Friday, February 24, 2017

An Accidental Author: Rachael O. Philips—By Linda Kozar

WIN A FREE BOOK TODAY!!!

SECRETS OF THE AMISH DIARY 

LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW TO ENTER.


RACHAEL O. PHILIPS

A little about. . .


Rachael O. Phillips, a church music director, began her unplanned writing career during midlife when the church secretary demanded newsletter articles at gunpoint. At Bethel College, Mishawaka, Indiana, she obtained degrees in Professional Writing and English. There, she made connections that resulted in her first biography, Frederick Douglass, followed by three others.

 A 2007 American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Genesis winner and 2012 finalist for an ACFW Carol Award, Rachael has written six novels and recently signed contracts for four cozy mysteries. She also has coauthored a reference guide, Women of the Bible,and three novella collections.

An Erma Bombeck Global Award winner, she enjoys writing humor and has
published more than 700 articles, newspaper columns, devotions, and stories for newspapers, magazines and various collections. She enjoys speaking to diverse audiences, sharing laughs and inspiration.

She and Steve, her high school sweetheart and husband of 40 years, live in Indiana, where he serves as a family doctor and also as an adjunct professor at Taylor University. Their three grown children and six perfect grandchildren all live in Indiana and Michigan.

Why do you write mysteries, and how did you get started? 

I think my love affair with mysteries started during my childhood, when I read every Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and Hardy Boys book I could get my hands on. I read my first Agatha Christie novel around age eight—instant addiction! Scared myself to death reading Sherlock Holmes by Sir Conan Doyle late at night. I loved them all and still read mysteries when I want to relax. I write mysteries because I appreciate the epic struggle between good and evil. As a Christian, I want to affirm the biblical view that good ultimately will triumph over evil, that the Light conquers darkness. I wrote my first mystery when I gained a contract with Annie’s Publishing. Before that, I’d questioned whether my right-brained approach to life would ever enable me to create and fit together all the pieces involved in a mystery. Signing a contract is very motivating, and by the grace of God and help of others, I learned. I’ve written eight now, with two more contracted.

Do you think it helps to be a little bit twisted in the head?

Hahaha, it’s an absolute requirement! Who else sits around figuring out innovative ways to murder people? As TV’s Rick Castle says, only psychopathic killers and mystery writers.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?

I’ve been blessed with so many. But I think it was the day during my senior year of high school when my future husband asked me out. Somehow, I sensed that was a special moment.

How has being published changed your life?

I’ve always kept busy—we have three grown children and six grandchildren. I also completed an associate’s degree in professional writing and a bachelor’s degree in English as I began my writing career during my late forties. But the past eight years or so, in which I’ve published nine books (with two more to be published soon), as well as three novellas and nonfiction, have kept me typing! I’ve had to strip my life down to my top priorities: time with God, time for my marriage and family, and time for writing and speaking. Some of my Christmas decorations are still up!

Who is your favorite or most memorable mystery character (either your own character or another author’s)?

I have always adored Miss Marple, Agatha Christie’s sharp senior detective who deludes criminals into thinking she’s a helpless old lady. Hercule Poirot is a close second. In one of my own mysteries, I particularly enjoy Mr. Cyrus Whittington, an octogenarian with an English accent. He cultivates penchants for mismatched clothes (as in soccer jersey with a tux jacket) and fine china. Is he a hero or villain? For awhile, that’s not clear.

What is your current work in progress? How many words do you typically writer per day? And do you ever feel like a chimp at a typewriter? (I ask that because I often do and I want to know I’m not alone).

I just finished A Fatal Harvest and will soon begin another Annie’s mystery. I generally write 1,000 to 2,000 words per day, though I’ve written as many as 4,000 when approaching a deadline. I’m not a superfast writer, so I have to meet daily quotas to keep up. Yes, sometimes I do feel like a chimp at a typewriter! Especially when I reread what I’ve written and wonder if I might have done better to copy the phone book! But, as Ann LaMotte once said, bad writing can be edited, corrected. No writing equals nothing.

Do you incorporate settings in your books from travel?

Some. I wrote two books set in Oregon, where I lived for two years. My current series, plus an earlier romance trilogy I wrote, are set in Indiana, where I live.

The British Sherlock series or the American one? Cringing inside…

I’m not an expert in either series, as I haven’t had much time to watch TV lately. I do find the American characters intriguing. However, I prefer the British series, which seems to follow the original stories more closely.

Best and worst parts of writing a mystery series?

The best part: Humor is an important element in my current series, so I enjoy creating fun, intriguing characters that entertain the reader and help move the story. The worst part: After writing five books in the series, originality becomes a challenge. Brainstorming with writing friends helps.

Have you ever coauthored and would you ever do it again?

I’ve worked with other authors in three novella collections. What a blessing Cynthia Ruchti, Becky Melby, and Eileen Key were to me! They were all published, and I was the newbie. I found their advice, support, and friendship invaluable. Still do. I’d consider doing it again, depending on the project and the author(s).

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

I was a choir director for twenty-plus years, and I love music—especially worshipping God through music, both contemporary and classic. Also, my husband and I enjoy camping and hiking. We love to ride our tandem bike, a hobby which has influenced several scenes in my books.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

If you don’t like to work hard, you’re in the wrong field! Even more important: trust the Lord for your writing career. The publishing world is like a killer roller coaster in a giant fun house. God helps us laugh amid the screaming!

Tell us about the featured book, the one you’ll be giving away to one lucky reader! 

Secrets of the Amish Diary (Book #1 in the Amish Inn series). When fortyish Liz Eckardt leaves her hectic life as a Boston attorney to become innkeeper of a bed-and-breakfast in Pleasant Creek, Indiana, she pursues a surprise mystery she discovered in the diary inherited from her late mother, Abigail. As a teenager, Abigail had run away from her Amish community in Pleasant Creek. Liz seeks the family she yearns for, only to face the murder of one of her first guests. When her new quilting circle, the Material Girls, help her fight for the survival of the inn—and herself—Liz encounters intrigue, danger, and true friendship in the small town that quickly becomes home.

Murder Simply Played  (Book #4 in the series) An influx of guests surprises Liz, who assumes late winter is an innkeeper’s off-season. She soon discovers that Hoosier Hysteria, Indiana high school basketball’s unique insanity, has invaded Pleasant Creek—and caused a rift among the Material Girls. At the height of pre-sectional game festivities, however, the head basketball coach is found dead in his office. An estranged daughter, a suspended team star who abandoned his Amish heritage to play, a disappointed assistant coach—all these, as well as others, could have killed Coach Albertson. With so many enemies, how is Liz to determine whodunit?

Then the killer targets Liz as Enemy Number One. . . .

Please write down the first paragraph of the book.

Amish Diary - Chapter One

A new life as an innkeeper . . . what was I thinking?

Gripping the sink plunger, Liz Eckardt considered inviting the real estate agent who had emphasized the Olde Mansion Inn’s state-of-the-art kitchen to share her morning. She shoved the plunger down-up-down-up-down until the drain finally gave an approving urp and water ran freely. Liz scrubbed the sink until it gleamed like the surrounding granite counters and new stainless steel appliances.

Murder Simply Played – Chapter One

Liz Eckardt took one look at sixty-something Mary Ann’s orange and black cheerleading outfit and braced herself for an off-the-wall February morning. “What—why—”

Mary Ann, unlocking her shop’s door in the foyer of Liz’s Olde Mansion Inn, looked far better than anyone should at this hour. Mary Ann set down a picnic basket and retrieved giant, silvery pompoms from the top bin of several stacked on a dolly. “Here you go.” She tossed two pompoms to Liz, who dropped them.

How can readers find you on social media?

My website is http://rachaelophillips.com. I write humor columns à la Erma Bombeck (I won the 2004 Erma Bombeck Global Award) for local newspapers and post many of them there each week.

Facebook address is https://www.facebook.com/rachael.phillips.7543

I would love to stay in touch with your listeners/readers!

46 comments:

  1. I loved the interview. Secrets of the Amish Diary looks like a wonderful book.
    jhdwayne@peoplepc.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Deana! I had lots of fun writing Secrets of the Amish Diary, and I hope you enjoy it, too!

      Delete
  2. Deana, thank you. Rachael is not only a great mystery and suspense author, but she's hilarious in person! Your name is entered into the drawing:)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fingers crossed,this book looks really good.

    Lela, paralegal7@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment, Lela. Do you like Beans, the bulldog on the cover? He has a reputation as the laziest dog on earth :-)

      Delete
  4. OoooooooooooooH! These sound so, so good! I can't wait to read them! A new author for me! Rachael, What happened to book numbers two and three? What are their titles?
    duellonlysis(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Beverly! So glad you could join us! My books are part of a multi-author series. Each of the books includes the same main characters and setting, and while a part of the series, the stories can stand alone. Book#2 is Plain Deception by Tara Randel. Book#3 is Simple Lies by Jan Fields. If you're interested in the series, you can go to the publisher's website: https://www.anniesfiction.com/home.php?program_id=AIM

      Delete
    2. Beverly Duell-MooreFebruary 25, 2017 at 8:07 AM

      Thank you so much! I can't wait to read them all!

      Delete
    3. AND THE WINNER (according to MiniWebTool random name-picker) is:
      Beverly Duell-Moore!!! Congratulations!!! Please contact me or Rachael via FB message with your mailing address. Rachael needs to know where to send your book!

      Delete
  5. I cannot wait to basically devour "Secrets of the Amish Diary". My interest has been piqued ever since you stated a new one was on the way!
    Best wishes to you and Dr. Steve, Rachael!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Jo! We miss our old hometown, but God has blessed us in our new one. I really like writing for this new series, and Steve enjoys it, too. LOL, my characters have become some of our best friends!

      Delete
  6. Rachael is a new author to me and this looks like a book I would really enjoy reading. I love both the mystery and amish aspects of the book.
    marypopmom (at) yahoo (dot) com
    Maryann

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Maryann, Writing a combination of the two has been fun for me. I live less than an hour away from the small town after which the book's fictional setting of Pleasant Creek, Indiana, is modeled. That area is Swiss Amish, like the community in my books, and I've learned a lot about their customs. For example, they drive only open buggies, no matter what the weather.

      Delete
  7. Maryann, your name is inn the running.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love reading about Amish families, and their way of life. I love their morals. Amish series are the best. I'm really looking forward to reading this book and I have heard a lot of good things about the Author. Jonita

    ReplyDelete
  9. Jonita I entered youy name into the drawing😊

    ReplyDelete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jonita :-) I've appreciated many aspects of Amish family life as I've researched these books, and we can learn a lot from them. Some surprising facts, too. For example, they avoid having their pictures taken because they regard these photos as prideful. No selfies for them!

      Delete
  11. Oooh, sounds good ❤ Love a good giveaway! What was your inspiration for this book?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Debby, I have lived near Amish communities for the past 40 years or so, so long before I began my writing career, I was gathering information for the books. Liz, the main character, was suggested by my editor. But I had fun surrounding her with quirky characters like Sadie Schwarzentruber--and some of Liz's guests!

      Delete
  12. I really enjoyed the interview and also the synopsis of the two books in the series. I like reading Amish fiction and I enjoyed the excerpt of "Secrets of the Amish Diary". Looking forward to reading.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  13. I really enjoyed the interview and also the synopsis of the two books in the series. I like reading Amish fiction and I enjoyed the excerpt of "Secrets of the Amish Diary". Looking forward to reading.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Dianne. So glad you enjoyed the excerpts. Combining "English" and Amish characters, along with plenty of mystery and mayhem, has been an adventure!

      Delete
  14. A new to me author and I can say that I DO like that cover!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Debbie, Diana and Casey--you're in!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi, Loretta, I liked it the first time I saw it, and I'm glad you like it, too. Hope you enjoy the story as well!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi, these both sound interesting. I'm currently reading the Annie's Attic series. Did you write one of those or one of the companion series? They are so much fun! You sound hilarious! Can't wait to look for more of your books. paulams49ATsbcglobalDOTnet

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Paula, They are fun, aren't they! I wrote Recipe for Deception and Guilty Treasures in Annie's Creative Woman series and A Midsummer Night's Seam in the Quilted Mysteries series. Two more of my books in the Amish Inn series soon will come out: #7, A Silent Betrayal; and #11, A Grave Inheritance. They'll soon appear on my website, http://rachaelophillips.com.

      Delete
  18. Thank you for a chance to learn more about Linda and her books.
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Connie, Aren't Linda's books great! Weighty Matters is hilarious!

      Delete
  19. I to am a Indiana girl born and raised here. Your books sound so good hope to read them.
    Blessings
    Diana
    joeym11(at)frontier(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi, Diana, Always glad to meet a fellow Hoosier! I especially love writing stories set in my native state, and have written three romances also set in Indiana. I hope you enjoy this series, too.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Another Trixie Belden fan - haven't met very many yet! Thank you for sharing the interview, and for the chance to win a copy! I enjoy cozy mysteries and B and B mysteries. Blessings! jeaniedannheim (AT) ymail (DOT) com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Mama Cat, wasn't Trixie great! Ahead of her time :-) I scoured our local library for her books and Nancy Drew mysteries every week during long, lazy summers as a kid. Blessings on you, too!

      Delete
  22. I've never read a Christian mystery series. I'd like the opportunity.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Great that you're checking out this website, where there are several excellent Christian mystery series available. I'd love to share my Amish Inn series with you. You also might check out http://www.fictionfinder.com/book, the American Christian Fiction Writers search, that can help you find bunches of Christian mysteries!

    ReplyDelete
  24. The books sound neat!
    Martha T.
    CRPrairie1(@)imonmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Martha! I've really enjoyed writing this series!

      Delete
  25. I would love to win. Love the cover.
    Thereadmaster@me.com

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi, Virginia! I wish I could take credit for the cover, but my artistic talent is zero :-) I do appreciate the artists that have made these so eye-catching.

    ReplyDelete
  27. These books sound great! and I love supporting "local" authors. Well, the state of Indiana is pretty "local" :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yaaay, Barbara! Love local readers--so you're a Hoosier, too? Our state is blessed with lots of Christian authors and readers!

      Delete
  28. AND THE WINNER (according to MiniWebTool random name-picker) is:
    Beverly Duell-Moore!!! Congratulations!!! Please contact me or Rachael via FB message with your mailing address. Rachael needs to know where to send your book!

    ReplyDelete