Thursday, August 18, 2011

Welcome Sandra Byrd, author of To Die For

So thrilled to host author Sandra Byrd on my blog talking about her latest novel, To Die For.

Sandra, why did you write To Die For?

I am a lifelong Tudorphile, so writing books set in that era was a dream for me. I've always loved Anne Boleyn. From a faith point of view, those reformation years were critical to refinement and revival in Christianity. Yet I found that while Anne's faith, and the faith of her friends, was well covered in nonfiction, fiction often ignored or downplayed her convictions altogether, often though not always portraying her as either vixen or victim. I wanted to add some shading and nuance to the genre and telling it from Meg Wyatt's point of view allowed me to do that. The fact is, the Boleyns in general and Anne in particular were instrumental in the English Reformation. The Wyatt family, too, produced more than Thomas the poet, as much as I like him. Meg, and John Rogers, played what I think were much more significant roles.

Tell us a little bit about the book?

Meg Wyatt has been Anne Boleyn's closest friend ever since they grew up together on neighboring manors in Kent. So when twenty-five-year-old Anne's star begins to ascend, of course she takes Meg along for the ride.

Life in the court of Henry VIII is first. Meg is made mistress of Anne's wardrobe, and she enjoys the spoils of this privileged orbit and uses her influence for good. She is young and beautiful and in favor; everyone at court assumes that being close to her is being close to Anne.

But favor is fickle and envy is often laced with venom. As Anne falls, so does Meg, and it becomes nearly impossible for her to discern ally from enemy. Suddenly life's unwelcome surprises rub against court's sheen to reveal the tarnished brass of false affections and the bona fide gold of those are true. Both Anne and Meg may lose everything. When your best friend is married to fearsome Henry VIII, you may soon find yourself not only friendless but headless as well.

A rich alchemy of fact and fiction, To Die For chronicles the glittering court life, the sweeping romance, and the heartbreaking fall from grace of a forsaken queen and Meg, her closest companion, who was forgotten by the ages but who is destined to live on in our hearts forever.

What do you find most challenging about writing, Sandra?

Two things. Practically speaking, time. It takes much more time than ever before to author books. Time to research, to write, to edit, to connect with readers via the internet, to meet with people on social media and face to face. I love it all - just need four hands and two brains and forty hours in a day!

Secondly, writing books is a much more public profession than it used to be. People review your books and post their thoughts all over the web. It's so nice that people are reading, but it can be hard to wonder, every day, what people might be saying about you and your work.

How do you work through this challenge?

I'm trying to keep firm boundaries on my writing schedule, so that I am not online more than I need to be, and that I don't take on more projects than I can handle well. As for the reviews, I remind myself that I do my best to write good books and once I put the baby in the basket, as it were, it's out there to be discovered and commented upon by anyone. And that's okay.

Where can my readers find you on the web?

Please visit me online at my website You can also link to me on Facebook and Twitter from there. I hope your readers will also sign up for my e-postcards (where I am also giving away two Kindles) so I can keep in touch! If you’d like to visit some of the castles and palaces “virtually,” please visit the "Castles and Palaces" page on my website where there are lots of wonderful photos.

Thank you, Sandra, for joining us this week on "The Write Stuff." Much success with your novel, To Die For!

Monday, August 8, 2011

About Staci Stallings, Guest Blogger on "The Write Stuff"

A stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading. Although she lives in Amarillo, Texas and her main career right now is her family, Staci touches the lives of people across the globe every week with her various Internet endeavors including:
Books In Print, Kindle, & FREE on Spirit Light Works:

Spirit Light Books--The Blog


Staci’s website

Come on over for a visit…

You’ll feel better for the experience!

I'll Win it For You by Guest Bogger, Staci Stallings

The game was tight. Arch-rivals had faced off for three and a half periods in a seesaw battle that was going down to the wire. As the clock ticked down, the two sides traded the lead back and forth. Neither could be assured of victory because with the game so close, anything could happen.

From the sideline, the coach watched his team getting more and more apprehensive as the seconds ticked away. They were missing shots they never missed. They were missing opportunities they didn’t miss. Even their body language said, “This is bad. We might lose this one.”

With less than a minute left, the coach called a time out. Now he knew that every girl on that court had been over the plays a million times. They didn’t need elaborate help to set up a play for a last second win. They needed to calm down and play the way they knew how to play. So when they bent into that huddle, the coach told them something more than a little unconventional. “Go out there. Play the game. Have fun. Do your best, and I’ll win it for you.”

No pressure instructions. No you have to win this or we lose to our rivals. No anxiety-inducing strategy. Simply, “Go play, and I’ll win it for you.”
To my way of thinking, that was an audacious statement because in reality, it wouldn’t be the coach taking the shot that would win or lose the game. He would be standing on the sideline with no direct control whatsoever. However, this coach knew something about the training these girls had been through, and he knew without a doubt they could do it. The problem was they didn’t know they could do it, and so, he let them rely not on themselves for the win but on him.

The amazing thing to me when I really started thinking about this statement is that what that coach told his team is exactly what Jesus tells each one of us: “Go out there. Play the game. Have fun. Do your best, and I’ll win it for you.”

We think it’s all on us—that we have to get everything right, do everything perfectly, or our “win” will never materialize. In fact, we get sucked into this mentality that Heaven may be just out of our reach no matter what we do. However, I think the reality is that Jesus is the coach standing on the sideline having full faith that we can do everything He’s trained us to do. We can love just like He’s shown us. We can give; we can live—not because we can do it on our own but because He’s right there, and He has faith that we have been given everything we need to win through Him.

I’m sure you know the end of the story. When the buzzer sounded, the team who had just gone out, had fun, and done their best was victorious.

One day the final buzzer of your life will sound, and the question at that moment will be this: Did you allow Jesus to be your coach? Did you have faith that He would win the game for you—or are you still trying to win it yourself? It’s a question worth contemplating.

Staci Stallings (c) 2003

Daddy's Hands

Often my grandchildren ask me to tell them a story about when I was a little girl. Here is one of their favorites in honor of my Daddy...