Interview with Chandra Sparks Splond about her book “It’s Like That”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re talking with Chandra Sparks Splond about her book “It’s Like That.”

Enjoy!


Interview with Chandra Sparks Splond about her book  It’s Like That (Grown Zone Book 1):

Alexis: Why did you write this book?

Chandra: First, thanks so much for having me. I decided to write It’s Like That for my very first readers, many of whom were teenagers when my first book Spin It Like That was released. It’s Like That follows the main character Jasmine Richardson who is now an adult and dealing with adult issues, just like my first readers are doing in this season of life. I wanted to give them a character with which they were familiar who is dealing with issues to which they can relate right now.

Alexis: How did you come up with the title for your book?

Chandra: The title It’s Like That is a spin of my very first book, Spin It Like That. I wanted something that connected the books.

Alexis: How important was it to you to have a woman of color with natural hair on the cover of your book? Why?

Chandra: Having a woman of color with natural hair on the cover of It’s Like That was extremely important to me. There’s also what looks like a younger version of the character on the cover of Spin It Like That. When I was growing up, I never saw book covers with people who looked like me, so I make it a point to include characters to which African-American readers can relate on all my book covers.

Alexis: Have you always written stories that feature main characters of color for the Christian fiction book market? Why or why not?

Chandra: All of my fiction books and my poetry book feature main characters of color. I think it’s very important to give African-American readers stories to which they can relate and apply to the reality of their lives.

Alexis: Tell us about your story It’s Like That. What is the core message?

Chandra: At its core, It’s Like That is a story about the power of your dreams. As we get older, often our dreams die or change. When Jasmine was 16, she dreamed of being a deejay, which was fine when her parents were paying all the bills. Now at 26, she finds herself in a career about which she’s not passionate, and she’s re-examining her dreams. I want readers to know that the path to your dreams isn’t always straight and that even if it changes over time, everything you do in the in-between all works together for our good.

Alexis: Who is your target audience for this book and in what ways do you hope that this story will impact your readers?

Chandra: My target audience is the New Adult market (ages 18 to 30). It’s my prayer that readers will see themselves in the story and realize even if you get off track, it’s never too late to make your dreams come true.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s heroine Jasmine Richardson. What does she look like, act like, sound like, and think like?

Chandra: Jasmine is a feisty redhead who has had a passion for music since she was a kid. After suffering a tragic loss ten years ago, she has calmed down a lot, and life has taken her on a different career path than she thought it would. She often acts without thinking things through. As a kid, she had her parents to bail her out, but as an adult, she has to figure some things out for herself.

Alexis: Does your story have a hero or is it all about Jasmine? Why or why not?

Chandra: This story is all about Jasmine, although she has great friends and family to support her along the way.

Alexis: What is it about singing songs and creating lyrics that Jasmine loves?

Chandra: The better question would probably be what is it about singing songs and creating lyrics that Jasmine doesn’t love? LOL. Music is in Jasmine’s blood. She has lived and breathed it since she was a kid. She got her love of music from her father who was once a part of a music group with her uncle for whom she now works.

Alexis: How does Jasmine cope with the tragic loss that she experienced ten years ago and how does her loss still affect her today?

Chandra: Jasmine deals with the loss by cutting all ties with music and deciding to become an attorney. It only takes one encounter with the microphone during karaoke night with her friends for her to realize she still loves music though. Her realization that she still has that passion makes her start re-examining her life.

Alexis: Jasmine faces a real-world problem in your fiction story: Following your passion while still trying to pay the bills! In what ways do you hope that her story, though fictional, inspires your readers (especially the creative types) in the real world?

Chandra: I hope readers realize that you are never too old or too young, and it’s never too late for your dreams to come true. Speaking from personal experience, I’ve known since I was 14 that I’ve wanted to write books, but I didn’t actually sit down to write one until I was in my 30s. Before then, I was working as an editor, so I spent my days around the written word, but after I had my daughter in 2004, I realized I couldn’t tell her to go for her dreams if I never went for mine. I challenged myself to write a book before she turned one. I finished my first manuscript a month after her first birthday, and the rest is history. To this day, editing still pays most of my bills, and it has become a part of my dreams, and doing so blesses others. I hope readers use my life and Jasmine’s as examples that your passion and your need to pay your bills can co-exist.

Alexis: Would you like to see more books like yours that feature main characters of color, published by CBA? Why or why not?

Chandra: I think seeing the CBA publish more books that feature main characters of color would be great. Representation is important. I also think that as a writer of color, I’m not going to wait on someone to make a seat at their table for me. As Tyler Perry said, I’ve decided to build my own table.

Alexis: If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do? Why?

Chandra: If I couldn’t be an author, I’d be an editor, which I’ve been blessed to do for more than 25 years. In addition to working for Good Housekeping magazine as a copy editor, I also was the consulting editor for BET Books/Arabesque, the African-American publishing imprint, where I acquired and edited books for authors like Donna Hill, Rochelle Alers, Leslie Esdaile, Celeste Norfleet, Kayla Perrin and Stacey Abrams (writing as Selena Montgomery). In addition to that, I’ve also been hired as a freelance editor for a lot of well-known authors like E. Lynn Harris, Travis Hunter, and Michael Baisden.

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

Chandra: Thank you so much for the opportunity to share It’s Like That with your audience. It is my prayer they will check it out along with some of my other books.

They can find out about all of my books and read excerpts on my website, www.chandrasparkssplond.com.

I pray God’s blessings on everyone who reads this, and may your wildest dreams come true!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor

~*~

About the book:

After suffering a tragic loss ten years ago, twenty-six-year-old Jasmine Richardson has traded her love of lyrics for writing legal briefs. It only takes one encounter with the microphone for Jasmine to realize the music is still in her heart—if only it could pay the bills.

After making some bad decisions, Jasmine is thrown into a tailspin. She is forced to consider taking a case that could make her legal career from someone from her past. Suddenly, Jasmine finds herself questioning her future.

When the music is still in your heart, sometimes life forces you to make some tough decisions. Sometimes…it’s like that.

Buy Chandra’s book online: Amazon or Barnes and Noble


About the Author:

Chandra Sparks Splond is an editor, speaker and award-winning author and blogger.

Her young adult novel Make It Work was named Alabama’s Great Read 2017, Spin It Like That was chosen as a Popular Paperback for Young Adults by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), and The Pledge was a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. Black Pearls Magazine honored Splond as a Legends & Leaders for 2017 for her blog, Book of Splond (formerly known as Magic City Momma).

Splond is the owner of West End Publishing, LLC, and Live Life Creations, a personalized gift and party boutique. In addition to working for Kensington Publishing as the consulting editor for Arabesque romance, Splond has also done work for Random House, Moody Publishers, Kimani Press (formerly known as BET Books), and Hyperion. She has edited books for several New York Times, USA Today and Essence bestselling authors.

Splond has interviewed New York Times bestselling authors Karen Kingsbury, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Eric Jerome Dickey and actress Meagan Good. She has also worked for Good Housekeeping, Black and Married with Kids, Brides Noir, Weddingpages, Newsday, The Morning Call and Romantic Times. 

Of all the titles she has held, Splond’s most important remain child of God, wife and mommy.

Splond graduated from Ramsay High School in Birmingham, Alabama and the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa with a degree in journalism. She received her master of science in education degree with a focus on instructional design and technology from Samford University. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and resides in Birmingham with her family. They are members of Forty-fifth Street Baptist Church.

Follow Chandra online: Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Pinterest ~ Website

Book Spotlight: “Legacy of Love” by Terri J. Haynes

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on “Legacy of Love” by Terri J. Haynes.


About the book (story collection): 

The Runaway Brides Collection: 7 Historical Brides Get Cold Feet at the Altar …

What is a woman of the 1800s to do when she feels powerless to choose her own spouse and marry for love—run!

Amy’s home is at stake if she doesn’t marry her neighbor. Delia’s father wants her to marry into a political family. Georgiana is posing as a wealthy man’s wife in order to hide from her groom. Callie is fleeing one wedding and racing to marry a stranger.

Emily flees her wedding with the help of a mysterious coachman. Josey’s best friend leaves a letter proposing marriage unanswered in order to elope. Bernadine becomes the ward and pawn of her evil uncle. Where will each turn when they have only God to trust?

Seven women facing the marriage altar make the decision to flee, but who can they now trust?

Buy this book online: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Barbour Books


About the Author:

Terri 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. She is a storyteller at heart. Her passion is to draw readers into 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 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 off their favorite characters.

Follow Terri online: Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

Interview with Natasha D. Frazier about her book Love, Lies & Consequences

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re talking with Natasha D. Frazier about her book Love, Lies & Consequences.

Enjoy the interview!


Interview with Natasha D. Frazier about her book Love, Lies & Consequences

Alexis: Why did you write this book?

Natasha: Love, Lies & Consequences is my first work of fiction. It is a story that was on my heart long before I put pen to paper. It evolved quite a bit as the story developed. I honestly didn’t know where the story would end up, but I wanted to explore celibacy in today’s environment.

Alexis: What is the significance of your story’s title?

Natasha: The title came after the story was written. When I first began writing, the book was titled, “He said Grace.” I changed it because it put too much emphasis on Rico and why Raegan chose to date him, in spite of her misgivings. The story is more about Raegan, so I thought Love, Lies & Consequences was more fitting. Raegan’s relationship with Rico is built on lies and so are the reasons that she and Caleb weren’t together initially. Lies are not without consequence and that is one fact that Raegan had to learn and continues to learn throughout the entire series.

Alexis: What does commitment mean to your main characters?

Natasha: To Rico? Nothing. Raegan waivers quite a bit with commitment, both to herself and God. She was committed to celibacy for two years, but she became relaxed because she believed she was strong enough to handle whatever came her way, especially when it came to Rico. She pretty much flirted with the enemy and lost the battle. As for Caleb, he is a man of his word and I love that about him. When he commits, he is “all-in.”

Alexis: Let’s talk about the heroine of your story, Raegan. What does she look like, sound like, act like and think about?

Natasha: Raegan is a brown skinned, petite woman with curly, shoulder length hair. With a pair of high heels, she stands at about 5’6”. She’s a bit prissy, but introverted. She’s career driven, but still has a desire to be a wife and mother. She wants it all and believes that she can have it all. She’s also selfish because in her desire to get everything she wants, she doesn’t want to compromise. She pretty much has the attitude of “my way or the highway.” However, she desires to be the woman that God has called her to be. She attends church, participates in ministry, studies her bible faithfully, and prays consistently. Being in her early thirties, her thoughts are consumed with her career progression and one day getting married.

Alexis: What are Raegan’s greatest strengths and weaknesses?

Natasha: This always a difficult question for me to answer, even about myself. LOL. I’d say she’s headstrong and motivated, which makes for her greatest strength and weakness. Although it’s great for her to know what she wants and to be highly motivated to go after it, those traits result in stubbornness.

Alexis: Why does Raegan believe that waiting until marriage to have sex is the right thing to do?

Natasha: Her faith and experience. Raegan has been involved in sexual relationships before and they didn’t work out well for her. The book opens with her walking down the aisle to marry Damion, who she was also living with at the time. She decides that she doesn’t want to live that way anymore and wants to go “all-in” with her faith. She didn’t feel like her relationship with Damion was honoring God and she didn’t want to start a life with Damion in that way.

Alexis: What or who challenges Reagan’s desire to remain pure in romantic relationships?

Natasha: After Raegan made the commitment to remain pure, she had done so for two years. When she met Rico, he saw this as a challenge and continued to pursue her, telling her everything she wanted to hear, including promising marriage. I think to some extent, she felt like it was okay if they would marry soon.

Alexis: Let’s talk about Rico. Describe his looks, personality, character and heart. What role does he play in this story?

Natasha: Rico is bald and handsome, standing at about 5’10” tall and most of the time he is very well-dressed. Rico is a charming smooth-talker and always knows exactly what to say. He wrote beautiful letters to Raegan, pulling her into his scheme to get her in bed. Everything he did and said was a ploy to make her believe that he wanted to be with her forever so that he could have sex with her.

Alexis: Why doesn’t Rico respect Reagan’s desire to stay pure in their relationship?

Natasha: I think Rico saw her as a challenge, as something to conquer, and he set his sights on doing everything he could to win her over.

Alexis: Finally, let’s talk about Caleb. Describe his looks, flaws, hopes and deepest fears. How does he impact this story?

Natasha: Caleb is dreamy and kind-hearted, the type of guy that would make a woman look twice. He is confident, but not arrogant. Fair skinned with beautiful brown eyes, Caleb stands at 5’11” tall. He’s an architect with the primary desire to build a life with Raegan. Seeing her again was an answered prayer, and the last thing he planned to do was let her go again. At the time he sees her again, she is involved with Rico. Though he knew this, he didn’t allow it to stand in the way of letting her know how he felt about her. When Caleb enters the story, Raegan slowly begins to see Rico for who he truly is – a snake.

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

Natasha: One of the things that I love about Caleb is that he reminds Raegan of who she is in God. He is truly a man after God’s heart, whose first plan of action is to seek God’s face, no matter the situation. The more of Rico she allowed into her life, the less time she spent with God. Raegan also had Kensi, her best friend and accountability partner, to speak words of encouragement and faith in her life. Kensi often reminded Raegan about her commitment to God, but she often ignored her when it was convenient.

Alexis: What’s the moral of the story?

Natasha: Even when things seem right, if they aren’t in alignment with God’s Word, then it isn’t God. We often rush God and tend to put his stamp of approval on something he never ordained in the first place. Even when we mess up, we must learn to accept God’s forgiveness and forgive ourselves in the process.

Alexis: Would you like to see more books like this (with real-life issues and main characters of color) published by CBA? Why or why not?

Natasha: Absolutely! These aren’t the kind of books that are primarily published by CBA, and the world needs to read stories with main characters of color written by people of color.

Alexis: What would you do if you couldn’t write stories?

Natasha: If I couldn’t write stories, I would continue to write devotionals and books for the Christian faith because I choose to honor God with my gift of writing.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Natasha! Do you have final comments?

Natasha: Thank you for the opportunity. I hope you’ll read and fall in love with the characters because book four is coming soon!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor

~*~

About the Book:

Are you ready and willing to accept the consequences that come along with your choices?

“The true test of my commitment will come when I am actually tested, but it’s nothing I can’t handle…” So thinks Raegan – and it proves to be a thought that is tested every step of her journey.

Raegan was all set to live a life free of sexual impurities until she met Rico, who challenged her character. Sex outside of marriage isn’t all that bad if you’re going to eventually marry that person, right? After all, Rico did make promises to marry her, but can he hold true to that promise?

Raegan had come to believe that Rico could be the one until Caleb, her college love, comes back into her life. Raegan begins to make a series of choices that lead to consequences she wasn’t prepared to face. Will her faith sustain her?

Buy Natasha’s book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble


About the Author:

Natasha Frazier received her Bachelors of Business Administration degree in Accounting from Jackson State University and her Masters of Science degree from Texas A&M University. Since graduating, Natasha earned her CPA license. While practicing accounting, she began her career as an author.

Natasha believes that we are all created for a purpose, and in knowing that, she strives to live a life of purpose by doing what she has been created to do: inspire and encourage others. She does this through her literary works and the How Long Are You Going to Wait Conference.

Natasha has authored three devotional books, one non-fiction book, and four fiction titles, including the Love, Lies & Consequences series.

Each of her books are award-nominated titles. Her most recent title, Kairos: The Perfect Time for Love has been nominated by Joy & Company to receive the Henri Award. The Henri Award honors excellence in Christian literature and is presented at the Christian Literary Awards in Dallas, TX.

Natasha resides in Richmond, TX with her husband, Eddie Frazier, Jr. and their children, Eden, Ethan, and Emilyn. Her greatest joy and commitment is to her family who she hopes to inspire above all else. She attends Parkway Fellowship Church, where she co-leads a preschool small group.

Follow Natasha online: Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram

Book Spotlight: “Free to Love” by Terri J. Haynes

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on the story “Free to Love” by Terri J. Haynes.


About the Book (story collection), The Underground Railroad Brides Collection: 9 Couples Navigate the Road to Freedom before the Civil War

Love Guides Hearts Along the Road to Freedom

Nine historical couples walk the road to love even as they dare to escape and help others break free from the injustices of slavery between 1849 and 1860. From Southern states of Georgia and South Carolina to above the Mason-Dixon Line in Indiana and Pennsylvania, they work within the network known as the Underground Railroad.

About Terri’s story “Free to Love” in the story collection:  East Towson, Maryland—1850
Winnie is hiding a secret—Hiram, a fugitive. Their lives cross at an Underground Railroad station. Can they overcome danger and find freedom in love?

Buy this book online: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Barbour Books 


About the Author:

Terri 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. She is a storyteller at heart. Her passion is to draw readers into 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 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 off their favorite characters.

Follow Terri online: Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Interview with Terri J. Haynes, about her story “Legacy of Love”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re talking with Terri about her story “Legacy of Love.”

Enjoy the interview!


Interview with Terri J. Haynes about her story, “Legacy of Love” published in the Runaway Brides story collection:

Alexis: Why did you write this story?

Terri: Research. I am often amazed at how inspiring research can be. It is a great idea generator. I was researching another book when I came across an article about newly freed slaves that actually did well during Reconstruction. Well is relative, of course. The article also detailed classism between some freed Blacks and poorer freed blacks. I was amazed at how this could even happen given the horrible conditions slaves had just come out of. Often I see stories about classism in stories set in countries with ruling classes and I wanted to explore that notion.

Alexis: What is the significance behind your story’s “Legacy of Love” title?

Terri: The story features characters who are getting a fresh start in a way. They were slaves but now their situation had changed. They had the hope of starting something new. While I was researching this story, I came across an article detailing how many Black couples made their marriages legal during Reconstruction. Many went to the Freedman’s Bureau to legally start their lives together. That is a powerful thing.

Alexis: Who is the heroine of your story? Describe her looks, personality, character flaws and greatest strength.

Terri: Delia is a curious, intelligent woman with a great mind to build things. With all her intelligence, she’s a little oblivious about some things happening right in front of her. She also has a big heart and does all she can to help the less fortunate.

Alexis: Who is the hero of your story? Describe his looks, personality, strengths and weaknesses.

Terri: Josiah is a hard-working, honest, caring man. He loves horses and animals in general. He is also gentle and supportive. He has, however, deep wounds from his past.

Alexis: What draws the hero and heroine of your story together?

Terri: Delia and Josiah were friends for many years. Their relationship started when Josiah arrived to Burtonsville with his little sister, needing work and a place to live. Delia, kind-hearted as she is, helped him find a place. They are drawn together by their care for others and the fact that they both have dreams beyond their current circumstances.

Alexis: What threatens to tear the hero and heroine apart forever?

Terri: Delia’s desire to make her father proud and Josiah’s feelings of insufficiency cause problems for the relationship.

Alexis: How do your hero and heroine survive life’s challenges? Does faith play a role?

Terri: They both survive by putting other’s needs first. Josiah is caring for his sister and Delia is caring for the poor in the town. They both have faith that they will be able to build a legacy.

Alexis: Why did you choose to set this story in the 1800s?

Terri: Research, again! I had done some research for another project and had way more information than I needed. I think all historical writers have too much research (if that’s such a thing). What better way to use it?

Alexis: Paint a picture of your story’s setting, with words.

Terri: Burtonsville is a small town with stone buildings and wrought-iron fences on one side of town and wooden houses on the other. The town is dusty with poorly built houses. Horses and carriages are not uncommon and Main Street is lined with stores with colorful awnings.

Alexis: What were the unique challenges for brides of that day that made them want to run away?

Terri: I think the biggest challenge was actually making it to where they were going. Reconstruction was not the utopia newly freed blacks though it would be. Yes, they were free to go, but where? What kind of work would they do? Also, there were groups that were actively trying to stop Blacks from building a better life and those groups used threats and violence to do so. The danger of living and the danger of running held the same risks.

Alexis: What is the racial background of your hero and heroine?

Terri: Both my characters are freed Blacks.

Alexis: What do you want people to remember most about your story?

Terri: That there is always someone less fortunate than you and to recognize the responsibility of taking care of them.

Alexis: Would you like to see more stories that feature diverse main characters, published by CBA? Why or why not?

Terri: I would love to see more stories featuring diverse main characters in CBA. Representation is so important. And of course, there are stories in Black history that don’t make it to the front page…stories of love and success.

Alexis: What can CBA do to help authors of color tell their stories about characters of color and skyrocket their book sales?

Terri: That is a big task. I think that the main thing CBA can do is validate the stories featuring or written by people of color is to create an appetite for these stories by heavily marketing these stories. Publishing books with people of color and give them the marketing support that they need.

Alexis: What was your most memorable moment while writing this story?

Terri: Part of my research came from the National Archives, which is a researcher’s dream! Archives house several very cool interactive exhibits that a full of information. It was hard not to go down a rabbit hole because everything was so interesting.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Terri!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the book (story collection): 

The Runaway Brides Collection: 7 Historical Brides Get Cold Feet at the Altar …

What is a woman of the 1800s to do when she feels powerless to choose her own spouse and marry for love—run!

Amy’s home is at stake if she doesn’t marry her neighbor. Delia’s father wants her to marry into a political family. Georgiana is posing as a wealthy man’s wife in order to hide from her groom. Callie is fleeing one wedding and racing to marry a stranger.

Emily flees her wedding with the help of a mysterious coachman. Josey’s best friend leaves a letter proposing marriage unanswered in order to elope. Bernadine becomes the ward and pawn of her evil uncle. Where will each turn when they have only God to trust?

Seven women facing the marriage altar make the decision to flee, but who can they now trust?

Buy this book online: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Barbour Books


About the Author:

Terri 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. She is a storyteller at heart. Her passion is to draw readers into 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 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 off their favorite characters.

Follow Terri online: Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Book Spotlight: Hannah’s Hope

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on Hannah’s Hope.


About the Book:

Hannah’s Hope (“My True Identity” Teen Series)

Since she could remember, young Hannah Monroe has endured pain and struggles.

Now, she’s moved in with Aunt Loretta and her husband.

After arriving, Hannah was delighted to just be a kid and hang out with her friend, Monet, steering clear of all the girl drama but griping about the mounds of homework and their annoying peers.

One day darkness creeps in, securing its grip on her childhood innocence.

At only twelve years old, Hannah wonders if she will ever find hope to overcome the darkest moments of her life.

Will any one ever believe her? Will anyone even care?

Buy this book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble


About the Author:

Denise M. Walker is a pastor, wife, mother, minister, podcaster, experienced educator and entrepreneur.

Denise has educated youth for over 18 years and served in the field of education for 22 years. Most of her career has been serving middle school youth.

She is the founder of Hope-in-Christ Ministries, Inc. and the owner of Armor of Hope Writing & Publishing Services, LLC. In addition, Denise M. Walker is the creator and facilitator of the Hope-in-Christ Book Club Facebook group, the host of the Book Review Radio Show, Hope-in-Christ w/Denise and Building Literacy & True Identity podcasts. Her ministry’s mission is to lead others to the truth of Christ, build literacy, and assist individuals in walking in their true identity in Him.

Denise has written several blogs on the Hope-in-Christ Ministries platform. She has penned three books, Re-Presenting God, a youth journal on the deity of Christ; Hannah’s Hope, a teen novel about overcoming abuse and The S.C.R.I.P.T. journal for aspiring Christian writers. She has also co-authored several anthologies.

Currently, she working on her second novel, Hannah’s Barren Womb, a Bible study journal called Is This English Class or Bible Study? and another journal for women and girls.

Denise also has a passion for designing her own curriculum in order to build reading comprehension and grammar skills in others.

Follow Denise online: Ministry Website, Business Website, Author Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube

 

Interview with Terri J. Haynes, author of “Free to Love” (story)

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re talking with Terri J. Haynes about her story “Free to Love.”

Enjoy the interview!


Interview with Terri J. Haynes about her story, “Free to Love” in the Underground Railroad Brides story collection:

Alexis: Why did you agree to write this story “Free to Love” for Barbour Books as part of their collection of stories titled, “The Underground Railroad Brides Collection: 9 Couples Navigate the Road to Freedom before the Civil War?”

Terri: This story was originally a part of a proposal but in a different time periods. That proposal was modified so that all the storied happened before the Civil War. Even though it wasn’t our original proposal, all the ladies in the collection had worked so hard on our stories.

Alexis: What is your story “Free to Love” about?

Terri: It is the story of Hiram and Winnie, two slaves in Maryland. Hiram has run from the south and Winnie’s church is a part of the Underground Railroad. Hiram ends up wounded near Winnie’s church and she helps nurse him back to health. But there is a storm brewing around them and it threatens their freedom and their lives.

Alexis: Who are the main characters in your story? Briefly describe the hero and heroine’s looks, personality, hopes, fears and outlook on life.

Terri: Winnie is a slave but she and her parents assist with the Underground Railroad. Winnie is strong, loyal and caring, but fears being on the run. Hiram has run from the south and his brave but gentle. He fears he will be captured before he can reach freedom.

Alexis: What is it about the hero that the heroine loves? Explain.

Terri: Winnie loves that Hiram is so gentle despite his size. She also loves that he enjoys growing things. She also loves his courage to run from his slave masters to freedom.

Alexis: What is the hero’s greatest skill and his most troublesome weakness?

Terri: Hiram’s greatest skill is his ability to make people feel at ease. His most troublesome weakness is that he is afraid of being caught and sent back to the south.

Alexis: What is it about the heroine that makes the hero want to protect her?

Terri: Winnie is one of the most caring, hardworking woman Hiram has ever met. She also is sacrificing for the people she loves. Winnie is also working toward her freedom, just in a very different way than Hiram and Hiram wants her freedom as much as he wants his own.

Alexis: How are your hero and heroine involved in the Underground Railroad?

Terri: Hiram is a runaway slave and Winnie is a conductress.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about this story? Why?

Terri: That love can bloom in the darkest of places. I feel that many stories about the Underground Railroad focus on the pain, tragedy and abuse, but not taking into account that there were families, couples and children who loved each other. In my research for this novella, I found instances of runaway slaves risking a return to their slaveholders to free their families. Working so they could purchase the freedom of their spouses and children. Slaves were not an unfeeling mass. They had families, dreams and love.

Alexis: Would you like to see more stories like these that feature main characters of color, published by CBA? Why or why not?

Terri: I would. I would love to see more stories because I am a person of color. There is power in representation. Of course, I can connect with stories featuring other races, but I would love to read about my own. We have stories to tell that will further the Kingdom.

Alexis: What would you say is the greatest challenge in being an author of color writing stories about characters of color to be published by CBA?

Terri: The greatest challenge is that CBA, at the moment, publishes very few authors of color. It is heartbreaking to see it. It feels like there isn’t a place for me, even though I am a Christian and a consumer of Christian fiction. It’s hard to see a whole segment of literature devoid of people who look and write like me.

Alexis: Would you say that it’s easier for authors of color who write books about characters of color to become indie authors to get their stories out there? Why or why not?

Terri: This question has a hard answer. Yes, I think it is easier for authors of color to become indie authors. In the indie world, there is no “gatekeeper.” Authors of color are free to tell the stories they want how they want. Unfortunately, this has a downside. There is a lot of work in indie publishing, espically if you plan to succeed. You basically become a publishing house. I am thankful that we can indie publish, but I would like it to be one of my options, not my only option.

Alexis: What advice would you give the Marketing and Sales Department of traditional Christian publishing houses to help them reach readers of color and effectively sell books by authors of color whose stories feature characters of color?

Terri: Now I have to put on another hat I’ve worn in the past: bookseller. I used to work for a major bookstore so I understand that world. The truth is simple. All publishing houses need to do is publishing authors of color.

There were many days where people from all races came into the bookstore where I was working and ask specifically for books by authors of color. Christian authors of color. The demand is there. The problem is the books aren’t. Put the books out there and they will sell.

When we start taking about how to reach readers of color, there is the suggestion that readers of color are somewhere buried way under a rock and never set foot into a bookstore or library. Like there is some different process on how to reach us than readers of other races. I have been told several times that publishers don’t know how to market to readers of color and this statement makes it seem like readers of color are foreign and “other.”

There isn’t a different way. Christian readers of color find new reads the same way everyone else does. We browse bookstores. We get book recommendations from our friends. We read book reviews. Readers of color have been purchasing CBA books for years. If we found those books, have a little faith that we’ll find books featuring characters of color. Have more than a little faith, because we want to see ourselves in books and on covers.

Alexis: If you were not an author, what would you be?

Terri: Unhappy. I love to write and can’t imagine my life without it.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Terri! Do you have closing comments?

Terri: Thank you for interviewing me. I hope that this interview will broaden the conversation about authors of color in Christian fiction.

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Book (story collection), The Underground Railroad Brides Collection: 9 Couples Navigate the Road to Freedom before the Civil War

Love Guides Hearts Along the Road to Freedom

Nine historical couples walk the road to love even as they dare to escape and help others break free from the injustices of slavery between 1849 and 1860. From Southern states of Georgia and South Carolina to above the Mason-Dixon Line in Indiana and Pennsylvania, they work within the network known as the Underground Railroad.

About Terri’s story “Free to Love” in the story collection:  East Towson, Maryland—1850
Winnie is hiding a secret—Hiram, a fugitive. Their lives cross at an Underground Railroad station. Can they overcome danger and find freedom in love?

Buy this book online: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Barbour Books 


About the Author:

Terri 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. She is a storyteller at heart. Her passion is to draw readers into 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 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 off their favorite characters.

Follow Terri online: Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Interview with Denise M. Walker, author of “Hannah’s Hope”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re hosting Denise M. Walker who is here to talk about her book, Hannah’s Hope.

Enjoy!


Interview with Denise M. Walker about her book, Hannah’s Hope:

Alexis: Why did you write this book?

Denise: I wrote Hannah’s Hope to bring awareness to the reality of child abuse and the struggles of our youth. We need to protect our children.

Alexis: What is the significance of your book’s title?

Denise: One night I had a dream about this book before writing any words. God gave me the name. The name Hannah in Hebrew means grace or favored. Despite our struggles and pain, I believe God shows us His amazing grace. He turns our tests and trials into testimonies, and he wants to use us to help others. Hope reminds me of Jesus. He is our only hope and will see us through. He will also send others to shine His hope in our darkest hours.

Alexis: Tell us about Hannah Monroe, the heroine of your story. What does she look like? Does she speak with an accent? What sets her heart on fire? What gives her hope?

Denise: Hannah is an African American middle school girl. She is dark skinned with natural hair. She’s hardworking and loves reading and writing but finds it difficult to focus on school. Hope comes to Hannah through her best friend and father. As a middle school student, Hannah never thought she would experience such pain. She just wants to be a kid but wonders if her other peers might be experiencing similar things they don’t want to talk about.

Alexis: What role does Hannah’s Aunt Loretta and her husband, play in this book in relation to how they affect Hannah’s story?

Denise: Hannah experiences abuse in their home.

Alexis: What role does Hannah’s friend Monet play in this story? How did they meet? Is Monet a good friend to Hannah? Explain.

Denise: Monet plays the role of a true friend. When Hannah feels that she can’t take it anymore, Monet is right by her side encouraging her to tell someone. They met in elementary school.

Alexis: What can you tell us about the darkness that gripped Hannah’s childhood innocence, without giving away the story?

Denise: Hannah comes to realize that she can’t trust those she is supposed to trust the most. Trying to endure such pain and not get anyone in trouble is destroying her emotionally.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about this story?

Denise: I want readers to remember that our middle school girls endure more than we can ever know, and they don’t know what to do about it. Therefore, they result to acting out.

Alexis: Would you like to see more stories like yours published by CBA? Why or why not?

Denise: Yes, I love to learn more about other authors.

Alexis: Now for the fun questions…write your answers in italics.

  • Who is your favorite actor?

I guess I would say my favorite actor is Idris Elba.

  • Who is your favorite actress?

My favorite actress is Angela Bassett.

  • What is your favorite color?

My favorite color is teal.

  • How do you take your coffee (or tea)?

I take my coffee with creamer and natural sweetener. I love my tea with natural sweetener as well.

  • Who is your favorite author?

I do not have a favorite author. I love to read many different authors in Christian Literature.

  • What is one book (besides The Holy Bible) that you cannot live without?

It is not a book. However, I take my calendar everywhere. Otherwise, I would forget something.

  • Which Bible verse keeps you going when times are tough?

Psalm 91 (ESV) is one of my favorites. Here are the first few lines: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Denise! Do you have closing comments?

Denise: In closing, I pray that you all would come to realize and embrace your true identity in Christ. You are not your past, your pain nor your fears. You are the image of Christ. Be Blessed!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Book:

Hannah’s Hope (“My True Identity” Teen Series)

Since she could remember, young Hannah Monroe has endured pain and struggles.

Now, she’s moved in with Aunt Loretta and her husband.

After arriving, Hannah was delighted to just be a kid and hang out with her friend, Monet, steering clear of all the girl drama but griping about the mounds of homework and their annoying peers.

One day darkness creeps in, securing its grip on her childhood innocence.

At only twelve years old, Hannah wonders if she will ever find hope to overcome the darkest moments of her life.

Will any one ever believe her? Will anyone even care?

Buy this book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble


About the Author:

Denise M. Walker is a pastor, wife, mother, minister, podcaster, experienced educator and entrepreneur.

Denise has educated youth for over 18 years and served in the field of education for 22 years. Most of her career has been serving middle school youth.

She is the founder of Hope-in-Christ Ministries, Inc. and the owner of Armor of Hope Writing & Publishing Services, LLC. In addition, Denise M. Walker is the creator and facilitator of the Hope-in-Christ Book Club Facebook group, the host of the Book Review Radio Show, Hope-in-Christ w/Denise and Building Literacy & True Identity podcasts. Her ministry’s mission is to lead others to the truth of Christ, build literacy, and assist individuals in walking in their true identity in Him.

Denise has written several blogs on the Hope-in-Christ Ministries platform. She has penned three books, Re-Presenting God, a youth journal on the deity of Christ; Hannah’s Hope, a teen novel about overcoming abuse and The S.C.R.I.P.T. journal for aspiring Christian writers. She has also co-authored several anthologies.

Currently, she working on her second novel, Hannah’s Barren Womb, a Bible study journal called Is This English Class or Bible Study? and another journal for women and girls.

Denise also has a passion for designing her own curriculum in order to build reading comprehension and grammar skills in others.

Follow Denise online: Ministry Website, Business Website, Author Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube

 

Book Spotlight: A Treasure of Gold

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on A Treasure of Gold by Piper Huguley.


About the Book:

When you follow your heart, never count the cost.

Trusting in the One who orders her steps, Nettie Bledsoe is determined not to deviate from her route to the charity kitchen. Don’t stop for anything, her sisters say.

Pittsburgh isn’t like Georgia, they warn. Yet when low moans of unholy suffering drift from an alley, she can’t help but investigate. It’s a man. The most beautiful man she’s ever seen.

Despite his scandalous reputation, something within her responds to his sinfully rich voice. Jay Evans is trying hard to stay on the straight and narrow, and doesn’t want help from any church do-gooder.

But until his wound heals, he needs help caring for his young daughter, Goldie. Especially since Nettie saw fit to fire Goldie’s barely competent nanny.

Despite their mismatched backgrounds, Nettie and Jay fight a losing battle against their growing attraction. But it’s only when Nettie is kidnapped that Jay realizes that if he doesn’t get her back safe and sound, his heart will shatter into uncountable pieces.

Buy A Treasure of Gold on Amazon


About the Author:

Piper G. Huguley is a two-time Golden Heart ®finalist and is the author of “Migrations of the Heart,” a three-book series of historical romances set in the early 20thcentury featuring African American characters. Book #1 in the series, A Virtuous Ruby, won Best Historical of 2015 in the Swirl Awards. Book #3 in the series, A Treasure of Gold, was named by Romance Novels in Color as a Best Book of 2015, received 4 ½ stars from RT Magazine, and won an Emma Award for best historical romance in 2017.

Huguley is also the author of the “Home to Milford College” series. The series follows the building of a college from its founding in 1866. Book #1 in the series, The Preacher’s Promise was named a top ten Historical Romance in Publisher’s Weekly by the esteemed historical romance author, Beverly Jenkins and received Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest Contest of Self-Published e-books in 2015.

Her new series “Born to Win Men” starts with A Champion’s Heart as Book #1. A Champion’s Heart was named by Sarah MacLean of The Washington Post as a best romance novel selection for December 2016.

She blogs about the history behind her novels at http://piperhuguley.com. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son.

Follow Piper on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Blog

Interview with Piper Huguley about her book, “A Treasure of Gold”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re talking with Piper Huguley about her book, A Treasure of Gold.

Enjoy!


Interview with Piper Huguley about her book, A Treasure of Gold:

 Alexis: Describe the heart of your story, A Treasure of Gold.

Piper: It’s a Black Damon Runyon story of the nanny falls for the father of her charge, who is kind of like Robin Hood.

Alexis: What do readers need to know about Book One and Book Two in your Migrations of the Heart series?

Piper: Book One, A Virtuous Ruby, is about Nettie’s oldest sister. Book Two, A Most Precious Pearl, is about Nettie’s next older sister. If people care about their love stories, then they can read them. They all standalone on their own.

Alexis: What role does faith in God play in the lives of your characters in this book?

Piper: Nettie was a middle child who felt that she was always overlooked in her family. When she recovered from an illness when she was a child, she became intent on pastoring to show her gratitude to Him.

Alexis: Tell us about your story’s heroine Nettie Bledsoe. What’s she like?

Piper: Nettie is a very spiritual person who is intent on helping others, even if it means sacrificing her own happiness. She has to learn how to seek that for herself.

Alexis: Tell is about your story’s hero Jay Evans. What’s he like?

Piper: Jay Evans works on the wrong side of the law because racism prevents him from obtaining a well-paying job that would permit him to make good money, as well as have a sense of dignity. So, even though he is a numbers kingpin, he uses his money to help everyone in the neighborhood improve their lives. Helping people is what they both have in common.

Alexis: Why does Nettie think that Jay is the “most beautiful man she’s ever seen?”

Piper: Cause he is, lol! Think Idris Elba with hazel eyes.

Alexis: Beyond his beautiful looks, what is it about Jay that makes Nettie want to know him more?

Piper: At first she doesn’t! She cares for his motherless child. Then when she sees how similar they are in wanting to help people, she falls for his beautiful heart as well as his beautiful face.

Alexis: What is the core conflict between Jay and Nettie and why does he think she’s a “church do-gooder?”

Piper: Because she is! They think their core conflict has to do with Jay being on the wrong side of the law and Nettie as a church worker. The conflict really has to do with Jay’s estrangement from God and Nettie’s repeated attempts to bring him closer to God.

Alexis: What role does Jay’s daughter Goldie play in this story?

Piper: She helps Nettie and Jay realize their attraction to one another sooner than they would if she wasn’t there. Kids can be brutally honest in that way.

Alexis: What is it about Nettie that makes Jay’s heart break just by the very thought of losing her (after she’s kidnapped)?

Piper: He realizes that his life on the wrong side of the law has cost Nettie her safety. He also realizes that he loves her and that if he wants a life with her, he will have to leave the criminal life behind forever.

Alexis: Paint a picture of your story’s setting, with words. What makes it special?

Piper: The good girl and bad boy is a trope that happens a lot in romance, but I’ve not seen it in a story like this before. I enjoyed writing it and setting it in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA—where I was able to draw on lessons of Black history and incorporate them into the story.

Alexis: What’s lacking in CBA and how can you as an #ownvoices author help fill that void?

Piper: The CBA is rigid in terms of what it publishes and that is a problem. Diversity in all kinds of stories would help with that. I’m not sure that I could help the CBA unless they were less rigid.

Alexis: In what ways could ABA and CBA work harder to effectively market books and sell stories written by #ownvoices authors.

Piper: I’ve spoken to the CBA situation. The ABA seems as if they are willing to try, at least. Hopefully, they will be more creative with their marketing and reach non-traditional audiences in new ways to help sell #ownvoices authors.

Alexis: Are you happy with the currents state of affairs in the publishing industry?

Piper: No. I’m glad that the ABA seems to be trying to rectify the situation, but really, it’s been disgraceful for a very long time. I hope that they are in it for the long haul.

Alexis: What advice do you have for authors of color who want to write their #ownvoices stories and seek representation from a literary agent?

Piper: Learn your craft and write the best story that you can. If you chose to seek representation from an agent, know that they are not looking for innovation, but they are looking for the “sure thing.” Get an agent you can reach out to, and talk to. I don’t care who the agent is, if you feel afraid to send an e-mail or call, that agent is not for you. Remember that you are hiring the agent, not the other way around.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Piper! Do you have closing comments?

Piper: Thank you for this generous opportunity to appear on Diversity Between the Pages!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Author:

Piper G. Huguley is a two-time Golden Heart ®finalist and is the author of “Migrations of the Heart,” a three-book series of historical romances set in the early 20thcentury featuring African American characters. Book #1 in the series, A Virtuous Ruby, won Best Historical of 2015 in the Swirl Awards. Book #3 in the series, A Treasure of Gold, was named by Romance Novels in Color as a Best Book of 2015, received 4 ½ stars from RT Magazine, and won an Emma Award for best historical romance in 2017.

Huguley is also the author of the “Home to Milford College” series. The series follows the building of a college from its founding in 1866. Book #1 in the series, The Preacher’s Promise was named a top ten Historical Romance in Publisher’s Weekly by the esteemed historical romance author, Beverly Jenkins and received Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest Contest of Self-Published e-books in 2015.

Her new series “Born to Win Men” starts with A Champion’s Heart as Book #1. A Champion’s Heart was named by Sarah MacLean of The Washington Post as a best romance novel selection for December 2016.

She blogs about the history behind her novels at http://piperhuguley.com. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son.

Follow Piper on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Blog


About the Book:

When you follow your heart, never count the cost.

Trusting in the One who orders her steps, Nettie Bledsoe is determined not to deviate from her route to the charity kitchen. Don’t stop for anything, her sisters say.

Pittsburgh isn’t like Georgia, they warn. Yet when low moans of unholy suffering drift from an alley, she can’t help but investigate. It’s a man. The most beautiful man she’s ever seen.

Despite his scandalous reputation, something within her responds to his sinfully rich voice. Jay Evans is trying hard to stay on the straight and narrow, and doesn’t want help from any church do-gooder.

But until his wound heals, he needs help caring for his young daughter, Goldie. Especially since Nettie saw fit to fire Goldie’s barely competent nanny.

Despite their mismatched backgrounds, Nettie and Jay fight a losing battle against their growing attraction. But it’s only when Nettie is kidnapped that Jay realizes that if he doesn’t get her back safe and sound, his heart will shatter into uncountable pieces.

Buy A Treasure of Gold on Amazon