Interview with Piper Huguley about her book “A Most Precious Pearl”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re interviewing Piper Huguley about her book, A Most Precious Pearl.


Interview with Piper Huguley about A Most Precious Pearl:

Alexis: I love the opening line to the summary of your book, A Most Precious Pearl. You wrote, “They’re cut from different cloths…but their hearts are a perfect fit.” What inspired you to write this line and in what ways are your story’s hero and heroine the “perfect fit?”

Piper: I didn’t write that line. The publisher for the book wrote that. I think that whomever wrote that line thought about how Asa and Mags work in a textile mill and used their workplace to explain their relationship. It’s clever, but I cannot take credit for it.

Alexis: Let’s talk about the hero of your story, Asa Caldwell. Answer my questions below. Answer in italics.

What does he look like?

Asa looks like the actor Sterling K. Brown from “This is Us.”

What is his racial background?

He is a Black man.

What lights a fire in his soul?

Telling a story that brings injustice to light.

What or who makes him happy?

Besides Mags, exposing injustice.

Is he a man of faith?

Not at the beginning of the story. He has to come to that.

What is his greatest flaw?

He’s a bit spoiled having been fawned over by his many sisters and his mother. Mags puts an end to all of that.

Alexis: Why did you make Asa a journalist and what role does his life’s work and passion for the Journalism industry play in this story?

Piper: I based Asa on the founder of the Pittsburgh Courier, Robert L. Vann. I wanted to write a story where I showed the critical role that Black journalists played in the civil rights struggle that began in the first quarter of the twentieth century, not in the 1950’s as so many think.

Alexis: Asa lost his left leg in the Great War. How does he cope with his loss?

Piper: The book deals with an arc about how Asa has to come to this new reality about his legs. So when the reader first meets him, he’s not doing very well with it.

Alexis: In what was does having this new disability affect his daily living?

Piper: Asa’s biggest fear is about what he feels is his inadequacy to be a man who can protect his family. He has to deal with what that protection means and how that impacts his life before he can make a family with Mags.

Alexis: What is Asa’s relation to Ruby Blesdoe from your first book in this series, A Virtuous Ruby? Why is he on a mission to rescue her sister Mags from trouble?

Piper: Before he went to war, he had a bit of a crush on Ruby. She uses that information to get him to go rescue her sister. He no longer has a crush on her when she comes to see him, but still feels compelled to go. He has all of those sisters and he is used to saving women in a heroic fashion—it turns out that Mags is the one who saves him.

Alexis: Let’s talk about the heroine of your story, Mags Bledsoe. Answer my questions below. Answer in italics.

What does she look like?

Mags resembles a young Viola Davis.

What’s her racial background?

She is a Black woman.

What are her most favorite things?

Family, home, and hearth. She loves the domestic arts.

What upsets her?

People who upset the domestic happiness of her home.

What or who makes her happy?

She loves her sisters and parents and after a time, comes to love Asa.

Is she a woman of faith?

She is a woman of faith. She has to be in order to endure the trials that she has endured.

How did the lynching of her childhood sweetheart affect Mags?

It made her believe that she would never find love again.

How is she healing from that trauma?

She heals once she comes to realize what Travis was to her.

Or has she not healed?

Ultimately, she does.

Alexis: What do Mags and Asa like and dislike about each other upon first meeting?

Piper: Mags has a certain way of doing things that she does not like to be disrupted and Asa is pure disruption in many ways. Asa is amused at first, but then wants Mags to give him (and his ways) a chance.

Alexis: What role does faith in God play in this story and how does that help Mags and Asa’s journey through their fictional world?

Piper: Mags becomes a shining light for Asa to rediscover his faith and love comes about as a consequence of that. He does the same for her, in the wake of the lynching of her childhood sweetheart.

Alexis: You’ve addressed some topics like lynchings that are heart wrenching for real-life African Americans who live in the United States of America. What inspired you to include this dark part of American history in your story?

Piper: My work is not about covering up these so-called “dark” parts of history, but to shine a light on the heroic deeds of the ancestors to show what they had to endure so that we could be here.

Alexis: What impact do you hope that this true to American history story, A Most Precious Pearl, will make on your readers? Why?

Piper: I hope people come to understand that the ancestors were not victims of hatred, but were survivors who endured a great deal of painful trauma but kept hope present because they dared to have us and to try to make a better future for us. It’s important to honor their sacrifices by making some of our own. We tend to forget that in the relative comfort of the twenty-first century where a tragedy means not having enough charge on our phones.

Alexis: What was the most challenging – and the easiest part – of writing this story? Explain.

Piper: When this story was published the first time around, there was a great deal of disbelief in the history that I told. I believe that my stories reflect the old African saying of “Tales of hunting glorify the hunter.” We have been taught the hunter’s story in school to the point where we believe that is the complete story. I’m telling the story from the lion’s perspective. That was the challenge. The easiest part was in having Mags and Asa fall in love. They were a lot of fun to write.

Alexis: If you could spend a day at a picturesque location in the South with Mags, sipping on sweet tea where would that location be and what would your conversation be about?

Piper: Such a conversation would take place in her kitchen where she would tell me the secret of her biscuits. I struggle with them.

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

Piper: Only when we embrace multiple historical perspectives will we come closer to the truth of how we have gotten to this present. Thank you so much for having me!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor.

About the Book:

They’re cut from different cloths…but their hearts are a perfect fit.

Asa Caldwell returned from the Great War with nothing to show for it-as in nothing below his left knee. Forget about the journalism career he loved. His story is over. Done. Yet he finds the strength to journey to Winslow, Georgia, to get Ruby Bledsoe Morson’s sister out of trouble.

Before he can bring Mags Bledsoe home, though, a spate of mysterious attacks reawakens his investigative instincts. During the war, Mags did her duty to God and country by stepping into a management role at the textile mill.

Now she’s been shuffled back to the rank and file-and Asa has her hard-earned job. Not only is the infernal man doing everything wrong, her plan for revenge against the mill owner who lynched her childhood sweetheart is farther out of reach than ever.

As they clash over almost everything, Mags begins to set fire to Asa’s soul, bright enough to dim the memory of the killing fields of France. Enough to give him a new mission in life-to make her feel the same way.

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 She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son.

Follow Piper on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Blog

Author Interview with Alexa Verde + Giveaway

Happy Monday, Friends!

I’m excited to talk to Alexa Verde today about her latest book, Love Me. It’s set in the awesome fictional town of Chapel Cove, Oregon, “where life begins at forty.” Grab a cup of tea (or coffee) and chat with us.

About the Book

Welcome to Chapel Cove, Oregon, where life begins at forty.

The biggest disaster of her life or the beginning of something wonderful?

Growing up, Kristina Vela never imagined she’d meet her fortieth birthday divorced by her cheating, manipulative husband, and without a house, degree, or career. Back in her hometown, Chapel Cove, to start anew, she’s given up on men. Then she meets grieving widower Greg Matthews and his adorable five-year-old daughter and helps them renovate a house. Just when Kristina feels she can love again, her ex gives her an ultimatum. Can she choose between her own happiness and Greg’s?

Former snowboarder Greg Matthews is moving to Chapel Cove so his daughter can be close to her grandparents. After his wife died, his heart closed to romance. As caring and compassionate Kristina helps him repair his house and his life, he might be falling for her. But if she decides to leave, will he survive a second heartbreak?

Amazon, Goodreads

The Interview

Toni: Welcome, Alexa! I’m so excited to talk about your latest release, Love Me. Let’s talk about your heroine, Kristina Vela, first. What would her dream job be and why?

Alexa: Happy to be here, Toni, and thank you so much for inviting me!

It takes a while for Kristina to find her dream job because for many years she dedicates herself to raising her twins and taking care of her rather demanding husband. When he leaves her and she finds herself starting over at forty, she recalls the dreams she had in childhood and decides to become an interior designer. Growing up in a dilapidated house, she wants to help people make their homes beautiful and full of life, laughter, and happiness.

Toni: I always thought being an interior designer would be cool. How does her ethnicity influence her background and/or the story?

Alexa: Kristina is a Latina and cooking delicious Mexican food is partly how she remembers good parts of her childhood (not so good part was constant arguments between her parents and her mother’s complaints). Coming back to her roots is an important part of Kristina’s spiritual growth. This is how she returns on the path to the person God wanted her to be. Her ex-husband didn’t like her to listen to Tejano music or use Spanish words, and it was one of many ways of him controlling her, but now she can listen to the music she likes, pursue the career she wants, or talk in Spanish to her brother or cousin to her heart’s content. She speaks Spanish fluently and can make great fajitas and tacos!

Toni: You’re making me hungry! 🙂 How does your own ethnicity influence your writing?

Alexa: I’d say rather my nationality influences my writing because I try to incorporate pieces of my Eastern European culture in many of my books. In real life, I’m a blue-eyed blonde living in south Texas, so I stand out like a sore thumb even before I open my mouth (I have a strong accent). But I found Hispanic community as friendly and hospitable as the warm and sunshine weather here. Many of my characters are Hispanic, and I learned to speak Spanish and even got a degree in it. I decided to be grateful to God for creating me just the way I am. Yes, it’s difficult to be different when we have that deep-rooted desire to belong, but God made us diverse for a reason and we should embrace it.

Toni: Amen! One of the things I loved about this story was the age difference. What made you have Kristina be older than Greg?

Alexa: After verbal and emotional abuse from her husband, she feels insecure and unsure of herself. The large age difference with the man she’s now falling for only adds to this internal conflict. However, the age difference doesn’t bother the hero in the least. I wanted to show that when it comes to love and affection, it’s really not about the age, social status, or appearance. It’s the heart that matters. Kristina has a wonderful, loving heart that was hurting for a long time. In the end, she is the right person not only for the hero, but also for his little daughter, Chelsea.

Toni: Aw! What would your characters eat for breakfast and why?

Alexa: That would be a tough choice between chocolate-filled brioches and tacos. Kristina loves anything chocolate (I wonder where did she get that from?), as well as fish tacos, beef tacos, chicken tacos, okay, you get the idea. Of course, she’d never make fish tacos now because Chelsea is allergic to shellfish.

Toni: I approve of tacos! 🙂 How long does it take you to write a novel start to finish, including editing process?

Alexa: It can be from a month to a year. A lot depends on how much time I have to write!

Toni: That makes sense. And last but not least, how can readers help you on your writing journey?

Alexa: I love this question! Readers’ support means so much to me, and it also help other readers find Christian books they might enjoy. Here are some ways that would help tremendously:

– writing a review (even several words count!)

– recommending books on BookBub, GoodReads, social media, and/or in person (the word of mouth matters so much!)

– mentioning the book in readers’ group on social media

– following us on Amazon

– commenting on author’s posts to make them more visible and sharing the posts

– participating in giveaways

– subscribing to the newsletter and forwarding it to friends

– just sending me an email saying they enjoyed my books.

It keeps us authors going. Besides, publishing is extremely competitive these days, and support for books is needed like air! I want to say heartfelt thanks to many of my wonderful readers who are already doing many of those things. I love you.

Toni: Those are great tips! Readers, do you have any questions for Alexa?

About the Author

Alexa Verde writes stories of love, faith, and mystery to warm your heart. She’d love it if you subscribed to her newsletter (every subscriber gets a free Christian romance after confirming the subscription as a thank-you gift). She penned her first literary masterpiece, a rhymed poem, at the ripe age of eight, and since has had twenty books and 200 short stories, articles, and poems published in the five languages that she speaks. She has bachelor’s degrees in English and Spanish, a master’s in Russian, and enjoys writing about characters with diverse cultures. She’s worn the hats of reporter, teacher, translator, model (even one day counts!), caretaker, and secretary, but thinks that the writer’s hat suits her the best. After traveling the world and living in both hemispheres, she calls a small town in south Texas home. The latter is an inspiration for the fictional setting of her popular series Rios Azules Christmas and Secrets of Rios Azules.

She hopes and prays that her stories will bring joy to her readers. Heartfelt thanks for interest in her books!

Follow: Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, BookBub


Alexa Verde is kindly offering a $5 Amazon gift card to one randomly chosen commenter of this post. You have until May 13th, 9 p.m. CDT to comment. The giveaway is open to people with  an account.
To enter, answer the question: What would you most likely eat for breakfast?

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 She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son.

Follow Piper on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Blog

Interview with Sarah Monzon about “Novelly Upon a Time”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Welcome Sarah Monzon to our blog.

Remember her? She visited with us a few times earlier in this month of March.

Today, Sarah’s here to talk about her book, Novelly Upon a Time.


Interview with Sarah Monzon about her book, Novelly Upon a Time: A Novella (Book Nerds and Boyfriends Collection Book Three):

Alexis: Why did you write this story and title it “Novelly Upon a Time?”

Sarah: As with any story I write, I wrote this one because the characters wouldn’t stop talking to me until I told their story. Sound a bit crazy? My husband thinks so. He’s always making fun of me and the “voices in my head.” But authors are a crazy lot and the only way to silence the voices is to give them one of their own in the form of a story.

Alexis: This is book number three in your Book Nerds and Boyfriends story collection. What inspired you to write this collection of stories and how does book three fit in?

Sarah: I was first inspired by the covers. I came across the graphics and thought they were so cute that I just had to write stories for them. Having each novella feature a book lover was icing on the cake. First, I didn’t have to look far for character inspiration (hello, avid reader here!) and second, I knew they would be characters that readers could relate to.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s heroine Harper Jones. What does she look like, sound like and act like? Why did you make her an author and not another career?

Sarah: Harper first comes on the scene in the second novella of the set. She’s a member of the book club. Her being an author is pivotal to the plot of the story because without that there would be no motivation. Plus, in the first featured a bibliophile, the second a literature professor, and I thought an author would round out the literary playing field.

Alexis: In what ways did receiving sour early reviews about her new novel, inspire Harper to, as you say, “get some real-life smooching experience?”

Sarah: Harper prides herself on her research. She will do anything to make her characters realistic and authentic. So when early reviews say that the romance in her book is unbelievable, she’s challenged to prove them wrong and establish herself as a person of authority on the matter.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s hero. What is his name? Describe him. What are his strengths and weaknesses and why is he described as Harper’s “arch nemesis?”

Sarah: Kyo Tanaka is a police officer and of Japanese-American decent. He grew up with Harper and had the ability to push her buttons. He would do things to deliberately get a rise out her. She hated it. And him.

Alexis: Why does Harper feel like she must “kiss her worst enemy or kiss her three-book contract goodbye?” Is that more of her own decision or is her book publisher pushing her?

Sarah: Both, although there is certainly a veiled threat from her publisher.

Alexis: What was the easiest aspect of writing this story and the most challenging part?

Sarah: The setting was fairly easy. I only live a ferry ride away from Seattle so have been to all the places I described in the story. The most challenging was Harper’s attitude toward Kyo. I’m not a person who holds grudges so writing her and her animosity toward him was not easy for me.

Alexis: What is the racial makeup of Harper and your story’s hero?

Sarah: Harper is White with no nationality ever expressed, and Kyo is Japanese-American.

Alexis: How did you decide on their racial identities for this story?

Sarah: Harper learns a valuable life lesson from Kyo’s grandparents who were prisoners in a Japanese internment camp during world war two.

Alexis: Describe the setting for your story. What makes it special?

Sarah: The story is set in Seattle. All the stories for this collection are set there. It’s a beautiful and diverse city with challenges and triumphs.

Alexis: What do you think is the importance of having books that show representation of all people? Explain.

Sarah: When we get to know each other’s stories and experiences, we are all richly blessed. God made a beautifully diverse world, and I think that should be represented in Christian fiction. As readers, we all like to be able to relate to the characters we read, and right now we may not be doing a very good job of that. Stories are also a good avenue to broaden viewpoints, soften hearts, and produce love that knows no boundaries.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Sarah!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor

About the Author:

Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world.

Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters.

When she isn’t in the world of make-believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.

Follow Sarah on social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

About the Book:

Author Harper Jones prides herself on the impeccable research she does for her novels, so when early reviews come pouring in claiming her romance reeks of inauthenticity, her editor suggests pulling her nose out of her books and getting some real-life smooching experience.

But her plans to do just that are thwarted by her archnemesis from high school who has recently returned to town. Now she’s left with an impossible decision—kiss her worst enemy or kiss her three-book contract goodbye.

Buy Sarah’s book, Novelly Upon a Time, on Amazon

Interview with Sarah Monzon, author of “Freedom’s Kiss”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, you’re in for a special treat! We’re talking to celebrated indie author Sarah Monzon about her book Freedom’s Kiss and she has a surprise for you but you’ll have to read to the end of her interview to discover it.


Interview with Sarah Monzon about her book, Freedom’s Kiss:

Alexis: Why did you write this book and call it “Freedom’s Kiss?”

Sarah: The first title I had for it was “A Warrior’s Heart” because it seemed the characters would be facing a lot of personal battles—like a warrior. But as I kept writing it seemed the message was more about freedom, in many different forms, and so the title Freedom’s Kiss came about.

Alexis: What happened in your hero’s life that made him a prisoner of the past?

Sarah: For my story’s hero, Adam Carrington, it was his involvement as a criminal defense attorney in a specific case that haunted him. He may have been doing his job, but he couldn’t get over his part in the outcome and held himself in his own type of prison after that.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s heroine Olivia Arroyo. What is her ethnic heritage? Describe her looks, personality, and heart.

Sarah: Olivia Arroyo decided to do a DNA ancestry test in order to track her family tree as a Christmas present for her mother who was very interested in such things. Olivia thought she knew exactly what the results would be. Some Mayan and Spanish heritage from her father’s side who is Guatemalan, and Scandinavian ancestry on her mother’s side according to the many stories she’d heard at family reunions. When the test results came in though…well, let’s just say Olivia was surprised at the outcome.

Alexis: Why does Olivia dream of becoming a chef? Describe her favorite dish to fix.

Sarah: Simply put, it’s her passion. Coming up with recipes and sharing those with others is what she longs to do. She doesn’t have a favorite dish, but she does like to switch to baking when she has a lot on her mind that she needs to work through.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s hero Adam Carrington. What is his ethnic heritage? Describe his looks, strengths, and weaknesses.

Sarah: Adam is White and I imagine of European descent, although he has never taken an ancestry test. He has dark hair, has let some scruff grow along his jaw, and is patient and kind-hearted.

Alexis: Describe the meet-cute for Olivia and Adam. What was their first impression of each other?

Sarah: Adam had left his job as an attorney and opened a food truck. One that became immediately popular and for which he wasn’t quite prepared. Olivia forced her way into the truck and saved him from having to shut down and lose business. Adam’s first impression of her was that she reminded him of a hurricane.

Alexis: Why did you make this novel a time slip? Please explain what a time slip novel means to our readers who may not know.

Sarah: A time-slip novel is one that has more than one timeline. This book is the third in a time-slip series I am writing.

Alexis: Briefly describe your two main characters from the 1816 time slip in your story. Who are they? What’s their ethnic heritage? What’s the conflict that they are experiencing?

Sarah: Winnie is a runaway slave and Nokosi is a Seminole warrior. It’s an interesting piece of history that many aren’t aware of, but many of the slaves in the deep South didn’t seek freedom in the North, but by going even further South to Spanish-held Florida or even to Mexico. Many found refuge with Seminole tribes and became known as Black Seminole.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about Freedom’s Kiss?

Sarah: If I could sum in up in one line, it is that Jesus is a chain breaker.

Alexis: Would you like to see more stories written by White authors about characters of color and published by the Christian fiction book market? Why or why not?

Sarah: I would, although I would also love to see authors with diverse backgrounds writing #ownvoices stories. Who better to tell a story than those who have lived and experienced those things? This goes beyond culture, though, and encompasses other things that would be unique to each author.

Alexis: Some White authors are hesitant to write about people of color because they’re scared of getting something wrong or stereotyping. What advice from your own experience in writing and publishing diverse stories, would you give the White authors who feel this way?

Sarah: It’s funny because I recently did an ancestry DNA test myself and the results came back that I am pretty much as White as you can get! My ancestors came to America from England and Holland. And I’m sure some people are wondering how I can write diverse characters when I don’t share any of their heritage stories. And it is a nervous undertaking. I often question who am I to give voice to a culture that I have no personal experience with? The only answer I have is that I was called to do so. I pray over every story and whole-heartedly believe that every story I have written or will write has been given to me from God. I have to be very careful about cultural appropriation. There is a lot of prayer, a lot of research, and help from readers and writers who have a more diverse history than I do.

Alexis: If you could step into your story and spend a day with one of your characters, who would you choose and what would you do?

Sarah: Olivia because she could cook for me and we’d eat amazing food.

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

Sarah: Freedom’s Kiss will be free from March 6-10. It has also just recently been announced as a finalist for this year’s Selah Award.

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor

About the Author:

Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world.

Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters.

When she isn’t in the world of make-believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.

Follow Sarah on social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

About the Book:

They were prisoners of the past. Could legacy be the key to set them free?

Olivia Arroyo knows who she is and where she’s going—her sense of family responsibility a stepping-stone to her dream of becoming a chef. When her employer refuses her the chance to move from server to the kitchen, she makes another opportunity for herself with the owner of a new food truck. But her life derails when a hidden piece of her past suddenly comes to light, and she discovers everything she thought she knew about herself has been a lie.

A single decision can have innumerable consequences—a truth that has changed Adam Carrington’s life. A criminal defense attorney turned food truck owner, he is haunted by his role in an unpardonable act and driven by his need to make restitution. Unexpected help comes in the form of a feisty, raven-haired beauty, but she soon begins challenging his kitchen as well as his heart.

Florida, 1816
Propelled by a fleeting hope of freedom, Winnie and her family escape slavery and find refuge and new life with the Seminole Indians of Florida. But their future is still uncertain as threats of war, a return to slavery, and removal to the West shake their tentative grasp on freedom. Will they ever step out of the shadow of fear to leave a legacy of deliverance?

Buy Freedom’s Kiss on Amazon

Interview with Jan Thompson, author of “Know You More”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re interviewing Jan Thompson about her book Know You More.


Interview with Jan Thompson about her book, Know You More:

Alexis: Know You More is Book 1 in the Savannah Sweethearts series. Briefly tell us about this series. Why is it special to you?

Jan: Savannah Sweethearts is my series of contemporary Christian romance, set in the city of Savannah, Georgia, and on the small beach town of Tybee Island by the Atlantic Ocean.

There are 11 books in all in Savannah Sweethearts, a mix of novels and novellas, including a prequel novel (that doubles up as a prelude to other spin-off and sister series). In this series, 7 of the books are multiracial romances.

I love the city of Savannah, where I have visited with my family on vacations. I decided to create a story world there, on the warm and sunny (in the summer, anyway) coast of Georgia, rich with history and vibrant with modern life. I am happy to showcase the ethnic diversity of my home state of Georgia in these books.

Alexis: What or who inspired you to write this book?

Jan: Across the board, whether contemporary Christian romance, romantic women’s fiction, or Christian romantic suspense, my inspiration to write is the same: to God be the glory. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Alexis: Tell us about your story’s heroine Heidi Wei. What is she like (looks and personality)? Who does she love (people)? What is her strongest trait? What does she value in life? Explain.

Jan: A Chinese-American, Heidi Wei is working on her doctorate in history. When Know You More starts, Heidi is in a conversation with her brother about their lives as they know it. Heidi has been in graduate school for years. Her brother wants her to go out there and do something more than just perpetually earning degrees.

Sneak peek: Ming’s own story is in the next book, Tell You Soon.

Heidi’s strongest trait is her sincere care for people, which has led her to help in the Riverside Chapel ministry of visiting elderly church members who are unable to physically attend worship services.

Most of all, Heidi values God’s perfect will for her life.

Alexis: Tell us about your story’s hero Diego Flores. What is he like (looks and personality)? What are his strengths and weaknesses? What are his core values in life? Explain.

Jan: A biracial Christian pastor whose father is Latino and mother is Italian, Diego Flores is the young pastor of Riverside Chapel. He is tasked to grow the small church and feed the flock. He is so busy with church life that he doesn’t think he has time for his own personal life. Along comes Heidi…

Diego’s biggest strength is that he is committed to the calling of God for his life as the pastor of a busy church. He handles the Word of God carefully, and honors God when he preaches Sunday after Sunday. He takes after his father, a retired pastor who still counsels him and gives him advice.

However, when it comes to matters of his own heart, Diego is at a loss. He tries to keep Heidi at bay, being quite sure that he doesn’t need her. And yet…

Alexis: What draws Heidi and Diego together? What threatens to tear them apart?

Jan: Heidi and Diego have been friends for some years, so they are often in each other’s company, whether at church or doing ministry projects together. Both of them are Christians who desire to serve the Lord.

What threatens them apart? I’m trying to be careful not to give away spoilers! However, you’ll find out about the ups and downs of their lives when you read the book. At this time, the Know You More ebook happens to be free at these major online book retailers (see retailer links).

Alexis: You’ve mentioned that your book Know You More is a Multiracial Christian Romance. What does that mean?

Jan: I do believe that God created the human race, so we are all one race. By multiracial, I mean that my two main characters have multiethnic ancestries. My story world culture is still definitively Christian, since I write primarily about Christians. Thus, the books in Savannah Sweethearts are not multi-religious, as I focus on the Christian church life environment.

Alexis: What are the racial makeup of Diego and Heidi? Briefly describe their backgrounds.

Jan: A Latino-Italian-American, Diego Flores is the last unmarried son in his family, and the only one called to be a pastor of his own church. He is very close to his father, who travels a lot with his wife, now that all their sons have grown up with lives of their own.

A Chinese-American, Heidi Wei has been on her own with her brother since their parents perished in the mission field. They live on Tybee Island, minutes from the city of Savannah, where they are helping Diego Flores to build and grow their small church on the Savannah River.

Alexis: Why was writing this multiracial romance story important to you as an author of color?

Jan: For years I have been unable to find clean Christian fiction that reflects real life America, with its rich ethnic diversity—that is, my world, my community.

My own family is multiracial. I have relatives who are from various ethnic origins around the world. My all-American son has at least five ethnicities in him, from Chinese and Japanese to English and Irish to Native American.

I find it ironic that it took so long for Christian publishers to come around to publishing books showing that America is a melting pot of many ethnicities and cultural origins.

Therefore, in the words of Toni Morrison, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” (source: Goodreads)

So there by the grace of God, go I, with not just one book, but several series of books that reflect my multiethnic world.

Alexis: What kind of impact are you hoping that this book will make on your readers? Why?

Jan: It is my hope that not only are my readers entertained by this beach romance, but that they also take away some verses that might be encouraging to them or to someone they know. Throughout Know You More, I mention Bible verses that apply to Diego’s and Heidi’s many situations. In a church life series, it’s impossible to avoid mentioning the Word of God, and I am happy to talk about God all day long.

Alexis: What role does faith in God play in this story?

Jan: In every book in the Savannah Sweethearts series, I sign off with a farewell verse from the main characters. I hope that those scriptural references would be a good reminder to my readers about the importance of faith in God.

For Know You More, the overarching verses at the end of the book are: 

“And the Lord, He it is that doth go before thee; He will be with thee, He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee” (Psalm 56:3).

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Jan! God bless you.

Jan: Thank you very much for having me here. I appreciate the interview. These are amazingly insightful questions. I am delighted to be able to share a little bit about the main characters in Know You More and the setting of the Savannah Sweethearts series. Thanks again, and may God bless you too!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor

Author Bio:

USA Today bestselling author Jan Thompson writes clean and wholesome multiethnic contemporary Christian romance with elements of women’s fiction, Christian romantic suspense with an air of mystery, and inspirational international thrillers with threads of sweet Christian romance.

Jan’s books are for readers who love inspiring stories of faith, hope, and love in Jesus Christ.

Follow Jan on social media: Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

About the Book:

He loves her… He loves her not…
She’s waiting for him to decide.

A young pastor of a growing church in a thriving community, Diego Flores has to come to grips with God’s will for his church and his personal life.

From USA Today bestselling author Jan Thompson come 10 clean and wholesome, sweet and inspirational contemporary Christian romances set on the beaches of Tybee Island and in the city of Savannah, Georgia, two of the most romantic coastal towns in the world.

Welcome to Savannah, Georgia, in the multicultural new south! Meet a group of multiracial and multiethnic churchgoing Christians who love the Lord, work hard in their careers, and seek God’s will for their love lives. Against a backdrop of ocean, sand, and sun, these inspirational romances showcase aspects of the human need for God and for one another.

These sweet and wholesome Christian beach romances begin with KNOW YOU MORE, the story of Diego Flores and Heidi Wei living in the city of Savannah and on the sunny beaches of Tybee Island.

*Buy Jan’s book on Amazon, Google Play, Kobo/Walmart, Apple Books or Barnes & Noble.

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.


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, 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

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.


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: 




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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Author Interview: R. Rushing


Happy Monday reader friends! Today I am pleased to welcome R. Rushing to talk about her wonderful book, Seal of the Sand Dweller!


Tell me why you write.

 Rushing: I write because I’ve been so moved by the great stories I’ve read. Storytelling can be such therapy and nourishment for the soul of the reader. Nothing is more powerful than a writer who tells a great story and leaves an imprint of hope in the reader’s heart.

What is your debut novel about?

 Rushing: Seal of the Sand Dweller is my debut novel about Joseph [known as Yoseph in story] of the Bible becoming vizier of Egypt. I investigate a set of plausible challenges he might have faced going from the position of a foreign Asiatic slave to vizier of one of the greatest and most sophisticated civilizations recorded in history.

What do you want readers to get from reading Seal of the Sand Dweller?

 Rushing: I want readers to step back from what they know about the story of Joseph and step forward again into his world and surroundings. I’d like people to respect and appreciate more his extraordinary set of circumstances and understand the challenges of his situation. Ancient Egyptians were not fond of foreigners. The elite class was a small but privileged group of nobles favored by the king. How would they feel about a foreign slave who suddenly became their vizier at the king’s decree?

What is your favorite part of your book?

 Rushing:  One of my favorite parts of the story is when Joseph attends a garden party after he is named vizier. The awkwardness of the situation still stirs my gut. A lowly Asiatic slave is suddenly dressed in high court fashion and invited to the king’s party. I wouldn’t want to endure the snickers and smirks of the jaded courtiers in attendance. Does anyone really take him seriously? He’s a curious novelty chosen on a king’s whim and very few take him seriously. Very few tolerate him in the long run or even believe he will last.

Yoseph and many (all?) of the other characters are depicted as people of color. This is accurate for the story and the time, yet most versions portray Joseph as white. When did this change in our culture?

Rushing:  Hollywood has a way of doing what is convenient for Hollywood. It is, however, sad and somewhat dangerous when storytelling can leave us feeling sated enough to sway us with more emotion than fact. I have yet to see Joseph portrayed as a man of color, who in reality was a lot closer to the equator than to the North Pole. We have only recently seen a truer take on the look of the Ancient Asiatic in films like The Nativity Story where at least Mary seems to be a woman of color and Risen where I celebrated the representation of Jesus as finally being portrayed as a man of color instead of a gorgeous Caucasian male with beautiful blue eyes.

Have you always loved Ancient Egpyt?

Rushing: Like most of the world, I am fascinated with the sophisticated and elegant yet brutal social structure and practices of Ancient Egypt. I have indeed always loved Egypt. Who could resist the intriguing pyramids, the mystery of the mummy, the exotic look of the wealthy with their intricately layered wigs and jewelry?

Tell us a cool fact about Ancient Egpyt that none of us know.

Rushing: It is a popular belief that horses were introduced by the Hyksos rulers during the second intermediate period, around 1700 B.C.E. However, horses were already indigenous to Africa and remains were found in Ancient Egypt as early 3100 B.C.E. So it is likely that the Hyksos rulers probably brought down a certain type of horse or introduced the horse and a popular style of chariot at the time which seemed to give them a bit more credit for introducing the horse to Ancient Egypt then they deserved.

I want book 2! When is it coming out? Please don’t make me wait 5 years!!!!

Rushing: Book 2, Harvest Of The Sand Dweller, is being stretched over the coals and should be out by this spring!

If you could hang out with any of the characters from your book, who would it be?

Rushing:  If I could hang out with one character from my book would probably be the king’s cupbearer Lord Hetnu. But I wouldn’t stand too close or beg his attention. Hentu is very exacting but emotional, very knowledgeable but prickly. He’s a character we hate to love, but life is easier with his approval.

What actors would you cast for a movie/TV version of your book?

Rushing: Well, throw Idris Elba in there somewhere, that’s for sure! However, I’d be happy to see a cast of black actors representing Ancient Egyptians for a change. It’s long overdue.

What do you do when you are not writing?

Rushing:  I think about writing…not kidding.

Anything else cool you are doing, writing-wise?

Rushing:  Yes! I’m delighted to be involved in Christian Authors Traveling Bookfair (C.A.T. Bookfair), a traveling Christian bookfair group that will be visiting local churches in my area to talk about writing. We donate a percentage of the profits and a free book each to the local congregation. We’ll have our first bookfair on December 2nd from 2-5 pm at Shenandoah Heights Baptist Church in Waynesboro Virginia. Meet us there if you can!

Wonderful! I know I’ll be there! Can’t wait to read book two! You really are an amazing author! Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview!

Read more about R. Rushing and her book, Seal of the Sand Dweller, below.

About the Book


Famine 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: Amazon, Goodreads

About the Author

r rushing author pic

If 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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