Interview with Neta Jackson about The Yada Yada Prayer Group (Book #1)

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re featuring an interview with Neta Jackson about Book #1 in her series, The Yada Yada Prayer Group.


Interview with Neta Jackson about her book, The Yada Yada Prayer Group (Yada Yada Series) Book #1:

NOTE: All of these answers are by Neta, as the YYPG novels were all written by Neta. Future author interviews will include Dave who is her husband and beloved writing partner.

Alexis: What inspired you to write this Yada Yada Series?

Neta: Our church was being very intentional about “racial reconciliation,” so at one point an African American sister and I decided to co-lead a women’s prayer group that was intentionally diverse—and getting to know these amazing women from different backgrounds and different life experiences, who had such deep and solid faith, had such an impact on my life that my husband, Dave, said, “You ought to write a book.” Nope, I said. Can’t. The stuff we share is confidential. He said, “I mean, write a novel, using your prayer group as inspiration, but make it fiction.”

Alexis: Who are the main characters in Book #1 of The Yada Yada Prayer Group? Describe them briefly.

Neta: As the title implies, this novel is about a group, though the POV character is Jodi Baxter—a typical, middle-class, white, “good Christian girl” and third-grade teacher who ends up in a multi-cultural prayer group led by Avis, the African American principal of her school. Avis is mature, gracious, and deeply spiritual, who wisely leads this group of women who are as diverse as a “drawerful of crazy, mixed-up socks”—forcing Jodi to confront her presumptions, prejudices, and ignorance in spite of all her “good intentions,” and to learn how to pray and worship in whole new ways out of her comfort zone.

Besides Jodi and Avis, the group consists of:

Hoshi—a Japanese grad student at Northwestern University, who has become a Christian and been disinherited by her Shinto parents.

Nonyameko—an African immigrant from South Africa, married to an African-American professor at NU (Hoshi was in one of his classes).

Adele—a blunt African American with her own hair salon, taking care of her mother, who is suffering from dementia.

Chanda—a single mom from Jamaica who wants to win the lottery.

Leslie (aka “Stu”)—a single white social worker, who seems to do everything better than Jodi, making Jodi feel awkward, inept, and jealous.

Florida—a middle-aged black mother, married, plain-speaking, former drug addict and street person who is “five years saved and five years sober!”

Ruth—a childless, middle-aged “Messianic Jew” who has a special place in her heart for Yo-Yo.

Yo-Yo—a white twenty-something ex-con who grew up in foster homes and is now the sole caretaker for her two younger teenage brothers. Yo-Yo isn’t sure about this “Jesus stuff” and doesn’t let any of the prayer group get away with religious clichés.

Delores—a Spanish-speaking trauma nurse originally from Mexico and mother of a loveable tribe of 5 kids, who are often babysat by Edesa.

Edesa—a Spanish-speaking black college student from Honduras.

ALL of these characters are essential to the development of the Yada Yada Prayer Group . . . which originally was going to be only one novel—but I found out you can’t put 12 feisty women in a novel and expect them to stay there! All their stories (past, present, and future) clamored to be told in depth—which is why there are 7 novels in the Yada Yada series!

Alexis: What are some of the obstacles that your characters have to overcome?

Neta: Delores’s teenage son is accidentally shot while taking his younger siblings to the park.

Florida is trying to find her 8-year-old daughter who got “lost” in the foster-care system when she was strung-out on drugs.

Chanda finds a lump in her breast, is terrified because her mother died of breast cancer.

Jodi causes a fatal accident “driving while angry,” doesn’t feel “worthy” to be forgiven—causing Florida to get in her face to help her understand she was never “worthy,” she’s “just a sinner saved by grace,” just like herself and all the rest of the sisters.

(That’s just the beginning—the prayer group faces a LOT more challenges as their stories spill into the next books in the series!)

Alexis: What was the “biggest crisis” of your life that you faced and how did your prayer group help you survive?

Neta: I think you are confusing me (the author) with my POV character, Jodi. It was Jodi that had the “biggest crisis of her life” (the fatal accident she caused) who was helped to survive by the prayer group. (However, for inspiration to write that episode, I drew on a fatal accident my mother was involved in years ago in which a child ran in front of her car, as well as an accident I was involved in, in which my father died of a heart attack. Both events pre-dated my being in my real-life prayer group, but helped me in capturing the emotions Jodi struggled with).

Alexis: What is the moral of this Yada Yada Prayer Group story?

Neta: I think a lot of us are like Jodi Baxter—at least that’s what my readers tell me! (“I’m such a Jodi!”) Growing up in a Christian home as a “good Christian girl” like Jodi, I had unrealistic expectations both for myself and others and had to learn that I too am “just a sinner saved by grace.” That can be a cliché, but the reality of knowing that is the key to accepting God’s forgiveness when we mess up big time—and being able to forgive others.

Alexis: What do you want readers to learn from this book?

Neta: The purpose for writing this novel was to share through fiction that the Body of Christ includes many people who are different from us, and even though stepping outside our “comfort zone” can be challenging, God uses the very people who represent a different part of His Body (in their gifts, life experiences, and cultures) to bless and enrich our lives! Not only that, but we actually need each other. I Corinthians 12:21 says, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you’.” Etc. If we stay in our comfort zone with people just like us, we miss the many ways God wants to enrich and bless our own lives, as well as teach us many things about Himself and others we might not learn any other way.

Alexis: What lesson did you learn while writing this book?

Neta: Lessons—plural!

First, that my husband truly believed I could write this novel. Even though I was a writer for many years, we often did projects together—this was to be the first full-length adult novel I wrote by myself. I was scared. Dave took over the shopping, cooking, laundry, and a bunch of other stuff so I could write it! I never could have done it without his encouragement.

Second, that the Holy Spirit kept dropping ideas and people and experiences into my life while I was writing that God wanted me to share in this novel (so much for best-laid plans!). I learned it was important to listen to the Holy Spirit during any writing project.

Third, I had no idea how God was going to use this novel to touch so many lives. My reader letters are the most amazing gifts God could ever give me, showing me ways God has used The Yada Yada Prayer Group to encourage people to pray believing … to open their eyes to their own presumptions and prejudices, to hunger for new ways to worship God, to be inspired to start a prayer group, to be encouraged during difficult times in their lives. What I learned is that we use the gifts God gives us to the best of our abilities—and then watch as God multiplies them to bless others, just like Jesus did with the five loaves and two fish that the little boy gave him.

Alexis: How important is it to you to show diversity in your stories? Explain.

Neta: Very. But first, it’s important to “live diversity” in my own life. Even though I write fiction, I can’t truly represent the importance of having diverse relationships unless having those relationships are a reality for me. God has used my sisters of color and from other backgrounds and cultures to bless my socks off! I long for my readers to experience that same blessing. And besides, the real world isn’t just “white and middle-class.” If I want to write realistic fiction, I need to include diverse characters who aren’t just incidental, but critical to the story.

Alexis: Would you like to see more books with content like this one published by CBA? Why or why not?

Neta: Absolutely. Primarily because people of color are sadly under-represented in the world of Christian fiction. Why? Because CBA publishers and editors and publishing houses are still staffed mostly by white people! And yet . . . there are very talented authors who are people of color! They are part of the Body of Christ and we need them! (See 1 Corinthians 12 again!) There are so many amazing stories yet to be told coming out of the different cultures and life experiences (including non-white churches) that make up our own cities and towns in our own country.

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

Neta: The question I get asked most often is, why did you call this prayer group “Yada Yada”?

What really happened is this: A friend was showing me the meaning of “yadah” from a Hebrew/English lexicon to the Old Testament, which basically means “to sing and give praise to God.” But right there above the word “yadah,” was the word “yada”! To my astonishment, I discovered that the word “yada” appears 944 times in the Hebrew Scriptures, a root word which means “to know and be known intimately.” A good example is Psalm 139, which uses the word “yada” several times to express how intimately God knows us.

I thought, Wow! That would be an amazing name for a prayer group—to know God and be known by God intimately, and to know each other in the same way! And thus, the Yada Yada Prayer Group name for my fictional series was born!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Author:

Neta Jackson and her husband Dave are an award-winning husband-and-wife writing team, the authors or coauthors of more than 130 books that have sold over 2.5 million copies.

They are best known for Neta’s Yada Yada Prayer Group series and its sequels, as well as their forty-volume Trailblazer series of historical fiction about great Christian heroes for young readers.

Neta and Dave raised two children as well as a foster daughter and are now enjoying all the “grands”!

The Jacksons are thankful for their multi-cultural church and neighborhood in the Chicago area, which provide the characters and setting for their novels.

Follow Neta and her husband Dave Jackson on social media: 

Website: http://www.daveneta.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/DaveNetaJackson/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DaveNetaJackson


About the Book:

What do an ex-con, a former drug addict, a real estate broker, a college student, and a married mother of two have in common? Nothing, or so I thought.
Who would have imagined that God would make a prayer group as mismatched as ours the closest of friends? I almost didn’t even go to the Chicago Women’s Conference–after all, being thrown together with five hundred strangers wasn’t exactly my “comfort zone.”
But something happened that weekend to make us realize we had to hang together, and the “Yada Yada Prayer Group” was born! When I faced the biggest crisis of my life, God used my newfound Sisters to show me what it means to be just a sinner saved by grace.
Buy the book on Amazon
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Book Spotlight: Love in Pictures

Happy Wednesday, Reader Friends!

Alexis here! Today, I’m shining the spotlight on my new book Love in Pictures.

My publisher, Forget Me Not Romances, released it on Monday, June 12.


About the Book:

Wedding photographer Michelle Hadley has a passion for diversity and believes that love comes in all colors. So, she’s working hard to convince editors to feature her clients’ images on the covers of the mainstream bridal and wedding magazines.

Despite having a career that focuses on celebrating forever love, Michelle has never actually been in a romantic relationship, and she’s not looking for love, until she meets the one man she cannot forget.

Since his fiancée broke his heart, Logan Emerson’s focus has been on his career. He’s won awards for his work as a print journalist and dreams of greater success on television as a broadcast journalist. But his personal struggle presents many challenges that might prevent his dreams from coming true.

Michelle doesn’t date often, and since his heartbreak, Logan has shied away from the dating scene. But something about Michelle awakens Logan’s desire to love again.


About the Author:

Alexis A. Goring is a writer at heart who loves the arts and the color blue because of its serenity and soulful beauty.

She’s an established author, blogger, editor, writer, and photographer who enjoys exploring matters of the heart.

As a freelance writer, she covered President Barack Obama, wrote the Growing Up column for Collegiate Quarterly (CQ), which reached readers around the world, and served as the editor of a county newspaper. Blogging is one of her favorite pastimes, and she founded the mission-focused blog God is Love.

Love in Pictures is her second book published by Forget Me Not Romances. Alexis hopes that her writing will connect readers with the forever love of Jesus Christ.

When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending quality time with loved ones, shopping, dining in her favorite restaurants, reading, listening to music, and baking for her church.

Follow: Website, Twitter, Facebook

Interview with Pat Simmons, author of “My Rock: Tabitha”

Happy Monday, reader friends!

Let’s welcome Pat Simmons to the blog again. Last week, we shone the spotlight on her book My Rock: Tabitha. Today, you get to read my interview with Pat about her book!

Pat shared great insight into her story and her life as an author, in this interview.

Enjoy!


Author Interview with Pat Simmons about her book My Rock: Tabitha

Alexis: This book focuses on three sisters living in different cities. Why did you choose to tell their stories?

Pat: God told me to write it. “Someone needs to hear from Me,” He said. I obeyed to bring awareness to the sacrifices of caregivers who are struggling in plain sight.

Alexis: What were the challenges in merging three storylines?

Pat: I focused on Tabitha’s story while setting up Kym and Rachel’s. No two caregivers’ situations are the same, so I will highlight different scenarios in the other stories. Our society has an increasing number children, teenagers, and young adults with special needs who will need care for the rest of their lives as well as elderly loved ones.

Alexis: Would you say that this book is Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction or something else? Please explain its genre and category.

Pat: I write Christian romance about contemporary themes and universal issues that are important to women. There are differences among inspirational, sweet, and Christian romances. Christ’s whispers and the Scriptures are integral parts of my romantic storylines, so I classify myself as Christian romance writer. Inspirational romance may focus on positive and uplifting thoughts without Christ being the center.

Alexis: Why did you write this book with a focus on caregivers?

Pat: Besides God inspiring me? I like to tackle real issues in my books. I always want my readers closing the book knowing something they didn’t know in the beginning.

Alexis: How did you select the three cities for each of your main characters? Give us insight into the research that went into writing this story.

Pat: It was random choices that I felt I could get help from a friend or reader to assist me with the cities’ backdrop. I have a news background, so I approached the topic as a reporter. I interviewed caregivers and organizations’ spokespersons, attended meetings, and did online research. I also made sure I had a clear understanding of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Alexis: Why is your character Tabitha from St. Louis struggling to find a balance?

Pat: Her situation can be typical of a caregiver. The demands of her new job were overwhelming. After work, she had no respite at home, because she focused on Aunt Tweet’s needs.

Alexis: In what ways does a potential romantic relationship rock Tabitha’s world?

Pat: When it comes to romance, a person wants to give their all to invest in a relationship. Tabitha felt the timing wasn’t right. She knew there could be no spontaneity like going to a movie at the last minute. Aunt Tweet’s well-being had to take priority over everything Tabitha wanted to do. Marcus proved her wrong. He convinced her that they were in it together.

Alexis: Why is Tabitha beyond overwhelmed with being a caregiver?

Pat: Despite her textbook knowledge of medical terms and conditions, she wasn’t prepared for an 89-year-old’s contrary behavior to mimic that of a helpless child. The person can appear self-sufficient, but little by little, their mind begins to slip away. She is taking care of her great-aunt Priscilla “Tweet” Brownlee who doesn’t have any children of her own.

Alexis: Who is Marcus Whittington and what role does he play in this story?

Pat: The story begins with a neighbor whose surveillance video captured a woman sitting on her porch a few times in the morning. When he learns that the elderly woman wanders from home, Marcus accuses Tabitha of endangerment and threatens to call the authorities on her. He’s clueless to Tabitha’s frustration as she tries to keep track of her aunt’s every movements 24/7.

Alexis: What is it about the elderly that brings out a soft side in Marcus?

Pat: He had endearing memories of his grandparents. Marcus begins to see the Aunt Tweet on the outside isn’t the same one on the inside. Recognizing Tabitha’s frustration and helplessness, coupled with his growing attraction, gives Marcus reasons why he can’t walk away.

Alexis: Why does “every caregiver need a caregiver” in this story and in real-life?

Pat: As many caregivers focus their attention on the loved one’s needs, they don’t take care of themselves. That scenario happened to my next-door neighbor. She cared for her husband for years while she still worked. We didn’t know she was very sick until after she died barely nine months later after her husband had passed. My message to caregivers is to take care of yourself. People on the outside should not assume caregivers have it under control. They need compassion, help, and respite, especially if they are caring for two or more generations, such as grandchildren and an aging mother.

Alexis: What do you want your readers to remember most about this story?

Pat: Being a first-time caregiver is a learning experience no different than a husband or wife becoming parents for the first time. You don’t know what to expect, you have to infuse patience with love.

Alexis: Do you only write about African American or Black characters? Why or why not?

Pat: My main characters are always Black because I’m Black or African American. Minorities like to see themselves portrayed in movies and sitcoms on television. Reading about people of color is just as appealing, especially in storylines that reflect the Black community. For me, it’s an honor to write about Black love when society has denied it exists from slavery to the White House. The big publishers, even some Christian publishers, don’t believe a character with brown skin and curly hair is attractive as a hero or heroine.

Alexis: Would you like to see more African American (AA) people on the covers and characters of color inside the stories of CBA books? Why or why not?

Pat: YES without a second thought. Christians are not one race as Candace, Queen of Ethiopia, is mentioned in the Bible. Native Indians, Mexicans, African Americans, and other’s stories are just as important. Unfortunately, stereotypes and racism have kept many great AA authors out of the publishing industry. One national bestselling author was offered a contract in the 90s, if she changed her characters from black to white.

Alexis: What did you enjoy the most about writing “My Rock”?

Pat: Two things: Showing Tabitha’s mindset that she considered it a privilege to take care of Aunt Tweet and despite the frustration, she did it with love and respect; and inspiring readers that there is no obstacle too great for love to find them.

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

Pat: Thank you for sharing your readers with me. I hope “My Rock” is an eye-opener and readers will recognize we all are each other’s caregivers. I think former First Lady, Mrs. Rosalyn Carter said it best: “There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Book:

Three sisters living in three different cities (Baltimore, St. Louis, and Nashville) make a pact to share responsibilities for their aging relative after authorities find Aunt Tweet across state lines. Her destination had been a neighborhood grocery store. The siblings soon learn the definition of caregiver includes a cup full of patience, a slight sense of humor, and when to cry out for help. Women juggle between career and family all the time, but Tabitha Knicely (St. Louis) is struggling to find a balance. Romance is the last thing she’s trying to add to her list. The Aunt Tweet she knew all her life is not the same one who is residing in her home when she accepts the role as a caregiver for six months.

Overwhelmed can’t begin to describe her emotions. Marcus Whittington is an opinionated, successful business owner, but he has a soft side when it comes to the elderly. They remind him of good memories of his grandparents. When Aunt Tweet is the mystery woman who stakes out his porch, he becomes concerned that she is not being taken care of properly. He sheds his misconceptions about what Tabitha isn’t doing right when he discovers that every caregiver needs a caregiver. Marcus knows in order to win Tabitha’s heart; he has to charm Aunt Tweet’s too.

Book Purchase Link: Amazon


About the Author:

Pat Simmons is celebrating ten years as a published author with more than thirty titles. She is a self-proclaimed genealogy sleuth who is passionate about researching her ancestors and then casting them in starring roles in her novels, in the hope of tracking down any distant relatives who might happen to pick up her books. She has been a genealogy enthusiast since her great-grandmother, Minerva Brown Wade, died at the age of ninety-seven in 1988.

Pat describes the evidence of the gift of the Holy Ghost as an amazing, unforgettable, life-altering experience. She believes God is the Author who advances the stories she writes.

Pat holds a B.S. in mass communications from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. She has worked in various positions in radio, television, and print media for more than twenty years. Currently, she oversees the media publicity for the annual RT Booklovers Conventions.She is the multi-published author of dozens of Christian titles, including the #1 Amazon best seller in God’s Word category.

She is the multi-published author of dozens of Christian titles, including the #1 Amazon best seller in God’s Word category A Christian Christmas. Her award-winning titles include Talk to Me, ranked #14 of Top Books in 2008 that Changed Lives by Black Pearls Magazine.She is a three-time recipient of the Romance Slam Jam Emma Rodgers Award for Best Inspirational Romance for Still Guilty (2010), Crowning Glory (2011), and The Confession(2016). Her titles consistently hit the top ten ranking in the BCNN1/BCBC National Bestsellers List, two books in the Carmen Sisters series hit #1 and #2.

In addition to researching her roots and sewing, she has been a featured speaker and workshop presenter at various venues across the country.

Pat has converted her sofa-strapped sports fanatic husband into an amateur travel agent, untrained bodyguard, GPS-guided chauffeur, and administrative assistant who is constantly on probation. They have a son and a daughter.

Readers may learn more about Pat by contacting her at authorpatsimmons@gmail.com.

Visit Pat’s website, http://www.patsimmons.net, to get to know her better.

Follow Pat on Twitter.

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Interview with Regina Jennings, author of Sixty Acres and a Bride

Happy Monday, reader friends!

Join us in welcoming Regina Jennings to our blog today!

She’s here to talk about her debut book, Sixty Acres and a Bride.


About the Author:

 Regina Jennings is the winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. A graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a minor in history, Regina has worked at the Mustang News and at First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She lives outside of Oklahoma City with her husband and four children when not traveling the world.

Connect with Regina on Facebook and visit her official website.


About the Book: 

She’s Finally Found a Place to Call Home . . . How Far Will She Go to Save It?



With nothing to their names, young widow Rosa Garner and her mother-in-law return to their Texas family ranch. Only now the county is demanding back taxes and the women have just three months to pay.

Though facing eviction, Rosa falls in love with the countryside and the wonderful extended family who want only her best. They welcome her vivacious spirit and try to help her navigate puzzling American customs. She can’t help but stand out, though, and her beauty captures attention. Where some offer help with dangerous strings attached, only one man seems honorable. But when Weston Garner, still grieving his own lost love, is unprepared to give his heart, Rosa must decide to what lengths she will go to save her future.

Buy Regina’s book on Amazon.


Interview with Regina Jennings about her book, Sixty Acres and a Bride:

Why did you call this book “Sixty Acres and a Bride”? Explain the significance.

Marketing is always a factor when choosing titles, and using the word “Bride” is very popular with romance readers. That was one consideration, but primarily we took our cue from the biblical story of Ruth (which was the inspiration for the story) and played off the fact that when Boaz went to the city elders about buying the property from his kinsman, the fact that a widow came with the property was significant. Many historical novels involve saving or acquiring a farm, but rarely is there a wife attached to the deed. That made the title more enticing.

What is the main conflict in your story?

After the Civil War, Louise and her family had escaped from Reconstruction Texas to start anew in Mexico. Their time there was a disaster. After the death of her son and husband, Louise and her daughter-in-law Rosa come back to Texas to reclaim their ranch that had been leased, only to find that heavy back-taxes are due and it was on the verge of foreclosure. Louise and Rosa must beat impossible odds to pay the taxes.

Let’s talk about your story’s heroine, Rosa Garner. What does she look like? What is her personality type? What’s her motivation in this story?

Rosa is a hard-working, energetic woman. Because of her status as a newcomer and her unfamiliarity with the customs, she feels that she has to repress her usual enthusiasm, but sometimes the mask slips and reveals her vivaciousness. She is a beautiful Nahua woman, without Spanish blood. She is very dainty and the people in Texas tend to think that she’s younger than she is.

Rosa loves her mother-in-law, who is emotionally fragile, and is determined to protect Louise from the harsh realities of life. Louise was the outsider in Mexico, and Rosa has kept the role as protector even though they are back in Louise’s homeland.

Would you say that your fictional story is a spin on the real Bible story of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz? Why or why not?

Absolutely. This story began when I was asked to write a Christmas play with the theme of Redeemer. I had to compose a few skits that showed redemption and I knew immediately that I wanted to do the Ruth and Boaz story. Because of the Bethlehem Christmas scene, we already had the biblical times costumes in one drama, so I wanted to do something different for the Ruth story. A wealthy farmer? A woman with her foreign daughter-in-law who are going to lose their land? This sounded very much like a story straight from the old west. After the play, I decided to expand the plot to a full-length novel.

What I really wanted to accomplish with this story was to use the much-loved character of Ruth to explore how hard it is to come to a new place as an immigrant and to highlight some of the comical cross-cultural misunderstandings that happen with anyone who travels internationally. Also, I wanted to give us a fresh look at the story of Ruth. How did the women of the town feel about a foreigner taking the most eligible bachelor? What did they say about how the marriage came about? (Going to his bed in the middle of the night could not have been that common.) There’s a lot of drama built into the story and it made an excellent framework for a historical romance set in the 19th century.’

Describe the countryside that Rosa fell in love with and explain why you chose it for the setting of this story.

The story setup—a family fleeing lawless Texas for Mexico and then returning to find the taxes had risen on the farm during Reconstruction—has a solid historical footing behind it. Taxes were raised on the Southern states such as Texas to punish the rebellious and to help pay for the war. This fit nicely with what I was trying to accomplish with the plot. I live in Oklahoma, so the western culture is very familiar to me, but since Oklahoma was Indian Territory at the time, the story wouldn’t work here, so Texas it had to be.

Why are American customs “puzzling” to Rosa? What is she used to? Describe her home country and compare how it’s different from America.

The Victorian Era in America was marked by un-naturalism for women. Women wore whale-boned corsets and padded layers of clothes to disguise and manipulate their figures. Pregnancy was never mentioned in polite society and allusions to common body parts like “legs” were avoided. While women in 19th century Mexico weren’t given equal rights either, women from rural areas did live less restrictive lives. Natural body functions weren’t considered shocking and they had more freedom. Rosa had not been schooled to hide her emotions and opinions like other young ladies of society, and that leads to embarrassment and conflict for her.

Who is Weston Garner and what role does he play in this story?

Weston portrays the biblical idea of a kinship redeemer. Reconstruction Texas was a rough place and as the patriarch of his family, Weston is the leader and protector of several family units. He feels responsible for everyone. When Louise (the widow of his uncle) arrives, he immediately takes responsibility for her. While Weston had never met Rosa before, she’s family by marriage and he always takes care of family.

How does Weston’s relationship with Rosa affect the storyline?

Weston’s main motivator is duty. Since the death of his wife he has lost his joy, but he never fails in his obligations to his family. In Rosa, he meets someone who is just as driven by duty as he is. The fact that she is also a part of his extended family, means that she falls under his care. Weston is immediately attracted to her but isn’t interested in love. When circumstances force him to choose between protecting his family or protecting his heart, he does what chivalry requires, even though he knows it’s going to cost him.

As a White author, did you find it challenging to write about characters of color? Why or why not?

Rosa is different from my other heroines because of her culture and the experieces she’s lived through, but I found the variety invigorating. In this case, the writing was made easier by 15 years of relationships I’ve cultivated in Mexico and I was able to have this character do things and say things my typical 19th century white heroine wouldn’t be able to do or say. That much was really fun. Still, it’s always intimidating to put yourself in unfamiliar shoes. As with all characters, you just try to create a well-rounded character while being influenced by research and your knowledge of the human condition.

Would you like to see more White authors write stories for CBA featuring main characters of color? Why or why not?

One of my favorite tropes to read and write is the ‘fish out of water’ trope. What happens when cultures clash? You can’t have that when everyone in the cast of characters has the same background and understanding of the world. So yes, I’d love to see more diverse heroes and heroines in CBA fiction by authors of every color, but I feel the impetus is on readers to support those efforts.

What do you want readers to remember most about Sixty Acres and a Bride?

Mostly, that it was a good story that made them laugh and sigh. Secondly, I hope reading Sixty Acres and a Bride will make readers more empathetic to people who are new to a culture.

Thanks for the interview, Regina! Would you like to share closing thoughts?

Thanks so much for letting me visit here at Diversity Between the Pages. I enjoyed getting to visit about my debut novel.

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor

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Interview with Susan Valles about her book “Zimrah, Dream Singer”

Happy Monday, reader friends!

Let’s welcome Susan Valles to our blog! She’s a talented writer and musician. Today, she’s here to talk about her novel “Zimrah, Dream Singer.” Susan has a heart for God and a love for people. Her faith in God informs her writing too.

I hope that you will enjoy her author interview!


About the Author:

 For the past fourteen years, Susan Valles has been using her gifts to lead others into the presence of God through worship. Touched by this presence in a profound way at the age of ten, Susan developed a deep hunger to help others experience the love of God and the majesty of His presence. Writing, singing, playing the guitar and songwriting became extensions of this hunger, an outlet for the passion Holy Spirit stirs inside her to bring the lost and hurting into the healing embrace of the loving Father.

Susan is married and the mother of four children. She currently lives in the beautiful state of North Carolina.

Connect with Susan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.


Interview with Susan Valles about her book Zimrah, Dream Singer:

What inspired you to write this book?

Zimrah, Dream Singer was divinely inspired! I woke up one morning with a picture in my mind. I saw the Father, sitting on an easy chair by a window with a scroll in his hands. He was reading the scroll and singing into existence what was written there. (Like the picture portrayed in Psalm 139:16) I grabbed my laptop and wrote down what I saw. What I wrote is now the prologue of the book.

How did you decide on the title? What is its significance?

The title of my first draft was actually Scroll of Remembrance. My editor had me keep giving her options until I came up with Zimrah, Dream Singer. We both liked it much better. Zimrah is the name of my main character. She sings songs she hears in her dreams, so Zimrah, Dream Singer fit the book very well. Funny story, I was recently talking to some Jewish friends, and they told me in passing that the director of music in their synagogue is called Zimrah Mary. Mary is her first name and Zimrah is the Hebrew word for her function! I did not know that the minister of music is called Zimrah at the time when I decided on the book title. That’s the fun of walking with God! There is always more to be discovered.

Would you say that this is Biblical fiction? Why or why not?

It is Biblical fiction in the sense that the events and timelines are true to the Bible and historical records. For example, Zimrah grows up in a city of Refuge, in the house of a Hebrew man from the tribe of Asher. She learns to read and write from the Hebrew scrolls. In this first book though, there are no characters from the Bible mentioned. My characters are completely fictional. Although, Dream Singer definitely sets the stage for the second two books where my character does meet a few significant Biblical personalities.

Who was your favorite character to write in this book? Why?

I have to say, my favorite character to write was Theophilus, a Roman soldier who is Zimrah’s love interest. I didn’t do this consciously – much of what I write is unconscious. I realize things later – but he is very much like my husband. He is patient, funny, kind, and good at breaking stereotypical norms. Theophilus sees things in Zimrah that she can’t see in herself. She would not be who she becomes without his influence in her life.

Give us a glimpse into the research that you did for this story. Did you go on a research trip to the Middle East? What kind of resources did you use?

The research I did came mostly from the Bible. Zimrah is a slave in a Hebrew house, so Jewish history comes into play a great deal in the story. I also studied historical maps, rivers, and mountains. I wanted to know what Zimrah saw when she looked out of her windows. What was life like at that time? What did they eat? What was the furniture like? All these little things were fascinating to me. I did a lot of research online, read way too many articles on archeological discoveries. It was fun though. For this first book, I didn’t get to go on a research trip, but for book two, (which is currently in the editing process) I did! I took a trip to Israel this past February 2018. It was amazing seeing the places I’d written about and researched come to life!

Why did you choose Israel as the setting for this story?

Again, I don’t know if I consciously thought about it. The story kind of emerged as I was writing. You could say Israel chose me. I think as Bible reading believers in Jesus, we all have a secret love affair with Israel. The Holy Land is in our DNA. It is part of all of our origin stories.

Talk about your story’s heroine Zimrah. What does she look like? What does her name mean? What is her primary motivation in this story? Explain.

My college English professor always said to write what you know. Zimrah is such a representation of me, of my life experiences and journey with God. She is tall, brown-skinned with curly hair and grey eyes. She looks very different from the people in her city (no one knows who her people are or where she comes from) and they treat her pretty badly. Her motivation and greatest longing is just to be loved. Zimrah is one of the Hebrew words for praise, more specifically, “to play upon an instrument in praise”. She learns just how significant her name is the destiny she was born for.

How does being an orphan affect Zimrah’s worldview and persona?

Not knowing who she is or where she comes from definitely affects what Zimrah thinks about herself. She sees the world as a frightening place where she is not accepted and can’t imagine anyone loving her or seeing her for more than a slave. She is alone and wears that persona as a badge, afraid to let anyone into her heart.

Why did you as the author decide to make Zimrah a slave?

I did not realize it’s how I felt until I wrote this book. Like Zimrah, I was a slave to my fears, my past, and my false opinion of myself. Freedom came only after learning the truth of who I was, from the One who made me. Zimrah being a slave is a representation of the bondage that comes when we believe the Tormentor’s lies.

What role does faith in God play with your characters in this story?

Faith is everything. My character’s faith or lack of faith shapes their reality and their destiny. I believe one of the miracles of this story, and our lives, is the journey of faith. Some of my characters in Dream Singer are angels, so that was an exciting aspect of faith to explore as well.

As a woman of faith, how does your belief in God affect your storytelling?

I love how telling a story can change the way we think. Everyone has a backstory. There is a reason we become who we are, good or bad. The human story is that, history…His-story. As a woman of faith, my greatest joy is being able to tell a story that has the potential to change my reader’s life. I believe that God gave me this story (which is really my testimony), that can be like that answer in the dark, that comes when all other hope is gone.

What was the most difficult part of writing this book? Why?

It was probably how long it is. I am a songwriter and had never written anything as long as a novel before. I didn’t even tell anyone that I was writing it until I was almost done because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to finish. It took a lot of prayers like, “Lord, this is Your story. You started this! You have to help me finish it!” I was also homeschooling two of my four children at the same time, so that made finding time to write a challenge. (God gave me like, supernatural sleep! I would stay up all night, sleep an hour or two and feel completely rested!)

What was the most rewarding aspect of telling Zimrah’s story? Why?

It was very rewarding being able to incorporate songs into the story. Music has been such a huge part of my language with God. When the story touches my readers, and they can sing the same songs that God used to speak to Zimrah, and Zimrah used to speak to God, it’s beyond joy for me.

The cover of your book shows Zimrah as a woman of color. What is her heritage?

Zimrah’s heritage is a bit of a mystery in this first book. She doesn’t know what she is. In a time when not many traveled very far, no one can tell her what people group her features resemble. She is a woman of color, and I could tell you what she is, but it would be a spoiler for book two!

Would you like to see more books featuring women of color who lived in Bible times, published by CBA? Why or why not?

Absolutely! I think because of our western culture, in the media and in paintings for generations, we have a mental picture of what people in the Bible looked like. The truth is, there was much more diversity than we have been led to believe, across gender and racial lines. Exploring culture in a broader view encourages us to see that God has created us with great purpose. We all have a role to play in history, past, present, and future. CBA’s have an important voice in every genre.

How does your own worldview as a woman of color affect your character creation and writing career as an author?

Like Zimrah, I was raised far away from people who looked like me. I didn’t seem to fit people’s boxes. This comes out in my writing. The longing to fit in and belong somewhere, I felt this very acutely in my younger years. I think it’s a common human desire and struggle. Most people feel different in some way or another, so I think my characters are relatable. As a woman of color, I know what it feels like to be ignored or overlooked. But my characters overcome the boxes their society has for them and discover the calling of the great Author. I hope in my career, and in my life, I can do the same.

Thanks for the interview, Susan! Do you have any closing thoughts?

Thank you for interviewing me! Writing this book was a turning point for me. I feel like it helped me have a greater understanding of who I am and what my purpose is. My prayer would be that it does the same for others as well. No matter what our past is like, like Zimrah, we have a loving Father who has an amazing future for us. There is so much joy in the journey of figuring out who He is and what adventures He has in store for us!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the book:

In the land of ancient Israel, in the days just before the miracles of Jesus the Christ began, there lived an orphan girl named Zimrah. A foreigner and a slave with no knowledge of who she is or where she came from, except that she was rescued barely alive and only a week old from a caravan of slavers, Zimrah has many demons to overcome. Living among people that despise her for being different, she finds shelter in the last Jewish house in a City of Refuge, only to find that her master has demons of his own. She learns that these dark spirits who have tormented her all her life can not only be battled, but can be defeated when she begins to heed the gentle Voice that speaks to her in her dreams.

Her obedience to the Voice leads her not only to freedom from the fear that stalks her in the night, but to the arms of a loving father who has been there all along. Following the Voice, Zimrah finds a lyre and the songs that have been hidden for her in her dreams. Singing these dream songs – an inheritance passed on through the bloodline of which she does not yet know- will determine the path to her heart’s desires, her future, and her destiny. Assisted by Rebecca and Garbar, the Warrior Angels that guard and protect her, and the love of a Roman officer who she must learn to trust, Zimrah discovers that her life has much more significance than she could have ever imagined. Her obedience and courage will shake the heavens and stir the hearts of all who touch Zimrah, Dream Singer.

Buy Susan’s book on Amazon

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Author Interview: Cindy Flores Martinez, featuring “Love’s Second Chance”

Let’s welcome Cindy Flores Martinez to the blog today!

She’s here to talk about her book, Love Second’s Chance.

Read Cindy’s interview below to learn more about her All-American/Latina heritage and discover her passion for portraying Latino-American characters in her stories whose experiences are relatable to the readers regardless of the readers’ race.

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About the book: 

Can two broken hearts find healing together?

Brad McIntyre is much too young to feel so disillusioned with his life as a deputy sheriff. Esperanza De La Cruz has left the only home she has ever known to work at Sweet Grove’s daycare. When someone steals her car, Deputy McIntyre comes to the rescue.

There’s an instant attraction between them, but they’re both broken on the inside. Her father is in prison for intoxicated manslaughter and she’s afraid that Brad won’t want to be with her because of it.

He’s thinking of leaving the only career he’s ever known but pretends that everything is fine. His desperate prayers seem to go unanswered.

When they start spending time together and their feelings for each other begin to grow stronger, things become even more complicated. When the truth comes out, will it pull them apart or will they find a second chance at love and in life together?

Buy the book on Amazon

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About the Author: Cindy Flores Martinez is a USA Today bestselling author. She writes Christian romance. She has an MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Screenwriting. Her debut novel, Mail-Order Groom, started as a screenplay and movie project, which she shopped around Hollywood, New York, and other parts of the world. You can learn more about her at www.cindyfloresmartinez.com.

Follow Cindy: Facebook ~ Twitter

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Interview with Cindy Flores Martinez, author of Love’s Second Chance:

Alexis: Tell us about the First Street Church Romances novella collection. What is it about? How did you get involved? Why did you want to contribute your story to the collection?

Cindy: The First Street Church Romances novella collection is part of Amazon’s fan fiction called Kindle Worlds. The series is based on Melissa’s Storm’s Christian romance series, which includes Love’s Prayer, Love’s Promise, Love’s Prophet, and Love’s Vow. Each of the stories takes place in the fictional town of Sweet Grove, Texas where the First Street Church is an important part of the characters’ lives. I knew Melissa from a boxed set that we were part of together and I found out that she was seeking authors for her Kindle World debut. I reached out to her and became one of twenty authors who were chosen. The Christian romance theme is what interested me in contributing a story.

Alexis: Tell us about your story, Love’s Second Chance. What is it about? What or who inspired you to write it?

Cindy: Love’s Second Chance is about a young woman who moves to Sweet Grove, Texas after landing a job at the daycare there. The day she arrives, someone steals her car and a young deputy sheriff answers the call. They’re attracted to each other and their feelings grow as they spend time together, but they face obstacles that keep them from admitting their feelings for one another. My inspiration came from reading Melissa’s books. Her characters face serious problems in life and find strength and answers through prayer. I had written mostly romantic comedy and wanted to try writing a deeper story like that.

Alexis: Your story’s heroine is Esperanza De La Cruz. She’s a Latina. Which country is she from and how does her heritage affect the way she is portrayed in your story?

Cindy: Esperanza is American with Mexican ancestry. Her character was easy to write because I consider myself the same. The difference between me and her is that I have American Indian ancestry on both of my parents’ sides, so I connect with that ancestry as well. Like me, Esperanza speaks both English and Spanish perfectly, has a college education, and a career, but the Mexican culture has played a big role in her life. Her story reflects the reality of so many Latinos. We grew up as all-American kids who became college-educated adults and we happen to have Mexican parents (or parents from other Latin American countries) who raised us according to their customs.

Alexis: Do you think there is a need for more Latino main characters in fictional stories written for the Christian book market (CBA)? Why or why not?

Cindy: Absolutely! I would love to see more Latino main characters in Christian fiction, as well as more Christian Latino authors. I often see stories that are written by authors who happen to be Latino but the genres aren’t what I want to read. I find myself looking to Christian women as role models and I enjoy reading Christian romance. It’s rare to see a Latino point of view within that mix. If there are other Christian Latino authors out there, please let me know!

Alexis: How did your own experience as a Latina affect the way that you wrote Esperanza’s character?

Cindy: I think the way Esperanza acts and reacts has everything to do with my experience as a Latina. One of my beta readers told me that the first draft of my story had parts that were melodramatic. I didn’t think so because, in the Latino culture, it’s normal to express strong emotions and to look at life in a way that may seem overly dramatic. I mean, some of us were told as children not to go out in the cold without a jacket or else our face would get twisted and stay that way. Talk about dramatic! That’s just one example. Well, the final draft of the story is much calmer than the first, but Esperanza still reacts emotionally when she experiences the problems in her life.

Alexis: In what ways do you hope that Esperanza’s story will impact your readers?

Cindy: My desire is that Esperanza’s story will show others that God is alive and active. He hears the prayers of His people and responds. Things may happen that aren’t fair and that don’t make sense, but He knows why. If you wait on Him and trust in Him, He will lead you to the right place and you will look back and understand why things happened the way they did. Esperanza’s story may be fictional, but the experience of God in her life is very real.

Alexis: Describe Esperanza’s look, personality, and heart. What is her most troublesome character flaw? Explain.

Cindy: Esperanza’s name, Esperanza De La Cruz, means “Hope of the Cross”. Her mother’s name, Milagros, means miracles. I chose those names on purpose to represent the theme of the story, which is the hope of the Cross of Christ. Esperanza is described as young and attractive and her most troublesome character flaw is that she carries guilt and shame over the negative events that have happened in her life, even though she wasn’t to blame. Isn’t that true for many of us?

Alexis: What happened to Esperanza that broke her heart? Is there hope for restoration? Why or why not?

Cindy: Esperanza’s father was arrested for intoxicated manslaughter and sent to prison. He didn’t plan on committing the crime. He had a few alcoholic beverages, drove home and hit and killed a pedestrian. In addition to devastating the victim’s family, it destroyed Esperanza’s perfect life. She suffered the pain of her father being taken away, and as a result of him being gone, her parents lost their home. Esperanza’s boyfriend left her because he couldn’t handle her family problems. She thinks there’s no hope for a better tomorrow, but God doesn’t see it that way.

Alexis: Esperanza works for Sweet Grove’s daycare. Why did you give her a heart for children? What role does her passion play in this story?

Cindy: Esperanza wants to teach kindergarten because she has a desire to affect people’s lives in a positive and lasting way, but she feels that teaching adults would limit her ability to do so. She realizes that teaching children would enable her to make more of an impact on others. Her desire drives her to move to a place she’s never known before and leave her mother in the process. Working at the daycare will enable her to get experience for when she is able to become a teacher.

Alexis: Brad McIntyre is the hero of your story. Describe his looks, personality, and heart. What is his most prominent character flaw? Explain.

Cindy: Brad is young and attractive and he believes that God has given him a calling in life to help others. He has pursued a career in law enforcement after realizing it was part of that greater purpose. His character flaw is that he wishes he can change the whole world and he doesn’t see the positive effect he has on the lives of the people around him. This leads to a sense of disappointment and feelings of being a failure.

Alexis: Describe Brad and Esperanza’s meet-cute. What brings them together? Is there anything that drives them apart? Explain.

Cindy: When Esperanza arrives at Sweet Grove with all of her belongings in her car, she parks in front of the apartment building where she plans to rent an apartment. She enters the building to search for the landlord, and when she returns, someone is driving away in her car. Brad quickly arrives after a witness calls the police. Their meeting isn’t a typical meet-cute because Brad is so focused on doing his job and Esperanza is overcome by the horror of what has happened. When Brad offers to drive her to the First Street Church to see if they can help her, she hesitates. Although they’re attracted to each other, it takes a while for things to become romantic.

Alexis: What’s Brad’s race? How does his heritage affect the way that he deals with people who do not share his same background…or does it not matter to him?

Cindy: Brad is described as having blond hair and blue eyes and he doesn’t fully understand Spanish, but I didn’t emphasize his ancestry. Like Esperanza, he’s all-American, but not Latino like her. He notices her dark hair and dark eyes and that she speaks to her mom in Spanish, and he’s attracted to her wholeheartedly. He helps her without hesitation.

Alexis: What role does Brad and Esperanza’s faith in God play in this story?

Cindy: When Brad struggles with his job situation, he calls out to God for help. When Esperanza needs a job, she seeks God’s guidance. Brad isn’t as confident in his faith as Esperanza. He’s confused about his life, but despite it, he waits on Him. No matter what, God remains their only hope.

Alexis: What’s the moral of the story?

Cindy: No matter how hopeless life can seem, God will rescue you if you seek Him with all of your heart. People often quote Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,” but they fail to continue to the part that says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”. A passion for God is the key to moving mountains.

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

Cindy: I want to thank you for letting others know that there are Christian diverse stories available to read. Sometimes our names and ancestries might give others the impression that our stories won’t be relatable to them. The result is that they don’t “hear” the message that God has inspired us to share. By sharing our works, you’ve opened a door that could lead to more lives being touched.

~ Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor ~

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Book Spotlight: Watercolored Pearls by Stacy Hawkins Adams

Happy Wednesday, Reader Friends!

Thanks for stopping by Diversity Between the Pages.

Today, we’re featuring Watercolored Pearls, another book written by the famous journalist-turned-author Stacy Hawkins Adams!

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About the book:

 Three women spend a summer discovering that their less-than-perfect circumstances, their friendships with one another, and their faith are steppingstones 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.

Book purchase links: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Kobo

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About the Author: 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.

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Connect with Stacy:

Website – www.StacyHawkinsAdams.com

Twitter – www.twitter.com/shadams

Facebook – www.facebook.com/stacyinspires

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Author Interview: Alena Pitts with Wynter Pitts

Happy Monday, diverse reader friends!

Today I’m super excited to introduce you to Alena Pitts and her mother Wynter! If you’ve seen the popular Christian movie “War Room” you may recognize Alena. She played Danielle who is the daughter of Elizabeth Jordan. Priscilla Shirer played Alena’s mom in this movie but today you get a special treat because you get to “meet” Alena’s real-life mom Wynter!

Alena wrote the book Hello Stars based on her experience from her professional acting debut in the movie War Room. Wynter contributed to the story but her daughter Alena really “drove” the writing of this book. According to Alena’s PR agent, Alena “developed the story concept for the series, the characters, and wrote the content. Wynter’s role was to help guide her, as Wynter is also a writer, a published author, and a magazine editor.”

Alena, now 13-years-old, started writing stories when she was age 11. Wynter has supported and guided Alena through all of her creative pursuits, especially involving the written word. According to their PR agent, Alena and Wynter are “an incredible team” and “the entire Pitts family is wonderful!”

After that introduction, I think you’re ready to “meet” Alena and Wynter, right? 🙂

Enjoy the interview!

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About the book: 

 Lena Daniels never thought she’d get the chance star in a movie. Headstrong and determined, she has her life planned out to the minute. But when her best friends, Savannah and Emma, tell her about an audition, she knows there’s nothing else in the world she’d rather do. And now that she’s gotten her wish, Lena finds that being in the spotlight is harder than it sounds. She got everything she never wanted! Her face turns up everywhere she goes, and everything in her life is flipped upside down. Lena wonders if this is a dream come true or a horrible nightmare. Even a visit from her best friends during filming turns into a disaster.

With her little sisters—Ansley, Ashton, and Amber—and her mischievous pup, Austin, constantly at her side, Lena must face the challenges of everyday life while chasing her dreams of being a model and actress on the big screen. Lena tackles tough choices, learns the value of perseverance, and keeps her hopes high. She knows her faith and family will keep her feet on the ground and her eyes on the stars.

This Faithgirlz series entitled Lena in the Spotlight, written by Alena Pitts, star of War Room and tween blogger of For Girls Like You, and co-written with her mother, editor and author, Wynter Pitts, is a reflection of Alena’s own life experiences as she reaches for the stars and keeps her faith in balance.

Book purchase links: Amazon, B&N, CBD

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Interview with Alena and Wynter Pitts about the book, Hello Stars:

Alexis: You’re such a good writer! I love your creative descriptions like this one from your book on page 20: “Mom looked at me as if she was trying to see inside my brain.” Have you always had this desire to be an author? Tell me how this book went from an idea to reality.

Alena: No, I didn’t actually have a desire to write a book! My mom has always said I was a great writer and after reading something I’d written for school she randomly said, “Alena we should write a book together!” We decided to pray about it. About a month or so later we got an email from Zondervan asking if we wanted to meet with them about writing a series together! It really just showed how God always hears our prayers!

Alexis: In this book, Lena is star struck when she gets the opportunity of a lifetime. What was it like when you got the call to play Priscilla’s daughter Danielle in the movie War Room? What thoughts went through your head? How did the news make you feel?

Alena: My real life reaction was pretty much exactly the same. I was star-struck and overwhelmed! There was a big part of me that was grateful to God that He allowed me the opportunity to act in a movie, but the other small part of me was, “What have I gotten myself into?!”

Alexis: Why does Lena address her journal entries to “Hello, Stars”?

Alena: Lena addresses her journal entries to “Hello Stars” because she sort of is just talking to the air because no one is reading it but she slowly realizes she is talking to God.

Alexis: How much of Lena’s fictional storyline is actually yours from what you experienced in being selected to play Danielle in the movie War Room? Describe how you and Lena are alike and different.

Alena: A lot of the storyline is based off my life but to make the book a little more fun and goofy we added some fiction. Lena and I are very similar. We both like to be in control but are learning to allow God to be in control of our lives.

Alexis: At such young age, you’ve experienced several once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that some people only dream of. Through it all, how have you learned to trust God and follow His plans for your life?

Alena: I’ve learned that God’s plans for my life are so much better than my own plans. I love to be in control but I’ve had to learn how to give God control.

Alexis: Do you ever feel like God is being silent? If so, share the story of what you went through and how He broke the silence.

Alena: I’ve never felt like God is silent but I know that when He’s not showing us or allowing everything we want to happen, He’s working everything out. We just don’t know it because we’re human.

Alexis: How has your faith in God grown since your big role in the movie War Room? How did it help you write this book?

Alena: My prayer life has excelled greatly. Before the movie, I thought prayer was for older people only! I didn’t think I had anything to pray about but after the movie, I realized I did, and I started to pray. I learned that God listens.

Alexis: Do you want to be a normal kid? Or are you ready for more adventures as an actress and author? Share what you can about what’s next for your career and education.

Alena: I don’t really have a solid plan for my career. I love hanging out with my friends and playing sports but am ready for new adventures. I have a passion for singing and hope to pursue that in the near future.

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Questions for Wynter:

Alexis: What was your role in the writing of this book? How much did you write and how much did Alena write?

Wynter: Alena created the storyline and drove the plot. She would send me a few thousand words at a time, full of her ideas and stories. She knew the adventure and experiences she wanted Lena Daniels to have as well as the lessons she wanted her to line throughout the series. I helped with the flow of the chapters and worked to help increase the word count!

Alexis: The cover of your book is beautiful! I love how it features a young Black female with natural hair that looks flawless and she has a true to life skin color! As you may know, sometimes authors of color struggle with getting proper representation for characters of color on the cover of their books. Sometimes the models or pictures chosen are featured with unkempt hair or an unattractive look. Did you and your daughter have a say on how your book’s cover looked? Are you happy with it? Who was your cover designer?

Wynter: Yes, we love the cover! We wanted little girls to look at the cover and see themselves and Faithgirlz did an amazing job of capturing that. It is a true representation of Alena’s heart and Lena Daniels’ personality.

Alexis: What race are Savannah and Emma who play Lena’s best friends in this story? What are your thoughts on the need for diversity in Christian fiction?

Wynter: Emma is White and Savannah is biracial. We wanted the story to reflect Alena’s real life and she has a pretty diverse group of friends. I think it’s important for all girls to see themselves in the stories they read…seeing first that they are God’s girl and second, He made them unique on purpose.

Alexis: Are you and Alena close like the characters in this story? Describe your Mother-daughter bond.

Wynter: Yes we are extremely close. My goal is for Alena to know that we (her father and I) are her biggest fans, but not simply because of her outward successes. We are fully invested in her spiritual growth and character development. This means we have to be willing to spend time with, know her and support her as she grows and explores all that God has for her and who He created for her to be. As a mom, I think it is such a gift to watch our children walk out their paths. I tell Alena and her sisters often that I love having a front row seat in their lives!

Alexis: What is it like raising a superstar?

Wynter: Oh my! I never consider her a superstar! She is very much like any other 13-year-old, meaning she has to be reminded to clean her room and asked to turn down her music! I am very proud of Alena and all that she has accomplished but my heart is for her to remain humble and grateful that God has blessed her with awesome opportunities to show His love.

Alexis: What role do faith and family play in keeping you and your daughter grounded in reality while chasing your dreams?

Wynter: Our faith is our foundation and our family is our priority. Who we are at home is what matters and we pray that the details of our lives would always point others to the love of God.

Alexis: What message are you hoping that this book will give young girls with big dreams?

Wynter: That anything is possible! Literally anything! But their first priority is to get to know God and be willing to say yes and follow His plans for them!

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A Question for Alena and Wynter

Alexis: Jeremiah 29:11 is one of several Bible verses that are quoted in this book. This one is what I consider to be “my life verse” because God led my Mom to it when I went through a traumatic time as a teenager and she shared that verse with me. Ever since then, we’ve seen it everywhere! Why do you, Alena like that verse and what do you, Wynter, think of this verse in relation to all God is doing in your daughter’s life?

Alena: I like this verse because it is a reminder that God does have a plan even when we don’t see it!

Wynter: It is very clear to me that all that has happened in Alena’s life is bigger and beyond anything, I could have ever dreamed up as her mother! Surely she is God’s and she is living out His plan.

Alexis: Thank you, Alena and Wynter, for taking the time to answer my questions! Do you have any closing comments?

Alena: I’d love for you to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at @alenapitts to follow my journey! I am ready for whatever adventure God sends! You can also check out my website at alenapitts.com

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About the Author:

 Alena Pitts is a young actress and model from Dallas, Texas.  As the oldest of four girls, Alena first cut her teeth in acting through making home videos and dramas with her sisters, using their entire home as their recording studio.  She has a natural love for all things creative which falls right in line with her gifts and talents. The Kendrick Brothers’ War Room marks Alena’s professional acting debut. With only school theater on her young resume, Alena jumped at a chance to audition for the role of Danielle Jordan. In addition to school and acting, Alena models and is a frequent contributor for the magazine For Girls Like You.

Follow Alena: Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram

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Contributor Bio: 

 Wynter Pitts is the founder of For Girls Like You Magazine and the author of For Girls Like You: A Devotional for Tweens and You’re God’s Girl. The mother of four girls, Wynter’s mission is to empower and equip girls to walk boldly into becoming who God has created them to be and to provide parents with the resources and support needed to raise strong Christ followers. In addition to publishing the quarterly magazine, Wynter is a frequent blogger, a contributor for LifeWay’s ParentLife Magazine, and a public speaker. She is also the niece of Dr. Tony Evans. Wynter, her husband Jonathan, and four daughters (ages 6-11), reside in Dallas, Texas.

~*~ Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring ~*~

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Book Spotlight: Dreams That Won’t Let Go

Happy Wednesday, Reader Friends!

Thanks for stopping by Diversity Between the Pages.

Today, we’re featuring Dreams That Won’t Let Go by Stacy Hawkins Adams. It’s the third novel in her Jubilant Soul Series.

Enjoy!

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About the book:

 Indigo Burns is excited. Her wedding preparations to the man of her dreams are under way, her career as a photographer is a success, and her family seems to be doing better than ever–all except her brother Reuben who nobody has seen in years.

But that’s about to change, because Reuben has decided to move back home to Jubilant, Texas. But Reuben’s hope to find healing with his sisters doesn’t seem to be working. Soon enough their lives intersect in dramatic, sometimes painful, and ultimately healing ways.

This insightful novel by an Essence bestselling author will pull in women readers from the urban market and beyond.

Book purchase links: Amazon ~ B&N ~ CBD

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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.

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Follow Stacy: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook