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.

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Interview with Alexa Verde, author of Season of Joy (+Giveaway)

Good morning, readers!

Thank you for joining me as I talk to Alexa Verde about her Christmas book, Season of Joy.

Phyllis: Tell me something about Season of Joy that is  not in the blurb.

Alexa: First of all, thank you so much for interviewing me, Phyllis, and for all your support of Christian authors. I can probably talk forever about this book.

I loved writing Season of Joy because it had so much love, faith, humor, and light. I also enjoyed creating a plus-size heroine because it helped me leave my insecurities in the past. Season of Joy is a friends to true love and second chances romance, which are two of my favorite romance tropes!

Phyllis: Rios Azules. You use this setting for many of your books. What is it like?

Alexa: It’s a small town in south Texas with a caring community and quirky characters whom I’d be happy to have as friends in real time. It also has some great restaurants where I wouldn’t mind to eat myself. Rios Azules is “Blue Rivers” in Spanish, and the town is situated near a river while surrounded by forests and fields, and it’s about forty-minutes drive to the ocean. This small town is a place where people make you feel welcome whether you come for a visit or to stay. I enjoy tremendously returning there again and again, and I hope so do my readers.

Phyllis: Tell me more about the characters.

Alexa: Joy Avila is fun, down-to-earth, and caring, and Dylan McGregor thinks she’s absolutely gorgeous, though it takes him some disastrous dates with other women (set up by Joy!) to realize his soulmate is actually his childhood friend. Her profession, a travel reporter, is close to my heart. Once upon a time, I loved traveling and writing about my trips. Due to being belittled and teased as a teen, Joy has commitment issues. Dylan is a single father who works in construction and home repair. After a heartbreaking marriage to a drug addict, he’s afraid to fall in love, too. The characters of Dylan’s sons, Travis and Junior, were a lot of fun to write!

Phyllis: What were the challenges you faced creating them?

Alexa: While sweet and heartwarming, Season of Joy deals with difficult issues, for example, child abandonment and drug use by a secondary character. While I loved creating the character of Dylan’s son, Junior, it wasn’t easy writing the scenes were the boy feared for his father’s life or when he blamed himself for his mother’s abandoning him. I did love Junior’s honesty and pure faith!

Phyllis: What do you love about them and what do you hate?

Alexa: I get attached to my characters, so I love everything about them. Even when they make mistakes or behave in the way I personally wouldn’t want for them to behave, I realize they need to learn from their errors and cheer them on their difficult journey to their happily-ever-after. The only thing I hate about my characters is saying good-bye to them. That’s why they often “visit” my new books. And Joy’s best friend, Samantha, became the main character in a different book, Rapsodia.

Phyllis: What was your inspiration for writing this particular story?

Alexa: First, I wanted to write another Christmas romance, Book 2 in the Rios Azules Christmas series, because I enjoyed writing a Christmas story so much. We should remember about God’s gift to us, about His amazing love, about grace and salvation. We should turn to Jesus in every moment of our lives. Of course, we should do this always, not only during Christmas, but there’s something amazing about this most wonderful time of the year.

Second, I used to have self-image issues because I considered myself overweight in high school, so writing about a plus-size heroine who found her happiness and was adored by people around her was in a way liberating. I’m an avid reader, and I read about many romance heroines who were slim, gorgeous, and just perfect, and I thought that I didn’t look like that. Many women I know don’t look like that! I also felt it would be great to write about a man who became an everyday hero to me by raising his son alone and adopting a teenage boy, Travis, whom nobody wanted to adopt. And so Season of Joy was born.

Phyllis: What do you want your readers to learn from it?

Alexa: Society puts a lot of pressure on us to look a certain way, and sometimes we feel we don’t measure up and forget that we’re all beautiful in God’s eyes. And like Joy and Dylan, we need to let go of the past and open ourselves to new possibilities again.

Phyllis: What do you love most about writing about diverse cultures? What is most challenging about it?

Alexa: Writing about diverse cultures teaches me about acceptance of other people, and I just enjoy learning new things, one of the reasons I used to love traveling so much. And isn’t it fun trying new dishes or returning to the personal favorites? How about eating pizza for research? The challenging part about writing about diverse cultures is probably avoiding stereotypes. There are certain things associated with some nationalities, and one could subconsciously write them into a book.

Phyllis: Your bio tells me that you speak 5 languages and mentions English, Spanish and Russian. What are the other two? And what inspired you to learn them all?

Alexa: Belarusian and German, but I’m forgetting German by now. Two of five are my native languages. I learned Spanish because I love learning new languages and because many people in Texas speak Spanish. So I decided to get a B.A. in Spanish. I learned German because I wanted to travel to Germany and was fascinated by their culture.

Thank you so much for the interview, Phyllis! I loved talking to you.

Phyllis: And thank you, Alexa. It has been a pleasure to learn more about you and your books. I’m looking forward to reading Season of Joy!

*Interview conducted by Phyllis Helton, contributor


About the Author:

Alexa Verde Author-PhotoAlexa Verde writes sweet, wholesome books about faith, love, and murder. She has had 200 short stories, articles, and poems published in the five languages that she speaks. She has bachelor’s degrees in English and Spanish, a master’s in Russian, and enjoys writing about characters with diverse cultures. She’s worn the hats of reporter, teacher, translator, model (even one day counts!), caretaker, and secretary, but thinks that the writer’s hat suits her the best. After traveling the world and living in both hemispheres, she calls a small town in south Texas home. The latter is an inspiration for the fictional setting of her series Rios Azules Christmas and Secrets of Rios Azules.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Bookbub | Newsletter


About the Book:

Season of Joy by Alexa VerdeSecond chance or second heartache?Single dad Dylan McGregor wants to give his two sons the best life possible in the small town where he’d grown up. When his youngest son writes a letter to God asking for a Mom for Christmas, Dylan reluctantly starts dating again. His lifelong friend, Joy Avila, agrees to help him find the right woman. Then Dylan begins to see Joy in a new light and believes she’s the right woman for him and his family.

Overweight and teased in school, Joy never hoped her first crush, Dylan McGregor, would return her feelings. Confident and successful now, she’s found her passion in writing about international travels. The trip of a lifetime awaits her after the holidays. Instead, will she find her dreams right there in Rios Azules?

Season of Joy is available on Amazon in eBook format and paperback and is also on Kindle Unlimited.


Giveaway

Alexa is kindly giving away one eBook copy of her entire Rio Azules Christmas series collection (In Love by Christmas) to one random commenter.  If you are interested in winning, comment below. If you aren’t sure what to say, tell us what you enjoy about reading diverse fiction.

Giveaway ends at midnight November 12, 2018

Interview with Dave Jackson, author of Harry Bentley’s Second Chance

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re featuring an interview with Dave Jackson about his book Harry Bentley’s Second Chance.

Enjoy!


Interview with Dave Jackson about his book, Harry Bentley’s Second Chance:

Alexis: What inspired you to write this story?

Dave: As Neta was writing Where Do I Go, the first book in her House of Hope series, I became intrigued by the doorman in the high rise building where Neta’s main character, Gabby Fairbanks, lived. Harry Bentley was wise and capable of so much more than working as a doorman. But that was all we learned about him in Neta’s novel. I began wondering why he wasn’t running a company or functioning in some professional position? And what about his personal life?

That’s when I began to imagine that he was a retired Chicago cop, who’d been asked to take early retirement by Internal Affairs after he blew the whistle on his corrupt boss. They essentially put him on ice while they investigated his accusations and put together the case. So, he “retired” and got a simple job as a doorman, something that wouldn’t draw attention but would give him something to do with his time.

Of course, we don’t really have any problems with police corruption here in Chicago, right? So, this is all fiction.

Alexis: Who is Harry Bentley and why does he need a second chance?

Dave: Harry’s career as a cop had pretty much decimated his family life. Crazy, unpredictable schedules meant he wasn’t home for his wife or his son, Rodney. Stress contributed to a drinking problem. His wife finally divorced him, and his son continued to get in trouble with the law until Harry lost touch with him for ten years . . . until DCFS contacted Harry, asking him to take in his grandson—a grandson Harry didn’t even know he had.

Threats from his old boss, being accused of assault and kidnapping by his grandson’s crack-head mother, and complications in trying to care for his elderly mother with dementia, left Harry in need of help, the kind of help the brothers in the Bible study he visited said came from God. But if he wanted to be a good father to his grandson, he needed to have God as his father . . . Perhaps he was being given a second chance at both!

Alexis: Was it challenging for you as a White male author to write a character that is an African American male? Why or why not?

Dave: Of course, it was a challenge, but one I richly enjoyed. I am part of a men’s Bible study, not unlike the group Harry finally met, and not unlike the Yada Yada prayer group in Neta’s novels. Over the years, my Bible study has been at least half African American. One was a cop. As I developed the character of Harry Bentley, I had my brothers read the early drafts and correct me in various ways. Over the years, Neta and I have also been privileged to be part of black churches that have enriched our lives immensely. Also, for several years I worked with a street chaplain to gangs and assisted him leading Bible studies in the juvenile detention center. All these experiences helped me become comfortable with and highly respectful of Harry Bentley as he developed. But like I said, there were still times my Bible study brothers said, “No, no, no, Dave. Harry Bentley would never say (or do) that. See, what you don’t understand is . . .”

Alexis: Do you want to see more books like yours that are written by White authors about characters of color, published by the Christian book market? Explain.

Dave: More importantly, I would like to see more authors of color get their stories published! But I would also like white brothers and sisters to put in the time and effort to really get to know people of color well for their own sake. Perhaps then they can create authentic characters of color when they include them in their novels . . . and they should always be included, and not just in stereotypic or peripheral roles.

Alexis: Where is your story about Harry set? Is it a setting that can be found in real-life or is it fictional? Paint a picture of the setting with words.

Dave: All these inter-related novels that grow out of The Yada Yada Prayer Group are set in Chicago. Gabby Fairbanks lived in the Richmond Towers penthouse—before her husband kicked her out—and that’s the building where Harry is the doorman. It’s a real building, the tall, black-glass, high rise on the north end of the outer drive on Chicago’s lake front. The House of Hope shelter is fictional, but located near the Sheridan ‘L’ stop on the Red Line. Any public or major location is real and can be found if you want to take a tour. Ball game scores and the weather are even accurate. Neta and I had fun doing this. For instance, when Harry took Estelle out to dinner at the Dixie Kitchen in Evanston, it looked like this (for real):

“The Dixie Kitchen and Bait Shop fulfilled the ‘bait shop’ half of its name through its funky décor—there were no crawlers on the menu or in an icebox in the corner. But an old wooden fishing boat did hang from the ceiling, “Rent-a-Rod” fishing poles for twenty-five cents leaned in the screened porch, jars of home-canned peaches and tomatoes sat in open cupboards, and bright tin signs for everything from Genuine NeHi Orange Crush to Burma Shave patched the weathered clapboard walls. Mismatched wooden chairs, checkered tablecloths, and Zydeco music made Harry feel like he was in an authentic Southern diner as they sampled complimentary johnnycakes and selected peach-glazed chicken wings and fried green tomatoes for appetizers. Estelle ordered her étouffée and a side of greens while Harry got crawfish fritters with jalapeño jelly and a side of slaw.”

Alexis: How did Harry feel when he was asked to take an early retirement?

Dave: Harry had put in over 20 years on the force, so he qualified for full retirement. But being a cop is a very stressful career, and he was glad for a break. But reporting his boss’s corruption was the primary reason for his retirement. Harry’s sense of civic duty and concern for justice was why he reported Fagan in the first place. Potentially, it was a career-ending move no matter what way the case went. You just don’t “cross the blue line” and think your career will survive. But he couldn’t have lived with himself otherwise.

Alexis: Why is Harry as a doorman still working to build a case against his boss?

Dave: After submitting his evidence, it was up to Internal Affairs to investigate and build a case. But everything became deadly serious when Harry was threatened for his plans to testify… and when his grandson’s welfare was threatened.

Alexis: What are “parallel novels” and how does Harry’s story follow that concept?

Dave: Parallel novels were a completely new concept in Christian fiction when we proposed the idea: two stories taking place in the same timeframe, same neighborhood, involving some of the same characters living through their own dramas and crises but interacting with and affecting one another—just the way it happens in real life. It’s the kind of undertaking that only a tight writing team can accomplish—like Neta and me. Continual coordination is essential. Of course, we had to work out compatible storylines, but a few “moments of intense fellowship” arose over such trivia as what kind of furniture was in the lobby of Richmond Towers where Harry worked and Gabby lived. But we always worked it out.

Alexis: What was the most challenging—and easiest—aspect of writing this story?

Dave: As is often the case for me, when a character is well defined and fully understood—including motives, history, character strengths and weaknesses—then when you put that person in a situation, the story almost begins writing itself because you know how they would respond to each crisis or triumph. When leading writing workshops, I’ve sometimes used this illustration: Imagine that your best friend’s cat just died. You probably have a very good idea how your friend would respond: Cry unconsolably for a day, and then get on with life. Or go into a long depression. Or say, “good riddance; I was tired of that hairball anyway,” etc. You can predict their response because you know their character.

Alexis: What’s the moral of this story?

Dave: To be a father (or a mother) like God, you need to have God as your father.

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

Dave: As the story progresses, and after Harry meets some caring brothers in the Bible study, he begins feel like someone is choreographing his life, not in the sense of forcing him to do or not do anything, but in the sense of providing opportunities for good—to be a father to his grandson, to begin a healthy relationship with Estelle Williams, to develop new, positive friends at the Bible study. Could that be God caring about him and inviting him, he wonders? I hope readers see that possibility in every good gift that comes into their lives.

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

Dave: Neta began including all these new elements about Harry Bentley in her second House of Hope book, Who Do I Talk To? But that, of course, created another timeframe for Harry’s life to progress. He was doing just fine once he had custody of his grandson and was enjoying a second romance with Estelle. He’d connected with God, the Yada Yada brothers, and SouledOut Community Church . . . and then he developed a blind spot right in the center of his vision in his left eye. Was it a brain tumor? A stroke? Diabetes? Or worse . . . was he going blind? Where was God? Why didn’t he answer Harry’s prayers?

So, I had to write Harry Bentley’s Second Sight. Ultimately, he used his police skills as well as his “second sight,” to solve a major crime.

Furthermore, Harry and Estelle became such favorites of many fans that we made them the anchor family when they moved to Beecham Street for the Windy City Neighbors series of five more exciting “parallel novels.” All these novels, and more, can be found at www.daveneta.com.

Thanks so much, Alexis, for this opportunity to share with your marvelous readers.

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor


About the Author:

Dave Jackson and his wife, Neta, are a husband and wife writing team and the authors of more than 120 books that have sold over 2.5 million copies, including their 40-volume Trailblazer Books about Christian heroes for young readers.

Most of their adult novels, including Dave’s Harry Bentley novels and the Windy City Neighbors series (featuring Harry and Estelle Bentley) are set in Chicago where the Jacksons make their home.

However, Dave’s latest novel, Flying Blind, is set in Colombia, South America, and involves a kidnapping by the revolutionary forces of FARC.

Follow Dave on Facebook


About the Book:

HARRY BENTLEY’S SECOND CHANCE “To be a father like God, to have God as his father … perhaps Harry was being given a chance at both.” Retired Chicago cop, Harry Bentley, was lying low.

He’d blown the whistle on a gang of rogue cops and was awaiting the day when Internal Affairs would call him to testify and help put their leader, Lieutenant Matty Fagan, behind bars. His cover was working as a doorman in a luxury high-rise on Chicago’s lakefront. Then Gabby Fairbanks and her husband moved into the building’s penthouse. She brought home a bag lady, got a job at the Manna House Women’s Shelter, found her life falling apart, and managed to entangle Harry in the whole affair. (Gabby’s story is in Neta Jackson’s parallel novel, WHERE DO I GO?) But there was an upside. Through Gabby, Harry meets the Yada Yada brothers and the classy Estelle Williams and envisions a second chance at romance.

The Yada Yada brothers provide a new circle of friends to replace his old CPD cohorts. But when Harry discovers he has a grandson he didn’t know about, will he find the faith to take on the boy as a “second chance” to be the father he’d failed to be to his own son-even when the boy creates new dangers in Harry’s fight against corruption and may derail his “second chance” at love?

Dave Jackson and his wife, Neta, are the award-winning authors of the 40-volume Trailblazer series. The phenomenal popularity of Neta’s Yada Yada Prayer Group series inspired them to write “parallel” spin-off novels, two stories taking place in the same context … just the way it happens in real life. They live in the Chicago area, where these stories are set.

Purchase link for Harry Bentley’s Second Chance: 

http://www.daveneta.com/books/HarryBentley/HBSC-1.html

Book Spotlight on Mama B: A Time to Dance

Happy Wednesday, reader friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on Mama B: A Time to Dance which is a book written by Michelle Stimpson.


About the Book:

Mama B thought her life would return to normal, but when her nephew, Derrick, comes knocking on her door, she has to reconsider. Though she’s not known for housing marital fugitives, she realizes Derrick is looking for more than a place to stay; he needs help finding his way back to God.

Of course, help is almost Mama B’s middle name until Henrietta crosses the line with her accusations about Mama B’s intentions with the recently widowed pastor. Mama B isn’t looking for romance with either the pastor or her suitor, Dr. Wilson—but will love come looking for her?

Fans of the “Miss Julia” series will enjoy this feisty, downhome character!

Buy Michelle’s book on Amazon.


About the Author:

Bestselling author Michelle Stimpson has penned more than thirty Christian fiction books including traditional bestsellerDivas of Damascus Road, Amazon #1 bestseller, Stepping Down, the award-winning Mama B series, and Falling Into Grace, which has been optioned for a made-for-TV movie.

She has also published more than fifty short stories through her educational publishing company, WeGottaRead.com.

Michelle holds an English degree from Jarvis Christian College and a master’s degree in education from the University of Texas at Arlington.

She is a part-time language arts consultant. She also serves in women’s ministry through teaching and publishing. She and her husband have two young adult children, one granddaughter, and one bizarre dog.

Follow Michelle on FacebookTwitter, Website

Book Review: Her Cowboy Reunion by Ruth Logan Herne

Happy Friday, dear readers!

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m looking at Ruth Logan Herne’s new release Her Cowboy Reunion, the first book in her new Shepherd’s Crossing series!

About the Book

her cowboy reunionA new life…an old love
Can she risk loving him again in
Shepherd’s Crossing?

With her family in disgrace, Lizzie Fitzgerald never imagined she’d end up at an Idaho ranch.

Fortunately, she’s working with horses she loves—even if it means dealing with her old sweetheart Heath Caufield. The widowed father of an adorable boy, Heath hasn’t forgiven Lizzie for their past.

But even a stubborn cowboy can’t stop the heart’s ability to forgive…or love again.

GOODREADS | AMAZON

My Thoughts

“What we’ve got in mind and what the good Lord’s got planned don’t always agree, but that’s what makes life interesting. Sometimes it’s a collision course. Other times it’s a wide, beautiful curve.”

Ruth Logan Herne always delivers a warm story with a solid message and diverse characters. Her new release, Her Cowboy Reunion, is no exception. I was immersed into the story from the very first page and still didn’t want to put it down even when I reached the end.

The diverse cast of characters gives the story its heart and soul, but adorable Zeke steals the show in the most endearing ways possible! His instant love for “my Lizzie” (oh, my heart!), his enthusiasm for life, his adoration of his dad Heath, and his tender sweet heart made me want to reach inside the pages and HUG that precious boy! The fact that he is bi-racial is just as much a part of his story as all these other things I’ve mentioned, and I love that Herne just lets him be Zeke, in all his endearing adorableness.

Lizzie and Heath are old flames, whose history is bumpy to say the least. Both have skewed perspectives of a very significant event in their past, and both are still nursing their wounds all these years later. And with good reason, when you consider the erroneous view of the truth from which they’re each approaching the situation. Yet, Herne takes their story – all its tangled emotional mess – and gently allows God to restore and heal their hearts and their relationship. With some soul-deep Ruthy wisdom via the character of Corrie, an almost-mama to Lizzie and her sisters.

“Sometimes we spin in circles because we’ve misplaced our direction. When we can’t see our way forward we tend to run in place.”

Bottom Line: Lizzie’s resilience (I love the strong women in Herne’s stories!) and Heath’s steadiness (for the most part lol) set the tone for this delightful story filled with horses and sheep and a precocious little boy. The glimpses into life on a horse farm/sheep ranch are unique and intriguing (a mare app…. who knew?!?), and Lizzie and Heath’s shared history is just as much so. The added subplot of the dying small town also captured my attention, and I look forward to where she takes this in future books in the series. Herne takes this story and these characters and wraps them in grace, strength, courage and wit – and love, lots of love. A must-read for all!

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I purchased for my own collection.
All opinions expressed are only my honest opinion.

About the Author

ruthyRuth Logan Herne has more than a million books in print, including over twenty Love Inspired contemporary novels. She loves God, her family, country, coffee, chocolate and dogs, and wishes possums would leave the cat food on the side porch alone.

Ruthy is also a founding member of Seekerville, a popular writing-collective blog. A country girl who loves the big city, Ruthy and her husband live on a farm in upstate New York.

website  | Facebook | Twitter

 

What about you, dear readers? Have you ever been on a sheep ranch?

Interview with Tyora Moody about her book “Relentless Heart”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re featuring Tyora Moody’s book Relentless Heart.

Read our interview with this amazing author below.


Interview with Tyora Moody about her book, Relentless Heart:

Alexis: What inspired you to write this book?

Tyora: When I started to outline the Reed Family Series a few years ago, I felt led with this series to start with the middle sister, Jo, in the first book, Broken Heart and then the youngest sister, Toni, in Troubled Heart.

In Relentless Heart, readers meet Asia Reed, the oldest sibling. The story revolves around her desire to find her ex-boyfriend’s murderer.

Alexis: Tell us about your story’s heroine Asia Reed. What is her motivation, passion, and mission in life?

Tyora: All three sisters have pretty strong personalities, but Asia is probably the most opinionated and loves her role as the oldest sister. She also is the most complex sister.

Asia has a passion to win, which she does in the courtroom as a prosecutor. She does have lingering doubts about her ambitions now that she’s drawing closer to forty and her desire to be married and have children consume her.

Alexis: Why is Asia relentless about not losing a case? What drives her to excel?

Tyora: Asia is definitely the classic overachiever. She grew up in a family where her father put away the bad guys as a cop and later as the police chief. It’s ingrained in her to fight for justice for victims.

Alexis: Why is Asia fighting a losing battle in the faith department?

Tyora: Asia has been bent on winning but in Relentless Heart, she runs into a wall with an investigation. The death of a young man at the hands of a police officer really hits home to her. She is also starting to experience signs of weariness at the constant revolving door of prosecuting criminals.

Asia’s mother, Vanessa, is constantly encouraging Asia to make sure she’s not running on empty by leaving God out of her life. Asia is definitely one to work weekends and let cases consume her life, which has also resulted in the burnout.

Alexis: Asia is turning 40 years old, never married and has not had children. How is this situation affecting her career and outlook on life?

Tyora: Asia’s biological clock has been ticking in her ears for a while, but she’s also been pretty busy with her career. Something about turning 40 is making her wonder if all of her “wins” in the courtroom have been really worth it. During this time her younger sister Jo is having her second child and her youngest sister Toni is engaged to be married. These changing dynamics in her close-knit family are also making Asia take a second look at her life.

Alexis: What is the name of Asia’s former boyfriend, a prominent defense attorney who was gunned down in his office? Describe the connection he had with Asia. Did they have a good relationship? How did Asia cope with his death?

Tyora: Adam Locklear is a prominent defense attorney in Charlotte. Asia really wasn’t interested in having a relationship, but she found out that she and Adam had a lot in common. Their relationship started out being a really good fit until Asia caught Adam cheating on her.

She’s never really recovered from the relationship and has enjoyed her revenge in the courtroom. Adam has never been able to win a case against her.

Asia’s lingering feelings for Adam along with her doubts about her life’s direction cause her to take Adam’s death hard. It also didn’t help that she was on her way to see Adam and she comes across the horrific crime scene.

Alexis: What is it about her ex-boyfriend’s death that jolts Asia into action, determined to hunt down his killer and fight for justice?

Tyora: Adam was a “bad boy,” but Asia knew he had a good side. She realized in the last conversation with him that he may have had something to share with her…this information may have resulted in his death.

Alexis: Who is Adam Locklear and what role does he play in this story?

Tyora: If you have the money and you’re in trouble, Adam Locklear is the defense attorney in Charlotte to hire. His clientele consists of criminals and some very shady people with loads of money. Adam’s conscience causes him to reach out to Asia. If Adam suddenly gains a conscience, then Asia knows what he has to tell her is serious.

Alexis: Describe your story’s hero Isaac Coleman. What’s he like?

Tyora: Detective Isaac Coleman is new to homicide. He recently was promoted to detective. He’s a single father raising a teenage daughter. He’s a “cool cucumber,” taking his new role in stride despite some obstacles with his new partner. Being new, he has attention for details. He also has his eyes on Asia!

Alexis: How do Isaac and Asia cross paths and how do they help each other?

Tyora: Isaac is assigned to investigate Adam Locklear’s murder. He takes Asia’s statement. He knows who she is and is kind of in awe of her. The Reed Family is well-known in law enforcement. Asia is a prosecutor, but she’s determined to stick her nose in Isaac’s investigation. He understands her need to know what happened. Both of them start becoming drawn to each for reasons beyond the investigation.

Alexis: Is there hope for a happily ever after for Asia or will she stay a single lady forever?

Tyora: Nothing is impossible with God! That’s advice I share with my real-life single family members and friends. Hopefully, when readers check out Relentless Heart, they will be enamored with Asia’s interest in Detective Coleman.

Alexis: What will it take for a man to woo and win Asia’s heart?

Tyora: Asia needs to trust the man in her life. Adam broke that trust and Asia never really recovered. She’s a strong, independent professional and being disappointed by a man only led her to be more consumed with her independence. She needs a man who respects who she is and has her back especially during the really difficult cases.

Alexis: If you could step into your story as a professional counselor, what advice would you give to Asia? Why?

Tyora: I would tell Asia that work should not be her life. She really has a counselor in her mom, but most people are stubborn about listening to mom’s advice. I would encourage her to take on other interests outside the courtroom that allow her to relax and leave her cases behind.

Alexis: Would you like to see CBA publish more stories featuring main characters of color like Asia who are strong and passionate about career and life? Why or why not?

Tyora: It would be great to see the CBA publish more stories featuring main characters of color. If CBA ever wanted to really get into the business of publishing books with main characters of color, they need to understand the various cultures that read the books. African American readers don’t mind switching to secular to Christian on their reading list. Some edginess to Christian Fiction is accepted.

I had the opportunity to be published traditionally with Urban Christian for four books. The advance was great for marketing funds and it was definitely great to work with multiple editors. I’m a graphic designer so I always didn’t necessarily care for my covers. I don’t miss the tight deadlines.

In all honesty, since independent publishing has matured it will be hard to really convince some authors to give up some of the control they have with their own work. The Holy Spirit remains my main editor and my readers accept my books regardless of the publisher.

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

Tyora: Thank you for having me. I appreciate the opportunity to introduce your readers to Relentless Heart and the Reed Family series. I hope to return the series in the future and write the brothers’ stories.

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor.


About the Book:

Assistant District Attorney Asia Reed is relentless about not losing a case. But she’s fighting a losing battle in the faith department. Now approaching forty, never married and with no children, a growing sense of unease has made her weary about her career and life.

When a former boyfriend and prominent defense attorney is gunned down in his office, Asia is jolted into action, determined to find out who’s responsible. Only hours before his death, Adam Locklear insists they meet about information she needs to know. Did Locklear’s death have anything to do with what he wanted share?

Detective Isaac Coleman seems to think so. Will Asia’s persistence put her in the path of a killer?

Buy this book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

~*~

About the Author:

Tyora Moody is the author of Soul-Searching Suspense books which include the Reed Family SeriesEugeena Patterson MysteriesSerena Manchester Series, and the Victory Gospel Series.  She is also the author of The Literary Entrepreneur Series, editor for the Stepping Into Victory Compilations and Aspiring Love Short Stories Compilations under her company, Tymm Publishing LLC.

As a literary-focused entrepreneur, she has assisted countless authors with developing an online presence via her design and marketing company, Tywebbin Creations LLC. Popular services include book covers, book formatting, and book trailers.

To contact Tyora about book club discussions or for book marketing workshops, visit her online at TyoraMoody.com.

Follow Tyora: Amazon ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~Instagram ~ Twitter

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Book Spotlight: Lemon Filled Disaster

Happy Wednesday, Reader Friends!

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on Tyora Moody’s book, Lemon Filled Disaster.


About the Book:

Retiree Eugeena Patterson has picked up some new activities which include volunteering at an afterschool program and helping her future daughter-in-law plan a wedding. Eugeena is more than thrilled to see her son, Dr. Cedric Patterson, a longtime bachelor soon wed his girlfriend, Carmen Alpine.

During wedding planning errands, Eugeena notices a man is tailing her and Carmen.  When the man confronts Carmen this makes Eugeena’s enthusiasm wane and suspicions rise.

Later when that man is found dead, Carmen becomes a suspect. As Eugeena begins to investigate Carmen’s past, she’s wondering if this wedding will ever happen.


About the Author:

Tyora Moody is the author of Soul-Searching Suspense books which include the Reed Family Novellas, Eugeena Patterson Mysteries, Serena Manchester Series, and the Victory Gospel Series. She is also the author of the nonfiction book, The Literary Entrepreneur’s Toolkit, and the compilation editor for the Stepping Into Victory Compilations under her company, Tymm Publishing LLC.

As a literary-focused entrepreneur, she has assisted countless authors with developing an online presence via her design and marketing company, Tywebbin Creations LLC. Popular services include virtual event planning, book covers and book trailers.

To contact Tyora about book club discussions or for book marketing workshops, visit her online at TyoraMoody.com.

Follow Tyora: Amazon ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~Instagram ~ Twitter

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: 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

Book Spotlight: An Informal Date

Happy Wednesday, Reader Friends!

Thank you so much for stopping by Diversity Between the Pages. I’m happy to share some bookish info on Heather Gray’s An Informal Date. Have you read it? If not, you should. 🙂 It’s book 4 in her Informal Romance series, but can be read as a stand alone.

Let’s get started!


About the Book

The Blurb: “Could two people be more different?

Kimi Fairchild is pursuing an Art Therapy degree while working as a barista at a local hospital. She takes life as it comes and has a smile for everyone who crosses her path. She’s never much cared for schedules, either…until a mysterious man starts showing up at her coffee kiosk every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at exactly 7:05 a.m.

Owen Pratt is a research scientist on the verge of obtaining FDA approval for a new cancer-fighting drug. He has limited people skills, a fondness for caffeine, and a love of strictly kept routines. He’s the antithesis of Kimi in almost every way. Something about her smile, though, keeps bringing him back for more.

How can two such different people go from a shared interest in coffee to a shared future? By getting out of God’s way and letting Him handle the details. Ha! Easier said than done.”

Links: Amazon, B&NGoodreads


About the Author

Heather Gray loves coffee, God, her family, and laughter – not necessarily in that order! She writes approachable characters who, through the highs and lows of life, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her. Her books almost always include someone who’s infatuated with coffee, too. Some things just can’t be helped. Heather delights in creating characters who, like her, have their share of faults and foibles, characters who are flawed…but loved anyway.

Follow: WebsiteFacebook, Twitter


Post by Contributor Toni Shiloh