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Kingsbury, author of
'To the Moon and Back'
Joyce Lamb - USA Today
HEA, Karen! Please tell us a bit about your new release, To the Moon
To the Moon and
Back is a love story that took root in my heart a decade ago when I
visited the Oklahoma City bombing memorial site. A chain link fence
makes up part of the grounds, where visitors can leave notes and
meaningful trinkets to honor those who died.
That day, I saw a
message on the fence that read, "I survived this, but I can't survive
losing you." I still have no idea who wrote those words or why. But it
sparked a story. My newest novel explores the lives of Jenna and Brady,
both of whom lost parents in the bombing when they were 5 years old.
Eleven years later they met at the memorial and felt a connection like
nothing they'd ever known. But in the years since, Jenna and Brady have
lost touch. Brady is a firefighter in Oklahoma City, single and still
searching for the girl he can't forget. This is an unforgettable love
story that explores what it means to be a survivor, and whether love
born of ashes can find a way to live again.
inspires your book ideas?
Real life. I am a
detective of the emotions, always on guard for what brings tears to my
eyes or makes my heart skip a beat. I also get ideas from songs. My
upcoming November release, When We Were Young, was inspired by a
John Mayer song, Never on the Day You Leave. Sometimes a
song sticks and a story begins to grow.
Do you have
any particular rituals that help you get into the writing frame of mind?
Absolutely! I ask God
to work through me, to give me a story beyond what I could write on my
own. Then I find a quiet place - usually in my house - with a view of
the outdoors. I open the windows no matter the weather. Then I use a
program called Freedom to disable my Internet. Otherwise, it's too easy
to place a quick Amazon order or check e-mail. Finally, I put on my
earbuds and start the song playlist I've made for that book. If it's
cold, I cover up with a warm blanket. If not, I settle in and get to
distracts you the most when you’re
trying to write?
My family - in the
most beautiful way. I've had a policy since my first book: If my kids or
husband need me, I'm theirs. The book will wait - even if I have to pull
an all-nighter to get it done. When the kids were little, it was
afternoon tales from school or an invitation to play around-the-world
with the family on our driveway basketball hoop. Those moments always
came first. They still do.
write by the seat of your pants,
or do you carefully plot your stories?
I carefully plot for
sure! I get to know the characters, give them a history and detailed
backstory, a birthdate, quirks, strengths, weaknesses. I have to see
them and hear them. They need to feel like my friends. Then I figure out
whose points of view I'll be in. I usually use four to five points of
view in a full-length novel. I give pieces of the story to each
character, and then I weave those parts together in an official outline.
For each chapter I write whose point of view, where and when it's
happening, and a few sentences about the action in the scene. For me,
writing a novel is like swimming across the ocean. I've done it before,
but it's still a tough bit of work. I could never just wing it.
like to share a favorite moment
from your writing career?
My parents have always
been the most proud of my work. But my father was my biggest fan. His
joy knew no limits when one of my books would come out, or when he would
see what readers were saying about the power of the stories. One of my
most memorable moments came when my novel Ever After won Book of
the Year - the first and only time a novel has earned that honor. He
called me that night, choked up with a father's pride, and he told me
how much he loved me, how proud he was that I had followed my dream, and
how sure he was that God was responsible. My dad died of a heart attack
six weeks later, so that award, that night will always remain one of my
most special moments as an author.
That is a
really awesome story.
Thank you so much for sharing it here!
Is there a TV show that you've recently
This Is Us,
definitely. That show is incredible because of the tremendous acting,
but also because of the writing. Amazing, the way that team of writers
weaves together a story. I cry every time and can't get enough. I love
how they use flashbacks to make us work for the details of each piece of
favorite snack and/or beverage
while you're writing?
Hot tea! I used to eat
M&M's. Not a good habit! I've given up so many foods over the years -
sugar, flour, dairy. So, now my enjoyable treat is hot tea!
Do you have
a pet that hangs out with you
while you're working?
Yes!!! Toby, my yellow
Labrador retriever. He knows when I'm getting my laptop and cords and
preparing to write. He patiently waits for me to take my place and get
situated. Then he lies across my feet. It's the most wonderful thing,
because even if I think about getting up for some distraction, I
couldn't. I'd have to wake him up, and I would never do that. It's like
having a seat belt when I write. Toby keeps me in my chair. He's my
ideal scenery while you're writing?
The beach is my
favorite place to write. I can feel my heart opening up the closer I get
to the shore. Something about the waves and wind, the blue skies and
sparkling water brings the story to the surface every time. That said, I
live in Tennessee. Not a lot of beachfront property. So my next best
place is at home!
be your dream vacation?
We've gone there 12 years in a row and we always stay in the same
property, right near the beach. The view from the balcony is so
beautiful, I can't imagine how heaven could be better.
What do you
do in your spare time?
Hang out with my
family and play ping pong! Our family gets very competitive with doubles
tournaments in our basement. It's been part of our life since I was a
I have a book called
When We Were Young coming out in November. It is about an
Internet-famous couple on the verge of divorce. The story takes place in
a 24-hour period, where Noah and Emily are given a very great gift. The
chance to see what life will be like in the next two decades ... if Noah
really leaves in the morning.
I'm also finishing up a novel called Two Weeks, which is a
coming-of-age love story, where a decision by a teenage girl will change
the lives of three families. It'll be on shelves in March 2019.
In addition, I have a series of Baxter Family Children books for
ages 8-12 that launches in February with the first book, Best Family
Ever. I have the privilege of writing these books with my son, Tyler
Russell, 25. So it is a book about a family written by family. We're
excited to see it in the hands of young readers.
Do you have
anything to add?
I wrote my first book
when I was 5 years old. It was called The Horse, and it was
written with crayons. Nearly every word was spelled wrong. But I still
remember holding my very first book in my hands, and knowing then that I
wanted to write books forever.
~ from happilyeveerafter.usatoday.com
By Karen Kingsbury
Karen Kingsbury, #1 New York
Times bestselling novelist, is America's favorite inspirational
storyteller, with more than twenty-five million copies of her
award-winning books in print. Her last dozen titles have topped
bestseller lists and many of her novels are under development with
Hallmark Films and as major motion pictures. Her Baxter Family books are
being developed into a TV series slated for major network viewing
sometime in the next year. Karen is also an adjunct professor of writing
at Liberty University. In 2001 she and her husband, Don, adopted three
boys from Haiti, doubling their family in a matter of months.
Today the couple has joined the ranks of empty-nesters, living in
Tennessee near five of their adult children.
I was born in Fairfax,
VA, the oldest of Anne and Ted Kingsbury's five children. I was hooked
on Dr. Seuss from the first time my dad read me The Grinch Who Stole
Christmas. I had the story memorized by the time I was five.
We moved often because of my dad's computer programming job with IBM.
Maybe it was the moving that truly underlined my love for reading. In
books I found friends I never had to leave.
When I was 10 years old we left Michigan for California, where we stayed
for the next two decades. I loved Southern California back then and I
grew up in the San Fernando Valley - a true Valley girl. The beach was
just thirty minutes away over Malibu Canyon, and there on the shore of
the Pacific Ocean I dreamed about being a novelist.
My heart overflowed with stories.
But the practical side of writing looked like journalism, which I studied
through high school and college. There was a point in my freshman year
at Pierce College when I actually decided I was sick of writing. I would
be a lawyer, a prosecutor.
That year I took an English class and three weeks into the semester,
Professor Bob Scheibel ordered me to the front of the room. Bob was a
surly old journalist with a lifetime of experience. He ran the school
newspaper. He pointed at me, real sharp-like, and said, "Are you Karen
I felt my knees tremble. "Yes, sir."
"Two things." He looked over the glasses at the end of his nose. "First,
you will never ever stop writing. And second, you're on staff."
There was no arguing with Mr. Scheibel. And, like that, my future was
set. I graduated from Cal State University Northridge with a degree in
journalism in 1986 and immediately started work as a sports writer for
the Los Angeles Times. I didn't know anything about sports, but my dad
was a good teacher and I was a quick study.
I covered high school sports initially, but quickly I began seeing bigger
stories, deeper stories and I earned a reputation. If a story needed
tears, my editors would give it to me.
About that time I met the love of my life, a blond, blue-eyed California
boy named Don, a guy with one driving passion - to live his life for
Jesus Christ. He brought a Bible to our first date and asked me if we
could read Philippians together. I didn't know a Philippian from any
other "ippian" and, seriously, I thought he was crazy. But he was cute
and clean-cut, so I put up with the Bible reading.
Three months passed and the tension in our "Bible" conversations grew. I
couldn't defend my viewpoints, my worldly values I'd accumulated over
the years. Finally, I'd had it. One afternoon standing outside his car I
took his precious, underlined, highlighted Bible and I threw it on the
Split the binding right down the middle.
Don picked up the
pieces, gave me a sad look, and drove off.
I figured the ground would open up and I'd be headed straight for ...
well, you know. Instead, God allowed me to get in my car and drive to a
Christian Bookstore, a store 'd driven past all my life and never, not
once stepped inside.
There I bought a Bible and a concordance. I went home to my apartment and
set about making a case for my manmade beliefs. Instead, I could hear
God saying, You can either fall away with your unfounded views on life,
or you can grab onto my Word and never let go.
I grabbed. I'm still holding on, still standing on that rock today. I'll
be devoted to God's word the rest of my days.
Don forgave me and we joined a non-denominational Bible-believing church.
We attended a weekly Bible study and a few months later we were
baptized. It was the same week Don proposed to me.
The two of us were
married on July 23, 1989, on what was a record-breaking day of heat. We
didn't care. With God on our side, we were ready to tackle the world,
ready to share His love however the Lord would see fit to use us.
We lived in a rented $100-a-month garage apartment with no air
conditioning or heat. Don was finishing up his teaching credential and I
worked at the newspaper. About that time I was moved to the front page
to write the Sunday feature story - usually something involving a sad
and twisted murder.
On our sixth-month
anniversary we found out I was pregnant - though that was certainly not
our plan. I figured I'd never know this child - too busy working long
days at the newspaper. Don simply rejoiced and said, "We need to pray.
God will show you a way to write at home. He can do that!"
Over the next nine months I prayed doubtfully, Don prayed faithfully. We
prayed the Lord would allow me to make my salary from home. An unlikely
request at best. During that time I sold a story to People Magazine - a
sad true murder story I'd covered for the newspaper. When it ran in
People, a literary agent in New York contacted me. He thought the story
would make an interesting book. I agreed to write a proposal.
At the time, I didn't see my conversation with him as part of God's plan.
But three days before my return to work the agent called again. He told
me to sit down. He had gotten my proposal into a bidding war and the
resulting deal was beyond anything he had hoped for. The first check?
Just $12.49 more than I made a year.
I quit my job the next day. I've been home writing books ever since.
Over the next few years I wrote four true crime books - not my favorite
topic. After that I couldn't write about another murder. I begged God to
show me what was next, how I might find my way back to that long ago
Plan A - being a novelist.
In 1995 I read Francine Rivers' book, Redeeming Love, and I
knew I wanted to write books that glorified God for the rest of my life.
That spring I wrote my first novel - Where Yesterday Lives. I had no
agent wiling to represent it, and no publisher. Thirty rejection letters
followed. The publisher I'd worked with for the crime books said they
loved it - but without sex scenes and strong language, they didn;t know
what to do with it.
I pressed on, praying and believing.
A year later in 1996, I received word from Multnomah Publishers - they
wanted my book. And two more. At least. At the same time we welcomed our
third child - Austin - to our family. He joined Kelsey and Tyler and we
figured our life was set. Where Yesterday Lives was published in
1997 - the same week Austin was born.
Only days later, doctors discovered that Austin had a severe heart
defect. At three weeks old, he had emergency heart surgery - a surgery
that saved his life. The operation left him healed and with a life-long
battle against congenital heart disease.
Over the next few years we decided to add to our family in a way we had
never planned. We adopted three little best friends from Haiti - Sean,
Josh, and EJ.
Ever since that first novel, ';ve been writing Life-Changing Fiction tm,
certain that when God puts a story on my heart, He has your heart in
And I'm still sure that my professor from that distant freshman
English class was right.
I'll never, ever stop writing.
~ from karenkingsbury.com
Read another feature from our
E-Blast Newsletter on
Karen Kingsbury and
"Love Story" -
About To the Moon and Back:
From #1 New York Times bestselling
author Karen Kingsbury comes a brand-new love story in the Baxter
Family collection about two people who lost their parents in the same
national tragedy - two people desperate to find each other and the
connection they shared for a single day...a day that changed everything
Brady Bradshaw was a child when the Oklahoma City bombing killed his
mother. Every year, Brady visits the memorial site on the anniversary to
remember her. More than a decade ago, he met Jenna Phillips, who was also a
child when her parents were killed in the attack. Brady and Jenna shared a
deep heart connection and a single beautiful day together at the memorial.
But after that, Brady never saw Jenna again. Every year when he returns, he
leaves a note for her in hopes that he might find her again.
This year, Ashley Baxter Blake and her sister Kari Ryan and their
families take a spring break trip that includes a visit to the site to see
the memorial's famous Survivor Tree. While there, Ashley spots a young man,
alone and troubled. That man is Brady Bradshaw. A chance moment leads Ashley
to believe she can help Brady find Jenna, the girl he can't forget.
Ashley's family is skeptical, but she pushes them to support her efforts
to find the girl and bring them together. But will it work? Will her
husband, Landon, understand her intentions? And is a shared heartache enough
reason to fall in love?
Deeply emotional and beautifully romantic, To the Moon and Back is
an unlikely love story about healing, redemption, hope and the belief that
sometimes a new tomorrow can grow from the ashes of a shattered yesterday.
Karen Kingsbury, #1 New York Times
bestselling novelist, is America's favorite inspirational storyteller, with
more than 25 million copies of her award-winning books in print. Her last
dozen titles have topped bestseller lists and many of her novels are under
development with Hallmark Films and as major motion pictures. Her Baxter
Family books are being developed into a TV series slated for major network
viewing sometime in the next year. Karen is also an adjunct professor of
writing at Liberty University. In 2001 she and her husband, Don, adopted
three boys from Haiti, doubling their family in a matter of months. Today
the couple has joined the ranks of empty-nesters, living in Tennessee near
five of their adult children.
Thousand Tomorrows (Cody Gunner Series #1)"
"Like Dandelion Dust"
The Line Series #2"
(Lost Love Series)"
"Loving: Bailey Flanigan Series
"Shades of Blue"
Side of Heaven:
(Lost Love Series)"
Family Drama―Firstborn Series"
Bailey Flanigan Series
"Time To Dance:
(Timeless Love Series"
(Cody Gunner Series #2)
Bailey Flanigan Series #1"
(Sunrise Series-Baxter 3,
"A Treasure of Christmas
True Stories of God's Presence Today (Miracle Books Collection)
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"When We Were Young" The Baxter Family Series
From their first meeting, to their stunning engagement and lavish wedding, to their happily-ever-after, Noah and Emily Carter were meant to be together. Theirs is a special kind of love and they want the world to know. They've been letting more than a million adoring fans follow their lives @When_We_Were_Young since the day Noah proposed to Emily on bended knee. But behind the carefully-staged photos and entertaining posts, their life is anything but a fairy tale and Noah's obsession has ruined everything.
Whether you're meeting the Baxter family for the first time, or finding them all over again, When We Were Young will restore your faith in true love, and the power of a miracle to overcome all obstacles.
"To the Moon and Back, The Baxter Family Series
In this continuation of the Baxter Family saga, Ashley Baxter Blake makes it her mission to reunite two people who, as children, shared a tragic moment - the loss of parents in the Oklahoma City bombing. Each year since they met, Brady Bradshaw has left a note at the memorial for Jenna Phillips, but she has never responded. It is Ashley-s hope that by bringing them together again, they may be able to help one another heal.
"In This Moment:
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury comes a brand-new Baxter Family novel about a beloved high school principal who starts a Bible Study to improve the lives of his struggling students, only to become the national focus of a controversial lawsuit.
Hamilton High Principal Wendell Quinn is tired of the violence, drug abuse, teen pregnancies, and low expectations at his Indianapolis school. A single father of four, Quinn is a Christian and a family man. He wants to see change in his community, so he starts a voluntary after-school Bible Study and prayer program. He knows he is risking his job by leading the program, but the high turnout at every meeting encourages him.
A Novel (The Baxter Family)"
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury comes a new book featuring everyone's favorite family-the Baxters, which tells the story of how John and Elizabeth first fell in love. From the day they met, John and Elizabeth were destined to fall in love. Their whirlwind romance started when they were young college students and lasted nearly thirty years - until Elizabeth died of cancer.
So when John Baxter is asked to relive his long-ago love story with Elizabeth for his grandson Cole's heritage project, he's not sure he can do it. The sadness might simply be too great. But he agrees and allows his heart and soul to go places they haven't gone in decades. Back to the breathless first moments, but also to the secret heartbreak that brought John and Elizabeth together.
Wings: A Novel
of Undying Hope
(The Baxter Family)"
Above The Line Series #1"
A Love Story"