Open Discussion – Why is it so important?

Happy Saturday, Diverse Reader Friends!

I hope you had an awesome week and that your weekend holds promise. It’s time to kick off our weekend with a new discussion. What do you think it’s going to be about?

Yep, diversity. Y’all, if you watch the news, scroll through your social media newsfeed, you may get a hint of diversity. Some of us have more diverse group of friends than others. Honestly, it depends on where you live, who you’re friends with, etc.

There’s something vitally important about stepping out of our bubble and exploring other cultures, ethnicities, the things that set us apart, but also bring us together. And books have a way of offering another view if the one around us is limited.

So what say you. Why is ethnically diverse Christian fiction important to you?

Discussion led by Toni Shiloh

Open Discussion – Who Writes Diverse Christian fiction?

Happy Saturday, friends!!

Thanks for stopping by Diversity Between the Pages. Today, I wanted to share a list of authors who write ethnically diverse Christian fiction. Some of these authors write other books as well, so if you’re looking for just diverse fiction take note. I’m only including a few authors for brevity’s sake, so please, if you know of an author or two (or more), please add them in the comments.

Also, remember to check out our Diverse Book Recommendations page. You can click on the cover to go to Amazon and learn more.

  • Piper Huguley
  • Connie Almony
  • Alana Terry
  • Stacey Hawkins Adams
  • Allison K. Garcia
  • Ruth Logan Herne
  • Melissa Wardwell
  • Varina Denman
  • Neta Jackson
  • Cynthia Marcarno
  • Nadine Keels
  • Tessa Afshar
  • Kim Cash Tate
  • Michelle Stimpson

Author Interview: Melissa Wardwell

Happy Monday, diverse reader friends!

I’m so excited to share an interview with Melissa Wardwell. She’s stopped by to talk about her story, Hope Beyond Savannah, one of the two novelettes in A Spring of Weddings. When I read her story, I knew it was perfect for our blog. Let’s get started!


About the Book

Hope Beyond Savannah Blurb: Lily Allman and Nikotemo (Nik) Lagatuo were the poster children for the term “opposites attract.” He was an evangelist and CEO for a non-profit from Samoa who grew up in a large loving family. She was a blond bombshell with a funky style and no family to call her own. Two of the most unlikely people meet in the most unlikely of places, but God had a plan when He brought them together. They never let their differences deter them from the love they had for each other, but when Nik’s mother comes to the States for the wedding, the idea of wedded bliss is shaken. Can prejudices be over looked, insecurities overcome, and hope for a better future be restored so that these two can have all that was promised?

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


Interview

Toni: Welcome, Melissa! I’m so excited to talk about your latest release, Hope Beyond Savannah, one of the two stories in A Spring of Weddings. I was so excited that your book deals with an interracial relationship between a Caucasian and a Samoan! How did you decide to make Nik a Samoan?

Melissa: Honestly, I wish I could say it was some kind of brilliant creativity but really it was while I was doing an image search of bi-racial men. I kept coming across images of Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) and Jason Mamoa (Aqua Man), both of them are of Samoan heritage. In fact, Mr. Johnson won the award for become the muse for my “Nik” but I tell you what, I might use Mr. Mamoa later 😉

Toni: I’m still in shock that Jason Mamoa is going to be Aquaman. Did you find that writing a Samoan character had many traps to stereotype Nik’s character? And if so, how did you navigate the writing waters?

Melissa: I probably gave in a bit to those stereotypes. All you have to do is look the two guys mentioned above to see it. During my research though I found that they were kind and jovial people. I did my best to show that part of the culture. At the same time, I wrote Nik like any other man in active service for God should behave. I’m not sure it matters where your from when you head the Call. If you are living your life as a man (or woman) of God should, the tone of your skin shouldn’t effect that.

Toni: Yes! I love how the body of Christ has differences but our love for God unites us. You had so many interesting facts about the Samoan culture. How did you research all the information to make it so authentic?

Melissa: I spent a whole day absorbing all I could on the people, customs and language. If I was writing a full length novel, it probably would have been more in depth. Someone shared with me a translator online that spoke the word for you, not just typed out the translation. It was so beautiful. Google became a friend of mine this time around for sure as I researched wedding attire (they wear tree bark native to the island – yeah, not including that) and other traditions. I was surprised to find that even though their ancient history is riddled with gods and lore, their main religion is Christianity.

I also had to do research on the Maori people to get an accurate portrayal of the hakka. Look it up on YouTube. It is powerful and mesmerizing.

Toni: I’ll do that! Did you find it difficult to write Nik’s character considering your ethnic background?

Melissa: Oh heavens, yes. I was worried that things I wrote or stated would cause an offense with some one. I am from an area that has not seen any one of a different color or ethnicity for decades (our area has a past of not being very friendly with folks of African origin). It has only been in the last five or so years that you see more diversity on our streets. I wish I could say that the transition has been easy, but there are always going to be individuals who make poor choices – no matter what your skin color is.

Having friends who are different than I am and taking care of their little boy almost daily is what inspired me to try something different than the run of the mill Christian Fiction. I have always looked over color lines. I struggle to see why we should be treating people differently based on the color of their skin. That might be naïve of me, but I believe that is how God sees us. We all look different on the outside, but we were all made by the same Creator. We all have similar struggles. We all are just trying to make it in this crazy world.

Toni: I’m glad you took a step to write something different. It was beautifully done. How about some fun fact questions?
New Year’s or Valentine’s Day?

Melissa: New Year’s Because my hubby is always home for that holiday and our kids are old enough that they go in other directions and we can spend it together.

Toni: That’s awesome! Reading or Writing?

Melissa: Oh, that’s not fair. Depends on the mood. Right now, I am reading when I would rather be writing.

Toni: lol, that was a hard question. I think w (writers) all waffle between the two. Heels or Flats?

Melissa: There was a time when I would have said heels. Now it is leather riding boots or flats.

Toni: Flats all the way! Pineapples or Oranges?

Melissa: Both – together!

Toni: Yum! And of course, readers want to know, what’s next in the book world for you? Will you dive into diverse characters again?

Melissa: I am currently working on another novella in my Brides of Promise series and the next novel in my Promises from Above series. I would like to touch on this again but it might be a while. I may even be compelled to expand on Nik and Lily’s story. I know there was a lot that left some of my readers wanting to know more. (I did it on purpose) Really, it all depends on what story lines God gives me. I am open to it though.

Toni: Praying you many blessings on your writing endeavors! Readers, do you have any questions for Melissa?


About the Author

Melissa resides in a small mid-Michigan farm community with her husband, three children, two cats, and three dogs. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, taking photos, and motorcycle rides with her husband.  Her hope is that each story touches your heart, gives you hope, or just gives you a moment away from the chaos of life.

Follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon


Interview conducted by Toni Shiloh

Book Review: Looking Glass Lies by Varina Denman

TGIF!! Hope you’ve had a great week! Today, I’m sharing my review of Varina Denman’s Looking Glass Lies. Have you read it?


About the Book

Blurb: A poignant and relatable novel, Looking Glass Lies captures the war women wage against themselves, and the struggle to see beauty reflected in a mirror not distorted by society’s unrelenting expectations.

For most of her adult life, Cecily Ross has compared herself to other women—and come up short. After a painful divorce from her emotionally abusive husband, Cecily returns to her hometown of Canyon, Texas, looking to heal.

But coming home isn’t what she expects. In a town as small as Canyon, her pain is difficult to escape—especially with her model-perfect ex–sister-in-law working at the town’s popular coffee-shop hangout. With help from her father, a support group, and an old friend who guides her to see her own strengths, Cecily may have a shot at overcoming her insecurities and learning to love again.

The true test comes when tragedy strikes, opening Cecily’s eyes to the harmfulness of her distorted views on beauty—and giving her the perfect opportunity to find peace at last.

Links: Amazon, B&N, Goodreads


Review

Looking Glass Lies is a poignant read that will transform the reader. Cecily Ross struggles with her self-image. I think everyone can identify with that issue. I loved how Varina Denman tackled the subject. She laid it all out, exploring every nook and cranny of this issue. She also included a diverse group of secondary characters.

Shanty is half-Black and half-Asian. Her husband is from Latino descent. Shanty is the one who motivates and encourages Cecily to love herself just the way she is. I loved her character and I love that she has her own social media page.

If you’ve ever struggled with self image, please read this book. It will encourage you and help you see that God created you just the way you need to be.


About the Author

Varina Denman enjoys writing fiction about women and the unique struggles they face. Her novels include the Mended Hearts trilogy: Jaded, Justified, and Jilted, as well as her latest release, Looking Glass Lies. She seems to have a knack for describing small town life, and her debut novel, Jaded, won the ACFW Genesis Contest, the BRMCWC Selah Award, and the INSPYs Bloggers’ Award for Excellence in Faith-Driven Literature.

Varina attended three universities over a span of five years, majoring in four subjects and earning zero degrees. However, she can now boast sixteen years as a home educator, volunteering in her local cooperative where she has taught numerous subjects including creative writing and literature. Varina lives in North Texas where she volunteers in local marriage and family ministry. She is represented by Jessica Kirkland of Kirkland Media Management.

Follow: Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest 

Open Discussion – The Importance of Advocacy

Happy Saturday, friends!!

I’m so glad you’ve decided to take time out of your busy schedule to stop by Diversity. We really appreciate your support in making this blog great!

I’m excited to delve into this week’s topic: “Open Discussion – The Importance of Advocacy.”

One of the goals of our blog is to share with avid readers the availability of ethnically diverse Christian fiction. There are authors who write the fiction. Readers who want the fiction. Yet, how can we make a greater impact?

Is it as simple as reading diverse books?

Having authors who write them?

To make a global change, we have to band together. In the comments, share some ways we can advocate for diverse books and what you plan to do. 🙂


Written by Toni Shiloh

Book Review: Hope Beyond Savannah by Melissa Wardwell

Hello, Reader Friends!

Thanks for stopping by Diversity Between the Pages. I have a new review for you today. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Melissa Wardwell’s Hope Beyond Savannah, the novelette in A Spring of Weddings collection.

Let’s get started!

*Tune in June 12th for an interview with Melissa Wardwell.


About the Book

Hope Beyond Savannah Blurb: Lily Allman and Nikotemo (Nik) Lagatuo were the poster children for the term “opposites attract.” He was an evangelist and CEO for a non-profit from Samoa who grew up in a large loving family. She was a blond bombshell with a funky style and no family to call her own. Two of the most unlikely people meet in the most unlikely of places, but God had a plan when He brought them together. They never let their differences deter them from the love they had for each other, but when Nik’s mother comes to the States for the wedding, the idea of wedded bliss is shaken. Can prejudices be over looked, insecurities overcome, and hope for a better future be restored so that these two can have all that was promised?

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


Review

I very much enjoyed this story. My favorite part was seeing Nik’s culture throughout the book. I honestly can’t recall a single book that featured a Samoan or explored the Maori culture in New Zealand. This alone put me in happy land of diverse fiction.

Besides that, the story line is fantastic. Every bride fears that they’ll not get along with their mother-in-law. And Ms. Wardwell hit on that in a big way. Lily is not all what Nik’s mother imagined for her son. But because Lily and Nik love God, they handled the situation with grace. Truly, the tone of this book is one of grace, love, and kindness.


About the Author

Melissa resides in a small mid-Michigan farm community with her husband, three children, two cats, and three dogs. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, taking photos, and motorcycle rides with her husband.  Her hope is that each story touches your heart, gives you hope, or just gives you a moment away from the chaos of life.

Follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon


Review by Toni Shiloh

Open Discussion – What prevents you from reading?

Hooray for Saturday!

Today, I’m bringing you your favorite open discussion (at least I hope we’re your favorite).

I wanted to examine diversity in Christian fiction a little more deeply today. We’ve talked about who writes it, avoiding stereotypes, etc. What I want to delve into today is its lack of reception.

Why do readers assume they cannot identify with minority characters? Now this question isn’t just for the majority to answer, but all ethnic groups. What prevents you (the reader) from picking up a book with diverse characters in it?

As always, keep it kind and an open mind.


Written by Toni Shiloh