Interview With Inspy Author Stacy Monson and Giveaway

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Mindy Lee “Minnie” Carlson’s dream job has dropped into her hands, but there’s a catch. She has four months to revive Open Circle, the town’s only Senior Adult Day Center, or the doors will close, leaving her beloved seniors stranded, and eliminating the only job she’s ever wanted.

Globe-trotting photographer Jackson Young documents the forgotten people of the world, focusing on the poor and elderly. After decades on the road, he’s stunned to learn his beloved Grandma Em is still alive in the small town he’d had to leave decades earlier.

Overjoyed, Jackson races back into town to reconnect with her and discovers she’s been Minnie’s adopted grandma for the past twenty years. When Grandma Em has a stroke, his ideas about her care pit him against Minnie’s determination and expertise. For Grandma Em’s sake, and the future of Open Circle, they’ll need to do the impossible—find a way to work together.

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As you guys may know, it’s not my policy to agree to review books in exchange for a free copy, but something about this one caught my eye. I can’t say why that is, exactly. This book came to me a perfect time. I needed an inspy and this one fit the bill. As a bonus, I found a new writer friend!

After I read Open Circle, I asked Stacy if she would be willing to do an interview for us, and she said she’d be happy to!

I loved the idea of setting a story in an elder care environment. Can you tell us a little bit about your inspiration for choosing this particular setting?
I started writing Open Circle while my mom was in the midst of her Alzheimer’s journey. It’s such a terrible disease, and yet we experienced moments of joy, even humor through those years. I got to know caregivers, administrators, and other families on a similar journey. I also learned about the wide variety of programs available for families, research, and organizations committed to providing support, encouragement, and education for clients and family members/caregivers. As difficult as the journey was, watching my fiercely independent mother decline over nearly a decade, I was inspired by the people who cared for her, as well as the others like her. She’s been gone nearly 7 years now, which is hard to believe.

What are the main things you want readers to take away from Open Circle?
That everyone deserves respect no matter their age, mental capacity, illness, and that our elders have earned the right to age with dignity, and be loved unconditionally. All of my books have the underlying theme of who we are in Christ; our identity in Him doesn’t change just because we lose our memory, or our bodies get old.
I love the title. Can you tell us what the title means to you and why you chose to name the adult daycare center in your novel Open Circle?

It’s actually the name of an adult day program where my in-laws were involved. I co-facilitated a caregiver support group with Carol, the social worker of that program. I got to know the staff and was immensely impressed with all of them and their programming.

What can we look forward to reading about in your future work?

I have several ideas percolating! What I’m working on right now is a series called My Father’s House, about sisters who discover (as young adults) that they’re adopted. Two of them have been raised as twins. The stories (each book follows one of the sisters on her journey to discover who she “really” is) look at adoption, identity, family, consequences. After that, I’m focusing on a more lighthearted book, perhaps a novella, about online dating.  🙂

My question for all of YOU:  I’d love to know which genres are your favorites. Comment below and you’ll be entered for a chance to win an autographed copy of Open Circle.
My favorite is contemporary (obviously!) but I’ve also grown to love historicals as I know a number of historical authors and appreciate all the work they put into making their stories accurate as well as interesting!

About Stacy

Stacy Monson is the award-winning author of The Chain of Lakes series, including Shattered Image, Dance of Grace, and The Color of Truth. Her stories reveal an extraordinary God at work in ordinary life. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the MN Christian Writers Guild (MCWG), Stacy is the area coordinator for ACFW in Minnesota, past president of ACFW MN-NICE, and is the Events Director for MN Christian Writers Guild. Residing in the Twin Cities, she is the wife of a juggling, unicycling physical education teacher, mom to two amazing kids and two wonderful in-law kids, and a very proud grandma of 3 grands.

For news about upcoming books, contests, giveaways, and other fun stuff – stop by Stacy’s Author Website here. 

To learn about bringing Stacy’s speaking ministry, WINGS, to your event, visit her blog here.

She also on Facebook  Twitter  Instragram and  Pinterest.

Thank you, Stacy!

I struggle to pick a favorite type of fiction. It’s like asking me to go to the buffet and pick one favorite food. I love a good story that makes me laugh or cry. The best ones do both.

OK, ya’ll, we have TWO  Giveaways!

Giveaway ONE

Leave a comment below to enter Stacy’s giveaway for an autographed copy.

Giveaway TWO

As an EXTRA, sign up for my newsletter for a chance to win an ecopy of Open Circle. If you’re on my mailing list and provide a valid email, you are in. One chance for  an ecopy per email valid address, but you can enter BOTH giveaways one and two.

Both giveaways close on May 31.2018.

Linked up at Literacy Musing Mondays #LMMLINKUP.

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Liz Talley Talks About Her New Release Come Home to Me

Healing the wounds of the past doesn’t come easy in this novel of friendship and forgiveness from award-winning author Liz Talley.

Summer Valentine has returned to Moonlight, South Carolina, a very different woman from the naive wallflower who left years before. These days she’s straightforward and savvy, determined to do right by her son, David—even if that means cashing in her struggling music career in Nashville and returning to the town that drove her away. Sure, she took a fall. But at least she now knows where she stands…

Despite her anger over the past, Summer believes David deserves a relationship with his father, Hunter “Hunt” McCroy. Though Hunt’s illustrious career has faded, privilege still protects him from his worst mistakes.

Someone else is back in Moonlight too: Rhett Bryan, the golden boy of Hollywood, who’s taking stock of his own life after a tragic accident. As his rekindled friendship with Summer quickly deepens, she must reconcile the painful history that ties her to both men—one she’s finally forgiven, one she’s afraid to love—to claim healing and happiness.

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Several years ago, I attended writer’s boot camp in Shreveport hosted by NOLASTARS, the Louisiana chapter of the RWA, Romance Writers of America. Liz Talley was also part of the group. The participants were to do a quick flash fiction exercise.  I scribbled away in my little notebook, but when  the teacher asked for volunteers to read, I quietly closed it and slid it out of sight. Not Liz, she stood up and read the most adorable scene. The lady can write. And off the top of her head!

I heard about Liz Talley’s newest book months ago, and immediately added it to my TBR list. Then Liz agreed to answer a few questions for me for an interview post!

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Can you tell us a bit about your newest book, Come Home to Me? I’ve read that this particular book is a little different than your previous books. In what way is this story unique?

Come Home to Me is a romantic story of finding forgiveness and a place to belong. The story starts in LA but quickly moves to fictional Moonlight, SC, a small town on the South Carolina coast near Hilton Head. The book is told from three viewpoints by former friends whose world was changed the night of their senior prom. They return to Moonlight as troubled adults, with my heroine seeking to do right by her son by allowing him a relationship with his father, the boy who date raped her all those years ago. It’s a complicated, beautiful tale made a bit different for me in that I have dual timelines. I’ve done plenty of flashback scenes before along with a prologue or two, but I’ve never balanced weaving a story that had two distinct timelines. Another particularly difficult part of writing this story was writing the date rape scene. I wanted to make the consent issue more smudged than clear cut date rape so that my heroine doesn’t feel as if anyone will believe her, and I wanted the boy responsible to feel he did nothing truly wrong. In other words, I wanted to explore consent and the common placations women are offered even when they know they’ve been violated, and bring about a better understanding of what constitutes consent. All the while unraveling characters who must learn to own up to who they are and the mistakes they’ve made.

What was the hardest scene to write?

The date rape scene was hard to write, but there were others just as difficult. The book opens with the tragic death of a child, and later, the hero must confront the parents of the child. Both were very emotional to get onto the page.

A serious topic was the seed that developed into this story. If you were given a few minutes to speak on this issue in front of an auditorium of young men the first day of their college experience, what would you say?

Whoa, this one is tough. I think I would tell them that sex isn’t something they’re automatically entitled to, and I would encourage them to treat it as a gift more than a right. I would also suggest they use their mouth first for conversation about expectations. One of the best ways to double check if you’ve sought consent is to watch a short Youtube video called “Consent Tea” produced by Blue Seat Studios which expresses in simplistic terms how to make sure your date/partner/significant other is onboard with what you’re doing. Being a guy is hard, trying to dissimilate body language, phone texts, the unspoken concerns isn’t easy. So why not just be blunt and ask “Is this okay?” That simple question conveys concern, respect and ensures that any physical exchange is welcome. And ensuring consent not only shows concern for a person’s partner, but it protects from misunderstandings that can lead to greater hardship down the road.

What are you working on now?

Currently I’ working on the last book of the Morning Glory series, Third Time’s the Charm. It should be finished and ready for release in early summer. After that, I’m considering a Christmas novella to wrap up the Morning Glory series. I’m still waiting on a few proposals and/or my muse to tell me what’s up next.

Thank you, Liz! I so appreciate you taking the time to talk with us.

 

Liz Talley is the author of twenty-five heartwarming stories of love and laughter. A finalist in both the Golden Heart and Rita Awards, she’s garnered number one spots on Amazon Romance lists and was honored with RT Reviews Best Superromance 2014. Robyn Carr says “laughter and tears spring from the pages” and Kristan Higgins says her stories are “written in a warm, intelligent voice.” Liz makes her home in North Louisiana with her high school sweetheart, two teen boys, and three rescue dogs. When not writing romance, she likes to read, volunteer and watch Netflix. You can reach her at www.liztalleybooks.com

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Waskom Reads Before We Were Yours and An Interview with Lisa Wingate

Last month I had a wonderful time meeting friends both old and new at the Waskom library for a book discussion. I love to talk about books! It was a good turnout for a great novel. The book selected for this meeting was Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate.

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For readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale—an engrossing new novel, inspired by a true story, about two families, generations apart, that are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice. Before We Were Yours brilliantly fictionalizes and brings to life one of America’s most notorious adoption scandals. 

 From the 1920s through 1950, thousands of children of single mothers and poverty-stricken parents were taken away — sometimes even quietly whisked off front porches or from hospital maternity wards — by the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and its Memphis branch director, Georgia Tann. While heartbroken birth mothers searched for their stolen sons and daughters, the children were often kept in unlicensed boarding facilities and given new names and histories before being transported around the country to adoptive parents who could afford to pay.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion. Before We Were Yours was one of the best historical novels I read in 2017. You can read my Book Break post about it here.

I don’t get to visit the Waskom library often, but the draw of a good book discussion and the bonus of the library’s recent face lift piqued my interest. I wanted to come out and see what it was all about. You can learn what’s new at the library by checking out this video on a local news site here. 

If you live nearby or are just passing through, you should stop by and enjoy the library. The staff is wonderful, some of the friendliest people around. The Waskom public library serves the surrounding area, so you don’t have to live in town to be a patron, and a library card is free.

For more information on the Waskom library you can visit them at  waskompubliclibrary.org or hop over to the Waskom Public Library facebook page.

 

Lisa, along with fellow author Kellie Coates Gilbert, came to the Waskom library a while back and gave us a presentation, and they did an amazing workshop that was well attended. When I asked Lisa if she remembered us she said she sure did! She graciously provided answers to these interview questions.

What are some of the most interesting things you found about this subject that you weren’t able to use in the story?

Because Before We Were Yours is fiction, I was able to thread in what I felt were the most interesting pieces of the true-life history of Georgia Tann and her Memphis branch of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. One interesting aspect of the true story that isn’t in the novel is the special investigation that was conducted as Georgia Tann’s operation was finally shut down in 1950. The original Report to Governor Browning was filled with information about Tann’s nefarious methods, the deaths of children in her system of unregulated boarding homes, and the sheer panic of adoptive families who were terrified that the children they’d raised for years would be taken away. There were also some wonderful newspaper stories written years later, telling the reunion stories of birth families finally reunited.

How much research did you have to do for this book?

The book was research-intensive. I took in nearly everything I could find about the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis and Georgia Tann. In large part, I found bits of the story here and bits there. The Discovery Channel’s Deadly Women feature and a 60 Minutes segment provided helpful information and visuals. Several books, including, Babies For Sale by Linda Austin and The Baby Thief by Barbara Raymond were particularly helpful in researching the adoption scandal. Harlan Hubbard’s Shantyboat Journal was a beautiful account of shantyboat life on the river. I also spent time in Memphis, researching locations, combing through the river museum, visiting the library and the university’s photo archives, and talking to people who remembered the scandal.

What do you hope the reader takes away from the story?

I hope readers take away the message that we need not be defined by our pasts. I hope Rill’s experience resonates with readers who have in some way surrendered to the wounds of painful past experiences. Rill faces that battle as she matures. As an old woman, she advises thirty-year-old Avery, “A woman’s past need not predict her future. She can dance to new music if she chooses. Her own music. To hear it, she must only stop talking. To herself, I mean. We’re always trying to persuade ourselves of things.” Living in a defensive posture is another form of allowing other people to dictate who we are and what we believe about ourselves. Letting go, dancing to our own music is a risk, but on the other side of that process lays light, freedom and fulfillment. That’s what I hope that’s what people take away from Before We Were Yours. Our lives have purpose, but to fulfill that purpose we must first claim ourselves.

I also hope that, in a broader sense, the story of Rill and the Foss children serves to document the lives of all the children who disappeared into Georgia Tann’s unregulated system. Only by remembering history are we reminded not to let it repeat itself. It’s important that we, ordinary people busy with the rush of every day life, remember that children are vulnerable, that on any given day, thousands of children live the uncertainty of Rill’s journey. We have to be aware. We must be kind neighbors, determined protectors, willing encouragers, wise teachers, and strong advocates, not just for the children who are ours by birth, but for all children.

Additional Links

Lisa Wingate’s Website

The Untold Story Guru: Because good stories should be found, not lost

Book Club Kit for Before We Were Yours

 

Thank you, Lisa!

If you are looking for a good book to read, you can’t beat this novel. Have you read it yet? What did you think?

Leave a comment, share, and all that.

Don’t forget to go visit a library this week!

 

 

 

 

 

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