03 April 2017

Captivating & Inspirational | Waiting for Butterflies by Karen Sargent


A mother's love never endsnot 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.


Karen Sargent’s Waiting for Butterflies tells a beautifully captivating story following the unexpected death of Maggie. As her spirit lingers, she watches as members of her family grieve her in different ways, handle of host of emotions, and strive to establish normality again. These characters, with their experiences and emotions, feel real and well-developed, and I felt with them as I read Waiting for Butterflies. While difficult and heartbreaking in circumstance, it offers an uplifting and thought-provoking story of love and loss. I quite enjoyed reading it and recommend it to readers of contemporary inspirational fiction.


Thanks to Singing Librarian Book Tours, I received a complimentary copy of Waiting for Butterflies and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.


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.


1. What or whom inspired you to become an author?
I can’t remember ever not wanting to write. As a child I was a daydreamer and a reader. I kept a diary and wrote long letters to relatives who lived in other states and to pen pals who lived in other countries. I decided to become an English teacher because I loved reading and writing. However, when I started teaching, I soon realized my reading and writing was dictated by the literature I taught and student writing that I graded. Then I became a mom, so I put my writing dreams on hold. Although I once felt being a teacher and a mom interfered with my writing dream, I realize now both prepared me to become an author. Reading great literature and teaching my students to write made me a better story teller and a better writer, and being a mom gave me something important to write about.

2. What authors do you enjoy? Do these authors inspire your writing?
This may be cliché for an English teacher, but my favorite author is still Harper Lee and my favorite book is, of course, To Kill a Mockingbird. I’ve taught that novel numerous times throughout my career, and each time, I see something new and astounding in Harper Lee’s craft. There is so much about TKAM that inspires me as a writer—Scout’s strong narrative voice, the layers of meaning within the story, the parallel story lines that weave around one another and eventually interlock at the end. I’ll never achieve the mastery that Harper Lee demonstrated in To Kill a Mockingbird, and I’m not a literary writer per se, but she is the author who has set the standard for me.

3. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did becoming an author ever cross your mind?
I always knew I would be an English teacher but never dreamed I would be an author—although I certainly wanted to! I remember reading books, studying the covers and author bios, looking at the words on the pages and wondering how glorious it must be to have your name on a book and your story bound between covers. What’s funny now is that here I am, holding my own book, and it doesn’t feel like my book at all! It’s so surreal.

4. How long did it take you to write Waiting for Butterflies? When did you first get the idea to write this novel?
The idea for Waiting for Butterflies came to me after my mother-in-law’s sudden and early death at 61. We received the call around midnight. A friend came to spend the night with our daughters, so my husband and I could go stay with his dad. When we returned the next evening, we were surprised to find out our 5-month-old had slept through the night for the very first time. She continued to sleep through for the next week. Finally, on the eighth night while lying in bed, I said to my husband, “Ever since your mom passed, the baby hasn’t woken up in the night.” After a few moments he quietly said, “Mom, if you’re here, you can go now.” The baby didn’t sleep through that night or for the next several months (years really, she was a horrible sleeper!). I don’t know what I believe about those eight nights, but I do know the event gave my imagination a question to play with: What if a mom is taken from her family before she was ready to go? The answer became Waiting for Butterflies. Although the story idea came suddenly, it took me 11 years to start writing. Once I started, I wrote the first half in three months in the evenings and on weekends. Then due to a string of family illnesses, I didn’t write for four years. From January through March 2015, we missed 21 days of school due to snow, and many of those days backed up to weekends. That’s when I finished my book.

5. What do you want readers to take away from reading Waiting for Butterflies?
Waiting for Butterflies is ultimately a redemption story about forgiving ourselves, forgiving others, and allowing ourselves to receive forgiveness from others. It’s about the weight of guilt and how damaging guilt can be when we insist on carrying it. But it’s also about the release that comes when we decide to let it go. And of course, Waiting for Butterflies was inspired by and is about a mother’s love—and the enduring love of family.


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!


Although I don’t write romances, a strong romantic thread runs through every story I create because I’m a romantic at heart. On the rare occasion when I can pop a movie into the Blu-Ray, chances are the movie is one of these:

1. The Proposal with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds tops my list. I’ve watched it so many times I may have the script memorized.

2. The Lake House, also with Sandra Bullock. What a clever and romantic time-slip drama.

3. Pretty Woman begins my Julia Roberts line-up, a classic contemporary Cinderella story.

4. Valentine’s Day has Julia Roberts in a small role, sharing the spotlight with several actors as numerous romantic storylines weave around one another and eventually intersect at the end. Love all the surprises!

5. My Best Friend’s Wedding doesn’t end with Julie getting her guy but this movie has so many delightful and memorable scenes!

6. Pearl Harbor, an epic battle between two handsome leading men for the woman they both love—and an intriguing history lesson, too.

7. My Big Fat Greek Wedding is just sweet, sweet, and more sweet. I love this one!

8. The Holiday with Cameron Diaz didn’t hook me the first time I watched it, so I’m not sure why I watched it again. But then…I was hooked.

9. The Wedding Date made me a Debra Messing fan. I couldn’t resist rooting for the anxiety- plagued underdog who doesn’t quite measure up at her sister’s wedding.

10. Made of Honor—Patrick Dempsey. Enough said.


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.)

April 4: Mel's Shelves
April 11: Puddletown Reviews


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1 comment:

  1. Hallie, thank you so much for sharing your kind words about WAITING FOR BUTTERFLIES and for sharing your blog space with my debut! Blessings!