Sunday, February 12, 2012

GIVE MY LOVE TO THE CHESTNUT TREES - Beverly Varnado - Free Book

Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I find others much more interesting than I am, so character traits of friends and family inevitably wind up in my characters. I’m sure, however, that subconsciously I’ve woven threads of myself into my stories. It’s probably more apparent to others than to me.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I make up stories for my blog about our animals. I have them arguing, fighting, going on adventures. Sometimes, I wonder what people may think of me, but the fun I have writing the tales outweighs any of that.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
When I was eight years old, I began keeping a diary. I also started a little magazine that year which folded within a week, but I think the desire started then.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love Southern Fiction and Coming of Age stories, which is what I write, but I also read a lot of Christian nonfiction.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
My day is centered every morning in God and his word. In addition to my regular devotions, this year I’m reading the One Year Chronological Bible. This version offers an interesting perspective while reading through the scriptures as they actually occurred.

I change devotional books and versions of the Bible fairly often myself. How do you choose your characters’ names?
Sometimes I use family names. Sometimes I research names and use ones that bear a meaning that only I may know about. That meaning however helps define the character.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I’m most proud of my precious children. We home schooled for eight years, and I’m thankful God allowed me to have that extra time with them.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I love all kinds of animals, but I’d love to experience the freedom that birds feel when they soar through the sky, the wind against their breast and under their wings.

What is your favorite food?
I love breads made of whole grains. But I’ll take other kinds as well.

James and I love whole grain bread. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest obstacle has been to believe in myself. I’m blessed to have a husband and sister who’ve continually encouraged me to persist. This writing journey is not for the faint of heart and when the rejections come, one has to learn to shake it off and keep working.

Eventually, you learn to get it over it more quickly. Tell us about the featured book.
Fourteen-year-old Mary Helen wants things to stay the same—small, safe, and protected-- but her world starts to unravel when cancer strikes her mother. Mary Helen is sent from her home in Asheville, North Carolina, to St. Simons Island, Georgia, to live with her eccentric artist aunt. The island, Mary Helen soon discovers, is surrounded by the marshes made famous by the poet Sidney Lanier.

Surprised by her aunt’s ways and island culture, all Mary Helen wants to do is return home, but then she meets Ben, whose passion for the island opens her mind to new possibilities. What happens next sends her on a challenging journey of self-discovery. Will Mary Helen embrace the changes in her life, which may lead to something greater than she’s ever dreamed, or will she continue to cling to all that’s familiar?

Whichever she chooses, one thing’s for sure—she’ll never forget the summer she first saw the marshes of Glynn.

Please give us the first page of the book.

Chapter One
A Big Loss
Seeing the world takes more than just physical eyesight. Your heart also has to see.

            As I sit at the marsh border, I take the pen from my backpack to ink the Southern-flavored utterances of the character cast in my head. From a cloudless cerulean sky, the calls of two herring gulls distract me, interrupting this otherwise tranquil June morning—a morning in many ways like the inaugural morning I spent here over two decades ago as a fourteen-year-old girl on St. Simons Island. The dark anxiety I felt then obscured my vision … I never saw the gulls. Not for a long time.

Today, the gulls join a group of feathery comrades and soar out toward East Beach. A sultry breeze, pungent with the aroma of an ebbing tide, tosses my hair and meanders on to the expanse of golden marsh where I often still hear her voice when the grass ruffles in waves to the blue horizon: “Mary Helen, did I ever tell you the story about …?”

            As I touch pen to paper, a scream from behind me splits the calm, and a painful smack sends me tumbling toward the marsh, where I end up on my back in tall, thick grass. The coolness of murky water seeps through my shorts and shirt. Out of the confusion, a woman’s voice emerges.

            “Are you all right? I’m so sorry.”

            Hands are on me, brushing debris away. I shake my head to re-orient, manage to rub the point of impact on my back, and look at my hand. No bleeding. I shake my head again. As I try to focus my eyes against the eastern sun, a young woman hovers over me.

            “You’re a mess. Can I help you up?” she asks.

Very interesting start. How can readers find you on the Internet?

Thank you, Beverly, for spending this time with us.

Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees   [GIVE MY LOVE TO THE CHESTNUT T] [Paperback]
Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees - Kindle

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good book. I would love to win.

Angela from KY

Beverly Varnado said...

Thanks for stopping by, Angela. Many blessings, Bev

Marianne said...

The title has such a neat ring to it! Makes me want to pick up the book and read it...before i read the blurb, and then i want it for sure. Thanks, Lena for another great interview. Thanks Beverly for the opportunity to win.

Marianne from Arizona


Linda Kish said...

I would love to read this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Jo said...

This book sounds very interesting. Please enter me!

Jo from Southern Arizona

Beverly Varnado said...

Marianne, Thank you for your sweet words. Linda and Jo, thanks for entering.

scottsgal said...

Love the title - I'd pick it up based on that alone
thanks for the chance
cheryl in il
msboatgal at

marybelle said...

GIVE MY LOVE TO THE CHESTNUT TREES - such a beautiful title. Thank you for the wonderful first page.

Mary P


Robyn-coolestmommy R said...

I love the title...made me take a second look. And I think it sounds like a story I'd really enjoy. I, too, have trouble letting go of the familiar--even if it's to receive something better.
Looking forward to reading.
coolestmommy2000 at gmail dot com

Mom2three said...

Oh, I would love to read more of Mary Helen's story! I can relate to the time you had home schooling your kids and know that without that time with my kids, our relationships would be so much different.


Patty said...

Another book set in the South, love it! Enter me.

Patt in SC

Beverly Varnado said...

Thanks for loving the title Scottsgal, Marybelle, and Robyn. I believe it was a gift from God. And Mom2three, I miss those years so much but am so grateful for the precious moments I had. Patty, if you love southern fiction, I think you'll enjoy spending time on St. Simons Isalnd with the folks in Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees. Thank you all for dropping by.

Sarah said...

Looks and sounds interesting!
Please enter me in the drawing!
Thanks for the chance to win.
God Bless,
Sarah Richmond

Angie Adair said...

Sounds like a great book!

Judy Cooper said...

I have not read a book written by Beverly, but after this interview and learning about the book, I know I would enjoy it. Please enter my name. Thank you. Judy C. In Louisiana.

Sharon Richmond said...

Enter me I would love to win a copy of this book it sounds like a great story! Thanks and God bless.
Sharon Richmond
Blanch, NC.

Kristie said...

My husband loves to make his own healthy bread. And no bread machine from him either. Your books sounds great! Cancer is unfortunately all too common and really changes and devastate lives. Sigh. My mother-in-law died of breast cancer and I never met her. Drat. I'm from Ohio. kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com Thank you.

Kristie said...

My plan for 2012 is to read the whole Bible this year. I like Southern Fiction and Coming of Age stories too. I read "South of Broad" by Pat Conroy. Slow start but good overall. Also, kudos for homeschooling. It's a difficult job to do well. I'm from Ohio. kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com Thank you.

Aizess said...

Please enter me in this giveaway! Thanks for the chance to win.

I live in New York