Book Review: Back in the Saddle by Ruth Logan Herne

About the Book

It’s been a long time since Colt Stafford shrugged off his cowboy legacy for shiny Manhattan loafers and a promising career on Wall Street. But when stock market manipulations leave him financially strapped, the oldest son of legendary rancher Sam Stafford decides to return to the sprawling Double S ranch in Gray’s Glen, Washington. He’s broke, but not broken, and it’s time to check in with his ailing father and get his legs back under him by climbing into the saddle again.

He doesn’t expect to come home to a stranger pointing a loaded gun at his chest— a tough yet beautiful woman that Sam hired as the house manager. Colt senses there’s more to Angelina Morales than meets the eye and he’s determined to find out what she’s hiding…and why.

Colt’s return brings new challenges. Younger brother Nick has been Sam’s right-hand man at the ranch for years and isn’t thrilled at having Colt insert himself into Double S affairs. And the ranch’s contentious relationship with the citizens of Gray’s Glen asks all the Stafford men to examine their hearts about what it truly means to be a neighbor.  And as Wall Street recovers, will Colt succumb to the call of the financial district’s wealth and power—or finally the courage to stay in the saddle for good?

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My Thoughts

I just really love Ruth Logan Herne novels! The first page grabbed my attention and the whole book was one wild ride. Colt Stafford and Angelina Morales each bear secrets and past hurts that cloud their better judgment. Colt is the returning prodigal and hesitant to be reunited with the family he essentially shut out of his life. Coming home seems to soften his heart while familiar places and faces unlock memories long suppressed. Colt grows by leaps and bounds into the man he was always meant to be.

Angelina is used to being in control yet her father’s death has shaken her confidence in her own plans and left her with a very unfamiliar feeling, vulnerability. She’s a strong woman, willing to turn her life upside down and go into hiding to protect her son and her mother. Angelina is a force to be reckoned with and none of the men on the Double S dare cross her, until Colt. She never meant for ranch life to be any more than an escape but there’s no denying the growing attraction and respect she has for him.

Back in the Saddle is a great start to what promises to be a must-read series. Readers get to know the Stafford family in this first installment and I am excited to read more about each one of the different brothers and the various ranch hands too!

I received an advanced reader copy of this title from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.
This review first appeared on Faithfully Bookish.

 

About the Author

Ruth Logan HerneRuth Logan Herne loves Charlie Brown Christmas trees, rooting for the underdog and people who go the distance while others see the path as too long or broken!

She loves God, chocolate, writing, dogs and is blessed by a sprawling family, oodles of grandkids and a sweet old farmhouse in constant need of work. She’s sure that clean rooms are over-rated, snakes and possums should mind their own business and buy their own farm and puppies and kittens and babies are about the cutest things on Earth.

A “pull-up-your-big-girl-panties-and-move-on” kind of gal, she is blessed to be married to her high school sweetheart, work with young families who allow her to exploit their sweet children on blogs, and rock babies on a regular basis. An author for Love Inspired Books and Summerside Press, she lives in upstate New York.

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Double S Ranch series


Goodreads | Amazon | christianbook

 

review by Beth Erin

Book Spotlight: Their Surprise Daddy by Ruth Logan Herne

Hi, y’all! Today’s book spotlight is a brand spanking new release from one of my favorite authors! I recently won a copy in a giveaway and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

About the Book

Their Surprise Daddy by Ruth Logan HerneCruz Maldonado has vowed to provide for his beloved cousin’s orphans. With his estranged mother’s health failing, they might soon be Cruz’s only family. But the kids’ immigration status brings complications.

Mostly “Miss Rory”—their idealistic young teacher—and Cruz’s court-appointed co-guardian.

Cruz has the means to give the kids a good home, yet Rory Gallagher wonders whether he has the heart. That is, until she glimpses the sweet small-town boy inside the polished, handsome Wall Street exterior.

Soon they both begin to wonder if this temporary partnership could turn into more—a chance to raise the children as husband and wife.

goodreads | amazon

 

About the Author

Ruth Logan HerneRuth Logan Herne loves Charlie Brown Christmas trees, rooting for the underdog and people who go the distance while others see the path as too long or broken!

She loves God, chocolate, writing, dogs and is blessed by a sprawling family, oodles of grandkids and a sweet old farmhouse in constant need of work. She’s sure that clean rooms are over-rated, snakes and possums should mind their own business and buy their own farm and puppies and kittens and babies are about the cutest things on Earth.

A “pull-up-your-big-girl-panties-and-move-on” kind of gal, she is blessed to be married to her high school sweetheart, work with young families who allow her to exploit their sweet children on blogs, and rock babies on a regular basis. An author for Love Inspired Books and Summerside Press, she lives in upstate New York.

website | facebook | twitter | pinterest

 

Enter to win Their Surprise Daddy plus THREE more books by Ruth Logan Herne on Faithfully Bookish

post created by Beth Erin

Author Interview: Stacy Hawkins Adams

I’d like to introduce a writer friend of mine Stacy Hawkins Adams. She’s a journalist and author with a passion for creating stories that are real and sincere. She likes to write about African-American characters and tell their story.

She’s stopped by the blog today in order to talk about her novel, The Someday List. Enjoy your time with Stacy via this author interview!

About the book: 

Rachelle Covington has it all. A fabulous home, a handsome and prestigious husband, two beautiful children, and a place in the upper crust that’s quite comfortable. But her life is not all it’s cracked up to be. When her husband goes away on business trip and the kids are sent off to the grandparents for a month, Rachelle takes up the challenge of a dying friend to start a list of things to do before she dies.

She heads back to Jubilant, Texas, to reconnect with her past, her purpose, and herself. But when her ex shows up in town looking very fine and very single, Rachelle must confront feelings she thought she’d long buried.

Will she give up everything to recover the past? Or will she find a reason to plan for the future? The Someday List is an honest look at what makes us who we are and what can throw us off track.

Author Stacy Hawkins Adams writes with a voice that is fresh, sincere, and completely real. Her characters jump off the page and into her readers’ hearts.

Purchase the book: Amazon ~ B&N ~ CBD

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

She has penned nine faith-based novels and one devotional book. She also serves as a parenting columnist for a Virginia-based newspaper and blogs for the Huffington Post on social justice issues.

Stacy lives in Virginia with her family. Learn more about her at www.StacyHawkinsAdams.com.

The Interview:

Alexis: What’s your “story behind the story” for this book of yours, The Someday List?

Stacy: I wrote this novel after hearing from many women readers who felt like they were stuck in life, or that it was too late to pursue their dreams. I wanted them to realize that as much as we love and value our families, God loves and values each of us; and our hopes and dreams are meant to be birthed. The main characters in The Someday List eventually realize that as they concentrate on what brings them meaning and joy, the more they’re able to be and do for others.

Alexis: Rachelle Covington is your heroine. What makes her tick? What fills her heart with bliss? What made her fall in love with her husband?

Stacy: Your questions are at the heart of this novel’s premise: Rachelle no longer knows these answers. She has lost herself in being a wife and mother and has a hard time figuring out why she matters. This novel takes her on a journey to remembering what makes her tick, what fills her heart with bliss, and what made her fall in love with her husband, among other things.

Alexis: How close was Rachelle to her dying friend and how did her friend’s challenge lead to Rachelle creating her “someday list” of things she wants to do before she dies?

Stacy: This was a childhood friend of Rachelle’s that she hadn’t seen in years, but during her friend’s farewell party she was deeply moved by how her friend was able to die with no regrets. Rachelle couldn’t say she would face that fate with the same peace. So attending that event, and then struggling to create a list of things she wanted to accomplish, jolted her into realizing that she needed to reclaim her life and her faith.

Alexis: You set up this story at the start to show that Rachelle has it all but the reader can infer that something is missing. What is missing in her life?

Stacy: What’s missing is the core of who she is. In doing her best to love and serve her family, she forgot to carve out some time to nurture her own interests and dreams – a pattern many women fall into. There’s nothing wrong with sacrificing and serving those we love most; that’s how we grow a loving family. However, what many women tend to find over time is that when doing so leaves us drained or empty, we haven’t truly given of ourselves in the best way. Also, I’ve found that as women–including myself- we need to practice self-care and take care of our inner selves as much as we “dress up” our outer selves. When we take the time to do this, our families, friends, and associates are blessed by what pours from us. My character, Rachelle, eventually realizes this.

Alexis: Rachelle’s journey takes her home to Jubilant, TX and she encounters her ex-boyfriend who is just as fine as ever. What role does he play in this story?

Stacy: She and Troy had a long and deep history together (I won’t say more, or I’ll give away too much), and their romance was sweet and honorable. But because Rachelle seems to have never been able to stand up for herself or for her own desires, the relationship was shattered. She went on to marry her current husband; yet as the story unfolds, you see that neither she nor Troy (her former partner) fully healed from their breakup.

Alexis: You’re known as an author for writing characters who, “jump off the page and into her readers’ hearts”. How much time did it take you to develop that skill?

Stacy: Thank you for saying that. I’m humbled by that, and grateful that my readers react to my characters in this way. My goal is to make every character and every scenario seem real, so that readers can lose themselves in that story and root for the “good girls” while simultaneously finding themselves frustrated with the “not so good” characters. Just like in real life, right? Lol

Truthfully, though, no person is all good or all bad, and I try to show these layers in my main characters and in some of the secondary characters.

I can’t say that I’m finished developing as a writer, because it’s an ongoing process, and I’m always striving to get better at my craft. However, I do work at it, and I think that intention pays off. I try to read good books with great dialogue, plots, and character development. I also read writing craft books to help me better refine the “people” I’ve created in my stories.

Alexis: Your voice as an author is described as “fresh, sincere and completely real.” What do you think of that? Did you always want to be an author? Explain.

Stacy: Again, I’m honored by this, and I’m grateful, because this is who I aim to be as both a person and a writer – sincere, real and also creative in how I express myself and engage my readers.

Yes, I’ve wanted to be an author since I tried to pen my first book around age 8. I’ve loved writing since I learned to read, and I always wrote stories and poems throughout my childhood. I segued into a journalism career, which allowed me to hone my nonfiction writing skills and learn to write on deadline, research stories, and understand people from all walks of life, and this training has been invaluable in crafting memorable fictional characters.

Alexis: What stirs you to write?

Stacy: I’d have to say life! When something exciting or heartbreaking or intriguing happens in the world around me or in the world at large, I’m often inspired to express myself through writing – whether fiction or nonfiction – and to share that with the world, to help others process the issue, too, or to simply offer food for thought or encouragement as readers consider what has unfolded or how to react.

Alexis: How do you deal with writer’s block?

Stacy: I’ve come to realize that my form of writer’s block is procrastination. When I should be writing I’ll load the dishwasher or decide to clean a closet. And sometimes I give in to that because taking a break from the writing allows your mind to relax into the story. Taking a walk also helps. It gets the creative juices flowing. I’ll allow myself a short break and then get back to it. If the chapter or paragraph still isn’t flowing, I just write through it, knowing that I can go back and fix it later.

Alexis: Most if not all of your books feature African American characters. Is there a special reason why you only write fictional stories about African Americans?

Stacy: Since I am African American it’s quite natural to write what you know. Plus, I think it’s valuable to all readers to have an opportunity to read about characters from all backgrounds–protagonists who may have some similarities to the reader, yet also some differences. What my stories show is that ultimately, we all have the same hopes and dreams and desire to be loved–by God and by other people. And while most of my characters are African American, I never write a one-color world. In The Someday List, Rachelle’s husband takes a mission trip to Uganda with his Caucasian partner, for example; and in subsequent books, you see Rachelle’s family members befriending and/or working with people of various ethnicities.

Alexis: How does your experience as a journalist impact the way that you write your fictional stories?

Stacy: Having the ability to write on deadline is a major benefit. And the research skills I learned as a journalist have helped me seek out facts and trivia for my novels that make my stories more true-to-life.

Alexis: If you were not an author, how else would you spend your creativity?

Stacy: That is a great question. Since I’ve always been a writer, I’m not sure! Writing is second nature; so it flows all the time, even in just simple musings. So even if I had chosen another career path, I might find myself writing in some way.

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

Stacy: Thank you for featuring me, and thanks to all of your readers who have read my books or will take the time to read them. I try to write stories that are entertaining, but also that touch a chord with readers wherever they may find themselves in life. It has been a humbling and satisfying experience to see how the written word truly does matter, and I hope to continue writing and inspiring readers for years to come.

~*~

Connect with Stacy:

Website – www.StacyHawkinsAdams.com

Twitter – www.twitter.com/shadams

Facebook – www.facebook.com/stacyinspires

Book Review: The Red Feather by April W. Gardner

War, captivity, hunger that will not be denied. And a blackberry moon with enough pull to endure the test of time.

The Red Feather by April W. GardnerFrontierswoman Adela McGirth has never feared her neighbors, the Creek Indians, but a suspicious encounter with a steely-eyed warrior shakes her confidence. As dreaded, a skirmish with the natives sends her family fleeing into a hastily constructed fort. But no picket is strong enough to hold off a party of warriors who fear nothing but the loss of their ancient ways.

Totka Lawe, a Red Stick bound by honor to preserve his heritage, will do what he must to expel the whites from Muscogee soil. But in the midst of battle, he is assigned to protect those he’s expected to hate and kill. One of whom is the copper-haired woman who has haunted his thoughts since that strange night under the blackberry moon. The war was simpler before his enemy became a beautiful face with a gentle warrior’s spirit he cannot resist.

But what woman would have a warrior whose blood-soaked hands destroyed her life? Then again…does she have a choice?

Goodreads | Amazon

My Thoughts

Dances with Wolves meets The Last of the Mohicans with a splash of The Colonel’s Lady and oh the warm fuzzies as I read this book, y’all! There are precious few things I enjoy more than a thoroughly researched historical novel. Native Americans are some of my favorite people groups to learn about and the strength of their spirit is awe inspiring.

At first glance, Adela McGirth is a simple, carefree, middle daughter of an Alabama territory family. Her faith carries her through trials and tragedy, revealing a fierce and feisty young frontier woman ready and able to stand up for herself and her loved ones. Adela lives out her faith and chooses to literally love her enemies even in the most trying circumstances.

From the first time he sees her, Totka Lawe is both enchanted and befuddled by the copper-haired woman. He is torn between his duty to preserve his heritage and the growing desire he has to make Copper Woman his own. Totka is frustrated by the obstacle of her faith yet he remains honorable and patient.

April Gardner has captured the beautiful contrast between the beliefs, traditions, and history of the frontiersman and those of their Muscogee neighbors. This story captured my heart and transported me to that tumultuous time in our history. I am a BIG FAN now and I can’t wait to read more!

I received a copy of this book from the author. The opinions expressed are my own.
THIS REVIEW FIRST APPEARED ON FAITHFULLY BOOKISH

About the Author

April W. GardnerA military spouse, April has performed the art of homemaking all over the world. Currently, she lives in Georgia with her two children, and USAF spouse. She is unashamedly a child of the King. In her free time, April enjoys reading, organizing, and DIY. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, visiting all the national parks, and speaking Italian.

After a year gaining experience as content editor with Clean Reads, April is now a freelance editor, certified through the University of California, San Diego. As a way to give back to the writing community and to promote Christian fiction, April founded and runs the literary contest site, Clash of the Titles.

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REVIEW BY BETH ERIN

Book Spotlight: Black, White, Other: In Search of Nina Armstrong by Joan Steinau Lester

Today’s spotlight features award winning author, Joan Steinau Lester’s YA novel, Black, White and Other: In Search of Nina Armstrong.

About the Book

Black white and otherIdentity Crisis.
As a biracial teen, Nina is accustomed to a life of varied hues—mocha-colored skin, ringed brown hair streaked with red, a black father, a white mother. When her parents decide to divorce, the rainbow of Nina’s existence is reduced to a much starker reality. Shifting definitions and relationships are playing out all around her, and new boxes and lines seem to be drawn every day.

Between the fractures within her family and the racial tensions splintering her hometown, Nina feels caught in perpetual battle. Stranded in a nowhere land of ethnic boundaries, and struggling for personal independence and identity, Nina turns to the story of her great-great-grandmother’s escape from slavery in hopes of finding her own compass to help navigate the challenges before her.

What Critics and Others Are Saying

“Lester conjures a credible plot and complications; divorce is a fact of life and racially mixed heritage is conspicuously becoming one. The simple contrapuntal narrative of Sarah Armstrong’s escaping slavery distinguishes the book emotionally and psychologically, raising it above other issue-oriented Young Adult novels. Lester writes with social sensitivity and an ear for teen language and concerns. This is engaging treatment of a challenging subject that comes with little precedent.” * – Starred Publishers Weekly Review

“The tenderness and truth of your book moved my heart. As well as the enormous love you have.” – Alice Walker

“Teens will be caught by the alternating stories, and yes, by the messages about…prejudice, then and now, which will make for great group discussion.” – Booklist

Where to Buy: Amazon | B&N | CBD.com | Goodreads

About the Author

joanlester_6532-210-expJoan Steinau Lester, Ed.D. the award-winning commentator, columnist, and author of four critically praised books, is also a freelance editor.

A Bellwether Prize Finalist, Arts & Letters Creative Nonfiction Finalist, and NLGJA Seigenthaler Award winner, her writing has appeared in the Alaska Quarterly Review, Essence, USA Today, LA Times, SF Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Cosmopolitan, NY Times Syndicate: New American Voices, Huffington Post, Black Issues in Education, and Common Dreams. Her commentaries regularly air on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” San Francisco’s KQED “Perspectives,” and Public Radio International’s “Marketplace.”

She is the author of the acclaimed biography ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON: FIRE IN MY SOUL, as well as THE FUTURE OF WHITE MEN And Other Diversity Dilemmas and TAKING CHARGE: Every Woman’s Action Guide.

BLACK, WHITE, OTHER: The Search for Nina Armstrong, her first novel, garnered starred reviews and her second, MAMA’S CHILD, has just been released to critical acclaim.

After receiving her doctorate in multicultural education, Dr. Lester was Executive Director of the Equity Institute for sixteen years. This national nonprofit firm, first based in Amherst and then Emeryville, California, pioneered the diversity wave of the ’80s and ’90s. She continues as a member of its successor, the Equity Consulting Group.

Lester’s books have earned praise from print media like Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus Review, Ms, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Detroit Free Press, The San Francisco Chronicle, Executive Female, American Personnel Journal, Belles Lettres, Black Issues Book Review, and the American Society of Trainers and Developers. Her books are in wide use as college texts and corporate handbooks.

Her numerous recognitions include the NLGJA Siegenthaler Award for commentary on National Public Radio. The San Francisco’s Women’s Heritage Museum nominated TAKING CHARGE as a Best Women’s Book; Amazon.com named TAKING CHARGE one of its “10 BEST BUSINESS BOOKS FOR WOMEN” and The Washington Post singled out FIRE IN MY SOUL for its top-listed, recommended books, “What Washingtonians are reading.”

Dr. Lester is quoted as an expert by print media from The New York Times to Woman’s World. Her published work has been excerpted in publications as varied as Essence, Executive Female, legal journals, and books on diversity. She has been a guest expert on Donahue, CNN, Caryl & Marilyn Show, G. Gordon Liddy, and SkyRadio, as well as hundreds of other radio and television programs. FIRE IN MY SOUL was featured on Terry Gross’ top-rated “Fresh Air” Program.

A member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Dr. Lester lives in Northern California and enjoys the full-time writing life she long envisioned.

Connect with the author!
Website | Twitter | Facebook

Have you had a chance to read this one?

Book Review: By Your Side by Candace Calvert

byyoursideER nurse Macy Wynn learned essential, gritty lessons in the California foster care system: land on your feet and trust no one. She’s finally located the fellow foster child she loves like a sister, but the girl’s in deep trouble. Macy’s determined to help, no matter what it takes. Her motto is to “make it happen” in any situation life throws at her—even when she butts heads with an idealistic cop.

Deputy Fletcher Holt believes in a higher plan, the fair outcome—and his ability to handle that by himself if necessary. Now he’s been yanked from Houston, his mother is battling cancer, and he’s attracted to a strong-willed nurse who could be the target of a brutal sniper.

When everything goes wrong, where do they put their trust?

goodreads | amazon

 

My Thoughts

Candace Calvert is a new-to-me author. The fact that she is a trained and experienced nurse made this medical drama even more enticing. Deputy Fletcher Holt is a born and bred Texan temporarily living and working in Sacramento. He has a very close relationship with his parents and is determined to do everything in his power to help them. Fletcher’s mama is one tough lady with a compassionate heart and I love the authentic relationships she has with her husband and son.

After a stinging dismisal from her biological father, weathly international businessman Lang Wen, ER nurse Macy Wynn dedicates herself to her career and reconnecting with her foster sister. Because of her painful childhood in the foster care system, she tends to hold people at an arm’s length in her personal life but she has an immense compassion for her patients and co-workers. Seems to me, Macy is still that lost little girl on the inside and she’s just managing the pain through an intense, high-adrenaline lifestyle.

Fletcher and Macy initially clash like a couple of wet cats. Over time, they develop a special connection while evading danger at every turn and continually crossing paths. By Your Side has it all, suspense, mystery, and romance. This book grabbed my attention from the first page and kept my attention through the end. Both characters develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationship with God.

I’m already itching to know what is going to happen in the next book of the series and I will definitely be seeking out more titles from Candace Calvert.

I requested the opportunity to read and review this book through The Book Club Network. The opinions expressed are my own.
This review first appeared on Faithfully Bookish

 

About the Author

Candace CalvertCandace Calvert is a former ER nurse and author of the Mercy Hospital, Grace Medical, and Crisis Team series. Her medical dramas offer readers a chance to “scrub in” on the exciting world of emergency medicine.

Wife, mother, and very proud grandmother, Candace makes her home in northern California.

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Do you tend to rely on your own strength when life gets tough?
Like Macy & Fletcher, this is something I struggle with!

 

Review by Beth Erin

 

Author Interview: Grace Ibitamuno Obienu

I originally ran this interview with Grace Ibitamuno Obienu a couple of weeks ago on my own review blog, but I went back and talked with her some more about her characters in preparation for posting the interview here on Diversity Between The Pages.


About the Author:

Grace Ibitamuno Obienu has been a storyteller all her life, completing her first novel at the age of twelve, which thankfully went unpublished. She has worked as a technical writer in Biotechnology but has recently embarked on a journey toward dual doctoral degrees in Medicine and Public Health. With roots in Nigeria, she calls Central New Jersey home, where she lives with her husband and son.

You can connect with Grace on Facebook.


About the Book:

Burdened by the shame of her past and by the pain in her body, hope for a better tomorrow is a heavy chain to wear for Lola, a nineteen-year-old survivor of years of trafficking and exploitation.

Jaisen, a police officer, is drawn to Lola, both for the fire in her eyes and the hesitation in her step.

For Deja, Jaisen’s cousin, marriage to her fiancé is the greatest prize—a prize for which she would forsake all else.

As the story unfolds, vivid flashbacks of lurid moments past, lurking former owners, long buried secrets, and the search for a murderer threaten each of their quests, testing their mettle and their faith.

Could hope possibly flourish in the face of such painful obstacles? Is love truly a worthy pursuit, or a consolation prize for unwitting fools?

Not Yet Beautiful, a debut novel set in the Northeast corridor, is grippingly raw in its portrayal of love, loss, and restoration.

Purchase at: Amazon, B&N


Carrie: Hi Grace! Welcome to the blog! Thank you so much for chatting with me!

Grace: Thanks for having me. It’s great to chat with you!

Carrie: Let’s start with a ‘fast four’. Apples or oranges?

Grace: Oranges for on the go. Apples if I have time. I really don’t like the feel of apple skin against my teeth so I have to peel them before I can eat them. And oranges are so refreshing.

Carrie: Winter or Summer?

Grace: Winter… but only because it is closer to Fall temperature-wise. I like cooler weather, running in the 50s and 60s… cool enough for a light jacket and boots kind of weather.

Carrie: Dogs or Cats?

Grace: Haha, I’d unfortunately have to say neither at the risk of offending all the wonderful cat and dog people. But I hear pets are great, so who knows maybe one day…

Carrie: Coffee or Tea?

Grace: Coffee if I need the caffeine. Tea if it feels like a put-my-feet-up-I-have-time-to-relax kind of day. So coffee 🙂

Carrie: On my blog I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?

Grace: I like to think that is the power of imagination. I always have stories running around in my head.

Carrie: That’s an awesome superpower for a writer to have! When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?

Grace: The Inspirational Romance aisle. I like to see what’s new in the genre. Or the section with books on leadership.

Carrie: Inspy romance is the first place I go too! Do you have any strange writing habits/quirks?

Grace: I like to outline my stories in as much detail as possible both before I begin and as I write. Usually before bed is my time to imagine scenes in my story down to the details of the dialogue. So, as I lie in bed waiting to fall asleep, I imagine scenes in my story, complete with dialogue, visualizing the characters moving, talking, walking, whatever the case may be. I have even been known to hug myself when my characters do :-). Night after night, I can work on the same scene till it feels perfect then I either add it to my outline or flesh out the one I have with details I gathered from my bed time brainstorming 🙂

Carrie: Oh gosh! I think remembering these scenes is another superpower you have! I would forget by the time i woke up lol 🙂

Not Yet Beautiful addresses the issue of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Describe your main characters for us and – without giving spoilers, of course – explain how they’ve been touched by human trafficking.

Grace: There are three main characters – Lola, Jaisen and Deja. Lola is a survivor of sex trafficking trying to find her way, searching for hope and love in the midst of the pain of her past wounds. Jaisen is a police officer and Lola’s love interest. Equal parts fervent, equal parts impulsive, he pursues Lola passionately, drawn by her. Deja, Jaisen’s cousin, befriends Lola, though her vision is clouded by her own troubled relationship with her fiancé.

Carrie: These three main characters – Lola, Deja, and Jaisen – are all of Nigerian descent. How did your own heritage influence your development of these characters?

Grace: As a Nigerian American who lived in Nigeria for 10 years, I drew on my own experience in creating these characters – their mannerisms, the things that mattered to them (for Deja, feeling the pressure from her mother to marry for instance), the native food, the colloquial Pidgin English used in one scene. The name “Lola” is native to one of the many Nigerian languages in fact. It means “wealth.”

Carrie: They all sound like very powerful and intriguing characters!  I think a lot of us don’t realize how prevalent human trafficking is, even in our own cities. What inspired you to write Not Yet Beautiful?

Grace: I was at a Writer’s Conference a few years ago sharing about how badly I wanted to write a novel and how I wanted it to be about something compelling when I got to talking with a faculty member. She brought up the topic of human trafficking. Inspired, I started my research when I returned home and it wasn’t long before I grew infuriated with the heinousness of the crime as well as the fact that it happens under our noses. So, I chose to write about it, looking at the group of people forced into the trade and held by debt bondage. However, I wanted the story to be hopeful and to focus on the aftermath of the experience, looking at the recovery process from trauma. I wanted to attempt to humanize the choices – good, bad or otherwise – people (in this case my characters) make in trying to confront or overcome painful pasts, while still highlighting the God factor, the work He does in us when we ask.

Carrie: The process of recovery is so inspiring, from the accounts I’ve read. And God is THE ultimate Rescuer, isn’t He? What do you most want readers to take away from Not Yet Beautiful?

Grace: I tried to cover a lot of grounds – looking at trauma and recovering from trauma, how hardships affect what we believe in or think we believe, how they force us to look inward and examine ourselves. And where we end up when all is said and done, whether that be where we thought we would or not. And perchance if it is, if that be for reasons we ordinarily would have thought would lead us there. I tried to look at people as consummate, influenced by our own psychology, our social lives, our faith, our fears and hopes and mostly by our dreams. But still imperfect because none of us are.

I’m really glad you asked this question as it gives me a chance to reflect. I hope everyone takes something from the book about the power of hope and love, something that makes their lives a little richer.

Carrie: Grace, thank you so much for taking time to talk with me twice! LOL. What’s coming up next for you?

Grace: I have a lot of things in the works, though they are all mostly in my head at this point. The first order of the day is the sequel to Not Yet Beautiful – spotlighting Deja’s story a little more and continuing Jaisen and Lola’s journey.

Carrie: We will be praying for you as you continue to breathe your heritage and God’s grace into their stories!


Interview conducted by Carrie Schmidt