Saturday, December 19, 2015

Rebekah Jones and 24 Days Before Christmas

Oh, don't tease...3 snowflakes? Seriously? Even my two-year-old has taken up the "snow-dance"...but alas, to no avail. They're calling for pouring rain, and temperatures some ten degrees above freezing on Christmas Eve! The seasons have run amuck. So, better  stay inside and enjoy a winter read. Our next guest, Miss Rebekah Jones. So let's see if she can bring us some holiday cheer. Oh, and since she writes a Christmas mystery, maybe she can solve the mystery of the missing snow...

Could you share a little about yourself and what led you to become a writer?

I am twenty-five-years-old and live at home with my parents and siblings. I have many things that I enjoy doing, besides writing. Reading, studying, singing, walking a baby to sleep, washing dishes, and playing the piano are just a few. I don’t ever really have enough time to do everything that I’d like to do or to learn everything I’d like to learn! (Especially since reading my entire “To Read” list could easily take up every inch of time alone!) As long as you are alive you can learn. The day you stop learning, is the day you stop living. Enjoy your life, it sounds like youare off to a good start.

Ever since I can remember, I have loved working with words. I started my first book, when I was eight or nine. I had countless “picture stories” and short stories before that, not to mention all of my songs and poems. (None of which, will likely, ever see the public eye, though I do still have many of them...) Sounds like my seven year old. WHen my last novel had been sent off to the publisher, I enthusiastically told her that I was going to have another book whic she replied, "I have a lot of those already."

My two greatest inspirations for writing an actual book, however, probably came from Isabella Alden and Jessica Fletcher. Isabella Alden was a pastor’s wife, who wrote books at the turn of the twentieth century, under her pen name, Pansy. Jessica Fletcher is a fictional author in the old mystery show, Murder She Wrote. As I grew older, reading Charles Dickens’ books (and watching the films based on his books) played a major role in developing how and what I wanted to write about. And I would be remiss, if I didn’t mention that my love for Sherlock Holmes mysteries didn’t greatly influence me as well. Mostly, in giving me a greater love for the mystery genre.

Do you write full time? How much of your life is set aside for writing?

At this time, no, I don’t write full time. Honestly, I write whenever I feel like it. Which, normally, means, at least a little every day. That little could be ten minutes or it could be five hours. When I’m in the middle of drafting a novel, I have been known to spend hours for days on end, working to complete it.

I tend to write whenever there is an open moment; when watching a movie, if I’m in the back of the car while we’re driving somewhere, if I can’t sleep, if I’m up early, if I’m home alone… Any time that there’s an open time, I often fill it with writing. Sounds good, getting in writing whenever you can is perfect.

Could you tell us a little about your novel?

24 Days Before Christmas is my third novel and a Christmas Mystery.

When Leland Bell disappears without a trace, the tiny town of Poinsettia doesn’t even know how to react. Crime is almost unheard of in the peaceful streets, and the idea that Leland could have been kidnapped or, worse, murdered, is foreign and frightening. His brother and his friends are praying for him, but fear starts to take an ugly stand. Then, a body is found in the snow…Oh sure, tease us!

What lead you to choose a Christmas theme?

Honestly? Because I started writing the book on Thanksgiving night and just felt like writing a Christmas themed story. Fair enough.
Where does the inspiration for you main character and story come from?

I have a handful of main characters, so I have multiple inspirations. Bits of Marley Winter’s personality came from two of my friends. Ebenezer’s shyness, (though not shown very much in this book) came from my own experience. Robbyn Singh’s life as an elder sister of several younger siblings, also came from my own experiences. James Hoffman came about, because I decided it was time I had an atheist in my stories and because of examples that my pastor had used in his sermon illustrations. My inspirations are rarely planned – they just seem to hit me. The best kind, for sure.

What is the message behind the story? Was it something you specifically wrote a story around or did it develop as your characters came to life?

The central theme to this book is trust. Specifically, trusting the Lord, especially in the midst of fear and uncertainty.

When I sat down to really work out the full draft of this manuscript, the beginning of the book had already undergone a large handful of drafts, rewrites, and revisions. I’d been working on the book for a number of years. Finally, I decided it was time to start from the beginning and draft the entire book. I had just come out of finishing Journeys of Four, a book which the Lord greatly used in my own life, while I was working on it. When I sat down to start my new draft, I asked the Lord to lead me. I knew there would be a theme, I just didn’t know what it was. I asked Him to decide and to teach me what He wanted me to learn through this book… And He did. It hurt – it hurt a lot. It was worth it though. Thar's very interesting, thank you for sharing.

Do you work from an outline or just go with the flow? If you use an outline, how detailed is it?

I do not start out with an outline. This book started out with a town, an atheist, and a plea from my sister for a murder mystery. After three to four years of writing and rewriting the beginning, I ended up starting from page one and drafting the entire book in less than three months. I think I threw away, at least, 1,000 sheets of paper in this process…

What is the time span in your novel, weeks, months, years? How much research went into it?

24 Days Before Christmas covers the twenty-four days before Christmas, and then Christmas Day. Each day gets one chapter. That was quite a stretch for me, but really fun in the end.

Research? Quite a bit, actually. I had to read up on crime scene investigation. That was quite fun. I also had to do research for snowstorms and the like. I also did Bible studies and Scripture searches. I love book research! Sometimes more so after I have found what I was looking for, lol.

Could you tell us how you go about your research, how you ‘catalogue’ information to make it all work?

Most of my research is old-fashioned – I read books on whatever subject that I want to learn about or I find people who are knowledgeable about the topic and ask them questions. For the books, I just leave them in an accessible place in my room after I read it. I usually know where to go, if I need to reference the information again for cross checking. I often take notes, but this usually only serves for cementing my memory – I rarely actually use my notes.

If I got the information from asking questions, I usually make a note or save that information in an e-mail. Since I used a Christmas carol theme and each chapter focused on a carol, I did make lists of the songs and referenced it regularly while writing. I often used the internet for finding the verses to the carols, since I wanted to go the length of knowing all the verses and few songbooks have that available. Wow, now that sounds great!

How does this book differ from what you have written in the past?

Hmm… It’s longer for one. The entire story takes place in one month. It’s set in a different town, 180 miles away. (All of my books, so far, are connected to each other, in some way or another.)

While not my first mystery, it is my first murder and crime related mystery. It’s not my last though… :)

How do you handle marketing? Do you have a plan, a publicist or just take one day at a time?

I’m still trying to figure marketing out... Lord willing, I’ll get better at that in this coming year.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Take your time. It’s easy to want to get this book done now and put it out, either out of excitement for sharing it or just being ready to get it done. Don’t do it. Take your time. Make sure it’s edited. Make sure you don’t have plot holes. Make sure that your book has reached its potential. Don’t over think it, but don’t rush it either.

Could you tell us what you’re working on now?

Wow. Lots of things, actually… :D Among the ones that I am currently most excited about though? Presumption and Partiality is one. It’s a historical fiction, 1930’s rewrite of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Also, Prevented by Twelve: While on his way to commit suicide, a grieving young man finds his life changed by twelve very different people/circumstances... There will be more to this story, eventually. I’m working on it. It’s a tough story to write.

I could go on... My Name is Cinderella or Paper Jury both come to mind... :)

Thank you so much, Debbie! :)

 Thank you for stopping by! It was a pleasure to host you and share what you had to say with our readers. Want to know a little more about our guest? Here is her Bio: 
Rebekah Jones is first and foremost a follower of the Living God. She's been writing since she was a little girl, seeking to glorify her King with her stories. She's also an avid reader, songwriter, pianist, artist, and history student, as well as a homemaker-in-training. She lives with her family in the Southwestern desert. She is the author of three novels, Grandmother’s Letters, Journeys of Four, and 24 Days Before Christmas

Here is the book synopsis
24 Days Before Christmas

December has fallen on the tiny town of Poinsettia and, with it, the Christmas season. The Singh and Winter families are already feeling celebratory, as they begin sharing family traditions and memorizing Christmas carols. 

Things take a decidedly unexpected turn, when their neighbor and good friend, Ebenezer Bell, comes home from vacation and can’t find his brother. Blood on the carpet, an absent vehicle, and missing fingerprints start to point the finger at a possible crime. 

When James Hoffman moved his sister and daughter to Poinsettia with the bright idea of opening a bookshop, he expected things to be tight, but not this tight. The readers of Poinsettia seem to be few and far between, and James is beginning to second guess his decision. His sister insists on trusting the God that he doesn’t even believe in, but when he discovers an old enemy, bringing his buried anger back to the surface, even his sister’s trust is shaken. 

Carols and crime, memories and mystery, doubters and danger – will there be a merry Christmas after all?

Purchase Link: Amazon

Rebekah Jones Contact links:

While we're at it, here is some infor on Rebekah's other novels...

Grandmother’s Letters

Louise’s friend is dragging her along on a dubious treasure hunt. She, however, would rather be reading the recently discovered letters written by her great-great-grandmother, Georgiana Donahue.

Meanwhile, Xavier, a young law student, is facing struggles of his own. He can’t find a job, his uncle is constantly belittling his late father, and he can hardly stand his seemingly perfect cousin.

In the next town, an old man’s reclusive ways are disturbed when he agrees to let Malcolm Moore do his yard work. Although he desires to return to his seclusion, he is perplexed by the Moores' willingness to welcome him into their lives.

Almost 100 years in the past, Georgiana Donahue's life was turned upside down in the course of one eventful year, and she was inclined to blame God for all of her troubles. Little did she realize that the searching letters she wrote to her brother and his wife would end up touching so many lives, so long after they were written...

Journeys of Four

Christine Spurgeon is painfully shy and, at this point in her life, pretty miserable most of the time. When her parents decide that they are going to start attending a new church, she is less than pleased. Much to her surprise, the first sermon strikes home, and Christine finds her sleepy Christianity shaken to the core. 

Peter Gottswald, a truck driver living with his younger brother, has started to change. What started out as grief over his parents’ death, moves on to deeply concern his family. As he tries to lose himself in a world of fiction and their worry grows, his family tries to discover what he’s running away from before he loses sight of reality altogether. 

Claudius Rivers wants nothing to do with Christianity whatsoever. He doesn’t need it, so he doesn’t bother, beyond going to church with his family. At first, Claudius manages to get away with ignoring just about everyone in the congregation, until an older man befriends him. As he gets to know the man, taking notice of the behavior of the rest of the people in the church, he’s brought to a realization that he must either reject Christ or follow Him. 

Claudette Crutch has claimed to follow Christ for years, but that doesn’t stop her from letting her rebellion against authority increase on a daily basis. She thinks that she’s fine, until she witnesses the spiritual transformation of another young woman in her church and she is forced to begin questioning her so-called Christianity. 

When will the four paths connect, to where will they lead, and how will they get there?

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