Wednesday Writers welcomes Stephanie Prichard today. Stephanie will be answering some interview questions and providing us with an excerpt from her mystery/suspense book, or I should say hers and her husband Don’s book, Stranded. Stephanie will be giving away an e-book of Stranded to one lucky commenter. The winner will be chosen Tuesday, March 10. All comments from the time the post goes up until March 10, at noon, will be eligible to win the book.
Welcome, Stephanie. Tell us about the book you’re showcasing today.
Stranded is co-authored with my husband, Don, and is our debut novel. We call it our “providence novel” because not long after Don started writing the story, he had a stroke and lost all ability to read. He loved the book so much that he kept writing it even though he couldn’t read it, LOL, and eventually gained back his reading skills that way. He likes to tell people, “God gave me the therapy before he gave me the ailment!”
Wow! What a story! How did you come up with the concept for this book?
It was Don who came up with the original plot. He asked himself what would be the most gut-wrenching thing that could happen to a dedicated Christian man. From there he worked backwards on the story to its beginning. After three years, he invited me to join him, basically to “bring the story to life,” he says (he “tells,” I “show”). It took six more years of attending conferences and workshops and getting an outstanding critique partner before the book was ready for publication. Whew!—we had a lot to learn about writing!
What are you working on now? Do you have a release date for this book?
We’ve been pleased with the demand from our readers for a sequel, and that’s what we’re working on now. Actually, Don has plotted all the way up to Book 5, but I’m a slow writer and it will be 2016 before Book 2 is ready. He confesses that his babies are little Frankensteins and that a lot of surgery is required before they go public! Uh-huh!
Some writers like quiet when they write, others want music. Which one are you?
I can’t write with distractions like music. Nor can I write in snippets of time. The only things allowed to intrude when I’m writing are coffee and the consequent trips to the bathroom. I do make exceptions for chocolate and shoulder massages.
Are you a panster or a plotter? Linear or non-linear writer?
Don is the plotter, I’m the panster. We work well together because not only do we avoid stepping on each other’s toes that way, but I love having the structure his plot provides and he loves my life-sustaining surgery. We’re both linear because we can’t function without the immediacy of cause and effect. How can you write Scene 6 if you don’t know the cause-and-effect path of Scenes 1-5 leading up to 6?
Are you pen and paper writer, strictly computer, or some combo of the two?
Without a word processor and the ease of making alterations it allows, I wouldn’t be a writer. Pen and paper mean a plethora of crossed out and inserted lines, the ammo of utter defeat in my case.
How often do you read non-fiction?
Normally I don’t read non-fiction, but thanks to the book club I belong to I read maybe a half-dozen a year and am always grateful for what I was “forced” to read. Still, when given a choice, I opt for fiction.
Most writers love books—our walls are lined with them. Name 3 favorite writing craft books on your shelves, and 3 fiction books.
Two of my favorite craft books are Story by Robert McKee and The Scene Book by Sandra Scofield. The third is a new book I’m absolutely crazy about, Journaling to Become a Better Writer by Danielle Hanna (I don’t journal, but Hanna’s book does the best job I’ve ever seen of explaining the logic of novel elements). Three of my fave fiction books are Chain of Mercy by Brenda Bryant Anderson (women’s fiction), Wool by Hugh Howey (dystopian), and The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa (literary).
Do you know the meaning of your name? If so, does it fit you?
Stephanie means “crowned one.” I have to laugh at that, as I quit smoking at age 28 by sucking on candy, and I now have a mouthful of crowns as a result. Can’t say I deserve the other kind of crown anyway, although my granddaughter thinks I make a purdy fairy queen!
What do you do for relaxation?
Once dinner is done, I’m done for the day. Don and I relax by watching some kind of episodic drama like Blacklist on Netflix (no commercials!) and discussing the success—or not—of their plot and character elements.
I so get that, because the hubby and I rip television shows and movies apart, too.
Writing is such a sedentary job. Do you do anything to keep in shape?
I had breast cancer ten years ago, so my health is important to me. I try to eat a good diet with no sweets (unless you put it in front of me) and keep within my ideal weight range. I also walk 20-30 minutes on the treadmill four days a week, using the time for prayer. If I don’t do my Bible reading and exercise/prayer first thing in the morning, they fall by the wayside. It’s so tempting to just start in writing and quit only when I have to.
It’s been a pleasure having you here today. As you say goodbye, can you leave the readers with an encapsulation of your life’s philosophy?
I was a young Christian when I taught my oldest daughter her first memory verse. It was Matthew 22:37, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” I figured that had to top everything, so it has remained my guiding precept along with verse 39, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Sadly, I tend to love in the exact reverse order, but God is gracious and keeps putting my spiritual ducks back in a row.
THANKS FOR INVITING ME TO YOUR BLOG, CATHERINE. YOU AND YOUR READERS ROCK!
All Marine Corps reservist Jake Chalmers wants is to give his dying wife a last, romantic cruise to the Philippines. Unable to save her in a mass murder aboard ship, he washes ashore a jungle island, where he discovers three other survivors. Heartbroken that he failed to save his wife, he is determined not to fail these helpless castaways.
Federal prosecutor Eve Eriksson rescues a young girl and her elderly great-aunt from the same ship. They badly need Jake’s survival skills, but why is he so maddeningly careful? She needs to hurry home to nail a significant career trial. And, please, before Jake learns her secret that she’s responsible for his wife’s death.
Jake Chalmers leaned on his forearms against the cruise ship’s railing, his back to the crowded buffet table. The light fingers of the harbor breeze carried his wife’s voice, rising in unsuppressed gaiety behind him. Exactly what he’d hoped for. Planned for. To take all the pain and stuff it into his heart, free hers to soar.
He swallowed back the lump crowding his throat and focused on the deck below. Captain Emilio stood alone at the gangplank. He’d been there all morning, personally welcoming each boarding passenger. No question he made a good impression—tall, trim, young for holding the position of captain.
As a seasoned officer sizing up a younger officer, Jake had given him high marks. The captain’s white uniform was crisp; his jacket, immaculate; and his hair, though a bit long, was neatly groomed under his captain’s cover. The ship gleamed with fresh paint and shining metal surfaces. The crew, all Filipinos except for the first mate, were attentive and friendly. Captain Emilio’s attention to detail as good as guaranteed the cruise from Guam to the Philippines would be a memory-maker to cherish. The stream of passengers trickled to a few last-minute boarders. Now would be a good time to slip down and join the man for conversation. As small as the ship was, with only twenty-four guests to attend to, the captain might be up for several visits on the bridge during the five-day trip.
A ship’s horn blared nearby, and the passengers, evidently mistaking it for the Gateway’s, flocked like starlings to join Jake at the railing. He made room for Ginny to squeeze in front of him, her back against his chest. The Cherokee wedge sandals she’d purchased especially for the cruise raised her four inches to where she could fit just under his chin. Impulsively, he kissed the top of her head.
She tipped her face up at him and smiled. “Watch it, Marine.”
He wrapped his arms around her, inhaling the fruity scent of her shampoo. “I’m watching, and you aren’t getting away.”
But she would get away. Months, the doctor had said. Six at the most. A tight knot constricted his chest.
The horn blared again, and the passengers, grumbling that the cruise wasn’t leaving after all, drifted back to the buffet table. Ginny shifted to his right side and slipped her arm around his waist. “Shouldn’t the captain be on the bridge? We leave in fifteen minutes.”
“Must be waiting for someone. Here comes the first mate now.” Jake nodded at a short, balding Caucasian striding toward the captain. “He’ll take over so the captain can go.”
“He’s sure ticked about something. Look at the roster.”
Behind the captain’s back, he clutched the ship’s roster, rapping it like a jackhammer against his spine. Jake shrugged. He’d be annoyed, too, if his men came up short.
At the first mate’s approach, the hammering shifted to ominous whaps. The captain’s nostrils flared above clenched teeth. For one beat, the hammering stopped. “I told you to wait.”
The mate jerked to a stop. “Yessir.” His lips pinched into a thin line. He turned and slunk away.
Jake scowled. Nineteen years in the Reserves had exposed him to every kind of officer the Marine Corps attracted. This one was a bully. He managed his men through intimidation.
“Look!” Ginny nudged him with her shoulder. “That’s who he’s waiting for.”
He followed her line of sight to a woman stepping onto the gangplank. She wore a calf-length dress the colors of a brilliant red and orange sunset, a slit on the left opening to just above her knee as she trod up the passageway. Like the captain, she was tall and slender, a looker. A good match for him.
Ginny sighed. “So gorgeous.”
The blonde or the dress? Didn’t matter. He booted his disgust with the captain. What mattered was a perfect cruise. One last, happy experience before Ginny’s suffering began. Unless God chose to remove it . . .
“Gorgeous is what I’ve got in my arms.” He drew her into a tight hug. Stuffing the pain. Trying mighty hard to let his heart soar with hers.
Stranded: A Novel can be bought on Amazon
Stephanie is an army brat who lived in many countries around the world and loved it. She met her husband at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where she majored in English/Literature. She and Don have lived in Indianapolis, IN, for forty years, and in retirement have turned to co-authoring novels now that their three children are busy raising a beautiful crop of grandchildren for them.