Some of you already know multi-award-winning author, Stacy Monson. A few years back she was a blogger here at Inspy Romance. Stacy continues to write contemporary Christian romance that “Reveals an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Life” and she is racking up more awards for her books than I have space to share on this blog.
In just over a week, Stacy’s next book, Open Circle, comes out—having had glimpses of this story, I know it’s going to be another award winner, maybe her best yet! Here’s the back cover blurb to pique your interest:
Mindy Lee “Minnie” Carlson’s dream job has dropped into her hands, but there’s a catch. She has four months to revive Open Circle, the town’s only Senior Adult Day Center, or the doors will close, leaving her beloved seniors stranded, and eliminating the only job she’s ever wanted.
Globe-trotting photographer Jackson Young documents the forgotten people of the world, focusing on the poor and elderly. After decades on the road, he’s stunned to learn his beloved Grandma Em is still alive in the small town he’d had to leave decades earlier.
Overjoyed, Jackson races back to his hometown to reconnect with her, only to discover she’s been Minnie’s adopted grandma for the past twenty years. When Grandma Em has a stroke, his ideas about her care pit him against Minnie’s determination and expertise. For Grandma Em’s sake, and the future of Open Circle, they’ll need to do the impossible—find a way to work together.
The inspiration for this story came from Stacy’s own life experience. I’ll let her tell you about it:
After 8 long years my mom, Joyce, lost her battle with Alzheimer’s. Just eighteen months later we lost my mother-in-law, Marguerite. Writing Open Circle was a simple way to acknowledge all the fabulous people who cared for these amazing women through their years of struggle. There are so many people who care for our elders – from daily cares to adult day programs to support groups, research, developing educational programs. I was astounded to discover layer upon layer of dedicated people who are determined to make life better each and every day for both those afflicted with the disease as well as those who love and care for them.”
Having watched my mom battle with dementia (she’s now singing in the heavenly choir!), and now watching my father-in-law go through the same, I have had the opportunity to witness countless amazing caregivers in their lives. I applaud Stacy for writing this timely and important story!
But let’s not forget the purpose of this blog, and that’s to talk romance. Stacy recently sat down separately with Open Circle‘s heroine and hero, Minnie and Jackson, to ask them a few questions about romance. She’s not certain there’s much hope for these two to actually get together! (Interview previously seen at Shannon Taylor Vannatter’s blog).
Minnie, where is the best place you can think of to find a potential spouse?
Minnie: Here in Lawton. Small towns are so different from the city. I went to college in Minneapolis, and everything moved so much faster. It was noisy all the time, and everyone was in a hurry. I enjoyed my time there, but it was always a relief to get back home where people take time to get to know each other.
Jackson, where is the worst place you can think of to find a potential spouse?
Jackson: In a small town somewhere. I was born in Lawton, which is pretty small, and there are a lot of things I appreciate about it. But there are people there who can’t see beyond its borders, who aren’t willing to travel and see what the world has to offer. I wouldn’t mind if they came from a small town—I might like it, actually—but not if they can’t look beyond its borders.
What type of character traits are you attracted to?
Jackson: Adventurous, fun. My Grandma Em was always up for trying something new, checking out a new place to eat or a new trail to hike. Someone like that who sees what a big world it is.
Minnie: Solid, focused on others, willing to help whenever it’s needed. I work with seniors, many of whom need people they can count on to help in big and small ways, so my guy would have to have a heart for other people.
What’s the one habit or lifestyle that would make you run the other way?
Minnie: Someone with one foot out the door, ready to take off if they get a better offer. I don’t have time for people who are only focused on themselves and what they want or need.
Jackson: Definitely not being able to have fun, doesn’t smile, takes life too seriously. I’ve seen heartache and pain all around the world. I photograph it. So I need someone who can laugh, who appreciates and focuses on what’s good in life.
Okay, then. Hard to imagine these two even being friends let alone developing a relationship, isn’t it? But each of them has positive, even endearing qualities that the other just might discover as they end up working together to keep the doors of Open Circle wide open for the town’s seniors.
Now, a question for Inspy Romance readers:
Small town living or big city living? Why?
Open Circle releases on June 21 and is now available for pre-order: Amazon
About Stacy ~
Stacy Monson is the award-winning author of The Chain of Lakes series, including Shattered Image, Dance of Grace, and The Color of Truth. Her stories reveal an extraordinary God at work in ordinary life. Residing in the Twin Cities, she is the wife of a juggling, unicycling physical education teacher, and a proud mom, and doting grandma.
Connect with Stacy ~
Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter | Instagram
Newsletter: Subscribe to Stacy’s newsletter & receive a FREE copy of SHATTERED IMAGE ~
Pre-Order OPEN CIRCLE for only $2.99! ~
Giveaway Details ~
Stacy Monson has graciously offered to give away one paperback and one ebook copy of OPEN CIRCLE. To enter, answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.
Small town living or big city living? Why?
Contest ends Friday, June 15, 2018 at midnight CST. Two randomly chosen commenters to this post will receive a copy of OPEN CIRCLE.
Mary Preston says
I have lived in both small towns ans big cities. Big cities may be all bustle and go, but certainly afford more convenience too.
Mary, I’ve always been in a suburb of a larger city and have wondered what small town living would have been like. I have many friends who grew up on farms and in small towns and say there are pros and cons to both. Good thing we have options!
Hi Brenda, thanks for sharing about this book- I have seen it in the coming soon on Amazon, have not read any of Stacy’s books, so this is a great introduction. Minnie and Jackson seem like opposites- their romance will be fun to read!!
I like the friendliness, atmosphere, lifestyle of the small town, but can see the convenience of having a big city not too far away. I am blessed to have the best of both- I live in a small (sadly growing bigger!!) town that is an easy commute to the city :) Have to say though, after spending the day in the city for a conference, it is a HUGE relief to get back home to my quiet town!
I think that would be the ideal – living in a small town not too far from the city! I love the slower pace and friendlier atmosphere of a small town but I don’t think I could be too far from the conveniences I’m used to. And now I can’t be too far from the grandkids so I guess we won’t be moving any time soon!
Hi Stacy! Just preordered your book. Enjoy discovering new authors from the Midwest. I live in a small resort town in SW Michigan. Lived here most of my life in this small town, even though I was born in Berlin, Germany and have lived in Chicago, Illinois for 10 years in the 1980s. We visited Chicago over Memorial Day weekend and were glad to be back home. As retirees no longer fond of crowds and traffic.
I cared for my parents for 20 years and especially my dad after my mom passed in 2007. He lived in an assisted living facility for 6 years before he passed in 2014 at age 96. As a caregiver life was interesting, while working full time as a teacher with our youngest son still at home, caring for dad, and finding time to snuggle with grandkids.
Best wishes and happy writing.
I hope you enjoy Minnie and Jackson’s story, Renate!
Caregiving is a full-time job which makes life especially tricky when you are working full-time and raising a family (and enjoying grandkids!). I’m sure your parents were blessed by your care for all those years.
kim hansen says
Small towns would be my choice but because of health reasons I live in the a big city.
I’m glad you can get your health care concerns cared for in the city, Kim. Hopefully you can still get away for some peace and quiet on occasion!
Sounds like a really good novel. They are the total opposite of each other but as we all know opposite attracts. I can adjust to either big or small city. I like them both because they both offer something the other doesn’t.
You sound like someone who can adjust to whatever circumstances you find yourself in, Colleen!
Tracey Hagwood says
I love the opposites attract plot in Open Circle. It has me smiling at all the possible problems Minnie and Jackson will encounter.
As for small town versus city, I lean towards smaller towns. My own town of Chesapeake, Va. has a population of about 240, 000 people, not that big but not really small either. When I travel to nearby larger cities for shopping and such the traffic and congestion drive me crazy and I can’t wait to get home to the suburbs.
I like small towns for the quiet and peaceful settings, and people seem to be more friendly and move at a pace slow enough to enjoy their lives. That’s the way it works in my mind anyway :)
My brother and his family are in Richmond, Tracey, but out in the burbs so there’s plenty of action in their part of VA. Traffic doesn’t bring out my best, so I have to have a really good reason to head into the city – and then I’m happy to get back out!
I am in Portsmouth, literally a stone throw away from Chesapeake and its smaller but it has that city vibe.
Tracey Hagwood says
Waving to you Colleen! I am on the Portsmouth side of Chesapeake, Western Branch specifically, so we are practically neighbors. I love finding fellow readers nearby!
Brenda Willoughby says
Small Town living most definitely. Never lived in a big city. I don’t even like to visit them.
I love the energy of a big city when I’m there for a short time, Brenda, but sure wouldn’t ever want to live there!
Rebekah Morris says
Small town! I’ve grown up in a mid-sized city which has been fine since we don’t live downtown, but I’ve visited large cities and–no thank you! I much prefer the slower pace, the friendliness, and not so much traffic.
I am SO not a traffic person, Rebekah, so I’m with you!
Kathy Danheim says
Thank you Brenda for sharing Stacy with us today. She seams to have a very sweet nature and I think she would be fun. ?
As for small town or large one? I’ve lived in both, for me small town hands down. There are advantages to both. Larger cities offer more stores and cultural activities. Small towns are quiet and usually friendly and everyone knows everyone. (Sometimes good and sometimes not so good) lol. Plus the crime rate is usually lower. More advantages for get togethers. School activities. Of course, as long as you live close to good medical care. I live in central Texas, in a very small town, but we have excellent medical facilities twenty five miles away. To me that’s what counts! Especially since we are retired. ?
Brenda S. Anderson says
You’re welcome, Kathy! And, yes, Stacy is sweet and a whole bunch of fun! :)
How wonderful that you get to enjoy the benefits of a small town with great medical care not too far away!
Hi Kathy! I sure love to have fun so hopefully that comes across in my writing and blogs. :)
I think I’d like to be living in a mid-size small town that’s not far from good health care and shopping – so not too far from you! But I don’t think I’d handle that Texas heat very well. (I’m in Minnesota!)
Lucy M Reynolds says
I actually prefer rural over either. I love the peace and tranquility of listening to the birds, watching the wildlife, growing my garden, etc
I would live up on a mountainside somewhere if I could, Lucy! In a lovely little cabin, overlooking a mountain range. My absolute ideal place.
Faith Potts says
Small town life! I love it when someone knows me because I’m “so-and-so’s daughter” or granddaughter. :)
That’s definitely something people miss in a larger city, Faith.
Valerie Comer says
Welcome back to Inspy Romance, Stacy! For me, it’s small town, hands down. Or, better yet, on a farm NEAR a small town! Even driving through or around a city is stress-inducing. I can’t imagine doing it every day and keeping my sanity… which is questionable at the best of times.
It’s great to be back at Inspy Romance, Valerie! Driving around the city makes city people stressed out too. I hate traffic!
I’m 100% small town living. I was born and raised in a small city (approx. 36,000) and now raise our 2 girls in a small city (40,000) which is very similar to the city we were both born and raised. We live close to a large busy city which I travel to often being only 20kms away, but I am not comfortable there. Too many people on the roads and in the stores, no sense of tranquility in most residential areas because it is so close to business sectors, not to mention the cost of living being higher. I’m a lover of nature in the sense that I feel most relaxed in an environment where I can hear nature when the windows are open, not traffic and people.
I’d have to agree with you, Denise. Tranquility and city life definitely don’t go together. I much prefer the slower pace.
Sherri G says
Small town all the way! I live about a mile outside my hometown which has a population of about 1500. I lived in Louisville for a year to attend college and that was way outside my comfort zone. Small cities are the best of both worlds to me though I still prefer the rural life even without the conveniences.
Wow, 1500 is pretty small!
Brenda S. Anderson says
I grew up on a farm outside a small town (about 2000 population) and now live in as Minneapolis suburb. While I love how handy everything is in the city–shopping, theatre, sports, etc–and didn’t like the dynamics in that small town, I really long for the quiet life of the country. So, I’d say neither a small town or big city. Give me country living that’s within driving distance of a city. Now if I could have a home on Lake Superior’s north shore, I’d be ecstatic. :)
I’ll be happy to come for a visit, Brenda!
Brenda S. Anderson says
Kimberly Rose Johnson says
Someplace in between for me. I don’t enjoy big cities and based on my experience with small towns I prefer the suburbs or living in the country. There’s something about everyone being in your business that I find unsettling about small town life. And the only thing I like about big cities in the performing arts.
I have a feeling I’ll always be a suburbanite, Kimberly!
Winnie Thomas says
I’m definitely a small town person. I like that they’re usually more calm and serene. I don’t enjoy large cities, except to visit once in a while. As I’ve aged, I find that I like them even less. I don’t like the noise and busyness. We live in the perfect spot. Our town is small, but it’s close to a city of about 50,000 or so. The only problem is that too many other people are finding out how perfect it is, and they want to move here. It’s not going to stay small for long, I fear.
Enjoy your wonderful, peaceful town as long as you can, Winnie!
Linda Hogue says
I would much prefer to live in a small town because in big cities there is to much traffic, and people are far less friendly and personable.
Traffic doesn’t bring out the best in me, Linda!
Andrea B. Brooks says
It all depends, I guess. I have always enjoyed small towns, but currently live in a town/city of a population of 33,00(+). I enjoy either and it is nice to have friends and family nearby.
I also like to get involved when I can and am currently a volunteer at my local public library and also I volunteer cleaning the sunday school classrooms at the church I attend every wednseday.
I think being involved in the community whether it’s big or small is good for us AND the community, Andrea.
Shannon Taylor Vannatter says
I love the inspiration for your book, Stacy. So many times, professional caregivers are overlooked or given a bad rap. I’m glad you found a way to honor those who see their work as a calling and really care for their patients.
I’ve come across so many wonderful caregivers and other professionals who are truly committed to making life better for seniors, Shannon. It’s not an easy job and they don’t get paid nearly enough (just like childcare).
Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed reading about Open Circle and think Minnie and Jackson must have an interesting story overcoming their preconceptions of one another.
I’ve lived (almost) my whole life in a big city, and visited my grandparents and cousins in small towns.. and I would not want to live in those towns (ever). I do enjoy the fact that, growing up, our neighborhood had it all, so it was like a not-so-small town, but not-really-such-a-big-city. (Does that even make sense?) I’ve moved to a nearby big city recently (population 1 484 941 inhabitants) and I enjoy the easy access to work and everything else by walking distance (yes, people can walk in big cities too, I just use our car to visit my parents in the next city 25minutes away).
That being said, I’m from Brazil, so we have tons of big cities and our small towns barely have a senior center, even less a movie theater or a decent grocery shop, medical care centers are non existent, don’t even think about driving 30minutes to find one, they are not that close, you have to drive 1-2 hours depending on where you live, sometime a whole day (so much different from small towns in the US –based on 5 years of my PhD that I’ve actually lived in Upstate NY small town area, we didn’t have it all, but there were always centers nearby that you could find what you needed). I’m pretty sure I’d be happy to live in a smaller town, just not one around here.
There are often lots of amenities in different size towns, Priscila, but not always a place for seniors to gather or get their needs met. Thanks for sharing a bit about life in Brazil.
Small town living. I grew up in a small town and I miss it.
I haven’t heard anyone say they miss living in the city! I’m a little envious of everyone who has those small town childhood memories. :)
Janet Estridge says
Small town living for sure.
The town I was born and raised in and still live used to be a small town.
We are situated between 2 large cities but since “the Mouse invaded the house” we are no longer a small town.
This is home and always will be, no matter how big it gets.