Yes, I know. I missed the author spotlight last week. Chalk it up to a long weekend for the holiday, a lot of real life happening, and an overly hectic week that didn't allow much time to post even a quick note much less interview anyone. However, I'm back this week and am more than making up for the lapse last week with not one, but *four* authors standing together in the spotlight.
That's right. You read correctly. This week, I'm featuring a brand-new anthology entitled, Kiss the Bride. For those unfamiliar with this type of book, it included four novellas written by four different authors all centered around a similar theme. Sometimes, the characters overlap and have other similarities, but it's the theme that generally ties together the stories into the anthology.
As for the prize for this week, the FREE BOOK will be autographed by at least THREE of the authors, possibly four, if we can arrange it. To enter, simply comment on this post or the author comment post below. The winner will be announced Monday evening, the 18th.
And off we go.....
KISS THE BRIDE
Synopsis: Four young women meet at a restaurant owner's conference-Angel from Florida, Monica from Missouri, Haley from Oklahoma, and Allison from New Jersey-and discover they share the same faiths, fears, and hopes, including a lack of a love story in their lives. They vow to keep in touch, pray for one another, and meet again at next year's conference. What happens in between is an absolute smorgasbord of changed lives, challenged faiths, new dedications and directions, and romantic twists that turn next year's conference reunion plans into reservations for eight.
1. How did you come up with the idea for this anthology?
KRISTY DYKES: I was bred on Jesus and Nana's layer cakes in the Deep South (and not always in that order! WINK). I also love to cook and entertain. As a pastor's wife, I've often felt like I've run a B&B with all the people I've hosted, such as missionaries, evangelists, singing groups, etc. When I worked for a New York Times subsidiary, the editor said one day they needed a story about cooking. I casually commented, "I've cooked for 100 people in my home and love to cook. Last week, I had a dinner party for 22 people and had a ball." The editor said, "Write me a story. By tomorrow." So I did, and a weekly column entitled "Kristy's Kitchen" was born.
When I dreamed up Kiss the Bride, I envisioned four young women in the food business who love to cook. They all own restaurants, they meet at a restaurant convention, and they bemoan the lack of Mr. Right in their lives. Then, each novella tells their love stories. A fun addition to Kiss the Bride: they pass around an apron with the words "Kiss the Cook" on it. The last groom crosses out "Cook" and writes "Bride" because the girls have all become brides by the end of the book. Also, there's a recipe at the end of each novella.
2. It's often encouraged for writers to "write what you know." Your own location played an important role in the setting of your story. What aspects of where you live influenced your story? What is one unique thing about your location that added a unique flavor?
KRISTY: I'm a native Floridian and proud of it. We're rare birds these days, what with the tens of thousands moving into The Sunshine State each year. I love to set my stories in Florida. We have beautiful beaches and lakes and sunsets and sunrises and... :) In my novella, "Angel Food," the hero and heroine enjoy walks on the beach. And, he proposes there... kneeling in the sand...under a full romantic moon...ah...
AISHA FORD: Most of the books I've written are set in the city where I currently live or in a place I have previously lived. I didn't really get too much of an opportunity to focus on the location in Just Desserts…with a novella, the word limit is so tight that I didn't really get to use a lot of specific St. Louis flavor.
As I wrote, I set the story in my own neighborhood, so Monica and Gil drive down the same streets I drive and visit the same stores I visit. But because I wanted the focus to be on the plot, I tried to stay away from actual names of places and locations, and used generic names for as much as I could.
VICKIE MCDONOUGH I placed my fictional cafe on a real street in Tulsa and tried to give it the same look and feel as that part of town. I mentioned that that area of town was being revitalized in my story, and it is in real life too. I also had my characters visit the Pedestrian Bridge, which is a real place, and got the idea of using a soldier for the hero from my son, who was in the National Guard and was stationed in Iraq for a year.
CARRIE TURANSKY My novella is titled "Tea for Two" and is set in Princeton, New Jersey which is very close to where I live. Princeton is the home of Ivy League Princeton University, and it has a lovely downtown area centered on Nassau Street with many historic building and also great shopping and restaurants. I mention several romantic spots on campus, in Princeton, and the surrounding area in my story. The Sweet Something Tea Shop owned by the heroine in "Tea for Two" is fictional, but there was a lovely tea shop on Nassau Street that inspired the heroine's shop in my story. These characters and this type of restaurant fit this town...it just wouldn't be the same if it took place anywhere else.
3. What was your most difficult part to write? Your favorite?
KRISTY: There weren't any difficult parts. It was a joy to write, all of it. I love putting in quirky characters in my stories, maybe because I run across so many in my life as a pastor's wife! :) Sister Wilkins was fun to write about. But my favorite parts to write were the romantic scenes. I'm a nostalgic romanticist. Or is that a romantic nostalgist? For inspiration, I always pull from my life with my husband Milton!
AISHA: The most difficult part was the moment when Monica and Gil first see each other again after so many years of not speaking. It wasn't a reunion where both parties were planning to see each other, and already knew what they would say to each other. Even though their families had this big rift years earlier, I wanted to let the genuine excitement of seeing each other overrule the apprehension about what their parents would say later.
My favorite part was when Monica went on the television show to demonstrate her wonderful pie recipe while Gil watches from his house. (There's a little surprise I don’t want to give away, but I hope it makes people laugh out loud!)
VICKIE: The emails from Scott(hero) were probably the hardest thing to write. I've never communicated much with a guy via email, and I wanted them to sound realistic and not like they were written by a female.
CARRIE: Here's a quick summary first: Tea for Two tells the story of Allison Bennett, owner of a financially strapped tea shop, who receives an anonymous check that saves her business. She suspects her secret benefactor is Peter Hillinger, a wealthy businessman, who has been pursuing her for several months. But then Tyler Lawrence, her old boyfriend, returns to town claiming a renewed faith and a changed life. Seeking her forgiveness, he offers to use his promotion skills to help her business. Allison doesn't know whom to trust. Should she follow her head or her heart?
The most challenging part to write was the interaction between Allison and her sister Tessa (the heroine of "Wherever Love Takes Us" in WEDDED BLISS). I wanted them to be close, but I wanted Tessa to place doubts in Allison's mind about Tyler's character, making Allison’s decisions more difficult. Finding that balance and making their dialogue realistic took a lot of rewriting.
The most enjoyable part to write was the cozy scene at Allison's house when Tyler came by to show her the designs he had created to help her promote her tea shop. There was a lot going on under the surface, and I wanted to show that and create some enjoyable romantic tension.
4. What themes exist in your story that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?
KRISTY: The scriptural theme of my novella is, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or clanging cymbal...If I give all I possess to the poor...but have not love, I gain nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:1,3). Angel, my heroine, had a "me mentality" but didn't know it. She even donated her time to help rebuild an impoverished family's house. But she found out that wasn't enough--in God's eyes. I hope readers will clearly see this, and I hope it will affect their own lives.
AISHA: The main theme is forgiveness, of course. The secondary theme is trust, or in this case, re-trusting. Forgiveness can be tough, but once you get that part taken care of, it's an entirely new challenge to trust them again.
In some cases, you have the opportunity to truly forgive a person and walk away from them. In all honestly, it's much easier to forgive someone you don't have to see on a daily basis. In "Just Desserts," Monica and Gil had to exercise forgiveness, and then found themselves in circumstances where forgiveness itself wasn’t enough; they had to trust each other as well.
VICKIE: The theme is that sometimes we have to give our hopes and dreams to God before they become reality.
CARRIE: The theme verse for "Tea for Two" is "Love keeps no record of wrongs...It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." I Corinthians 13: 5, 7.
This theme of discovering the true meaning of love is shown in the conflict between the hero and heroine. She must decide if she can let go of past hurts, forgive, and believe the changes the hero has made in his life are really going to last. She has very strong romantic feelings for the hero...but does she truly love him? The hero’s love for the heroine is also tested, and he has decisions to make as well.
The importance of Putting God first in our life is another theme that emerged as I was writing "Tea for Two". The heroine realizes she has invested so much time and effort into her business that she has let her relationship with the Lord slide way down the list of importance. Renewing her commitment to the Lord prepares her to face the other challenges in the story.
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