Author Interview: Stacy Hawkins Adams

I’d like to introduce a writer friend of mine Stacy Hawkins Adams. She’s a journalist and author with a passion for creating stories that are real and sincere. She likes to write about African-American characters and tell their story.

She’s stopped by the blog today in order to talk about her novel, The Someday List. Enjoy your time with Stacy via this author interview!

About the book: 

Rachelle Covington has it all. A fabulous home, a handsome and prestigious husband, two beautiful children, and a place in the upper crust that’s quite comfortable. But her life is not all it’s cracked up to be. When her husband goes away on business trip and the kids are sent off to the grandparents for a month, Rachelle takes up the challenge of a dying friend to start a list of things to do before she dies.

She heads back to Jubilant, Texas, to reconnect with her past, her purpose, and herself. But when her ex shows up in town looking very fine and very single, Rachelle must confront feelings she thought she’d long buried.

Will she give up everything to recover the past? Or will she find a reason to plan for the future? The Someday List is an honest look at what makes us who we are and what can throw us off track.

Author Stacy Hawkins Adams writes with a voice that is fresh, sincere, and completely real. Her characters jump off the page and into her readers’ hearts.

Purchase the book: Amazon ~ B&N ~ CBD

Author bio: Stacy Hawkins Adams is an award-winning author, journalist and writing mentor whose fiction and nonfiction enlightens readers while helping them find confidence in their own stories.

She has penned nine faith-based novels and one devotional book. She also serves as a parenting columnist for a Virginia-based newspaper and blogs for the Huffington Post on social justice issues.

Stacy lives in Virginia with her family. Learn more about her at www.StacyHawkinsAdams.com.

The Interview:

Alexis: What’s your “story behind the story” for this book of yours, The Someday List?

Stacy: I wrote this novel after hearing from many women readers who felt like they were stuck in life, or that it was too late to pursue their dreams. I wanted them to realize that as much as we love and value our families, God loves and values each of us; and our hopes and dreams are meant to be birthed. The main characters in The Someday List eventually realize that as they concentrate on what brings them meaning and joy, the more they’re able to be and do for others.

Alexis: Rachelle Covington is your heroine. What makes her tick? What fills her heart with bliss? What made her fall in love with her husband?

Stacy: Your questions are at the heart of this novel’s premise: Rachelle no longer knows these answers. She has lost herself in being a wife and mother and has a hard time figuring out why she matters. This novel takes her on a journey to remembering what makes her tick, what fills her heart with bliss, and what made her fall in love with her husband, among other things.

Alexis: How close was Rachelle to her dying friend and how did her friend’s challenge lead to Rachelle creating her “someday list” of things she wants to do before she dies?

Stacy: This was a childhood friend of Rachelle’s that she hadn’t seen in years, but during her friend’s farewell party she was deeply moved by how her friend was able to die with no regrets. Rachelle couldn’t say she would face that fate with the same peace. So attending that event, and then struggling to create a list of things she wanted to accomplish, jolted her into realizing that she needed to reclaim her life and her faith.

Alexis: You set up this story at the start to show that Rachelle has it all but the reader can infer that something is missing. What is missing in her life?

Stacy: What’s missing is the core of who she is. In doing her best to love and serve her family, she forgot to carve out some time to nurture her own interests and dreams – a pattern many women fall into. There’s nothing wrong with sacrificing and serving those we love most; that’s how we grow a loving family. However, what many women tend to find over time is that when doing so leaves us drained or empty, we haven’t truly given of ourselves in the best way. Also, I’ve found that as women–including myself- we need to practice self-care and take care of our inner selves as much as we “dress up” our outer selves. When we take the time to do this, our families, friends, and associates are blessed by what pours from us. My character, Rachelle, eventually realizes this.

Alexis: Rachelle’s journey takes her home to Jubilant, TX and she encounters her ex-boyfriend who is just as fine as ever. What role does he play in this story?

Stacy: She and Troy had a long and deep history together (I won’t say more, or I’ll give away too much), and their romance was sweet and honorable. But because Rachelle seems to have never been able to stand up for herself or for her own desires, the relationship was shattered. She went on to marry her current husband; yet as the story unfolds, you see that neither she nor Troy (her former partner) fully healed from their breakup.

Alexis: You’re known as an author for writing characters who, “jump off the page and into her readers’ hearts”. How much time did it take you to develop that skill?

Stacy: Thank you for saying that. I’m humbled by that, and grateful that my readers react to my characters in this way. My goal is to make every character and every scenario seem real, so that readers can lose themselves in that story and root for the “good girls” while simultaneously finding themselves frustrated with the “not so good” characters. Just like in real life, right? Lol

Truthfully, though, no person is all good or all bad, and I try to show these layers in my main characters and in some of the secondary characters.

I can’t say that I’m finished developing as a writer, because it’s an ongoing process, and I’m always striving to get better at my craft. However, I do work at it, and I think that intention pays off. I try to read good books with great dialogue, plots, and character development. I also read writing craft books to help me better refine the “people” I’ve created in my stories.

Alexis: Your voice as an author is described as “fresh, sincere and completely real.” What do you think of that? Did you always want to be an author? Explain.

Stacy: Again, I’m honored by this, and I’m grateful, because this is who I aim to be as both a person and a writer – sincere, real and also creative in how I express myself and engage my readers.

Yes, I’ve wanted to be an author since I tried to pen my first book around age 8. I’ve loved writing since I learned to read, and I always wrote stories and poems throughout my childhood. I segued into a journalism career, which allowed me to hone my nonfiction writing skills and learn to write on deadline, research stories, and understand people from all walks of life, and this training has been invaluable in crafting memorable fictional characters.

Alexis: What stirs you to write?

Stacy: I’d have to say life! When something exciting or heartbreaking or intriguing happens in the world around me or in the world at large, I’m often inspired to express myself through writing – whether fiction or nonfiction – and to share that with the world, to help others process the issue, too, or to simply offer food for thought or encouragement as readers consider what has unfolded or how to react.

Alexis: How do you deal with writer’s block?

Stacy: I’ve come to realize that my form of writer’s block is procrastination. When I should be writing I’ll load the dishwasher or decide to clean a closet. And sometimes I give in to that because taking a break from the writing allows your mind to relax into the story. Taking a walk also helps. It gets the creative juices flowing. I’ll allow myself a short break and then get back to it. If the chapter or paragraph still isn’t flowing, I just write through it, knowing that I can go back and fix it later.

Alexis: Most if not all of your books feature African American characters. Is there a special reason why you only write fictional stories about African Americans?

Stacy: Since I am African American it’s quite natural to write what you know. Plus, I think it’s valuable to all readers to have an opportunity to read about characters from all backgrounds–protagonists who may have some similarities to the reader, yet also some differences. What my stories show is that ultimately, we all have the same hopes and dreams and desire to be loved–by God and by other people. And while most of my characters are African American, I never write a one-color world. In The Someday List, Rachelle’s husband takes a mission trip to Uganda with his Caucasian partner, for example; and in subsequent books, you see Rachelle’s family members befriending and/or working with people of various ethnicities.

Alexis: How does your experience as a journalist impact the way that you write your fictional stories?

Stacy: Having the ability to write on deadline is a major benefit. And the research skills I learned as a journalist have helped me seek out facts and trivia for my novels that make my stories more true-to-life.

Alexis: If you were not an author, how else would you spend your creativity?

Stacy: That is a great question. Since I’ve always been a writer, I’m not sure! Writing is second nature; so it flows all the time, even in just simple musings. So even if I had chosen another career path, I might find myself writing in some way.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Stacy! Would you like to share any closing thoughts?

Stacy: Thank you for featuring me, and thanks to all of your readers who have read my books or will take the time to read them. I try to write stories that are entertaining, but also that touch a chord with readers wherever they may find themselves in life. It has been a humbling and satisfying experience to see how the written word truly does matter, and I hope to continue writing and inspiring readers for years to come.

~*~

Connect with Stacy:

Website – www.StacyHawkinsAdams.com

Twitter – www.twitter.com/shadams

Facebook – www.facebook.com/stacyinspires

Book Review: When God Made You

Book title: When God Made You

Author: Matthew Paul Turner

Illustrator: David Catrow

Number of pages: 48

Book blurb:

YOU, you… God thinks about you.

God was thinking of you long before your debut.

From early on, children are looking to discover their place in the world and longing to understand how their personalities, traits, and talents fit in. The assurance that they are deeply loved and a unique creation in our big universe is certain to help them spread their wings and fly.

Through playful, charming rhyme and vivid, fantastical illustrations, When God Made You inspires young readers to learn about their own special gifts and how they fit into God’s divine plan as they grow, explore, and begin to create for themselves.

‘Cause when God made YOU, somehow God knew

That the world needed someone exactly like you!

Amazon ~ CBD

~*~

My Thoughts:

When God Made You is a children’s book written by Matthew Paul Turner and illustrated by David Catrow.

The text of the book is neatly organized into clusters of two to four sentences, give or take with splashes of color that decorate each page like paint on a canvas created by an imaginative child.

Turner writes well for his target audience. The story is delightful, happiness is its tone and creativity is a key feature emphasized on every page. The little Black girl who is the main character in this story looks lovely. She bounces from page to page, always engaged in an everyday activity that she makes extraordinary through her active imagination and passion for life.

It’s the joy shown by the little girl that keeps the reader turning the page to find out where she’s going next. The reader may happily join the precious child on her daily adventures and be delighted by the activities.

The illustrations by Catrow are noteworthy. The reader can tell that he knows his target audience well because the pages are filled with splashes of color that does not follow the rules of staying in between neat and orderly lines. These colorful, vivid images are what children love. The fanciful illustrations remind me of a splash park for kids where they are allowed to play without boundaries and get water everywhere.

Just from the cover of the book that’s based in green with hints of pink, blue, yellow and orange with the little girl posed as if she’s diving into the deep end of a pool while also spreading her wings (arms) to fly, the reader can tell that they are in for a wild and fun ride.

The story starts in what looks like a living room where the girl is curled up on a couch with a book, her cat and dog positioned faithfully on either side. It progresses to her getting ready to go outside. She rides her bicycle into town and spends time painting the sidewalk with street artist then she goes on an imaginative adventure with the artist, fueled by their creativity. The author uses these scenes to express to the reader that God gave them the gift of creativity and loves to see the products of their imagination.

Children may relate to this little girl’s love for creativity and art. What kid doesn’t like drawing pictures or playing with crayons? This book will encourage kids to be more creative and it will also teach them about God’s unconditional love.

The author does a delightful job of creating a story that’s creative, bold and beautiful. He packs it with a powerful message of how much God loves children and it emphasizes the fact that the Master Artist (God) enjoys creating art with His creation (such as the little girl featured in this book).

The author accomplishes his goal of helping children discover how their unique persona and talents fit into their world. He makes it easy for children who read this book to know that God loves them dearly.

I’d recommend this book to parents who want their children to realize their worth at an early age.

~*~

Bio according to author’s official website (with a few sentences edited out for this blog):

Matthew Paul Turner is a best-selling author, writer, storyteller, photographer, speaker, and blogger. As one of the most influential progressive Christian voices in media, Matthew has been featured on The Daily Beast, CNN, Washington Post, Yahoo!, USA Today, The New York …and many more.

What sets Matthew apart from today’s throng of open-minded Christian authors is a talent for combining thoughtful, often opinionated commentary about a variety of faith-related topics with poignant, spot-on wit and self-deprecating insight. Lauded by Publishers Weekly as “one of Christianity’s fresh voices” and revered by some as the “Christian David Sedaris,” Matthew writes what many people are thinking and unwilling to say aloud.

But commentary and humor aren’t this gifted writer’s only talents. Matthew has a sincere heart for the marginalized and relentless dedication to truth-telling. This passionate spirit motivates him to share rich stories that would often otherwise go unshared.

As a writer and photographer, Matthew has traveled extensively with World Vision to places.

Matthew and his family live in Nashville, Tenn. Connect with Matthew on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Author Interview: Melissa Storm

Today, we’re featuring Melissa Storm. She’s an author with a passion for creating characters about people who are underrepresented in the book world and real-world society. Her newest release, Love’s Promise, is the focus of today’s interview feature.

About the book:

Kristina Rose Maher wants to know why fairytales never happen for fat girls. Certain that diner cook Jeff, handsome and fit, will never want her as more than a friend, she stuffs down her attraction to him. But when she finds herself facing a life-altering weight loss surgery, she discovers she’s willing to do whatever it takes to embrace life—and love—to the fullest.

Jeffrey Berkley can’t bear the thought of losing the friend he’s only just beginning to realize matters so much to him… no matter what size she is. But he is also terrified that helping her reach for her dreams will also mean finally reaching for his own—and letting down his family’s legacy in the process.

Both Kristina Rose and Jeffrey must learn to love themselves before they can find a way to make a promise to each other. Will they finally be able to lay their heavy burdens at the Lord’s feet, and trust him to bring the happily-ever-after they both crave?

Don’t miss this sweet tale of faith, love, and gastric bypass–get your copy of Love’s Promise today!

Purchase the book: Amazon, B&N, Kobo

Author bio: Melissa Storm is a mother first, and everything else second. Her fiction is highly personal and often based on true stories. Writing is Melissa’s way of showing her daughter just how beautiful life can be, when you pay attention to the everyday wonders that surround us.

Melissa loves books so much, she married fellow author Falcon Storm. Between the two of them, there are always plenty of imaginative, awe-inspiring stories to share. When she’s not reading, writing, or child-rearing, Melissa spends time relaxing at home in the company of her four dogs, four parrots, and rescue cat. She never misses an episode of The Bachelor or her nightly lavender-infused soak in the tub. Because priorities.

The Interview:

Alexis: Why did you write this book?

Melissa: Love’s Promise is deeply personal for me. I don’t think I’ve ever written as much of myself into a character as I did Kristina Rose. As a former gastric bypass patient and someone who has struggled with body image issues my whole life (and still does), I wanted to write a romance that was every bit as much about self-love as romantic love.

Alexis: What’s the special meaning behind your title, Love’s Promise?

Melissa: Love’s Promise is about the promise we must make to ourselves, and how when you start respecting your commitments to your own life you can truly unlock a better and happier world!

Alexis: The heroine in your story, Kristina Rose Maher, desires to know “why fairytales never happen for fat girls.” Talk about the reasons why she believes that to be true. Share her personal journey.

Melissa: Kristina Rose lives in the same small Texas town she grew up in. All her friends are thin and fair. As the only overweight woman in her friend group and one of the few racial minorities in the town, she’s kind of written off the chances of ever having her own love story. She develops feelings for a long-time friend but thinks he would never, could never want her in return.

Alexis: Jeffrey Berkley is the hero of your story. Describe his looks, personality, character flaws and passion for his work as a diner cook.

Melissa: Jeffrey is handsome and fit. He likes to take long runs with his Newfie, Toto, and loves preparing healthy, creative meals. His main flaw is that he never considers what he wants and lives his life by trying to please others. In this way, despite their physical differences, Kristina Rose and Jeffrey face the same struggles of not really loving themselves. They take the journey toward self-acceptance together even though they start at very different points.

Alexis: Why does Kristina think that her being fat equates to the “fact” that Jeffrey will never love her more than a friend?

Melissa: Like so many women, Kristina Rose can’t see her own beauty and therefore assumes others can’t see it either. I think that’s a problem most of us face whether we find ourselves too fat, too thin, too anything. It’s like we reject ourselves before others have the chance to do it for us.

Alexis: What is the turning point for Kristina?

Melissa: She has her first bout of dumping syndrome following her bypass surgery—imagine the most nausea you’ve ever felt and multiply it by 100. She blames herself even though it’s extremely common after surgery. Jeffrey comforts her and makes her promise that she’ll start treating herself the way she treats others, since she is on the same team as her body. It’s a struggle, but now that she realizes how unfair she so often is to herself, she begins to make progress in turning that attitude around.

Alexis: What does Jeffrey think of Kristina when he first meets her? What does Kristina think of Jeffrey?

Melissa: This is a friends-to-lovers story. Jeffrey and Kristina Rose have known each other since high school and been great friends ever since they both began working at the local diner. They’ve just always been there for each other, but don’t realize their friendship has turned to love until the prospect of possibly losing Kristina on the eve of her surgery makes Jeffrey realize how much he cares for her—and that’s much more than as a friend.

Alexis: What role does faith in God play in this story?

Melissa: The role of faith is huge, and the message really comes out when Kristina Rose attends the sermon of her best friend who is also the youth pastor of their church. Self-doubt is a form of fear, and ultimately both Kristina Rose and Jeffrey must learn to trust in God in order to also trust in themselves.

Alexis: As a White author, was it challenging for you to write about a hero and heroine who are both African-American? If so, describe the challenges. If no, explain why.

No, it really wasn’t. It gave me a chance to think about how the characters’ lens might differ from my own. But that’s what authors do with every single character they write. We have to become a different age, gender, personality, set of experiences each and every time—especially for deep point of view books like I write.

Alexis: Why are you passionate about telling Kristina and Jeffrey’s story?

Melissa: Because it’s one so many of us can relate to and hopefully find hope in. All my stories are about finding light in dark times, and the world needs that now just as much as ever.

Alexis: What advice do you have for White authors who want to write about characters of color (African American, Hispanic, Indian, Asian, etc.), but are not quite sure how to tell their story?

Melissa: Be authentic, period. Remember that no matter the background, each character is more defined by their unique personality and experiences than just their race, just their gender, just their creed. Develop the whole character. Be open to learning, and don’t resort to stereotypes. A character should be a three-dimensional being living in your two-dimensional world. Give your character life.

Alexis: You’re passionate about telling the stories of everyone, regardless of their race. Have you always been this way? If not, what was the inciting incident that set you on this hero’s journey?

Melissa: Yes, I have always been drawn to multicultural fiction both as a writer and a reader. I grew up in a poor, mostly non-White area, and for years was the only White girl around. I was bullied, teased, and didn’t have any friends until late in elementary school. I know how it feels to be outcast simply based on appearances and prejudices, and it sucks.

At the same time, all that time by myself and with my books in those formative years was amazing for my self growth and creativity. I don’t regret it as an adult, but I was an incredibly lonely child—and that’s still having been a member of America’s dominant society. I still saw myself represented on TV, in magazines and books. I can’t imagine how isolating it must be to feel alone on all levels, especially for a child.

More recently in life… My first husband came from India. We were together for eight years, and for eight years I lived and breathed that culture. As such, Hindu culture makes it into my stories most often, but I also enjoy exploring characters from other walks of like too.

Currently, my wonderful soulmate (second) husband and I are in the process of adopting a child—or possibly children—from Bulgaria. They are of Romani descent, a culture which has been discriminated against widely throughout history. The Romani children are frequently adopted to America, because the rampant racism in Europe makes it difficult to find homes there. We are enjoying learning about their beautiful culture and their shared history with the Jewish people of Europe, and we are also teaching our three-year-old daughter as we learn.

I simply cannot image a life without full color. Our differences make us unique, and they make life exciting!

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Melissa! Would you like to share any closing thoughts?

Melissa: Thank you for the thoughtful interview questions, Alexis. I am so pleased that I am able to bring this story into the world and hopefully help others who struggle with the same self-esteem issues I faced growing up and even as an adult. Fiction entertains, yes, but I also hope mine means something special to those who read it.

~*~

Connect with Melissa:

Website ~ www.MelStorm.com

Facebook ~ www.Facebook.com/MeetTheStorms

Instagram ~ www.Instagram.com/MeetTheStorms

Pinterest ~ www.Pinterest.com/MelStormAuthor

Twitter ~ www.Twitter.com/MelStormAuthor

YouTube ~ www.MelStorm.com/YouTube

~*~

Links for Love’s Promise:

Book Trailer ~ https://youtu.be/qBLm9Im_vsk

Read the First 3 Chapters ~ http://www.melstorm.com/SpecialPreview

Book Spotlight: Hope in My Heart, A Collection of Heartwarming Stories

Thanks for visiting our blog!

Today, we are featuring a book spotlight on Hope in My Heart: A Collection of Heartwarming Stories, written by our contributor Alexis A. Goring.

About the book: Hope in My Heart is a collection of short, heartwarming stories with characters in need of hope.hope-in-my-heart

In Love Unexpected,a car crash brings commitment-wary Sebastian and career woman Chandra together. Neither is looking for romance, but those around them see the potential, and Sebastian and Chandra discover that sometimes love shows up unexpectedly.

Christmastime is the setting for the middle story, The Best Gift. Christina desires to lose ten pounds so she can fit into her dress for her sister’s wedding. Jordan wishes her mom would stop trying to marry her off. And Joshua hopes to be reunited with his ex-girlfriend but eventually learns that the best gift this Christmas will be the restoration of his relationship with God.

In Peace and Love, three characters living in a metropolitan area are desperately searching. Elle, a starving artist, aspires to become a paid professional. Eric, a divorce attorney, wants to resolve his issues concerning his parents’ divorce. Kristine anticipates finding her birth mom before she marries Derek. All characters pray their searches will conclude this holiday season and fill their hearts with peace and love.

Purchase the book: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD

About the author:

alexis-a-goring-nov-2014-author-photoAlexis A. Goring is a writer at heart and a journalist by profession. She loves the art of storytelling and is especially delighted to have released her first book, an inspirational romance short story collection called Hope in My Heart: A Collection of Heartwarming Stories, in Sept. 2013. When she is not working on her next book, Alexis can be found listening to songs by her most admired musicians, enjoying the food in cafes/restaurants, shopping at her favorite malls and spending quality time with loved ones (family and friends). She recently joined the Forget Me Not Romances family of traditionally published authors and is excited about the publication journey that God is taking her on.

Connect and follow: Blog, FacebookTwitter