Book Spotlight: Beauty From Ashes by Alana Terry

Welcome to Diversity Between the Pages. Today I’m introducing you to a new series written by author Alana Terry, The Orchard Grove Christian Women’s Fiction series. This series will feature “standalone literary novels about real-life believers facing real-life struggles. You won’t meet perfect saints whose lives are faultless models of the Christian faith. Instead, you’ll meet a perfect God whose plans of redemption are far more glorious than what the mortal mind could ever imagine.

Beauty from Ashes is the first novel in this series.


~ About the Book ~

A baby was never part of Tiff’s plans. Especially not a sick baby in a NICU, struggling for life on a ventilator.

As days in the hospital turn to weeks, Tiff grows more and more convinced that God is punishing her for turning her back on him so many years ago. Or is it possible he’s working in the midst of her daughter’s bleak prognosis to draw Tiff back to himself once more?

The Orchard Grove books are a literary series of family-drama stories with realistic characters facing gritty issues that confront contemporary Christians today. Standalone novels from award-winning Christian fiction novelist Alana Terry, whose books “inspire without preaching at you,” these titles merge edgy Christian fiction, literary prose, and a God compassionate enough to look upon those who suffer and “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes … a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 60:3).

Amazon  //  Goodreads


~ Excerpt ~

Natalie’s sixteen weeks old, and I still don’t know what it feels like to nurse a baby. I’m positive it’s more comfortable than a breast pump or else the human race would have died out before we ever evolved past living in caves. I hated pumping, but at least it was something I could do. Something that only I could do is a better way to say it. I swear her grandmother jinxed her or something, because the whole time Natalie was in the hospital, she handled my breast milk just fine. Then we took her home, and within twenty-four hours, Patricia showed up on our doorstep, suitcases in hand. Four days later, Natalie was so uncomfortable the pediatrician told us to take her off breast milk.
[…]
I think Patricia was secretly thrilled about it all, really. Because now there isn’t a single thing I can do for my child that she can’t do better. She has her nurse’s training to thank, even though that woman hasn’t worked an actual nursing job since Bush was president. The first Bush, I mean, not the second.
That’s what makes me think about leaving sometimes. I know it’s the deadbeat thing to do, but given my family history, would you have expected me to stick around this long? If Natalie needed me, that would be different. Can you believe I waited sixteen days in the NICU just to see her open her eyes? And you know what? She didn’t even notice me. I was no different to her than any of the nurses in their colorful scrubs. When Jake holds her, I swear something clicks in that injured little brain of hers. She seems comfortable. Even tried to scratch his chin once. When I hold her, she’s completely oblivious. Even Patricia claims Natalie smiled at her. I’m sure she’s lying, because my child doesn’t smile. At anyone. But that doesn’t change the fact that my baby doesn’t even know I’m alive.
[…]
I had such high hopes for myself as a mom. I had it all figured out. I was going to stay at home for the first year or so. Maybe take in an extra kid or two for babysitting. I was going to give Natalie everything I never got at that age—a home, a sense of belonging, affection.
I remember laying around on bed rest, flipping through those mommy magazines and daydreaming about story time. That’s the one thing the articles always agreed about, even the older ones. Read to your kids from the day they’re born. I had the picture squared away in my brain. Me on the couch, with Natalie nestled up against me. In my imagination, we always read Dr. Seuss because honestly, I didn’t know any other kids books, but I was going to learn. I’d get a library card. Check out books there. And we’d cuddle and read, and it would do wonders for her development. Wonders for our relationship. That was the plan.
And now look what I’ve got. A kid who doesn’t even recognize me. A kid who can’t make eye contact. A kid who won’t even live to see her first birthday.


~ About the Author ~

Alana TerryAlana is a pastor’s wife, homeschooling mom, self-diagnosed chicken lady, and Christian suspense author. Her novels have won awards from Women of Faith, Book Club Network, Grace Awards, Readers’ Favorite, and more. Alana’s passion for social justice, human rights, and religious freedom shines through her writing, and her books are known for raising tough questions without preaching. She and her family live in rural Alaska where the northern lights in the winter and midnight sun in the summer make hauling water, surviving the annual mosquito apocalypse, and cleaning goat stalls in negative forty degrees worth every second.

Connect with Alana:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Twitter


Spotlight by Katie Donovan.

Author Interview: Jacqueline Freeman Wheelock

Happy Monday, Diverse Reader friends!

Today I’m sharing an interview with Jacqueline freeman Wheelock. She’s stopped by to talk about her upcoming release, In Pursuit of an Emerald. Let’s get started!


About the Book

The Blurb: “All ex-slave Violette McMillan ever wanted was to see her troubled daughter Emerald grow up to be a better person than Violette has been, so when Benjamin Catlett, an old acquaintance, asks her to become his bookkeeper in 1869, in a business that is sinking due to southern backlash during the Reconstruction era, she agrees. But when his arrogance surfaces, their goals collide, and Violette wonders if she might be forced to renege at the expense of her daughter’s future education.

Benjamin Catlett is plagued by his past as a free man of color whose African American father was a slaveholder. Renouncing his father’s way of life, he moves to Natchez hoping to quietly atone. But his new hire, Violette McMillan, and her flirtatious teenage daughter, Emerald, test the limits of his good intentions one time too many, offending his straight-laced upbringing and tempting him to fire Violette.

Will the Lord who tugs at the heart of both Benjamin and Violette prevail in solidifying their efforts to tolerate each other and finally affirm the love already blossoming in their hearts?”

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


Interview

Toni: Thank you for joining me today on Diversity Between the Pages. Tell us, what inspired you to write In Pursuit of an Emerald?

Jacqueline: I love wandering in and out of the antebellum homes of Natchez, Mississippi, and as an African American, it is impossible for me not to wonder what the lives of the house slaves of those home were like. What were their hopes? Their latent dreams? Their flaws? Their squabbles among themselves? Those were the questions that pricked my curiosity about Violette, the main character in In Pursuit of an Emerald, as she emerged significantly in my debut novel, A Most Precious Gift. Subsequently, those questions about Violette are pursued and answered in In Pursuit of an Emerald.

Unlike A Most Precious Gift, its sequel, Emerald, is set several years after the Civil War, but I think the idea of Violette, the “bad girl” in A Most Precious Gift, having her own story was always embedded in my subconscious. Although she was villainous in MPG, there were sympathetic reasons for her schemes, and since God is in the business of turning villains into Christ-followers, I never totally gave up on her. I think I always needed to try to vindicate her.

Toni: I love when a character can be redeemed. What made you decide to visit the Reconstruction era?

Jacqueline: For many African Americans of the mid-to-late 19th century, the huge sigh of relief after the war turned into a gasp of horror as certain embittered members of the Confederacy set out to revoke the rights of ex-slaves through terrorism and unconscionable legislation. I thought it might be interesting to pursue a character who—recent freedom and its attendant perils notwithstanding—could never truly accept her liberation based on the assumption that her past sins preempted her right to emancipation.

Toni: Wow! I couldn’t imagine thinking like that. What kind of research did you have to do, to ensure the novel was authentic?

Jacqueline: Due to research for A Most Precious Gift, much of the Emerald, as relates to setting, was already in place. But as the story evolved, I had to augment what I knew about blacks who owned slaves during the antebellum period, and I had to refresh my knowledge of the origins and spread of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as the opportunists (carpetbaggers) collapsing upon the South after the war.

Toni: What message do you hope your readers will leave with after reading In Pursuit of an Emerald?

Jacqueline: Violette’s guilt centers on the lie she is living insofar as her daughter Emerald is concerned, a lie which has resulted in producing a troubled adolescent. I want to leave an impression of the importance of godly parenting with its attendant call for rules, love, and truth as the ultimate foundation for daily living. I also, via the hero, try to restate the depth of harm slaveholding inflicts not only on the slave but the slaveholder as well, no matter his or her color. Finally, though Violette thinks her goal is to gain the respect of Emerald, it is the priceless jewel of self-worth, so often lacking in the slave mentality, that she is searching for. This inner search for one’s value is what I hope to emphasize—a jewel which slave descendants still pursue today.

Toni: Yes! The jewl of self-worth is priceless. As you may know, there has been recent talk about adding diversity to the reading culture. How do you think In Pursuit of an Emerald will impact this discussion?

Jacqueline: Too often, I believe, people think of slaves as slavery itself, that is, a collapsing of all its victims into one abused body. Hopefully, the book underscores not only the general and collective struggle of ex-slaves during the Reconstruction era but the predicaments which they as individual people with individual problems incurred, including the so-called free man of color who often found himself enslaved to one degree or another.

Toni: Oh, this sounds like it’ll be an excellent read! How about some personal questions? What is the first book that made you cry?

Jacqueline: That’s a hard one, but I think it was The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Growing up is an unavoidable experience, and unto this day, I recall the pain of the child in that book as he struggled toward the realities of life in his coming of age.

Toni: Coming of age books can often be tear jerkers. Who are your three must-read authors, and why do you read their works?

Jacqueline: Another hard one, but I’m going to narrow it to Christian fiction writers I’ve read during the last decade. I have thoroughly enjoyed Ginny Dye, especially her Bregdan Chronicles that dare to tackle the racial history of America with both gentleness and truth. Also, I am a fan of Laura Frantz and B. J. Hoff. All three ladies have forever impressed me with their talent for weaving history into a riveting fictional narrative that stirs the heart and makes one want to do something worthwhile.

Toni: I’ve read Laura Frantz. Her writing is poetic. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Jacqueline: Both. In the back of my mind, I am always writing, and when I get a chance to put what I’m thinking about on paper, it is nothing short of exhilarating. But after several hours, I start to feel exhausted. Depleted. Brain-busted! At that point, no matter that I would like to continue, I must stop and do something “other than”—usually read someone else’s fiction.

Toni: Reading is my go to as well. And last, do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Jacqueline: Love what you write. Believe in its message, and make sure it indeed has a message no matter how lighthearted or poignant. For whatever period of time readers gives to your book, that’s time gone from them forever. I feel they are owed some takeaway.

Toni: Beautifully stated. Readers, do you have any questions for Ms. Wheelock?


About the Author

Jacqueline Freeman Wheelock is a multi-published author whose works range from short stories to a memoir of growing up during and after integration. Wheelock has been a member of several writers and critique groups and is currently a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, an organization which has afforded her valuable instruction and opportunity toward publication. An avid reader and former high school and college English teacher, her first novel, A Most Precious Gift, debuted in 2014 via Mantle Rock Publishers. The sequel, In Pursuit of an Emerald, debuts in August of 2017. Jacqueline and her husband Donald reside in Madison, Mississippi and have two adult children and two beloved granddaughters.

Follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter


Interview conducted by Toni Shiloh

 

Open Discussion – Missing Diversity in Sub Genres

Happy Saturday, Diverse Reader Friends!

Thanks for hanging with us at Diversity today. I’m sorry we didn’t have a discussion post the last two Saturdays. My brain took a hiatus. 😉 Thankfully, it’s back and I have a new topic to talk about.

Here’s the question: where are all the diverse characters in genres other than romance? I’m talking genres like Speculative fiction (which encompasses sci-fi, fantasy, dystopian, etc.), mystery, historical, suspense, thrillers, young adults?

We’ve featured some authors who write in the historical genre and I’m thankful for them. Nothing bothers me more than the absent of people of color from historical times. But I rarely see ethnic main characters in these other genres. Have you?

What can we do to get more diverse characters in these genres? If you’ve read a Christian fiction book in these sub categories that lead with an ethnic character, give the book a shout out!

 

Book Review: Finding Love by Toni Shiloh

About the Book

FindingLoveDelaney Jones has finally started to pick up the pieces of her shattered life after the death of her husband, Parker.

Just as life enters a new normal, in walks Army soldier, Luke Robinson.

Just when she makes the decision to trust him, life deals her a heavy blow.

Sergeant First Class Luke Robinson can’t get over his part in the death of Delaney’s husband. In hopes to assuage his guilt, he offers to lend a hand.

Only, he never counted on the feelings she evokes with just a smile. Will his secrets widen the gulf or will he finally find absolution?

Series: Maple Run #2
Publisher: Celebrate Lit
Release Date:
June 28, 2017
Pages: 197

GOODREADS | AMAZON

My Thoughts

I’ve been eagerly waiting for a return to Maple Run ever since I read Buying Love. (Some of that may have been cravings by proxy for the delicious food, too. Don’t judge.) And Finding Love definitely was worth the wait! I’m also pleased to report that I did not want to purse whomp Delaney’s momma as much as I did in Buying Love. 😉 

The characters in Finding Love are diverse and layered with Delaney and Luke each bringing emotional baggage to the table. After the death of Delaney’s husband Parker, her life for all intents and purposes stopped too. So did Luke’s. Delaney, because she doesn’t know how to go on without Parker. Luke, because he feels responsible for Parker’s death.

The meeting of their hearts results in a swoonworthy romance, yes, but also some soul-searching that all of us can apply to our own lives too. Delaney is scared to fall in love with Luke, a soldier still on active duty, “because if it ended up with her receiving another set of widow’s benefits, she would be crushed.” She – and Luke both – must wrestle with this truth (and its application):

“God was the keeper of her heart, keeper of her entire being. She needed to let God hold her heart.”

Bottom Line: This second visit to the quaint community of Maple Run is even better than the first! Mouthwatering food, a swoon-inducing hero (complete with dimples and military uniform), adorable/hilarious children, and a compelling heroine (complete with a great family and a yummy restaurant) – just one of those elements would be reason enough to love Finding Love. All of them together, plus a tender story of second chances and trusting God? Yes please!

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion. This review first appeared on Reading Is My SuperPower.

About the Author

tonishilohToni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the president of the ACFW Virginia Chapter.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST


Review by Carrie Schmidt

Book Spotlight: Who Killed My Husband? by Michelle Stimpson

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Thanks for stopping by Diversity Between the Pages for the latest book spotlight. Today, we’re featuring Michelle Stimpson’s Who Killed My Husband?

About the Book

The Blurb: “Ashley Crandall finally convinced her husband, Allan, to attend the Christian men’s retreat…but he ends up dead there. What happened to him on the campgrounds? Who would want to kill Allan? And why are the detectives pointing fingers at Ashley? In her quest to solve the mystery and clear her name, Ashley will learn something about her husband that she didn’t want to know and something about her Christian faith that shifts her life.

This short work by national bestselling, multi-published author Michelle Stimpson is packed with emotion, suspense, and a her signature way of weaving hope into a story – always a hit with readers who enjoy faith-based reads.”

Links: Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, Google, iTunes

About the Author

Michelle Stimpson is an author, a speaker, and an educator who received her Bachelor of Science degree from Jarvis Christian College in 1994. She earned a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2002. She has had the pleasure of teaching elementary, middle, and high school as well as training adults. In addition to her work in the field of education, Michelle ministers through writing and public speaking. Her works include the highly acclaimed Boaz Brown, Divas of Damascus Road (National Bestseller), and Falling Into Grace. She has published several short stories for high school students through her educational publishing company, Right Track Academic Support Services, at www.wegottaread.com. Michelle serves in women’s ministry at her home church, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, in Dallas, TX. She regularly speaks at special events and writing workshops sponsored by churches, schools, book clubs and other positive organizations, and she has taught writing classes at the University of Texas at Arlington. Michelle lives near Dallas with her husband, their two teenage children, and one crazy dog.

Follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter

Spotlight put together by Toni Shiloh

Book Review: Healing Love by Jennifer Slattery

TGIF, Diverse Reader Friends!!

I hope you had an awesome week and are ready for the weekend! Today, I’m sharing my review for Jennifer Slattery’s latest noel, Healing Love. Let’s get started!


About the Book

The Blurb: “A news anchor intern has it all planned out, and love isn’t on the agenda.

Brooke Endress is on the cusp of her lifelong dream when her younger sister persuades her to chaperone a mission trip to El Salvador. Packing enough hand sanitizer and bug spray to single-handedly wipe out malaria, she embarks on what she hopes will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But Brooke is blindsided by the desperation for hope and love she sees in the orphans’ eyes. And no less by the connection she feels with her handsome translator. As newfound passion blooms, Brooke wrestles with its implications for her career dreams.

Ubaldo Chavez, teacher and translator, knows the struggle that comes with generational poverty. But he found the way out – education – and is determined to help his students rise above.

When he agrees to translate for a mission team from the United States he expects to encounter a bunch of “missional tourists” full of empty promises. Yet an American news anchor defies his expectations, and he finds himself falling in love. But what does he have to offer someone with everything?”

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


About the Author

Author, speaker, and ministry leader Jennifer Slattery writes for Crosswalk.com and is the managing and acquiring editor for Guiding Light Women’s Fiction, an imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She believes fiction has the power to transform lives and change the culture. Healing Love is her sixth novel, and it was birthed during a trip she and her family took to El Salvador that opened her eyes to the reality of generational poverty and sparked a love for orphans and all who’ve experienced loss.

Her deepest passion is to help women experience God’s love and discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she travels with her team to various churches to speak to women and help them experience the love and freedom only Christ can offer. When not writing, editing, or speaking, you’ll likely find her chatting with her friends or husband in a quiet, cozy coffeehouse. Visit her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her and her Wholly Loved team at WhollyLoved.com.


Review

What I love about Jennifer Slattery’s work is that she always tackles unusual subject matter. You can see she has a heart for all people when you read her writing. I loved that about Healing Love.

Brooke and Ubaldo both have preconceived notions about each other’s culture. I like how they had an opportunity to see deeper than surface level. It’s a reminder that we all have a back story and issues we’re struggling with. Add to that, the backdrop of El Salvador and you have a great diverse Christian read.

But Brooke and Ubaldo aren’t the only ones with a voice in Healing Love. Fatima, a girl struggling to see God in her life, is given a voice as well. I loved that authenticity she added to the book. I could picture her working hard in El Salvador and wondering “what’s the point?”

This book definitely deals with romantic love, but it goes deeper and shows us the power of God’s healing love.

*I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. This review is my own, honest opinion.


Review by Toni Shiloh

Book Spotlight: Finding Home by Stacy Hawkins Adams

Happy Wednesday, Reader Friends!

Thanks for stopping by Diversity Between the Pages.

Today, we’re featuring Finding Home which is a book written by Stacy Hawkins Adams.

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About the book: 

 What happens when you’re so desperate for things to go your way, that anything goes? Jessica Wilson Arnold is a superstar professional speaker whose husband and friends fret about the strain of her ambitions, while she hungers for more.

When a medical crisis and some poor decisions bring her fast-track success to a screeching halt, Jessica is forced to admit that her life isn’t as perfectly packaged as advertised. Her quest to restore her health and prioritize what matters most leads her to a crossroad. Will she revive her faith and learn to love herself and others more deeply, or cling to a path that threatens disaster?

Jessica’s desperate choices and gripping fear will take readers on a literary ride that’s both shocking and familiar, mostly leaving them rooting for her to win big – with family, faith and finding her way.

Book purchase links: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Kobo

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About the Author: 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.

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Connect with Stacy:

Website – www.StacyHawkinsAdams.com

Twitter – www.twitter.com/shadams

Facebook – www.facebook.com/stacyinspires