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Playing My Part by Kay Dew Shostak

Doing My Part by KDSWhen I moved to Northern Illinois from the South were I was born and raised, one of the biggest surprises (besides the snow not melting for weeks at a time) was that so many people preferred the colder weather. They had snow mobiles, ski lift tickets, and ice skates. One friend even had snow shoes like the old mountain trappers wear in the movies! Then when things finally began to thaw in June, we had friends who fled north to Michigan to escape the “hot” summer months. I was completely shocked. Some folks like cold weather.

Wasn’t that awfully nice of God to provide so many different ways of living so we could each discover where we fit best? In the desert, beside a mountain stream, toes in the sand or layered in wool socks on a snowy hike, God puts it all out there before us. He understands we don’t all like the same things and even when we do like the same things, we like them in different ways. A snowy hill might be perfect to ski or just watch from beside the fire with a mug of hot chocolate.

And I believe he uses all these differences to pull us each to him. To fill our hearts and senses with a wonder that draws us to search for him. That longing can only be filled by him, but it seems to be expressed in so many different ways. As I grew up and raised my kids, my heart turned time and time again to the ones who had no experience of God. Who hadn’t turned away from him, but had no idea there was anything to turn towards. They’d never entertained the idea of there actually being anyone, or anything, bigger than what they see around them. People who basked in nature’s beauty and explored the heights and depths of this magnificent world. Who loved and enjoyed being human, with all the emotions and physical abilities. Yet they credited it all to, well, to nothing really. Until… And when I would see the awakening in a person’s eyes that there might possibly be a God behind all this? Well, that sparked a flame in my heart.

As a believer, I know there is so much to God’s story. So many parts of it to tell and share. I believe at this time my part is aid in the awakening of the many who aren’t looking. To help them form those first questions: What if there really is a God? What would that look like? What would it mean to me and my life?

So, that’s where my story in Chancey finds a bit of its grounding. Along with the differences between suburb and small town, and north and south, there’s believing in something more than what my characters see and not believing what they can’t touch.

Carolina is very much a here and now person. She’s a person who likes to maintain things at a steady pace and keep it all under control. She’s managed to do this in her life up to this point, then one slip and it’s all out of whack. But not completely out of whack. Just enough out of whack that she has to readjust her thinking. Can I live with a ghost? What happens in my marriage if I’m tempted? If I let people in a little bit, can I keep them out when I want to? Why are things changing? How did I let things change? And how do I change things back?

God loves every person. God wants every person to love him. God made us all different and created so many ways in which we express those differences. Many are raised to see God from the very beginning and never look elsewhere, although often we decide the God of our childhood isn’t all he’s cracked up to be and we search elsewhere. But for others, their first glimpse of him comes in the eyes of their child or in a sunset. Some only find him in the midst of darkness and despair.

Then there are those that find the beginnings of belief in the words of a story, even if they don’t realize it because they are busy enjoying the words on the page.

I’m grateful God has a use for each of our experiences. To be able to tell my funny stories of a little town in the Georgia Mountains is a grand blessing. For God to let me use them to possibly introduce him, is even better!

photo shoot pic blue croppedAbout the Author:

“A new voice in Southern Fiction” is how a recent reviewer labels Kay Dew Shostak’s debut novel, Next Stop, Chancey. Kay grew up in the South and graduated from the University of Tennessee. She then joined her husband moving around the country as they raised their three children. Always a reader, being a writer was a dream she cultivated as a journalist and editor at a small town newspaper in northern Illinois. After moving to Marietta, Georgia, Kay submitted several true life stories which appeared in a number of compilation books over the next ten years. In 2011, she and her husband, Mike, moved to Fernandina Beach, Florida for Mike’s job.

Seeing the familiar and loved from new perspectives led Kay to write about the absurd, the beautiful, and the funny in her South in both her fiction and non-fiction. While Next Stop, Chancey is her debut novel, she has completed two more in the series and is working on the fourth book. Chancey Book number 2: Chancey Family Lies is now available.

Visit Kay’s website  to sign up for her newsletter and to read more about her journey. Kay is also on Facebook and Twitter.

Next Stop, Chancey CoverAbout Next Stop, Chancey:

Looking in your teenage daughter’s purse is never a good idea. When Carolina does, she ends up accidentally selling their home in her beloved Atlanta suburbs to move into her husbands dream home. It’s a big, old house beside a railroad bridge in a small Georgia town. And now he dreams of her opening a B&B for Railroad buffs while he’s off doing his day job. Carolina’s dislike of actually saying “No” leaves an opening for the town bully who wears a lavender skirt and white gloves. Soon, of course, Carolina is opening the B&B with the aid of the entire town of Chancey, Georgia, and it all makes her hate small towns even more than when she was growing up in one. And did I mention there’s a ghost? Yeah, teenagers, trains, and a ghost. This stuff didn’t happen in the suburbs.

Chancey Family Lies frontAnother Great Read by Kay Dew Shostak: Chancey Family Lies:

Carolina is determined her first holiday season as a stay-at-home mom will be perfect. However …

Twelve kids from college (and one nobody seems to know)

Eleven chili dinners (Why do we always need to feed a crowd?)

Ten dozen fake birds (cardinals, no less)

Nine hours without power (but lots of stranded guests)

Eight angry council members (Wait, where’s the town’s money?)

Seven trains a-blowin’ (all the time. All. The. Time).

Six weeks with relatives (six weeks!!)

Five plotting teens (Again, who is that girl?)

Four in-laws staying (and staying, and staying …)

Three dogs a-barking (Who brought the dogs?)

Two big ol’ secrets (and they ain’t wrapped in ribbons under the three, either)

And the perfect season gone with the wind.

 

 

A Visit with Kay Dew Shostak, Author of Next Stop Chancey

photo shoot pic blue croppedToday, we meet, Kay Dew Shostak, the author of the delightful stories set in Chancey, Georgia, the adopted home of Carolina Jessup and her family and the story of how she copes with a town of quirky, sweet characters. 

“A new voice in Southern Fiction” is how a recent reviewer labels Kay Dew Shostak’s debut novel, Next Stop, Chancey. Kay grew up in the South and graduated from the University of Tennessee. She then joined her husband moving around the country as they raised their three children. Always a reader, being a writer was a dream she cultivated as a journalist and editor at a small town newspaper in northern Illinois. After moving to Marietta, Georgia, Kay submitted several true life stories which appeared in a number of compilation books over the next ten years. In 2011, she and her husband, Mike, moved to Fernandina Beach, Florida for Mike’s job.

Seeing the familiar and loved from new perspectives led Kay to write about the absurd, the beautiful, and the funny in her South in both her fiction and non-fiction. While Next Stop, Chancey is her debut novel, she has completed two more in the series and is working on the fourth book. Chancey Book number 2: Chancey Family Lies is now available.

Visit Kay’s website  to sign up for her newsletter and to read more about her journey. Kay is also on Facebook and Twitter.

Kay, I fell in love with your second story in the series, and life intervened. I wasn’t able to get back to the first one, though I always had every intention of doing so. I couldn’t wait, and now that I’ve read them both, I want to tell you that your stories create a longing in me to live a life like your heroine, Caroline Jessup. I’d love to know where you got the idea for these stories.

Thanks so much for having me here on your blog. One of the best things about writing is all the new friends you make! So how Chaney came to be: Several years ago, I was talking with an agent who was considering representing me. She loved lots about my writing but as she was turning me down she asked, “Have you considered changing genres?” Out of deep disappointment I started the first Chancey book. It all sprang up as my fingers typed. And yet, the story felt so familiar. I’ve lived in big and small towns, and both up north and down south. So playing off those differences just moved the story along.

As I read Carolina’s story and I laughed and cried with her, I did find that she and I are an awfully lot alike, but Carolina kept pushing forward even when she wanted to push against the tide of the good-meaning and very funny people she meets upon her arrival in Chancey. My question or you is how like Carolina are you?

Well, the desire to get lost in books is all me. And the snarkiness is me. Matter of fact, one thing the agent mentioned that he didn’t like about my first books was the sarcasm of the main character. So, I just made it first person so all the sarcastic remarks could be in Carolina’s head and not have to come out of her mouth! However, I’ve always had a houseful of people so that reticence of Carolina’s to entertain is not me. I find parts of myself in many of the characters!

One of my favorite parts of this story is the mystery of the “ghost.” It brings up some laugh-aloud moments. Was there anything that happened to you in your life that made you think of bringing this subplot into the story?

Absolutely nothing, except I’ve read lots of ghost stories and actually think I’d be open to seeing a ghost. But so far, no ghosts. However, I have wondered about the folks that say they “live” with ghosts. What’s the thinking process on that? In this story, I hoped the ghost would help Carolina believe things she can’t see, might be real. She’s a very “seeing is believing” person. Another way she and I are not alike.

Another reason the story (both stories actually) touched me so deeply is the humanity in them. These people aren’t perfect. They are different. They are quirky. They think differently than most of us. They fuss and the fidget, but yet they all seem to be the type of people you would want in your circle. Be truthful. Are a few of these folks truly in your life?

Oh, yes. At a writers conference I heard another writer speak about how his family thought he was odd at how he watched people and had to know why they did what they did. Well, that was my story. I am fascinated with why people do what they do. I love watching mannerisms and figuring out how they developed. Susan and her ponytail doing and undoing. Missus and her white gloves and refusal to use contractions in her speech. Lifelong cheerleaders. The black sheep that comes back joyfully to live in their hometown. Being a writer means I not only get to watch all these different people and actions, I get to write about them. And make them even funnier!

Two questions in one: will you share a little about the second book in this series, and please let me know if there’s a chance that I’ll be able to visit Carolina and all of the quirky characters of Chancey any time soon for a new adventure.

The second Chancey book is Chancey Family Lies and finds Carolina not only spending her first holidays in Chancey, but her first as a stay at home mom and B&B operator. As the line on my bookmarks says, “Holidays are different in small towns. They expect you to cook.” Carolina no longer has the suburban grocery stores, with full bakeries and deli’s, plus she’s determined to be the best stay at home mom ever. However, it’s not that easy. Especially when her parents pull in with their RV with plans to stay from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and her in-laws have a blast from the past with them when they also show up for an extended stay. And just when she needs him the most, her husband Jackson is traveling with work. Luckily she has a new friend in Chancey to help out. However, he might want to help her out a little too much. And then, who is that strange girl who came with the kids from college, and seems to want to stay in Chancey? Because, seriously, Carolina wonders, “Why would anyone want to stay in Chancey?

However, Carolina does stay in Chancey and in April 2016 the third book in the series “Derailed in Chancey” comes out.

I’m delighted to hear that I’ll be able to read more of Carolina’s exploits, and I hope you’ll keep me posted so both of you can “sit awhile on Inner Source’s” porch and discuss the latest.

Next Stop, Chancey CoverMore About Next Stop, Chancey:

Looking in your teenage daughter’s purse is never a good idea. When Carolina does, she ends up accidentally selling their home in her beloved Atlanta suburbs to move into her husbands dream home. It’s a big, old house beside a railroad bridge in a small Georgia town. And now he dreams of her opening a B&B for Railroad buffs while he’s off doing his day job. Carolina’s dislike of actually saying “No” leaves an opening for the town bully who wears a lavender skirt and white gloves. Soon, of course, Carolina is opening the B&B with the aid of the entire town of Chancey, Georgia, and it all makes her hate small towns even more than when she was growing up in one. And did I mention there’s a ghost? Yeah, teenagers, trains, and a ghost. This stuff didn’t happen in the suburbs.

Chancey Family Lies frontAnother Great Read by Kay Dew Shostak: Chancey Family Lies:

Carolina is determined her first holiday season as a stay-at-home mom will be perfect. However …

Twelve kids from college (and one nobody seems to know)

Eleven chili dinners (Why do we always need to feed a crowd?)

Ten dozen fake birds (cardinals, no less)

Nine hours without power (but lots of stranded guests)

Eight angry council members (Wait, where’s the town’s money?)

Seven trains a-blowin’ (all the time. All. The. Time).

Six weeks with relatives (six weeks!!)

Five plotting teens (Again, who is that girl?)

Four in-laws staying (and staying, and staying …)

Three dogs a-barking (Who brought the dogs?)

Two big ol’ secrets (and they ain’t wrapped in ribbons under the three, either)

And the perfect season gone with the wind.

 

A Visit with Carolina Jessup from Kay Dew Shostak’s Next Stop Chancey

Next Stop, Chancey CoverInner Source is happy to again share some of our favorite titles with readers, allowing them not only to meet the author but also one of the main characters of the stories we are sharing. Our first guest this year is Carolina Jessup, the delightful heroine of Kay Dew Shostak’s Next Stop, Chancey.

Carolina, welcome to Inner Source, and thank you for being our first guest of 2016. I have to admit that I read the series out of order, but I didn’t miss a thing. The second story had me salivating to read the first. So I’d like to start with you telling us a little about where you find yourself in life right now, where you live, and what you find yourself doing these days.

Well, Fay, one advantage you have as a reader is you know my thoughts, so, I guess I’ll just be honest. Small towns are not all they’re racked up to be, and I’d promised myself I’d never get stuck in one again. Yet, here I am in Chancey, Georgia. Running a B&B, for crying out loud. Now, not only are the people that live here all in my business, but I welcome strangers into my home. I’m just not sure how I let all this happen. Usually with a little redirection, dragging my feet and good nature stalling, I can get out of things I don’t like. So, honestly? I’m still a little stunned I’m here and figuring any day now, this will all go away. That could happen, right?

Now, I want to tell you that even as I write this interview I am smiling because I found myself at times realizing that you and I have a lot in common. At all times, I knew where you were coming from. The way you handle life’s ups and downs with humor, your love for your husband, and those things that you want to avoid—those are all me. I found myself understanding myself a little better through your eyes. I hope that makes sense. I think I know this answer, but why do you feel that humor spills from your thoughts when you are dealing with difficult things in your life?

Really? You feel like you know where I am coming from? Great then, ‘cause you and I need to spend some time together. As for the humor, I try to keep that to a minimum since I tend to be not so nice sometimes. Are you like that, too? I’d love to be more honest, more straight-forward. Not have one thought in my head, and the completely opposite words come out of my mouth. Maybe that’s what makes me say funny things.

Am I just like you, especially in the “not so nice” area? Most of the time I’m Southern sweet. To share with our readers, I’m nice on the outside and churning butter on the inside so that I don’t tell someone what I think. However, when pushed too far, the butter I’ve churned is spat out in large portions.

Your husband, Jackson, travels a lot, and he’s moved you—no let me rephrase that—you moved your family to Chancey, Georgia, from the suburbs. First, I’d like to know if there is anything you miss about the suburbs.

Most times, everything! People didn’t assume so much about me in the suburbs. They just left me alone. It was easy to shut off access to me and my family. In Chancey, folks all have opinions on what you should do. They watch for the least little thing to comment on. And they have no qualms about commenting. And then there was my Publix grocery store in Marietta with full service bakery, deli, fish market. Great, now I’m depressed.

Oops, sorry. Didn’t mean to make you feel bad, but perhaps the next question will bring it more into perspective. You knew this was coming. Deep down inside, what did you think of those wonderful, crazy folks you found in Chancey? (My favorite is Missus—I love that crazy lady).

Well, now this would be much easier if you hadn’t already read the first book and knew some of my thoughts. I could lie and say Missus is a sweet old lady, and I feel honored to have met her. But, well, no. Missus is bossy and I really can’t think straight around her. Do you know people like that? Where you get so tongue-tied and even brain-tied around them you end up confirming to them that they are right and you’re an idiot? But, if you like her, then maybe I’ll try a little harder. Susan and Laney, I’ve got to admit, are really great. I’ve not made a lot of friends in my life (see that thing about wanting to be left alone above) but I kind of regret that now that I’m getting to know Susan and Laney.

If readers were to take one truth from the life of Carolina Jessup, what would you want it to be.

I’m beginning to think I might not know what’s best for my life. Maybe this God thing has some merit, because there’s no way I would’ve chosen to move to Chancey or open a B&B, but well, and don’t tell anyone this, it might just be the best thing that could’ve happened. But probably not. Sure, God could come up with making a platypus, but moving us to Chancey? Naw, that’s just too crazy.

Carolina, I enjoyed your honest answers. I look forward to speaking with your author on Wednesday. In the meantime, enjoy those trains passing by your home, that quirky little town, and that river that runs through your backyard. I hope to visit Chancey again very soon.

More About Next Stop, Chancey:

Looking in your teenage daughter’s purse is never a good idea. When Carolina does, she ends up accidentally selling their home in her beloved Atlanta suburbs to move into her husbands dream home. It’s a big, old house beside a railroad bridge in a small Georgia town. And now he dreams of her opening a B&B for Railroad buffs while he’s off doing his day job. Carolina’s dislike of actually saying “No” leaves an opening for the town bully who wears a lavender skirt and white gloves. Soon, of course, Carolina is opening the B&B with the aid of the entire town of Chancey, Georgia, and it all makes her hate small towns even more than when she was growing up in one. And did I mention there’s a ghost? Yeah, teenagers, trains, and a ghost. This stuff didn’t happen in the suburbs.

Chancey Family Lies frontAnother Great Read by Kay Dew Shostak: Chancey Family Lies:

Carolina is determined her first holiday season as a stay-at-home mom will be perfect. However …

Twelve kids from college (and one nobody seems to know)

Eleven chili dinners (Why do we always need to feed a crowd?)

Ten dozen fake birds (cardinals, no less)

Nine hours without power (but lots of stranded guests)

Eight angry council members (Wait, where’s the town’s money?)

Seven trains a-blowin’ (all the time. All. The. Time).

Six weeks with relatives (six weeks!!)

Five plotting teens (Again, who is that girl?)

Four in-laws staying (and staying, and staying …)

Three dogs a-barking (Who brought the dogs?)

Two big ol’ secrets (and they ain’t wrapped in ribbons under the three, either)

And the perfect season gone with the wind.

photo shoot pic blue croppedAbout the Author:

“A new voice in Southern Fiction” is how a recent reviewer labels Kay Dew Shostak’s debut novel, Next Stop, Chancey. Kay grew up in the South and graduated from the University of Tennessee. She then joined her husband moving around the country as they raised their three children. Always a reader, being a writer was a dream she cultivated as a journalist and editor at a small town newspaper in northern Illinois. After moving to Marietta, Georgia, Kay submitted several true life stories which appeared in a number of compilation books over the next ten years. In 2011, she and her husband, Mike, moved to Fernandina Beach, Florida for Mike’s job.

Seeing the familiar and loved from new perspectives led Kay to write about the absurd, the beautiful, and the funny in her South in both her fiction and non-fiction. While Next Stop, Chancey is her debut novel, she has completed two more in the series and is working on the fourth book. Chancey Book number 2: Chancey Family Lies is now available.

Visit Kay’s website  to sign up for her newsletter and to read more about her journey. Kay is also on Facebook and Twitter.