About the Book
Book: Beauty for Ashes
Author: Kathleen Neely
Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance
Nathan Drummond’s actions at the age of eighteen had devastating consequences. Writing became therapeutic, leading him into a successful career as a mystery writer. With seven novels to his name, Nathan is rapidly becoming a household name.
When family responsibilities force him to return to his home town, he meets Angie Hernandez. Nathan doesn’t count on falling in love, and certainly not with a woman who has the power to shatter his peace.
Being at home pushes him too close to painful memories, and as guilt threatens and panic attacks set in, Nathan begins to write a novel paralleling the tragic event from his youthful folly.
Will the novel be seen as a work of fiction, or will it expose his secret and threaten his future?
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About the Author
Kathleen Neely is the author of The Street Singer, Beauty for Ashes, and The Least of These. She is a former elementary teacher. Following her years in the classroom, she moved into administration, serving as an elementary principal at Eden Christian Academy in Pittsburgh, PA and at Shannon Forest Christian School in Greenville, SC. Kathleen is an alumnus of Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania and Regent University in Virginia.
Among her writing accomplishments, Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFW-VA for her short story “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance”. Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her novel, The Least of These, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through Almost an Author. She has numerous devotions published through Christian Devotions. She continues to speak to students about writing. Kathleen is a member of Association of Christian Fiction Writers.
She resides in Greenville, SC with her husband, two cats, and one dog. She enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading.
More from Kathleen
I’ve always been an avid reader, but began writing at a period in my life when I didn’t have time to commit. While raising three sons, I also worked full time as a teacher, then later as an elementary principal. That left little time for writing. I’d plug away at my manuscript then neglect it for months. Those months became years. Every now and then, I would pull it out, re-read it, then add a little to it. When retirement approached, I thought of that old, abandoned manuscript. That’s when I began to take writing seriously. I joined a writing group, attended conferences, and met with two other writers weekly to critique and be critiqued. That manuscript is now a published novel.
I truly love writing. I can get lost in my own thoughts when planning a story. Characters become real and take on their own personality, sometimes different than I originally intended. Nathan, the protagonist in Beauty for Ashes, is a novelist. This excerpt is scripted from the book as he attempts to explain his trade with Angie. His explanation describes my approach to writing.
Excerpt: “They’re real people. I have to make myself become them. My mind lives out each scene. What would they feel? How would they react? I’m an actor playing a role, except that I have to play each role, each character. I immerse myself completely, then find words to capture it.”
I hope you’ll visit the pages of Beauty for Ashes and meet Nathan. He loves writing as much as I do, but hides a deadly secret. His past triggers challenges that leave him with debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. Writing has always been a balm for Nathan—until he writes his own story.
Mindy Houng’s Q&A with Kathleen Neely
Question: Which author influenced you the most?
I’m an avid reader, and have many authors on my favored list. It’s difficult to choose one favorite. However, in writing Beauty for Ashes, I can point to the influence of Charles Martin. I finished reading his wonderful novel, Water From My Heart, and I knew I wanted to write something with a similar theme. Seeing the consequences of a sinful act; devastating guilt; seeking restitution. My story is different from his—different plot, setting, and characters, but readers will see thematic similarities.
Question: Which scene was the most difficult to write?
The setting of Beauty for Ashes is Greenville, SC, where I currently live. It’s set in a fictional urban center providing after-school activities for teens. Nathan, my protagonist, is an author who is becoming well known for his mystery novels. I loved writing Nathan’s story in scenes where I had to opportunity to share his insights into plotting and characterization. However, this same character challenged my writing skills when I had to show the depth of his guilt, his fear of consequences, and the moral struggle he faced. Those scenes are scattered throughout the novel.
Question: Which character did you connect to best in this book?
Angie was a joy for me to write. Her positive outlook on life contrasted with Nathan’s ever-present burden. Angelina Hernandez, of Puerto Rican descent, was in part created after my good friend, Jackey. She helped me to stay authentic to the traditions and culture of Puerto Rico. Angie and I both love music. Her talent as a classical violinist required some research on my part. I was able to authenticate this element with the help of a first-chair violinist with a major symphony orchestra.
Question: What are you reading right now?
I like to vary my reading genres. I believe it helps authors to experience a wide range of reading materials. I’m primarily a writer of contemporary fiction, but I’m currently reading Claiming Canaan, the third in the Daughters of Zelophehad series. Author Barbara M. Britton adds this series of Biblical fiction to her other Tribes of Israel series. I admire her ability to transport readers to a different time and place. Her research is evident in the details and she does an excellent job of maintaining the voice of a different culture.
Question: What is your favorite Bible verse or life verse?
Even though I don’t write Biblical fiction, the richness of scripture influences my writing, whether overtly or subtly. You’ll find a scene where Nathan discovers the power of God’s word. John 8:32 is a pivotal verse for Nathan. As for me, I love the words of Zephaniah 3:17. “The LORD your God is in your midst, a Mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.”
Thank you Kathleen for letting us get to know you better!
Emily Yager, April 21
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 22
Simple Harvest Reads, April 23 (Author Interview)
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 24
Texas Book-aholic, April 25
For the Love of Literature, April 26 (Author Interview)
For Him and My Family, April 27
deb’s Book Review, April 28
Through the Fire Blogs, April 29 (Author Interview)
Inklings and notions, April 30
Read Review Rejoice, May 1
Blossoms and Blessings, May 2 (Author Interview)
Artistic Nobody, May 3 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)
Batya’s Bits, May 4
To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away the grand prize of a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.