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I write novels, eat dark chocolate, raise three children, love my husband, scrub toilets, ignore the laundry, and love a good story, but hardly ever in that order.
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Friday, February 12, 2016

All the Single Ladies: A Valentine's Day Letter

Dear Me in 1996,
Happy Valentine's Day. Don't roll your eyes. You're not above Valentine's Day. I know, I know, it's so commercialized and such an obvious ploy by stores to make money on sentiment. You'll totally torch your final in Feminist Messages in the Postmodern Media this semester. 

Also, you're getting a little annoying.

Plus, if you're honest with your postmodern self, you're feeling down this Valentine's Day. You're alone, you're not dating anyone, and you're thinking everyone else has it better. Perk up. Here's my advice, and I'm MUCH smarter now and A LITTLE LESS annoying, so you should listen:

1. Start dating Marc as soon as possible. Stop thinking he has an angle because how else could he be that nice and untroubled and funny without being cynical?! There's no angle. He's just really that great.
2. Trust your instinct that you'll want to end up with a man who can laugh with you. A lot. Marriage is hard and life is hard. You're going to need to laugh. (Hint: The boy you dated last year who is into Sylvia Plath and dark poetry? He's not a laugher.)

3. Eat that bag of Hershey's Kisses. The whole bag. DO IT. You'll never know the difference in 1996, and I'm afraid you will in 2016. 

4. To that end, start wearing a lot of Spandex. You won't be able to do that in 2016 either.

5. Relax. You can't hurry things like falling in love and finding the person with whom you'll build your life. When you finally figure out that Marc is just that person, you will be so, so glad you waited for a man like him (*though you will have to go through his clothes and help him never buy the color "oatmeal" again). 

He's the kind of guy who will carry heavy things for you with care, both your too-big luggage in the airport and your broken, scarred heart. He will want you to chase your dreams, even the crazy ones, and he won't even act surprised when they come to be. He will be the kind of man who apologizes to his wife and kids when he screws up, and he will be ready to dance in your family photo just because he knows you want to. He will love you. Turns out, that's enough for most days, and when it's not, he will stay and walk through whatever valley faces you both. 

Happy Valentine's Day, Single Lady. Go ahead and make that stuffed bear into a voodoo pin cushion today, but hold on. Good things are coming and if you're smart, you won't let him go.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Winter Fashion: I Have Concerns

I'm battling a raging sinus infection and you know what I'm wearing? An infinity scarf. In case you missed last week, we have an infinity scarf issue in our house. Marc is opposed; I am in favor. We aren't quite as heated about neckwear as we were about getting Mr. Trump out of our state Monday evening. I was pretty whipped up about that. Marc was, as is his nature, more measured in his language. This is why I love him. Also, he would never wear orange make-up or a hairpiece.
So I'm feeling sick and a little whiny and worried about the world. More specifically, I worry about tweens. Sure, I have the normal worries about drugs, sex, and rock-n-roll, but today I'm mostly worried about their winter apparel.

In short, tweens appear to be coat-adverse. They don't wear coats. They wear sweatshirts and flowy sweaters and flat-ironed hair but they do not wear coats.
(Don't get distracted by how cute these outfits are. Don't do it! I'm making a point!)

Sometimes we pass these shivering girls or boys (this no-coat thing is no respecter of gender), and Marc will erupt at the insanity of it all. "What are they thinking? It's fifteen degrees outside!" I will join him: "They don't look cool. They just look cold!" Even Thea will pipe in. "That girl is wearing leggings that don't even go to her ankles! She will probably get frostbite." "Aha!" Marc will add, triumphant. "Good, Thea! And what ankle looks pretty with black and purple dead flesh?!"

He tends to go just a wee bit too far. 

Nevertheless, we have planted this kind of propaganda into the minds and hearts of our children for years, and it's totally working. Our children wear coats. OK, Mitch not so much. But if he's sledding, he totally wears a coat! 

Ana is doing us proud as a tween in so many ways, not the least of which is her willingness to wear clothes in winter. She, like her father, loves to be warm. She loves her coat and wears it with pride. She also wears a stocking hat because she is a very smart young woman. (NOTE: I have purchased two infinity scarves for her. Smart + stylish = world changer.)

My throat hurts. And I'm feeling dizzy. That photo of The Donald isn't helping. Time for a nap. I, for one, will be dreaming of the day when junior highers wear warm clothes and vote responsibly, in that order. We can do it, America! 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Winter Fashion: Marc Has Concerns

Marc and I have been married seventeen years. I married a good man, which is fortunate for me since I was completely clueless and about ten years old.

One thing we know after all these years together is that Marc knows best what clothes look good on me. Please don't send me letters and try to get me to free myself like the good feminist I am. I am not shackled to anything here. I simply know when I'm beat. When I get compliments on my clothing, Marc has probably had some input. When I don't get compliments, I probably got dressed in the dark and/or took the tags off before Marc could weigh in.

Everyone brings something awesome to the marriage. I bring my dance moves, and Marc brings his sage fashion advice.
WITH ONE EXCEPTION. I like infinity scarves.

Marc does not.

He really does not. And by this I mean I can see his face twitch a little when I put one on. I admit, sometimes the scarves are a bit large.

But sometimes they are pretty much fantastic and beautiful and trendy and youthful-not-slutty. When you turn forty, you are looking for youthful-not-slutty. Can I get an amen?

Marc disagrees with this fashion choice, and apparently, he is not alone. I was chatting with my friend Ann about this and Ann was feeling my pain. She and I were connecting about the infinity scarf. But then her husband, Jeff, came up and when he realized the topic of conversation, HIS FACE TWITCHED. Jeff also dislikes the scarves! He said, "Yeah, they're not our favorites," speaking for the males among us. 

I think it's the barrier issue. (STOP READING THIS IF YOU ARE UNDER EIGHTEEN. I MEAN IT. GO PLAY.) Infinity scarves are barriers to what lies beneath. This reminds me of a dear girlfriend of mine that sleeps with her own dark blue, fluffy fleece blanket. Julie just cocoons herself up in that thing right on top of her sheets, snuggles in and goes to sleep with a smile on her face.

Her husband has named the blanket The Fortress. Imposing. Impenetrable. Sends a clear message for what's about to happen if you attempt an advance.
Maybe Marc thinks my scarves are The Fortress, Version 2.0. Really, I'm just cold and trying to look cute. But he's reading into what message I'm sending. (Or maybe he just thinks they don't look great, but THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE. HE WOULD BE WRONG. AND HE IS NOT WRONG ABOUT WHAT LOOKS GOOD ON ME.)

Oooh. This is turning dark and broody. I just got chills. I'm going to get a scarf.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Five Ways To Survive A Midwest Winter

Oh, baby, is it ever cold outside. 

If you are reading this from a warm locale, please do not speak. I can't bear it. You are dead to me, along with every living thing in my backyard. 

If, however, you are among the hearty and seasonally depressed in the Midwest, this post is for you. We are in this together. Let us rise above. Let us commiserate. Let us talk survival strategy. Here are some helpful tips I've gathered on how to make it through an interminable Iowa winter:

1. Get married. 
Do it! It's fun! It passes the time! Better than any old game of Monopoly, I'll tell you that. Simply make sure you like the guy well enough to share about six decades of peaks and valleys and boom! You've got yourself a great winter distraction! Plus, after you're hitched, he might help with your warmth factor, as good husbands park and retrieve cars for happy wives. I got a good one. And he is REALLY jazzed about staying warm in winter!
(Note: Marc wore this get-up INSIDE HIS CAR while driving home from work. Note the shimmy.)

2. Don't get a puppy. Unless you have a fence. Then you can get a puppy, but know that opening the door to the tundra fifty times a day will not help the temperature of your house or the temperature of  your heart toward your puppy. On the upside and as kind of an Angry Midwesterner revenge, you can dress your puppy in silly sweaters and mock him when he looks confused.
3. Stock up on Smart Wool. Finally a wool sock that doesn't make you break out into hives, itch like a woman afflicted, or make you feel like you did when you were a kid and your mom made you wear that dress with the pokey collar. I hated that dress. 

Trust me. Smart Wool is light and warm and perfect for the bleak midwinter. Buy now, thank me later.

4.  Unfriend and unfollow all those people who keep posting photos of themselves in Aruba and Turks and Caicos and Orlando. Except don't unfriend me if I get to go to one of those places because then I'm posting every moment, from when I embrace the bell boy upon arrival to when I perform the Marcarena on the lido deck to when I tweet about weeping in my plane seat on the way back (#bestweekofmylife! #backtoflyoverstate #mywinterisbettterthanyourwinter! #suckah!). And you'd better "like" every photo. We're friends, and friends want other friends to pretend they're happy for them.

5. Pick up a winter sport, like curling or snowshoeing. 
I'm kidding! Don't do that! It sounds horrible! Why would you want to make things worse? You need your digits! Don't freeze them off! Take those pathetic snowshoes off your pathetic feet and go inside and keep moping. Whimper a little bit, watch a good movie, read a good book, moan a bit more. Maybe that cute husband you just snagged will have pity and bring you some hot chocolate. Or a ticket to Mexico. Spring is coming one of these months, so rest now. You'll need all your strength to get back all the friends you alienated over the winter, to say nothing of the puppy poop you'll need to scoop in the backyard.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Giving Guide

Hello and happy freezing cold day from the tundra! Here's what I look like this morning:

Not exactly true. This woman is European. So I looked less stylish.

Listen, I want you to know I'm not going to start being THAT GIRL. You know, that girl who blogs every forty-five minutes and annoys you by telling you about it and gets sad and sulky when you don't read it and comment with hearts and flowers. I'm not. I promise.

But I want to thank you for your response this week. So many kind words, emails, comments, posts that I feel the love and I want to thank you for it. I know how busy you all are because I'm right there with you, so it means a lot to me that you read and react and are so excited with me about the next phase.

And you are buying books! Thank you for buying books! 

If you're still thinking about pulling the trigger, this is the time. After tomorrow at midnight, the discount first edition books will only be available at my speaking engagements. And if you're visiting my mom's basement.

So buy now and buy big because the prices will go back up with the second editions. Don't take it personally. It's business.

People often ask me for guidance with what book to buy for friends and family. Here's a little guide based on reader feedback I've gotten over the years. 

What do I give my sister/friend/daughter-in-law who just had a baby?
If she wants to feel like she's not alone in the world, Balancing Act, Bottom Line or Stretch Marks
If she wants to read a book about anything BUT motherhood, Act Two or Operation Bonnet.

What do I give my teenaged niece?

What do I give my piano/voice/trumpet teacher as an end-of-year gift?
Act Two. And a round of applause. Musicians love that kind of thing. 

What do I buy for every female reader in my life for every Christmas gift for the next five years?
Um, one of each book! Signed and personalized! You win and she does too!

What do I buy for my next five Secret Santa gift assignments?
Um, one of each book! Signed! Give it to whomever, whenever! And look like you're more thoughtful than you even meant to be!

What do I get to read on my next vacation?
Any and all. Probably all, since all five are $25 total right now. Less than you'll pay for couple of over-priced smoothies on the beach. And you get to keep the books!

Thank you and happy shivering!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Inside Scoop: Operation Bonnet

Oh, Nellie. Operation Bonnet is Nellie’s story, and it’s a doozy. Nellie, an academic smarty pants with rough social skills, desperately wants to become a private investigator. Her small town in Ohio, however, is too sleepy for any case worth its salt. So when her first break comes from an ex-Amish guy who needs some help in the love department, she puts on her bonnet and infiltrates an Old Order Amish community.

Here’s the inside scoop on Op Bonnet and how it came to be:

*My agent, Chip MacGregor, and I were chatting on the phone after the release of Stretch Marks. We were kvetching about how Amish fiction had taken over the market.
   “I’m not Beverly Lewis!” I moaned. “I’m closer to Lucille Ball!”  
   “Well, then,” the Sage replied, “start writing, Lucy.” 
And Operation Bonnet was born. As promised on the back cover, it’s not your grandmother’s Amish fiction. But Ethel might have liked it.
*By the time I finished researching for this novel, I never wanted to think about the Amish, rumspringa, the differences between Old Order and Mennonite, and the doctrinal beliefs of Menno Simons ever again. No offense to Menno. But before I came to the saturation point, I read some fantastic books. Two of my faves were Plain Secrets by Joe Mackall and Crossing Over by Ruth Irene Garrett. I also appreciated the thoughtful connections Erik Wesner makes on his blog, Amish America.

*At one point in the editing process, my publisher called me to say I could not use the words “boink” or “shag.” Which only made me want to say “boinkshagboinkshagboinkshag” for the rest of the conversation.

*Operation Bonnet was, thanks be to God, picked up by Wal-Mart. God bless Sam Walton and God bless people who love bonnets.

*True story: Samuel L. Jackson’s television production company called my publisher shortly after Operation Bonnet released and asked if the TV rights were available. They were considering the novel as the premise for a new series. Yes, yes, the rights were available! my publisher said. And we’ll throw in a free audio file of Kim saying, “boinkshag” on a loop for free!
Sam never called back. But Marc did ask me to start using his middle initial every time I referred to him. Marc S. Stuart is a smart aleck.

MONSTER SALE IS COMING TO AN END! CLICK HERE to buy any Kimberly Stuart book for only FIVE DOLLARS! Flat-rate shipping of $2.99, so the more you buy, the more you save. I sound like a Menard’s ad! CLICK HERE and make your wildest dreams come true!


I am thrilled to announce my sixth novel has been purchased by Skyhorse Publishing in New York! Wahoo! I'm getting all giggly just thinking of it! Slated for a Valentine's Day 2017 release, it's a romance, dear reader. A clever, smart romance that is a happy mix between the Food Network and Sleepless in Seattle. I think you'll like it. :)

AND here is a sneak peak at the brand new covers of my other five novels, soon to be re-released in print and ebook forms. I love them. What do you think?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Inside Scoop: Stretch Marks

The title of this book has made many a man squirm in my presence over the years. I’m not sure why. I think of stretch marks as completely benign, a part of life. Like freckles. Or hangnails. Or a dilated cervix. OK, maybe not the cervix.

Stretch Marks is a modern love story about a girl who finds herself pregnant, alone, and trying not go batty when her mom comes to “rescue” her. Here’s a bit of behind-the-scenes dirt on  the story of Mia, Babs, Lars, Silas, and my favorite sweetheart of a grocer, Adam.

*Stretch Marks is set in Chicago, a city I have long loved. I lived there for awhile, first during my freshman year of college and then again for a summer teaching in a bilingual school on the South Side. I still love Chicago and often harbor a hankering to visit. This even after my friend Maria and I were front-flashed by a man on the El, during a spot in the route THAT NEVER ENDED. I guess I’m still a little scarred by that, come to think of it. Perhaps I wrote Adam as a sweet and kind grocer to redeem having to view a man’s groceries in Chicago. That’s gross. Sorry. Forget I said anything. Focus on the skyline.
*I want to clear up any misconceptions about the Mother Issue. I don’t have a Mother Issue. Really. I have a great mom. The greatest, if you’re keeping score. Babs, the mom in Stretch Marks, has her strengths, but she is not the greatest mom. I was able to write her up with total freedom because I recognized nothing of my own mom in her. Well, I guess Patti does like cruise ships. And she does pray, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” at the end of a yoga class instead of saying, “Namaste.” And she's a Republican. But that’s where the similarities end. I promise.

*To get the word out about Stretch Marks, we sent copies of the book to willing readers and asked them to post photos of the book in places literally all over the world. It was a hoot to see what people came up with. I still giggle to remember my friend Stacia forcing the book on a Christian rock band. And I was tickled to have a small army of readers storming the castle with copies of my book. Such great people you are. Thanks again.

*There’s a scene in Stretch Marks where Mia visits a friend in the hospital. And I’m telling you what, I sat on my deck this summer, reading that scene, and crying all over the pages. What the heck is wrong with me?! What kind of self-congratulatory thing to do, moved to tears by your own writing?! But listen, people. I cannot remember ANYTHING in my life. So it was really like reading a new novel by some chippy named Kim Stuart, whomever she may be. Maybe I should find some other books she’s written!

So if you’re in the market again or for the first time, now is your moment. Go HERE to buy Kimberly Stuart books for the lowest price imaginable. Five dollars per book, flat-rate shipping. The more you buy, the smarter you are.

Tomorrow: Inside scoop on Operation Bonnet AND an exciting announcement.