Book Review: The Plum Blooms In Winter

Happy Friday! Today we’re looking at a debut novel from Mountain Brook Ink that looks at both sides of The Doolittle Raid in 1942 (a US air raid on the Greater Tokyo area during WW2) – the pilots and the victims.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Thompson-1PlumBloomsSMALLA Prostitute Seeks Her Revenge–In 1942, Miyako Matsuura cradled her little brother as he died on the sidewalk, a victim of the first U.S. bombing raid on Japan. By 1948, the war has reduced her to a street-hardened prostitute consumed by her shame.

A WWII Hero Finds His True Mission–Dave Delham makes military aviation history piloting a B-25 in the audacious Doolittle Raid. Forced to bail out over occupied China, he and his crew are captured by the Japanese and survive a harrowing P.O.W. ordeal. In 1948, he returns to Japan as a Christian missionary, determined to showcase Christ’s forgiveness.

Convinced that Delham was responsible for the bomb that snuffed out her brother’s life, Miyako resolves to restore her honor by avenging him–even if it costs her own life. But the huntress soon becomes hunted in Osaka’s treacherous underworld. Miyako must outmaneuver a ruthless brothel owner, outwit gangs with competing plans to profit by her, and overcome betrayal by family and friends–only to confront a decision that will change everything.

GOODREADS | AMAZON

MY THOUGHTS

The Plum Blooms in Winter is the kind of novel that isn’t easy to read because it shines a light on some of the darkest, most evil shadows of humanity. It exposes what fear, desperation, and bitterness will drive people to do to one another. The circumstances in which both Dave and Miyako find themselves, respectively, are brutal and raw and you may be tempted to look away at times to leave them a bit of dignity.

Yet at the same time it celebrates the power of God’s grace to begin the work of redemption and restoration. Hope shines brighter than the darkness – in a thousand little ways and a few really big ones. Though neither Dave nor Miyako acknowledge God right away, His hand is nevertheless obvious to readers who do know Him.

The author mentions at the beginning of the novel that she made the choice to include common derogatory terms of the day toward the Japanese as an accurate representation of the history she was portraying. And while these are difficult to read, they are used as sparingly as possible and do drive home the appalling attitudes of the time period. This disparity – between the debasing words and the God-given high value of the people being spoken of – is seen so clearly as Miyako is first met as a school girl racing to protect her little brother from the air raid and then as a young woman who sacrifices all she has left to afford her father’s medical care yet is still so dearly loved by her Heavenly Father.

Note: I did wince at the author’s choice to write some English words phonetically as the Japanese would have said them. To me, this negated some of the value & honor she had given back to the Japanese citizens (as opposed to military personnel) in her portrayal of them.

Overall though this is an extremely powerful novel of the extremes that war, prejudice, fear, and desperation can lead to. The compelling and emotional story shows that, deep inside, our hearts all beat the same – no matter what our race or ethnicity – and that God’s grace follows us into the deepest pit whether we’ve dug it ourselves or it’s been dug for us.

I VOLUNTARILY REVIEWED A COMPLIMENTARY COPY OF THIS BOOK.
ALL VIEWS EXPRESSED ARE ONLY MY HONEST OPINION.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

linda thompsonLinda Thompson stepped back from a corporate career that spanned continents to write what she loves-stories of unstoppable faith. Her debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter, is an A.C.F.W. Genesis award winner. Linda writes from the sun-drenched Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, a third-generation airline pilot who doubles as her Chief Military Research Officer, two mostly-grown-up kids, and a small platoon of housecats. When Linda isn’t writing, you’ll find her rollerblading-yes, that does make her a throwback-taking in a majestic desert moonrise, or dreaming of an upcoming trip. She and her husband recently returned from a tour of Israel and Jordan. Next up: Wales.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

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Book Spotlight: Penny Wise by Neta Jackson

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on Neta Jackson’s book Penny Wise.


About the Book:

Penny Wise (Book 3 in the Windy City Neighbors series) introduces us to yet another family in “the neighborhood”-the Jaspers, busy with demanding jobs, busy with church, busy volunteering, parents of three active teenagers, juggling sometimes crazy schedules.

All good things. Until all those “good things” feed into a series of crises that affects the whole family. Something’s gotta change!

Penny Wise is a contemporary peek at an urban family wrestling with the spiritual and practical challenges of real life.

The series employs the innovating storytelling technique of “parallel novels,” each with its own drama and story arc, but whose characters’ lives become intertwined with their neighbors and affect one another.

Welcome to Beecham Street-a typical, isolated American neighborhood that is beginning to come out of its shell . . . for better or worse.


About the Author:

Neta Jackson and her husband Dave are an award-winning husband-and-wife writing team, the authors or coauthors of more than 130 books that have sold over 2.5 million copies.

They are best known for Neta’s Yada Yada Prayer Group series and its sequels, as well as their forty-volume Trailblazer series of historical fiction about great Christian heroes for young readers.

Neta and Dave raised two children as well as a foster daughter and are now enjoying all the “grands”!

The Jacksons are thankful for their multi-cultural church and neighborhood in the Chicago area, which provides the characters and setting for their novels.

Follow Neta and her husband Dave Jackson on social media: 

Website: http://www.daveneta.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/DaveNetaJackson/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DaveNetaJackson

Interview with Cathe Swanson about her book “Hope for the Holidays”

Happy Monday, reader friends!

Last November, we did a spotlight on Cathe Swanson’s Christmas story Hope for the Holidays. Today, Cathe is back and this time, we’re asking questions about her same book.

Enjoy our interview with Cathe Swanson, author of Hope for the Holidays!


Interview with Cathe Swanson about her book,  Hope for the Holidays (Great Lakes Collection):

Alexis: What about the holiday season inspired you to write this book?

Cathe: Christmas brings out the best and worst in communities, so there are always stories to tell. The first Unity Plenkiss book, Snow Angels, was too short to include all of the characters’ Christmas stories. I especially wanted to talk about Tally, a homeless vet with PTSD, because she is so real to me – vulnerable but trying to get and maintain control of her life.

 Alexis: What is does your book title, “Hope for the Holidays,” mean?

Cathe: Christmas can be an emotional season, with pressures and sad memories as well as great joy, fun, and peace. In Chicago, the short winter days are cold. Maly Park is an aging Chicago neighborhood with a diverse population. There are elderly people who’ve lived in the same house through blessings and losses, peace and wars, left behind when their children grew up and left home. There are veterans, women in crisis, children in unstable homes, and other people facing challenges. It’s not just a matter of money – like us, they need love. They need community. The Unity Plenkiss and the church – The Blessed Church of the Sacred Lion and Holy Lamb – provide warmth and encouragement for everyone. Hope!

Alexis: I love the cover art for your book! It is beautiful and captivating! Was it challenging to find a cover photo that featured your hero who is Black and your heroine who is White together sipping what looks like a latte or hot chocolate? Share your cover design story with details like who created it and if it was expensive.

Cathe: Yes, it was hard! There aren’t enough stock photo options for people of color, and finding the right search terms was complicated. I spent an entire day looking at all the major stock photography websites for the right people. In the end, my cover designer, Chautona Havig, had to patch together the image, bringing the couple closer together across the table and fading out the crowded background. This would be a great business opportunity for a professional photographer!

Alexis: As a White author, did you find it difficult to write a hero of color? Why or why not?

Cathe: I didn’t find it difficult to write about Micah, because he just seemed to be “Micah” – a man conflicted over his spiritual gifts vs. his current responsibilities. He came from a suburban Christian home.

I am aware of the limitations of my experience and understanding, and I do worry about “doing it wrong” when I write about characters of markedly different cultures, so I follow the age-old advice and “write what I know.” The adult people of color I know lead lives similar to my own, so that’s how I envision Micah. I live on campus at a treatment center for boys who’ve been in trouble with the law, so my teenage characters might – in a very general way – reflect some of the attitudes and history of the boys here. I realize that Micah’s racial heritage is part of who he is, and he must have experienced racial conflict in his life, but my Christmas novella has a limited scope and setting, and I didn’t explore all of that.

Alexis: Did you do any research when writing this interracial romance between Carrie and Micah? Share details and advice on how you made it work.

Cathe: There are a few interracial relationships in my family and more among our friends and in our church, so I just portrayed it as naturally as I could. In real life, it’s challenging for some people, but it wasn’t really a problem for Carrie and Micah because of her upbringing as a missionary kid in a Black family.

Alexis: What advice do you have to other White authors who may want to write about characters of color in their fiction stories for CBA but are hesitant or scared to do so?

Cathe: If you are going to write a story with significant cultural conflict or issues, get advice from people who have a real understanding of those things. I have found that when I say, “I’m an author writing a book about…”, people are usually happy to share information and help me understand things.I use the Tumblr blog “Writing with Color” for research and advice. It’s a great, helpful website, but it’s also very intense. When I read about all of the mistakes that I can make, I get paralyzed – too scared to write anything at all!

Whatever their skin color, just write about people – real human beings with realistic backstories. If you are worried about something, pray about it. My first goal is to glorify God in my writing, so I write from my own experience, ask for help when I have questions, and just do the best I can.

Alexis: Would you like to see more stories that feature interracial romances, published by CBA? Why or why not?

Cathe: Certainly. I like to read stories with characters who reasonably represent the demographics of their environment, and interracial romances aren’t at all uncommon anymore.

Alexis: Let’s talk more about the romance elements in your story. What is it about Carrie that makes Micah want to pursue a romantic relationship with her?

Cathe: Carrie is energetic and overflowing with good ideas. She can be bossy, but her good intentions shine through. Her childhood, growing up as a missionary kid in the Congo, made her both savvy and naïve. She listens to people. Micah was able to tell her how he felt without being afraid she would judge him.

Alexis: What is it about Micah that tugs on Carrie’s heartstrings and inspires her to give him a chance?

Cathe: Micah – besides being charming and handsome – wants to take care of his people. His congregation may exasperate him, but he feels a great sense of responsibility for them. He won’t leave them to pursue his own dreams until he has provided for their future leadership.

Alexis: Your story’s opening scene is hilarious and your couple’s meet cute is sweet! What were Carrie and Micah’s first impressions of each other?

Cathe: Carrie is startled by the theft of her long-awaited treat and Micah’s intervention. She’s embarrassed by her reaction, and he’s embarrassed by the behavior of his parishioner, but they find each other fascinating.

Alexis: Why is Carrie eager to organize and improve the Unity Plenkiss Community Center?

Cathe: She’s a capable girl and doesn’t like to see resources wasted. She sees great possibilities for the Unity Plenkiss and knows she can make a real difference, but she’s also eager to prove that she’s an intelligent adult – not Roy’s little sister, who only got the job because he recommended her.

Alexis: What kind of pastor is Micah? Describe his leadership style.

Cathe: Micah is very, very conscientious and feels responsibility for everyone in his church. At the same time, he feels like they manage just find on their own.

Alexis: Has Micah always had a big heart for people and has Carrie always had a passion for organization? Explain.

Cathe: Micah’s faith is solid and transparent, and he’s a lively preacher, but his heart is in teaching, not pastoring. He wants to help people but believes he lacks the skills to connect and help them one-on-one.

Carrie has always been sensible and worked hard, as a missionary kid in a poverty-stricken region. Learning to work efficiently made it easier. She gets frustrated now with disorganization.

Alexis: Did you self-publish this book or was it traditionally published? Explain why you chose that publication path for this book and give advice for aspiring authors.

Cathe: I think an author’s personality is the biggest factor when choosing which publication route to take. All my books are independently published. I like the control this gives me over my work and marketing, but it’s a lot of work.

If you like group projects and working with a team, conventional publishing might be a better choice.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about this book?

Cathe: I want them to remember the humanity of the individual characters, and how each one of them needed dignity.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Cathe! Do you have closing comments?

Cathe: Thank you for letting me talk about my book. Hope for the Holidays is one of my favorites.

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Book:

Newly arrived from her home in the Congo and armed with a brand-new degree in nonprofit management, Carrie Strough is eager to organize and improve the Unity Plenkiss Community Center. Unfortunately, no one wants to be organized, and only Micah Neresen, the charming and handsome pastor of the local church, is interested in her plans. Or is he just interested in her?

With a cast of lively and eccentric characters including a homeless vet with PTSD, a con man, an elderly couple with an over-the-top Christmas display, a feisty committeewoman with a past of her own, and a police investigation, Micah and Carrie wonder if there is any hope for the holidays this year!

Book Purchase Link: Amazon


About the Author:

Cathe Swanson lives in Wisconsin with her husband of 32 years. They enjoy spending time with their family and being outdoors, kayaking, hiking, birdwatching and fishing, but summer is short in Wisconsin, so it’s important to have indoor hobbies, too. Cathe has been a quilter and teacher of quiltmaking for over 25 years, and she enjoys just about any kind of creative work, especially those involving fiber or paper.

Her family is growing steadily; she and her husband had three sons, and those boys all grew up and married delightful women and started producing grandchildren: four boys and three girls so far!

The long Wisconsin winters are perfect for writing and reading books! Cathe enjoys writing stories with eccentric characters of all ages. Her books will make you laugh and make you cry – and then make you laugh again.

Follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, BookBub, Amazon, Newsletter


Book Spotlight: Seal of the Sand Dweller

Happy Sunday, Reader Friends!

I hope you’re ready to learn about some epic Biblical fiction, because Seal of the Sand Dweller is just what the Biblical scholar called for! R. Rushing has forged a tale so entrenched in Ancient Egyptian culture that you will feel like you’ve been transported and are watching Yoseph (i.e. Joseph) and the other characters interact in front of you. So, without further ado, I give you…Seal of the Sand Dweller


About the Book

R_Rushing_EbookAFamine threatens the kingdom while neither priest nor sage can decipher the king’s Horus dream. The slave drawn from the garrison is a sand dweller, a vile Asiatic from beyond the northern borders of Egypt. His interpretation seems, at first, a desperate snatch at freedom, but when his words prove true, he is raised to inconceivable heights.

The courtiers of the king’s house are fascinated with the god-kissed Asiatic. But when Yoseph’s astute sense of order reveals extortion, the king must check the integrity of his administrators or remain a pawn of his own government.

Yoseph has paid the price for integrity. The first of heavy fines were exacted by jealous brothers, the next by his master’s lascivious wife. As vizier, he confronts corruption with the authority of a king’s seal.

And this time, integrity might cost him everything.

Enter the columned halls of the king’s house for the retelling of the biblical story of Joseph as you’ve never heard it before.

Links: AmazonGoodreads


About the Author

r rushing author picIf you’ve ever heard someone sniffing back tears in the movie theater during a Lord of the Rings battle scene, it might have been R. Rushing. She’s always had a penchant for majestic battles, soulish struggles, kingdom intrigues, and complicated romance.

R. Rushing reads the Bible with open-mouthed fascination. There’s enough political and kingdom intrigue, battles and conflict for a lifetime of lessons.

Rushing lives in Virginia with her husband, Ben, and loves to write fiction in the vein of compelling stories such as Ben-Hur, The Robe, and Voice in the Wind.

Seal of the Sand Dweller is her debut novel and the first installment in The Servant Ruler series.

Follow: WebsiteFacebookInstagram


Post written by contributor Allison K. García

Book Review: Chances Are…

Happy Friday and last day of November!

If you’re trying to finish your reading goals before the end of the year and need a book suggestion, I’ve got one! Check out Traci Wooden-Carlisle’s Chances Are…


About the Book

It took a 15-second play to bring his career to a halt for the season.
It only took one second for her to bring his heart to a stop.

A bone shattering hit sidelines Antoni Cahill from his top spot as the Scranton Sparrows top-rated kicker, but he is dealt a crushing blow with the news of his grandfather’s passing. To keep his grandmother happy Tony helps her relocate to her childhood town of Chance, VA. His growing suspicion of her true physical health causes him to seek out a nurse/companion for her while he’s away. The woman standing on their doorstep may be exactly what the doctor ordered for his grandmother, but she takes his breath away.

For Meagan Rowe, Sweet Grove has been a place of refuge after the death of her twin brother. For years her decision to become a nurse practitioner was the only one that made sense, both to her heart and the financial preservation of her family. Her budding career and most recent client brings her face-to-face with the extremely handsome yet adorably awkward football star.

It could be a match made in heaven if she wasn’t forced to keep his grandmother’s true health a secret or if his foundation hadn’t failed to help her family in their most desperate time of need.

***Formerly ‘Love’s Bittersweet Beginning’ but with extended alternate ending***

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


My Thoughts

This was my first read of Ms. Wooden-Carlisle and it certainly won’t be my last. I picked this read up for a few reasons.

1) the cover. I’m a cover snob. I admit it and don’t feel any shame for it.
2) The hero is a football player. As an avid Dallas Cowboys fan, I had to know what this tale would be about.
3) I had never read this author before. I like trying new authors because I never know when I’ll find one who will enter my always read list.

I was happy that the cover didn’t fail me and revealed a wonderful story within. And football, yes there were football parts but it was not about that alone. And yes, I’ll be reading this author again.


About the Author

Traci Wooden-Carlisle began writing poetry and short stories as soon as she was able to form words on paper. She used that to create worlds, as well as, to communicate with God. A native of Los Angeles, California, she grew up attending United Methodist Church under the leadership of a pastor whose heart was for youth. Once she finished college at she found herself at a loss. She felt caught in the transition between childhood and adulthood. She surrounded herself with saints and volunteered her services as a graphic artist. Through the early-morning prayer, all night Friday prayer and 3-day shut-ins she started on her journey toward her most desired gift, an intimate relationship with God.

She enjoys writing stories that provoke thought and evoke emotions that draw readers into the lives of her characters. The messages in her books speak to her way before they speak to her readers.

Today, Mrs. Wooden-Carlisle lives in San Diego with her husband, David Carlisle. When she isn’t writing she assists people with their physical fitness, creates graphics and designs jewelry and swag for authors.

Follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter


Post by contributor Toni Shiloh

Book Spotlight: Santa’s Secret

Happy Wednesday, Reader Friends!

I hope you’re in the Christmas spirit because I have a great book spotlight for you today: Santa’s Secret by Linda Leigh Hargrove.


About the Book

During the most wonderful time of the year, Chelsea Parker is struggling to find some Christmas spirit. Mistletoe and ‘Ho Ho Ho’ remind her of the man who left her at the altar two years earlier.

Can charming and successful Marc Waterman, the town’s newest businessman, help Chelsea heal from past hurts and find a way to love again? Or does he have too many secrets himself?

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


About the Author

Linda Leigh Hargrove blends suspense, humor, and faith into compelling stories about race and class in America. Her writings include three novels, two romance novellas, and two works of nonfiction.

Linda has taught workshops on fiction writing to adults and teens. To further help would-be writers realize their dreams of publication, she plans to launch “TheFaithToWrite.com” in Spring 2018.

She is a native of Washington County, North Carolina and currently resides near Charlotte with her husband and three sons. Connect with Linda on your favorite social media platforms.

Follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter


Post written by contributor Toni Shiloh

Author Interview: R. Rushing

author-interview

Happy Monday reader friends! Today I am pleased to welcome R. Rushing to talk about her wonderful book, Seal of the Sand Dweller!


Q&A

Tell me why you write.

 Rushing: I write because I’ve been so moved by the great stories I’ve read. Storytelling can be such therapy and nourishment for the soul of the reader. Nothing is more powerful than a writer who tells a great story and leaves an imprint of hope in the reader’s heart.

What is your debut novel about?

 Rushing: Seal of the Sand Dweller is my debut novel about Joseph [known as Yoseph in story] of the Bible becoming vizier of Egypt. I investigate a set of plausible challenges he might have faced going from the position of a foreign Asiatic slave to vizier of one of the greatest and most sophisticated civilizations recorded in history.

What do you want readers to get from reading Seal of the Sand Dweller?

 Rushing: I want readers to step back from what they know about the story of Joseph and step forward again into his world and surroundings. I’d like people to respect and appreciate more his extraordinary set of circumstances and understand the challenges of his situation. Ancient Egyptians were not fond of foreigners. The elite class was a small but privileged group of nobles favored by the king. How would they feel about a foreign slave who suddenly became their vizier at the king’s decree?

What is your favorite part of your book?

 Rushing:  One of my favorite parts of the story is when Joseph attends a garden party after he is named vizier. The awkwardness of the situation still stirs my gut. A lowly Asiatic slave is suddenly dressed in high court fashion and invited to the king’s party. I wouldn’t want to endure the snickers and smirks of the jaded courtiers in attendance. Does anyone really take him seriously? He’s a curious novelty chosen on a king’s whim and very few take him seriously. Very few tolerate him in the long run or even believe he will last.

Yoseph and many (all?) of the other characters are depicted as people of color. This is accurate for the story and the time, yet most versions portray Joseph as white. When did this change in our culture?

Rushing:  Hollywood has a way of doing what is convenient for Hollywood. It is, however, sad and somewhat dangerous when storytelling can leave us feeling sated enough to sway us with more emotion than fact. I have yet to see Joseph portrayed as a man of color, who in reality was a lot closer to the equator than to the North Pole. We have only recently seen a truer take on the look of the Ancient Asiatic in films like The Nativity Story where at least Mary seems to be a woman of color and Risen where I celebrated the representation of Jesus as finally being portrayed as a man of color instead of a gorgeous Caucasian male with beautiful blue eyes.

Have you always loved Ancient Egpyt?

Rushing: Like most of the world, I am fascinated with the sophisticated and elegant yet brutal social structure and practices of Ancient Egypt. I have indeed always loved Egypt. Who could resist the intriguing pyramids, the mystery of the mummy, the exotic look of the wealthy with their intricately layered wigs and jewelry?

Tell us a cool fact about Ancient Egpyt that none of us know.

Rushing: It is a popular belief that horses were introduced by the Hyksos rulers during the second intermediate period, around 1700 B.C.E. However, horses were already indigenous to Africa and remains were found in Ancient Egypt as early 3100 B.C.E. So it is likely that the Hyksos rulers probably brought down a certain type of horse or introduced the horse and a popular style of chariot at the time which seemed to give them a bit more credit for introducing the horse to Ancient Egypt then they deserved.

I want book 2! When is it coming out? Please don’t make me wait 5 years!!!!

Rushing: Book 2, Harvest Of The Sand Dweller, is being stretched over the coals and should be out by this spring!

If you could hang out with any of the characters from your book, who would it be?

Rushing:  If I could hang out with one character from my book would probably be the king’s cupbearer Lord Hetnu. But I wouldn’t stand too close or beg his attention. Hentu is very exacting but emotional, very knowledgeable but prickly. He’s a character we hate to love, but life is easier with his approval.

What actors would you cast for a movie/TV version of your book?

Rushing: Well, throw Idris Elba in there somewhere, that’s for sure! However, I’d be happy to see a cast of black actors representing Ancient Egyptians for a change. It’s long overdue.

What do you do when you are not writing?

Rushing:  I think about writing…not kidding.

Anything else cool you are doing, writing-wise?

Rushing:  Yes! I’m delighted to be involved in Christian Authors Traveling Bookfair (C.A.T. Bookfair), a traveling Christian bookfair group that will be visiting local churches in my area to talk about writing. We donate a percentage of the profits and a free book each to the local congregation. We’ll have our first bookfair on December 2nd from 2-5 pm at Shenandoah Heights Baptist Church in Waynesboro Virginia. Meet us there if you can!

Wonderful! I know I’ll be there! Can’t wait to read book two! You really are an amazing author! Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview!

Read more about R. Rushing and her book, Seal of the Sand Dweller, below.


About the Book

R_Rushing_EbookA

Famine threatens the kingdom while neither priest nor sage can decipher the king’s Horus dream. The slave drawn from the garrison is a sand dweller, a vile Asiatic from beyond the northern borders of Egypt. His interpretation seems, at first, a desperate snatch at freedom, but when his words prove true, he is raised to inconceivable heights.

The courtiers of the king’s house are fascinated with the god-kissed Asiatic. But when Yoseph’s astute sense of order reveals extortion, the king must check the integrity of his administrators or remain a pawn of his own government.

Yoseph has paid the price for integrity. The first of heavy fines were exacted by jealous brothers, the next by his master’s lascivious wife. As vizier, he confronts corruption with the authority of a king’s seal.

And this time, integrity might cost him everything.

Enter the columned halls of the king’s house for the retelling of the biblical story of Joseph as you’ve never heard it before.

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


About the Author

r rushing author pic

If you’ve ever heard someone sniffing back tears in the movie theater during a Lord of the Rings battle scene, it might have been R. Rushing. She’s always had a penchant for majestic battles, soulish struggles, kingdom intrigues, and complicated romance.

R. Rushing reads the Bible with open-mouthed fascination. There’s enough political and kingdom intrigue, battles and conflict for a lifetime of lessons.

Rushing lives in Virginia with her husband, Ben, and loves to write fiction in the vein of compelling stories such as Ben-Hur, The Robe, and Voice in the Wind.

Seal of the Sand Dweller is her debut novel and the first installment in The Servant Ruler series.

Follow: Website, Facebook, Instagram

Author Interview: Elizabeth Byler Younts

author-interview

Happy Monday reader friends! Today I am pleased to welcome Elizabeth Byler Younts to talk about her wonderful book, The Solace of Water!


 

Q&A

What made you write a story with diverse characters?

Elizabeth: I didn’t set out with that as my mission or goal—I’d say it came to me. It was around 6 years ago that I saw in my mind’s-eye an Amish woman running through the woods to a non-Amish neighbor’s home. The neighbor was a distraught African American woman—I didn’t know much more than that for a long time. Then it just came little by little in layers: the alcoholic Amish husband, the child who died, the daughter with guilt over her lost brother, and the relationship between the Amish boy and the African American girl, and what water had to do with it all. It just came piece by piece.

Jessica: It always amazes me at how stories come to authors!

 

Can you tell us a little bit more about The Solace of Water?

Elizabeth: Besides the retail summary, ultimately this story is about unlikely friendship. It’s about 3 women who find each other in the midst of isolation and heartache and form a bond with one another that in the 1950s their social circles would not have considered a positive friendship. It touches on things that no one really wants to talk about—child loss, self-harm, alcoholism, and racism. But folded within all of that mess and sadness is hope.

Jessica: So many people today need to hear that there is hope. No matter what hand life has dealt you, there is hope.

 

Did you struggle writing these characters?

Elizabeth: I did! Their pain was so palpable and I cried often. I wanted to be authentic and honest about not just the diversity within their races, regions, and religions but within their pain and the reason for their isolation. There are so many things that cause us to feel different or be separate from our communities and I didn’t want to cheapen what they were in the midst of or their most obvious difference in their races. I wanted the reader to be able to enter into each character’s unique story. Each of them had such a beauty about them that I knew would be used for their spiritual and emotional healing. Their burdens were heavier because they loved so deeply and it can be hard to carry that as a writer and a reader.

It was challenging to make sure that every word and every plot choice was about the story and not about anything else. To overly simplify it—I tell stories. I tell stories about people who feel incredibly real to me and I intend to do it honestly and with the weight and beauty of the truth I believe in woven within the story.

Jessica: I like reading “real” stories. The characters are easier to relate to. 

 

What do you hope readers will gain from this story?

I don’t know if I can put my finger on that exactly since every reader is coming into the story uniquely… but what I can do is tell you what I’ve come away with and what I’ve gained. I’ve been deeply affected by the stories of Delilah and Emma and Sparrow. They have been traveling with me in my head for years and they became fixtures in my life. I have never written a book with the intention to teach someone or to prove some point, but often realize there’s something important for ME to learn. I learned that I’m not as good as I think I am and that I don’t seem to love well the person God is growing me to be—but instead I fight His chosen growth in me. I learned that bitterness will destroy everything it touches—always. I learned that withholding forgiveness is never worth it—never-ever. I learned that the person on the other side of that inflammatory FaceBook post that makes you want to “unfollow” them has a story behind that post—it’s usually worth hearing. I am learning to bite my tongue and listen and see what God wants from me once I’ve heard. I learned so much in writing this book and I’m still learning.

There’s a quote by L.M. Montgomery that says, “My pen shall heal, not hurt.” This was where my heart is in writing any book that I find at my fingertips. In walking with characters and entering into their burden or pain with them we can journey full circle in their shoes and maybe find some of our own healing. With healing comes learning, wisdom, and often repentance. That’s what I experienced in several areas in writing The Solace of Water.

Jessica: Thank you for sharing this. We all have things to learn in our lives, and how wonderful that God has blessed you with learning while you’re writing.

 

Which Diverse Reads are you most excited about putting on your TBR stack?

Elizabeth: You have an amazing list of Diverse Reads on your website and some of them are “new to me” authors. Since I love a good series, the two that especially stand out to me to add to my TBR stack are the Maple Run series by Toni Shiloh and Piper Huguley’s Milford College books. I love that you have put so much at a reader’s fingertips!

Jessica: Warning – do NOT read the Maple Run series hungry 😉 

 

What are you reading right now?

Elizabeth: I’m currently reading Peace Like a River by Lief Enger and Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. Enger’s is especially a beautiful and literary and both are pushing me to think outside of myself. I am drawn to literary fiction that is usually historical and to be led to consider a life that is different from mine. I am not an escapist reader so much as I like to be challenged, to think deeply, and to cry! I also like some non-fiction that can be a little random but must be thought provoking.

Jessica: I am intrigued! Thank you for visiting with us today!


 

About the Book

The Blurb: “After the loss of her young son, Carver, an African-American preacher’s wife named Delilah Evans moves with her family from Montgomery, Alabama, to Sinking Creek, Pennsylvania, for a fresh start. The last thing she could have imagined was becoming friends with Emma Mullet, a reclusive Amish woman.

Emma is fighting personal battles of her own and feels estranged from her small Amish community. The secrets that have kept her isolated from her own community serve to unite her in an unlikely friendship with Delilah.

Sparrow, Delilah’s eldest daughter, knows she is responsible for the death of her little brother. When tensions at home become unbearable, she seeks solace at Emma’s house, becoming the surrogate daughter Emma has always wanted. Sparrow, however, is hiding secrets of her own, secrets that could sever all ties to her safe refuge.

Life for these three gets harder when church and social issues confront them, causing rifts within Sinking Creek’s three distinct communities: whites, blacks, and Amish. When their carefully protected secrets come to light, there seems to be little hope for friendship, restoration, or even forgiveness. But when the unthinkable happens, Delilah and Emma find themselves looking into the mirror of their own self-deceptions and are forced to make a choice that will set the way of their future. ”

Links: AmazonB&NCBDGoodreads


 

About the Author

Elizabeth Byler Younts gained a worldwide audience through her first book Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl and is a RITA nominated writer. She is also the author of The Promise of Sunrise series. She has consulted on Amish lifestyle and the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect two award-winning television shows. Elizabeth lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, two daughters, and a cockapoo named Fable.

Follow: WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagram

Saturday Discussion – Write a Story: National Novel Writing Month

Okay, folks,

I meant to write this post last week (and then again last night), but better late than never! November is National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo), and as one of the official Municipal Liaisons, I love to encourage people that if you have story burning inside you…a story that you’ve had brewing for months…years…decades maybe. This is the time to write it.

Go to the NaNoWriMo website to get started and sign up for free account and to start keeping track of your wordcount!

The goal of NaNo is to write a 50k-word novel in 30 days, which can be accomplished by writing 1,667 words per day for 30 days. Now…you’d have to double that to get it done by November 30th but if that story is calling out to you (or perhaps it is the Holy Spirit!), you can do it! If not, you’ll have at least 25k words of a book, which is much better than no words.

The cool thing is that all over the world, hundreds of thousands of people are attempting the same thing. In the Shenandoah Valley alone we’ve collectively written 1.5 million words since November 1st. I mean, it’s pretty awesome.

So, we talk a lot about diverse literature here. We need more out there. Especially if you are #ownvoice and have a story, let it be heard! Scream it from the…laptop! 🙂 We want to hear it!

Do you hate writing? That’s okay! Writers need readers, too. No pressure! I just think it’s a really cool thing to be a part of, an awesome way to meet neat people in your community, and good way to get words on the page.

Have you done NaNoWriMo? If so, tell us about it below!