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Saturday, May 15, 2021

#SaturdaySpotlight is on Amanda Wen @AuthorAmandaWen & Roots of Wood and Stone!

Good Morning Friends!

Well, May just keeps marching on and the afternoon temps around here reflect that, although, we've been blessed with cooler nights which is a huge relief. Those Gulf waters need to stay as cool as possible for as long as they can to keep those storms off of us.

Today's guest is brand new to our blog and brought to us by Audra Jennings Publicity and Kregel Publications with her debut novel, Roots of Wood and Stone, so please give her a HUGE, SWLA       W-E-L-C-O-M-E!

Sloane Kelley was abandoned at birth, and while she wants more than anything to learn where she came from, her family roots remain a mystery. As curator of the Sedgwick County Museum of History, Sloane has dedicated her life to making sure others can connect with their history. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn’t expect much from the common artifact; after all, the museum has a few on display and more in storage. However, she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary. Now, she’s on the hunt to see if there’s more where it came from. 

Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother’s historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. He’s always been the responsible one, and with her advancing Alzheimer’s, he can’t afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles after he takes a few things to the local museum: Sloane, who’s fallen in love with both the diaries and the old house, and his own heart, which is drawn to Sloane. Selling the house that holds so much history will disappoint both Sloane and his sister, Lauren, who is doing her best to care for their grandmother, but Garrett finds himself in an impossible situation.

A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love—and a God who faithfully carried her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.

And Sloane may just find her roots in a place she never would have expected.

Roots of Wood and Stone is set in the area of Kansas Wen has lived in most of her life. In fact, the story is inspired by aspects of her own family history. “One of my favorite things about split time is watching the contemporary characters dig into the past,” Wen explains. “My mother is a genealogist who’s been tracing our family history since before I was born, and her passion for uncovering our family’s stories has been an important backdrop my entire life. Her research has given me an appreciation for those who came before and a desire to pass along this appreciation to my own kids.” As an homage to her mother and all the rest of her ancestors, Wen named many of the people and places in the book after family. Parts of their stories are even woven into the historical portion of the book.

Wen not only offers readers two plotlines filled with plenty of history and romance wrapped into one story, she mixes in a healthy dose of humor and strong faith elements as well. “All my characters have deep needs that they try to fill through other means (achievement, research, hard work, planning, etc.), but throughout the story they learn that only God can fill those needs,” Wen shares. “He has a beautiful plan, one that goes far beyond anything we could ever ask or imagine, and he takes all our broken pieces and loose ends and weaves those trials into a tapestry more beautiful than we could possibly imagine. He is always there, faithfully guiding our steps, even—or perhaps especially—when we’re not aware of it. I hope my readers will trust him, his individual love and care for each of us, and his perfect plan just a little bit more after they close this book.”

Excerpt: Sloane Kelley stood in the lobby of the Sedgwick County Museum of History, the thick buffalo robe hanging warm and heavy on her arms. A line of first graders filed past to stroke the robe’s coarse brown fur. But no matter how many little hands poked and prodded that robe, it held up. It was resilient.

Just like the pioneers who’d worn it.

The last child, a girl with wide brown eyes and a riot of red curls, trailed her hand over the robe. “It’s softer than I thought it’d be.”

“That’s a great observation.” Sloane loved those light-bulb moments when history came to life.

“That is a great observation, Josie.” Mrs. McPherson, the dark-haired teacher charged with controlling the chaos, rewarded her student with a warm smile.

But Josie looked instead to a beaming, T-shirt-clad woman at the back of the room. Same brown eyes, same coppery curls.

Mother and daughter, no doubt.

Jaw tight, Sloane turned to hang the robe on its wooden rack. She scanned the placard beside it, covered with facts she’d researched. Facts to fill gaps in people’s knowledge.

A semi-successful cover for the utter lack of facts about her own past.

Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. She has placed first in multiple writing contests, including the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity, the 2017 Phoenix Rattler, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions contests. She was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest finalist.

Wen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and regularly contributes author interviews for their Fiction Finder feature. She also frequently interviews authors for her blog and is a contributor to the God Is Love blog. Her debut novel, Roots of Wood and Stone, releases from Kregel Publications on February 2, 2021.

In addition to her writing, Wen is an accomplished professional cellist and pianist who frequently performs with orchestras, chamber groups, and her church’s worship team. She serves as a choral accompanist as well. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Wen lives in Kansas with her patient, loving, and hilarious husband, their three adorable Wenlets, and a snuggly Siamese cat.

To find Amanda Wen’s blog and short stories, visit www.amandawen.com. Readers can also follower her on Facebook (@AuthorAmandaWen), Twitter (@AuthorAmandaWen), and Instagram (@authoramandawen). 

Roots of Wood and Stone can be found at Amazon and where other great Christian fiction is sold.

Thank YOU, So Much, Amanda for sharing your debut novel with us! We wish you the best of luck and God's blessings with it.



D. V. STONE said...

Congratulations, Amanda. Best of luck with your writing. Pam, I'm enjoying the same here in NJ we get pretty humid here too. Can't imagine it down there.

Barbara Britton said...

Hi Amanda! Congratulations on your debut novel. I hope I get to hear you play the cello at an in-person writing conference soon.

Kelly Goshorn said...

Hi Amanda and Pam,

I've been wanting to read this book for sooooo long!!! This looks fabulous! Best of luck on your debut!

Kara O'Neal said...

Hello! Congratulations on your first novel. I love stories where the couple from the present must use things from the past to figure out their current path. Sounds wonderful!

Karen Malley said...

This sounds like a wonderful story, and I loved the excerpt! Best of luck with your release!

Amanda Wen said...

Thank you all so much for stopping by and leaving your sweet encouragement!! I'm not sure how to reply to individual comments (if technology and I were to list our relationship status on Facebook, we'd select "It's Complicated"), so I'll do that here!

D. V.--Kansas gets pretty humid in the summer, too. I'm not super excited about it.

Barbara--Thank you so much!! I hope so, too! I'm headed to the Northwestern Christian Writers Conference in July in St. Paul, but I'm flying, so the cello won't be coming with me. But I'm hoping to bring it next time ACFW is within driving distance!

Kelly--Thank you so much!! I hope you enjoy the book!

Kara--Thank you!! I love those stories, too!!

Karen--Hooray! Glad you liked the excerpt! Thank you so much for the encouragement!

Alina K. Field said...

How wonderful that you could draw on your own family history in writing this story. Congratulations on the book!

Mary Preston said...

I love finding an author on their debut. Fabulous to follow their work from there on in.

Audrey said...

Congratulations, Amanda, on the debut! It's always so exciting to see a writer's path to publication. Great job!

Alicia Dean said...

Wow...sounds like a fascinating story. Your main characters definitely have a lot of angst and conflict. Enjoyed the excerpt. Congrats and best wishes!