Author Interview with Milla Holt

Happy Monday everyone! Today I’m chatting with the lovely Milla Holt. Grab you coffee (or tea, water, or whatever you prefer!) and join the conversation!


Interview

Jessica: Can you start off by telling us why you decided to write about people of color or diverse issues?

Milla: I’m Black, so it comes naturally to include people of color in my
stories. My husband is from Norway, so, again, I reflect my own
experience when I write about people who find love across racial and
cultural boundaries.

Jessica: I love that! What is your greatest struggle in writing characters of color?

Milla: When I write about Black people, especially people of East African
descent, I’m writing what I know. It’s more of a stretch to write about
people with different cultural backgrounds. I don’t want to come across
as inauthentic or using lazy stereotypes, so it definitely takes a lot
more work and conscious effort.

Jessica: We’re thankful you take the time to research it! How do you make your non-White characters believable and relatable?

Milla: The non-white characters I’ve written so far have come from cultures
with which I’m very familiar. In my first book I included several
Ugandan characters. Since that’s my ethnic background and I lived and
worked in Uganda for many years, it was easy to craft these
personalities, their attitudes, their life circumstances, and their
reactions to the events around them.

In my second book, I thought it would be fun to make hair a part of the
plot. My characters meet because a White father is having trouble
choosing hair products for his mixed race daughter and the Black female
love interest steps in to help. This is, once again, something that I’ve
experienced, being Black and the mother of mixed race children. So, I
would say that what I write comes out of things I’ve experienced and
observed.

I put a lot of effort into developing my characters and getting into
their heads, their backgrounds, the defining moments of their lives that
made them who they are. Most of this material never actually makes it
into my books, but it helps me immensely. People are complex and
multifaceted, and I feel that when authors do their best to go beyond
the surface level and dig into what makes their characters tick, that
goes a long way to creating characters who are not cardboard cutouts.
This is especially important when we’re trying to avoid stereotypes of
any kind.

Jessica: There’s so much more to writing then just putting the words to paper! Do you relate to any of the characters in your books?

Milla: Definitely! Each of my characters has at least one thing that I
personally resonate with, whether it’s a detail relating to family
background, career or a pathetic dating history.

Jessica: It’s nice to see Milla amongst the pages! Where do you get your ideas for storylines?

Milla: Oh my, ideas come from all over the place. But most typically, I’ll
think about people whose circumstances put them in conflict, and then
complicate that conflict with romance. So, for example, in my first book
I had an AIDS activist cross paths with the head of a pharma company. Or
in my second book, two people who have lost their spouses start falling
in love, but their massive emotional baggage gets in the way.

Jessica: Awesome! What do you have coming up next for readers?

Milla: I’ve got two projects that I’m very excited about. I’m just finishing a
story that will be free to download. It’s about a couple who broke up
years ago and find themselves stuck next to each other on an awkward
transatlantic plane journey. That should be available on my website in
early August. And in November I’ll wrap up my Color-Blind Love series
with a workplace romance about the White daughter of a billionaire who
meets the son of a Ugandan refugee. She gets the job that he thinks
should have been his, so there’s lots of lovely conflict there.

Jessica: Thanks so much for stopping by and chatting today!

About the Author

 

Milla Holt writes fiction that reflects her Christian faith. She loves
happy endings, heroes and heroines who discover sometimes hard but
always vital truths, and stories that uplift and encourage.

She hails from East Africa but now lives in the east of England with her
husband and children. They enjoy rambling in the countryside, reading
good books, and making up silly lyrics to their favorite songs.

Connect with her. Amazon Bookbub Instagram Website Facebook


 

Book Review: The Paper Daughters of Chinatown

Hello reader friends! Today I am thrilled to share such a beautifully written novel, but first want to let you know that it is certainly not for everyone. There are some triggers in this book, as you can surmise based on the book blurb. However, if you are able to, I highly recommend reading this book. It will surprise you in ways you didn’t imagine.

 

About the Book

The Paper Daughters of Chinatown

A powerful story based on true events surrounding Donaldina Cameron and other brave women who fought to help Chinese-American women escape discrimination and slavery in the late 19th century in California.

When Donaldina Cameron arrives at the Occidental Mission Home for Girls in 1895, she intends to teach sewing skills to young Chinese women immigrants, but, within days, she discovers that the job is much more complicated than perfect stitches and even hems. San Francisco has a dark side, one where a powerful underground organization – the criminal tong – brings Chinese young women to America to sell them as slaves. With the help of Chinese interpreters and the Chinatown police squad, Donaldina becomes a tireless social reformer to stop the abominable slave and prostitution trade.

Mei Lien believes she is sailing to the “Gold Mountain” in America to become the wife of a rich Chinese man. Instead she finds herself sold into prostitution – beaten, starved, and forced into an opium addiction. It is only after a narrow escape that she hears of the mission home and dares to think there might be hope for a new life.

AMAZON  |  BARNES AND NOBLE  |   GOODREADS


My Thoughts

 

There is so much history in this novel I don’t even know where to begin. The author’s attention to detail, and countless hours of research is evident on each and every page. Yes, it was a hard read at times. But all history isn’t cheery and roses. It is tough. It is hard to swallow. But at the end of the day, it still provides hope, which is exactly what Moore has done here.

Donaldina, “Dolly”,  is a character we can all connect with – a girl who wants to help out, thinking she is brave enough to handle it. A girl with a big heart, trying to make a difference. Sound familiar? Yeah, it does to me. As we often find in life, Donaldina found that the work she was doing wasn’t really what she had in mind, and was much harder than she ever thought. But that didn’t stop her. In fact, she found herself doing things she never dreamed of, and that in itself was inspirational.

The Paper Daughters of Chinatown is a poignant story that had me reaching for the tissues. The stories of the things these young woman (and girls) went through absolutely broke my heart. The addition of Mei Lien to the storyline was perfect. She provided a POV that I was nervous about reading, but found myself clinging to every scene. Again, it was hard to read, and I know there were women in much worse circumstances than her. It really makes you think about things, about life.

If you are looking for a historically accurate read that will open your eyes and take your breath away, I highly recommend this book. It is full of emotion, sadness, and darkness. But I find that you can always find a little light in a dark world, and that’s exactly what Moore does. She brings readers hope.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


About the Author

Heather B. Moore

Heather B. Moore is a USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty publications. Her historical novels and thrillers are written under pen name H.B. Moore. She writes women’s fiction, romance and inspirational non-fiction under Heather B. Moore. This can all be confusing, so her kids just call her Mom. Heather attended Cairo American College in Egypt, the Anglican School of Jerusalem in Israel, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Brigham Young University in Utah. Heather is represented by Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret.

Please join Heather’s email list at: HBMoore.com/contact/
Blog: MyWritersLair.blogspot.com
Website: HBMoore.com
Instagram: @authorhbmoore
Twitter: @heatherbmoore
Facebook: Fans of H.B. Moore


 

Do you like reading historically accurate stories, even if they are emotionally hard to read?

 


Post by Contributor Jessica Baker

 

First Line Friday: The Paper Daughters of Chinatown

Happy Friday Everyone!

Welcome to First Line Friday, hosted by Hoarding Books. Grab the book nearest to you and share the first line! Today I am sharing the first line from The Paper Daughters of Chinatown. This book is set to come out September 1, and I’ll be reviewing it next week, so stop back and see what I thought!

 

The Paper Daughters of Chinatown

 

And the first line is…….

“Donaldina Cameron leaned her head against the cool glass of the window as the train slowed to a stop, its whistle mimicking the call of a mournful dove – deep and melancholy – a fitting echo of her life over the past few years.”


ABOUT THE BOOK

A powerful story based on true events surrounding Donaldina Cameron and other brave women who fought to help Chinese-American women escape discrimination and slavery in the late 19th century in California.

When Donaldina Cameron arrives at the Occidental Mission Home for Girls in 1895, she intends to teach sewing skills to young Chinese women immigrants, but, within days, she discovers that the job is much more complicated than perfect stitches and even hems. San Francisco has a dark side, one where a powerful underground organization – the criminal tong – brings Chinese young women to America to sell them as slaves. With the help of Chinese interpreters and the Chinatown police squad, Donaldina becomes a tireless social reformer to stop the abominable slave and prostitution trade.

Mei Lien believes she is sailing to the “Gold Mountain” in America to become the wife of a rich Chinese man. Instead she finds herself sold into prostitution – beaten, starved, and forced into an opium addiction. It is only after a narrow escape that she hears of the mission home and dares to think there might be hope for a new life.

AMAZON  |  BARNES AND NOBLE  |   GOODREADS


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heather B. Moore

Heather B. Moore is a USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty publications. Her historical novels and thrillers are written under pen name H.B. Moore. She writes women’s fiction, romance and inspirational non-fiction under Heather B. Moore. This can all be confusing, so her kids just call her Mom. Heather attended Cairo American College in Egypt, the Anglican School of Jerusalem in Israel, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Brigham Young University in Utah. Heather is represented by Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret.

Please join Heather’s email list at: HBMoore.com/contact/
Blog: MyWritersLair.blogspot.com
Website: HBMoore.com
Instagram: @authorhbmoore
Twitter: @heatherbmoore
Facebook: Fans of H.B. Moore


Let us know the first line of the book closest to you & then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating!


Post by contributor Jessica Baker

First Line Friday: Kiss and ‘Telle?

Happy Friday Everyone!

Welcome to First Line Friday, hosted by Hoarding Books. Grab the book nearest to you and share the first line! Today I am sharing the first line from Kiss and ‘Telle by Nadine Keels. Don’t you just love the cover!?

 

53206080._sy475_

 

And the first line is…….

“Welp. We might as well, ’Telle.”


ABOUT THE BOOK

If only this type of thing were as easy as it looks in chick flicks.

Ever since her college days, Chantelle has had growing feelings for Dennis, a swaggering and smart geek-at-heart who’s got romance coming out of his ears. At least, he talks as if he’s mastered the art of dating, but how would Chantelle know if it’s true? She’s never gotten to experience Dennis as anything more than a close friend.

But wait! A huge opportunity comes along that could impact both their personal and professional lives. This may lead to the perfect time for Chantelle to tell Dennis what he means to her.

It may also be time for some of Chantelle’s own words about love to come back to bite her.

Oops.

AMAZON  |  BARNES AND NOBLE  |  APPLE  |  KOBO  |  GOODREADS


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nadine C. Keels

With her lifelong passion for life-enriching fiction, Nadine C. Keels enjoys reading and writing everything from short stories to novels. Her fiction works include Love Unfeigned and The Movement of Crowns Series, and select pieces of her lyrical poetry can be found on her spoken word album, Hope. Lyricized. Through her books and her blog (Prismatic Prospects), Nadine aims to spark hope and inspiration in as many people as she is privileged to reach.


Let us know the first line of the book closest to you & then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating!


Post by contributor Jessica Baker

Book Review: The Solid Grounds Coffee Company

We made it to Friday! WOOHOO! This has been a week, but you know what I do when weeks are frustrating? I grab some coffee and read a good book. This week I read The Solid Grounds Coffee Company which is the last book in The Saturday Night Supper Club series by Carla Laureano. This series has been fantastic to read!

 

About the Book

The Solid Grounds Coffee Company (The Saturday Night Supper Club) by [Laureano, Carla]

Analyn Sanchez can handle the long hours and arrogant clients that come with her job as a crisis management associate at Denver’s largest publicity firm. The high-powered job, expensive condo, and designer wardrobe are all part of her plan to prove to her family that her life choices haven’t been in vain. But when she’s asked to cover up a client’s misdeeds with serious moral and legal ramifications, she can no longer sacrifice her conscience for her career . . . and the cost is no less than her job.

Ever since a devastating climbing accident in South America eight months ago, and a bad decision that dried up his sponsorships, professional rock climber Bryan Shaw has found himself at similar loose ends. When the opportunity to buy a coffee farm in Colombia arises, he jumps on it—only to discover his wandering ways have left him utterly unprepared to run a business.

When Bryan returns home and offers Ana a role in his company as a solution to both their problems, she’s desperate enough to consider working with the far-too-flippant and far-too-handsome climber, even though he’s the polar opposite of her type A nature. As they delve deeper into the business, however, she begins to suspect there’s much more to Bryan than she’s given him credit for . . . and that sometimes the best plans are the ones you never see coming.

Goodreads | Amazon


My Thoughts

Laureano has proven once again that she is a fantastic story teller. Readers have been waiting patiently for this story, and it did not disappoint. What I didn’t expect was to have the prodigal son story to hit me so hard, so fast. Bryan is a character we can all relate to at some point in our lives. He lived life for himself, until he came to a point where all he could do was look up and realize who he needed to live for. From that point on Bryan is different. Yes, he still had some faults and bumps. But Laureano weaves an encouraging tale of how the broken can be made whole over time. They will continue to have imperfections, yet still grow as individuals.

Bryan and Ana’s love story is probably my favorite of this series. The attraction is always there for sure, but Laureano took her time with them. Their relationship wasn’t forced. There were obstacles to overcome, as there is with any new relationship. Readers have been waiting for this story for the entire series after all! What I loved most is that Bryan and Ana were real with each other. They had some real conversations, sweet moments, laughable moments, and all around great chemistry.

While I am sad to see this series go, I can honestly say Laureano ended it with a bang. And the good thing is, we can visit these friends at any time! I highly recommend reading this series, from start to finish. I think you’ll find the friendships and relationships will bring a smile to your face, and some encouragement to your hearts.

 

 


About the Author

Carla Laureano
Carla Laureano is the RITA® Award-winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C.E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons, where she writes during the day and cooks things at night.

Connect with Carla online at her website (www.carlalaureano.com) or on any of these social media platforms:

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Pinterest


 

Do you enjoy reading friends-to-romance stories? 

Book Review: A Long Bridge Home

Happy Friday everyone! I’m happy to be sharing book two in the Amish of Big Sky Country Series by Kelly Irvin. Set in the Montana mountains, it’s sure to make you want to go and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation for a while.

 

About the Book

alongbridgehomeAfter her community in the awe-inspiring Montana mountains is suddenly consumed by a raging wildfire, one young Amish woman finds herself in a new town where she’s introduced to the Native culture of the Kootenai people.

When the Mast family is forced to evacuate their home in the West Kootenai region of Montana, Christine chooses not to move with her family to her father’s childhood home in Kansas. Instead, she wants to stay closer to home and to her beau, Andy Lambright, who has yet to ask for her hand in marriage and who seems to be holding tightly to secrets from his past.

Now, living with her aunt and uncle in St. Ignatius, Christine is on her own for the first time in her life. While working in her uncle’s store Christine meets Raymond Old Fox, whom she befriends, and he introduces her to his rich native culture with strong ties to the earth and nature. Despite the warnings of her aunt and uncle, Christine is inexplicably drawn to Raymond, and her mind is opened to a history and heritage far different from her own.

With her newly expanding horizons, Christine wonders if she can return to the domestic life that is expected of her. Her heart still longs to be with Andy, but she isn’t the same person she was before the fire, and she wonders if he can accept who she is becoming. Has too much distance grown between them? Or can they bridge the gap from past to present and find their way back together?

 

Goodreads | Amazon


My Thoughts

Irvin takes readers into the beautiful West Kootenai region of Montana in A Long Bridge Home. My heart ached for Christine and the entire community as the wildfires spread and took their homes. Irvin’s descriptive writing had me right there with them, running throughout the house, trying to get the necessary items. At times I felt as if I could even smell the smoke, see the haze in the distance, and feel the fear of having to escape. At a time when wildfires seem to be across the world, it certainly made them more real to this New Yorker, and my empathy for those in the path of the wildfires has doubled.

But Irvin paints a picture of how God can turn something tragic, life a wildfire destroying a community, into something beautiful. Christine meets Raymond Old Fox, and their friendships is perhaps the most beautiful part of this entire story, and just what readers needs to see in today’s world. Two people, with different cultures and beliefs, are able to come together and teach each other about their ways. Each had an open mind to listen to the other, contemplate what they’d heard, and amicably speak about their differences. Neither placed judgement. There was no heated arguments, or pressure to change viewpoints. It was simply talking, teaching, and inspiring. Christine learned that while Raymond’s beliefs were different, there was some value to them. There was away she could apply portions of it to her own life while still honoring God. And isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Find ways to honor our Lord? I can’t express how deeply their friendship moved me as I was reading.

Rest assured there is much more to this beautiful story. Romance, faith, community, family, restoration, and the beauty of God’s creation. I highly recommend reading this delightful read. I hope it speaks to your heart as much as it did my own!

 


About the Author

Kelly Irvin

Best-selling novelist Kelly Irvin’s latest series, The Amish of Sky Country, features an Amish community in Northwest Montana affected by wildfires that destroyed thousands of acres in the state in recent years. The first book, Mountains of Grace, debuted in August 2019, and delves into the impact on not only an Amish man and woman, but also a smoke jumper, a sheriff’s deputy, and a young English woman forced to confront her past because of the fires.

Kelly also writes romantic suspense novels. Her most recent forays into this genre include Tell Her No Lies and Over the Line, both set in San Antonio and South Texas. Of Tell Her No Lies, The Library Journal says, “Irvin creates a complex web with enough twists and turns to keep even the most savvy romantic suspense readers guessing until the end. Known for her Amish novels, this two-time Carol Award finalist shows that her talents span subgenres from tranquil Amish stories to rapidly paced breathless suspense.”

The Kansas native is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the ACFW San Antonio local chapter Alamo City Christian Fiction Writers, as well as Romance Writers of America (RWA) and Sisters in Crime.

Kelly retired in 2016 from her position of 22 years as public relations manager for the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department, where her duties included writing and designing an employee newsletter, writing news releases, collaborating on marketing campaigns, coordinating ribbon-cuttings and groundbreakings, coordinating press conferences, updating the web site, and acting as a media spokesperson.

Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for more than 30 years, and they have two young adult children and three grandchildren. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories, read books by her favorite authors, and visit the babies.

For more information, visit http://www.kellyirvin.com


 

Do you enjoy reading books set in the mountains? What aspect of this book do you most look forward to?

Book Review: A Worthy Heart

Happy Friday!

Not only is it Friday, but it’s Valentine’s Day! A good day to read a romantic book, don’t you think? That’s why I’m sharing A Worthy Heart by Sara Beth Williams. This sweet story is the perfect Valentine’s Day book to curl up with!


About the Book

A Worthy Heart

Joel Bennett has always known Serena Hayes as his sister’s gregarious best friend. In the three years since Lacey began college, Serena became a regular houseguest, but lately, she’s absent more than not. When Joel discovers she’s in an abusive relationship, protectiveness from within roars to life.

With only a part time job to support her and nowhere to go, Serena fears leaving her current relationship would jeopardize her chances of graduating college. After a brutal attack leaves her no choice, she courageously moves out. On her journey toward regaining confidence, self-worth, and independence, Joel falls in beside her, encouraging her. The way he emulates Godly love and compassion draws her close—not just to him, but to the God who can satisfy her longing for love better than any man,

Attraction sizzles between them, but events from their pasts cast shadows of doubt. When the unthinkable happens, can Serena open her heart to a second chance at love, or is she destined to be alone?

Amazon | Goodreads


My Thoughts

Sara Beth Williams has given readers a story that will absolutely touch their hearts. In a powerful story of fighting for yourself, relying on a God who is big enough to get you through anything life throws at you, and how second chances can sneak up on us during the times we are least expecting it, Williams shows readers that you really can get out of a tough situation.

There is no denying that abuse is a hard topic. It’s tough to write, it’s tough to read, and even watch in real life if we know someone who suffers from it. And while Williams doesn’t get gruesome with her details, she writes enough for readers to know exactly what is happening. It absolutely broke my heart, and the way Serena dealt with it for so long, it just made me angry. Here’s the thing – there are so many women suffering from this very thing that do not feel like they can escape either. Or they tell themselves it won’t keep happening, their boyfriends/husbands love them, etc… But this book, well it gives these women hope. Hope that there is people out there who can help them. If for nothing else, read this story for that!

Aside from that, it really is a well written story. The characters are wonderful – especially Joel. What a caring, protective hero that readers will most likely swoon over. He doesn’t judge, and sometimes he doesn’t ask – he just takes action. I love seeing a man’s protective instincts, and Joel certainly shared his throughout the story. At one point I thought those instincts would get him in a bit of trouble – I guess you’ll have to read for yourself to see if he did or not!

At the end of the day, Williams reminds readers of God’s ability to turn something horrible into something good. This is a story that will stay with me for a long time, and I hope to share it with others who could benefit from its powerful message. I encourage you to do the same! I received a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


About the Author
Author-Photo__Sara-Beth-Williams

Sara Beth Williams has loved to read and write since her elementary school days. She loves a good story, regardless of platform. Therefore, she hates watching TV episodes out of order! (God forbid she should miss something vital to the overall story line!)

She was raised in Sacramento, California, and still resides there with her husband, two beautiful daughters, a lovable old pit bull and a spunky and very shaggy Pomeranian. Her time is currently divided between working, raising her daughters and doggies, and writing every spare moment she can.

She loves children, writing, music, teaching and playing with children and a good, soaking rainstorm.

Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Newsletter  / Goodreads / All Author / Bookbub / Amazon


Post written by contributor Jessica Baker

Book Review: A Song for the Stars

Happy Friday everyone!

Fall is finally here. The leaves are changing, pumpkin flavors are everywhere, and I am excited to be reading books with a comfy blanket and warm drink! Today I’m sharing a book that simply takes your breath away – A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd. Simply put, this is a book you need to read!


About the Book

Inspired by a true story

Hawaiian Islands, 1779

As the second daughter of a royal chief, Maile will be permitted to marry for love. Her fiancé is the best navigator in Hawaii, and he taught her everything he knows how to feel the ocean, observe the winds, read the stars, and how to love.

But when sailors from a strange place called England arrive on her island, a misunderstanding ends in battle, and Maile is suddenly widowed before she is wed.

Finding herself in the middle of the battle and fearing for her life, Maile takes John Harbottle, the wounded man who killed her fiancé, prisoner, and though originally intending to let him die, she reluctantly heals him. And in the process, she discovers the man she thought was her enemy might be her ally instead.

John has been Captain James Cook’s translator for three voyages across the Pacific. He is kind and clearly fascinated with her homeland and her people and Maile herself. But guilt continues to drive a wedge between them: John’s guilt over the death he caused, and Maile’s guilt over the truth about what triggered the deadly battle a secret she’s kept hidden from everyone on the island.

When Maile is tasked with teaching John how to navigate using the stars so he can sail back to England, they must also navigate the challenges of being from very different cultures. In doing so, they might also find the peace that comes when two hearts become one.

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads


My Thoughts

There is so much culture, history, romance, and character development in this story. Todd easily held my attention from page on until the very end. The setting was vivid, and the story was beautifully written. Todd’s attention to detail is evident in every chapter, and it made the story come alive in my mind.

This is no regular love story. This is two different people, two different cultures, coming together and learning how to trust and balance each other. The inclusion of journal entries from John only added to the depth of the story, providing readers a glimpse of his thoughts while experiencing this new world. There is joy, pain, sorrow, love, healing, and so many more emotions that readers will feel right along with the characters. I suggest taking your time to read this one so that you can enjoy every ounce of it.

Caution – reading this will probably make you want to go explore the Hawaiian islands. But in all honesty, Todd writes so vividly that you’ll already feel as if you are there! I highly recommend this remarkable novel.


About the Author

Ilima Todd

Ilima Todd was born and raised on the north shore of Oahu and dives for octopus with her dad every time she visits—otherwise she’s diving into books in the Rocky Mountains where she lives with her husband and four children. She graduated from BYU with a degree in physics and eats copious amounts of raw fish and avocados without regret. But mostly she loves being a wife and mama and wouldn’t trade that job for anything in the world.

Follow: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Website


 

 

Book Spotlight: Kiss You Now

Happy Wednesday reader friends!

I think we might finally be seeing signs of spring this week in my neck of the woods! The sun is shining, the temps are slowly creeping up, and the snow is ever so slowly melting away.  Kind of puts you in the mood for a sweet romance story, don’t you think!? Today the spotlight is on Kiss You Now by Jan Thompson.


About the Book

Kiss You Now: A Multiracial Contemporary Christian Romance (Savannah Sweethearts Book 7) by [Thompson, Jan]

A novelist who can’t write…
A doctor who won’t practice…
A world moving on with or without them…
Welcome back to the multiethnic new South, to Savannah and Tybee Island, two of USA Today bestselling author Jan Thompson’s favorite coastal Georgia towns by the Atlantic Ocean. Going about their daily lives while attending the Riverside Chapel church, a group of Christians meet the loves of their lives. What is God’s will for each of these Christians?
In Book 7, we return to the Savannah Senior Living Resort on Tybee Island, where centenarian retired Great-grandpa Hiram Jacobs waits for the day God takes him home to heaven…

Hunter’s Honor…

The Reverend Hiram Jacobs believes he is finally dying, and he wants his memoirs published before his one hundred and fourth birthday.Well, Hunter has his own book deadlines to juggle, and can’t Great-grandpa Hiram wait a few more months?
Unfortunately, Hunter’s writing career tanks. He loses his publishing contract since his books haven’t sold enough copies, and his agent fails to find a new publisher for his old manuscripts. His writing well has dried up, and he has been unable to write anything new for months.

 
Hunter sells his cottage in the Swiss Alps to pay off his debts, and flies home to coastal Georgia. He wants to talk to Great-grandpa Hiram about his memoirs, hoping that it might reboot his writing career. To Hunter’s surprise, Great-grandpa has found a new writing assistant, someone who isn’t even in the Jacobs family. And Hunter is required to hand over everything he has worked on for seven years to her, an outsider who has barely known Great-grandpa for a year.

Stunned, Hunter feels stuck.

Priyanka’s Present…

Renting a campground yurt on Tybee Island, Priyanka Patel is far away from the surgical centers at pediatric hospitals and from that nightmare of a medical mission trip more than two years ago. Yet, even here, there’s that faint scent of a defunct career, too dark, too painful for her to revisit.

 
These days, Priyanka would rather cheer up the elderly residents of the Savannah Senior Living Resort by bringing them freshly-cut flowers, singing and praying with them, and listening to some of them tell sad stories about their children who never come to visit anymore. She spends mornings at the florist and afternoons at the SSLR, walking with the seniors who can, and wheeling them around if they cannot.

 
Pastor Hiram is Priyanka’s favorite patient—ah, friend. The centenarian is losing his memory bit by bit, and the sooner Priyanka writes down everything about his life for his posterity, the better. His great-grandson is supposed to be compiling all his sermons, and if he’d hurry up, those can be published before Pastor Hiram dies.

 
Still, perhaps she should have turned down Pastor Hiram’s request for her to help him complete his memoirs. And yet, her heart gets the better of her, and Priyanka says yes to helping an elderly gentleman fulfill his lifelong wish.

 

When life moves on and time runs out, Priyanka finds herself thrown together with Hunter, trying to catch up with the world around them that is moving faster than they can handle. Should they press forward and go along with it, or should they shrink back and return to their comfort zones? Or is there another way they haven’t thought of?

 

Links: Amazon, B&N, Goodreads


About the Author

Jan Thompson

USA Today bestselling author Jan Thompson writes clean and wholesome multiethnic contemporary Christian romance with elements of women’s fiction, Christian romantic suspense with an air of mystery, and inspirational international thrillers with threads of sweet Christian romance. Her books are for readers who enjoy stories of faith, hope, and love in Jesus Christ.

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Author Interview: Elizabeth Byler Younts

author-interview

Happy Monday reader friends! Today I am pleased to welcome Elizabeth Byler Younts to talk about her wonderful book, The Solace of Water!


 

Q&A

What made you write a story with diverse characters?

Elizabeth: I didn’t set out with that as my mission or goal—I’d say it came to me. It was around 6 years ago that I saw in my mind’s-eye an Amish woman running through the woods to a non-Amish neighbor’s home. The neighbor was a distraught African American woman—I didn’t know much more than that for a long time. Then it just came little by little in layers: the alcoholic Amish husband, the child who died, the daughter with guilt over her lost brother, and the relationship between the Amish boy and the African American girl, and what water had to do with it all. It just came piece by piece.

Jessica: It always amazes me at how stories come to authors!

 

Can you tell us a little bit more about The Solace of Water?

Elizabeth: Besides the retail summary, ultimately this story is about unlikely friendship. It’s about 3 women who find each other in the midst of isolation and heartache and form a bond with one another that in the 1950s their social circles would not have considered a positive friendship. It touches on things that no one really wants to talk about—child loss, self-harm, alcoholism, and racism. But folded within all of that mess and sadness is hope.

Jessica: So many people today need to hear that there is hope. No matter what hand life has dealt you, there is hope.

 

Did you struggle writing these characters?

Elizabeth: I did! Their pain was so palpable and I cried often. I wanted to be authentic and honest about not just the diversity within their races, regions, and religions but within their pain and the reason for their isolation. There are so many things that cause us to feel different or be separate from our communities and I didn’t want to cheapen what they were in the midst of or their most obvious difference in their races. I wanted the reader to be able to enter into each character’s unique story. Each of them had such a beauty about them that I knew would be used for their spiritual and emotional healing. Their burdens were heavier because they loved so deeply and it can be hard to carry that as a writer and a reader.

It was challenging to make sure that every word and every plot choice was about the story and not about anything else. To overly simplify it—I tell stories. I tell stories about people who feel incredibly real to me and I intend to do it honestly and with the weight and beauty of the truth I believe in woven within the story.

Jessica: I like reading “real” stories. The characters are easier to relate to. 

 

What do you hope readers will gain from this story?

I don’t know if I can put my finger on that exactly since every reader is coming into the story uniquely… but what I can do is tell you what I’ve come away with and what I’ve gained. I’ve been deeply affected by the stories of Delilah and Emma and Sparrow. They have been traveling with me in my head for years and they became fixtures in my life. I have never written a book with the intention to teach someone or to prove some point, but often realize there’s something important for ME to learn. I learned that I’m not as good as I think I am and that I don’t seem to love well the person God is growing me to be—but instead I fight His chosen growth in me. I learned that bitterness will destroy everything it touches—always. I learned that withholding forgiveness is never worth it—never-ever. I learned that the person on the other side of that inflammatory FaceBook post that makes you want to “unfollow” them has a story behind that post—it’s usually worth hearing. I am learning to bite my tongue and listen and see what God wants from me once I’ve heard. I learned so much in writing this book and I’m still learning.

There’s a quote by L.M. Montgomery that says, “My pen shall heal, not hurt.” This was where my heart is in writing any book that I find at my fingertips. In walking with characters and entering into their burden or pain with them we can journey full circle in their shoes and maybe find some of our own healing. With healing comes learning, wisdom, and often repentance. That’s what I experienced in several areas in writing The Solace of Water.

Jessica: Thank you for sharing this. We all have things to learn in our lives, and how wonderful that God has blessed you with learning while you’re writing.

 

Which Diverse Reads are you most excited about putting on your TBR stack?

Elizabeth: You have an amazing list of Diverse Reads on your website and some of them are “new to me” authors. Since I love a good series, the two that especially stand out to me to add to my TBR stack are the Maple Run series by Toni Shiloh and Piper Huguley’s Milford College books. I love that you have put so much at a reader’s fingertips!

Jessica: Warning – do NOT read the Maple Run series hungry 😉 

 

What are you reading right now?

Elizabeth: I’m currently reading Peace Like a River by Lief Enger and Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. Enger’s is especially a beautiful and literary and both are pushing me to think outside of myself. I am drawn to literary fiction that is usually historical and to be led to consider a life that is different from mine. I am not an escapist reader so much as I like to be challenged, to think deeply, and to cry! I also like some non-fiction that can be a little random but must be thought provoking.

Jessica: I am intrigued! Thank you for visiting with us today!


 

About the Book

The Blurb: “After the loss of her young son, Carver, an African-American preacher’s wife named Delilah Evans moves with her family from Montgomery, Alabama, to Sinking Creek, Pennsylvania, for a fresh start. The last thing she could have imagined was becoming friends with Emma Mullet, a reclusive Amish woman.

Emma is fighting personal battles of her own and feels estranged from her small Amish community. The secrets that have kept her isolated from her own community serve to unite her in an unlikely friendship with Delilah.

Sparrow, Delilah’s eldest daughter, knows she is responsible for the death of her little brother. When tensions at home become unbearable, she seeks solace at Emma’s house, becoming the surrogate daughter Emma has always wanted. Sparrow, however, is hiding secrets of her own, secrets that could sever all ties to her safe refuge.

Life for these three gets harder when church and social issues confront them, causing rifts within Sinking Creek’s three distinct communities: whites, blacks, and Amish. When their carefully protected secrets come to light, there seems to be little hope for friendship, restoration, or even forgiveness. But when the unthinkable happens, Delilah and Emma find themselves looking into the mirror of their own self-deceptions and are forced to make a choice that will set the way of their future. ”

Links: AmazonB&NCBDGoodreads


 

About the Author

Elizabeth Byler Younts gained a worldwide audience through her first book Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl and is a RITA nominated writer. She is also the author of The Promise of Sunrise series. She has consulted on Amish lifestyle and the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect two award-winning television shows. Elizabeth lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, two daughters, and a cockapoo named Fable.

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