Faking Normal and a Chat with Courtney Stevens

Today I have a guest who’s also a dear friend. I love her for lots of reasons, and I think you will, too. Welcome Courtney Stevens, author of the upcoming FAKING NORMAL. This is such a special book, y’all. Trust me. 
M: OKAY. Questions. I’d just like the give the reader a taste of your personality – the way I see you. How did we meet? 
C: We met via Twitter (first) on the weekend I wrote the first fifty pages of Faking Normal. One of my friends saw you on a panel and said you used to be a youth/children’s minister. I DM’d you after that because I was also a writer and a youth minister. Later on, one of our mutual buddies threw a breakfast par-tay and we bonded. BEGINNING. Woot!
M: What about that time we ate Mexican food and you told me about the heart book that was so special to you? 
C: Post breakfast par-tay, we met at Chuy’s to share creamy jalapeno and stories. (Both being awesome and addictive.) I know we connected over books, but I remember thinking … Myra is one of my people. That has proved to be true in so many ways. That day we talked a little bit about 23 (the former title of Faking Normal) and how it was “the book I had to write.” The encouragement, laughter, thoughtfulness, listening ear, and suggestion that I meet one of your friends (CJ Redwine), was a gift and half. I am so very thankful for that day.
M: How long did it take you to draft FAKING NORMAL? 
C: I had the idea for Faking Normal on August the 8th. I put the final draft in the mail to an agent on October 18th. (Yes, of the same year.) 
M: Did it come out in one burst or was it a slow process? 
C: It actually came out in three bursts. I wrote the last 170 pages longhand at the beach in 13 days. (In a lovely red chair that I sometimes set up in the living room if I’m having a writing crisis.) Some books come out like old syrup; some come out like Niagara Falls. Faking Normal was my Niagara Falls.
M: You always send encouraging texts just when I need them. Why do you think you’re so sensitive to other people’s needs? 
C: First, I’m glad those texts are there when you need them. Second, I don’t know. Maybe it’s that people are sensitive to my needs, and the only response is to give back or pay it forward. As much as I believe in the power of the written word, I believe in the power of the spoken (& texted) word. For me, words act as anchors. And when I’m drifting around or worried or upset or need encouragement, I go back to powerful, encouraging things people have said to me. It would be amazing to think I could give people those anchors.
M: How do you want to extend that sensitivity to your readers? 
C: More than anything, I hope readers find an authentic and loving me behind the book of Faking Normal. I don’t know how that love will take shape–probably in many different ways–but I hope it’s visible no matter where I am or what I’m doing. This is a very lofty (and probably unobtainable) goal, but I don’t just want to write books, I want to be someone who impacts readers with love and truth.
M: What do you want your readership to look like? I mean, all writers want everyone to love our books, but who’s that one reader you want to reach? 
C: Honestly, I was that one reader. I wrote Faking Normal for me. Maybe that’s selfish, but I needed it. So everything that’s happened beyond that one girl channeling brave to write those words down is a bonus. An awesome bonus. Specifically, and I dedicated the book to them, there are girls and guys out there who believe the pain they have been through makes them unlovable. I’d like to drop an anvil and a battle axe on that lie.
M: One of my favorite things about you is that acceptance and love rolls off you in waves – it’s such a part of who you are. Does any of your previous job of youth minister carry over into your current job as author?
C: I hope so! My previous job was to love students. I still see that as my job. Not a job, a privilege! I do it a little differently now, but the goal is still the same: serve God, love people. And I guess what I mean by that is I’d like to think that the people who meet or read me find a thoughtful, truth-seeking, grace-giving human being who lives everyday with love on the agenda and thankfulness in the heart that any of these opportunities ever happened to her .

A grace-giving human with love on the agenda. SEE WHY I LOVE HER?

And now, a word from Courtney about her cover and a contest:

Hello awesome people! Before we get into the cover stuff, I want to thank all the bloggers and authors who are helping today with this reveal. This is such a fantastic and talented community, and I’m fortunate to be a part of it. And now on to the main event, the cover of Faking Normal:

Designed by Laura Lyn DiSiena

Reasons I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the cover: 1. It’s beautiful. 2. It tells a story without words. 3. Have you seen the awesome paper cut trees???

Here’s what the publisher (HarperTeen) has to say about Faking Normal:

Alexi Littrell hasn’t told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does. At school, nobody sees the scratches or her pain. The only person she connects with is the mysterious Captain Lyric, who writes song lyrics on her fourth-period desk for her to complete. With pencil marks and music, Alexi carves out a comfortable space for herself as she and the Captain finish each other’s songs – words on a desk feel safer than words spoken aloud. But when Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend who understands her better than anyone. He has secrets of his own and knows all about suffering in silence. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally speak up. With her powerful, moving debut novel, author Courtney C. Stevens emerges as an extraordinary new talent to watch.

Faking Normal will be released from HarperTeen on February 25, 2014. Yes, this is earlier than the date listed on Amazon.

About the author:

Courtney C. Stevens grew up in Kentucky and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She is an adjunct professor and a former youth minister. Her other skills include playing hide-and-seek, climbing trees, and being an Olympic torch bearer. Faking Normal is her first novel.

The goods on the Cover Reveal Contest: You don’t know me. Twitter doesn’t know me. Facebook doesn’t know me. Goodreads doesn’t know me. Amazon pre-sales doesn’t know me. (This is one of the great challenges of being a debut author.) Please help change my anonymity by placing Faking Normal on the radar of readers, bloggers, reviewers, and you know … people who like to win stuff. A few deets on the prize package- The winner receives: – A signed ARC of Faking Normal – A hand-painted cover rock by Court – Signed postcard – Silicone “Channel Your Brave” bracelet Since hand-painted cover rock isn’t usual book swag, I thought you might want a little background. In my little family, we paint rocks for significant events. I currently have three different book rocks that someone in my family made. One for when I got an agent, another for when I went out on submission, and finally one for when we sold Faking Normal. I thought it would be cool if I shared the tradition with one lucky winner by making a cover-inspired rock. (You might also be interested to know the bottom of the rock contains a spoiler: some of the first lyric quotes written by the main character and her Captain Lyric.) Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter linked to below. (U.S. only. Giveaway ends July 8, 2013.) Rafflecopter giveaway

You can find Courtney here: Email – channelingbrave@gmail.com Twitter Tumblr Facebook And she would love if you would add Faking Normal to your Goodreads shelf and pre-order Faking Normal on Amazon.

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