Starla's Christmas Conundrum
by Carol E. Keen Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Clean Romance
In the greatest conflict of her life, can she figure out who to trust?
Starla Devaroux is at the peak of her music career. Life as a popular Christian music artist is good. This Christmas she finds herself at the crossroads of several life-altering choices. It's quite a conundrum; the path she takes this time will not only define her future but alter the lives of others as well.
"The main characters were very likable, I could really put myself in Starla's shoes."
"It was charming and romantic, and I want to marry Mason, lol."
“My name is Mason. I’m sorry to stare, but you’re interesting to watch, and for some reason, you seem so very familiar. That sounded horribly cheesy, but it’s the truth.”
“I appreciate your honesty and candor. I fear I have a familiar face for certain reasons that shall remain nameless for now. I will share my first name, though. It’s Starla.”
The blonde haired, dark-eyed man stood up and came over to her table. He reached out to shake her hand, and then, to her shock, kissed the top of her hand.
“The pleasure is definitely mine in getting to meet you. Do you mind if I sit here?” He was already sinking into the seat, so there was no time to object. Mason placed his iced tea and newspaper on the table and settled in. Well, I’d go back to reading, but I can’t concentrate with him sitting here. Starla sipped her tea and glanced at Mason again. He was reading his paper without an obvious care in the world, other than his foot tapping to the various seasonal songs that were playing. What should I do now? Right about then, he peaked at her over his paper. Great, now I’ve really done it.
His eyes sparkled and dropping the paper, he smiled. “It’s nice to have someone to sit with. I’m sure you’ve noticed.” Mason inclined his head towards the rest of the cafe and out the windows beyond. It was teeming with couples. Couples holding hands, couples sitting close with their heads together giggling and smiling, walking and holding hands, laughing, and overall, appearing happily in love.
“Um, I see what you mean. I think I’ve been so involved in my work for so long that I hadn’t fully realized…” Starla left her sentence unfinished.
“Quite right. I know that feeling well. My work has kept me very occupied and then there seems to have been somewhat of a timing issue in my life. I hope you don’t mind if we look like we aren’t alone for a little while?” Mason had a questioning look on his face.
“No, it’s actually, well, a bit nice.” Starla smiled a shy smile, her dimples showing just a little. Just then, one of her Christmas songs came over the radio. One of the classical ones, not one she’d written.
Mason listened briefly, then his eyes widened. “Ah. You’re that Starla. That’s your voice on this song, isn’t it?”
“Oh my, guilty as charged. Yes, that’s me.” Starla held her breath. What would his next reaction bring?
“Then, we have more in common than I’d anticipated. It might help if I shared my last name, now that I have discovered yours. Mason Dixxon.” Mason winked.
“Ah! Are you the Mason Dixxon that I think you are? Are you the lead singer with the British accent I so adore, from the Christian rock band, ‘The Edge’?”
“Yep, hopefully, the one and only.” Mason chuckled.
Carol E. Keen enjoys fresh coffee, hot tea, and a good book. She was published for several years in FAMA magazine (Freshwater And Marine Aquarium) as a contributing editor. She published her first book on CD, called Simply Seahorses.
She is the author of The Beauty Series and The Corandira Station, to name a few of her works. She currently resides in the South with her husband and family and spends her time writing, reading, working in photography, and being with her much loved critters.
What is something unique/quirky about you? I think I’m the only fiction author I know of who’s raised seahorses. Does that count as quirky?
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you! Ak! Which thing? I have many! Lol! Since this interview is for Starla’s Christmas Conundrum, I’ll share a Christmas one. When I was two my mom hired a “Santa” to come to the house for me. Now, keep in mind that at two I told stories without stopping for hours on end, and I remember things from an extremely young age.
“Santa” showed up and let me tell you, he smelled weird. He was holding me standing up, and I wasn’t impressed. He kept asking me what I wanted for Christmas and I was answering. I finally decided he was going to go away until I answered him. Unlike other men’s beards, his was slipping and fake and I knew it. The exasperated man finally said, “You don’t seem happy to see old Santa.”
This I could answer. “No, I want to see Jesus and the angels.” He turned pale, he stuttered and next I found out what flying was like. He threw me at my parents and ran out the door yelling and screaming. Years later I’d learn the smell was alcohol and I scared him sober. He told the neighborhood he couldn’t be a Santa anymore.
I’ll probably put that in one of my books soon, but you read my true experience here first.
What are some of your pet peeves? Outside shoes on inside my house. Ewwee. Tell me I’m silly if you must, but I like to be barefoot and walking on germs isn’t my idea of fun. On the bed is a c all for washing the linens!
Talking constantly in the movie theater. Please, just don’t and if you have the need to “make out” I don’t want to listen to that.
What do you do to unwind and relax? I read, watch TV, or listen to music.
When did you first consider yourself a writer? The first time I was published in an international magazine and added as a contributing editor.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie? Evil Forebodings could be a movie pretty easily , I think. It's got plenty of drama and action that would lend well to a script and acting.
What inspired you to write this book? I wanted to see what I could do with a clean Christian Christmas themed romance. I was invited to be in an anthology, and when it was over I moved this story into its own book.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters? I’ve considered a sequel if it’s so desired.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book? I’ve been around or in music most of my life. Added to that, my husband is an amazing guitarist with a good voice. When the theme of Christmas romance was suggested, it felt natural for me to have artists set in a town that I know and love, that also goes “all out” for Christmas.
Where did you come up with the names in the story? I’ve always liked the name Starla and Mason’s name, I couldn’t resist when a friend suggested it and I knew what the last name he needed. (Grin!)
What did you enjoy most about writing this book? It was just fun! The story plays like a movie in my mind and I really enjoyed it.
How did you come up with the title of your first novel? Oh! The very first wasn’t published first, so that’s a tad more complicated. The first to publish was Beauty For Ashes. I entered a contest and even though I didn’t win, enough people liked my story that I published it.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? I don’t think so. I really like it, even if I do say so myself! If I have a sequel, I can have a longer story or several shorter ones.
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book? It’s always a learning experience. I don’t think anyone ever writes and doesn’t learn from it. (Does that happen?) I learned a new style. I learn new things that are in my imagination.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers? Hi and thank you so much for reading my books! It's appreciated more than I can every say.
How did you come up with name of this book? The prior title, in the anthology, was Christmas Conundrum. Starla has some major choices and they aren’t easy ones. It’s a conundrum. When I published it on its own, it became Starla’s Christmas Conundrum.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination? It’s some of both. When I’m writing a book, traits from past experiences I’m my life can come into play. None of them are from any one person, that part is from my imagination.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story? I usually have the reigns because I can “see” them and know what they would do if they were a real person.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read. It’s fun and has that “feel good” quality like a film from the Hallmark channel. It’s full of Christmas, romance, betrayal, and music. What’s not to like? Lol!
Have you written any other books that are not published? Yes, I have 3-4 I’m working on right now.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be? How cool! I like this question. It would be a candle that smells like the Santa’s White Christmas coffee by Barneys Teas and Coffees. Mmmmm!
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write? Most are at the same time when I am creating the story in my head. Sometimes I’ll see a new character is needed and in that case, I will add them in while I’m writing. These are usually minor characters, such as Starla’s bodyguard.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book? That tends to happen as I go if it’s something I don’t have enough specifics that I know.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre? I'm an avid reader and I read in multiple genres. I can't pick just one. I love Chrisitan fiction, Sci-Fi and speculative fiction, some historical romance, mysteries and murder mysteries, fantasy and more.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why? That totally varies. It can be quite or it can have tv shows running or music. My life changes around a good bit so I go with the flow as much as I can.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time? I have several going at one time. If I feel like one needs a break, I go work on another one.
Pen or type writer or computer? My computer, but I may move to a voice to computer program to help speed things up. I do type quickly, but I think and talk faster than I can type.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? This probably applies to many authors, but I'd tell myself the following:
You're going to get crushed by some people when you least expected it to happen. Some of them didn't realize it and they don't understand because they have judged you without perspective or asking you for insight. Shake it off as fast as you can. It doesn't define who you are, just keep pressing forward for the ones who do listen and care.
How long on average does it take you to write a book? The longest was eight years, and the fastest one week. I think average would be six months from writing to final editing and publishing.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I know that I don't have that exactly. I have so many ideas that it's harder to pick which ones need to be written next. If I feel "stuck" on how a story should progress then I tend to go work on another one for a little while. When I got back to the first one it flows rather easily. I attribute my "stuck" places to my story needing to gel a bit more in my mind.
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