Open Discussion – Stereotypes

Happy Saturday, Diverse Readers!

I hope you’re having a good week. I’m happy to quick off the weekend with a new open discussion topic. Let’s talk stereotypes.

Every ethnic group has them. Some were created based off the majority and some are perpetuated by the media.

So what’s a writer to do when writing ethnic characters? Do we use stereotypes when writing a character? And if we do, does it help or hurt our stories?

I’m personally found of seeing authors write stereotypes in order to dispel them and open the readers eyes. Unfortunately, not every writer uses them this way. So please, chime in! What stereotypes are you tired of seeing in writing? And please share any tips for authors, so that they can avoid using them.

Book Review: Vivir el Dream by Allison K. Garcia

Happy Friday, diverse reader friends!

I’m excited to share my review of Vivir el Dream by Allison K. Garcia. You may have remembered I interviewed her Monday as we discussed her debut novel. Before I share my review, let’s check out the book.


About the Book

“Linda Palacios crossed the border at age three with her mother, Juanita, to escape their traumatic life in Mexico and to pursue the American dream. Years later, Linda nears college graduation. With little hope for the future as an undocumented immigrant, Linda wonders where her life is going.

Tim Draker, a long-unemployed businessman, has wondered the same thing. Overcome with despair, he decides to take his own life. Before he can carry out his plan, he changes course when he finds a job as a mechanic. Embarrassed about working at a garage in the barrio, he lies to his wife in hopes of finding something better.

After Juanita’s coworker gets deported, she takes in her friend’s son, Hector, whom her daughter Linda can’t stand, While Juanita deals with nightmares of her traumatic past, she loses her job and decides to go into business for herself.

Will the three of them allow God to guide them through the challenges to come, or will they let their own desires and goals get in the way of His path?”

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


Review

Vivir el Dream gives us a realistic glimpse into the immigration struggle in the Hispanic community. Ms. Garcia weaves a tale giving the reader three view points.

Linda Palacios is an undocumented college student. Brought to the United States at the age of three, Virginia is all she knows. It’s her home and the community she lives in helps define her identity.

I loved how Ms. Garcia explored the prejudice and ignorance the outside world has regarding immigration. I loved getting to know Linda and see her strengths. She taught me so much.

Ms. Garcia also gives us the view point of Juanita, Linda’s mother. You get to see the reasons behind her decision to immigrate across the Mexican border into the U.S. My heat ached for her as bits and pieces of her story were slowly shared.

And Tim. I struggled between empathizing with his plight and being extremely annoyed (that’s the nicest thing I can say) about his prejudice and ignorance of the Latino community. As a fellow writer, I admire the depth Ms. Garcia went through creating his character. You can see the stereotypes that others believe through his eyes. I think he’ll be the eye opener for readers. Will they see similar prejudices and ignorance?

Vivir el Dream really made me think about the truth of “walking a mile in someone’s shoes.” This is a must read for all who want to understand another culture and widen their views.

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


Review by Toni Shiloh

Open Discussion – Internal Racism

Happy Saturday, Reader Friends!

Hopefully, today’s title drew you in, but you’ll have to wait a moment before we jump into the discussion. First, let’s take a moment to recap this past week’s blog posts. Monday, Terri interviewed Vanessa Riley as she talked about her book, Unveiling Love. Wednesday, I (Toni) shared a book spotlight on Paulette Harper’s Secret Places Revealed. Friday, Beth Erin shared her review of Lee Tobin McClain’s Secrets of the Heart. It was a great week for diverse Christian fiction, so be sure to check those posts out if you haven’t already.


Today, I want to discuss internal racism. Of course, some people argue if that is a real thing, while others may have no clue what it is. The idea behind internal racism is a minority group is racist (or prejudice) against that same minority group. For example, African Americans being racist against other African Americans. Now, I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m bringing this up. How in the world does this relate to diversity in Christian fiction?

I’m glad you asked. You see as a Black author, it is assumed by people in my community that my characters will be Black as well. It would not cross most people’s mind that I would venture out of that. So what happens if I decide to write Caucasian characters, or any other characters that fall into a majority ethnic group? If I chance it, Black readers will either 1) applaud my writing (if they like it) or 2) complain that I’m not giving them Black characters. After all, diverse characters are lacking in the majority of fiction genres. So does that mean an ethnic author HAS to write ethnic characters?

Time to join in! Please answer the below questions and/or share your thoughts.

  1. Does a minority author owe it to their community to add diversity?
  2. If they don’t, would you be surprised or assume they couldn’t accurately portray that culture?

*This blog was initially titled “Reverse Racism.” I used the incorrect term and have since updated it.

Discussion started by Toni Shiloh

Book Review: Secrets of the Heart by Lee Tobin McClain

About the Book

Secrets of the Heart by Lee Tobin McClainJavier Quintana knows his family’s struggling restaurant, El Corazon, needs help. But when his interfering siblings hire Molly Abbott, a successful food entrepreneur and his high-school sweetheart, he’s livid.

The way their relationship ended wasn’t pretty. And although Molly never married, she’s the single mom of an eleven-year-old daughter conceived right about the time of the breakup.

Molly’s ideas about farm-to-table, health-conscious Mexican food conflict with Javier’s strong sense of tradition, even as her joyous faith convicts him about his own lapse from the church of his youth.

Can a reunion romance bring happiness to two lonely souls who never forgot each other… or will their relationship be derailed by the secrets they both carry in their hearts?

goodreads | amazon

 

My Thoughts

What a wonderful beauty from ashes sweet romance! Fresh food and sustainable living are seamlessly tied into the storyline along with weightier issues like faith, forgiveness, legacy, and abuse.

Javier is a quintessential Darcy hero… tall, dark, and broody, devastatingly handsome, occasionally quick to judge, fiercely protective of his family, and he has some pride in there too 😉

As the eldest sibling, Javier is used to running the show and calling the shots in the family business (it’s a first born thing, believe me). I can see his white knuckles clinging to the comfort and security of control and tradition (I might have been helping him just a little bit… it’s always prudent to be cautious when considering possible changes).

Molly is a survivor, a mama bear, and an innovative entrepreneur. She has no intentions of being taken care of (or taken advantage of) ever again. Readers will relate to Molly’s single-minded determination to give her daughter the best life possible.

Secrets of the Heart gave me warm fuzzies and a serious craving for Mexican! Even though my stomach doesn’t benefit, I’m looking forward to visiting El Corazon again soon (fact or fictional, the food still makes my mouth water)!

I requested the opportunity to read and review this title through the author. The opinions expressed are my own.
This review first appeared on Faithfully Bookish.

 

About the Author

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

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

website | facebook | twitter

 

Also Available

Arcadia Valley Romance

 Summer's Glory by Mary Jane Hathaway 
goodreads | amazon
Website

 

Sacred Bond Friends & Family


goodreads | amazon

 

Let’s talk authentic Mexican food! I have a lot to learn!
Anyone have a favorite restaurant, dish, or recipe to share? 

Review by Beth Erin

Open Discussion – First Diverse CF Read

Happy Saturday, y’all! I pray you had an awesome week of reading and relaxing. If not, that’s what the weekend’s for. 😉

Before I move on to the discussion topic, I just want to recap our blog post from this week. Monday, Terri interviewed Leslie Sherrod. Wednesday, Jamie shared a book spotlight for Sushi for One. Friday, I shared a review for Signs of Life. Now on to today’s topic!

Today, I thought I’d be real informal. I want to hear from you! Share when you first realized that Christian fiction was lacking in diversity AND share the first diverse book you read.

I’ll be honest, I don’t think I really “noticed” because I’m used to not seeing diverse characters. It’s one reason I’m so passionate about writing them. I do remember my first diverse read. It was Ronie Kendig’s Firethorn. (Author Interview here.) Never have I been so happy to see a book cover with a Black man on it.

Your turn!


Post by Toni Shiloh

Book Review: Signs of Life by Valerie Banfield

Happy Friday, Reader Friends!

I hope you’re having a great week. Today, I’m sharing a review of Valerie Banield’s Signs of Life. But first, let’s share a little info about the book.


About the Book

Maybe Zach Hoyt’s expectations were overly optimistic; the business he inherited from his father wasn’t exactly booming. He might also concede that he was a tad naïve to imagine that his past would remain buried, along with his sullied reputation. Now what?

Juanita Hoyt wants a do-over. She shouldn’t have yielded to her husband’s unrelenting pleas to move to this ghastly community. Now Zach has hatched a harebrained scheme to save the business and, once again, he hasn’t heeded her objections.

Stan Benton collects trouble like a magnet picks up stray nails, and he reaps disorder as often as he dispenses justice. Every little thing fuels his bitterness and his anger—dangerous traits for an officer of the law.

When hoodlums set out to overturn the good intentions of the neighborhood watch, why do they heap their efforts at Zach’s feet? Why him? And why does Stan get stuck babysitting the community where his notoriety makes him about as welcome as the hooligans he’s charged to deter? Is anyone in control here?

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


Review

This was my first read by Ms. Banfield and I enjoyed it. First, let’s talk diversity. The book takes us on the journey of Zach Hoyt who is Caucasian; his wife, Juanita, who is American Indian; and Stan Benton, who is African American. There are also a diverse cast of secondary characters. I would have loved this book alone for that reason, but Ms. Banfield added another element: Juanita is deaf.

I adore that Ms. Banfield tackled this subject. Her deafness is what ties all the stories in together. I would categorize this book as general fiction, because it’s not just one person’s story. It kind of reminded me of a TV show and then you find out how it all intersects together.

I also loved the faith element. To see where another struggles in their faith helps you realize you’re not alone. It also shows you where your lacking in trust. This book is realistic, captivating, and full of diversity.

*I received a free copy of this book. This review is my own, honest opinion.


About the author

Valerie Banfield is a talespinner to the lost, the loved, and the found. When she isn’t making up stories, she tangles with basket weaving projects, defies thousand-piece jigsaw puzzles, immerses herself in good books, and enjoys early morning walks with her dogs. She counts her participation in international short-term missionary campaigns among her life’s most blessed and humbling journeys, and firmly believes that when we give God control, He rocks our world. These days the Central Ohio transplant enjoys the warmth and sunshine of Florida’s Gulf Coast. Some day she might adjust to the humidity.

Links: Website, Facebook


Review by Toni Shiloh

 

Author Inview: Bonnie Engstrom’s Connie’s Silver Shoes

Happy Monday, Reader Friends!

Today, we’re kicking the week off with an interview with Bonnie Engstrom. Ms. Engstrom’s stopped by to talk about her novel, Connie’s Silver Shoes. Have you read it? If not, it’s free on KU.


About the Book

Connie’s life is about to change. Is she ready?

Jaeda, the banker who explained the financial windfall to her made a mistake. He needs to make up for it. But, how? The money is already spent.

Is there a way to keep his secret so he won’t lose his banking career? Is it possible she may be falling in love with the handsome, dark skinned banker? Should he resist her even though their skin colors are different? What will her Bible quoting mother say, and how will his family react? What part does Jake the little dog play in their romance?

When she takes off a shoe and rubs her leg against his ankle, will that make a difference in his feelings for her?

Can they really have a future together?

Links: Amazon, B&N, Goodreads


About the Candy Canes

This is book number four in the Candy Cane girls’ series, but it, as all the others before and in future (yes, there will be more) can be read as a standalone. It might be more fun to start with Noelle’s story in Noelle’s Christmas Wedding and progress to Cindy’s story in Cindy’s Perfect Dance, but Natalie and Candy will explain everything about the Candy Canes to you in Candy’s Wild Ride.

Ten years ago six high school freshmen formed a swim team that became legendary. They won the state relay swim championship four years in a row. In addition to their skill and devotion to daily practicing, they prayed together and vowed to be sisters forever. Another thing that set them apart was they chose their own swimsuits making them a team within a larger team. They chose red and white diagonally striped swim suits. Thus, became known as the Candy Canes. They always will be.

I hope you enjoy their stories.


About the Author

Bonnie Engstrom and her psychologist husband, Dave, live in Arizona near four of their six grandchildren. The other two live in Costa Rica where they surf. They share their Arizona home with Sam and Lola, their two rescued mutts in charge of the household.

Bonnie is passionate about Jesus, her husband, her grandchildren and romance writing. She writes exclusively for the Forget Me Not Romances division of Winged Publications. Connie’s Silver Shoes is Book Four in The Candy Cane Girls Series set in Newport Beach, California.

Because she loves to include real people in her stories, you may “see” yourself in a future one.

When she isn’t writing, she is either moderating two online prayer chains or driving grandchildren to activities or volunteering in their classrooms. Currently, she is attempting to grow orchids, and has been successful growing basil in abundance, both of which she coaxes to thrive in the Arizona heat.

After dinner she reads romance novels for relaxation, and just before bed she makes a snack of nachos using Cindy’s secret ingredient in Cindy’s Perfect Dance.

Bonnie can be reached via email. Be sure to put BOOK in the subject line so your post doesn’t float around in her junk folder. Her website is www.bonnieengstrom.com, and she can also be found occasionally on Facebook, although she’s not very astute at it. You can sign up for her Life on the Lake quarterly newsletter on either one.


Interview

Toni: Thank you so much for joining us to talk about Connie’s Silver Shoes. I love to see more interracial relationships being explored. What made you decide to write this book?

Bonnie: I love to write about real people in my life, yet make them fictional characters. I was about to start on the fourth book in the Candy Cane series and was wondering about whom (real or otherwise) to feature as a hero. Then, I stopped in my bank to ask one of the managers for assistance with an account. Whoopee! Jaeda is a doll, handsome, and has an engaging presence and sense of humor. I got as far as the parking lot, turned and went back in. After he agreed to allow me to use his real name and make him a prominent male character, I dragged him out to the parking lot and took several photos of him. If you read the book, he really was wearing a red shirt. Cool!

Toni: That is beyond awesome! Hmm, I wonder if I can start going up to random strangers. Nah, too introverted. 🙂 Your hero, Jaeda Wayman is a banker and an African American. Was it hard to write about a Black man versus Connie’s character?

Bonnie: Not hard at all. Both Jaeda and Connie are pretty effusive characters with warm personalities. One in real life, and one totally fictional. Both have a lot of self-confidence, until Connie asks Jaeda to be a model for her clothing line. Then, the fun began.

Toni: Oh, I love when the fun begins! Always pulls me into the book further. How did you write their relationship without falling into racial stereotypes?

Bonnie: I didn’t totally. I have no problem with interracial couples or marriages. But, the story is set in very conservative Newport Beach, so I had to be thoughtful. I think I brought out the racial stereotypes briefly in a scene when Connie and Jaeda met an old high school friend of hers. I probably could have made more of it when they met at Starbucks, but even though Connie had issues with her family, I didn’t want their different races to become an overwhelming theme. They are two people who fall in love. Period.

Toni: Love is great and all I need in a romance. 🙂 Did you ever have any doubt while writing this story? Or consider changing the race of Jaeda?

Bonnie: Never! It is one of the most fun stories I’ve written. Well, to be honest, I did have a doubt about how Jaeda’s real life wife would accept the story. He assures me she has had no problem with his following in love with a Caucasian woman; he says she even loved the book. I sure hope he’s right because I want this woman to be my friend.

Toni: How awesome that they’ve both read it! Tell us about other ‘real’ characters in your books.

Bonnie: I have quite a few ~ Bill Lord is introduced in Candy’s Wild Ride, book three. He is a larger than life good friend and so appropriate. Some minor characters are Marg the owner of Scottsdale Floral, who appears in almost every story. But, Jill the wedding coordinator is in every story. She is very real, made each of my children’s weddings spectacular. I think she needs her own story soon. Although not yet in the Connie story, Shane Sullivan who is the owner of Spine Scottsdale is in Natalie’s Deception and will be prominent in Melanie’s story (untitled yet).

I have learned real people love being part of a novel story. It makes them feel special, and they are! My debut novel, Butterfly Dreams, features Kay and Duc, owners of Pauline’s Nails. They sell my books in their salon. Marg, owner of Scottsdale Floral throws her arms up when I enter. Shane Sullivan will be having a book signing after my next story is published. He was flattered I included him and his business. It’s so much fun for them, and for me.

The animals: Star the cat is real, but her name is really his ~ Bingo. Jake the dog featured on the cover of Connie’s Silver Shoes was real. Sweet Jake was my running partner for over fifteen years. Lola, the dog in Melanie’s story (yet untitled) will appear on the cover of Melanie’s story.

Toni: That is so awesome! It’s great that they all support you in your writing as well. How about some easier questions?
Heels or flats?

Bonnie: Flats! Always. Because of my ugly foot and my leg problem.

Toni: I’m the same way and for leg issues as well. Leggings or jeans?

Bonnie: I occasionally wear jeans, like to my grandchildren’s soccer games. But, mostly leggings from Eileen Fisher. Yeh, I have a designer fetish, but only for her clothes. And only on sale.

Toni: I confess, I’ve never heard of her. Must look her up. Favorite holiday?

Bonnie: Christmas, of course! We have a 9 ½ skinny, artificial tree hubby grumbles about putting up, but even he loves clicking the lights on. When our eldest grandchild (she turned twelve Saturday, bless her heart) was born, I decided to decorate with something she would understand at that age ~ so, Santa. I have collected Santas for over a decade. Many are representative of family members ~ a fishing Santa for my hubby, a surfing Santa for our son and a techie Santa for the other son, her uncles. There are dog and kitty Santas for our animals. I haven’t yet found a writing Santa to represent me, nor a teacher one for our daughter.

Of course, we have a lovely Nativity and even a stuffed bear Santa that recites the Nativity story if you squeeze his paw. The real reason for Christmas is never lost on us, but the Santa tree has become a tradition.

Toni: That sounds neat! Last but not least, what’s next for you on your writing journey?

Bonnie: I am writing Melanie’s story, number six in the Candy Cane Girls series. I hope it will give some very fun surprises, especially about Jaeda and Connie.

Toni: Yay! Praying God gives you the words for book six and continues to bless you on your writing journey. Thank you for stopping by to talk with us. We appreciate you. 🙂

Readers, do you have any questions for Bonnie?


This interview conducted by Toni Shiloh