Book Review: The Samurai’s Heart by Walt Mussell

About the Book

Japan, 1587. Sen must find a husband to marry into her family’s swordsmith business. She seeks a Christian husband, though Christianity is banned.

Enter Nobuhiro. Third son of a high-level samurai, Nobuhiro fled his harsh father and apprenticed himself to a swordsmith. He yearns to prove his worth.

They seem an ideal match. But for Sen, the choice is faith or family. For Nobuhiro, choosing a Christian ends any reconciliation with his family. Can love be forged from the impossible?

goodreads | amazon

 

My Thoughts

This book’s rare setting alone is enough to tempt a horde of historical fiction fans. The story is saturated with the everyday culture and historical climate of late-sixteenth century Japan as well as a healthy dose of suspense and a dash of romance. After months of eager anticipation, I’m so pleased to share my experience of this intriguing literary journey.

Sen is an innocent young woman who is devoted to her faith and her family. As the only living child of her parents, Sen’s duty is to marry and ensure the family business and family name lives on. Simple, right?! Wrong! The ban on Christianity complicates her search for a good husband and endangers her life.

Nobuhiro is completely dedicated to his work and to the master swordsmith he is apprenticing under. While he has tight bonds with his brothers, Nobuhiro is estranged from his father yet still desperate to make him proud. Nobuhiro sets the bar high for himself and bends over backwards to care for his master’s family.

Take your time to savor the little things in this story and a slower pace will help keep those long unfamiliar names from becoming a stumbling block. This book is first in a three part series and while Sen and Naobuhiro’s story came to a satisfying conclusion, there seems to be a suspense thread that will continue throughout the series. Now onto the next order of business, eagerly anticipating the release of book 2!

I received the opportunity to read this book through the Kindle Scout program. The opinions expressed are my own.
This Review was originally posted on Faithfully Bookish.

 

About the Author

Walt MussellWalt Mussell lives in an Atlanta-area suburb with his wife and their two boys. He works for a well-known corporation and writes in his spare time.

Walt primarily writes historicals, with a particular focus on Japan, an interest he gained during the four years he lived there. He refers to his work as “Like Shogun, but the heroine survives.”

Outside of writing, his favorite activity is trying to keep up with his kids. As they are both teenagers, this is proving more difficult each day.

website | facebook | twitter

 

I highly recommend this one, reader friends!
Enter to win The Samurai’s Heart here and here!
What are your thoughts?

 

Reviewed by Beth Erin
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Open Discussion: What Diverse Books Have You Read Lately?

DBTP - letstalk

Hello, fellow diverse book readers! Happy Saturday! Summer is officially over and fall has begun. The perfect time to curl up with a diverse read and drink a mug of hot chocolate or spiced cider or pumpkin spice coffee. 🙂

The question of the day is: what have you read lately in diverse fiction? And/or what’s on your reading list? We want to grow our list of diverse fiction and the only way that works is hearing from others about what they have read or have heard is awesome!

Comment below with your recent diverse reads.

Open Discussion – Christian Diverse Fiction Touching on Contemporary Issues

DBTP - letstalk

Happy Saturday, everyone! Lately with all the chatter about race and diversity in the news, it reminds me of the continued importance of not only having diverse characters in Christian fiction but also in responding to racism and other contemporary issues through a Christian lens.

Our question for today is: What are the pros and cons of touching on contemporary issues through diverse Christian fiction? Where have you seen it done well (please name books/authors)? What contemporary issues would you like to see covered in Christian fiction?

We very much appreciate hearing from you! Please comment below!

Author Interview: Stacy Hawkins Adams, featuring Watercolored Pearls

Let’s welcome Stacy Hawkins Adams!

You should know her by now because she’s been a regular guest on our blog. 🙂 In case you don’t know Stacy yet, here’s the scoop: 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.

Stacy stopped by the blog today in order to talk about her original novel, Watercolored Pearls. Enjoy your time with Stacy via this author interview!

~*~

About the book:

Three women spend a summer discovering that their less-than-perfect circumstances, their friendships with one another, and their faith are stepping stones to the lives they long to live. Serena never thought she’d have children; now she has two active toddlers. But instead of being overjoyed, she’s overwhelmed. Did she make the wrong choice in giving up her successful career to be a stay-at-home-mom?

Tawana, an ambitious new lawyer, is trying to pull her life to together, but her past keeps getting in the way. An incredible opportunity at a prestigious law firm forces her to confront her demons. Can her new responsibilities fit with her growing faith?

Erika’s estranged and once-abusive husband wants her back. He says he’s changed, and he’s even going to church. But is he telling the truth? Or is he just smooth-talking her back into a bad situation? Enjoy this anniversary edition of Stacy Hawkins Adams’ bestselling inspirational women’s fiction novel.

Purchase the book: Amazon ~ B&N

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 or who inspired you to write this book?

Stacy: Watercolored Pearls was inspired by my desire to help readers realize (through my characters) that wherever they are in life is a particular moment in time to appreciate and to learn specific lessons, rather than rushing through, worrying or feeling less than good enough.

This novel was first published in 2006 and was so popular among my books that I released an anniversary edition, with a new cover, in 2015. It is still receiving positive reviews from readers, all these years later. I’m grateful!

Alexis: Why did you call this book “Watercolored Pearls”?

Stacy: In this novel, the three main characters are at very different places in life and feel like they should be making better, wiser choices. An older woman mentors them and explains that they are “pearls in progress.” The way a pearl is shaped in an oyster is a process of hardship and endurance – just like life. This mentor tells these three women friends that they are watercolored pearls because their issues and journeys are unique and varied, but still worthwhile all the same.

Alexis: What can you tell us about the main characters of this story and their “less-than-perfect circumstances”?

Stacy: Serena is a stay-at-home mom of toddler twin boys and feels like she needs parenting lessons; plus, she’s a bit insecure in her marriage because she feels competition from another woman who flirts with her husband.

Erika has found the strength to leave an abusive marriage, but worries that God wants her to stay married and forgive her estranged husband rather than move on to a healthier, saner life.

Tawana is thriving as a law school student at one of the premier universities in the nation, yet she struggles with shame over having been a teen mother and other issues stemming from her disadvantaged upbringing.

The glue that holds these characters together is their unconditional love for each other and their willingness to eventually let their faith, and their women mentors, guide them to a more confident space.

Alexis: How long have the heroines of this story been friends? Briefly, describe their bond.

Stacy: These women characters have been friends for more than a decade, and while Watercolored Pearls is a standalone book, they were first introduced to readers in my first and second novels, Speak To My Heart and Nothing But the Right Thing. Those two books are currently out of print but should be available before year’s end, in reprint format.

Alexis: What role does the faith of your characters play in this story?

Stacy: Faith is the foundation of life for these characters, even when they don’t openly talk about it. Serena is a pastor’s wife, so her personal journey of faith routinely intertwines with her duties as a First Lady.

Erika was once an atheist, but now as a new believer, she is excited to follow the biblical mandates to a T, even when they trip her up. She has to learn how to also hear God speaking to her heart in ways specific to her personal needs.

Tawana, the youngest of the bunch, has a fledgling connection to her faith but seeing how her older friends Serena and Erika live out theirs, inspires her to mature in her relationship with God.

Just like real life, the characters are in varying places and spaces in their faith journeys. Sometimes they struggle, sometimes everything falls into place. The key for them is to keep seeking, searching and trusting that God has a good plan for their lives.

Alexis: Let’s talk about Serena (character). Why did she think she’d never have children? Why is she overwhelmed? What was her career before she became a stay-at-home mom?

Stacy: In a prior book (Nothing But the Right Thing), Serena struggled with infertility; so she knows without a doubt that her 2-year-old twin boys are a gift from God. Yet, imagine having to take care of two busy toddlers around the clock! They wear her out, and she begins to feel inadequate. Before she was a stay-at-home mom, she had a fulfilling career in the advertising field and always felt on top of her game. Raising kids is brand new territory for her, and she has to learn how to go with the flow.

Alexis: Let’s talk about Tawana (character). Why is she passionate about the law? What is it from her past that keeps getting in the way as she tries to “pull her life together”? How’s her love life, or is she a workaholic?

Stacy: Tawana grew up in an economically deprived part of her city, in a small apartment with a single mom. As she went off to college and then law school, she saw many of her classmates and neighborhood friends either going to jail or being killed. This has given her a heart for justice and led her to enter the legal field. I don’t want to give away too much by answering your other questions because it might spoil the story for readers. Let’s just say that she lacks confidence and tries to overcompensate in several surprising ways in her personal life.

Alexis: Let’s talk about Erika (character). Describe her conflict with her estranged husband. When did he start being abusive? How long ago did she leave him? Why is she considering taking him back? How does her conflict with her husband affect other areas of her life?

Stacy: Erika’s estranged husband was abusive before she even married him. Eventually she finds the will to leave (in the prior book, Nothing But the Right Thing), and here we are several years later, with her still trying to move on. She doesn’t want to dishonor God by pursuing divorce if God wants her to forgive her husband and take him back. She is struggling to figure out what to do and still be true to her newfound faith. Struggling in this area of her life threatens to cost Erika opportunities to move forward in other positive ways. Just like in real life, our choices in one area always touch other areas of our lives.

Alexis: Watercolored Pearls is your best selling inspirational women’s fiction novel. Did you know it was a winner when you wrote it? Why or why not?

Stacy: This book felt special to me when I wrote it because I could really connect with the characters and how multi-layered they are. This was the first book that caused me to cry while I wrote it; and by it having that affect on me, I hoped it would similarly affect readers – inspiring them to have empathy and patience toward others while granting themselves grace.

Alexis: What race are the women in this story? Do you feel like their experiences are unique to their race? Or are their stories and struggles universal? Explain.

Stacy: These women happen to be African American, but truthfully, their stories could be any woman’s. Women of all backgrounds struggle with infertility, abuse and divorce, single motherhood and trying to start over. This book is packaged through a lens that shows how women of color bonded and managed to survive but the heart of the story is relatable to all kinds of readers.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about Watercolored Pearls?

Stacy: I want readers to remember that just as the main characters aren’t perfect and don’t have to be perfect in order to be accepted, neither do they. They are good enough as they are and they are worthy of love, as they are. If they continue to push through challenges and take baby steps forward in life, they too will discover that they are God’s treasured pearls, of great worth.

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

Stacy: Thank you for featuring me and allowing me to share this special novel with your readers, Alexis! I hope your readers will consider reading Watercolored Pearls with their women friends and then gather to share their insights and aha moments. I also invite them to reach out to me through my website, http://www.StacyHawkinsAdams.com, my blog www.LifeUntapped.com or social media: www.Facebook.com/StacyHawkinsAdams and http://www.Twitter.com/SHAdams.

~ Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor ~

Book Review: Door to Freedom by Jana Kelley

About the Book

door to freedom“It’s rough and it’s smooth. It’s dark and it’s light. It’s a masterpiece. It’s us. Here in Sudan. We are scared of it and drawn to it. There is an open door, and there is much opposition.”

In the dusty, Islamic country of Sudan, Mia, who is raising her family in a Muslim country, has learned to boldly share her faith. Rania, the daughter of a wealthy Sudanese Arab, seeks to find the reason for her sister’s sudden disappearance. Mia holds some of the answers, but both women quickly discover they must each walk through their own doors to freedom—the freedom that only comes when you trust God’s sovereignty more than man-made security.

Part of New Hope® Publishers’ line of contemporary missional fiction, Door to Freedom, the sequel to Side by Side, opens the reader’s eyes to modern-day persecution and the life of Muslims in Sudan. Based on real-life events, Door to Freedom also reveals some of the struggles that Christians face when living under Islamic law. The reader will be inspired to pray for those who are persecuted for their faith as well as for the salvation of the persecutors.

goodreads | amazon

My Thoughts

Door to Freedom is a compelling story about two women and their experiences with Jesus in a country opposed to him.

Rania is a Muslim girl who wants to be an artist. She has access to the book of John (though secretively) and finds it captivating, the almost poetic words filling gaps in her heart. Mia is an American woman living in Sudan with her young family, Christians who work with a refugee aid organization.

Given my friendships with several Muslim women, I smiled at many scenes in this story and wept at others (the baptism!).  It reads almost like a memoir in many ways and is inspired by the author’s own experiences, which makes it all the more poignant in my opinion. Readers will get an inside look at Sudanese and Muslim culture as well as a more personal perspective into Muslims as people, not just news reports.  We also see what it’s like to be a Christian in a hostile country – and two opinions on how to approach it. (Side note: Several years ago, before I started working with Muslims, I would have totally been Beth.)

This is a quick read but a powerful one. Hopefully readers will finish the story with a softer heart toward Muslims, a greater understanding of the importance of relationship in introducing them to Jesus, and more appreciations for the freedoms and conveniences we so often take for granted. I was inspired by Michael and Mia and their courage as well as their honesty. I’m looking forward to book 3 (which comes out in September)!

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

About the Author

jana kelleyJana Kelley is a Texan who hardly ever lives in Texas. Raised in Southeast Asia, Jana developed a love for cross-cultural living early in life. Her love for writing came soon after. Jana returned to Texas to attend East Texas Baptist University. She and her husband married a month after she graduated and by their second anniversary, they were living in a remote African town. After thirteen years living in Africa and the Middle East, Jana, her husband, and their three boys, moved to Southeast Asia where they currently live. Jana has authored two novels (soon-to-be three) and two devotional books.

Learn more in Jana Kelley’s Author Interview.

website | facebook | twitter

 

Review by Carrie

Book Spotlight – Put it in Ink by Danyelle Scroggins

Happy Wednesday, Diverse Reader Friends!!

Today, I’m sharing a book spotlight for Put it in Ink by Danyelle Scroggins.


About the Book

The Blurb: “Nikiya Barnett aka Nikki, is still secretly suffering in silence concerning losing the love of her life, Raja Abrams. She desires total healing from God, but somehow seems to be stuck in her heart and mind. She alongside her two best friends who happens to be her coworkers, are trying to make Salon Select the new ‘it’ spot but this does not happen until they invite God in, by way of Sappora Ink.

Sappora Ink is the new blog talk show host with a show entitled, RFRT~Real Folks, Real Truths. Sister Ink is a straight to the point, raw, doctrinaire Christian girl trying to help her friends in this sinful world. She is changing the world one show at a time, and taking Shreveport by storm with the help of Nikiya Barnett, the owner of Salon Select, who has opened her salon as a hosting spot. Little does Nikki know, Sappora is closer to Raja than she thinks?

Raja is stuck in a world wind of adversity that he seems to have created for himself. Through R.A.B.~ Raja Abrams Broadcasting, he is trying to secretly make Nikki aware that their time together was not a waste, but will his method be the same method used to change his life forever?

Things happen when we choose to let God in. Whether we appreciate His ways or not, we must remember, His ways are not our ways. Will life change for the better for Nikiya and Raja, or is the plan that has been laid before them all a part of God’s plan?”

Links: Amazon, B&N, Goodreads


About the Author

Pastor/ Author Danyelle is the Senior Pastor of New Vessels Ministries North in Shreveport, Louisiana. She studied Theology at Louisiana Baptist University, has a Psychology Degree from the University of Phoenix, an Interdisciplinary Degree in Psychology /Biblical Studies from Liberty University, and is presently working on a Master’s in Religious Education from the Liberty University. Pastor Danyelle owns Divinely Sown Publishing LLC and is the author of His Mistress or God’s Daughter, Not Too Far Gone, Destiny’s Decision, Evonta’s Revenge, & The Power Series: Pain, Restoration, Love, & Forgiving. She is the wife of Pastor Reynard Scroggins, the mother of three by birth and two by marriage.

Follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter


Spotlight posted by Toni Shiloh

Author Interview: Jana Kelley


Today, I’m chatting with Jana Kelley, author of two novels (with a third releasing in September) and two devotional books. I had the privilege of interviewing Jana earlier this year for the release of her second novel, Door to Freedom.


About the Book

door to freedom“It’s rough and it’s smooth. It’s dark and it’s light. It’s a masterpiece. It’s us. Here in Sudan. We are scared of it and drawn to it. There is an open door, and there is much opposition.”

In the dusty, Islamic country of Sudan, Mia, who is raising her family in a Muslim country, has learned to boldly share her faith. Rania, the daughter of a wealthy Sudanese Arab, seeks to find the reason for her sister’s sudden disappearance. Mia holds some of the answers, but both women quickly discover they must each walk through their own doors to freedom—the freedom that only comes when you trust God’s sovereignty more than man-made security.

Part of New Hope® Publishers’ line of contemporary missional fiction, Door to Freedom, the sequel to Side by Side, opens the reader’s eyes to modern-day persecution and the life of Muslims in Sudan. Based on real-life events, Door to Freedom also reveals some of the struggles that Christians face when living under Islamic law. The reader will be inspired to pray for those who are persecuted for their faith as well as for the salvation of the persecutors.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | B&N


About the Author

jana kelleyJana Kelley is a Texan who hardly ever lives in Texas. Raised in Southeast Asia, Jana developed a love for cross-cultural living early in life. Her love for writing came soon after. Jana returned to Texas to attend East Texas Baptist University. She and her husband married a month after she graduated and by their second anniversary, they were living in a remote African town. After thirteen years living in Africa and the Middle East, Jana, her husband, and their three boys, moved to Southeast Asia where they currently live. Jana has authored two novels and two devotional books. You can learn more about Jana at www.JanaKelley.com.

You can also connect with Jana on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.


Carrie: Hi Jana! Welcome to the blog! Let’s start out with a ‘fast four’ 🙂

Apples or oranges?

Jana: Apples, they are less messy than oranges. They do require more work, though, since I have to cut them up. I don’t like to eat them whole…too messy. I’m sensing a theme here. I guess I don’t like messy fruits. I like the taste of apples better too. But that being said, I live in Malaysia and February is Chinese New Year month, so I have an entire box of honey mandarins sitting in my fridge: a favorite CNY delicacy.

Carrie: Yumm… honey mandarins sound intriguing!

Winter or Summer?

Jana: Since I live in the tropics, I like Winter better because that usually means rainy season which usually means a little bit more pleasant weather. When I visit my home state, Texas, I like summer better because I don’t like to be cold.

Carrie: But don’t you miss the snow just a little??

Dogs or Cats?

Jana: Hmmmm, probably cats, but I have a dog. I guess both. But really, cats. I like that they sort of take care of  themselves. On the other hand, I love the welcome that I get from my dog every time I come home. She greets me at the door with lots of tail wagging, like she’s been waiting for this moment all day. So sweet!

Carrie: My dog Zuzu has decided to ignore everything you just said about cats and focus instead on the delightful things you said about your own dog 😉

Finally…. coffee or tea?

Jana: Coffee in the morning. Most definitely coffee…in the morning. But later, I’ll drink tea all day long if I have a good book or someone to chat with. I like hot drinks because they force me to sit down and relax and drink slowly. Deep breaths. Enjoy!

Carrie: I sense you like diplomatic answers 😉 LOL

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

Jana: I’d have the ability to speed read (and still retain the information). I am a book junkie and I love to collect books of all kinds; but I have a hard time getting them all read. I’d like to be able to read books as fast as I can buy them.

Carrie: Oh that would be lovely. I would also then like the ability to review books as fast as I read them!

Who is your favorite book character from childhood?

Jana: My favorite book character from childhood is Betsy from the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. I loved reading about the friendship of Betsy and Tacy and Tib. I remember reading them at a time when my family lived in a small town in Indonesia, Southeast Asia. I only had two friends in that town and they were from a very different culture than me. But after reading one of the Betsy books, I appreciated that at least I did have those two friends (just like Betsy) and I started being more proactive about reaching out to them. So Betsy, a fiction character from Minnesota in the early 1900s reached out to me, a little American girl in Southeast Asia, and gave me the courage to reach out to my Indonesian friends. That’s why I like Betsy. And now that I wrote this little tribute, I’m going to go to the library to check those books out!

Carrie: I love this!! How sweet!!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever Googled while researching a book?

Jana: Second to the times that writing drives me to search the Scriptures and study what the Lord says about various topics is my interest in Google research. What would we do without Google? Write boring, one-dimensional books I guess. I have researched birding in Sudan, WW2 internment camps for women, and how to tell one’s fortune using coffee grounds.  Perhaps the weirdest Google search I did was on chemicals that can be dropped from the sky that cause apathy. Did you know there is such a thing? Me either. But there is. Thanks Google.

Carrie: I feel like i should now run that NBC jingle for those “The More You Know” spots they ran all the time in the 80s and 90s. Do they still do those? I never watch TV anymore. To the Google!! lol.

Describe your main characters and tell me who you would cast in their roles if Hollywood wanted to produce Door to Freedom as a movie!

Jana: Mia-A blonde-headed young wife and mother who teeters between joy and angst. I think Candace Cameron-Bure would be the perfect actress to be Mia. She is spunky but genuine and, as a person, seems like she would be able to play a convincing version of Mia!

Rania-A beautiful young Sudanese Arab artist who is shy but determined. I think China Anne McClain would make a great Rania.

Carrie: I love both of these actresses! Great choices!

What surprised you about Door to Freedom or your characters as you wrote their story?

Jana: Rania’s resilience in the face of difficult situations surprised me the most. In the beginning, Rania is quite shy and compliant. She grows in personal strength as the story unfolds.

The other surprising character is Jamal. Things don’t turn out the way a reader might think they should. This came as a surprise to me too as I wrote his character.

Carrie: I’m a little worried about Jamal now…

What do you most want readers to take away from Door to Freedom?

Jana: I would like readers to come away with a better (perhaps more loving?) understanding of Muslims and of the universal need for Jesus.

Carrie: Yes. Amen.

What’s coming up next for you?

Jana: As DOOR TO FREEDOM releases, I’ll be busy editing the third book of the series. I’m excited about how this sequel will wrap up the stories that began in the first book SIDE BY SIDE. I have also dug up old letters and journals from a time in my life when my husband and I lived in a little country in East Africa. I’m hoping to use the memories and information to write a devotional series and perhaps plan the backdrop for a new series. I guess we’ll see what happens!


This interview originally appeared on ReadingIsMySuperPower.

What about you? My heart’s cry is to see more Muslims represented as people, as our neighbors, not just terrorists, in Christian fiction. What is a people group you would like to better represented in Christian fiction?

Open Discussion – How to Deal with Prejudice/Racism towards Diverse Books

DBTP - letstalkHappy Saturday, Diverse Book Readers!

I hope everyone has had a lovely week. There has been a lot of negative news in the last few days, so I am glad to have a place like this where people can encourage each other and where we can see that there is hope for a brighter, more diverse future in literature and the world in general.

With the current volatile climate towards diversity, diverse books are more important than ever. Diverse books throughout time have changed people’s views and hearts.

But still there will be people who are angry about diversity and who may even quote scripture or use their words of hatred to quell excitement about diverse books.

This week’s question is: What should we do (or what have you done) when confronted with prejudice or racism towards diverse literature? And what are some of your favorite diverse books that have made a difference in the world?

Please comment below! We can all learn from each other. 🙂

Discussion by Allison K. Garcia

Author Interview: Melissa Storm

Today, we’re featuring Melissa Storm. She’s an author with a passion for creating characters about people who are underrepresented in the book world and real-world society. Her newest release, Love’s Promise, is the focus of today’s interview feature.

About the book:

Kristina Rose Maher wants to know why fairytales never happen for fat girls. Certain that diner cook Jeff, handsome and fit, will never want her as more than a friend, she stuffs down her attraction to him. But when she finds herself facing a life-altering weight loss surgery, she discovers she’s willing to do whatever it takes to embrace life—and love—to the fullest.

Jeffrey Berkley can’t bear the thought of losing the friend he’s only just beginning to realize matters so much to him… no matter what size she is. But he is also terrified that helping her reach for her dreams will also mean finally reaching for his own—and letting down his family’s legacy in the process.

Both Kristina Rose and Jeffrey must learn to love themselves before they can find a way to make a promise to each other. Will they finally be able to lay their heavy burdens at the Lord’s feet, and trust him to bring the happily-ever-after they both crave?

Don’t miss this sweet tale of faith, love, and gastric bypass–get your copy of Love’s Promise today!

Purchase the book: Amazon, B&N, Kobo

Author bio: Melissa Storm is a mother first, and everything else second. Her fiction is highly personal and often based on true stories. Writing is Melissa’s way of showing her daughter just how beautiful life can be, when you pay attention to the everyday wonders that surround us.

Melissa loves books so much, she married fellow author Falcon Storm. Between the two of them, there are always plenty of imaginative, awe-inspiring stories to share. When she’s not reading, writing, or child-rearing, Melissa spends time relaxing at home in the company of her four dogs, four parrots, and rescue cat. She never misses an episode of The Bachelor or her nightly lavender-infused soak in the tub. Because priorities.

The Interview:

Alexis: Why did you write this book?

Melissa: Love’s Promise is deeply personal for me. I don’t think I’ve ever written as much of myself into a character as I did Kristina Rose. As a former gastric bypass patient and someone who has struggled with body image issues my whole life (and still does), I wanted to write a romance that was every bit as much about self-love as romantic love.

Alexis: What’s the special meaning behind your title, Love’s Promise?

Melissa: Love’s Promise is about the promise we must make to ourselves, and how when you start respecting your commitments to your own life you can truly unlock a better and happier world!

Alexis: The heroine in your story, Kristina Rose Maher, desires to know “why fairytales never happen for fat girls.” Talk about the reasons why she believes that to be true. Share her personal journey.

Melissa: Kristina Rose lives in the same small Texas town she grew up in. All her friends are thin and fair. As the only overweight woman in her friend group and one of the few racial minorities in the town, she’s kind of written off the chances of ever having her own love story. She develops feelings for a long-time friend but thinks he would never, could never want her in return.

Alexis: Jeffrey Berkley is the hero of your story. Describe his looks, personality, character flaws and passion for his work as a diner cook.

Melissa: Jeffrey is handsome and fit. He likes to take long runs with his Newfie, Toto, and loves preparing healthy, creative meals. His main flaw is that he never considers what he wants and lives his life by trying to please others. In this way, despite their physical differences, Kristina Rose and Jeffrey face the same struggles of not really loving themselves. They take the journey toward self-acceptance together even though they start at very different points.

Alexis: Why does Kristina think that her being fat equates to the “fact” that Jeffrey will never love her more than a friend?

Melissa: Like so many women, Kristina Rose can’t see her own beauty and therefore assumes others can’t see it either. I think that’s a problem most of us face whether we find ourselves too fat, too thin, too anything. It’s like we reject ourselves before others have the chance to do it for us.

Alexis: What is the turning point for Kristina?

Melissa: She has her first bout of dumping syndrome following her bypass surgery—imagine the most nausea you’ve ever felt and multiply it by 100. She blames herself even though it’s extremely common after surgery. Jeffrey comforts her and makes her promise that she’ll start treating herself the way she treats others, since she is on the same team as her body. It’s a struggle, but now that she realizes how unfair she so often is to herself, she begins to make progress in turning that attitude around.

Alexis: What does Jeffrey think of Kristina when he first meets her? What does Kristina think of Jeffrey?

Melissa: This is a friends-to-lovers story. Jeffrey and Kristina Rose have known each other since high school and been great friends ever since they both began working at the local diner. They’ve just always been there for each other, but don’t realize their friendship has turned to love until the prospect of possibly losing Kristina on the eve of her surgery makes Jeffrey realize how much he cares for her—and that’s much more than as a friend.

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

Melissa: The role of faith is huge, and the message really comes out when Kristina Rose attends the sermon of her best friend who is also the youth pastor of their church. Self-doubt is a form of fear, and ultimately both Kristina Rose and Jeffrey must learn to trust in God in order to also trust in themselves.

Alexis: As a White author, was it challenging for you to write about a hero and heroine who are both African-American? If so, describe the challenges. If no, explain why.

No, it really wasn’t. It gave me a chance to think about how the characters’ lens might differ from my own. But that’s what authors do with every single character they write. We have to become a different age, gender, personality, set of experiences each and every time—especially for deep point of view books like I write.

Alexis: Why are you passionate about telling Kristina and Jeffrey’s story?

Melissa: Because it’s one so many of us can relate to and hopefully find hope in. All my stories are about finding light in dark times, and the world needs that now just as much as ever.

Alexis: What advice do you have for White authors who want to write about characters of color (African American, Hispanic, Indian, Asian, etc.), but are not quite sure how to tell their story?

Melissa: Be authentic, period. Remember that no matter the background, each character is more defined by their unique personality and experiences than just their race, just their gender, just their creed. Develop the whole character. Be open to learning, and don’t resort to stereotypes. A character should be a three-dimensional being living in your two-dimensional world. Give your character life.

Alexis: You’re passionate about telling the stories of everyone, regardless of their race. Have you always been this way? If not, what was the inciting incident that set you on this hero’s journey?

Melissa: Yes, I have always been drawn to multicultural fiction both as a writer and a reader. I grew up in a poor, mostly non-White area, and for years was the only White girl around. I was bullied, teased, and didn’t have any friends until late in elementary school. I know how it feels to be outcast simply based on appearances and prejudices, and it sucks.

At the same time, all that time by myself and with my books in those formative years was amazing for my self growth and creativity. I don’t regret it as an adult, but I was an incredibly lonely child—and that’s still having been a member of America’s dominant society. I still saw myself represented on TV, in magazines and books. I can’t imagine how isolating it must be to feel alone on all levels, especially for a child.

More recently in life… My first husband came from India. We were together for eight years, and for eight years I lived and breathed that culture. As such, Hindu culture makes it into my stories most often, but I also enjoy exploring characters from other walks of like too.

Currently, my wonderful soulmate (second) husband and I are in the process of adopting a child—or possibly children—from Bulgaria. They are of Romani descent, a culture which has been discriminated against widely throughout history. The Romani children are frequently adopted to America, because the rampant racism in Europe makes it difficult to find homes there. We are enjoying learning about their beautiful culture and their shared history with the Jewish people of Europe, and we are also teaching our three-year-old daughter as we learn.

I simply cannot image a life without full color. Our differences make us unique, and they make life exciting!

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

Melissa: Thank you for the thoughtful interview questions, Alexis. I am so pleased that I am able to bring this story into the world and hopefully help others who struggle with the same self-esteem issues I faced growing up and even as an adult. Fiction entertains, yes, but I also hope mine means something special to those who read it.

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Connect with Melissa:

Website ~ www.MelStorm.com

Facebook ~ www.Facebook.com/MeetTheStorms

Instagram ~ www.Instagram.com/MeetTheStorms

Pinterest ~ www.Pinterest.com/MelStormAuthor

Twitter ~ www.Twitter.com/MelStormAuthor

YouTube ~ www.MelStorm.com/YouTube

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Links for Love’s Promise:

Book Trailer ~ https://youtu.be/qBLm9Im_vsk

Read the First 3 Chapters ~ http://www.melstorm.com/SpecialPreview