Ok, ok, I'm late. Chalk it up to recovery from the holiday weekend and real life. At any rate, I'll make up for it this week and next with not 1, but TWO spotlights and TWO chances to win a FREE book. I actually have 3 ready to go, but I'm not sure I'll have time to get all 3 posted. We'll see. If I do, better for all of you. :)
Don't forget to post a comment for your chance to win a FREE book!
And now for spotlight #1:
Cathy Elliott is a Library Information Technician at a community college in northern California. A woman of many interests, Cathy is an antique collector, a quilter, a musician, and ardent reader, and a mom. In her spare time, she loves to write and share chapters with her friends at a local hangout. Cathy is a contributing author to The Upper Room, Stories for the Teen's Heart, Book 3, and A Cup of Comfort for Grandparents. A Vase of Mistaken Identity is her first novel.
1. Amateur sleuths have been a 'hit' for over 20 years in both TV and books. You combine that with an antiques dealer in your main character. Where did you get the inspiration behind this particular story?
When Thea James walked into my head and introduced herself, she made casual mention that she was an antique dealer. I knew we'd like one another because I have been an avid antique collector for the last twenty years or so. If she talked about a copper luster jug or the excitement of the treasure hunt, I knew exactly what she meant. Plus, I knew that she would have an interesting place of work for the reader to observe, and lots of opportunities to talk to folks and visit their homes or estates on business. As I got to know Thea better, I realized that the world of antiques and the world of intrigue could overlap – especially if I began her adventures with a mysterious list found in a vintage vase. That list becomes even more of a mystery when one person listed meets with a freak accident and the next one disappears. Thea is pulled into the puzzle because her name is next.
2. How much of your own experiences influenced the character of Thea? What aspects became traits that were hers alone?
Along with the interest in antiques, I gave Thea my love of quilting and she is making her first quilt through the book. (At the end, the quilt pattern has been included so the reader can make it too.) She plays a little guitar, as do I, and my tendency to procrastinate almost explodes in Thea’s world. Like Thea, I also forget to wear my glasses for distance. We do share some traits. But there are those that are Thea’s alone: her nail biting, her obsession with her hair, her clumsiness, and her whacked-out imagination.
3. What themes exist in A Vase of Mistaken Identity that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?
Maybe that as Thea stitches on her quilt, reworking this or that, adding more to make it complete, the puzzle unfolds as well. In the end, Thea sews up the mystery and finishes the quilt! A less overt theme was one of light. Thea had switched off her spiritual light from disappointment with God – from anger, even. But her slow return to faith in Him, has her turning up the dimmer switch a little at a time, as He proves Himself again and again, and shows His loving care in the kindness of others. Additionally, there is mention of following the light in the Alaska story told by Buck Salisbury during the church service. Later, Thea walks toward the light when she finds herself helpless and alone, stranded late at night. In the light, she finds comfort.
4. What was your most difficult part to write? Your favorite?
Most difficult? The first chapter! I rewrote that baby more times than I counted. Each time seemed to improve it, yet, no sale. But I listened to everyone (which is a mistake)...made so many changes it no longer sounded like my voice. So I put it back together and tried again. With some wise advice from author Tricia Goyer, I finally found my problem – too many flashbacks were mucking up the pace. Not good in a first chapter. Once I wrote it in real time, the pace picked up nicely and everything else fell into place. I hope I have learned THAT lesson.
My favorite? Maybe the chapter where Thea gets a frantic phone call from her sister, Rosie, and rushes over to see what is wrong. That's the chapter where the Mexican meatloaf was born. (Giggle.) I had a great time writing that scene. It was based on someone’s real experience and she let me borrow it, bless her.
5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?
I am working on a sequel to Vase that is not yet contracted, but I hope it will be. Kregel has strong interest in giving Thea another adventure. This season of my life has been a very serious detraction from the writing, but I am seeing that light at the end of the tunnel, at last, ever brightening, ever beckoning. Starting to flash at me! Thea's next adventure is calling. It is all plotted out and I'm polishing the proposal. It has to do with an annual quilt show in Larkindale, a stolen legacy quilt, and a missing quilt expert. Thea, as co-chair of the event, finds herself once again reluctantly enmeshed in the imbroglio. I suspect she'll find herself in plenty of trouble before she figures out just what the trouble is!
Thanks so much, Tiff, for introducing me to your readers. I am honored to be here and enjoyed answering your insightful questions.
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