WBTV from February 19, 2018

Vhonnelle’s Heart: More Precious Than Rubies by Natalie. L. McKinney

MENO-Vations: a.k.a. Menopause Motivations by Cynthia King

Saving Grace by Jane Green

Advertisements

Arden Recommends Vhonnelle’s Heart More Precious Than Rubies by Natalie L. McKinney (interview included)

Book: Vhonnelle’s Heart: More Precious Than Rubies

Author: Natalie L. McKinney

unnamed

Genre: Christian Fiction, Christian Romance

Basic Description: Many struggle to believe that true love stories can still come true and that one day, they can actually have a love story of their own. Vhonnelle’s Heart is a beautiful love story of a couple’s journey to forever.

Vhonnelle’s story is one that will encourage all who read it to have hope in the power in love once again. This story serves as a message of hope for singles and married couples as well. As you read this story, know that love still exists, and it can be yours. However, the most beautiful love story begins with you loving you.

Arden’s Thoughts: Ah, love. It’s a vital need. Everyone wants it but so few of us really know how to give it. I was reminded recently of why I’d rather wait on the right person for me to date than settle for someone who is someone else’s Mr. Right. I’m a gal who wants to be romanced and for me, that includes making a plan, asking to participate in said plan days in advance, and honoring me as a woman. Plus, take out my trash.

What I enjoyed so much about Vhonnelle’s story was the lead character had the confidence in herself to stay true to her vision of her forever. Yet, she allowed room to be pursued by a man (who eventually captured her heart) even though she wasn’t totally sold on him at first.

This book is character-driven with lots of dialogue. Readers get to experience the characters getting to know each other, and experiencing some trying times, through their words. I think some folks will read this book and really want a relationship like what Vhonnelle and Simeon experience. However, these same folks will not believe it could happen for them.

Here’s what I think… I think what Vhonnelle and Simeon have is the ideal. And, no, most people won’t get the ideal. Not because it’s not their story, but because they don’t wait for their story.

I recently interviewed the author of Vhonnelle’s Heart, Natalie L. McKinney. I think you’ll enjoy how she sheds light on her book, and her main character.

Arden: V seems so personal to you as the writer, more than any of the other characters. How much of you is in V?
Natalie: It’s interesting that you pose this question; this is actually not the first time I have been asked this. Succinctly, yes, I do see pieces of myself in V. Friendship and sisterhood are cornerstones of my life and I wanted to highlight that in my book. My best friends push me to be great and I make it a priority to do the same for them. V can testify to the power of sisterhood as well. So, on that front, we are completely alike. In the book, the younger version of V struggles with self-esteem and the ability to truly love herself for who she is. I too, struggled with self-esteem and the ability to love myself was something that I had to work at for a while. So, as I created V in terms of a character, I wanted to make that connection between myself and Vhonnelle because I know other young women out there have struggled with something similar and I wanted to show that there is hope for the girl who doesn’t always like the person she sees staring back at her in the mirror every day. Additionally, I would say that V and I are alike because she’s a go getter. V has goals and at all costs she intends to achieve them. Plus, she’s brilliant and she loves any and everything that has to do with the 90’s.
Arden: Who doesn’t love the 90s?!? Haha! Faith is such almost an additional character in your book. Is there a reason why you chose to focus on it instead of a more worldly dating point of view?
Natalie: This is also a great question. I wanted to show how sweet relationships can be when they are ordained by God. In the world we live in I think many people date for the sake of dating without truly consulting the One that not only made them, but also the One who created their future spouse as well. Also, many people confuse the terms dating and courting. Dating can lead to many things both good and bad. But courting leads to the altar, it leads to marriage. In the book, readers will get a glimpse into courting and I think it will be a refreshing take on relationships. The last point that I would like to highlight with this question is that what V and Simeon have is a mirror of what my parents had (My father is deceased). I am grateful that I was able to see that example because if I hadn’t seen their love, honor, and connection to each other that was ultimately fueled by their individual connections to Christ, I may not believe that such a relationship goal is attainable.
Arden: Yes, I really saw the courting process within the characters. Seeing this caused me to rethink a thing or two in hopes that I’ll meet a Simeon of my own one day. With that said, is Simeon based on any man in particular or the perfect fantasy?
Natalie:  Simeon is based off of my father. Simeon is strong in his faith; he has the desire to raise a family, to cherish and protect his wife, and to be a champion in his workplace and community. Often times in movies or books, when a male love interest is presented, the audience only sees that character as having one of these traits and maybe two at best. But, Simeon has a great drive to be all of these things. My father was just like this. To be honest, when I get married I want the traits of my father and the traits of my husband to match because I have experienced the power of man who possess them and I would want the same experience for my own children.
Arden: We haven’t talked about one of the other characters in the book yet, Kanissa. What are your plans for Kanissa? Is her story one you plan to tell?
Natalie: I don’t want to give everything away now but Kanissa’s story is one that I plan to tell in my next venture as an author. Just as my audience has been touched by V as a character, I would like to introduce them in the same manner to Kanissa. Kanissa and V are a yin and yang and I would do a disservice to only serve my audience one piece of the pie.
Arden: I was hoping you’d say that about Kanissa! I feel like her story is just getting started. So, I know my viewers and readers will want to get this book. Where can they find it?
Natalie: You can find my book on Amazon! The easiest way to purchase it would be through my website: www.thenatalielmckinney.com once you
Arden: Perfect! I’ve got links throughout this post too. Is there anything else you’d like to say to the readers?
Natalie: I would just like to say to my readers that nothing you go through is ever wasted. Sometimes when we go through things we wonder why it is us that are experiencing those things. You may even consider throwing in the towel; but don’t do it. If I had not gone through certain issues earlier in my life, I would not have been able to write a story that has the power to change the outlook of other people. Your gift assigns certain trials to your life, and on the other side of those trials is not only a story of how you made it over them, but also a path for you to be able to help someone else. The characters in my book have triumphed over the hurdles in their lives and you can too. If you are looking for proof of this, read Vhonnelle’s Heart.

Arden Recommends It Must’ve Been the Mistletoe by L.P. Dover (interview & giveaway included)

IMG_3924Book: It Must’ve Been the Mistletoe

Author: L.P. Dover

Genre: Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance

Basic Description: A sweet, holiday romance by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, L.P. Dover.  

Finding your soul mate is a dream Adeline Hamilton thought was just that … a dream. After several failed relationships, she realizes she’s not capable of falling in love. The only passion she’s ever had is teaching U.S. History at the local high school.

A week before Christmas, Adeline is all set for her best friend’s wedding, even though she dreads having to go to it alone. But when she’s given a Christmas wish that could change her future forever, she’s whisked away to the past, to a completely different place and time. It’s also when she meets him, William Blair, the man who steals her heart.
Arden’s Thoughts: I’m a sucker for a Hallmark movie; except the ones starring the red-headed woman. Something about how she scrunches her face no matter what character she’s portraying drives me nuts. Sorry, not sorry. My favorite is Lacey Chabert. She likes smiling. Smiling’s her favorite.
No, I’m not digressing. I’m setting the scene.
L.P. Dover has quite the writing career. Her talent astounds me because she can write so many types of stories. She’s published everything from fantasy fiction to saucy romance under her bestselling wings. So, when she approached me to read her latest book, It Must’ve Been The Mistletoe, I was curious…
She told me it was more Hallmark than Showtime, but I really wondered if a little Lifetime Movie Network would slip into her story.
Let me tell you, she nailed her goal of writing a sweet, romantic, clean Christmas romance. Her book is delicious and fun. There are twists of Christmas magic woven from start to finish. L.P. has found another audience to add to her long list of readers and I couldn’t be happier to introduce her to my book club. Check out our interview. Oh, and we’ve got something for you too… Keep reading to see what…
Arden: L.P., your plot is so interesting. Without revealing too much, how did you come up with it?
L.P.: Well … I wanted to do something different besides your every day Christmas romance. I figured adding a little bit of magic and time travel was just what it needed. I wanted to give the readers an escape into the past.

Arden: Oh, I loved escaping to the past. I found myself walking through the streets with Adeline and reliving days gone by… Are you a history junkie like Adeline?

L.P.: Oh my goodness, you have no idea. I’ve always wanted to know where I come from. When I joined Ancestry.com, I spent hours upon hours putting together my family tree. One of my relatives on my dad’s side sought me out and told me some amazing stories that my father had no clue of. It was pretty crazy.

Arden: I bet! Speaking of stories… this book is quite different from others you’ve published. Why did you take the slight turn in your writing?

L.P.: I wanted to write something clean so I could appeal to a different group of readers. Not to mention, It Must’ve Been the Mistletoe is a Christmas novel and it just wouldn’t work any other way. When I think of Christmas, I think of wholesome and sweet. I wanted my characters to enjoy each other in a fun-filled way with the snowball fights and snickerdoodles.
Arden: That’s really cool and speaks to your talent as a writer. You’ve published SO MANY books. If it’s possible to pick, what is your favorite book you have written?
L.P.: This is seriously a hard question. All of my books hold a special place in my heart. Can I maybe give you a few of my favorites and tell you why?
As of right now, It Must’ve Been the Mistletoe is my favorite. Maybe because it’s fresh on my mind, but mostly, because I love Christmas. It’s a magical story.
Meant for Me is one of my sexy romantic suspense novels. I love MMA fighting and it’s the first book where I put my male hero as an MMA fighter/undercover cop. The story is full of angst and action. I enjoyed writing it more than any other book. What really makes it special is that it’s the first book of mine to ever hit the USA Today bestsellers list. It’s the one book that’s changed my life.
Then we have, Love’s Second Chance. I based the story off of mine and my husband’s relationship. It’s OUR love story … just jazzed up a bit to make it more dramatic.
Arden: So, what’s up next for you?
L.P.: I am getting ready to start the next book in my Circle of Justice series, In the Crossfire. This series is about a group of vigilante assassins who hunt the dregs of society who escaped the justice system. Guess you can say after watching the news and seeing so many people get off easy from their crimes, I figured out a way to make them pay. I know that sounds intense, but I also add in the heavy romantic suspense. It all balances out. I get my love story and I punish a few criminals in the process.

Arden: Clearly, I know what I’m reading next. 🙂 Is there anything else you’d like my Arden’s Book Club readers to know?

L.P.: Just that I appreciate them taking the time to read this interview, and that I hope they have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.
***
I hope you do too! To help make it wonderful, L.P. and I are giving away an autographed copy of It Must’ve Been the Mistletoe to a lucky Arden’s Book Club reader. Here’s how you enter:
1. Like my pages on Instagram and Facebook. (Linked)
2. Like L.P.’s Instagram and Facebook. (Linked)
3. Remark DONE in the comment section.
4. Enter by 5 p.m. EST December 16, 2017.

Arden Recommends Monique McCullough’s Mr. Doodle and the Flying Emu & Color Me Georgi (interview included)

IMG_3680Books: Color Me Georgi and Mr. Doodle and the Flying Emu

Author: Monique McCullough

Genre: Children

Basic Description: For Color Me Georgi: Georgi is a sweet, playful flower who finds herself in the flowerbed without any colors. She has lots of friends, including Mrs. Sun and Mr. Ocean, who are willing to lend her some of their colors. But she needs your help to make it happen! See what unfolds, page by page, as children close their eyes and use their vivid imaginations to make Georgi a darling masterpiece!

For Mr. Doodle and the Flying Emu: Come along on this whimsical journey as Mr. Doodle reveals the mystery behind the flying emu. It is a page-turning adventure…can your imagination take you there? Join in this creative quest and you will learn the truth behind the flying emu!

Arden’s Thoughts: Finding the newest up-and-coming author is a thrill for book reviewers. Finding them in your backyard and knowing they’re a fellow Tar Heel is a thrill on thrill for me! When Monique McCullough reached out to me to discuss her books, I was so very thankful I said, “yes.” She’s a gem and I can’t wait for y’all to read these books and her many, many more to come! Check out my interview with her and see why I fell in love at first sight.

Of note: Monique is Australian. So, read her answers with your best Aussie accent!

Arden: Thanks for chatting with me today, Monique. I’ll start with my usual question, when did you decide to write and publish your own books?

Monique: I have always loved to read and write. I wrote articles for the local newspapers in high school and taught English in Indonesia, so I have had a long passion for literacy and education. When our children came along, I chose to give up my corporate career so I could stay home with them. I needed a creative outlet though! After reading hundreds of children’s books, my daughter and I started writing our own little stories. She, however, wanted to see them as a “real book” and not just on brown butcher’s paper! Fortunately, I have some friends in the publishing industry and so I was able to pick their brains and decide on the best path to take my scraps of paper and make them into a “real” book.

Arden: That’s so cool. In thinking about going from brown butcher paper to “real” books, what’s your favorite part about writing and illustrating? On that note, your least favorite part about it?

fullsizeoutput_275 (1)Monique: My favorite part is asking my daughter and her friends about the words and pictures. I love to listen to their big ideas and I really try to honor the brains of little people.

My least favorite part is that good things take time. I am a naturally impatient person (hence why I wasn’t prepared to wait around for years sending my books off to publisher’s haystacks!). It is really difficult to find enough time in the day to devote to writing, illustrating, cooking, cleaning, and loving on my little munchkins! The struggle to balance it all is a daily effort. Still, I think that is a powerful message in itself; find your passions, work hard, play hard. Prioritizing is hard, and some days we get it right and other days I fail miserably – but I always try to be grateful for the opportunity to fail.

Arden: Wow, Monique. That is a powerful message. Thank you for sharing it with us. Now, you’ve mentioned you include your children in the process. How does that work?

Monique: Well, it is a little like a corporate brainstorming session, but with Goldfish. We sit around and start talking about ideas and just begin doodling. We talk about characters and plot and side plots and morals and words. We just keep working on it – in the car, on the way to gymnastics, at the playground, in the bathtub. It is a very organic process in the beginning. Actually, Mr. Doodle and the Flying Emu was borne out of a National Geographic documentary we were watching one afternoon!

Once I get it in somewhat of a cohesive format, then we can start reading it and testing it out on the little people. Their questions and giggles really help guide the development process. I take my cues from them because they are my audience!

I must say, however, that it is my biggest kid who is the most helpful in the process – that’s my husband!

Arden: Hahaha, if you can get your hubby laughing then I’d say you’re on the right path for sure! I love it when fathers read to their children. So, after the writing process, you’re ready to be published. What’s your advice for others trying to get published?

Monique:  Firstly, children’s picture books are a whole other world. There is a massive amount of time that goes in to the architecture of a picture book – it is meticulous work that can be very frustrating and tedious. Someone told me that picture books were ten times the amount of work as a traditional book – I can believe it! Get ready to roll your sleeves up and get frustrated! Then it will be worth it!

Arden: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want Arden’s Book Club readers to know?

Monique: I try, where possible, to make these books environmentally friendly. These are, after all, children’s books and I want to make sure I am doing my little part to protect our earth for our kiddos! We try to do carbon offsets when shipping. We source local printers, and we try to use environmentally friendly papers and inks when the choice is available. We are proudly local, independent, and we are doing our best to be a good corporate citizen in our own little way. Also, 10% of the profits from Mr. Doodle will be donated to UNICEF.   

You can follow our journey on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads and sometimes we even pop onto Pinterest to share ideas.