Moonlight and Oranges

Do you see this beautiful book?  It is a brand new young adult novel written by one of Sweet Pea and Mimi’s best friends, Elise Saba Stephens.  In addition to our happiness for Elise, we are extra excited because Rusty designed the book cover.

When Rusty learned that Elise’s novel was going to be published, he submitted a design for the cover and we were all somewhat shocked when the creative team chose it.  The learning curve was steep! I didn’t even  consider that he would have to design the back and the binding too.  I was completely unaware of what this project would entail, but Rusty pushed himself to learn a new design program, take more photos, and many other details.

He began by photographing our friend, Katie, sitting on a wall on the UofI campus.  The original photo had Samuel holding a dark colored sheet behind her.  Rusty took that image and combined it with multiple images of a Seattle skyline, a starry night, the moon, etc. to create this beautiful cover.  I was stunned when I saw what he accomplished, especially since he has no formal training in photography or graphic design.

This is especially sweet because it is Elise’s first novel and we are so proud of her.  Elise has been Sweet Pea’s friend since they were babies.  We love to tell the story of Elise opening the presents at Sweet Pea’s first birthday party because Sweet Pea didn’t know how, and being one year older, Elise was an expert.  She was also a beautiful bridesmaid in Mimi’s wedding.

Early Saturday morning we will pack up the car and together with my five oldest kids, plus Katie, we will head to Seattle for the book release party.  With seven of us wedged into the minivan, it will be a cozy trip, but we plan to meet Sweet Pea at the Columbia River (half way) where some kids will hop into her car.  It should be a fun, exciting adventure.  We’ll get our copies of the book at the party and I’m sure some of my kids (the ones who don’t get carsick) will read all the way home.  I suspect I won’t have it in my hands until they are all done.

[This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.]

This is what I know, Moonlight and Oranges is a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche set in Seattle.  It is a young adult novel that is a clean romance.  There are multiple great reviews of Moonlight and Oranges on Amazon, if you are interested.

Here are two excerpts:

This can’t-put-it-down novel tells the story of the romance and character growth of two adorably imperfect lovers, Kestrin and Lorona. Stephens’ story takes a refreshing turn from typical love stories by following the myth of Cupid and Psyche. Kestrin and Lorona know at once they’re destined, but differences and shattered trust drive a wedge into their relationship. The ensuing romance and adventures are more exciting than most real-life dramas, but the deeper themes of rebuilding trust and finding purpose are universal, especially in this age of jaded relationships and fleeting thrills.

If you’re a Seattle native, you’ll discover the local references like delightful Easter eggs, but the story transcends its geography. If you’re looking for a Harlequin romance, you’ll probably want to search elsewhere, as this is the mature work of an author who deftly handles her prose and descriptions, and she will force you to think about your life and your relationships as she explores the rocky crags of marriage in a tactful way, without a wisp of steam.

This has been an exciting adventure for Rusty.  I look at all of my older children and marvel at the amazing people they are becoming; it’s incredible to see them develop their gifts.  Rusty has another BIG project in the works that I will share soon.

If you have an aspiring writer in your family, they may enjoy following Elise’s blog.

#391 – 400 giving thanks

an hour of quiet

Eby proudly cooking his own eggs

sweet conversation with Russ – we’re still learning and growing

a happier morning for Honeybee

Dimples’ smile

Sunshine’s excitement as she left for homeschool classes

flannel sheets


answered prayers

living life with friends


This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Hannah Tucker
    November 16, 2011

    Ooh, how exciting! This sounds like a book I want to read!

  2. Margaret Meharg
    November 16, 2011

    Do you know if she might be coming to Portland for a book signing? I'd love to get a copy for my neice.

    1. One Thankful Mom
      November 16, 2011

      That is a good question; I will ask her and let you know. If you want an autographed copy, I'm sure we can find a way to make it happen. Great to hear from you, Margaret!

  3. Lauren
    November 16, 2011

    Is this suitable for a 12 year old girl? (of course all girls are different . . . but generally)

    1. One Thankful Mom
      November 16, 2011

      I can't say yet, because I haven't read it, but I suppose it depends on the girl. Ladybug is 13 and I plan to let her read it, but she is very mature and has five older siblings, so she is no stranger to the complexities of relationships. Once I read it, I will be able to answer that better.

  4. Mama D's Dozen
    November 16, 2011

    How cool!

    Great job, Rusty! That was really interesting to hear how he put the cover photo together.

    Hope your trip to Seattle is BLESSED!

    Laurel 🙂

    1. One Thankful Mom
      November 16, 2011

      Thanks, Laurel. I have a new appreciation for book covers!

  5. Elise Stephens
    November 16, 2011

    Thank you so much for your excitement! I can't wait to see you guys there! 🙂


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