Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Meet Virginia Smith - Interview & Book Giveaway

Ginny Smith PhotoI’m thrilled to present the always entertaining Virginia Smith. Her latest novel, Stuck in the Middle (Sister-to-Sister, Book 1) is the first of the Sister-to-Sister series. Let’s get to know Virginia…

The Bio

Virginia Smith is a writer of humorous novels, a speaker, singer, snow skier, motorcycle enthusiast, and an avid scuba diver. In 2005, she left her corporate director job to launch her career as a novelist with the release of her debut, Just as I Am, and has been cranking out God-honoring fiction ever since. An energetic speaker, she loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular, “Biblical Truth in Star Trek.” She attributes the popularity of that talk primarily to the Star Trek uniform. She splits her time between Frankfort, Kentucky, and Salt Lake City, Utah. Visit her website at www.VirginiaSmith.org.

The Interview

JA: Your next book is Stuck in the Middle. Tell us about it.
VS: Stuck in the Middle is the first book in the Sister-to-Sister Series. It’s about the middle sister, Joan, whose life is stuck. While her siblings are off building families and careers, Joan is stuck at home with her mom and aging grandmother. Then a hunky doctor moves in next door, and the fun begins. Nothing heats up a romantic interest more than a little sibling rivalry!

I think readers are going to be surprised, though. The story isn’t all fun and games. I tackle a couple of tough issues, like the difficult decisions we face as our parents and grandparents age. And the ripple effect of their parents’ divorce on young adults who are trying to build relationships of their own. I even touch on an issue that causes a lot of heated arguments in churches these days: the difference between contemporary and traditional styles of music.

I am one of three sisters, and our parents did divorce when we were young (though not for the same reason). So naturally as I wrote this book I found myself replicating my relationship with my sisters in the story. Not that the Sanderson sisters are us, but elements of each of our personalities do show up in the characters. That was a lot of fun to write.

JA: Your main character, Joan Sanderson, is a middle sister. How does being the middle child affect Joan?
VS: Though Joan loves her family and knows they love her, she feels like an outsider at times. The oldest sibling holds a place of honor in the family, and of course the baby of the family also has a special place. To make matters worse, the other two are outgoing and lively like their mother, but Joan has always been quiet, more like her father. And since her father deserted them when she was twelve, of course that drives an imaginary wedge even further between Joan and her family.

Stuck in the Middle JA: You’re one of three sisters. Where do you fall in birth order? Did you draw from your own sibling experiences when writing this book?
VS: I am the oldest. I honestly don’t know why I chose to start with the middle sister in the Sister-to-Sister Series, but Joan’s story just needed to come first. And even though I am the oldest in real life, a lot of Joan’s feelings and struggles are mine. My two sisters are incredible, awesome women. But they’re both really lively and bubbly, and I’m a little quieter. (People who know me and don’t know them find that hard to believe, but it’s true!) But they are truly my best friends, and we are extremely close. I really tried to reflect our relationships in Stuck in the Middle, and I think it came through in the fun, lively Sanderson sisters.

JA: You use humor to deal with a lot of serious issues. I have a feeling humor comes naturally to you. Is that true?
VS: I’m laughing as I answer this question. Actually, when it became apparent that I was going to make a career writing humorous books, my husband told me very seriously, as though breaking a particularly hard piece of news, “But honey, you’re not funny.” It’s true! In my day-to-day life I’m not particularly funny. When I wrote my first book, Just As I Am, I really didn’t set out to write a humorous book. But the premise of that first scene – a purple-haired girl with facial jewelry strutting down the aisle of a little country church in a leather miniskirt and tiger print blouse – was just so ludicrous! I couldn’t help picturing the faces of the conservative congregation, and the girl’s reactions to them, and as I wrote it I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe. That scene set the tone for the rest of the book, and actually, for the rest of my career so far. But I do feel that I treat serious issues with sensitivity. It’s just that after the serious stuff is over, something else funny happens.

JA: What do you hope people take away after reading Stuck in the Middle?
VS: Primarily, I hope people will find Stuck in the Middle an entertaining read. The sisters are lively and fun, and I think folks will enjoy getting to know them. Those people who've encountered differences in church worship styles (traditional versus contemporary) will enjoy seeing how that plays out in the book. And those who experienced their parents' divorce when they were children will hopefully find comfort and inspiration as Joan Sanderson does. And, of course, I want people to fall in love with the hunky doctor who moves in next door, too!

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
VS: I just finished Age before Beauty, book 2 in the Sister-to-Sister Series, and I still have to write Last but Not Least. So that’s on the agenda. I also write romantic mysteries, and I have one coming out in October called A Taste of Murder. That’s going to be a fun book. Not as funny as my others, but the heroine is a little quirky and the premise is humorous, so I think people will enjoy it. I just finished the proposal for a sequel to that book, so I’ll probably be writing that within the next few months as well.

JA: What’s something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
VS: Hmmm… okay, here’s something. I have always loved to sing, and still do sing whenever I can. But most people don’t know that I sang with a traveling contemporary Christian group called the Joyful Sound for three years back in the late 90’s. Once when the group was singing in a church in Colorado, Sandi Patti came into the church and sat in the back of the sanctuary for our concert. We were singing an arrangement of Amazing Grace that she had recorded, and I was the top soprano, so I was singing her part. Talk about nerves! I had to hit a high C at the end of that song, and through the whole song I kept thinking, “I’m going to miss it. It’s going to be flat.” But I nailed it! That was a total thrill.

JA: If you had a week to go to a luxurious spa and do nothing but be pampered and read, what books would you take along?
VS: Oh, that’s a tough question, because I would take something I haven’t read before. If I was going soon, I would take Symphony of Secrets by Sharon Hinck. I absolutely adored her Sword of Lyric series. And if Sharon Dunn had a new Bargain Hunter Mystery Series book out, I’d take that. And anything by Tamara Leigh – Splitting Harriet was a terrific book. Another one I’ve been wanting to try is not a Christian book. It’s called Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. Everyone I’ve talked to who has read it does nothing but rave, and I mean really rave, about it. So my interest has been piqued. But I’m hesitant because it’s apparently about vampires. I haven’t been able to read a vampire book since Salem’s Lot back in the 80’s scared me so badly I slept with my lights on for a month!

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
VS: I keep my website updated – www.VirginiaSmith.org. The “Fun Stuff” page always has good stuff, and that’s where I also post all the contests. Which reminds me – the contest I’m conducting (with my publisher) to promote Stuck in the Middle is a terrific one. I’m giving away a $500 shopping spree! Details can be found at www.virginiasmith.org/contest.html. I hope people will check it out!

Thanks so much for the interview, Jenn! I enjoyed ‘chatting’ with you!

Thank you, Virginia, and continued blessings on your writing journey!

Win the Book
Stuck in the Middle is in stores now, but you can win a copy here. Just leave a reply to this blog. The winner will be picked at random on February 12th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!


Nora St. Laurent said...

This looks like a really good book. I liked the interview. Please put my name in for the drawing.

Lori said...

Great interview! Please sign me up. :)

aaronandlori (at) gmail (dot) com

scaramouche9999 said...

Sign me up too. Virginia and I are becoming buddies through Mt. Hermon, so I'd love to have something she wrote. THanks for hosting!!
Donald James Parker

Julie Lessman said...

Great interview, Jen and Virginia! Hey Virginia, I love the cover of Stuck in the Middle. I'm a Revell author, too, and I think they do a great job.

Sign me up for the contest -- the book sounds GREAT!!


Janna said...

Being the middle child myself, I would love to read this book...

ryanx6 at msn dot com

Amy said...

please enter me...I think this book sounds really good.

gheidema said...

Please enter me. I'd love to win this book.

bookwurm70 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Cherie J said...

This book sounds so good. Please enter me in the drawing.


Anonymous said...

I loved Ginny's other books, and would love to have this one! please enter me, thanks!

Stacey said...

This book sounds wonderful. Please put my name in the drawing. Thanks.


Donna Moore said...

I would love to win. Great interview. runninmama[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

Jennifer AlLee said...

Hey Ladies - And Donald!

Thanks for stopping by. Glad to see the interest in the book. Ginny's awesome! Don't forget to stop by her website and enter her contest, too.

aBookworm said...

Fun interview! And the book sounds promising - I'd love to read it.

I've also included it in my blog post at my book review/contest blog - A Book Blogger's Diary

Hope that's ok with you. Thanks!

Patty said...

Sounds like a fun book. Count me in.

pleblanc_1 at charter dot net

Maureen said...

Thanks for the interview. I would love to win the book.


buddyt said...

Sounds like a book I would like to read.

Please include me in the draw.
Thanks you.

bthompson {AT} uti [dot] co.za


Carol said...

I enjoyed the interview very much. Stuck in the Middle sounds good! Please include me the drawing.

mittens0831 AT aol DOT com

Julie P. said...

This book looks like something I would really enjoy! Please sign me up for the drawing!

melrymom said...

"Stuck in the Middle" sounds like the start to a fun series! I love to find new series books that I can read from start to finish. Please enter me in your drawing!!

Rhonda said...

Hi Great interview! Please include me in your drawing.

Thanks So Much!


Dona Watson said...

I'd love a chance to win this book. Thanks!

dlwatsonat[verizon ]dot]net

Mama C said...

My book club told me about Virginia's books and I would really love to win one to read.


Blogger said...

Earn faucet bitcoins over at CLAIM BTC. Up to 57 satoshis every 20 mins.