Friday, January 31, 2014

Meet Anita Higman, author of A MARRIAGE IN MIDDLEBURY

Can you pinpoint one decision, one moment, one action that changed your life forever? We all have definable moments that shape who we are and the path we follow, but sometimes other people make that decision for us. In A Marriage in Middlebury (Abingdon Press/November 5, 2013/ISBN: 978-1-4267-3387-1/$14.99), Anita Higman weaves a heartwarming tale of how one choice takes a woman down an unexpected path to forgiveness. 

Best Selling author; over 30 Books!
Thank you, Anita, for visiting with us today, and congratulations on your new release! I'm sure all your fans can't wait to get their copy! And I'm just honored to have you. Give us some insight to your inspiration for A MARRIAGE IN MIDDLEBURY.

The idea for this book came from my absolute love of tearooms in Texas. More than a decade ago I met a woman named Linda Becker who opened a tearoom in the Houston burbs called Tea for Two. Her eatery and gift shop did so well she opened a second shop. Throughout the years I’ve enjoyed her wonderful tearoom fare as well as the quaint ambiance. Linda’s tearoom isn’t just a café — it’s a gathering place for friends, a place to eat home-cooked food and a place so cozy you don’t want to leave. As a writer I thought it might be fun to create a heroine who owns a tearoom similar to Linda’s and set her shop in a small town on the gulf coast of Texas. So, that’s how the novel A Marriage in Middlebury was born. Even though the story, the characters and the town are fictional, Linda’s tearooms are real places you can visit and enjoy.

So everything was going smoothly for the main character when suddenly it all changes when her first love returns. What advice do you have when life throws us a curve ball?

Isn’t that just like life? I get curve balls thrown at me daily! Sometimes little ones. Sometimes big ones. As Christians we should trust in the One who made us, the One who’s known us from the first day when we were knit together in our mother’s womb, the One who loves us best. Trusting in Him when everything goes wrong  is the only answer, and it’s more than enough.

Amen, and it's true, we all get pitches hard to hit. I think that goes back to..."in this world you will have tribulations" but Praise God, we CAN be of good cheer because He HAS overcome the world! In your story, Sam’s father pressured Charlotte into breaking off her relationship with his son. How do you think we should react to people who threaten our dreams, wrong us in some way, or are just deliberately hurtful?

Bathe the situation in prayer and then talk things through no matter how painful. But once the air is clear, forgive and move on. Don’t keep going back over and over. Forgiveness is not easy, but it’s the only way to live free. It helps to remember that forgiveness is what God offered us when we sinned against Him.

Honestly, I’m not able to forgive on my own. This fallen world is filled with people who can at times be unkind and unjust. I can only give these people to God and let him transform their hearts and my attitude toward them. Does it sound unbelievable—too mystic? It might sound that way, but Jesus is the only supernatural glue that will ever be able to mend this broken world. Through Christ I am able to forgive what is unforgiveable and love those people who seem unlovable. After all, that is exactly what Christ did for me.

That is some good advice, Anita. Is there a certain Bible passage or verse that goes along with the theme of A MARRIAGE IN MIDDLEBURY? 
Don't miss this one!

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV)

I love that verse and quote it often. I know when I'm writing, I use a lot of incidents from my life. How about you? Are any of the characters or events in A MARRIAGE IN MIDDLEBURY based on your own experiences?

All my characters are a mixture of many different people. Perhaps a hand gesture will come from someone at the grocery store. Or perhaps the idea of a uniquely shaped beauty mark will come from a woman I know at church. Or maybe that obnoxious habit of always needing to be right comes from the clerk at the local coffee shop. See how that works? It’s a safer way to design characters than taking all the attributes from one person, especially if you’re creating a villain!

I get it and understand after THIRTY books, you'd have to start using strangers! So do you find yourself returning to similar themes in your novels (i.e. forgiveness, trust, etc.), or do you have a new message with each release?

Yes, I tend to go back to the themes of forgiveness and reconciliation, because these are the same themes that have dramatically impacted my life. If we can’t forgive and reconcile with our friends and family and our fellow man, we will be very lonely people. Even if we long to be an island, that’s not how God created us. We were created for fellowship. So, these themes are not only good for a story, but they are paramount in living the Christian life.

Like several of your books, A MARRIAGE IN MIDDLEBURY is set in our home state of Texas. Mine, too! I mean, really, don't you just love it? What are some of your favorite things about the Lone Star State?

Texas has a unique array of scenery—mountains, beaches, deserts, hills, bayous, canyons, big cities, quaint towns, all spread out under a big open sky that embraces it all. Also, Texas is an inexpensive place to live, it’s a great place to raise a family and it’s one of the friendliest places on earth. I’ve lived here for about 30 years, and I’m proud to call Texas my home.

Me, too, Anita. You left out the gianormous Texas trees; I live in the Piney East Texas woods and love it. I've been here sixty-three years, since before my first birthday, and only talked about being born in California when the Beach Boys came out with "I Wish They All Could Be California Girls" :)  Tell us what do you hope readers will walk away with after they turn the last page of your new book.

Ultimately, I hope readers see that with God all things are possible!

My goal with A MARRIAGE IN MIDDLEBURY is to entertain, challenge and inspire women. I hope each reader will come to the end of the novel with a smile on her face, excited to tell a friend about the story she’s just read and the characters she’s just met.

Every author's dream, right? Why is it do you suppose that novels set in Mayberry-esque towns in America becoming so popular?

I think women want to escape from the harshness of real life—and maybe for a little while enjoy things the way they used to be. And these kinder, gentler stories can encourage the reader to bring those small-town values back into the real world.

From your lips to God's ears, dear one. As a Baby Boomer, I can tell you that is true, at least for my generation. The changes in my lifetime have been astonishing! Before becoming a writer, you had a number of interesting jobs. What was it about writing that drew you in?

I had an incredible need to tell stories. I guess God made me that way.

Yes, ma'am, I comprehend! What are you working on next?

A novel entitled A Question of Destiny. I’ll leave the plot as a surprise, but I will say it’s a romantic comedy. That novel will be released in 2014.

Anita, it's been a pleasure, and thank you again so much.

Y'all can learn more about Anita Higman and her books at Readers can also become a fan on Facebook (Author Anita Higman) or follow her on Twitter (@anitahigman).

Friday, January 17, 2014


I’ll credit my Father in Heaven for the wonderful idea to interview my literary agent, Mary Sue Seymour. She divinely stepped into my life at the end of April, 2012. I’ll never forget her getting off the elevator and coming to hug my neck. She said, “You’re the first McAdoo I’ve ever met who isn’t family!” As though God tapped us on the head with His velvet hammer—Pay attention here, ladies, I have a plan! I could hardly believe her maiden name was McAdoo, she grew up one, I married one! But then we serve an able and awesome God!

Mary Sue McAdoo Seymour, The Seymour Agency, New York


Mary Sue, knowing how busy you are, I want to thank you right off for giving me this time to get to know you a little better. I know you’ve been an art teacher and taught piano, too, but I’m curious as to that first book you sold, beginning this career you’ve so excelled at. What and when was your first ever sell?

A four book deal to Bantam back in the early 90’s.

And how did it all come about?

She had some pretty serious violence in the book’s beginning toward women, so I did a line-to-line edit on the work and edited that out. Her name was Tammy Schmanski, but since it was a medieval series, she used the aka of Tamara Leigh.

Have there been any near misses? Someone you passed on that made it big?

Not that I know of.

Well that’s good, but not surprising. I know from following you on Facebook that you are one traveling woman! How many writers’ conferences do you typically go to in a year?

About 12 or so – then last September, I did ACFW, The Baltimore Book Festival, and CT Fiction Fest, so it really varies. I try to go wherever I’m invited. Last spring, went to Wisconsin RWA and to a conference at Shreveport, LA. Was crushed when my flight was canceled do to heavy thunder storms and missed ICRS. Had to cancel 30 appointments with editors but they all said how bad the storms were.

Wow, yes, I didn’t even think of agents and editors during that terrible storm, but no doubt! You probably spend more than your fair share in airports during bad weather. There are so many conferences all over the US, which one or two do you remember as being the most fun and why?

Speaking honestly, the conferences that are the most fun are the ones where I do the least amount of work. ‘Meet the Agent’ in Philadelphia, PA is pretty easy. We do speed dating pitches one day there, but they put us up for two nights in a Marriott in downtown Philly. Lots of shopping/restaurants, and it’s beautiful. But again, it’s always great to see my clients at conferences. I have the most clients at ACFW and RWA. So in the end, even though much work is involved, I guess those would be the two.

You seem to have a sixth sense as to who should write what. I know you told me very specifically to write you a historical Christian romance set in the 1800s. And another one of your authors—Jen Beckstrand or Mary Ellis?—told me you told them to write an Amish book. How do you do that? Know what we should write? Because now, I can’t imagine not writing the genre you suggested for me!

God is my guide in everything, but I keep in close touch with editors. I maintain extremely positive relationships with editors to find out who is buying what. I appreciate them! Respect the time they put into their job. They are all overworked as far as I’m concerned.
Sometimes, I send them little Christmas gifts to let them know I’m thinking of them. When the Thomas Nelson team took me out for breakfast at ACFW, I gave them each a sterling silver bracelet with a cross on it. A dear friend of mine who is an editor at Harvest House was having surgery, loves cats, so I gave her a cat prayer book at ACFW. I love the editors I work with and try to show that in all things. I appreciate them buying my clients’ books.

I know you have several Texas authors, do we represent the most in any one state, and if not what’s #1? (be it known I cannot even THINK of Texas coming behind any state J)
Mary Sue took all her authors attending ACFW Conference to dinner at P. F. Changs! My first time to meet all these wonderful Seymour ladies. What a treat!

I do believe I have more clients in Texas than any other state. But Ohio is a close second.

Yea, I’m so glad to hear Texas is #1!! I can’t begin to imagine how many manuscripts you must have read. Have you kept a count?Care to make an educated guess if not?

1,000’s and 1,000’s

Have you ever been involved in a floor bid?

Yes, I have had auctions.

Who do you read for pleasure?

My clients’ works, they are my favorites!


Were you born and reared in New York State? Ever live anywhere else?

Yes, father was a dairy farmer, and we were very poor. I was one of 8 children, and I remember my brothers not always having socks in the cold Northern New York winters. When I was young, my mother became ill, my father couldn’t afford a sitter so my 3 sisters and I were placed in different foster homes.
Since I was the oldest, I tried to raise my younger sisters from afar. Having said that, I didn’t do a very good job of it, but I was there for them. I looked at this experience in a positive way. If this hadn’t happened, I would have missed knowing my foster family who has meant a lot to me over the years.

Where in the wide world would you like to go that you haven’t been yet?

Scotland because my ancestors migrated from Scotland to Ireland.

How did you meet your husband?
Michael and Mary Sue
A friend flew back from NYC reading a bridal magazine. She was engaged, but when she returned home, her fiancée broke it up with her. She was so sad, she asked me to go to a dance with her and socialize. My hair was dirty and going out was the last thing I felt like doing, but I did, and was introduced to my husband of 35 years, Michael.

What’s your absolutely favorite family memory?

Rocking my two sons Matthew and Luke when they were babies. Sometimes I’d sing to them when they could put up with it.

When you put the literary world behind you, what do you enjoy doing?

With Kelly Irvin at the Seymour Retreat in Florida! Jan. '14
I love Disney and Mickey Mouse and the whole childish set up! I love watching The Voice and watching the contestants grow with their God-given abilities. I love walking on the beach and appreciating everything God has put here for us.

What about a special memory with another loved one?

My oldest foster sister Barbara called me after I received my diagnosis to tell me she wished she could take it for me. I was very touched by this.

No greater blessing than a new wee family member!
Last but never least (the first will be last…) I know you to be a woman of faith, Mary Sue. I want to offer you the chance to give God glory. Will you share your testimony with us?

Ah, God! Who is responsible for my wildly successful literary agency, who gave me my husband who has loved me for over 35 years and my sons and daughter-in-law Nicky, and now a new grandbaby Grayson? It’s Him. 

He has given me clients that pray for my current health challenge, and I love being a part of the wonderful Seymour Agency family. He has given me Nicole –my co-agent –who is the daughter I always wanted but never had. 
Mary Sue and Nicole Resciniti
And all the people I’ve met in the last 20 plus years, I’ve met from agenting. Editors, publishers, clients, interns and even especially the authors who have queried me, pitched to me, or wanted to become clients, but aren’t quite ready. God has placed all these wonderful people in my life and it has caused me much joy! I will be eternally thankful to HIM!

Well, what a great note to end on, Mary Sue. Your faith certainly drew me to you, and I’m very thankful that God brought you into my life, not just because you sold VOW UNBROKEN either! J Just to know you has added a sweetness to it, and now that I know you even better, you occupy a little more of my heart. Thanks so much for sharing! 

Saturday, January 4, 2014


Oh, Mary Ellis! 
          I am so excited to interview you and certainly consider it a privilege!

          I first met Mary at P. F. Changs in Indianapolis when our mutual agent took all her authors at the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference last September and just fell in love with her. She’s so sweet and such a honey! 
          So first things first! THE QUAKER AND THE REBEL is her newest book. 
          It has a great cover, Mary. Where can we go to buy our copy?
          It is available at and Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and all Christian bookstores, internet and brick-and-mortar stores everywhere. It's in both print and electronic versions. It debuted on January 1st .

Give us a little sneak peek, could you?
          When a conductor on the Underground Railroad crosses paths with a Rebel Ranger, everyone expected sparks to fly. How could a Quaker governess fall in love with the enemy? Two lives of deception, both believing God is on their side. Sometimes love is more powerful than any army…North or South.

How did you come up with these fun characters? Choose their names? I know I sometimes think of someone I know when writing a new character so I can see them in my mind’s eye, hear their unique voice. Do you have a process?
          I love picking characters’ names. I usually create a character sketch before starting the story and select names that comes to mind when writing. Only problem is, I have a tendency to get stuck with a certain letter, such as Cora, Clara, Carl, Corrine, etc. and have to go back later and change some.

That’s so funny because I have the same problem! You’re so much fun, but what’s your craziest quirk?
          When a person has an entire bushel basket full of quirks, it’s difficult to pick just one. I suppose it would be I love to talk to myself while walking the dog. I plot entire conversations for scenes sometimes. One day the neighbors will have me checked into a hospital for observation if I’m not careful.

Ah ha ha! I imagine your dog enjoys his walks more with the conversation. How long does it take you start-to-finish to write a novel?  Since we know only God writes in stone and the rest of us rewrite, how many of those does that include?
          It takes me around six months, start to finish. I usually research, outline, and then write a solid first draft, tweaking as I go along. Then hopefully, I won’t have to spend long on the rewrite. But you know how that goes. I often find plenty I want to change.

Indeed I do, however many times I go over a manuscript, I’ll find little changes to make. I guess authors are like painters who can always make one more brush stroke. So give us faves list, Mary.
Scripture?  You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so must forgive others. (Colossians 3:13)
Rare or Well done?      Well-done 
Color?                           Green  
Soda or Tea?                Iced Tea
Food?                            Popcorn
Country or City?          Definitely country
Animal?                        Oh, please, I can’t think of an animal I don’t like…I even like snakes.
Cook or Eat Out?         Eat out, but I only do so once a week
Flower?                         Lilies
Ferris wheel or tilt-a-whirl? Neither, I get motion-sick
Movie?                          The Legend of Bagger Vance  
Song?                            Truly, Madly, Deeply.
Genre to read?              Historical Romance and Romantic Suspense.

We share green as favorite color, and a love of country and animals, too! I’m glad you like historical romances; you can read my VOW UNBROKEN when it debuts in March J So if you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and how would you get there?
          I would like to get on a plane and go to Tuscany, Italy for a month. I love seeing pictures of the Italian countryside and coastline. I would need a month at the minimum because I know there’s plenty to see.

Sounds like a lovely trip! If God told you that you could pray one prayer and He would immediately answer it, what would you pray?
          Our entire nation would come together in prayer and stop the constant bickering that’s tearing us apart.

Amen! I could pray in agreement with you on that one! What would make your heart burst with joy?
          That my Rheumatoid Arthritis pain would go away, but hey…everyone has something wrong with them once they reach a certain age.

My mama suffered with RA. I’ll put that on my prayer list. We know there’s nothing too hard for God. Be sure to share all you links with us!
Here’s my links:

Thank you so much for letting me into your world. I’ve loved getting to know you a little better, maybe someday we can visit and visit and visit face to face. Hugs and Blessings from your Seymour Sister!
          Thanks so much, Caryl, for interviewing me! I hope to see you in St. Louis, if not before!!

Oh I hope so! It was a true miracle of the Lord that I got to go to ACFW Conference in 2013. I’ve never done anything like that in my life, but He provided. I’ve been telling Him that now He’s got me spoiled and I want to come every year! SO I pray I do get to see you again in September. You know that song ¸.•¨¯`•.¸¸.♥♪♫ Meet me in St. Louis •♥* Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ¨♥* Louis.♪♫.•*♪¨*♥ •♫♪Meet me at the Conference! :).♪♫.•*♪¨* —if not before, indeed! 
Here are all The Seymour Agency authors who attended the 2013 ACFW Conference in Indianapolis! Our own Mary Sue Seymour (front and center in red) treated us to P.F. Chang's. We all love Mary Sue! I'm so honored to be in this group!
            If you ever head toward North East Texas, Mary, you better let me know you’re on your way! Blessings and favor to you!