Author Interview: Deborah Raney

Happy Monday, Reader Friends! Today, Deborah Raney has stopped by to talk about her novel, Home at Last. It sounds like it’s going to be an awesome read. Let’s get started!


About the Book

homeatlastLink Whitman has settled into the role of bachelor without ever intending to. Now he’s stuck in a dead-end job and, as the next Whitman wedding fast approaches, he is the last one standing. The pressure from his sisters’ efforts to play matchmaker is getting hard to bear as Link pulls extra shifts at work, and helps his parents at the Chicory Inn.

All her life, Shayla Michaels has felt as if she straddled two worlds. Her mother’s white family labeled her African American father with names Shayla didn’t repeat in polite––well, in any company. Her father’s family disapproved as well, though they eventually embraced Shayla as their own. After the death of her mother, and her brother Jerry’s incarceration, life has left Shayla’s father bitter, her niece, Portia, an orphan, and Shayla responsible for them all. She knows God loves them all, but why couldn’t people accept each other for what was on the inside? For their hearts?

Everything changes one icy morning when a child runs into the street and Link nearly hits her with his pickup. Soon he is falling in love with the little girl’s aunt, Shayla, the beautiful woman who runs Coffee’s On, the bakery in Langhorne. Can Shayla and Link overcome society’s view of their differences and find true love? Is there hope of changing the sometimes-ugly world around them into something better for them all?

Purchase at: Amazon, Abingdon, CBD, Goodreads 


About the Author

deborahraneyDEBORAH RANEY’s first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched Deb’s writing career. Twenty years and thirty books later, she’s still writing. She and her husband traded small-town life in Kansas––the setting of many of Deb’s novels––for life in the city of Wichita. They love traveling to visit four grown children and seven grandchildren who all live much too far away.

Connect and follow at: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Amazon, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads


Interview

Toni: Thank you so much for joining us to talk about Home at Last. I can’t tell you how excited I was to see your novel will be dealing with the subject of interracial relationships. What made you decide to write this book?

Deborah:  I grew up on a farm in Kansas, attended country school, then married and raised our kids in a small town where racial issues were almost non-existent, partly because there were few people of any color except white. Still, no one I knew was racist, or if they were, they pretended not to be. We studied the civil rights movement and celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. in school, but I thought the things he fought about were ancient history. Perhaps I was too sheltered from the way things were in other parts of the country, even though my parents taught me to love unconditionally.

I first witnessed subtle racism when we traveled in the South, nearly always from older people, and I remember thinking “this will take care of itself in another generation because young people aren’t so prejudiced.” But then I learned of a young white girl who was dating a wonderful black Christian man, and her parents were devastated. We’d met the young man and loved him. We were shocked that such blatant racism still existed in this enlightened 21st Century. That incident opened my eyes to the fact that until Jesus returns, there will always be sinners, and sadly racism will likely still be one of the sins we must deal with. Unfortunately, after many years of making great strides, the problem seems to have grown worse in the last decade. The divide along racial lines in this country breaks my heart. As do the divides along religious lines, economic lines, and any other lines that cause one group of people to believe they are superior to another group.

Four years ago, my husband and I moved to Wichita, Kansas, into a very wonderfully diverse neighborhood. We have invited each of our neighbors over for dinner and have gotten to know some of the most wonderful people—African American, Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Lutheran, Catholic, non-believers—people who don’t look like we do, or have the same background we do. But sitting around a table, sharing a meal, we suddenly begin to find the ways we can see eye-to-eye—and to celebrate the ways we are different. I truly believe that so much could be solved if people would just sit down to a meal with those they think they have nothing in common with. How often they would discover that exactly the opposite is true! Fear of one another would be replaced by respect for one another. Stereotypes would fall by the wayside. And God’s love would break down any remaining barriers. I want my writing to be part of that wave of His love.

Toni: That is wonderful! I’m glad you’re working towards harmony. Others will definitely see Christ in your actions. Which brings me to your character, Shayla Michaels , who is biracial. Given your own ethnic background, did you find it difficult to write Shayla’s?

Deborah: Just as it is when I write ANY character who is different from me—whether in gender, age, occupation, economic status, religion, or race—it is a challenge to assume the point of view of someone different from yourself, and I know that I’d better do my homework. When I write from a male character’s point of view, I often holler down to my husband, “Is this something you would say? How would you feel if…?” Or if I’m writing a character who’s closer in age to my kids than to me, I’ll shoot them an e-mail and ask, “How would you say this? What word would you use?” Of course, knowing a wide variety of people, having watched a ton of movies and read a ton of books, I’ve learned a lot about people who are different from me. But I admit I’m surprised by how often I guess the answer wrong to those questions!

Writing a biracial character was no different. I’ve never experienced being biracial, and I’ve never been in an interracial relationship. So I did what I do with every novel: I found real people who HAVE experienced those things, and asked them to read my manuscript and to be very honest about whether I was writing realistically or if I’d gone off track. I asked them to tell me if they found any of my characters’ words offensive. (Of course, I had some villains whose job in my novel was to BE offensive. I’m surprised how often readers “blame” me, the author, as if I agreed with the bad things my villains think!)

But even if I interview 100 people, and read dozens of books from the perspective of my character, I will never write “truth” for every person who reads my book. One interracial couple I interviewed experienced almost no opposition to their marriage; another couple, nearly disowned by their parents. And if we are ever going to get past the racial divide in this country, we must acknowledge BOTH truths. We must rejoice that there has been some progress, but we must also mourn that we’re not there yet and there is still work to do.

My writing critique partner, Tamera Alexander, and I laugh because I was raised on a farm in the Midwest, and she’s a city girl from Atlanta. We are closest of friends, but WOW do we ever see things differently! And those differences are a wonderful thing! They make us unique and interesting to each other, and they help us realize that not everyone thinks and feels exactly like we do! But those very differences—whether race, economics, religion, life experience, etc.—can be what make us fascinating and inspiring and educational to each other, IF we are willing to view our differences that way.

Toni: I’m so thankful for those who are genuinely interested in having an open discussion about differences. Kind of fits one of the themes of Home at Last: racial reconciliation. As a Christian, why do you feel this subject is so important?

Deborah: God sees and loves His children all equally. And He has called us to love one another the way He loves us. Right now, we’re not doing a very good job of it in this country [U.S.] and in this world. And that breaks my heart. If my writing can be one drop of water in a flood of love that brings healing, then I will feel my work was worthwhile.

Toni: Amen! How did you make Shayla believable without falling into racial stereotypes?

Deborah: I think there are several things that helped me flesh out Shayla’s character. First, I tried to look at her character and her personality apart from how she appears physically. I tried to get to know HER. The essence of her. Every normal human being has the same wealth of emotions, the same balance of positive and negative qualities. I tried to make Shayla unique, even though she was very much a product of her parents’ rocky interracial marriage. Another thing I did was to purposefully make Shayla’s brother fall into the stereotype, which angers her, because she’s worked so hard to overcome the stereotypes. Sometimes, pretending stereotypes don’t exist only draws attention to them, so I tried to face that head-on, yet in a way that shone a light on the wrongfulness of perpetuating stereotypes and judging people by them.

Toni: Love that! I imagine there are many great scenes from that alone. Is there a Bible verse that speaks to Shayla and Link’s story?

Deborah: The whole Bible! Because the entire story of God’s Word, from Genesis to Revelation is a story of reconciliation! Ephesians 2:14-22 speaks of the “ethnic” difference between Jews and Gentiles, and sets the example for how we should look at breaking down the walls that divide any diverse groups:

“For he himself [Jesus] is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Toni: Love God’s Word. Thanks for sharing that.
How about some easier questions?
Do you listen to music while writing or require silence?

Deborah: I listen to movie soundtracks while I write, trying to match the music to the mood of the scene I’m writing. Soundtracks are intended to be background for a scene, so they are perfect for writing. I always wish my readers could listen to the same playlist while they read my novels.

Toni: Have you checked out Spotify? You can make a playlist and share it with your readers.
Favorite season?

Deborah: Spring or Fall, usually whichever we’re currently in. Living in Kansas we have a wonderful range of seasons and I do love the ever changing seasons and weather. But the relief Spring and Fall each offer from the more brutal seasons of cold and heat make them my favorite.

Toni: I hear that! Favorite candy?

Deborah: I love Heath Bars and other toffee-based candy, Coffee Nips, and jawbreakers. Sadly, I’ve never met a piece of candy I didn’t like.

Toni: I love toffee covered peanuts. Last but not least, how can readers support you on your writing journey?

Deborah: I don’t think readers realize the power they have to encourage and inspire writers. We appreciate our readers so much! When you write to an author telling them you enjoyed their book, or when you write a glowing review, that is like fuel to our writers’ engines. Probably most tangibly important is that you buy our books. Authors make ZERO money on free books, books borrowed from the library, or books bought used. Many readers don’t realize that authors spend out-of-pocket money on books and shipping when they do giveaways. But if a book doesn’t make money, publishers won’t sign that author for another contract. So, a huge THANK YOU to the readers who have purchased their favorite authors’ books.

Thanks so much for hosting me, Toni! I love the work you are doing toward reconciliation and to promote Christian fiction!

Toni: Thanks so much for being here! Readers, do you have any questions for Deborah?


Interview conducted by Toni Shiloh.

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Buying Love by Toni Shiloh

buyingloveWill money ruin everything?

Nina Warrenton is ready for the next step in her life plan—marriage, but no one has proposed. Taking matters into her hand, she places an ad in the newspaper hoping to entice a willing stranger. But when she begins to fall for the small-town chef, she realizes how much she wants him to love her and not her money.

Dwight Williams needs fast cash to save the family restaurant. When he sees Nina’s monetary offer for a husband, he goes for it. He’s determined to save the legacy his dad left him, but can he let it go to prove his love for her?

Can Nina and Dwight find true love, once money has entered the equation?

GOODREADS | AMAZON


My Thoughts

“She didn’t want to ruin a family. Just belong to one.”

I have one word to start out with – Dwight. Another word – yummy. And I’m not JUST talking about the delicious mouth-watering recipes he cooks up at his family’s restaurant The Maple Pit. Dwight himself is quite the swoonworthy hero. Not just because he looks like Laz Alonso but because he’s a man of solid character and a kind heart.

Dwight’s mama and I had a few words during the course of this novel though! She was in danger of a purse whomping a time or two, I must say. Good thing SHE doesn’t know how close she came or I might be the one in danger 😉

Nina is a great character! A little bit sassy, a little bit sweet – I enjoyed getting to know her as the story progressed. Her background is not as idyllic as Dwight’s, far from it in fact, but her relationship with Dwight is made all the more poignant because of these differences. While she may be rich monetarily, she’s all alone in the world – no friends, no family, no legacy. On the other hand, Dwight may have some financial difficulties in his business but he’s the rich one where it matters. This disparity between them – on both sides – gives depth to what could otherwise be a typical marriage-of-convenience tale.

Not that I have anything against a typical marriage-of-convenience tale. I happen to love them as a matter of fact. But this added dimension gives some meat (I’m clearly still thinking about that maple fried chicken…) to the story and to their relationship.

The theme of adoption and belonging in Buying Love really touched me. Such a beautiful picture of God’s love for us, and our relationship with Him. And y’all know I don’t like pausing my story for a “sermon”… well, in Buying Love there’s an actual sermon!! Lol! But, in this case, it fits pretty naturally with the course of the story and is a turning point emotionally for Nina so I’ll allow it 😉

“All these years she had wanted desperately to be adopted, it turned out she was adopted the moment she became God’s.”

Buying Love is a great start to a new series! The supporting characters set the stage nicely for future books, and I’m looking forward to more from Maple Run and Toni Shiloh. Dwight and Nina’s romance is sweet and even though it’s somewhat of a slow burn buildup it’s got plenty of sizzle and spark! This would be a wonderful choice for book clubs with many possible discussion threads throughout.

I VOLUNTARILY REVIEWED A COMPLIMENTARY COPY OF THIS BOOK WHICH I RECEIVED FROM THE PUBLISHER. ALL VIEWS EXPRESSED ARE ONLY MY HONEST OPINION.
THIS REVIEW ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON READING IS MY SUPERPOWER

About the Author

SONY DSC

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Before pursuing her dream as a writer, Toni served in the United States Air Force. It was there she met her husband. After countless moves, they ended up in Virginia, where they are raising their two boys.

When she’s not typing in imagination land, Toni enjoys reading, playing video games, making jewelry, and spending time with her family. Toni is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) as well as the ACFW Virginia Chapter.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST

What is something you’ve wanted desperately for years but finally found in God?


Review by Carrie Schmidt

Book Spotlight: Black, White, Other: In Search of Nina Armstrong by Joan Steinau Lester

Today’s spotlight features award winning author, Joan Steinau Lester’s YA novel, Black, White and Other: In Search of Nina Armstrong.

About the Book

Black white and otherIdentity Crisis.
As a biracial teen, Nina is accustomed to a life of varied hues—mocha-colored skin, ringed brown hair streaked with red, a black father, a white mother. When her parents decide to divorce, the rainbow of Nina’s existence is reduced to a much starker reality. Shifting definitions and relationships are playing out all around her, and new boxes and lines seem to be drawn every day.

Between the fractures within her family and the racial tensions splintering her hometown, Nina feels caught in perpetual battle. Stranded in a nowhere land of ethnic boundaries, and struggling for personal independence and identity, Nina turns to the story of her great-great-grandmother’s escape from slavery in hopes of finding her own compass to help navigate the challenges before her.

What Critics and Others Are Saying

“Lester conjures a credible plot and complications; divorce is a fact of life and racially mixed heritage is conspicuously becoming one. The simple contrapuntal narrative of Sarah Armstrong’s escaping slavery distinguishes the book emotionally and psychologically, raising it above other issue-oriented Young Adult novels. Lester writes with social sensitivity and an ear for teen language and concerns. This is engaging treatment of a challenging subject that comes with little precedent.” * – Starred Publishers Weekly Review

“The tenderness and truth of your book moved my heart. As well as the enormous love you have.” – Alice Walker

“Teens will be caught by the alternating stories, and yes, by the messages about…prejudice, then and now, which will make for great group discussion.” – Booklist

Where to Buy: Amazon | B&N | CBD.com | Goodreads

About the Author

joanlester_6532-210-expJoan Steinau Lester, Ed.D. the award-winning commentator, columnist, and author of four critically praised books, is also a freelance editor.

A Bellwether Prize Finalist, Arts & Letters Creative Nonfiction Finalist, and NLGJA Seigenthaler Award winner, her writing has appeared in the Alaska Quarterly Review, Essence, USA Today, LA Times, SF Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Cosmopolitan, NY Times Syndicate: New American Voices, Huffington Post, Black Issues in Education, and Common Dreams. Her commentaries regularly air on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” San Francisco’s KQED “Perspectives,” and Public Radio International’s “Marketplace.”

She is the author of the acclaimed biography ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON: FIRE IN MY SOUL, as well as THE FUTURE OF WHITE MEN And Other Diversity Dilemmas and TAKING CHARGE: Every Woman’s Action Guide.

BLACK, WHITE, OTHER: The Search for Nina Armstrong, her first novel, garnered starred reviews and her second, MAMA’S CHILD, has just been released to critical acclaim.

After receiving her doctorate in multicultural education, Dr. Lester was Executive Director of the Equity Institute for sixteen years. This national nonprofit firm, first based in Amherst and then Emeryville, California, pioneered the diversity wave of the ’80s and ’90s. She continues as a member of its successor, the Equity Consulting Group.

Lester’s books have earned praise from print media like Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus Review, Ms, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Detroit Free Press, The San Francisco Chronicle, Executive Female, American Personnel Journal, Belles Lettres, Black Issues Book Review, and the American Society of Trainers and Developers. Her books are in wide use as college texts and corporate handbooks.

Her numerous recognitions include the NLGJA Siegenthaler Award for commentary on National Public Radio. The San Francisco’s Women’s Heritage Museum nominated TAKING CHARGE as a Best Women’s Book; Amazon.com named TAKING CHARGE one of its “10 BEST BUSINESS BOOKS FOR WOMEN” and The Washington Post singled out FIRE IN MY SOUL for its top-listed, recommended books, “What Washingtonians are reading.”

Dr. Lester is quoted as an expert by print media from The New York Times to Woman’s World. Her published work has been excerpted in publications as varied as Essence, Executive Female, legal journals, and books on diversity. She has been a guest expert on Donahue, CNN, Caryl & Marilyn Show, G. Gordon Liddy, and SkyRadio, as well as hundreds of other radio and television programs. FIRE IN MY SOUL was featured on Terry Gross’ top-rated “Fresh Air” Program.

A member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Dr. Lester lives in Northern California and enjoys the full-time writing life she long envisioned.

Connect with the author!
Website | Twitter | Facebook

Have you had a chance to read this one?

Author Interview: Vivian Kay

Today, we welcome Vivian Kay, author of Secret Places. Vivian is a Nigerian, a Yoruba woman, who blends her faith and culture into her novels.

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About the book:

secret-places-coverAfter many years of happiness, Moni Badmus’s marriage is falling apart. Unwilling to lose her only child, a self-proclaimed daddy’s girl, to her husband in a custody settlement she goes along with his suggestion of an unconventional marriage intervention. Will Moni’s fear of losing what she holds dear take her to dark places she never imagined she would go?

Sam Badmus has lost his thirst for the things of God. For a while, his extramarital activities seemed to be a cure for his unsatisfying home life. But soon his risky behavior exacts a steep price and Sam has to turn to the God he left behind to save his family and maybe even his life.

Debo Ajala and his wife Adele are living the golden life or so it seems. Debo is a respected church deacon and Adele, a mother to their four adorable sons. Their lives couldn’t be better, that is until Adele’s feelings for another member of their church surface. Adele’s confession unleashes a series of events that Debo never expected. He escapes his troubled life by accepting a pastoral position in a city on the other side of Canada, but soon his twisted past catches up with him.

In this emotionally charged tale of sacrifice, temptation, and redemption, two couples learn sin has consequences and there is no place they can hide from the presence of God.

Purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes.

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About the Author:

vivian-kay-filaVivian Kay is a Christian fiction author whose faith stories are woven around the themes of human imperfection, redemption and transformation. When she’s not wr
iting or daydreaming about writing, you’ll find her playing simultaneous games of online Scrabble or snuggling up with a good book. Kay’s debut novel, Secret Places, was first published by Brown Girls Books (USA) in November 2015. A wife and mother, Kay lives in a quiet corner of Canada’s banana belt. She can be reached via her website www.viviankay.com. She can also be reached at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VivianKayAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/VivianKayAuthor
Instagram: https://instagram.com/viviankayauthor/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/VivianKayAuthor

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Interview:

Terri: We have seen a rise in African, particularly Nigerian, authors. What are the benefits and disadvantages of this spotlight?

Vivian: I think the spotlight has brought a lot of positives. There are millions of people in the world who’ve never been to Africa or have African friends. Since we share of ourselves in the stories we write, it’s a great way of inviting people into our part of the world. They get to understand that Africa is a huge continent, that even though our realities may be different from theirs, we share similar dreams and hopes. While there may be disadvantages, I can’t think of one.

Terri: I agree. I am excited to see so many have accepted the invitation to visit different cultures and races through the pages of a book, through stories. Storytelling is essential to so many cultures of the world.  Why do you believe that storytelling is so important?

Vivian: Storytelling is important to me because it’s how I process the happenings in my world. As a reader, I enjoy being entertained. I hope readers feel the same way about my stories.

Terri: Speaking of a story, Secret Places, your latest full length novel, has an interesting storyline, Christian swingers. It is a topic most wouldn’t expect from a Christian author. How did you get the idea for Secret Places?

Vivian: The main idea for Secret Places was sparked by a conversation at a friend’s home. Up to that moment, I didn’t know there were Christian swingers. The other ideas came as I became acquainted with my characters and the things important to them. I believe my ability to write is a gift from God. I could not have written the book without Him.

Terri: I applaud you for tackling such a hard subject but that is something God has gifted you to do in your writing and in your professional life. Most authors have a day job. What is yours and how does it impact your writing?

Vivian: I’m a therapist in children’s mental health. Self-awareness and empathy are important counseling skills. In my writing, they impact the way I interact with my characters and explore the issues important to them. My therapist and social work worldview also shape the types of stories I want to tell.

Terri: Your counseling skills show through in your writing and brings a richness to your writing. After they’ve devoured Secret Places, where can readers find more of your writing?

Vivian: In January 2017, I had published a novelette titled Knit Together. It’s available on Kindle, Kobo, Nook and in the Apple Store. There’s a paper edition.

Terri: Thank you so much for joining us today. I pray God continues to use you to hearts through your work as a writer and a therapist.

 

Open Discussion: Who should write ethnic characters?

letstalkOne of my fellow bloggers pointed out a great article, in which they discussed who should be allowed to write ethnic characters. Of course, I immediately began to think about having an open discussion here, hence this post. 🙂

Y’all, my talk-it-out self is practically dancing in my seat waiting to start this discussion. However, the above article has A LOT of topic points. So this week we’re only going to focus on one. (But please read the article in its entirety, it has a lot of great points.)

Some people believe that you can only write what you know (aka are). They want white authors to write white characters and minority authors to stick to their own ethnic group. They believe to do otherwise is shutting out the minority authors as well as stealing from that culture and receiving acclaim for the majority race. Of course, not everyone feels this way, which is where you come in and why we have this open discussion.

To be honest, this is a hot-button topic, but one I think the Christian writing community should have. After all, shouldn’t we be the ones striving for racial reconciliation? Shouldn’t we want the body to come together and celebrate the aspects that make us unique? I can’t wait to hear (read) your thoughts and discuss this more in depth. But first, some ground rules.

  1. This is a safe place and people will be treated with respect no matter their opinion.
  2. Please stay within the purviews of this topic. It’s easy to get distracted and bring up other issues, but like we stated in our welcome posts, our main concern is ethnically diverse Christian fiction.
  3. Have fun, learn something, and discuss and listen with an open heart.

Now for the question this week.

  1. Do you believe that an author should only write what they know, when it comes to race (i.e., white authors write white characters only, Black authors write black characters only)? Why or why not?

Pull up a chair and let’s talk!


Post written by Toni Shiloh

Book Review: By Your Side by Candace Calvert

byyoursideER nurse Macy Wynn learned essential, gritty lessons in the California foster care system: land on your feet and trust no one. She’s finally located the fellow foster child she loves like a sister, but the girl’s in deep trouble. Macy’s determined to help, no matter what it takes. Her motto is to “make it happen” in any situation life throws at her—even when she butts heads with an idealistic cop.

Deputy Fletcher Holt believes in a higher plan, the fair outcome—and his ability to handle that by himself if necessary. Now he’s been yanked from Houston, his mother is battling cancer, and he’s attracted to a strong-willed nurse who could be the target of a brutal sniper.

When everything goes wrong, where do they put their trust?

goodreads | amazon

 

My Thoughts

Candace Calvert is a new-to-me author. The fact that she is a trained and experienced nurse made this medical drama even more enticing. Deputy Fletcher Holt is a born and bred Texan temporarily living and working in Sacramento. He has a very close relationship with his parents and is determined to do everything in his power to help them. Fletcher’s mama is one tough lady with a compassionate heart and I love the authentic relationships she has with her husband and son.

After a stinging dismisal from her biological father, weathly international businessman Lang Wen, ER nurse Macy Wynn dedicates herself to her career and reconnecting with her foster sister. Because of her painful childhood in the foster care system, she tends to hold people at an arm’s length in her personal life but she has an immense compassion for her patients and co-workers. Seems to me, Macy is still that lost little girl on the inside and she’s just managing the pain through an intense, high-adrenaline lifestyle.

Fletcher and Macy initially clash like a couple of wet cats. Over time, they develop a special connection while evading danger at every turn and continually crossing paths. By Your Side has it all, suspense, mystery, and romance. This book grabbed my attention from the first page and kept my attention through the end. Both characters develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationship with God.

I’m already itching to know what is going to happen in the next book of the series and I will definitely be seeking out more titles from Candace Calvert.

I requested the opportunity to read and review this book through The Book Club Network. The opinions expressed are my own.
This review first appeared on Faithfully Bookish

 

About the Author

Candace CalvertCandace Calvert is a former ER nurse and author of the Mercy Hospital, Grace Medical, and Crisis Team series. Her medical dramas offer readers a chance to “scrub in” on the exciting world of emergency medicine.

Wife, mother, and very proud grandmother, Candace makes her home in northern California.

website | facebook | twitter

 

Do you tend to rely on your own strength when life gets tough?
Like Macy & Fletcher, this is something I struggle with!

 

Review by Beth Erin

 

Book Spotlight: Spinstered by Sharyn Kopf

Today’s featured book spotlight is the first in a three book series by Sharyn Kopf following three women—Catie, Jolene, and  Uli—and their struggle with singleness. Jolene is of Carribbean descent, but grew up in the South, and although the second book in the series develops her story more fully, it begins here, in the first book of the series.


~ About the Book ~

Three friends. Three stories. Three women trying to figure out how they ended up over 40 and still single. Committed to her job and pushing fifty, Catie Delaney has almost given up on her dream of love and marriage. Maybe, she tells herself, she’d be happier just embracing her singleness. Maybe that’s been God’s will all along. Catie’s friends, Jolene and Uli, have their own struggles with men, careers, and family. Then into this mix of feminine angst walks Brian Kemper-the latest GWP (Guy With Potential) to join their church’s singles group. But just as something seems about to happen between him and Catie, her world falls apart. With their hearts on the line, these three friends search for hope . . . and find it in unexpected places.

Amazon  //  Goodreads

~ Excerpt ~

Jolene

This is my day off, for heaven’s sake. The Lord’s Day. A day of rest. So why I’m spending it trudging up the side of a cliff is beyond me.
First, Tess and Catie sprinted ahead like gazelles toward a mountain stream. Brian was in a deep conversation with Doug and Lindsay, with Uli tagging along, followed by Scott and Ellen. And I trailed in the back like a caboose.
There’s a joke about the size of my booty in there somewhere.
Now, Brian seems completely entranced by Catie, and I’m still bringing up the rear. I see my red-haired friend glance over at our GWP (Guy With Potential), a look of complete shock on her face. What on earth are they talking about? I’d love to chat with Uli, who’s huffing along next to me, about what’s going on a head of us. But, Lord have mercy, I’d rather breathe at the moment.
I really can’t stand hiking. We’re human beings not mountain goats. A drop of sweat slides down the back of my neck. The climbing shoes forced on me by life in Colorado are beyond ugly. There’s grit in my teeth from the dust we’re kicking up, and I’m wheezing like an asthma patient without an inhaler. Not to disparage asthma patients. My younger brother has asthma. Still, this is no way to make an impression, good or otherwise.
But I hang in there because I refuse to let a pile of rocks come between me and Mr. Possibility.

~ About the Author ~

sharynSharyn Kopf didn’t discover her voice until she found a way to turn grief into hope. For her, that meant realizing it was okay to be sad about her singleness. In doing so, she was finally able to move past her grief and find hope in God.

It also meant writing about the heartaches and hopes of being an older single woman. She published her first novel, Spinstered, in 2014, and a companion nonfiction version titled Spinstered: Surviving Singleness After 40 in 2015. Her work has also appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Splickety Love magazine.

Besides writing and speaking, Sharyn is an editor and marketing professional. She loves to connect with readers and singles on Facebook or email and has plans to start a monthly newsletter soon. In her spare time, she enjoys goofing off with her nieces and nephews, making—and eating!—the best fudge ever, long hikes through the woods, and playing the piano.

Connect with Sharyn:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Girls Night In (blog for single, over 40 women)


Book Spotlight by Katie Donovan

Author Interview: Grace Ibitamuno Obienu

I originally ran this interview with Grace Ibitamuno Obienu a couple of weeks ago on my own review blog, but I went back and talked with her some more about her characters in preparation for posting the interview here on Diversity Between The Pages.


About the Author:

Grace Ibitamuno Obienu has been a storyteller all her life, completing her first novel at the age of twelve, which thankfully went unpublished. She has worked as a technical writer in Biotechnology but has recently embarked on a journey toward dual doctoral degrees in Medicine and Public Health. With roots in Nigeria, she calls Central New Jersey home, where she lives with her husband and son.

You can connect with Grace on Facebook.


About the Book:

Burdened by the shame of her past and by the pain in her body, hope for a better tomorrow is a heavy chain to wear for Lola, a nineteen-year-old survivor of years of trafficking and exploitation.

Jaisen, a police officer, is drawn to Lola, both for the fire in her eyes and the hesitation in her step.

For Deja, Jaisen’s cousin, marriage to her fiancé is the greatest prize—a prize for which she would forsake all else.

As the story unfolds, vivid flashbacks of lurid moments past, lurking former owners, long buried secrets, and the search for a murderer threaten each of their quests, testing their mettle and their faith.

Could hope possibly flourish in the face of such painful obstacles? Is love truly a worthy pursuit, or a consolation prize for unwitting fools?

Not Yet Beautiful, a debut novel set in the Northeast corridor, is grippingly raw in its portrayal of love, loss, and restoration.

Purchase at: Amazon, B&N


Carrie: Hi Grace! Welcome to the blog! Thank you so much for chatting with me!

Grace: Thanks for having me. It’s great to chat with you!

Carrie: Let’s start with a ‘fast four’. Apples or oranges?

Grace: Oranges for on the go. Apples if I have time. I really don’t like the feel of apple skin against my teeth so I have to peel them before I can eat them. And oranges are so refreshing.

Carrie: Winter or Summer?

Grace: Winter… but only because it is closer to Fall temperature-wise. I like cooler weather, running in the 50s and 60s… cool enough for a light jacket and boots kind of weather.

Carrie: Dogs or Cats?

Grace: Haha, I’d unfortunately have to say neither at the risk of offending all the wonderful cat and dog people. But I hear pets are great, so who knows maybe one day…

Carrie: Coffee or Tea?

Grace: Coffee if I need the caffeine. Tea if it feels like a put-my-feet-up-I-have-time-to-relax kind of day. So coffee 🙂

Carrie: On my blog I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?

Grace: I like to think that is the power of imagination. I always have stories running around in my head.

Carrie: That’s an awesome superpower for a writer to have! When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?

Grace: The Inspirational Romance aisle. I like to see what’s new in the genre. Or the section with books on leadership.

Carrie: Inspy romance is the first place I go too! Do you have any strange writing habits/quirks?

Grace: I like to outline my stories in as much detail as possible both before I begin and as I write. Usually before bed is my time to imagine scenes in my story down to the details of the dialogue. So, as I lie in bed waiting to fall asleep, I imagine scenes in my story, complete with dialogue, visualizing the characters moving, talking, walking, whatever the case may be. I have even been known to hug myself when my characters do :-). Night after night, I can work on the same scene till it feels perfect then I either add it to my outline or flesh out the one I have with details I gathered from my bed time brainstorming 🙂

Carrie: Oh gosh! I think remembering these scenes is another superpower you have! I would forget by the time i woke up lol 🙂

Not Yet Beautiful addresses the issue of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Describe your main characters for us and – without giving spoilers, of course – explain how they’ve been touched by human trafficking.

Grace: There are three main characters – Lola, Jaisen and Deja. Lola is a survivor of sex trafficking trying to find her way, searching for hope and love in the midst of the pain of her past wounds. Jaisen is a police officer and Lola’s love interest. Equal parts fervent, equal parts impulsive, he pursues Lola passionately, drawn by her. Deja, Jaisen’s cousin, befriends Lola, though her vision is clouded by her own troubled relationship with her fiancé.

Carrie: These three main characters – Lola, Deja, and Jaisen – are all of Nigerian descent. How did your own heritage influence your development of these characters?

Grace: As a Nigerian American who lived in Nigeria for 10 years, I drew on my own experience in creating these characters – their mannerisms, the things that mattered to them (for Deja, feeling the pressure from her mother to marry for instance), the native food, the colloquial Pidgin English used in one scene. The name “Lola” is native to one of the many Nigerian languages in fact. It means “wealth.”

Carrie: They all sound like very powerful and intriguing characters!  I think a lot of us don’t realize how prevalent human trafficking is, even in our own cities. What inspired you to write Not Yet Beautiful?

Grace: I was at a Writer’s Conference a few years ago sharing about how badly I wanted to write a novel and how I wanted it to be about something compelling when I got to talking with a faculty member. She brought up the topic of human trafficking. Inspired, I started my research when I returned home and it wasn’t long before I grew infuriated with the heinousness of the crime as well as the fact that it happens under our noses. So, I chose to write about it, looking at the group of people forced into the trade and held by debt bondage. However, I wanted the story to be hopeful and to focus on the aftermath of the experience, looking at the recovery process from trauma. I wanted to attempt to humanize the choices – good, bad or otherwise – people (in this case my characters) make in trying to confront or overcome painful pasts, while still highlighting the God factor, the work He does in us when we ask.

Carrie: The process of recovery is so inspiring, from the accounts I’ve read. And God is THE ultimate Rescuer, isn’t He? What do you most want readers to take away from Not Yet Beautiful?

Grace: I tried to cover a lot of grounds – looking at trauma and recovering from trauma, how hardships affect what we believe in or think we believe, how they force us to look inward and examine ourselves. And where we end up when all is said and done, whether that be where we thought we would or not. And perchance if it is, if that be for reasons we ordinarily would have thought would lead us there. I tried to look at people as consummate, influenced by our own psychology, our social lives, our faith, our fears and hopes and mostly by our dreams. But still imperfect because none of us are.

I’m really glad you asked this question as it gives me a chance to reflect. I hope everyone takes something from the book about the power of hope and love, something that makes their lives a little richer.

Carrie: Grace, thank you so much for taking time to talk with me twice! LOL. What’s coming up next for you?

Grace: I have a lot of things in the works, though they are all mostly in my head at this point. The first order of the day is the sequel to Not Yet Beautiful – spotlighting Deja’s story a little more and continuing Jaisen and Lola’s journey.

Carrie: We will be praying for you as you continue to breathe your heritage and God’s grace into their stories!


Interview conducted by Carrie Schmidt

Open Discussion: What is Christian Fiction?

Happy Saturday, Reader Friends!

First, I want to say thanks for making the first week of Diversity Between the Pages such a success! We’re so excited to share the diverse books that these wonderful authors have taken the time to write. Today, I wanted to take the time to have an open discussion about Christian fiction, more specifically: what is it?

Some people may think that if the story is set around a church and the main character is a pastor, then it’s Christian fiction. However, that’s not enough for the publishing industry. Publishers want a novel that illustrates a Christian world view in its plot, characters, or both.

*Note: When I talk about publishers, I would like to point out that this could mean traditional publishers all the way to authors who Independently publish their own works.

Some publishers require the novels to contain no curse words, while others may allow ones by case by case basis (i.e., villain says it, or a non-Christian working towards salvation).

Christian fiction deals with issues in all sorts of fashions. You have redemptive story lines, where the character comes to Jesus. You have books where all the characters are believers and life is idyllic. Whatever your preference, there are bound to be books that fit that preference.

So tell me, what is it about Christian fiction that keeps you reading?


Post written by Toni Shiloh

Review: Virtuous Ruby by Piper Huguley

 

517x0kfa6rlBlurb:

After fifteen months of hiding from the shame of bearing an illegitimate child, two words drive Ruby Bledsoe to face the good citizens of Winslow, Georgia. Never again. She vows to speak out against injustice. For her sisters. For her parents. For her infant son, Solomon.

When she comes to help an injured mill worker, she bristles when a tall, handsome man claiming to be a doctor brushes her aside. Despite his arrogance, Ruby senses he’s someone like her, whose light skin doesn’t quite hide who he is.

Up north, Dr. Adam Morson easily kept his mixed race a secret. Now that he’s in Georgia, summoned by his white father, he can feel restrictions closing in around him.

Something powerful draws him to the beauty whose activist spirit is as fiery as her name. And soon, Adam wants nothing more than to take Ruby and her child far from Georgia’s toxic prejudice. But Ruby must choose between seeking her own happiness and staying to fight for the soul of her hometown.

Review:

This book is rich in history, imagery and heart. The first in the Migrations of the Heart series, Huguley tells the story of Ruby and Adam, both leading difficult lives in Winslow, Georgia. The book takes a unique look at an oft-told tale: segregation in the south. It is a delight to read a different perspective of that time in Black history.

Ruby’s strong spirit has the reader rooting for her from the early pages. And Ruby proves she is worth rooting for. Her love for her family and her son drive her, but so does justice. Although her ideas about civil rights make her seem like a woman out of her time, that doesn’t stop her. She still champions the rights of others all while living with a deep hurt.

Huguley does a great job of showing two worlds in one character: Dr. Adam Morson. He could pass for white, but his entrance into that community is tentative. The author deftly shows the tension in his identity and the tension he creates. His choice to live as a white man and attend school was a difficult one, but his noble reasons adds another thread of richness to this story.

One of the highlights of the books is the realistic progression of Adam and Ruby’s romantic relationship. Huguley gives their love story the perfect amount of conflict and admiration but she doesn’t make it easy for them to reach their happily ever after. This makes the romance even sweeter.

If you are looking for a fresh, engaging historical fiction book featuring diverse characters, this is a must read.


Book review by Terri J. Haynes