Author Interview with Piper Huguley about her book “A Virtuous Ruby”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Welcome Piper Huguley to our blog!

Today, she’s here to talk about her book, A Virtuous Ruby, that we spotlighted last week.


Interview with Piper Huguley about her book, A Virtuous Ruby:

Alexis: Thanks for agreeing to an interview, Piper! Tell us about your story A Virtuous Ruby. What inspired you to write it? What is it about?

Piper: I wrote Ruby because of promise that I made to my great-aunts that I would someday write a series about the greatest internal migration in the United States: the Great Migration that involved the movement of six million African Americans from the south to the north and west. My great-aunts and grandmother were a part of that migration and I wanted to pay tribute to them.

Ruby Bledsoe is a midwife in 1915 Winslow, Georgia who has had a baby under some questionable circumstances and is judged by the town for it. She meets a doctor who comes to Winslow to start a practice to treat the Black citizens there. He believes her practice is antiquated, she believes he is arrogant. They clash and of course, fall in love.

Alexis: Describe the setting for your story, A Virtuous Ruby. What makes it special?

Piper: Winslow is based on the real-life city of West Point, Georgia where my family originated from. Like West Point, Winslow has a textile mill. Winslow is run by a ruthless man who wants complete control of the town and all of the citizens, but then he comes up against Ruby.

Alexis: Briefly describe your “Migrations of the Heart” book series and share why you chose this story A Virtuous Ruby, to start it.

Piper: The “Migrations of the Heart” series is about a group of sisters in the town of Winslow, Georgia. Ruby is the oldest sister, so her story went first. The other stories in the series feature Mags, the next eldest in The Most Precious Pearl and Nettie, the middle sister in A Treasure of Gold.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s heroine, Ruby Bledsoe. What makes her mad? What make her happy? Describe her looks, personality and mindset.

Piper: Ruby is very fair-skinned, and is able to pass for white, but she chooses not to. She’s an activist in a time that Black women were usually not seeking to be “out there” in that way. She does it because she knows that her light skin privileges her to speak for her sisters who have darker skin, so she does. She doesn’t suffer fools.

Alexis: What ignited Ruby’s passion to speak out against injustice?

Piper: The lynching of her beloved uncle, Arlo. She always has in him in her mind when she thinks about the ways that her community is unjust to Black men.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s hero, Dr. Adam Morson. What are his greatest strengths and weaknesses? Describe his looks, personality and outlook.

Piper: Adam’s greatest strength is his desire to help people. He wants to connect. He is someone who is also light enough to pass for white, and he has. Before he arrived in Winslow, he found no shame in passing, but did it so that he could get his education and become a doctor. Now that he knows Ruby, he begins to understand that there can be disadvantages to passing for white too.

Alexis: What is it about Ruby that Adam loves and why does he feel drawn to take care of her and her child?

Piper: She loves that he is THERE. He is solid in a way that she’s not seen in a man, except for her father.

Alexis: What is it about Adam that makes Ruby want to trust him?

Piper: The way he cares about her son, even if he scolds her the first time he sees how thin the baby is.

Alexis: Share a few reasons why Adam believes that Georgia is a place of “toxic prejudice.” Is there a place he could go to be free of prejudice? Explain.

Piper: He could go to a place that is free of bigotry, but he has to be a white man—something that he is not. Georgia is a place of toxic prejudice because of the way Black people are dehumanized. Rape, chain gangs, Jim Crow rule, all make Georgia of 1915 a place of toxic prejudice.

Alexis: Why is Ruby torn between seeking her own happiness and staying to fight for the soul of her hometown?

Piper: She loves Winslow, or she loves what she thinks Winslow is. The story compels her to grow up and see what it the town really is and why she must leave to be happy.

Alexis: What were the easiest and most difficult parts of this story to write? Why?

Piper: I loved the scenes where Ruby was being rebellious. Adam’s parts were hard to write because I don’t write males as well and he was so insular, because of his upbringing. It was hard to get him to come out.

Alexis: Would you like to see more #ownstories written for the Christian book market and published by those CBA traditional publishers? Why or why not?

Piper: In order to survive much longer into the twenty-first century, the CBA will need to have more #ownstories publishers. It’s as simple as that.

Alexis: What would you say has been the most relentless roadblock in your journey as an author of color to write and publish stories about characters of color?

Piper: The realization that I had that the CBA would not want stories from me as a Black author. I had to accept that in order to get my message out about God’s love for all of us as human beings, I would have to indie publish and reach out to the ABA.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about A Virtuous Ruby?

Piper: That romantic love can occur for every one, no matter who they are or what they have been through.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Piper! Would you like to share closing comments?

Piper: The fifth anniversary reissue of A Virtuous Ruby will take place in May 2019. Thank you for having me!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Book:

After fifteen months of hiding from the shame of bearing an illegitimate child, two words drive Ruby Bledsoe to face the good citizens of Winslow, Georgia. Never again. She vows to speak out against injustice. For her sisters. For her parents. For her infant son, Solomon. When she comes to help an injured mill worker, she bristles when a tall, handsome man claiming to be a doctor brushes her aside.

Despite his arrogance, Ruby senses he’s someone like her, whose light skin doesn’t quite hide who he is. Up north, Dr. Adam Morson easily kept his mixed race a secret. Now that he’s in Georgia, summoned by his white father, he can feel restrictions closing in around him.

Something powerful draws him to the beauty whose activist spirit is as fiery as her name. And soon, Adam wants nothing more than to take Ruby and her child far from Georgia’s toxic prejudice. But Ruby must choose between seeking her own happiness and staying to fight for the soul of her hometown.

Buy Piper’s book on Amazon


About the Author:

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

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

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

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

Follow Piper on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Blog

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Book Spotlight: A Virtuous Ruby

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on A Virtuous Ruby by Piper Huguley.

Enjoy!


About the Book:

After fifteen months of hiding from the shame of bearing an illegitimate child, two words drive Ruby Bledsoe to face the good citizens of Winslow, Georgia. Never again. She vows to speak out against injustice. For her sisters. For her parents. For her infant son, Solomon. When she comes to help an injured mill worker, she bristles when a tall, handsome man claiming to be a doctor brushes her aside.

Despite his arrogance, Ruby senses he’s someone like her, whose light skin doesn’t quite hide who he is. Up north, Dr. Adam Morson easily kept his mixed race a secret. Now that he’s in Georgia, summoned by his white father, he can feel restrictions closing in around him.

Something powerful draws him to the beauty whose activist spirit is as fiery as her name. And soon, Adam wants nothing more than to take Ruby and her child far from Georgia’s toxic prejudice. But Ruby must choose between seeking her own happiness and staying to fight for the soul of her hometown.

Buy Piper’s book on Amazon


About the Author:

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

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

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

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

Follow Piper on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Blog

Interview with Kathy Douglass about her book, “How to Steal the Lawman’s Heart”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re interviewing Kathy Douglass again. This time, we’re talking about another one of her books. This one is titled, How to Steal the Lawman’s Heart.

Enjoy!


Interview with Kathy Douglass about her book, How to Steal the Lawman’s Heart:

Alexis: Why did you write this book?

Kathy: I wrote this book because the characters called to me. The idea began floating through my mind and I couldn’t rest until I put their story on paper.

Alexis: What do you want readers to take away from this story? Why?

Kathy: I want readers to understand that no matter what happened in the past, you have to move forward. Trent had a wonderful wife and a truly happy life ripped away from him without warning. It was hard for him to let go of the happy memories or the bitterness at losing it all. Carmen had so many regrets for mistakes she had made. Neither one of them could change the past, so they had to find a way to put it behind them and move forward in the present with an eye toward the future.

Alexis: Would you like to see more stories that feature characters of color published by the Christian book industry? Why or why not?

Kathy: Absolutely. People of color read Christian books so they should be able to see themselves reflected in the stories they read. Not that POC should be the only people who read those stories. Just as POC read stories featuring white couples, white people should also read stories featuring POC. 

I’ve heard books referred to as mirrors and windows. Mirrors reflect people like you and windows give you the opportunity to see into the lives of people not like you. Both are important. Both must be done well by authors who know what they are writing about. That’s why own voice books are so important.

Alexis: Who is your story’s heroine? Describe her looks, personality, and heart for the hero and then explain the conflict that she is experiencing.

Kathy: Carmen Shields is the heroine in this story. Whenever I create a character, I find someone to serve as the physical model. In this instance, I used actress Rochelle Aytes. Carmen is beautiful and kind. She’s had some difficulty in her past, so she is sympathetic. As a person who’s made mistakes in her youth, she can spot a person who is on track to make similar mistakes. When she does, she tries to help them avoid the pitfalls.

Carmen feels guilty for her role in the accident that resulted in the death of Trent’s wife and wants to make amends. But since she knows he doesn’t care for her, she is reluctant. Not only that, she refuses to beg for his affection.

Alexis: Who is your story’s hero? Describe his looks, flaws, strengths and his heart for the heroine and then explain the conflict that he is experiencing.

Kathy: Trent Knight is the hero in this story. I used actor Henry Simmons as his physical model. Trent sees the world as black and white. No gray. He expects a lot of himself and others. He can be hard and unforgiving. He is loyal and loves his daughters with his whole heart.

He blames Carmen for the death of his wife. As he gets to know her, he discovers she is not the monster he’d believed she was. Still, he is not happy when he finds himself falling for her and fights hard against his feelings.

Alexis: Why is forgiveness as important as a stolen kiss in this story?

Kathy: Forgiveness is important in this story. Trent needs to forgive Carmen in order to put the past behind him. Carmen also needs to forgive herself for the same reason.

Alexis: If you could step into this story as a licensed counselor, what would you tell Trent and Carmen to help them live their best life?

Kathy: I’m not a counselor, but I would tell them they need to put the past behind them. They need to forgive themselves and each other in order to embrace the present.

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

Kathy: Thank you so much for the interview. I love hearing from my readers, so if you want to drop me a note, please do so via my website kathydouglassbooks.com. Also while you’re there, feel free to sign up for my newsletter.

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Author:

Kathy is a born reader who as a child always had her nose in a book. That love of reading grew with her. She often would finish one book and immediately pick up another. She went from reading Bobbsey Twins to long, lush romance novels. One day she stumbled upon The Shining by Stephen King and was hooked. She turned her back on romance and became a serious Stephen King fan, reading every word he wrote. When she caught herself checking under the bed and looking in the closet for monsters or worse, she knew it was time to put down the horror stories and pick up the romance novels.

Her return to romance novels was short lived. She’d started law school and soon her reading was limited to legal opinions. Then one happy day her younger sister handed her a Harlequin romance. They were just what the doctor ordered. The books were short enough to read in a week and still get her required reading done. Best of all she knew there would be a happy ending and she wouldn’t have to search her room before she went to bed each night.

When her first child was born, she stopped practicing law to become a stay at home mom. Her second child followed nineteen months later. With two little ones in the house, reading suddenly became limited to Dr. Seuss and other children’s books. Any free time was spent trying to catch up on sleep or laundry.

All too soon her kids were attending pre-school two hours a day. She spent those few precious renewing her relationship with romance novels. After a while, she felt the urge to write a book of her own and she began writing the stories she wanted to read. She spent many years writing some really terrible books and learning her craft. In 2016, Kathy sold to Harlequin Special Edition. Her first book, How to Steal the Lawman’s Heart, was released in February 2017. Since that time she has released three more books in her Sweet Briar Sweethearts series with more to come.

Follow Kathy on social media: Website, Facebook, Twitter


About the Book:

Forgiveness starts with a stolen kiss.

Chief of police Trent Knight had it all until an accident took his wife and he was left alone to raise two beautiful girls.

Now the person he always blamed for his loss is back in town, and all bets are off. But soon his anger toward Carmen Shields gives way to a very different emotion—awareness of Carmen as a woman.

On one hand, it feels like a betrayal of his late wife’s memory. On the other, it could be his second chance at life—and Carmen’s shot at redemption. Maybe she can go home again—with the help of a certain lawman…

Buy How to Steal the Lawman’s Heart on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Books-A-Million

Book Spotlight: How to Steal the Lawman’s Heart

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on How to Steal the Lawman’s Heart by Kathy Douglass.


About the Book:

Forgiveness starts with a stolen kiss.

Chief of police Trent Knight had it all until an accident took his wife and he was left alone to raise two beautiful girls.

Now the person he always blamed for his loss is back in town, and all bets are off. But soon his anger toward Carmen Shields gives way to a very different emotion—awareness of Carmen as a woman.

On one hand, it feels like a betrayal of his late wife’s memory. On the other, it could be his second chance at life—and Carmen’s shot at redemption. Maybe she can go home again—with the help of a certain lawman…

Buy How to Steal the Lawman’s Heart on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Books-A-Million


About the Author:

Kathy is a born reader who as a child always had her nose in a book. That love of reading grew with her. She often would finish one book and immediately pick up another. She went from reading Bobbsey Twins to long, lush romance novels. One day she stumbled upon The Shining by Stephen King and was hooked. She turned her back on romance and became a serious Stephen King fan, reading every word he wrote. When she caught herself checking under the bed and looking in the closet for monsters or worse, she knew it was time to put down the horror stories and pick up the romance novels.

Her return to romance novels was short lived. She’d started law school and soon her reading was limited to legal opinions. Then one happy day her younger sister handed her a Harlequin romance. They were just what the doctor ordered. The books were short enough to read in a week and still get her required reading done. Best of all she knew there would be a happy ending and she wouldn’t have to search her room before she went to bed each night.

When her first child was born, she stopped practicing law to become a stay at home mom. Her second child followed nineteen months later. With two little ones in the house, reading suddenly became limited to Dr. Seuss and other children’s books. Any free time was spent trying to catch up on sleep or laundry.

All too soon her kids were attending pre-school two hours a day. She spent those few precious renewing her relationship with romance novels. After a while she felt the urge to write a book of her own and she began writing the stories she wanted to read. She spent many years writing some really terrible books and learning her craft. In 2016, Kathy sold to Harlequin Special Edition. Her first book, How to Steal the Lawman’s Heart, was released in February, 2017. Since that time she has released three more books in her Sweet Briar Sweethearts series with more to come.

Follow Kathy on social media: Website, Facebook, Twitter

Book Spotlight: Winning Charlotte Back

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on Kathy Douglass’s book, Winning Charlotte Back!


About the Book:

When the man who left her at the altar

Moves in next door…

This could not be happening. Charlotte Shields had left both that heartbreaking day and this heartbreaking man behind. Even worse, their mutual attraction is back to betray her. Especially as

Dr. Rick Tyler works hard to make amends. He’s got to make this move to Sweet Briar work to give his son a second chance. Will he get a second chance with Charlotte in the bargain?

Buy Winning Charlotte Back on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million


About the Author:

Kathy is a born reader who as a child always had her nose in a book. That love of reading grew with her. She often would finish one book and immediately pick up another. She went from reading Bobbsey Twins to long, lush romance novels. One day she stumbled upon The Shining by Stephen King and was hooked. She turned her back on romance and became a serious Stephen King fan, reading every word he wrote. When she caught herself checking under the bed and looking in the closet for monsters or worse, she knew it was time to put down the horror stories and pick up the romance novels.

Her return to romance novels was short lived. She’d started law school and soon her reading was limited to legal opinions. Then one happy day her younger sister handed her a Harlequin romance. They were just what the doctor ordered. The books were short enough to read in a week and still get her required reading done. Best of all she knew there would be a happy ending and she wouldn’t have to search her room before she went to bed each night.

When her first child was born, she stopped practicing law to become a stay at home mom. Her second child followed nineteen months later. With two little ones in the house, reading suddenly became limited to Dr. Seuss and other children’s books. Any free time was spent trying to catch up on sleep or laundry.

All too soon her kids were attending pre-school two hours a day. She spent those few precious renewing her relationship with romance novels. After a while she felt the urge to write a book of her own and she began writing the stories she wanted to read. She spent many years writing some really terrible books and learning her craft. In 2016, Kathy sold to Harlequin Special Edition. Her first book, How to Steal the Lawman’s Heart, was released in February, 2017. Since that time she has released three more books in her Sweet Briar Sweethearts series with more to come.

Follow Kathy on social media: Website, Facebook, Twitter

Interview with Kathy Douglass, author of “Winning Charlotte Back”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Welcome Kathy Douglass to our blog!

Today, we’re interviewing Kathy about her new book, Winning Charlotte Back.

Enjoy!


Interview with Kathy Douglass about her book, Winning Charlotte Back:

Alexis: Tell us about your Sweet Briar Sweetheart series. Where does Winning Charlotte Back fit in?

Kathy: The Sweet Briar Sweethearts books take place in the fictional town of Sweet Briar, North Carolina and the surrounding area. Each of the books tells the romance of a different hero and heroine, but it also lets us see the town as a whole. Winning Charlotte Back is the fourth book in the series. In Winning Charlotte Back, we also catch up with couples from earlier books in the series.

Alexis: Tell us about your story’s hero, Dr. Rick Tyler. Describe his looks, style and heart for Charlotte.

Kathy: Dr. Rick Tyler is gorgeous as romance heroes usually are. He is tall, dark and handsome. I always choose a real person as a physical model for the characters I create. For Rick, I used model Tyson Beckford.

Rick cares for Charlotte and wants the best for her. Even before he falls in love with her, he wants her to be happy. It is only after he realizes the role he’s played in making her unhappy and begins to make amends that he becomes the man he was meant to be.

Alexis: Why did Rick leave Charlotte at the altar and why does he now want to win her back?

Kathy: Rick left Charlotte at the altar years ago because he wasn’t in love with her. They’d been good friends and their fathers wanted them to get married. Rick and Charlotte got swept away in the planning and he couldn’t see another way out of a marriage he believed was doomed to fail. He wants to win her back because as he gets to know her again he falls in love with her.

Alexis: How did Charlotte feel when she found out that Rick was her new next-door neighbor?

Kathy: She’s horrified. He’d hurt and humiliated her so he was the last person she ever wanted to see again.

Alexis: Tell us more about your heroine Charlotte Shields. What is she like (looks)? What are her highest aspirations in life? What does she love? What or who can she not stand (explain why)?

Kathy: I used ballerina Misty Copeland as the model for Charlotte. She’s beautiful and in great shape as is Charlotte. Charlotte’s aspirations change as the book progresses. She wants to be successful in her job and contribute to society. She loves riding her bike and junk food. She doesn’t like hypocrites.

Alexis: What role does Rick’s son play in this story? Tell us about him.

Kathy: Rick’s son helps to get Bobby and Charlotte together. He and Charlotte understand each other and he loves being with her. He’s a fun child who loves basketball.

Alexis: Do you only write about African American characters in all of your books? Why or why not?

Kathy: Yes, all of my characters are African American. I choose to write only African American characters for a couple of reasons:

First, I’m a firm believer in writing what you know.

Second, I believe that African American readers deserve to see themselves in romances. I believe everyone deserves a happily ever after. It is my pleasure as a writer to provide that for my readers.

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

Kathy: Thank you so much for the interview. If anyone wants to contact me, please feel free to visit my website, kathydouglassbooks.com and drop me a line.

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Author:

Kathy is a born reader who as a child always had her nose in a book. That love of reading grew with her. She often would finish one book and immediately pick up another. She went from reading Bobbsey Twins to long, lush romance novels. One day she stumbled upon The Shining by Stephen King and was hooked. She turned her back on romance and became a serious Stephen King fan, reading every word he wrote. When she caught herself checking under the bed and looking in the closet for monsters or worse, she knew it was time to put down the horror stories and pick up the romance novels.

Her return to romance novels was short lived. She’d started law school and soon her reading was limited to legal opinions. Then one happy day her younger sister handed her a Harlequin romance. They were just what the doctor ordered. The books were short enough to read in a week and still get her required reading done. Best of all she knew there would be a happy ending and she wouldn’t have to search her room before she went to bed each night.

When her first child was born, she stopped practicing law to become a stay at home mom. Her second child followed nineteen months later. With two little ones in the house, reading suddenly became limited to Dr. Seuss and other children’s books. Any free time was spent trying to catch up on sleep or laundry.

All too soon her kids were attending pre-school two hours a day. She spent those few precious renewing her relationship with romance novels. After a while she felt the urge to write a book of her own and she began writing the stories she wanted to read. She spent many years writing some really terrible books and learning her craft. In 2016, Kathy sold to Harlequin Special Edition. Her first book, How to Steal the Lawman’s Heart, was released in February, 2017. Since that time she has released three more books in her Sweet Briar Sweethearts series with more to come.

Follow Kathy on social media: Website, Facebook, Twitter


About the Book:

When the man who left her at the altar

Moves in next door…

This could not be happening. Charlotte Shields had left both that heartbreaking day and this heartbreaking man behind. Even worse, their mutual attraction is back to betray her. Especially as Dr. Rick Tyler works hard to make amends. He’s got to make this move to Sweet Briar work to give his son a second chance. Will he get a second chance with Charlotte in the bargain?

Buy Winning Charlotte Back on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million

Book Spotlight: A Cowboy in Shepherd’s Crossing

Hi, reader friends! Today’s featured title is a deliciously complex family drama and sweet romance with kids and cowboys to boot!


About the Book

Cowboy bachelor Jace Middleton was ready to leave Shepherd’s Crossing for good – until he learns his family’s unspoken secrets.

Now Jace finds himself not only caring for his twin baby nieces, but working with beautiful, strong-willed designer Melonie Fitzgerald to renovate his grandmother’s run-down estate.

Love wasn’t part of the plan… but Jace soon finds himself wishing Melonie could become part of his unexpected family.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook

review on Hope By The Book magazine website

 

About the Author

Ruth Logan Herne has more than a million books in print, including over twenty Love Inspired contemporary novels. She loves God, her family, country, coffee, chocolate and dogs, and wishes possums would leave the cat food on the side porch alone.

Ruthy is also a founding member of Seekerville, a popular writing-collective blog. A country girl who loves the big city, Ruthy and her husband live on a farm in upstate New York.

website  | Facebook | Twitter

 

Don’t these two look cozy?! I love the two little girls in this story too!

 

POST CREATED BY BETH ERIN

 

Interview with Neta Jackson about her book “Penny Wise”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re sharing our interview with Neta Jackson about her book, Penny Wise.

Enjoy!


Interview with Neta Jackson about her book, Penny Wise:

Alexis: Penny Wise is book number three in the Windy City Neighbors series. Tell us about this series.

Neta: We were inspired to write this series by our own wonderful multi-cultural neighborhood. It took a little time, but we know all our neighbors on this block, have yard parties together, keep each other’s house keys, pray for each other, pick up the mail or look after pets when someone is out of town. We even had a neighborhood Bible study for whoever wanted to come—believers or not.

The Windy City Neighbors series picks up characters from our previous House of Hope series—Harry Bentley and his wife Estelle—and moves them into a new neighborhood in Chicago. The five books in the series each focus on a different household in the neighborhood and cover one year of time—showing how one family loving their neighbors can help change a block of individual houses into a real neighborhood.

In a different twist from our previous adult novels which we wrote individually, either as Neta Jackson or Dave Jackson, Dave and I decided to write the Windy City Neighbors series together—although that basically meant brainstorming the stories together as “parallel novels,” then each of us chose which household/family we wanted to write about. So I wrote Grounded (Book #1), Dave wrote Derailed (Book #2)—which are a pair. Then I wrote Penny Wise (Book #3) and Dave wrote Pound Foolish (Book #4)—another pair. Then I wrapped up the series with Snowmageddon (Book #5).

Alexis: Why did you write Penny Wise? What is the significance of that title?

Neta: So many of us are busy, busy, busy—jobs, church, kids, school, personal friends, extended family—all good things. But sometimes the “tyranny of the urgent” blinds us to what is really important. We decided to include one story in this series dedicated to a reality most of us face—busyness—and the unintended consequences of not giving our time and attention to the needs of those right around us.

As for Penny Wise, it’s half of an old saying about being “penny wise but pound foolish” (which also created the title for the next novel, Pound Foolish, in this parallel pair). In the case of this story, the “penny” stands for the small things that may seem insignificant but are really important. Michelle Jasper, the POV character, actually claims a promise that God cares about the crises they are facing when she finds a new penny each day.

Alexis: Tell us about the Jasper Family. What role do they play in this book?

Neta: Michelle and Jared Jasper, the middle-class African American family in Penny Wise, are no different from other busy families—until a series of crises affecting their own kids and tough personal choices that test their values make them realize: something’s got to change.

Michelle is a social worker who gets personally involved with her clients. She also volunteers as a counselor for women who’ve had abortions, while hiding her own personal crisis.

Jared is an air traffic controller at O’Hare, the world’s busiest airport—a job with a lot of stress. Their son Destin needs money to pay for basketball summer camp, and the twins, Tavis and Tabitha, are trying to grow up too fast. Around them, their neighbors also have their challenges—like Greg Singer, who has lost his job and is trying to make a go of selling an energy drink. He enlists young Destin as a salesman, with disastrous results, creating anger and tension in the neighborhood . . . and therein lies the tale!

Alexis: Use creative words to paint a picture of the neighborhood where the Jasper Family lives. What makes it special?

Neta: We chose an actual working-class neighborhood in West Rogers Park, one of Chicago’s northernmost neighborhoods, as our prototype. It’s full of typical “Chicago bungalows”—usually one-story brick homes, often with a useable basement—and a few two-flats. Nothing special—except for the large “McMansion” a wealthy playboy built at the dead-end of this particular street. Rogers Park is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the nation, and our fictional block is no different.

We populated our “Windy City Neighbors” with white families, African Americans, Hispanic, gay and straight, elderly and young families, single and married, homeschoolers and public school teachers, Orthodox Jews, Christians, and “other.” Therein lies the challenge: how to bring people together to be a real neighborhood?

Alexis: Does the Jasper family believe in God? If so, in what ways does their faith impact their lives when a series of crises strikes their family?

Neta: The Jaspers are a church-going family of faith, very active in their black Baptist church. Maybe too active. The Pastor seems to always be calling on Jared when he needs extra help because, well, he knows Jared will usually say yes. He can be counted on.

Michelle is head of the women’s ministry on top of her other social work and volunteer responsibilities. Their faith is shaken when a series of crises hit their family. (Why, Lord, when we’ve been so faithful to always be at church serving You?) Part of what God teaches them during this time is that it’s okay to say “no” to “church busyness.” More than okay; sometimes critical to the spiritual and physical health of their family.

Alexis: You used the “parallel novels” storytelling technique to tell this story. Why?

Neta: Writing parallel novels is a unique storytelling technique in which two novels, each with their own set of characters, drama, and story arc, nonetheless overlap in time and space as the characters’ lives become intertwined with their neighbors and affect one another. The stories are told from different points of view, so even the overlapping scenes reveal more about the characters and what’s going on.

We developed this idea when Dave “stole” one of the characters from my House of Hope series (Harry Bentley) saying this affable doorman had his own intriguing story—so he wrote Harry Bentley’s Second Chance, overlapping Harry’s story with what I had already written in Where Do I Go? and Who Do I Talk To? After that, I wove details from Harry’s life into the rest of my House of Hope series . . . and so forth.

But with the Windy City Neighbors series, we decided to try writing “parallel novels” from the get-go—that is, we would plan to overlap our stories from the beginning. I have to admit, it was more challenging than we thought!

Alexis: What do you want your readers to remember most about Penny Wise?

Neta: Hopefully many readers can identify with the Jasper family—a solid, loving family who nonetheless get swamped by the busyness of life. Many of us need to re-evaluate what’s important in our relationships and be willing to make sacrifices in order to survive.

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

Neta: Although each novel in the Windy City Neighbors series stands alone and is a complete story in itself, the series is richer when all the characters come alive in the other novels as the different households interact and affect each other. And the final novel, Snowmageddon, pulls all the loose ends together in a wonderful climax that will have you laughing and crying and cheering as these neighbors, once so isolated, become a real neighborhood.

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Book:

Penny Wise (Book 3 in the Windy City Neighbors series) introduces us to yet another family in “the neighborhood”-the Jaspers, busy with demanding jobs, busy with church, busy volunteering, parents of three active teenagers, juggling sometimes crazy schedules.

All good things. Until all those “good things” feed into a series of crises that affects the whole family. Something’s gotta change!

Penny Wise is a contemporary peek at an urban family wrestling with the spiritual and practical challenges of real life.

The series employs the innovating storytelling technique of “parallel novels,” each with its own drama and story arc, but whose characters’ lives become intertwined with their neighbors and affect one another.

Welcome to Beecham Street-a typical, isolated American neighborhood that is beginning to come out of its shell . . . for better or worse.


About the Author:

Neta Jackson and her husband Dave are an award-winning husband-and-wife writing team, the authors or coauthors of more than 130 books that have sold over 2.5 million copies.

They are best known for Neta’s Yada Yada Prayer Group series and its sequels, as well as their forty-volume Trailblazer series of historical fiction about great Christian heroes for young readers.

Neta and Dave raised two children as well as a foster daughter and are now enjoying all the “grands”!

The Jacksons are thankful for their multi-cultural church and neighborhood in the Chicago area, which provides the characters and setting for their novels.

Follow Neta and her husband Dave Jackson on social media: 

Website: http://www.daveneta.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/DaveNetaJackson/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DaveNetaJackson

Interview with Cathe Swanson about her book “Hope for the Holidays”

Happy Monday, reader friends!

Last November, we did a spotlight on Cathe Swanson’s Christmas story Hope for the Holidays. Today, Cathe is back and this time, we’re asking questions about her same book.

Enjoy our interview with Cathe Swanson, author of Hope for the Holidays!


Interview with Cathe Swanson about her book,  Hope for the Holidays (Great Lakes Collection):

Alexis: What about the holiday season inspired you to write this book?

Cathe: Christmas brings out the best and worst in communities, so there are always stories to tell. The first Unity Plenkiss book, Snow Angels, was too short to include all of the characters’ Christmas stories. I especially wanted to talk about Tally, a homeless vet with PTSD, because she is so real to me – vulnerable but trying to get and maintain control of her life.

 Alexis: What is does your book title, “Hope for the Holidays,” mean?

Cathe: Christmas can be an emotional season, with pressures and sad memories as well as great joy, fun, and peace. In Chicago, the short winter days are cold. Maly Park is an aging Chicago neighborhood with a diverse population. There are elderly people who’ve lived in the same house through blessings and losses, peace and wars, left behind when their children grew up and left home. There are veterans, women in crisis, children in unstable homes, and other people facing challenges. It’s not just a matter of money – like us, they need love. They need community. The Unity Plenkiss and the church – The Blessed Church of the Sacred Lion and Holy Lamb – provide warmth and encouragement for everyone. Hope!

Alexis: I love the cover art for your book! It is beautiful and captivating! Was it challenging to find a cover photo that featured your hero who is Black and your heroine who is White together sipping what looks like a latte or hot chocolate? Share your cover design story with details like who created it and if it was expensive.

Cathe: Yes, it was hard! There aren’t enough stock photo options for people of color, and finding the right search terms was complicated. I spent an entire day looking at all the major stock photography websites for the right people. In the end, my cover designer, Chautona Havig, had to patch together the image, bringing the couple closer together across the table and fading out the crowded background. This would be a great business opportunity for a professional photographer!

Alexis: As a White author, did you find it difficult to write a hero of color? Why or why not?

Cathe: I didn’t find it difficult to write about Micah, because he just seemed to be “Micah” – a man conflicted over his spiritual gifts vs. his current responsibilities. He came from a suburban Christian home.

I am aware of the limitations of my experience and understanding, and I do worry about “doing it wrong” when I write about characters of markedly different cultures, so I follow the age-old advice and “write what I know.” The adult people of color I know lead lives similar to my own, so that’s how I envision Micah. I live on campus at a treatment center for boys who’ve been in trouble with the law, so my teenage characters might – in a very general way – reflect some of the attitudes and history of the boys here. I realize that Micah’s racial heritage is part of who he is, and he must have experienced racial conflict in his life, but my Christmas novella has a limited scope and setting, and I didn’t explore all of that.

Alexis: Did you do any research when writing this interracial romance between Carrie and Micah? Share details and advice on how you made it work.

Cathe: There are a few interracial relationships in my family and more among our friends and in our church, so I just portrayed it as naturally as I could. In real life, it’s challenging for some people, but it wasn’t really a problem for Carrie and Micah because of her upbringing as a missionary kid in a Black family.

Alexis: What advice do you have to other White authors who may want to write about characters of color in their fiction stories for CBA but are hesitant or scared to do so?

Cathe: If you are going to write a story with significant cultural conflict or issues, get advice from people who have a real understanding of those things. I have found that when I say, “I’m an author writing a book about…”, people are usually happy to share information and help me understand things.I use the Tumblr blog “Writing with Color” for research and advice. It’s a great, helpful website, but it’s also very intense. When I read about all of the mistakes that I can make, I get paralyzed – too scared to write anything at all!

Whatever their skin color, just write about people – real human beings with realistic backstories. If you are worried about something, pray about it. My first goal is to glorify God in my writing, so I write from my own experience, ask for help when I have questions, and just do the best I can.

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

Cathe: Certainly. I like to read stories with characters who reasonably represent the demographics of their environment, and interracial romances aren’t at all uncommon anymore.

Alexis: Let’s talk more about the romance elements in your story. What is it about Carrie that makes Micah want to pursue a romantic relationship with her?

Cathe: Carrie is energetic and overflowing with good ideas. She can be bossy, but her good intentions shine through. Her childhood, growing up as a missionary kid in the Congo, made her both savvy and naïve. She listens to people. Micah was able to tell her how he felt without being afraid she would judge him.

Alexis: What is it about Micah that tugs on Carrie’s heartstrings and inspires her to give him a chance?

Cathe: Micah – besides being charming and handsome – wants to take care of his people. His congregation may exasperate him, but he feels a great sense of responsibility for them. He won’t leave them to pursue his own dreams until he has provided for their future leadership.

Alexis: Your story’s opening scene is hilarious and your couple’s meet cute is sweet! What were Carrie and Micah’s first impressions of each other?

Cathe: Carrie is startled by the theft of her long-awaited treat and Micah’s intervention. She’s embarrassed by her reaction, and he’s embarrassed by the behavior of his parishioner, but they find each other fascinating.

Alexis: Why is Carrie eager to organize and improve the Unity Plenkiss Community Center?

Cathe: She’s a capable girl and doesn’t like to see resources wasted. She sees great possibilities for the Unity Plenkiss and knows she can make a real difference, but she’s also eager to prove that she’s an intelligent adult – not Roy’s little sister, who only got the job because he recommended her.

Alexis: What kind of pastor is Micah? Describe his leadership style.

Cathe: Micah is very, very conscientious and feels responsibility for everyone in his church. At the same time, he feels like they manage just find on their own.

Alexis: Has Micah always had a big heart for people and has Carrie always had a passion for organization? Explain.

Cathe: Micah’s faith is solid and transparent, and he’s a lively preacher, but his heart is in teaching, not pastoring. He wants to help people but believes he lacks the skills to connect and help them one-on-one.

Carrie has always been sensible and worked hard, as a missionary kid in a poverty-stricken region. Learning to work efficiently made it easier. She gets frustrated now with disorganization.

Alexis: Did you self-publish this book or was it traditionally published? Explain why you chose that publication path for this book and give advice for aspiring authors.

Cathe: I think an author’s personality is the biggest factor when choosing which publication route to take. All my books are independently published. I like the control this gives me over my work and marketing, but it’s a lot of work.

If you like group projects and working with a team, conventional publishing might be a better choice.

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

Cathe: I want them to remember the humanity of the individual characters, and how each one of them needed dignity.

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

Cathe: Thank you for letting me talk about my book. Hope for the Holidays is one of my favorites.

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Book:

Newly arrived from her home in the Congo and armed with a brand-new degree in nonprofit management, Carrie Strough is eager to organize and improve the Unity Plenkiss Community Center. Unfortunately, no one wants to be organized, and only Micah Neresen, the charming and handsome pastor of the local church, is interested in her plans. Or is he just interested in her?

With a cast of lively and eccentric characters including a homeless vet with PTSD, a con man, an elderly couple with an over-the-top Christmas display, a feisty committeewoman with a past of her own, and a police investigation, Micah and Carrie wonder if there is any hope for the holidays this year!

Book Purchase Link: Amazon


About the Author:

Cathe Swanson lives in Wisconsin with her husband of 32 years. They enjoy spending time with their family and being outdoors, kayaking, hiking, birdwatching and fishing, but summer is short in Wisconsin, so it’s important to have indoor hobbies, too. Cathe has been a quilter and teacher of quiltmaking for over 25 years, and she enjoys just about any kind of creative work, especially those involving fiber or paper.

Her family is growing steadily; she and her husband had three sons, and those boys all grew up and married delightful women and started producing grandchildren: four boys and three girls so far!

The long Wisconsin winters are perfect for writing and reading books! Cathe enjoys writing stories with eccentric characters of all ages. Her books will make you laugh and make you cry – and then make you laugh again.

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Book Spotlight: Seal of the Sand Dweller

Happy Sunday, Reader Friends!

I hope you’re ready to learn about some epic Biblical fiction, because Seal of the Sand Dweller is just what the Biblical scholar called for! R. Rushing has forged a tale so entrenched in Ancient Egyptian culture that you will feel like you’ve been transported and are watching Yoseph (i.e. Joseph) and the other characters interact in front of you. So, without further ado, I give you…Seal of the Sand Dweller


About the Book

R_Rushing_EbookAFamine threatens the kingdom while neither priest nor sage can decipher the king’s Horus dream. The slave drawn from the garrison is a sand dweller, a vile Asiatic from beyond the northern borders of Egypt. His interpretation seems, at first, a desperate snatch at freedom, but when his words prove true, he is raised to inconceivable heights.

The courtiers of the king’s house are fascinated with the god-kissed Asiatic. But when Yoseph’s astute sense of order reveals extortion, the king must check the integrity of his administrators or remain a pawn of his own government.

Yoseph has paid the price for integrity. The first of heavy fines were exacted by jealous brothers, the next by his master’s lascivious wife. As vizier, he confronts corruption with the authority of a king’s seal.

And this time, integrity might cost him everything.

Enter the columned halls of the king’s house for the retelling of the biblical story of Joseph as you’ve never heard it before.

Links: AmazonGoodreads


About the Author

r rushing author picIf you’ve ever heard someone sniffing back tears in the movie theater during a Lord of the Rings battle scene, it might have been R. Rushing. She’s always had a penchant for majestic battles, soulish struggles, kingdom intrigues, and complicated romance.

R. Rushing reads the Bible with open-mouthed fascination. There’s enough political and kingdom intrigue, battles and conflict for a lifetime of lessons.

Rushing lives in Virginia with her husband, Ben, and loves to write fiction in the vein of compelling stories such as Ben-Hur, The Robe, and Voice in the Wind.

Seal of the Sand Dweller is her debut novel and the first installment in The Servant Ruler series.

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Post written by contributor Allison K. García