Monday, June 9, 2014

Author Spotlight + GIVEAWAY - Shelley Shepard Gray


I am thrilled to have Shelley Shepard Gray with us this week! Shelley is undoubtedly familiar to most fans of Amish fiction, but I hope you will learn a little more about her from this interview. Thankful is book #2 in the Return to Sugarcreek series, and I wanted to share these words about that community from Shelley's website . . .
 
        To me, Sugarcreek is everything that says family and faith and beauty. It’s rolling hills covered in snow. It’s warm spring days and fields and fields filled with corn stalks in late October.
        From door to door, it takes me three and half hours to get to my favorite hotel there. By half-way, the worries of home have slipped away. By the time I get off the highway and head northeast on a two-lane road, I’m relaxed and filled with anticipation.
        And by the time I see the Alpine Village and the brick factory and my Amish friends and am eating pie at the Dutch Valley Inn? Well, all I can say is that I’m usually the gal with the very big smile! Sugarcreek has my heart.
 
I have greatly enjoyed returning to Sugarcreek and you can read my review of Thankful here. Shelley is graciously giving away two copies of Thankful, open to everyone, including international. Giveaway details follow Shelley's interview below.
 
Now relax and get to know more about Shelley and her writing . . .


Q:  Do you like to try Amish recipes, Shelley? Have a favorite?
 
I do! I love to bake, so anything that I can bake are my favorites. Currently, there’s a Monster Cookie recipe from author Sherry Gore’s cookbook, Simply Delicious Amish Cooking, that I’m a big fan of.
 
 
Q:  If you had a bucket list, what are two things that would be on it?
 
I love to travel and always am carrying around travel and cruise brochures. I would love to visit Buenos Aires one day and sit in one of those cafes and sip coffee. I’d also love to sail around the Cape Horn. (in a cruise ship, of course!)


Q:  Do you have a special Bible verse - or one that has held special meaning for you recently?
 
I’ve always been a fan of John 8:12, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but have the light of life.” I’ve always liked the idea of each of us having a little bit of the Lord’s light.


Q:  Tell us about the Return to Sugarcreek series and where Thankful, the novel we are featuring today, fits in.

        The original Seasons of Sugarcreek series seemed to touch a lot of my readers. When my editors asked if I’d like to return to the setting of a previous series, Sugarcreek seemed the most logical choice. Thankful features three storylines, one of which surrounds Judith and Ben Knox, the couple featured in Christmas in Sugarcreek.
         The main story surrounds Christina Kempf and Aden Reece, two people who are marked by an event when they were children. This book is one of my favorites, mainly because I liked Christina and Aden so much. I thought they were both really good people that I would like to know.


Q:  How would you describe Sugarcreek and its appeal? Is Sugarcreek a "real" place?
 
Sugarcreek, Ohio is definitely a real place, though most of the places where my characters meet and shop and dine are not. For me, its appeal stems from the fact that I know some Amish there, so it feels comfortable for me to write about. I also like how the community feels very inclusive. Amish and English don’t live separate lives in Sugarcreek, everyone pretty much just lives their lives, some driving cars, some driving buggies.


Q:  Your book's title, Thankful, has a world of meaning wrapped up in it. How do the characters embody a spirit of thankfulness?
 
I loved wrapping three storylines around the idea of being thankful or grateful. For my characters, a lot of times being thankful meant accepting that wishes hadn’t been granted, but that their lives were better because of that.  Boy, I’m not sure if that makes a lot of sense!
 
[That makes total sense, Shelley, and is something that I suspect most of us have experienced.]


Q:  And what does being thankful mean to you, Shelley?
 
I am very goal oriented and love to plan things. Over time, I’ve learned that it’s not the ‘big’ events to give thanks for, but the little ones.  For me, being thankful means to find the joy in each day, and to be most thankful for the simplest of things-spending a day in front of my computer. Walking our dachshunds. Baking cookies. Talking to my kids on the phone. Reading in the evening next to my husband.


Q:  What is one thing you hope readers will take away from this book?
 
I always hope readers will find the time spend reading my books was time well spent. People are busy and books are expensive. My goal for writing a book is really pretty simple: to write a decent story that people want to finish. So I hope readers will enjoy the book!


Q:  What's next on the book horizon for you?
 
        In September, JOYFUL, the last book in the Return to Sugarcreek trilogy will be published. That’s followed rather quickly by SNOWFALL, my Christmas novella, which is kind of a play on The Sound of Music and features characters from my Days of Redemption series.
        I also have a historical romance/mystery being published at the end of July under the name Shelley Gray. It’s called the The Secrets of Sloane House, and it takes place in 1893 Chicago, during the World's Fair. It’s kind of a cross between Downton Abbey and an Agatha Christie mystery. (I guess you can tell I’m really excited about this one!)
        Next year’s series will take place in Pinecraft, Florida, which is where many Amish like to vacation. The first book, The Promise of Palm Grove, will be published on January 31.


Q:  What are some ways we can support and encourage you, both personally and as an author, Shelley?
 
Well, if people haven’t visited my Facebook page and ‘liked’ it, I hope they will! I give away quite a bit of books and Amish things there. I also host FB chats a few times a year, which are very fun. I also have a website, www.shelleyshepardgray.com, and I just got on Twitter - @ShelleySGray.
Really, I have to say that I feel so blessed for my readers. Writing is such a solitary occupation. I means the world when readers say hi on line or come to a book signing or even write a review on www.christianbook.com or www.amazon.com. All of those things make me remember that I’m not quite so alone.

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GIVEAWAY

        To enter the drawing for Thankful, simply leave a question or comment about Shelley's books or something you found interesting in this interview, along with your e-mail address in a safe format. If you're willing, it's also helpful to share about this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
        And I'm always glad to have new followers on my blog and "likes" on my Facebook page, The Power of Words Book Reviews.

Nor for the fine print:

  • E-mail required, one entry per person. Odds of winning are based on number of entries.
  • Contest ends at midnight on Sunday, June 15. No purchase necessary.
  • Winner will be chosen by Random.org and contacted by e-mail on Monday, June 16. Respond within 48 hours of notification or another winner will be chosen.
  • Eligibility: Open internationally, 18 and older

62 comments:

  1. hi! I really enjoy your blog and nominated you for the Sunflower Blogger Award if you are interested! http://www.ihopeyoudanceinlife.com/2014/06/sunflower-blogger-award.html

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    1. Michelle, I am extremely honored that you enjoy my blog and would nominate me for this award. And I'm glad to "meet" you! I would love to participate in this if I have time over the next few days. Thank you again and I hope to see you back here soon!

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  2. As soon as I saw the title, Thankful, I had to read about your book! On my father's side of the family there are so many women names Thankful! I really wan to read your book.

    CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Carol, we don't think much about names today, but your comment reminds me of how names in the Bible always carry special meaning. Thank you for visiting today.

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  3. I have read "Hopeful" and am looking forward to reading "Thankful", thank you for the chance to win it.

    wfnren(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Wendy, have you read the original Sugarcreek series? I haven't, but sure want to now! Thanks for coming by.

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  4. I want to read a Shelley´s book! looks amazing.. thanks for the chance ;)
    e-mail:celeste_257@hotmail.com

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    1. I really enjoyed it and think you would also, Celeste. Thanks for dropping by today.

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  5. Many times it's hard to be thankful especially when things are not going the way we thought they would, but we can still give thanks because God has given us His Son and for that reason alone we can be thankful in everything!

    seventysevensusieq[at]yahoo[dot]com

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    1. You said it well, Susie! And it's during those difficult times that God will lead us if we let Him. Thank you for sharing those thoughts!

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  6. I love all of Gray's books I have read. I would love to win this one. It's so much fun to read and learn about authors.
    susanlulu@yahoo.com

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  7. Question for Shelley - which do you prefer to write, Amish fiction or historical romance? Would love to win Shelley's book, Thankful! Thanks for the opportunity!
    gloriason(at)outlook(dot)com

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  8. I would love to read Shelley's book Thankful and now want to get and read the orginal series as well.

    seraphinangel7(at)aol(dot)com

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  9. I have several books by Shelley and have enjoyed reading them. Like her style. I would love to add another of her books to my collection. Thank you.

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  10. Love Shelley's books and so looking forward to "Thankful". Would love to win.

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  11. I love reading your books very much. I love learning about the Amish and how they live. Always looks forward to reading your books and would like to win the book in this contest. Thanks for writing these good books for us all to read.

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  12. I enjoy reading your books and read as many of them as I can. Look forward to reading your new books and thank you for being a great author. I love reading and learning about the amish.

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  13. I am looking forward to reading Thankful !!

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  14. I can't wait to read this book. We take a lot of things for granted in this day and age, and we should stop and look at all the things God has allowed to be in our lives and the things that He doesn't allow and be thankful. There is a reason for everything God does, though we may not see it right away.

    handymanswife36@aim.com

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    1. I couldn't agree more, handymanswife!

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  15. I have read the original sugarcreek series, and have read Hopeful. So looking forward to reading Thankful. All of Shelley's books have a lesson to be learned. Thanks for the opportunity to possibly win this book!

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  16. I love Shelley's Books! I was never interested in reading Amish fiction ..but after reading her Texan series...I knew I had to read them..and I love them all...I question I have for Shelley...Are there any more Texan type books lined up in the future for us??? I can't get enough of her writing! :D

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  17. Shelley's books are memorable and special. Thanks for this wonderful giveaway and fascinating post. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  18. Hi, Shelley and Carole!!

    Thanks for the wonderful interview!! I share a love of traveling with Shelley - I've probably always had a bit of "wanderlust". I love the titles of the books in this series and feel that being thankful for the small things in life are what life is all about and makes life much more fulfilling.

    I would love to read "Thankful" - thanks for the giveaway opportunity!!

    I had previously liked Shelley's Facebook page, as well as yours, Carole - and am a follower of your blog. I have also shared the giveaway on Facebook.

    bonnieroof60(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Bonnie, I love that we share a common faith in Christ and a love for Christian fiction at the same time. I wish we lived close to each other! And thank you for sharing, as always.

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  19. I haven't read any of these books yet, but I've been reading all of the wonderful reviews lately, so now I'm really curious. I definitely want to read them for myself! Thank you for the giveaway!! medo218@aol.com

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  20. I love to read Shelley's books.

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  21. Love to read Shelley's books. (skovacic@hotmail.com)

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  22. I have all of Shelley's books and enjoyed reading them. I have "Hopeful" but have not read it yet. Thank you for the chance to win a copy of "Thankful." Looking forward to reading more of Shelley's writing.
    kmgervais(at)nycap(dot)rr(dot)com

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    1. Looks like I've got some more enjoyable reading ahead of me, Karen! Thanks for visiting today.

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  23. Have read all your books so far, except for Thankful and really loved them all. You are such a gifted writer. Thank you so much for this chance to win Thankful. Have a Blessed Day. dsimmering68@gmail.com

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  24. It seems that I have lots in common with Shelley and really enjoyed this interview. I would love to win this book.
    Karen Cushing
    sweetnessnlight(at)comcast(dot)net

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  25. Have enjoyed Shelley's books and Monster Cookies were a big hit when my kids were young!
    anne@rightler.com

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  26. Wow! I love to see this many comments! I won't attempt to respond to each one, but please know that Shelley and I appreciate them so much.

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  27. I wonder what started you love for the Amish.... I don't know what triggered mine, But I find it all so interesting

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  28. I would be ever so "Grateful", "Thankful", and "Hopeful" if I win this giveaway.
    Thanks for the opportunity to win this book.
    Janet E.
    von1janet(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. So creative and meaningful, Janet!! Love your comment!

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  29. Love Shelly's books and enjoy Amish themes so much!

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  30. Your books are AWESOME.

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  31. I am really hooked on reading books about the amish and I also am currently reading Thankful by Shelly Gray. It is really good so far.

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    1. I've always enjoyed Amish fiction, Andrea, but I've read more this year than ever. Knowing that I will find love for family and community, as well as a strong faith element - these books have really become a "comfort" read for me.

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  32. I love all Shelley's books and I sure would love to win this one. I'll read it either way. Sharma Darby rdarby@roadrunner.com

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  33. I can see why you love Sugarcreek so much. That area is a beautiful, peaceful place. I enjoy your books.

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  34. cinloo@wowway.com
    Enjoy your books and share your love of Ohio Amish country.

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  35. would love to win...love her books
    impicbb@juno.com
    Valerie

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  36. Hello Carole. Thanks for having Shelley as a guest. I have a few of her books but just from this series and that. I do love that she writes Amish. I love the Amish books. First one I ever read was The Shunning by Beverly Lewis and I was hooked. I would love to win this one of Shelley's. Shelley, are you ever coming to the Houston area of Texas? I hope you will. Thanks for a chance.
    Maxie < mac262(at)me(dot)com >

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  37. I love your books, please keep them coming.

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  38. I would love to read your book! rita.navarre@yahoo.com

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  39. Can't wait to read the Pinecraft series! I love Shelley's books and I live in Amish Country, so that makes me like them even more!
    Doreen
    priviesandprims at[yahoo]dot[com

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  40. Hi Carole and Shelley!
    What a wonderful interview. I love Shelley's books. I have not read all of them, but have read many of them and each one that I have read has been wonderful and time well spent! Thanks for the chance to win a copy of Thankful.
    Brittany McEuen
    kbmceuen(at)yahoo(dot) com

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  41. The book looks good!!

    sierrafaith327(at)gmail(dot)com

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  42. This is a very interesting interview and I love the fact that your books circle around the Amish society. To win a copy of your book Thankful would make me most Thankful. Blessings. Robin Coxon, robeader53@yahoo.com

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  43. Wonderful interview. I would love to add another of Shelley's books to my collection. Thank you :)

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  44. Thanks for the review and interview. Shelley--if you love travel, you would love my life--I get to follow my husband around to many places. Each place we go, is for 4 weeks, so we get quite a bit of time to explore, especially on the weekends--and we DID get to go to Buenes Aires and it was a lot of fun. However, I will tell anyone going to B.A.--take plenty US cash, because the reg exchange rate is horrible, but the stores & restaurants will give you about twice what the government gives you!
    Vicki
    vmarney at hot mail dot com

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  45. I loved the 1st Sugar creek book. Can not wait to read this one. Krmike@aol.com

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  46. I love all of your books and would love to read this one, bebbiesue 45@hotmail.com

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  47. Thanks for the review! I love baking too Shelley.....if I could stay home and bake (and eat it without gaining weight)...I'd do it in a heartbeat! I love your books..keep them coming!!
    Marie Ferland
    mariefluffy at yahoo dot ca

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  48. I will be very Hopeful to win Thankful. If I do win, it'll be a Joyful moment.
    msbookwormlady(at)aol(dot)com

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  49. I love reading Shelley's books. I know this series will be good and can't wait to read them.
    onorman(at)wilkes(dot)net

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  50. I would love to win your book! I am completely out of reading and am bored to death recuperating from recent surgery once again.

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  51. forgot my e-mail address: bgauthier(at)live(dot)com

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  52. Congratulations to our winners, Gloria and Vicki! I hope you are entertained and inspired by Shelley's book. Thanks also to everyone who read Shelley's interview and left a comment. It's great to see so many who enjoy Amish fiction.

    And a special thanks to Shelley Shepard Gray for taking the time to do the interview and graciously offering two copies of Thankful. It has been a pleasure, Shelley, and I hope you'll come back.

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