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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, 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. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Inside Scoop: Act Two

Act Two is the story of a diva. I’ve known some divas in my day. I hope to Jesus that I never was one, but I did go through junior high, so odds aren’t in my favor. During my first couple years of college, I majored in music, and let me assure you, music divas are their own breed. Vocal music majors, along with trumpet players, rise to the top. I was a soprano, so that’s an issue. And I was surrounded by other musicians. We’re talking people who wore scarves in the mid nineties, which is a full fifteen years before anyone else was wearing them. Not to be fashion-forward, mind you, but to protect their vocal chords from the elements, like air and cold temperatures and people. You know the sleeves pro ballers wear, to keep their arms warm during the game? Hogwash, right? Well, we vocalists know all about hogwash. 

So here’s the inside scoop on Act Two, the story of Sadie the opera queen who gets stuck on a pig farm in Iowa and Mac, the man who knows how to handle a diva.

*I’ve received many, many emails over the years asking if Mac has a brother. Or if Mac himself is available. Apparently Mac is a heartthrob! And I love it because I think he’s dreamy too. To that end, there are lots of dreamy Midwestern farm boys out there, ones who treat girls like ladies and work hard and still go to church on Sundays. There are also some that are total doofs, but I’d say the dreamboats outnumber the doofs. So inspiration for Mac came easy living where I live and if you’re still in the market, you might consider heading this way. We run a lovely state fair each August.

*During the writing of this book, I went to New York with my mom and sister to do some recon. I wandered neighborhoods in the Upper West Side, taking photos of the spot where Sadie would like to live. We spent time in Central Park, went to Wicked for the first time, ate in a raw vegan restaurant that had fantastic food which Mac and Cal would have hated. And we saw lots of Jaynes in Time Square, bedecked with fanny packs and open mouths. Linds, Mom and I tried to look less Jayne-ish, which surely was a fail. But good gracious, did we have fun.
*Moravia College is loosely based on my alma mater, St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. None of the characters holds a direct comparison, however, since everyone at Olaf is brilliant, kind, unselfish while wearing a fetching Norwegian sweater.

*The new edition of Act Two has a fantastic cover. I love it. But I will also miss the pig rump. It’s a great pig rump.

Get the pig rump while the pig rump is to be gotten. CLICK HERE TO BUY Act Two and any other Kim Stuart title for ONLY FIVE DOLLARS.

Tomorrow: Inside scoop on Stretch Marks.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Inside Scoop: Bottom Line

Let’s be honest: when you write a novel about a Christian lingerie pyramid scheme, you should expect some pushback. After all, those poor publishers! They’d just found out Christians had sex, and now this! Cute clothes to wear and that even ENCOURAGE the having of the sex!

Do you see why it’s always been touch-and-go between me and the pubs?
Bottom Line is the second in the Heidi Elliott series, and it follows Heidi as she dips her toe into the waters of direct sales. Here’s a bit of inside scoop on the story and the writing of BL:

*I wrote this entire novel on an ancient laptop while sitting in an armchair on the second floor of the West Des Moines Public Library. My spot overlooked the pond next to the library and I learned more during those six or seven months than I care to about the daily habits of Canadian geese. There is no plaque on the armchair that commemorates this process, but I’m thinking about getting one and hot-glue-gunning it to one of the legs when a librarian isn’t looking. (GOOD LUCK TO ME. Those librarians are hawks.)

*The idea for a pyramid scheme involving Christian lingerie came out of a particularly raucous phone conversation between me and my best friend, Betsy. I remember  sitting outside a restaurant, late for a lunch date but unwilling to stop talking to Bets. I’m pretty sure she was the one who said it first as she is ever the smarter and wittier of the two of us, and when we couldn’t stop snort-laughing, I knew we were onto something.

*My husband, Marc, is Jake Elliott. I mean, there are differences, but let’s just say Marc also obsesses over great travel deals that are utterly impossible. “Forty-five dollars on a puddle jumper to Bahrain, leaves tonight, no luggage allowed. Let’s DO this!” Ahem. You’ll find me watching the geese in my plaqued-up library chair.

*Marc is the one who makes a killer chocolate lava cake in this house. The recipe in the book is his. And yes, I am the winner in this scenario.

*I don’t journal because I’m selfish and pretty tired, but I DO write books. So this book is kind of like a journal of my eldest daughter’s preschool years. When I read the scenes of Nora and her princess obsession and her time-outs and the way she forces Heidi to speak in a Russian accent and answer to the name Olga…well, let’s just say the truth is not any stranger than the fiction in this case.

Click on over here to buy Bottom Line. Heck, while you’re at it, buy all five Kim Stuart books! They are on wicked sale, and time’s running out for a first edition!

Tomorrow: Inside Scoop on Act Two.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Inside Scoop: Balancing Act

Hi, all. And by “all,” I mean Mom. Thanks for sticking with me, Mom. And for the lovely scented candle for Christmas. You’re the best.

I’ve been away, doing all sorts of things, like laundry, and never-ending dishwashing, and parenting, and spousing, and writing a novel that I buried under a tree in the backyard, and then writing another novel which is still above ground, and getting a puppy, and craving a nap. We can get to all that later, Mom, because now is the best time to buy a Kimberly Stuart book, and in celebration of frightfully low prices (FIVE DOLLARS EACH!), I’m giving a peek behind the curtain for each of my five novels. Today’s scoop: Balancing Act.

Remember Balancing Act? My very first novel and the first in the Heidi Elliott series? Total therapy to write. I wrote that book as if my friends were all in the room, laughing with me and telling stories about motherhood and marriage and friendship. You probably know most of these, Mom, since we talk every day, but you and I both know our collective memory bank is coming up short of a zero balance these days, even without a shared history of marijuana smoking. So I’ll just throw these out there and you can pretend to remember when I know you don’t:

*Balancing Act came about after I met a fantastic editor, Andrea Christian. Andrea hated my non-fiction stuff but was interested in the first few pages of Tightrope, the initial title of BA. I finished it while pregnant with Mitch, who is now ten years old. I still associate BA with a belly that slowly grew over the keyboard of my laptop. When it passed QWERTY, it was time to go to the hospital.
*There were those in the Christian publishing world that got VERY nervous that Heidi and her husband, Jake, ALMOST HAVE SEX on page 45. It fell to me to explain that Christians have sex.  The shock is still reverberating.

*The character of Willow is a combination of two characters I wrote into the first edition and which got axed by my editor. I did curse my editor and all of his descendants during that rewrite but have totally reneged on the curse since then. (Hi, Jeff! Hope all is well!)

*My aunt Jana is every bit as gorgeous and smitten-worthy as the character named after her, only she’s not an adulteress. (Hi, Auntie! Clearing the record, a decade late!)

*I loved every bit of mail I got after Balancing Act released, and I still love it when readers ask for another Heidi book. I will someday. I promise. But my favorite email came from a former student who said reading Jake and Heidi’s story reminded her of how important it was to nurture and care for her young marriage. She said my tiny, insignificant novel had helped save her marriage. Remember that, Mom? I’m crying now to think of it. And I was just trying to make people laugh and forget about the trials of lactating! What a gift, this writing gig.

Thanks for circling back here, Mom. And all you dear people who make story-telling so much fun. 2016 holds lots of promise. I’m glad you’re here.

Tomorrow: Inside scoop on Bottom Line, the second book in the Heidi Elliott series.

Have a new mom in your life? Balancing Act is the perfect gift, even better than cloth diapers! BUY HERE, BUY NOW. First edition sale lasts until midnight on Sunday, January 17, 2016.