Thursday, January 16, 2014

THE INVENTION OF SARAH CUMMINGS - Olivia Newport - One Free Book

Welcome back, Olivia. What are some of the spiritual themes you like to write about?
I look for themes that connect with life issues I see people I know struggling with—second chances, true worth, values that form our lives. Our human existence is full of knots. Lots of things go wrong, because of our woundedness and choices that fall short of health. But God redeems, revealing his beauty and hope even as we sit among the ashes.

What other books of yours are coming out soon?
2014 is a busy year. In February, Taken for English releases to wrap up the Valley of Choice series of three stories that blend a contemporary Amish setting with a thematically intertwined historical line. In the early fall, the first book in my new Amish Turns of Time series will come out. It’s called Wonderful Lonesome and explores a failed Amish settlement in Colorado a hundred years ago. Also in the fall I will have a Christmas novella in a collection of nine stories by nine different authors.

If you could spend an evening with one contemporary person (not a family member of yours), who would it be and why?
The world is full of interesting people, some famous and some not. I could throw a dart at the wall and come up with someone I’d enjoy an evening with. One person who comes to mind is a musician named Marty Haugen. He writes modern hymns and music for worship in several denominations, and his style captivates me. I’d love to discuss the way he conveys his faith through creativity.

What historical person would you like to meet (besides Jesus) and why?
Again, so many choices! A few weeks ago my church hosted a weekend seminar on C. S. Lewis, who is such a blend of intellect and creativity. I’m not sure I could keep up with his brilliance, but I’d like to at least express my thanks for challenging me to be a better thinker. When he was imagining other worlds to write about, I wonder if he imagined his own legacy to future generations of the church.

How can you encourage authors who have been receiving only rejections from publishers?
Yes, it helps to have ability, but it also helps to be stubborn! Many people dream of making an income, even if small, from writing, but I think the writing life is a blend of calling and business. You have to open to responding in both dimensions. It’s a rare writer who doesn’t have a string of rejection stories to tell. Clarify your own goals and resist getting sucked into how you ought to be doing it.

Tell us about the featured book.
The Invention of Sarah Cummings is the third and final story in the Avenue of Dreams series set in 1890s Chicago and featuring three young women yearning to breathe free and make choices that determine their own lives. Sarah Cummings has one goal—to break into Chicago’s high society. Desperate to stop serving dinner to members of the wealthy Banning family and to start eating at society tables, Sarah spends her meager free time altering cast-off gowns to create the perfect wardrobe for her future life. When opportunity knocks at a chance meeting, she presents herself as Serena Cuthbert, weaving a fictitious past to go with her fictitious name. But as she gets closer to her goal, Sarah finds she must choose between the life she has and the life she dreams of.

I’ve read the first two in this series and anxiously await this third book. Please give us the first page of the book.
The hat crooked its finger at Sarah Cummings.

The gesture was sophisticated. Seductive. Irresistible.

Sarah pushed open the shop’s door for a better look from the inside of the display window. Under a flood of sunlight, the gold bead trim adorning a narrow crimson brim doubled as a prism, sending hues to chase and dance around the milliner’s shop.

She did love that hat.

The classic oval shape of the crown and simplicity of design would make it versatile—worth every penny of the price. The coins in Sarah’s purse were a long way from sufficient, though. She had not yet attempted to make a hat herself, but having mastered gowns and suits, she contemplated her next frontier unafraid. A hat would require such a small swatch of fabric. The attraction was all in the design and the trims, and she had a small trunk full of ribbons, beads, and buttons harvested from gowns over the last three years.

Considering the afternoon she had just experienced, Sarah felt she deserved an indulgence.

“Don’t you just adore that hat?”

Sarah turned toward the voice. The eyes fastened on her were speckled—she was unsure what color to call them. Not quite blue. Not quite hazel. Certainly not green. But bright. And not tired at all. She had seen those eyes before. The not-quite-any color was uncommon enough to be memorable. But they did not belong to anyone on Prairie Avenue that Sarah could remember.

“I’ve been marveling at that hat through the window for two weeks,” the young woman confided. “Even my mother agrees it’s exquisite, and we rarely agree about any matter of fashion. You should have seen us choosing gowns for a wedding we attended.”

And then Sarah knew. Florence Pullman’s wedding at the end of April. The immense parlor of the George Pullman home had been decked in green and gold, with vast wreaths of orchids and lilies of the valley cascading down the pillars. Florence had taken her vows in the bay window, wearing an opulent ivory satin gown. Sarah remembered the train cut on the bias. Mrs. Pullman had asked Flora Banning for the loan of her maids, including Sarah, to serve at the reception that lasted until midnight. More than two hundred people had been there for the gala and eaten from the five-tiered cake with the angel on top.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
I’d love to have folks drop by, contact me at, follow me on Twitter at @OliviaNewport, or like my Facebook page,

Thank you, Olivia, for sharing this new book with us.

Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Invention of Sarah Cummings -
Invention of Sarah Cummings, The (Avenue of Dreams) - Amazon
Invention of Sarah Cummings, The (Avenue of Dreams Book #3) - 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 Google +, Feedblitz, Facebook, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link.


Unknown said...

Lena, Thank you for the post on Olivia and her book The Invention of Sarah Cummings.
I am not familiar with her books but I loved the excerpt.
I also enjoyed learning about Olivia and her thoughts on her books.

Unknown said...

I forgot to mention I am in Ohio sorry

Britney Adams said...

Thank you for sharing a great interview with Olivia. I love this synopsis and excerpt and would love to win this book!

Britney Adams, TX

Anonymous said...

This sounds very intriguing! Thanks for the giveaway!
Courtney C. from Arkansas

Anonymous said...

I've never read Olivia Newport's books, but my sister has the first book in this series and I know she'll be excited to know this is out.

Anonymous said...

This was very interesting to read. Both the interview and the beginning of Olivia's book. Boy, it sounds good. I have sewn a lot, but never ever thought about making a woman't hat. I think that would be hard. Now, I did make a bonnet for a granddaughter. I would sure love to win this book. Thanks for this give-away. Maxie

Mary Preston said...

You caught my attention immediately with that tease of a first sentence. Well done!! I look forward to reading more.

Mary P


Cindy W. said...

I enjoy Olivia's books and would love to be entered into the drawing for this one. Thank you for the chance to win.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Vera Godley said...

I have read the first two books in the Avenue of Dreams series and would love to read this one, too. I thoroughly enjoy Ms. Newports books.

I'm in North Carolina

Susan P said...

Love the excerpt! I also agree C.S. Lewis would be great to meet and listen to.

sm said...

Oh, I'm excited to read the 3rd book in this series. I really enjoy your books, Olivia. sharon, ca wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

Abigail Mitchell said...

This book, looks Awesome!!! Please enter me, in the drawing!

Blanch, N.C.

Kandra said...

I have been watching this series with great interest but I still haven't read them! Winning this title would spur me to get hold of the first two!

Kandra in OK

Unknown said...

I enjoyed the wonderful interview and loved the great excerpt. Book sounds fantastic. Thank you for the opportunity to enter this giveaway.

Barbara Thompson (West Monroe, LA)


Library Lady said...

We have Olivia's books in the church library. Would love to win this one to give to the library.
Thanks for the opportunity to do so.
Janet E.
Freezing Florida

Merry said...

Sarah sounds like a creative, determined character. Thanks for the chance to win The Invention of Sarah Cummings.
Merry in MN

Jean said...

Thank you for this opportunity

Jean K - West Palm Beach, FL

Rick Estep said...

Would make a great addition to our church library, thanks for the chance to win a copy.

Rick in Florida
Librarybooks at religious dot com

Patty said...

I've not read any of this series but always remember as each came out that they sounded really good!

Patty in SC

Sharon Richmond Bryant said...

Enter me!!
Sharon Richmond Bryant

kam110476 said...

The Avenue of Dreams series sounds so good and I can't wait to read every book, especially The Invention of Sarah Cummings!

Thanks for the chance to win,
Kristen, Oklahoma
kam110476 (at) gmail (dot) com

Jasmine A. said...

This really sounds like a great book!
Jasmine A. in MT

rubynreba said...

I've read the other two books in this series and look forward to reading this one.
Beth from Iowa