Archive | Susan Meissner

The Past Always Speaks

Today’s post by the amazing and prolific Susan Meissner | @SusanMeissner

It’s no secret that we adore Susan Meissner around here. We’ve chosen her novels the last three years as book club picks. And we couldn’t resist the opportunity to share her newest, The Girl In The Glass, with you. We know you’ll want to read it, so we’ve got a copy up for grabs. Simply leave a comment on this post and we’ll toss your name in the hat.

Susan Meissner on a research trip to Florence

I am often asked where I got the idea for a novel I’ve written. Many times I can point to a specific event where the idea sprang to mind; other times I can’t recall that I had anything more work to with than just asking myself the question, “What if…? ”

The idea behind The Girl in The Glass is one of those that grew from the tiniest seed. I guess you could say it began on a sunny afternoon in Florence, Italy, when my tour guide told me she lives in a house that was once owned by Michelangelo — yep, the Michelangelo — and that it seems like a ghost inhabits it. Things happen that can’t really be explained, she said. Noises. Objects that disappear and reappear. Stuff like that.

It was fleeting moment of discussion during lunch and we only had the one day with her and plenty to see, of course, so she didn’t elaborate. She wasn’t suggesting she lives with Michelangelo’s ghost nor even suggesting that ghosts exist. Only that it seems like she lives with one.

Right after lunch, this same tour guide showed us the massive Uffizi, the former offices of the Medici family and now a museum of jaw-dropping art. She carefully pointed out all Medici portraits and told us what each of them had done — or what had been done to them, as the case might have been. The Medicis, if you remember, ruled Florence dynasty-fashion for three hundred years. They were business owners and bankers who ruled like royalty but behaved, for the most part, very badly. They were known for their ruthless shrewdness, self-serving politicking, and they weren’t above a murder or two or using the papacy for their own ends. And yet they financed the Italian Renaissance. We have Michelangelo’s David and Botticelli’s Primavera because of Medici money. They loved beauty and yet were drawn to ugly living. That fascinated me. Add that perspective to the idea that a ghost might be hanging around like Jacob Marley, whispering sage advice to someone who would listen, and I had an idea for a story that began in Florence with “What if? ”

What if a modern-day woman named Meg feels a bit unlucky in love and life? What if she is still smarting from a broken engagement as well as the long-ago effects of her parents divorce? What if she wants more than anything to find a certain statue in Florence depicted in a painting her Italian grandmother had; a painting that disappeared when Nonna died? What if Meg’s habitually unreliable father, who has promised for years to take Meg to Florence, finally arranges the trip, but when Meg arrives, he’s a no-show? What if Meg is a travel book editor who only knows three people in Florence who can help her when her dad’s AWOL? A brother-and-sister writing team she’s only ever talked to on Skype, and an aspiring writer named Sofia whose manuscript pages speak of a Medici princess who whispers to Sofia from within the great masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance like a ghost with a cautionary tale?

This story didn’t come all at once, like some stories do. This one came bit by bit as I pored over my photographs and souvenir books of Florence, and as I replayed conversations with the tour guide who told me all about the Medici family and the curious things that happen inside her house. It just got me to thinking…

Someone might read this post or even read the book and think I believe in ghosts. What I believe is that the past has much to teach us. I look at how most of the Medicis lived and I know I am right. How we listen to the past is up to us, I think.

I like listening to the past through the medium of story.

Don’t you?

Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Novels of 2008. She and her husband make their home in Southern California. Visit Susan at her website: www.susanmeissner.com on Twitter at @SusanMeissner or at www.facebook.com/SusanMeissnerAuthor

 

About Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth Whalen is the co-founder of She Reads, mother of six, and life-long reader. She is also the author of two novels with a third out in July: The Mailbox, She Makes It Look Easy, and The Guest Book.

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A Room Of Her Own – The Writing Space of Susan Meissner

The Writing Space of Susan Meissner

 

Confession: I love this blog series. I love knowing where my fellow authors write. And I love to see the things they surround themselves with when most creative.

Another Confession: I’m jealous of Susan’s cozy writing nook.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS (2014), FLIGHT OF DREAMS (2016), and I WAS ANASTASIA (2018). Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

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November Book Club Selection

Congratulations to Nancy S. Connelly, winner of the quilted Civil War table runner and copy of Susan’s novel! We have notified Nancy via e-mail.

 

If you’re stopping by after reading Susan’s devotion with Proverbs 31 Ministries today, welcome! If you’re a regular, checking in to see what novel we’ve selected this month, welcome back! Either way we’re glad you’re here.

 

Three years ago I read my first Susan Meissner novel. It was a gripping story called The Shape of Mercy and I was a devoted fan by the time I turned the last page. She Reads has featured every one of Susan’s novels since. A Sound Among the Trees is her latest release and it is this month’s featured book club selection.

 

The setting for Susan’s novel is Holly Oak, a Southern plantation steeped in history and secrets. Keeping that southern atmosphere in mind, this month’s giveaway is this Civil War Farmhouse Table Runner and a copy of A Sound Among the Trees courtesy of Waterbrook Press. To toss your name in the hat leave a comment on this post:

 

This month's giveaway: a Civil War table runner

 

But fret not, even though we only have one main prize, two additional readers will each receive a copy of Susan’s novel. You can enter to win by signing up for our free monthly e-newsletter.

 

We will be discussing A Sound Among the Trees all month on our online discussion forum. If you don’t have local book club or if you’d like to interact with other readers would you consider joining? There is no charge and you can participate at your leisure. And because we’re all about encouraging book addiction here at She Reads, we’re giving away another prize to one reader who participates in this month’s discussion: fifteen novels published by Waterbrook Press, including all of Susan Meissner’s. (And yes, you can enter to win all three prizes, simply follow the entry directions for each one)

 

 

A House Shrouded In Time.

A Line Of Women With A Heritage Of Loss.

As a young bride, Susannah Page was rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North, a traitor to her Virginian roots. Her great-granddaughter Adelaide, the current matriarch of Holly Oak, doesn’t believe that Susannah’s ghost haunts the antebellum mansion looking for a pardon, but rather the house itself bears a grudge toward its tragic past.

 

When Marielle Bishop marries into the family and is transplanted from the arid west to her husband’s home, it isn’t long before she is led to believe that the house she just settled into brings misfortune to the women who live there.

 

With Adelaide’s richly peppered superstitions and deep family roots at stake, Marielle must sort out the truth about Susannah Page and Holly Oak–and make peace with the sacrifices she has made for love.

 

To download the first chapter of A Sound Among the Trees click here.

 

 

Susan Meissner

Award winning writer Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker and workshop leader with a background of community journalism. Her novels include The Shape of Mercy, named by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the Best Book of 2008. She is a pastor’s wife and a mother of four young adults. When she’s not writing, Susan directs the Small Groups and Connection Ministries program at her San Diego church.

 

 

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS (2014), FLIGHT OF DREAMS (2016), and I WAS ANASTASIA (2018). Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

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And The Winners Are…

Here at She Reads, we LOVE to give stuff away. We love to hold contests. And we love to notify winners. Yet the best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry (name that book!). Due to a rather persistent case of the flu, this blog administrator was unable to select the winners of last week’s giveaway on Wednesday, as planned.

But better late than never, I say! So without further ado, here are the winners of “The Great She Reads Giveaway!”

Grand Prize Winner – Rebecca Nichols (she is the recipient of the journal, pen, and copies of The Shape of Mercy and White Picket Fences)

Five more ladies will each receive copies of The Shape of Mercy and White Picket Fences, courtesy of Waterbrook Press. Let’s give a hearty round of applause to:

Latoya Mewborn Simpson

Lisa Noble

Susan Trull

Diana Chapel

Virginia Blakeslee

All six winners were selected at random by www.random.org and have been notified via e-mail. We were delighted to have so many participants and we hope you’ll visit us again.

Congratulations and blessings to each winner. May Susan’s book bless you richly!

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS (2014), FLIGHT OF DREAMS (2016), and I WAS ANASTASIA (2018). Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

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The Great She Reads Giveaway!

Welcome to those of you stopping in after reading Susan Meissner’s devotion today! We are delighted that you’re here and hope that you will visit again.

And your timing couldn’t be better. The wonderful folks at Waterbrook Press are giving one lucky reader the journal and pen pictured below in honor of Susan Meissner. That winner will also receive a copy of Susan’s novel, The Shape of Mercy, and her new release, White Picket Fences (which releases tomorrow, October 6th).

Journal & Pen

The Shape of MercyWhite Picket Fences But don’t despair. Even though we can only have one grand-prize winner, four more lucky readers will receive copies of each novel.

To be eligible for the giveaway, simply leave a comment below or sign up for our monthly newsletter. The winners will be randomly selected on Wednesday, October 7th.

***(As an aside, if you signed up for our newsletter during the month of September, technical difficulties prevented us from saving your contact information. If you have not already done so, would you consider signing up again? Trust us, you don’t want to miss our winter newsletter!)

To read the first chapter of The Shape of Mercy, click here.

Susan has also graciously provided She Reads a variety of book club resources, including recipes, discussion questions, and activities. You can access those here for free.

Book Summary – The Shape of Mercy

Leaving a life of privilege to strike out on her own, Lauren Durough breaks with her family’s expectations and takes a part-time job from eighty-three-year-old librarian Abigail Boyles. The mysterious employer asks Lauren to transcribe the journal entries of her ancestor Mercy Hayworth, a victim of the Salem witch trials.

Immediately, Lauren finds herself drawn to this girl who lived and died four centuries ago. As the fervor around the witch accusations increases, Mercy becomes trapped, unable to fight the overwhelming influence of snap judgments and superstitions. Lauren realizes that the secrets of Mercy’s story extend beyond the pages of her diary, living on in the mysterious, embittered Abigail.

The secret of her affinity with Mercy forces Lauren to take a startling new look at her own life, including her relationships with Abigail, her college roommate, and a young man named Raul. But on the way to the truth, will Lauren find herself playing the helpless defendant of the misguided judge? Can she break free from her own perceptions and see who she really is?

meissnerheadshot

Susan Meissner believes that books take us to places we have perhaps only imagined and introduce us to intriguing people – both real and invented – whose lives inspire, teach and sometimes transform us. She knows that books entertain but they can also enlighten and educate; they can motivate us to attempt great things. That is her goal as a writer, that the stories she pens will always leave readers with a message of hope after they have read the last page.

Susan has penned eleven novels in addition to The Shape of Mercy (2009 ECPA Book of the Year winner). Some of her other works include: Blue Heart Blessed (2009 Inspirational Readers Choice Awards, winner for Long Contemporary Novel), White Picket Fences, and Why The Sky Is Blue.
Susan Meissner has been feeding her love of writing all her life. Her first novel, Why the Sky is Blue, was released in 2004, after she resigned her post as editor for a local newspaper in a rural Minnesota town. Since that time she has had several books published and moved to San Diego, where she lives with her family.

If you are interested in The Shape of Mercy, would you consider purchasing it from Proverbs 31 Ministries? All proceeds from book sales go to support this powerful women’s ministry.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS (2014), FLIGHT OF DREAMS (2016), and I WAS ANASTASIA (2018). Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

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The Latest and Greatest

Two of our featured She Reads authors are enjoying good news this week.

The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner

On Saturday, Susan Meissner won the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) “Book of the Year” award for her novel The Shape of Mercy. In March, The Shape of Mercy also won the ECPA (Evangelican Christian Publishers Association) “Book of the Year” award. Congratulations Susan on this much deserved award!

Eye of the God

Ariel Allison’s novel, Eye of the God, officially releases on October 1st, but the Smithsonian Institute is currently re-arranging the Hope Diamond display and the changes are creating a splash in the media. You can see what the Smithsonian staff is up to by clicking here.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS (2014), FLIGHT OF DREAMS (2016), and I WAS ANASTASIA (2018). Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

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A Message From Susan Meissner

Dear Friend and Reader:

When I was in junior high school, I was in a one-act where I played the role of an innocent young woman accused of witchcraft. When my character realizes she can save herself by pretending to be bewitched, she begins to scream that one of the other girls in her prison cell †” a friend, actually †” is tormenting her. My character is led away to freedom and the woman she accused falsely is led away to her execution. I hated the way I felt inside being that person, first someone falsely accused, and then someone who accuses falsely.

My interest in the emotional and spiritual lessons of the Salem Witch Trials began with that play, 35 years ago. Like my character, the people who were executed in 1692 Salem were innocent. But unlike my character, they all died refusing to confess they were in partnership with Satan. They held onto truth to the point of death. That, to me, is incredibly inspiring.

In The Shape of Mercy, I explore the rocky path of making snap judgments, the unreliable and sometimes corrupt power of groupthink and the tragic results when we let fear dictate our choices. The three women in my story have three very basic things in common. They are all daughters of influential men, all raised as an only child, and each one must decide who they are. Are they women who stand for the truth even if they stand alone or do they let fear propel them to do what the crowd says to do, even if the crowd is wrong?

We have to train ourselves to see people the way God sees people. Having that kind of vision takes incredible discipline because our nature is not to see things like He does. I saw myself often in Lauren, the character in my book who transcribes the 300-year-old diary of a victim of the Salem Witch Trials, as the story revealed how she truly didn’t want to judge people but she did. She just did. We all do. We see a homeless man begging on the streets and we make all kinds of assumptions about how he got there and what he would do if we reached out to help him. Jumping to conclusions seems to permeate culture, regardless of the generation. Whatever the crowd says, we too easily believe. We need to fix our eyes on God, not the crowd.

The good news is when we embrace the virtue of mercy instead of judgment, we become ambassadors of hope. People with hope are attracted to the good they see in other people. My hope is this book reinforces that hope, that mercy has a shape and its shape is love. . .

Blessings upon you, over you and within in you,

Susan Meissner

Author of The Shape of Mercy, 2009 ECPA Fiction Book of the Year, RITA finalist, ACFW Book of the Year finalist, Publishers Weekly Top 100 Books for 2009.

www.susanmeissner.com

http://theshapeofmercy.blogspot.com

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS (2014), FLIGHT OF DREAMS (2016), and I WAS ANASTASIA (2018). Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

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Fall 2009 Book Club Selection Number Two

She Reads is proud to present our second selection for Fall, 2009: The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner!


Leaving a life of privilege to strike out on her own, Lauren Durough breaks with her family’s expectations and takes a part-time job from eighty-three-year-old librarian Abigail Boyles. The mysterious employer asks Lauren to transcribe the journal entries of her ancestor Mercy Hayworth, a victim of the Salem witch trials.

Immediately, Lauren finds herself drawn to this girl who lived and died four centuries ago. As the fervor around the witch accusations increases, Mercy becomes trapped, unable to fight the overwhelming influence of snap judgments and superstitions. Lauren realizes that the secrets of Mercy’s story extend beyond the pages of her diary, living on in the mysterious, embittered Abigail.

The secret of her affinity with Mercy forces Lauren to take a startling new look at her own life, including her relationships with Abigail, her college roommate, and a young man named Raul. But on the way to the truth, will Lauren find herself playing the helpless defendant of the misguided judge? Can she break free from her own perceptions and see who she really is?


Susan Meissner believes that books take us to places we have perhaps only imagined and introduce us to intriguing people – both real and invented – whose lives inspire, teach and sometimes transform us. She knows that books entertain but they can also enlighten and educate; they can motivate us to attempt great things. That is her goal as a writer, that the stories she pens will always leave readers with a message of hope after they have read the last page.

Susan has penned eleven novels in addition to The Shape of Mercy (2009 ECPA Book of the Year winner). Some of her other works include: Blue Heart Blessed (2009 Inspirational Readers Choice Awards, winner for Long Contemporary Novel), White Picket Fences, and Why The Sky Is Blue.

Susan Meissner has been feeding her love of writing all her life. Her first novel, Why the Sky is Blue, was released in 2004, after she resigned her post as editor for a local newspaper in a rural Minnesota town. Since that time she has had several books published and moved to San Diego, where she lives with her family.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS (2014), FLIGHT OF DREAMS (2016), and I WAS ANASTASIA (2018). Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

read more

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