Kimberly Brock Books bio picture

Jolina Petersheim – An Author You Should Know

I rarely do this. You know it. I know it. (Lately, I rarely post anything on the blog, I’m so busy with the writing of the next book and raising a family.) But sometimes I come across someone who truly, TRULY impresses me as a person and a writer. Jolina Petersheim has done both these things and I know that you will love her and her work as I do. This sassy little sprite of a girl stole my heart last year at Nashville’s Southern Festival of Books. She is swift and sure and her debut novel will knock your socks off. I’m letting you in on this a little early, ahead of her release date. (Tyndale House Publishers, June 21, 2013 Click on this link to see her page there) You can thank me later.

Here’s the description:


Raised in an Old Order Mennonite community, Rachel Stoltzfus is a strong-willed single woman, content living apart from mainstream society until whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life. Refusing to repent and name the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she is shunned by those she loves most. She is eventually coerced into leaving by her brother-in-law, the bishop.

But secrets run deep in this cloistered community, and the bishop is hiding some of his own, threatening his conscience and his very soul. When the life of Rachel’s baby is at stake, however, choices must be made that will bring the darkness to light, forever changing the lives of those who call Copper Creek home.

A bonnet book, you say? Seriously? Oh, yes, I answer, cocking my eyebrow knowingly. Just wait and see…


Oh, OH! Here! See the trailer!


AND…if that’s not enough for you, here’s a teasing guest post from Jolina the Fine, herself. (Did I mention you NEED to read her blog? Because it’s fabulous.) And I BET before you finish reading this piece, you are already ordering The Outcast.

The Seed for Story

“A writer is a reader driven to emulation.” ~Paul Bellow

One of the girls who lived with us for a summer said that my family should host our own reality TV show. But I think we should write a book.

My father has floppy black hair needled with silver and hazel eyes that glow green when he tells a story, which he must accentuate with explosive hand motions, facial expressions, and colorful descriptions that keep his listeners enthralled.

My mother’s stories aren’t full of much action, but she is very introspective and curious: a combination that constantly spots stories and characters hidden among her interactions with customers who visit her quaint Miller’s Amish Country Store.

Launched from a genetic pool such as this, it is really no wonder that I fell in love with storytelling before I could even read. We didn’t have a TV for a majority of my childhood, so I passed time until my older brother returned from school by sitting on the front steps outside our cedar-sided home, sucking on my pastel candy necklace, and concocting elaborate stories about my day that I did not yet know were actually fibs.

Once I learned to write, I scribbled these “fibs” on notebook paper and stuffed them in an evening purse that I had ruined when I cut out the silk lining to hide a fuschia smear of dress-up lipstick. Then I dug a hole in the backyard with a child’s garden spade, tossed in the purse containing my stories, and buried it like a seed that I hoped would sprout into a creative beanstalk (Jack and the Beanstalk was one of my favorite tales at the time).

My family moved. The forgotten fibs moldered in their satin coffin, but the stories did not stop. My fat scrawl filled pages of diaries that I believed could not be tampered with because of a tiny gold lock that, looking back, I’m sure my brother picked.

And I read even more than I wrote: Little House on the Prairie, The Boxcar Children, American Girl, Baby-Sitter’s Club, Nancy Drew and Mandie mysteries. . . .

At night, my mother would tuck the covers tight around me and read, like a bedtime story, a chapter from one of her inspirational novels penned by her favorite author, Janette Oke. When I couldn’t stand the cliffhanger at the end of Chapter 10 (were the romantic love interests actually related?), I tiptoed across the carpet in my parents’ bedroom and snatched the paperback from the nightstand.

Back in my room, aided with a flashlight that blazed beneath the tented quilt, I read the climatic ending with my heart skittering. Then I calmly started at the page number where my mother had left off—satisfied that I knew the hero and heroine weren’t related and therefore their unending love could actually work out.

Eighteen years later, I can see that my love for story was like that “seed” of fibs I tucked in a purse and planted in the ground. Listening to my father tell tall-tales around the supper table planted in me the cadence of language and how the pace quickens as the tension mounts.

Because of my mother’s eye, I can spot characters amid the garden of mundane interactions and draw out their story with a subtle question that is really a writer’s cattle prod.

And now, before bedtime, I set my young daughter on my lap—breathing in her scent of warm cotton and strawberries—and read a story to her. And sometimes she flips through the board pages with her dimpled hands like she is overeager to understand the end.

Cuddling her close, I imagine that perhaps, through sharing my seed for story, another crop of young storytellers might be sown.

SEE! See! What did I tell you? You can find THE OUTCAST anywhere books are sold. Or click on the links here to find it on Amazon.

Jolina Petersheim holds degrees in English and Communication Arts from the University of the Cumberlands. Though The Outcast is her first novel, her writing has been featured in venues as varied as radio programs, nonfiction books, and numerous online and print publications. Her blog is syndicated with The Tennessean’s “On Nashville” blog roll, as well as featured on other creative writing sites. Jolina and her husband share the same unique Amish and Mennonite heritage that originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but now live in the mountains of Tennessee with their young daughter. Follow Jolina and her blog at


June 18, 2013 - 2:15 am

admin - Thanks, Jolina!

June 18, 2013 - 2:42 am

Jolina Petersheim - No, thank YOU, Kim, for having me here! I’m honored to be your guest. :)

Never Past the Reach of Song

When I was writing THE RIVER WITCH, I came across this wonderful video that confirmed all the things I know (and suspect) to be true about the power of music in our lives. A friend reminded me of this particular piece today and I thought it was worth sharing. The character of Otis Green came to me as a whole person and later, when I was doing some research I saw this piece of film and felt I’d maybe met him in the flesh. For so many people who are living out their last years in nursing homes it can be a lonely and isolating time. This film gives such a sense of hope and it inspired me. I hope it will inspire you to find creative ways to reach out to those in our communities who seem lost or isolated beyond our understanding. When I watch it, I see what I’ve always believed – music is the language of the soul. I hope to always speak it.

The celebrated north Georgia poet Byron Herbert Reece may have put it best.

“From chips and shards in idle times,

I made these stories, shaped these rhymes;

May they engage some friendly tongue

When I am past the reach of song.”

(Reece, Epigaph for Bow Down in Jericho [Dutton, 1950])


March 20, 2013 - 2:33 pm

Karen Spears Zacharias - Never tire of this one.

March 20, 2013 - 2:43 pm

admin - Makes me cry every time. xo

March 20, 2013 - 3:03 pm

tonya Gibson - Love Kimberly Brock

March 21, 2013 - 6:07 am

C. Hope Clark - Loved this, Kimberly. I forwarded it to two people I know who tend to seniors in nursing homes. Would love to see both these ladies come to life more through music. One was a minister’s wife. She’s 96, and used to sing harmony by ear to hymns. What a wonderful gift that would be for her. Thanks for sharing.

March 22, 2013 - 3:12 pm

Katherine - Oh, I love this. Going to share with family and friends who have loved ones in nursing homes right now, especially!

March 25, 2013 - 3:48 am

Jolina Petersheim - I loved your character Otis Green, Kim. My grandfather died in a nursing home, and it breaks my heart to recall him there. I do believe that we should reach out to everyone we can.

On the Radio with Southern Writers Magazine

A couple of weeks ago I was invited, along with some of my favorite authors, to speak with the editors of Southern Writers Magazine about if and why writers still need literary agents these days. I had some things to say. And they do include the poultry industry and Elvis, as you’d expect.

Here’s the link…  Enjoy!

February 16, 2013 - 11:20 pm

Kathleen M. Rodgers - Hi Kimberly,

Great fun listening to you talk about your writing career and how you sold your first novel on your own after you and your first agent parted ways. I wish you much
success with your next novel.

I Wonder As I Wander

Yesterday, this post ran on my publisher’s blog and I was very apprehensive. I really had a difficult time writing a piece this week and I still feel it is entirely inadequate. But after having several requests that I run it on my own blog, I’m posting it here. I encourage you to leave a comment and I hope it brings a little comfort by its honesty, although I wish I were a wiser woman. Love to you all.

I don’t feel like writing this blog. I want to cuddle up with my kids. I want to hibernate for winter. I want to make cookies and memories and watch sweet movies and tell stories under the covers. I want to stay home. I want to listen to my husband snore beside me in the wee hours. I want to be safe. I want to know they are safe. I don’t want to take any chances. That’s what this week did to me. Probably to almost everyone. It’s a shame because I’d already started tinkering with the beginnings of a post with a kind of reflective tone about the season. It was pretty smart, actually, a few days ago. Now, it’s a bunch of bologna. It’s shallow and naïve. And I just can’t seem to get back to that line of thinking. I can’t cough up any nostalgia or humor or even a Bah Humbug. I’m almost forty-one years old and I just lost a little more of my innocence. I mean, we are lucky to live where we live in America, aren’t we? That we have any innocence left to lose is an absolute miracle, right? But terrifying, too.

But none of that changes the fact that I have to post something because I agreed to the job weeks ago. I said I would do it and I sit here pondering my inability to wax poetic or even work up something of a little Christmas sermon. Usually, I’m good for at least a paragraph or two on such things. Not this time. But I’ll tell you, my brain has fixated on this one question since Friday afternoon when I was sitting at my laptop, trying to write this blog and was interrupted by the reminder of madness and sorrow in the world. And I don’t have a good answer. I just keep wondering about it and maybe I feel like I’d rather not wonder about it all alone, so I’m going to stick this question in your brain, too.

I wonder, if I’d seen that star, would I have had the courage to follow it? That Christmas star. Say there were angels, or maybe say we just had a flask we’d been passing around, me and you other stinky shepherds, and we THOUGHT we heard somebody or something. Maybe we just wanted an excuse to get off the hill. Whatever. The point is, would I have done it? Or would I have only told all you other dare-devil shepherds to settle down and gone back to counting sheep?

Would I have stayed put, hanging out on hilltops, farting and telling bad jokes, out of fear? Would I have convinced you all to ignore the whole heavenly host thing because really, what would a bunch of shepherds know about what’s over the river and through the woods? There is evil out there and I don’t just mean wolves. And everybody knows that visions and messages and signs and journeys are a very dangerous business. In a world like this, who would ever risk it? Because seriously, this weekend, that’s how I’m feeling. Like hiding out.

The thing is, I know there are miracles. One of them is that I haven’t lost all my metaphorical sheep by now. I have taken some chances, gone down roads unknown and seen there’s more to the world than sheep. Good things. Wonderful things. I’ve seen what can happen when I come down off the hill, for good or bad, and I know that after some journeys, the truth is that for good or bad, you’ll never be the same. After this week, I’ll never be the same. No one will. But does that mean I never leave the hill again?

Maybe the only way those shepherds ever had the courage to face that star – everything it meant or could mean and everything that it demanded of them – was simply because they did it all together. They trembled together and stood there knowing life is a marvelous, fragile thing, but perhaps there’s more to know than we can comprehend. I need that to be true this Christmas. Because what we find when we follow a star is light. And in light, we are made wise. The brightest gifts of the human race are illuminated: love, faith, forgiveness. Hope.

So what I want to know is this: Do we lose the star if we dare stop looking for it? Or can we still see it, even now, a constant? A miracle? I’m looking for it. And I’m searching for the courage to follow it. I hope you are, too. There’s room on the hillside. You can stand by me.

December 19, 2012 - 5:36 pm

Erika Marks - You ARE a wonder. That was utterly beautiful and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing it, my sweet friend.

December 19, 2012 - 6:24 pm

lori lopez - Thank you for writing this, you wrote exactly what I needed to read. Thank You

December 19, 2012 - 8:35 pm

Lelia Mullis - Wondeful post.

December 19, 2012 - 8:43 pm

Connie A Thompson - Thank you Kimberly. It always seems that during the most trying times, the star burns the brightest if you allow your eyes to see.

December 20, 2012 - 6:17 am

Darcy - Beautiful, Kim. I think we must follow the star, search for the light. The world is a dangerous, treacherous place, but it’s also beautiful and full of amazing, inspiring wonders. Only by getting off our mountains and risking, do we truly live. You didn’t feel like writing this post, but you did it, and look at the beautiful, heartfelt words you’ve shared. Thank you.

December 20, 2012 - 3:50 pm

Erin Z. Bass - You brought tears to my eyes, Kimberly. I’ve been feeling like hiding out all week as well, but also thinking about facing some fears in the New Year. You’ve helped me muster up some more courage to follow the star and given us all something beautiful to read as Christmas approaches.

The Next Big Thing

The holidays are upon us!! After months of promoting and traveling for The River Witch, I’m trying to settle down for a long winter’s nap. But honestly, I don’t nap well. I’m a busy bee. And I’m in the middle of serious work on a second novel that I have refused to talk about except to a select few lucky (poor fool) souls.

Alas, a couple of friends – Katherine Scott Crawford, whose historical novel Keowee Valley is just fabulous! And Jolina Petersheim, whose debut novel The Outcast, a retelling of The Scarlet Letter, will release in June 2013 – asked me to participate in this chain blog post going around and only because I love them and owe them endless favors, did I agree to talk a smidge (and I mean a really serious little smidge) about my current project. I hate to talk about anything I’m writing until I’ve finished and have a clear picture of the book. Somehow, it just confuses me or ends up sounding all sorts of spacey and delusional. So, I’m warning you. Expect my answers to these questions to make your head hurt and cause you to question your sanity. But if we must…then, without further ado…I open a vein for you.


What is your working title of your book?

I’ve tried out several that I don’t like. For now, the book is untitled. I usually discover the title during the revision process.
Where did the idea come from for the book?

Years ago, I came across a bit of obscure history involving the fate of a missing woman. I don’t want to reveal too much about it, but the discoveries were eventually declared a hoax. I was obsessed with the idea that if any part of the story that evolved was true and had been abandoned as a fraud, a woman’s voice was silenced not once, but twice. History betrayed her. If anyone had a right to haunt, it was her. I wanted to tell her story – not only hers, but also the story of a man who helped to record her life and death and was then lost to history right alongside her. I thought what it would be like to be her descendant and discover such a rich and bitter legacy. I felt compelled to honor that kind of courage and love, and also to explore what it means to be lost, what of our identity comes through inheritance and what comes of choice. And most importantly, what element of the human experience is eternal – in the case of a soul or a story. It has taken a long time to find the right way to tell this tale. A few years ago I heard a song at a concert that really brought home the themes for me and I’ve been writing and revising ever since.
What genre does your book fall under?

It is a magical realist tale.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I never see actors when I’m writing, but I see pieces of different faces or personalities. This novel has a large cast but for the two main characters, I might cast Sam Worthington because I believe he could be a stone mason and he has a soulful quality to him. And Emma Stone because she’s approachable and smart and could knock my teeth down my throat, if need be.


What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

I’m just going to laugh a little about this question and move along. Trust me. It’s a bad idea. And besides, you have to leave a little mystery, ya’ll.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

This novel is being represented by Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency. I am STILL reeling over this!! (Should we ever meet, you can kiss my ring.)
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m still writing it after two years. I hope to have this draft completed and revised by spring of 2013, then turned into my agent where the REAL work begins.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I think this book will stand alone and I really dislike comparing any project to another. But there might be similarities to a work like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. One of the main characters is a literal “eternal soul” who is caught in a kind of reincarnation cycle that establishes him in the lives of each generation of a particular family. He can perceive memories of loss that haunt people, and he has a gift for inspiring hope.

It might also be compared to The Time Traveler’s Wife because of the complications that crop up in this kind of love story.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I think I already answered this, but mostly I’d say it was inspired by the idea of being lost, how we define loss. The question I wanted to address was really whether experiencing loss or being lost is a condition with a concrete or scientific explanation, a mystical or existential reason, or is it purely all about perception?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The novel is set against the backdrop of north Georgia at the end of WWII, but the story extends to the colonization of America and into current day, following the female heirs of a family matriarch and a soul who is bound to them. It focuses on the last living heir in 1944 and her relationship with the mystical man tangled in her family legend, but it explores war, addiction, anti-Semitism, alchemy, the women’s movement, faith, dreams and the endless boundaries of love.

Blah, blah, blah. You’ll just have to wait and see, folks. I’m telling you when I start talking about my work it’s like, all ballerinas and alligators and hoo doo and spiritual music and pretty soon your eyes just glaze over. This one is a long way from finished, but I’ll hope you’ll hang in there with me. You’ll have to read it to believe it! xo


Please meet these fabulous writers and writer-friends of mine, find out what they’re up to:




Julie Cantrell author of INTO THE FREE.

Lori Nelson Spielman, author of THE LIFE LIST. The expected publication date is July 30, 2013.

Message for tagged authors:
Rules of the Next Big Thing

***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them. Be sure to line up your five people in advance. (I’ve seen these posts run with only three or four tagged writers, so no pressure.)

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
What is your working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

December 3, 2012 - 10:05 pm

Katherine Scott Crawford - Oh, thanks for doing this, Kim! I, too, normally shy–okay, sprint–away from talking about my work-in-progress. But I figure the writing gods will give us a pass on this one, since it was for friends. Can’t wait to hear more (and to READ) this new work. Sounds like something I’d absolutely love. Thanks for sharing!

December 5, 2012 - 4:02 am

Melissa Crytzer Fry - This book sounds so rich, with such depth, Kim. Wow. I was tagged for The Next Big Thing a few times last month and am STILL waffling about whether to share… Hmm. Feeling a bit superstitious.

December 7, 2012 - 9:26 pm

Laura Kay - I’m so ready to read your next book!

December 19, 2012 - 7:49 pm

Cynthia Robertson - Oh my gosh, this sounds intriguing, Kim. A stonemason and a woman who can kick ass if need be? I’m hooked already.

P r a i s e
A d d   t o   g o o d r e a d s
M o r e   p r a i s e