Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! I’m always excited when I have a friend as my guest, and this week I am so happy to have Laura Conner Kestner as my guest! I very much enjoyed learning that we have a similar writing style – hitting the dialogue first (I do action/dialogue first), and a shared love of Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen! I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did. Read on to see how you can enter to win a copy of her latest release (isn’t that cover amazing?!)
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Hi, everyone. I write both fiction and non-fiction and spent 25 years in community journalism (writing for small town newspapers) before pursuing a career in fiction. I was born in Fort Worth, Texas, but moved from there about 30 years ago, and currently live in a town with a population of less than 2,500. I love small town life.
My husband and I have two daughters, six grandchildren and two great-grands—and they all live nearby. I’m so grateful for that.
In addition to writing, I enjoy photography, spending time with my family, genealogy research, and visits to historical sites, such as forts, museums, and old forgotten towns/communities.
To date, I’ve written six books, but only three have been published so far, all indie.
My most recent book, A Texas Moon, is the third in a series about the small town of Moccasin Rock. Set in the 1890s the series features three brothers: Eli, a sheriff; Nathaniel a physician, and Caleb, a Texas Ranger.
Small Texas towns are rich in history, and I’ve woven bits and pieces of a few area events/people into these stories: including gun-toting preachers who presented the gospel in brush arbors and tabernacles, train-robbing outlaws, tornadoes, and even a panther hiding in a tree. And when I stumble across something interesting while visiting a once-thriving town, where there’s nothing left but a cemetery or a chimney in an overgrown field, I always ask myself two questions: What if? and What Now? Then I let my imagination run wild.
My first two books, Remember Texas and A Texas Promise, finaled in the inspirational category of the Will Rogers Medallion Award contest (in 2019 and 2020), each taking the bronze medallion for third place. I was thrilled when the third book received the first-place gold medallion in the 2021 contest.
Here’s the back cover blurb from that book:
“When a medicine show stops near Moccasin Rock, Texas, life changes for Dr. Nathaniel Calhoun in a way that has nothing to do with elixirs and tonics, and everything to do with the arrest of a beautiful young woman named Lenore. She’s a swindler, a pickpocket, and a part of his past he’d rather forget.
Lenore Adams spent her life traveling across the south with a medicine show, dreaming of a home, family and roots—and for a brief time after meeting Nathaniel—believing it was all possible. Lenore understands why he isn’t glad to see her in Moccasin Rock, though. She once tricked him, robbed him, and wronged him in other ways he doesn’t even know about.
Now, Lenore longs to be the kind of woman Nathaniel wants. . . and will want to keep. But will he ever trust her? Forgive her?
They are both still struggling with just those questions when a tornado strikes Moccasin Rock and suddenly there’s no time to focus on regrets or second chances.
In addition to caring for the injured, mourning the dead, and helping rebuild the town, Lenore and Nathaniel must deal with an escaped outlaw, questions of faith…and friends who aren’t at all what they seem.”
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Read. A lot. Read books from the genre you want to write, and then read books from outside that genre. And write. Write something every day, even if it’s only a character description. Also, read blogs by other writers, a wealth of information there. Follow authors online. They often share tips, advice, and, most importantly, encouragement. Then, once you have something written, enter contests that offer feedback/critiques. I learned so much that way.
Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? I’m not a plotter, but I do have characters or a situation in mind when I start. The first thing I write is usually dialogue. I hear the characters talking to each other long before I know how the plot will unfold.
What are your personal, most effective ways to get past writer’s block? Prayer. Music. Long drives. Giving myself permission to daydream. I start each writing session with prayer, but sometimes it takes a more focused, intensive session to get back on track.
What is your preferred method of writing? (Computer, pen & paper, etc.) I have dozens of partially filled spirals all over the house, where I’ve jotted down everything from bits of dialogue to character names and occupations, but when it’s time to actually craft a story, my computer is a must.
Favorite Book Series as a child? I enjoyed Nancy Drew, Alvin Fernald, Encyclopedia Brown, and Trixie Belden. Then as a teen, I read Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen stories. If someone had told me back then that my first published novels would be historical/westerns, I wouldn’t have believed them. But that love for a good mystery is still in me. All my books have an element of suspense.
Laura is giving away a copy of A Texas Moon to one winner! Here’s all the fabulous ways you can enter to win:
So fun to “see” you here, my friend! I loved getting to know more about your writing process. I smiled when you mentioned having your writing notebooks, etc. scattered throughout the house. That sounds like me! (And can we please mention sticky notes??? LOVE them especially!)
A Trixie Belden fan? Be still, my heart! Me, too!
Blessings over you and your wonderful books!
Hi Laura! I enjoyed your interview with Hallee so much, and have to echo some of Cynthia’s comments above – – I also smiled at your mention of writing notebooks tucked away here and there. Yes, and sticky notes too! But I also definitely head for the computer when it’s time to write the story.
I cannot wait to read A Texas Moon, and am about to purchase (so I didn’t enter your drawing)!
I already know I’ll love it, just as I have your first two books.
Looking forward to many more books by you, sweet friend.
Sending hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo
Hi Laura, this sounds like such a cool story. I love “gun-toting preachers, train-robbing outlaws” and the like. What fun! Sounds like we’re both fascinated with the West. I got through the pandemic, no joke, by watching like four hours of Westerns on INSP. Every night I’d sit down with a bowl of ice cream and the “Gunsmoke” rerun. Like Saturday night in the 1950s.
I also have a background in community journalism, except I’m still doing it. Don’t know when to quit.
So nice to see you!
Hi, Cynthia! Yes, I forgot the sticky notes! They’re everywhere around here (even though I often have no idea what I meant by what I jotted down). Wasn’t Trixie Belden wonderful? Glad to know another fan. Thank you for stopping by!
Hi Patti Jo! So good to see you here. Thank you for your support and encouragement, my friend. Much appreciated!
Hi Kathy! Yes, I watched more of those old westerns than usual during the past couple of years. Classic television and movies are like “comfort food” to me. Not limited to westerns either. I love Andy Griffith, Dick Van Dyke, etc. Thankfully, I have like-minded family members who enjoy them, as well. Thank you for stopping by!
Laura, what a great interview! You and I share the love of investigating historical sites….so many ideas. “What if? What now?” Those two questions really get the thoughts flowing.
Congratulations on your awards! I’ve loved each of your three books and look forward to more stories from you.
Blessings to you, my friend!
Sherida Stewart recently posted…WAIT-My One Word for 2022
Hi Sherida! Yes, so many ideas at historical sites. I’m blessed to have numerous such sites and museums fairly close to home. My brain is on overload for days after some of those visits. So many wonderful story ideas. So little time. I always enjoy seeing the pictures you share of your adventures! Thank you so much for all the support and encouragement!
So nice to meet a new author