Interview with Renata and Tony

Renate Blake and Antonio (Tony) DeLuca are the main characters in Pesto and Potholes, an inspirational contemporary romance releasing April 24, 2015. We sat down the couple together to ask a few questions about the book and their journey.

PestoandPotholes2What did you think when you first met each other? 

Tony: I thought she was cute but she was definitely a mystery. So quiet and shy. I think if she could have hidden behind Stephanie she would have.

Renata: I really didn’t want to meet anyone. I don’t like meeting strangers–

Tony: And none come stranger than me. (he laughs).

Renata: (playfully slapping his knee). In spite of all that, I thought he was cute. He had nice shoes.

Tony: Shoes? Really? That’s what you remember from our first meeting?

Renata: (shrugs) She asked . . .

What was your first date like? 

Tony: (closes eyes and groans)

Renata: Did we have a first date?

Tony: I think that bonfire thing . . .

Renata: Oh. That. I’d rather not talk about it.

Tony: Me either. I felt so horrible about that night.

Renata: I wasn’t your fault. You really were my hero that night.

Tony: Next question?

When did you first kiss? 

Tony: (blushes) I don’t kiss and tell.

Renata: (giggles)

I heard something about ninjas. What’s that about?

Tony: She has hidden talents.

Renata: You’ll have to read the book to find out.

What are potholes? 

Renata: They are the difficulties in life we fall into. Sometimes it is deep pain we carry with us. Physically or emotionally and it can take time to get out of them and healing is not a straight upward trajectory, but can be kind of rocky.

Tony: Mary Beth told you about that?

Renate: Right. She was a huge blessing in helping me on my way. After all I had been through . . .

Tony: (grabs her hand). You’ve come a long way.

Tell me about Orchard Hill Church.

Renata: A community of imperfect people who are seeking God and filled with grace and forgiveness. Home. My new family.

Tony: I think I had taken for granted all that Orchard Hill is since I’ve been attending a long time. Seeing it from Renata’s perspective though, I’m beyond blessed to be part of such a great church that’s willing to help people grow spiritually and emotionally to be all God has called them to be. It goes beyond Sunday morning into deeper relationships that take place at other times. I wouldn’t have been able to grow up like I have without my accountability group.

Renata: I had been let down by “church” in the past and I’m grateful my roomie encouraged me to try again at Orchard Hill. It wasn’t easy but I’m so glad I stuck around. God is doing great things in the lives of people at this church.

Tony: Amen.

What’s next for you both?

Renata: I don’t want to give spoilers away. Guess you’ll have to read Susan’s book.

Tony: (grabs Renata’s hand). We’re in a good place now. I’m grateful for the journey God took us on.

Renata: (leans over to kiss Tony’s cheek).

Tony: (big grin)

Thanks for taking the time to be with us! Check out Pesto and Potholes for their full story. 

New Pesto facebook with updated pics

Beast of Stratton (Book Review)

BeastofStratton_eBookRenee Blare has written a novella of Beauty and the Beast with a modern twist in her debut offering, Best of Stratton. Miles is struggling with intense physical and emotional pain as a result of injuries suffered in the war. He’s let his hair grow, making him look like the “beast of Stratton” everyone thinks he is. He was seeking treatment when an emergency called him back to his very successful business. Once there he encounters the daughter of his best friend. But is Aimee a spy like many suspect her father is, or can she be trusted to help ferret out the truth? Who has sold out his company? And can Miles overcome enough of the pain of his past to ditch his monster façade and the kind of man Aimee needs?

This  novella is a wild ride. Author Renee Blare writes in a cryptic manner, not giving all the clues away to the mystery and fills the story with compassion and suspense. A delightful read.

Interview with Antonio DeLuca

Tony DeLuca from Pesto and Potholes

Tony DeLuca from Pesto and Potholes

I’d like you to meet Antonio “Tony” DeLuca, whose story is featured in the novel Pesto and Potholes, releasing soon!

Tony, how do you feel about your story being told?

I think the book is really more Ren’s story than mine. I’m a little embarrassed to have my failures broadcast to the world like this, but Susan and Renata convinced me that God could use that struggle to help others. In the end it’s all good so I guess I can’t complain.

What do you hope will be the outcome of your story being shared in this way?

I hope men will be inspired to do several things. 1) Treat women with respect. It’s really worth it. 2) Seek accountability. Not a popular concept in our world right now but I don’t know where I would be without the godly men I’ve been meeting with regularly, and 3) Be involved in a good church.

Tell us about Renata.

Whoa. Where do I begin. She’s hot, she’s modest, she’s got a heart that is even more beautiful than her outward appearance because she loves Jesus. I’m so grateful God brought her into my life even though the beginning of our relationship is shadowed in pain.

Do you still battle ninjas?

I never battled them. It was all Renata. She’s amazing. Her compassion and her strength astound me.

What’s up next for you?

Stephanie gets her story told and I’m glad I made a new friend in Roberto. I admire their courage in sharing their journey. I was honored to be there for them both in the process.

Thank you, Tony, or taking the time out of your crazy schedule. One last question though. What’s your favorite song right now?

Anything Ren sings. *laughs* Okay, this is old school. But when I think of my relationship with Renata I think of “Everything I do (I do it for you)” by Bryan Adams. There are some spiritual themes in there although the metaphor is not complete. Love, sacrifice . . . it’s just like Jesus and us, but also the way our love for someone else should be. You can click below but you’ll have to go to YouTube to watch it there.

Thank you, Tony, or taking the time out of your crazy schedule.

No problem. Glad to help. I hope people enjoy the story. I’m kind of partial to the ending myself. *winks*  Susan just told me that the release day might be pushed off for a little bit, but trust me, it will be worth the wait.

Pesto facebook header 2 PicMonkey Collage

Who’s Your Sam?

A few weeks back, I did a talk at our local ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) chapter and challenged my fellow writers with this final question: Who is your Sam?

Let me give you some background.

Life is tough. Duh. You already knew that, didn’t you?

Being a Christian can be a challenging road to walk. Oh, you knew that too? Sorry. Just wanting to establish the facts first.

We need to be immersed in God’s truth, studying His Word and listening to the Holy Spirit as He leads and guides us. This communication however, can be disconnected because of sin. The remedy is simple. We repent, accept Christ’s forgiveness purchased for us at the cross and walk forward His power to accomplish the tasks He has given.

You with me so far?

Life is hard. We need God.

But that’s not all. We need others around us. Let me show you an example:

Now, if you are not familiar with J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, let me give you an overview. Frodo has a ring of power that needs to be destroyed in Mordor. He leaves home, the shire, with three other Hobbits. One is Sam. They end up in Rivendale and become a fellowship of nine all bent on completing this task of destroying the ring. Four hobbits, a wizard, two men, an elf and a dwarf. By the end of that first movie, the wizard is presumed killed and another man is dead and the fellowship is broken up. In spite of that, as the trilogy moves on, Sam is Frodo’s constant companion, protector and in many ways, his salvation. While there are many heroes in the story, it is Sam, a secondary character, who truly gives his all to his friend.

In the hard journey of life and the calling that God can place on our lives, we all need a few Sam’s around us. Some might be a little more distant and still helping us fight on toward our goal, with words of encouragement, a listening ear and prayer. And others will walk more closely, willing to tackle us when we are going to venture into sin and challenge us when we are lost in lies.

We also need to endeavor to be this for other people as well.

So . . . in the story God is writing in your life . . . who is your Sam? You really should have more than one. Frodo had eight who supported him on the journey and one died to protect him. The rest risked death time and again to see the goal accomplished and save Middle Earth.

On the flip side. Who are you a Sam for? Whose life are you speaking truth into, praying for, encouraging. For instance, how about our pastors? They are on the forefront of spiritual battle and need a fellowship of warriors behind them as much as we do if not more.

Let us not forget that God is writing a great story in your life and it is the gospel many people may read before they ever pick up the Bible. And we have some input into the journey by our choices, good or bad. Our mistakes, our failures as well as our successes and how we respond say a lot to others about our relationship wtih God. And much of that can depend on the strength and support of the Sam’s around us.

Tell me about a Sam in your life. 

Interview with Renata Blake

Renata from Pesto and Potholes

Renata from Pesto and Potholes

Meet Renata Blake. Her story is featured in the novel Pesto and Potholes releasing March 27, 2015.

Renata, how do you feel about your story being told?

Initially I wasn’t too happy about it. I’ve had plenty of bad press in the past and the last thing I need is my family getting wind of this book. They already hate me enough . . . and they don’t come out looking too good in the retelling. But it is real. This is my life. All the ugliness and the beauty.

What do you hope will be the outcome of your story being shared in this way?

That those who are hurting would find hope. As the book cover says, “The road to healing is filled with potholes.” Also that if someone isn’t involved in a good church, that they would seek one out. The relationships I made at Orchard Hill Church were a significant part of my healing process.

PestoandPotholes2Tell us about Antonio.

*giggles* Tony is sweet and handsome, but more than that, he always respected me. That was so new for me to experience. I heard about that book and movie that came out, Fifty Shades of Grey. That’s not love. Trust me, no woman wants a man who is going to control and abuse her. But Tony, he’s one of the good guys and he loves Jesus which I think made a huge difference.

Do you like Italian food?

I’ve always loved Italian food . . . but I have a far deeper appreciation for it now. *she winks*.

Do you still battle ninjas?

(sly grin). I haven’t had the occasion to lately, but suspect I’m still capable.

What’s up next for you?

I’m excited that my roommate Stephanie gets a chance to tell her amazing story next. I don’t know if I could have made it this far without her love and support and I’m glad I got to return the favor when life became difficult for her. I don’t want to give any spoilers away.

One last question. What’s your favorite song right now?

Oh, wow. I love so many but the one that resonates most with my soul is Broken Hallelujah by the Afters.  If I were a songwriter, I could have written that song. Hallelujah means to “God be praised,” and I’m grateful that even when I was weak and broken He could still hear and accept my shattered heart. I look back now in such gratitude for all He’s done. May all the praise and glory be to Him.

Thank you, Renata, or taking the time out of your crazy schedule.

Thank you for sharing about Susan’s book. I’m so grateful she had the courage to tell my story. Maybe others will find healing and hope in Jesus because of it. Pesto facebook header 2 PicMonkey Collage

 

 

 

Accept this Dandelion (Book Review)

AcceptThisDandelionBrooke Williams has taken a national icon, The Bachelor and served it up with a twist in her delightful romantic comedy, Accept this Dandelion.

Both Renee Lockhart and Ben McConnell go into this localized version of the dating game with hidden motives. Renee wants to boost her popularity as a radio show host, potentially winning the morning co-anchor spot at her station. And she was entered by her co-workers so it’s more a matter of making the best of an uncomfortable situation. Especially when she discovers the identity of the bachelor.

Ben McConnell is wealthy and a popular man on the social circuit with a new girl on his arm at every event. But he secretly longs for a woman who will love him for who he really is, not for what his money can buy. He hopes that among the hopeful women vying or his hand, he can find one who is real and honest.

When mishap after mishap occurs, Renee is amazed that as the least likely candidate for Ben’s hand (and weed) she continues to stay in the competition. But her motives change as time goes on and she gets to know the real Ben.

This is a story that will have you smiling from page to page, and maybe groaning in sympathy for the challenges that Renee seems to find herself in on the way to falling in love. You might even bust out laughing a time or two. Williams has written a fresh and thoroughly enjoyable romp of a romance.

Legitimate Lies (Book Review)

legit lies ebookLegitimate Lies is the sequel to Hush in the Storm by suspense author and abolitionist activist Julie B. Cosgrove. She has a unique story to tell that pulls you into the web of deceit and treachery of the human slave trade that takes place around the world. While Hush is centered in the United States, this book takes the reader to Great Britain because this is an international problem.

Suspense is paramount as Jen’s cover in Witness Protection is blown by the Tom, the man she loves. She is whisked away to Great Britain to undertake a new identity. When her smooth talking criminal husband hunts her and kidnapps her, she fights to hold on to truth in the web of lies keeping her prisoner. Can she escape? And where is Tom? Will he find her? Is there any hope they could be free from the lies, free from her marriage to a criminal mastermind and free from the sins of her past? Only God can lead the way to that as well as providing perhaps healing and hope for others caught in her husband’s web of slavery.

This book is hard to put down. Fast paced and filled with action and drama as well as heart-rending romance, it is sure to satisfy any reader while drawing attention to the very real evils that are currently at play in our world.