Meet Pat Nichols, our guest author this week. Pat describes her first novel, The Secret of Willow Inn, as “contemporary women’s fiction with a touch of cozy mystery.”
Pat is offering a print copy of The Secret of Willow Inn to someone who joins our conversation below. So gather ’round. Let’s encourage one another.
Pat Nichols Before Writing
My life began in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois with two wonderful parents and later a sister. When I was in third grade we moved to Orlando, Florida, where years later I married Tim, my high-school-sweetheart.
When our son and daughter were toddlers, I became an Avon Representative to supplement our income. In 1978, following seven years as an independent representative, I was hired as a district sales manager. Three years later Avon promoted me to division sales manager and moved our family to Atlanta, Georgia. I spent the next twenty-four years in seven different management positions working with hundreds of amazing women throughout the US.
Tim and I retired the same day in 2005. We finished decorating our home and ticked off every item on our travel bucket list. Our favorite destination, Venice, Italy. During the next few years, I engaged in volunteer work, served on three boards, and spent time with our three grandchildren.
Pat Nichols, the Writer
The tragic loss of our God-daughter compelled me to write a story about her life, but with a happy ending. The experience watered a seed planted years earlier and launched career number two. Now I’m proving it’s never too late to follow your dreams or fulfill God’s calling.
How Pat Nichols Began as an Author
I’d heard it takes an average of ten years for an author to land a first publishing contract. Having begun my writing journey after becoming eligible for social security, I needed to shave as much off that time as possible. For three years, my time split between studying the craft, attending conferences, connecting with authors, and writing a second novel. I pitched those first two books to seven agents and publishers and received seven rejections.
One benefit that comes with age is the ability to view rejection and disappointment as opportunity. I took the feedback from those agents and publishers to heart and fleshed out a new idea. A series about two women, strangers from different backgrounds, and a convicted felon returning to the scene of her crime.
How Pat Nichols Grew as an Author
I visualized the characters, the way they looked, their personalities and their history. Next came a decision about the settings. A small town struggling to survive and a big, bustling metropolis. Because I live thirty miles from downtown Atlanta, I chose it as the city. Although I’m old enough to remember slide rules, I’m grateful modern technology allows me to conduct research from my living room. Not that I don’t like to get out and about. It’s simply a more efficient use of time.
When it came to the second setting, I wanted to create a community I could conform to the story. It began with century-old storefronts facing a lakeside park and a block-long section graced with seven southern-style, antebellum homes. An abandoned hotel and historical general store completed the scene. It was time to breathe life into Emily, Rachel, and Sadie.
A Debut for Pat Nichols
Four years after first typing Chapter One, I signed a contract with Guiding Light, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas imprint. The Secret of Willow Inn—book one in the Willow Falls Series releases January 10, 2019. Book two releases January, 2020.
The discipline, goal setting, and multi-tasking I learned during my corporate life is serving me well in my writing career. The biggest learning curve has been marketing and social media. Thank goodness I have grandchildren to answer my technical questions.
What’s Next for Pat Nichols?
My goal is to publish at least ten books before God takes me home. My current work-in-progress is Willow Falls Series book three. Emily, Rachel, and Sadie have become so much a part of my life I sometimes want to invite them to dinner.
What’s next? Willow Falls book four, a possible rewrite of my first novel, and a Christmas novella. I thank God for planting the seed and opening the door to this wonderful, world of writing. I pray my journey will encourage others to follow their dreams and view age as a precious gift.
How to Find Pat Nichols
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Dear Lord, Pat’s life story illustrates how You give Your children dreams and callings and set their feet on paths to reach them. We can see Your hand in Pat’s life and in her journey to publication. How faithful You are. Thank You for Your faithfulness to every generation. We pray You’ll bless each word she writes to Your glory.
~ For Jesus’ sake