1. How long have you actually been a writer?
I have been a writer since I was a little girl—my parents still laugh about the opera (libretto and music) I wrote as an eight-year-old. As a high school English teacher to students with significant learning differences, I teach literature and writing; that means I think about how to make words work for diverse audiences of differing abilities. I turned to writing fiction in a serious way when I turned fifty, and during the next decade, I published some nonfiction and short stories, as well as writing for various blogs. On my sixtieth birthday, almost to the day, Anaiah offered me the contract for Season of Hope.
2. Season of Hope released this week.
Can you tell us what it’s about? Season of Hope is a story of restored hope for Claudia who is raising her half-sisters while running a little corner store in a tough working-class neighborhood of Philadelphia. Across the street is Nick, a novice pastor, who is struggling to establish himself at an urban mission. The romance brings them into a Godly relationship that inspires their community after a crisis.
3. What was your inspiration for writing this book?
I was inspired by those I met during my volunteer work at the Norristown Salvation Army Family Shelter, and by my former students from that busy neighborhood. I wanted to give that urban setting a Christmas gift in the form of Christian storytelling.
4. Tell us why we’ll love Season of Hope.
I hope you’ll love Claudia, who has worked so bravely to raise her beloved half-sisters, and enjoy seeing her transformation from a tired girl who grits her teeth and keeps going to a woman who thrives in God’s love and Nick’s. I’m fond of Pastor Nick, too; he makes a few poor starts but eventually he embraces the roles and opportunities God has for him and the urban mission he leads. And I secretly wish I could be the matchmaking Marie, the mission’s “mom;” she’s got a wonderful sense of humor and nudges (firmly) to keep the young people on the right path.
5. What’s your favorite scene from the book?
The proposal scene is sweet (and funny!), so of course, that’s a favorite. But when the neighborhood comes together after the crisis wreck’s Claudia’s store, I always get a little sniffly. What is sweeter than people in a community helping and supporting one another?
6. What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
I have two words of advice for aspiring authors. First, keep writing. I’ve written over 300,000 words; of those perhaps 67,000 have been published. Second, find a critique group you love and work with them faithfully. For ten years, I’ve critiqued with a group sponsored by Penn Writers, primarily Gretchen, Sara, Erica, and Miranda; they keep me from giving up and help me improve.
7. What has been your favorite part of the publishing and/or writing process?
Telling my eighty-six year old parents that Season of Hope was dedicated to them. They’d been waiting since I was eight! On a more serious note, the best part of the publishing experience for Season of Hope was working with editors KaraLeigh Miller and Cimone Watson to improve my manuscript.
8. Can you tell us three things about you that not a lot of people know?
1. I am a reasonable cook of foods from the English Renaissance.
2. I love science fiction, both classic print works by Heinlein, PKD, etc. and contemporary TV reboots like Captain Picard and the Tenth Doctor.
3. I have traveled to 48 of the 50 states, (We’ll be there soon, North and South Dakota!)
The Christmas lights in the mission’s front window are burning a little dim. So is Pastor Nick Mayfield’s hope. Managing a down-on-its-luck mission in a tough neighborhood in Philadelphia isn’t easy, and not for the first time, he questions his decision to leave a promising law career to follow his calling.
Across the street, Claudia Delacorte works day and night in her abusive stepfather’s store. She’ll do anything to assure her beloved half-sisters have a happy and safe future, even sacrifice her own happiness. So when the new pastor shows interest in her, she scoffs at his naïve overtures—she doesn’t have time for love. Or Christmas.
But when a series of crimes throw the neighborhood into turmoil, Claudia becomes an easy target. During a robbery gone horribly wrong, Nick and Claudia must work together to save her sisters, the store, and each other. Will this tragedy restore hope to their community? Or will they lose everything they’ve fought so hard to keep?