Building Celebration House
The Celebration House Trilogy, #1
by Annette Drake
Date of Publication: March 1st 2017
Publisher: Baskethound Books
Cover Artist: Elizabeth Mackey
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Paranormal Romance
Tagline: How can she plan a future with a man who has only a past?
Carrie Hansen spent her life caring for cardiac patients. Little did she know she would become a patient herself.
After recovering from her own heart surgery, she learns she has a special talent: the ability to see and talk with the dead.
Now, with her health failing, she leaves the bustle of Seattle behind and returns to Lexington, Missouri, the small town where she spent her childhood. Here, she sets out to restore an abandoned antebellum mansion and open it as a venue for celebrations.
Carrie’s unique gift allows her to build relationships with the mansion’s ghostly occupants, especially Major Tom Gentry, the handsome Civil War soldier who died 100 years before Carrie was born. He encourages and comforts her, though not in the physical way they both desire.
Will Carrie finish restoring the celebration house or will it finish her? And how can she plan a future with a man who has only a past?
When Carrie opened the door and stepped inside, sunlight streamed in through the dirty windows. Even though the barn had been vacant for years, the air smelled of hay and horses.
Looking to her left, she saw a man shaving. He’d glanced up when Carrie opened the doors, but returned his gaze to the small mirror tacked to the wooden beam. He was bare from the waist up. His chest was lean and muscular, with dark brown hair from mid-chest to his waistline. His arms were powerfully built, and his right hand was steady as he scraped the white soap from his angular jaw with a razor. His dark blue uniform pants with gold braid down the side were tucked into knee-high black leather boots. He stood at least six feet tall, and though Carrie hadn’t made her living in the carnival, she guessed he was probably younger than her, likely in his mid to late twenties. He peered at the small mirror, tilting his chin to swipe away the shaving soap. Carrie waited to speak until after he’d finished with the ivory-handled straight blade and dipped it into the basin of soapy water.
“Good morning,” she said.
His expression was an equal mix of surprise and annoyance. He dropped the razor and grabbed his shirt off a nearby nail. He turned his back to Carrie and pulled it on.
“You can see me, madam?” he asked, buttoning his shirt and stuffing it into his pants.
“Yes. Can you see me?”
“I can, but I believe I have the advantage. I’m dead. You are not.” He turned and glared at her. His eyebrows furrowed as though he wasn’t quite sure how they’d arrived at the point of introductions.
“I’m sorry to intrude. I’m Carrie. Carrie Hansen.” She extended her hand.
He reached to shake her hand, but his fingers passed through hers. They both jerked back.
“I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean to intrude,” she said.
“You surprised me. That’s all. We seldom receive visitors, especially living ones who can see us.” He put on his blue uniform coat and fastened the long row of brass buttons. “I’m Major Thomas Gentry, at your service.” He bowed.
“I’m sorry I startled you. I sometimes forget ghosts aren’t accustomed to being seen.”
His eyes narrowed and he frowned. “How may I be of service to you, Miss Hansen?”
“Where can I find Colonel Stratton? I need to speak with him.”
His dark blue eyes showed his increasing puzzlement. “The living do not go looking for Colonel Stratton. What business have you with him?”
“I bought this house, and I intend to live here.”
“You bought Stratton House?”
“And I need to speak with the colonel.”
Major Gentry shook his head as though to sort through the details. “Please forgive me. You bought Stratton House, you intend to live here, and you wish to speak with the home’s proprietor, Colonel Stratton?”
“I thought we’d covered that,” she said. “You don’t get many visitors, do you?”
Annette Drake is a multi-genre author whose work is character-driven and celebrates the law of unintended consequences.
She makes her home in Washington state. A member of the Romance Writers of America, she loves ferry rides, basset hounds and bakeries. She does not camp.
MY INTERVIEW WITH ANNETTE DRAKE
How would you describe your style of writing to someone that has never read your work?
Conversational. Warm. Genuine. (Hopefully) funny. My goal is to keep readers turning pages and to simply entertain. I liken my Celebration House Trilogy to a piece of wedding cake – all sugar and joviality. Nothing heavy or dark. At the same time, my books are all character-driven, so I hope, hope, hope readers still think about these heroines after they finish the book.
What are some of your writing/publishing goals for this year?
I planned to publish a book each month in 2017. Wow, was that a ridiculous idea! I have a lot of those. I have my Celebration House trilogy to finish and then I want to write another installment or two of my cozy mystery. I also have a historical mystery series I want to start. I’m pretty excited about that, but I’ve not written a historical novel before so I need to do more research. I don’t want my Union soldier in post-Civil War America talking on his cellphone.
Do you feel that writing is an ingrained process or just something that flows naturally for you?
Yes. No. Both. I have good days and bad days. Today, the words aren’t flowing, so I’m working on promotions for “Building Celebration House.” But I can feel my mind puzzling out details of a novel I’m currently writing.
Do you have a character that you have been working on for a long time that still isn't quite ready, but fills you with excitement to work on the story?
I’ve started sketching out this Civil War historical mystery series I want to write. It’s so exciting to me! I need to do lots of research, which I don’t mind. I am travelling to Washington, D.C., to visit these sites in person this summer. This series engages me.
If you could spend one-week with 5 fictional character, who would they be?
Enroll me at Hogwarts! I would probably be a Hufflepuff. I’m not cool enough to be a Griffindor, and I have way too much Catholic guilt to be a Slytherin. Maybe Ravenclaw? What house do the nerds get chosen for?
Where would you spend one full year, if you could go Anywhere? What would you do with this time?
France. I would split my time between Paris and rural France.
Can you share you next creative project(s)? If yes, can you give a few details?
Absolutely! I would love to. “Building Celebration House” has two sequels, and I’m hard at work polishing those. The second book, “Stay at Celebration House” will publish on April 1st. The third and final installment, “Return to Celebration House,” will publish on May 1st. I’ve scheduled a nervous breakdown the last three weeks of May.
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