Friday, October 16, 2015

Fabulous Feature-Amy Leigh Simpson, Beauty for Ashes

Today we welcome author:
Amy Leigh Simpson

THREE commenters will win an eBook copy of
Amy's book:

 When Fall Fades

International Readers Invited to enter!
Scroll down to see how.

Mary here. Amy is more than a kindred friend to me. She is a fellow Alley Cat from the Writers Alley Blog, a gifted writer, a tremendous singer and more. You'll see what I mean as you read how God has led her on her writing journey. I expect we will see many books with her name in the future. And now, I present Amy:

Beauty for Ashes

Ever had a dream wither away? 

For most of my life, starting from the first few notes hummed from my carseat until college, all of my dreams hinged around becoming a … singer. Gasp! Wait, you thought this was a blog about writers, right? Yep, it’s true. I’m not one of those true-blue, writer-from-the-crib types of writers who cut their baby teeth on the bindings of the classics and wrote their first enchanted tale with a crayon on the dining room wall. I was a songbird. 

I spent my youth cultivating my love of music from musical theater to worship teams, voice lessons to cutting demos. The dream had even become a part of my identity until one day I was mature enough to realize that dream was starting to clash with dreams that held so much more value.

You see, life as a struggling musician is a long, lonely road of sacrifice and rejection. Sacrificing time with my new husband to be on tour. Sacrificing the family I wanted to start young to perform and claw my way up a very unsteady ladder. Sacrificing the stability I craved in a home. The dream I’d envisioned as a girl was definitely one of hard work and unlikely odds. I wasn’t naive to the overwhelming size of my ambition. I knew it going in. 

The reality of the life I would have to lead while chasing that dream though, was not one I was prepared to see through to the bitter end. Now I still love to sing and worship and use the gift God gave me in other ways, but that dream of making it as a singer, that flame that kept the dream alive for so many years was snuffed out. The dream lay in ashes. And my very fulfilling life as a wife and mother became the reality I wanted to live in.

Mary here: I've stood next to Amy during a church worship time. Her voice is lovely, blending gorgeous harmony into the melody. Yep, she has a true gift of song. I've also been to Amy's house and saw such a deep, sincere love for her family.

But there are times when a dream dies when you feel the void of all that passion you held for so long grow into a cavernous hole in your heart, making you wonder what you are meant to do with the creativity that stirs in your veins without the dream to fuel the fire. For me, God’s promise in Isaiah 61 came when he gifted me a new dream … ironically, through my dreams.

I began to dream up stories. Stories I knew I was unqualified to write. I knew nothing about novels, other than I loved reading them. I hadn’t even take a creative writing class, since … ever! How on earth was I going to write a book?

What came next was a wrestling match. I wrestled with those persistent characters in my head. Wrestled with the stories infiltrating my dreams. I wrestled with God about my ability to actually write a novel. But I figured I’d give it a shot, more than likely vomit out 20 pages of dribble and call it a failed experiment.

Six weeks, probably twelve hours of sleep, and over 80k not entirely terrible words later and I had a story. Maybe not a great one, but I’d learn to make it great. I was a writer and it was a dream I could chase and keep my priorities in tact. So I dove into the craft, found writer friends and encouragers. Signed on with a superstar agent who believed in me. And I let all those stories I’d tried to ignore pour out of my head (and heart) in the most amazing labor or love. Bringing me so much more joy than writing songs ever did.

Who knew that dream was meant to run its course so I could find my true calling? God did. Because he is the giver of new dreams. He breathes life into barrenness. He takes the broken pieces of our hearts and fashions them into something beautiful and brand new. 

It’s not too late to find your dream. 

Sometimes you just have to let go and let God lead you into the beautiful unknown. It might be scary, but I promise you, it’s worth it!

My first book When Fall Fades (originally titled Beauty for Ashes) was born of that lesson God was teaching me four years ago. It is releasing on October 30th! We will be drawing a winner from the comments for a free e-copy of my book.

Just follow the instructions below to enter and, if you’re up for it, tell me about what became of your childhood dream to enter. I’d be so honored to hear about your journey!

Amy Leigh Simpson writes romantic mysteries with honesty and humor, sweetness and spice, and gritty reality covered by grace. When she’s not stealing moments at naptime to squeeze out a few more adventures in storyland, she’s chasing around two tow-headed miscreants (Ahem)—boys, playing dress up with one sweet princess baby, and being the very blessed wife to the coolest, most swoon-worthy man alive. Amy is a Midwestern-girl, a singer, blogger, runner, coffee-addict, and foodie. Her Sports Medicine degree is wasted patching up daily boo boo’s, but whatever is left usually finds its way onto the page with fluttering hearts, blood and guts, and scars that lead to happily ever after.  

Amy says: 
I’d be delighted to connect with you on Facebook and completely tickled if you checked out my book!
Facebook Website  

One dying secret. One missing truth. And a whole lot of trouble…
Sadie Carson is an expert on unfinished business. Five years after the derailment of her dreams she’s just barely existing, using her job as a hospice nurse to give others the one thing she can’t seem to find—closure. So when her elderly neighbor Charlie, a brilliant conspiracy nut known for harassing the FBI, is murdered, Sadie suspects Charlie might’ve been onto something and intends to make sure someone solves the mystery of her friend’s death, even if it’s her.
The feisty little blonde may have found the victim’s body, but FBI Special Agent Archer Hayes has no intention of letting some nosy civilian interfere with his investigation. The guilt he feels is bad enough. The last thing Archer needs is another distraction to haunt him. Especially one as beautiful and beguiling as the girl next door.

But throw in a mountain of hoarded evidence and suspiciously coded journals and the case takes a puzzling turn toward a decades old conspiracy cover-up from World War II—one only the victim’s closest confidant can help untangle. Sadie and Archer reluctantly join forces to decode the riddle of secrets Charlie carried to his grave. Or did he? Someone is after a dangerous truth. But to uncover it or bury it is a question that leads the unlikely pair on a quest for redemption that lands Sadie in the crosshairs of a desperate killer. And when the dangers of the past and present collide Archer must fight to save the life of the woman he’s falling for . . . only to discover he might be the one in need of saving.


Enter the contest to win an Advanced Reader's eBook copy of Amy's book:
When Fall Fades

here is how:
leave a comment (and email address)

AND sign up to receive posts by email
AND/OR sign up to receive my newsletter

if you aren't already
International Readers are invited to enter!!

The winner will be announced on my Facebook page

Thank you, Amy, for joining us this weekend!

We enjoy chatting with you and are looking forward to reading your comments and questions. Or at least your hi, hello, or hey.

Thanks for stopping by!

Don't forget to comment!


Julia Reffner said...

Oh, I love this Ames! I love your heart for Jesus, your dreaming big but dreams straight from His heart. You are an inspiration to me and I'm so excited about your release. So glad I read this today!

Morgan said...

Thanks for the interview! I really enjoyed it. The story of my dreams is a little similar. I wanted to be a marine biologist for most of my life because LOVE saltwater fish. If you showed me a picture of a saltwater fish, I could probably tell you it's name and a few random facts about it. But as I got closer to graduating high school and actually committing to that as my major in college, I just knew I couldn't do it because I wanted a family to be close to. The type of job I'd love as a marine biologist just didn't leave much room for that. Finding and committing to a college was a similar story. I really wanted to go to a small Christian university a few states away where most of my friends from church had gone, but I knew I couldn't afford it, needed to be close to my family, and wanted to still be in the same town as my boyfriend. Through the process of just letting go of my "perfect" dreams and trusting God to take me where He wanted me to go, I found a life so much more rewarding. With his help I was able to get an absolutely amazing scholarship that covers all of my fees and still has spending money left over for me at the university in my hometown, and I love my major so much more than j ever thought I would. It was a last minute swap before orientation, but you'd think I had planned on being a nurse my entire life. It's the most rewarding program I've ever been a part of. (Mdp94 [at] bellsouth [dot] net; I'm a subscriber!)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Hey Julia!!!
So happy to see you. I hope all is well.
I was just as amazed when I read her post. She hadn't told us this part of her life. Truly inspirational.
Stick around, I have virtual hot tea and coffee, also some yummy virtual chocolates.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Wow, Morgan. Such an amazing story. Your gifts in the science have not gone to waste. I've taken a nursing science class...I sank so fast!! I fit more in the math field. I couldn't believe how difficult that class was, so my hat is off to you, Morgan. I'm so excited to hear your successes as you progress in the training. There will always be a need for nurses and you can arrange a work schedule around a family. I'm so excited for you!
Thanks for chatting with Amy and me today.

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Jules, I thought the same way about your post yesterday! Nice that we can inspire each other :)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Mary, had I not told all the alley cats about my time as a singer? Didn't realize that! Thanks so much for having me!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Morgan, wow!!! Love your story! So much like my own! I love how God knows our hearts even better than we do. And I love seeing how h eaves our stories together in such an intricate Lee beautiful way even when things don't turn out the way we planned them, somehow he knows and makes it even better than we could've ever imagined! Thank you so much for stopping by today!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Oops! Sorry that posted before I could correct it! I meant to say how he weaves our stories together! :) typos! The bane of my existence! Ha!

Mary Vee Writer said...

No. I just knew you have a very lovely voice. And the alto you sang at Angie's church was beautiful.

Unknown said...

I enjoyed the interview. redeemed1ru (at) comcast (dot) net

Mary Preston said...

A lovely post. It sounds like your new dream is a better fit.


Mary Vee Writer said...

Good morning Ann!
It's freezing here, (29 degrees) good thing the virtual fire is burning, and the virtual hot tea and coffee are ready. Help yourself. There is an open chair by the fireplace.
I enjoyed chatting with you. Thanks for stopping by.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Another early riser! I've been a witness to Amy's awesome dream...well, ever since she started working towards having her book published. God has given her an amazing gift and has blessed her. You're going to love this story, When Fall Fades.

Connie Porter Saunders said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Connie Porter Saunders said...

Good Saturday morning Mary and Amy.
I have SO enjoyed reading this inspirational post! Growing up. I always thought I would be a teacher but a young man came along and suddenly, I wanted to he a wife more! Even though I never earned a teaching certificate, I have had the pleasure of teaching countless young people in Sunday School and VBS the about the best subject they will ever learn. I am still teaching teens at church and I am reliving all of the joys of teaching a baby (my granddaughter) so my dream hadn't really been unfulfilled!
Thanks for this motivating post to start my weekend and I wish both of you continued success in following your dreams!
cps1950 (at)gmail (dot)com

Unknown said...

I enjoyed.the interview. My childhood dream was to move to a new place and have a house, a career, and a cat. Now that I am older my dream is to pack up my cat and move back to the small town I couldn't wait to get away from. Funny how things change isn't it. l (Dot) bergh(at) sbcglobal (dot) net

kim hansen said...

Nice interview. Book sounds like a good read. kamundsen44ATyahooDOTcom.

Trixi said...

That's what I had wanted to do too was sing in a Christian band, but I realize maybe that is too big of a dream for my life. I've really enjoyed singing in my church worship team (albeit small) in the church we attended before we moved to a different city. I think that was so much for fulfilling for me, so much more intimate! Singing with other like-minded Christians, leading people into the very center of God's heart & presence! And since I'm a real home-body, I'm not sure I'd want to be away from my family that much.
I'm not in the worship team now, but I still get into the worship, wholeheartedly throwing myself into God's presence with my small church family. There's nothing like it in the world!! Maybe someday again God will open that door, but for now, I'm content in where He's placed me now :-) And I'm certainly no professional took lessons in my life, but I don't think my voice is all that bad :-) I've been told I have a good one, but I don't want to seem arrogant or get proud either....I want it to come from my heart where God resides. For me, worship isn't simply words on a paper...they are living, breathing prayers or praise to our God. And His word says He inhabits the praises of His I think whether you can sing or not, it's the heart attitude of worship to Him :-) Like a fire in my bones, I guess is the best way to put it.
Amy, I really, really enjoyed today's post and all that you had to say! There were several places that I found myself shaking my head in agreement on, I could so relate :-) You encouraged me, challenged me & put a smile on my face! Thank you for that, you're such a blessing. And thank you for the chance to win a ecopy of your book, it sounds like a good one! I would encourage you to keep following your heart & seek God's will and way in your life.....He'll ALWAYS guide our footpaths :-)

teamob4 (at) gmail (dot) com
Mary, you probably already know I do all of these :-) : sign up to receive posts by email and sign up to receive your newsletter!

Mary Vee Writer said...

And a blessed day to you as well, Connie.
Oh Connie, I am so happy for you! I've taught Sunday School to first graders. I loved it so much! They are so smart and expressive. Wow! They may have learned about the Bible, but I was the one blessed. I totally agree with you. And now you are teaching teens?? Look at you! How awesome is that!
I am so incredibly happy you were able to stop by and chat with Amy and me today.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Isn't that the truth? We are so desperate to spread our wings and fly...then we realize what we flew away from. That's okay. We get to see both and enjoy both.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Kim, I have had the privilege to read this book already and can say it is a wonderful read. Suspense. Romance. Page turner. Yah. Good stuff.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Yah, I know, Trixi.
I was so taken with your words. I really hope we can meet in person some day. I'd love to hear you sing. Sounds like God has led you to a church with a strong heart for God. What a blessing. Don't you just look forward to going to church? I recently joined the choir. I am not a soloist. Whether I sing in the choir or in the congregation I can't help but engage in the words, like you say. Maybe a tear falls, maybe my heart pulses, all in worship to God. Maybe I'll get to stand next to you in heaven and we'll sing together. :)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Thanks so much for stopping by, Ann!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

It's funny how hard we cling to certain things long past their season. Sometimes letting go is the catalyst! Wonderful to have you stop by!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Isn't it amazing how he can still use those broken pieces? One of my favorite things to do is make up silly songs and dance around the house with my kiddos. My Audience is smaller these days but so much better!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Oh I agree! Sometimes we don't know our hearts as well as we think we do! And sometimes we have to walk away to realize what we're missing. So glad you stopped by!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Well shucks ;) thanks Mary! And thanks for stopping by and entering to win!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Trixi, I was so blessed reading your story! Love your heart for worship! I feel the same way! It so nice to feel I've encouraged you, and that God used my words to inspire. It's why I love to write. Why I feel called to do it. And also why I write in a way to reach out to unbelievers and sow those first seeds that stir others to find grace like they've never known. My books aren't comfy Christian reads, but they are infused with hope and grace that reaches through the darkness and shines a light on us wherever we are at. Hope you win a copy! And if not, I'd be so blessed to have you read this tale of beauty for ashes. Good luck as you pursue Him and the best he has for you!

Caryl Kane said...

Hey Mary and Amy! Amy, thank you so much for sharing your journey. It gives me great hope to be reminded that God does give beauty for ashes. My childhood was one of survival not dreaming. The Lord has placed me in a wonderful church family who are loving me to wholeness. My dream is to walk in the fullness of what He has for me. Next Saturday our church is holding a women's conference and the theme is Beauty for Ashes! When Fall Fades is a must read for me!
psalm103and138 at gmail dot com

Mary Vee Writer said...

Caryl, God has really provided for you with your church family. These people never knew that their sweet spirit was going to bless someone. They just had the sweet spirit and clearly were ready to share. Sounds like this Saturday's conference is going to be a meaningful time. I suggest you journal it right away. Times like these are a balm for future difficult times. God loves you, Caryl. Let us know how the conference goes.

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Carly, it can be difficult to understand why we often have to walk a broken path before we can be whole. I'm so sorry you didn't have an easy road, not that anyone truly does but I just pray it becomes a testimony to minister to others who find themselves in the brokenness you are overcoming in the arms of God. Sometimes even our testimony itself is a purpose. Praying God redeems the years you lost and fills your cup to overflowing. Your double portion is coming, girl! Get ready! Hugs!!!!