Thursday, November 15, 2018


~Post Includes:  Author Interview, a Favorite
Nichols Family Fudge Recipe, Book
Spotlight, Author Bio & Giveaway~

Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for Return of the Song by Phyllis Clark Nichols, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


return of the song Title: Return of the Song
Series: The Rockwater Suite #1  
Author: Phyllis Clark Nichols  
Publisher: Gilead Publishing
Release Date: September 18, 2018  
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction  

When Caroline lost her love, she lost the music too.

Caroline Carlyle's dreams were crushed when her fiancé died six weeks before their wedding. For years she wrestled with aching loss and shattered faith, struggling to find the inspiration that once came so easily. Abandoning her half-finished piano compositions, Caroline trades her old ambitions for the comfort and familiarity of life as the town’s piano teacher.

But Caroline's world turns upside down when a mysterious stranger enters her life. Filled with courage and fresh purpose, Caroline embarks on a quest to track down the beloved, rare piano she played as a child. Her search leads her to Rockwater, the Kentucky estate of a wealthy gentleman, where Caroline finds her heart may be composing a surprising new song.  


Welcome to 'Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic', Phyllis. Thanks for taking some time to chat with us today. You have released two books in 2018. Congratulations!

JUNE: Please tell us how you created your setting and developed the characters for this book, 'Return of the Song'.

PHYLLIS: I’m Southern through and through - the sense of family, of history, shared meals, taking care of neighbors, deep friendships, secrets, a slower pace, and the sultry nights and the smell of magnolias. That’s Southern, and it’s home. So, setting this story in the Deep South was the most natural thing to do. And the characters? I know them, how they think, and how they respond in certain situations. They are bits and pieces of people I have known.

JUNE: Who is your favorite character in the story? Why is this person your favorite? Without spoiling the story, is there anyone in the story who you do not like? Why not?

PHYLLIS: Bella, a young musical savant, is my favorite character. The research for developing her was fascinating. She is miraculously gifted with music and a bit other-worldly. Bella’s grandfather, Ernesto, is definitely the character I do not like because he was restrictingly abusive and hid Bella from the world. It was painful to create him, but his darkness was needed to contrast the beautiful light in Bella and her grandmother Gretchen.

JUNE: Along with composing original songs and four musical dramas for children, you have written four books in the inspirational fiction genre. If you were not writing in those genres, what other fictional genre might you try? Would you ever consider writing non-fiction? If so, what subject(s) would you like to write about?

PHYLLIS: Southern fiction with the faith element is my comfortable place, and I’m not quite certain I could get comfortable in another fictional genre. However, I would consider writing non-fiction, and I know just what it would be. I have two close friends who are award-winning medical doctors, and they are mother and daughter. They have a beautiful story that sweeps three continents, and they each have done marvelous things with their lives. I’d so enjoy writing their story, but only if they’d walk those three continents with me. I have had the blessing of sitting at their feet and listening to some of the most amazing stories I’ve ever heard. The world needs to hear them.

JUNE: Your friends' story sounds fascinating! I hope you have a chance to work together on putting their lives and their important work down on paper for the rest of us to read.

JUNE: What or who inspired you to become an author?

PHYLLIS: I’ve always been a reader and had a desire to write. There was an author in the church where I grew up, and she was quite inspiring to me as a child. Then meeting Thomas C. Chubb when I was writing my senior term paper was a life-defining moment for me. He was a Dante scholar, and I had quite an unusual visit with him. And finally, Dr. Abraham Verghese, a three-time NY Times best seller, was my writing mentor. I remember the day and the exact place he said, “If I you have a book in you, then just write it.”

JUNE: When you write a book, do you outline the entire story, or do you have a different way of organizing your plot, characters, etc.? Do you always know the ending of your story before you begin putting things down on paper, or into your computer?

PHYLLIS: Oh, the perils and perks of the creative process! This will not be an easy answer, but I’ll start by telling you that I generally have the story outlined in my thinking, and I do know the ending. Knowing where I want to arrive keeps me on the right track. I do not put that outline on paper or on my computer. I use an Excel spreadsheet to keep up with scenes and a timeline as I write, and each character has his/her tab on that spreadsheet where I keep notes – hair color, eye color, birthday, favorite foods – you understand, the things you would know about the people you know intimately.

I always start a fresh writing session with re-reading the last session, no editing, only reading. Then, there comes the occasional morning when all of a sudden, a new character appears and wants to enter the story, or one the characters I’ve created has been nagging me since 4:00 am and wants to do or respond to something differently than I had planned. So, the writing is very fluid and not rigid for me. Sometimes a scene takes a turn I never expected, and it’s wonderful, but then I must find my way back.

JUNE: Your writing process and organizational techniques are so interesting to me. I love the spreadsheet idea for keeping track of the scenes and a timeline with a section for each character's personal data. What an excellent tool that I am certain other authors will enjoy learning about. Thanks for the tips, Phyllis.

JUNE: As I visited your website and Amazon and Goodreads Author Pages, I noticed that three of your four books are Christmas books. Please tell us about some of your family's favorite Christmas traditions, recipes, church activities, decorations, etc.

PHYLLIS: Because I’m Southern, Christmas means family gatherings, food, music, and a house that looks and smells like Christmas. Our house was filled with family and friends for meals and musical events from Thanksgiving until New Year's. We sold the big house in the city and moved to the Texas Hill Country a few years ago, and now our oldest daughter has taken on the responsibility of family gatherings. Of course, I still do much of the cooking.

One tradition we particularly enjoyed was making our Christmas cards. My husband, Bill, is a fine artist, and he would do a drawing each year, usually of the Holy Family. We had the drawing printed on water-color paper, and then we hand-painted 125 Christmas cards, so that in a way, each was an original. We enjoyed getting photos from family and friends across the country who framed each one and displayed them with their family Christmas decorations. Even in our downsizing, I held on to every one of those pieces we had framed for ourselves.

JUNE: Your watercolor Christmas cards sound like a treasured memento for your friends and family. A true labor of love.

PHYLLIS: I’ll share with you one of my favorite recipes. In fact, when my five-year-old granddaughter took her first-ever bite of this fudge, she said, “Nana, you could start a business with this.” I still chuckle when I remember this. This one never fails.



This always-smooth fudge recipe was given to me by my childhood pastor, and that makes it all the sweeter to me. I never miss a Christmas making this to share with family and friends just like he did.

Bring these ingredients to a boil, and boil for exactly 8 minutes.

2 sticks of butter
5 cups of sugar
1 tall can evaporated milk

Add, stirring until blended:
18 ounces semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow crème

1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans

Pour onto a greased cookie sheet and spread quickly. Allow to set before slicing into 1 ½ inch squares. Just one little morsel is enough.

JUNE:  Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Phyllis. Thank you for graciously sharing your family's fudge recipe with us all, too. Sounds like it would make a great neighbor or church friend gift for the holidays.

I appreciate your taking a few moments out of your busy schedule to visit with us. Wishing you continued success in your writing and musical endeavors!

PHYLLIS:  Thank you for allowing me to share a bit of myself with your readers and for asking such interesting and insightful questions. We writers bleed a few drops on every page, but oh, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

JUNE:  You're welcome, Phyllis. Thank you for your kind words about the questions I composed for you. I agree with you--I can't imagine doing anything other than writing at this time in my life. Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to you and your family!

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Christian Book | Book Depository



Phyllis Clark Nichols’s character-driven Southern fiction explores profound human questions using the imagined residents of small town communities you just know you’ve visited before. With a strong faith and a love for nature, art, music, and ordinary people, she tells redemptive tales of loss and recovery, estrangement and connection, longing and fulfillment . . . often through surprisingly serendipitous events.

Phyllis grew up in the deep shade of magnolia trees in South Georgia. Born during a hurricane, she is no stranger to the winds of change: In addition to her life as a novelist, Phyllis is a seminary graduate, concert pianist, and cofounder of a national cable network with health- and disability-related programming. Regardless of the role she’s playing, Phyllis brings creativity and compelling storytelling.

She frequently appears at conventions, conferences, civic groups, and churches, performing half-hour musical monologues that express her faith, joy, and thoughts about life—all with the homespun humor and gentility of a true Southern woman.

Phyllis currently serves on several nonprofit boards. She lives in the Texas Hill Country with her portrait-artist husband.  

CONNECT WITH PHYLLIS: website | Facebook | Twitter

return of the song blog giveaway

(1) winner will receive (US only)
  • a print copy of Christmas at Grey Sage
  • a print copy of Return of the Song
Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight November 12, 2018 and last through 11:59pm November 19, 2018. US only. Winners will be notified within a week of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

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  1. Replies
    1. Welcome, Rita ~ Yes, this book does sound intriguing. Thanks for stopping by my blog to share your positive remark. Good luck in the giveaway!