Guest Post (and a Giveaway!): Michelle Shocklee & Count the Nights By Stars

Posted March 21, 2022 by meezcarrie in Author Interview, Christian, giveaway, historical, Michelle Shocklee / 21 Comments

I’m delighted to have Michelle Shocklee on the blog today to talk about what we can learn from the history behind her new novel, Count the Nights by Stars!

COUNT THE NIGHTS BY STARS by Michelle Shocklee
GENRE: Inspirational Dual Timeline/Historical Fiction
RELEASE DATE: March 22, 2022
PAGES: 414

Count your nights by stars, not shadows. Count your life with smiles, not tears.

1961. After a longtime resident at Nashville’s historic Maxwell House Hotel suffers a debilitating stroke, Audrey Whitfield is tasked with cleaning out the reclusive woman’s room. There, she discovers an elaborate scrapbook filled with memorabilia from the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Love notes on the backs of unmailed postcards inside capture Audrey’s imagination with hints of a forbidden romance . . . and troubling revelations about the disappearance of young women at the exposition. Audrey enlists the help of a handsome hotel guest as she tracks down clues and information about the mysterious “Peaches” and her regrets over one fateful day, nearly sixty-five years earlier.

1897. Outspoken and forward-thinking Priscilla Nichols isn’t willing to settle for just any man. She’s still holding out hope for love when she meets Luca Moretti on the eve of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Charmed by the Italian immigrant’s boldness, Priscilla spends time exploring the wonderous sights of the expo with Luca―until a darkness overshadows the monthslong event. Haunted by a terrible truth, Priscilla and Luca are sent down separate paths as the night’s stars fade into dawn.


affiliate links used

What Can We Learn from the Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897?

by Michelle Shocklee, author of Count the Nights by Stars

I’ve been a student of history for a while now. My high school history teacher would be shocked to hear me say such a thing, being that I found reading about long-dead people and long-ago events incredibly boring back then. Little did my teacher and I know that one day I would become an author of historical fiction, using those once-boring facts and fascinating details to breathe life into the characters and stories in my books.

Such is the case with my new novel, Count the Nights by Stars, releasing March 22, 2022. This time-slip story set in Nashville introduces readers to the Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897. I had great fun researching this world’s-fair type event as well as visiting Centennial Park where the full-scale replica of the Parthenon built for the expo still causes visitors to catch their breath at its awe-inspiring splendor. I could well imagine my characters Priscilla and Luca strolling along the walkways, enjoying Italian ices as music from Vanity Fair drifted on a warm summer breeze.

Thirty-two years after the Civil War ended, events like the Tennessee Centennial Exposition served to unify a fragmented country by bringing people of all walks of life together and offered a place to demonstrate community. One way to achieve this was to highlight accomplishments of the past three decades. Great strides had been made by women, although it would be many years before women were allowed to vote. The Woman’s Building itself spoke of the changing times in that it was designed by Sarah Ward-Conley. Patterned after the Hermitage, the home of President Andrew Jackson located nearby, the Grecian-style building hosted exhibits showcasing inventions, patents, books, artwork, and a host of other items created by women. Many elaborate dinners and receptions took place in this building, including one to honor First Lady Ida Saxon McKinley.

Another important exhibit was the Negro Building. This ornate Spanish Renaissance‒style structure was considered one of the most beautiful on the expo grounds. Over three hundred exhibitors from eighty-five cities created fascinating displays that included information on education, science, technology, banking, and art. Fisk University’s contribution showed fairgoers the unlimited possibilities of higher education for African Americans, and their world-famous Jubilee Singers performed many times throughout the six-month length of the exposition.

Visitors to the expo had the opportunity to experience various cultures without leaving the country. Through exhibits like the Chinese Village, the Streets of Cairo, and authentic Venetian gondola rides on Lake Watauga, fairgoers were transported to other continents and societies they would most likely never see for themselves. Restaurants and vendors offered delicious delicacies, like spicy pork sandwiches from the Cuban Village and traditional German fare like sauerkraut and sausage from the Old Vienna Pilsner Beer House, giving customers a taste of places far beyond Tennessee’s green hills. Food, music, and costumes allowed expo visitors a glimpse of the lives their foreign neighbors enjoyed.

The exposition ultimately served to remind attendees that the world is actually quite small and that people aren’t so different, no matter where they live.

And isn’t that a lesson we continue to learn today?

Michelle Shocklee is the author of several historical novels, including Under the Tulip Tree, a Christy Award finalist. Her work has been included in numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul books, magazines, and blogs. Married to her college sweetheart and the mother of two grown sons, she makes her home in Tennessee, not far from the historical sites she writes about. Visit her online at

Tyndale is offering a print copy of Count the Nights by Stars by Michelle Shocklee to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bonus giveaway!

There’s still a couple of days left to enter this giveaway from Tyndale House & JustRead Tours! Head over to this post on Instagram for giveaway terms, details, and how to enter.

What about you? What makes you want to read Count the Nights by Stars by Michelle Shocklee?

Tags: , , , , ,

21 responses to “Guest Post (and a Giveaway!): Michelle Shocklee & Count the Nights By Stars

  1. Suzanne Sellner

    The Exposition sounds like a fascinating event. I’m curious to know what the darkness was that eclipsed the relationship between Priscilla and Luca.

  2. Perrianne Askew

    I was “wowed” by Under the Tulip tree, so I am always looking forward to her next published novel.

  3. Roxanne C.

    I don’t think I have ever read anything until now about the Tennessee Centennial Exposition so this would be an excellent opportunity plus I will get to enjoy a terrific dual timeline book.

  4. Megan

    The Exposition sounds fascinating! I really enjoy split time novels and learning about little known historical facts.

    • Jan Gustafson

      I love historical fiction and this sounds very interesting. The characters, the time-split element, and the setting at the Exposition sound intriguing! This will be added to my TBR pile, for sure!

  5. Caryl Kane

    The time-slip genre is so fun! I’m looking forward to reading Count the Nights By Stars.

  6. Teri DiVincenzo

    I absolutely adored Under the Tulip Tree, and this sounds so good! I added it to my Goodreads TBR and I can’t wait to read it!

  7. Andrea

    I love it when a book takes place in a lesser known place or event. This one sounds interesting. It’s on my TBR list!

Leave a Reply