Blog Tour Interview and Giveaway: Eniola Prentice’s Still

What is your story?

Lol. I really do love that question because everybody has a story. How long do you have?   I am someone who has beat incredible odds to get to where I am today by the grace of God. Getting and staying in medical school was struggle, publishing this novel was a struggle but I did it by the grace of God.  I have many definitions, doctor, Nigerian, female etc but I don’t think those categories adequately tell my story. The recurring theme of my life story is never giving up and God dragging me to the finish line with the helm of his garment. I hope my life one day inspires others to chase their dreams in education, music writing, in whatever with an unparalleled tenacity. With God with you,  there really is nothing that is impossible.

What is Still (and the Still series) about?

At its core, Still is about God’s love for four flawed characters. It includes a fifth character of medical school which is an essential component of my plot. The novel is about their intertwining relationships between each other and their friends against the backdrop of medical school. The main character, Sola starts medical school with the hope that it’s a new beginning for her but as life never turns out how we plan she meets an unlikely character, Tayo in medical school who she had encountered in a past life. She also develops and ignores feelings for Ladi, another classmate while she is trying to convince Nikky, another classmate that she should steer clear of Tayo.  Yes, she does have her hands full. 🙂

Is Still based on personal experiences?

Yes it is a tongue in cheek memorial of my experience in medical school. When I graduated I realized just how self-absorbed we were. Our whole lives revolved around being in medical school, the gossip, what we wanted to do in the future. We were aware that we were going through an exciting process and enjoyed every minute of it. Yes it was hard work but it was also fun.

 Tell me about your journey as a writer

My journey as a writer actually started when I was younger. I wrote my first official novel or novella  when I was twelve years ago. It was called Dark Shadows. Before that, I would use stories from the Sweet valley high series and Baby sitters club as “inspiration” for my novels. I put inspiration in quotes because my sister always accused me of copying the stories and I would get upset. LOL. It led to a lot of sibling squabbling. Anyway these novels inspired me and tickled my imagination. I never took writing seriously as a medium for reaching people until a light bulb went off in my head in medical school and I began writing again. I realized the imagination I had should not be dismissed as childish but that it was a gift from God.

 Why was writing this book so important to you?

It was important because I believe God placed it in my heart to write it. I felt He has a plan and purpose for the series so I am going to obey him to the best of my abilities.

Tell us a little about your life now?

My life now is in transition. I just published my novel and now I am starting medical residency in Virginia so I also have to move to a new city. I am excited about all the changes in my life and I am looking forward to starting a new chapter of life.

A broken soul,

an alcoholic,

a certifiable genius,

a Christian man

and a secret that will destroy the bonds of their friendship.

When self-proclaimed atheist Fadesola, gets into medical school she believes that it’s a fresh start of sorts for her. Until she discovers  her class mate is charming and handsome Tayo Smith, a man she encountered in a violent moment years ago. This revelation shatters Fadesola’s already fragile emotional state but hope comes where she least expects it. A seemingly innocent friendship with Tayo’s friend, Ladi, slowly develops into a smoldering relationship with both afraid to acknowledge their mutual feelings. Things get even more complicated when Nikky, Fadesola’s classmate and friend, ignores her desperate warnings and decides that Tayo is the man she is meant to be with. However, within the complexities of this friendship these flawed individuals will experience God’s redemptive grace in a setting each believed his love would never find them. Still, the first book of a four part series is a coming of age story about navigating through medical school in the first year, complete with hilarious hook ups and breaks ups, legendary parties and incessant studying, and experiencing the triumph of success and disappointment of failure.

Eniola Prentice, in her extraordinary debut novel has written a gripping and thought provoking story that examines Christianity, mental illness, suicide and alcoholism.

More About the Author

Eniola Prentice was born in Lagos Nigeria where she began to pen her stories as early as nine years old, inspired by an eclectic group of writers. Her budding writing career was put in the back burner as she pursued her dream of becoming a medical doctor, completing her undergraduate degree in Chicago, Illinois and her medical degree in Washington, DC. However in the third year of medical school inspired by the holy spirit or the voices in her head (she would prefer to blame God for this one) and the unique and inspiring stories of friends that became her family in medical school she began to write her debut novel and series, Still. She hopes that her writing compels challenges, inspires people and draws people to the Christian God’s redeeming love. You can connect with her by visiting

1. Readers can follow Still  and the rest of the books in the series on facebook here.

2. They can also follow the #stillbyEniolaPrentice  hashtag on twitter to follow the author and the  bloggers to keep up to date with the reviews.

To keep up with Eniola Prentice and the Still  book series, readers can sign up on her blog here, on Twitter  Facebook  and on  Google+

To celebrate the release of her novel, Eniola is hosting a raffle. You can win a signed copy of the novel, a mystery gift, and 40 dollar Amazon gift card!

Giveaway One person will win a signed paperback copy of the novel and a 40 dollar gift card. The winner will be announced on the last day of the tour,  June 17th on my blog and the winner will be notified by email. The giveaway is only open to residents in the United States. It can be found Here



Posted in Interview

Interview of Amy K. Sorrells

Today I am welcoming Ms. Amy K. Sorrells. You can check out my review here:

Thank you for being willing to be interviewed! Thank YOU, Embassie!!!

1.       I know the story of Tamar and Amnon (in the Bible) influenced How Sweet the Sound, but still what gave you the idea to make a more contemporary version of the story?

Every time I read the story of Tamar in II Samuel 13, I became more and more frustrated with the ending, especially II Samuel 13:20: “And Absalom her brother said to her, Has your brother Amnon been with you? Be quiet now, my sister. He is your brother; take not this matter to heart. So Tamar dwelt in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman.” God promises us in so many Psalms and through the words of Jesus and the apostles that He does not want us to live in desolation and silence with our shame and brokenness. He wants us to live free. I wanted to tell “the rest of Tamar’s story,” had she had the chance to seek and find redemption. By setting the story in more modern times, my hope is that readers will find it more relatable.

2.       How Sweet the Sound is not exactly a historical novel, but neither is it “contemporary.” Did you have to do any research for it?

I have reams of research I did for this story, yes! In fact, research is probably my favorite part of writing novels. First of all, I knew nothing about pecans or pecan farming, except that I have always been enamored with the pecan farms we drive past when we vacation along the Alabama gulf coast. So I studied pecan books and farming blogs, watched tons of YouTube videos on pecan farming and cultivating and harvesting, and even befriended a family of pecan farmers in Southwest Alabama. They were graceful enough to read and early version and endorse it for me. But pecans weren’t the only thing I researched. I had to make sure I had the right makes and models of cars that would be around in 1979; who was on the cover of magazines for scenes at the beauty shop; songs that were popular during that era; clothing; cotillion rules; square dance moves and songs; the oceanic biology of a jubilee; area tornado events and patterns; Hurricaine Frederic details (including phone interviews with area residents), plants and birds and fossils common to the area, and more. I had about five times as many pages of research as I did story by the time it was all said and done.  

3.       Which character for you was the hardest to write? Comfort? Or Anniston?

Actually, neither. The toughest character for me to write about was Princella. Initially, she was very “flat,” without any redeeming qualities. My editor told me I had to find a way to make her more relatable, and even find redemption in her storyline. I was very angry with her in the early drafts of the novel, and I had to pray a lot and ask the Lord to help me see how she could possibly have softer edges. In the end, the way she turns out and things we learned about her proved to be things I needed to learn about folks too—that hurt people hurt people, and that they need forgiveness, too.

4.       Will we ever encounter a grown-up Anniston and Jed?

If you had asked me a few weeks ago, I would have immediately said no, and at this point, I still do not have plans for a sequel. However, the more people ask me this, the more I’m imagining places and stories I could create for the two of them. They are pretty adorable, aren’t they?

5.       Can you tell us about what you’re working on now?

I’m currently in the middle of edits for my second novel, due to publish in spring, 2015, which features a 94-year-old man near the end of his life who escaped the Jewish pogroms of turn-of-the-century Ukraine, and whose daughter learns for the first time about what he suffered, even as his mind slips further into dementia. Together, they learn how God never leaves His people, and that He truly does see all our wanderings and seals our tears in a bottle. (Psalm 56:8)



An Indianapolis native and graduate of DePauw University, Amy lives with her husband and three sons in central Indiana. A former weekly newspaper columnist, Amy has been a two-time semi-finalist for the ACFW Genesis awards, and was the winner of the 2011 Women of Faith writing contest.

 If you are interested in reading this book and have an e-reader the book is FREE through March 9 in e-book format, and here’s the direct link to the publisher with all the e-book retailers offering it for free:

Posted in Interview

Interview of Rajdeep Paulus

Today I would like to welcome Rajdeep Paulus, who wrote Swimming Through Clouds. You can see my review here:

Thank you so much for willing to be interviewed!

1.     What inspired you to write Swimming Through Clouds?

I wanted to write a story of extremes. Extreme sadness and heartache walking side by side with extreme joy and an unforgettable love story.   I feel like in real life we are constantly asked to navigate the waters of extreme emotions on any given day. One moment, we’re dancing around the living room with the love of our lives, and the next we could be sobbing over devastating news we just received over the phone. How does one do that? My hope is that through writing and readers delving into my stories, we might get a little closer to understanding how to manage the madness and why we cannot do it alone.

2.     What are some challenges you face (if any) in writing a YA novel?

The three challenges I face are 1. I struggle to let a story out of my hands for fear I could make that one scene just a little better. 2. I long to get my books in the hands of teens and as a new author, the process of finding teens (even with social media) seems daunting at times, and I eat way too much chocolate when I’m writing. Yeah. That last one was a confession. 🙂

3.     What message do you hope to convey with Swimming Through Clouds?

Simply put, that life is a fight, but we don’t have to go at it alone, and sometimes the sweetest love story can start with a tiny act of kindness.

4.     Can you tell us a little about book 2?

Sure. Seeing Through Stones is the sequel to Swimming Through Clouds, and picks up on the same day (although a few hours earlier) where the first book left off. The catch is that Seeing Through Stones is told from two Points of View, namely Jesse and Talia. And I love how their stories are so different, yet their journeys collide in the most unexpected ways.

5.     I haven’t read book 2 yet, but is the series a trilogy? Or are you working on a new series?

I’m pretty sure Seeing Through Stones wraps up the journey of Talia and Jesse and I plan to move on. Unless… well, let’s not shut any doors too quickly. In the meantime, I do have two other stand alones that I’m currently working on and editing. Crush Me is about a girl named Meena who lives in NYC and cuts to deal with the loss of her father and the heartaches that come with her family’s story. And The Color of Tomorrow is about two sisters who cross the ocean to escape poverty only to discover that there are far worse things to run from. I added links in case anyone wants a sneak peek at the first chapters. 🙂

Thanks so much for having me!

Happy Swimming!


Rajdeep Paulus is the author of Swimming Through Clouds, is mommy to four princesses, wife of Sunshine, a coffee-addict and a chocoholic. As of this June 2013, she’s a Tough Mudder. To find out more, visit her website or connect with her via Facebook  TwitterPinterest, or Instagram .


Don’t forget to buy book 2 which is now available on Kindle!

Posted in Interview

Interview of Julie Lessman and Giveaway!

1.      Of all the novels in The Heart of San Francisco Series, which one was the hardest to write? Which was the easiest?

Surprisingly book 1, Love at Any Cost, was the easiest, which is odd given the difficulty a writer has in fleshing out a whole new family and setting, complete with new personalities, quirks, and pretty intense historical research.

As far as the most difficult, I was shocked to discover that Meg’s story in book 3, Surprised by Love, was a real bear to write because I mistakenly expected it be the easiest. You see, I loved the idea of an ugly duckling turning into a swan and catching the eye of the childhood nemesis who scorned her, allowing for some romantic revenge. And with a first line like “Close your mouth, Devin Caldwell, you’ll swallow a fly,” I just thought it’d be fun and easy to write, especially with the groundwork already laid for a quirky but lovable family and ongoing romance/friendship between the widowed matriarch and her brother-in-law.

But, as usually happens in my books, the characters dictate to me how the story is going to go, so Meg threw me a curve. Instead of exacting revenge on Devin Caldwell, I realized she is just too sweet and kind and gentle to ever do that to anyone, so that shifted the story for me to a much more serious vein, throwing me for a loop. It took a lot of prayer and time to get to the end, but I finally did, and I actually like it a lot.

 2.      I’ve heard you say that Charity is your favorite character that you created, do you have a new favorite (or a second favorite) from this series?

As far as the O’Connor saga (The Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change series), yes, Charity will always be my favorite heroine because she is just so wonderfully flawed, that she was an absolute joy to redeem. Charity reminds me just how much God pulled my own life out of the gutter and frankly, she is a real hoot who makes me laugh—funny, audacious, resilient and as passionate about those she loves as those she hates. And she certainly underscores a valuable lesson I learned a long time ago—it’s the unlovable ones in our lives that need the most love.

And Mitch and Luke? Well, I guess I just like the strong, stubborn type with whom my heroines can butt heads (and blonds, apparently, like my hubby used to be!).

But in the McClare series, my favorites are definitely Cait and Logan and it shows because some reviewers have accused me of allowing their sub-story to steal the show. But I can’t help it—just like Marcy and Patrick were the glue to the O’Connor series, so are Cait and Logan, and maybe that’s because I am a Baby Boomer who relates to an older couple’s love story so well. Who knows?

 3.      What inspired the creation of Nick Barone’s character and his past (this guy has a lot going on!)?

Well, I knew I wanted a plainclothes detective instead of just a plain police officer because I saw Nick as a grouchy mix of two other “detective” types, Magnum P.I. and Colombo—a tall, dark Italian police detective who’s as disheveled as Peter Falk’s raincoat and as adorable as a young Tom Selleck’s dimples. As far as Nick’s jaded past with the Irish Mob, that came about because I really didn’t have a big surprise twist at the end of this book like I do in book 1, so I figured I’d toss in a touch of gang violence to keep the readers engaged so maybe they wouldn’t notice there wasn’t a big twist. 😉

 4.      Can I just say that I love Logan? He’s my favorite character in the whole series. What inspired you to write this kind of romance between him and Caitlyn (which I imagine will span the entire series)?

LOL … oh, you bet you can say that because he’s my favorite too, along with Cait. And, yes, their story is the bridge that spans all three novels, hopefully to bring a solid and cohesive connection to each book in the series.

It’s no secret that I love family sagas because family is very important to me, both in my books and in my personal life, so I knew I needed that component. But just as I moved the McClares to the opposite coast, I also wanted a completely different relationship from the married couple/parents scenario I had with Marcy and Patrick from the O’Connor saga, but still with the feel of family and a deep romance. So I came up with the idea of love story between a widowed matriarch and the brother-in-law to whom she was once engaged before he cheated on her. She subsequently marries his brother, and Logan has been kicking himself ever since. The series opens after Cait has been widowed about two years and Logan is determined to win her back no matter the cost, which is high since it means he has to forsake an amoral lifestyle and turn to God. Suddenly you have a womanizing rogue like Logan McClare willing to change his ways for the love of a woman and family, which is always a winning scenario in my book, no pun intended.

 5.      Can you tell us about the next novel in the series? And is this the last one? Or does Blake get his own novel as well?

Book 3, Surprised by Love, is the final book for the McClares, although I am toying with the idea of a novella or stand-alone book for Jamie’s sister possibly, but not for Blake.

This will be Meg’s story, of course, with a love triangle between Bram and Devin Caldwell, and then the culmination of Cait and Logan’s story as well. Here’s the jacket blurb:


From ugly duckling to swimming with the swans …

But is she over her head when it comes to love?

Shy and unattractive as a child, Megan McClare has always been teased by her classmates. But when she returns home from her senior year in Paris, the wallflower has suddenly blossomed into a beauty. With ambitions to become a lawyer or doctor, Megan accepts an internship at the District Attorney’s office only to discover that she will be working with Devin Caldwell, a boy who mercilessly mocked her at school—and with whom she was hopelessly enamored. She turns to her dear friend Bram Hughes for support and advice. But Bram’s vision is clouded by his sudden unwelcome attraction to a girl he had always thought of as a little sister. He advises forgiveness, but can he forgive himself for pushing the woman he loves into the arms of another man?

Moral Premise: Rejection, insecurity and guilt can skew our choices, resulting in misery and lack of peace, but acceptance, confidence and faith in God can shape our choices, resulting in contentment and peace.

Scripture Theme: For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught. —Proverbs 3:26

 6.      How can readers connect with you?

Well, I love to hear from reader friends, so if they like, they can contact me through my website at, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter at Or through Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Pinterest.

Also, I have a cool blog feature on my website called “Journal Jots” at, which is a very laid-back journal to my reader friends that will give your readers an idea as to my relaxed style of writing.

Or readers can check out my favorite romantic and spiritual scenes from each of my books on the “Excerpts” tab of my website at

Of course, I can be found daily at The Seekers blog at, a group blog of 13 published authors that inspires, encourages, teaches, and informs aspiring writers on the road to publication and beyond.

Finally, here are some fun freebies, sales, and giveaways going on right now or in the future:

1.) FREE DOWNLOAD of my debut novel A Passion Most PureAmerican Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Book of the Year, A Passion Most Pure has over 340 five-star reviews on Amazon and some of readers have actually read it more than 20 times! Here are the links for your free download!  AMAZONBARNES & NOBLECBD.COM 

2.) SALE TO END SOON ON 99-CENT A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW! I hope you’ll check out my video for my Irish love story, A Light in the Window, which stars my daughter and has won three awards and garnered 125 five-star reviews. It’s still only 99 CENTS on Amazon, but only for a little while longer, so check out the video here,, and you can download it here: AMAZON.

3.) FREE DOWNLOAD on Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Inspirational and Sweet Markets coming FEBRUARY 11-15 on Amazon, so mark your calendar and here’s the link to find out more about the book: Romance-ology 101.

4.) NEW CONTEST TO HAVE A CHARACTER NAMED AFTER YOU IN MY NEXT BOOK!  I have a newsletter contest going on now through 3/31/14 where posting even one short review for any of my books will enter you to win a character named after you in my next book, a signed copy, and if you are the top poster, a $50 gift card. So if you’re interested, just sign up for my newsletter (I send out two a year) at, and I will send you the info, okay?

Thanks, Embassie, for a fun interview!




Mrs. Julie Lessman has graciously offered to giveaway one of her novels of your choosing! Just leave a comment below stating what you love about a Julie Lessman novel (or why you would like to read one) with the name of the novel you want plus your email address. I will pick a random winner. The winner must respond within 48 hours of being notified of their win. The contest ends Feb. 28th!

Posted in Interview

Interview of Stephanie Morrill

About:Stephanie Morrill lives in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. She is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series, Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft Into a Published Book, and the Ellie Sweet series. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers on her blog, To connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out

Thank you for willing to be interviewed!

Thanks for having me! This is one of the most fun interviews I’ve ever done 🙂

1. Ellie Sweet is such a great YA heroine. Who or what inspired her creation?

I had just finished The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series, and I was ready for a heroine who was completely different from Skylar. And I really wanted to write about a socially mismatched couple (Ellie and Palmer, although later Chase decided to throw himself into the mix – more on that in a minute.)

Palmer’s character was inspired by this boy I had a crush on in 7th grade (also named Palmer, also from Kentucky) who I’m pretty sure liked me back, but he was really popular and I wasn’t at all. The opening scene of The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet actually happened to me in 7th grade and in real life, Palmer and I became friends because of it.

2. Which novel was hardest to write: The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet or The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet? And why?

They both came with unique challenges, but it definitely took me longer to figure out how The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet was going to work. In the first draft of that book, Ellie wasn’t a writer. And Chase existed only in the first scene, and his name was Brian. It’s a little crazy to think about now!

The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet was tricky because I was still working on when the first book had come out. So I had readers emailing me about things they loved, and it was hard to not let that influence how I felt the story needed to go.

3. Chase and Palmer. It’s easy to love them both. Do you have a favorite (because I know I do!)?

It depends on the scene I’m writing! Honestly, Ellie was probably so conflicted because I was feeling conflicted! In the first book, neither of them are The Perfect Guy for Ellie. They both have junk they need to work out. In the second book, as the guys faced their personal junk, one became stronger because of it and one caved to his bad habits. I think Ellie ends up with the right one, but I still have a soft spot for the other. I don’t think his story is over yet!

4. One thing I loved about both novels was that you had a heroine who had to deal with real issues and concerns that teens face today, and yet still she managed to stay above it without the novels being narrowed down to a morality tale. Do you ever find it a struggle in your writing to balance “Real Issues” and the “Right way” to deal with them (particularly since you write for YA)?

This is a great question. I’m not sure if I have a great answer, but I’ll try! When I’m writing the book, I never have a message I want to get across. I’m never thinking things like, “I want girls to learn about health self-image or the dangers of dating people who have different religious views than you.” I think this helps me avoid morality-tale syndrome simply because that’s not what I’m going for.

And sometimes I get slammed in reviews for it, to be honest. People want me to address the “real issues” with black and white answers. But writing that way always feels so contrived to me. So I’m more about exploring consequences rather than coming straight out and saying, “This is a bad way to handle this situation and here’s what would have been better.”

5. Can you tell us what you’re working on now and whether or not another Ellie Sweet novel is in production?

I think eventually I’ll be interested in writing another Ellie Sweet book, but I need some “idea gathering” time. Even though the books released just 6 months apart from each other, I wrote the first one a few years ago, so I had LOTS of time to dream up book two. I don’t need a couple years, but I do need some time.

Right now I’m kicking around ideas for a book that would fit in the adult market. It would really stretch me as a writer, which I’m a big fan of. (Until I’m in the middle of writing it, and it’s really hard. Then I’m like, “Why did I want to do this again??”)

If you haven’t checked these novels out yet, you don’t know what you’re missing!

Posted in Interview

Interview of Katherine Reay

Thanks for willing to be interviewed!

I, for one, love the story of Daddy Long Legs and all of Austen’s books. How did you come up with the idea of mixing the two together?


I was injured and, rather than receive flowers in the hospital, all my friends brought me books. So I left with over thirty new titles, but a desire to spend time in Jane Austen. As I read, a character started to form in my head, complete with struggles and quirks, but no story within which to put her. But when I came to Daddy Long Legs, I found that missing element, a context for her, and the idea rolled from there…


Samantha is a great heroine with strengths and weaknesses that are completely relatable. Can you tell us who or what inspired her creation?  

Sam shares no common history with any one I know personally or with me, but I can relate to all her struggles. I think that was the inspiration – the universal struggle, regardless of our circumstances, to define ourselves, face insecurity and fear, seek a place to stand and belong, and search for a family to love. When writing, I worked to make Sam’s life bigger, tougher, and more challenging than many of us face so that we could more easily sneak into her emotional world and relate to her without feeling too exposed ourselves.

Your novel deals with knowledge of the foster care system, Northwestern’s journalism program and lots of Jane Austen. How much research did you have to do?

Quite a bit, but it didn’t feel like research. I loved it! I did attend Northwestern, but not the journalism school.  I’ve read all of Austen, but over so many years that I think it’s all a part of me. I have never studied her – so my knowledge is generated from a love of the literature, not from any great analytical insights. As for the foster care system, I talked to so many people and read a great deal – and that said, any mistakes in the logistics of Sam’s childhood are my own and the details of her personal story are fictional.

What would you consider the major point that you wanted to get across when writing Dear Mr. Knightley?

Love this question. No one has asked this! I think Professor Muir says it best when he talks about Sam’s past: “Never let something so unworthy define you.” Sam is haunted by her past and it’s damaging her future, but she need not be defined by it. It doesn’t need to trap her. Yet, that realization, and forgiving all that happened, is so terribly hard and wrenchingly painful. But Sam can be free. And there is tremendous power and hope in that.

Can you tell us about what you’re working on next?


Lizzy and Jane is next and it’s in the editing process right now. It will be out next fall and I’m so excited. Lizzy had more humor and confidence available to her than Sam did. But she’s got some struggles ahead of her as well – can’t make life too easy on her.

This story has all the big guns: sisters, conflict, food, Jane Austen, Hemingway (threw you there, didn’t I?), love, and breast cancer. I know that last one is a bummer, but it’s a reality that so many of us experience either personally or walking the journey with family and friends. Basically Lizzy and Jane is the story of a young woman, Lizzy, who has excised love from her life and, as she helps her sister through chemotherapy, she starts to put it back in – in all its wonderful and varied forms.

Thank you so much for letting me chat here! Great questions and a lot of fun. Thanks!

Check out Dear Mr. Knightley if you haven’t!

Posted in Interview

Interview of Tessa Afshar

Welcome back, Tessa!

Thank you for asking me back! It’s always a pleasure to hang out with you and your readers, Embassie.

1.      What made you decide to write a series based on Nehemiah?

Nehemiah repaired the ruined walls of Jerusalem in fifty-two days. For over a century, these walls had lain in ruin, reminding everyone of Judah’s defeat at the hand of Babylon. Jerusalem, once a thriving city, had diminished to a pathetic town, undefended against marauders and ridiculed by its neighbors. Nehemiah managed to rally his countrymen out of their fear and apathy to do a work no other man had managed to accomplish. Without the help of slaves, or paid workers, or military personnel, and with only volunteers as his workforce, he rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem while under constant attack.

Our lives are similar to Jerusalem. We too are under assault in a spiritual sense. We too have crumbling lives that need repair. I wanted to tell a story full of action and motion and danger that would help the reader come away feeling encouraged. Feeling like she too could do the impossible with the help of God.

 2.      When writing this series, which one was the hardest to write? Harvest of Rubies? Or Harvest of Gold?

I had to have two surgeries while writing Harvest of Gold, and my dad ended up in hospital with double pneumonia. I was writing about overcoming the battles of life, and my own life had turned into a battlefield. Writing was hard, but God helped me through every page, and suddenly, those scenes depicting Jerusalem’s struggles became very personal.

3.      There’s a bit of a mystery in this novel, was any of it based on facts or was it all fiction?

There is a plot to kill the king of Persia, Artaxerxes, which would have left the empire weak and in great disarray. Historically, Artaxerxes did have to deal with several assassination plots during his lifetime, the last one of which succeeded. My plot is not historical, but the details of the plan, which include a poisoned dagger and a tattoo, are based on events that actually took place.

4.      I found Roxanna and Lysander to be two very interesting secondary characters. What was your inspiration for them?

I wanted to create two new characters that the reader could connect with and have them play a supporting role to Sarah and Darius. They are both complex people with fascinating backstories, most of which the reader doesn’t know. Harvest of Gold is a more serious novel than its prequel due to its subject matter. Roxanna and Lysander bring a little lightness to the story. You never know. One day, I might give them a book of their own, especially since a lot of readers have been prodding in that direction.

5.      Can you tell us what you’re working on now?

I am writing a book based on the life of Ruth. It’s fast turning into one of my most favorite Old Testament stories. I am only halfway done, however. So lots of work still remains. My favorite Boaz quote so far: “Life is like a pomegranate. You can only enjoy it if you learn to deal with the seeds.”

Author bio:

Tessa Afshar was voted “New Author of the Year” by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader’s Choice Awards 2011 for her novel Pearl in the Sand. Her book, Harvest of Rubies was nominated for the 2013 ECPA Book Award (formerly known as the Gold Medalion) in the fiction category and won the Grace Award for best Women’s Fiction in the same year. World Magazine chose Harvest of Rubies as one of four notable books of the year. Tessa was born in Iran to a nominally Muslim family, and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She moved to England where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as cochair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last fourteen years in full-time Christian service in New England.

It’s been a pleasure to be with you. Please feel free to visit me on my webpage at:, tweet me @tessaafshar or join me on my FaceBook Author Page at:page

Posted in Interview

Interview of Roseanna M. White

Thank you for willing to be interviewed!

1.      Can you tell us what was it about the Culper Ring that drew you to write a series?

Well, when I first heard of the Culper Ring, it was in the show Brad Meltzer’s Decoded, and the investigators interviewed experts who said they really couldn’t say what became of the Ring after the Revolution. Maybe they had totally ceased operation. Or, for all they knew, maybe they were still around today! Naturally, I liked that last “maybe.” 😉 What really sealed it for me is that Benjamin Tallmadge, head of the Ring, was a congressman during the War of 1812. It didn’t make any sense to me at all that he wouldn’t have called friends up again.

So when I set out the series and pitched it to Harvest House, I intended to make it generational—to follow the Culpers from their historically recorded dealings in the Revolution through the next two major wars, where I’d explore those super-fun what-ifs. =)

2.      When you were writing book one of the Culper Ring series (Ring of Secrets), were you also planning for Whispers From the Shadows?

I knew as I wrote Ring of Secrets that the next book would be about Winter’s son, Thad, and Fairchild’s daughter, Gwyneth. That was enough for the premise—a hero and heroine yet again on different sides of the war, but this time Gwyn would be sent to America for her own safety. The particulars of the plot I developed after I’d finished the first one, though I had it well under way by the time Ring of Secrets was in edits, and when there was room in the back of the book, they asked to include the first chapter. =)

3.      How much research do you have to do for each novel in the Culper Ring series?

Oh my, LOL. I’d already done a lot of the basic research on the Colonial era before beginning Ring of Secrets, for my Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland, but I did spend a week or two reading the super-fabulous Washington’s Spies by Alexander Rose. He compiled some amazing original research for form the most complete view of the Culpers ever.

For Whispers from the Shadows, I got to pull in some of the research I’d done before on the Regency era (for clothing and mannerisms, etc), and then I turned to a book written by a good friend’s college professor for the particulars: Battle for Baltimore: 1814 by Joseph Whitehorne.

Having a main, well-respected book I use for research is my usual method, and then I supplement as needed with other sources to answer questions that come up as I write. Thank heavens for the internet!

4.      I found Thad to be one of my favorite characters in Whispers From the Shadows. Who/what inspired him?

He’s one of mine too. =) Thad isn’t based entirely on any one person I know, but I guess certain aspects of him are inspired by some of the spiritual fathers in my life. His personality I created by necessity—I needed a character who was personable and friendly enough to be the go-to for the privateer fleet, who were the primary sources of intelligence in this war.

Then as Thad began to take shape in my mind, I realized he was a lot more than personable. I wanted him to be a very faithful character, one who turned to the Lord in his Culper work…and that’s where his spiritual side came in. There’s an older gent in my church who is so in tune with the Spirit it just touches me anew all the time. I wanted to bring that sort of faith alive in this novel, the kind that we all can have, if we just train ourselves to listen.

5.      Can you tell us what you’re working on now?

Sure! I just turned in the third book in the series, Circle of Spies, a month ago, and finished a second free novella to come between books 2 and 3, A Hero’s Promise (about the little boy Jack from Whispers, and Thad and Gwyn’s daughter, Julienne, who Jack calls Lenna).

So now I’m taking some time to jump back to my biblical books and work on a sequel to my debut novel, A Stray Drop of Blood. This next one is called A Soft Breath of Wind, and where the first focused on the saving power of the blood Jesus shed upon the cross (heroine was at the crucifixion), the second will focus on the indwelling of the Spirit in the early church, all through the eyes of someone with an amazing gift of the Spirit…that has left her physically scarred.

Posted in Interview

Interview of Serena Chase

ImageWelcome Back! And thank you for willing to be interviewed again!

1.      I have often heard that the second book in a series is the hardest to write. Did you feel that way about The Remedy?

Serena: The Ryn and The Remedy were originally written as one really long book, so I guess you could say that, while I didn’t feel that way about writing The Remedy, I’m feeling that way now with book 3 of the series! I love the fun characters I’m working with (Pirate Cazien and Julien’s sister, Erielle) and the twist I’m putting on the new fairy tale I’m re-imagining is really fun (my little secret, for now!) but I do wonder if readers who loved the “sweetness” of Rynnaia and Julien will love the snarkiness and edgier nature of Caz and Erielle, as characters. I hope so…

2.      Finding the Remedy involves an old prophecy, clues, and then the Remedy itself. When did you write the prophecy (before or after they went on their adventure?) and at what point did you know what the Remedy was?

Serena: Keep in mind that these two books evolved over 7 years of rewriting and revising… but there was a little of this and a little of that. Originally, when I got to that point of the story that needed the prophecy revealed/scrolls translated, I just wrote the poem. I was reading a lot of poetry right then—romantic poetry, of all things. Nothing like the riddled mess in The Remedy!—but it came rather swiftly and was kind of a fun way to go about figuring out how to turn riddles—riddles that I wasn’t even sure what they meant, myself!—into actual scenes and settings. But both the poem and the action it led to were revised countless times before the final version of The Remedy was published.

3.      When writing fantasy-like novels, you can’t really do research, so what kind of preparation do you find yourself doing?

Serena: There is always research, even when you’re making up everything about the world. I’ve read a ton of material on weapons, ships, clothing, pirate history, sea creatures, travel times, topography – sometimes you even have to go back and reread your own work to figure out how long it takes a character to get from point A to point B.  I spend a crazy amount of time on Pinterest, finding images that speak to the story. (I have boards for the Eyes of E’veria series as well as one specifically for Book Three!) But the biggest way I prep for writing? Believe it or not, I listen to a lot of music. I know the basic structure of the book going in (especially with this series, since I’m starting each 2-book set with a known fairy tale!) I also have a pretty good idea of the story arc, the theme, and how I want to see the characters grow over the course of the novel. I make a ton of playlists of modern music with lyrics that speak to the characters’ personalities and situations. I burn CDs and take them in my car (some of my best scenes have come to me while driving!) But when it comes to the actual writing? No words, please! While writing, editing, and revising, I listen to instrumental music—mostly movie soundtracks.

4.      What is the ‘one thing’ you wanted to convey to your reader with The Remedy?

Serena: That would be Rynnaia’s realization: “I am known and I am loved.” – I think it is the cry of every heart. We may not go through the sort of identity crisis Rynnaia does over the course of the two books, but we long for the same sense of belonging, of being loved, not only by the people we love, but by God. It’s a pretty big deal. To recognize and accept that, out of all the people in the world, all the beauty, all the universe . . . the One who created it all KNOWS and LOVES you on a personal level? That’s huge. That’s what I hope my readers will see and take to heart through her story.

5.      Can you tell us more about your next project (aka will Cazien’s story be told?)

Serena: Oh, Caz! He is such a popular boy!  I don’t want to give away too much yet . . . but yes, Captain Cazien de Pollis shares the POV spotlight with Erielle de Gladiel in books 3 & 4, which take place fairly quickly after The Remedy’s end. And they are both excessively fun characters to write! But don’t worry: I won’t be finished with Caz at the close of book 4. He’s too much fun! (And I have too much backstory written about him to let it go to waste.) So here’s a little teaser: I have a couple of Eyes of E’veria prequel novellas in the pipeline—and at least one of those is entirely focused on Cazien’s mid-teen years, his “errand”, and his legacy. In that book, our fair pirate is fifteen years old and not yet a captain. That being said, I think readers are anxious to see what will become of Captain Cazien as they “know” him now—at 19/20 years old. Plus, readers are curious to see what comes of all those cryptic remarks he made about Erielle in The Ryn and The Remedy—so I don’t think they’ll mind waiting for that peek back in time!

Thanks for the interview, Embassie! I’m glad you enjoyed the books!

Posted in Interview

Interview of Karen Witemeyer

Thank you for willing to be interviewed!

1.   When you started Short-Straw Bride, did you always know Crockett would get his own story?

At the beginning, I didn’t have much thought to the secondary characters in the novel. But the more I wrote, the more attached I became to all the Archer brothers. By the time Travis and Meredith’s story was complete, I knew I wanted to write Crockett’s story as well. However, my editors had made it clear to me in the past that they preferred I not write series. So I did some begging and some bargaining. I promised to make his story stand alone with new characters and a new setting so it wouldn’t truly be a series, and my editor agreed. Then, when Short-Straw hit the bestseller list and readers started asking for more Archer brothers’ stories, my editor wrote me and said how thankful she was I had pursued that book with Crockett. I couldn’t have been happier.

2.      What was your inspiration behind Stealing the Preacher?

As I mentioned earlier, the inspiration for Stealing the Preacher sparked during the writing of Short-Straw Bride. Crockett Archer played a key role in the story, his smooth, teasing charm a balance to older brother Travis’s gruff, over-protective nature. I knew in my heart that this man deserved a story of his own.

When the Archer brothers were children, growing up alone on their ranch and defending it from those who wanted to take advantage of their youth, Crockett’s niche in the family evolved into that of spiritual mentor and healer. He was in charge of the family devotionals the Archers conducted in lieu of attending a church service, and whenever an injury occurred on the ranch, Crockett was the one to tend it. For years, the Archers never left their land, yet as he grew to manhood, Crockett felt God’s call deepen within him—a call to not only minister to his brothers, but to a congregation of his own.

So what kind of heroine could I create for this noble preacher-to-be? Well, she had to be someone who shared his values and his calling to ministry. But if I left it at that, we’d have an awfully dull story. So to liven things up, I made Joanna Robbins the daughter of a retired outlaw, one who despises “sermonizers” and their hypocritical ways.

Since Crockett is no ordinary preacher, but a gun-toting rancher with a gift for doctoring . . . well, that meant a plot full of scrapes, trouble, and shenanigans. But amid the adventure and romance lies a heartrending tale of God’s pursuit of a single lost soul.

3.      What is the one thing every romance novel should have?

By definition, a romance novel needs to have a sigh-inducing love story at its core which includes a happily-ever-after for the hero and heroine. Of course, I also enjoy a lot of action/adventure, humor, and poignant, dramatic moments along the way.

 4.      You have written a number of books now, do you have a favorite hero or heroine? Or one that stayed with you the longest?

 People often ask me this, and my answer is always: Asking an author to pick a favorite book of hers is like asking a mother to pick her favorite child. It’s just impossible. However, I know that’s a bit of a cop out, so if pressed I will admit that my favorite hero is probably Levi from To Win Her Heart. From overcoming his violent past, to the extreme efforts he made to hide his speech impediment, to the gentle way he challenged Eden to move from surface Christianity to soul-deep faith – he would get my vote for favorite hero.

 5.      Can you tell us something about what you’re working on now?

My next project is actually a novella that features Neill Archer, the final brother in the Archer clan. I just couldn’t let him go without giving him his own happily ever after. Away from the Archer ranch for two years to earn the money needed to start up his own spread with his childhood friend, Josiah, Neill takes a job repairing a little old widow’s roof. Only the widow isn’t old nor is she little. She’s nine months pregnant with her deceased husband’s child, and she meets Neill with a shotgun aimed at his chest.

Neill’s story, A Cowboy Unmatched, will be part of a collection entitled A Match Made in Texas. It releases January 2014 and includes novellas by three other wonderful historical authors: Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, and Carol Cox.