BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

GIVEAWAY - INTERVIEW ELIZABETH MUSSER

ELIZABETH MUSSER'S BIO: Elizabeth, a native of Atlanta, creates her novels in a charming "writing chalet," a revamped tool shed in her yard in Lyon, France. With their two sons, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have lived in France for over twenty years while involved in mission work there. Her newest novel is THE SWEETEST THING. Visit Elizabeth's website at www.elizabethmusser.com.






















1. You mentioned in your acknowledgments that not only is it important that God provides for our needs, but it's also important about how He provides. I agree with that. It's doubly blessed me in how He provided for my needs. He's such a God of detail! You said that "God has provided in very creative ways for you and your family on the mission field" Can you mention a time God provided in a creative way that deeply touched you and your family?

We moved to France in 1989 at the invitation of a French pastor who asked us to help him start a new church in a part of the city where there was no evangelical witness.  We researched the area and decided we needed to move to that part of town, but all the apartments were too expensive for us.  (We raise our monthly support which comes from churches and individuals). Then we heard that there were very good loans available for young families wanting to build a house.  So we looked at land but again, nothing was possible within our budget.  Our second son, Chris, had just been born and my parents were coming over to visit.  My father mentioned that a woman who had lived across the street from us when I was a child had recently died and had left me something in her will.  She had received my prayer letters from France years earlier, but had later become very senile.  Well, I figured she’d left me about $100.

In the meantime, as we searched for a home, the Lord put on my heart the verse from Psalm 127 “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.”  So we continued to pray that the Lord would provide a home for us in His way and His time.     
Our House in France

When my parents arrived in France, my father presented me with a letter from the deceased woman’s lawyer stating that she had left me a very sizeable sum of money—exactly what we needed for a down payment on a little house!  So we were able to buy a small house—we were the first missionaries in our mission who did this—and I have many wonderful stories about how the Lord used that house as a tool in our ministry in France

He has surprised us with His provision time and time and time again.  Wish I had more time to tell you all the stories!


2. Where would you like to see your relationship with reading groups grow? How do you think your goals can be met?
Reading group in Canterberry

Reading Group in Foxtale























I enjoy interaction with reading groups and am happy to speak to groups by phone, skype or in person.  Living overseas, it is harder to organize phone calls because I am 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and often reading groups meet in the evenings, which is the middle of the night for me.  So I’d like to figure out ways that I can interact—perhaps by answering a few questions ahead of time.  I’d also like for the groups to be aware of all that is available on my website: discussion questions and lots of other information about my novels, updates about our ministry in France, a ‘my favorites’ page, photos from book signings, etc.  http://www.elizabethmusser.com/

I have a recently launched fan page on FaceBook which offers photos and updates about reviews, interviews etc. and interaction with readers:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elizabeth-Musser/149546181768451#!/pages/Elizabeth-Musser/149546181768451

3. Do you learn about your book and yourself from book club meetings? If so what?

Office where I work in France





View of Office from outside


















It is extremely humbling to hear positive comments about my novels from the readers’ perspective.  Honestly, I at times get tingles running through me to hear that readers have been touched by my words, moved to laughter and tears, and have even drawn closer to the Lord as they contemplate the message of my stories. 

I often hear that readers are also inspired by my life.  That too is very humbling and a bit unbelievable to me, and it is clearly God using what I offer Him—in fear and trembling—for His glory.  What an answer to my prayers.  I love to tell readers that their gifts and talents too can be used in surprising ways to glorify God.

I really enjoy listening to a readers’ perspective on a character, a scene, a theme from a book. 

4. Did you learn more about your characters than what you had originally intended? Have you been surprised by readers’ reactions to one of your books? Characters? If so, which ones?

Many times as I am in the process of writing a novel, I find my characters doing things that surprise me—as I delve into their personalities.  However, I’m careful that they remain true to themselves—so sometimes those surprising actions get edited out.  As an author, I need to know a lot more about my characters than I can show in the novel—for instance, their background, their likes and dislikes, their fears, their secrets.  Many of these things come out during the course of the novel, but not all.  Still I need to know so that it all holds together.

Oh, I love to hear readers’ reactions to my characters!  Surprised?  Well, yes.  In The Swan House, I have a character called Ella Mae—she is an African American who serves as a maid in the 1960s South.  I felt I was very honest about the unjust way she was treated by her employers—not unkindly, but condescendingly—and I feared that the society I was describing (elite Atlanta) would not look favorably on my honest appraisal.  But quite the contrary, many readers have told me, in tears, that they had an ‘Ella Mae’ in their lives and family and that I described their feelings exactly.  Pure love and yet a na├»ve misunderstanding of racial issues.  They were thankful I tackled this issue through my character.


I chuckle too at how vehemently some readers express their disdain for villains in my novels—especially Jean-Claude Gachon and Ali Boudani in my first novel, Two Crosses.  But even Spalding Smith in The Sweetest Thing has gotten some very negative reactions (well deserved, I must admit!)

Mostly I hear that my readers find my characters so real and they can identify with them—and this is exactly what I want.  I say that although I write inspirational fiction, ultimately what I want to communicate to my readers is the truth—and that is accomplished by creating characters with depth.



5. Has your book club experience - getting feed back from reading groups - helped you in writing future books? If so, how has it helped you?

Yes, I glean information that I can use to help me as I write future novels—hearing what readers like most about my novels.  I’m all ears!  Mostly, the input I get from reading groups confirms that what I am writing is being well-received by my intended audience and I should continue in my goal of writing what I call ‘entertainment with a soul.’  Probably the comments I most often receive are that my novels deal with real issues and that I depict realistic spiritual struggles in believable ways.  Hearing that someone has gained a better perspective on God or been helped through a difficult period in life by my novels makes me feel all the more responsible to communicate God’s wonder and power and my characters’ need for Him in ways that depict truth.

6. Finding Hope Book Club read your book The Swan House and took a field trip to see the house.  I was wondering how you came up for the idea for the story?  NOTE: I’m answering questions 6 and 7 at the same time below:


7. Were you living in the Atlanta area during the turbulent time mentioned in The Swan House? Did you have similar experiences as your main characters? Or did they differ? Please explain.

I was two years old when the Orly plane crash happened in June 1962, so I don’t remember the tragedy.  However, I remember standing in the lobby of the Atlanta Memorial Arts building as a young girl and staring up at a stone-engraved list of names of Atlantans who perished in a plane crash.  That stone marker with its long list broke my heart for it represented great human suffering.  My grandmother had saved all the newspaper clippings and magazine articles about the crash—her next door neighbor was on that plane and my parents were using that neighbor’s car while she was in Europe.  Over the years, the tragedy continued to haunt and inspire me.  This story begins with that tragic event, but it is also about where I grew up and about so many things that have made me who I am—things I have loved and things I have learned.
Actual Swan House in Atlanta

The experiences of a teen from a wealthy background going into the inner city were indeed mine, albeit in the 70s instead of the early 60s.  I served spaghetti meals alongside my mother and the real life ‘Miss Abigail’—many people who have read The Swan House recognize ‘Miss Abigail’ and write me to tell of the impact the real-life Miss Abigail (Louise Adamson) had on their lives as they learned from her about living and serving among the needy. 

The private school that Mary Swan attends is a very thinly disguised Westminster—the school I attended, and many of the events I describe in the novel happened to me and my friends.  I grew up riding horses, playing the flute, going to fancy parties—and seeing the hypocrisy in some of the things around me.

I was never in love with a ‘Carl’, but in writing the novel, I talked with an African American friend and gleaned ideas of his experiences.  As I say in the acknowledgements, he helped me ‘get into’ Carl’s skin.

8. Many of your books are written about the Atlanta area which I find fun since I live here but what is the appeal for you? What's your passion for Atlanta?

My parents are native Atlantans.  I grew up in Atlanta, spent my first 18 years there, and all of my extended family still lives there.  It’s the place we come back to on our furloughs from FranceAtlanta is in my blood and I find its history fascinating.  It is truly a great city, and my parents have given much of their time and resources to some of the great institutions of Atlanta.

Because I was raised in a wealthy part of Atlanta, many of my stories deal with issues of wealth and faith.  Of course, I’ve been in France for almost 25 years, so I say that I write Southern fiction with a French twist!  

9. You've mentioned that you and your family are on the mission field in France for a few years at a time, then you take a short furlough and come back to the States. I have a friend that's done the same thing but she spends time in Africa. She finds it easier to go to Africa than to come back to the States. She is overwhelmed by the fast paced living style of the Americans and by there being too many choices at the grocery store. You can't go to the store for milk, there's 2%, skim etc.

How do you feel when you come back to the States? Anything overwhelm you? Something you miss deeply and/or are glad to be reunited with? Are there things about France you adore and embrace when you go back? Do Tell?

It is well known among missionaries that ‘reverse culture shock’ (i.e. coming home again) is harder than culture shock (moving to a new culture) and we have certainly found this true.  When we moved to France, we knew we’d have a lot of things to get used to, but coming back ‘home’ to the US (which we did every two years during the summer) was a shock!  We’d changed and adapted to our new culture and many things in the US seemed strange.

I felt totally overwhelmed by the number of choices I had for everything—I can totally relate to your friend feeling overwhelmed at the grocery store.  I couldn’t believe how many different types of salad dressings there were in the US!  In France, we made our vinaigrette from scratch daily!  And it seemed to me that Americans were always trying to make things bigger and better—that we ‘worshipped’, in a sense, the size of things.  In France, houses and cars and people are smaller.  The emphasis is on enjoying life—the French get 5 weeks of paid vacation a year—but not on accumulating bigger and better things.  There is a saying that goes like this:  Americans live to work; the French work to live.  I see that as true.  I love America, but I do see how there is so much pressure to live a life that is so very fast-paced.  Sometimes it seems that in the church, spiritual maturity is equated not with depth and wisdom but with how many committees a person joins.

That said, I deeply miss friends and family in America and I grieve the weddings, funerals, graduations and even smaller family events that I’ve missed by living overseas.  Sometimes that is so very hard.

I love the American optimism.  The French school system (which our sons both attended from kindergarten through twelfth grade) is based on criticism and shame.  I appreciate the ‘can do’ spirit of Americans and the sense of adventure and encouragement with which Americans embrace life.

When in the States, I miss French breads and cheeses and long walks on Sunday afternoons with friends.  I miss walking everywhere—to the pharmacy, to get bread, to the library in our little village.  I miss long, leisurely meals, simple but well prepared—always from scratch—enjoyed around the table with no rush.  I miss the simpler church services and the way that most believers are very serious about their faith—it has cost them something and they know it.  I miss the history, the old, old history of Europe and the pure joy of discovering that history by walking around cities and villages which have existed for centuries—a feast for the eyes that doesn’t cost a cent.

FUN QUESTION I JUST HAD TO ASK

1. What are three movies you can watch over and over again?
It’s a Wonderful Life, Gone with the Wind, Notting Hill












2. If you had the chance to hang out with two people (alive or dead) for 48 hours in the history of the world which two would you pick? and What would you do?





I would walk through the ruins of the concentration camps with Corrie Ten Boom and hear her stories again and again and learn from her more about how to hold on to faith in the midst of horror and how to forgive.

I would go with my grandmother back in time to 1930s and watch her as a teen and I would be Dobbs to her—she’d be Perri—(the two protagonists in The Sweetest Thing).  I would watch her with all those boys on her front porch and then we’d talk until late at night about love and faith and friendship.

3. Name three of your favorite books of all time.



As a young girl: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
As a teen:  Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Forever and always: The Holy Bible—because it speaks to me daily






4. A friend of yours has a time machine and is letting you use it! What two events in the history of the world would you like to experience up close and personal?


I would love to peep into the stable in Bethlehem with the shepherds on the night our Savior was born and I would love to hear Jesus teaching—in person, perhaps as He shared the sermon on the Mount.  But especially, I’d love to be able to walk beside Him on those dusty roads and just soak in His presence. 


















I Loved your book The Sweetest Thing - I think your book speaks to us in this economic down time as all things seem to be shaken. Getting to know the sweetest things in life is important. It's also very important to keep the main thing, the main thing even though things might look grim! Jesus is the same today and always. Something to hang on to! I enjoyed how you showed in your new book that God is creative in how he provides for our needs, not necessarily out wants. The Sweetest Thing is definitely going on my book clubs pick list. Your story touched me deeply, and was fun to read about Atlanta in the 1930's as well. All the best to you in your writing adventures. 


I was THRILLED to catch up with at the ICRS conference and learn about your writing adventures and how life is in France. I know that you will be returning to France again soon. I hope to catch up with you on-line! It's a blessing to know you!

Sincerely,

Nora :o)

The Book Club Network
www.bookfun.org 



CONGRATS to Betsy on winning a copy of Elizabeth's new book. Thanks to Bethany house for the Giveaway and THANKS Elizabeth for letting us get to know you better.


Until next time.
Nora :o)


MANDATORY - PLEASE ANSWER ONE or ALL of the FOLLOWING QUESTIONS for your name to be entered in the drawing.


1. If you've read other books by Elizabeth Musser, which is your favorite and why?
2. What surprised you about this interview?
3. Learn something about Elizabeth you hadn't learned before? If so, what?
4. What do you love most about Elizabeth's books?

DRAWING WILL BE - AUGUST 10th

For EXTRA CHANCES to win this book you can

1. Become a FOLLOWER of my blog (1) entry - please make a separate comment
2. Twitter about this interview and give away!! (1) entry - please make a separate comment
Enter to win THE SWEETEST THING By Elizabeth Musser Plus Interview @http://ning.it/oGuTkq Please RT
3. Grab my button on my site of TBCN Network or Finding Hope Through Fiction and add it to yours (1)entry - please make a separate comment for each entry
4. Make a post on your blog about this drawing (2) entries - please make a separate comment for each entry

PLEASE REMEMBER to leave your email address so that I can contact you if you win (Use (At) and (dot) so that people won't be able to spam your email address) - I will contact the winner and need to hear from them within 48 hours to claim their prize! Winners chosen using Randomnumber.org.

ALL THE BEST TO YOU

Blessings
Nora :D

********DISCLAIMER: Entering the give away is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws. Void where prohibited; open only to U.S. residents, odds of winning depend on number of entrants *****

37 comments:

  1. Victoria ZumbrumJuly 19, 2011 at 7:32 AM

    I have never read any of Elizabeth's books before but I would like too. They sound very good and inspirational. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

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  2. Wow! This was just a beautiful interview!
    I'm going to answer question #2.
    I don't usually expect to get a life lesson out of interview.
    "Americans live to work: the French work to live."
    That whole section was really a wake-up call. After reading this interview, I want to read Elizabeth's books even more. She seems like such an admirable person. I very much enjoyed all the questions AND answers! :)

    bluerosesheart at yahoo dot com

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  3. I'm a follower.

    bluerosesheart at yahoo dot com

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  4. I've got your button.

    bluerosesheart at yahoo dot com

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  5. Loved the interview and love Elizabeth's books! Why? Because I love books that are written about the South. Being born and raised in Atlanta, I love anything about the South! Great job Nora and Elizabeth. Keep the interviews & books coming!

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  6. I haven't read any of Elizabeth's books, but I'm looking forward to it. I don't know if it's a surprise or not, but I never think of France when I think of missionary work. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of the book.
    twinwillowsfarm at gmail dot com

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  7. I can't believe I have missed reading any of Elizabeth's books. I went to her website and read the synopsis for each one and they all sound wonderful! Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy of The Sweetest Thing.

    It's so true what she said about the perception of maturity/commitment in the church. I know many times people think you aren't a committed Christian if you aren't involved in multiple ministries/positions at once. It took me a long time to realize this and now I have learned to say "No", understanding better what God would have me do, and not be pressured by what others might think.

    Question for Elizabeth: If the public school system in France sounds as oppressive as stated "The French school system (which our sons both attended from kindergarten through twelfth grade) is based on criticism and shame.", did you ever consider homeschooling your sons, or is it illegal in France?

    homesteading[at]charter[dot]net

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  8. I'm a follower:)

    homesteading[at]charter[dot]net

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  9. I have your Finding Hope Through Fiction button on my book blog, and both buttons on my personal blog :0)

    homesteading[at]charter[dot]net

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  10. I posted about the interview & giveaway on my blog @ http://duhpaynes.com/2011/07/19/giveaway-at-finding-hope-through-fiction/

    homesteading[at]charter[dot]net

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  11. Since I live close to Atlanta this was a very interesting interview to me. I would love to win a copy of Elizabeth's book!
    Deborah M.
    debbiejeanm(at)gmail(dotcom

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  12. I've never read one of Elizabeth's books but the Depression era setting and the theme of friendship draws me to put it on my wish list. I learned Elizabeth was a missionary in France and has a humble, sweet spirit. I'd love to be entered for The Sweetest Thing, thanks!

    worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

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  13. I'm a follower with GFC.
    worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

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  14. I love the Atlanta settings in Elizabeth's books. I really enjoyed the interview and can't wait to read The Sweetest Thing. Would love to win the book. Tisha

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  15. I didn't realize she has been in France as a missionary for almost 25 years!

    seizethebookblog(at)gmail(dot)com

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  16. This is the first time taht I have ever heard of Elizabeth so a new author to me. So everything that I learned about her is new. Found it very interesting that she would go back to the 1930's to live.

    Blessings,
    Jo
    ladijo40(at)aol(dot)com

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  17. I'm a follower.

    Blessings,
    Jo
    ladijo40(at)aol(dot)com

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  18. I loved the SWAN House. I work in the public school system in Georgia. Are the schools tough? Do most students go to college or Tech schools? How do the French treat you as being American? Betsy

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  19. I really liked "Swan House" and "The Dwelling Place." I loved that there was a sequel to "Swan House" since I wasn't ready for the story to end. I was interested to discover in the interview with Elizabeth that Miss Abigail was based on a real person. The books made me want to visit Atlanta and see the actual places mentioned, though I haven't been able to do that. It's also interesting to know that some of the details in the books are based on Elizabeth's experiences growing up in Atlanta. This was a wonderful interview. "The Sweetest Thing" has a very lovely cover; I'd very much like to win a copy.Thanks for the opportunity.
    pmk56[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

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  20. I have never read any of her books, but this interview inspired me to try some of them. We use to live in Chattanooga, TN only two hours from Atlanta. I also loved hearing about how God provided for them in France to purchase a home. What a wonderful interview.
    wmmahaney(at)att(dot)net

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  21. The Swan House will always be a personal favorite for me and for my daughter. it came at a time shortly after we had lost a loved one in a plane crash; we loved the tale and all the Atlanta places we loved or went to see; we got a chance to meet Elizabeth together and several times over the book tour years; we are still waiting for the movie!

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  22. First of all, thank you for doing this interview. I'm a friend of the Mussers, and it was great to read/learn more about Elizabeth and her writing. What do I love most about Elizabeth's books? It's a combination of the (i) historical "rootedness" (ii) that comes from her real life, (iii) that is being told from her vantage point as a French resident. And of course all wrapped up in an excellent story. It's fascinating!

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  23. I would truly love to win the book. I love Elizabeth's writing and can't wait to read this one.

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  24. The Swan House will always be our family favorite. It came at a time when we had lost a loved one in a plane crash; we had the chance to meet Elizabeth in person; we loved the Atlanta references, history and the intriguing mystery! We still look for Mary Swan's house when we drive by AND we are waiting for a movie to be made of it!

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  25. Salutations! Truthfully, I've been stuck in the world of Non. Fiction, for me is rather foreign. I have been overseas several times; twice on missions trips, but the first time, when I was a nineteen year old girl, my desire was to stay. I too believe in G_d's timing and provision AND His creativity.Coulduhs, woulduhs, hmm...it ain't over yet! Reality: This lovely woman is living the dream and I believe there's still one out there for me, here in my heart, READY! Willing to win....awishupon(at)YAHOO(dot)com. Psst: I enlarged the yahoo;) LoVe.
    My name you ask: Julie Dubicz (simpler put, Jules Dee).

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  26. I loved learning what Elizabeth likes to read! A Little Princess is a great book. :) I also found it interesting that she would like to meet Corrie ten Boom. Definitely someone I want to meet too!

    photographer4ever832[at]gmail[dot]com

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  27. I posted about it!

    http://austenitis.blogspot.com/2011/08/giveaway-on-finding-hope-through.html

    photographer4ever832[at]gmail[dot]com

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  28. Entry 2 for posting.

    http://austenitis.blogspot.com/2011/08/giveaway-on-finding-hope-through.html

    photographer4ever832[at]gmail[dot]com

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  29. My favorite book is the Swan House and I have toured it and had lunch also as I grew up in Atlanta and love everything about the story and the continuing of it in The Dwelling Place. Are the book clubs in France any different than in the states? Nora's interview gives a peek into who you really are but I love that she speaks of her own love of Jesus as well. Your own story of how you received the money in the will and the fascinating life that you have led should be the setting of fiction book using your own life story, especially typing in your missionary efforts. I can't wait to read The Sweetest Thing. Blessings!
    Claudine at friendship224@hotmail.com

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  30. I am a follower. Thanks.

    Debbie Clark
    debbiemcla[at]msn[dot]com

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  31. I have not yet read any of Elizabeth's books yet. I loved reading about her living in France. I have a friend who she and her husband were missionary's in France for a few years. The years that I worked with this friend, I learned a lot about living in France. It is very fascinating.
    Thanks for the chance to win.
    Debbie Clark
    debbiemcla[at]msn[dot]com

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  32. Love Elizabeth's books. Can't wait to read this new one!

    Gail Mundy

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  33. Last month I visited Swan house for the first time. I completly enjoyed all the history and the the tour. I am hopeing that Elizabeth captures the mood of the house in her writing. I am looking forward to get to know her through her writings and more.
    Angela britishlady3@hotmail.com

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  34. Hi,
    I loved the interview. My sister took the book, The Swan House, and when she sent it back it was lost in the mail. She loved it and so I went and bought another one.
    How God answered prayer for a need for payment on the house in England was wonderful. I have 2 books already and now as I read, it will be more interesting after reading the interview. The books I have: Searching for Eternity and Words Unspoken.
    Barbara at thomas.harris2@comcast.net
    August 10, 2011 5:08 p.m.

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  35. THANKS for all your comments everyone. I'm THRILLED to hear that some of you are hearing about Elizabeth Musser for the first time. I learned about her because it was a book club pick and we wanted to take a field trip for book club. Since Finding Hope Book club is in GA and everyone wanted to visit The Swan House it was our book club pick.

    Angela glad to hear that you were able to go and see the Swan House it is beautiful. We all had a god time.

    Glad to hear from those of you that are Elizabeth Musser fans. I have to tell you that The Sweetest Thing is my favorite book by her so far. It's a book that talks about a time period we all can relate to! Loved the relationships she develops in the books and all they go through. I also enjoyed the believable spiritual thread.

    Barbara You'll like her new book.Funny what you wen through in order to read The Swan House!!

    THANKS everyone for sharing. I'll be picking a winner tomorrow afternoon!

    You ALL are a blessing. THANKS for encouraging Elizabeth. I was thrilled at the chance to meet her!

    Blessings

    Nora :o)
    The Book Club Network

    REMEMBER - MARK YOUR CALENDARS - MONDAY NIGHT AUGUST 29th at 9p.m. Eastern Standard Time we will be having a more giveaways. We have 10 copies of The Sweetest Thing to give away. We'll give a couple the night before and the majority that night. We also have two Ace Collins books to give away - Oh, and a KINDLE!!

    SEE YOU THERE!! Grin!

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  36. THANKS ELIZABETH for doing this interview and meeting up with me at the ICRS conference. It was a real thrill to meet and talk with you about your writing and how life is in France!!

    It was a blessing - Hope you're encouraged by all these cool comments and NEW fans!

    Blessings

    Nora :o)
    The Book Club Network

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  37. Congrats to Betsy as your number was picked using Randomnumber.org

    You are going to LOVE this book!! It's so fitting with the times we are living in right now.

    Thanks for stopping by and getting to know Elizabeth and her books.

    nora :o)
    The Book Club Network
    www.bookfun.org

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