Guest Author Stepheny Houghtlin

Today my guest is Stepheny Houghtlin, author of Greening of a Heart, our book review from yesterday, here is the link if you missed it. http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-4I8

Stepheny Houghtlin

Let’s find out more about Stepheny.

Where is your home town?

I was born in Chicago, IL. and raised in Evanston, a suburb north of the city on Lake Michigan.

2) How long have you been writing?

I have thought of myself as a writer since I was a young girl. In those early days my father asked me how I was to become a writer if I couldn’t spell. I smile and think of him whenever I use ‘spell check.’

3) I believe you met a vicar in Jerusalem who inspired your story, tell us more.

The genesis of Greening of a Heart came from a George Herbert poem….

 “Who would have thought my shrivel’d heart could recover’d greennesse?”

This single line over powered me having watched a vicar find healing on his sabbatical at St. George’s College in Jerusalem. I wanted to try and write a story like his. It was the wife of such a man that elbowed her way into my consciousness, however. She demanded I tell her story as well. Thus we have Hannah and Martin Winchester.

4) There are many inspiring gardeners mentioned in your book, who is your favourite and why?

In 2000 I visited some of the most famous gardens in England, staying several nights in Burford at The Bay Tree Inn, and spending time at Rosemary Verey’s Barnsley House. As a nod to this famous plants woman, designer, and favourite garden of the trip, I included such experiences in the book. Vita Sackville West, who endlessly fascinates me, prompted a power point lecture I have given to garden club members.

5) Your book had me itching to get out into my own garden, do you have a favourite type of plant?

I love a cottage garden whose careless appearance is so carefully planned. I must have Hollyhocks. (I love Hollyhocks too)

6) Tell us more about your research?

Henry Bernard took most of a day getting from Kew to Oxford until I found out that such a trip is only 73 miles. Maybe most interesting of all was asking an English friend to read and check for my Americanisms. Closet became cupboard. Driveway became drive. Hannah fixed corn on the cob until I found out there is no corn like that in England. I said pants instead of trousers. A tarp became a tarpaulin. It was great fun making changes like this.

7) I loved the interweaving of characters, which authors have inspired your writing?

I love Rosamunde Pilcher’s work and believe it set the stage for one day writing Greening of a Heart. I wish I could take a writing course from Ian McEwen. Jane Gardam has taught me a great deal. Donna Tartt’s latest book, The Goldfinch, is like taking a MFA program. I’m addicted to English mysteries. Never without a book in hand, I believe you can’t write if you don’t read.

8) I know from your blog that you own a beautiful dolls house, I’m glad I read about one in your book, tell us about its history.

My father gave me the dollhouse for my 40th birthday having finished the interior himself. The miniature world is one of my passions. Making and collecting miniatures is an adult hobby I commend to anyone who remains young at heart.

The dollhouse now resides with my oldest granddaughter after a recent move that involved sizing down.

9) You live in the States, what did you learn about writing a book based in a different country?

I put the manuscript down once because I began to doubt that I could do justice to the setting. But internet search engines evolved; I could google the train schedule from Oxford to London, and similar information, that helped authenticate the writing. Anglophile that I am, years of reading, travel to England, and above all garden experience, came together to write about a place I love and characters who’s company I miss.

10) Have you thought about a sequel?

Perhaps when I finish a second novel set in Chicago that I am working on.

Greening of a Heart

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Thank you Stepheny for a wonderful insight into gardens and your writing. Good luck with the next book.

Good Deeds week 22nd – 28th September

This project was totally inspired after I read “A Year of Doing Good” by Judith O’Reilly. Her book may make you laugh or make you cry, but the world would be a better place if we all tried to spread a little love through doing good deeds.

A Year of Doing Good: One Woman, One New Year's Resolution, 365 Good Deeds. by Judith O'Reilly

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Year-Doing-Good-Woman-Resolution/dp/0670921130/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368344893&sr=8-1&keywords=a+year+of+doing+good+by+judith+o%27reilly

September 22nd – Sent an invite to a friend asking her to join me at a Macmillan Coffee morning on Thursday. Posted a book review on Goodreads and Amazon for another author. Drafted up a guest author post for a date in October and started reading a new book ready for a book review.

September 23rd – An easy Good Deed today, my morning of helping out at school. My first friend can’t come to the coffee morning, so invited a second friend instead.

September 24th – It’s been a lovely sunny afternoon and I’ve spent it in the garden re-potting plants ready for over wintering. Just had time to finish a book this morning and post the review on a couple of sites.

September 25th – Just a little Good Deed today, as part of the Romancing September tour, Ana Calin had her chance of fame today.

September 26th – Went to the Macmillan coffee morning at the local school and made a generous donation in return for my cup of coffee and a delicious cake. Also bought some cards in support of the local church.

Good deedsSeptember 27th – Still busy in my garden, dropped some money in a “Save the Children Tub” when I nipped in to the supermarket.

September 28th – Sent one of my children out with a box of cakes when she went off on a camping trip. While I’ve been gardening everyday a robin has been my constant garden companion, we have a little relationship going, I empty out pots, replant bulbs and plant out the garden while he gets first pick of the bugs in the soil pile. Then he sings to me and sits on the edge of the next pot that he’d like me to up-end. Sometimes his song is as though he is chatting to me as a friend while we garden together. It’s a wonderful happy time. Wow! That’s another week all done.

Good Deeds week 30th June – 6th July

Here we go on another week of Good Deeds, by now you know the drill and the introductory spiel, so I’ll skip on. If this is new to anyone all my weekly Good Deed posts can be found using the link from the home page on the blog.

Good deeds30th June – Have been over to Harula’s blog site to read her week of Good deeds, you can read them too http://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/2013/06/30/week-6-of-good-deeds/ Finished reading a new book and began another.

1st July – Another Monday morning volunteering at a local school, picked up litter on the way back to my car.

2nd July – Posted a new book review today, spotted a friend working on the till at the supermarket and joined the queue especially to speak to her whilst paying for my shopping. This evening we went to an art exhibition at school for all the work that the exam students had been doing over the past two years, there was a selection of work showing how talented they all are, we were pleased to support the show. Just helped out a friend by lending her daughter a pair of shorts for school sports day tomorrow.

3rd July – My gas boiler was due its annual service today, the engineer called to say he was 10 minutes away, 15 minutes later he wasn’t around, I could see a workers van pulled up in a distant car park, but no sign of an engineer. I thought he must be having trouble finding my house, so instead of waiting, I ventured out in search of my engineer. Found him wandering around rather lost, so rescued him and showed him where we lived so he could get on with the service quickly.

4th July – Not much today, sorted out a book review and sent off some e-mails to people thanking them for various matters.

5th July – Caught up with my Mum today. Had a cleaning and gardening blitz today, weeded a patch of shared pathway with a neighbours garden for a good deed. Felt good after I’d sorted the clutter, have a pile of books to pass to a friend and another ready for the charity shop.

6th July – Another beautiful day in paradise! Have been doing more de-cluttering and loaded my car up with items to give to others. Delivered a bag of books to one friend and stopped to catch up with all their news, dropped off clothes and more books to the charity collection bins at the supermarket. Was stopped on my way into the shop and asked to buy an extra item of grocery for the homeless in our area, so I picked up some juice along with the couple of items that I’d popped in for.

Hope all my readers have had a good week and have felt that they could do a Good Deed for someone else.

The Haunting by Alan Titchmarsh

The HauntingThe Haunting by Alan Titchmarsh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really liked this book. It is set on my door step in the beautiful county of Hampshire. So many of the places and their names were everyday words to me. Alan wove a lovely novel through two timespans which joined together at the very end. He used his vast knowledge of nature and gardening to enhance the descriptions and bring them alive. Harry Flint, a retiring History teacher buys a house in much need of repair. Whist searching for more links to his family tree he finds the past catches up with him. The storyline kept me enthralled, I do love a happy ending!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Haunting-Alan-Titchmarsh/dp/0340936908/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1367999303&sr=8-1&keywords=The+haunting+by+Alan+Titchmarsh

View all my reviews