Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Patti Shene!
What was your inspiration for the story?
I never had any interest in writing a Christmas story, but when I was invited into a MAP (multi author project), I decided to accept the challenge.
How do you develop your characters? (e.g. decide on their vocation, names, etc.)?
Those of us in the multi-author Christmas Ridge Romance series project agreed to choose different age groups for our characters. Since I am a widow, I wanted to create older characters and share a message of hope for those who struggle with the Christmas season while grieving a loss.
Cathy works as a church secretary, and although I never held that position, I prepared and printed our church bulletins every week for a few years. As David’s character shaped up in my mind, I could picture him as a retired math teacher who enjoys home repair projects and keeps physically fit.
When I shared the original name I chose for my male character with my sister, she informed me it was the most unromantic name ever! That led me to a google search of common first names from the decade in which my characters were born.
Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym? Why or why not?
I do write under a pseudonym, more or less. My real name is Pat Gonzales, but I write under the name Patti Shene. The main reason is that my married last name is very common, especially in this part of the country, but my maiden name is not. I published Cathy’s Christmas Confession under the name Patti Shene Gonzales.
How are your characters like you? Different?
Funny you should ask! A friend told me after reading my novella that Cathy reminded her of me. They say your first published work is somewhat autobiographical.
I am a widow, and I also tend to be short on common sense like Cathy at times. I put simple things off
Cathy and I are not alike in that I have not met my David Martin! After seven years of widowhood, I doubt I will, but only God knows the answer to that!
If you were to write a spin-off book about one of your secondary characters, which one would you choose and why?
I would write about Officer Greenwald, the police officer who appears briefly near the beginning of the book. He is surly with no compassion and certainly no sense of humor whatsoever. He is hiding a deep wound and I’d love to match him up with someone who would love him and make him aware of how much God loves him too.
What is your process for writing? (do you outline, have a special place or time of day you write, etc.) What is your favorite part of the process?
I wish I could say I create wonderful outlines that direct me step by step, but I just don’t. I start out with a basic idea and I know how the story is going to end. It’s getting there that requires a lot of trial and error, deleting and rewriting.
My favorite time to write is in the evening, when I feel I have accomplished whatever tasks needed to be done that day. Then I can relax and enjoy writing, but I sometimes get carried away and end up staying up way too late!
My favorite part of the process is putting sentences together to paint a vivid picture for my reader. I like to create dialogue that expresses emotion and brings my characters to life.
What is your advice to fledgling writers?
Study the craft. Attend writers' conferences and learn all you can from other authors. Join a critique group. Don’t let rejection discourage you. If you have a passion in your heart for a certain theme, subject, or message, God has probably put it there for a reason. It may take a while to get published, but His timing is always perfect! Above all, write for God’s glory.
What writers or books have influenced you?
The Oregon Encyclopedia
What is your next project?
I enjoyed writing Cathy’s Christmas Confession, but as you may have guessed from my previous answer, my true passion lies with the western genre! I have a completed novel now in the process of editing, with the help of my excellent and supportive critique group. I plan to send it out for professional editing before submitting to a couple of publishing houses that have expressed interest.
First page peek:
Cathy Fischer chiseled at the thick ice encasing the windshield of her gunmetal gray Dodge Ram. Snow blew in her face, slithered down her neck, and crunched under her feet.
Why spend time today on what could be put off until tomorrow? Or the next day. Six decades of this philosophy that had caused her grief more than once was playing havoc again.
Ice wouldn’t have formed under a foot of snow blanketing her truck if a dead garage door battery hadn’t prevented her from putting the vehicle in the garage. That’s where it belonged during an overnight Colorado winter storm. She’d intended to replace the battery days ago.
By the time she cleared the windows, the defroster had left a peephole in the windshield.
Snow covered the roof. Should she stand on the running board and clear it?
That frozen icing would stay right where it was on this metal cupcake.
She backed down the driveway and waited as a black SUV crept up the road. The white stuff fell in a heavy curtain, reducing visibility to less than a quarter of a mile. Wind whipped the shards of icy precipitation against her windshield. She kept a safe distance from the vehicle ahead and tested her brake.
Just in case.
About Cathy’s Christmas Confession:
During a snowstorm, widow Cathy Fischer creams a stop sign on her way to work at the Christmas Ridge Community Church. Acquaintance David Martin stops to help. Cathy sees signs of deep grief in David, a recent widower. She reaches out with support to help David through this most difficult first Christmas without his beloved wife.
David Martin struggles with grief over the death of his wife. He blames God for her rapid demise after her cancer diagnosis. Cathy reaches out to him with compassion and support and soon enlists him in her mission to bring joy to others at Christmas. Will their joint quest restore David’s faith? David needs to turn loose of the past and embrace his future. Cathy has a confession to make to the entire community that may give David a different perspective of who she really is. Will her confession set her free?
Does God have plans in mind for the two of them they did not anticipate?
Social media links:
(sign up for my two blogs, Patti's Porch and The Over 50 Writer and podcast Step Into the Light or just one of the three or any combination as you prefer)
Facebook Step Into the Light: https://www.facebook.com/pattishene
Facebook personal: https://www.facebook.com/gunsmokefan/
Linkedin: @Patti Shene
Amazon Author Page
BIO: Patti Shene Gonzales hosts Step Into the Light, a weekly interview-style podcast, where guests share their journey out of darkness or ways they lead others out of darkness. She hosts writers on her two blogs, Patti’s Porch and The Over 50 Writer. Patti enjoyed a thirty-year career as a psychiatric nurse and has always harbored a desire to write. Cathy’s Christmas Confession released in November 2022 and is her first full-length published work. Patti enjoys writing, reading, critiquing, and spending time with family and friends. She lives in Colorado with her devoted feline companion, Duncan.