Popular and beautiful, Cora Stephens has it all - including the perfect football-star boyfriend - until one fateful afternoon. Facing heartache and betrayal, Cora turns to long-time friend, Landon, for comfort. While his love for her grows, she does everything in her power to avoid getting hurt again - including flinging herself into the arms of another boy.
Then, just as Cora’s shattered world starts putting itself back together, life throws something her way that’s more horrific than she ever could have imagined. Through the emotional and physical pain, she begins to lose hope and abandon her faith. Will this once light-hearted, happy prom queen find her way back home?
|Emily Paige Skeen|
Hi Emily!! Good to have you here on The Diamond Mine.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Nancy! I’m excited and grateful for the chance to share a bit about myself with you and your readers!
As authors, we often come up with lots of story ideas. What was it about this story that prompted you to focus in on it and write it?
It’s been such a long time since I began this particular story that it’s hard to remember the initial pull! But I think a big reason I chose to pursue it is because I really connect with the characters. A lot of the experiences Cora has are reminiscent of my own adolescent trials (though not exact and certainly not the abduction part). Writing Magnolia Lake took me back to that time in my life and helped me to express some bottled up emotions.
Writing can transport both the writer and the reader! What do you like best about your main characters in Magnolia Lake?
Cora has a lot of admirable qualities. But probably my favorite of those is her sweet nature. She always thinks of others and there are several times throughout the story when she takes someone else’s feelings into consideration over her own.
And Landon...well, what’s not to love about him? He’s the ultimate good old-fashioned country boy! He’s kind, considerate, patient, and romantic - all while being athletic and a bit rough around the edges. He also makes a mean fried chicken dinner!
My nephew's name is Landon! I hope he ends up with some of those qualities, too. Do any of your characters share qualities or experiences with you?
Like Cora, I was pretty naive in my teens years, completely unaware of the evils that exist in our world. Cora’s entire perspective shifts after her abduction as she realizes that not everyone is who they seem and that people are capable of truly horrifying things.
A hard lesson to learn for all of us, and often difficult to accept, too.
What’s your favorite part of crafting a story: the character developing, the plot, the setting, the struggles? Explain why.
It’s all pretty amazing, watching an entire world unfold before your eyes. But for me, writing the struggles is the best. That’s the time when I get to really dig deep into the emotions of my characters. It feels the most intense.
I so agree with you on that! Do your characters become real to you before you write, or as you go along?
Before I put pen to paper (or more accurately, fingers to keyboard), I create detailed outlines of each of my characters. I include things like personality traits, occupations, fashion style, etc. The more detailed the character descriptions, the more thoroughly I can connect with them. But even after doing that, I find they become more real as the plot develops and they encounter different situations.
Sounds like a good method. What’s your favorite genre to write in? Why?
Romance - any kind of romance! Whether it’s Young Adult, Contemporary, Historical...whatever the case, I thrive on creating heart-stopping, soul-searing love stories. I suppose I’ve always been a romantic at heart. You could say my head’s a bit in the clouds.
Nothing wrong with that. I like it up there, too! What were your favorite books as you were growing up?
It depends on what age we’re talking about! As a youngster, I really enjoyed the Goosebumps series and the Sweet Valley Twins/Sweet Valley High books. (Don’t laugh!)
I’ve also always had a place in my heart for the classics. All the books they made you read in high school that other kids grumbled about? I loved them!
Ah yes, the classics. What's not to love, right? What kind of movies do you favor?
You can probably guess, but for me nothing beats a good romance. Though I do enjoy having the wits scared out of me on occasion. But when it comes to horror movies, I prefer suspenseful and maybe paranormal, not gory.
I have to cover my eyes with anything gory or scary! My sons think it's funny. Is there an underlying theme in your stories, or a concept you try to convey within them?
I think of my writing as a way to honor God. My sincere hope with every story I create is that at least one person will come away feeling inspired or encouraged.
Amen to that! What are you working on now?
I currently have two works in progress. The first is part of the “Christmas Cowboys” series with Prism Book Group. It follows a young, newly divorced woman as she attempts to manage the ranch that she won in her split from an abusive husband.
The other, For Better or Worse, is part of Prism Book Group’s “Love Is” series, which has already begun releasing. My story detailing the marriage of a young couple who has lost a baby to miscarriage will be out in February 2017.
That sounds great! I've got books coming out in those series, too. Prism Book Group is a wonderful publisher! I look forward to reading both of yours when they're released. Thanks for the interview!
Okay readers, here's an excerpt from Magnolia Lake:
I changed clothes and made it just in time to plop down on the hard floor and get into a stretching position before the coach noticed.
Valerie must have seen something in my expression. “Looks like somebody’s been up to no good.” She winked as we stretched.
My eyes were wide with innocence as I asked, “What do you mean?”
“Oh, come on, Cor! Your face is all flushed,” she whispered, “and you were the last one dressed. I may not have a boyfriend right now, but that doesn’t mean I forgot how to read the signs. You managed to fit in a quick make-out session and still get here with one minute to spare!"
Although her accusations made me blush, the corners of my mouth turned up into a mischievous grin. There was no use trying to lie to her. She had a strange sixth sense about these things. “Well, maybe a quick one,” I answered. “But, in my defense, there are only so many unsupervised hours in a day. Jeff and I don’t get much alone time.”
Lacy overheard us and chimed in. “Oh, you are so lucky! To have such a hot, manly guy. Mike won’t even kiss me on the cheek at school. He’s so worried about what his friends will think. It drives me crazy! I need a little action, ya know. A little adventure.”
Coach Rivers shot us a stern glance. Not wanting to be on the wrong side of one of Coach’s endless tirades, I focused on the hardwood floor, spread my legs, and continued stretching.
After two hours of running, dancing, and stunting, my friends and I walked lethargically to our cars. When we reached Lacy’s car, she hurriedly jumped in with only a quick, “See ya later,” before speeding off.
I looked at Valerie, who gave a quick shrug of her shoulders before asking, “So, Cor, wanna ride together tomorrow and go to the mall after practice?”
“Yeah, sounds good. I need new jeans. We can look at prom dresses too! Just for fun,” I answered with excitement. “I’ll call Kayla and Lacy tonight. Maybe they’ll wanna meet us.”
We stood in the parking lot, talking about our shopping trip and which stores we wanted to visit. When we finally finished our conversation fifteen minutes later, I decided to put up the top on my car since the sky promised a downpour.
I was proven right just as I exited the student parking lot and the bottom suddenly fell out of the sky, producing sheets of rain that caused me to immediately let my foot off the gas and turn my windshield wipers up as high as possible. It had been perfectly clear for most of the day. Where’d the sun go in such a short amount of time?
As I came to one of the streets I would normally take home, I noticed it was closed due to a wreck. Detour signs were set up a few feet before the crash site, so I turned down an unfamiliar dirt road.
That’s when I noticed Jeff’s truck parked on the grass to the right of the gravel. My heart started to pound. I knew it was his by the University of Georgia sticker on the back glass. There was no sign of him, but no sign he’d been involved in a crash, either—no other cars, no tree limbs sticking out, nothing. But also no Jeff.
With my stomach in knots, I jerked the steering wheel and rolled to a stop behind the truck. My imagination ran wild as I pictured Jeff being robbed at gunpoint or something else horrific. I just knew he was in a ditch somewhere, left for dead. I practically flew out of my car and around the front of his truck. There was mumbling and gasping coming from the woods several feet away.
I started to panic, my mind racing. A million thoughts ran through my head. Was he hurt? Who was that talking? What happened? Had someone dragged him from the car?
I didn’t even notice the wet grass sloshing under my feet and spraying my ankles and calves with mud. It was a good thing I hadn’t changed back into my school clothes. I was still wearing shorts and tennis shoes, much better to run in than the high heels I’d sported earlier.
The mumbling noises were getting closer. I saw a path I hadn’t noticed before. A car was parked at the end of that path in the woods. I walked closer to the car and peered inside. Through the fog of the windows, there was Jeff. And there was Lacy pressed against him.
Sounds like an awesome read! Here's a short bio on Emily, followed by her social and purchase links! Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance at the drawing!
Born and raised in a small Georgia town, Emily Paige Skeen takes from her own life experiences to create real, relatable characters for her novels. She loves to intertwine small-town charm with deep emotion and intrigue, creating stories that inspire readers.
When she’s not writing or chasing after her two youngsters - both under the age of five - you can find Emily reading, soaking up the sun whenever possible, or shopping. She, her husband, and their kids make their home in a tiny little town an hour south of Atlanta, on a five-acre plot of land right off a bumpy red-dirt road. Emily loves to sit and listen as the ever-present crickets and frogs perform their harmonious concerts in the still, quiet evening hours.
Writing has always been Emily’s passion, ever since she crafted her first sloppily hand-written story plastered over spiral notebook paper at the emotionally-charged age of thirteen. Now, she strives to encourage and inspire girls and young women with her writing. She believes that with a little bit of faith and a whole lot of love, anything’s possible.
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/magnolia-lake-emily-paige-skeen/1115340536?ean=9781530434596