Author Interview: Jana Kelley


Today, I’m chatting with Jana Kelley, author of two novels (with a third releasing in September) and two devotional books. I had the privilege of interviewing Jana earlier this year for the release of her second novel, Door to Freedom.


About the Book

door to freedom“It’s rough and it’s smooth. It’s dark and it’s light. It’s a masterpiece. It’s us. Here in Sudan. We are scared of it and drawn to it. There is an open door, and there is much opposition.”

In the dusty, Islamic country of Sudan, Mia, who is raising her family in a Muslim country, has learned to boldly share her faith. Rania, the daughter of a wealthy Sudanese Arab, seeks to find the reason for her sister’s sudden disappearance. Mia holds some of the answers, but both women quickly discover they must each walk through their own doors to freedom—the freedom that only comes when you trust God’s sovereignty more than man-made security.

Part of New Hope® Publishers’ line of contemporary missional fiction, Door to Freedom, the sequel to Side by Side, opens the reader’s eyes to modern-day persecution and the life of Muslims in Sudan. Based on real-life events, Door to Freedom also reveals some of the struggles that Christians face when living under Islamic law. The reader will be inspired to pray for those who are persecuted for their faith as well as for the salvation of the persecutors.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | B&N


About the Author

jana kelleyJana Kelley is a Texan who hardly ever lives in Texas. Raised in Southeast Asia, Jana developed a love for cross-cultural living early in life. Her love for writing came soon after. Jana returned to Texas to attend East Texas Baptist University. She and her husband married a month after she graduated and by their second anniversary, they were living in a remote African town. After thirteen years living in Africa and the Middle East, Jana, her husband, and their three boys, moved to Southeast Asia where they currently live. Jana has authored two novels and two devotional books. You can learn more about Jana at www.JanaKelley.com.

You can also connect with Jana on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.


Carrie: Hi Jana! Welcome to the blog! Let’s start out with a ‘fast four’ 🙂

Apples or oranges?

Jana: Apples, they are less messy than oranges. They do require more work, though, since I have to cut them up. I don’t like to eat them whole…too messy. I’m sensing a theme here. I guess I don’t like messy fruits. I like the taste of apples better too. But that being said, I live in Malaysia and February is Chinese New Year month, so I have an entire box of honey mandarins sitting in my fridge: a favorite CNY delicacy.

Carrie: Yumm… honey mandarins sound intriguing!

Winter or Summer?

Jana: Since I live in the tropics, I like Winter better because that usually means rainy season which usually means a little bit more pleasant weather. When I visit my home state, Texas, I like summer better because I don’t like to be cold.

Carrie: But don’t you miss the snow just a little??

Dogs or Cats?

Jana: Hmmmm, probably cats, but I have a dog. I guess both. But really, cats. I like that they sort of take care of  themselves. On the other hand, I love the welcome that I get from my dog every time I come home. She greets me at the door with lots of tail wagging, like she’s been waiting for this moment all day. So sweet!

Carrie: My dog Zuzu has decided to ignore everything you just said about cats and focus instead on the delightful things you said about your own dog 😉

Finally…. coffee or tea?

Jana: Coffee in the morning. Most definitely coffee…in the morning. But later, I’ll drink tea all day long if I have a good book or someone to chat with. I like hot drinks because they force me to sit down and relax and drink slowly. Deep breaths. Enjoy!

Carrie: I sense you like diplomatic answers 😉 LOL

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

Jana: I’d have the ability to speed read (and still retain the information). I am a book junkie and I love to collect books of all kinds; but I have a hard time getting them all read. I’d like to be able to read books as fast as I can buy them.

Carrie: Oh that would be lovely. I would also then like the ability to review books as fast as I read them!

Who is your favorite book character from childhood?

Jana: My favorite book character from childhood is Betsy from the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. I loved reading about the friendship of Betsy and Tacy and Tib. I remember reading them at a time when my family lived in a small town in Indonesia, Southeast Asia. I only had two friends in that town and they were from a very different culture than me. But after reading one of the Betsy books, I appreciated that at least I did have those two friends (just like Betsy) and I started being more proactive about reaching out to them. So Betsy, a fiction character from Minnesota in the early 1900s reached out to me, a little American girl in Southeast Asia, and gave me the courage to reach out to my Indonesian friends. That’s why I like Betsy. And now that I wrote this little tribute, I’m going to go to the library to check those books out!

Carrie: I love this!! How sweet!!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever Googled while researching a book?

Jana: Second to the times that writing drives me to search the Scriptures and study what the Lord says about various topics is my interest in Google research. What would we do without Google? Write boring, one-dimensional books I guess. I have researched birding in Sudan, WW2 internment camps for women, and how to tell one’s fortune using coffee grounds.  Perhaps the weirdest Google search I did was on chemicals that can be dropped from the sky that cause apathy. Did you know there is such a thing? Me either. But there is. Thanks Google.

Carrie: I feel like i should now run that NBC jingle for those “The More You Know” spots they ran all the time in the 80s and 90s. Do they still do those? I never watch TV anymore. To the Google!! lol.

Describe your main characters and tell me who you would cast in their roles if Hollywood wanted to produce Door to Freedom as a movie!

Jana: Mia-A blonde-headed young wife and mother who teeters between joy and angst. I think Candace Cameron-Bure would be the perfect actress to be Mia. She is spunky but genuine and, as a person, seems like she would be able to play a convincing version of Mia!

Rania-A beautiful young Sudanese Arab artist who is shy but determined. I think China Anne McClain would make a great Rania.

Carrie: I love both of these actresses! Great choices!

What surprised you about Door to Freedom or your characters as you wrote their story?

Jana: Rania’s resilience in the face of difficult situations surprised me the most. In the beginning, Rania is quite shy and compliant. She grows in personal strength as the story unfolds.

The other surprising character is Jamal. Things don’t turn out the way a reader might think they should. This came as a surprise to me too as I wrote his character.

Carrie: I’m a little worried about Jamal now…

What do you most want readers to take away from Door to Freedom?

Jana: I would like readers to come away with a better (perhaps more loving?) understanding of Muslims and of the universal need for Jesus.

Carrie: Yes. Amen.

What’s coming up next for you?

Jana: As DOOR TO FREEDOM releases, I’ll be busy editing the third book of the series. I’m excited about how this sequel will wrap up the stories that began in the first book SIDE BY SIDE. I have also dug up old letters and journals from a time in my life when my husband and I lived in a little country in East Africa. I’m hoping to use the memories and information to write a devotional series and perhaps plan the backdrop for a new series. I guess we’ll see what happens!


This interview originally appeared on ReadingIsMySuperPower.

What about you? My heart’s cry is to see more Muslims represented as people, as our neighbors, not just terrorists, in Christian fiction. What is a people group you would like to better represented in Christian fiction?

Open Discussion – How to Deal with Prejudice/Racism towards Diverse Books

DBTP - letstalkHappy Saturday, Diverse Book Readers!

I hope everyone has had a lovely week. There has been a lot of negative news in the last few days, so I am glad to have a place like this where people can encourage each other and where we can see that there is hope for a brighter, more diverse future in literature and the world in general.

With the current volatile climate towards diversity, diverse books are more important than ever. Diverse books throughout time have changed people’s views and hearts.

But still there will be people who are angry about diversity and who may even quote scripture or use their words of hatred to quell excitement about diverse books.

This week’s question is: What should we do (or what have you done) when confronted with prejudice or racism towards diverse literature? And what are some of your favorite diverse books that have made a difference in the world?

Please comment below! We can all learn from each other. 🙂

Discussion by Allison K. Garcia

Book Review: Hidden Blessings by Kim Cash Tate

Happy Friday, Diverse Reader Friends!!

Can you believe it’s already August? Where does the time go? Anyway, I’m happy to share my review of Kim Cash Tate’s Hidden Blessings. If you haven’t read it, move it up on your TBR pile!


About the Book

The Blurb: “Diagnosis: breast cancer
Prognosis: terminal
Life: just beginning

Her diamond caught the sun’s rays and refracted light across the room. She’d asked herself again and again: How could she be so blessed? Partner at a prestigious law firm and engaged to the man of her dreams . . . there was no doubt. God had smiled on Kendra Woods.

But the moment Kendra is diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, her world collapses. Within days, her fiancé backs out of the wedding and the firm suggests a leave of absence during her treatment. Of all the roles Kendra has played over the years—daughter, sister, friend, student, attorney, bride-to-be—cancer patient seems the most unwelcome in the world.

When her path crosses with that of youth pastor Lance Alexander, Kendra only sees the troublemaker she knew in high school. But Lance could prove an unexpected spark in the darkness that covers her. Will Kendra be able to embrace a glimmer of hope?”

Links: Amazon, B&N, CBD, Goodreads


About the Author

KIM CASH TATE is the author of several books, including Cling (2017) and If I Believe (2017). A former practicing attorney, she is also a Bible teacher and is currently doing a study on First Samuel on YouTube. She’s been married to her husband Bill for more than two decades, and they live in St. Louis with their two young adult children. You can find Kim online at kimcashtate.com and on social media @kimcashtate.

Follow: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube


Review

Y’all, I sobbed like a baby while reading Hidden Blessings. I’m not even lying. It was probably an ugly cry, too. This book is simply beautiful. It’s just not about the romance in this book, although there is that.

Every girl needs a Lance in her life. One who will seek to follow the Word in how he treats a lady. It’s a beautiful thing to see and a great reminder of the relationship between Christ and the Church.

This book is also about God’s love and the way it transcends our earthly sorrows. There’s no escaping the fact that Kendra was dealt a raw hand. I mean my heart was aching for her when she receives her diagnosis. But to see her grow close to God, to be able to bask in His peace in moments of sorrow, I hope I have that kind of faith if I ever need it.

And that’s what this book is all about. Finding your faith. Seeing the hidden blessings beneath the worldy sorrow and pain. God is still there. Still on the throne and able to use it all for good.

Do not miss out on this story.

*Thanks to my local library for feeding my reading addiction. 🙂


Review by Toni Shiloh

Book Spotlight: Beauty From Ashes by Alana Terry

Welcome to Diversity Between the Pages. Today I’m introducing you to a new series written by author Alana Terry, The Orchard Grove Christian Women’s Fiction series. This series will feature “standalone literary novels about real-life believers facing real-life struggles. You won’t meet perfect saints whose lives are faultless models of the Christian faith. Instead, you’ll meet a perfect God whose plans of redemption are far more glorious than what the mortal mind could ever imagine.

Beauty from Ashes is the first novel in this series.


~ About the Book ~

A baby was never part of Tiff’s plans. Especially not a sick baby in a NICU, struggling for life on a ventilator.

As days in the hospital turn to weeks, Tiff grows more and more convinced that God is punishing her for turning her back on him so many years ago. Or is it possible he’s working in the midst of her daughter’s bleak prognosis to draw Tiff back to himself once more?

The Orchard Grove books are a literary series of family-drama stories with realistic characters facing gritty issues that confront contemporary Christians today. Standalone novels from award-winning Christian fiction novelist Alana Terry, whose books “inspire without preaching at you,” these titles merge edgy Christian fiction, literary prose, and a God compassionate enough to look upon those who suffer and “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes … a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 60:3).

Amazon  //  Goodreads


~ Excerpt ~

Natalie’s sixteen weeks old, and I still don’t know what it feels like to nurse a baby. I’m positive it’s more comfortable than a breast pump or else the human race would have died out before we ever evolved past living in caves. I hated pumping, but at least it was something I could do. Something that only I could do is a better way to say it. I swear her grandmother jinxed her or something, because the whole time Natalie was in the hospital, she handled my breast milk just fine. Then we took her home, and within twenty-four hours, Patricia showed up on our doorstep, suitcases in hand. Four days later, Natalie was so uncomfortable the pediatrician told us to take her off breast milk.
[…]
I think Patricia was secretly thrilled about it all, really. Because now there isn’t a single thing I can do for my child that she can’t do better. She has her nurse’s training to thank, even though that woman hasn’t worked an actual nursing job since Bush was president. The first Bush, I mean, not the second.
That’s what makes me think about leaving sometimes. I know it’s the deadbeat thing to do, but given my family history, would you have expected me to stick around this long? If Natalie needed me, that would be different. Can you believe I waited sixteen days in the NICU just to see her open her eyes? And you know what? She didn’t even notice me. I was no different to her than any of the nurses in their colorful scrubs. When Jake holds her, I swear something clicks in that injured little brain of hers. She seems comfortable. Even tried to scratch his chin once. When I hold her, she’s completely oblivious. Even Patricia claims Natalie smiled at her. I’m sure she’s lying, because my child doesn’t smile. At anyone. But that doesn’t change the fact that my baby doesn’t even know I’m alive.
[…]
I had such high hopes for myself as a mom. I had it all figured out. I was going to stay at home for the first year or so. Maybe take in an extra kid or two for babysitting. I was going to give Natalie everything I never got at that age—a home, a sense of belonging, affection.
I remember laying around on bed rest, flipping through those mommy magazines and daydreaming about story time. That’s the one thing the articles always agreed about, even the older ones. Read to your kids from the day they’re born. I had the picture squared away in my brain. Me on the couch, with Natalie nestled up against me. In my imagination, we always read Dr. Seuss because honestly, I didn’t know any other kids books, but I was going to learn. I’d get a library card. Check out books there. And we’d cuddle and read, and it would do wonders for her development. Wonders for our relationship. That was the plan.
And now look what I’ve got. A kid who doesn’t even recognize me. A kid who can’t make eye contact. A kid who won’t even live to see her first birthday.


~ About the Author ~

Alana TerryAlana is a pastor’s wife, homeschooling mom, self-diagnosed chicken lady, and Christian suspense author. Her novels have won awards from Women of Faith, Book Club Network, Grace Awards, Readers’ Favorite, and more. Alana’s passion for social justice, human rights, and religious freedom shines through her writing, and her books are known for raising tough questions without preaching. She and her family live in rural Alaska where the northern lights in the winter and midnight sun in the summer make hauling water, surviving the annual mosquito apocalypse, and cleaning goat stalls in negative forty degrees worth every second.

Connect with Alana:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Twitter


Spotlight by Katie Donovan.