Joining us today is Toni V. Lee, telling us about her book, Expectations.
I'm a former Sunday school teacher who loves to curl up with a good romance novel. I'm committed to communicating the message of Christ through my novels and plays; hence my motto: Spreading Truth Through Fiction. Just prior to my work on Expectations, I published my first play, The Crown Mystery. I have a BSBA degree from the University of Central Florida and live in Central Florida with my family. I'm a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association, and I'm a member of the leadership team of the CIC (Complete in Christ) Singles' Ministry of my church.
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1. This is your first full novel, and reader feedback thus far has been encouraging. What gave you the inspiration for this story?
Many Christians are harboring unforgiveness. We are careful to stay away from what we consider the big sins—-lying, stealing, murder, etc. Ah, but unforgiveness is another matter. We hold on to it tightly, nurturing and stoking it with remembered hurts. We allow it to poison our souls and relationship with Christ.
Some believers are depressed and angry with God, because they've been praying for a long time, and haven't received any answers. Or haven't received the answers they expect. There are folks out there just like the hero in my novel, Michael Greer. They are in a backslidden state and are miserable, because they feel God drawing them back to Him, yet they are resisting.
Christians know that pre-marital sex is not permitted. But it's not an easy thing to love someone and not enter into that arena.
I wanted to address all of these issues. Not just address them, but offer solutions to the struggles using recognizable characters, situations, and comedic views of dramatic events.
I wanted to spread truth through fiction with a liberal coating of laughter.
2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Daria and Michael? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?
Daria's main struggle was my own—unforgiveness. I experienced firsthand its stagnating and destructive force. Like Daria, I also experienced Christ's liberating power in this area.
As the story unfolded, Michael and Daria became "real people" that I cared about and grew to love. I laughed, cried, and rejoiced with them as they traveled on their journey of laughter, drama, self-discovery, spiritual renewal, and love.
3. What themes exist in Expectations that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?
Expectations has many interrelated themes. I would like readers to see the following:
The truth that God loves them and is concerned about every facet of their lives.
Sometimes the answer we expect from God is not the answer we receive, but it will be the right answer for us. The timing of that answer will be perfect.
Unforgiveness is a destructive force.
Time for us here on earth is finite. Don’t put off having an honest and intimate relationship with Christ until tomorrow, because tomorrow may never come.
It's important to stay pure before God in thought and deed.
4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?
The most difficult parts for me to write were the dramatic scenes. I experienced the same emotions that the characters did throughout the story. When they experienced highly charged emotional drama, so did I. Some of the scenes really put me through the wringer. LOL!
My favorite parts to write were the comedy scenes. I especially enjoyed writing the funny scenes that included the Aunties.
5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?
I am currently working on my second novel, Even Then (working title). It contains some of the lovable and hilarious characters from Expectations. Even Then is a romantic comedy-drama about two women whose hearts are sent into a tailspin when they're broadsided by the love of men they thought they knew very well.
Thank you so much for allowing me to visit with you. May God bless you indeed!
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Thank *you*, Toni, for being in the spotlight. Hope you drop by to comment. And readers, don't forget to leave your own comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Toni's feature book.