Friday, February 20, 2009

Age Before Beauty by Virginia Smith

Song Stuck on the Brain: Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond

Today I'm touring:
(Sister-to-Sister, Book 2)

My Take:

You may remember my review of Stuck in the Middle, book one in the Sister to Sister series. I loved it. Joan was a lovable and identifiable character. Age Before Beauty had the same allure. Allie was a career woman in book one, confident and in charge, but in Age Before Beauty we meet a new side of Allie. Post baby Allie has a whole new set of challenges. And despite the fact that I've never given birth, I still identified with Allie and her issues. I cheered for her, cried with her and overall loved this book as much as the first one. It's definitely worth checking out.

About the Book:

Desperate to stay home with her baby, Allie Harrod launches a new career. Sure, she dropped out of Girl Scouts because she was lousy at cookie sales, but makeup is different, right? She'll do anything to make enough money to cover her share of the household bills, but how can she focus on her business when her list of problems is growing? None of her pre-baby clothes fit, her checking account is dwindling, and her mother-in-law has decided to move in! To top it off, her husband's attractive coworker suddenly needs his help every weekend. Middle sister Joan insists that God has the answers to all her problems, but Allie isn't so sure. Can she really trust him?

Q&A With Virginia:

What was the inspiration behind Age before Beauty?

Allie is a typical older sister, used to controlling everyone and
everything. Okay, I admit it – I’m the oldest of three sisters, so a lot of
Allie’s struggles came straight from my own life. Also, my middle sister
gave birth to a baby right before I started writing Age before Beauty,
so of course some of her thoughts and feelings had to show up in the
story as well. I had a lot of fun blending characteristics and experiences
from both of us.

Do you often put yourself into your stories?

There’s a piece of me in every character I’ve ever written. If I’m going to
write a believable character, one that resonates with a reader, I have to
be able to get inside her head, and in order to do that I have to find
some common ground with her. But often it’s just a minor element of
commonality, and pretty soon the character’s personality begins to
grow and take on unique qualities. Allie, for instance, is the ultimate
problem solver, and that comes directly from me. But some of her
conflicts—like with her mother-in-law, for instance—are all her own.

Allie jumps head-first into a home sales business, selling makeup and
cleaning products. Any basis in reality from that situation?

Not personally. That element of the story came from the accumulated
experiences of several young moms I know. One is my sister, of course,
who yearned to stay home with her new baby. And one is a friend of my
daughter’s who did quit her job and launched a makeup sales business
in order to stay home with her infant. I’ll be honest about something –
When I first got the idea for this story, I intended to poke a bit of fun at
the ‘pyramid scheme’ type businesses. But a funny thing happened. This
young mom loves her business, and she’s become wildly successful at it.
She credits her business for changing her life in many ways. I interviewed
several others who told me the same thing. My perception of that type of
sales job totally changed. So the story became less about poking fun at
that industry, and more about the extremes an obsessive personality will
go to in order to accomplish her goals. I think the story is much better this

Is there an overall message in Age before Beauty?

Well, I didn’t set out to write a book with a message. I wanted to write an
entertaining story with realistic characters that people can identify with.
But I’m a Christian, and I write from a Christian worldview, so the hope I
have in the Lord comes through in all my books. In Age before Beauty,
I hope readers walk away with a renewed sense of assurance that God is
in control, and that no problem is too tough for Him to handle.

Age before Beauty is the second book in the Sister-to-Sister Series,
following Stuck in the Middle, which was about the middle
Sanderson sister. But there are three sisters. Will there be another

Absolutely! In fact, I just finished writing the first draft of Last but
Not Least, which will hit bookstores in February of 2010. The central
character is Tori, the youngest Sanderson sister, whose life is completely
different than the other two. She’s a professional girl, a real ‘chick’ with
a fetish for designer clothes. There are some really funny escapades in
that book, and of course more of the heartwarming family relationships
that I loved in the first two. Last but Not Least will wrap up the
Sister-to-Sister Series, and I’ve thrown in a couple of surprises that I
think readers will enjoy.

About the Author:

Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker with the release of her first novel Just As I Am. Since then she has contracted ten novels and published numerous articles and short stories. She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including Murder by Mushroom, Stuck in the Middle, and her newest releases, A Taste of Murder and Age before Beauty.

In March of 2008 she was named "Writer of the Year" at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. An energetic speaker, Virginia loves to exemplify God's truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, "Biblical Truths in Star Trek." Visit Ginny online at

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