Author Interview: Alena Pitts with Wynter Pitts

Happy Monday, diverse reader friends!

Today I’m super excited to introduce you to Alena Pitts and her mother Wynter! If you’ve seen the popular Christian movie “War Room” you may recognize Alena. She played Danielle who is the daughter of Elizabeth Jordan. Priscilla Shirer played Alena’s mom in this movie but today you get a special treat because you get to “meet” Alena’s real-life mom Wynter!

Alena wrote the book Hello Stars based on her experience from her professional acting debut in the movie War Room. Wynter contributed to the story but her daughter Alena really “drove” the writing of this book. According to Alena’s PR agent, Alena “developed the story concept for the series, the characters, and wrote the content. Wynter’s role was to help guide her, as Wynter is also a writer, a published author, and a magazine editor.”

Alena, now 13-years-old, started writing stories when she was age 11. Wynter has supported and guided Alena through all of her creative pursuits, especially involving the written word. According to their PR agent, Alena and Wynter are “an incredible team” and “the entire Pitts family is wonderful!”

After that introduction, I think you’re ready to “meet” Alena and Wynter, right? 🙂

Enjoy the interview!

~*~

About the book: 

 Lena Daniels never thought she’d get the chance star in a movie. Headstrong and determined, she has her life planned out to the minute. But when her best friends, Savannah and Emma, tell her about an audition, she knows there’s nothing else in the world she’d rather do. And now that she’s gotten her wish, Lena finds that being in the spotlight is harder than it sounds. She got everything she never wanted! Her face turns up everywhere she goes, and everything in her life is flipped upside down. Lena wonders if this is a dream come true or a horrible nightmare. Even a visit from her best friends during filming turns into a disaster.

With her little sisters—Ansley, Ashton, and Amber—and her mischievous pup, Austin, constantly at her side, Lena must face the challenges of everyday life while chasing her dreams of being a model and actress on the big screen. Lena tackles tough choices, learns the value of perseverance, and keeps her hopes high. She knows her faith and family will keep her feet on the ground and her eyes on the stars.

This Faithgirlz series entitled Lena in the Spotlight, written by Alena Pitts, star of War Room and tween blogger of For Girls Like You, and co-written with her mother, editor and author, Wynter Pitts, is a reflection of Alena’s own life experiences as she reaches for the stars and keeps her faith in balance.

Book purchase links: Amazon, B&N, CBD

~*~

Interview with Alena and Wynter Pitts about the book, Hello Stars:

Alexis: You’re such a good writer! I love your creative descriptions like this one from your book on page 20: “Mom looked at me as if she was trying to see inside my brain.” Have you always had this desire to be an author? Tell me how this book went from an idea to reality.

Alena: No, I didn’t actually have a desire to write a book! My mom has always said I was a great writer and after reading something I’d written for school she randomly said, “Alena we should write a book together!” We decided to pray about it. About a month or so later we got an email from Zondervan asking if we wanted to meet with them about writing a series together! It really just showed how God always hears our prayers!

Alexis: In this book, Lena is star struck when she gets the opportunity of a lifetime. What was it like when you got the call to play Priscilla’s daughter Danielle in the movie War Room? What thoughts went through your head? How did the news make you feel?

Alena: My real life reaction was pretty much exactly the same. I was star-struck and overwhelmed! There was a big part of me that was grateful to God that He allowed me the opportunity to act in a movie, but the other small part of me was, “What have I gotten myself into?!”

Alexis: Why does Lena address her journal entries to “Hello, Stars”?

Alena: Lena addresses her journal entries to “Hello Stars” because she sort of is just talking to the air because no one is reading it but she slowly realizes she is talking to God.

Alexis: How much of Lena’s fictional storyline is actually yours from what you experienced in being selected to play Danielle in the movie War Room? Describe how you and Lena are alike and different.

Alena: A lot of the storyline is based off my life but to make the book a little more fun and goofy we added some fiction. Lena and I are very similar. We both like to be in control but are learning to allow God to be in control of our lives.

Alexis: At such young age, you’ve experienced several once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that some people only dream of. Through it all, how have you learned to trust God and follow His plans for your life?

Alena: I’ve learned that God’s plans for my life are so much better than my own plans. I love to be in control but I’ve had to learn how to give God control.

Alexis: Do you ever feel like God is being silent? If so, share the story of what you went through and how He broke the silence.

Alena: I’ve never felt like God is silent but I know that when He’s not showing us or allowing everything we want to happen, He’s working everything out. We just don’t know it because we’re human.

Alexis: How has your faith in God grown since your big role in the movie War Room? How did it help you write this book?

Alena: My prayer life has excelled greatly. Before the movie, I thought prayer was for older people only! I didn’t think I had anything to pray about but after the movie, I realized I did, and I started to pray. I learned that God listens.

Alexis: Do you want to be a normal kid? Or are you ready for more adventures as an actress and author? Share what you can about what’s next for your career and education.

Alena: I don’t really have a solid plan for my career. I love hanging out with my friends and playing sports but am ready for new adventures. I have a passion for singing and hope to pursue that in the near future.

~*~

Questions for Wynter:

Alexis: What was your role in the writing of this book? How much did you write and how much did Alena write?

Wynter: Alena created the storyline and drove the plot. She would send me a few thousand words at a time, full of her ideas and stories. She knew the adventure and experiences she wanted Lena Daniels to have as well as the lessons she wanted her to line throughout the series. I helped with the flow of the chapters and worked to help increase the word count!

Alexis: The cover of your book is beautiful! I love how it features a young Black female with natural hair that looks flawless and she has a true to life skin color! As you may know, sometimes authors of color struggle with getting proper representation for characters of color on the cover of their books. Sometimes the models or pictures chosen are featured with unkempt hair or an unattractive look. Did you and your daughter have a say on how your book’s cover looked? Are you happy with it? Who was your cover designer?

Wynter: Yes, we love the cover! We wanted little girls to look at the cover and see themselves and Faithgirlz did an amazing job of capturing that. It is a true representation of Alena’s heart and Lena Daniels’ personality.

Alexis: What race are Savannah and Emma who play Lena’s best friends in this story? What are your thoughts on the need for diversity in Christian fiction?

Wynter: Emma is White and Savannah is biracial. We wanted the story to reflect Alena’s real life and she has a pretty diverse group of friends. I think it’s important for all girls to see themselves in the stories they read…seeing first that they are God’s girl and second, He made them unique on purpose.

Alexis: Are you and Alena close like the characters in this story? Describe your Mother-daughter bond.

Wynter: Yes we are extremely close. My goal is for Alena to know that we (her father and I) are her biggest fans, but not simply because of her outward successes. We are fully invested in her spiritual growth and character development. This means we have to be willing to spend time with, know her and support her as she grows and explores all that God has for her and who He created for her to be. As a mom, I think it is such a gift to watch our children walk out their paths. I tell Alena and her sisters often that I love having a front row seat in their lives!

Alexis: What is it like raising a superstar?

Wynter: Oh my! I never consider her a superstar! She is very much like any other 13-year-old, meaning she has to be reminded to clean her room and asked to turn down her music! I am very proud of Alena and all that she has accomplished but my heart is for her to remain humble and grateful that God has blessed her with awesome opportunities to show His love.

Alexis: What role do faith and family play in keeping you and your daughter grounded in reality while chasing your dreams?

Wynter: Our faith is our foundation and our family is our priority. Who we are at home is what matters and we pray that the details of our lives would always point others to the love of God.

Alexis: What message are you hoping that this book will give young girls with big dreams?

Wynter: That anything is possible! Literally anything! But their first priority is to get to know God and be willing to say yes and follow His plans for them!

~*~

A Question for Alena and Wynter

Alexis: Jeremiah 29:11 is one of several Bible verses that are quoted in this book. This one is what I consider to be “my life verse” because God led my Mom to it when I went through a traumatic time as a teenager and she shared that verse with me. Ever since then, we’ve seen it everywhere! Why do you, Alena like that verse and what do you, Wynter, think of this verse in relation to all God is doing in your daughter’s life?

Alena: I like this verse because it is a reminder that God does have a plan even when we don’t see it!

Wynter: It is very clear to me that all that has happened in Alena’s life is bigger and beyond anything, I could have ever dreamed up as her mother! Surely she is God’s and she is living out His plan.

Alexis: Thank you, Alena and Wynter, for taking the time to answer my questions! Do you have any closing comments?

Alena: I’d love for you to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at @alenapitts to follow my journey! I am ready for whatever adventure God sends! You can also check out my website at alenapitts.com

~*~

About the Author:

 Alena Pitts is a young actress and model from Dallas, Texas.  As the oldest of four girls, Alena first cut her teeth in acting through making home videos and dramas with her sisters, using their entire home as their recording studio.  She has a natural love for all things creative which falls right in line with her gifts and talents. The Kendrick Brothers’ War Room marks Alena’s professional acting debut. With only school theater on her young resume, Alena jumped at a chance to audition for the role of Danielle Jordan. In addition to school and acting, Alena models and is a frequent contributor for the magazine For Girls Like You.

Follow Alena: Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram

~*~

Contributor Bio: 

 Wynter Pitts is the founder of For Girls Like You Magazine and the author of For Girls Like You: A Devotional for Tweens and You’re God’s Girl. The mother of four girls, Wynter’s mission is to empower and equip girls to walk boldly into becoming who God has created them to be and to provide parents with the resources and support needed to raise strong Christ followers. In addition to publishing the quarterly magazine, Wynter is a frequent blogger, a contributor for LifeWay’s ParentLife Magazine, and a public speaker. She is also the niece of Dr. Tony Evans. Wynter, her husband Jonathan, and four daughters (ages 6-11), reside in Dallas, Texas.

~*~ Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring ~*~

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Author Interview: Melissa Wardwell

Happy Monday, diverse reader friends!

I’m so excited to share an interview with Melissa Wardwell. She’s stopped by to talk about her story, Hope Beyond Savannah, one of the two novelettes in A Spring of Weddings. When I read her story, I knew it was perfect for our blog. Let’s get started!


About the Book

Hope Beyond Savannah Blurb: Lily Allman and Nikotemo (Nik) Lagatuo were the poster children for the term “opposites attract.” He was an evangelist and CEO for a non-profit from Samoa who grew up in a large loving family. She was a blond bombshell with a funky style and no family to call her own. Two of the most unlikely people meet in the most unlikely of places, but God had a plan when He brought them together. They never let their differences deter them from the love they had for each other, but when Nik’s mother comes to the States for the wedding, the idea of wedded bliss is shaken. Can prejudices be over looked, insecurities overcome, and hope for a better future be restored so that these two can have all that was promised?

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


Interview

Toni: Welcome, Melissa! I’m so excited to talk about your latest release, Hope Beyond Savannah, one of the two stories in A Spring of Weddings. I was so excited that your book deals with an interracial relationship between a Caucasian and a Samoan! How did you decide to make Nik a Samoan?

Melissa: Honestly, I wish I could say it was some kind of brilliant creativity but really it was while I was doing an image search of bi-racial men. I kept coming across images of Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) and Jason Mamoa (Aqua Man), both of them are of Samoan heritage. In fact, Mr. Johnson won the award for become the muse for my “Nik” but I tell you what, I might use Mr. Mamoa later 😉

Toni: I’m still in shock that Jason Mamoa is going to be Aquaman. Did you find that writing a Samoan character had many traps to stereotype Nik’s character? And if so, how did you navigate the writing waters?

Melissa: I probably gave in a bit to those stereotypes. All you have to do is look the two guys mentioned above to see it. During my research though I found that they were kind and jovial people. I did my best to show that part of the culture. At the same time, I wrote Nik like any other man in active service for God should behave. I’m not sure it matters where your from when you head the Call. If you are living your life as a man (or woman) of God should, the tone of your skin shouldn’t effect that.

Toni: Yes! I love how the body of Christ has differences but our love for God unites us. You had so many interesting facts about the Samoan culture. How did you research all the information to make it so authentic?

Melissa: I spent a whole day absorbing all I could on the people, customs and language. If I was writing a full length novel, it probably would have been more in depth. Someone shared with me a translator online that spoke the word for you, not just typed out the translation. It was so beautiful. Google became a friend of mine this time around for sure as I researched wedding attire (they wear tree bark native to the island – yeah, not including that) and other traditions. I was surprised to find that even though their ancient history is riddled with gods and lore, their main religion is Christianity.

I also had to do research on the Maori people to get an accurate portrayal of the hakka. Look it up on YouTube. It is powerful and mesmerizing.

Toni: I’ll do that! Did you find it difficult to write Nik’s character considering your ethnic background?

Melissa: Oh heavens, yes. I was worried that things I wrote or stated would cause an offense with some one. I am from an area that has not seen any one of a different color or ethnicity for decades (our area has a past of not being very friendly with folks of African origin). It has only been in the last five or so years that you see more diversity on our streets. I wish I could say that the transition has been easy, but there are always going to be individuals who make poor choices – no matter what your skin color is.

Having friends who are different than I am and taking care of their little boy almost daily is what inspired me to try something different than the run of the mill Christian Fiction. I have always looked over color lines. I struggle to see why we should be treating people differently based on the color of their skin. That might be naïve of me, but I believe that is how God sees us. We all look different on the outside, but we were all made by the same Creator. We all have similar struggles. We all are just trying to make it in this crazy world.

Toni: I’m glad you took a step to write something different. It was beautifully done. How about some fun fact questions?
New Year’s or Valentine’s Day?

Melissa: New Year’s Because my hubby is always home for that holiday and our kids are old enough that they go in other directions and we can spend it together.

Toni: That’s awesome! Reading or Writing?

Melissa: Oh, that’s not fair. Depends on the mood. Right now, I am reading when I would rather be writing.

Toni: lol, that was a hard question. I think w (writers) all waffle between the two. Heels or Flats?

Melissa: There was a time when I would have said heels. Now it is leather riding boots or flats.

Toni: Flats all the way! Pineapples or Oranges?

Melissa: Both – together!

Toni: Yum! And of course, readers want to know, what’s next in the book world for you? Will you dive into diverse characters again?

Melissa: I am currently working on another novella in my Brides of Promise series and the next novel in my Promises from Above series. I would like to touch on this again but it might be a while. I may even be compelled to expand on Nik and Lily’s story. I know there was a lot that left some of my readers wanting to know more. (I did it on purpose) Really, it all depends on what story lines God gives me. I am open to it though.

Toni: Praying you many blessings on your writing endeavors! Readers, do you have any questions for Melissa?


About the Author

Melissa resides in a small mid-Michigan farm community with her husband, three children, two cats, and three dogs. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, taking photos, and motorcycle rides with her husband.  Her hope is that each story touches your heart, gives you hope, or just gives you a moment away from the chaos of life.

Follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon


Interview conducted by Toni Shiloh

Author Interview: Vanessa Riley

Today, we’re featuring Vanessa Riley.

She’s the author of Regency-era novels with gorgeous book covers, captivating characters, and intriguing storylines!

Vanessa visits with us today to talk about her story, Unmasked Heart.

About the book: 
Shy, nearsighted caregiver, Gaia Telfair always wondered why her father treated her a little differently than her siblings. She never guessed she couldn’t claim his love because of a family secret, her illicit birth. With everything she knows to be true evaporating before her spectacles, can the mulatto passing for white survive being exposed and shunned by the powerful duke who has taken an interest in her?

Ex-warrior, William St. Landon, the Duke of Cheshire, will do anything to protect his mute daughter from his late wife’s scandals. With a blackmailer at large, hiding in a small village near the cliffs of Devonshire seems the best option, particularly since he can gain help from the talented Miss Telfair, who has the ability to help children learn to speak. If only he could do a better job at shielding his heart from the young lady whose honest hazel eyes see through his jests as her tender lips challenge his desire to remain a single man.

Unmasked Heart is the first Challenge of the Soul Regency Romance novel.

Purchase the book: Amazon, BAM!B&N

Author bio: Vanessa Riley worked as an engineer before allowing her passion for historical romance to shine. A Regency era (early 1800s) and Jane Austen enthusiast, she brings the flavor of diverse peoples to her stories. Since she was seventeen, Vanessa has won awards for her writing and is currently working on two series. She lives in Atlanta with her military man hubby and precocious child. You can catch her writing from the comfort of her southern porch with a cup of Earl Grey tea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Interview: 

Alexis: Unmasked Heart is the first book in your Challenge of the Soul Regency series. Tell us about it. How did you create the concept for this story?

Vanessa: Unmasked Heart is a story in which I kept pushing the envelope. I didn’t want to tell a normal tale. Every novel in the series will focus on a challenge of faith from someone who has been rocked to his/her core by life circumstances. The hero or heroine or both must answer, “Who am I in Christ?” Am I conqueror, a temple, no longer a slave, an heir?

When we meet Gaia, we see she is a nice young woman from a modest family. She’s the kind sister and the caregiver in her family. She is doing good things and takes primary care of her stepbrother. Gaia is a believer and her faith is evident from the beginning. When she is alone, she prays to God, mentioning all her frustrations. At first, these problems seem to be nothing more than what a young woman of the 1800s would face.

Yet, what would make Gaia challenge everything that she knows including her bedrock of faith? It wasn’t enough to have her requited in love. It wasn’t enough to have her doubt her father’s love. What if she doubted who she was? That is where her story begins. Who am I in Christ? Am I who He says I am or the lies I’ve grown up believing?

Alexis: What are Gaia’s greatest hopes and deepest fears? Why?

Vanessa: Like all of us, Gaia wants to be loved. She has spent her life in want of it. She wants deep and abiding, love-all-of-me love. Fear of never possessing it or not being brave enough to say she deserves it, this is Gaia’s problem. If she can overcome the fear of asking and failing, she will never have everything God wants her to have. How can she be all that God wants her to be if she does not have the strength to try?

Alexis: Gaia grew up believing that her natural tan is a result of her mother’s Spanish ancestry. But then she learns the truth. How does her father’s confession rock her world?

Vanessa: The day Gaia learns that her mother had an affair and that Gaia is the product of a liaison with an African man, her world is turned upside down. She is ashamed of her mother’s sins. She knows little of the African race. In her isolated village away from London, she may have not seen that many. She has heard the jokes about that race being slow-witted or happy slaves. She must come to terms with who she is as a biracial woman. She has to accept that the past does not matter. It is who she in in Christ, how she makes her life a willing sacrifice to Him—that is what matters. My hope is all who read Unmasked Heart, will sense her heartache of learning the truth and the weight of her dilemma. Some will never value her humanity because of the sins of the past, but she must come to understand that Gaia is not defined by it. Her present counts more. She is wonderfully made molded in the image of the Creator.

Alexis: A mulatto “passing” for White was an act that is not limited to the Regency era but still happens in modern times. What is your definition of a mulatto?

Vanessa: A mulatto is a person of mix ancestry with typically one white parent and one black parent. Gaia is a mulatto. A Blackamoor is a person of darker colored skin. Had she been darker skinned, unable to pass for White, she could have also been labeled as a Blackamoor.

Alexis: William St. Landon, the Duke of Cheshire, is the hero of your story. Describe his looks, mannerisms, and heart.

Vanessa: William is a handsome, older hero. He’s in his mid-thirties, which was older for the shorter Regency life spans. William is a military man. Rigor and discipline are his norms. It’s what he is used to, but now he finds himself widowed and raising a daughter who is mute. Can you imagine if you are accustomed to shouting commands to your men who do as they are told but you can’t command this little girl? She won’t say “Yes, Sir” and do his bidding. He is frustrated and desperate. So, when he meets Gaia and finds out that she is a caregiver who has taught her mentally disabled brother to speak, he has hope. He must meet Gaia and find a way to convince her to help.

Alexis: What is it about Gaia that draws William to her, making him reconsider his desire to remain single?

Vanessa: William is a widower, but his marriage was difficult. His wife married him for his title and his wealth. He meets Gaia who doesn’t care about either. In a truly Darcy-kind-of-way, he’s taken by her because she’s not running after him or fawning all over him. In fact, she believes herself in love with someone else. He feels he can be himself around her without worrying about her trying to attach herself to him. The problem with spending more time with Gaia is that he sees her heart, begins to covet it then wants it for himself.

Gaia is love with her neighbor, Elliot. Unfortunately, he has begun to court her sister, Julia. Gaia is heartbroken to see her sister’s treachery for who else would know of her love for Elliot better than the sister she with which she was close? Gaia’s happily-ever-after won’t come until she is able to repair relationships with her family and learning to live without bitterness if her efforts fail. Not everyone will be able to accept who you are, but you must love yourself enough to not crumble. Gaia should accept the challenge to love herself more than sorrow, more than loss. If God loves us so much that He sacrificed his only Son for our sakes, why can’t we love ourselves beyond our own failures or the poor labels given to us by those who are not working for our good?

If Gaia and William, can both learn to love to love in the light, beyond the shadows of the past, they will earn their happily-ever-after.

Alexis: What were the challenges of writing this book?

Vanessa: There wasn’t a challenge per se. The problem lies more in the attitudes one confronts during and after publication, centering on the lie that this story could never happen. Dido Belle, the mulatto niece raised by Lord Mansfield is not known by many but there is a lovely movie called Belle if one needs cliff notes to this history. One may not care to know that Jane Austen wrote about a mulatto heiress in Sandition (1817). One probably doesn’t know of the scandal of Prince William, the brother of the Regent who was caught in an affair with a mulatto woman from Jamaica (1778).

I was on a panel and a very, very popular bestselling author, tried to make a joke about it being “impossible to put African Americans in her Regency novels because it was England.” She thought it was cute to indicate, “that you people have no seat at the table.”

She forgot about the American-born slave women brought to London post the Revolutionary War, technically African-Americans. She forgot about the free Blackamoor and mulatto women present in London at the time Pride and Prejudice was written. Bless her heart. She did have her hands full marginalizing other populations in her books as her answer to the growing call to add diversity to her stories.

Alexis: What would you like to see change in CBA when it comes to authors of color who write about characters of color and how that impacts their journey to publication?

Vanessa: I would love for there to be more opportunity, but opportunity is only part of the battle. The systemic marketing issues are huge. Stories centered on characters of color are often packaged as exotic like it’s the same as an alien futuristic novel. Other marketing tactics are to put a house on the cover as if the reader should be tricked into buying the book. Or lastly, the guilt-ridden complex which equates to buy this book of color because it’s Black History Month, etc. as if the story would not make a good read in March. The CBA is not alone in this struggle, but it seems that with the data available about buying patterns and habits, newer fresher ways to market diverse books should also exist.

Alexis: You’ve said that ABA wants your historical romance stories that feature characters of color but CBA does not. What did they say was the reason? How do you feel about that? Explain.

Vanessa: I can’t speak for the ABA (American Booksellers Association) or CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) but ABA seems to be more successful in getting different types of books to the market. They take more risks, which paid off with more unexpected hits.

With the ABA or CBA, you still face challenges in marketing diverse stories. If the sales numbers are not there, you’ve now doomed the slots for your future books and or books like yours. Yes, this is the extra weight of every diverse narrative that is traditionally published. Can you stand the rain?

I have an umbrella, and I decided to go with a publisher who has had success in publishing different books to a wider market and has the distribution to land New York Times bestsellers. For my 2018 releases, I am being published by Entangled in their single title historical select imprint. I am very happy for the opportunity to tell my story to a broader audience.

Alexis: What advice do you have for authors of color who want to share their stories but are afraid to write what they know?

Vanessa: Tell the story you are given. Don’t chase the market for it always moving. Write what is on your heart. When I gave up trying to fit my square peg Regency tales into a round market that didn’t necessarily think a market for diverse Regencies existed, I found my lane, my audience. I am ever grateful for my traditionally published CBA debut and every one of my independently published titles that have found homes around the world on readers’ shelves or Kindles.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Vanessa!

~*~

Connect with Vanessa:

Website – www.vanessariley.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/VanessaRileyAuthor

www.facebook.com/ChristianRegency

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/VanessaRiley

Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/regencymaid

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/govanessariley

Purchase Vanessa’s book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00WDR6C7S

Sign up for Vanessa’s newsletter: http://christianregency.com/subscribe.html

Author Interview: Stacy Hawkins Adams, featuring “Worth a Thousand Words”

Please extend a warm welcome to a familiar face here on our blog!

Journalist Stacy Hawkins Adams returns to answer my questions about book number two in her Jubilant Soul Series, Worth a Thousand Words.

Enjoy!

~*~

About the book:

 Life has always gone Indigo Burns’s way. She’s smart, pretty, and talented, and she knows exactly what she wants. A photography internship at her hometown’s local newspaper is the next step in her well-laid plans for her future. But her long-term goals are put to the test when her boyfriend Brian proposes–two years before he’s supposed to and in front of all the guests at her college graduation party. Too concerned about his feelings to say no, she heartily agrees, but inside she’s cringing.

Indigo knows in her heart that she’s not prepared to sacrifice her dreams to become Brian’s wife–not before she has achieved any of them. Will she find the answers among family and friends in Jubilant, Texas? Or will the picture-perfect life she dreams of be left behind?

Purchase the book: Amazon ~ B&N ~ CBD

 ~*~

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

She has penned nine faith-based novels and one devotional book.

She also serves as a parenting columnist for a Virginia-based newspaper and blogs for the Huffington Post on social justice issues.

Stacy lives in Virginia with her family.

Learn more about her at www.StacyHawkinsAdams.com.

 ~*~

Interview with Stacy Hawkins Adams about her book, Worth a Thousand Words:

Alexis: What was the inspiration behind the title of this book?

Stacy: Worth a Thousand Words is a metaphor for how the truth is worth a thousand words. The main characters in this novel had to choose between living their lives to please others or finding the courage to stand in their own truths.

Alexis: Indigo is a very artsy, unique name for a heroine. How did you imagine her name? What is she like? Describe her personality, passion, career goals and dreams of her heart.

Stacy: I’m always on the hunt for intriguing character names – whether I find them in articles or overhear them in conversations. I don’t quite recall how I discovered this particular name, but when I heard it, I fell in love, and when it was time to create a young character who was vibrant and arts-oriented (via her photography), this name seemed perfect.

Indigo is a recent college grad beloved by her family, including her favorite older cousin Rachelle, who is the main character in The Someday List, the first novel in my Jubilant Soul series. She is eager to launch a career as a photographer and see the world, so she is caught off guard when her handsome boyfriend – who her parents consider to be “a good catch” – proposes at her graduation party before she even has a chance to experience independence. While she says yes to the proposal to save face, her heart is screaming something else, and she must decide which path to take.

Alexis: Why would her boyfriend Brian’s proposal interfere with her carefully constructed life plans?

Stacy: In part because she is so young that her plans simply include being excited about the possibilities life could offer. By choosing to follow Brian in following his dream, she might always wonder if she had compromised her own. And truthfully, Indigo has to decide whether the love she feels for Brian is truly deep enough to spend the rest of her life with him, or just convenient and pleasing to her parents.

Alexis: Does Indigo love Brian? It looks like her heart didn’t want to say “yes”.

Stacy: As I mentioned above, she does, but even she is not sure if it’s an enduring, God-ordained love. They make a picture-perfect couple, but beyond the surface, are they really compatible, and meant to help each other flourish in their purpose and dreams? The fact that Indigo seems less than thrilled by the proposal and the impending wedding plans makes her wonder.

Alexis: Why does Indigo fear marriage and settling down with Brian?

Stacy: Because she’s so young. There’s so much to learn about herself and life and her purpose. She doesn’t know how to articulate this, but what she’s feeling is the question of “Is there something more?” And the fact that she’s asking herself this in various ways is her clue that there probably is something more, or at least something different, for her.

Alexis: What were the challenges unique to writing this story?

Stacy: This was a fun book to write because it allowed me to explore the inner thoughts, hopes, and fears of two young adult characters (in their early 20s), at a pivotal time in their lives. The only challenge was trying to tell the story without giving away Brian’s struggles too early and also those of a few other characters. I also sought to write about the issues they were facing in a balanced way so that readers could decide for themselves whose side to take.

Alexis: What were the most rewarding parts of writing this novel?

Stacy: Showing the humanity of all of the characters, even when they made choices that I knew readers might question or find frustrating. My goal was to show their motivation for their choices so that when readers put down the book and considered the choices of people around them, they might begin to extend a little more grace.

Alexis: As a real-life journalist, was it easy for you to write the scenes where Indigo takes pictures with her professional camera? Why or why not?

Stacy: Yes – having worked in newsrooms with great professional photographers was a bonus. I was able to pull from those experiences to make Indigo’s summer job realistic.

Alexis: As an author of color, do you feel like you need to write about characters that look like you and share your experiences? Or do you write stories about characters that are not of color too? Explain.

Stacy: I write about the humanity of all characters because, at the end of the day, we all care about the same things and about people we love. We all want to be safe, happy, loved and fulfilled, and we all can grow from a personal relationship with God. With that in mind, it’s a pleasure to write about characters of color who reflect this, because this is who I am, and many people I know. At the same time, I’ve heard from readers of all backgrounds that they’ve found my stories relatable, and that they were surprised once they started reading how they sometimes forgot that the characters “happened” to be African American.

I don’t take those comments to mean that there’s anything wrong with having characters who are people of color; instead, I believe what they’re saying is that the stories were relevant to them, no matter what the characters looked like. And yes – I often include characters in my books who are not African American, because we live in a multi-cultural world, and this helps the book feel more true-to-life.

I also try to show that true friendship, grace, love, and caring can be more powerful than any surface or cultural differences; we just have to open our hearts and eyes to this and truly see the other person.

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

Stacy: I want readers to remember that trusting the truths in your heart is the best path to take, in every aspect of your life.

Each of the primary characters in this novel experienced a peace beyond understanding when they embraced this reality and stood tall in who they felt called to be and in what they felt led to do. This doesn’t mean it was always easy or that the path was always clear; but because they were honoring what they felt was right, they knew they would be okay. They trusted that God’s hand on their lives was the best roadmap to follow to their joy.

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

Stacy: Thanks for the opportunity to share with your readers about my novel Worth a Thousand Words. I loved writing this book and I hope they will find it inspiring, eye-opening and thought-provoking. I’d love to receive feedback on my social media pages. In the meantime, I wish everyone reading this all my best.

~*~

Connect with Stacy:

Website – www.StacyHawkinsAdams.com

Twitter – www.twitter.com/shadams

Facebook – www.facebook.com/stacyinspires

Author Interview with June Foster

~ About the Author ~

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

Connect with June:  Website  //  Twitter


~ About the Book ~

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon  //  Goodreads


~ Interview ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When I was a child, I wanted to be a…

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

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

My ideal place to read would be… 

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

Aloha! Just let me pack my suitcase! 😃

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wow. They sound like very contrasting characters.

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

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

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

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

Sounds like a compelling storyline!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for chatting with me today, June.


Interview by Katie Donovan.

Author Interview: Allison K. Garcia

Happy Monday, Reader Friends!

Thanks for stopping by Diversity Between the Pages. I’ve got the lovely Allison K. García here to talk about her debut novel, Vivir el Dream. Let’s get started!


About the Book

The Blurb: “Linda Palacios crossed the border at age three with her mother, Juanita, to escape their traumatic life in Mexico and to pursue the American dream. Years later, Linda nears college graduation. With little hope for the future as an undocumented immigrant, Linda wonders where her life is going.

Tim Draker, a long-unemployed businessman, has wondered the same thing. Overcome with despair, he decides to take his own life. Before he can carry out his plan, he changes course when he finds a job as a mechanic. Embarrassed about working at a garage in the barrio, he lies to his wife in hopes of finding something better.

After Juanita’s coworker gets deported, she takes in her friend’s son, Hector, whom her daughter Linda can’t stand, While Juanita deals with nightmares of her traumatic past, she loses her job and decides to go into business for herself.

Will the three of them allow God to guide them through the challenges to come, or will they let their own desires and goals get in the way of His path?”

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


About the Author

Allison K. García is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a passion for writing. Latina at heart, Allison has absorbed the love and culture of her friends, family, and hermanos en Cristo and has used her experiences to cast a glimpse into the journey of undocumented Christians.

Follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter


Interview

Toni: Thank you so much for joining me today. I’m so excited to talk about your debut novel, Vivir el Dream. I get positively giddy when I talk about diverse Christian fiction, so I love that the majority of your characters are Hispanic. What made you decide to write about immigration in the Latino culture?

Allison: Thanks, Toni! I’m pretty giddy myself! I can’t remember exactly when I came up with the idea for the book. I just know that God placed it on my heart to write it after I had seen a lot of injustice with my hermanos at the church and with therapy clients and with my friends and family. I feel it is a topic that everyone has an opinion on but few know much about. I hoped to shed some light on why people come, what kinds of things they have to go through to get here, and what can happen once you’ve crossed the border. As I think back, I believe I was inspired in part by the deportation of a close friend from church.

Toni: I can only imagine how that would effect a person. I’m glad you used it to shed light on the subject. Vivir el Dream focuses on Linda, an undocumented college student; Juanita, her mother; and Tim, a Caucasian who has some prejudice towards the Latino race. How did you decide to focus on these three and provide them their own povs (point-of-view)?

Allison: I think I came back fresh from a conference where they told us that one POV wasn’t cool anymore, so it probably stemmed from that. I think this was the first story I wrote from more than one POV, but now I love it! I like the idea of it being like a movie with different camera angles, so you can see things from different people’s points of view. For me Linda is the central character so choosing her was a no-brainer. And I felt Juanita had important history that needed to be heard, and I wanted people to understand why she came and all they had to go through and how she carries the traumas with her. With Tim, I placed a lot of the covert racism that isn’t shown but is hidden under the surface for a lot of folks. Also when I started the book in 2012, it was in the midst of a lot of financial turmoil in the country, so I think some of that seeped in as well.

Toni: Camera angles, yes! That’s a perfect way to describe it. I loved how you did that. Did you fear that you would paint the Latino culture with stereotypes considering your own ethnic background?

Allison: I both love and hate this question. I love it because it is an important and hard question to ask. There are so many stereotypes out there for different people of color, I don’t want to add any more to the mix and it is something very much to be aware of. I also hate this question because as a white person in the majority, I know I need to tread carefully in this realm. Really, what I did was write with my heart. I just hope that I am enough enmeshed in the Latino culture with my husband and his family, with my church family, and with my friends, that I have accurately portrayed the beauty of Latino culture and the struggles that Latino people experience. It’s so hard because my heart wants me to be Latino, but deep down I know I’m only a white person with European roots and I can’t. I’m only on the outside looking in. So that’s a hard question for me.

Toni: But you answered it so eloquently. 🙂 What made you choose a Spanish title?

Allison: I went through a thorough choosing process. I wanted Dream in the title because of both The Dream Act and “the American dream.” I felt Vivir gave it a cool vibe and helped showcase the authenticity of Spanish language used within the book.

Toni: I love the title! What is the message you hope readers will leave with after reading Vivir el Dream?

Allison: That despite all the things going on in your life, God is there. He has a plan, and your faith in Him can carry you through.

Toni: Amen! How about some easier questions?

Allison: Yes, please! You put me on the spot before! Haha! But in a good way! It is good to have the experience of feeling singled out and put on the spot. Helps you understand others who experience it every day.

Toni: I like to just dive right into the diversity topic. 😉 Maybe I’ll use more finesse in the future, lol. Beaches or mountains?

Allison: I like beaches and mountains! I live in the Shenandoah Valley so the mountains are right there, but I still think I might choose beach!

Toni: They are both beautiful in their own ways. Coffee or Tea?

Allison: Normally I might say tea but I’ve gotten into coffee lately. So…both!

Toni: I recently started drinking ice coffee, so I hear you. TV or Movies?

Allison: Also both! I love bingewatching TV shows but I also love a good movie!

Toni: Netflix is my friend for both of those options. Last but not least, what’s next for you on your writing journey?

Allison: I plan to translate Vivir el Dream into Spanish (with the help of several native speakers)! I also have another completed Latino fiction book, Finding Amor, that’s ready for editing, plus I’ve written 6 out of 8 books of Prince Miguel and His Journey Home, a children’s fantasy series.

Toni: Wow! That’s awesome. Praying you success in your writing endeavors. Readers, do you have any questions for Allison?


Interview conducted by Toni Shiloh

Author Inview: Bonnie Engstrom’s Connie’s Silver Shoes

Happy Monday, Reader Friends!

Today, we’re kicking the week off with an interview with Bonnie Engstrom. Ms. Engstrom’s stopped by to talk about her novel, Connie’s Silver Shoes. Have you read it? If not, it’s free on KU.


About the Book

Connie’s life is about to change. Is she ready?

Jaeda, the banker who explained the financial windfall to her made a mistake. He needs to make up for it. But, how? The money is already spent.

Is there a way to keep his secret so he won’t lose his banking career? Is it possible she may be falling in love with the handsome, dark skinned banker? Should he resist her even though their skin colors are different? What will her Bible quoting mother say, and how will his family react? What part does Jake the little dog play in their romance?

When she takes off a shoe and rubs her leg against his ankle, will that make a difference in his feelings for her?

Can they really have a future together?

Links: Amazon, B&N, Goodreads


About the Candy Canes

This is book number four in the Candy Cane girls’ series, but it, as all the others before and in future (yes, there will be more) can be read as a standalone. It might be more fun to start with Noelle’s story in Noelle’s Christmas Wedding and progress to Cindy’s story in Cindy’s Perfect Dance, but Natalie and Candy will explain everything about the Candy Canes to you in Candy’s Wild Ride.

Ten years ago six high school freshmen formed a swim team that became legendary. They won the state relay swim championship four years in a row. In addition to their skill and devotion to daily practicing, they prayed together and vowed to be sisters forever. Another thing that set them apart was they chose their own swimsuits making them a team within a larger team. They chose red and white diagonally striped swim suits. Thus, became known as the Candy Canes. They always will be.

I hope you enjoy their stories.


About the Author

Bonnie Engstrom and her psychologist husband, Dave, live in Arizona near four of their six grandchildren. The other two live in Costa Rica where they surf. They share their Arizona home with Sam and Lola, their two rescued mutts in charge of the household.

Bonnie is passionate about Jesus, her husband, her grandchildren and romance writing. She writes exclusively for the Forget Me Not Romances division of Winged Publications. Connie’s Silver Shoes is Book Four in The Candy Cane Girls Series set in Newport Beach, California.

Because she loves to include real people in her stories, you may “see” yourself in a future one.

When she isn’t writing, she is either moderating two online prayer chains or driving grandchildren to activities or volunteering in their classrooms. Currently, she is attempting to grow orchids, and has been successful growing basil in abundance, both of which she coaxes to thrive in the Arizona heat.

After dinner she reads romance novels for relaxation, and just before bed she makes a snack of nachos using Cindy’s secret ingredient in Cindy’s Perfect Dance.

Bonnie can be reached via email. Be sure to put BOOK in the subject line so your post doesn’t float around in her junk folder. Her website is www.bonnieengstrom.com, and she can also be found occasionally on Facebook, although she’s not very astute at it. You can sign up for her Life on the Lake quarterly newsletter on either one.


Interview

Toni: Thank you so much for joining us to talk about Connie’s Silver Shoes. I love to see more interracial relationships being explored. What made you decide to write this book?

Bonnie: I love to write about real people in my life, yet make them fictional characters. I was about to start on the fourth book in the Candy Cane series and was wondering about whom (real or otherwise) to feature as a hero. Then, I stopped in my bank to ask one of the managers for assistance with an account. Whoopee! Jaeda is a doll, handsome, and has an engaging presence and sense of humor. I got as far as the parking lot, turned and went back in. After he agreed to allow me to use his real name and make him a prominent male character, I dragged him out to the parking lot and took several photos of him. If you read the book, he really was wearing a red shirt. Cool!

Toni: That is beyond awesome! Hmm, I wonder if I can start going up to random strangers. Nah, too introverted. 🙂 Your hero, Jaeda Wayman is a banker and an African American. Was it hard to write about a Black man versus Connie’s character?

Bonnie: Not hard at all. Both Jaeda and Connie are pretty effusive characters with warm personalities. One in real life, and one totally fictional. Both have a lot of self-confidence, until Connie asks Jaeda to be a model for her clothing line. Then, the fun began.

Toni: Oh, I love when the fun begins! Always pulls me into the book further. How did you write their relationship without falling into racial stereotypes?

Bonnie: I didn’t totally. I have no problem with interracial couples or marriages. But, the story is set in very conservative Newport Beach, so I had to be thoughtful. I think I brought out the racial stereotypes briefly in a scene when Connie and Jaeda met an old high school friend of hers. I probably could have made more of it when they met at Starbucks, but even though Connie had issues with her family, I didn’t want their different races to become an overwhelming theme. They are two people who fall in love. Period.

Toni: Love is great and all I need in a romance. 🙂 Did you ever have any doubt while writing this story? Or consider changing the race of Jaeda?

Bonnie: Never! It is one of the most fun stories I’ve written. Well, to be honest, I did have a doubt about how Jaeda’s real life wife would accept the story. He assures me she has had no problem with his following in love with a Caucasian woman; he says she even loved the book. I sure hope he’s right because I want this woman to be my friend.

Toni: How awesome that they’ve both read it! Tell us about other ‘real’ characters in your books.

Bonnie: I have quite a few ~ Bill Lord is introduced in Candy’s Wild Ride, book three. He is a larger than life good friend and so appropriate. Some minor characters are Marg the owner of Scottsdale Floral, who appears in almost every story. But, Jill the wedding coordinator is in every story. She is very real, made each of my children’s weddings spectacular. I think she needs her own story soon. Although not yet in the Connie story, Shane Sullivan who is the owner of Spine Scottsdale is in Natalie’s Deception and will be prominent in Melanie’s story (untitled yet).

I have learned real people love being part of a novel story. It makes them feel special, and they are! My debut novel, Butterfly Dreams, features Kay and Duc, owners of Pauline’s Nails. They sell my books in their salon. Marg, owner of Scottsdale Floral throws her arms up when I enter. Shane Sullivan will be having a book signing after my next story is published. He was flattered I included him and his business. It’s so much fun for them, and for me.

The animals: Star the cat is real, but her name is really his ~ Bingo. Jake the dog featured on the cover of Connie’s Silver Shoes was real. Sweet Jake was my running partner for over fifteen years. Lola, the dog in Melanie’s story (yet untitled) will appear on the cover of Melanie’s story.

Toni: That is so awesome! It’s great that they all support you in your writing as well. How about some easier questions?
Heels or flats?

Bonnie: Flats! Always. Because of my ugly foot and my leg problem.

Toni: I’m the same way and for leg issues as well. Leggings or jeans?

Bonnie: I occasionally wear jeans, like to my grandchildren’s soccer games. But, mostly leggings from Eileen Fisher. Yeh, I have a designer fetish, but only for her clothes. And only on sale.

Toni: I confess, I’ve never heard of her. Must look her up. Favorite holiday?

Bonnie: Christmas, of course! We have a 9 ½ skinny, artificial tree hubby grumbles about putting up, but even he loves clicking the lights on. When our eldest grandchild (she turned twelve Saturday, bless her heart) was born, I decided to decorate with something she would understand at that age ~ so, Santa. I have collected Santas for over a decade. Many are representative of family members ~ a fishing Santa for my hubby, a surfing Santa for our son and a techie Santa for the other son, her uncles. There are dog and kitty Santas for our animals. I haven’t yet found a writing Santa to represent me, nor a teacher one for our daughter.

Of course, we have a lovely Nativity and even a stuffed bear Santa that recites the Nativity story if you squeeze his paw. The real reason for Christmas is never lost on us, but the Santa tree has become a tradition.

Toni: That sounds neat! Last but not least, what’s next for you on your writing journey?

Bonnie: I am writing Melanie’s story, number six in the Candy Cane Girls series. I hope it will give some very fun surprises, especially about Jaeda and Connie.

Toni: Yay! Praying God gives you the words for book six and continues to bless you on your writing journey. Thank you for stopping by to talk with us. We appreciate you. 🙂

Readers, do you have any questions for Bonnie?


This interview conducted by Toni Shiloh