Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Warm Welcome to Carol G. Heilman

I'm excited to welcome Carol here today. Her book sounds fantastic, and I'm anxious to read it! Carol, tell us . . .

Is there a story behind Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar?
Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar began as a short story assignment for a creative writing class at the University of South Carolina over ten years ago.

Our instructor told us to place ourselves, along with some of our friends, in a foreign environment and to step back and see what developed.

I chose the porch of a retirement home because a standing joke, among a group of my friends and myself, was that one-day we would end up living in such a place together.

Before I had written two pages the characters, with their unique names took on their own personalities. I was fairly new to such writing adventures and was taken aback. They began to assert themselves and I decided I needed to pay attention, to listen and watch—for my scenes often unfold like a movie in my mind’s eye.

The short story ended when Agnes slipped out the back door of Sunset Manor, the name of the retirement home at that time. Then I began to ask questions. What if she . . .

I wish I could be more like my protagonist, who is outspoken and spunky, but she has taken on some of the aspects of my mother’s spirit. Writing fiction is such fun!

 Agnes Hopper’s story continues to evolve and surprise me. I am delighted to have a part in the telling of it.

Interesting! What started you on your writing journey? 
I began writing twenty years or so ago and an instructor named Trish became my Barnabas. She taught a class for seniors in the community at one of our local hospitals. I called to sign up and was told I didn’t qualify. I wasn’t old enough. Imagine that. But I kept calling until the lady on the other end relented and said, “I guess we can let you come.”

I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone that I was fifty-two years old. Trish taught two classes, one creative writing, the other autobiographical. I first began writing the family stories—and I had plenty of material. Daddy thought everything I wrote was wonderful while Mother was horrified. She often said, “We don’t have any secrets any more.” I think I get my exaggerating traits from her.

Trish told me to keep writing. She helped me get my first tiny article published about my daddy’s Appalachian humor. She believed in me. I give thanks to the good Lord for her. Everyone needs a Barnabas.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
Social media. J If I’m not careful, it can eat up my time and energy and I have no creativity left inside my little brain.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading? (Book recommendations very welcome!)
Historical fiction: March by Geraldine Brooks and The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Biographies: Living Like Lions by J.R. Duren
Bible study and Christian personal growth books:
Places People Pray by Karen Appleby and Enduring Faith by Nivine Richie

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?
PictureJack Lovingood is a young, kind-hearted man who works for a local produce market. He enjoys old people, without any ulterior motives, but one resident of Sweetbriar Manor does not trust him. Jack seemed to appear out of nowhere, while I was writing one day, and brought the residents a basket of strawberries. He is a drifter, and even though he loves his girlfriend Shirl, the manicurist at the Cut ‘N Loose, he will disappear in a future book. Where did he go? Will he return?

I like Jack because he is complex and he is sometimes misunderstood.

Oh, he sounds great. Hope I get the chance to read that one too! If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
Bluegrass. Because it reminds me of my heritage, growing up in coal mining camps.

:) What makes you smile and/or laugh out loud?
Remembering my daddy’s Appalachian humor

What is your favorite season of the year?  
Fall with its crisp air, colored leaves, and hot spiced tea

Mine too! What do you like most about the area where you live and/or grew up?
The mountains have always been a comfort to me, evidence of God’s majestic creation.

Ahhhh . . . Are there things you put off doing because you dread them? 
Yes. Ironing!

 Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you. (and why it's special)   
“He reached down from on high and took hold of me. He drew me out of deep waters.”
The place of reference escapes me right now, but I will find it. This is what the Lord did for me. Without his mercy and grace I would have drowned.  2 Samuel 22:17 NIV

That's a really good scripture verse. I like it a lot because it reminds me of how much God has done for me. When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
Writing the second book about Agnes now. She gets into more trouble when the owners of Sweetbriar Manor decide to sell the home and the interested party, representing a women’s prison, wants to turn the retirement home into a halfway house. And then one night there is a fire. . . . 

You're a new author to me and I can't wait to begin reading this book. Thanks for joining us.

Buy her book here:

About Carol:
Carol Heilman, a coal miner's daughter, married her high school sweetheart, a farmer's son. She began writing family stories, especially about her dad's Appalachian humor, for newspapers and magazines. One day her mother said, "We don't have any secrets any more!"

Carol's book, Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar, was inspired by her mother's spunky spirit and her dad's humor. She lives in the mountains of NC with her husband of fifty-plus years. They love to play cards, go antiquing, hike, and visit grandsons on the east and west coasts

Connect with Carol here:
Author Page:

CAROL is giving away a copy of AGNES HOPPER SHAKES UP SWEETBRIAR. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown


cjajsmommy said...

Not only do I think I'll like Agnes Hopper, I'm pretty sure you and I could be good friends, Carol. I'm married to a coal miner's grandson and I love the family visits to WV and the stories his cousins can tell. We're the oldest generation there now and if the stories don't get written down, they will be lost forever. I'm eager to read the story of Miss Agnes Hopper. cjajsmommy (at) gmail (dot) com

Linda Kish said...

I would love to win a copy of this book. It sounds like such fun (as does Carol).

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Deanna Stevens said...

I like your cover, this sounds like a fun book I'd enjoy meeting Agnes..
dkstevensneAT outlookDoTCOm

Robin Bunting said...

Oh my goodness, this book and heroine sound delightful. would love to have a copy. Thank you for a chance to win one.

Chrissy said...

I have subscribed to the Barn Door Book Loft forever, or so it seems. I get so much mail that I will be honest I don't always get every thing read. But I could not be happier that I took time to read about Carol's book titled "AGNES HOPPER SHAKES UP SWEETBRIAR". This sounds like an absolute gem, and I can't wait to read it! I'll just have to delete some emails, and throw out some magazines, so I have the time! hermitmccormick@gmail(dot)com

Anonymous said...

Hi Corole. Thanks for having Carol Heilman here today. She is new to me. Sounds like a good fun book. I also like the title. Please put my name in for the drawing. Thanks, Maxie
> mac262(at)me(dot)com <

Library Lady said...

Carol's book would be a wonderful addition to the church library.
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to win her book.
Janet E.

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