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A showcase of mystery, history, romance, and adventure
at the World's Fair
A Fair to Remember ~ Book Two
Dinah Mayhew takes on more than just a job at the Chicago World's Fair when she sets her cap for Seth Howell. As Dinah and Seth team up to help Chicago's unfortunates, romance fairly blossoms. But matters take a turn for the worse when cousin Gladys appears on the scene and starts looking for love in all the wrong places. Upon Gladdie's sudden and mysterious disappearance, Dinah and Seth begin searching for answers, only to find themselves trapped in a maze of secrecy and deception. Will they live to expose the truth or find themselves facing the point of no return?
What book are you working on now? Can you give us a sneak peek of the storyline?
Sure! Asking an author to talk about her books is never a problem. It's getting her to know when to stop talking that can be tricky! I just turned in the manuscript for a title in a brand-new fiction series from Guideposts called Mystery and the Minister's Wife. There are five authors working on the series, and the one I've just completed will be book four.Currently, I'm working on another story set at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair for Barbour Publishing. Like the first two, Ticket to Tomorrow and Fair Game, this one will have the splendor of the fair's White City as a backdrop . . . along with some of the less savory elements in Chicago's underworld.The storyline revolves around Emily Ralston, a worker at the fair's Children's Building, and Stephen Bridger, one of the exposition's Columbian Guards. When a little boy is abandoned at the Children's Building, Emily and Stephen join forces to reunite the child with his family. Tracking little Adam's family down proves to be more challenging than they expected when their efforts make all three of them targets of a cold-hearted criminal, and their lives--as well as their blossoming romance--are at risk.And there's good news for those who have followed the first two books--quirky Mrs. Purvis will be back, along with brief appearances by Annie and Nick from Ticket to Tomorrow and Dinah and Seth from Fair Game.
What takeaway points do you hope the reader pulls from this book?
Like many of us, Dinah wants to serve God but isn't sure about what He wants her to do. She has to learn to focus on Him, rather than circumstances, to guide her. She also discovers that He can use her willingness to serve despite her shortcomings.
How do you deal with your other obligations (family, church, etc.) when it's crunch time near deadlines?
After living through the crunch time for over twenty titles, my family is pretty well trained. They know there will be days when I'm bleary-eyed and uncommunicative and they'll have to take care of their own meals, laundry, etc. for a time. I appreciate their support so much! In return, I try very hard to be available for family time at some point during the day, even when the deadline is pressing hard. I don't want to fall into the trap of focusing on what we'll do together once the current deadline is out of the way and lose out on the precious time we have right now. I recently gave a talk to our local ACFW group on time management. The preparation for reminded me that I knew what to do to make life run more smoothly, but didn't always follow through on that. I'm working hard a planning my time better so those deadlines don't crunch quite so hard.
Where did you birth the idea for this book? When? How did it come about?
My mother taught me to read at an early age, and books have been a major part of my life ever since. One I remember in particular was published in the 1940s and contained the history of the United States in mock newspaper format. As a little girl, I would spread the book open on the living room floor and spend hours poring over stories of long-ago events. When she passed the book along to my son several years go, I thumbed through it again and discovered a story that grabbed my interest and wouldn't let go. It contained only a brief mention of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, but that was enough to set me off on a trail of research and discovery. The World's Columbian Exposition (the fair's official title) may not be familiar to many of us, but we're all quite familiar with the things that originated there. Juicy Fruit gum, for instance, along with Cracker Jacks and Shredded Wheat. All of those were introduced at that fair. So was the concept of the midway. The star of the midway, the Ferris wheel, was created specifically for the exposition. It was a huge structure, rising nearly 250 feet in the air and capable of carrying over 2,000 passengers at a time. A setting like that is more than enough to spark an author's imagination! Right away, I knew there were stories to tell, and characters starting appearing on the scene and taking on a life of their own. It has been an adventure to follow along and record their stories. It truly was a fair to remember!
Can you share something with our readers about what God has been teaching you lately?
Currently, it's all about focus and priorities. I keep going back to Jeremiah 29:11, where God reminds me His plans are to give me a future and a hope--not to burden my life and overwhelm me. My husband pastors two churches and runs a saddle shop in what we laughingly call his spare time. In addition to writing, I homeschool our fifth-grade daughter and help out at the shop a couple of days a week. With all we have going on, it's easy to get sidetracked and put off doing things until later. But "later" never comes. When I procrastinate, I wind up in a time crunch that puts me--and my family--under a lot of stress. Remembering to keep God as my number one priority at all times is a must! In addition, I've posted some little signs in my office and at the top of the to-do list I keep on my laptop. These say "Focus!" and "Do It Now." Small reminders, but they're helping me keep on track.
Which one of your characters is most like you, and why do you say that?
In Fair Game, I can definitely see similarities to myself in Dinah. Dinah wants so much to be used by the Lord, but focuses on her weaknesses instead of her strengths. She has to learn that God is looking for obedience and a willing heart. It's easy for me to focus on all my shortcomings rather than on what He can do if I'll just step out of the way and allow Him to use me as He sees fit.
Do you pre-plan character development and then let them run with the story, or do you plot the story in advance?
I'm definitely a plotter. It's far easier for me to have a road map at the beginning of a journey rather than to try to find my way as I go along. But that just gives me a guide. It doesn't mean I'm locked into a rigid outline. There are still plenty of surprises that come up along the way to keep things fresh and interesting.
Do you have an organized office and set times to write, or do you find yourself writing at unusual times or places?
At the moment, we're reorganizing our storage space. As a result, there are crates of books stacked all around my office. Having to maneuver past them would normally drive me crazy, but I'm trying to live with it for the time being. I do have a regular writing schedule, but having a husband in ministry means I have to be flexible. When a call comes asking us to visit a critically ill church member, I can't turn that down because it conflicts with my writing time. When "life happens" and my schedule doesn't work out the way I planned, I've learned to redeem the time by being ready to write whenever the opportunity arises, even if it's just for a few minutes at a stretch. That can mean working in places most people don't consider the typical writing environment. Living in a remote area, we spend a fair amount of time on the road just to run errands and do shopping. Most of my books have large sections that were written while we were on the road. . .with my husband driving, of course! We heat our home with a woodstove. There's nothing like that old-timey feeling of warmth, but in the early mornings it can be downright cold in the house until the fire gets built up again. I've been known to curl up with my laptop on the wood box next to the stove and write until the place thaws out a bit. The important thing is to be ready to seize those moments whenever--and wherever--they arise. Even small increments of time can add up to a considerable amount of writing accomplished.
CAROL COX is a native of Arizona whose time is devoted to being a pastor's wife, mom to her grown son, and a home-school teacher to her your daughter, church pianist, and youth worker. She loves anything that she can do with her family: reading, traveling, historical studies, and outdoor excursions. She is also open to new pursuits on her own including genealogy research, crafts, and the local historical society. She plans to write more historical inspirational romance in which her goals are to encourage Christian readers with entertaining and uplifting stories and to pique the interests of non-Christians who might read her novels.
Glass Road Public Relations is giving me a copy of Fair Game to give away to one of my readers! Please post a comment to let me know you would like to enter the draw :)
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