Author Interview with Michelle Stimpson about Mama B: A Time to Speak

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re featuring an interview with author Michelle Stimpson about her book, Mama B: A Time to Speak.


Interview with Michelle Stimpson about her book, Mama B: A Time to Speak:

Alexis: What inspired you to write this Mama B series?

Michelle: The Mama B series grows out of my natural love for senior citizens. Somehow, I’ve always been the “baby” amongst my associates. I really appreciate their wisdom and the way they view life. Hanging around with older people (including my grandmother) is a joy for me, so Mama B is a natural tribute.

Alexis: Who is Mama B? Share her backstory and personality, then her motivation.

Michelle: The series starts with Mama B as a 72-year-old widow who’s very active in her church and with her friends. She’s a spunky woman who is still learning more and more about the Lord even as she goes into those sunset years. Her prayer life is consistent and she enjoys things ministering to others. This calling to minister to others often causes inconvenience in her life, as sacrificing for others tends to do. Putting other people’s needs before her own drives her to let people move into her home, but she always has to keep her “self” in check as she mentors in close quarters.

Alexis: Apart from Mama B, who are the main characters in this story, “Mama B: A Time to Speak” (Book #1 in your series)? Briefly describe each one’s personality and motivation.

Michelle: In this book, readers will meet Mama B’s friends, including Libbie, who walks with Mama B regularly for exercise. She and Libbie, who is also her prayer partner, face life with hope and spiritual wisdom. Mama B’s friend, Ophelia, is a bit more hot-headed and doesn’t bite her tongue. Henrietta, a woman on the Mother’s Board and Mama B’s church, is usually at odds with Mama B about how things should run at the church.

Mama B’s major dilemma in this first series is a conflict at her church, Mt. Zion, in Peasner, TX. Pastor Phillips is caring for his ailing wife. The interim pastor has some pretty revolutionizing ideas about what the church should be doing, and Mama B finally has enough of the foolishness. He has to speak up for what she believes is right, especially as she believes that the newfangled ideas are negatively impacting her granddaughter (Nikki) and great-grandson (Cameron) who have landed on bad times and come to live with her.

Alexis: How important is church and faith in God to your characters in this story? Why?

Michelle: Mama B’s story, her life, revolves around her faith. She’s not a perfect character by any means, but she’s growing. I think what makes her so likeable is the fact that even at her age, she’s still learning and willing to admit when she’s wrong. She doesn’t have it “all together”, but she’s on a journey that draws her closer and closer to Christ throughout the book.

Alexis: In what ways do church and faith helps your characters to survive and cope with the curveballs of life?

Michelle: The funny thing about Mama B is that her faith actually causes the curveballs. She can’t sit by and watch people do things that she believes (with biblical basis) are detrimental to themselves and the body of Christ. With love and pure intentions, even though she might be imperfect in her delivery, Mama B is compelled to speak.

Alexis: Why is Mama B convinced that it is “A Time to Speak”? How does her voice help?

Michelle: When Mama B sees that her granddaughter thinks God is a sugar daddy and her great-grandson thinks God is a genie, Mama B has to speak up, especially in Pastor Phillips’ absence. This church, Mt. Zion, was partially built by her late husband. Mama B owes it to her God, her community, and her family to bring a word of wisdom, even at the risk of coming across like the stereotypical old lady who is resistant to change in the church. Even if they won’t all listen to her, she has to speak her peace.

Alexis: Would you like to see more books like yours that feature diverse characters, published by CBA? Why or why not?

Michelle: I would love to see this, but I’m not holding my breath. Those of us who are publishing independently are quickly finding our audience and writing the books we know readers want.

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

Michelle: I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to share Mama B with the world! This book started a wonderful relationship with a whole new group of readers for me. I didn’t intend on writing so many Mama B books, but the first book got us on a roll and, six years later, we’re still at it! I hope your readers will enjoy her!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor.


About the Book:

The good folks at Mt. Zion Baptist are doing their best to keep the church flowing smoothly while Pastor Phillips takes time off to be with his wife in her final days. Beatrice “Mama B” Jackson even opens her home so that the women’s groups can continue to meet faithfully after some “rascal” stole the copper from the church’s air conditioning unit. With her semi-estranged granddaughter and great-grandson staying in the guest room, Mama B soon has a full house.

When the interim preacher and his wife start touting messages that don’t line up with the Bible, Mama B wonders how and if she can intervene without causing strife in the congregation or discouraging the young couple.

But Mama B can only take so much of this foolishness. Soon enough, Mama B will realize that there is much more at stake than she or anyone else at Mt. Zion ever imagined. And it’s time to speak.

Mama B – A Time to Speak is full of godly wisdom and humor that will make you take a deep breath after that last page and smile from the inside out. Fans of the classic “Miss Julia” will enjoy Mama B to the fullest!

Buy this book on Amazon or B&N


About the Author:

Bestselling author Michelle Stimpson has penned more than thirty Christian fiction books including traditional bestsellerDivas of Damascus Road, Amazon #1 bestseller, Stepping Down, the award-winning Mama B series, and Falling Into Grace, which has been optioned for a made-for-TV movie.

She has also published more than fifty short stories through her educational publishing company, WeGottaRead.com.

Michelle holds an English degree from Jarvis Christian College and a master’s degree in education from the University of Texas at Arlington.

She is a part-time language arts consultant. She also serves in women’s ministry through teaching and publishing. She and her husband have two young adult children, one granddaughter, and one bizarre dog. Visit her online at www.MichelleStimpson.com.

Follow Michelle on FacebookTwitter, Website

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Interview with Tyora Moody about her book “Relentless Heart”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re featuring Tyora Moody’s book Relentless Heart.

Read our interview with this amazing author below.


Interview with Tyora Moody about her book, Relentless Heart:

Alexis: What inspired you to write this book?

Tyora: When I started to outline the Reed Family Series a few years ago, I felt led with this series to start with the middle sister, Jo, in the first book, Broken Heart and then the youngest sister, Toni, in Troubled Heart.

In Relentless Heart, readers meet Asia Reed, the oldest sibling. The story revolves around her desire to find her ex-boyfriend’s murderer.

Alexis: Tell us about your story’s heroine Asia Reed. What is her motivation, passion, and mission in life?

Tyora: All three sisters have pretty strong personalities, but Asia is probably the most opinionated and loves her role as the oldest sister. She also is the most complex sister.

Asia has a passion to win, which she does in the courtroom as a prosecutor. She does have lingering doubts about her ambitions now that she’s drawing closer to forty and her desire to be married and have children consume her.

Alexis: Why is Asia relentless about not losing a case? What drives her to excel?

Tyora: Asia is definitely the classic overachiever. She grew up in a family where her father put away the bad guys as a cop and later as the police chief. It’s ingrained in her to fight for justice for victims.

Alexis: Why is Asia fighting a losing battle in the faith department?

Tyora: Asia has been bent on winning but in Relentless Heart, she runs into a wall with an investigation. The death of a young man at the hands of a police officer really hits home to her. She is also starting to experience signs of weariness at the constant revolving door of prosecuting criminals.

Asia’s mother, Vanessa, is constantly encouraging Asia to make sure she’s not running on empty by leaving God out of her life. Asia is definitely one to work weekends and let cases consume her life, which has also resulted in the burnout.

Alexis: Asia is turning 40 years old, never married and has not had children. How is this situation affecting her career and outlook on life?

Tyora: Asia’s biological clock has been ticking in her ears for a while, but she’s also been pretty busy with her career. Something about turning 40 is making her wonder if all of her “wins” in the courtroom have been really worth it. During this time her younger sister Jo is having her second child and her youngest sister Toni is engaged to be married. These changing dynamics in her close-knit family are also making Asia take a second look at her life.

Alexis: What is the name of Asia’s former boyfriend, a prominent defense attorney who was gunned down in his office? Describe the connection he had with Asia. Did they have a good relationship? How did Asia cope with his death?

Tyora: Adam Locklear is a prominent defense attorney in Charlotte. Asia really wasn’t interested in having a relationship, but she found out that she and Adam had a lot in common. Their relationship started out being a really good fit until Asia caught Adam cheating on her.

She’s never really recovered from the relationship and has enjoyed her revenge in the courtroom. Adam has never been able to win a case against her.

Asia’s lingering feelings for Adam along with her doubts about her life’s direction cause her to take Adam’s death hard. It also didn’t help that she was on her way to see Adam and she comes across the horrific crime scene.

Alexis: What is it about her ex-boyfriend’s death that jolts Asia into action, determined to hunt down his killer and fight for justice?

Tyora: Adam was a “bad boy,” but Asia knew he had a good side. She realized in the last conversation with him that he may have had something to share with her…this information may have resulted in his death.

Alexis: Who is Adam Locklear and what role does he play in this story?

Tyora: If you have the money and you’re in trouble, Adam Locklear is the defense attorney in Charlotte to hire. His clientele consists of criminals and some very shady people with loads of money. Adam’s conscience causes him to reach out to Asia. If Adam suddenly gains a conscience, then Asia knows what he has to tell her is serious.

Alexis: Describe your story’s hero Isaac Coleman. What’s he like?

Tyora: Detective Isaac Coleman is new to homicide. He recently was promoted to detective. He’s a single father raising a teenage daughter. He’s a “cool cucumber,” taking his new role in stride despite some obstacles with his new partner. Being new, he has attention for details. He also has his eyes on Asia!

Alexis: How do Isaac and Asia cross paths and how do they help each other?

Tyora: Isaac is assigned to investigate Adam Locklear’s murder. He takes Asia’s statement. He knows who she is and is kind of in awe of her. The Reed Family is well-known in law enforcement. Asia is a prosecutor, but she’s determined to stick her nose in Isaac’s investigation. He understands her need to know what happened. Both of them start becoming drawn to each for reasons beyond the investigation.

Alexis: Is there hope for a happily ever after for Asia or will she stay a single lady forever?

Tyora: Nothing is impossible with God! That’s advice I share with my real-life single family members and friends. Hopefully, when readers check out Relentless Heart, they will be enamored with Asia’s interest in Detective Coleman.

Alexis: What will it take for a man to woo and win Asia’s heart?

Tyora: Asia needs to trust the man in her life. Adam broke that trust and Asia never really recovered. She’s a strong, independent professional and being disappointed by a man only led her to be more consumed with her independence. She needs a man who respects who she is and has her back especially during the really difficult cases.

Alexis: If you could step into your story as a professional counselor, what advice would you give to Asia? Why?

Tyora: I would tell Asia that work should not be her life. She really has a counselor in her mom, but most people are stubborn about listening to mom’s advice. I would encourage her to take on other interests outside the courtroom that allow her to relax and leave her cases behind.

Alexis: Would you like to see CBA publish more stories featuring main characters of color like Asia who are strong and passionate about career and life? Why or why not?

Tyora: It would be great to see the CBA publish more stories featuring main characters of color. If CBA ever wanted to really get into the business of publishing books with main characters of color, they need to understand the various cultures that read the books. African American readers don’t mind switching to secular to Christian on their reading list. Some edginess to Christian Fiction is accepted.

I had the opportunity to be published traditionally with Urban Christian for four books. The advance was great for marketing funds and it was definitely great to work with multiple editors. I’m a graphic designer so I always didn’t necessarily care for my covers. I don’t miss the tight deadlines.

In all honesty, since independent publishing has matured it will be hard to really convince some authors to give up some of the control they have with their own work. The Holy Spirit remains my main editor and my readers accept my books regardless of the publisher.

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

Tyora: Thank you for having me. I appreciate the opportunity to introduce your readers to Relentless Heart and the Reed Family series. I hope to return the series in the future and write the brothers’ stories.

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor.


About the Book:

Assistant District Attorney Asia Reed is relentless about not losing a case. But she’s fighting a losing battle in the faith department. Now approaching forty, never married and with no children, a growing sense of unease has made her weary about her career and life.

When a former boyfriend and prominent defense attorney is gunned down in his office, Asia is jolted into action, determined to find out who’s responsible. Only hours before his death, Adam Locklear insists they meet about information she needs to know. Did Locklear’s death have anything to do with what he wanted share?

Detective Isaac Coleman seems to think so. Will Asia’s persistence put her in the path of a killer?

Buy this book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

~*~

About the Author:

Tyora Moody is the author of Soul-Searching Suspense books which include the Reed Family SeriesEugeena Patterson MysteriesSerena Manchester Series, and the Victory Gospel Series.  She is also the author of The Literary Entrepreneur Series, editor for the Stepping Into Victory Compilations and Aspiring Love Short Stories Compilations under her company, Tymm Publishing LLC.

As a literary-focused entrepreneur, she has assisted countless authors with developing an online presence via her design and marketing company, Tywebbin Creations LLC. Popular services include book covers, book formatting, and book trailers.

To contact Tyora about book club discussions or for book marketing workshops, visit her online at TyoraMoody.com.

Follow Tyora: Amazon ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~Instagram ~ Twitter

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Interview with Tyora Moody about her book “Lemon Filled Disaster”

Happy Monday, reader friends!

Join me in welcoming Tyora Moody to the blog.

She’s here to talk about her book, Lemon Filled Disaster.


Interview with Tyora Moody about her book Lemon Filled Disaster:

Alexis: What inspired you to write this book?

Tyora: Lemon Filled Disaster has been on my mind for a few years. It’s book three in the Eugeena Patterson Mysteries. I pick back-up a year later after the second book in the series, Oven Baked Secrets. My readers have also been asking me on social media about the main character. So, the readers’ interest encouraged me to jump back into writing the next amateur sleuth adventure for Ms. Eugeena.

Alexis: There are a lot of published stories about weddings and mysteries. What makes your story unique?

Tyora: For your readers who are not familiar with Eugeena Patterson, she is an African American retired school teacher. Becoming an amateur sleuth during her retirement years was definitely not on Ms. Eugeena’s mind. She is the mother of three and grandmother to five.

In Lemon Filled Disaster, Eugeena is excited about her middle son, a long-time bachelor marrying the love of his life. Eugeena is so enthusiastic about the union, that she helps the couple out as a wedding planner. It’s during her wedding errands that she finds out her future daughter-in-law has a secret. Carmen has an ex-husband that she has never mentioned. The untimely death of this ex-spouse threatens to place the future wedding in jeopardy.

Alexis: Who are your main characters and what role do they play in this story?

Tyora: Eugeena Patterson is the main character. She has a budding romance with her next-door neighbor, Amos Jones, who happens to be a retired detective. The other main characters are Ms. Eugeena’s son, Dr. Cedric Patterson and his fiancee, Dr. Carmen Alpine. There are a host of other members of the family, neighbors and church members.

Alexis: What is the main motivation of your story’s hero and heroine?

Tyora: Ms. Eugeena loves her children and her desire is to see them happy. She also has gotten to know her future daughter-in-law and where another mother may have told her son to run the other way, Ms. Eugeena sees the good in people. She also very determined to find justice.

Alexis: Which one of your characters was the most fun to create? Why?

Tyora: Ms. Eugeena and Amos Jones are my favorite characters. They are unusual because not a lot of writers try to tackle romance with people over sixty. Ms. Eugeena is a sassy go-getter and Amos is always going to back her up and make sure she doesn’t fall into too much trouble. They are quite the team.

Alexis: Was there anything about the writing of this story that challenged you?

Tyora: It’s been about three years since I wrote the last book in this series. I took a break to write another series. It took some time to know exactly where the story would go because I had fans asking me when would Ms. Eugeena and Amos get married. I felt really strongly with both of them being widows that they still needed time.

Alexis: What is the significance of your story’s creative title?

Tyora: This series has some pretty interesting titles. The first book is Deep Fried Trouble. Ms. Eugeena has Diabetes II so I combined her desire to change her eating habits and lifestyle along with her newfound hobby as an amateur sleuth. It’s been fun coming up with these titles and the book covers.

Alexis: What role does your main characters’ faith in God play in this story?

Tyora: God is an essential part of Ms. Eugeena’s life. I always let readers know that this is a Cozy Mystery series under the Christian Fiction genre. Ms. Eugeena has no issues with hitting her knees and having a little talk with Jesus. He’s her anchor especially in recent years with her becoming a widow and going through a health crisis.

Alexis: What makes this book more of a mystery than a contemporary romance?

Tyora: The Eugeena Patterson Mysteries are cozy mysteries. Readers who enjoy romance may enjoy the growing relationship between the baby boomers, Eugeena and Amos. I’ve been really tickled by readers who are rooting for this older couple.

Alexis: Did race matter when you imagined your characters? Why or why not?

Tyora: I have always been a fan of suspense and mystery. I enjoy authors like Colleen Coble, Christy Barritt, Terri Blackstock, and Brandilyn Collins. One of the reasons why I was inspired to write ten years ago was because I rarely picked up a mystery or suspense book that had main characters of color. I felt in my spirit that God was leading me to write the kind of books that I wanted to read. It’s been an awesome journey because many of my readers are not fans of reading mysteries, but they been won over my Ms. Eugeena’s stories.

Alexis: Would you like to see more stories about characters of color? Explain.

Tyora: I think if you’re seeking romance or women’s fiction, there are a lot more books to select from than there was ten years ago. I would still love to see other writers pursue characters of color for mysteries, suspense, and thrillers. When I first started writing, I had other authors tried to steer me to writing romance and women’s fiction, but I felt really strongly towards writing mysteries. I’m glad I stuck to writing because my books win over a new mystery lover one at a time.

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

Tyora: I would love for readers to pick up Lemon Filled Disaster and become a fan of Ms. Eugeena’s quest to solve the mystery.

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

Tyora: Thank you for having me and letting me introduce the latest book in the Eugeena Patterson Mysteries to your readers.

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor.


About the Book:

Retiree Eugeena Patterson has picked up some new activities which include volunteering at an afterschool program and helping her future daughter-in-law plan a wedding. Eugeena is more than thrilled to see her son, Dr. Cedric Patterson, a longtime bachelor soon wed his girlfriend, Carmen Alpine.

During wedding planning errands, Eugeena notices a man is tailing her and Carmen.  When the man confronts Carmen this makes Eugeena’s enthusiasm wane and suspicions rise.

Later when that man is found dead, Carmen becomes a suspect. As Eugeena begins to investigate Carmen’s past, she’s wondering if this wedding will ever happen.

Buy this book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.


About the Author:

Tyora Moody is the author of Soul-Searching Suspense books which include the Reed Family SeriesEugeena Patterson MysteriesSerena Manchester Series, and the Victory Gospel Series.  She is also the author of The Literary Entrepreneur Series, editor for the Stepping Into Victory Compilations and Aspiring Love Short Stories Compilations under her company, Tymm Publishing LLC.

As a literary-focused entrepreneur, she has assisted countless authors with developing an online presence via her design and marketing company, Tywebbin Creations LLC. Popular services include book covers, book formatting, and book trailers.

To contact Tyora about book club discussions or for book marketing workshops, visit her online at TyoraMoody.com.

Follow Tyora: Amazon ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~Instagram ~ Twitter

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Author Interview with Alexis A. Goring

loveinpictures

Interview with Alexis A. Goring, author of Love in Pictures:

Allison: Alexis, I am so excited to interview you today! Please tell me a little about your background and what brought you to writing.

Alexis: Hi, Allison! I’m a writer and editor with a B.A. in Print Journalism, MFA in Creative Writing, and more than 10 years of work experience as a media professional. I’ve always loved the written word but it was my Mom who started me on this writing journey around the age of four when she required me to write in a journal everyday. My love of writing soon took flight! I pursued it throughout my school years and after graduation from college, started getting paid to write.

Allison: I just finished reading your latest book, Love in Pictures, and really enjoyed it. Can you tell us what inspired the story and what you hope readers will get from it?

Alexis: I am happy to hear that you enjoyed reading my book! A writing prompt inspired my story. I was given a challenge to share the first line of my latest work in progress, with fellow writers. Since I’m very protective of my stories that are not done yet, I didn’t want to share the first line of what I was working on but I did want to participate in the challenge. So I made up a sentence and submitted it to the writers’ e-mail loop. Within minutes, I made a new friend—Jessica Mae, a wedding photographer who loved the line and the fact that my story’s heroine was a wedding photographer. Jessica Mae offered to share her real-world expertise to help me perfect the photography-related scenes in my story and for that, I am grateful.

So that one sentence, turned into a paragraph and that paragraph, a page then a full scene, to full chapter and I continued writing until my story was completed nine months later.

 Allison: What surprised you when you wrote the book?

Alexis: How easily the story came to me once I got into the grove of writing it. There were challenges and I dealt with writer’s block but with the help of God and God-fearing friends who helped me by talking about tough points, the story flowed.

Allison: I especially enjoyed how you didn’t shy away from talking about race and racism in your story. Have any of your own personal experiences inspired these parts of the story?

Alexis: Yes, there were some personal experiences that I drew from as I wrote the story in terms of the struggle of realizing your true value in a world that can be hostile to people of color based on their skin color and other ethnic features.

 Allison: How does your culture influence your writing?

Alexis: This is the first time that I infused my own real-life culture into the story. Like Michelle (my story’s heroine), my Mom is Black American and my Dad is West Indian from Barbados. My personal real-world experiences regarding that culture are reflected in the Michelle’s story, mainly with references to the beautiful, clear-blue waters of the Caribbean and steel band music, which is very popular in Barbados.

 Allison: How does your faith influence your writing?

Alexis: My faith influences my writing in one main way and that is my mission to give people hope in the midst of various real-world situations that seem hopeless, and to warm their heart with God’s Love when they read my stories.

 Allison: What are some of your favorite diverse Christian reads?

Alexis: Oh dear. Too many to name! But to name a few: Reunited at Christmas by Belle Calhoune, The Bashful Bride by Vanessa Riley, Love’s Promise by Melissa Storm, Chances Are by Traci Hunter Abramson, The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon, A Rebel in Jericho by Mimi Milan, and Worth A Thousand Words by Stacy Hawkins Adams.

 Allison: What else have your written? And what’s next?

Alexis: I’ve written a lot of uncompleted stories! Lol. But next, I’m working on a fictional story about a five-star quality bakery in the heart of a very important city. The story focuses on the characters that love it (the bakery).

Allison: Finally, a fun question! 🙂 If you could interview any character out of a fiction novel, who would it be and why?

Alexis: I’d love to interview Celia Park from Becky Wade’s book, Meant to be Mine because she’s a lot like me and I adore how her love story unfolded.

 

~*~

About the Author

 alexis-a-goring-nov-2014, author foto

Alexis A. Goring is a writer at heart who loves the arts and the color blue because of its serenity and soulful beauty.

She’s an established author, blogger, editor, writer, and photographer who enjoys exploring matters of the heart.

As a freelance writer, she covered President Barack Obama, wrote the “Growing Up” column for Collegiate Quarterly (CQ), which reached readers around the world, and served as the editor of a county newspaper.

Blogging is one of her favorite pastimes, and she founded the mission-focused blog “God is Love.”

Love in Pictures is her second book published by Forget Me Not Romances. Alexis hopes that her writing will connect readers with the forever love of Jesus Christ.

When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending quality time with loved ones, shopping, dining in her favorite restaurants, reading, listening to music, and baking for her church.

~*~

Book Blurb for Love in Pictures:

Wedding photographer Michelle Hadley has a passion for diversity and believes that love comes in all colors. So, she’s working hard to convince editors to feature her clients’ images on the covers of the mainstream bridal and wedding magazines.

Despite having a career that focuses on celebrating forever love, Michelle has never actually been in a romantic relationship, and she’s not looking for love, until she meets the one man she cannot forget.

Since his fiancée broke his heart, Logan Emerson’s focus has been on his career. He’s won awards for his work as a print journalist and dreams of greater success on television as a broadcast journalist. But his personal struggle presents many challenges that might prevent his dreams from coming true.

Michelle doesn’t date often, and since his heartbreak, Logan has shied away from the dating scene. But something about Michelle awakens Logan’s desire to love again.

 Get a copy of Love in Pictures exclusively on Amazon.com.

~*~

Follow Alexis on social media:

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PennedbyAlex

Website: https://alexisagoring.jimdo.com

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/capturingidea/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7260528.Alexis_A_Goring

“God is Love” blog: http://capturingtheidea.blogspot.com

 

Interview with Traci Wooden-Carlisle

Happy Memorial Day to our US readers! I hope you’re enjoying the long weekend – and what better way than chatting about books?!?

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Traci Wooden-Carlisle about (of course) books and, specifically, her suspense novel – Missing Destiny.

About the Book

missing destinyShe spends Friday nights with charts and graphs. His best friend is a dog named Sebastian.

All she’s ever wanted was peace and to feel she belonged. All he ever wanted was to disappear.

She’s a city girl hiding in a small town. He’s back home hiding from his past.

If life were perfect, they could be each other’s missing destiny.

When a mysterious man becomes a threat to her health Dr. Shauna Nathan, a workaholic scientist, is about to lose control over her emotions and her life. Her family steps in to protect her even if it means disrupting her otherwise predictable and orderly existence by bribing her with a chance to spend time with her old college roommate and surround herself with her one true passion — horses.

She heads to a ranch in Chandler County to hide from her stalker. Instead, she might find there healing she looks for — and love she doesn’t.

Horse therapist Zach moved to New York, had a successful career in finance, a beautiful wife, and daughter one day and the next it was all gone. He came back to Chandler County to come to terms with his loss and find a modicum of peace as a ranch hand- turned therapist at Murphy’s Equestrian Therapy Center. He has lost everyone he loved. Would he risk his heart again for Shauna?

Though the ruthless killer on Shauna’s trail will stop at nothing to destroy her, will Zach and Shauna escape danger and find happiness in each other’s arms and their missing destiny?

GOODREADS | AMAZON | B&N


Hi Traci! Thanks so much for chatting with us today! Let’s start with a question ‘just for fun’! Ocean or mountains?

Traci: This should be easy, but I’m torn. I was born and raised near the ocean in Southern California and went to college between the mountains and the ocean. I can receive peace from both but if I want to retreat for more than a day it will be the mountains.

Carrie: I’m the same way – both bring me such peace, but when i have to choose it’s going to be the mountains!

Other than the Bible, what are five of your most cherished books?

Traci: I will probably always go back to Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen for its language, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman for its wisdom, The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell due to nostalgia, Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan for its ability to make me cry buckets, and Black Presence in the Bible by Walter Author McCray which opened my eyes to my some of my ancestor’s accomplishments.

Carrie: Oh! Excellent choices & I love the variety!

If I asked your characters to describe YOU as an author, what would they say?

Traci: I love it when she writes because she listens well to what we’re saying and feeling, but sometimes she leaves us for weeks in the same position or situation and that gets frustrating. One good thing is she doesn’t erase and rewrite our scenes over and over but sometimes it does take her a moment to find just the right word or expression to describe how we are feeling.

Carrie: Don’t leave your characters hanging, Traci! haha! 😉 

Shauna and Zach are both hiding out in Chandler County for various reasons. What inspired you to incorporate this element into both of their characters?

Traci: I have been surrounded by quiet and strong men all my life. They can express themselves when they want and are affectionate. I love sharing those traits with my male characters. From the beginning I saw Zach as a recluse. He brooded but was still able to take comfort in nature. From that thought I worked backward to uncover the cause for his behavior. My inspiration for Shauna came from my niece who was going through college at the time. She was struggling with the transition from grade school to college life. Books weren’t the issue. Finding her passion was. My character, Shauna, had the chance to get reacquainted with herself and what she loved by getting lost in a town that expected nothing from her.

Carrie: Oooo I suspect Zach might become one of my new book boyfriends 😀 And Shauna – how many of us have been in the same position, right? Trying to find what we’ve been created for, our passion. I can’t wait to meet them both 🙂

What is one of your favorite quotes from the book & why do you love it?

Traci: I will preface this answer by letting you know that the conversation following this quote is one of my favorites because it uncovers so much about both Zach and Shauna and it makes my heart sigh. “And right there, as she looked into those warm, gold-speckled, brown eyes, every single emotion hovering at the edge of reason jumped off.”

Carrie: Oh i love that!!

Why is it important to you to write ethnically diverse characters?

Traci: I love to read and as a reader I enjoy many different genres. My favorite is romance and its subgenres. I love reading romances books with ethnically diverse characters because I enjoy reading about different cultures, including my own, and the influence those cultures have on the characters’ reaction to different situations and their feelings for each other.

Carrie: Those differences just add so many great layers and dimensions to the story, don’t they? 

How can we as readers of Christian fiction better support diverse authors and diverse stories?

Traci: We as readers can support diverse authors and diverse stories by introducing them to networking groups that would like to exchange ways to expand their readership. Buying and sharing is important but you can’t buy and share something you don’t know exists.

Carrie: That is so true and a great reminder for us!


About Traci Wooden-Carlisle

traci wooden carlisleTraci Wooden-Carlisle began writing poetry and short stories as soon as she was able to form words on paper. She used that as a way to creating worlds, as well as, to communicate with God. A native of Los Angeles, California, she grew up attending United Methodist Church under the leadership of a pastor whose heart was for youth. Once she finished college at she found herself at a loss. She felt caught in the transition between childhood and adulthood. She surrounded herself with saints and volunteered her services as a graphic artist. Through the early-morning prayer, all night Friday prayer and 3-day shut-ins she started on her journey toward her most desired gift, an intimate relationship with God.

Today, Mrs. Wooden-Carlisle lives in San Diego with her husband, David Carlisle. She teaches fitness classes, runs a jewelry and craft business, and is currently writing her third book in her Christian-fiction series, Promises to Zion.

CONNECT WITH TRACIwebsite | Facebook | Twitter


**Giveaway**

Have a comment or question for Traci? She’s giving away a print copy of Missing Destiny and a bookmark. (US only, International winner will receive a $6 Amazon gift card instead) One winner will be randomly selected from everyone who comments on this post by Friday June 1, 2018.

Interview with Stacy Hawkins Adams about her book “Finding Home”

Happy Monday, reader friends!

Let’s welcome Stacy Hawkins Adams to the blog again!

Today, she’s here to talk about her story Finding Home.


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.

Purchase the book: Amazon ~ B&N ~ BAM!


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, author of Finding Home:

Alexis: Why did you call this book “Finding Home” and what is its involvement with “Winds of Change”?

Stacy: Finding Home is the third book in the Winds of Change series, and since the first two books contained the word “home” (to convey each main character’s search to better understand herself) I wanted to continue that theme with this final book in the series. It also characterizes the reconnection between the main character  (Jessica Wilson Arnold) and her two estranged sisters, who are featured in Book 1 and Book 2 in the series. Each book in the series is written as a stand-alone title, meaning it does not need to be read in any particular order. Even so, it was important to show how the main character in Finding Home (Jessica) grew from one level of maturity and self-confidence to another by book’s end.

Alexis: Tell me about your story’s heroine Jessica Wilson Arnold. What drives her? What are her dreams for both her career and personal life? What is her worst weakness? Explain.

Stacy: I don’t want to give away too much and spoil it for readers, because these questions are at the very heart of the book’s plot. Jessica has portrayed herself a certain way to the world. However, as she begins to make decisions that aren’t the wisest or the most loving, her ploy for fame and success by any means necessary surface in stunning ways.

Alexis: How did Jessica become a “superstar professional speaker”? Give insight into her journey.

Stacy: Jessica attended one of the top universities in the nation and used that as leverage to craft a career that would bring her attention, accolades and success like her family had never before experienced. She is the baby of the family, but she is also its rockstar. As her story unfolds, however, readers will learn that her drive is actually borne from a source of deep pain. Everything is not always as it seems.

Alexis: Why do Jessica’s husband and friends “fret about the strain of her ambitions”?

Stacy: They see how driven she is and how hard she works, and they worry that it may cost her what matters most – a loving, meaningful life offstage, when the speaker spotlights are dim. Her husband, who is eager to start a family, feels especially concerned about this.

Alexis: Who is Jessica’s husband? What is his name and how does he help her? Is there anything that he does to deter her from her heart’s desire? Why does he adore his wife?

Stacy: Jessica’s husband Keith is patient and loving and does his best to support her career ambitions even as he seeks to excel in his own pursuits. He’s even patient with her when he wants to start a family, giving her time to accomplish her goals even though it means what he longs for must wait. However, he is also realistic about her need to balance work and life, and he sees that she struggles in this area. Jessica knows her husband loves her unconditionally and would do anything to support her; but when she faces a personal challenge that she can’t control, she’s certain this issue will cause him to demand that she slow down – a step she’s just not ready to take.

Alexis: Is Jessica a workaholic? Why or why not?

Stacy: Jessica is not necessarily a workaholic; she takes time off work and enjoys hanging out with her friends and husband. But she is definitely driven to succeed at all costs. So while she is not working around the clock, per se, she makes strategic decisions (right and wrong) to propel herself to another level of success.

Alexis: Describe the crisis that brings Jessica’s fast-paced lifestyle to a halt. What impact does that have on her career-oriented mind and dream-filled heart?

Stacy: Without giving away too much to readers, I’ll share that she is diagnosed with a chronic health condition that affects her energy and mobility. She is crushed, yet determined to push through. She believes she is too close to seeing her dreams come true to change course for any reason.

Alexis: Would you like to see more characters of color like Jessica in Christian fiction? Why or why not?

Stacy: I hope readers are lured to this book because of the compelling storyline and its twists and turns, without getting hung up on Jessica’s ethnicity and race. She just “happens” to be a successful African American woman with close friends from other backgrounds. Since this is not a social justice story, but instead a novel about one woman’s journey to recognizing and accepting her flaws so that she can self-correct and become a better person, this is a story that any woman can relate to, even if the choices Jessica makes feel foreign to some women readers at the beginning. By book’s end, readers from all backgrounds will appreciate the emotional journey Jessica takes.

Alexis: What steps does Jessica take to restore her health and reconnect with the people that matter most?

Stacy: I don’t want to give away a significant part of her journey before readers have a chance to discover it in the pages of the book. However, I’ll share that by the middle of the novel, she receives a wake-up call that helps her snap out of her selfishness long enough to realize that she needs to do things differently if she wants to enjoy lasting love and develop self-respect.

Alexis: Why does Jessica’s faith need a revival?

Stacy: Like many Christians, she has found herself going through the motions rather than making intentional efforts to connect with God. Additionally, her history as a PK (preacher’s kid) impacted her view of the church and of God, and she has to overcome some childhood experiences to give God another chance to fill her heart and soul.

Alexis: When you first created Jessica’s character and started the rough draft of writing your story, was she someone you could root for or not? Explain.

Stacy: When I wrote the first half of the book I did not like Jessica. Her thought process and her decisions seemed foolish and farfetched to me, even as I crafted them. However, several young women who are millennials that I spoke with about the plot I was crafting encouraged me to keep going because due to the thriving industry of reality TV, many women would view Jessica’s actions as plausible, they insisted. Based on their advice, I moved forward with the plot and with describing Jessica’s schemes, yet I did not care for her! By the time I wrote the second half of the book and explained a little more of her background to readers, I felt compassion for her.

Alexis: Would you say that Jessica is a “strong Black woman”? Why or why not?

Stacy: I seek to avoid stereotypes with my writing and with the characters I create. I write about women who are dealing with issues to which all women can relate, and about women who have unique personalities based on their particular backgrounds; so no- I would not give her this label.

Alexis: Who is Jessica’s closest friend and what role do they play in this story?

Stacy: Jessica has several close women friends and they serve as her “armor bearers” in a sense when she is at her lowest point. Even when she doesn’t respond, they continue to offer her their love and support, as only true friends can.

Alexis: As the author, what was your greatest challenge in writing this story?

Stacy:  My greatest challenge in writing this story was to write a plot that seemed so farfetched from women I know and interact with; however, as I indicated in my previous response, my twenty-something readers encouraged me to push forward, because they said Jessica’s choices reflect what some women would actually do in moments of desperation. I hope this story will change their minds!

Alexis: What message do you want your readers to remember most about Finding Home?

Stacy: I would like readers to put down this book with a greater understanding of the importance of truth, integrity, faith, and hope. I hope they’ll be able to relate the struggles Jessica faces to their own Goliaths and know that instead of trying to figure everything out on their own, they, too, can trust God to grant grace and make their paths straight, if they will just stand still and give Him the space and opportunity to work things out for their good.

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

Stacy: Thank you so much for featuring me and my novel Finding Home, Alexis! I’d simply like to thank your readers (in advance) for taking time to read this novel and for sharing their thoughts in online reviews if they are inclined. I hope that even if Jessica’s choices don’t resonate with them, they’ll keep reading to see how she grows over the course of the book and winds up a better, stronger, more faithful version of herself. In case they’re interested, here’s a link to an excerpt from the book: http://www.stacyhawkinsadams.com/finding-home—excerpt.html

Thanks again, and blessings!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


Connect with Stacy:

Website – www.StacyHawkinsAdams.com

Twitter – www.twitter.com/shadams

Facebook – www.facebook.com/stacyinspires

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

YouTube – https://bit.ly/2H1A7Kv

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Interview with Pat Simmons, author of “My Rock: Tabitha”

Happy Monday, reader friends!

Let’s welcome Pat Simmons to the blog again. Last week, we shone the spotlight on her book My Rock: Tabitha. Today, you get to read my interview with Pat about her book!

Pat shared great insight into her story and her life as an author, in this interview.

Enjoy!


Author Interview with Pat Simmons about her book My Rock: Tabitha

Alexis: This book focuses on three sisters living in different cities. Why did you choose to tell their stories?

Pat: God told me to write it. “Someone needs to hear from Me,” He said. I obeyed to bring awareness to the sacrifices of caregivers who are struggling in plain sight.

Alexis: What were the challenges in merging three storylines?

Pat: I focused on Tabitha’s story while setting up Kym and Rachel’s. No two caregivers’ situations are the same, so I will highlight different scenarios in the other stories. Our society has an increasing number children, teenagers, and young adults with special needs who will need care for the rest of their lives as well as elderly loved ones.

Alexis: Would you say that this book is Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction or something else? Please explain its genre and category.

Pat: I write Christian romance about contemporary themes and universal issues that are important to women. There are differences among inspirational, sweet, and Christian romances. Christ’s whispers and the Scriptures are integral parts of my romantic storylines, so I classify myself as Christian romance writer. Inspirational romance may focus on positive and uplifting thoughts without Christ being the center.

Alexis: Why did you write this book with a focus on caregivers?

Pat: Besides God inspiring me? I like to tackle real issues in my books. I always want my readers closing the book knowing something they didn’t know in the beginning.

Alexis: How did you select the three cities for each of your main characters? Give us insight into the research that went into writing this story.

Pat: It was random choices that I felt I could get help from a friend or reader to assist me with the cities’ backdrop. I have a news background, so I approached the topic as a reporter. I interviewed caregivers and organizations’ spokespersons, attended meetings, and did online research. I also made sure I had a clear understanding of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Alexis: Why is your character Tabitha from St. Louis struggling to find a balance?

Pat: Her situation can be typical of a caregiver. The demands of her new job were overwhelming. After work, she had no respite at home, because she focused on Aunt Tweet’s needs.

Alexis: In what ways does a potential romantic relationship rock Tabitha’s world?

Pat: When it comes to romance, a person wants to give their all to invest in a relationship. Tabitha felt the timing wasn’t right. She knew there could be no spontaneity like going to a movie at the last minute. Aunt Tweet’s well-being had to take priority over everything Tabitha wanted to do. Marcus proved her wrong. He convinced her that they were in it together.

Alexis: Why is Tabitha beyond overwhelmed with being a caregiver?

Pat: Despite her textbook knowledge of medical terms and conditions, she wasn’t prepared for an 89-year-old’s contrary behavior to mimic that of a helpless child. The person can appear self-sufficient, but little by little, their mind begins to slip away. She is taking care of her great-aunt Priscilla “Tweet” Brownlee who doesn’t have any children of her own.

Alexis: Who is Marcus Whittington and what role does he play in this story?

Pat: The story begins with a neighbor whose surveillance video captured a woman sitting on her porch a few times in the morning. When he learns that the elderly woman wanders from home, Marcus accuses Tabitha of endangerment and threatens to call the authorities on her. He’s clueless to Tabitha’s frustration as she tries to keep track of her aunt’s every movements 24/7.

Alexis: What is it about the elderly that brings out a soft side in Marcus?

Pat: He had endearing memories of his grandparents. Marcus begins to see the Aunt Tweet on the outside isn’t the same one on the inside. Recognizing Tabitha’s frustration and helplessness, coupled with his growing attraction, gives Marcus reasons why he can’t walk away.

Alexis: Why does “every caregiver need a caregiver” in this story and in real-life?

Pat: As many caregivers focus their attention on the loved one’s needs, they don’t take care of themselves. That scenario happened to my next-door neighbor. She cared for her husband for years while she still worked. We didn’t know she was very sick until after she died barely nine months later after her husband had passed. My message to caregivers is to take care of yourself. People on the outside should not assume caregivers have it under control. They need compassion, help, and respite, especially if they are caring for two or more generations, such as grandchildren and an aging mother.

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

Pat: Being a first-time caregiver is a learning experience no different than a husband or wife becoming parents for the first time. You don’t know what to expect, you have to infuse patience with love.

Alexis: Do you only write about African American or Black characters? Why or why not?

Pat: My main characters are always Black because I’m Black or African American. Minorities like to see themselves portrayed in movies and sitcoms on television. Reading about people of color is just as appealing, especially in storylines that reflect the Black community. For me, it’s an honor to write about Black love when society has denied it exists from slavery to the White House. The big publishers, even some Christian publishers, don’t believe a character with brown skin and curly hair is attractive as a hero or heroine.

Alexis: Would you like to see more African American (AA) people on the covers and characters of color inside the stories of CBA books? Why or why not?

Pat: YES without a second thought. Christians are not one race as Candace, Queen of Ethiopia, is mentioned in the Bible. Native Indians, Mexicans, African Americans, and other’s stories are just as important. Unfortunately, stereotypes and racism have kept many great AA authors out of the publishing industry. One national bestselling author was offered a contract in the 90s, if she changed her characters from black to white.

Alexis: What did you enjoy the most about writing “My Rock”?

Pat: Two things: Showing Tabitha’s mindset that she considered it a privilege to take care of Aunt Tweet and despite the frustration, she did it with love and respect; and inspiring readers that there is no obstacle too great for love to find them.

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

Pat: Thank you for sharing your readers with me. I hope “My Rock” is an eye-opener and readers will recognize we all are each other’s caregivers. I think former First Lady, Mrs. Rosalyn Carter said it best: “There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Book:

Three sisters living in three different cities (Baltimore, St. Louis, and Nashville) make a pact to share responsibilities for their aging relative after authorities find Aunt Tweet across state lines. Her destination had been a neighborhood grocery store. The siblings soon learn the definition of caregiver includes a cup full of patience, a slight sense of humor, and when to cry out for help. Women juggle between career and family all the time, but Tabitha Knicely (St. Louis) is struggling to find a balance. Romance is the last thing she’s trying to add to her list. The Aunt Tweet she knew all her life is not the same one who is residing in her home when she accepts the role as a caregiver for six months.

Overwhelmed can’t begin to describe her emotions. Marcus Whittington is an opinionated, successful business owner, but he has a soft side when it comes to the elderly. They remind him of good memories of his grandparents. When Aunt Tweet is the mystery woman who stakes out his porch, he becomes concerned that she is not being taken care of properly. He sheds his misconceptions about what Tabitha isn’t doing right when he discovers that every caregiver needs a caregiver. Marcus knows in order to win Tabitha’s heart; he has to charm Aunt Tweet’s too.

Book Purchase Link: Amazon


About the Author:

Pat Simmons is celebrating ten years as a published author with more than thirty titles. She is a self-proclaimed genealogy sleuth who is passionate about researching her ancestors and then casting them in starring roles in her novels, in the hope of tracking down any distant relatives who might happen to pick up her books. She has been a genealogy enthusiast since her great-grandmother, Minerva Brown Wade, died at the age of ninety-seven in 1988.

Pat describes the evidence of the gift of the Holy Ghost as an amazing, unforgettable, life-altering experience. She believes God is the Author who advances the stories she writes.

Pat holds a B.S. in mass communications from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. She has worked in various positions in radio, television, and print media for more than twenty years. Currently, she oversees the media publicity for the annual RT Booklovers Conventions.She is the multi-published author of dozens of Christian titles, including the #1 Amazon best seller in God’s Word category.

She is the multi-published author of dozens of Christian titles, including the #1 Amazon best seller in God’s Word category A Christian Christmas. Her award-winning titles include Talk to Me, ranked #14 of Top Books in 2008 that Changed Lives by Black Pearls Magazine.She is a three-time recipient of the Romance Slam Jam Emma Rodgers Award for Best Inspirational Romance for Still Guilty (2010), Crowning Glory (2011), and The Confession(2016). Her titles consistently hit the top ten ranking in the BCNN1/BCBC National Bestsellers List, two books in the Carmen Sisters series hit #1 and #2.

In addition to researching her roots and sewing, she has been a featured speaker and workshop presenter at various venues across the country.

Pat has converted her sofa-strapped sports fanatic husband into an amateur travel agent, untrained bodyguard, GPS-guided chauffeur, and administrative assistant who is constantly on probation. They have a son and a daughter.

Readers may learn more about Pat by contacting her at authorpatsimmons@gmail.com.

Visit Pat’s website, http://www.patsimmons.net, to get to know her better.

Follow Pat on Twitter.

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Interview with Susan Valles about her book “Zimrah, Dream Singer”

Happy Monday, reader friends!

Let’s welcome Susan Valles to our blog! She’s a talented writer and musician. Today, she’s here to talk about her novel “Zimrah, Dream Singer.” Susan has a heart for God and a love for people. Her faith in God informs her writing too.

I hope that you will enjoy her author interview!


About the Author:

 For the past fourteen years, Susan Valles has been using her gifts to lead others into the presence of God through worship. Touched by this presence in a profound way at the age of ten, Susan developed a deep hunger to help others experience the love of God and the majesty of His presence. Writing, singing, playing the guitar and songwriting became extensions of this hunger, an outlet for the passion Holy Spirit stirs inside her to bring the lost and hurting into the healing embrace of the loving Father.

Susan is married and the mother of four children. She currently lives in the beautiful state of North Carolina.

Connect with Susan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.


Interview with Susan Valles about her book Zimrah, Dream Singer:

What inspired you to write this book?

Zimrah, Dream Singer was divinely inspired! I woke up one morning with a picture in my mind. I saw the Father, sitting on an easy chair by a window with a scroll in his hands. He was reading the scroll and singing into existence what was written there. (Like the picture portrayed in Psalm 139:16) I grabbed my laptop and wrote down what I saw. What I wrote is now the prologue of the book.

How did you decide on the title? What is its significance?

The title of my first draft was actually Scroll of Remembrance. My editor had me keep giving her options until I came up with Zimrah, Dream Singer. We both liked it much better. Zimrah is the name of my main character. She sings songs she hears in her dreams, so Zimrah, Dream Singer fit the book very well. Funny story, I was recently talking to some Jewish friends, and they told me in passing that the director of music in their synagogue is called Zimrah Mary. Mary is her first name and Zimrah is the Hebrew word for her function! I did not know that the minister of music is called Zimrah at the time when I decided on the book title. That’s the fun of walking with God! There is always more to be discovered.

Would you say that this is Biblical fiction? Why or why not?

It is Biblical fiction in the sense that the events and timelines are true to the Bible and historical records. For example, Zimrah grows up in a city of Refuge, in the house of a Hebrew man from the tribe of Asher. She learns to read and write from the Hebrew scrolls. In this first book though, there are no characters from the Bible mentioned. My characters are completely fictional. Although, Dream Singer definitely sets the stage for the second two books where my character does meet a few significant Biblical personalities.

Who was your favorite character to write in this book? Why?

I have to say, my favorite character to write was Theophilus, a Roman soldier who is Zimrah’s love interest. I didn’t do this consciously – much of what I write is unconscious. I realize things later – but he is very much like my husband. He is patient, funny, kind, and good at breaking stereotypical norms. Theophilus sees things in Zimrah that she can’t see in herself. She would not be who she becomes without his influence in her life.

Give us a glimpse into the research that you did for this story. Did you go on a research trip to the Middle East? What kind of resources did you use?

The research I did came mostly from the Bible. Zimrah is a slave in a Hebrew house, so Jewish history comes into play a great deal in the story. I also studied historical maps, rivers, and mountains. I wanted to know what Zimrah saw when she looked out of her windows. What was life like at that time? What did they eat? What was the furniture like? All these little things were fascinating to me. I did a lot of research online, read way too many articles on archeological discoveries. It was fun though. For this first book, I didn’t get to go on a research trip, but for book two, (which is currently in the editing process) I did! I took a trip to Israel this past February 2018. It was amazing seeing the places I’d written about and researched come to life!

Why did you choose Israel as the setting for this story?

Again, I don’t know if I consciously thought about it. The story kind of emerged as I was writing. You could say Israel chose me. I think as Bible reading believers in Jesus, we all have a secret love affair with Israel. The Holy Land is in our DNA. It is part of all of our origin stories.

Talk about your story’s heroine Zimrah. What does she look like? What does her name mean? What is her primary motivation in this story? Explain.

My college English professor always said to write what you know. Zimrah is such a representation of me, of my life experiences and journey with God. She is tall, brown-skinned with curly hair and grey eyes. She looks very different from the people in her city (no one knows who her people are or where she comes from) and they treat her pretty badly. Her motivation and greatest longing is just to be loved. Zimrah is one of the Hebrew words for praise, more specifically, “to play upon an instrument in praise”. She learns just how significant her name is the destiny she was born for.

How does being an orphan affect Zimrah’s worldview and persona?

Not knowing who she is or where she comes from definitely affects what Zimrah thinks about herself. She sees the world as a frightening place where she is not accepted and can’t imagine anyone loving her or seeing her for more than a slave. She is alone and wears that persona as a badge, afraid to let anyone into her heart.

Why did you as the author decide to make Zimrah a slave?

I did not realize it’s how I felt until I wrote this book. Like Zimrah, I was a slave to my fears, my past, and my false opinion of myself. Freedom came only after learning the truth of who I was, from the One who made me. Zimrah being a slave is a representation of the bondage that comes when we believe the Tormentor’s lies.

What role does faith in God play with your characters in this story?

Faith is everything. My character’s faith or lack of faith shapes their reality and their destiny. I believe one of the miracles of this story, and our lives, is the journey of faith. Some of my characters in Dream Singer are angels, so that was an exciting aspect of faith to explore as well.

As a woman of faith, how does your belief in God affect your storytelling?

I love how telling a story can change the way we think. Everyone has a backstory. There is a reason we become who we are, good or bad. The human story is that, history…His-story. As a woman of faith, my greatest joy is being able to tell a story that has the potential to change my reader’s life. I believe that God gave me this story (which is really my testimony), that can be like that answer in the dark, that comes when all other hope is gone.

What was the most difficult part of writing this book? Why?

It was probably how long it is. I am a songwriter and had never written anything as long as a novel before. I didn’t even tell anyone that I was writing it until I was almost done because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to finish. It took a lot of prayers like, “Lord, this is Your story. You started this! You have to help me finish it!” I was also homeschooling two of my four children at the same time, so that made finding time to write a challenge. (God gave me like, supernatural sleep! I would stay up all night, sleep an hour or two and feel completely rested!)

What was the most rewarding aspect of telling Zimrah’s story? Why?

It was very rewarding being able to incorporate songs into the story. Music has been such a huge part of my language with God. When the story touches my readers, and they can sing the same songs that God used to speak to Zimrah, and Zimrah used to speak to God, it’s beyond joy for me.

The cover of your book shows Zimrah as a woman of color. What is her heritage?

Zimrah’s heritage is a bit of a mystery in this first book. She doesn’t know what she is. In a time when not many traveled very far, no one can tell her what people group her features resemble. She is a woman of color, and I could tell you what she is, but it would be a spoiler for book two!

Would you like to see more books featuring women of color who lived in Bible times, published by CBA? Why or why not?

Absolutely! I think because of our western culture, in the media and in paintings for generations, we have a mental picture of what people in the Bible looked like. The truth is, there was much more diversity than we have been led to believe, across gender and racial lines. Exploring culture in a broader view encourages us to see that God has created us with great purpose. We all have a role to play in history, past, present, and future. CBA’s have an important voice in every genre.

How does your own worldview as a woman of color affect your character creation and writing career as an author?

Like Zimrah, I was raised far away from people who looked like me. I didn’t seem to fit people’s boxes. This comes out in my writing. The longing to fit in and belong somewhere, I felt this very acutely in my younger years. I think it’s a common human desire and struggle. Most people feel different in some way or another, so I think my characters are relatable. As a woman of color, I know what it feels like to be ignored or overlooked. But my characters overcome the boxes their society has for them and discover the calling of the great Author. I hope in my career, and in my life, I can do the same.

Thanks for the interview, Susan! Do you have any closing thoughts?

Thank you for interviewing me! Writing this book was a turning point for me. I feel like it helped me have a greater understanding of who I am and what my purpose is. My prayer would be that it does the same for others as well. No matter what our past is like, like Zimrah, we have a loving Father who has an amazing future for us. There is so much joy in the journey of figuring out who He is and what adventures He has in store for us!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the book:

In the land of ancient Israel, in the days just before the miracles of Jesus the Christ began, there lived an orphan girl named Zimrah. A foreigner and a slave with no knowledge of who she is or where she came from, except that she was rescued barely alive and only a week old from a caravan of slavers, Zimrah has many demons to overcome. Living among people that despise her for being different, she finds shelter in the last Jewish house in a City of Refuge, only to find that her master has demons of his own. She learns that these dark spirits who have tormented her all her life can not only be battled, but can be defeated when she begins to heed the gentle Voice that speaks to her in her dreams.

Her obedience to the Voice leads her not only to freedom from the fear that stalks her in the night, but to the arms of a loving father who has been there all along. Following the Voice, Zimrah finds a lyre and the songs that have been hidden for her in her dreams. Singing these dream songs – an inheritance passed on through the bloodline of which she does not yet know- will determine the path to her heart’s desires, her future, and her destiny. Assisted by Rebecca and Garbar, the Warrior Angels that guard and protect her, and the love of a Roman officer who she must learn to trust, Zimrah discovers that her life has much more significance than she could have ever imagined. Her obedience and courage will shake the heavens and stir the hearts of all who touch Zimrah, Dream Singer.

Buy Susan’s book on Amazon

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Author Interview: Lee Tobin McClain

Hello, reader friends! From Rescue River and Sacred Bond to her new Arcadia Valley Romance seriestoday’s featured author often highlights diversity through her contemporary romance. 

About the Author

Lee Tobin McClainLee Tobin McClain read Gone With The Wind in the third grade and has been an incurable romantic ever since. The PW bestselling author of fifteen contemporary Christian romances, she enjoys crafting emotional, faith-infused love stories with happy endings.

When she’s not writing, she’s probably driving around a carload of snarky teen girls, playing with her rescue dog and cat, or teaching aspiring writers in Seton Hill University’s MFA program. She is probably not cleaning her house.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

 

Interview

Beth: Writing is generally a solitary endeavor. Tell us a little bit about writing within the Arcadia Valley Romance universe. 

Lee: Writing in Arcadia Valley feels communal in two ways. First, it’s fun being part of a community of writers who are creating Arcadia Valley together. We’ve become good friends and are in touch all the time with questions, ideas, and support for each other.

And second, Arcadia Valley has become a community that feels very alive, with families and shops and greenhouses and farms and churches. We have pictures of the town (it’s modeled on a real town in Idaho) and of the surrounding terrain. When I write about Arcadia Valley, I feel like I’m actually there!

Wise at Heart takes place primarily at the hero’s home—a big converted barn surrounded by open land. That’s because Daniel, the hero, is a bit introverted, and he feels alienated from his family and community. Throughout the book, that changes, and he becomes more strongly connected to his siblings and to Arcadia Valley.

 

About the Book

Wise at Heart by Lee Tobin McClainWhen Daniel Quintana needs a summer nanny for his twins, it only makes sense to hire Tabitha Moore. Just back from an extended mission trip, she needs the job. The fact that she was his wife’s best friend shouldn’t matter, and neither should the fact that he finds her attractive. Daniel’s not in the market for relationships because he’s just so bad at them.

Tabitha Moore doesn’t want to work for Daniel because she knows a terrible secret about his daughters. But when staying with her sister is no longer an option, she feels like she has no choice. After all, it’s just for the summer…

With the help of Daniel’s five-year-old twins, Daniel and Tabitha start to become more than friends. Growing vegetables, rescuing a mama cat and her kittens, eating delicious Mexican food at El Corazon… all of it makes these two lonely souls crave to create a family long term… unless Tabitha’s secret rips apart everything they’re starting to build.

GOODREADS | AMAZON

 

Beth: I’m certainly looking forward to reading Wise at Heart! What do you want readers to gain from this story?

Lee: First, of course, I want readers to escape from their problems and immerse themselves in a happily-ever-after story. Because Wise at Heart has a secret at the center, I want readers to stay up late, turning the pages, to discover how everything plays out.

And I also hope that readers will enjoy seeing how God’s hand hovers over everything, gently nudging us in the directions we need to go in order to become the people He means for us to be.

 

Beth: What inspires you to create diverse minority characters like the Quintana family?

Mexican food

Lee: When I got involved in the Arcadia Valley project, I was immersed in studying Spanish, so that was a factor.

Also, the fictional town of Arcadia Valley is set in a part of Idaho where about 1/3 of the population self-describes as Latino or Hispanic, but when I joined the group, we didn’t yet have any major Latino characters.

Since the series is food-oriented—and since I love Mexican food—it made sense to create the restaurant, El Corazon, run by a family of Mexican descent.

 

Beth: I appreciate your dedication to crafting authentic settings, characters, and stories for your readers. In what ways do the second (and third) generation of the Quintana family honor their Mexican heritage?

Lee: One big way is through food! The Quintana siblings update their family restaurant throughout the series, moving toward healthier, more contemporary fare, but they keep many of their mothers’ traditional recipes untouched.

star-shaped piñata

They also maintain some Mexican holiday customs. For example, in Wise at Heart, the story ends with a traditional posada celebration that marks the beginning of the Christmas season—and leads into the hero and heroine’s happy ending.

On a deeper level, in traditional Latino families, the oldest male is considered as the head of the family. That would be Javier Quintana, the hero of Secrets of the Heart (review), and he feels every bit of that responsibility. His siblings alternately rely on, and get exasperated with, him and his tendency toward bossiness and control.

Honoring your heritage isn’t a simple matter, especially when you’re living in a different country and are surrounded by competing cultural traditions and ideals.

 

Beth: Since food plays such a major role in Arcadia Valley Romance, what is your favorite authentic Mexican dish?

Lee: My favorite authentic Mexican dish is tacos! Not the crunchy Americanized ones, or that abomination my daughter adores, the Walking Taco of concession-stand fame. But rather, small soft tacos made with homemade corn tortillas and various fillings. Buying a tortilla press and learning to use it rocked my culinary world! I’m mostly vegan, so my taco fillings tend to be vegetable based.

 

Coming soon from Lee Tobin McClain…

Available in stores mid-February


preorder now

Romance from the Heart: an Arcadia Valley Romance series

  
Look for Book 3
Joy of My Heart
April 2018

 

Lee, thank you so much for joining us!
Are y’all familiar with Mexican posada celebrations? I learned something new today!

 

interview by Beth Erin

Author Interview: Angie Dicken

Happy Monday, Reader Friends!

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is this week! This year has flown by. But before we all get ready for the holidays, I’ve got a new interview for you. Angie Dicken has stopped by to talk about her novel, My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah. Have you read it yet? If not, nows your chance to learn more.


About the Book

The Blurb: “Schoolteacher Leanna McKee plans on leaving the coal mining town of Castle Gate, Utah, and never looking back. Good riddance to coal dust, rugged men, and the fatal mine that took her husband’s life.

Until the widow meets a widower who awakens her heart…and she finds herself inexplicably falling for miner Alex Pappas which stirs up a whole heap of trouble.

Alex’s Greek parents have arranged a more traditional match for him. When the schoolteacher’s association with the Greek family begins to anger the American miners, they threaten Alex and his family. Leanna has received an offer to teach elsewhere and feels she has no choice but to leave Castle Gate. . .though she will be leaving her heart behind.”

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


Interview

Toni: Welcome to Diversity Between the Pages. I’ve heard a lot about your book so I’m excited to interview you today. First, tell us something interesting about yourself.

Angie: I am pretty much an open book, so if you are connected to me on social media you probably know most of my quirks. 🙂 Something fun to share is that my husband proposed to me on a gondola in Venice. I studied abroad in Italy my senior year of college.

Toni: How romantic! Venice is a gorgeous spot for a proposal! What are you currently reading?

Angie: I tend to have lots of books that I am reading all at once. At least, this is a current habit I am forming. 🙂 Right now, I am reading The Engagement Plot by Krista Phillips, Heidi Chiavaroli’s Freedom’s Ring, and a couple non-fiction books.

Toni: I want to read The Engagement Plot! What made you want to write in the historical fiction genre? And will you ever test the waters in another genre?

Angie: I love history. I have this world timeline in my head, and any intriguing facts I’ve learned over the years just shine bright, begging for me to find a story. I think living in a family that values family roots and traveling, and also growing up in a different country (England) for a few years, has given me a deep appreciation for world cultures and history.
Also, I have written a Contemporary Romance! It does, of course, have a ton of history in it since my heroine is obsessed with British history…um…not such a stretch to write that. But it was so fun to write it. I hope it gets published one day!

Toni: Yes! I would love to read it. Alex Pappas is Greek. It’s interesting to think of him being discriminated against because we don’t usually think about that in present day. How did you research this to bring authenticity to the novel?

Angie: My whole family is Greek, and my grandparents grew up in Salt Lake City. I recall hearing brief mention of being discriminated against when they were young, so when I came up with a story, I wanted to look into that further. I researched actual accounts of Greek immigrants, and the general social climate of the time—finding articles in newspapers around the country talking about lynching threats and anger toward the Greeks when they stepped over the line of social norm—like inter-cultural courtships. I think many immigrant groups in this country have similar trials in their history, which is very sobering and hopefully, enlightening for progress even now.

Toni: Wow! As a female writer, how did you get into Alex’s point of view to portray him accurately?

Angie: Great question! I am blessed with strong men in my family who give me such great insight into the male mentality. I also wove a lot of my own struggles into Alex’s journey, including being true to my family traditions but following my heart to different paths—like a different church, my husband’s own American traditions, and some similar familial conflicts that both men and women can find themselves in.

Toni: I love it when you can look around you for examples to write. Both Alex and Leanna are dealing with hurts. Do they have a common theme for their journey? If so, what is it?

Angie: Their common theme is giving grace to themselves. They are both riddled with guilt, but once they step back and look at God’s hand in their lives, they realize the grace that He gives freely. If we think about the grace we receive every day, it’s much easier to treat ourselves with the same grace, isn’t it?

Toni: Yes and amen! Have you ever been to Greece? If not, what’s the farthest you’ve traveled for vacation or research?

Angie: Yes! My parents took my siblings and I the day after I graduated from high school! We traveled on the mainland for a week, visiting Athens and the villages of three of my grandparents’ families, then we went sailing for two weeks and visited my great grandfather’s village in Crete (the man who came over to the mines in Utah).

Toni: I am so green right now, lol. I would love to go to Greece. Can I go in your suitcase next time? Before you go, can you share any advice for aspiring writers?

Angie: Connect with the writing community! It is important to get other eyes on your work, but to also have friends who understand your journey and become a source of encouragement. I don’t think I would be here if I hadn’t connected to ACFW, found a critique partner, and met all my writing friends at conference each year. Seriously. I really think I would have given up a long time ago if it weren’t for community.

Toni: Amen! I love the writing community and the ACFW one at that. Readers, do you have any questions for Angie?


About the Author

Angie Dicken credits her love of story to reading British literature during life as a military kid in Cambridgeshire, England. Now living in the U.S., she’s an ACFW member, a blog contributor to the Writer’s Alley, a baseball mom, and a self-proclaimed foodie. Two of her historical romance novels comprise her Fall 2017 debut: The Outlaw’s Second Chance, in September, and My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah, in November. She also writes historical and contemporary fiction. You can connect with her on social media and learn about upcoming releases at www.angiedicken.com.

Follow: Website, The Writer’s Alley, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram