My Next Big Thing

So…here’s the scoop on the long-awaited sequel to Into the Free.

YBarks-300x287ou may have noticed authors posting recently about their Next BigThing. You can read about Carla Stewart’s next big thing by visiting her blog. My answers (below) are all about my upcoming novel, WHEN MOUNTAINS MOVE due to release THIS SEPTEMBER. Enjoy!
What is your working title of your book?

When Mountains Move (Hits shelves this September!)

Where did the idea come from for the book?

This book is the sequel to Into the Free and explores the next phase of Millie’s life. I always felt there was more to Millie’s story than what was shared in the first book, and I’m grateful so many readers have asked for more. I hope folks will enjoy seeing what happens next as Millie strives to create the happy family she never had as a child.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s considered general fiction, inspirational fiction, Christian fiction, and women’s fiction. Some would call it romantic. It will also appeal to those who enjoy southern literature (since our main characters are southern), as well those who like books about the west (since they leave Mississippi to launch a ranch in the Colorado Rockies during WWII.) Choose your weapon. I don’t focus so much on how it’s boxed (I know that’s important, though). I just hope it’s a human story people like, no matter what they want to call it.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I struggle with this question so much because I never picture any real person when I’m writing my characters. I would love my characters to be depicted by actors who have never been thought of as any other character on a large scale, so they can fully become Millie, Bump, River, etc. without other well-known personality traits blurring that presentation. That said, while watching Les Miserables, I thought Samantha Barks would make a perfect Millie (pictured above). That would be my dream.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The book will be released September, 2013 by David C Cook, the phenomenal publishing company who produced my debut novel, Into the Free. I am represented by Greg Johnson, literary agent extraordinaire.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Oh goodness. This is a trick question. I really struggled to carve writing time for this sequel. I finally forced myself to focus for five weeks this summer and just get the story down on paper. That meant I had to work through five months of very heavy edits, of course. Believe me…it’s never a good idea to try to write a novel in five weeks. I remember hearing JK Rowling once admit she considered breaking her own arm to delay a deadline. I now understand how she feels. The pressure was intense.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Maybe the Big Stone Gap trilogy by Adriana Trigiani, or the Mitford Series by Jan Karon. Both are character driven series which create a world of believable people and explore the daily struggles and emotions experienced in real life. My characters live more on the gritty side of life though. I aim to show both the brutality and the beauty of this world, because life for a lot of people just isn’t pretty. But in the end, I hope my characters show how to rise above the struggles and never give up hope.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Originally, I wrote my first novel just to see if I could do it. It was on my bucket list, and turning 35 was the trigger for me. I never planned to publish it. But after the story came alive to me, I felt nudged to share it. This book is a continuation of that story, so it was all inspired by a compelling desire to push myself into uncomfortable territory and to grow stronger, braver, and more creative in the process.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Second chances. The mythic West, the Rocky Mountains, a girl trying to overcome her past. Gypsies, cowboys, ranchers. A young couple struggling to make ends meet and to love unconditionally despite many challenges to their new marriage. A journey of growth, as Millie develops deeper faith, a stronger spirit, and the ability to trust. Outlaws, renegades, and secret lovers. This book explores the complicated webs we weave, with secrets and sins, love and loyalty, faith and forgiveness. And hope.


On Becoming a Belle..and other things Southern-y

Most of you know I grew up in Louisiana, but no one would have ever described me as a Southern Belle. The only crown I ever wore was for homecoming queen (Thanks to all you crazy kiddos who thought I stood a chance in the world). I didn’t much care for beauty pageants, and we didn’t have debutante balls in our little town. It wasn’t that kind of place. In fact, I endured more of a hard-knocks, rough-livin’, survival-of-the-fittest kind of growing up that taught me early on how to love and how to let go.

So it came as a surprise to me when four leading ladies of southern literature invited me to join them as a Southern Belle. To be honest, I thought their mimosas might have bitten them a little to hard, so I quickly accepted before any of them sobered up enough to realize their great mistake. Now they’re stuck with me (evil laugh), and I’m having SO much fun!

It’s been a wonderful experience mainly because I have long admired the work of Lisa Wingate, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Rachel Hauck, and Beth Webb Hart, the four REAL Belles who let me tag along and play with the big girls. We all discuss an assigned topic each week, and I get to post my two-cents on Wednesdays.

So far, I’ve chatted about how I caught my man (Love and Marriage? Not for Me!), my obsession with Johnny Depp, my favorite reads of 2012, the world’s fastest workout, how Mr. Rogers helped me through the Sandy Hook tragedy, a year of thankful thoughts, and much more.

If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll join us on the porch where we do what southerners do best…we talk! The more the merrier, I like to say, so pull up a rocking chair, grab a glass of sweet tea, and join us. We’ll be glad to see y’all there. Follow us at: Each morning while you sip your coffee, you can take part in the mellow, quiet cyberchat about the topic of the day. Inhale. Exhale. It’s that easy. It’s like The View only slightly more sane. And much more zen. And we talk over each other, promise.

And stay tuned…next week I’m going to be revealing some BIG HINTS about the upcoming sequel to Into the Free!!!