Abide with Me – Meet Author Shellie Arnold

Posted by on Oct 27, 2017 | 13 comments

Abide with Me – Meet Author Shellie Arnold

Abide with Me is the third in Shellie Arnold’s Barn Church Series of Happily Even After Books. As a writer and speaker on marriage and family, Shellie truly believes that no matter how bad the problems, God can give marriages a happily even after ending. If you aren’t familiar with Shellie and her books, I know you are going to enjoy meeting her and having a chance to win an ebook of Abide with Me! Leave a comment at the end of the blog, and then sign in on the Rafflecopter at the end for even more opportunities to win!

 

 

Fabulous Fridays

Abide with Me

Welcome back, Shellie! For those who aren’t familiar with you, tell us something about yourself and how you started writing.

Thanks, Norma. It’s great to be back. Way back when I was elementary school age and knew my parents’ marriage was going to fail, I really wanted to do something to help marriages. When I was in 8th grade I voiced the desire to write about marriage to someone I trusted, her response was “Who would buy it?” – so I didn’t talk to anyone else about that desire for a long time. Shortly after I married, my aunt encouraged me to check out The Institute for Children’s Literature correspondence course. She told me I thought like a writer and talked like a writer. I had no idea what that meant! Still, she talked me into checking it out. My first novel, The Spindle Chair, is dedicated to her, Geraldine Brady.

Abide with Me is the third book in The Barn Church Series. Please give our readers a glimpse into your other two books.

Sure! I write about the perfect storms in marriage—what happens when my weaknesses hit yours head-on, and we’re both left wondering if anything can be salvaged. Each book highlights a different couple from The Barn Church. The first book is titled The Spindle Chair. It’s the story of Pierce and Laurie Crane, a young couple who desperately want to have a child. Laurie appears to be inexplicably infertile, then conceives and miscarries. The miscarriage is a catalyst which unearths  long-repressed trauma in Pierce, and when Laurie conceives again, their marriage is threatened by Pierce’s withdrawal from Laurie and their unborn child. Book two is Sticks and Stones, Rick and Julie Matthews’ story. They’ve been married almost twenty years and have a special needs child, Ben, who was a surprise baby. Ben’s birth derailed their lives and postponed Julie’s dream of singing professionally. The resulting dysfunction in their relationship has caused deeply-embedded habits both of them know are present, but neither knows how to address. When Julie is injured and Rick becomes her caregiver, those bad habits and dysfunction can no longer be ignored.

What distinguishes Abide with Me from other books out there in the same genre?

That’s a tough question. I do show both spouses points of view. That’s somewhat unique. My characters don’t simply pray and all is well. And I don’t have fairy-tale endings, where all is wrapped up with a nice bow. My endings still have a bit of mess in them, in one way or another. Maybe the biggest difference is my books don’t end with my characters deciding to change or grow. I like to show more of the process and what happens after they try to start over. In my opinion, that’s the hard part of marriage. Not the deciding to try again, but the actual trying again complete with mistakes and stumbles and my weaknesses hitting head-on with yours, while we try to figure out a new life together. In real life, we don’t get to call a timeout, we’re stuck trying to live out our decisions amidst life’s commitments and crises. In my novels, I try to honor that reality.

Abide with Me meme

Your novels tend to be about deep, life-changing subjects. How did you come up with the idea for Abide with Me?

Well, thanks for that. I do hope my novels cause people to consider and possibly talk with God about their own relationship issues. Any change for the better is still a change for the better, right? The premise for Abide With Me has been in my heart from the moment I considered writing fiction. I truly believe the scriptural law of sowing and reaping has more applications than finances. It’s true in our spiritual lives and it’s true in marriages. I wanted to show what happens when both a husband and wife ignore God’s promptings about their behavior toward their mate, but I wanted it to be subtle and believable. A rift that formed gradually, which I think happens very often. We don’t realize the small decision we make today will have huge consequences tomorrow. And, of course, I wanted to give hope for those who find themselves in that situation. I want all my novels to offer hope.

What character in Abide with Me  is most like you? Was that intentional, or did it just come about in the course of the writing?

Oh, I love this question! Every character is me, or has some part of me. But Angelina (not the beautiful part, LOL, but the insecure part, the wounded part) is definitely me. God spent years teaching me, and I suppose He’s still teaching me, about investing in my marriage rather than using life’s circumstances or my husband’s behavior as an excuse to misbehave myself. Even in my childhood, I noticed marriages where one spouse used their mate’s behavior or outright sin as a reason to withhold love or not be loving. I learned that, if you will. But after I married, I didn’t want to live that way. Recognizing those habits and breaking them has not been easy, but it has been fruitful. Writing Angelina and Nicholas walking that same journey was very humbling. More than once I wept with gratitude over how far God has brought me from that mentality.  

What is the biggest challenge/obstacle you face in protecting your writing time?

My family always, always comes first. Not that they’re a challenge or obstacle, but they are definitely my first priority. If I’m just answering this question as a writer, I’d say what I find most challenging about protecting my writing time is two-fold. First, so far my life hasn’t been one that I could set a specific writing schedule. Home schooling for over twenty years meant I was never alone, LOL. Like never. Isolating myself wasn’t an option. Now that my youngest is in her senior year, I’m trying to initiate a regular writing schedule. But that isn’t as easy as it sounds. Second, go ahead and laugh, but I’m a techno-phobe. I’m worse with technology than I am with kitchen appliances. Not kidding. So being present on social media is very taxing and time-consuming for me. I’m simply not good at it yet. But I’m trying. 

If you could spend the day with a character from your all-time favorite novel, who would it be and what would you do?

What a question! My all-time favorite novel…Okay, I have a confession. Prior to becoming an adult I hated reading. There was a period of only a few, brief months during childhood in which I enjoyed reading fiction. I didn’t begin reading for fun until well into my adult years, after 2002. But when I read Charles Martin’s Wrapped in Rain it spoke to me like few ever did. I’d love to spend the day with Mutt. I relate to Mutt, not because I’ve been institutionalized, but because I know what it’s like to have part of your heart and mind locked in the pain of the past. I’d love to talk with him about his most recent conversations with Jesus, and about wood-working. I’ve always loved power tools, and watching others work with wood brings back good memories of my now-deceased grandfather. 

Tell us about a moment when something one of your readers said or wrote gave you pause, inspired you to think about your work a different way, or made you change some element of your narrative.

A few months after The Spindle Chair released, I attended a writers conference. A fellow writer I’ve known for years as a very competent writer and communicator had read the book and stopped me in the hall. She said, “Shellie, do you have any idea how many marriages you’re going to touch, how many people will thank you when you get to heaven?” I was stunned, not just because she said that to me, but because she’d voiced my deepest yearning—to help marriages. I know my eyes filled with tears (I’m a crier). She hugged me and I cried even more. That’s my goal with every novel. If just one marriage is helped, it’s worth the time, blood, and work. That encouragement energized me to keep going with the series.

How did you weave a spiritual thread through Abide with Me without being preachy, and is there something you learned during the process of writing it?

Honestly, the “not being preachy” part was tough on this one. In order to show my characters knew to behave better than they were behaving, I had to show why they knew better. So rather than having them both be Christians from the beginning, I chose to let them become believers after they married. In my mind, that meant they both started at the same time and place. Hopefully, the rest of their journey is organic and believable, without being preachy. As far as learning during the process, I’d have to say I was forced to find ways to honor each of my character’s back stories and personalities. I couldn’t write them learning and processing as I would learn and process. I had to stay in their heads, their experiences, their voice, if you will. That was indeed a challenge. 

Please share the opening passage of Abide with Me.

Present day, Las Vegas, Nevada

Wearing her newest Oscar de la Renta cocktail dress, Angelina Rousseau stopped in the ballroom’s open double doorway. She clenched her jeweled evening bag and resisted the urge to pat the French twist rooted at her hairline. Attending the wedding of internationally-renowned interior designer Rita Dade demanded certain fashion and etiquette. Rita—who considered her clients her friends, and had won awards for work in Angelina’s home.

She scanned the chandelier-lit room from columned wall to columned wall. To her right and left, twin harps worthy of a cathedral filled the space with the classic “Unforgettable.” At the far end where the groom stood on stage, garnet roses overflowed urns the size of small cars and scented the room like an English garden.

Rita hadn’t been kidding. No expense was spared—not for Angelina’s plane ticket and opulent suite upstairs, or this, Rita’s fourth Las Vegas wedding. Over three hundred guests had been invited. Had Rita flown all of them here?

A tuxedo-clad usher caught her eye. “Bride’s side?”

“Yes,” she whispered. “Near the back, preferably an aisle seat.”

He settled her hand into the crook of his arm. They stepped forward.

“Are you alone?” he asked.

When wasn’t she alone?

Then, she almost stumbled. Had he actually tapped her wedding rings? The platinum band set with its three-carat diamond tilted on her finger as if losing its balance.

They stopped, and he turned. “May I have a dance at the reception?”

She lifted her chin and caught him eyeing the gold wrap grazing her collarbone. He winked at her and left.

Angelina sat. A blush sprouted from her chest. If only she had the nerve to shed the organza wrap and expose her bare shoulders, simply to get another reaction from the handsome usher.

How long had it been since her husband’s dark eyes rested on her, sparkling with appreciation? Since his soft, women-would-kill-for-those lashes fluttered against her cheek or traced her jaw? And if she let her parched heart drink from another man’s desire this weekend, when she returned home and saw Nicholas again, would he know what she had done?

Would he even care?

She folded a hand over her custom wedding rings, Nicholas’ gift on their third anniversary. Did the rings he’d proudly given her then mean anything to him now?

Angelina stared at the minister holding his black book and standing beside Donatello, the groom. Then, the flirtatious usher passed by and winked again.

Dare she respond?

The entire weekend stretched before her. Later in her suite, she could open her balcony doors. Let moonlight stream in; let the soft night breeze stir the sheer curtains. If she gave in to the forbidden, the filigreed bed—the kind romance novels vividly describe—would keep her secret. She could touch and be touched. Smile at whispers of her beauty. Pretend the physical pleasure reached all the way to her heart.

And like a scarlet letter, the sin would surely shine on her face, especially when she and Nicholas next attended The Barn Church. And on that exact Sunday, the sermon topic would probably be adultery.

Or worse, hell.

She glanced at her sapphire-studded watch. 3:23 P.M. Nevada time meant 5:23 P.M. back home in Rowe City. Nick’s plane would have landed in Alabama about the time hers had landed in Vegas. He would spend the evening working in his office downstairs. Tonight, he probably wouldn’t realize he was alone in their house, not even when he slid between the satin sheets on their enormous bed.

Six thousand square feet of Venetian plaster, custom furniture, imported marble. And emptiness.

Was there any worse hell than living lonely, in a marriage?

Book Blurb:

After ten years of marriage to the only man she’s ever loved, why is Angelina so unhappy?

As a wealthy yet lonely wife, Angelina Rousseau pours all her emotions into her paintings. Desperate for affection and attention, she finds herself willing to do almost anything to feel loved. Her husband Nick is determined to provide everything Angie could want, including finally giving her what she’s asked for most—time with him. When what seems to be the perfect investment turns sour, he’s arrested for real estate fraud, but soon learns being accused of multiple felonies is the least of his worries.

Once again, Nick’s choices negatively affect Angelina. This time she’s forced to part with cherished possessions to finance his defense and protect her future. When Angelina’s carefully built walls begin to crumble, both husband and wife must examine their emotionally bankrupt marriage. Yet even if they discover what went wrong between them, Nick could still spend the rest of his life in prison.

Could “having it all” cost Nick and Angie more than they ever imagined?

Shellie Arnold author About the author:

Shellie Arnold is a writer and speaker on marriage and family. She truly believes—despite baggage, neglect, or mistakes—if a husband and wife listen to God, they can live happily even after. Her passion is sharing how God is helping her do exactly that. She maintains a blog at www.shelliearnold.com and is the founder of YOUR MARRIAGE resources. Shellie is a mother of three and has home schooled for over twenty years. She lives in Ohio with her husband of thirty-one years.

Connect with Shellie:

Website: www.Shelliearnold.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/shellie.arnold.7

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ShellieLArnold/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShellieArnold1

Book Links:

Shellie Arnold books

Amazon:

Abide with Me (Book 3): https://www.amazon.com/Abide-Barn-Church-Shellie-Arnold/dp/1946016276/

The Spindle Chair (Book 1): https://www.amazon.com/Spindle-Chair-Barn-Church/dp/1941103871/

Sticks & Stones (Book 2): https://www.amazon.com/Sticks-Stones-Barn-Church-2/dp/1938499603/

Abide with Me cover

 

 

 

13 Comments

  1. A new to me author. Enjoyed the interview and her books sound like good ones.

    • Hi Ann. Great to e-meet you here. So glad you enjoyed the interview.

  2. I’m looking forward to reading this series!

    • Hi Sarah. Nice to e-meet you. I pray they speak to you and you enjoy them. 🙂

  3. I’m reading book 2. Would love book 3…

    • Hi Jennifer. As you can see, book 3 is about Angelina (the woman who shows up in book 2) and her marriage. Hope you’re enjoying Sticks and Stones.

  4. It’s on my list of must reads

    • Hi Jann. Wonderful! Hope you enjoy them all.

  5. Just wonderful Shellie! I’m going to buy & read them all and share with others! (They need to fix the first paragraph to “Even” after…the only reason I noticed was I LOVE that Happily EVEN After theme! Keep up the great work!

    • Hey Debby. If you want autographed copies you can get them through my web site for yourself or to give as gifts. I’m happy to ship them for you. 🙂

  6. Great to see another book, Shellie! Keep on writing! 🙂

    • Thanks, Karen. I’m trying to finish a fourth novel right now. 🙂

  7. Congratulations to our winner, Sarah Cunningham!

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