Do Today Wednesday Writers welcomes author Patty Smith-Hall. Patty, tell us about your newest release New Hope Sweethearts.
New Hope Sweethearts is the first in my new contemporary series based in the fictional town of New Hope, Georgia. It’s the story of two people who have faced personal tragedy in their lives yet have come out on the other side stronger, wiser and possibly ready for love.
How did you come up with the concept for this book?
When I started this book almost fifteen years ago, I had just lost my beloved grandfather to Alzheimer’s. I was just one of several family members caring for both him and my grandmother but the situation made me wonder what it would be like to manage such a heartbreaking task alone. This story was my response to that question.
What are you working on now? Do you have a release date on it?
At the moment, I’m in the mist of edits for my January Love Inspired Historical release, The Baby Barter. Then I’m back to a new historical series called Rushed to The Altar which is based in the Georgia goldrush of 1830. A Christmas novella and the first draft of the next New Hope book round out the rest of my year.
Tell us about the genres you write and a bit about your process.
I write both historical and contemporary romantic fiction with a Christian worldview as well as devotionals. I think what makes me different than most is I find the most unusual pieces of history that most folks have never heard of and build a story around it. Like my last book, Hearts Rekindled revolted around a heroine who was a homeland spy in WWII Georgia—that
was based on a lady I met at a booksigning. She had been recruited as an informant to watch people at a bomber plant close to her home during the war. For me, that was a perfect heroine!
As far as my writing process, I do a lot of research so I can get a timeline of events in my head; do character charts and dig into the ‘why’ behind their external goals to get to what’s really motivating them in the story. I’m a ‘plotser’ so I write scene cards, usually about 25 to 50 5×7 cards. Then I write my rough draft. Probably the most unique part of my process is I write my first draft longhand, mainly because this tones down that infernal internal editor, and lets me get the story down. Then I dictate my work into text and edit that copy.
Tell us a bit about your reading Habits?
Goodness, am I a reader! Every morning, I go through FIVE newspapers including one from overseas. Magazines, not so much because I just don’t have time and most articles about writing are like eating paste—really bland and not very helpful. I do love craft books, particularly by James Scott Bell—the man has a way of keeping you engaged while teaching!
And of course, I read tons of books, anywhere from 1 to 3 a week depending on how busy I am. I just finished Karen Witemeyer’s A Worthy Pursuit(a great read!) and can’t wait to read my friend, Kristi Ann Hunter’s debut release, A Noble Masquerade.
Do you have any favorite Movies?
I like the classics—An American President, While You Were Sleeping, Shop Around The Corner, The King’s Speech, Victoria. And my favorite TV shows are Castle and When Calls the Heart—I’m actually an original Heartie!
What’s the most historical city you’ve visited?
Probably London— a couple of years ago, my husband took me there for our 30th anniversary, and we visited Buckingham Palace. All the paintings were amazing!
Thanks for visiting Wednesday Writers, Patty. As you say goodbye today can you tell us what precept has influenced your life?
Something my dad told me as I was growing up—if you’re going to talk the talk, be prepared to walk the walk. I’ve been trying to live up to that ever since.
New Hope Sweethearts
New Hope, Georgia
Kallie Huffman gaped at the crowd of people in the laboratory waiting room. If she had any sense at all, she’d backtrack down the hall and out the front door. But she couldn’t, not when she needed this job to survive until her nursing license was reinstated.
With a deep breath, she walked across the room to the admissions window where a young woman dressed in pale blue scrubs sat staring at a computer monitor. The girl glanced up briefly, then went back to work. “Sign in on the clipboard, and I’ll need to make a copy of your driver’s license and insurance card.”
Kallie shook her head. “I have an appointment with Dr. Muster. About a job.”
The girl pressed her lips together as if that information annoyed her in some way. “Do you have a resume?”
“Yes.” Kallie opened her tote, pulled out a manilla folder and held it out to the woman.
She took it and tossed it in the outbox along with a stack of patient charts. “If you’ll have a seat, Dr. Muster will be with you shortly.”
“Thank you,” Kallie answered, but the girl had already gone to her computer. She turned, glancing over the crowed room before finally settling on a seat in the far corner. As she sunk down in the chair, the nerves she had held at bay all morning took hold. “Lord, help me.” “Did you say something?”
Kallie turned toward the crackled voice. Two seats down sat an old man, his thick-barreled chest heaving with each labored breath he took, his face a map of lines and wrinkles that reflected the march of time. Untamed eyebrows topped a pair of impish green eyes that reminded Kallie of an leprechaun ready to make mischief. Granddaddy’s eyes sparkled just like that before. . .
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to disturbed you.” Kallie forced the words around the tight knot in her throat.
“Just worried me a bit.” One snowy eyebrow arched in feigned suspicion, his eyes shining with a playfulness that made Kallie’s lips twitch into a smile. “You know, crazy people have a habit of talking to themselves.”
Why, the old gentleman was teasing her! Leaning across the deserted chair between them, Kallie had to work to keep a straight face. “I’ve read some studies that say geniuses hold discussions with themselves all the time.”
“Is that so?” The raspy sound of the man stroking his wiry whiskers whispered between. “I’ve been know to be guilty of that myself. I guess that would make us both either highly intelligent or two nuts right off the tree, Girlie.” He winked. “Personally, I think I’d rather be a nut.”
“Me, too.” She laughed, extending her hand. “I’m Kallie Huffman.”
His weak grasp troubled her. “Steven Anderson.”
“Nice to meet you.”
“You too.” He studied her with the intensity of her old microbiology professor peering into his microscope. “You look pretty healthy to me.”
Kallie blinked in surprise. “Excuse me?”
“Are you expecting?” He moved closer, his eyebrows knitted together in concern as he focused on her bare left hand.
“No!” Heat singed her cheeks. “Why would you think that?”
Mr. Anderson’s thin lips turned slightly upward. “We don’t get many young ladies in the lab unless they’re sick or. . . .” Kallie followed the line of his crooked finger pointing to a young couple, their entwined hands joined over the obvious bump at her waist. The man lifted the woman’s hand to his lips, his eyes never straying from her face.
To be young and in love. Kallie’s smile faltered. She’d dreamt of a home, a family to call her own once, had thought it was another milestone like graduating from high school or getting kissed for the first time. If she’d learned anything in the last decade, it was that nothing was for certain. No, whatever dreams she’d had regarding a husband and children had died with Granddaddy’s diagnosis.
But she had her work, or would have once she finished the refresher course. Until then, this job would pay the bills and help her get started on the house repairs she’d neglected.
She took a deep breath. “I’m here for an interview.”
The skin around the old man’s eyes crinkled into thoughtful ruts. “You look more like a nurse than a lab tech.”
“I am.” Kallie shook her head. “I mean I was. I’m going back to school in a few weeks, and one of my professors recommended me for this position. I guess she though it might help refresh my memory.
“But if you’re a nurse already, why are you going back to school?”
Kallie brushed a speck of lint from her skirts. An explanation would take too long. Besides, she couldn’t get through it without tearing up. “I haven’t practiced nursing in a long time.”
He didn’t ask her why but simply nodded his head. “Never went to college myself. Too busy working and raising two sons.” The old man’s eyes glazed over as if he had been carried back to a happier time. “Not that I minded, of course. My wife went back to school once our boys were out on their own.”
“What did she study?”
“Ruby was a teacher. But she passed away a couple of years back.” Mr. Anderson turned and coughed into a handkerchief bunched up in his hand.
A pang of empathy lanced through her. “I’m so sorry.”
“It was for the best, though I didn’t think so at the time.” His white hair glimmered in the fluorescent light as his body shook from the force of his cough. “She’d been sick for a while.”
Kallie started to answer but before she could, the old man slumped into the chair between them. She reached for his arm and gave it a gentle shake. “Mr. Anderson?”
It was in those quiet seconds she waited for a response that she realized what was missing. The raspy sound of his breathing. Kallie jumped up and vaulted over to the old man’s chair, pulling his slack body upright. “Mr. Anderson!”
“Is something wrong with him?”
Kallie ignored the question from the man nearby and turned her attention toward the admissions window where the young woman stood studying the scene. “He’s not breathing!”
“You don’t know that,” the girl started to argue.
But there was no time to waste. “Call a code!”
“Is there anything I can do?”
The burly man she noticed in the corner now stood beside her. Where had he come from? What did it matter? “We need to get him to the floor.”
Long frantic seconds passed as the man shifted Mr. Anderson’s limp body to the floor. Kallie knelt beside the old man, her fingers moving instinctively to the soft tissue of his neck. No pulse! Tilting his head back, she plugged his nose between two fingers and blew two quick breaths into his open mouth. As she traced the bony outline of his ribcage to the slight indention of his sternum, she voiced a silent prayer.
Lord, please, don’t do this to me! Not again!
Patty Smith-Hall is a multi-published, award-winning author with Love Inspired Historical and Heartsong. She currently serves as president of the ACFW-Atlanta chapter. She currently lives in North Georgia with her husband of 30+ years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters and a future son-in-love. Her next release, New Hope Sweethearts will be available in July on Amazon.