Interview with Alexa Verde, author of Season of Joy (+Giveaway)

Good morning, readers!

Thank you for joining me as I talk to Alexa Verde about her Christmas book, Season of Joy.

Phyllis: Tell me something about Season of Joy that is  not in the blurb.

Alexa: First of all, thank you so much for interviewing me, Phyllis, and for all your support of Christian authors. I can probably talk forever about this book.

I loved writing Season of Joy because it had so much love, faith, humor, and light. I also enjoyed creating a plus-size heroine because it helped me leave my insecurities in the past. Season of Joy is a friends to true love and second chances romance, which are two of my favorite romance tropes!

Phyllis: Rios Azules. You use this setting for many of your books. What is it like?

Alexa: It’s a small town in south Texas with a caring community and quirky characters whom I’d be happy to have as friends in real time. It also has some great restaurants where I wouldn’t mind to eat myself. Rios Azules is “Blue Rivers” in Spanish, and the town is situated near a river while surrounded by forests and fields, and it’s about forty-minutes drive to the ocean. This small town is a place where people make you feel welcome whether you come for a visit or to stay. I enjoy tremendously returning there again and again, and I hope so do my readers.

Phyllis: Tell me more about the characters.

Alexa: Joy Avila is fun, down-to-earth, and caring, and Dylan McGregor thinks she’s absolutely gorgeous, though it takes him some disastrous dates with other women (set up by Joy!) to realize his soulmate is actually his childhood friend. Her profession, a travel reporter, is close to my heart. Once upon a time, I loved traveling and writing about my trips. Due to being belittled and teased as a teen, Joy has commitment issues. Dylan is a single father who works in construction and home repair. After a heartbreaking marriage to a drug addict, he’s afraid to fall in love, too. The characters of Dylan’s sons, Travis and Junior, were a lot of fun to write!

Phyllis: What were the challenges you faced creating them?

Alexa: While sweet and heartwarming, Season of Joy deals with difficult issues, for example, child abandonment and drug use by a secondary character. While I loved creating the character of Dylan’s son, Junior, it wasn’t easy writing the scenes were the boy feared for his father’s life or when he blamed himself for his mother’s abandoning him. I did love Junior’s honesty and pure faith!

Phyllis: What do you love about them and what do you hate?

Alexa: I get attached to my characters, so I love everything about them. Even when they make mistakes or behave in the way I personally wouldn’t want for them to behave, I realize they need to learn from their errors and cheer them on their difficult journey to their happily-ever-after. The only thing I hate about my characters is saying good-bye to them. That’s why they often “visit” my new books. And Joy’s best friend, Samantha, became the main character in a different book, Rapsodia.

Phyllis: What was your inspiration for writing this particular story?

Alexa: First, I wanted to write another Christmas romance, Book 2 in the Rios Azules Christmas series, because I enjoyed writing a Christmas story so much. We should remember about God’s gift to us, about His amazing love, about grace and salvation. We should turn to Jesus in every moment of our lives. Of course, we should do this always, not only during Christmas, but there’s something amazing about this most wonderful time of the year.

Second, I used to have self-image issues because I considered myself overweight in high school, so writing about a plus-size heroine who found her happiness and was adored by people around her was in a way liberating. I’m an avid reader, and I read about many romance heroines who were slim, gorgeous, and just perfect, and I thought that I didn’t look like that. Many women I know don’t look like that! I also felt it would be great to write about a man who became an everyday hero to me by raising his son alone and adopting a teenage boy, Travis, whom nobody wanted to adopt. And so Season of Joy was born.

Phyllis: What do you want your readers to learn from it?

Alexa: Society puts a lot of pressure on us to look a certain way, and sometimes we feel we don’t measure up and forget that we’re all beautiful in God’s eyes. And like Joy and Dylan, we need to let go of the past and open ourselves to new possibilities again.

Phyllis: What do you love most about writing about diverse cultures? What is most challenging about it?

Alexa: Writing about diverse cultures teaches me about acceptance of other people, and I just enjoy learning new things, one of the reasons I used to love traveling so much. And isn’t it fun trying new dishes or returning to the personal favorites? How about eating pizza for research? The challenging part about writing about diverse cultures is probably avoiding stereotypes. There are certain things associated with some nationalities, and one could subconsciously write them into a book.

Phyllis: Your bio tells me that you speak 5 languages and mentions English, Spanish and Russian. What are the other two? And what inspired you to learn them all?

Alexa: Belarusian and German, but I’m forgetting German by now. Two of five are my native languages. I learned Spanish because I love learning new languages and because many people in Texas speak Spanish. So I decided to get a B.A. in Spanish. I learned German because I wanted to travel to Germany and was fascinated by their culture.

Thank you so much for the interview, Phyllis! I loved talking to you.

Phyllis: And thank you, Alexa. It has been a pleasure to learn more about you and your books. I’m looking forward to reading Season of Joy!

*Interview conducted by Phyllis Helton, contributor


About the Author:

Alexa Verde Author-PhotoAlexa Verde writes sweet, wholesome books about faith, love, and murder. She has had 200 short stories, articles, and poems published in the five languages that she speaks. She has bachelor’s degrees in English and Spanish, a master’s in Russian, and enjoys writing about characters with diverse cultures. She’s worn the hats of reporter, teacher, translator, model (even one day counts!), caretaker, and secretary, but thinks that the writer’s hat suits her the best. After traveling the world and living in both hemispheres, she calls a small town in south Texas home. The latter is an inspiration for the fictional setting of her series Rios Azules Christmas and Secrets of Rios Azules.

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About the Book:

Season of Joy by Alexa VerdeSecond chance or second heartache?Single dad Dylan McGregor wants to give his two sons the best life possible in the small town where he’d grown up. When his youngest son writes a letter to God asking for a Mom for Christmas, Dylan reluctantly starts dating again. His lifelong friend, Joy Avila, agrees to help him find the right woman. Then Dylan begins to see Joy in a new light and believes she’s the right woman for him and his family.

Overweight and teased in school, Joy never hoped her first crush, Dylan McGregor, would return her feelings. Confident and successful now, she’s found her passion in writing about international travels. The trip of a lifetime awaits her after the holidays. Instead, will she find her dreams right there in Rios Azules?

Season of Joy is available on Amazon in eBook format and paperback and is also on Kindle Unlimited.


Giveaway

Alexa is kindly giving away one eBook copy of her entire Rio Azules Christmas series collection (In Love by Christmas) to one random commenter.  If you are interested in winning, comment below. If you aren’t sure what to say, tell us what you enjoy about reading diverse fiction.

Giveaway ends at midnight November 12, 2018

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Book Review: The Fate of the Watchman by Chad Pettit

Happy Friday! Today I am going to introduce you to a small yet hard-hitting book by an author I met on Twitter.

About the Book

Fate of the Watchman by Chad Pettit – Book Review, Preview

Lester Sharp is a workaholic, obsessed with the success of his business and oblivious to the world around him. All of that changes when a peculiar stranger comes into his shop asking for food and help. Lester soon finds himself on an impossible journey around the world to bear witness to some of the greatest tragedies a person can know, all frozen in a single moment of time.

In this challenging and gripping novel, debut author Chad Pettit, delivers a supernatural, pulse-pounding adventure in which Lester Sharp is in for the longest second of his life and learns lessons to last a lifetime.

GOODREADS | AMAZON

My Thoughts

The Fate of the Watchman is like looking into a mirror reflecting my soul. Seeing things through Lester’s eyes and knowing that I want to be oblivious to the world around me as he was is a little painful. I know that I’m not as bad as he is in some areas, but not as bad doesn’t mean that I don’t have a long way to go.

The language used is simply beautiful. Having read the author’s bio, I know that he is an English teacher and imagine the continual exposure to the Classics has influenced the way he converts his thoughts into stories. Be sure to take a look at the preview of the book below to get a feel for the way each chapter begins. Wonderful!

This is a challenging book. In a Christmas Carol-ish manner, Lester gets a glimpse of people and events around him. Yet instead of watching with a view of how people perceive him, as happened with Ebenezer Scrooge, he sees the calamities in the world he has shut his eyes against. Things that are hard to look at. Things we all wish we could ignore so they would simply go away.

I like to think of myself as a compassionate person, yet reading this story has me re-evaluating my response to pain and evil around me. Hiding and pretending it doesn’t exist doesn’t make it disappear. I appreciate the way the author showed some ugly things and yet didn’t dwell on them so much to make them impossible for me to read. He handled this with tact and discretion. I was also so thankful for the way I was not left without hope or feeling depressed. I became introspective about my need to be more extrospective. There’s some irony for you!

The Fate of the Watchman shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours to finish. I read it more slowly than some other stories of similar length as I read and re-read passages to absorb what was happening. My recommendation is to find a day you can spend a few hours reading and go through it all at once. Leave some time for contemplation when you are done, then pray and ask the Lord what this means in your life and what, if anything, He would have you to change. This is a great book!

About the Author

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I was born and raised in Oregon but have lived most of my adult life in Central Texas. I spent ten years in the Army, which included two combat tours to Iraq. I have been everything from a Lab Technician to a Taekwondo Instructor to finally settling down as an English Teacher.

I went back to school when I was thirty-three and earned my Bachelor of Arts in less than three and a half years. Being a writer has been my dream since I was eight years old, so starting that journey back to college was a major step along the way to making that dream come true. I definitely could not have made it without the support of my amazing wife and four boys.

CONNECT: Website | Facebook | Twitter  | Instagram | Amazon

Book Review: Jade’s Match

Today, I’m happy to share my review of Jade’s Match with you. This is the 7th book of the Jewel Series. Each book in this series includes characters from the previous stories but stands alone.

As a woman who enjoys receiving courteous treatment that tells me I am valued, I love having doors opened for me. I know some women are like Cora, however, and think that men who do this are questioning their ability to do it themselves. I loved the discussions throughout the book about this and the beautiful way that author Hallee Bridgeman showed that these chivalrous acts are not a condescension but a show of respect. I couldn’t resist including the excerpt below to show you what might have been my favorite part of the book.

Cora also needed to learn lessons about the importance of not judging based on partial information and especially about keeping a rein on her tongue. It is so sad how hurtful our words can be. I am so glad Cora learned that and was willing to do the right thing.

Davis was a tough, yet tender hockey player headed to the Olympics. He struggled to control anger and even feared he might hurt those closest to him because of it. The author handled this extremely well and offered an insightful perspective on it.

Davis was half-Korean and Cora part Native American. A prejudiced and jealous man confronted them with hatred for this, which led to some major conflict in the story.

I love when authors make an effort to make the formatting of their books attractive. The chapter headings of Jade’s Match were so lovely as was the overall look and feel of the book. As Cora loved to write out scripture and embellish it, I could picture that she might have created something similar to these headings.

I especially enjoyed this excerpt from the book:

Cora watched as Song sprinkled sugar into a cup and added a little bit of milk, then filled the cup with hot tea. She handed it to her husband almost ceremonially, slightly bowing her head as he took the cup from her. Cora felt a flood of emotion and longing at the love in Grant’s eyes as he took the tea. He could have very easily poured his own tea. Song respected him by pouring it for him, and Grant respected Song by letting her. This wasn’t a show for Cora’s benefit. This was a mark of the mutual love and respect that they held for each other every day.

She remembered the conversation she’d had with Davis about opening her door and holding out her chair. Suddenly, she understood what he meant. Suddenly, she longed to be back in his presence so she could step aside and give him the opportunity to respect her by opening her door. She couldn’t imagine missing him more than she missed him right now.


About the book:

Jade's Match by Hallee BridgemanTwo Olympians are matched in a media campaign that turns into something more than a game.

Rio Games silver medalist and social media darling CORA “JADE” ANDERSON is approached by a popular cell phone company to launch a flirty but fake media campaign with ice hockey star DAVIS ELLIOTT. When things get off to a rocky start, Cora and Davis both wonder what they’ve gotten into and how they’ll get through the months until the Korean games.

It’s not long until things start to warm up between the athletes and soon this fake romance becomes something much more real. Cora knows just how to work social media and engage her fans, and as the world watches and interacts with them, their love grows. When Davis is selected for Team USA, the opposition starts. As a Korean American, he’s already facing odds Cora can never comprehend, but he takes his frustration at the racism to the ice and lets the puck take the beating.

Things come to a head just weeks before the games begin. Can Davis and Cora’s very public relationship survive the aftermath of a very public confrontation, or are they going to have to let their love go when the Olympic flame is extinguished at the closing ceremonies?

Buy Jade’s Gift on Amazon


About the Author:

Hallee Bridgeman

With more than half a million book sales, Hallee Bridgeman is a best-selling Christian author who writes action-packed romantic suspense focusing on realistic characters who face real world problems. Her work has been described as everything from refreshing to heart-stopping exciting and edgy.

An Army brat turned Floridian, Hallee finally settled in central Kentucky with her family so that she could enjoy the beautiful changing of the seasons. She enjoys the roller-coaster ride thrills that life with a National Guard husband, a college student daughter, and two elementary aged sons delivers.

A prolific writer, when she’s not penning novels, you will find her in the kitchen, which she considers the ‘heart of the home’. Her passion for cooking spurred her to launch a whole food, real food “Parody” cookbook series. In addition to nutritious, Biblically grounded recipes, readers will find that each cookbook also confronts some controversial aspect of secular pop culture.

Hallee is a member of the Published Author Network (PAN) of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) where she serves as a long time member in the Faith, Hope, & Love chapter. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the American Christian Writers (ACW) as well as being a member of Novelists, Inc. (NINC). An accomplished speaker, Hallee has taught and inspired writers around the globe, from Sydney, Australia, to Dallas, Texas, to Portland, Oregon, to Washington, D.C., and all places in between.

Hallee loves coffee, campy action movies, and regular date nights with her husband. Above all else, she loves God with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength; has been redeemed by the blood of Christ; and relies on the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide her. She prays her work here on earth is a blessing to you and would love to hear from you. You can reach Hallee at hallee@halleebridgeman.com.


Connect with Hallee:

Website – http://www.halleebridgeman.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/authorhalleebridgeman/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/halleeb
Google+ – https://plus.google.com/u/0/105383805410764959843
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/RegencyMaid
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/halleebridgeman/

Sign up for her newsletter  at: 
https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/l6c2w0

Review by Phyllis Helton

Book Spotlight: Jade’s Match

Happy Wednesday! Today is book spotlight day and I’m pleased to present to you Jade’s Match by Hallee Bridgeman. This book is a Contemporary, Christian Romance.


About the book:

Jade's Match by Hallee BridgemanTwo Olympians are matched in a media campaign that turns into something more than a game.

Rio Games silver medalist and social media darling CORA “JADE” ANDERSON is approached by a popular cell phone company to launch a flirty but fake media campaign with ice hockey star DAVIS ELLIOTT. When things get off to a rocky start, Cora and Davis both wonder what they’ve gotten into and how they’ll get through the months until the Korean games.

It’s not long until things start to warm up between the athletes and soon this fake romance becomes something much more real. Cora knows just how to work social media and engage her fans, and as the world watches and interacts with them, their love grows. When Davis is selected for Team USA, the opposition starts. As a Korean American, he’s already facing odds Cora can never comprehend, but he takes his frustration at the racism to the ice and lets the puck take the beating.

Things come to a head just weeks before the games begin. Can Davis and Cora’s very public relationship survive the aftermath of a very public confrontation, or are they going to have to let their love go when the Olympic flame is extinguished at the closing ceremonies?

Buy Jade’s Gift on Amazon


About the Author:

Hallee Bridgeman

With more than half a million book sales, Hallee Bridgeman is a best-selling Christian author who writes action-packed romantic suspense focusing on realistic characters who face real world problems. Her work has been described as everything from refreshing to heart-stopping exciting and edgy.

An Army brat turned Floridian, Hallee finally settled in central Kentucky with her family so that she could enjoy the beautiful changing of the seasons. She enjoys the roller-coaster ride thrills that life with a National Guard husband, a college student daughter, and two elementary aged sons delivers.

A prolific writer, when she’s not penning novels, you will find her in the kitchen, which she considers the ‘heart of the home’. Her passion for cooking spurred her to launch a whole food, real food “Parody” cookbook series. In addition to nutritious, Biblically grounded recipes, readers will find that each cookbook also confronts some controversial aspect of secular pop culture.

Hallee is a member of the Published Author Network (PAN) of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) where she serves as a long time member in the Faith, Hope, & Love chapter. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the American Christian Writers (ACW) as well as being a member of Novelists, Inc. (NINC). An accomplished speaker, Hallee has taught and inspired writers around the globe, from Sydney, Australia, to Dallas, Texas, to Portland, Oregon, to Washington, D.C., and all places in between.

Hallee loves coffee, campy action movies, and regular date nights with her husband. Above all else, she loves God with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength; has been redeemed by the blood of Christ; and relies on the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide her. She prays her work here on earth is a blessing to you and would love to hear from you. You can reach Hallee at hallee@halleebridgeman.com.


Connect with Hallee:

Website – http://www.halleebridgeman.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/authorhalleebridgeman/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/halleeb
Google+ – https://plus.google.com/u/0/105383805410764959843
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/RegencyMaid
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/halleebridgeman/

Sign up for her newsletter at: 
https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/l6c2w0

Spotlight by Phyllis Helton