About the Book
Book: Beauty for Ashes
Author: Kathleen Neely
Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance
When family responsibilities force him to return to his home town, he meets Angie Hernandez. Nathan doesn’t count on falling in love, and certainly not with a woman who has the power to shatter his peace.
Being at home pushes him too close to painful memories, and as guilt threatens and panic attacks set in, Nathan begins to write a novel paralleling the tragic event from his youthful folly.
Will the novel be seen as a work of fiction, or will it expose his secret and threaten his future?
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About the Author
Kathleen Neely is the author of The Street Singer, Beauty for Ashes, and The Least of These. She is a former elementary teacher. Following her years in the classroom, she moved into administration, serving as an elementary principal at Eden Christian Academy in Pittsburgh, PA and at Shannon Forest Christian School in Greenville, SC. Kathleen is an alumnus of Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania and Regent University in Virginia.
Among her writing accomplishments, Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFW-VA for her short story “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance”. Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her novel, The Least of These, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through Almost an Author. She has numerous devotions published through Christian Devotions. She continues to speak to students about writing. Kathleen is a member of Association of Christian Fiction Writers.
She resides in Greenville, SC with her husband, two cats, and one dog. She enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading.
More from Kathleen
I’ve always been an avid reader, but began writing at a period in my life when I didn’t have time to commit. While raising three sons, I also worked full time as a teacher, then later as an elementary principal. That left little time for writing. I’d plug away at my manuscript then neglect it for months. Those months became years. Every now and then, I would pull it out, re-read it, then add a little to it. When retirement approached, I thought of that old, abandoned manuscript. That’s when I began to take writing seriously. I joined a writing group, attended conferences, and met with two other writers weekly to critique and be critiqued. That manuscript is now a published novel.
I truly love writing. I can get lost in my own thoughts when planning a story. Characters become real and take on their own personality, sometimes different than I originally intended. Nathan, the protagonist in Beauty for Ashes, is a novelist. This excerpt is scripted from the book as he attempts to explain his trade with Angie. His explanation describes my approach to writing.
Excerpt: “They’re real people. I have to make myself become them. My mind lives out each scene. What would they feel? How would they react? I’m an actor playing a role, except that I have to play each role, each character. I immerse myself completely, then find words to capture it.”
I hope you’ll visit the pages of Beauty for Ashes and meet Nathan. He loves writing as much as I do, but hides a deadly secret. His past triggers challenges that leave him with debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. Writing has always been a balm for Nathan—until he writes his own story.
When/how did you decide to become a writer?
I’m an avid reader. For me, writing was a natural extension of that love. I was a wannabe writer for years, but first I was a mother of three, a teacher, and later a school administrator. I couldn’t fit writing into that schedule. I dabbled, but didn’t put dedicated time to the task until I retired. At that point, I dug out an old unfinished manuscript, honed up my skills, and won first place in the fiction category in a Fresh Voices contest.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
There are so many things that helped me on my journey to becoming an author. Here are three tips for aspiring novelists.
- READ NOVELS – Don’t stop reading just because your time is committed to writing. Consider it an investment of time. I learn so much by reading. It’s a free and effortless element to your education.
- SEEK ADVICE FROM SEASONED WRITERS – I’ve discovered that writers love to share tips of the trade. They’re the most generous coaches. Seek a local writers’ group. Read trade books. Attend conferences. Glean from those who have experience.
- CREATE A SCHEDULE AND STICK TO IT – Every writer hits that slump period where nothing seems to work. It’s easy to neglect the manuscript. Here’s a hint that I heard from another author. When you sit at your laptop and nothing seems to come together, commit to 500 words. Often the ideas will begin flowing. If they don’t, then take the day off. That’s been good advice for me.
What are you reading right now?
I like to vary my reading genres. I believe it helps authors to experience a wide range of reading materials. I’m primarily a writer of contemporary fiction, but I’m currently reading Claiming Canaan, the third in the Daughters of Zelophehad series. Author Barbara M. Britton adds this Biblical fiction to her other Tribes of Israel series. I admire her ability to transport readers to a different time and place. Her research is evident in the details and she does an excellent job of maintaining the voice of a different culture.
Do you prefer traditional books, ebooks, or audiobooks?
Print books, e-books, or audio? The answer is yes! There’s a right time for all of the reading mediums. My primary choice is to hold an old-fashioned print book, but I frequently download digital novels. Some perks of digital include the ability to access it immediately, larger font for when my eyes fatigue, and typically lower cost. Audio has advantages but I like looking at the words, often re-reading portions, mulling over a phrase. But audio is great for car trips.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Sometimes I write out of order. Nathan, the protagonist in Beauty for Ashes, is a novelist. He explains to Angie what it’s like to develop characters and plot; how he plays the role and lives out each scene. That happens to me, and when I live out a scene, I will frequently write it, even though it’s chapters away. When you read Beauty for Ashes, here are a few scenes that were written when my over-active brain lived them out: the police scene at Carlos home, Angie playing a selection from La Boheme for her audition, and when Nathan and Elizabeth rush to Renee’s home to protect her baby. How’s that for a little teaser? I hope you enjoy reading Beauty for Ashes as much as I enjoyed writing it.
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