Thursday, February 11, 2021

ROOTS OF WOOD AND STONE - Amanda Wen - One Free Book on this blog, Plus More

Welcome, Amanda. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
Quite a bit, I think, although it’s not intentional. Both my contemporary hero, Garrett, and my contemporary heroine, Sloane, are on the introverted side, have brainy jobs (she’s a museum curator, he’s a financial planner), and both love music (she’s a jazz singer, he’s a classically trained pianist who’s become a jazz aficionado). They’re also both a bit snarky. My past heroine, Annabelle, is a writer like I am (although she confines her writings to diaries she never expected anyone to read) and is fully devoted to her family. Only Jack, my past hero, is one I don’t see much of myself in (although I do see quite a bit of my husband).

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done? I don’t know if this counts as quirky, but it’s definitely one of the more unusual things I’ve ever done: I tried to impress my Chinese-born in-laws by eating a chicken foot.

When did you first discover that you were a writer? I’ve written stories for fun off and on since childhood, but it wasn’t until a friend loaned me a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing, and I strongly identified with something on nearly every page, that I truly realized that, like it or not, I was a writer.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading. Unsurprisingly, I love Christian fiction (mostly split-time and historical), but I’m also a big fan of humor writing (Dave Barry and Bill Bryson are two of my absolute favorites, and I’m also a sucker for Calvin and Hobbes). Also, even though my boys are 12 and 10, they still like me to read them bedtime stories, so I’ve read and enjoyed a good deal of middle-grade fiction in recent years as well.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world? Quite literally, by running! A confirmed and passionate non-athlete for most of my life, I started running in 2014 with the Couch to 5K program, mostly to prove to myself that I was a non-runner and that was okay. I never expected to like it and grow to need it for my mental health. (I was diagnosed in 2012 with depression and discovered that running is a critical part of keeping those blues at bay.) I am not fast, and I don’t run super far (2-3 miles is my sweet spot), but it works.

Other things I’ve come to depend on include snuggling with my cat (a sweet Siamese named Jasmine), the love, support, and prayers I get from my writing group, The Quotidians, hanging out with my wonderful real-life friends (most of whom knew me before I became a crazy writer), my day job as a musician (I’m a professional cellist and pianist), laughing at the hilarious things my kids say and do (and frequently posting said things to Facebook), and snuggling up with my husband at night to watch Patriots football or our favorite TV shows (recent favorites include This Is Us and The Mandalorian).

How do you choose your characters’ names?
Although I don’t watch a ton of TV, I become deeply invested in the shows I do watch, and frequently glean inspiration for book characters from characters on the show. Those who are thus inspired frequently share a first or last name with their onscreen counterpart!

Another source for names is my own family history; my genealogist mom has spent the last half century tracing our ancestors, so there are many, many names to choose from. Some make better character names than others.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of? I don’t know if I consider this an accomplishment as much as God being His extravagantly generous and awesome self, but I am thrilled to have carved out professional niches for myself in writing, cello, and piano, all while being married to my best friend and raising our three wonderful kids. All these things were part of my wildest childhood dreams, but as I got older I thought trying to do all that was pretty unrealistic, so I concentrated on cello and let the rest slide. But God didn’t forget about those other gifts He gave me or His plans for me to use them, and gradually over the years, He’s added piece after piece. I’m so excited to be using all my gifts at the same time, and I can’t wait to see what He does with them!

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why? Unoriginal answer, but probably a cat. Specifically my cat, because like her, I’m snuggly and friendly but occasionally need to retreat to my cave for alone time, I like to be warm, I love soft blankets and comfy beds, I’ll rant at you if I’m annoyed, I avoid vacuum cleaners, and I am very fond of cheese. (I don’t drink out of the toilet, though; that’s just her).

What is your favorite food? I’m a total foodie, so I love anything delicious, but if I had to pick a single favorite it’d probably be pasta. Any shape, any sauce, I don’t care. Pasta is my jam.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it? A constant challenge for me is making time to write. With three kids and my musical life, it’s often difficult to carve out the necessary time to put words on the page. When my kids were younger, I wrote faithfully during their nap time. Now that they’re older and in school, I’ve designated mornings as my writing time. This has presented its own challenge in recent weeks with the kids’ school district having gone fully remote, but I’ve tried to balance getting things done with showing myself grace during this unusual and difficult season.

One bit of advice I heard long ago that has proven helpful is to touch the story every day. Even if all you do is write a sentence, you’ve stayed in contact with your work-in-progress, and your brain knows to keep plugging away at it. That rule is a big reason why Roots of Wood and Stone actually got finished.

Tell us about the featured book. Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn't expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary. Now she's on the hunt to find out more.

Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother's historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer's, he can't afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who's fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.

A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love—and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.
This warm, beautifully written split-time novel will resonate with readers looking for stories that reveal the beauty of God's plan for our lives, and how our actions ripple for generations.

Please give us the first page of the book.

Sloane Kelley stood in the lobby of the Sedgwick County Museum of History, the thick buffalo robe hanging warm and heavy on her arms. A line of first graders filed past to stroke the robe’s coarse brown fur. But no matter how many little hands poked and prodded that robe, it held up. It was resilient.

Just like the pioneers who’d worn it.

The last child, a girl with wide brown eyes and a riot of red curls, trailed her hand over the robe. “It’s softer than I thought it’d be.”
“That’s a great observation.” Sloane loved those light-bulb moments when history came to life.

“That is a great observation, Josie.” Mrs. McPherson, the dark-haired teacher charged with controlling the chaos, rewarded her student with a warm smile.

But Josie looked instead to a beaming, T-shirt-clad woman at the back of the room. Same brown eyes, same coppery curls.

Mother and daughter, no doubt.

Jaw tight, Sloane turned to hang the robe on its wooden rack. She scanned the placard beside it, covered with facts she’d researched. Facts to fill in gaps in people’s knowledge.

A semi-successful cover for the utter lack of facts about her own past.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
My online home base is, where readers can find descriptions of upcoming books, learn more about what makes me tick, and sign up for my newsletter (, which comes with a free Valentine’s Day themed short story as well as giveaway opportunities and all the inside scoop on my writing endeavors.
In addition to the website, readers can find me on Facebook ( and Instagram (

Thank you, Amanda, for sharing this book with my blog readers and me. I’m eager to read it.

There is a special giveaway at this link.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Readers, here are links to the book. - Paperback - Kindle

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (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 Goodreads, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, 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: Http:// 


Caryl Kane said...

Hey Lena and Amanda! This novel sounds fascinating!
Caryl K in TX

Anonymous said...

I always love meeting new authors. This book would be great for winter reading.
Merry in New York

Wendy Newcomb said...

This sounds really interesting, thank you for the chance to win a copy and find a new'author to me.

Wendy in Nebraska

wfnren at aol dot com

Amanda Wen said...

Thank you so much for hosting me, Lena!! I appreciate you!

I can't figure out how to reply to individual comments, so I'm just issuing a blanket thank you to everyone who's stopped by! I'm glad the book sounds interesting, and I look forward to blessing one of you with a copy!

Abigail Mitchell said...

This looks good!
Abigail in VA

rubynreba said...

I enjoy these split timeline books.
Beth from IA

CRYSTAL said...

This book sound and looks fantastic. OH MY, Love the book cover and excerpt. Sure Would love to read and review this book in print format as all the other author's books.
Really enjoyed reading this interview/review and learning about the author and their books. Look forward to learning more.
Love a book with lots of plot twists and turns.
Crystal Stewart from Bruin, PA in the USA
Hope I Win

Paula Shreckhise said...

I am loving these dual time books. This one looks extra special.
Paula from Missouri

Lucy Reynolds said...

I’m a big fan of split time novels and this one sounds fascinating. Thank you for sharing. Blessings from WV.

Winnie said...

Thanks for the interview and spotlight! This book sounds so fascinating!

Winnie T from Utah

Alison Boss said...

Thanks for the great interview, Amanda and Lena! I always enjoy getting to know new authors. Historical Christian fiction is my favorite genre to read, and I so enjoy reading dual time-line stories, so your book is a definite win/win for me, Amanda! It sounds very intriguing! Thanks for the chance to win a copy of it!!

Alison from MI

Kay Garrett said...

Can't wait for the opportunity to read "ROOTS OF WOOD AND STONE" by Amanda Wen. Just today learned about this author today and I must say her book sounds amazing. Can't wait to read it - soon I'm hoping.

Enjoyed reading the interview and getting to know more about both book and author. Had to chuckle when I read about the chicken feet. Hubby was raised in Missouri and he had them often as a child. Been married almost 40 years and I've eaten many things from rattlesnake on up but can't wrap my head around chicken feet or raw oysters. You might chuckle at me when I tell you about when we first got married and they kept talking about sweetbreads for breakfast. I was sure surprised when I found out they were talking about a danish or cinnamon roll. :) (By way, not ate that "delicacy" either.
Kay Garrett from Mountain View, AR
2clowns at arkansas dot net

Terrill R. said...

I'm truly excited to read Amanda's new book. I've heard wonderful comments about it.
Terrill - WA State

Anonymous said...

Hello from an extremely cold day in Central Texas! I enjoyed the interview and have a love for both debut authors and split time novels. Amanda Wen’s has gotten a lot of good publicity on social media. I’d love to read it!
Perrianne Askew
perrianne (DOT) askew (ST) me (DOT) com

Sarah Taylor said...

This sounds like such a great book! Thank you for the chance Sarah from Ohio Sarahbaby601973(at)gmail(dot)com

Sharon Bryant said...

Enter me!!
Conway SC.