It’s a thrill to seat one of our own, Robin Patchen, in the guest chair for today’s Author Chat. Robin has been, and continues to be, a vital member of the Quid Pro Quills. We wouldn’t be who we are without her! Today we’re celebrating with Robin on the release of her third book, Finding Amanda.
Robin is giving away a copy of Finding Amanda to one lucky winner! See below for details.
QPQ: First things first, Robin, tell us what Finding Amanda is all about.
Robin: Thank for hosting me. Before I jump in, let me just say that without my awesome critique partners here at Quid Pro Quills, Finding Amanda would be a mess, as would all my books. Y’all rock. Seriously.
On to the story:
Chef and popular blogger Amanda Johnson hopes publishing her memoir will provide healing and justice. Her estranged husband, contractor and veteran soldier Mark Johnson, tries to talk her out of it, fearing the psychiatrist who seduced her when she was a teen might return to silence her.
But Amanda doesn’t need advice, certainly not from her judgmental soon-to-be ex-husband. Her overconfidence makes her vulnerable when she travels out of town and runs into the abuser from her past. A kind stranger comes to her rescue and offers her protection.
Now Mark must safeguard his wife both from the fiend who threatens her life and from the stranger who threatens their marriage.
QPQ: What prompted you to write this story? What made it important to you?
Robin: That’s a funny story, actually. I was at the ACFW Conference in St. Louis in September of 2011. The conference took place at the St. Louis Hyatt at the Arch, and in the lobby of the hotel, there are these contemporary, box-like chairs. The first day I was there, I sat in one of those chairs, and I immediately didn’t like it. I’m a bit claustrophobic, and I thought, if someone were to sit on the coffee table, I’d be trapped. And then the wheels started turning. What if someone did? What if that someone were a villain? A person I’d been trying to avoid?
From that seed, the idea grew. Over the next few days while I sat in workshops and met authors and editors and agents, in the back of my mind, that seed germinated. Four days later on the eight-hour drive home, I came up with the basic plot. During the rest of September and October, I wrote a general outline and figured out who my characters were, and then in November, I participated in National Novel Writing Month—NaNoWriMo—and wrote over fifty thousand words. I finished the novel in January. It’s been waiting for publication ever since.
QPQ: What better place to birth a story than the ACFW Conference! What do you hope readers will take away from Finding Amanda?
Robin: I write my stories to entertain, so I hope people walk away feeling like they’ve been on an exciting, suspenseful ride.
But I hope people find a nugget of truth in it, too. Too many people—and I used to be one of them—believe they are defined by their past mistakes. Both the hero and the heroine in this book have something shameful in their past, and both of them have to face it and be free of it in order to embrace their future together. Like Amanda and Mark, I have some pretty ugly stuff in my past, but I’m not defined by my failures. I’m not even defined by my successes. We are all defined by God, who knows everything about us and loves us anyway.
QPQ: Amen to that! You’re already a multi-published author with a well-known agent. Walk us through your thought process as you decided to self-publish Finding Amanda.
Robin: That’s an excellent question. My agent, the brilliant Chip MacGregor, tried to sell Finding Amanda and didn’t have any luck. We talked about taking the book to smaller publishers, but Chip encouraged me to self-publish instead. He thought I could get more traction and might be happier if I had more control over the process. I was nervous about it—nervous enough that it’s taken me a year to take his advice. But after much prayer and the gentle prodding of kind friends, I tentatively stepped in.
QPQ: What is the single most important tip you have for someone thinking about self-publishing a novel?
Robin: Don’t self-publish a bad book. And unless your mother and your best friend are publishing professionals, they can’t tell you if your book is good or bad. Find good critique partners (hint: they’re not all good—and mine are the best) and take their advice. Then hire a great editor who can help you reshape your book into the best possible story. Then after you’ve made the story as good as you can, hire a proofreader. Until you’ve done all of those things, you’re not ready. You just may learn as you go through the editing process is that the book isn’t where it should be. If you publish a book that isn’t ready, you can do irreparable damage to your career as a novelist. And there are enough bad books on the market already. Let yours be one of the great ones.
QPQ: Great advice. What’s coming next from author Robin Patchen?
Robin: This summer, I hope to publish the story of how the hero and heroine from Finding Amanda met. It’s a novella-length romance that takes place in Providence, Rhode Island, right after September 11th. After that, only God knows.
QPQ: And finally, where can readers connect with you on-line?
Robin: Visit my webpage at http://robinpatchen.com/. If you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll receive a free e-cookbook of Amanda’s favorite recipes, which has all the recipes mentioned in the book with a few more thrown in, just for fun. It also has excerpts from Finding Amanda.
You can also find me through my freelance editing website, https://robinsredpen.wordpress.com/. Join my newsletter there and receive updates and occasional specials related to editing.
And of course I’d love for you to buy my book. It’s available at:
Giveaway: Leave a comment for Robin here and include your e-mail address. Do it securely, such as writer[at]jumbo[dot]com so the bots don’t pick it up. It’s that simple! A winner in the 48 contiguous states will have their choice of paperback or e-book. A winner from Alaska, Hawaii and other countries will receive an e-book copy. Drawing takes place on Sunday, May 3rd, at or about 5:00pm Central.