January 9, 2019 - K. Dawn Byrd
We're so happy to have Ann Marie Stewart will us today talking about her book Stars in the Grass. To learn more about Ann Marie and her book, read on!
Please tell us five random things we might not know about you. I won a Grammy, midwife to lambs in our flock, maiden name was 13 letters long, National Anthem soloist for Seattle Mariners, did a mini triathlon, won a Christy.
Why did you choose to write this book?
I first wrote a short story about what I most feared: losing a child, even though I wasn't married and didn't have any children. By writing my fears, it was as if I could keep it from happening.
What one thing about writing do you wish non-writers would understand? Don't correct periods and commas when first you read my drafts. See the big picture.
What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?
Writing in unfamiliar time periods and places I've never been or cannot go to because of security issues.
What do you hope readers to take away from your novel?
Hope and humor. That no matter what they go through in life, there is hope and one day they will laugh again.
What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of, writing-related or not?
I love my kids. I can't take credit for them but I'm so absolutely PROUD of what they are studying: Middle East and Peace and Conflict Management, Nursing.
What do you do for fun when not writing?
Cheering on UVA Basketball, watching This is Us and Madame Secretary, waterskiing.
What are you working on now?
- a 30K word romantic holiday novella about a Capitol Christmas and a holiday bet gone awry.
- Out of the Water: A 90K word time slip novel about a young woman's search for her birth mother and how she unravels 5 generations of secrets
- Mama's Liebling: A Memoir about my grandparents' escape from Russia and why they had to leave a child behind.
Back cover blurb
Nine-year-old Abby McAndrews has just experienced her greatest loss, and in its wake, her family is unraveling with guilt, grief, and anger. Her father, Reverend McAndrews, cannot return to the pulpit because he has more questions than answers. Her older brother Matt’s actions speak louder than the words he needs to confess, as he acts out in dangerous ways. Her mother tries to hold her grieving family together, but when Abby’s dad refuses to move on, the family is at a crossroads.
Stars in the Grass, set in a small Midwestern town in 1970, is an uplifting novel that explores a family’s relationships and resiliency. Abby’s heartbreaking remembrances are balanced by humor and nostalgia as her family struggles with—and ultimately celebrates—life after loss.
Please give us the first page of the book.
I spent the better part of my childhood sitting on a pew in the balcony of Bethel Springs First Presbyterian Church, listening to my dad’s long vowels as he preached on predestination. Sandwiched between my older brother, Matt, and my little brother, Joel, I counted bald heads, doodled on church bulletins, and studied the stained-glass Jesus.
Reverend McAndrews was godlike and mysterious. Definitely not the same man who read to us from Dr. Seuss, ran through the sprinkler on steamy Ohio summer afternoons, or smiled as we played hide-and-go-seek in his Father’s House.
Though I can’t remember many of his three-point sermons, I have other good memories. One Sunday during a hymn, Matt and I sang loudly, changing the words to our liking, “Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear,” and crossing our eyes for added effect. When we sat back down, I rested the hymnal on the railing and fanned myself by riffling through the pages. Then it happened. Ontoone of the fifty-one shining bald heads below, I dropped the hymnal.