Monday, April 17, 2017

"Waiting for Butterflies" by Karen Sargent

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Walrus Publishing
Publication date: April 4, 2017
Number of pages: 296

A mother's love never ends--not even when her life does.

Longing for her family after her sudden death, Maggie becomes a lingering spirit and returns home where she helplessly witnesses her family's downward spiral in the aftermath of her passing.

Her husband is haunted by past mistakes and struggles to redeem himself. Her teenage daughter silently drowns in her own guilt, secretly believing she is responsible for her mother's death. Only her five-year-old, full of innocence, can sense her presence.

Although limited by their grief and lack of faith, Maggie is determined to keep a sacred promise and salvage her family before her second chance runs out.

A tender portrait of a mother whose love reaches beyond possible, WAITING FOR BUTTERFLIES will embrace your heart and not let go.
                                                         GOODREADS | AMAZON

Karen Sargent creates characters whose imperfect faith collides with real-life conflicts, taking readers on a journey through grace and redemption to discover enduring hope. A romantic element is woven within each story. In addition to writing inspirational novels, she blogs at The MOM Journey, where moms aren't perfect and that's perfectly okay. Her writing has also been featured in Guidepost’s Angels on Earth magazine. When she's not writing, Karen teaches high school and college English and resides in the beautiful Arcadia Valley with her husband and two daughters.

Interview via the Publisher

1. What is your inspiration for writing the story of a family healing from the loss of their mother?
We received the dreaded midnight phone call that my mother-in-law had passed unexpectedly and too young at 61. A friend came right away to babysit our daughters, so my husband and I could stay with his dad. We returned home the next afternoon surprised to hear our five-month-old had slept through the night for the very first time, which she continued to do for the next week. While lying in bed on the eighth night, I whispered to my husband, “Ever since your mom died, the baby has slept through.” Moments later he softly said, “Mom, if you’re here, you can go.” That night, and for months after, the baby woke up. I’m still not sure what I believe about those eight nights, but a question began to stir my imagination: “What if a mother is taken from her family before she is ready to go?” The answer became Waiting for Butterflies.

2. What is your favorite part of the novel?
 THE END. Those are the two most glorious words I have ever written! Actually, the end is one of my favorite parts because surprises occur that even I didn’t expect.  My other favorite part is when Maggie is entering Heaven. I enjoyed imagining what that experience might be like for her.

3. Your complex characters are the beating heart of your novel, but which of them was the hardest for you to write? Why?
Maggie was challenging to write, not as a mother but as a spirit. I had to define her as a spirit by determining the rules that governed her existence and by justifying her abilities and limitations. Then I had to be consistent with those rules throughout the story. Sometimes I’d have an idea that Maggie should do something, but then I’d have to change the idea because it was outside the boundaries I had already established for her.

4. You also run the blog, The MOM Journey. How is writing a novel different from writing a blog post?
Writing for a blog is much harder than writing a novel. When I write a novel, I create characters and conflicts in a fictional world. And while my story may expose parts of who I am, it’s not as revealing as a blog post. In order to build relationships with my blog followers, I have to allow for some vulnerability, so my writing will be authentic and my readers will connect. And I blog about the real world not a make-believe one where I can manipulate circumstances to fit my story. I have to reflect and analyze in an entirely different way to write posts that are (hopefully) meaningful and insightful for The MOM Journey.

5. This is your debut novel, but you’ve been teaching writing and literature for 23 years. How does your teaching experience influence your writing?
I become an English teacher because I loved to read and write. But once I stepped into my own classroom, I discovered my reading time was dominated by the literature I taught and the essays I graded, and my writing was limited to lesson plans. Then two baby girls entered the story, so I tucked away my writing dream. And that was okay because I loved teaching my students and raising my daughters. But my writing dream wiggled every now and then to remind me it was still there. Now I realize my career and motherhood didn’t put my writing on hold. They both prepared me to write Waiting for Butterflies. Teaching my students great literature made me a storyteller. Teaching my students to write made me a better writer. And being a mom, loving my family, gave me          something meaningful to say.

6. How has writing this book, about the grief of a broken family, changed your relationship with your family?
Waiting for Butterflies speaks to two of my greatest fears as a mom: losing a child and dying before my children are grown. Writing this story allowed me to confront those fears on some level. Also, Rachel’s struggle reminds me to listen to my daughters, even when they don’t express their needs out loud. And I appreciate how my husband finds new ways to connect with our girls as they mature into young women because he values that closeness. And I certainly want to hug my family a little tighter when we’re all together, to keep us close, to keep us whole.

7. Obviously, butterflies are an important symbol in Waiting for Butterflies. What made you choose to weave butterflies into your story?
The butterfly symbol was actually one of those pleasant surprises that happened during the writing process. The original title for the book was Her Children Shall Rise Up from Proverbs 31:28.  But one day while in a bookstore, I saw a journal with this quote: If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies. The quote instantly illuminated the theme of the story for me and butterflies became a unifying thread I wove throughout. The story would be missing a layer of meaning without the butterflies.

8. What do you ultimately want readers to take away from reading Waiting for Butterflies?
 The characters in the book, Sam and Rachel especially, fight silent battles with guilt, and that guilt becomes a dividing factor in their family. But once they let go of it, they find forgiveness and redemption and their family is whole. Too often we hold on to past mistakes, our shame, because letting go seems impossible. But we have to      let go and seek forgiveness in order to heal and move on. Maggie’s family exemplifies that.

9. Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
Readers can visit my website at To connect with me personally, I invite readers to check out The MOM Journey at I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. 

​The Story Behind the Book Cover

​We all know the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” But isn’t that exactly what we do? Long before I signed with my publisher, I had a vision for my book cover. I also had a former student, Kinsley, who is a graphic artist. So with my contract in hand and pen poised to sign, I asked my publisher if Kinsley could submit a book cover for consideration. The publisher reminded me an in-house designer would be assigned to my book, but then they surprised me and agreed to “consider” an outside submission.
After I shared my vision with Kinsley, I discovered graphic design is an art—not magic—that required content. I needed a little blonde girl to model, a professional photoshoot, and a budget. I didn’t know a little girl who was the right age with the right color hair with the right “look,” and my book budget was already in the red. So I convinced myself the publisher’s cover design would be fine. Fine.
But disappointment cast a shadow over me for weeks as I continued to dream about my vision. Finally told myself, “Get over it.” That same night as I crawled into bed, a name popped into my thoughts. Briar. I hadn’t seen Briar since she was a baby. I calculated. She would be about four. Was her hair blonde like her big sister’s was when she was little? Did she have curls?
The next morning I texted Briar’s mom, Ashley, who is also a former student and who now teaches in the same school district as me: “I have a strange question. Is Briar’s hair blonde and curly?” Ashley texted back a picture. Perfect! I explained what I needed and that I’d pay for the photoshoot as well as for a little white dress for Briar to wear. Ashley texted back: “No need to pay. We have family pictures scheduled for tomorrow with Heidi.”
Tomorrow! With Heidi, the same photographer I had planned to hire! I immediately contacted Heidi to describe my vision. She turned my excitement into her own and said, “I know exactly what you want.”
But she didn’t. The next afternoon when Heidi sent me the photo, it wasn’t what I had envisioned at all. It was 100 times better! I had wanted a little girl standing in a field with butterflies swarming toward her. Instead, Heidi snapped this sweet picture of Briar and then placed a butterfly graphic in her hands. Although she had taken several shots, this is the only one she sent me because she knew—and so did I—this was the one!
And as soon as Kinsley saw it, she knew it, too. She put her amazing talent to work and created the final masterpiece. I loved the cover so much…we all loved the cover…but would the publisher?
On the day the publishing team met to accept or reject our design, I checked my email every three minutes. Finally the email arrived. I held my breath as I clicked it open and read the final decision: “This cover captures the very essence of the story.”
I’m sure a cover by the in-house designer would have been fine…even fabulous. But this, this is a “work of heart” because so many people are a part of it—former students, colleagues, friends. I hope potential readers judge my book by its cover!

1. This story was inspired by the death of my mother-in-law, who died suddenly and too soon at 61. I wondered, “What if a mother is taken from her family before she is ready to go?” The answer became Waiting for Butterflies.

2. My protagonist is a “lingering spirit,” which some Christian readers might question. After all, we go to Heaven when we die. But…what if God decided to allow a person (like Maggie) to return for some reason? Does the Bible clearly state that is not possible…if God wanted to allow it? I couldn’t find a clear answer, which left just enough wiggle room for my imagination to play.

3. It took me 11 years to decide to write Waiting for Butterflies. When I finally started, writing was easy because I had been imagining the story for so long, and it was fun to finally meet the characters who had been living in my head.

4. The original title of the book was Her Children Shall Rise Up, in reference to Proverbs 31. Then I saw a quote on a journal in a bookstore that inspired the new title. Waiting for Butterflies adds a layer of symbolism and meaning, and without it, the story would not have been the same.

5. I enjoyed naming the minor characters because I borrowed a first name or a last name from people I know. However, the characters have their own identities and personalities. I can’t wait to see if my friends, family, or former students recognize my “shout out” to them!

6. Some of the best twists in the story weren’t planned. I would be busy with something other than writing, and then an idea would suddenly pop into my head. It was always such a surprise!

7. Although it’s not the usual practice, my publisher agreed to let me submit a cover for consideration. I shared my vision with a photographer friend of mine, which inspired her even-better vision. She snapped the photo of the adorable cover model, who is the daughter of a former student. Then I sent the photo to another former student who worked her graphic art magic. I call my cover “a work of heart.” (By the way, the publisher loved it!)

8. My husband hasn’t read my book and probably never will since it’s women’s fiction, unless an ESPN sportscaster recommends it on TV. However, nobody is more proud of my book than he is.

9. People often ask if the characters in my book are similar to my family. In some ways, yes. In many ways, no. Maggie’s fear of losing a child—or being taken from her family while they still need her—are my deepest fears. Sam’s occupation and the sense of responsibility he feels to protect his family are similar to my husband’s. Rachel is an eclectic mix of my daughters—Randi’s creativity, Kelli’s perfectionism—colored by my experience with teens in crisis that I’ve encountered throughout 23 years of teaching high school students. Otherwise, the characters have their own identities, virtues, and flaws.

10. I thought I’d feel like an author once I held Waiting for Butterflies in my hand. But it doesn’t feel like my book. It just feels like I’m holding a book—someone else’s book. (I still can’t believe it.)

I really loved "Waiting for Butterflies" by Karen Sargent.  It shows that love between a mother and her children never dies even if the mother dies.

This book was hard for me to read, only because I recently lost two family members right before reading it, I think the subject is a hard topic to read about anyway but with saying all that I want to say I am glad I read it. I am sure this story will be with me for a long time. I encourage every mother and father and daughter and son to read "Waiting for Butterflies" by Karen Sargent, so I guess that means I encourage everyone to read it.

This book deals with love and regrets and forgiveness.  

Maggie and her family members all struggled with guilt after Maggie's death in a car crash. On a side note, this story is also a reminder don't use cell phones while driving. 

I really felt the most sympathy toward Rachel, the teenage daughter, because of her guilt, or   what she thought was her guilt, turned toward the wrong crowd and started hurting herself to ease the pain. 

Olivia, the 5 year old, is the only one that can see and hear Maggie and try to help the other members understand that Maggie is still with them.

There is also a little danger in a couple of scenes because Sam, Maggie's husband and the girls father, is a police officer.
All that is left for me to say is Read This Wonderful Book for yourself and I bet you will  also be saying like me, I'm glad I read "Waiting for Butterflies" by Karen Sargent.

I'm giving "Waiting for Butterflies" by Karen Sargent five stars, I would give it more if I could.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author and Singing Librarian Books .The opinions expressed are my own. 

There was a Give Away with this review but since I had a real tragic in my family I am late reviewing this book and I do apologize to the author and Singinglibrarianbooks and you my blog readers. But I had no control over the fire and the loss of two family members.  


Karen Sargent said...

Debbie, first of all, it made my heart sad when I read you were trying to read BUTTERFLIES during a time when you are dealing with your own grief! :-( There is a big part of me that feels you may have "pushed through" the read because you had committed to the blog tour. It would have been 5000% understandable if you were unable to read/review at this time. I am so, so sorry for your loss and, although you gave BUTTERFLIES a very sweet review (thank you!), I can't imagine how difficult it may have been to read it. First I thank you for reading/reviewing...but second, I apologize if my story added to your sadness at this time. I know sometimes reading a story can be healing...but sometimes it's just "too soon." I'm sending you a huge hug from my heart to yours and lots of prayers for your family.

Debbie Curto said...

Thank you for your kind words!