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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Spotlight on Kim Vogel Sawyer and Courting Miss Amsel

Don't forget the rules of the spotlights here. Answer the random question associated with this spotlight in the comments in order to be entered in the drawing.


KIM VOGEL SAWYER is the author of seventeen novels, including several CBA and ECPA bestsellers. Her books have won the ACFW Carol Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Kim is active in her church, where she leads women's fellowship and participates in both voice and bell choirs. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in central Kansas, and have three daughters and six grandchildren.

by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Published by Bethany House


Edythe Amsel is delighted with her first teaching assignment: a one-room schoolhouse in Walnut Hill, Nebraska. Independent, headstrong, and a firm believer in a well-rounded education, Edythe is ready to open the world to the students in this tiny community. But is Walnut Hill ready for her?

Readers, buy your copy of Courting Miss Amsel today!


1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

As a former school teacher, I've always thought it would be fun to feature a schoolmarm in one of my stories. A snippet from an article about women's suffrage--it mentioned that if Nebraska had approved the right-to-vote amendment, it would have been the first state in the U.S. to give voting rights to women--planted a seed, and Edythe Amsel was born. Edythe is a very progressive schoolmarm for 1882, and Walnut Hill, Nebraska, will never be the same once she sweeps through.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

I had a lot of fun incorporating some of my own teaching methods (tweaked, of course, for a different century) into the story. Like Edythe, I wanted my students to expand their thinking--to grow personally as well as academically. I hate to confess, but I also share a tendency toward stubbornness with Miss Amsel. lol Of all the heroines I've written, I probably related most closely to Edythe because of the teaching aspect and some of her personal traits (stubborn, independent, wanting to make a difference...). But she's a lot spunkier than I ever thought about being! I'm not one to instigate or stand up very well against conflict.

3. If your hero/heroine were an ice cream flavor, what would he/she be and why?

Hm, Joel is such a steadfast, dependable fellow, he would probably be something that can stand alone and still blend well with others. So I'd say vanilla with real vanilla beans for an added burst of flavor. As for Edythe, since she has a penchant for "standing out," she'd be a much more exotic flavor...cinnamon with dark chocolate chips.

4. Are there any themes in Courting Miss Amsel that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

When the story originally formed in my mind, I expected a theme about being true to one's convictions to be the underlying take-away. But as I got to know Edythe better, I realized she had a real problem with letting go of control and leaning into someone else's strength. This impacted her earthly relationships, but also interfered with developing a trust in her heavenly Father. Edythe had as much growing to do as some of the children under her tutelage. Thankfully, God is a patient teacher. :)

5. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

The most difficult parts concerned the historical aspects--making sure the details were right for that part of the country in that time period. Farming methods have changed greatly in the last 100 years! I scoured every resource I could find, and an 1882 Farmers' Almanac proved the most helpful. As for my favorite parts...any of the classroom scenes. Writing about Edythe relating to her students brought back so many pleasant memories of my own teaching days.

6. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

The next release is titled A Whisper of Peace, set in Alaska (near Denali) at the turn of the century. I'm not sure of the release date (spring or fall?), but it will definitely be out in 2011. I'm very excited about this story--it features an Athabascan Indian heroine and a pair of missionaries, and was inspired by my visit to Alaska in 2008. It is different from my others historical stories (not a prairie in sight!), but I hope my readers will enjoy getting to know Lizzie, Vivian, and Clay.

* * * * *

Thank you, Kim, for being in the spotlight with us.

ENTRY RULES Readers, answer the question associated with the spotlight in the comments, then leave your email address for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Courting Miss Amsel. If you do not answer the question, you will not be entered.

Question: Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school, and why?

Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname You won't be entered in the drawing without it. If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.


adge said...

Goodness, I could never pick just one favorite teacher. Something I feel I have always been blessed with was having great teachers. I could name ten at the drop of a hat that made a difference. A couple of traits they had that I liked was kindness and making learning fun. gasweetheart211[at]netscape[dot]net

Merry said...

Mrs. Fernburg was my 2nd and 4th grade teacher, she was such an encouraging woman, wanting all her students to dream big and reach for the stars. She came to all my dance recitals, even when I was in high school.

karenk said...

my first grade teacher got married during the school year...and invited all of the girl students (including me) to her wedding...what a great memory for a first grader :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Anne Payne said...

My first grade teacher, Miss Julia Stockton, was my favorite. She was so sweet, and always encouraging. She would take her hair down during recess and let all of us girls take turns brushing it (it fell below her waist). Of course, this was in 1967 :)


CarlybirdH said...

I would have to say that my favorite teacher was my 11th grade chemistry teacher. I've always had a real love for science, but I was struggling with chemistry and she was so impatient with me and helped me learn a lot. I ended up minoring in chemistry in college.

Thank you for the great giveaway. I am a huge fan of Kim's books.

Jo said...

Mr Forest was my favorite teacher in school. He was my grade advisor as well as my science teacher in 12th grade. He was always available if I needed to talk to him.


MJ @ Creative Madness Mama said...

His name was Daniel Speigel. He was the teacher that taught me to dive into novels and devour them. In his class I learned how to annotate and really take things apart and get more from my reading. My life was forever changed after that class.


Pegg Thomas said...

My high school biology teacher, Mr. Nelson, wins for my favorite teacher. He was very creative and engaging, he made biology fascinating.

Thanks for entering me in the drawing.

twinwillowsfarm at gmail dot com

RivkaBelle said...

Oh man ... just one favorite? Hmm ... I think my first grade teacher, because she let me be me. I was a voracious reader (still am!) and loved to come to school dressed up like my favorite characters. She let me. (As did the principal, who still remembers me 20 years later because of this, haha) :o)

quarterback.girl AT gmail DOT com

Wendy said...

Mr. Malo because he was friendly, yet we learned. He didn't treat us as annoyances.

Cherie J said...

I would have to say my english teacher Miss Borruso in high school was my favorite because she really instilled a love of literature in me. When she taught words came alive for me. Enjoyed the interview. Please enter me in the drawing. Thank you!


Kim Vogel Sawyer said...

I've had so much fun reading your responses! Don't teachers have the amazing ability to impact our lives? Had it not been for my freshman English teacher, Mr. Gorsky, I might not have had the courage to pursue writing. So hat's off to teachers everywhere! And thanks, everyone, for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Mrs Dorthy Stone she was my first grade teacher and she always had a smile and was so sweet to everyone.Patricia Davis

Sandra Kaczanowcke said...

Without a doubt, it was my third grade teacher, Mrs. Carpenter. She had a reputation of being very strict and stern, but I liked her because every day she would read to us from Laura Ingalls Wilder. Laura's husband Almanzo grew up about 25 miles from where we lived. I owe my love of reading to Mrs. Carpenter and I can't thank her enough. Unfortunately, she has passed on many years ago. I like to think that she and Laura and Almanzo all met up in heaven.

Marilyn Shipe said...

My third grade teacher, but I can't remember her name anymore! I just remember she always made me feel accepted, and I loved her for it.

Jane said...

Mrs.Jernigan was my 4th grade teacher...She was kind, & encouraging, but the reason I will never forget her is because she was handicap. Her arms only went to the elbow, and had deformed little hands on the end (I'm sorry if this sounds upsetting, but this is why I remember her) She had the most beautiful hand-writing, and didn't seem to care about being different. It helped me to believe that I could accomplish anything, and to have God confidence.

Anonymous said...

Miss Butler my 11 & 12 grade business teacher. She was very kind and made sure everyone understood the lesson of the day. I learned all about shorthand, typing and keeping records. I would love to win the book. I read all your books and love

Anonymous said...

For me is was Mr. Johnson my Jr. High band teacher. He always took the time to listen to me. I was a new kid in a very small school and found it hard to fit in with the kids that had gone to school together since Kindergarten. He made the transition very smooth and I made many new friends.


Annette said...

My favorite teacher was named Mrs. Engels. She taught a Family Issues class but it was her personality and the time she would take with her students. My friends and I would gather in her room after school and just talk. Annette

b.q.d said...

My favorite teacher in school was my grade 7 and 8 history Mr.Hennigar. He made history interesting and gave me a life long love for history.

Anonymous said...

My favorite teacher was in the sixth grade and her name is Artie Legg. She inspired me to do my best, which turned out to be A's instead of C's. She was always encouraging, but strict. She played the piano at my church as well, although I didn't go to church until a year later. She still inspires me today through Face book as she battle illness and keeps praising the Lord through it all.

Karen Gervais said...

My favorite teacher was Ms. Novicky who was my English teacher in High School. She was a favorite to a lot of students because she was young, fair and very friendly. She helped bring out the creative writing in me that I so enjoyed doing for years. I still have the notebooks of poems and plays that I wrote way, way back in High School.

sadie crandle said...

no doubt in my mind. mrs mompson, 12th grade english teacher. she made me LOVE english instead of just being good at it. she also made me into a robert frost fan. she used to give me books to read that definitely weren't part of the curriculum and i am forever in her debt. it's because of her and her alone that i wanted to be a writer. so thank you, mrs barbara mompson ...

Martha A. said...

Well, I was homeschooled, so picking a favorite teacher is not as hard for me...but i did have a couple over the years that i was not homeschooled too. i went to a Mennonite school and We called my teacher Sister Jean. She was amazing. One of the sweetest women that had a huge impact on my life! martha(at)lclink(dot)com

Pam K. said...

Mrs. Jones would have to be my favorite. I went to a very small school so she was my teacher for both 3rd and 4th grades. I remember she read books to us of our choice (so there were plenty of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys). She also let us paint on the windows for Christmas. She was a very NICE teacher.
I always enjoy reading Kim's books so would love to win "Courting Miss Amsel." Thanks for the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

I had so many favorite teacher, but I was blessed to have my Dad in grade school and my Mom in high school. That was pretty special.