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I met today’s featured author over on Reading is My SuperPower earlier this year and her interview along with Carrie’s reviews of her historical romance caught my attention and I am delighted to introduce her to y’all!
About the Author
Paula Scott Bicknell began her writing career in newspaper. Today, along with her novels, which are published under her pen name Paula Scott, she blogs about life, love, and farming at psbicknell.com.
A fifth generation Californian, Paula’s great, great grandmother came to California in a covered wagon and married a California farmer. Paula’s family has been farming ever since. Paula works on her family’s fruit and walnut farm, writes novels deemed “raw and honest, yet full of heart and hope,” and spends the bulk of her time raising her busy family.
Blessed with seven children, five sons and two daughters, along with two marvelous sons-in-laws now, Paula and her husband, Scott have been married for twenty-eight years, and are eagerly awaiting the birth of their first two grandchildren this summer.
Favorite secondary character
Paula: My favorite secondary character is Gavilan in Far Side of the Sea. He’s Maria’s protector and Dominic’s best friend in my second California Rising book. Of course, Gavilan falls in love with Maria because doesn’t this tangle the story just a bit?
Gavilan is like a number of my husband’s heroic friends he served with in the Army. These soldiers would die for my husband and for me and our children without question.
I can’t imagine life without these strong, loyal friends who have fought for our country, and fought for us. Everyone should be so lucky to have a Gavilan in their life
Beth: Life is tangly, fiction should be, too!
Favorite childhood book
Paula: Where the Red Fern Grows. A teacher read us this story in elementary school. I can’t remember how old I was, but every day after lunch we put our heads down on our desks, and listened to the teacher read.
I thank God for this dear teacher who taught me to love books the way she did. I’ll never forget her weeping over the ending and the whole class crying with her. Where the Red Fern Grows taught me the meaning of sacrificial love before I was old enough to know what sacrificial love really was.
Thirty years later, my husband and I read this book one summer to our children. It was so fun to go camping, lay in our sleeping bags with flashlights, and read to our kids. In the end, we all cried over the story, and our older kids still talk about the summer of the Red Fern Grows with our family.
Beth: I always enjoyed listening to the teacher read aloud. It was one of my favorite parts of the day.
Paula: The Bible. I know this may not sound sincere because as Christians we tend to throw the Bible around like a battering ram, but no other book has changed my life so profoundly or touched my heart so tenderly.
When I was an English major in college, before I became a Christian, I took a class called the Bible as literature. I knew very little about the Bible back then, and with the help of a professor I never could figure out was a Christian or not, found it honest, edgy, and redemptive.
Every sin imaginable is there on the pages of the Bible, but God loves who He loves anyway. God doesn’t love everyone in the Bible. He hated Esau from the womb, before Esau had even walked the earth yet. This didn’t seem fair to me. I’d never heard these things about God before.
The Bible awed me and rubbed me raw and still does. The truth is God is good and people are not. People are sinners in need of a savior and I love writing about sinners who meet Jesus and are transformed by his incredible love the way my husband and I were transformed fifteen years ago when we came to Christ
Beth: No other book compares to THE Good Book!
Paula: Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers. I read these books several years after I became a born again Christian at 33 years old, all three big, fat novels in one summer week on vacation and my husband said, “That is it! You are done reading for the rest of the summer! You will return to your family and be a wife and a mother to your children!”
My husband was not happy about how that series sucked me in and wouldn’t let me go. I could hardly function as a human being until I finished that series!
Beth: I love to binge read. My husband feels the same way about it 😉
Favorite time and place for reading and writing
Paula: I wish I had a favorite place for reading and writing, but I don’t. With seven kids, I tend to read and write in the middle of the chaos. I’ve written most of my books at the kitchen table and in front of Disney movies I’m supposed to be watching with my kiddos on a couch covered in popcorn and apple juice.
I read in the middle of my life too, surrounded by a dogpile of boys all stinky and sweaty, wrestling at my feet, since we still have four sons at home ages 6 to 14 years old. When we moved to our farm a dozen years ago, we decided not to get cable TV. If you want to watch something at our house, you pop in a DVD. Our younger kids are growing up without television.
My husband and I read at night and our boys read with us. In the beginning, the boys didn’t like it, but now they do. We all sit together in the living room with our kindles, all our kids have Kindles thanks to my husband who insists they read.
I love how our boys are becoming avid readers, even though they are country boys who work on our farm, and love to fish and hunt like Jack London, one of my all-time favorite writers. The boys also play football so we spend a lot of time at practices and games.
I especially love reading with my family in the wintertime when a fire is crackling in our hearth
Beth: I hear ya! We just have four but I have a hard time swoofing amidst the chaos. I can escape with a good book just about any time, any place.
Tell us about your books
Paula: The idea for my California Rising series came to me in my early twenties. My husband was an Army helicopter pilot and we were stationed in Germany. I was so homesick so I started writing a novel set in California in 1846. I had my parents send me history books of the time period.
We had one baby, and I became pregnant with our second daughter while overseas so I didn’t finish Until the Day Breaks for several years. I finally submitted the novel to secular publishers when we returned to the states. The book didn’t sell, but I got great feedback from editors. They all said, “Keep writing! You have what it takes to become a great novelist.”
By then, I’d taken a newspaper job in the states, and was working full time writing feature stories. I really wanted to become a novelist, so at night after my babies were in bed, I worked on my books.
I gave up on my California Rising series for a while and wrote a love story set in 1972 that landed me a New York literary agent and a movie option in Hollywood. The book never sold to publishers, and the movie was never made, though Julia Roberts allegedly read my book, which I still can’t believe.
The movie company offered me a job writing for them in Hollywood, but my marriage was falling apart by then, and I could hardly function anymore, working full time for a newspaper, while trying to raise our children with my husband still an Army helicopter pilot.
When I got pregnant with our third child, I gave up my newspaper job, and became a stay-at-home mom. I actually stopped writing altogether for a number of years because I became a Christian, and wanted to save my marriage. My husband wanted our marriage to make it too, so he quit flying, got out of the military, and we started on our second family.
I grew my first garden and spent a lot of time with God. Pregnant with our fourth child, I attempted my first Christian novel, which was too edgy for the Christian market back then. It did land me a Christian literary agent who loved Until the Day Breaks and encouraged me to focus on developing that series.
My California books were also too edgy for the Christian market. I didn’t want to change these stories to fit the market, so I tried my hand at contemporary Christian fiction, and also became a blogger.
Each time my agent submitted my books to Christian publishers, I got the same response, “You need to decide if you want to write for the Christian market or the secular market. You’re doing both right now and it doesn’t work.”
A year ago, my husband said, “You’re trying to fit into a box that doesn’t fit you. You’re done with the traditional route of publishing. I’m putting your books on Amazon. I cried a bucket of tears when my husband put his foot down and made me leave the path of traditional publishing, but I knew I had to obey him. I thought it was the end of my writing career, but this was really the door finally opening for me as an author.
Beth: It is so sweet how your husband swooped in and rescued you from the publishing run around you were facing!
Tell us about your latest release
Paula: The Mother Keeper was not fun to write like my California Rising books. Oh, it started out fun. I thought I was making up a story for our teenage daughters when they were in high school. My husband wouldn’t let the girls read the Twilight series like all their friends were reading at the time, so I said I would write a story the girls could read.
I titled the book: Holding Amy, and imagined a sweet love story between a pregnant girl and the town football hero set in modern day Tennessee. How the teenage girl in Tennessee got pregnant was a mystery to me.
Shawn, the boy she falls in love with after she’s already pregnant, is a pastor’s son, and leads worship at his father’s popular megachurch. He’s a senior at a private Christian high school and the star quarterback of his football team. Everybody loves Shawn.
You know the drill. Shawn falls for Amy, a mysterious girl from a trailer park. Their love changes them and everyone lives happily ever after. The problem was, each day that summer in 2009 when I sat down to write, the story didn’t want to be what I wanted it to be.
I’m a seat-of-my-pants writer, and I find out what happens just like a reader does. Most of the time, I don’t know what’s going to take place in the story until I write it. I often feel like a typist instead of a writer. Like someone else is telling the tale, and I’m just trying to nail it down. Sometimes I have to type really fast to keep up with my muse.
As the story formed, I found myself really frustrated. My Christian characters weren’t as good as I’d first thought, and the story wasn’t going where I wanted it to go. I tried to make the characters stay good, but my muse wouldn’t let me off the hook, so I finally gave up and told the tale as it came to me. And boy, did the story surprise me.
I finished the novel and my literary agent started shopping it around. The book nearly sold to a large Christian publisher, but the young editor who wanted it got laid off the same week I discovered I was pregnant at 43 years old with our seventh child.
Issues were also arising in our church that mirrored some of the stuff in my book. It was weird. And made me mad. And sad. I needed a break. So I told my agent I couldn’t write anymore and didn’t want him trying to sell the book. I just wanted to grow a baby and rest for a while.
After I gave birth to a wildly strong-willed boy, our fourth son born in just eight years with three teenagers in the house already, our church fell apart, and I did too. I fought melanoma and then had a breakdown.
When I finally recovered, I wasn’t about to touch Holding Amy, which had turned into The Mother Keeper somewhere along the way. Amy became Ellie because an editor told me readers were sick of the name Amy, which I found kind of harsh. Amy’s a sweet name. Anyway, I tucked the book away in my computer and tried to forget about it.
This past February, I was working on my third California Rising book, when our teenage son told us his girlfriend was pregnant. For several days, my emotions were so raw, but then the air began to clear, and I suddenly knew I had to resurrect The Mother Keeper.
A pregnant teenager can bring a lot of judgment upon a family. When it’s a Christian family, that judgment can feel like the weight of the world. But in our case, mostly, we felt loved by our church, which had recovered from the mess of a few years back. We received a lot of hugs and prayers at church when we finally revealed our news.
God is the author of life and children are always a blessing from the Lord, a reward from God, says the Bible. With two grandbabies on the way, our oldest daughter is due in July as well, my husband and I feel so blessed, and we can’t wait to be grandparents.
They say the truth will set you free… but what if the truth ruins your life?
Ellie Ryan is seventeen and determined to move to Nashville to pursue her dreams of making it as a songwriter, but an unexpected pregnancy shatters her plans and sets her on a course she never imagined.
Shawn Klein has it all. The beautiful girlfriend. The scholarship to play football at Vanderbilt after he graduates high school. At eighteen, he leads worship at his father’s prosperous megachurch. His life is perfect. So why isn’t he happy?
Everything changes when Shawn’s parents bring Ellie into their home to care for her until she gives birth. It’s the life with a real family that Ellie has always dreamed about, and the kind of future Shawn never knew he wanted, until Ellie’s past threatens to destroy everything.
When Jenny arrives in Tennessee to adopt Ellie’s baby, only one thing is certain. A baby will be born, along with a crime of passion, and a desperate struggle to bury the truth.
Beth: Paula, you’ve been so wonderful to share your favorites, your bookish journey, and a giveaway with us! Thank you for visiting us!
Paula: Thank you so much, Beth for having me on here today. So happy to spend time with you and your readers.
Paula Scott has generously offered to send one Faithfully Bookish reader friend a signed copy of her latest release (or the winner may choose one of her historicals)
Say hi to Paula then let’s chat about our favorites!
Does anyone share a common favorite with today’s author?