Sunday, September 21, 2014

Author interview: Jennifer Slattery

Jennifer Slattery is a novelist who specializes in missional romance stories. New Hope Publishers recently released her debut novel Beyond I Do. Jennifer is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and is deeply immersed in the writer life. She has written many articles for Christian print media including Journey Magazine, Granola Bar Devotions, Bloom and Christian Fiction Online Magazine.

I was delighted to find out that in midst of her busy schedule, Jennifer had time to answer interview questions from me about her debut novel and life as a writer.

Read on for the interview (questions by Alexis in bold font, answers from Jennifer Slattery not in bold)...

Alexis: Why do you write women's fiction/contemporary romance? 

Jennifer: You know, I’ve never thought about it. I suppose it just comes naturally, though those genres are also what I enjoy reading. They say read what you write. That means write what you read, too, right? 

Describe the defining moment when you knew you needed to write a novel. 

I started writing novel-length fiction more for fun without really thinking of where God might take it. As time wore on, it became clear; writing was more than a hobby. It was a calling, and God wanted me to focus on it with seriousness, perseverance, and determination. So, I surrendered, and I haven’t looked back since. (Well, minus the occasional temper-tantrums I threw when I experienced rejection or set-backs).

You write “missional romance” novels. What does that term mean and what drew you into writing novels based on that concept? 

A missional romance is a story that has a strong romantic and outreach thread. So, for example, in my debut novel, my heroine feels called to serve in a local homeless shelter, though her fiancé, it appears, does not. This stems from my personal passion—outreach. I feel all believers have a ministry and a mission—a role in their local church and in expanding the kingdom. I also believe our roles are very unique to us. That God planned them long before we took our first breath. I love to encourage readers to discover and embrace their unique callings, and I hope my fiction stirs their desire to do just that.

Why did you choose to release your book through New Hope Publishers? Is it an imprint or traditional publisher? 

New Hope Publishers is a traditional publisher who is known for being gospel centered and mission driven. Connected with the Women’s Mission Union, they’re very involved in numerous evangelical and social justice issues around the globe, including abolition, helping to end generational poverty, and encouraging believers to live “on mission” in their homes, neighborhoods, and social spheres. The more I learned of their passion and focus, the more I realized they were a perfect fit for me and my stories.

What is your favorite part of the book publishing process and what is the most challenging aspect for you? 

Free writing! First drafts are by far my favorite, when I can lose myself in a fictional world without worrying too much about word count, dangling participles, or passive writing. My least favorite part is the final read-through stage because those normally come with a time crunch.

Why did you name your debut novel Beyond I Do?

My heroine in this novel is engaged to a man that appears to have the qualities necessary for a stable marriage. He’s successful, responsible, and intelligent. And yet, as her wedding draws near, an encounter with a woman, her child, and their abuser sparks a passion—one it seems her fiancé doesn’t share. She begins to prayerfully consider her marriage in light of her calling, one she’s just beginning to discover. In other words, she finds herself contemplating what life will look like after she says “I do”.

Give my readers a glimpse of the work that you put in behind-the-scenes to write and publish your book. Did you have a steady daily writing schedule? How much time did you spend writing this book? How did you feel when you finished the final chapter? 

I’m very blessed in that I can devote as much time as need, minus family commitments, to my writing, not having to work outside the home. My writing schedule changes day-to-day, though I try to devote my most creative hours to free-writing. That’s usually some time between 10:00 a.m and 3:00 p.m. This book took me about six months to write then maybe another six months to sift through my critique partners and make revisions. When I hit the end, both in my first draft and after final read-throughs, I celebrated with time off and a big ol’ tub of frozen yogurt.

What are your hopes for your debut novel? Do you want it to become a bestseller? 

Well, I wouldn’t be disappointed. (*grin*) I’ve prayed about this a lot, and too be honest, I really just want it to please God and to reveal His gentle, pursuing heart to a broken world.

Do you plan on writing more books? Why or why not? If you are working on a new book now, would you please give us a hint about the storyline? 

I’m actually working on big picture edits on my second novel at this moment, a book I believe will be released in January. It’s about a fifty-one year old realtor who’s displaced by a storm. Jacqueline Dunn has a strained relationship with her adult daughter. Using the storm as an opportunity to begin and again and reconnect with her daughter, she heads north to the small town of Willow Valley, where her daughter lives. While there, she encounters three children, also displaced by the storm, who are abandoned by their mother. And she meets a handsome widower who works for the local railroad. The two form a quick friendship. Maybe more. (*wink*)

Where do you get your inspiration for your creative fictional stories? Does your faith in God play a role? Please explain. 

Absolutely! I pray a lot before I write. Before and during every phase of the writing process, actually. And I can often see a direct correlation between my creativity and my spiritual health. If I skimp on spending time with God, it isn’t long before my creative juices dry up. But when I put Him first, taking regular time to connect with Him, it seems the ideas explode!

Are any of your characters in your debut novel anything like you? If yes, please explain why. 

I relate most to Ainsley Meadows, the heroine. She senses God calling her to two things: a singing career and serving in a local homeless ministry. But she’s hesitant because the call seems so illogical! Doesn’t everyone want to be a singer… or dancer… or writer? When they’re children, anyway. But then they grow up and pursue more “logical” careers. At least, I suspect those are the thoughts we all must face, when chasing a dream. Those were some of the things I wrestled with, when I first sensed God calling me to write.

What is the take home message of your debut novel? What do you want your readers to remember the most?

There’s two intertwined messages I hope my readers will glean from the story. One is based on my interpretation of Genesis 2:19 and the truth presented in Ephesians 2:10. In Genesis 2:19, God says, “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.’" (NLT). I believe we are much more effective in life and ministry when we have a partner, a helpmate who gets us and brings out the best in us, not so we can achieve the “American dream” but rather so we, together, can fulfill that which God created us to do.

This is where Ephesians 2:10 comes in. it says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago” (NLT). This verse tells me God has a very special role for each one of, a job for us, one planned long before we took our first breath and one we were created perfectly for. I believe our greatest joy and fulfillment is found when we discover and pursue that which God created us to.

I hope my novel will encourage readers to view their marriage (or future marriage) from an eternal perspective, selecting spouses that share their calling and passions, and I hope they will work together as a team, focusing on things of eternal value.

Where can my readers buy your debut novel?

Pretty much anywhere, I believe, though I’ve been directing people to as they seem to have the best price for the print and e-versions. You can find it here,

Complete this sentence: As a writer, I always ________________ because_______________________.

As a writer, I always seek to maintain a heart of surrender because in the end, what we do in obedience to Christ is all that matters.

Alexis: Thank you for the interview! Is there a question you’d like for my readers to answer? If so, please type it now.

Jennifer: I do! Have you discovered your calling yet? If so, what are you doing today to pursue it? If you haven’t, how do you feel about my thoughts regarding Ephesians 2:10? What might God want to do with your unique gifts, talents, and passions?

Author bio:

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently available in print and e-book format for under $10! You can find it here,

Jennifer loves helping aspiring authors grow in their craft, and has editing slots open beginning in November. Find out more here,

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud

Book details (
Summary of Jennifer's book Beyond I Do, released Sept. 2014): 

Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

Read a free, 36-page excerpt here,

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Author interview: Elizabeth Maddrey

Today I am delighted to introduce you to Elizabeth Maddrey, an author whose stories not only reflect real-life but can inspire you to change your world for the better.

Elizabeth started writing as a child and loves to read! She resides in the nation's capital (Washington, D.C.) with her husband and two children. I want to thank Liz publicly for taking the time to answer my questions for this author interview featured on my blog today.

Now here's the exciting news: Elizabeth would like to give away two FREE copies of her book to two lucky winners. She has offered to sign the paperback copy of her book Hope Deferred and mail it to winner #1 and she has agreed to allow winner #2 to choose one of her e-books (Wisdom to Know, Courage to Change, Serenity to Accept, Joint Venture, Faith Departed, or Hope Deferred). The e-book will also be free of charge and sent via a Kindle copy. The winners will be selected in a drawing by me. 

Enter the book giveaway (to win your free book) by going to the comment section and answering Liz's question at the end of her interview. You have from today (Sept. 14) until Sept. 28 to leave a comment. Please include your e-mail address so if you're one of the winners, I can contact you in order for you to receive your free book from Elizabeth!

So without further ado, read my interview with Elizabeth below where you'll find questions asked by me (in bold font) and answers written by Elizabeth (not in bold). Enjoy!

Alexis: You’ve written a lot of books! How many have you published in total?

Elizabeth: All told, right now I have 5 full-length novels released and one novella. My 6th full-length novel is scheduled to release in December of this year.

Alexis: Did you self-publish or go the traditional route? If you went traditional, please share the story of how you got your agent and book deal. If you went indie, please explain how you moved from writing the book to publishing it and give my readers an idea of how much it cost to publish it.

Elizabeth: I kind of split the difference, honestly. I’m traditionally published, but with a small press. The major difference there is that my publisher will work with un-agented authors and so I’ve put the hunt for an agent on hold for the time being. I ended up choosing this route after about a year of agent hunting with rejection after rejection because they had concerns about the sale-ability of my stories.

Alexis: You write “Grace-Driven Fiction” as it says on your blog. Explain what that means for you as a writer and how you thought of that concept.

Elizabeth: This really ties into my desire to write about the struggles that plague the Christian life. I think sometimes we let ourselves fall into the trap of thinking that becoming a Christian means that we’re going to have smooth sailing from there on out – that we’ll be able to pray our way through any struggles and not really suffer. But real life isn’t like that. For me personally, I like to see that in the books I read – Christians who still mess up (sometimes even on purpose!) and need God’s grace day after day. So the idea of Grace-Driven Fiction came from that – my characters, especially my Christian characters, will always be people who still struggle with sin and all the ugliness that follows us around as we try to make our way and live for Christ in a fallen world.

Alexis: Tell my readers about your Remnants book series. What is the focus and message?

Elizabeth: The Remnants series (Faith Departed, Hope Deferred, and my December release Love Defined) is the story of twin sisters June and July (pronounced Julie) and their respective husbands as they try to start a family and instead of the easy process that we tend to expect, run face-first into infertility. The thirteen years my husband and I tried to start a family opened my eyes to how awful it is to be a Christian who’s infertile. More often than not, you get a pat on the back and a reminder that you need to surrender to God’s will. And while, sure, that’s a true sentiment, it’s not helpful when you’re at the bottom of the dark, angry pit infertility helps you dig. It’s my prayer that reading about June and July will help people who haven’t been through infertility understand just how deeply it can shake your faith and all your relationships, and for those who have experienced infertility, I hope it helps them understand that they’re not alone and it’s okay to struggle and wrestle with God when you’re hurting.

Alexis: Tell my readers about your Grant Us Grace novels. When and why did you start writing that line and how much time did you spend on it?

Elizabeth: The Grant Us Grace novels are all contemporary romances. Wisdom to Know is the story of Lydia and Kevin. Lydia is a pastor’s daughter who makes some bad choices (including an abortion) and has to fight her way back through the consequences of those choices to renewed faith in God. Kevin has been in love with Lydia since high school – but when he discovers her choices, he struggles to reconcile what he feels is God’s call for them to marry and his perceived betrayal.

Courage to Change is the story of Allison (a secondary character in Wisdom to Know) and Phil – two attorneys who are helping an unwed pregnant teen. Phil is still grappling with having been divorced by his wife after he found Jesus and Allison struggles with loving someone who isn’t the ideal she’d expected God to bring her.

Serenity to Accept is the story of Karin (a secondary character in Courage to Change) and Jason. Jason, an ER doctor, is struggling with guilt over his inability to save his father’s life while Karin wants nothing to do with God after the sexual abuse she suffered as a young girl. Though Jason knows better than to become romantically involved with a non-believer, he’s drawn to Karin.

My novella, Joint Venture, is sort of a prequel to the main series. It’s the story of Matt and Laura, who are a married couple already in Wisdom to Know. But I fell in love with them when I was writing about Lydia and Kevin and knew they needed a chance in the spotlight.

I wrote Wisdom to Know as a NaNoWriMo project in 2009. I worked on it for two years before finally getting it to a point where I hoped it was publishable. After contracting for it, I wrote Courage to Change, and Serenity to Accept in about six weeks each (for the first draft – then lots of editing.) I wanted the series to touch on issues that are often swept under the rug, like the fact that Christians do still choose to abort babies and that there is healing from abortion available through Christ, teen pregnancy and its prevalence even in the church, divorce, and dating non-believers – but I still wanted a good, clean romance to tie it all together.

Alexis: You say your books are about Christians who “aren’t perfect” and need God’s grace which I’d say pretty much sums up real-life for us all. Why did you decide these were concepts you needed to create in fictional stories?

Elizabeth: It mostly came out of the kind of book I like to read. I read a lot, and the books I love most are ones where I can identify with the characters and feel like, yep, that could be me. But I also like books that challenge me and leave me thinking. This isn’t to say I can’t enjoy a “simple and fun read” – but it’s not what I crave. Consequently, though, I read a lot of secular fiction because I just don’t see a ton of Christian fiction that speaks to the hurting in our pews. I wanted readers to know that they weren’t alone, and they weren’t failing because they didn’t have the perfect lives we see so often in fiction where a quick prayer suddenly makes everything clear and better. Living for Christ is hard and it’s messy and we don’t do it perfectly the first time, and I think the characters in our books should reflect that reality.

Alexis: Do you have a Bible verse that you would say is the theme of your life or most dear to your heart? If yes, please share and explain why.

Elizabeth: I’ve always loved Romans 8:38-39 “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

It’s such a wonderful promise – God loves us, no matter what. Even when it doesn’t feel like He’s walking with you, He is. Even when you’re making bad choices and reaping the whirlwind they cause, He’s with you and He loves you.

Alexis: How does your faith in God as a Christian play into your characters and storylines?

Elizabeth: It oozes into almost every word. I want my characters and storylines to always represent what it means to live as a Christian in today’s world. It’s not always pretty or easy, but it’s always full of God’s love and grace. Without that in my own life, I would be nothing – so there’s no way to leave that out of my books.

Alexis: Do you write for a living or do you have another job with a salary and benefits? If yes, where do you work and how do you find time to write stories? What advice do you have for people who want to write full-time and make a living by their pen?

Elizabeth: Neither. I’m at home with my two amazing kids full-time. So in addition to homeschooling and writing, I spend my days driving Hot Wheels, setting up tea parties with Army men (it’s my compromise – both boys love their Army men, but I get tired of everything being a battle, so when I play, they have tea parties before they go shoot things), trying to dig out from under the incessant pile of laundry upstairs, and wondering why I bother mopping the kitchen floor. That said, regardless of how your days get occupied – my advice is really the same: If you want to write, write. You have to make time for the words to hit the screen. Maybe you give up your lunch break or your favorite TV show – if it’s important to you, you’ll find a way to make it happen.

Alexis: Give my readers a glimpse into your personal life. Where do you and your family reside? What’s your favorite part of being at home with your husband and children? Do you want your children to grow up to be a writer like you? Why or why not?

Elizabeth: We live in the Washington D.C. suburbs in one of the many sprawling bedroom communities that cluster around the Nation’s Capital, feeding a mass of cars into and out of the city each day. My favorite part of being home with the family is hanging out together either reading or playing Xbox or a board game together….Mostly I want my kids to grow up and do what God calls them to do. If it’s writing, then they should write. If it’s fixing cars, they should fix cars. If it’s program computers, then program computers. Whatever they end up doing, I hope that we will have raised them to work hard at it, give their all, and do it all to the glory of God. I can’t ask for more than that.

Alexis: Complete this sentence: As a writer, I always _______________ because _____________________.

Elizabeth: As a writer, I always cringe when I send off a book to my editor because I’m never convinced it’s as good as it should be.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview Liz! If there’s a question you’d like my readers to answer for you, please type it here.

Elizabeth asks the readers of God is Love blog, "Who’s your favorite hero from a classic novel?"

Author bio: 
Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.

Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website or on Facebook:

Connect with Elizabeth via Social Media:

Twitter: @elizabethmaddre


Monday, September 1, 2014

Guest post by Diane Samson on LOVE

Today's guest blogger is Diane Samson. She is a family-oriented woman with a passion for coffee and connection. Diane is skilled at connecting with people as she honestly, openly and very creatively shares her heart with the world through her website and blog. I believe in the power of a good story so today, I invited Diane to share one of her personal stories in devotional form. I hope you will enjoy reading it and will be encouraged by the message! 


Can I Love When I’ve Been Hurt?
A guest post by Diane Samson

Only in love.
In my post, Work Less in Relationships, I wrote about my tendency to seek fulfillment in relationships, instead of God. When I make those choices, God is wooing me and calling me unto Himself, not once letting me go. But the fear keeps me in the cycle of condemnation. My failure in relationships or my perception, leads me to feel like a failure and I’m not good enough.

As I mentioned I am reading a book The Cure For The Perfect Life: 12 Steps to Stop Trying Harder and Start Living Braver. In chapter 6, “Love,” Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory write…

“Love is at the heart of Braver Living.”

It’s only in love we can find redemption.

It’s only in love that we can find freedom.

It’s only in love that we can be free from fear. 
“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” (1 John 4:18 NLT)

When I am exhibiting signs of fear, I am not experiencing God’s love to the fullest. I am letting fear get in the way of God’s love for me.

When I experience fear in my relationships and in my inadequacies, my shortcomings keep getting in the way. I am holding back and not letting God give me all that He has to offer.

To turn on the light bulb, I need to move the switch. The power is enabled and I have full access to it. All I need to do is walk over to it, move my fingers and flip it on. But I can’t. My focus is on all the negative things that might happen if I walk over to the other side of the room. I’m not sure what I will encounter on the floor. On the walls. In the unknown.

But the light needs to go on. Otherwise I can’t see. I can’t take advantage of the light in the room provided for my well-being.

God’s love is for everyone.
God’s love is available for any of us. We often don’t take His love. Or we take bits and pieces of it. Instead of taking the light for ourselves, we take a part of it or the shadow of someone else’s light. We can take God’s love for ourselves. He has offered His love to us when He sent His son to die for us and has been offering it to us ever since.

I offer love to my child and package it on a silver platter. But she won’t take it. She is letting her fear of trusting me, past hurts and past baggage to get in the way. If she would put it behind her, she could receive my love, freely and fully.

God wants to give us His full, complete love. And His love is perfect! Without fail.

In my relationships, and any of us in the cycle of trying harder, and trying to be better, we can chose to fully experience God’s love.

We can love ourselves and love each other because of God’s Word. We are worth His love because He said so! You are worth His love because He says it in the Bible.

“For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will—to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us.” (Ephesians 1:4-8 NIV)

“In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (Ephesians 4:12 NIV))

Confidence in Christ…in His perfect love.
We can proclaim confidence in Christ because He told us we could. We can approach relationships in confidence and freedom. There is no need for us to sneak away in shame. Shame is what the devil gives us and wants us to cling to. We have the privilege and right to claim God’s love for us. For. Me.

Beloved, dear one, move forward boldly and with confidence. Give up your fears and the control they have over you. Choose freedom, not bondage. Live today. In freedom. In His love. In His perfect love.

When I have been hurt, I feel bad. I feel the pain. I admit my feelings to God. I admit my anger. I admit it’s hard for me to trust. I admit I want to stay exactly where I am. Pray to God. Yell to Him. Cry it out to Him. Give it all to Him.

I have. Many times. The hurt isn’t exactly gone. The injustice has been committed. I’m still hurt. But I’m free now to move on. I don’t have to carry the hurt, especially alone.

And then I’m free to love again. Freely. Without strings. God gives me the peace to move on. I can then risk again, step out, and love. If I’m still holding onto all those past hurts, I am unable to love, as Jesus would want me to.

“Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:39 NIV)

Take His love and give it away.

Live a life of freedom today. Step out and choose to love today. Choose one act of living bravely today. Who can use your special touch of love today? Who can benefit from your love because Christ first loved you? Take it and give it away. Today. And then see what happens. Those past hurts don’t look so bad after all.

Yes, you can love if you’ve been hurt.

Make a comment to my posts for the next few weeks and I will add your name to a drawing to win The Cure for The Perfect Life. If you sign up for my newsletter and blog posts, I will add your name twice for every comment. In my September newsletter I will announce the end date. Make sure you sign up by August 31.

You can usually find me at my site, where I blog and share my journey at:
wings for your dreams

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Author Bio: 
Diane is the mom of two adult children and two teenage boys, one in high school and a newly college student. She is often called Nana to three grandchildren. She also manages her busy household with a world traveler pilot husband. While you can find her blogging in North Idaho, she enjoys her work at Open Arms Pregnancy Center, leading women in the Word of God and playing Mah Jongg. Diane is getting ready to publish articles and is starting a new writing endeavor. Join her for a cup of coffee and you have a friend for life!