Monday, February 23, 2015

A Spicy Blend of Purpose and Passion

I wrote this for Black Christian Reads and wanted to share with you :)
In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon says that the whole duty of man is to fear God and to keep His commandments. Growing up in a minister’s home, I had a great respect and love for God. I was involved in praise and worship, teaching and preaching. However, I had compartmentalized my life. There was God’s ministry and then there was my guilty pleasure—reading. I read any and everything. I remember going to my neighborhood library daily and leaving with a pile of books in my hand.
Sixteen years ago, I decided to pen my first novel, Keep the Knot Tight. I gave it to a minister friend to read. He admitted he found the story engaging but certain content was off-putting. Filled with profanity and hot sex scenes, I told him that I was keeping it real. The language and sex were authentic, I told myself. After numerous rejections, I self-published it under the pseudonym, Jasmine Stone.
Then I wrote Walk A Straight Line under Zoey Ann Rice in the space of six weeks. Right after that, I wrote Sing A New Song. I submitted both novels to hundreds of agents only to face rejection. Stumped, I could not understand why. So, I decided to put the writing ‘thing’ on hold and focus on my marriage and my young sons. I relocated in Florida eleven years ago because my family needed a change of pace and atmosphere.
On the job, I met Vivian Kehrer, and told her about my books. She encouraged me not to give up on my dream and I self-published Walk A Straight Line under the name, Zoey Ann Rice. I hid the book from my family and some of my friends. I knew they would never approve. Then, I met Jane Adams.
Jane was a teacher and gifted writer and I was drawn to her artistic nature. I opened up to her about my secret passion for writing. Jane volunteered to read Sing A New Song and share her thoughts with me. I can clearly remember the day she returned my manuscript.
We stood in the parking lot of an elementary school, and Jane’s face was deep red. Jane told me that while she was reading, she thought it was Christian fiction because the message in the novel moved her and then bam! She encountered the profanity and hot sex scenes. She said they caught her off guard. Jane went on to say how much she enjoyed the story, but I was frozen. Frozen because God used her to speak to me.
There was no secret pleasure. I couldn’t run from God and His purpose for me. God was ingrained in my life and He would appear into my work because He belonged there. Goose bumps rose on my arms. God had to be in every aspect of my life, especially my writing. That night, I revamped Sing A New Song. What I saw when I was done was a powerful work, which God could use to His purpose. I smiled. This felt right. Right for me, that is.
There was a place for me—the girl who liked writing stories with drama and messy characters but who also loved God. Imagine my joy when I discovered, I did not have to give up any part of me. Instead, I discovered a ministry fashioned with me in mind. God had brought me into the path of spirit-led women who have helped hone and shape my work so that He gets glory. His Holy Spirit constrains me and I am proud of the product I produce.

Finally, I understood.
It had taken me years to get to this realization. I'm not knocking romances and the work of others, but God showed me what I was meant to do. I can't write what I want.  I then penned my first Christian fiction novel, My Steps Are Ordered, with God's stamp of approval.
Once I aligned my will with His, doors opened.
One day I felt led to type the words faith, Christian and fiction in the Google search bar. Then, Tiffany L. Warren’s Faith and Fiction retreat popped up. And, wonder of wonders – God at work—it was being held right here in Florida. I registered and waited for the day. At the retreat, I learned a lot about writing and I rewrote my first chapter of Sing A New Song. After much prayer and fasting, I decided to pitch my work to the publishers and agents in attendance.
At the retreat, I got a chance to meet some of my favorite authors during the planned events. What resonated within me was these women were not just talented but they were real women of faith. A group of us met one morning by the water and we sang and worshiped God. I remember, Joylynn Ross, the acquisitions editor for Urban Christian, breaking out in a praise dance and I felt as if I had come home.
Before I left the retreat, I pitched Sing A New Song, and rejoiced when at the end of the session Joylynn requested I email her my first four chapters. That led to my first two-book deal with Urban Books. Now as a published author, I am proud to have my parents; siblings and church friends read my books. They see Him all throughout my work. Even as I write this, I shout, “Hallelujah!” I have since rewritten and/or re-published Walk A Straight Line and My Steps Are Ordered. I plan to revamp Keep the Knot Tight as well because there is a message there for someone.
I’m now working on my sixth novel for Urban Christian and I know God will take me higher. He has more in store for me than I can even imagine. I know it because writing is not just a blend of my passion and my purpose. It is my ministry and all I can say is, "Use Me, Lord."

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

ANNOUNCING A BRAND NEW RELEASE: Live A Little by Rhonda McKnight

Rhonda McKnight has a unique way of tackling serious issues while inspiring her readers. I enjoyed getting to know Raine and Gage! Read the Excerpt below.

A grieving woman, an injured soldier and an abandoned dream...can they find hope for tomorrow in each other? 

Raine Still has never had much of an identity outside of being the daughter of the old hippie couple that own Hope House, a transitional housing facility in the worse part of Charlotte, North Carolina, and that had been okay with her until her parents died and left her alone in world.
Gage Jordan is a decorated solider discharged from the army after fourteen years due to a physical injury, but the emotional scars are far worse than anything he’s rehabbed from. He has a great job lined up and a mass of support from his family, but something is missing and he’s starting to feel like it’s Raine.
Gage thought his wounded heart had issues, but Raine’s pain is much deeper. If something doesn’t give soon they will never have a chance at love. Can he convince her to see that “hope” and faith are the balm she needs to heal her hurting soul?

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About the Author

Even as she pursued degrees in Textile Technology, Organizational Leadership and finally, Adult Education, Rhonda McKnight’s love for books and desire to write stories was always in the back of her mind and in the forefront of her heart. Rhonda loves reading and writing stories that touch the heart of women through complex plots and interesting characters in crisis. She writes from the comfort of her Atlanta home with black tea, Lays potato chips and chocolate on hand. At her feet sits a snappy mixed breed toy dog. She can be reached at her website at www.rhondamcknight and on social media at and and where she has joined with nine other Christian fiction authors to introduce her stories to the world.


They rode in silence to her house. The sugar Gage ingested seemed to have dulled his chattiness. The trip wasn’t long and traffic was nonexistent. His navigation brought them right to her door. He cut the engine.
            Gage looked through the window past Raine. “This is a nice house. Nice neighborhood. You were looking the last time we talked.”
            She had been house-hunting that spring. She’d found this one the very week he’d left. She inspected the shrubs that needed pruning and the trim that would definitely get a fresh coat of paint in the spring and replied. “Thank you.”
            “How long have you been here?”
            “Six years. It was a foreclosure during the early run of foreclosures. I’d finished my master’s degree and gotten a promotion at work, so I thought, it was time.”
            “I remember you’d just finished your masters. You mentioned it that day.”
            His memory was impeccable. Raine’s stomach flipped. That day. That day she’d shared a table with him in the mall food court because all the others were full. That day lunch turned into a trip to the movie theatre, dinner and a stroll through a bookstore.
            “No waiting for a husband to buy a house with, huh?” he asked, but then he didn’t wait for an answer. “I like that. The women in my family are very independent too.”
Gage smiled. It sucked the wind out of her. Not because he was so good looking, or even because he had flashed his movie star, picture ready white teeth, it was the disposition behind the smile. Lazy, relaxed…Raine didn’t exactly know the word she was looking for. He seemed interested in her, again. He wasn’t making small talk to fill up the time, because they were here at her house. All he had to do was open the door and then open hers and walk her to the door of her house, if he was so inclined to do that. In seconds, he could be done with Raine Still for tonight and forever. But Gage wasn’t moving. He wasn’t trying to leave.
The only man that had ever been interested in her was her father. He’d hung on to every word she’d said from the time she could talk until he took his last breath. But this attention from Gage was different. She didn’t know how to take it. She’d been here with him before and then he disappeared without a trace. 
            “Can I ask you a question?” His tone was tentative.             “What happened to your date tonight?”
            Raine had no idea what he would ask, but this question surprised her. “I didn’t have a date.”
            Gage’s expression posed the follow-up question before he did.  “You said you were waiting for someone.”
            She shrugged. “I lied. I wanted to be alone and I thought it was easier to say I was waiting on someone than be rude to all of you.”
            He cocked an eyebrow. “That’s honest.”
            “I don’t like to lie and I don’t have any reason to lie to you now.”
            “Why did you have so many tickets if you weren’t expecting anyone?”
            Raine couldn’t keep the amusement out of her voice. “Are you questioning if I’m lying about lying?”
            A beautiful crooked smile filled half his face, revealing one of his dimples. “I’m not questioning if you’re lying. I guess I’m just curious, nosy.”
            Raine explained how she came to have the extra tickets. Gage nodded. “That was God. You were supposed to help us out.”
            Raine didn’t think that made any sense. “Why wouldn’t God just make it so I had one ticket and your mother had the ones she needed?”
            Silence again and then, “Because if God made it happen that way then I wouldn’t have run into you.”
            She swallowed now. Hard. He was staring at her. Looking from her face to her lips. He leaned closer and put a hand behind her neck. Then he brought his face closer so that it hovered just inches from hers. Raine could smell his breathe, the mint he’d popped into his mouth after eating the ice cream. She could also smell his cologne, a strong, sexy masculine scent that rose from his pores to torment her.
            But then just as quickly as he’d pulled her close, Gage let her go and reached for his ignition key. “It’s late. I need to get you inside.”
            Get her inside. She didn’t have a curfew. Raine was disappointed. But more than disappointed, she was embarrassed. She wanted that kiss. “I can see myself to my door,” she replied, icily. She released her seat belt and grabbed the door handle.
            His hand was on hers. “Raine, let me explain.”
            She turned toward him and frowned. “Explain what?”
            “Why I stopped.”
Raine thought she would die. No he was not going to explain why he was rejecting her. She sighed heavily.
“I don’t want to be disrespectful.”
            The conversation was awkward, but he’d started it, so she questioned, “A kiss is disrespectful?”
            He didn’t remove his hand from hers, but he didn’t respond either.
            Oh my God, she thought. He has a girlfriend or maybe even a wife. Of course he did. How could she be so naïve?  He didn’t want to disrespect his marriage. She dropped her eyes to their intertwined fingers. So why was he still holding her hand?
He finally spoke. “I’m careful about what I start.”
That only confused her more. “What does that mean?” she whispered. And then she thought, I don’t want to know. “Never mind. You don’t have to explain.” She grabbed the door handle again, but Gage squeezed the hand he held. She froze.
“I do, because I don’t want you to think I didn’t want to kiss you. My stopping has nothing to do with you.”
Raine didn’t look at him. If she could have jumped out of the car and run in the house without seeming rude she would have. She wanted to escape the pounding rush in her veins. The agony over the fact that the only man she’d ever wanted was taken. “Of course, I understand. You have to respect your wife or your girlfriend.”
“Wife or girlfriend?” She could hear a frown in his voice.
“You’ve been a real gentleman, Gage. I appreciate the ride.”
“Wait,” he insisted. “I don’t have a wife or a girlfriend.”
Raine knew she should not let the next question come out of her mouth because it was embarrassing and it would sound like begging, but she would drive herself crazy if she didn’t know. Since she knew she’d never see him again, she went ahead asked, “Then why did you stop?”
The expression on his face was so serious it nearly looked pained. “It’s late,” he said releasing her hand. “I’ll be back in the morning.”
“In the morning?” 
“I told you I was picking you up so we could see about getting your car towed.”
She shook her head. “It is really kind of you to offer, but you don’t have to do that.”
His words came swift and impulsively. “What if I want to do it?”
Her stomach flipped again. “Why would you want to do it? We’re not neighbors.”
“For the same reason I didn’t kiss you. I finish what I start. Once I commit to a thing, I have to see it all the way through.”
He smiled and opened his door. Once she got out they fell into step up her long walkway. She said good night to her prince, pushed the door closed and peeked out to watch him disappear. Raine kicked off her shoes and realized the irony of having both shoes. She hadn’t left one behind, so the prince didn’t have one. Gage didn’t have a reason to come looking for her. He didn’t even have anything to look with, because he hadn’t even asked for her phone number to call to make arrangements for tomorrow. Her Cinderella story was a bust. 

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Contest Giveaway: Author is offering one winner a Cupid’s Error Goodie Package. Enter contest below

Author: Joy Avery

Publication Date: January 19, 2015

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 96 pages
ISBN-10: 1507679599
ISBN-13: 978-1507679593
Age Group For Your Book 18+



Joy Avery is the author of the novels Smoke in the Citi, His Until Sunrise: an Indigo Falls romance, and Cupid’s Error: a novella. She is a North Carolina native with a passion for penning contemporary romances.

When not crafting love stories, she enjoys reading, cake decorating, and spending time with her family—which includes a husband, a child, and two dogs.
Joy is a member of Romance Writers of America and Heart of Carolina Romance Writers.



Staffing agency owner Danica James is determined not to spend another Valentine’s Day alone. But purchasing a man for the evening? Out of the question. Then her best friend intervenes—gifting her a night of dinner and dancing with a Cupid’s Arrow escort. What could be the harm? Though Cupid’s Arrow is known for matches made in heaven, she’s not looking for a love connection. Then she meets her Cupid’s Fellow and everything changes.

Business mogul Weston Henshaw doesn’t need Cupid’s Arrow to get a Valentine’s Day companion, but Cupid’s Arrow needs him. Seems his sister’s charity event has done far better than anticipated. Only problem…a shortage of eligible bachelors to pamper all of the lonely hearts. When he agrees to be bait for an evening, he never imagines meeting the one woman who makes him wish the night would never end.
An error by Cupid’s places Danica and Weston on a road to destiny, but will they maintain the course?


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Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author Joy Avery and is hosted and managed by Paulette from Write Now Literary Book Tours. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send an email to Paulette @

Friday, February 13, 2015

Hot off the Presses! When the Real Thing Comes Along

Title: When the Real Thing Comes Along
Author: Faith Simone
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Inspirational Fiction, Edgy Christian Fiction
Release Date: February 13, 2015
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About the Book

She loved and lost…Will faith give her the courage she needs to love again?
Jacelynn appears to have it all together: a great relationship with her boyfriend Jason who is truly a man after God’s own heart, a decent career and the love of family and friends. But when an unwelcome reminder from her past shows up, her previously uncomplicated world is turned upside down.  Will she jeopardize what she has with Jason in an attempt to rewrite the mistakes of her past? 
They say you never forget your first love, no matter how hard you try. So far, Jacelynn has done a pretty good job of forgetting Taylor, the boy who had her heart first. When Taylor returns several years later as a man requesting a second chance, what’s a girl to do…Especially when she already has a new man?
The hidden issues of Jacelynn’s heart come to light and she’s forced take a hard look in the mirror while making choices that will change her future forever. Will she be able to reconcile who she was then, with who she is in Christ now?
Living and loving in faith isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it. That’s what happens…
When the Real Thing Comes Along


She struggled to absorb all that he’d told her.
“Why should I believe what you’re saying? How do I know that you’re not here because of your ego?”
He cringed. “I understand your reasoning. If I were you, I’d think the same thing about me. I’d think that I was running another game on you, and if you had accepted my explanation without any reservations, you wouldn’t have been the girl I remember and love.”
Her airway momentarily constricted. She took a shallow breath. “Don’t . . . don’t say that. You never loved me. Love doesn’t behave the way you did.” She had to believe that, had to believe that no man who ever loved her could hurt her so badly.
“You’re right. Love is patient, love is kind, it seeks not its own, it is not boastful, it does not envy. See, I didn’t know about what love truly was back then, but now I do. I know that love never fails.”
Her mouth dropped. This man across from her quoting scripture couldn’t possibly be the same person who stepped all over her heart. 
He grinned. “I see I’ve got you speechless. Jacelynn this is no game. I’m for real. My love for you won’t fail this time around.”
“I-I have a boyfriend.” She held her head in her hands, eyes wide with shock. “I have a boyfriend.” She hadn’t thought of Jason once since she’d sat down. And here was this good-looking man, saying all the right things. The man who had her heart first, stirring up all kinds of feelings inside of her.
He nonchalantly stated, “We’ve met.”
“What am I doing here? What am I doing here? I don’t need this drama.” She reached for her purse. “Taylor, I’m ecstatic about your conversion. If you’re sincere, I wish you the best in your walk with God. But as far as you and I go, we’re history. I forgave you a long time ago and I have moved on. I have a beautiful relationship with a man who is established and rooted in God. I’m not jeopardizing that because someone from my past shows up with a few poetic speeches. If you were ever in love at all, it was with a naïve girl who didn’t have sense enough to see you for what you really were; a jive talking immature little boy. I have grown up, and I suggest you do the same.” 
She stood to leave and he took her hand as she attempted to pass him. “I won’t pretend that hearing what you think about me doesn’t hurt. But I’ve grown up. You’re rejecting me based on my past and that’s fine. I’ve rejected it too. But I need for you to give me the chance to show you’ve I’ve changed.”
She glared down at him. “I don’t owe you anything.”
“You’re right, you don’t. But I owe you so much. If you didn’t see my flaws, it was because you were looking at my heart. You saw what I could be and you loved me.” He stood up and his proximity to her made it difficult for her to breathe. When his lips touched her ear, she turned her head away. “I’m not going anywhere Ja. I don’t mind proving who I’ve become to you. And as far as your little boyfriend goes, you never said you loved him.”
He waited. She knew he was giving her time to confess her love for Jason now. When she only lifted glittering angry eyes to him, he continued, “I don’t mind if he’s holding you now. Go ahead and lean on his shoulder for a while. But it’s me you’ll be thinking about and it’s me you’ll be remembering.”
She snatched her hand out of his and stepped back, hoping to diminish the heat ricocheting between their bodies. “Your so called love won’t fail this time around, because there’s never going to be another chance for us. Never.”  She turned and walked out of the restaurant without looking back.
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About the Author

Faith Simone is a poet, playwright and novelist.  She is also an active blogger, sharing her personal thoughts, book reviews and tips for writers on her website Simone is passionate about using her gift of writing as a tool to help promote humanity, understanding and compassion.
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Goodreads:  Faith Simone

Giveaway Info
Faith is giving away Three (3) Amazon Gift Cards! Click on the rafflecopter giveaway button to enter!

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