Open Discussion: Summer Reading Challenge

Summer is winding down!

The blog has featured several great reads this week. Be sure to check them out. It’s not too late to get another book or two in before the fall comes.

Share your progress on your summer diverse reads. Remember, one reader will be interviewed on the blog. The winner will be announced on September 7th.

Happy reading!

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Open Discussion: Summer Reading Challenge -Week 3

It’s already week 3 of our reading challenge! Time flies when you’re reading great books.

What great book are you reading? Have you finished your first book yet? Share how you are doing.

Be sure to check out the two featured books on the blog. Remember, the blog is taking a break for the summer from June 24 to July 6, but you can keep commenting, and most of all, reading.

Happy reading!

Open Discussion: Summer Reading Challenge -Week 2

We’re moving along with our reading challenge.

More books on the blog to consider adding to your list. Check out the spoiler-less review of Though I Stumble by Kim Cash Tate and the book spotlight of The Cowboy’s Faith by Danica Favorite.

Share your progress below. We’d love to hear how you’re doing.

Happy reading!

Open Discussion: Summer Reading Challenge-Week 1

Our summer reading challenge has started. Thank you to everyone who posted last week.

We featured two more books this past week, If Only In My Dreams by Belle Calhoune and Over the Line by Kelly Irvin. More options for your challenge.

How is everyone doing? What books have you started? What book are you most excited to read?

Happy reading!

Open Discussion: Summer Diverse Reading Challenge

Summer is here and we have a great way to spend it reading!

Reading challenges are a fun way to connect with a community and read some new-to-you authors. It’s also a good way to put a dent in your TBR pile. So let’s do a summer diverse Christian fiction reading challenge.

Post below how many diverse Christian fiction books you want to read between now and Labor Day, September 2nd. We have compiled a list of diverse Christian fiction HERE. Each Saturday, check in and let us know how you are doing. The person who gets the closest to their goal will be featured on the blog. We will announce the winner on September 7th.

Let’s get reading!

Open Discussion: Christmas Traditions

DBTP - letstalk

Happy Saturday, Reader Friends!

I love learning about how different cultures celebrate holidays. I think it show how much creativity and wonder there is in the world. I love when I’m in a good book, and I get wrapped up into the story so much that I want to be sitting next to the main character, experiencing the music, tasting the food, smelling the aromas.

This recently happened to me when I was reading Cynthia Marcano’s story (“Have Yourself a Merry Little Cocoa”) in our new boxed set, A Merry Navidad. I was really getting into the pastelitos de guayaba and the pernil, so I decided to badger her to add the recipes at the end of her story. Now I have a great recipe for pernil! And reading the whole set, reeeeeeally got me in the mood to make tamales this Christmas.

I love how books can transport us and how we take feelings and ideas back home with us. I’d like to hear what Christmas books filled you with the Christmas spirit and led you to do something.

I grew up in NJ with an Italian background, so we have often had lasagna or stuffed shells for Christmas Eve and usually a ham for Christmas day. In Mexico, where my husband’s from, some traditional foods at Christmas are: tamales, romeritos, champarrado, buñuelos, ponche, pozole. The list goes on. Also in Mexico, they do Las Posadas, where they parade around town as pregnant Mary and Joseph, knocking on neighbor’s doors, until they find their manger. They also have fireworks and celebrating January 6th (Three Kings’ Day) is a big deal, even bigger than Christmas.

Also what are your family’s and your culture’s Christmas traditions? Please tell us in the comments below about.

*Post written by Allison K García, contributor

tamales, pupusas, and tacos - oh my!


 

Book Spotlight: Seal of the Sand Dweller

Happy Sunday, Reader Friends!

I hope you’re ready to learn about some epic Biblical fiction, because Seal of the Sand Dweller is just what the Biblical scholar called for! R. Rushing has forged a tale so entrenched in Ancient Egyptian culture that you will feel like you’ve been transported and are watching Yoseph (i.e. Joseph) and the other characters interact in front of you. So, without further ado, I give you…Seal of the Sand Dweller


About the Book

R_Rushing_EbookAFamine threatens the kingdom while neither priest nor sage can decipher the king’s Horus dream. The slave drawn from the garrison is a sand dweller, a vile Asiatic from beyond the northern borders of Egypt. His interpretation seems, at first, a desperate snatch at freedom, but when his words prove true, he is raised to inconceivable heights.

The courtiers of the king’s house are fascinated with the god-kissed Asiatic. But when Yoseph’s astute sense of order reveals extortion, the king must check the integrity of his administrators or remain a pawn of his own government.

Yoseph has paid the price for integrity. The first of heavy fines were exacted by jealous brothers, the next by his master’s lascivious wife. As vizier, he confronts corruption with the authority of a king’s seal.

And this time, integrity might cost him everything.

Enter the columned halls of the king’s house for the retelling of the biblical story of Joseph as you’ve never heard it before.

Links: AmazonGoodreads


About the Author

r rushing author picIf you’ve ever heard someone sniffing back tears in the movie theater during a Lord of the Rings battle scene, it might have been R. Rushing. She’s always had a penchant for majestic battles, soulish struggles, kingdom intrigues, and complicated romance.

R. Rushing reads the Bible with open-mouthed fascination. There’s enough political and kingdom intrigue, battles and conflict for a lifetime of lessons.

Rushing lives in Virginia with her husband, Ben, and loves to write fiction in the vein of compelling stories such as Ben-Hur, The Robe, and Voice in the Wind.

Seal of the Sand Dweller is her debut novel and the first installment in The Servant Ruler series.

Follow: WebsiteFacebookInstagram


Post written by contributor Allison K. García

Saturday Discussion – Write a Story: National Novel Writing Month

Okay, folks,

I meant to write this post last week (and then again last night), but better late than never! November is National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo), and as one of the official Municipal Liaisons, I love to encourage people that if you have story burning inside you…a story that you’ve had brewing for months…years…decades maybe. This is the time to write it.

Go to the NaNoWriMo website to get started and sign up for free account and to start keeping track of your wordcount!

The goal of NaNo is to write a 50k-word novel in 30 days, which can be accomplished by writing 1,667 words per day for 30 days. Now…you’d have to double that to get it done by November 30th but if that story is calling out to you (or perhaps it is the Holy Spirit!), you can do it! If not, you’ll have at least 25k words of a book, which is much better than no words.

The cool thing is that all over the world, hundreds of thousands of people are attempting the same thing. In the Shenandoah Valley alone we’ve collectively written 1.5 million words since November 1st. I mean, it’s pretty awesome.

So, we talk a lot about diverse literature here. We need more out there. Especially if you are #ownvoice and have a story, let it be heard! Scream it from the…laptop! 🙂 We want to hear it!

Do you hate writing? That’s okay! Writers need readers, too. No pressure! I just think it’s a really cool thing to be a part of, an awesome way to meet neat people in your community, and good way to get words on the page.

Have you done NaNoWriMo? If so, tell us about it below!

Interview with Allison K. Garcia about her book “Finding Amor”

Happy Monday, reader friends!

Today, we’re featuring an interview with Allison K. Garcia, author of Finding Amor.


Interview with Allison K. Garcia about her book, Finding Amor:

Alexis: What inspired you to write this book?

Allison: I was inspired by a couple things in 2014…On the news, there was a video of little kids on a bus near an immigration detention center. Outside the bus were a bunch of angry Americans yelling at them and carrying signs. It broke my heart. I thought about how scary it must be for those small children to be surrounded by an angry mob after what was surely a traumatic border crossing. And I began to think how most likely some of those people yelling angrily at the children were also proclaiming to be Christians (as I had heard echoed sentiments in our community), and I wanted to change the narrative. This is the first scene of my book. The other thing that inspired my book was hearing the story from someone at church about how a little boy in the afterschool program came to Christ and subsequently brought many of the other little kids to salvation as well. That touched my heart, and from there my main character, Emanuel, was born.

Alexis: How did you choose your characters?

Allison: I am a pantser, so a lot of times my characters choose me. Haha. But seriously, I had the idea for Emanuel, so logically his mother, Ana, came next. I added a third POV of the afterschool teacher, Lauren, and her husband, Peter, who is a loveable slob. I’m not sure how Carlos, my antagonist, came about but my editor made me turn him into a POV character so you can thank her for that! Mamita is just this sweet little grandma that I pictured, the representation of quintessential unconditional love. Kayli, Mari, and Dwayne are my favorite of Emanuel’s buddies. You’ll see more of them in my second book. Sandra, Ana’s mother, was really fleshed out in editing, and I really love her now. There is a lot under the surface there.

I know I didn’t answer your question, but truthfully, I feel like they chose me, and they keep surprising me! Who knows what will happen in my second and third books? I have a general direction but there are plenty surprises for all of us around the corner.

Alexis: What is the setting for this book? Describe it.

Allison: Lederville, Virginia is a small city I created in the Shenandoah Valley. It has a diverse population and is loosely based off of Harrisonburg, VA, where I live. It has all four seasons, including beautiful fall foliage and occasionally disruptive snowfalls. They have a bus system and Uber. There are suburbs, trailer parks, apartments, and farms. They have thrift stores and international grocery stores, especially Hispanic/Latino, which is a burgeoning population in Lederville. There is a park called North River Park which has open fields and shelters for picnics and parties. Also, there is a nice church called Dove Peak Presbyterian Church next to the Rolling Hills Trailer Park where three of my main characters live. It is a very welcoming church that holds an afterschool program and does Christmas caroling and has a thriving Spanish service.

Alexis: What is Finding Amor about? Share in a few sentences (not the blurb).

Finding Amor is the first part of a larger series, Buscando Home, about a family from El Salvador broken through decades of war, violence, and distance. Finding Amor is the first glimpse into their world – why they are broken, some of what they’ve gone through, and how far they have to go in order to heal and find peace and home together. Finding Amor is about finding the love of family, God, and within ourselves. It also calls people to love both God and their neighbors, the two main tenants of Christianity.

Alexis: Take us inside Emanuel Martinez’s mind. What was it like to be thrown into an immigration center after he was so close to freedom at the border?

Allison: I think we’ll get a much better idea of this in my next book, but it is a horrible thing. His mother had to leave to make enough money to support him, but he was too small to travel across three countries, so he has waited so long to be with his mother, living in an abusive home environment. The coyote (the person who helps people cross the border) took him on a freight train for faster travel, where he had some traumatic experiences. Just a reminder that from El Salvador to the border is about 2,000 miles, which is the equivalent of traveling from Virginia to Arizona. To travel that far and to be so small, it is impressive. Emanuel is a strong little guy, but the journey took its toll on him. Imagine traveling all the way from east to west coast at eight years old and just as you’re about to see your long-lost mother, you are apprehended and told you may never see her. This is a truth that is happening again and again. People who are just looking for asylum, for a better life for their family, risking their lives for freedom, only to be put into cages. Very upsetting.

Alexis: Did Emanuel travel to the border by himself? I understand that he’s only eight years old. Describe his journey.

Allison: His mother paid for a coyote, someone to cross him. It is a 2,000-mile journey. Often people will take freight trains to make the trip faster. It usually takes a month or more of hiding from immigration officials in the various countries, especially Mexico, where officials are sometimes corrupt and need bribes to let you pass. Also, there is a lot of gang activity near the border and people sometimes get kidnapped. For Emanuel, he took a traumatic freight train ride with the coyote, he traveled for about a month, hiding from officials, and then was captured at the border. More info about his journey will come out in my next book. It is a horrible journey even for adults and thousands of people die trying to cross the border. Emanuel is one of the lucky ones who made it across.

Alexis: In what ways does Finding Amor reflect the current immigration debate, trauma and drama in the USA?

Allison: My main goals for writing Latino Christian fiction are to have Latinos represented in Christian fiction, share God’s word, and show authentic stories of undocumented immigrants so that people can open their hearts and minds and grow in compassion and love and understanding. In showing real stories and explaining the whys and showing the human side to immigration, my hope is that people who have negative views towards immigrants will understand more and realize that we are called to love our neighbors, no matter what their documentation status or skin color or language, etc. I purposefully put a very diverse group of people in the book, because it represents America and also in Revelations is shows Heaven as a place where “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” people are praising God. Also, there are important verses that remind us that we cannot love God if we do not love our neighbor. We cannot love God without loving our neighbor any more than we can love our neighbor without loving God. This is another theme that is represented in Lauren’s story. Seeing her neighbors in a new light and seeing the love they show her, helps her grow to love others and herself more. So, for me, the trauma and drama and debates in the U.S. boil down to a lack of love.

Alexis: Who is Lauren Barrett and what is her significance to this story?

Allison: Lauren is an overweight, churchgoing legal secretary who has trouble saying no, especially to church activities. She gets roped into helping with the afterschool program at church, which is hurtful because she has been dealing with infertility for over a decade. She represents the average churchgoing person who looks fine from the outside but has a lot going on inside, while at the same time finds herself lacking compassion for others and losing perspective on where she is in her life. Her interactions with the Martinez family and the other families in the afterschool program make a drastic impact on the way she views the world.

Alexis: How does Lauren’s family dynamics and a background that made her insecure affect her life as a grown woman? In what ways does her personal history endear her heart to Emanuel?

Allison: Lauren grew up in a very unsupportive family with some emotional abuse that made her more vulnerable towards abusive relationships. In high school, she had an abusive boyfriend, but thankfully, she met Peter, who showed her unconditional love. Even though she has God in her life and Peter, she still has the burden of those early days, and she struggles with that need to please and make people happy and also with loving herself. I think she sees herself in Emanuel a little bit, plus Emanuel just has a good heart and is kind to her right off the bat, which endears him to her.

Alexis: What role does Lauren grow to play in Emanuel’s life?

Allison: It’s a little bit the other way around for this book. Lauren wants to help the kids in the afterschool, but really they are the ones who impact her life. I think that happens a lot with mission work, we want to help and then we get way more back than we ever gave out.

Alexis: What does Emanuel think of Lauren at first and as the story progresses?

Allison: She views her as someone who is sad and has “nerves” like Marta from home. He wants to make her feel better and is kind to her. I think as the story progresses, he sees her as a mentor and friend and someone he can confide in and learn from.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about Finding Amor?

Allison: That everyone has a story. We often judge a book by its cover and as Christians, that’s not okay. We are called to love everyone, unconditionally. I hope that sticks with them.

Alexis: Who is your publisher for Finding Amor? Is it a CBA publisher?

Allison: CreateSpace/Me! I had to go indie because it is very hard to get diverse fiction published traditionally in the Christian market. Plus the undocumented immigration is seen as controversial and they didn’t want to touch it with a 10-foot pole. But God wants me to write it and get it out to the world, so I am thankful for Amazon and all my indie published friends who helped me figure out how to indie publish.

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

Allison: Alexis, thank so much for the insightful interview questions. I really challenged me to look at my book in detail. I feel totally prepared for some events I have coming up in September now! Thank you for this opportunity! I hope people pick up a copy and enjoy it!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Book:

Escaping a violent and abusive environment, eight-year-old Emanuel Martinez attempts to cross through three countries to be with his mother, Ana, whom he hasn’t seen since he was a baby. When la migra catches him at the border and he’s thrown into an immigration center, his dreams for being a real family start to disappear.

Vowing never to be like her own mother who abandoned her and never looked back, Ana has worked for six years to get her son to the United States, Now Ana has to rely on her distant mother and her alcoholic boyfriend, Carlos, to finally get her son to her side so they can build a life together.

When Lauren Barrett agrees to help with the afterschool program, she soon realizes she’s bitten off more than she can chew. Growing up in an unsupportive home has made her insecure and vulnerable, plus suffering through years of infertility hasn’t helped matters. Yet she longs to do something meaningful with her life and wonders when that opportunity will come along. When a special young boy named Emanuel enters her life, he turns her worldview on its head.

As their lives intersect, will they help each other understand what family and love and home really mean?

Buy Allison’s book on Amazon


About the Author:

Allison K. Garcia is a Licensed Professional Counselor, but she has wanted to be a writer ever since she could hold a pencil.

She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Shenandoah Valley Writers, Virginia Writers Club, and is Municipal Liaison for Shenandoah Valley NaNoWriMo.

Allison’s short story, “At Heart,” was published in the Winter 2013 edition of From the Depths literary magazine, along with her flash fiction. Her work, “You Shall Receive,” was published in GrayHaven Comics’s 2014 All Women’s anthology. Winning an honorary mention in the ACFW Virginia 2015 short story contest, “Just Another Navidad” was published in A bit of Christmas. Allison finaled in the 2016 ACFW Genesis Contest and is a 2018 Eric J. Hoffer Montaigne Medal Finalist for Vivir el Dream, published May 2017. Her highly-anticipated novel, Finding Amor, releases in September 2018.

Latina at heart, Allison has been featured in local newspapers for her connections in the Latino community in Harrisonburg, Virginia. A member of cultural competency committees for work and a participant in several pro-immigrant rallies and other events in her region, she also sings on the worship team and enjoys get-togethers with the hermanos in her church. With the help of her husband, Julio, and their son, Miguel, she has been able to nurture her love for the Latino people.

Follow Allison on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Website

Sign-up for Allison’s Newsletter here.

Open Discussion: Dealing with Haters

DBTP - letstalk

Hey, friends! So lately I have found myself at odds on social media. My books deal with the topic of undocumented immigrants and about loving your neighbors, regardless of their status. I truly feel like through my books, God wants me to both challenge other white Christians’ negative stereotypes against immigrants and help them recognize that they too, are made in God’s image, and should be loved as anyone else, and I want to represent people of color as being the strong, amazing people they are and accurately depict their struggles and joys.

For this reason, I often share and comment on posts that deal with this subject, which, as you can imagine, have been numerous these days.

I feel so many emotions flow through me as I read posts and responses from friends and family and acquaintances: anger, disbelief, sadness, desperation, hurt, even helpless at times. To see the anger, the hate, pouring from the screen as they speak of my brothers and sisters in Christ, my husband and his family, my son, my friends, it is exhausting.

I’m not going to give up on writing my books, because I have prayed about it and God keeps giving me ideas. But, part of me wonders if it will make a difference, if people are too far gone…if hate has taken them over so deeply that they will be unable to recognize it in themselves and stop it in its path before its too late.

So, pardon my sad ramblings, but has anyone else ever felt this way while writing diverse Christian fiction or being a POC or just in general? And if so, how do you deal with the haters and take care of yourself?

Please let me know below!