Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Showcase: Flowers of Grace by Teresa Hirst

Flowers of GraceFlowers of Grace

Set in an upscale St. Louis boutique amid a fragile economic climate when retail customers are trading brick and mortar stores for online shopping, Flowers of Grace is a story of love and loss, friendship and forgiveness. Still mourning a broken engagement, Grace inherits a hibiscus with a legacy she fears she will kill. Doubt in her capacity to nurture anything prompts her to bring the plant into the clothing store she manages, and the dynamic personalities of the female staff band together to help it bloom.

Flowers of GraceABOUT THE AUTHOR: Teresa Hirst grew up in the Midwest with an imagination and creativity straight from the stories she consumed in her childhood. She put away her Harriet the Spy persona to attend Brigham Young University, where she studied journalism and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications, allowing her to engage in some legitimate people watching.

Today, she observes and tells insightful stories, both real and imaginary, that characterize our emotional experience with life. Teresa lives in Minnesota with her husband and teenage children. She is a Mormon choosing faith and gratitude to cope with neuroendocrine cancer. Teresa loves sentimental movies, Sunday afternoon walks and great conversations. You can learn more about Teresa and her books by visiting her www.teresahirst.com or reading her blog www.tjhirst.com. Follow Teresa on FacebookTwitter, or Goodreads

Q.  What inspires your writing?

A. Emotion! I'm a recovering perfectionist, and I worked through many of my own high-strung emotions in my teens, twenties and thirties through the written word. I either read stories about other people and understood myself better or I wrote out my feelings to understand. Now, I write realistic women's fiction, which is a natural place to explore emotions. Our emotional responses to life circumstances are full of quirky twists and turns that make for good stories--real and imaginary, nonfiction and fiction.

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being an writer?

A. I love working at home. I was a stay-at-home mom for many years and then I worked full-time for a newspaper.  Today, I write full-time at home. Now that my children are almost out of the nest, I still love the solitude and control I have working from home. That solitude allows me to fully immerse myself in the craft. I can also prioritize my own schedule according to current projects and needs.

Q.  What is the toughest part of being an writer?

A. Ironically, it is the isolation of working at home! I'm pretty active on social media, make time to connect with friends in person or some other way, but I love interacting with people. I'm searching now for the right blend of opportunities to balance both desires in my life.

Q.  If you could not be writer, what would you do/be?

A. I love the field of positive psychology. I don't know that I would be a psychologist, but if circumstances were different, I would go back to school and incorporate that field into my life in some way.

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?

A. Weak Things Become Strong.

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?

A. Anna Karenina. Early in my education I took a Russian literature class and discovered a love for these consequential stories.

Q.  Which character from ANY book are you most like?

A. Jo from Little Women. She was passionate and headstrong in her youth, pushing boundaries and wanting more, but she refined those talents and in her later years really channeled that strength into success.

Q.  What character from all of your book are you most like?

A. I'm a lot like Grace, the main character in Flowers of Grace, but every woman in the upscale boutique where this novel is set carries some of my personal traits, even the antagonist.

Q.  Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?

A. Well, this certainly isn't original, but like most women, I'm sure it would be one of Jane Austen's novels: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility or Emma. But as my husband says about going back in time to most any era, the smells would probably kill us.

Q.  What do you want to be remembered for 100 years from now?

A. Being a good friend and building up those around me.

Q.  What is your favorite season?

A. Fall. Cooler temps. Beautiful views. Slower days. Excitement of holidays to come.

Q.  What inspired your book cover(s)?  Or what is your favorite book cover and why?

A. The tagline inspired the cover: The simple gift is more than a plant. When it blooms, so does she. But when it dies, she fears love will, too. Although the plant isn't the whole focus of this book, but rather an element that intertwines into the storyline of these women's lives at the boutique, I knew the gifting of a hibiscus plant had to be on the cover.

Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.

A. When I was returning home on the airplane from my first book tour, I fell asleep and awoke with the most horrible pain in my right side. My writerly mind immediately concocted a tragedy-in-the-sky story, complete with someone rushing to do an emergency appendectomy on me in the narrow aisle with a flight attendant acting as the assistant. Fortunately, in both real life and fantasy in my head, the pilot came on in the middle of it all and announced it was only 100 miles to Minneapolis

Q.  Are you working on something new?

A. I'm working on the sequel to Flowers of Grace, called Open to Joy. I've written the first chapter and plan to complete it this year.

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?

A.  Women need each other. We're pretty hard on each other and easily divide ourselves into us and them groups. Although stories have a way of exposing our human nature, they also highlight our shared desires for love and acceptance. I hope Flowers of Grace achieves that as well as many other great novels that I've read. 

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