I'm happy to host my friend Ane Mulligan today. I met Ane several years ago at the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference, and we hit it right off. Chapel Springs Revival is Ane's debut novel. I'll let her tell you about it.
I want to introduce you to Claire and Patsy. They're not quite Lucy and Ethel, but they tend to stumble into trouble and catastrophe. Bighearted and loyal friends, these two will lead readers on a romp through miscommunication in marriage.
Years ago, I overheard a gal say she married before learning God had a husband chosen for her, so she was going to divorce hers and find the perfect one. I pulled her aside for a "Titus 2:4" moment, then logged that incident in my mind for further exploration.
A few years later, God reminded me of that conversation. I thought what if a woman in her late forties found her marriage is ho-hum? When she became a Christian, she thought life and her marriage would be included in the new creation part. But her thighs are just as big, her husband just as ornery, and he still won't go to church with her. Toss in a BFF whose husband had grown non-communicative and was never home, and I had the foundation for a story.
I ran with it.
From God's nudge and that first "what-if," Claire Bennett, Patsy Kowalski, and the small village of Chapel Springs were born.
Claire is tired of being nothing more than a sheet-changer, a towel-folder, a pancake-flipper. She resolves to emulate her Great Aunt Lola, who refused to be slighted by any man. Why, the first morning Aunt Lola's husband forgot to kiss her goodbye, she packed her bags, went off to Hollywood, and became a big star in silent films. Would Claire really do what Great Aunt Lola did?
When Patsy's nest became empty, she thought her husband would retire and they could finally do some travelling, but he hasn't mentioned slowing down. In fact, he's not talking much at all. When he starts coming home well after she's in bed, she becomes convinced he's having an affair. With Claire's help, Patsy's determined to catch him with the trollop who's trying to break up their once happy home.
As I worked on the plotting and backstory for Claire and Patsy, I saw the same things I'd heard the young women say at church: Patsy focusing on what her husband did wrong, and Claire is trying to find Mr. God-Ordained-Right.
Now, Claire has a tendency to be judgmental. She blurts out exactly what she thinks. She also moves before she thinks, which leads to a number of catastrophes. Patsy tries to hide her troubles; pretend they don't exist and they'll go away. Only it never works.
While Claire is eyeballing and discarding every man she sees, she and Patsy are determined to revive their marriages. At the same time, Chapel Springs could do with some reviving. The town has grown shabby and the tourist trade has declined. Complicating matters are a pair of curmudgeons, the mayor and his cohort, who would prefer to see the town stuck in the fifties and closed to outsiders.
I had so much fun with these characters. Claire is funny, a loyal friend, and someone I love spending time with. Besides, every time she turns around, she's in some kind of trouble. It's a blast just following her. And everyone needs a friend like Patsy, someone who has your back.
I’ve completed the sequel called Chapel Springs Survival. Can Claire and Patsy, and the town, survive their revival? That story grew out of something our son did. While it turned out to be wonderful in his life, the manner in which he revealed it called for Mama's retaliation. It went into a book (insert evil laughter).
It's my hope that through humor, readers will see God's hand in their choice of a husband. God is a faithful keeper of little girls' dreams for a knight in shining armor.
Chapel Springs Revival
With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.
Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It's impossible not to, what with Claire's zany antics and Patsy's self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is their marriages.
With their personal lives in as much disarray as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.
While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, Ane has worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that's a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction (try saying that three times fast). She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. President of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband, her chef son, and two dogs of Biblical proportion.
You can find Ane on her Southern-friedFiction website, Google+, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest.