Happy Monday, Reader Friends!
Thanks for stopping by today. I’m today’s blog tour stop for Still Waters by Lindsey P. Brackett. There will be an interview, review, and of course, a giveaway.
Let’s get started!
Genre: Adult, Christian, Contemporary, Fiction
Publisher: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
Publication date: September 8, 2017
The Blurb: “When her beloved grandmother requests one last summer at Still Waters, the family cottage on Edisto Beach, Cora Anne returns to a place that haunts her with loss and tempts her with forgiveness.
Peace means reconciling her family and her Edisto memories. But acceptance may mean loving the man determined to preserve a past she’d rather forget.”
Award-winning writer Lindsey P. Brackett once taught middle grades literature, but now she writes her own works in the midst of motherhood. A blogger since 2010, she has published articles and short stories in a variety of print and online publications including Thriving Family, Country Extra, HomeLife, Northeast Georgia Living, Splickety Prime, Splickety Love, and Southern Writers Magazine Best Short Fiction 2015. Lindsey serves as Editor of Web Content for the Splickety Publishing Group, and she writes a popular column for several North Georgia newspapers.
As a mother of four chaotic kids, her home is always full of wet towels, lost library books, and strong coffee. Her love of family ties and southern places prompted her debut novel, Still Waters, inspired by her own love of Edisto summers and peach ice cream.
1. What or whom inspired you to become an author?
I have wanted to be an author ever since I read The Little House series. My parents gave them to me one by one starting when I was about eight years old. I’ve always been a voracious reader but those were my gateway books—from that point on I was a reader and I was a writer. I wanted to tell stories about my world, like Laura did, though I was an adult before I realized exactly what that meant. Other than Laura, I’d have to say books with a strong influence on my writing life were To Kill a Mockingbird and Madeline L’Engle’s memoir, Walking on Water.
2. What did you want to be when you grew up? Did becoming and author ever cross your mind?
Guess you can tell it did from that first answer! I always wanted to be a writer but I struggled (and still do) a lot with self-confidence. I’m pretty good at a lot of things, and the problem with that is, it was easy to do the things that didn’t require me to be personally hurt if I didn’t succeed, such as theater, where I found a lot of joy in directing and working behind the scenes as well as on-stage. It’s much easier to be a part of someone else’s story than it is to write your own. I also had a great love for a classroom, so becoming a teacher was a natural, safe step. I’m so grateful for my years as a middle grades language arts teacher because it’s made me the writer I am today. And I just genuinely love teenagers. They are so much fun to be around and have such amazing insight into the world if you’ll just listen.
3. Who are some of your favorite authors? Do they inspire your own writing?
So obviously, Harper Lee and Madeline L’Engle, who really couldn’t be more different. I write southern fiction, so Lee is a natural choice, but in that canon I have a lot of strong influence from Terry Kay, Joshilyn Jackson, and Beth Webb Hart. Not because I write like them but because I love the way they write about the world I know. The South is an interesting dichotomy, and I don’t know that you can understand it unless you’ve lived it—and even then, my very small town, rural raising is completely different from someone raised in Atlanta or Charleston.
In CBA, Francine Rivers has long been a favorite, and my own editor, Eva Marie Everson. Eva’s Cedar Key novels struck a chord with me unlike any CBA book had ever done and for the first time, I thought my work may actually fit in this industry.
4. What is your current WIP? What can you share with us about this project?
Well, I have several projects going, including a Christmas novella that gives Hannah and Ben (Still Waters minor characters) a story. I’ve also got a sequel for Still Waters in the works. But an agent gave me some valuable advice to pursue a completely different project because of its strong hook and sale-ability. The new project is more Southern Gothic, really strong narrative drive, teenage protagonist, and all the drama and conflict of a small community split down the county line by a tragedy. There’s football and fried chicken and country music and references to Friday Night Lights and Footloose. It’s really different from Still Waters—not nearly as lyrical—but I’m enjoying the process of creating a completely different world. It’s set in the North Georgia mountains, which is where I’m from, so that’s been fun to make people see what this culture is like, because Appalachia is not the same as the Lowcountry.
5. What inspired the idea for Still Waters?
This novel really started with a place—Edisto Beach, where my family spent most summers of my childhood. When I first decided maybe I could actually do this, write a book, all I knew was I wanted a story set on Edisto. From there I began to build characters and to discover what brings them back or makes them stay away. As I grew as a writer, and began to understand how little I knew about novel structure, the plot changed many times, but ultimately it has always been a story of homecoming, relying on the power of family that ties us to a place.
6. What do you want readers to take away from reading Still Waters?
Cora Anne has a strong need to make things perfect, to control outcomes because so much of her young life was out of her control. She really struggles with grace and with forgiveness because she’s got that legalistic mindset—if I do this, then this should happen. I really hope, as readers experience her journey, they’ll recognize if they have any of these characteristics themselves. And I hope they’ll be inspired to let, as Emily Freeman puts it, “grace for the good girl” pervade. It’s my joy, also, to hear readers tell me they can’t wait to visit Edisto now. It’s a really special place, a rare find in a world of over development, and it’s a place that encourages us to live a little slower. I hope, even though everyone can’t get there, my readers will bring some of the Edisto pace into their own lives.
She left the Seabrook plot and wandered beyond the church, to where the newer grave markers nestled under the spread branches of live oaks. There lay her grandfather’s ashes, and a few rows over, she found fresh flowers on Patrick Watson’s grave. She knelt and traced the date. July 28, 1993.
Cora Anne rose and crossed her arms. You’re not ten years old anymore. Then why did she still feel like that child?
“There you are.” Tennessee came striding across the cemetery. “Looking for someone?”
She couldn’t help the smile. “I think he found me.”
He glanced at his father’s grave and then took her arm, tugging her back toward the front of the little white church. “You enjoy the service?”
A guitar case swung from his hand, and she nudged him with her elbow. “You could have told me you’re a man of many talents. Where’d you learn to play?”
“Aw, this?” He swung the case with ease. “Just a little something I picked up during the college bar scene.”
She gaped at him, unsure if he was making another joke, and he tilted a half-smile her way. “We’ve all got a history. Some more colorful than others.”
They had paused at the edge of the gravel lot and now she looked across it for Nan. She found her at the bottom of the porch steps being embraced by a woman with soft blonde curls and a face too youthful to be middle-aged.
Cora Anne stepped back and Tennessee snagged her elbow to keep her from falling. Again. Blasted oak tree roots.
She fisted her hands against her stomach. “That’s your mother.”
“Yeah, I know. She and Mrs. Annie have become good friends.” He peered at her. “You’re white as one of these supposed graveyard ghosts.”
“I haven’t seen your mother since … since …” Her chest constricted and she forced a deep breath past the tightness. “Can you please tell Nan I’ll be in the car?”
“Here.” He shoved the guitar case at her. “Why don’t you do me a favor and take this over to my truck? I’ll meet you there.”
She backed away without arguing and found his white Dodge Ram easily among the sedans and midlife crisis convertibles. Setting the case inside, she leaned on the open door. Grace, it seemed, would be harder to face than her son.
She looked back up as he bounded over the lot with Nan’s floppy straw hat in his hand.
“Your grandmother said to put this on.”
She took it hesitantly, fingering the brim. “Why?”
“Because she said your cheeks look pink.” He leaned past her and swung the case into the narrow backseat of his extended cab. “And because I’m taking you for a drive.”
Wow. Still Waters was not what I expected at all…and that’s not a bad thing. There is so much depth of emotion in this story it gives one pause. I think my mind is still trying to process everything I read and how I feel afterward.
First, I love the issues Cora Anne goes through. Now I know that sounds completely asinine but I liked that this book wasn’t just a light read. It had plenty food for thought in it.
Second, the scenery is amazing. Ms. Brackett did an amazing job painting Still Waters cottage. I wished I was at the beach the entire time I read the book. And the food! Not scenery but just as important. (I really love food in books.)
Third, the ending. I admit it took me a few swipes of my eReader to realize that I had reached the last page and that it wasn’t frozen. I was stunned and a little sad. How could it just be over? I want a sequel or some kind of follow up that will allow me to check in with Cora Anne and Tennessee (hint hint Ms Brakett).
Lastly, I enjoyed this novel. The beginning started a little slow for me but I’m glad I kept reading because this novel settled right into my heart.
*I received a free copy from the publisher via SLB tours. This review is my own, honest opinion.
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