Today I’m Welcoming Christian author Saundra Staats McLemore, author of the Christmas Hotel Series. By the way, I love this cover. It screams Christmas to me. Saundra, please tell the readers about the book that is being showcased today.
Christmas Redemption is the third book in my Christmas Hotel Series. It is set in 1967, and it depicts the tribulations of three young ladies that are all pregnant without benefit of marriage. They arrive at Christmas Hotel from Gary, Indiana, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Houston, Texas. They come for rest and relaxation, and find that Christmas Hotel is where the celebration of Christ’s birthday is a daily celebration.
How did you come up with the concept for this book?
I was watching an episode of “The Winning Walk” with Pastor/Dr. Ed Young. He was preaching on the humanity of the unborn child. The next day I was mowing the lawn, thinking about his sermon, and the story formed. It’s amazing what thoughts go through one’s head when doing a mindless chore!
Yep. Mindless chores are great for forming ideas. What are you working on now? Do you have a release date for this book?
Currently, I am writing a fourth book in the Christmas Hotel Series. Each book has had a theme. Christmas Hotel: death, depression, hope, and love. Christmas for Lucy was about an eight year old girl whose Mama died on her eighth birthday. It was about death, mental and physical child abuse, alcoholism, and the importance of a Christian family with values. The book I’m working on now will deal with divorce, spousal mind control, alcohol and drug abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). All my books weave a thread of adoption. This book that is presently unnamed will be released in October, 2015, and it will be the fourth book in the Christmas Hotel Series.
Those are some pretty heavy subjects to tackle. I admire you for taking them on. Can you tell the readers how you got started writing?
In 1999, I bought my first computer. Like many other pc newbies, I began researching my roots. I researched back to 1750 on my Staats side of the family and found my seven generations ago great-grandfather Abraham Staats. I wrote a Christian love story titled Abraham and Anna and its sequel Joy out of Ashes. They are 18th century works of fiction sprinkled with much Colonial America, English, and French history.
Are you a panster or a plotter? Linear or non-linear writer?
I’m a “betweener” concerning panster or plotter. I tend to begin plotting with a general outline, but as other ideas come to me, (and some ideas wake me up at 3 am, so I keep a pen and paper in the nightstand) I add them into the outline. Oftentimes, when I’m writing, a character will take on a mind of its own, and go into a direction I did not anticipate.
LOL. That’s what I call a Planster. I fall into that category, too. Isn’t it great fun when the character tells you what they want to do? Doesn’t always work, but it makes for some magical moments.
Next question: I find character name are important in writing and have gone almost an entire book using a WIP name. How do you choose your characters’ names?
Many of the names I make up, but some might come from friends and family. However, the names I have used have nothing to do with the real life person. Some names I split; for example, I have an Anthony and a Robert in Abraham and Anna (the first names of my son and husband), but the characters do not have the same last name as my son and husband. In the Christmas Hotel series I have Jerilyn Marlene Seifert; the combination of my brother’s nickname Jerry, my sister’s middle name Marlene, and Kenny Seifert who was one of my brother’s best friends in high school. My brother was killed forty-four years ago in Vietnam, and Kenny Seifert died a year later while driving back home from spring break in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
We writers love books. Do you have a favorite book? (Or books since it’s always hard to whittle it down to one.)
Yes, that’s hard to whittle down. Years ago when I was in my teens and twenties, I read Gone with the Wind about five times. A couple of favorites I read in the last few years are Francine Rivers’ books Redeeming Love and The Sin Eater. I also enjoy books by Nicholas Sparks and Richard Paul Evans. A new favorite is The Nun and the Narc by my hostess Catherine Castle. Excellent book! I also enjoyed the highly suspenseful novel The Redemption of Caralynne Heyman by Carole Brown.
Aww, thank you for that lovely compliment. I liked Carole’s book, too, even though it was a hard subject for me to read.
What’s the first book, in the genre you write in, that you remember reading?
That’s easy. The lady that lead the Christian fiction genre was Jeanette Oke. I read all of the Love Comes Softly Series, and that’s when I fell in love with Christian fiction.
Jeanette Oke was some of the first Christian fiction I read, too.
Do you have a day job? If so, what is it?
I am the President and CEO of a sales and marketing company, that I began thirty years ago. It’s a nationwide business for the symphony, theatre, opera, and ballet ticket and donation sales. The website is www.mclemorearts.com
I don’t write with music (unless I’m trying to set a mood, like in a Mexican market place, which I did for The Nun and the Narc) and am fascinated with writers who do. Even if you don’t write with music, what’s in your CD player right now?
I always write with music. Sometimes I’m in the mood for Christian contemporary or southern gospel, and sometimes I want the music I grew up with, which is the music of the sixties. And now you know my age!
I love going to movies. Do you have an all-time favorite movie that has stuck in your mind or that you’d watch over and over?
I have five: “Gone with the Wind”, “Forrest Gump”, “Dances with Wolves”, The Notebook, and “The Color Purple”. Gee, what a group of different movies!
What do you do for relaxation?
I garden, write, and I read novels of other authors.
That sounds familiar. Three of my favorite things to do, too.
It’s been a pleasure having you here today. Thanks for being part of Wednesday Writers. As you say goodbye, can you leave the readers with an encapsulation of your life’s philosophy and your favorite Bible verses?
Life is a challenge with ups and downs, but what an amazing journey! Always remember that the Lord Jesus is there for you. He is the one to always count on, and He will not let you down. People can disappoint you, but never be unforgiving toward those people.
My favorite Bible verses are Proverbs 3: 5-7.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.
Here’s an excerpt from Saundra’s Book Christmas Redemption.
It’s December, 1967, and three unmarried girls find themselves pregnant from three different circumstances of behavior.
Following her high school graduation, eighteen-year-old Cecilia and her boyfriend foolishly rebel from parental authority and obligations. They run away from their families to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco during the “summer of love.”
Eighteen-year-old Gloria spends one last night with her soldier-fiancé before he’s deployed to Vietnam. He’s now MIA and Gloria is left pregnant.
Following the death of her parents, twenty-one-year old grief-stricken college student Loretta is raped by her new boyfriend at a fraternity party.
Depressed, angry, and bitter, the three girls wind up at Christmas Hotel for rest and healing. All three will consider abortion. Christmas Hotel is known as the place where miracles happen, but how will three traumatized young girls find their Christmas miracle? Is redemption possible? Can they learn to trust? Is there really a God?
December 01, 1967:
Cecilia gazed at the dilapidated building from the cab window. She looked down and checked the slip of paper, verifying the address. The address matched what was on the outside of the building. She turned back to the driver. In a thin voice she did not recognize as her own, she said, “I’m sure.” The meter had stopped clicking each new amount. After checking the meter to see her fare, she opened her purse and counted out $4.30 plus a $1.00 tip.
“Thank you, Miss. Here’s my card with my number. If you change your mind, call me, and I’ll come back. There’s a phone booth on that corner.” He pointed in the direction. Cecilia’s gaze followed the imaginary line to its destination, where a red booth sat near a park bench. An unshaved and shivering man wrapped in a threadbare blanket lay on the bench. “If you’ll call me, I won’t even charge you for the return ride. I know what they do in there.”
She accepted his card, thanked him, and deposited it in her purse. He opened her door, and she stepped out clutching her purse. Mr. Woodson reached in, grabbed the small suitcase off the back seat, and handed it to her.
“I’ll call you when I’m finished,” she said in a determined, but soft voice. She stood straight, squared her thin shoulders, strode to the front door, and knocked.
A middle-aged woman wearing a stained uniform opened the door. “What’s your name?” she asked in a gruff voice.
“My name is Cecilia Edmondson.”
“Come in, Miss Edmondson. The doctor is expecting you.”
Cecilia turned her head and noted the taxi driver was still at the curb. She turned back to the woman and entered the building.
December 01, 1967:
She reached toward the floor to retrieve her handkerchief from her purse just as the doctor and the nurse entered. The nurse still maintained the stoic expression on her face, but the doctor smiled. She was hoping for an older doctor, not a handsome, blond Richard Chamberlain type, as in Dr. Kildare. Oh well, she was learning that you don’t get all your wishes in life.
He looked at the chart in his hands. “Hello, Miss Reynolds. I’m Dr. Kessler. How are you this morning?” He flashed a pleasant smile.
He not only looks like Dr. Kildare, but his name has to begin with a “K”.
“I’m fine, Dr. Kil — I mean Kessler.”
“I will examine you for the pregnancy determination you requested. Nurse Redmond will assist me. Do you have any questions before I begin?”
“No, sir.” She did, but she didn’t want to ask if there was an older doctor in the office. She was embarrassed enough, baring herself in front of a strange young man. She just wanted to get the examination over as fast as possible.
“Lay back and try to relax,” he said, while washing his hands and arms.
December 01, 1967:
Lydia Grace looked at Loretta with such expectation that Loretta almost hated to dash her hopes. However, she soon recovered from the agreeable mood.
“No, I don’t want to go to the Bible study with you, and please don’t ask me again. Let me set you straight, Lydia Grace. I’m not into all that nonsense. Please keep your thoughts about God to yourself, and we’ll get along just fine.”
Lydia Grace looked as though a bucket of water had been thrown in her face. At last she stammered, “Okay, I… will respect… your feelings. I’ll see you around eight-thirty… okay?”
Lydia Grace rose and walked to the door. She turned around, and started to say something else, but didn’t. She opened the door and left.
Loretta locked the door, turned on the radio, and lay down on her bed. “Silence is Golden” by The Tremeloes played. “How appropriate,” she muttered out loud. She stared up at the ceiling, and tears ran down her cheeks, dropping into her ears. “Oh, Mom,” she wailed, “why did you and Dad have to die? I need you so much. I’ve turned into the sort of person I used to despise, but I can’t seem to help myself. Oh, why did I ever go to that frat party? I was so dumb and naïve. I can’t have a baby. I’ve got my whole life ahead of me. Oh, Mom, if you were only here.”
The tears fell, and the history test was long forgotten. She listened to the lyrics of the song that fit so well. “How could she tell he deceived her so well? Pity she’ll be the last one to know.”
Buy link for Christmas Redemption:
I was born and raised in the Dayton, Ohio area, and I am the daughter of Warren and Christine Staats. My father is deceased, but my mother lives close to me in New Carlisle, Ohio.
I have been married to my husband Robert for thirty-three years, and I am the mother of one son, Anthony. I have one sister, Joy Staats Lightcap, and a deceased brother, Gerald Martin Staats, who was killed in the Vietnam War in 1970.
Since 1984, I have served as the President and founder of McLemore & Associates, Inc., a nationwide sales and marketing business for the performing arts. My passion has always been history, and I enjoy reading historical Christian fiction. I attend Huber Heights Baptist Temple in Huber Heights, Ohio.
I also reside in Huber Heights, which is a small town nine miles northeast of Dayton, Ohio. The other two members of our family are my cat Charley, and my Cocker Spaniel Daisy.
Connect with Saundra at http://www.saundrastaatsmclemore.com/