Disclaimer

DISCLAIMER:

I do not read every book/author I spotlight or book tour I host!
Readers, Please research and use wisdom before buying

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

#WednesdayWordswithFriends Welcomes Stacey Weeks @WriterSWeeks!

Good Morning,

It's not often that we have the same author for Saturday Spotlight and Wendesday Words with Friends back-to-back so you're getting a real treat! Take it away, Stacey....

Shame is not the word Gloria Sycamore would have chosen to describe the emotion that lingers deep inside her. She lives most of her life in the shadow of others, never quite fitting in, never quite belonging. But all that should change on her return to Sycamore Hill. She isn’t looking for a hero’s welcome, but she does expect a friendly one. After all, she is a Sycamore, and she’s dating the local minister. But the community questions her commitment to her faith, the town, and their pastor—who they are not keen on sharing. So, Gloria sets out to prove them wrong, navigating the messy and sometimes hilarious muddy water of dating in the public eye, where nothing is private, and everything is up for debate.


My connection to Gloria
His Sycamore Sweetheart is a work of fiction. That’s an important clarification. Yet, I had so much fun writing this story because I feel a deep connection to Gloria. I’m not only a pastor’s wife, but I’m also familiar with feeling tolerated instead of welcomed and not measuring up. I think, in many ways, there is likely a little bit of Gloria in us all. I feel it when I fail to speak up or stand up or absorb hits, secretly believing I must deserve them. Shame shows up when I overreact to expressions of displeasure with me. I long to please people, and if I can’t, I feel rejected. This is exasperated in church ministry, and I can easily feel worthless, nothing, zero. This is shame. This is Gloria’s reality.

Gloria struggles with the tension of wanting to break free from expectations while feeling pressed to conform to who people expect the pastor’s girlfriend to be. She tries to read between the lines to discern what people want from her. She struggles to understand what it means to serve others and consider them better than herself.

Easy in Theory. Hard in Life.
Gloria will feel a magnetic pull toward her familiar feelings of inferiority and unworthiness. She knows Christ has made her clean. She knows sins against her say far more about the accuser than her. She knows that one touch from Jesus has replaced her shame with his honour. Yet, the feelings return, resisting the truth. To battle this, she remembers the gospel. Jesus lowered himself to elevate her. Jesus doesn’t just remove her shame; He gives her His honour. He replaces shame with honour, so she can walk in freedom.

Stacey Weeks writes faith-filled contemporary romance and romantic suspense with strong female leads and imperfect heroes. She is a multi-award-winning author, conference speaker, and Bible study teacher. She loves to read and will try almost any creative pursuit at least once. Stacey lives in Ontario with her husband of 25 years and three children. When she is not writing, she is probably jogging the trails, homeschooling her kids, or trying out a new recipe. 

Find out more about Stacey by visiting her Website and signing up for her newsletter or connecting with her on the following SM sites.

F: www.facebook.com/writerSWeeks

T: @writerSWeeks 

I: @writerSWeeks 

Get your copy of His Sycamore Sweetheart at Amazon. Check out Stacey's previous visits to our blog (and her other books) HERE.


Thanks SO much for sharing your wisdom and experience with us, Stacey. Wishing you the best of God's blessings with His Sycamore Sweetheart!

Hope you enjoyed today's post friends and that you'll check back weekly for Wednesday Words with Friends and Saturday Spotlight.

Until next time take care and God bless.

PamT

Saturday, September 24, 2022

#SaturdaySpotlight is on Stacey Weeks @WriterSWeeks & His Sycamore Sweetheart!

Good Morning from Nacogdoches, TX!

It's "Family Weekend" at Stephen F Austin State University and since my granddaughter attends college and my son works here, my daughter and I drove up Thursday evening. SIL, grandson & gd's boyfriend came up last night so my son's house is full and my heart is full having everyone (well nearly everyone) all together. We have a day filled with activities ahead of us so I'm not going to take up any more of your time, but WELCOME our guest Stacey Weeks back with another of her Sycamore Hill series books, His Sycamore Sweetheart! Take it away, Stacey....


Gloria Sycamore isn’t looking for a hero’s welcome, but she does expect a friendly one when she returns to Sycamore Hill. After all, she is a Sycamore, and she’s dating the local minister. But the community questions her commitment to her faith, the town, and their pastor—who they are not keen on sharing. So, Gloria sets out to prove them wrong, navigating the messy and sometimes hilarious muddy water of dating in the public eye, where nothing is private, and everything is up for debate.

If you like clean, small-town, faith-filled romances, you'll love visiting Sycamore Hill.

Excerpt:
It could be worse. 

Illuminated only by the light of the moon and several strategically-placed motion sensor lights, Gloria Sycamore fisted her hands on her hips. The toe of her three-inch-heeled boot tapped on the asphalt as she surveyed the jam-packed storage unit. Correction—overflowing storage unit. The contents of her life spilled out of the orange, garage-style door. Gloria righted a toaster tipped on its side, and her stomach lurched, just as it always did at the sight of her independence packed neatly into cardboard boxes with the top flaps folded over. 

Just folded, not taped. 

And neatly was a stretch.

A dot of sweat dribbled down her neck, between her shoulder blades, and over each bump in her spine in its descent. Her long-sleeved T-shirt stuck to her body like shrink wrap, and tendrils of frizzy, blonde hair had loosened from her ponytail, growing fatter and fatter with each passing, clammy second. The post-sunset coolness of the late September evening did little to moderate her inner, raging furnace. Acrylic fingernails one through eight dug into her palms, and nine and ten lay somewhere on the ground underneath her sea of belongings. She stepped around the box erupting with scarves and shoes she’d never wear in a small town as far behind in fashion trends as Sycamore Hill. In three long strides, she reached the open trunk of her car, pivoted, and paced back.

The top half of the storage unit had lots of space, but Gloria didn’t have the upper body strength to stack the boxes any higher. She should have waited for Owen. Correction. She had waited for Owen. She’d waited a whole hour. Sixty minutes. Three thousand, six hundred seconds. Now, ninety minutes later, she’d done the best she could, and it still wasn’t good enough. It was the tagline of her life. All twenty-four years. Eight thousand, seven hundred and sixty-some-odd days of not being good enough. Her armpits dampened. She’d blame the growing stains on the physical labor. Not her perceived failure.

Owen was the one who’d picked a Wednesday night for her to move her belongings home. When Gloria announced that she’d given up her apartment in the city, Owen assured her parents that he’d help her, and there was no need for her dad to risk twinging his back again. Okay. Giving up her apartment was a stretch, too. Lost was a bit more accurate. Unable-to-pay-the-rent-when-she-didn’t-have-a-job hit even closer to the truth. Evicted, if she was being totally honest. But this wasn’t about her failure. It was about Owen’s. He said that church meetings happened on Tuesday nights. Wednesday was clear. Wednesday was free. On Wednesday, he’d be all hers.

And in a nanosecond of terrible clarity, she understood what she’d been trying their entire relationship to not think about. Owen would never be wholly hers. Not as long as he was a pastor. He belonged to the church—the only acceptable mistress.

She puffed out a breath that failed to loosen the tension squeezing her chest. If Owen had come, he would have stacked the boxes. Then, she’d have a bit more room and all ten fingernails. But instead of enjoying Owen’s dry banter and benefitting from his upper body strength, she paced in front of unit twenty-one, the one that spewed waves of stuff into view of anyone who happened to drive by the fenced-off self-storage business on the outskirts of town. She pressed her lips together until they tingled. 

What to do, what to do. 

The little piggy that went to market jammed against the edge of a box with the word books scrawled in black permanent marker on the side. As her toe painfully compressed, Gloria threw her hands out to the sides for balance and knocked over a coat rack. She hopped on one foot and shook out the other, her jerky movements knocking the flap of the closest box open because, of course, she didn’t tape that one shut, either. The rhyme scheme from the familiar storybook sitting on top mocked her. When life pours you lemons, think lemonade. When the sun gets too hot, be thankful for shade.

She could use a cool drink of lemonade right about now. Her inability to secure a job after her co-op placement at Grander Nursery School ended had necessitated her move back home. Gloria didn’t want to feel thankful things weren’t worse, because right now, as she wondered who watched her from the vehicle that crawled down the road at a snail’s pace, life felt pretty bad. Unfair. Rip-roaringly frustrating. Still, she automatically followed the directions she gave her precious kiddos. Find the good.

Worse would be not having a place to store her things while she temporarily moved back into her parents’ home. Worse would be needing to live in her childhood home, when instead, she’d chosen to. Sure, the alternative was going into debt and living on credit, but it was still a choice—big difference. Worse would be losing eight more fingernails and adding a headache. Worse would be— She caught her reflection in a mirror leaning against the corner. Frizzy, blonde curls. Skin flushed to the point of blotchiness. Dark circles under her armpits. Worse would be Owen showing up and seeing her like this and deciding that maybe she wasn’t the girl for him after all. No matter how awful or ugly it gets, you can be thankful for something, I’d bet—

“Need a hand?” Owen Mason’s question interrupted the catchy rhyme.

Worse had found her again. And instead of offering her lemonade, she sucked the juices from plain, old, sour lemons. Her mouth puckered.

Despite just thinking—literally three seconds ago—that it was good Owen wasn’t here, her body responded positively to his familiar timbre. His words wrapped around her like a hug that she needed to shrug out of. She didn’t turn around. She wasn’t in a forgiving mood any more than she was in a thankful one.

“I know what you’re thinking.” She spoke to the wall.

“Do you?” 

She heard his smile, and it sanded a tiny bit of the edge off her annoyance. She drummed her fingers on her hips. “You’re probably thinking, ‘How did such a young and successful woman like Gloria Sycamore end up back in Sycamore Hill, living with her parents?’”

He chuckled. It started low and rumbled like the trolley carts the storage unit provided customers for hauling stuff from the trunk of their cars to the units. Carts she wouldn’t have used had Owen shown up on time. The comfort building in her chest cooled a bit. His footsteps dragged along the pavement with a scuffing sound. She could feel him moving closer. It had always been that way with them. 

“What else am I thinking?” His quiet question caressed the back of her neck, and she shivered from the warmth of his breath. She tried to hang onto her frustration, but she couldn’t stay mad at him. She never could. She leaned into him and further into their game.

“You’re wondering if the only reason she came back is because she couldn’t get a job.”

“Try again.”

“You’re wondering if she came back because her family lives here.”

“Wrong.” He loosely wrapped his arms around her middle and tugged her until her back pressed against his chest. If her sweaty dampness bothered him, he didn’t show it. 

“You’re wondering if she is ready for all the changes coming her way.”

He dropped a kiss on her temple.

“Because she’s thinking those things,” Gloria muttered. 

“Are those the only reasons she came back?” 

This time, steamy warmth tickled her earlobe, deliciously toasting her insides like marshmallows over a campfire. Gloria melted like s’mores. “You’re wondering if any other reason drew her back to Sycamore Hill.”

“I am.” He cinched his arms tighter and rested his chin on the top of her head. They fit perfectly like that. She stood one head shorter, even with heels. She always felt safe tucked into his arms.

“Maybe,” she murmured, not voicing the remaining questions that flitted through her mind. 

He’s wondering if she’s pastor-wife material. 

He’s wondering if his congregation will accept her.

He’s wondering if she’ll find a new job in Sycamore Hill and stay for good.

He’s wondering if they have a future. 

He’s wondering if she’s wondering about those things. 

Because she was.

Stacey writes faith-filled contemporary romance and romantic suspense with strong female leads and imperfect heroes. She is a multi-award-winning author, conference speaker, and Bible study teacher. She loves to read and will try almost any creative pursuit at least once. Stacey lives in Ontario with her husband of 25 years and three children. When she is not writing, she is probably jogging the trails, homeschooling her kids, or trying out a new recipe. 

Find out more about Stacey by visiting her Website and signing up for her newsletter or connecting with her on the following SM sites.

F: www.facebook.com/writerSWeeks

T: @writerSWeeks 

I: @writerSWeeks 

Get your copy of His Sycamore Sweetheart at Amazon. Check out Stacey's previous visits to our blog (and her other books) HERE.

THANKS so much Stacey for sharing your book with us today. We certainly wish you the best of luck and God's blessings with all your works and look forward to visiting with you again.

Until next week, Friends, take care and God bless.

PamT