The Gift of Story

Merry Christmas!

I am still on a bit of a blogging hiatus. I’ve been writing quite a bit, but for reasons I cannot explain, I haven’t been able to string together a decent post here…on my own site.

*sigh*

Truthfully, I miss blogging. I miss the days of yore when I could sit down and punch out a funny story in less than an hour. I think there will be time for that again some day.

Or maybe there won’t.

I’m not entirely sure just yet. But I do know one thing, I am as addicted to the written word as I ever was before. In fact, I’ve made it a point to spend more time reading these last couple of months.

I needed to lose myself in story again to remember why I loved it so much.

I’ve also been working on my second book. With very few moments to spare in my days, the down time I’ve had has been spent developing new characters. The process is a slow one, but my plan is to finish the manuscript by early summer.

*fingers crossed*

In the meantime, here are a few of my book recommendations for you all! Give the gift of story this Christmas (and, in some cases, your gift may just benefit others in need).

1.) Like a River From Its Course – Kelli Stuart

Come on, now. You didn’t think I’d compile a list of books and not include my own, did you? *wink*

I received a lovely review of my novel this week. I’m grateful for every review that comes through, but truth be told I love reviews from men just a little more. If I can win over a male reader with my writing, then I feel like I’ve accomplished something.

“This is the best historical novel I have read this year. It was moving, powerful, amazing. I have been on a mission trip to Ukraine and the people there remember the horrors of WWII. Thank you for telling their stories so eloquently.” Doc Kirby

Have you purchased your copy of Like a River From Its Course yet? When you do, a portion of the proceeds go to Hope House Ukraine, a ministry of World Hope Canada working with girls who have aged out of orphanages.

 

2.) Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom – Wendy Speake and Kelli Stuart

My second book released in September, and this is the perfect gift for the creative moms in your life. Wendy and I have had so many sweet compliments about this book, and I am equally proud of it.

Purchase Life Creative today and bless a young mom who feels a bit lost in motherhood. A portion of the proceeds from this book are sent to Lulu Tree, a ministry that aims to “prevent tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers.

3.) A Cup of Dust – Susie Finkbeiner

Susie Finkbeiner’s historical fiction novel set in the 1930’s Oklahoma was a beautiful, heart wrenching story. I had never heard of the Dust Bowl, and after reading her book I did a little research and was fascinated to learn more about this devastating time in our nation’s history.

You’ll get lost in the compelling characters that Finkbeiner has created, and what’s better is that the sequel, A Trail of Crumbs, releases in just a couple of months. I had the privilege of reading the second installment in her series early, and I can tell you it is as well written and researched as the first book.

4.) 7 Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness – Eric Metaxes

I’m about a quarter of the way into this book, and I couldn’t love it more. As the mother of two daughters, I love stories of strong women who leave a big impact. Eric Metaxes, the author of Bonhoeffer (one of my favorite biographies) brings the stories of some of the greatest female leaders to life in this book.

From Susanna Wesley to Corrie ten Boom, Mother Teresa to Joan of Arc, Metaxes gives readers a glimpse into the lasting impact of these strong women.

 

5.) The Tale of Despereaux – Kate DiCamillo

This book is a gem. It isn’t a new book, and many of you may have read it before, but I never had so I was thrilled when it was on the list of books for Landon’s literature class this fall.

The Tale of Despereaux is pure magic from beginning to end. Kate DiCamillo is a master at bringing story to life, portraying deep lessons through the most lovable of characters. The kids and I read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane last year and loved that story just as much.

This is a must read for parents and kids alike!

6.) Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty

I met Liane Moriarty this past September at the #ReadSavannah event in Savannah, Georgia. She was witty, gracious, and generous with her time as she promoted her new bestseller, Truly Madly Guilty.

I enjoyed the book (though admittedly, I liked Big Little Lies better). This is a book of secrets, connections, and the common event that changed multiple lives. It’s a page turner from beginning to end.

7.) All the Pretty Things – Edie Wadsworth

I love a good memoir, and my friend Edie did not disappoint with this beautiful book in which she shared the beauty and brokenness of her youth. You will be encouraged, blessed, and moved by Edie’s poignant prose, beautiful storytelling, and big love for all the pretty things.

8.) Carry On, Mr. Bowditch – Jean Lee Latham

Tia has been reading this book in her literature class, and she and I both love it. It’s a tough read for the younger kids, but the language is rich. At times, I’ve read out loud to her, and other times she’s read it herself.

Be warned, the book is sad. Tia and I both have wiped our eyes several times while reading.

9.) Carrot Top Paper Shop Bookmarks 

Every reader needs a bookmark to hold her place, and adorable bookmarks make reading all the more fun. I’ve fallen in love with Carrot Top Paper Shop in recent months. Her prints of literary heroines are too cute, and she has bookmarks to match!

Buy a bookmark for the book lover in your life. They make perfect stocking stuffers!

10.) The Puffin Hardcover Classics Box Set

I’m hard core coveting these books right now.

And also this set.

Not only are they the classics we all know and love, but they are gorgeous, making bookshelves as visually appealing as they are emotionally appealing.

These would be a wonderful collection to wrap up under the tree as a family gift. Or you could just send the entire box set to me if you want. I won’t argue. 

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This is my personal Tep Ten list of perfect gifts for the bookworm. What about you? What would you add to this list?

*This post contains affiliate links

Making Space

There is a lot of noise in my house.

A lot of noise.

I do not have quiet children. I have the loud, gregarious type of children who enjoy being seen and heard, some of them more than others. And the more the noise ramps up, the more this mama feels like she is losing it.

It’s not just their voices, though. They’re into music now, so there’s always music playing in the background, which I love. I always dreamed of having a house filled with music and laughter. Only, and I’m revealing my age here, their music is loud and…dare I say annoying?

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And it isn’t so much laughter that’s floating through the halls of my home as it is a mixture of bickering, posturing to be heard, and the telling of silly jokes that I think are supposed to be funny, but 99% of the time I don’t get the punchline.

I think maybe I am the punchline.

It’s been an intense season around here. No one told method launching two books in three months would leave me feeling poured out in ways I didn’t know possible. I hesitate to say anything because it sounds like I’m complaining.

For the record, I am not complaining.

If I were to list the number of blessings to come out of the last five months, this blog post would turn into a short novella. It’s been a wild, but extremely exciting ride, culminating in the release of the books, both of which I am immensely proud.

I’m also immensely tired.

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I’ve felt all poured out the last couple of weeks. I sit down to write, and the words feel stuck. They can’t seem to make it from my fingers to the page, which is a problem when you make your living as a writer.

I think I just need some time. I need time to be with my family and not feel rushed.

I need time to exercise, coaxing my loose muscles back into shape.

I need time to let my neck heal, since I somehow seem to have injured it with all this rigorous book launching. (It’s ridiculous, I know. But I refuse to say my neck hurts because I’m getting old. I’m sticking with the whole “writing injury” thing.)

There’s this sense of angst that settles in my heart when I consider taking a break. Part of the business of writing requires that you build an audience. Know your people and talk to them. Publishers like that.

The truth is I like it, too. I like sharing my life with readers, and in turn I like them sharing their lives with me. But it’s time for me to give myself a little space.

I’ll be taking a blogging break. I just need to give myself the freedom to step back, not completely. I’ll still be sharing on Instagram, and on Facebook, and occasionally on Twitter. I would love to have you follow me in one of those spaces.

But I’m going to let this space breath for a little while. Because here’s the thing:

I’m working on a new book.

I’m really excited about it. I love the characters already, and I’m fleshing out the details. I’m ready to start diving in, but I need to give myself a break in other places in order to let my brain process. So I’ll be quiet in this space for awhile, but I do hope you’ll stay connected.

Because this journey is so much more fun with community.

If you haven’t picked up your copy of Like a River From Its Course, grab one today! Did you know the book made the CBA Bestseller list this month? It’s up there alongside Beth Moore and Francine Rivers, and WHAT THE WHAT?!

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And if you haven’t gotten your copy of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom, then I’d love for you to snag a copy of it as well. It’s being hailed as a beautiful love letter to motherhood, and that’s exactly what we hoped it would be!

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Happy Monday, everyone! I’ll be around, so find me and let’s keep connecting! Big love for you all!

*affiliate links provided

An Invitation to Celebrate a Life Creative

I was twenty years old, and I was living alone in Kiev, Ukraine.

Not totally alone, of course. I was living with a young, Ukrainian couple who spoke English (but often refused to speak it because they wanted me to become fluent in Russian), but I didn’t have any peers with me on the trip.

I was in Ukraine for two solid months before I even met another American. Looking back, I know this was a good thing. It forced me to adapt to the culture and the language, and it made me brave.

But I was lonely those four months. Trying to communicate in another language is exhausting. In the early days when I was completely alone, my only respite came from 3:00-4:00 in the afternoons after school.

I’d arrive home to an empty apartment and turn on the TV. Beverly Hills 90210 played weekday afternoons, and the translation lagged just enough behind the English that I could tune it out and listen to the show in my native tongue.

I never watched that show as a young girl, but I saw nearly every episode in Ukraine. I became well acquainted with Brandon, and Brenda, and Dillan, and Kelly, and all the others whose names I can’t remember now…

Outside of riveting television, though, I found my greatest comfort inside the pages of my journals. I wrote until my hand hurt, recording everything from the mundane moments of my days to the hysterical gaffes I made (I slipped on ice and fell on my butt more than once rushing to and from school).

After a weekend excursion to Prague, I came home with an English language copy of the book Jane Eyre, which I’d found in a little store near Charles Bridge. I devoured that book twice in my remaining months in Ukraine, and suddenly my journal pages were filled with poetic imagery. I used language like, “the leaves dance to the ground in a silent waltz,” and “the birds soar above my head on wings of freedom.”

WHO TALKS LIKE THAT?!

Twenty-Year-Olds who have too much alone time, that’s who.

It’s been 18 years since that life-changing experience. 18 years since I sat on a bench on a Ukrainian hillside overlooking the Dnieper River, and vowed to become a storyteller.

The book that began simmering and bubbling in my heart all those years ago is now receiving rave reviews, and I still can’t believe that dream came true.

But what’s even more amazing is that it was just the beginning. That was only the first spark in my creative journey. It’s been a slow burn, sometimes dimmed by the pressures of every day life.

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Motherhood slowed down the dream, but in a good way, because motherhood was a dream in and of itself. I’m living both dreams side-by-side, and it’s a messy little blending of the two. But I wouldn’t have it any other way, because this is better than anything I could have imagined 18 years ago as a lonely American student in Ukraine.

It’s also harder than I thought it would be.

Beautiful. Hard. Messy. Dream.

Those words all fit together in this puzzle of life. They’re tangled up, each piece getting its turn to take the spotlight.

In just one short month, my second book hits shelves.

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Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom releases on September 27. This is a book written for moms who are walking the line between motherhood and art. It’s a book for moms who had dreams long before they had children, and they want to know if it’s possible to blend the two parts of themselves.

Would you like to read an early release copy of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom? The launch team is forming, and a PDF copy of the book is available for download for a limited time.

Click here to sign up for the launch team. You’ll be sent instructions on how to download the book, as well as how to join a private Facebook group for launch team members.

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Creative moms are coming together and linking arms, all of us agreeing that this life creative is equal parts grand and exhausting. We’d love to have you join us as we bring this encouraging message to all the moms who remember dreaming on a hillside so many years ago.

Join the Life Creative Launch Team today!

The Calming Power of Silence

I didn’t realize how much I loved silence until I didn’t have it.

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There is a cacophony of sound that thrums it’s way through the walls of my home from very early until very late. Laughter, whining, shrieks of delight, cries of frustration, music, television, arguing, playing, balls bouncing, and the list could go on. It starts often before the sun rises, and stops long after she tucks back below the horizon.

And I feel like I’m losing my mind.

Summertime means an uptick in the sound, and that’s okay. For the most part, I welcome this noise. It’s all signs of life. I’m not so overwhelmed as to miss the blessing in the messy music of my family, but every once in awhile I dream of running away. Far, far away…

We spent a full week on vacation. Six of us crammed into one small hotel room, one small rental car, one short window of time. It was truly a lovely week. My kids are growing into wonderful people, and I can look back on our week together and think of so much joy, which buried the few moments of stress. Yay us!

But we’re home now, and they’re still on summer break, and it’s just so noisy!

The irony of this is that I am currently sitting at my kitchen table in a completely silent house. Everyone is still asleep, and somehow I’ve been afforded these few solitary moments to myself…and I don’t quite know what to do with all this silence.

Of course these quiet moments came with a price, as I was awakened at 3:30 this morning by a fussy toddler, and I never went back to sleep.

Please send coffee.

As I sit here, I keep hearing little bumps and creaks as the house groans her way into a new day, and each time a noise pops, I look around wildly, waiting for someone to come out and shatter the quiet.

It’s sort of like motherhood PTSD – every little noise makes me cringe.

Maybe I’m not alone in this. Maybe you feel the same way? Perhaps you long for just a few solitary moments of quiet in the midst of bustling, nonstop days. Surely I’m not the only one who finds herself escaping to the closet a few times each day just to block out the noise.

Am I?

So what do we do? Because the prevailing theme of motherhood is that we should enjoy these fleeting days because they go by fast. I don’t deny that. My oldest is a teenager now. I blinked my eyes, and he was suddenly as tall as me. I know these days are fleeting. But let’s be honest – a day that starts at 3:30 drags on forever. And ever and ever and ever…

And so, I write this one to those of you who are longing for silence amidst the fleeting days of parenting. What can you do?

Escape, maybe?

Not forever, of course. Running away from home would be frowned upon. But you can escape for a few minutes, if not for a few days.

Turn off your phone. Eliminate the noise of the world. Close the door to your bedroom. Close your eyes, and just breath in the silence.

The children will find you, of course. It’s inevitable. But you’d be amazed at the calming power of a few moments of silence.

And when the kids finally go back to bed and you crawl beneath the sheets, embrace the silence for however long it lasts. Because someday, it will last much longer than you like.

It turns out even silence can be loud.

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I have some fun news to share with everyone!

I’ve been selected to present Like a River From Its Course at the 2016 Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading, and I am thrilled!

Watch the video for more information, and if you’re in Florida I would love to have you come join me on Saturday, November 12 as I share more of the firsthand stories that influenced the book!

Have you ordered your copy of Like a River From Its Course yet? Hop on over to Amazon and get your copy today! 

*affiliate link included

Welcome New Readers!

“There are few moments when you receive a book and it just captures your attention and demands to be read. This is one of those books. It is powerful, emotional and full of passion. I cried, smiled and my heart broke at various times throughout the book. I was so attached when I first opened this book, it came with me to soccer practice and I read it the whole time we were there. It was definitely a book I read in one sitting and then re-read over again to further appreciate it.” Amazon review

It’s been just under a month since Like a River From Its Course released, and what a ride it’s been. I’ve been overwhelmed with the response to the book, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of this process. So may of you made it an exciting time for me, and I could not be more thankful.

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“Like a River From Its Course is an emotional, moving story that will leave you horrified by the depth of human depravity and yet inspired by the characters’ courage and faith in the midst of adversity. The author’s research shines through this book, as there is an air of realism that permeates the pages. The fact that I was reading about characters whose experiences were based on true stories made them all the more heart-breaking to read about. Kelli Stuart writes with a sure hand, with carefully crafted scenes and the ability to bring her characters to life.” Amazon Review

As I continue to share and spread the word about Like a River From Its Course, it’s also time for me to begin shifting my focus toward the next book launch.

In just two months, my second book will release. CRAZY! Who’s idea was it to release two books in four months?!

Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom is co-authored with my dear friend, Wendy Speake, and I’m unendingly grateful to have her on board this time around. She’s like a book marketing ninja, which is good because I’m almost brain dead after this last month.

Many of you are new to the website, and I’m so glad to have you here! Feel free to poke around.

Visit this page to learn a little more about me.

Visit this page to read some of the true stories that inspired Like a River From Its Course.

Click here to find a synopsis of the book, as well as Pinable images for sharing!

Read this post to see how your purchase of Like a River From Its Course is helping a young Ukrainian girl named Masha.

Contact me here if you have any questions.

You should have already received a message offering you access to the freebies you get for subscribing to KelliStuart.com. These freebies include two ebooks, the first four chapters of Like a River From Its Course, and a Reader’s Guide perfect for book clubs. If you haven’t received the links to those freebies, contact me and I will send them right over!

Stay tuned for some SUPER exciting news! I can’t wait to share an upcoming opportunity with you all!

We are beginning to wind down our summer here in Florida. Only two more weeks until school starts! As much as I’ve enjoyed this break, the return of a routine is always welcome. I will be working on developing a more consistent posting routine again, as well.

In the meantime, welcome, and thanks again for making the launch of Like a River From Its Course such a memorable time for me! I’m looking forward to getting to “know” many of you in the months to come!

Happy Monday!

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Have you ordered your copy of Like a River From Its Course yet?

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Order now and see why people are calling it the best book they’ve ever read!

Click here to order your copy, or to leave a review if you’ve already read it.*

Thank you!!

*affiliate link included

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