Thursday, July 10, 2008

An Interview with Kimberly Stuart and Giveaway of ACT TWO

Kimberly Stuart makes her home in Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband, Marc, and their two children, Ana and Mitch. She began her writing career by journaling during her daughter’s first year of life. At the never-subtle urging of her mother, she entered the University of Iowa Alumni magazine’s annual nonfiction short story contest. After winning the contest, she attended the Blue Ridge Writer’s Conference in North Carolina, where she met some key players in the publishing world who were able to jumpstart her career. She is the author of Balancing Act and its sequel, Bottom Line.

Stuart’s most recent novel, Act Two, released May 2008, and is the first of three titles to be published by David C. Cook. She continues to revel in God’s grace and counts among her treasures nap time, imported chocolate, and a good story.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies?

Kimberly Stuart's Response: I’m going to forego commentary on the slightly injurious nature of the phrase “spare time.” I am the mother of two (three in August) young children and they, at least, do not see the value of those words. But hypothetically speaking, were I to come upon a windfall of time, spare or otherwise, I would run, not walk to our local bookstore and immerse myself in a good book. After several hours of literary indulgence, I’d skip down the street to the bakery and talk shop with the owner, pretending I know more than I do and serving happily as a taste testing lab rat should he or she need one. After a pecan roll or maybe a Dutch letter, I’d meet my husband at the market for some shopping, head home with him to our kiddos, and cook up something lovely to share with them. Husband, kids, books, food—a perfect stretch of moments strung together in one afternoon. MAN, I need to book a babysitter more often!

Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Kimberly Stuart's Response: I would like to defer to my five-year-old daughter on this one as it’s been the topic of discussion for several of the last weeks. She would like the power to make her stuffed animals come alive with the touch of a hand. This, regrettably, creeps me out. But you did ask and I fear I’m merely a contemporary fiction writer and am woefully hemmed in to real people and real problems. Making stuffed creatures come alive is a problem I hope never to have to resolve, either in a book or in my living room. Ish.

Q: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Kimberly Stuart's Response: When I was a child, I wanted to be a “seener” (singer). Mostly, I wanted to be Amy Grant. That’s right, people: I was into STRAIGHT UP AMY GRANT. The hard stuff, the early years, like “My Father’s Eyes,” and “El Shaddai.” I rocked out (with choreography) in our basement, next to a record player roughly the size of an Escalade and was wholeheartedly convinced of my musical and entertaining genius. If only I could have met her at the right time, perhaps post-Gary, pre-Vince, we could have toured together! She totally could have used a back-up dancer/singer! In fact, if you’re reading this, Amy, I’m still available!

Q: Where are you headed next?

Kimberly Stuart's Response: God willing, I’ll be giving birth to our third child in August, so I’m afraid I won’t be heading anywhere too quickly. Lactation seems to preclude so many of life’s adventures…In addition to caring for our growing brood and being really snippy with my husband for a few months due to sleep deprivation, I have two more books to write with David C. Cook. Act Two is the first of three, and I must ask you humbly to buy it within the next four minutes as it is time-sensitive material. And it’s a pretty good summer read, if I must be so bold. After Act Two will come two more. This will make a grand total of five books so far from the pen of Kimberly Stuart. Don’t place any bets that I’ll try to have as many children as I do books. When it comes to babies, those in print are much kinder on a uterus.

Q: What’s the most difficult part of the writing process for you?

Kimberly Stuart's Response: Making myself sit down each day and crank out new material, especially on days when I’m feeling about as creative as a paint tarp.*Pushing through the middle of a novel, when the characters have lost their initial intrigue and it’d be so much more fun to daydream about the NEXT story to write.*Getting out of the way of the story. That is, allowing the story to flesh itself out without coercion on my part.*Being able to, as Stephen King writes, “crucify my darlings,” to part with the elements, characters, plot movements that do not serve the story, no matter how fond I am of them.

Q: What part do you enjoy the most?

Kimberly Stuart's Response: Without question, hearing from readers who connect with, cry about, laugh because of the stories I write and then take the time and effort to let me know. Unbelievable and lovely.

Q: How do you find time to write?

Kimberly Stuart's Response: For every writer asked this question, I’m sure you’d get as many answers. At this time in my life and the life of my family, I write in the afternoons when my daughter is at preschool and my son is napping. This is unfortunate for two reasons: One, my toilets become gross because the time I used to devote to being Martha Stewart is now devoted to being Kimberly Stuart, a woman with far fewer housekeeping ambition and far more dust bunnies. Two, afternoons are not my most creative time, mostly because I’d rather be napping. So I’ve had to force my mind and my body into thinking one o’clock is Do or Die and that by the time Mitchell’s awake and Ana is home from school, I’d better have a new scene or I don’t get any chocolate for dessert. (Okay, that last bit is a stretch of the truth. Self-denial is overrated.)

Q: When you write do you generally know where you’re headed or are you sometimes as surprised as your characters about the way things end?

Kimberly Stuart's Response: I begin a novel with barely more detail than that which I’ve pitched to the publishing house. I have a feel for the main character, the overall arc of the story, the central conflict. But the ancillary characters, the chapter-by-chapter breakdown, how my protagonist changes and what takes her there, those all flesh themselves out in the course of writing the book. My genre, comedic fiction, allows for this kind of approach but I’m sure a mystery wouldn’t be as forgiving. One can hardly decide whodunit as an afterthought. So, yes, I’m often surprised by what happens in my books, how some characters become unlikely heroes or heroines, how others reveal secrets I hadn’t anticipated. All in all, it’s quite the entertaining way to write.

Q: What would you say to someone who wants to become a published author?

Kimberly Stuart's Response: Hone your craft. There are lots of fancy stories about getting one’s foot in the door to a publisher, how to get an agent, how to market oneself and one’s story. But the best way to ensure you’ll be ready to take on the publishing mayhem is to work your tail off at writing. Become your toughest critic (short of paralysis, of course), get up the guts to share your work with someone smarter and more well-read than you, spend the hours good writing requires. Most of a writer’s life is very quiet, unromantic, and isolating. Unless you’re ready to devote yourself to the less glamorous parts of writing a good story, you’ll be spinning your wheels for the time when a good break comes.

Q: Where did you get the idea for your book, Act Two?

Kimberly Stuart's Response: I can’t possibly reveal that to the blogosphere, and I say that only partly because I’ve always wanted to use the word blogosphere. The other reason is that this one percolated for awhile. There was no lightning bolt moment. But I will say that I’m always interested in putting quirky characters in situations that make them woefully uncomfortable and allow the reader to laugh with gusto both at and with the character. A New York opera diva on a farm seemed like a situation that might work for that purpose.

Q: What are the major themes of Act Two?

Kimberly Stuart's Response: Grace, redemption, my love and respect for both urban and rural dwellers, and the under-used gift of laughter.

For more information about Kimberly, visit her at For a listing of the blog tour spots featuring Kimberly Stuart, please visit .

Act Two by Kimberly Stuart

New Yorker Sadie Maddox is the toast of the classical-music world-and a
bit of a diva. But lately her CD sales are sagging, not to mention parts of
her anatomy. Maybe it's time for a change. So when her agent suggests a
professorship at a small liberal-arts college, Sadie decides to give it a go.
Besides, she needs the money.

But the college is in rural Iowa. Sadie's colleagues are intimidated, her
students aren't impressed, and she has to live far too close to farm animals.
When Sadie meets Mac, a veterinarian, she assumes they have nothing in
common-he is, after all, a country-music fan-and she's counting the days
until she moves back to New York. Yet, when Sadie is forced to spend time
with Mac, she likes him. Her students really need her. And this quiet midwest
community begins to grow on her.

But when the semester ends, Sadie packs up and decamps for the city
that never sleeps.and fi nds she can't either. Will she fi nd the courage and
grace she needs to embrace her Act Two?

Book Giveaway:

If you'd like to be entered into the drawing for a copy of Kimberly Stuart's Act Two, please leave a comment in this post with your augmented e-mail addy by Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time.

July 17th Update: The first lucky winner of Kimberly Stuart's Act Two was Deborah, but she was so lucky that she also won it elsewhere, so she offered to have a redrawing. Next one to win would have been smilinkyn, Kyndra, but I couldn't find an e-mail addy for her, so she had to be withdrawn too. Please, Please, Please, if you do not have your blogger id hooked to an e-mail address then you must include an augmented e-mail addy in your comment to be eligible to win.

So, now I'm hoping that the third person drawn will answer my private e-mail. Patty, if my e-mail got lost in your spam filter, please notify me via this comment section and I'll try again. Congratulations. I'd love to send this book off to you!

Good Luck, Everyone, and Blessings,



Theresa N. said...

Act Two sounds like a book I'd enjoy reading, I've read some wonderful reviews on it.
Theresa N

Jo said...

I really enjoyed reading the interview and wish you the best with your new arrival next month. Please enter me in the drawing for Act of Two". I'm a former New Yorker and even though a person leaves from there,I don't think you totally get New York out of the person.


Deborah said...

please enter me, i love kimberly's books!

Nora St. Laurent said...

Thanks for introducing me to an author I didn't know. The interview was good and the book sounds good too. Please enter me into the drawing. Thanks so much.


Bethany said...

Both the book and the author sound like a lot of fun! Please enter me.
Thank you,

luv2read said...

Enter me in the drawing. spowell01(at)bellsouth(dot)net

Cheryl said...

I would love to win this book. It sounds great! Please enter me in the contest. My email is shryackmom[@]charter[.]net

Lindsey said...

Oooh, I'd love to be entered in the drawing! Thank you!

ladyufshalott at yahoo dot com

cpullum said...

Please enter me in the drawing!

kalea_kane said...

Please enter me in the drawing for "Act Two" Funny, I wanted to be a "seener" too, but sadly...I did not have the chords for it. I loved the interview too. I think I'd like to go out and immerse myself in a little bakery goody testing!



bigguysmama said...

Absolutely hysterical interview. BTW, the first Christian CD I owned was Straight Up. I wondered even then how any other CD could top it. tee hee hee How little I knew back then.

I'm so happy Kimberly finally got to use the word "blogsphere". I'm sure she has a lot of relief! I too am not really into the whole self denial thing. Chocolate in any form is essential to a woman's health.

I haven't read any of Kimberly's books and I'd love to be entered to win.

In Him,
Mimi B

mnjesusfreak at gmail dot com

windycindy said...

Hello! I have been reading good things about this book. The book cover is great! The story line is interesting and my brother was a Veterinarian for 33 years and I like that her love interest is one. Please enter me in your delightful book drawing. Thanks, Cindi

Carole said...

This book has many elements that I love: classical and country music, small college, rural setting, and animals. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Jessica said...

Looks cute. Naptime is my writing time, too.
I don't think I've ever denied myself chocolate. But maybe I should if it would force me to get a scene done. lol
Please add me in the drawing.

jessica_nelson at yahoo(dot)com

Jessica said...

wow, what a dunce I am. Okay, my REAL address is:

jessica_nelson7590 at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

I've never read a book by Kimberly before. It sounds fabulous, so please enter me in the drawing.

Deborah M. Piccurelli

kamewh said...

I really enjoyed the interview and the book looks like a great one! Thank you for the giveaway!

Patty said...

This sounds like a great book. I would love to win.

pleblanc_1 [at] charter [dot] net

smilinkyn said...

This book sounds precious! I love the plot! Please enter my nmae in the drawing! Thanks and God Bless!

HSB Suzanne said...

Awwww! Just missed the deadline... by a little over three hours.

Oh well. Will try again another time, perhaps. :)


p.s. what does "augemented" email mean?

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Hi, Suzanne:

You made it in. I'll actually have one of my daughters draw this afternoon. This has been one upside down week for me-- I'm late with everything.

Augmented just means to alter it in some way to prevent cyber surfers from using it inappropriately. You augmented yours with the square quotes--great and thanks!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

And the lucky winner of Kimberly Stuart's Act Two is Deborah. Congratulations!

Kimberly Stuart said...

Hi, All!

Thanks, Eileen, for the post and for spreading the word about ACT TWO. And congrats to the elusive winner of the giveaway! :)

WAIT! BEFORE YOU STOP THINKING ABOUT WINNING FREE STUFF, I have one more word: Please take a moment to stop by my website,, and register to win an iPod Nano courtesy of my publisher, David C. Cook. Seriously! A free Nano! What could be a better summer present to yourself, other than perhaps a vat of chocolate and a good beach read? By Kimberly Stuart? (I know, I know, SHAMELESS.)

Happy reading, winning, and summering!