Happy Monday, Reader Friends!
Today, we’re kicking the week off with an interview with Bonnie Engstrom. Ms. Engstrom’s stopped by to talk about her novel, Connie’s Silver Shoes. Have you read it? If not, it’s free on KU.
About the Book
Connie’s life is about to change. Is she ready?
Jaeda, the banker who explained the financial windfall to her made a mistake. He needs to make up for it. But, how? The money is already spent.
Is there a way to keep his secret so he won’t lose his banking career? Is it possible she may be falling in love with the handsome, dark skinned banker? Should he resist her even though their skin colors are different? What will her Bible quoting mother say, and how will his family react? What part does Jake the little dog play in their romance?
When she takes off a shoe and rubs her leg against his ankle, will that make a difference in his feelings for her?
Can they really have a future together?
About the Candy Canes
This is book number four in the Candy Cane girls’ series, but it, as all the others before and in future (yes, there will be more) can be read as a standalone. It might be more fun to start with Noelle’s story in Noelle’s Christmas Wedding and progress to Cindy’s story in Cindy’s Perfect Dance, but Natalie and Candy will explain everything about the Candy Canes to you in Candy’s Wild Ride.
Ten years ago six high school freshmen formed a swim team that became legendary. They won the state relay swim championship four years in a row. In addition to their skill and devotion to daily practicing, they prayed together and vowed to be sisters forever. Another thing that set them apart was they chose their own swimsuits making them a team within a larger team. They chose red and white diagonally striped swim suits. Thus, became known as the Candy Canes. They always will be.
I hope you enjoy their stories.
About the Author
Bonnie Engstrom and her psychologist husband, Dave, live in Arizona near four of their six grandchildren. The other two live in Costa Rica where they surf. They share their Arizona home with Sam and Lola, their two rescued mutts in charge of the household.
Bonnie is passionate about Jesus, her husband, her grandchildren and romance writing. She writes exclusively for the Forget Me Not Romances division of Winged Publications. Connie’s Silver Shoes is Book Four in The Candy Cane Girls Series set in Newport Beach, California.
Because she loves to include real people in her stories, you may “see” yourself in a future one.
When she isn’t writing, she is either moderating two online prayer chains or driving grandchildren to activities or volunteering in their classrooms. Currently, she is attempting to grow orchids, and has been successful growing basil in abundance, both of which she coaxes to thrive in the Arizona heat.
After dinner she reads romance novels for relaxation, and just before bed she makes a snack of nachos using Cindy’s secret ingredient in Cindy’s Perfect Dance.
Bonnie can be reached via email. Be sure to put BOOK in the subject line so your post doesn’t float around in her junk folder. Her website is www.bonnieengstrom.com, and she can also be found occasionally on Facebook, although she’s not very astute at it. You can sign up for her Life on the Lake quarterly newsletter on either one.
Toni: Thank you so much for joining us to talk about Connie’s Silver Shoes. I love to see more interracial relationships being explored. What made you decide to write this book?
Bonnie: I love to write about real people in my life, yet make them fictional characters. I was about to start on the fourth book in the Candy Cane series and was wondering about whom (real or otherwise) to feature as a hero. Then, I stopped in my bank to ask one of the managers for assistance with an account. Whoopee! Jaeda is a doll, handsome, and has an engaging presence and sense of humor. I got as far as the parking lot, turned and went back in. After he agreed to allow me to use his real name and make him a prominent male character, I dragged him out to the parking lot and took several photos of him. If you read the book, he really was wearing a red shirt. Cool!
Toni: That is beyond awesome! Hmm, I wonder if I can start going up to random strangers. Nah, too introverted. 🙂 Your hero, Jaeda Wayman is a banker and an African American. Was it hard to write about a Black man versus Connie’s character?
Bonnie: Not hard at all. Both Jaeda and Connie are pretty effusive characters with warm personalities. One in real life, and one totally fictional. Both have a lot of self-confidence, until Connie asks Jaeda to be a model for her clothing line. Then, the fun began.
Toni: Oh, I love when the fun begins! Always pulls me into the book further. How did you write their relationship without falling into racial stereotypes?
Bonnie: I didn’t totally. I have no problem with interracial couples or marriages. But, the story is set in very conservative Newport Beach, so I had to be thoughtful. I think I brought out the racial stereotypes briefly in a scene when Connie and Jaeda met an old high school friend of hers. I probably could have made more of it when they met at Starbucks, but even though Connie had issues with her family, I didn’t want their different races to become an overwhelming theme. They are two people who fall in love. Period.
Toni: Love is great and all I need in a romance. 🙂 Did you ever have any doubt while writing this story? Or consider changing the race of Jaeda?
Bonnie: Never! It is one of the most fun stories I’ve written. Well, to be honest, I did have a doubt about how Jaeda’s real life wife would accept the story. He assures me she has had no problem with his following in love with a Caucasian woman; he says she even loved the book. I sure hope he’s right because I want this woman to be my friend.
Toni: How awesome that they’ve both read it! Tell us about other ‘real’ characters in your books.
Bonnie: I have quite a few ~ Bill Lord is introduced in Candy’s Wild Ride, book three. He is a larger than life good friend and so appropriate. Some minor characters are Marg the owner of Scottsdale Floral, who appears in almost every story. But, Jill the wedding coordinator is in every story. She is very real, made each of my children’s weddings spectacular. I think she needs her own story soon. Although not yet in the Connie story, Shane Sullivan who is the owner of Spine Scottsdale is in Natalie’s Deception and will be prominent in Melanie’s story (untitled yet).
I have learned real people love being part of a novel story. It makes them feel special, and they are! My debut novel, Butterfly Dreams, features Kay and Duc, owners of Pauline’s Nails. They sell my books in their salon. Marg, owner of Scottsdale Floral throws her arms up when I enter. Shane Sullivan will be having a book signing after my next story is published. He was flattered I included him and his business. It’s so much fun for them, and for me.
The animals: Star the cat is real, but her name is really his ~ Bingo. Jake the dog featured on the cover of Connie’s Silver Shoes was real. Sweet Jake was my running partner for over fifteen years. Lola, the dog in Melanie’s story (yet untitled) will appear on the cover of Melanie’s story.
Toni: That is so awesome! It’s great that they all support you in your writing as well. How about some easier questions?
Heels or flats?
Bonnie: Flats! Always. Because of my ugly foot and my leg problem.
Toni: I’m the same way and for leg issues as well. Leggings or jeans?
Bonnie: I occasionally wear jeans, like to my grandchildren’s soccer games. But, mostly leggings from Eileen Fisher. Yeh, I have a designer fetish, but only for her clothes. And only on sale.
Toni: I confess, I’ve never heard of her. Must look her up. Favorite holiday?
Bonnie: Christmas, of course! We have a 9 ½ skinny, artificial tree hubby grumbles about putting up, but even he loves clicking the lights on. When our eldest grandchild (she turned twelve Saturday, bless her heart) was born, I decided to decorate with something she would understand at that age ~ so, Santa. I have collected Santas for over a decade. Many are representative of family members ~ a fishing Santa for my hubby, a surfing Santa for our son and a techie Santa for the other son, her uncles. There are dog and kitty Santas for our animals. I haven’t yet found a writing Santa to represent me, nor a teacher one for our daughter.
Of course, we have a lovely Nativity and even a stuffed bear Santa that recites the Nativity story if you squeeze his paw. The real reason for Christmas is never lost on us, but the Santa tree has become a tradition.
Toni: That sounds neat! Last but not least, what’s next for you on your writing journey?
Bonnie: I am writing Melanie’s story, number six in the Candy Cane Girls series. I hope it will give some very fun surprises, especially about Jaeda and Connie.
Toni: Yay! Praying God gives you the words for book six and continues to bless you on your writing journey. Thank you for stopping by to talk with us. We appreciate you. 🙂
Readers, do you have any questions for Bonnie?
This interview conducted by Toni Shiloh