Interview with Cathe Swanson about her book “Hope for the Holidays”

Happy Monday, reader friends!

Last November, we did a spotlight on Cathe Swanson’s Christmas story Hope for the Holidays. Today, Cathe is back and this time, we’re asking questions about her same book.

Enjoy our interview with Cathe Swanson, author of Hope for the Holidays!


Interview with Cathe Swanson about her book,  Hope for the Holidays (Great Lakes Collection):

Alexis: What about the holiday season inspired you to write this book?

Cathe: Christmas brings out the best and worst in communities, so there are always stories to tell. The first Unity Plenkiss book, Snow Angels, was too short to include all of the characters’ Christmas stories. I especially wanted to talk about Tally, a homeless vet with PTSD, because she is so real to me – vulnerable but trying to get and maintain control of her life.

 Alexis: What is does your book title, “Hope for the Holidays,” mean?

Cathe: Christmas can be an emotional season, with pressures and sad memories as well as great joy, fun, and peace. In Chicago, the short winter days are cold. Maly Park is an aging Chicago neighborhood with a diverse population. There are elderly people who’ve lived in the same house through blessings and losses, peace and wars, left behind when their children grew up and left home. There are veterans, women in crisis, children in unstable homes, and other people facing challenges. It’s not just a matter of money – like us, they need love. They need community. The Unity Plenkiss and the church – The Blessed Church of the Sacred Lion and Holy Lamb – provide warmth and encouragement for everyone. Hope!

Alexis: I love the cover art for your book! It is beautiful and captivating! Was it challenging to find a cover photo that featured your hero who is Black and your heroine who is White together sipping what looks like a latte or hot chocolate? Share your cover design story with details like who created it and if it was expensive.

Cathe: Yes, it was hard! There aren’t enough stock photo options for people of color, and finding the right search terms was complicated. I spent an entire day looking at all the major stock photography websites for the right people. In the end, my cover designer, Chautona Havig, had to patch together the image, bringing the couple closer together across the table and fading out the crowded background. This would be a great business opportunity for a professional photographer!

Alexis: As a White author, did you find it difficult to write a hero of color? Why or why not?

Cathe: I didn’t find it difficult to write about Micah, because he just seemed to be “Micah” – a man conflicted over his spiritual gifts vs. his current responsibilities. He came from a suburban Christian home.

I am aware of the limitations of my experience and understanding, and I do worry about “doing it wrong” when I write about characters of markedly different cultures, so I follow the age-old advice and “write what I know.” The adult people of color I know lead lives similar to my own, so that’s how I envision Micah. I live on campus at a treatment center for boys who’ve been in trouble with the law, so my teenage characters might – in a very general way – reflect some of the attitudes and history of the boys here. I realize that Micah’s racial heritage is part of who he is, and he must have experienced racial conflict in his life, but my Christmas novella has a limited scope and setting, and I didn’t explore all of that.

Alexis: Did you do any research when writing this interracial romance between Carrie and Micah? Share details and advice on how you made it work.

Cathe: There are a few interracial relationships in my family and more among our friends and in our church, so I just portrayed it as naturally as I could. In real life, it’s challenging for some people, but it wasn’t really a problem for Carrie and Micah because of her upbringing as a missionary kid in a Black family.

Alexis: What advice do you have to other White authors who may want to write about characters of color in their fiction stories for CBA but are hesitant or scared to do so?

Cathe: If you are going to write a story with significant cultural conflict or issues, get advice from people who have a real understanding of those things. I have found that when I say, “I’m an author writing a book about…”, people are usually happy to share information and help me understand things.I use the Tumblr blog “Writing with Color” for research and advice. It’s a great, helpful website, but it’s also very intense. When I read about all of the mistakes that I can make, I get paralyzed – too scared to write anything at all!

Whatever their skin color, just write about people – real human beings with realistic backstories. If you are worried about something, pray about it. My first goal is to glorify God in my writing, so I write from my own experience, ask for help when I have questions, and just do the best I can.

Alexis: Would you like to see more stories that feature interracial romances, published by CBA? Why or why not?

Cathe: Certainly. I like to read stories with characters who reasonably represent the demographics of their environment, and interracial romances aren’t at all uncommon anymore.

Alexis: Let’s talk more about the romance elements in your story. What is it about Carrie that makes Micah want to pursue a romantic relationship with her?

Cathe: Carrie is energetic and overflowing with good ideas. She can be bossy, but her good intentions shine through. Her childhood, growing up as a missionary kid in the Congo, made her both savvy and naïve. She listens to people. Micah was able to tell her how he felt without being afraid she would judge him.

Alexis: What is it about Micah that tugs on Carrie’s heartstrings and inspires her to give him a chance?

Cathe: Micah – besides being charming and handsome – wants to take care of his people. His congregation may exasperate him, but he feels a great sense of responsibility for them. He won’t leave them to pursue his own dreams until he has provided for their future leadership.

Alexis: Your story’s opening scene is hilarious and your couple’s meet cute is sweet! What were Carrie and Micah’s first impressions of each other?

Cathe: Carrie is startled by the theft of her long-awaited treat and Micah’s intervention. She’s embarrassed by her reaction, and he’s embarrassed by the behavior of his parishioner, but they find each other fascinating.

Alexis: Why is Carrie eager to organize and improve the Unity Plenkiss Community Center?

Cathe: She’s a capable girl and doesn’t like to see resources wasted. She sees great possibilities for the Unity Plenkiss and knows she can make a real difference, but she’s also eager to prove that she’s an intelligent adult – not Roy’s little sister, who only got the job because he recommended her.

Alexis: What kind of pastor is Micah? Describe his leadership style.

Cathe: Micah is very, very conscientious and feels responsibility for everyone in his church. At the same time, he feels like they manage just find on their own.

Alexis: Has Micah always had a big heart for people and has Carrie always had a passion for organization? Explain.

Cathe: Micah’s faith is solid and transparent, and he’s a lively preacher, but his heart is in teaching, not pastoring. He wants to help people but believes he lacks the skills to connect and help them one-on-one.

Carrie has always been sensible and worked hard, as a missionary kid in a poverty-stricken region. Learning to work efficiently made it easier. She gets frustrated now with disorganization.

Alexis: Did you self-publish this book or was it traditionally published? Explain why you chose that publication path for this book and give advice for aspiring authors.

Cathe: I think an author’s personality is the biggest factor when choosing which publication route to take. All my books are independently published. I like the control this gives me over my work and marketing, but it’s a lot of work.

If you like group projects and working with a team, conventional publishing might be a better choice.

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

Cathe: I want them to remember the humanity of the individual characters, and how each one of them needed dignity.

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

Cathe: Thank you for letting me talk about my book. Hope for the Holidays is one of my favorites.

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Book:

Newly arrived from her home in the Congo and armed with a brand-new degree in nonprofit management, Carrie Strough is eager to organize and improve the Unity Plenkiss Community Center. Unfortunately, no one wants to be organized, and only Micah Neresen, the charming and handsome pastor of the local church, is interested in her plans. Or is he just interested in her?

With a cast of lively and eccentric characters including a homeless vet with PTSD, a con man, an elderly couple with an over-the-top Christmas display, a feisty committeewoman with a past of her own, and a police investigation, Micah and Carrie wonder if there is any hope for the holidays this year!

Book Purchase Link: Amazon


About the Author:

Cathe Swanson lives in Wisconsin with her husband of 32 years. They enjoy spending time with their family and being outdoors, kayaking, hiking, birdwatching and fishing, but summer is short in Wisconsin, so it’s important to have indoor hobbies, too. Cathe has been a quilter and teacher of quiltmaking for over 25 years, and she enjoys just about any kind of creative work, especially those involving fiber or paper.

Her family is growing steadily; she and her husband had three sons, and those boys all grew up and married delightful women and started producing grandchildren: four boys and three girls so far!

The long Wisconsin winters are perfect for writing and reading books! Cathe enjoys writing stories with eccentric characters of all ages. Her books will make you laugh and make you cry – and then make you laugh again.

Follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, BookBub, Amazon, Newsletter


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Author Interview with Alexis A. Goring

loveinpictures

Interview with Alexis A. Goring, author of Love in Pictures:

Allison: Alexis, I am so excited to interview you today! Please tell me a little about your background and what brought you to writing.

Alexis: Hi, Allison! I’m a writer and editor with a B.A. in Print Journalism, MFA in Creative Writing, and more than 10 years of work experience as a media professional. I’ve always loved the written word but it was my Mom who started me on this writing journey around the age of four when she required me to write in a journal everyday. My love of writing soon took flight! I pursued it throughout my school years and after graduation from college, started getting paid to write.

Allison: I just finished reading your latest book, Love in Pictures, and really enjoyed it. Can you tell us what inspired the story and what you hope readers will get from it?

Alexis: I am happy to hear that you enjoyed reading my book! A writing prompt inspired my story. I was given a challenge to share the first line of my latest work in progress, with fellow writers. Since I’m very protective of my stories that are not done yet, I didn’t want to share the first line of what I was working on but I did want to participate in the challenge. So I made up a sentence and submitted it to the writers’ e-mail loop. Within minutes, I made a new friend—Jessica Mae, a wedding photographer who loved the line and the fact that my story’s heroine was a wedding photographer. Jessica Mae offered to share her real-world expertise to help me perfect the photography-related scenes in my story and for that, I am grateful.

So that one sentence, turned into a paragraph and that paragraph, a page then a full scene, to full chapter and I continued writing until my story was completed nine months later.

 Allison: What surprised you when you wrote the book?

Alexis: How easily the story came to me once I got into the grove of writing it. There were challenges and I dealt with writer’s block but with the help of God and God-fearing friends who helped me by talking about tough points, the story flowed.

Allison: I especially enjoyed how you didn’t shy away from talking about race and racism in your story. Have any of your own personal experiences inspired these parts of the story?

Alexis: Yes, there were some personal experiences that I drew from as I wrote the story in terms of the struggle of realizing your true value in a world that can be hostile to people of color based on their skin color and other ethnic features.

 Allison: How does your culture influence your writing?

Alexis: This is the first time that I infused my own real-life culture into the story. Like Michelle (my story’s heroine), my Mom is Black American and my Dad is West Indian from Barbados. My personal real-world experiences regarding that culture are reflected in the Michelle’s story, mainly with references to the beautiful, clear-blue waters of the Caribbean and steel band music, which is very popular in Barbados.

 Allison: How does your faith influence your writing?

Alexis: My faith influences my writing in one main way and that is my mission to give people hope in the midst of various real-world situations that seem hopeless, and to warm their heart with God’s Love when they read my stories.

 Allison: What are some of your favorite diverse Christian reads?

Alexis: Oh dear. Too many to name! But to name a few: Reunited at Christmas by Belle Calhoune, The Bashful Bride by Vanessa Riley, Love’s Promise by Melissa Storm, Chances Are by Traci Hunter Abramson, The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon, A Rebel in Jericho by Mimi Milan, and Worth A Thousand Words by Stacy Hawkins Adams.

 Allison: What else have your written? And what’s next?

Alexis: I’ve written a lot of uncompleted stories! Lol. But next, I’m working on a fictional story about a five-star quality bakery in the heart of a very important city. The story focuses on the characters that love it (the bakery).

Allison: Finally, a fun question! 🙂 If you could interview any character out of a fiction novel, who would it be and why?

Alexis: I’d love to interview Celia Park from Becky Wade’s book, Meant to be Mine because she’s a lot like me and I adore how her love story unfolded.

 

~*~

About the Author

 alexis-a-goring-nov-2014, author foto

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.

~*~

Book Blurb for Love in Pictures:

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.

 Get a copy of Love in Pictures exclusively on Amazon.com.

~*~

Follow Alexis on social media:

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PennedbyAlex

Website: https://alexisagoring.jimdo.com

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/capturingidea/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7260528.Alexis_A_Goring

“God is Love” blog: http://capturingtheidea.blogspot.com

 

Book Spotlight: The Bashful Bride

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on The Bashful Bride. 

This book is a Regency-era, fiction story written by  Vanessa Riley.


About the Book:

A friend’s newspaper advertisement for a groom nets the most famous actor in London, Arthur Bex. Shy heiress Ester Croome proposes to elope with the handsome man, who she’s secretly loved for two years, in order to escape an impending engagement arranged by her overbearing family.

Trying to outlive the shadow of his villainous uncle, Bex needs to marry quickly—to a woman of good character. And smart, beautiful Ester fits the bill. But a harrowing trip to Gretna Green and dangerous abolition rallies prove to be a more treacherous stage than either imagined. Infatuation and a mutual love for Shakespeare might not be enough to bind a couple looking to outrun the chains and secrets of family and the past.

Buy The Bashful Bride on Amazon


About the Author:

Vanessa Riley writes Regency and Historical Romances of dazzling multi-culture communities with powerful persons of color. 

Vanessa writes for historical romance readers who admire and acquire books that showcase women who find joy in sweeping kisses and strong sisterhoods. Even in the darkness, she promises to give you laughs and to show you how light always prevails and how love always, always wins. 

Vanessa juggles mothering a teen, cooking for her military-man husband, and speaking at women’s and STEM events. She’s known for her sweeping romances and humorous delivery of poignant truths. You can catch her writing from the comfort of her southern porch with a cup of Earl Grey tea.


Connect with Vanessa:

Website – http://www.vanessariley.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/VanessaRileyAuthor/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/VanessaRiley/
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/RegencyMaid
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/vanessarileyauthor/

Sign up for her newsletter to get access to free stories, giveaways, and more at: 
http://www.vanessariley.com

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Interview with Brandi Boddie, author of “The Preacher’s Wife”

Happy Monday, reader friends!

Let’s welcome Brandi Boddie to our blog today! We did a book spotlight on her story “The Preacher’s Wife” last week. Today, Brandi is here to answer questions about her book and share her insights as an author of color in the publishing industry.

Enjoy your time with Brandi!


About the Author: 

 Brandi Boddie writes historical and contemporary romance. She resides in Texas where she loves spending time with her husband and dogs, a cocker spaniel and a schnauzer who both aspire to be food critics. She holds a juris doctorate from Howard University School of Law and a B.A. in political science from Youngstown State University. She has worked for the Office of the Attorney General in Washington D.C. and traveled extensively across the country as a military wife. When she isn’t writing, Brandi enjoys fencing and swing dancing.

Visit her website www.brandiboddie.com for news and updates.

Follow Brandi on Twitter


About the Book:

 Can this small-town girl trade her tarnished past for a respectable life?

During the hot, windy summer of 1870 in the burgeoning prairie town of Assurance, Kansas, Marissa Pierce is fed up with her abusive boss. She longs to start a new life and is growing weary of convincing townsfolk that she is most certainly not a prostitute.

Civil War veteran and preacher Rowe Winford arrives in town intent on leaving the tragic memories of his deceased family behind. Although Rowe has no plans to fall in love anytime soon, the plans of God rarely match those of man.

Faced with adversity and rejection from the town and Rowe’s family, can Marissa overcome her past, renew her faith, and experience the life of love that God has planned for her?


Interview with Brandi Boddie about her book, The Preacher’s Wife:

Alexis: Why do you call this book “The Preacher’s Wife”?

Brandi: Actually, the original title was called “Garters For Lace”. There’s a line in the story that provides more detail about it. My publisher decided to give the novel a new title, which also is very fitting to the story.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s heroine Marissa Pierce. What’s she like? Describe her personality, looks, and motivation.

Brandi: Marissa is a young woman in her twenties. I describe her as tall, with long black hair and brown eyes. She’s attractive. Today we might describe her as biracial or multiethnic because she is Native American and Caucasian. Although Marissa was born in the 19th century, some aspects of her personality resemble today’s modern woman. She’s very resilient and independent. She’s a survivor of sexual and physical abuse. Although there are things in her past that are very discouraging, she strives to move forward in life with the help of God and caring friends.

Alexis: What’s Marissa’s backstory? Why do people think she’s a prostitute?

Brandi: Marissa had a difficult childhood and early adult life. Circumstances have forced her to work in a saloon as a dancehall girl. In the frontier days, ladies could earn money by dancing with saloon patrons and serving drinks. Not all of these women were prostitutes, but saloons and their employees were often considered disreputable at this time by the public. Marissa has to battle this perception.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s hero Rowe Winford. What is he like? Describe his personality, looks and motivation.

Brandi: Rowe is a kind, strong man who journeys west from Virginia after losing his wife and unborn child. He’s always wanted to be a minister, a profession that his tobacco farming family disapproves of. He desires to make a new start. Rowe is over six feet tall, has blue eyes and dark brown hair.

Alexis: What tragic memories is Rowe trying to escape?

Brandi: Rowe is saddened by the loss of his young wife and unborn child. He also is depressed by his family’s rejection of him.

Alexis: How do God’s plans for Rowe contradict Rowe’s plans for his life?

Brandi: As the town’s new preacher, Rowe wants to do everything right to impress the people and show his competence as a spiritual leader. He doesn’t anticipate meeting and being attracted to Marissa, a woman who many consider beneath his station.

Alexis: What brings Marissa and Rowe together? Is there anything that threatens to tear them apart? Explain.

Brandi: A chance meeting at the saloon and a later encounter firmly place the two in each other’s lives. Rowe doesn’t count on the backlash from the town or Marissa’s abusive employer, the saloon owner Jason Garth.

Alexis: In what ways to Marissa and Rowe work to overcome adversity?

Brandi: Marissa works to escape the saloon and abusive people in her life. Part of that involves seeking new employment, but not everyone in the town wants to be associated with a former saloon girl. Rowe soon learns that his can-do spirit and eagerness to prove himself must be met with action. Being a preacher involves more than Sunday sermons. He learns he has to truly serve others, even those society rejects.

Alexis: What role does faith in God play in Marissa and Rowe’s lives?

Brandi: They learn to recognize God’s voice and accept where He leads them. Marissa, due to her mistreatment by the morally upstanding people of the town, has formed the wrong impression of God. Rowe wonders how God could allow him to lose his family.

Alexis: Marissa is Native American. Why did you give her this heritage and how does it affect her story?

Brandi: Although Hollywood would have us think differently, the historic frontier west actually was made up of diverse peoples. Roughly 40 percent of cowboys were black and Latino. Among white settlers, there were often low populations of women, especially when towns were first being established. It wasn’t unheard of for white men to have children with Native American women or take them as wives. This is partly how Marissa has Choctaw in her ancestry.

Alexis: What’s Rowe’s ethnicity? What role does his racial makeup play in this story?

Brandi: Rowe is Caucasian. As a white man in a mostly white small frontier town, there are certain expectations of him. Will he fulfill them, or will he go against the grain?

Alexis: How do your own experiences as a woman of color affect your storytelling?

Brandi: I’ve always loved to read, but I didn’t see too many women/girls of color as the main characters in stories. This left me feeling like people who looked like me didn’t matter and that our stories weren’t worth telling. If I did find stories featuring POC, they were often relegated to their own little hidden corner of the bookstore or given the general label of Urban Fiction. I have nothing against urban fiction if that’s the actual story setting. However, I’ve seen too many books mischaracterized and given that broad label simply because the protagonists are people of color.

Even now, as a fan of romance novels, it can be discouraging to rarely see black women on the covers. The underlying message is that we are not worthy of love or romantic pursuit. I write stories to help change this by uplifting and representing women of color. We are from all walks of life. We have different experiences. And we have always been here.

Alexis: What changes would you like to see in CBA this New Year 2018 when it comes to authors who write books featuring people of color?

Brandi: I strongly hope we will see more stories featuring POC, written by POC. If we want this, there has to be action behind our words. We can’t just talk about what we’d like to see. We need to be proactive by promoting and encouraging authors. Buy books by POC. Tweet, follow on social media, and don’t be afraid to write to CBA traditional publishers and agents. Let them know there is a demand for diverse stories. Support the indie author movement, because that’s where we’re going to see the impact of diversity in storytelling first.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Brandi. You’ve shared such great thoughts! We look forward to your return in February to talk about another one of your books! God bless you.

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor.

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Book Spotlight: Color Blind

Happy Wednesday, Diverse Reader Friends!

Hope you’re having a good week! In case you need a book to help you through, I’ve got a suggestion. 😉 Today, we featuring Michelle Lindo-Rice’s Color Blind. Check it out!


About the Book

The Blurb: “God had to blind him for him to truly see.

An accident has robbed Saul Sweeterman of his sight. Angry at the world, Aniyah ‘Annie’ Hays is the only person who can reach him. Her voice draws him like a siren. Saul falls for Annie hard and fast, not knowing that she’s of a different race.

As a physical therapist, Annie prides herself on her professionalism. But one glance into Saul’s deep blue eyes and she’s a goner. She’s falling in love and loving it, until she learns Saul opposes interracial relationships.

Since her heart refuses to cooperate, Annie wonders, Will Saul reject her because of the color of her skin? Loosely based on the story of Saul and the prophet Ananias, Color Blind promises to answer the question, Can you tell your heart who to love?”

Links: Amazon, B&N, Goodreads


About the Author

Michelle Lindo-Rice is the bestselling author of the “Able to Love” and the “On the Right Path” series. She enjoys crafting women’s fiction with themes centered around the four “F” words: Faith, Friendship, Family and Forgiveness.

Michelle was nominated for Author of the Year 2014 in Building Relationships Around Books book club. Her first published work, Sing A New Song, was a Black Expressions Editor’s Choice featured selection. My Steps Are Ordered, the second book in the “On the Right Path” series made the AALBC bestseller lists on May/June 2014 and August/September 2014. My Steps Are Ordered was also #1 in UBAWA’s 2014 Top 100 list.

The Fall of the Prodigal made Black Christian Reads Fiction Top Ten List several times in 2015. Michelle was honored to a nominee for Christian Fiction Author of the Year with AAMBC Book Club. However, her proudest accomplishment to date is that of Black Writers and Book Clubs Literacy Rocks! 2015 Female Author of the Year. Originally from Jamaica West Indies, Michelle Lindo-Rice calls herself a lifelong learner. She has earned degrees from New York University, SUNY at Stony Brook, Teachers College Columbia University and Argosy University, A pastor’s kid, Michelle upholds the faith, preaching, teaching and ministering through praise and worship.

Follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter


Spotlight posted by Toni Shiloh

Interview with Terri J. Haynes

Happy Monday, Diverse Reader Friends!

Today I’m interviewing one of our co-contributors, Terri J. Haynes. We’re talking about her novel, Love Simplified. Let’s get started!


About the Book

The Blurb: Tempest Day is an expert on helping others find love through her Connection Parties matchmaking service and the methods outlined in her bestselling book, Love Simplified. She’s one step away from becoming a celebrity matchmaker, the pinnacle of her career dreams.

But when a seemingly simple interview on the nation’s most popular daytime television show takes an ugly turn, Tempest is forced to admit a secret she’s carried for years: She’s never been in love. The fallout is immediate and severe. So severe that the only way to fix the damage is to use her own methods on a reality TV show.

Tempest soon discovers that love is anything but simple. The show and its cranky but handsome associate producer, Lance Moretti, challenges all that Tempest thought she knew about relationships, even her relationship with God. What starts as a desperate attempt to repair her reputation turns into Tempest’s biggest love connection ever.

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


Interview

Toni: Thank you so much for joining me today. I absolutely adore the blurb for Love Simplified. Where did the idea come from?

Terri: Watching late night TV, something I rarely do. I was watching a reality TV show about a self-help guru helping others with their relationships. As I watched, I started to wonder what would happen if the guru had the same problem as the people she’s supposed to help. I imagined someone who could say all the right things but didn’t actually do them. I was fascinated by that irony.

Toni: That’s what interested me in the blurb! Tempest is African American but Lance is Italian. Was it hard to write a story with an interracial relationship?

Terri: Not really because my marriage is cross-cultural. My husband is originally from Barbados. I know what it’s like to fall for someone who was raised in a different culture. Even more than that, I know what it’s like to bridge the gap between cultures. Interracial relationship was a small jump in my imagination.

Toni: Love it when life’s experiences help us in our writing. Here at Diversity, we hope to bring more diverse Christian fiction to the readers. Our world is diverse, so are books should be as well. But I wonder, do you think too much emphasis is placed on ethnic backgrounds?

Terri: Actually, I don’t think there is enough emphasis on ethic backgrounds. One of the key pieces of good fiction is characters, their background, how they were shaped and their fears. A truly moving story can’t be told without considering someone’s ethnic background. If we take away the emphasis on ethnic backgrounds, we will have the same stories told by the same characters.

Toni: Yes! I completely agree. How about some easy questions? What are you currently reading?

Terri: Yeah…I read 3-5 books at a time! I’m reading a book to write a review and I’m a sensitivity reader for another. I’m really excited about that one. In my devotional time, I’m reading Unlimiting God by Richard Blackaby. I’m also reading The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. I just finished Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly and A Shattered Tree by Charles Todd. I’m about to start In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear.

Toni: Wow! That’s a lot of reading! Skittles or M&Ms?

Terri: Both depending on my mood.

Toni: I hear ya! Rain or sunshine?

Terri: Sunshine. Rain and bad weather often triggers migraines so I sometimes dread rain.

Toni: Boo. I love a great rainstorm, but having your health react is no fun. Flip flops or sandals?

Terri: Either. I love shoes so I’m take pumps, boots and espadrilles, too.

Toni: Lol. Summer or Winter?

Terri: Winter! I love blizzards and have been known to swoon when the forecasters call for thundersnow. Every time there is a heavy snow that shuts the DC metro down for a few days, I watch the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Toni: Blech! You lost me with that one. I lost my mind during the last blizzard in DC metro area. No more! Last but not least, how can readers help support you in your writing journey?

Terri: Pray. Pray and pray hard. I am facing some hard circumstances with it comes to my writing. First, I have many manuscripts in many differ genres. I read broadly so my ideas are all over the place. I don’t quite know if I want to brand myself or write whatever I want. Second, traditionally published diverse Christian fiction has been slow to materialize. Although there is a lot of talk about diversity, I’m not sure I see in fruit of that yet (but I do have hope). Third, Love Simplified is self-published, so I have that option and do plan to self-publish more. It is hard to decide what direction to take, but God knows where I need to go next. He’ll open the door and I trust Him to do just that.

Toni: You have our prayers! Blessings to you! Readers, do you have any questions for Terri?


Interview conducted by Toni Shiloh


About the Author

Terri J. Haynes, a native Baltimorean, is a homeschool mom, writer, prolific knitter, freelance graphic artist and former Army wife (left the Army, not the husband). She loves to read, so much that when she was in elementary school, she masterminded a plan to be locked in a public library armed with only a flashlight to read all the books and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. As she grew, her love for writing grew as she tried her hand at poetry, articles, speeches and fiction. She is storyteller at heart. Her passion is to draw readers in the story world she has created and to bring laughter and joy to their lives.

Terri is a 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest finalist, and a 2012 semi-finalist. She is also a 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist. Her publishing credits include Cup of Comfort for Military Families, Crosswalk.com, the Secret Place Devotional, Vista Devotional, Urbanfaith.com and Publisher’s Weekly.

Terri holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology, a Master’s degree in Theological Studies and a certificate in creative writing and graphic design, meeting the minimal requirements of being a geek. She and her husband pastor a church where she serves as executive pastor and worship leader.

Terri lives in Maryland with her three wonderful children and her husband, who often beg her not to kill of their favorite characters.

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