Saturday, June 29, 2019

Waking the Muse

When I enter writing contests, I always want to forget the announcement date. The date becomes a worm in the mind, burrowing tunnels of anticipation until it arrives and passes. June 26th was no exception for me. I'll be honest, on the 25th, I hadn't received an email and depending on the contest sometimes they will notify you the day before the "announcement" date. The morning of the 26th, I checked my email to only find the usual junk. Sitting at my desk at work, I tried to focus on the numbers that I was suppose to enter. If you know me, I'm not a numbers girl. However plugging the data away helped keep my mind off of the deadline as the clock ticked on the wall above me.

Around 10 a.m., my cell phone rings. I glance at the name that I didn't recognize, along with the town and state. I quickly silenced the call, thankfully because my boss passed by my room at just the same time. I typed a few more numbers, then stopped and looked again at the caller. I thought, "Did that say GA?" I snagged the phone with no care of my boss wandering the halls anymore and swiped the screen.

"Hello?"
"Is this Amy?"
"Yes," I answered with a big cheesy smile.
"I'm calling to tell you that you're a finalist..."

I can't even tell you the exhilaration and joy I felt hearing the women's voice on the other end!
Life Happens on the Stairs is a finalist for the coveted Maggie Award for Published Authors!
I am so grateful and honored!



RWA contests are tough. I've submitted LHOTS to many over the years just to get some feedback and hopefully a chance to be seen by an agent. I did get the bronze in the Linda Howard Award of Excellence back in 2016 and that was a huge step forward, but I haven't submitted LHOTS as a published piece before. This all comes at a time when I'm questioning my talent, my purpose, my imagination and where the hell my muse ran off to. So many things have changed in my life since writing Life Happens on the Stairs. I question if that's why my words feel dried up and barren. Even little things like the desk I work at (a desk I'm probably going to change out again today. I'm just not comfortable sitting at it) or the shifting of the tides with my daily routine. I have so many ideas but they fight for attention and I can't seem to commit to any of them. After reading some rough drafts for other people, I found myself questioning if I was even a mediocre writer. Then reading a few very well written books brought up thoughts like this quote:

“Maybe she had "no more books left inside her," as people often sorrowfully say about writers, envisioning the imagination as a big pantry, either well stocked with goods or else wartime-empty.” 
― Meg Wolitzer, The Wife

Another quote from the movie version of The Wife is: "The hard part is finding the guts to write the next one."

It's funny to me how the movies I watch are some mystic attraction from the universe, showing me how I'm not alone as a writer. The Wife, Rebel in the Rye, The Words, even The Help, they all have found me and I devour them over and over. The struggle is real, but I will move forward and challenge myself to write something even better.

My point to all of this is,  Life Happens on the Stairs being acknowledged is the boost of medicine this writer really needed.

I'm so grateful to the judges and the Georgia Chapter of RWA. I hope to make my way to Atlanta in October for the banquet ceremony. If this is as far as the journey takes me, I'll be forever grateful for the smile you've put on my face for the past few days and days to come!


Friday, February 8, 2019



For Valentine's Day, 

Life Happens on the Stairs is available for only 99 cents! 

February 9th through February 14th ❤️ 

Grab your copy at a great price!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

My First Book Signing

For years, I've imagined what it would feel like to be an author at a book signing. The biggest fear was that no one would show and I'd be sitting there twiddling my thumbs. On November 3rd, I found out what a successful day felt like.

Thanks to the local library and some amazing friends, I had a wonderful day, meeting readers, seeing old friends, family and quiet a few people I didn't expect. News travels fast in a small community, and with Facebook it gets around even faster. And in my usual fashion of doing things at the last minute, I wasn't sure what kind of turn-out I'd get on that Saturday afternoon. To my great surprise, for an hour and a half, I had a steady line of people. Their kind words and encouragement have made this sometimes lonely journey feel like I've finally made it to one of my destinations.


I can't thank you all enough for how much you've supported me over the past few months and in some cases, years. From family to old friends, to new friends I've met, especially on Twitter, and to the ones who've taken a chance and bought my book just because another friend recommended it—I thank you from the bottom of my heart!


These two gorgeous kids have watched their mom lament over this story, the ups and downs, the hope and rollercoaster of rejections. They have been my biggest fans and cheerleaders, begging me not to give up, even when they were sick of hearing about my struggles. I'm so proud to be their Mom and to show them that perseverance does pay-off. Over the past few years, I was determined to show them that my work meant something beyond hiding behind my computer, plotting away about fictional people. They understood, but now, they see why I worked so hard.

We had almost 50 people come to our little library that day. I hadn't laughed and smiled that much in a very long time. Again, thank you to all who stopped by and to those who've reached out since the debut of my first novel.

Off to write the next one!

Be blessed!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Life Happens on the Stairs—Not Just A Teenage Love Story

I want to share today where some of my inspiration for Life Happens on the Stairs came from. When I was 5 years old, my parents packed us up and we moved to a small town in Tennessee called Morris Chapel. Actually, if you Google the name, I'm not sure they even consider it a "town" anymore, it's that tiny. Regardless, the area has always stayed close to my heart. The Counties in the area are famous for a few things. One of them being the infamous Buford Pussard. The Sheriff of McNary County who is known for his war against moonshining, prostitution, and so much more.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buford_Pusser

Another great landmark is Shiloh National Military Park. As a little girl, I remember driving around the park, checking out the battlefields and trails. I couldn't wait to see "The Bloody Pond" which to my great disappointment wasn't bloody anymore. The park is one of the best preserved landmarks of the Civil War. In 2010, I begged my husband that we take a short vacation to the area. It was one of the best decisions we ever made. Walking the acres of land, my imagination went wild. I wanted to write something... I wasn't sure what, but I knew I wanted to include this piece of American history.

Rows and rows of fallen soldiers from the Battle of Shiloh April, 1862


The Bloody Pond
As I walked around the beautiful park, I was fixated on the trees. If only the trees could talk. Many of them would've been young saplings when the battle occurred, today still standing strong, wind blowing through the leaves as if they are whispering to each other memories of the war.


They say, the men fought so hard they shot all the blossoms off the peach and cherry trees.

Life Happens on the Stairs is not just a teenage love story. It's about family, love, second chances, and yes, history. Tyler Vaughn is fascinated with history. As he and Elsie spend time in the park getting to know each other, he tells her all about the place. In one scene, they go into the original Shiloh Methodist Church. As seen here:


If you've read LHOTS, you know exactly what happens in this scene. One of my favorites! 

Another scene takes place on the banks of the Tennessee River. 

The Tennessee River

Another view of the Tennessee River
The first day Elsie meets Tyler to go jogging, the path they jog is called "The Sunken Road." Here's what you read about:

The Sunken Road
These are just a few examples of how LHOTS is not just about two teenagers running around the park. There are history lessons, albeit secondary to the overall story, readers get a chance to roam a true landmark that deserves to be remembered and visited.

Today, the park is still trying to acquire the final eight acres of land to preserve the South end of where the battle took place. I wish I was a rich woman. I would make sure Shiloh had the money and the acreage. This may be a tall statement for me to make, but if LHOTS is successful enough for me to make the money to do so, I will be contributor to their ultimate dream. Landmarks like this need to be protected, remembered, taught, seen—We must learn from the past so we are guarded from repeating it. 

If you are interested in learning more about the history of the Battle of Shiloh please visit this website. https://www.battlefields.org/visit/battlefields/shiloh-battlefield

All Rights Reserved. All photos shown are the property of Amy J. Markstahler. 





Wednesday, September 5, 2018

New Release LIFE HAPPENS ON THE STAIRS



I am so excited to announce my debut novel Life Happens on the Stairs is available now! It has been a fantastic weekend, so much so, I forgot to write about it on my website! Better late than never, though. September 1st was an absolute blast as I spent the day online celebrating the release. I had many friends and family right there with me, some were even reading all day long, sending me updates and love for the story. I can't thank you all enough for making the day special!

The debut went from a Hot New Release on Amazon to a #1 New Release in YA genres. It's on sale for a limited time for .99 cents and is also available on Kindle Unlimited. I'm receiving wonderful feedback from readers. Reviews like this are popping up on Amazon already!

I read a lot! Having said that this is not my “typical” genre. However having said that I really really enjoyed this book. I read it in record time and it is as well written as any other and better than most. The story with its ups and downs is better than I expected. Take note young men Tyler Vaughn exhibits how you are supposed to act towards a young woman. Get to writing Mrs. Marstahler, you are obviously as talented a writer as Elsie is an artist. The reading world deserves more of your stories.


“Life Happens on the Stairs” is the story of a young woman as she overcomes life’s struggles leading to adulthood. That’s the simple description of a story that is MUCH more. It isn’t often that I find myself so immersed in a book that it makes me cry, but “Life Happens...” is one such book. Ms. Markstahler puts the reader “into” the story in such a natural way that you feel the life of the protagonist, Elsie Richardson -- her ups and downs. It’s funny, sweet, sad, and heartfelt. I absolutely loved it! This is, hands down, the best novel I’ve read in ages. If I could give it ten stars, I would.


One of the things I really love is when I come across an exciting new author, from time to time. Amy Markstahler definitely fits into that category. Her debut novel, Life Happens on the Stairs is romance the way it should be. Plenty of drama, plenty of angst and plenty of conflict, but with wonderful underlying values. Think of "Upstairs Downstairs" or "Downton Abbey" in 2018 and you have this wonderful story of the working class girl who falls for the grandson of the woman whose luxury southern mansion, she cleans for, to help out her mother. A wonderful story - great characters and a nail-biting will they/won't they relationship. I loved this.


Life Happens On The Stairs had me engrossed from page one to the end. First book in years I have read in one day while I was transfixed into the story.... Laughing, crying, saying noooo don't run.....what a great read and I am sorry It's over! Ready for book 2! .....and the movie version!


Thank you everyone for your wonderful words and reviews! I couldn't be more thrilled to have my debut novel be received with such praise!


A quick synopsis of Life Happens on the Stairs:
Elsie Richardson’s world crumbled when her dad dropped with a seizure at the 4th of July festival. The reality that his brain tumor is back with a vengeance slams the 17-year-old aspiring artist and her family into intense hardship. Her mom needs help to make ends meet, forcing Elsie into adulting overnight. On top of that, Elsie’s caustic, grudge-holding brother is on his way home, and Elsie fears he will only make matters worse. 
Feeling alone and hopeless, Elsie does as she’s told and goes to work with her mom. That’s when she meets Tyler Vaughn, the grandson of her mom’s wealthiest client. 
After he invites her to go jogging at the historical Shiloh National Military Park, Elsie is warned by her mom to stay away from the wealthy, young man. Elsie gets the notice a bit too late, and so she lies about who she’s meeting each morning. 
Over the next few weeks, Tyler becomes her secret solace amidst all the uncertainty she’s facing. But when reality strikes and her private world crashes, she's forced to find her inner strength on her own.

I would also like to invite you to the Authors to Watch page and check out my interview with Eeva Lancaster. You can read what inspired me to write LHOTS plus a few more things, too!


http://www.eevalancaster.com/2018/08/authors-to-watch-amy-j-markstahler.html …

The paperback will be coming soon to order on an Amazon app near you! Hope everyone enjoys, or more so, falls in love with Life Happens on the Stairs!



Wednesday, August 15, 2018

More Reviews for Life Happens on the Stairs

I've been really busy lately outside the writing and promoting front, and I'm finally able to catch up on some overdue work for LHOTS. Yesterday, I checked Goodreads and found two more five-star reviews! How exciting!! Here's part of one of them...


Reviews like that make this journey so rewarding! I'm beyond excited to see the future of Life Happens on the Stairs. My biggest hope is that readers will fall in love with it!

Check out other reviews on Goodreads. Just click the link!
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40779818-life-happens-on-the-stairs

You can always find LHOTS at: getbook.at/LHOTS


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Some Notes from a Beta-reader about LHOTS

I few months ago, I asked a friend of my daughter's to read Life Happens on the Stairs. She's a bright girl, who's very well versed in her English studies. I thought I'd share some of her comments in the manuscript. Nothing thrills an author more than to see compliments like this:




This is manna for a writer. I'm so grateful for her feedback and encouragement. Just a note: she let me know about the places that needed touched up, too. That's what makes a great beta-reader, honesty. 

Life Happens on the Stairs is available for pre-order now! Be sure to check out this award-winning young adult novel. 

Life Happens on the Stairs—There's no running when it's your turn. Love. Family. Second chances. 

getbook.at/LHOTS