next nasty way to get even, to get revenge, and to try to get everything from her.

Enter the two Hooley sisters, Jerusalem and Nazarath, in AUTUMN WINDS to distract him from his pursuit of Miriam—but Hiram still kept finding ways to come down on the Lantz family. In WINTER OF WISHES, he was intent on shaming Rhoda Lantz for riding in a car and kissing English nurse Andy Leitner—but by the end of that drama, when Hiram had finagled a large plot of land to start a new colony, claiming God Himself had told him to do this, the good folks of Willow Ridge sent him packing. (Well, actually, Hiram refused to confess his sins or do penance, so he cooked his own goose . . . and then left it on the Christmas dinner table to rot.)

In BREATH OF SPRING, which is Annie Mae Knepp’s story, Hiram of course will be in full fettle once again—and even I was aghast at the way he chose to disgrace her. I’m grateful to my astute editor for once saying that Annie Mae would make an interesting heroine, because if I’d followed the pattern, the next Lantz girl to marry off would’ve been Rebecca. While readers love Rebecca, because she has made Willow Ridge her home despite saying plain-out that she won’t become Amish, therein lies the problem: I would be writing a non-Amish story if she were a heroine. So for now she remains a reliable, tech-savvy character whose website design business is bringing a lot of new folks to visit her mother’s Sweet Seasons cafe as well as the Hooley brothers’ new Mill at Willow Ridge—which is so beautifully illustrated on the cover of BREATH OF SPRING.

I think you’ll agree that Annie Mae must rise above many challenges the average seventeen-year-old couldn’t hope to face. At the end of WINTER, we saw her and her sister Nellie walk away from their father Hiram, absolutely refusing to go to his new colony—knowing they were inviting his wrath for defying him. In BREATH OF SPRING we see the return of her former beau, Yonnie Stoltzfus, in a sleek blue sportscar . . . with trouble on his mind. And then when Annie Mae sees that her four younger sibs are being mistreated by Hiram’s new um, live-in, Annie Mae gathers them in and takes them home to Willow Ridge and safety. But always in this story, she’s looking over her shoulder, living in the shadow of her relentless father’s arrogance and love of power.

Our hero, by comparison, is a rather quiet, unassuming fellow you’ve met at many a breakfast in the Sweet Seasons. Adam Wagler is busy with his home remodeling business, living with his widowed brother Matthias in a man-cave of a house that’s anything but clean or homey. While most of the local guys are warning him not to take up with Annie Mae because he’ll be supporting her entire family, Adam is wondering what such a strong young woman could possibly see in him. He has an illegal surprise from his past parked in his barn, however, and it enables him to save the day and Annie Mae in true heroic fashion.

I hope you’ll find a lot to enjoy in BREATH OF SPRING! And I think you’ll agree that the Seasons of the Heart series much more interesting because Hiram has evolved into such a villain—and because not all of the folks who live in Willow Ridge are squeaky clean or free from secret sins.

Sounds a lot like real life, doesn’t it?

If you’d like to read the first chapter of BREATH OF SPRING now, and see the recipes that are featured in that story, check it out at And if you’d like to sign up for my e-newsletter so you don’t miss any of the upcoming books in this series (HARVEST OF BLESSINGS and THE CHRISTMAS CRADLE are slated for 2015) fill out the little sign-up at the bottom left of my homepage. You can also Friend me on Facebook! Thanks so much!   ~Charlotte





Welcome Maine Ghost Hunter Beth Oliver

- by Lina Gardiner

Welcome Beth Oliver and thank you for sharing your experiences as a Maine Ghost Hunter Member.

Lina, thank you for asking me to do this interview. I love sharing my experiences with ghost hunting and the paranormal. 

Beth, how did you originally become interested in this field?

I’ve always had an interest in the paranormal. I cut my teeth reading books on ghosts, mythology and legends and my grandmother would often tell us stories of hauntings. She was a very adventurous woman and very open minded. She actually went to a Spiritual camp with her sisters to have a reading in the 1940’s. Anyway, she passed that love of a good story on to me and I parlayed that into being a writer, and eventually as an investigator.

What prompted you to begin investigating?

I have an avid interest in Maine legend and lore. This led me to a chat room discussion on the false information on sites that is posted all over the internet. One of the members in the chat was putting together an investigative team and asked me along on an outing. It just seemed like a perfect fit. They asked me to join the team and the rest just sort of fell into place.

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Novelists, Inc. Blog Welcomes Joyce Lamb of Joyce Lamb Editing

- by Lina Gardiner

Welcome Joyce, thank you for being our guest this month.

What kind of business were you in for twenty-five years before going out on your own?

Thanks for talking with me, Lina!

I’ve been a copy editor for 25 years, the past 15 at USA Today in the Money section. My entire working life since graduating from college has been with one media company (Gannett, parent of USA Today). I was lucky enough to get a job at my hometown newspaper while still in college and moved around a couple of times within Gannett before landing at USA Today. I’m still a contractor for USA Today, as curator of the Happy Ever After blog devoted to romance novels. So I haven’t completely broken my ties, which is a good thing, because I’ve loved working for them.

What was it like to start your own business?

Scary as all hell! But once I decided freelance copy editing was what I wanted to do and I started doing it, it got a lot less scary fast. I knew I’d have to work even harder, but I love fiction, and there’s nothing more fun (for me) than copy editing a really great book. Yes, I’m a nerd through and through. Plus, with self-publishing being so hot, authors are in need of good copy editors, so I figured I’d have to try pretty hard to fail at freelance copy editing. : )    

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Chasing The Beatles

- by Karen Tintori

Are you as boggled as I am that 50 years have passed since a record 70 million of us sat around our black and white television sets to watch “The” Ed Sullivan Show?  I watched that night with a mix of exhilaration and worry. I was already a Beatles fan, and this was my first chance to see them perform, but I was seriously worried that I’d never get to see them perform live here in Detroit. On the advent of The Beatles’ arrival in the US, one of the fraternities at the University of Detroit had adopted brush haircuts and begun a “Stamp Out The Beatles Campaign.”

Not 15 minutes after their plane touched down at Kennedy Airport on February 7, 1964, The Beatles faced the media at a press conference in the PanAm terminal. Three questions in, my heart nearly stopped.

“In Detroit there’s people handing out car stickers saying, ‘Stamp Out The Beatles.’”

Paul: “Yeah well… first of all, we’re bringing out a Stamp Out Detroit campaign.”   His retort brought laughter.

“What about the Stamp Out The Beatles campaign?” the reporter pressed.

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