Sunday, March 29, 2015

Love is in the Air: Author interview with Johnnie Alexander

Today's featured author, Johnnie Alexander, will give away one copy of her e-book Where Treasure Hides to the person who wins the book giveaway contest! See the Rafflecopter widget at the end of this blog post to enter the contest.

Join me as I talk with Ms. Alexander about her real-life story and her passion for writing historical and contemporary romance!


Alexis: How did you get your start as a writer? Take us from the time you “knew” this is what you were called to do and end at how you got your first book deal.

Johnnie: I think I always knew, but fear and ignorance plus family, work, and grad school kept me from following my dream. Then in 2003, I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and learned how much I really loved writing a story. It didn’t matter that it was a mess and didn’t resolve itself in a probable way. I had developed characters, a setting, and written a few scenes with impressive dialogue. Still the days flew by until I attended my first major writing conference in 2007 with a proposal that went nowhere.

Time ticked by. I joined two critique groups and studied craft. I learned about show, don’t tell and other important elements. Though I had (and still have) stumbles, editors began showing interest in my work, I signed with my agent, and I won a few conference awards. In 2011, Where Treasure Hides won the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Contest for historical fiction. A little over a year later, Tyndale published it as an e-book for their Digital First program. It releases as a print edition in August.

Why do you write historical and contemporary romance? 

New writers are usually advised to establish themselves in one genre, but God has other plans for my writing journey. After Where Treasure Hides was released, Tyndale asked if I had a contemporary. I pulled up a file I’d played with off-and-on over the years, wrote a proposal, and polished the manuscript.

Tyndale passed on it, but Revell said yes! I signed a three-book contract with them for a series called Misty Willow. The first book, Where She Belongs, releases in January 2016.

Tell us about your book Where Treasure Hides. What is it about? Who are your main characters and what are their struggles?

Dutch-American artist Alison Schuyler lives in Rotterdam, Holland with her grandfather who owns the family’s art gallery. While in London, she meets British Army officer Ian Devlin after he protects a Kindertransport boy at Waterloo Station and she draws a sketch of the two of them. 

Though the attraction between them is instant, Europe is on the edge of war. August 1939 is not a good time for romance. Circumstances bring them back together but Ian is recalled to duty when England declares war on Germany.

Alison assists her father in protecting Dutch art from the Nazi looters while Ian is wounded and captured at Dunkirk. She’s almost glad he’s a POW—at least he’s out of the war. But Ian chafes under the confinement and eventually escapes.

As the story unfolds, Alison and Ian are reunited then torn apart again. Will they ever find the happiness that eludes them? You’ll have to read the story to find out!

On your website next to the book cover for Where Treasure Hides is a photo of another book in another language. Tell us about it.

Waar Liefde Woont, translated Where Love Lives, is the Dutch edition of Where Treasure Hides. Marian Baay, a freelance editor for Dutch publisher Uitgeverij Kok, read the novel, loved it, and recommended it for translation.

Though the book opens at Waterloo Station in London, England, the setting then moves to Alison’s home and family art gallery in Rotterdam, Holland for a time. Later, we’re with Ian in France and Germany, then again in England, then back in Germany. (The characters travel around in this story.)

If you could spend a day with your favorite character from Where Treasure Hides, who would you spend the time with and what would you two do?

I would love for Ian to give me a tour of his family estate. Though not as grand as Downton Abbey, Ian’s home has been in the family for centuries. I’d love to see the hidden corners, the art, and any secrets it held. After that, we could take a boat ride to the giant boulder known as the Giant’s Hand where he likes to sit and think.

Describe your writing space. What makes it special to you?

I usually write at the kitchen table. It’s set in a nook with tall windows in two walls which gives me great views of trees. Sometimes a cat meanders past, and lately our two guineas and a few chickens have made their way down here from the pasture. Last summer, I could write and watch our alpacas “mow” the yard.

How does your faith in God play into your storytelling?

I think there are two answers to this question. Alison and Ian are both Christians, but Alison particularly struggles with placing her trust fully into God’s hands. Her favorite verse, and one she holds on to, is also one of mine: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future” (Proverbs 31:25 NASB).

The second aspect is the faith it takes to spend years writing a book that may only be read by family and friends. I had to be fine with that, with finding joy in the creative process and in indulging my imagination no matter the outcome.

There’s actually a third answer—the faith that God will give me what I need to do it again. As thrilling as it is to have a contract for two more contemporaries, it’s also scary. There are deadlines to meet. Expectations to fulfill. But God is faithful. I’m writing the series second novel now, and day-by-day it’s taking shape.

Who is your favorite Christian author and which of their books do you love the most? Explain why.

It’s so hard to choose a favorite though I like Ann Tatlock, Jane Kirkpatrick, and Davis Bunn for the depth of their stories. I recently read Snow on the Tulips by Liz Tolsma which is a powerful and beautifully written novel. Her parallelism with the Biblical book of Esther added an inspiring layer to an already engaging story.

What words of wisdom would you like to share with aspiring writers?

Begin now for the journey may be long. Attend conferences, find encouraging and competent critique partners, and enter contests for the feedback you’ll receive.

What is your greatest dream for your writing career?

I’d love to see one of my novels made into a movie. Wouldn’t we all?

Truly, though, I’m not seeking fame nor fortune. My dream is to write stories that linger in the reader’s heart long after she closes the last page.

Share insight into your personal life. Are you married? Do you have children? What is your favorite vacation spot? What is your favorite way to bond with your loved ones? What is your favorite season?

Since moving to Tennessee a little over a year ago, my favorite vacation spot is where the kids are—one in Ohio and two in Florida. However, I’m also very fond of the Blue Ridge. And I dream of traveling to Europe.

My two daughters and my son are all grown up. The girls are married with little ones of their own. One has three boys; the other has two girls. We love movie marathons, playing games, and going to Pizza Hut buffet after a morning’s work is done. One of our favorite things is to make memories together.

We also have a group text thread. I just love it when my phone repeatedly dings because I know the kids are having a conversation. So fun.

I love “Florida season.” I lived in the Orlando area for over twenty years. I rarely knew for sure what month it was. And what fun to be surprised by the snowy photos friends posted on Facebook because I’d forgotten it was winter up north.

Here in Tennessee, I love coming in to a cozy house after doing morning chores and relishing the heat from the fireplace. Now that the weather is getting warmer, I delight in the daffodils popping up in the yard. And one tree outside the kitchen window displays pink tulip-shaped blooms on its branches. Just lovely.

As a writer and woman of faith, what do you want your legacy to be?

Being remembered as a Christian who endeavored to glorify God in all she did is a given. Beyond that, I want to be remembered by my family and friends as someone who created memories with those she loved.

Thanks for the interview, Johnnie! If you’d like to do a book giveaway, please leave a question for my readers to answer. 

Book Giveaway Question:
My dream of a European trip is coming true. Even better, you’re coming with me! What’s your one “must-see”?

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Author bio: 

Johnnie Alexander writes inspiring stories that linger in the heart. Where Treasure Hides, her debut novel, won the ACFW Genesis Contest (2011) and Golden Leaf Award (2014). The first of her three contemporary romances, Where She Belongs (Misty Willow Series), releases from Revell in January 2016.

She also has won Best Novel and Best Writer awards (Florida Christian Writers Conferences), and Bronze Medalist (My Book Therapy Frasier Contest).

A graduate of Rollins College (Orlando) with a Master of Liberal Studies degree, Johnnie treasures family memories, classic movies, road trips, and stacks of books. She lives in the Memphis area where her morning chores include feeding dogs, cats, chickens, and a small herd of alpacas.

About Johnnie's book:

Artist Alison Schuyler spends her time working in her family’s renowned art gallery, determined to avoid the curse that has followed the Schuyler clan from the Netherlands to America and back again. She’s certain that true love will only lead to tragedy—that is, until a chance meeting at Waterloo station brings Ian Devlin into her life.

Drawn to the bold and compassionate British Army captain, Alison begins to question her fear of love as World War II breaks out, separating the two and drawing each into their own battles. While Ian fights for freedom on the battlefield, Alison works with the Dutch Underground to find a safe haven for Jewish children and priceless pieces of art alike. But safety is a luxury war does not allow.

As time, war, and human will struggle to keep them apart, will Alison and Ian have the faith to fight for their love, or is it their fate to be separated forever?

Buy Johnnie's book 
Where Treasure Hides, currently available as an e-book. The print edition releases August 2015. Purchase links: Amazon, Barnes&NobleChristian Book Distributors

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Love is in the Air: Book review of "Love Comes Calling"

Deborah M. Piccurelli’s book, Love Comes Calling, is a delightful read! I loved reading every line and plot twist of this story. The characters are endearing, the plot captivating and the story not only well-written but unique!

The author’s opening scenes of Love Comes Calling drops the reader into the action, immediately introducing main character Derek Spencer. The reader first meets Derek while he is driving in his SUV, searching for an address. He wants to meet a lady named Charlotte Parkes and reveal his role in ruining her life and career dreams of working as a professional ballerina.

Charlotte's face was injured in an accident and this line from the book says it all, “As long as her face remained in this condition, she would put aside any notions of looking or praying for a soul mate. No matter. She had the Lord to complete her. She didn’t need a man for that.” It sets the stage for what the author plans to do with the main characters in term of their faith in God and how the author shows how God restores the brokenhearted–face and all—
not only in the author's fictional story world, but in real life. 

But first, the author reveals the ins and outs of the inner thoughts of Charlotte and Derek. She also shows the reader in conversation between the sisters (Charlotte and Jessica) that society’s norms for what is beautiful and what is not need to be challenged. Charlotte thinks no man will ever love her with a face as damaged as hers. But Jessica assures her sister that there are many men in the world who would look right past those superficial “flaws” and embrace her inner—and outward—beauty. But of course, Charlotte does not believe her and as the story progresses, the reader sees how the author works with that situation to bring about change.

The author does a brilliant job in plotting, characterization and pacing throughout the story. But the most surprising is the first plot twist within the first few paragraphs of chapter one, when Derek arrives at Charlotte’s house and her sister Jessica mistakes him for the contractor they were expecting. The characters are very memorable and each their own person. Charlotte goes by “Charlie” and her sister Jessica is a riot, a very vivacious and aggressive personality compared to Charlie.

The author knows how to captivate the reader from the very first few sentences of Love Comes Calling and keep their attention all the way to the end of the story. It’s a book that you will want to read from start to finish with no interruptions or distractions! 
Love Comes Calling is worth every bit of my five-star rating! 

I look forward to reading more wholesome, captivating, creative and insightful fiction from this author.

*Book review written by Alexis A. Goring. The author sent an Advanced Review Copy (ARC) of her book Love Comes Calling to Alexis in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Love is in the Air: Author interview with Betsy St. Amant

The first author featured in my new "Love is in the Air" blog series is a dear writer friend, Betsy St. Amant! 

Ladies, if you love cupcakes, cute guys and stories on romance and dreams come true, you'll love Betsy's new book, All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes!

Here's the best part, Betsy is giving away one signed paperback copy of her book, All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes! Enter the book giveaway contest by using the Rafflecopter widget at the end of this author interview.

Book blurb:

Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie's bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.

But when Lucas Brannen, Kat's best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary...and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself--her--is suddenly in danger of slipping away. 

The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat's senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams...or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana. 

*Note from Alexis: The story sounds delightful, doesn't it? Let's move on to my interview with the book's author, Betsy St. Amant, and discover the delicious details about her book! My questions are in bold, Betsy's answers are not in bold. 

Alexis: Why do you love writing about love?

Betsy: I’m such a romantic at heart. I’ve always been drawn to love stories, whether it’s fairy tale romances or real life testimonies. I love writing about the love we are blessed with on earth, as well as the ultimate, unconditional love that our Heavenly Father has for us!

Share your elevator pitch for your 2014 release, All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes.

What if your biggest dream came true—and you realized you didn’t want it anymore?

Who or what inspired you to write All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes?

I created the proposal for All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes, which actually had a working title of “A Taste of Love” while at a women’s scrapbook retreat. A bunch of women including my mom and sister spent two nights in a cute little bed and breakfast in a nearby town, and everyone “scrapped” – except me, who sat with her laptop and created this very story from scratch. I wanted to do a “friends to lovers” romance, and when someone at one point suggested I write about cupcakes because I was always talking about them on social media, it seemed a fun fit!

Your main character Kat Varland sounds like she’s a baker on a budget! Tell us about how you created Kat and why you gave her a passion for baking and a business degree.

I think there’s a little bit of Kat in every woman. I wanted to show that relatable quality, so women readers could put themselves in her shoes and know that they aren’t alone in being afraid to dream…in being torn between wanting to express themselves and wanting to hide. Women fear rejection. Kat knew she had more to offer than what she could do baking for her aunt in a small town…yet at the same time, she was terrified to try. That’s why Lucas was so good for her – not just as a romance, but as someone who believed in her and brought out her best. Someone who knew just how much to push her.

What is the deepest desire in Kat’s heart, one which the readers may not know until they’re halfway through your book?

This is a hard question because Kat starts off thinking she knows what she wants, going hard for her goal, and then realizing that her dreams might not actually be what she thought they were all along.

Does this story have a happy ending? If yes, can you give us a clue?

All of my stories are HEA! (Happily ever after) You’ll have to read to find out the details ;)

Lucas Brannen is your male lead. Share his story. What makes him tick? What brings a smile to his face? Where is he in his faith journey with God? What does he do for a living?

I love Lucas. In some ways, he seems “too good to be true” – the handsome, loving, considerate, hunky football coach who is dedicated to Kat. But Lucas has internal struggles too, and his own fears of rejection. As a coach, he’s used to being in control and knowing which plays to call to get his desired result. When it comes to Kat and his newly realized love for her that goes beyond friendship, he is without a play book and totally out of his element. He has to learn what true love and sacrifice really means, and has to realize that sometimes our dreams can only come true when we risk letting them go completely.

What role does the faith of your characters play in this story?

The faith thread in this story is about letting go and trusting God with the deepest parts of our hearts. It’s about self-sacrifice and demonstrating true love like Jesus did for us.

How does your faith in God play into your fictional stories, characters and scenes?

I always write through my lens of faith, whether the faith/inspirational thread is overt or subtle. My characters always have strong morals (the same ones I believe in) and yet are very real, very imperfect people in need of grace (as I am!) I hope at the end of my stories my readers experience hope, and are drawn to the God of grace if they don’t already know Him.

Your story plays out between New York and Louisiana. Why did you choose those two states for your story setting? What’s special about each location?

I’m Louisiana born and raised, so I always like to set my stories around La., since it’s what I know. I know the crazy weather, the history, the culture, the quirks. I usually invent a small town so I have freedom to design it as needed for each story. New York and Los Angeles were the other cities in this story, because NYC was where the grand prize was located, and Los Angeles because that was where the reality show was filmed.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned from your characters in this book?

It’s a cliché, the whole “letting go and letting God” but I do believe there is a lot of truth in that. When we hold tightly to the things we love the most, we tend to squeeze the life out of them. But when we open our hands and surrender the dreams to the ultimate Dream-Giver, He breathes new life. I need this reminder frequently, as do Kat and Lucas!

If you could be the best friend forever (BFF) of one of your characters in this book, who would it be and why?

I would love to be Kat’s BFF and get free cupcakes ;)

What was your favorite memory of writing this book?

Sitting at the scrapbook retreat with my mom and sister, creating this proposal and one-sheet, and getting excited about a new story that, at the time, I had no idea was going to plant me at my dream publishing house. God is so good!

Do you like cupcakes? If yes, what is your favorite flavor and real-life bakery?

Oh yes, I definitely do! My favorite real life bakery is here in Shreveport, called Buttercups. Buttercups actually competed on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” several years ago. They are delicious! My favorite flavor is probably strawberry, though my mom makes a pink lemonade cupcake that is also amazing.

Complete this sentence: When I wrote “the end” to All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes, I_______________because _________________.

When I wrote “the end” to All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes, I celebrated because it was finally done baking and was ready to be consumed! :)

Thanks for the interview, Betsy! Please leave a question for my readers to answer.

Betsy’s question for my readers: What's your favorite cupcake flavor?

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Author bio:

Betsy St. Amant has a heart for three things - chocolate, new shoes and sharing the amazing news of God's grace through her novels. 

She resides in Louisiana with her adorable, story-telling young daughter, a collection of Austen novels and an impressive stash of Pickle Pringles. 

Betsy has a B.A. in Communications, is multi-published in contemporary romantic fiction, and freelances for her local newspaper. She also enjoys inspirational speaking and teaching on the craft of writing. 

When she's not composing her next book or trying to figure out where Mr. Darcy went, she can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha, or singing along with her daughter to the latest Disney soundtrack. 

Look for her upcoming novel with HarperCollins publishers, Love Arrives in Pieces, June 2015!

Buy Betsy's book, All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes: - - -

Connect with Betsy:
Author page on Facebook -
Official website -
Twitter -

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Love is in the Air! Introducing a new blog series :)

Dear Wonderful Readers of my "God is Love" blog,

Spring 2015 is here! And what better way to celebrate than to start a new blog series?

Join me as we celebrate the beauty of love every week from March 22 through June 14! :)

If you liked my "True Love Stories" blog series (Feb. 1 through Feb. 28), you're going to love this new series called "Love is in the Air"! :) Instead of sharing real-life true love stories, I am promoting Christian fiction romance books in the following categories: inspirational, chick lit, contemporary, historical and maybe even suspense.

Starting tomorrow, the authors of these books will be featured on my blog through four main ways: author interviews, devotionals, guest posts and book review/excerpts.

Best of all, you as the reader will have the opportunity to win free books! Yes, some of my authors are offering to give away signed copies or e-book versions of their book to the contest winners! All you have to do is to leave a comment and follow the contest rules for your chance to win those free books.

I believe this series will be a lot of fun and very refreshing, especially for the romantic-at-heart. :)

If you know a Christian author who'd love to participate in this new blog series, e-mail me directly at this address, I'm taking requests until May 31.

Meanwhile, sit back, relax and enjoy this new series! 

God bless you! 



Sunday, March 15, 2015

*New* Author Interview with Valerie Comer

Today's featured author Valerie Comer, agreed to give away one e-book copy of her book, Dandelions for Dinner. If you'd like to win that copy, answer the questions in the Rafflecopter box at the end of this interview.

So without further ado, please welcome back an old friend of this blog (she's been featured several times before), Valerie Comer! 

Questions from Alexis are in bold. Answers from Valerie are not in bold. 

Alexis: Dandelions for Dinner is quite the creative title! Tell me about it. Is it literal or figurative? Why did you choose this title for your latest book?

It's both literal and figurative, which is a lot of fun. I was able to work actual dandelions into discussions and meals into the story, as well as more general themes of the weeds we have in our lives, and how they affect us. 

I brainstormed the title with a friend before the story was written or even planned. It had to be three words, catchy, and go with the existing titles in the series. Once I had the title, it wasn't hard to see how it could help shape themes.

Where is the setting for this story? How did you decide on it?

The entire Farm Fresh Romance series takes place on Green Acres Farm in a redrawn northern Idaho. Okay, they go into the town of Galena Landing occasionally. ;) When I wrote the first two novels, I was aiming for traditional publication which did not want Canadian settings. I live in Canada quite close to the Idaho border, so I just slid my imaginary farm south a few miles, so I'd still understand the climate and growing season.

We (the readers) meet Allison Hart on the first page of Chapter 1. What can we expect from Allison throughout your book? Share her motivations, desires and conflict.

Allison isn't a very nice person at the beginning of the book. She detests men, putting up with them as little as possible and always with distrust. She's hiding something, and the reader won't know what for many pages (unless they're smarter than Allison's author, which is possible.)

She's drawn to the farm because of the three women who started it. It's a place where Allison can sink her inheritance, make a difference, and safeguard herself. Where she can live alone (yet in community) and get herself a big guard dog.

It didn't take a lot of imagination to see Allison in conflict. When she walked in at Green Acres Farm on page one, she was a human porcupine ready to spring her barbs in every direction and with little notice.

Creating situations where she could learn to trust and where she could change, little by little, was a joy. I'm hoping readers will see Allison's journey as a realistic one, that they will root for her from the beginning and come to understand her as they continue on.

As the story starts after page one, Allison meets Brent Callahan. She seems to be surprised by his Irish name. Why?

She sees a man of Asian descent, who introduces himself as a Callahan. It does make her do a little double-take!

What can you tell us about Brent? What are his dreams and quirks? How would you describe his personality?

Allison isn't the only one hiding things in her past. Brent is, too. He's determined to stay single because "he wouldn't inflict his issues on a God-fearing woman, and he was done with the other kind."

He's a contractor, hardworking and meticulous in the finest details. He respects Allison as his client for whom he is building a timber-framed house. He's patient with her even when she doesn't really deserve it.

I like Brent a lot. I think a romance author has to fall in love with the hero in her story, or it will show to the reader, and they won't root for the couple to get together!

At the start of Dandelions for Dinner, the reader may think that romance may bloom between Allison and Brent. What can you tell us about those two without giving away your story?

It's a romance novel in Allison's and Brent's point-of-views so, yes, the reader will expect them to get together. But we don't read romance novels for the destination; we read them for the journey. Several conflicts between and around Allison and Brent make things rocky in the middle, and I truly hope the reader enjoys the twists and turns and finds the story sticking with her after she closes the cover.

What would you say is the climax of your story? Why?

Ah, now that's a question I can't answer without giving away the biggest twists in the tale! All I'll say is it involves a small boy named Finnley.

Did the ending to Dandelions for Dinner play out the way you originally planned when the story idea was in your head? Or did your characters have other plans?

LOL, my characters always have other plans, so I've stopped planning my stories in advance. I know the couple will get together in the end, but the "black moment" and actual resolution are pieces that come to me over time as I'm writing.

What did you love the most about writing this book? Why?

I loved watching Allison unfurl from a hard, tight knot into someone who could reach out and help other people.

What was your go-to food or drink when you were on deadline for this book?

It's always a homemade mocha or two (or three, but don't tell) that fuels my writing mornings!

Now that your book is on the market, tell us about your next work in progress.

As always, I have several stories on the go right now, in various stages. Pinky Promise, the second Riverbend Romance releases in April, so I'm doing the final edits and tweaks to the story these days… and loving the pint-sized matchmakers in this fun novella.

I'm also writing Plum Upside Down, the fifth Farm Fresh Romance, planning for a summer release.

Complete this sentence: After my readers read “the end,” to Dandelions for Dinner, I want them to______________because______________.

After my readers read “the end,” to Dandelions for Dinner, I want them to cry because they can't get the fifth book in the series yet.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Valerie! Please leave a question for my readers to answer which will qualify them to enter the book giveaway contest.

Valerie's question for the readers: Have you ever wished you could live in a community setting, sharing property with other families? How do you think that would work for you?

Author bio:
Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their creation-care-centric church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

Valerie writes Farm Lit where food meets faith, injecting experience laced with humor into her award-winning Farm Fresh Romance stories.

Connect with Valerie:

Buy Valerie's books: 
Raspberries and Vinegar: A Farm Fresh Romance (Farm Lit) by Valerie Comer
Wild Mint Tea: A Farm Fresh Romance (Farm Lit) by Valerie Comer
Sweetened with Honey: A Farm Fresh Romance (Farm Lit) by Valerie Comer
Snowflake Tiara: 2-in-1 Christmas Collection by Angela Breidenbach, Valerie Comer

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Author interview: Suzie Waltner

Welcome Suzie Waltner, author, to my blog today! :) 

Suzie is a woman who grew up as a pastor's kid. She loves sharing the good news about God through her stories about fictional settings, characters and situations that draw the reader into her story world. The content of Suzie's books are clean, the characters are memorable and her storytelling style is similar to Erynn Mangum.

Today's featured author is very generous! She offered to give away all three published books in her Remembrance series (Remembrance, Pursued, and Enduring Love) to not one but two people! 

Yes, you read that right: Two winners will each receive three books from Suzie's collection! 

Contest rules: Enter the contest though using the Rafflecopter tool at the end of this blog post. The contest starts now and ends on March 22. 

Now on to Suzie's interview (questions from Alexis in bold, answers from Suzie not in bold)...

Alexis: Walk my readers through your first three books. Tell us about the significance of each title, plot and characters.

Suzie: The title for Remembrance actually came from something a manager told me once while I was in college. He had heard something on the radio and repeated it to me. It stuck in my head and I even used the quote in the book. The book is about letting go of your failures, mistakes, and heartaches of the past and looking toward the future.

I wasn’t thrilled with the title for my second book, Pursued, but it fit with the theme of the book and has grown on me. Callie, the main character in this book, is not a Christian and she doesn’t want to depend on anyone. Then life happens and she’s forced to lean on the people around her (including a guy she has a little bit of a grudge with) as well as God. While the first book was one I had started in college and finished almost twenty years later, this one was written in a month’s time.

Enduring Love was a little bit of a departure from the other two books for me because I added a tiny bit of suspense (it’s definitely not romantic suspense but there’s something going on that will, hopefully, keep readers interested). The main character this book, Becca, was introduced in Pursued and has been one of my favorite characters to write to date.

What is your current work in progress? Share details.

I tend to have several things going at once. Right now, the fourth and final book in my first series (titled Beauty from Ashes) is making its way through a critique group. This is the first time I’ve done this with one of my books and am getting some invaluable input and suggestions from other Christian authors.

I am also about 2/3 of the way through writing another book (tentatively titled A Lot to Learn about Love). This one has been fun to write as I’ve given my main female character four younger brothers and they’re all competitive so the interactions with her and her family are amusing (I hope they’re as amusing to my readers as they are to me).

If you could choose any of your fictional characters as a real-life best friend, who would it be and why?

This is an easy question for me. Becca Jackson would make the greatest best friend (and she shows it in Pursued). She’s got a terrific sense of humor, is no-nonsense, and generous. And she’s always there when her friends need her most.

What is the category and genre that you write? Why did you choose that as your specialty?

I write contemporary romance. This is the genre I tend to read and enjoy the most so it was natural write in that genre. While I like reading historical fiction, I dislike doing a lot of research (I’ve had to do a little for some of the occupations and settings of my books but nothing like I would have to do for historical fiction). I also think part of my natural bent toward this is the fact that I am still looking for my HEA (Happily Ever After) with my Prince Charming. While I’m waiting, I can dream up the perfect guy in every book I write.

Describe your writing style. Who would you compare it to? Why?

The first thing I would say about my writing style is it’s simple. There aren’t a lot of big words or excessive descriptions about things. The books are easy and quick reads (my sixteen and thirteen year old nieces both like reading my books and I’ve had a few others tell me they want their teenage girls to read them).

Hmm…who to compare to? That’s a little more difficult to answer. I would probably put it in the same vein as someone like Erynn Mangum. While there are a few differences (her books are written in first person and mine in third and her characters are younger than mine), I think our styles are probably very similar. Or perhaps Robin Jones Gunn’s style with the Christy Miller series. Gunn writes only from Christy’s perspective while I switch between the male and female main characters’ points of view.

Where is your favorite place to write? 

I have a nice comfortable chair in a corner of my room that I love to sit in and write. The arm chair is brown with a couple of teal throw cushions. An ottoman sits in front of it and I store my extra notebooks in there. I enjoy writing everything out in notebooks before I begin the editing process because I always have one with me. When I’m writing at home, my little Jack Russell terrier, Roxy, curls up in my lap with me. She’s happy as long as she’s got a lap to sit in. I live with roommates so my room is my sanctuary.

Every creative has a muse. What or who is yours?

Wow, this is kind of a tough question. I think it changes from book to book. I can pinpoint the answer for my first book. When I was in college, I had a major crush on a guy, and he was the inspiration behind a lot of the story. It’s kind of funny to look back on that now and see how life has taken us in different directions.

As a woman of faith, what Bible verse do you remember to keep you going when times get tough?

This varies with the seasons but the one I most return to would be one I quoted in Pursued. Jeremiah 29:11-13: "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

I’ve always loved these three verses together because while Jeremiah 29:11 is a great promise, the other two require action from me (call on me, pray to me, seek me with all of your heart).

How does your faith in God play into your fictional stories?

I was raised in the church (up until my first year of college, my dad was a pastor) so my faith is a natural part of my life. I was never one of those rebellious pastor's kids (PK’s). In fact, I think my life is pretty boring most of the time. It’s more difficult for me to write characters who aren’t following God or who have had something traumatic happen in their past than it is for me to write about someone whose life is steeped in faith in God. At the same time, it’s kind of fun to live in a fictional life for a little while and determine how God is going to reveal himself to those characters who don’t have a strong relationship with Him.

What do you want your readers to take away from your novels?

First and foremost, reading is an escape for me. I read a lot and love entering a world I may never have the opportunity to visit. It can be something as small as a job or a relationship but it’s something that draws me in. The second thing I want readers to experience is an uplifting and clean read. In a world there a book like Fifty Shades of Grey becomes this huge phenomenon and people flock to read it or watch the movie, I want to offer something that is both real life and innocent and pure (the way God intended relationships).

Who is your favorite author? What do you love the most about that person’s work?

Another very difficult question considering how many books I read each year. Denise Hunter, Susan May Warren, and Rachel Hauck are all authors I enjoy reading every time they have a new release. It will come as no surprise that they are all contemporary romance authors. Their work is what I aspire for mine to be like one day. Although, I feel like I have a ways to go before I’m anywhere near the caliber of their writing.

What is the best benefit of writing for the Christian market?

The ability to express my faith in my writing. When I market my books as Christian fiction, people know what to expect. They’re not going to get smut, foul language or gore. They’re going to read about people who are doing their best to live their lives in a manner that pleases God. But, like with real life, obstacles are thrown in their way that they must overcome before they find God’s purpose in their lives and relationship.

I went the self-publishing route with my books so that gives me a lot of freedom in my writing as well (and I get to release them at my own pace).

What are your writing goals for this next season (springtime)?
Because I’ve spent a lot of time the last few months editing Enduring Love, I have put writing on the back burner. I would like to finish the book I’m in the middle of (and maybe start the next one). Of course, I’ll also be editing Beauty from Ashes so it will be available to readers Winter 2015.

What do you like to do for fun?

Just like my writing, I have a lot of different things I enjoy. Reading is my favorite way to spend a Saturday or Sunday but I also enjoy watching my hockey team play, Zumba, going to the movies, and painting pottery. I like to say that I get bored easy so I like variety in my activities and exercise.

If you were not a writer, what would you be?

In a perfect world, I would be an acquisitions editor who gets to read all of the submissions to a publisher and suggest which ones get a book deal.

Thanks for the interview, Suzie! Please leave a question for my readers to answer.

Suzie's question for readers: What book (or books) have you read over and over again?

Author bio:
Suzie Waltner graduated from the University of Idaho and decided to make the move to Nashville, Tennessee. After seventeen years, she now claims Nashville as home. She loves all things Jane Austen, reading, watching movies, and cheering the Nashville Predators to victory. While she hasn’t found her true love, she hasn’t given up dreaming about him. Enduring Love is her third novel.
Buy Suzie’s books:

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Enduring Love-

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Book review: Your Beautiful Heart

Celebrating true beauty in an airbrushed world can be a tough mission to accomplish. But in her book "Your Beautiful Heart," Lauren Scruggs shows the reader through personal stories that take place in real life that looking beyond, well looks, is possible and necessary to your health and happiness.

Lauren works as a fashion journalist and is the founder and editor of LOLO Magazine. She also is the author of Still LoLo, a memoir of her accident and recovery. Lauren shows her readers of "Your Beautiful Heart" that God can take your pain and give you purpose. He can turn your broken into beautiful and use the story of how He changed your life to encourage and change the hearts of people who are hurting. 

This book review was written by Alexis A. Goring, founder of this blog "God is Love".


Celebrating true beauty in an airbrushed world
(Book review of Your Beautiful Heart)

“Your Beautiful Heart: 31 Reflections on love, faith, friendship and becoming a girl who shines” is a beautiful, real-life story equipped with a timeless message for females both young and old. A book worth every bit of a five-star rating, fortified with a message that’s worth sharing. God’s glory which shines through Lauren’s story has the power to uplift, educate and inspire the world. 

The book is divided into six sections: Your Seeking Heart, Your Changed Heart, Your Obedient Heart, Your Heart for Others, Your Distinctive Heart and Your Heart Looking Forward. Every section of the book contains a minimum of four and a maximum of seven mini-chapters. An introduction sets the scene for sharing Lauren's story and an epilogue by the author closes it.

Just within the first few pages of the Introduction called “An Imprint on Your Heart”, the author Lauren Scruggs identifies a lie and a truth. The lie is from the world of fashion and beauty which tells young women everywhere that “A certain kind of physical appearance equals beauty.” As the reader turns the page, the author refutes that lie with a timeless truth: “God’s love in your heart is your beauty” and the heart of Lauren’s message is laid bare. “This book is about how God’s love makes a person breathtaking,” she says.

In “Your Seeking Heart”, the opening section for her book, Lauren spends two pages pointing out that nowhere in the Bible will you find much attention paid to a person’s looks. No deep description of a person’s outward appearance is mentioned. “And even Jesus, the pivotal person in the whole Bible, is never described in terms of his appearance,” Lauren writes. Therein the author explains her point for I believe the entire book. The point is if looks are not highlighted or touted as important in the Bible then why are we so focused on it in our modern day world?

Lauren drives her message home in the section of the book titled “Your Changed Heart” with a question posed on page 55 of chapter 07 which is called “A Heart that Knows.” Lauren asks the reader, “Have you ever thought of the Bible as God’s voice? As him coming down to speak to you and me and everyone?” Following her on the next few pages, Lauren proves why the thought behind her question is true and on page 57 she so perfectly ends that conversation with this quote, “A beautiful heart wants to know God and gets to know him through his Word.” It becomes clear to the reader as they flip through the pages of Lauren’s book that she not only knows God but loves Him and endeavors to share His love with the world. Such is the story of a person’s life transformed by God’s love. It is a testimony of how God can always turn broken into beautiful and that with God, no pain in your life is without purpose.

God used Lauren’s pain in losing her left eye and hand to launch a ministry. He worked through Lauren to not only bring healing to her own heart but to give Lauren a mission of spreading His love, joy and peace to a broken world through the sharing of her story. God continues to use Lauren as an instrument of His peace through her ministry of writing books and reaching people through her work in the fashion, print media and publishing industries. But God did not stop there! Lauren’s unique story changed her life in a special way when it led to her being interviewed on E! News by host Jason Kennedy with whom she fell in love.

Lauren and Jason Kennedy on their wedding day. Photo credits: Lindsey Brittain and Kat Harris

Later on, Jason wrote the Foreward to Lauren’s book in which he gave a poignant tribute to his now wife which perfectly summarizes the key message of Your Beautiful Heart. He said, “I’ve always been moved by Lauren’s story. She’s been through so much, and her whole life changed on the day of her accident. But then I think, So did mine. Without that day, I never would have met her, seen her gorgeous smile, or known her beautiful heart. I never would have filled her apartment with white tulips and lit candles outside her balcony that spelled “Will you marry me?” I don’t know why God chose this path for us, but I can’t help but be grateful that I got the chance to propose, that Lauren said yes, and that I will be able to spend the rest of my life with a woman who is truly beautiful—not just on the outside, but in every way that matters most.”

There you have it: What matters most is not your looks, what matters most is your heart.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Author interview: Teresa Ives Lilly

Teresa Ives Lilly, author, is visiting my blog today to talk about her life story and passion for writing inspirational books. 

Here's what's in it for you: Teresa Ives Lilly will give away two .pdf copies of her book Lucky in Shamrock Texas

The book giveaway contest starts today, March 1 and will end on Sunday, March 15. 

Contest rules: To enter the contest, leave a comment after reading this author interview. You must include your e-mail address in the comment section below so Teresa can contact you if you win and send the .pdf of her book. The two winners will be chosen by Alexis via an old-fashioned drawing. *New* contest update as of March 15: The winners will be notified on Sunday, March 22 and should receive their free book by Monday, March 23. 

Read on for the author interview (questions by Alexis in bold, answers from Teresa not in bold)...

Alexis: Why do you write Christian Romance?

Teresa: Many years ago I used to read regular Regency Romance, but then I discovered Christian Romance and fell in love. I knew from the first time I read one that I wanted to write Christian romance.

Do you prefer writing novellas or novels? Explain.

Novellas. I’m not sure why, but God has just blessed me to write shorter stories.

How many books have you written and published?

Thirteen between novels and novellas.

Who is your publisher? Do you have an agent?

I am an Indie publisher known as Lovely Romance Press.

You are the Editor of Lovely Christian Romance magazine and publishing company. What a wonderful initiative! Tell me how that happened.

Well, several years ago I began the magazine and several writers showed real talent and didn’t know how to get published so I worked with them on it. However, this last year I closed both to focus on my own writing and work with ACFW group on editing.

When you were a child, did you think you’d be a writer when you “grew up”? Did you imagine you’d be doing what you’re doing now? Why or why not?

Yes, I wanted to be a writer since I was six. As for how I knew...In school we had to write a poem. I wrote one and when I got home I read it to my mother. She told me it was wonderful and that someday I might be a writer. It's one of the few times she ever verbally encouraged me and the dream was born that day. Since then I have written for magazines, contests, children's books and finally settled into my true love of Christian Romance Novellas.

What’s your writing routine?

I do almost all my writing between 9 p.m. and midnight. I work on the publishing end during the day.

Describe your writing space. What makes it unique?

I have a desk in my extra bedroom, and a television which I basically keep old television shows like The Beverly Hill Billies etc. running while I write.

What books are you reading now?

I just finished several Mail Order Bride novellas published by Love Inspired Historical.

Which one of your novellas that you’ve written so far is your favorite? Why?

Christmas Village Miracle because I based it on the Christmas Village I set up every year, and always wish I could just live in.

If you were not a writer, what would you be doing career-wise?

Well, I was a certified teacher for a while then a mom, then a home school mom, then I ran a children’s resale shop for seven years. Now I am strictly focusing on my writing and I help my husband with paper work for his business.

Give my readers a glimpse into your personal life. Are you married with children? What is your favorite hobby? How you spend your free time?

I have been married for 28 years. We became Christians right before our wedding and have been serving Christ ever since. I have three children ages 27, 26, 23 and now a grandson who is 1 years old. Writing is my hobby…but I love to go to garage sales as well.

Complete this sentence: When my readers reach “the end” of my books, I hope______________because___________________________.

Teresa: When my readers reach “the end” of my books, I hope they want to read others by me because they enjoyed it so much.

Thanks for the author interview, Teresa!

Author bio:

Teresa Ives Lilly is an inspirational writer. She mainly writes novellas, but has a few novels and a few children’s chapter books in publication.

All her work is available at,,

She had had a variety of articles published in magazines, several items published in anthologies, has written over 200 unit studies for homeschoolers and public schools.

Teresa lives in Texas. She would love to hear from you. Contact her through e-mail, 

Connect with Teresa:

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