Interview with Chandra Sparks Splond about her book “It’s Like That”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re talking with Chandra Sparks Splond about her book “It’s Like That.”

Enjoy!


Interview with Chandra Sparks Splond about her book  It’s Like That (Grown Zone Book 1):

Alexis: Why did you write this book?

Chandra: First, thanks so much for having me. I decided to write It’s Like That for my very first readers, many of whom were teenagers when my first book Spin It Like That was released. It’s Like That follows the main character Jasmine Richardson who is now an adult and dealing with adult issues, just like my first readers are doing in this season of life. I wanted to give them a character with which they were familiar who is dealing with issues to which they can relate right now.

Alexis: How did you come up with the title for your book?

Chandra: The title It’s Like That is a spin of my very first book, Spin It Like That. I wanted something that connected the books.

Alexis: How important was it to you to have a woman of color with natural hair on the cover of your book? Why?

Chandra: Having a woman of color with natural hair on the cover of It’s Like That was extremely important to me. There’s also what looks like a younger version of the character on the cover of Spin It Like That. When I was growing up, I never saw book covers with people who looked like me, so I make it a point to include characters to which African-American readers can relate on all my book covers.

Alexis: Have you always written stories that feature main characters of color for the Christian fiction book market? Why or why not?

Chandra: All of my fiction books and my poetry book feature main characters of color. I think it’s very important to give African-American readers stories to which they can relate and apply to the reality of their lives.

Alexis: Tell us about your story It’s Like That. What is the core message?

Chandra: At its core, It’s Like That is a story about the power of your dreams. As we get older, often our dreams die or change. When Jasmine was 16, she dreamed of being a deejay, which was fine when her parents were paying all the bills. Now at 26, she finds herself in a career about which she’s not passionate, and she’s re-examining her dreams. I want readers to know that the path to your dreams isn’t always straight and that even if it changes over time, everything you do in the in-between all works together for our good.

Alexis: Who is your target audience for this book and in what ways do you hope that this story will impact your readers?

Chandra: My target audience is the New Adult market (ages 18 to 30). It’s my prayer that readers will see themselves in the story and realize even if you get off track, it’s never too late to make your dreams come true.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s heroine Jasmine Richardson. What does she look like, act like, sound like, and think like?

Chandra: Jasmine is a feisty redhead who has had a passion for music since she was a kid. After suffering a tragic loss ten years ago, she has calmed down a lot, and life has taken her on a different career path than she thought it would. She often acts without thinking things through. As a kid, she had her parents to bail her out, but as an adult, she has to figure some things out for herself.

Alexis: Does your story have a hero or is it all about Jasmine? Why or why not?

Chandra: This story is all about Jasmine, although she has great friends and family to support her along the way.

Alexis: What is it about singing songs and creating lyrics that Jasmine loves?

Chandra: The better question would probably be what is it about singing songs and creating lyrics that Jasmine doesn’t love? LOL. Music is in Jasmine’s blood. She has lived and breathed it since she was a kid. She got her love of music from her father who was once a part of a music group with her uncle for whom she now works.

Alexis: How does Jasmine cope with the tragic loss that she experienced ten years ago and how does her loss still affect her today?

Chandra: Jasmine deals with the loss by cutting all ties with music and deciding to become an attorney. It only takes one encounter with the microphone during karaoke night with her friends for her to realize she still loves music though. Her realization that she still has that passion makes her start re-examining her life.

Alexis: Jasmine faces a real-world problem in your fiction story: Following your passion while still trying to pay the bills! In what ways do you hope that her story, though fictional, inspires your readers (especially the creative types) in the real world?

Chandra: I hope readers realize that you are never too old or too young, and it’s never too late for your dreams to come true. Speaking from personal experience, I’ve known since I was 14 that I’ve wanted to write books, but I didn’t actually sit down to write one until I was in my 30s. Before then, I was working as an editor, so I spent my days around the written word, but after I had my daughter in 2004, I realized I couldn’t tell her to go for her dreams if I never went for mine. I challenged myself to write a book before she turned one. I finished my first manuscript a month after her first birthday, and the rest is history. To this day, editing still pays most of my bills, and it has become a part of my dreams, and doing so blesses others. I hope readers use my life and Jasmine’s as examples that your passion and your need to pay your bills can co-exist.

Alexis: Would you like to see more books like yours that feature main characters of color, published by CBA? Why or why not?

Chandra: I think seeing the CBA publish more books that feature main characters of color would be great. Representation is important. I also think that as a writer of color, I’m not going to wait on someone to make a seat at their table for me. As Tyler Perry said, I’ve decided to build my own table.

Alexis: If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do? Why?

Chandra: If I couldn’t be an author, I’d be an editor, which I’ve been blessed to do for more than 25 years. In addition to working for Good Housekeping magazine as a copy editor, I also was the consulting editor for BET Books/Arabesque, the African-American publishing imprint, where I acquired and edited books for authors like Donna Hill, Rochelle Alers, Leslie Esdaile, Celeste Norfleet, Kayla Perrin and Stacey Abrams (writing as Selena Montgomery). In addition to that, I’ve also been hired as a freelance editor for a lot of well-known authors like E. Lynn Harris, Travis Hunter, and Michael Baisden.

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

Chandra: Thank you so much for the opportunity to share It’s Like That with your audience. It is my prayer they will check it out along with some of my other books.

They can find out about all of my books and read excerpts on my website, www.chandrasparkssplond.com.

I pray God’s blessings on everyone who reads this, and may your wildest dreams come true!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor

~*~

About the book:

After suffering a tragic loss ten years ago, twenty-six-year-old Jasmine Richardson has traded her love of lyrics for writing legal briefs. It only takes one encounter with the microphone for Jasmine to realize the music is still in her heart—if only it could pay the bills.

After making some bad decisions, Jasmine is thrown into a tailspin. She is forced to consider taking a case that could make her legal career from someone from her past. Suddenly, Jasmine finds herself questioning her future.

When the music is still in your heart, sometimes life forces you to make some tough decisions. Sometimes…it’s like that.

Buy Chandra’s book online: Amazon or Barnes and Noble


About the Author:

Chandra Sparks Splond is an editor, speaker and award-winning author and blogger.

Her young adult novel Make It Work was named Alabama’s Great Read 2017, Spin It Like That was chosen as a Popular Paperback for Young Adults by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), and The Pledge was a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. Black Pearls Magazine honored Splond as a Legends & Leaders for 2017 for her blog, Book of Splond (formerly known as Magic City Momma).

Splond is the owner of West End Publishing, LLC, and Live Life Creations, a personalized gift and party boutique. In addition to working for Kensington Publishing as the consulting editor for Arabesque romance, Splond has also done work for Random House, Moody Publishers, Kimani Press (formerly known as BET Books), and Hyperion. She has edited books for several New York Times, USA Today and Essence bestselling authors.

Splond has interviewed New York Times bestselling authors Karen Kingsbury, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Eric Jerome Dickey and actress Meagan Good. She has also worked for Good Housekeeping, Black and Married with Kids, Brides Noir, Weddingpages, Newsday, The Morning Call and Romantic Times. 

Of all the titles she has held, Splond’s most important remain child of God, wife and mommy.

Splond graduated from Ramsay High School in Birmingham, Alabama and the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa with a degree in journalism. She received her master of science in education degree with a focus on instructional design and technology from Samford University. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and resides in Birmingham with her family. They are members of Forty-fifth Street Baptist Church.

Follow Chandra online: Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Pinterest ~ Website

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Interview with Natasha D. Frazier about her book Love, Lies & Consequences

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re talking with Natasha D. Frazier about her book Love, Lies & Consequences.

Enjoy the interview!


Interview with Natasha D. Frazier about her book Love, Lies & Consequences

Alexis: Why did you write this book?

Natasha: Love, Lies & Consequences is my first work of fiction. It is a story that was on my heart long before I put pen to paper. It evolved quite a bit as the story developed. I honestly didn’t know where the story would end up, but I wanted to explore celibacy in today’s environment.

Alexis: What is the significance of your story’s title?

Natasha: The title came after the story was written. When I first began writing, the book was titled, “He said Grace.” I changed it because it put too much emphasis on Rico and why Raegan chose to date him, in spite of her misgivings. The story is more about Raegan, so I thought Love, Lies & Consequences was more fitting. Raegan’s relationship with Rico is built on lies and so are the reasons that she and Caleb weren’t together initially. Lies are not without consequence and that is one fact that Raegan had to learn and continues to learn throughout the entire series.

Alexis: What does commitment mean to your main characters?

Natasha: To Rico? Nothing. Raegan waivers quite a bit with commitment, both to herself and God. She was committed to celibacy for two years, but she became relaxed because she believed she was strong enough to handle whatever came her way, especially when it came to Rico. She pretty much flirted with the enemy and lost the battle. As for Caleb, he is a man of his word and I love that about him. When he commits, he is “all-in.”

Alexis: Let’s talk about the heroine of your story, Raegan. What does she look like, sound like, act like and think about?

Natasha: Raegan is a brown skinned, petite woman with curly, shoulder length hair. With a pair of high heels, she stands at about 5’6”. She’s a bit prissy, but introverted. She’s career driven, but still has a desire to be a wife and mother. She wants it all and believes that she can have it all. She’s also selfish because in her desire to get everything she wants, she doesn’t want to compromise. She pretty much has the attitude of “my way or the highway.” However, she desires to be the woman that God has called her to be. She attends church, participates in ministry, studies her bible faithfully, and prays consistently. Being in her early thirties, her thoughts are consumed with her career progression and one day getting married.

Alexis: What are Raegan’s greatest strengths and weaknesses?

Natasha: This always a difficult question for me to answer, even about myself. LOL. I’d say she’s headstrong and motivated, which makes for her greatest strength and weakness. Although it’s great for her to know what she wants and to be highly motivated to go after it, those traits result in stubbornness.

Alexis: Why does Raegan believe that waiting until marriage to have sex is the right thing to do?

Natasha: Her faith and experience. Raegan has been involved in sexual relationships before and they didn’t work out well for her. The book opens with her walking down the aisle to marry Damion, who she was also living with at the time. She decides that she doesn’t want to live that way anymore and wants to go “all-in” with her faith. She didn’t feel like her relationship with Damion was honoring God and she didn’t want to start a life with Damion in that way.

Alexis: What or who challenges Reagan’s desire to remain pure in romantic relationships?

Natasha: After Raegan made the commitment to remain pure, she had done so for two years. When she met Rico, he saw this as a challenge and continued to pursue her, telling her everything she wanted to hear, including promising marriage. I think to some extent, she felt like it was okay if they would marry soon.

Alexis: Let’s talk about Rico. Describe his looks, personality, character and heart. What role does he play in this story?

Natasha: Rico is bald and handsome, standing at about 5’10” tall and most of the time he is very well-dressed. Rico is a charming smooth-talker and always knows exactly what to say. He wrote beautiful letters to Raegan, pulling her into his scheme to get her in bed. Everything he did and said was a ploy to make her believe that he wanted to be with her forever so that he could have sex with her.

Alexis: Why doesn’t Rico respect Reagan’s desire to stay pure in their relationship?

Natasha: I think Rico saw her as a challenge, as something to conquer, and he set his sights on doing everything he could to win her over.

Alexis: Finally, let’s talk about Caleb. Describe his looks, flaws, hopes and deepest fears. How does he impact this story?

Natasha: Caleb is dreamy and kind-hearted, the type of guy that would make a woman look twice. He is confident, but not arrogant. Fair skinned with beautiful brown eyes, Caleb stands at 5’11” tall. He’s an architect with the primary desire to build a life with Raegan. Seeing her again was an answered prayer, and the last thing he planned to do was let her go again. At the time he sees her again, she is involved with Rico. Though he knew this, he didn’t allow it to stand in the way of letting her know how he felt about her. When Caleb enters the story, Raegan slowly begins to see Rico for who he truly is – a snake.

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

Natasha: One of the things that I love about Caleb is that he reminds Raegan of who she is in God. He is truly a man after God’s heart, whose first plan of action is to seek God’s face, no matter the situation. The more of Rico she allowed into her life, the less time she spent with God. Raegan also had Kensi, her best friend and accountability partner, to speak words of encouragement and faith in her life. Kensi often reminded Raegan about her commitment to God, but she often ignored her when it was convenient.

Alexis: What’s the moral of the story?

Natasha: Even when things seem right, if they aren’t in alignment with God’s Word, then it isn’t God. We often rush God and tend to put his stamp of approval on something he never ordained in the first place. Even when we mess up, we must learn to accept God’s forgiveness and forgive ourselves in the process.

Alexis: Would you like to see more books like this (with real-life issues and main characters of color) published by CBA? Why or why not?

Natasha: Absolutely! These aren’t the kind of books that are primarily published by CBA, and the world needs to read stories with main characters of color written by people of color.

Alexis: What would you do if you couldn’t write stories?

Natasha: If I couldn’t write stories, I would continue to write devotionals and books for the Christian faith because I choose to honor God with my gift of writing.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Natasha! Do you have final comments?

Natasha: Thank you for the opportunity. I hope you’ll read and fall in love with the characters because book four is coming soon!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor

~*~

About the Book:

Are you ready and willing to accept the consequences that come along with your choices?

“The true test of my commitment will come when I am actually tested, but it’s nothing I can’t handle…” So thinks Raegan – and it proves to be a thought that is tested every step of her journey.

Raegan was all set to live a life free of sexual impurities until she met Rico, who challenged her character. Sex outside of marriage isn’t all that bad if you’re going to eventually marry that person, right? After all, Rico did make promises to marry her, but can he hold true to that promise?

Raegan had come to believe that Rico could be the one until Caleb, her college love, comes back into her life. Raegan begins to make a series of choices that lead to consequences she wasn’t prepared to face. Will her faith sustain her?

Buy Natasha’s book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble


About the Author:

Natasha Frazier received her Bachelors of Business Administration degree in Accounting from Jackson State University and her Masters of Science degree from Texas A&M University. Since graduating, Natasha earned her CPA license. While practicing accounting, she began her career as an author.

Natasha believes that we are all created for a purpose, and in knowing that, she strives to live a life of purpose by doing what she has been created to do: inspire and encourage others. She does this through her literary works and the How Long Are You Going to Wait Conference.

Natasha has authored three devotional books, one non-fiction book, and four fiction titles, including the Love, Lies & Consequences series.

Each of her books are award-nominated titles. Her most recent title, Kairos: The Perfect Time for Love has been nominated by Joy & Company to receive the Henri Award. The Henri Award honors excellence in Christian literature and is presented at the Christian Literary Awards in Dallas, TX.

Natasha resides in Richmond, TX with her husband, Eddie Frazier, Jr. and their children, Eden, Ethan, and Emilyn. Her greatest joy and commitment is to her family who she hopes to inspire above all else. She attends Parkway Fellowship Church, where she co-leads a preschool small group.

Follow Natasha online: Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram

Book Spotlight: Seal of the Sand Dweller

Happy Sunday, Reader Friends!

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


About the Book

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

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

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

And this time, integrity might cost him everything.

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

Links: AmazonGoodreads


About the Author

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

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

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

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

Follow: WebsiteFacebookInstagram


Post written by contributor Allison K. García

Author Interview: R. Rushing

author-interview

Happy Monday reader friends! Today I am pleased to welcome R. Rushing to talk about her wonderful book, Seal of the Sand Dweller!


Q&A

Tell me why you write.

 Rushing: I write because I’ve been so moved by the great stories I’ve read. Storytelling can be such therapy and nourishment for the soul of the reader. Nothing is more powerful than a writer who tells a great story and leaves an imprint of hope in the reader’s heart.

What is your debut novel about?

 Rushing: Seal of the Sand Dweller is my debut novel about Joseph [known as Yoseph in story] of the Bible becoming vizier of Egypt. I investigate a set of plausible challenges he might have faced going from the position of a foreign Asiatic slave to vizier of one of the greatest and most sophisticated civilizations recorded in history.

What do you want readers to get from reading Seal of the Sand Dweller?

 Rushing: I want readers to step back from what they know about the story of Joseph and step forward again into his world and surroundings. I’d like people to respect and appreciate more his extraordinary set of circumstances and understand the challenges of his situation. Ancient Egyptians were not fond of foreigners. The elite class was a small but privileged group of nobles favored by the king. How would they feel about a foreign slave who suddenly became their vizier at the king’s decree?

What is your favorite part of your book?

 Rushing:  One of my favorite parts of the story is when Joseph attends a garden party after he is named vizier. The awkwardness of the situation still stirs my gut. A lowly Asiatic slave is suddenly dressed in high court fashion and invited to the king’s party. I wouldn’t want to endure the snickers and smirks of the jaded courtiers in attendance. Does anyone really take him seriously? He’s a curious novelty chosen on a king’s whim and very few take him seriously. Very few tolerate him in the long run or even believe he will last.

Yoseph and many (all?) of the other characters are depicted as people of color. This is accurate for the story and the time, yet most versions portray Joseph as white. When did this change in our culture?

Rushing:  Hollywood has a way of doing what is convenient for Hollywood. It is, however, sad and somewhat dangerous when storytelling can leave us feeling sated enough to sway us with more emotion than fact. I have yet to see Joseph portrayed as a man of color, who in reality was a lot closer to the equator than to the North Pole. We have only recently seen a truer take on the look of the Ancient Asiatic in films like The Nativity Story where at least Mary seems to be a woman of color and Risen where I celebrated the representation of Jesus as finally being portrayed as a man of color instead of a gorgeous Caucasian male with beautiful blue eyes.

Have you always loved Ancient Egpyt?

Rushing: Like most of the world, I am fascinated with the sophisticated and elegant yet brutal social structure and practices of Ancient Egypt. I have indeed always loved Egypt. Who could resist the intriguing pyramids, the mystery of the mummy, the exotic look of the wealthy with their intricately layered wigs and jewelry?

Tell us a cool fact about Ancient Egpyt that none of us know.

Rushing: It is a popular belief that horses were introduced by the Hyksos rulers during the second intermediate period, around 1700 B.C.E. However, horses were already indigenous to Africa and remains were found in Ancient Egypt as early 3100 B.C.E. So it is likely that the Hyksos rulers probably brought down a certain type of horse or introduced the horse and a popular style of chariot at the time which seemed to give them a bit more credit for introducing the horse to Ancient Egypt then they deserved.

I want book 2! When is it coming out? Please don’t make me wait 5 years!!!!

Rushing: Book 2, Harvest Of The Sand Dweller, is being stretched over the coals and should be out by this spring!

If you could hang out with any of the characters from your book, who would it be?

Rushing:  If I could hang out with one character from my book would probably be the king’s cupbearer Lord Hetnu. But I wouldn’t stand too close or beg his attention. Hentu is very exacting but emotional, very knowledgeable but prickly. He’s a character we hate to love, but life is easier with his approval.

What actors would you cast for a movie/TV version of your book?

Rushing: Well, throw Idris Elba in there somewhere, that’s for sure! However, I’d be happy to see a cast of black actors representing Ancient Egyptians for a change. It’s long overdue.

What do you do when you are not writing?

Rushing:  I think about writing…not kidding.

Anything else cool you are doing, writing-wise?

Rushing:  Yes! I’m delighted to be involved in Christian Authors Traveling Bookfair (C.A.T. Bookfair), a traveling Christian bookfair group that will be visiting local churches in my area to talk about writing. We donate a percentage of the profits and a free book each to the local congregation. We’ll have our first bookfair on December 2nd from 2-5 pm at Shenandoah Heights Baptist Church in Waynesboro Virginia. Meet us there if you can!

Wonderful! I know I’ll be there! Can’t wait to read book two! You really are an amazing author! Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview!

Read more about R. Rushing and her book, Seal of the Sand Dweller, below.


About the Book

R_Rushing_EbookA

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

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

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

And this time, integrity might cost him everything.

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

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


About the Author

r rushing author pic

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

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

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

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

Follow: Website, Facebook, Instagram

Open Discussion: Dealing with Haters

DBTP - letstalk

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

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

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

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

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

Please let me know below!

Author Interview: Joy Massenburge

Happy Monday, Reader Friends!

Please help me welcome new author Joy Massenburge to our blog! She’s here to talk about her debut novella, “A Cry for Independence,” which is one of several stories in the Summer Fireworks boxed set.

Enjoy!

~*~

About the Author: 

 Joy crafts the love stories of pastors and their kids. She was born the sixth child of a pastor. Thinking she had avoided the church scene, she married a football player. She left the University of Texas at Austin and her theater scholarship to join him at Sam Houston State where she obtained her Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice. On signing day with the Green Bay Packers, he advised her she would be a pastor’s wife…they raised pastor’s kids; a son a daughter and god-daughter. Her life is filled with twists and turns that come in twos—two donkeys, two dogs, and two teenagers who came to live with her soon after she became an empty nester.

With the kids married and off to college, she took the advice of her favorite author, Francine Rivers (for new writers), and joined ACFW as well as the not-so-local chapter DFW Ready Writers, where she serves as Chaplain.

Joy resides in Arp, Texas where you can find her in the concession stand on a Friday night, curled up on her back porch with a good book on a Saturday, or filling her five-acre country home with fifty plus people for a Blue Bell party.

Like her name, Joy’s writing is filled with heartfelt emotions, surprises, and excitement. Like her life, Joy’s readers experience change, a good church service, and the perfect dose of tears and laughter. She found the perfect formula for the contemporary romances God called her to write.

*Follow Joy on Facebook

~*~

About the book: 

 Some cry wolf, Tammie Morris cries independence. After having Q’s baby out of wedlock and struggling to support herself and her child, she is determined to never depend on a man again. He will only abandon her like her father. It has taken twelve months to gain her GED, employment, and the five-year-life-plan she is committed to live by to make it happen. When her apartment availability is delayed, she is forced into a temporary living arrangement that threatens the future she’s mapped out.

Quan Blanton Sr., Q, has found the freedom only salvation through Jesus can offer. All there is to do now is put his family back together and live the Christian life. His ne Paroled to his son’s aunt and uncle’s house as part of the Father’s Heart program, he is determined to reunite his family the right way as soon as Tammie comes home from the shelter. There is only one problem, he is not a part of her plans.

When the storms of life usher in unexpected opposition, Tammie and Q find themselves headed the same direction, no matter their original plotted courses.

~*

Interview with Joy Massenburge, author of A Cry for Independence:

Alexis: Why did you name your book “A Cry for Independence”? Explain the significance of the title to the story.

Joy: The title came after I’d completed a little over half of the book. My heroine was quick to say she wanted to do things on her own, without the help of family, friends, or a man. But her internal thoughts cried out a different story. We’ll say a lot of things when we’re scared. Thank goodness God knows the heart and sends us what we need.

Alexis: Your heroine is Tammie Morris. What is she like? Describe her hopes, dreams and fears.

Joy: Tammie Morris is a young mother hardened by life. She has a five-year-plan to work and make enough money to take care of her son on her own without the help of another man. Hopes and dreams got her in the position she’s in so she doesn’t waste time on that anymore. She fears her attraction to Q. She fears failure. She fears herself.

Alexis: Your hero is Quan Blanton Sr. What is he like? Describe his strengths, weaknesses and heart.

Joy: Yes, but he goes by Q. He’s street smart. Confident. Passionate. And a new convert. He’s the type of guy that once he believes something, he digs in deep. However, he is struggling with how to handle his feelings for Tammie within this new system of right and wrong.

Alexis: Why does Q invite Tammie to church and why is she repelled by the thought of him getting “religion”?

Joy: Since he’s joined the church and they play such a strong part in the changes in his new life, he wants her to experience the relationship he’s enjoying with his church family and learn what he’s learned. Tammie blames the church and it rules and regulations for destroying her family life and her relationship with her Father.

Alexis:  Share details on Q and Tammie’s history. What brought them together and what drove them apart?

Joy: Q and Tammie are high school sweet hearts. After she became pregnant, they moved in together. A five-year prison sentence separated them. Tammie, a vulnerable single parent, hurt that Q chose his father over her and their son, moves on with her life and begins a relationship with another man.

Alexis: How old is Q and Tammie’s son? What role does he play in this story?

Joy: Their son, Quan Jr., if Tammie is talking, or Junior if Q calls him, is 8. He’s the crucible of the story that forges the restoration of their relationship.

Alexis: Why does Q want to help Tammie?

Joy: He loves her. He wants her to experience the liberty he has found in Christ Jesus. He wants to have the family, he’d been denied.

Alexis: Why did Q go to prison? How did he get out?

Joy: Q took a drug charge for his father in a last attempt to gain his father’s love and respect. He never thought he’d serve real time since he didn’t have any priors. He paroled out after agreeing to participate in the Father’s Heart community outreach program. A church partnered with the state with the idea of restoring the family unit to stop the prison numbers from increasing with the next generation.

Alexis: Why does Tammie crave independence but doesn’t know what it looks like?

Joy: I believe God places the desire in every heart to live in liberty. Tammie is like many others raised in a family that made mistakes in how they handled trials and claimed their deeds were in response to what God would have them do. So many people misrepresent God’s desires because they fail to read God’s Word for themselves and when they do, they lack understanding. He’s more than rules and regulations. God is Love. Grace. Mercy. Holiness. Until Q, in his new walk in life, Tammie had never seen the God of the Bible lived out in a way that she’d recognize Him as her hearts true desire.

Alexis: At what point does Tammie turn to God? What drove her to pray to Him?

Joy: Like many of us, we accomplish the things on our list that we thought would make us happiest, only to learn it does not satisfy. That’s what happens to Tammie. At the end of her list, she realizes something in her life is still missing. She wants the peace of life Q is living. She’s tired of handling things on her own and finally cries out for help.

Alexis: You deal with tough topics in this story. What lesson are you hoping to teach your readers through it?

Joy: We all make mistakes. Fear is the biggest prison we overlook. God does not want us to live in fear, but liberty. His love is big enough to cover our faults. He’s waiting for us to cry out to Him so He can lead us into the abundant life He planned for us.

Alexis: Your story features African American characters. Do you think that CBA needs to publish more stories featuring Black people? Why or why not?

Joy: I’d love to see more stories featuring African American characters. I’m an avid reader of Christian Romance and my decision to start writing came from me yearning to see my people on the pages beyond plots covering slavery, sexually explicit romance, or scandal. Every race of people has a uniqueness that deserves to be portrayed and preserved in book format. Going to CBA conferences, I realize very few Black authors are submitting works. An agent recently told me she’d been waiting for the last three years to have African American characters pitched to her. I made sure to pitch both books I’d prepared for the event.

Alexis: What kind of impact do you hope that your book will create in communities of color?

Joy: I can’t tell you how many family members and church members have come to me saying they’ve been inspired to write after seeing me do it. It’s not only a dream for me, but a calling. I obeyed the call on my life and pray it becomes a standard in my family for my children and children’s children to do the same. I’d love to inspire more people in our community to write.

Then, there’s the information inside the cover. Like the parables Jesus used to help the people gain understanding, I desire for every reader to walk away knowing more about their Heavenly Father than before.

Alexis: What was the greatest challenge for you as an author in writing this story? Explain.

Joy: Me! I had already written the full-size novel that introduced the main characters in this story and it was still being reviewed by an editor I had pitched to at the ACFW conference. Since I hadn’t been validated by others that my writing was worth reading, I struggled to accept the opportunity to submit a novella in my mentor’s July Fourth Anthology Collection when she asked me to. Lena Nelson Dooley wouldn’t take no for an answer and encouraged me all the way. After a lot of prayers, sweat, and tears, I completed the second book I’d ever written. BLISS, book one in the Wounded Lamb Series, is still under review. It’s funny how the subplot characters’ story reached readers first.

God used this situation to teach me not to wait for man to validate the calling on my life. Those He calls, He equips.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Joy! Do you have closing comments to share?

Joy: If we are going to see more stories with Black people as main characters, we have to increase demand for it to be stocked on the shelves. Starting in our families, communities, and churches, we have to encourage them to become readers. To become writers. And if not that, then support others who do.

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor

Open Discussion: Where are all the good stock photos?

Happy Saturday, y’all! I pray the week has been good to you and I want to thank you for stopping by this weekend.

If you’re new to our blog, I’d like to welcome you. Saturday’s we take the time to have an open discussion on various issues that authors of diverse Christian fiction face. Today’s topic: Where are all the good stock photos for minorities?

Have you ever done a search for minorities on a stock photo site? If I type “black women” in the search box, I won’t get many good options. In fact, I’m more likely to get a Caucasian female dressed in black. I’ve found the best thing to do is use the phrase “African American” when I’m looking for certain images.

Even then, I’m disheartened by some of the images that come back from the search. Are African-American women only seen as sexual objects? Some of the photos look like they were taken during a music video production.

And for some reason, many photographers seem to believe the consumers only want urban images. You know the kind where the person is posed in a thuggish style, looking like all they’re missing is a gun.

As a writer of contemporary romance, I’m constantly frustrated by the selection of stock photos. I want the romantic hugged-up pose. Or the soft smiles between two couples. Or *gasp* a beautiful wedding dress picture. But I literally have to weed through thousands of photos in order to find what I’m looking for. And when I’m done, I’m left with a limited amount to choose from. If I want to pick a photo that has never been used on a book cover, my selection is drastically limited. Because, all of us who do write diverse Christian fiction, are searching for the same-style that fits our genre.

I read an article in Madam Noire that talked of the subject. Here is a list of sites that have diverse images available:

Please share what sites you use! Also, do you have any suggestions on how we can improve the amount of diverse images available?


Written by Toni Shiloh