Author Interview: Vanessa Riley-Unveiling Love

Good Monday. Today we are featuring Vanessa Riley, who gives a poignant interview about race in Regency fiction.


About the Book

51Da6q+ZHyLWinning in the courts, vanquishing England’s foes on the battlefield, Barrington Norton has used these winner-take-all rules to script his life, but is London’s most distinguished mulatto barrister prepared to win the ultimate fight, restoring his wife’s love?

Amora Norton is running out of time. The shadows in her Egyptian mind, which threaten her sanity and alienate Barrington’s love, have returned. How many others will die if she can’t piece together her shattered memories? Can she trust that Barrington’s new found care is about saving their marriage rather than winning the trial of the century?

Free 1st Episode: http://amzn.to/1JLYkPj

The full collection- all 4 episodes: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01H0K1C6I


About Vanessa

18361682_1556265021064836_1172928820_nVanessa Riley worked as an engineer before allowing her passion for historical romance to shine. A Regency era (early 1800s) and Jane Austen enthusiast, she brings the flavor of diverse peoples to her stories. Since she was seventeen, Vanessa has won awards for her writing and is currently working on two series. She lives in Atlanta with her military man hubby and precocious child. You can catch her writing from the comfort of her Southern porch with a cup of Earl Grey tea.

You can find her at http://www.VanessaRiley.com or http://www.facebook.com/ChristianRegency

www.vanessariley.com

https://www.facebook.com/VanessaRileyAuthor

http://www.twitter.com/VanessaRiley

http://pinterest.com/regencymaid

https://www.instagram.com/govanessariley


The Interview

Terri: You write historical diverse Christian Fiction. In the past, this genre has been stories of slaves and plantations. Unveiling Love shows diverse characters in places we won’t normally see them. Why did you choose this aspect of history over the more traditional slavery point of view?

Vanessa: I think there are a great many authors who focus on the history of diverse cultures within the United States. Many awesome books tell stories about the Civil War, Reconstruction, and The Great Migrations. Yet, most think of the black or African race as having a very narrow historical path. Many believe we were Kings and Queens (1500 BC) in Egypt. Then nothing and reappeared as slaves in America causing a war in 1865. There is a great deal of history occurring in many more places than Egypt and America that fills that span of over 3000 years. The missing timelines are rich in culture but are rarely are showcased in Christian Fiction. When I look on the bookstore shelves, no one lived in the void. Yet, we survived and thrived. I am called to tell these stories, the ones that show love lasts and overcomes.

Terri: I love the statement “missing timelines.” It is very true. As I read your book, all I kept thinking of was the movie Belle (2013). It was wildly popular because it was based on a true story and quite frankly, a part of history frequently overlooked. What are some of the surprising historical facts your research has uncovered about people of color?

Surprise isn’t the word. I think shocked and appalled might be more apt. There were ten thousand free black living in London during the time of Jane Austen. In 1772, the pivotal Somerset Case gave the enslaved rights setting the ground work for ending slavery. By 1833, slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire including its colonies. This occurred before a single shot was fired in the Civil War. I didn’t learn this in elementary school or even high school. My world changed taking an elective course in Western Civilization. I was disturbed as the impact of the whitewashing of history slapped me soundly in the face. Little brown girls and boys grow up thinking that the past was full of hate for them, not the accomplishments, not the times when love won. How does that impact their future when hate seems more prevalent today as they can be targeted for nothing more than driving while being other?

Terri: I completely agree about the way our history is framed for us. Pain is plentiful, and acknowledgment of accomplishments are few. How important is being historically accurate when in comes to characters of color? Or do you prefer to create worlds where diverse characters are the norm?

Vanessa: That question is a sore spot. When you tell a fuller narrative, a story that is different from what you heard growing up, many think you’ve made up stuff. They call all your fact checking and cross-referencing historical fantasy. Maybe they forgot, don’t care, or don’t know that Jane Austen wrote about a mulatto heiress in Sandition (1817). In this story, Lady Denham, who is a part of the upper class, tries to get her impoverished nephew to marry the money, the little blackamoor rich girl. Would Jane Austen write about things that had no possibility of occurring? I do not know, but I do know that no one today would question Austen’s right to do so. Austen was a contemporary author writing about her times, not a fantasy author.

I write what I am passionate about and that is showing that love survived. It cannot be bound by ignorance or ignored because it makes someone uncomfortable. It shouldn’t be put away because it disagrees with the lies we tell ourselves.

Terri: When I first met you at a writer’s conference a few years ago, I was fascinated by the fact that you were writing diverse historical Christian fiction. I distinctly remember thinking, “I need to watch her career because she’s found an amazing niche.” Was I right? Have you found a niche that other Christian authors haven’t explored?

Vanessa: I followed the normal path. I was traditionally published in 2013 with Madeline’s Protector, a heroine of Spanish decent. Then, I signed with an agent with an earlier version of Unveiling Love. I thought this was it. I am breaking through, but a funny thing happened. The CBA houses weren’t interested. A funnier thing happened. A few ABA houses requested the full manuscript. They loved my voice, they loved the story, but they said “we can’t reach the Christian market.” I lived in a catch twenty-two world.

I began to question myself. I wrote a great story? Think so. I had great agent? Check. I was with a well-respected agency? Check. Then, what were the traditional ABA and CBA houses saying? Were they saying drop faith from my stories or change the complexion of my characters to get a sale? I don’t know but it wasn’t a good spot to be. I searched the depths of soul, and decided not to sell it. I heard very clearly, “tell your stories,” not change your stories or stop telling stories.

I decided to go Indie. In 2015, I published The Bargain, a story of a formerly enslaved woman who discovers her faith as she helps save Port Elizabeth, a British Colony in South Africa. Hundreds of thousands of books in the hands of my readers later, I have not looked back. Bless you readers.

Terri: That’s fantastic that you found readers. That is an encouraging feeling after rejection. How did you get the idea for Unveiling Love?

Vanessa: I do a lot of research, and I found this area in Vauxhall Gardens called the Dark Walk, an isolated area where girls would walk away from their chaperones to meet with their sweethearts. That tidbit made me wonder about what happens when things went awry. During the Regency, the woman be found at fault even if the man had taken liberties. The London world would shame her as if it was her fault. That started the writing wheels turning. Those elements were the genesis for Unveiling Love.

Terri: What is your favorite historical TV show or movie and why? If you say the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice with Jennifer Ehle and Colon Firth, we’ll be friends forever.

Vanessa: Yes, the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice with Jennifer Ehle and Colon Firth is the best thing ever. I own the DVD. When I come home from a stressful day, I will put the 5-hour movie on to escape. Last year, I watched it at least 75 times.

Terri: We are now friends for life! Tea party or coffee shop?

Vanessa: This is tough, but I think I like coffee shops more.

Terri: Tough choice, but there is nothing like a cozy coffee shop. What’s next for you?

Vanessa: In August, No Hiding for The Guilty is released. What if super heroes were mortals and they lived and loved in the Regency? That is the premise a group of Regency authors tackled for The Heart of The Hero series releasing this summer. No Hiding for The Guilty is now on pre-order.

In January, The Bittersweet Bride, part of the Advertisements for Love Series with Entangled Publishing will release. This series focuses on three Blackamoor heiresses who need quick marriages of conveniences. They place advertisements in the Morning Post. Of course, foolishness, romance, and a bit of mayhem follow. It will be a story that people of faith and Regency lovers will enjoy.

Terri: Thank you so much for joining us. Praying Godspeed on all your future endeavors. Here’s to many more happy readers!

Author Interview: Leslie Sherrod- Man of My Schemes

It’s time for our author interview. This week we feature Leslie Sherrod, author of Man of My Schemes.


About the Book 

41dSs+ypECL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Having a fake boyfriend comes with a real price. It started with her co-workers and then spread to her sister-friends at church: the “must-have-a-man-marriage-baby-family-right-now-because-you’re-not-getting-any-younger” fever. Tired of the merciless prying and invasive questions about her lack of a love life, thirty-four-year-old Berry Jenkins comes up with an elaborate plan to convince everyone she has finally landed the man of her dreams – she fakes it. However, her foolproof conspiracy to pretend she’s met the perfect beau turns out to be proof of foolishness as her scheme of a made-up relationship spirals out of control. Only a miracle will save Berry from her fairytale fantasy turned nightmare reality, which only worsens as her web of lies begins to unravel. Facing exposure, Berry fears that the trap she’s created for herself is too messy, too tangled – and maybe even too deadly – for her chance at love to survive.

Buy links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo


About Leslie Sherrod

ljs picLeslie J. Sherrod, MSW, LCSW-C, LICSW, is the author of seven faith-based novels that speak to the hopes and dreams of diverse women. The recipient of the SORMAG Readers Choice Award for Christian Author of the Year (2012), Leslie has a Masters in Social Work which has allowed her to be a therapist and service provider for preschoolers, pregnant women, teens, seniors, and church folk, among other clientele. Her work has been featured in Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library Writers LIVE! Series, as well as on local CBS and NBC television affiliates. She has been a guest on both national and regional radio shows and podcasts, including The Mother Love Show (LA Talk Radio) and AOL’s Black Voices. Leslie has received a starred review from Booklist and has contributed to several blogs and devotionals.

Leslie lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her husband and three children. As both a writer and a social worker, Leslie tackles matters of current social significance, including mental health and wellness, healthy relationships, and spiritual growth – with the unique backdrop of page-turning, satisfying suspense and heartwarming humor. With a talent for drawing on raw emotions and painting vivid and meaningful imagery with her pen, her books have been welcomed at book club meetings, literary events, and church groups around the country.

Links:

www.LeslieJSherrod.com

Facebook & Twitter: @LeslieJSherrod

Buy: http://bit.ly/LJSOnlineBookstore


Interview

Terri: I am very excited that you’re joining us today to talk about Man of My Schemes. How did you get the idea for this book?

This was not a book I planned to write. The main character, Berry, showed up in my imagination as I was plotting a different story. However, Berry’s voice was so loud and distinct, the other story I was working on got washed out. She demanded attention for her plight, and I gave in. I could hear Berry’s sense of humor, her annoyance with everyone’s concern with her love life, and her willingness to go to outrageous lengths to maintain a fake relationship. Once this character took shape in my mind, what she did and how she did it easily came together.

Terri: Characters do that sometimes. We try to resist, but they just take over. I’m glad Berry pushed her way into your mind and into print. Your other books feature strong female leads. How is Berry different?

Berry is young, and – dare I say – a little immature. She’s missing some introspection that I think comes from life experiences, lessons learned, and having good girlfriends to keep you straight! I like Berry, though, because I think there is much to learn from her about how we can let others’ perceptions control us. Once a negative thought gets planted in our heads that shapes how we see ourselves, it is not difficult for that thought to take root and bear fruit of detrimental actions. At heart, Berry has not learned to simply love and accept herself as she is, without needing a relationship to define her identity or purpose. Berry’s personal growth does come, I believe, but not before a zany wallop of a ride.

Terri: Man of My Schemes is a fun read, but in a way, it is like a single woman’s manifesto. Did you intend for the story to give single Christian women a voice through Berry?

I wanted to give voice to any woman who feels like she has to continually explain or defend her relationship status. I wanted to give voice to any woman who feels like she’s been trying her value and self-worth to societal standards of love and romance. I wanted to encourage awareness that esteem and worthiness are not dependent on who you are with or how others see you. You are special and awesome and worthy because of Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Terri: That is a great message for all women to hear. How much did the African-American church culture this culture shape your portrayal of Berry? Do you think this story would have worked in another culture?

I write out of the experience I know, and that experience includes fried chicken, green beans, potato salad, red punch, and coconut cake church dinners. It includes rousing sermons, youth choirs, and building funds; church mothers, peppermint candy, and solemn-faced deacons in Cadillacs. My experience also includes community, fellowship, encouragement, and strength; teaching, empowering, praying, and faith. Berry’s story is told in the context of the community in which she lives, moves, breathes, and has her being. While the general themes of romance and relationships could be set in any culture, the nuances of Berry’s church community help define how she experiences these themes. For example, her natural hair journey, the setting of a perfect date, even what characteristics would be valued in her imaginary boyfriend, have roots in the struggles and realities of the culture she knows.

Terri: Yes, and the story is well rooted in that culture. It adds perspective and context to the book. Berry goes through great lengths to keep up appearances. What lesson would you like to pass on to readers who are a little or a lot like Berry?

Fakeness and lies never lead to happy endings, and once a lie starts, the more complicated it gets to keep it going. We all know this. However, sometimes there’s a disconnect in knowing this and living it out as we get caught up in trying to present our lives as perfect to everyone around us. And keeping up appearances goes well beyond romantic relationship status. Look at social media where perfection abounds. We offer status updates to people who are minimally involved in our lives. If we get consumed with putting up perfection, it’s easy to get sidetracked from focusing on what matters: being genuine, so that others’ can be genuinely blessed by our presence in their lives.

Terri: That is a very timely message. Many women get caught up in keeping up with the next women not realizes their competing with someone who is not who they appear to be. Since Berry was such a fan of social media, what’s your preferred social media site and why?

 I am most active on Facebook, but that’s a low key active. I post pictures that make me happy and the occasional status update. I’ve shared some honest challenges I’ve faced, offered encouragement, and, of course, given updates about my books. However, I read through my Facebook feed all the time. I bookmark articles, laugh at videos, and smile at my friends’ successes and celebrations. While I do have a couple of other social media accounts, Facebook has been the most engaging for me.

Terri: I’ve totally become more of a Facebook stalker lately. Berry travels a bit in the book. Tell me about your ideal vacation.

I love to travel, and if I can’t physically go somewhere, I will research details and let my imagination transport me there. I tend to include different cities and states – even countries – in my stories, and Berry’s story is no different. While my year does not feel complete if I do not have at least one trip to somebody’s beach, I’ve found that I most love trips that take me to cultures and experiences that are different from my own. My ideal vacation has a lot of food to sample, a cultural and/or historical feature to visit, a Groupon deal to take advantage of, and some downtime to absorb it all. And a little water to dip in never hurts! I love planning trips with my family and friends and am incredibly grateful for every single opportunity I’ve had to make a trip out of my beloved Baltimore. From kayaking on a bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico, to meandering through the French Quarter in New Orleans, to enjoying a food tour in South Beach, to exploring the Port Lucaya Marketplace in the Bahamas, to admiring the artwork of Venice Beach vendors in California, I’ve learned that my ideal vacation is one that connects to all my senses and leaves me feeling inspired.

Terri: Yes, water never hurts a vacation unless it’s torrential rain. What’s next for you?

Okay, big confession. After writing and having published seven novels over the past ten years, I’ve spent the last year working on…. nothing. I think I’ve needed this break to re-focus and re-energize my writing goals and dreams. I will gladly be transparent and say that this writing journey has not been the easiest. I’ve come close to quitting completely many times. I would like to be able to tell you that I am working on a new novel, or that I’ve finally started the children’s book I want to do along with my artist husband, or that I’ve finally uploaded some of my short stories onto Amazon. Truth is, I’m fervently seeking clearer direction on what to work on next. My continual prayer is that God gets the most glory from whatever gifts and talents He’s given me. I am excited about pursuing Him and am confident that I’ll have writing clarity soon. Until then, I’ll keep picking up my pen, pecking on my keyboard, practicing my writing skills, playing around with plot ideas, polishing up my dialogues…. Prayerfully waiting for the next work to take firm shape. Check back with me soon and I’ll share whatever comes out of this season. Thanks!

Terri: I understand.  Everyone needs reenergizing in our lives. Well, whatever is next, I certain that God will lead you. Thank you so much for being here today. 

 

Open Discussion: Reading in Color

letstalkI have had many conversations with my fellow believers about diversity in Christian fiction. I try to be open and honest in my conversations, but more than that, I make sure to listen.

I feel that changes in Christian fiction regarding diversity will originate with readers. I believe that once we the readers make our voice heard the industry will hear and respond. However, as I talk to Christian fiction readers, I am constantly trying to accesses what are the prevailing thoughts about diversity in Christian fiction.

In my listening, I found that reader’s responses fell into two camps. Of course, every person didn’t fall perfectly into one or the other. But for the most part, the response fell in or near two mindsets.

The first I call color-blind readers. Great writing and intriguing characters are enough to move them to by, but they might not buy because there are diverse characters in it. That alone is enough to motivate them to support diverse authors even if it wasn’t their initial intention.

The second are every nation, every tribe readers. They seek out books that feature diverse characters. Those characters are their driving motivation. These readers are most likely to note when diversity is missing from a novel.

Both camps have legitimate reasons why they approach diversity in Christian fiction the way they do. Which are you and why? Share your comments below.

Author Interview: Ronie Kendig

In today’s interview, I’m talking to Ronie Kendig, author of 15 novels and six novellas. Her rapid-fire fiction keeps her readers turning pages.


About the Book: 

51-1sjmtk9lDon your tactical gear and enter the world of black ops and espionage within the pages of Ronie Kendig’s thriller Firethorn. Former Marine Griffin “Legend” Riddell, a fugitive from injustice, finds it difficult to trust anyone. Covert operative Kazi Faron, the woman sent to free him, has a dangerous secret that may jeopardize her life, mission, and the only man she respects. As Griffin and Kazi race around the globe to save Nightshade, the danger mounts. Will they find the culprit sabotaging their black ops team? Can their newfound feelings and trust survive when Griffin and Kazi face truth and terror?

Purchase: Amazon, B&N, CBD


778896_560430620636255_619789673_o

Bio: Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author of a dozen novels. She grew up an Army brat. Now, she and her husband, an Army veteran, have an adventurous life in Northern Virginia with their children and a retired military working dog, VVolt N629. Ronie’s degree in Psychology has helped her pen novels of intense, raw characters.

Follow at: Website, Facebook, Twitter


Terri: It’s so great to have you here today. I fell in love your writing from the first book I read but Firethorn, the fourth book in your Discarded Heroes series, is extra special for me. How did you decide to write not only an ethnic character but an interracial couple, also?

Ronie: The development of Marine hero Griffin “Firethorn” Riddell wasn’t borne out of a conscious decision to “inject” ethnicity into my series but rather at the outset, I simply “saw” the team built up of diversity, which I feel is indicative our military itself. When I first encountered Griffin and dug deep into the research to know his story, I knew the only woman who’d both command respect and demand attention from him would be his complete opposite—so, where’s he’s large (6’4” and 250 lbs), she is petite (5’5”). Where he is content to sit back and let people figure things out, she was confrontational. Where he is African American, she was a very Caucasian with white-blond hair and fair skin.

Terri: Did you worry about pushback from your readers?

Ronie: In all honesty, *I* didn’t expect pushback because I didn’t think like that. However, when some involved wth the publication of my book suggested I should change Griffins ethnicity, I was both taken aback and angered, because to me, Griffin was who he was. It was his essence. I had even been told to be prepared to ‘get slaughtered’ for being a white female writing a black male.

Terri: There has been a significant amount of talk about sensitivity readers in the publishing world right now. You employed used sensitivity readers for this book. Why was it important for you to get their perspective?

Ronie: These new terms are interesting to me. When I wrote Firethorn almost seven or eight years ago, I approached his ethnicity with as much research fervor as I do with any other ethnicity or profession. Honestly, I simply wanted to get it right and show respect/honor to those within that culture that I was writing about. But because some in my publishing world had concerns, I was especially keen on getting it right with Griffin’s ethnicity. I had several long conversations with author and friend Michelle Stimpson, as well as with yourself, Terri, regarding writing an African American character. And quite honestly, you both educated me on things that I simply had never thought about—as happens with most “experts” I’ve spoken to. Writing is as much about learning as it is about entertainment to me.

Terri: Your books often take your characters into other cultures and locations around the world. How do you show these cultures without leaning towards stereotypes?

There are many ways to gain that information and accurately portray those cultures. A few include: digging around travel sites; reading pieces/articles/blogs by those who live there; talking with those who’ve been there. It’s the nuances—the smells, the colloquialisms, the foods, etc., that bring a culture alive in a novel. And quite honestly, if something is stereotypical of a culture/character, I work to make that “element” NOT a part of the character or turn it on its head. I think the biggest thing is to apply the same level of respect and intention/determination toward ethnicity as we do to professions within our books.

I think we need to write “unafraid,” because when you aren’t THAT person or haven’t worked THAT profession, you’re going to get something wrong. For example, I’d written something for a character from another country one time, based on direct input from someone from said country. Yet, another person from said country chastised me for not doing my research and said it was wrong. *shrug* But you have to be willing to make mistakes, learn and grow, both as a person and as a writer.

Terri: Coffee or Tea?

Ronie: Yes. Seriously, it depends on the day or maybe even the diet I’m on. LOL I love love a good cup of herbal tea, but I also savor having a caramel macchiato.

Terri: What is your go-to writing snack?

Ronie: The Krakken—apple sliced with peanut butter.

Terri: What’s next for Ronie Kendig?

I’ve been asking the Lord that myself. Ha. I’m currently about to delve into book 3 of The Tox Files, but after that? I’m exploring options that will continue writing paramilitary suspense as I’ve loved doing and have developed in my brand, Rapid-Fire Fiction.

Thank you so much for joining us today. I look forward to whatever God leads you to next.

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.

_______________________________________

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.

 

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