Author Interview with June Foster

~ About the Author ~

cropped-June-and-her-kindle1An award-winning author, June Foster is also a retired teacher with a BA in Education and  MA in Counseling. She is the mother of two and grandmother of ten. June began writing Christian romance in 2010. She penned her first novel on her Toshiba laptop as she and her husband traveled the US in their RV. Her adventures provided a rich source of information for her novels. June enjoys writing stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. June uses her training in counseling and her Christian beliefs in creating characters who find the path to live godly lives.

Connect with June:  Website  //  Twitter


~ About the Book ~

Neonatal specialist Dr. Michael Clark is passionate about saving the lives of premature babies. But the pediatrics department at El Camino General can’t provide the care many of his preemies require. Now he wants to build a specialty hospital where he can better offer medical treatment for his young patients.

Tammy Crawford is an accomplished geriatrics RN who wants nothing to do with her sister Joella’s religious beliefs. She’s independent and doesn’t need anyone, including God in pursuing a new job as a nurse practitioner.

When she falls in love with the intriguing Michael Clark, she must reconsider her resolve to devote herself completely to her career and not become distracted by a romantic relationship. Now the obstacles are insurmountable. She’s in love with a man from another culture and a different race.

Michael acknowledges his growing affection for the beautiful nurse yet can’t ignore his brother’s deep racial prejudices.

Can two people who are as different as night and day find a life together?

Amazon  //  Goodreads


~ Interview ~

KATIE:  Welcome to Diversity Between the Pages, June! Before we talk about your book, let’s take a little ‘flight of fancy’. Finish these sentences for me:

If I could visit any place in the world, I would visit…

JUNE:  Israel. I’d love to visit the land where our Saviour walked on the earth. Years ago I had an opportunity to go to Israel. My husband was in Germany stationed in the US army, and I had accompanied him. Several of the teachers at the American school where I taught had signed up for a trip to Israel, and I had planned to go, but at the last minute, his tour of duty extension was denied, and we had to return to the US. But if a visit to Israel doesn’t come in this lifetime, it surely will in the next.

How unfortunate that you missed out on that trip. It would be an absolutely amazing place to visit!

If I could assign one household task to the fairies forever, it would be…

Definitely making up the bed every morning. It is the most boring, monotonous job I can think of. Bring on the fairies.

Oh, yes. And if you’re bringing in the fairies, you could get them to change the sheets every day too. How lovely to get into crisp clean sheets every night!

If I was a musical instrument, I would be a…

Piano. I tried to learn to play the piano as a girl, and couldn’t overcome the fear of performing at recitals. But I love the moving sounds of concertos, worship tunes, and even pop songs on the piano and admire anyone who’s mastered the instrument.

I can totally relate to that! I learned piano for many years, even went on to study a Bachelor of Music, but playing at recitals… *shudders*

When I was a child, I wanted to be a…

Teacher, like my mother and my aunt. But the crazy thing is, as an adult, I discovered several other professions I would’ve liked better. A physiologist, a linguist, or perhaps becoming an author at an early age instead of waiting to write novels in my sixties……

We really do have a limited view of the world by the time we’re expected to choose an occupation, don’t we. There are so many jobs I know about now as an adult that fascinate me, and I had no idea they even existed when I was finishing school and deciding what to do.

My ideal place to read would be… 

Oh, it’s gotta be on a beach in Hawaii with saltwater breeze and pounding waves. I’m ready to go now.

Aloha! Just let me pack my suitcase! 😃

I suppose we had better get down to business now. 🙂 What inspired you to write a story featuring an interracial relationship?

Racial tension, so prevalent in the US, has impacted me through the years but more so now since I know Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. In the past, discrimination against black people had always appalled me. I believe God created man in His image and is no respecter of persons. No one human is more valuable in His sight than another. Today, racial tension has cooled a bit, but I observe underlying tones of unrest, especially among young black men. God’s love for one another is sadly absent in much of our society.   

Since I am a contemporary romance writer, I not only write a love story, but use the platform to speak out on issues of our day. When I first thought about writing What God Knew, the Ferguson racial riots were going strong and in the news daily. This forced me to examine what I believe according to what I find in the Bible, and what God would say about this explosive matter. Hopefully, I was able to communicate it in my novel.

Those riots definitely prove that there is still unrest and deep-seated hurt; that it only takes a spark to fan everything back to flame. It’s such an important issue to be discussing.

Tell us a little bit about the main characters, Dr. Michael Clark and Nurse Tammy Crawford.

Dr. Michael Clark is an African-American pediatrician who saves lives of premature babies in the neonatal ward of El Camino General. His father, a retired army general, has always provided well for Michael, his bitter, prejudiced brother, his older sister, and his mother. Michael’s mom raised him to love the Lord, and he relies on prayer and the Word of God. His goal is to build a specialty children’s hospital where babies can receive better care than at El Camino General.

Nurse Tammy Crawford, a white geriatrics nurse, wants to better herself in the medical profession and become a nurse practitioner. After her mother died and father abandoned her, she must prove her self-worth. She doesn’t believe the fairytales her older sister holds dear—the stories about Jesus Tammy learned as a child. 

Wow. They sound like very contrasting characters.

What are some of the obstacles these characters face as a result of their racial differences?

In the story, spiritual truth is actually the primary obstacle Tammy and Michael face. Though they fall in love, Michael remembers the Word of God warns against unequally yoked relationships. When he discovers Tammy’s not a believer, a red flag glares.

But racial differences play a large part in the story as well. Michael’s brother, Darnell, is embittered against white people because of experiences in college. Too, he attended a liberal college that taught him blacks have always been oppressed by white people and need to rise up to the challenge. Darnell tries everything he can think of to break Tammy and Michael up, including lying to her about how his parents would never want their son to marry a white woman.  

When Michael regretfully goes against his Christian beliefs and spends one night with Tammy, she finds herself pregnant. After Darnell’s warning, Tammy believes Michael’s parents would never accept a child who’s only half black so she considers a deadly alternative.

Sounds like a compelling storyline!

When most people think of racism, they think of it as being directed towards black people rather than the other way around, but in this story, it is Michael’s brother who has deeply rooted racial prejudice. Why did you choose to take the less obvious approach with this story?

Writers are continually asking “what if?” I asked the question ‘What if an affluent black person was prejudiced against a white person?’ I figured it would make the story a bit more thought-provoking and place a twist on the novel, yet it would still convey the message in my heart. The principle is the same. Prejudice against anyone because of the skin color is wrong, white or black. 

It’s a great ‘what if’ to ask. I think in any case where there is a legitimate grievance, our most basic instinct is to return in kind, but it really just perpetuates the problem, doesn’t it. It will require people on both sides of the racial divide to choose love if we are to overcome racial tensions.

Did you need to do a lot of research in order to write about the tensions in an interracial relationship, or is this something you have observed from real life?

Both. I grew up in El Paso, Texas where racial tension among whites and blacks didn’t exist. Though my husband and I moved to the South, I lived in a small, Christian-oriented community where racial tension wasn’t evident. But what I learned from history books and observed on the national news sparked a flame in me.

I also did research, especially how racial issues have evolved through the years and how liberal colleges today seem to perpetuate this problem.

I had opportunity to interview a couple of amazing people. One was a single, black professor from Birmingham, Alabama who also loved the Lord. He said he felt that socio-economical factors would play a greater part in a bi-racial romance than the differences in race. A thought-provoking answer, in my opinion.

Another was a dear black woman I talked to for several hours at the VA hospital while we both waited for our husbands to have procedures. This woman was a devout Christian and said she felt poor, young black men are taught to hate and believe that whites have oppressed them. They tend to blame all their problems in life on race instead of trying to overcome their difficulties.

They’re both thought-provoking answers, aren’t they. It was great that you were able to incorporate those first-hand perspectives.

Overall, what would you like readers to take away from this story?

When a person accepts Jesus Christ into his/her life, he has opportunity to learn what God says. A person, white or black, born-again by God’s spirit is dearly loved and accepted into His eternal kingdom. Nowhere in the Word does it say God looks at skin color. As a matter of fact, He sees our hearts, not our outward appearance. There are many examples of biracial marriages in the Bible—Moses for one. When a person learns to love others the way the Lord first loved him/her, he finds meaning and direction in life, overcoming whatever the world throws in his path. God has a plan for every person on this planet, and we only need to ask Him for direction. I believe any conflict among humans is rooted in hate and the influence by the enemy of God.

The enemy loves to stir up hatred and conflict. Anything to take our eyes off God! I pray that your book will make it into the hands of readers who need to hear its message.

Thank you for chatting with me today, June.


Interview by Katie Donovan.

Book Spotlight: Looking Glass Lies by Varina Denman

Welcome to Diversity Between the Pages! Today we’re spotlighting a new release by Varina Denman: Looking Glass Lies. This book features the boisterous blogger Shanty Espinosa, who runs the support group the main character, Cecily Ross, joins as she works to improve her self-image.

Shanty is of Asian/African-American descent and, despite being entirely fictional, has her own blog, Shame on Shanty, which is described as ‘a safe place to discuss shame, insecurity, and all those other mixed-up feelings.’


~ About the Book ~

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.

Amazon  //  Goodreads


~ Excerpt ~

Shanty placed her palms on the table. “I’ll share my story first, ’cause I’m not nervous about it.”
Her transparency made me uncomfortable.
“My issues go way back to when I was a little girl.” Her voice finally lowered. “My parents were both workaholics, never home, and they didn’t have much time for my sisters and me. Turns out I didn’t suffer too much from Mama’s absence, seeing as how I had older sisters to baby me, but it would’ve done me good to have Daddy in my life.” Her face lost its animation. “He’s gone now, but still, I wish I could just hear him one time, saying, Shanty, you’re beautiful, just as you are.” Then, suddenly, she snickered. “Course, I don’t know he wasn’t thinking that every day of my life, but that’s just it . . . I don’t know. I don’t know that he ever even noticed I was around, one way or the other.”
Nina patted her forearm.
“Thanks, darlin’.” Shanty fanned her face with her palm, drying her eyes. “I’m married to a loving man who tells me I’m a pretty little girl. That makes me laugh cause there’s not nothing little about me, but we have a good thing going.” She dabbed at a tear. “Anyhoo, now I write a blog about body shaming called Shame on Shanty. You girls should check it out if you haven’t already. There’s lots of good info on there, and a guest blogger every week—stories from all sorts of women. I try to keep it encouraging.”
My mouth must have fallen open, because Shanty looked at me and guffawed.
“I know it!” Her smile was back full force, and her bronze skin glowed. She really was pretty. “I know what you’re thinking, Cecily. Who would’ve thought little ole Shanty would end up a big-time blogger, but there you go. I’m not able to do as much online as I’d like, seeing as how I’ve got four kids underfoot, but I do what I can. And it’s rewarding for me. Makes me feel like I’m helping this crazy world a little. One woman at a time.”


~ About the Author ~

Varina DenmanVarina 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.

Connect with Varina:  Website  //  Blog  //  Facebook  //  Twitter  //  Instagram  //  Pinterest



Spotlight by Katie Donovan

Book Review: The Bedwarmer’s Son by Caryl McAdoo

~ About the Book ~

What if Abel had killed Cain, but there was no jury of his peers?

In 1928 Georgia, a black man who kills a white man is automatically guilty, but the bedwarmer’s son, an ex-slave, is no normal black man. And the dead white man is his half-brother. Once his lily-white lawyer lady learns the truth, everything changes. Can she save him from swinging?

Will the bedwarmer murder the one she’s been bought to serve?

From the antebellum South, come travel the dusty trails of Jim Crowe Dalton, Georgia, with slave and master, saint and sinner. See if God is really big enough, if He truly cares about His children.

Amazon  //  Goodreads


~ Excerpt ~

The door closed behind Jasmine.
A faint hint of smoke mixed with the soft scent of whisky and lemons and honey she carried on the silver tray Mammy put the mug on. Like she was some fancy house slave bringing the master his night cap.
Bathed in shadows, next to the brick hearth, her new owner sat in a stuffed chair, staring at the dying embers. A patchwork quilt wrapped him like a cocoon.
She eased up next to him and extended the tray. “Your hot toddy, sir.”
He turned toward her. “What did you say, girl?” His words poured out slow as sorghum on a freezing cold morn.
The tone in his voice sent shivers up her back, and a pesky woodpecker thumped against her chest. “Your drink, sir.”
Mister William didn’t look nearly as old as she thought he would. Pasty though; she had that right.
“Mammy fixed your toddy, and I got it right here for you, sir.”
“Oh.” He stared at her for a double fist full of her heartbeats before he finally nodded. Still didn’t take his toddy. “Who are you?” His question came as one word, and it took her a minute to get them separated and understand.
“Jasmine, sir.”
He nodded. “Oh. Yes. Now I remember.”
“Yes, sir. Your toddy, sir?”
“Mama told me all about you at supper.” He extended his hand and lifted the mug from her tray, but she didn’t move a muscle. Stood there holding that tray as steady as an old oak. After a sip, he held it to his chest and returned to his ember watching.
“Would you want me to put another log on, sir? It be a mite chilly tonight.”
Taking another sip, he reached down and retrieved a brown jug, the kind they put corn squeezin’s in. The man couldn’t be half as old as Miss June. The words of the old woman waiting outside the door wormed their way up, her baby boy.
So…this man was Miss June’s son. No wonder old Mammy wanted Jasmine to be nice to him, being his wet nurse and all. Probably raised him more than his own mam.
But that didn’t make any difference. She would kill him dead if he laid a hand on her.


~ Review ~

The Bedwarmer’s Son is a historical fiction novel with a few story lines woven through it. The primary story is that of Billy Sinclair, the son of cotton plantation owner William Abel Sinclair and his bedwarmer, Jasmine. Now in his seventies, Billy is about to go to trial for the murder of his half-brother, Jamieson Sinclair. But it’s not so much a question of ‘Who pulled the trigger?’ as whether a coloured man has the right to defend his life, even if the threat comes from a white man. Many at this time in history would have said not.

The second story is that of Billy’s mother, Jasmine, beginning from the time she arrives at Three Springs Plantation. Billy shares the story with his lawyer, Alice Parmalee, in order to help her prepare his defence, but it is actually told from Jasmine’s point of view as a step back in time. It’s an intriguing story that highlights some of the difficulties faced by an interracial couple prior to and following the Civil War, and while readers may not be comfortable with some of the choices made by the characters, the story is also realistic about the consequences of those choices and the difficulties they create—Billy’s situation included.

For young white lawyer Alice Parmalee, it’s a case that tests not only her legal mettle, but also her belief that faith in an invisible, all-powerful God is ludicrous. Her growing attachment to both Billy and his grandson, Will, only heightens her anxiety that she won’t be able to successfully defend Billy’s case.

The story was engaging, but I did feel as though some aspects developed a little simplistically: for example, the growing relationship between Alice and Will, and Alice’s beliefs regarding God. There was also a scene toward the end of the novel concerning Billy and his now-deceased brother Jamieson that I felt stretched credulity in order to wrap things in a nice neat bow.

Readers may also wish to be advised that there are 10 occurrences of the ‘n’ word used in reference to a black person (and not just by white characters). Due the way the story develops, this is mainly confined to the first half of the novel.

* Tomorrow’s open discussion will be on whether it is appropriate to use racial slurs in fiction. We’d love to you come and join the conversation.

~ About the Author ~

Caryl McAdooBorn in California, Caryl McAdoo got to Texas in time to celebrate her first birthday. As a Dallas seventh grader, she remembers a homework essay on ‘What will you be doing in 2000?’ Looking into the future, Caryl saw herself as an inter-galactically famous author, streaking from planet to planet signing books. She laughs, “But I didn’t start writing again until the late ’80s, then was so blessed to find the DFW Writers’ Workshop in ’93.”

Her first book debuted ’99, then for the next nine years, she averaged a title a year from four presses: two non-fiction, four novels, and three mid-grade chapter books. In March 2014, her first historical Christian romance Vow Unbroken debuted from Howard Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. In the three years since that release, she has published more than ten novels.

For every good blessing – including ten children (four by birth, six by marriage) and sixteen grandsugars – she gives God the glory. Caryl lives a country-life with Ron, her high school sweetheart husband of forty-seven years, and two grandsons in the woods a few miles south of Clarksville, Red River County seat, located in far Northeast Texas.

Connect with Caryl:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Twitter

Author Interview with Terri J. Haynes

Welcome to Monday’s author interview. Today I have the pleasure of interviewing one of our very own contributors: Terri J. Haynes!


~ About the Author ~

Terri HaynesTerri J. Haynes, a native Baltimorean, is a homeschool mom, writer, prolific knitter, freelance graphic artist and former Army wife (left the Army, not the husband). She loves to read, so much that when she was in elementary school, she masterminded a plan to be locked in a public library armed with only a flashlight to read all the books and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. As she grew, her love for writing grew as she tried her hand at poetry, articles, speeches and fiction. She is storyteller at heart. Her passion is to draw readers in the story world she has created and to bring laughter and joy to their lives.

Terri is a 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest finalist, and a 2012 semi-finalist. She is also a 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist. Her publishing credits include Cup of Comfort for Military Families, Crosswalk.com, the Secret Place Devotional, Vista Devotional, Urbanfaith.com and Publisher’s Weekly.

Terri holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology, a Master’s degree in Theological Studies and a certificate in creative writing and graphic design, meeting the minimal requirements of being a geek. She and her husband pastor a church where she serves as executive pastor and worship leader. Terri lives in Maryland with her three wonderful children and her husband, who often beg her not to kill of their favorite characters.

Connect with Terri:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Twitter


~ About the Book ~

Special Agent Will Anderson is counting the days before he transfers from the D.C. Human Rights squad of the FBI, but he’s leaving behind everyone he loves. He is asked to interview a victim of suspected human trafficking, a simple task, but finds himself deeply involved in the case. Social rights activist, Savannah Elliott, has made a fresh start in Washington, D.C., but a routine consultation on a D.C. Human Rights case brings her face to face with a terror from her past. As Will and Savannah struggle to solve the case, they are forced to face choices, some they’ve buried for years. Will their decisions, past and present, bring them love and safety or will they lose everything, including their lives?

Amazon  //  Goodreads


~ Interview ~

KATIE:  Well, I suppose I can’t really say ‘Welcome to the blog’, since you’re one of our contributors, but thanks for letting me interview you, Terri. If I can just go back to your bio for a moment, homeschool mum (sorry—mom!), executive pastor, worship leader, freelance graphic designer, prolific knitter… That’s a lot of balls to juggle! How do you carve out writing time in the midst of all that?

TERRI: My secret is scheduling writing time. Because I am so busy, there is no carving out time. If I waited until I was free to write, it would never get done. My prime writing time is 9-10 pm and sometimes later. I also strive to make the most of every minute of my time. For instance, I live in DC metro, the land of traffic. So instead of just sitting in my car for an hour or more, I go to my local Panera and use that time to write until the traffic dies down. I also work in spurts. I have plotted two story ideas in one weekend. When I get into the zone like that, I find that I can get quite a bit done.

KATIE: Sounds like a smart move! I hate rush hour, and I’m sure my little home city has nothing like the traffic in DC metro. Your first full-length novel, Love Simplified, features a professional matchmaker who ends up with on a reality TV show, while Captured delves into human rights and trafficking. They’re pretty divergent topics! Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?

TERRI: My ideas come from all over the place. The world is full of ideas. Captured was inspired by a news story. I got the idea for Love Simplified from a television show about a relationship specialist. I have an extremely active imagination, and I think I could turn anything into a story. I have notebooks full of ideas, some of them sparked from the littlest things. I guess that means I will never be without book ideas.

KATIE: Lucky you! Unless they’re all clamouring to be written at once, I suppose! So is there a particular genre that you feel most at home in, either reading or writing?

TERRI: I am all over the place in both areas. I work in a bookstore, so I try to read broadly. My personal goal is to have a book recommendation in every genre. But if I had to narrow it down, I read more YA and historical. I’ve recently added culturally diverse sci-fi. I read a great Middle Eastern dystopian novel and a sci-fi short story by a Nigerian author. As far as writing, I lean towards romantic suspense and contemporary romance, but I have several historical, YA, and sci-fi ideas floating around in my head.

KATIE: I’m a bit of a genre-hopper myself, and I love your aim of having a book recommendation in every genre! Talking specifically about Captured for a moment, both of the main characters in this novel come from non-Caucasian backgrounds. What is their ethnicity, and how did that shape your characters?

TERRI: Both of my characters are black (it is my personal preference to be referred to as black). (KATIE: Good to know! I don’t know about others, but I’m never 100% sure of the best term to use.) It’s hard for me to think about how their ethnicity shaped them because they just are. In the past, I had editors, other writers, and readers tell me that the characters in Captured weren’t black enough. I still don’t understand what that means. There are many shades of brown in the world. I do believe that when there are black characters in a book, there is an expectation for them to be urban. Will and Savannah are professionals, just like I am and many other black people are. Yes, there some urban characters in the book, but race wasn’t the driving factor. I wanted to tell a story where anyone from any racial background could identify with the story. I wanted them to identify with Will’s desire to have something he couldn’t and Savannah’s desire to be free from her past. Those things happen to every culture, every race, and all people. It is a universal story. Captured isn’t a race story. It’s a people story.

KATIE: Great answer! And isn’t that the aim of all good literature? To find those elements that are universal to humankind and explore them in unique settings and situations? So, aside from an enjoyable reading experience, what do you hope readers will take away from Captured?

TERRI: The core message of Captured is to pay attention. Human trafficking is a serious problem in the US. But one has to wonder how traffickers can operate in the world unseen. I believe that, culturally, our focus is on ourselves. Very often, people are hurting and heartbroken all around us, but we are so self-centred that we don’t see it. And when we do see it, we don’t do anything about it. This behaviour is especially disturbing when it involves believers. There are many needs in this world that only Christ can fix. But how will that happen if Christ followers don’t have the awareness or the compassion to change the world? And I’m not only talking about the starving children halfway across the world. I’m talking about the hungry children right in our neighbourhoods and churches. Not only the marginalized and oppressed around the world but what about the people in our workplaces, our classmates or fellow church members? Do we see them? We should, because they are all around us. The scriptures say Jesus was moved with compassion when He saw Israel scattered, hopeless, and without a shepherd. We, His people, should also be so moved.

KATIE: So true! It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of our own lives, but imagine what an impact we could have if we all committed to being more aware of those in need around us. That’s a great message.

Let’s lighten thing up a little to finish: If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go?

TERRI: I’ve travelled a bit in my life, so I’ve seen some great places in the world like the Caribbean and Western Europe. I really loved Germany and St. Thomas.  But I would love to go to Italy, rent a villa, and eat as much great Italian food as I could handle.

KATIE: Oh yes! Pretty much anywhere in Europe would be A-okay with me! If you could assign one household task to the fairies forever, which one would it be?

TERRI: Cooking! I can cook but dislike cooking with a passion. I would rather clean bathrooms than cook. Besides, bleach and I are great friends.

KATIE: Hmm. Well, I’ll certainly let you keep the bleach. I’d definitely take the cooking! If you were a musical instrument, what would you be?

TERRI: As a singer, I consider myself an instrument. And I don’t think I would want to be another because my instrument, my voice, is always with me. I don’t have to lug around equipment. As long as I have a song in my heart, I have music.

KATIE: Beautiful! Isn’t singing a wonderful gift from our Creator? (And as a singer myself, I really should have thought of that! Lol!) What’s next for Terri J. Haynes, fiction author?

TERRI: Taking over the world. Just kidding. I’m not even sure I would want it once I took it over. My goal is to finish two manuscripts this year. I’ve finished one and am currently plotting another. I am also planning to another Brea Sutton novella to release later this year.

KATIE: Hahahaha! I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t want the responsibility of this world on my shoulders either. But it sounds like you’re on track with your writing goals! Thanks for chatting with me today, and God bless. 🙂


Interview by Katie Donovan

Inconceived (Sharyn Kopf) – Review

~ About the Book ~

Realizing you’re a spinster is one thing; understanding what that means and how to handle it is another. And it would seem Jolene, Uli, and Catie still have a ways to go before they truly comprehend what God is trying to show them not only in their desire to marry but in their longing to have children of their own.

As one relationship ends and another begins, Jolene Woods realizes she needs to finally deal with the guilt and regret of her past if she’s ever going to move on. And so she embarks on a journey she hopes will bring forgiveness … but may, in fact, only lead to more regret. Did she forever destroy her chance to be a mother in her youth?

Uli Odell has her own journey, though it’s more of an escape from the pain and embarrassment of a broken engagement. She ends up at her mother’s home in Iowa, separated from her friends and desperate for money. But there are some problems she just can’t run away from.

Though Catie’s heart is in a stronger place since she met God on a mountain three months ago, she still doesn’t have answers to many of her questions. Then the possibility of an unhealthy relationship and the reality of a life-altering medical diagnosis make her wonder if she’s figured out anything at all.

As their lives head off in different directions, each of these friends will need God—and each other—to find their way to healing.

Amazon  //  Goodreads


~ Excerpt ~

Sometimes all I want is a chance to start over. Not just with recent mistakes but with life. A series of potential do-overs scrolls through my brain as I add more concealer to cover the bags under my eyes—a natural consequence of a nightmare-filled sleep before the alarm went off at 6 a.m. so I could get to Easter breakfast on time.
Once again I had that dream. The one I’ve had periodically for most of my life, with minor variations. Always the baby crying. Lost. Pleading. And me, desperate and searching and powerless to do anything about it.
Much like thirty years ago. Only I wasn’t powerless. Just ignorant and immature and confused enough to destroy my own child. Twice. And now…
Stop it, Jolene.
But I can’t. The truth of my choice has haunted me for so long, but lately the grief has hit me with such force, I feel it compelling me to action. If only I knew what action that should be.


~ My Review ~

You may remember I did a book spotlight a couple of weeks ago for the novel Spinstered, by Sharyn Kopf. (If you missed it, you can find it here.) Today I’m reviewing the second novel in the series, Inconceived, which continues the stories of Catie, Jolene, and Uli: three over-forty women who are still unmarried and wondering what, if anything, they’re supposed to do about it. I do recommend that you read Spinstered first, and I will try to avoid giving spoilers for that novel in this review!

The first thing that struck me about this series was the engaging first person narrative that drew me straight into the heart and mind of each of the three characters. Regardless of how different my own circumstances are, it created an immediate emotional connection with these women that has only strengthened as I have walked through their stories with them, sometimes smiling at their wry observations and sometimes aching for the honesty and vulnerability they shared directly with the reader.

While there are developments in the stories of all three women over the course of the novel, Inconceived focuses more on Jolene, a not-so-young woman of Caribbean descent who grew up in a large family in the South. She runs Cocoon House (a home for women who are transitioning out of prison life), so she’s used to dealing with other people’s emotional baggage, but her own emotional baggage caught up with her at the end of Spinstered and she can’t run away from it any more. It takes her on a poignant journey—more so because of who walks it with her—and was a beautiful way of working through the emotional and physical repercussions of the choices she had made in her youth. If you are inclined to be an empathetic crier, you may want to have a tissue or two on hand!

I should add I was no less engaged in the developments in Catie and Uli’s lives, both of whom are still struggling in different ways with their spinsterhood and their desire for a husband. Regardless of whether the reader has been in similar circumstances as these women, at the core, their struggles are universal: Is our happiness found in God, or in our circumstances? Have we wandered away from God in our attempt to satisfy our needs outside of Him?

The final novel in this series is yet to be released, but I will be eagerly awaiting the conclusion to these women’s stories. I’m fairly hopeful for at least one wedding in there!


~ 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)


Review by Katie Donovan

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