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Interview with Pat Nichols

Georgia author, Pat Nichols, knows a little something about human nature, rejection, and the gift of second chances. She incorporates those very experiences into her fiction with characters who range from a young writer and a budding actress just out from the shadow of her father, to an ex-con, and a town full of other memorable women.

In this self-described "early-autumn of her life this side of heaven", Pat took some time to answer a few questions about the different callings of her life, her writing and publishing journeys, and how she fulfills her mission to write emotion-filled, character-rich stories.

Aside from marrying her high school sweetheart over fifty years ago, Pat's first vocational mission lasted twenty-seven years with an international beauty company. Though it would be years before she picked up a pen to write fiction, it was during her corporate career that she gained valuable experiences like the importance of networking, learning the complexities of the human psyche, and how to rise to challenges.

Nine years after she retired from corporate America, she began writing her first manuscript. It was the year she truly fell in love with writing.

"When I typed 'the end', the vision of a published novel danced in my head; until a close friend edited my work and sent me a list of ten mistakes new writers make. Gulp! I'd made every single one. A lot. At that point I faced a decision. Chalk the year up to a one-time exercise and move on? Write as a hobby? Or put on my big-girl pants, study the craft, and pursue a career?"

Pat completed two novels in those early years, shopped them with agents and publishers, and received rejection after rejection. In retrospect, she can honestly say the manuscripts needed work and should have been declined. Again, she turned to her corporate experience to help her through the tough times.

"One important lesson I learned while working in the corporate world was how to accept rejection not as failure but opportunity," she says. "Plus, every publisher and agent who turned me down, did so with grace. They gave me valid reasons and offered suggestions, which I took to heart."

The same writer's tenacity that has gripped other wordsmiths through the years, also grasped Pat. She decided to study the craft and strengthen her writing skills.

"I began reading everything I could find about writing, enrolled in an online course, and joined ACFW and Word Weavers International. I re-wrote my first novel and began a second based on our daughter's vision to transform failing neighborhoods," Pat says. "At the same time an idea for a series about two women, strangers pursuing their dreams whose lives are drawn together by tragedy and a secret, began to take form. Thus, began the Willow Falls series."

Despite her proactive approach to learning and exercising the craft, the actual publication journey proved a little more trying. Not long after she finished her first manuscript, she searched the internet and messaged a publisher. She received a response the same day, but it wasn't what Pat had hoped for.

"When the sales woman told me I had less than one chance in a thousand of ever landing a traditional publishing contract, it became clear her objective was to sell me a pricey package. After declining, I was determined to prove she was wrong."

Again, Pat used her corporate world experience to persevere.

"I began attending conferences to improve my skills and to connect with industry professionals. Four years after first writing 'Chapter One' [of the Willow Falls series] I was blessed with a contract from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and a few months later, a second contract."

One of the reasons for the success of her books is found in the characters who both flounder and flourish between the pages. In the Willow Falls series, lead character Emily Hayes faces emotional and situational hurdles. Another female character, Rachel Streetman, struggles with identity and career. Their relatable experiences, combined with a Christian worldview approach to solving their problems, helps to reach Pat's goal of crafting stories that make a difference.

I want readers to connect with my characters on a personal level. To understand and accept their flaws and celebrate their victories," Pat says.

In order to do that well, Pat knows she must immerse herself in the characters first.

"Before writing a scene, I mentally slip inside my character's skin to understand their mood and their motivation, how they'll respond to each situation and interact with the other characters. As a result, my characters seem so real, sometimes I want to invite them for dinner. If they showed up at my door I'd faint or discover I was living in an alternative universe."

In her writing world, Pat's day begins early. Beginning around 5:30 a.m., she settles into a recliner in her living room with her computer. When she reaches 1,000 words of writing or editing, she's met her daily goal. The remainder of her time is spent on marketing activities, speaking engagements, and book signings. When her writing hits a snag, she turns to news outlets or computer games like Solitaire.

Through the ups and downs of this writing life, Pat hangs on to the importance of maintaining a presence in the writing community, and gaining feedback on her manuscripts to polish and perfect them into the best they can be.

"Every gift comes from God. He planted the desire to write in my heart, then gave me the courage to water it and the wisdom to prove it's never too late to follow your dreams," she says. "We all have God-given gifts that if nourished can touch the world in ways we may never realize."


Kristy Horine is a Kentucky writer: freelance journalist by trade, creative by God’s grace. Kristy writes a little bit of everything including poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. Her professional and creative work has been published in newspapers, magazines, and anthologies in Kentucky and beyond. She founded 3rd Letter Christian Writers in Lexington, Kentucky in 2015, serves as Publicity Chair for the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference since 2016, is the Communications Coordinator for the Women’s Ministry at her church, and is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers. Read more of her work at

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