Have the sins of the mother come upon the daughter?
Jasmine Larson Bush is finally living a drama-free life. She’s left her lying, cheating, stealing stripper days behind and is standing by her husband’s side as the first lady of one of the largest churches in New York City. The Bushes have been blessed with the best of everything—including two lovely children.
But just when Jasmine has committed her life completely to God, her daughter Jacqueline is kidnapped from a mall the day after Thanksgiving. The police and the church community join in the frantic search to find the four-year-old. As the days pass without any sign of her daughter, Jasmine begins to crack under the strain and turns to Brian Lewis, Jacqueline’s biological father, for solace.
Has Jasmine’s past finally caught up to her? Will her daughter be found or will Jasmine pay the ultimate price?
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About the Author
Victoria Christopher Murray is the author of more than twenty novels including: Greed; Envy; Lust; The Ex Files; Lady Jasmine; The Deal, the Dance, and the Devil; and Stand Your Ground, which was named a Library Journal Best Book of the Year. Winner of nine African American Literary Awards for Fiction and Author of the Year (Female), Murray is also a four-time NAACP Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Fiction. She splits her time between Los Angeles and Washington, DC. Visit her website at VictoriaChristopherMurray.com.
Read an Excerpt
Sins of the MotherA Novel
By Victoria Christopher Murray
TouchstoneCopyright © 2010 Victoria Christopher Murray
All right reserved.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Jasmine scooped her toddler into her arms. “You do love your mama, don't you?” She laughed.
Mae Frances rolled her eyes as Jasmine smothered her son's cheeks with kisses.
“Don't make no kind of sense, Jasmine Larson,” her best friend said. “Teaching that baby to say that.”
“What's wrong with him loving his mama?” But before Mae Frances could answer, Jasmine stood straight up and scanned the crowd that packed the new mall. In just seconds, her gaze locked on her daughter, crouched in front of the pet store window. “Jacqueline!”
The girl's brown curls bounced when she jumped up, startled, and skipped back to Jasmine and Mae Frances.
With a firm hand, Jasmine grasped her daughter's wrist. “I told you to stay where Nama and I could see you.”
Jacqueline bowed her head. “But Mama,” she sighed, “I could see you.”
“Well, I couldn't see you, so why don't you sit down for a moment and cool off,” Jasmine said as she wiped the thin line of perspiration that dampened her daughter's hairline.
“I'm not hot,” Jacqueline protested. It was the look on her mother's face that made Jacqueline wiggle onto the bench next to Mae Frances. With her eyes on Jasmine, she buried her head on the shoulder of the woman who, years before, had been nothing more than a friend of the family, but was now so close to the Bushes that Jacqueline thought of her as her grandmother. When Mae Frances put her arms around Jacqueline, the girl glared at Jasmine as if she never planned to love her again.
Jasmine shook her head, then her eyes widened when her rambunctious daughter rolled her eyes.
No, she didn't.
Jacqueline had never done that before, and Jasmine opened her mouth to scold her, then just as quickly changed her mind. When her daughter peeked back at her, Jasmine rolled her eyes. Jacqueline giggled, and Jasmine laughed, too. But when Jacqueline moved to get up again, Jasmine stared her back down.
Jacqueline pouted and bounced hard against the back of the bench, but the silent tantrum didn't faze Jasmine. She planned to let her four-year-old (or fourteen-year-old, depending on the day) sit and think about how she'd run off.
“Are you ready to go home?” Mae Frances grumbled.
As Christmas Muzak piped through speakers above, Jasmine realized this trip to the mall wasn't the best idea she'd ever had. But how could she have missed this day? The new Harlem mall had been open for only two weeks, and this was the first big shopping day of the season; she had to make her own contribution to Black Friday.
Now as she looked at Mae Frances and Jacquelinea set of ornery twins, with their arms folded and their lips poked outshe wished she had thought this all the way through. Because if she had, she would have come alone.
“I wanna go home, too!” Jacqueline exclaimed, as if she was in charge of something.
Looking at her son, Jasmine shook her head. “You don't want to go home, do you, Zaya?” she asked, calling him by the name that Jacqueline had given to him two years ago when he had been born. Hosea had been too difficult for her to say, and no one wanted to call him Junior.
“No, no, no!” Zaya followed his mother's lead before he toddled over to his sister. “Yaki, Yaki, Yaki!” He called her by his own made-up name.
Mae Frances sucked her teeth and tightened the collar of the thirty-five-year-old mink that she loved. “Don't make no kind of sense, the way you manipulate that boy.”
“He's my baby. He's supposed to be manipulated.”
“Get away from me, Zaya!” Jacqueline exclaimed, and pushed the toddler away.
“Don't do that to your brother,” Jasmine scolded.
Jacqueline stood up, put one hand on her side as if she had hips, and, with the other, squeezed her nose. “He! Stinks!”
Jasmine sniffed, then hoisted her son up into her arms. “Your sister's right.” She grabbed the diaper bag from the stroller and reached for Jacqueline's hand. “Come on, we've got to change Zaya's diaper.”
Jacqueline folded her arms and sat back down next to Mae Frances. “I don't wanna go.” With a pout, she pointed toward the pet store. “I wanna see the puppies.”
“We'll see the puppies after,” Jasmine said, still reaching for her daughter.
“Leave her with me.” Mae Frances put her arms around Jacqueline. “No need for her to have to go with you when I'm here.”
Jasmine's hesitation waned after just a moment. “Stay right there next to Nama,” she demanded sternly. “And then we'll go see the puppies, okay?”
Jacqueline nodded as she scooted back on the bench. With wide eyes and an even wider smile, she blew Jasmine a kiss. “I love you, Mama.”
Jasmine laughed. Her precious little girlalways the drama queen.
Inside the restroom, Jasmine twisted through the long line of waiting women, and as she made her way to the changing station, her cell phone rang. But just as she pulled her phone from her bag, it stopped.
She glanced at the screen. “That was your daddy,” she told her son as she laid him on his back.
He giggled and reached for her cell.
“No,” she said, taking it from his grasp.
His laughter stopped. His bottom lip trembled. His body began to shake. And before the first shriek came, the phone was back in Zaya's hands.
“Love Mama,” Zaya cooed as he pushed buttons.
Jasmine laughed. God had blessed her with a drama queen and a drama king.
That thought made her pause in wonder. Who would have ever thought that sheJasmine Cox Larson Bushwould end up in this place? Shethe ex-stripper, ex?man stealer, ex-liar, cheater, thief. The jealous girl who'd done everything she could to sabotage the success of her best friend, Kyla. The unsatisfied wife who'd badgered her first husband until he'd finally left her. The lonely woman who lived to tear husbands away from their wives. There was hardly a sin that she hadn't committed. But that life, those abominations, were far behind her.
Today, she was a proud wife and motherthe first lady of one of the most influential churches in the city. Today, her life was filled with leisureit was difficult to call the work she did as first lady and the time she spent with the Young Adults Ministry a job. Today, each of her needs and every one of her desires were met. And she had a Central Park South apartment, a closet full of endless racks of designer clothes, and an upcoming New Year's family vacation in Cannes to prove it.
This life was God's reward for her having turned away from her transgressions. As she glanced at her reflection in the mirror, her lips spread into a slow smile. Bountiful blessings. All she could say was, “Thank you, Father.”
Seconds later, Zaya was back on her hip, her cell was back in her bag, and she was back in the mall. But then, her steps became measured as she moved toward Mae Frances. Her friend's head was down as she pushed buttons on her cell.
Jasmine's voice was as deep as her frown as she yelled, “Mae Frances?”
She looked up. “Did you just call me?”
Jasmine let the diaper bag slip down her arm. “Where's Jacquie?”
Mae Frances waved her hands. “She's right over there. With the puppies. Did you just call me?”
Before Mae Frances had finished, Jasmine's eyes were searching the crowd. With Zaya still in her arms, she pushed through the mass of men and women, arms filled with packages, children close at their sides.
“Where's Jacquie?” The question trembled from her lips to a young boy in front of the pet store. “The little girl who was herewhere is she?”
His face was pressed against the glass as he answered, “She's gone.”
There was no time to question him further. A woman, two giant steps away, grabbed the boy's hand.
“Didn't I tell you not to talk to strangers?” the woman admonished as she dragged the boy from the window.
Jasmine's eyes were wide as she spun around, clutching Zaya to her chest, searching the space around her. It had been only a minute, but terror was already crawling up and down her skin.
“Jacquie!” she screamed through the holiday din.
She tried to keep herself in check as she gripped Zaya and barged through the pet store's doors. The stench of the animals did nothing to cover the fear that was already surging from her pores.
“Jacquie!” she shouted. She kept telling herself that this was nothing: Jacqueline had just wandered off.
Pressing up one aisle, then rushing down the next, she hunted through the crowd.
“Jacquie!” she yelled.
Jasmine grabbed a pink-apron-wearing teenager who was crouched down in front of the cages. “Please,” she said to the young man, obviously one of the store's employees. “Have you seen my daughter?”
The blond spiked-hair boy glanced at Jasmine and then looked around the store, his expression telling Jasmine that her question didn't make much sense to him. “There've been a lot of kids here today,” he answered before he returned to feeding the kittens.
“Jacquie!” she screamed one last time as she rushed back through the doors.
Outside, in the middle of the passing crowd, Jasmine turned slowly, exploring each face, searching every space.
Her distress went unnoticed; the holiday shoppers were buried under their own cares.
“Jacquie!” Now her heart banged against her chest.
Both she and Zaya were crying by the time she hurried back to the bench. In the eyes of the woman she called her friend, Jasmine saw the same unadulterated horror that was in her heart.
“Where's Jacquie?” she screamed at Mae Frances.
Mae Frances shook her head. “She . . . she was . . . right there,” she cried as she pointed back to the store.
But Jasmine didn't bother to turn around. She didn't need to look at the store or anywhere else in the mall. Because in the space inside of her where truth lay, she knew.
As “Joy to the World” squeaked out from the speakers above, Jasmine knew that her daughter was gone.
© 2010 Victoria Christopher Murray
PLEASE, GOD! PLEASE, GOD! PLEASE, God!
Jasmine clutched her now-sleeping son to her chest as she rocked back and forth on the bench.
Through eyes blurred with tears and terror, Jasmine glanced up and focused on the pair of blue-suited security guards.
“Your daughter is probably just lost,” the black security guard told her again. “Children wander off every day. We have officers searching the stores, but like I told you, it would be best if you came with us to the office.” His plea was the same as it had been just minutes ago. “It would be better to talk up there, away from this crowd.”
But just like the last time he'd said that, her head was shaking before he finished. “No,” Jasmine told him, her eyes still frantically scanning every passing faceas if the secret of her daughter's disappearance was hidden inside someone's expression. “I can't . . . because when Jacquie comes back . . . this is where . . . she'll look for me here.” She glanced at the store straight in front of her. “She'll come back to see her mommy. And the puppies.”
Jasmine and the guards exchanged glances, but she was the first to turn away. She had toshe couldn't bear to look into eyes that were filled with such sympathy.
A walkie-talkie crackled, and both of the guards turned away. Jasmine returned to her mantra, “Please, God! Please, God! Please, God!”
Over her shoulder, she heard soft sniffles, but she paid no attention to those cries. All she could think about were her babiesthe one she held and the one that they had to find.
“Please, God. Please, God. Please, God.”
“Okay, roger that.” Looking at her with an even deeper sadness, the guard said, “Mrs. Bush . . .”
She squeezed her son tighter.
“It really would be best if we took you to the office.”
“Maybe that's what we should do.”
For the first time since the guards had joined them, Jasmine turned to Mae Frances.
Tears had left streaks through the makeup that shellacked Mae Frances's face. She said softly, “Let's go upstairs, Jasmine. We have to do everything we can to help them find . . .”
The venom in Jasmine's eyes pushed Mae Frances two steps back. But before Jasmine could spew the poison that was in her heart, she heard another voice.
She whipped around and collapsed right into the thick arms of her husband.
“Hosea,” she cried. “They took my baby!”
“I'm here now,” he whispered as he pulled her down onto the bench and held her as tight as he could with their son in between them. “So, tell me . . .” he said to his wife, but his eyes blinked between Mae Frances and the guards.
He spoke with the calm that Jasmine was used to, but in his eyes, she saw something she'd never seen beforenot even when his father had been in a coma. Now she saw a new fear, a new horror. And that made her tremble more.
Placing his hands square on her shoulders, he asked, “What happened?”
The images scattered through her mind: Jacqueline in front of the store, Jacqueline blowing her a kiss, Jacqueline goneand hysteria rose within her. All she wanted to do was scream, cry, pass out, and stay unconscious until her baby came home. But she had to stay strong to find her child.
“I went to the bathroom to change Zaya,” she began, giving Hosea more details now than when she'd called him twenty minutes before. “I left Jacquie with”the name stuck in her throat“Mae Frances. But when I came back” Jasmine stopped. That was enough; he knew the rest.
“All right.” Hosea jumped up from the bench. “What's being done to find my daughter?” he demanded of the guards.
“Everyone in security is on it, Mr. Bush.” This time, it was the white guard who spoke. “What we want to do now is take Mrs. Bush and Mrs. Van Dorn upstairs to our offices. To get a formal statement. But I want to assure you that lost children are always found.”
Hosea nodded. “What about tapes?” he asked. “The mall is filled with cameras, right? We'll be able to see if she just wandered off.”
The guards nodded together. “The parking lots are covered, and we have a few throughout the mall. The stores are being contacted now, so that we can get their tapes.”
“Okay.” Hosea squared his shoulders and reached for Jasmine's hand. Helping her up from the bench, he said, “Go to the security office. Give them everything they need.”
Again, she shook her head. “But suppose Jacquie comes back here?” she asked through fresh tears.
Hosea turned to the guards. “Can one of you stay?” It was a question that sounded more like a demand.
“Yeah, I can, but it doesn't matter. We have guards throughout the whole mall. We'll find her.”
Hosea added, “Okay, then can you call for someone to escort my wife to the office.” Before they responded, he explained, “I want to walk through the mall myself with one of you.”
For the first time since this began, Jasmine felt hope. Her husband was here, taking charge. He was such a man of God. Surely he was praying. And surely God heard his prayers doubly.
Hosea directed, “Nama, go with Jasmine.”
Jasmine opened her mouth to protest, but then she pressed her trembling lips together and willed herself not to say anything about cavorting with the enemy. She needed to help Hosea stay focused.
He lifted Zaya from her arms. The tears that came to her eyes were old and new as she watched her husband gently kiss their son's forehead before he handed the little boy back to her. As a third guard joined them, Hosea hugged Jasmine.
In his arms, she didn't notice the Christmas crowd, didn't hear the Christmas music. Just imagined that in a few minutes, Hosea would come rushing into the security office carrying Jacqueline with him.
Then he pulled away and urged, “Go ahead. I'll be back soon.”
She nodded and followed the security officer, keeping her eyes away from Mae Frances, who was several paces behind.
She held on to good thoughts: she and Zaya waitingHosea bursting through the door holding Jacquelinethe four Bushes reunited, never to think about these horrible minutes again.
Just before she stepped into the elevator, Jasmine looked over her shoulder to the place where she'd stood with Hosea just a minute ago. The last place where she'd seen her daughter.
He was gone.
Panic surged through her veins. But then she took a calming breath. Hosea was safe; he could take care of himself. And he would find Jacqueline.
As the elevator doors closed, she began her mantra again. This time, it was a duet. Because as she said, “Please, God. Please, God. Please, God,” behind her, Mae Frances joined her in that same song.
© 2010 Victoria Christopher Murray
Excerpted from Sins of the Mother by Victoria Christopher Murray Copyright © 2010 by Victoria Christopher Murray. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for Sins of the Mother includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Victoria Christopher Murray. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
After years of lying, cheating, scheming and stealing, Jasmine Larson Bush has finally settled into a drama-free life as the first lady of one of the largest churches in New York City. She and her husband Hosea have been blessed with the best of everything and have two beautiful and happy children. But just when Jasmine thinks her troubles are over forever, her daughter Jacqueline is kidnapped at a mall in broad daylight. The police and the church community join in a frantic search to find the four-year-old, but as the days pass with no sign of her daughter, Jasmine begins to crack under the pressure. In her despair she turns to Brian Lewis, Jacqueline’s biological father, for solace. As her nerves and her marriage are stretched to the limit, Jasmine wonders if she is being punished for her past sins. Will she and her family pay the ultimate price?
Questions for Discussion
1. Reverend Bush tells Hosea: “Son, I told you before not to judge Jasmine and her grief. Maybe I should have reminded you not to judge yours either. You’re more action oriented—you take charge and do something. Jasmine is more introspective. She’s probably trying to figure out what’s happening to Jacquie every moment of every day. Neither of you is wrong; neither of you is right.” How are Jasmine and Hosea’s reactions to their tragedy each valuable? How might these reactions also be destructive?
2. How can loss create rifts between people? Consider some of the issues that Jasmine and Hosea may have had before that reappear as a result of Jacquie’s disappearance.
3. After Brian’s last visit to his therapist he decides not to return and tells Alexis he is “cured.” Do you think there is actually a cure for his problem? Why does he decide not to go back? His therapist warns him, “Be careful. I told you before, don’t make Alexis your new addiction.” Do you think Brian makes Alexis his new addiction, or is he simply expressing his love for her?
4. How would you describe Brian and Alexis’s relationship? Why does she forgive Brian after all he has put her through? Do you think she can really trust him again?
5. In Hosea’s first sermon after Jacqueline’s kidnapping, he discusses the issue of why bad things happen to good people. This is an issue that many people grapple with. How are you able to come to terms with bad things happening to good people and good things happening to bad people? How does Hosea’s faith help him through the situation?
6. How does Jacqueline’s kidnapping bring Brian closer to Alexis? How does it change them both?
7. Consider how Jasmine treated Mae Frances after the kidnapping. Do you think her behavior was justified? Was she too hard on Mae Frances?
8. When Jasmine visits City of Lights at Riverside Church she gets down on her knees to pray. “In the past, she’d knelt with her knees, even closed her eyes and lowered her head. But today, she was bowing her heart. For the first time.” What does this passage mean? How is this a transformative experience for Jasmine?
9. Reverend Bush tells Jasmine, “‘Thank Him for his grace, but thank Him even more for His mercy.’ His words reminded her of the first sermon she’d ever heard him preach, when he’d taught the difference between grace and mercy. She hadn’t truly understood then, but in the years that she’d been part of the Bush family, she understood now.” What does this passage mean? What is the difference between grace and mercy?
10. Do you agree with Hosea’s decision to take the law into his own hands? Do you agree with the sentence he received? How might his behavior have been justified? Or was it inexcusable? How does his behavior in court help his case?
11. When Jasmine sees Brian in the courthouse “there was nothing there, not a bit of care; certainly nothing that came close to lust or love. She couldn’t believe it—then, just shrugged it off. She’d been sick out of her mind—that’s why she’d turned to Brian. And when Jacqueline came home, so did her good sense.” Based on her history with Brian, do you think her feelings were really simply a matter of losing her senses? Why else might Jasmine have developed feelings for Brian again?
12. Do you think that the relationship Brian and Alexis end up in is a healthy one, particularly after his struggle with addiction? Where do you see their relationship going?
13. What do you think lies ahead for the Bush family, considering the horrific circumstances of Jacquie’s kidnapping? At the end of the novel Jasmine is thinking “not about endings, but what was surely their tremendous new beginning.” What are some of the positive and negative aspects of the new beginning the Bush family is about to face?
14. What are the main themes of this novel? Did you find relevance to your own life in these themes?
15. Share some of your favorite scenes and dialogue from the novel.
16. If you’ve read previous books featuring Jasmine, were you able to sympathize with her more or less in this book? How has she changed? What do you like and dislike most about her?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Visit the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at www.missingkids.com. Organize a volunteer outing at a call center, or collect funds for a donation to the center. The website includes information on how to donate.
2. Check out Murray’s other Jasmine novels, Lady Jasmine, Too Little Too Late, and A Sin and a Shame. If you love Murray’s work, pick up books by her contemporaries ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Kimberla Lawson Roby.
3. Visit the author’s website at www.victoriachristophermurray.com. The site contains fascinating biographical information on Murray and includes dates of her upcoming tours and speaking engagements.
A Conversation with Victoria Christopher Murray
1. Kidnapping and child abuse can be difficult to read about. Was this a difficult book to write, particularly the parts about what happened to Jacqueline? Did anything in particular inspire you to explore this topic?
This was a tough, tough book to write, but it’s a subject that has intrigued me for a long time. I lived in New York in the late 70’s or early 80’s when a young boy by the name of Etan Patz disappeared on the first day of school. It was the first time any of us had heard about a child disappearing. (Unfortunately, it’s all too common now.) But, I remember praying for days and weeks for this young boy, and especially for his family. I couldn’t imagine how his mother put her head down every night. And since he was never found, I couldn’t imagine how she was able to move forward with her life. It was a subject that I wanted to explore.
2. After writing so many books about Jasmine, she must be very close to your heart. How did you come up with this character? Is she based on anyone you know? Do you take any of your characters from real life?
Interestingly enough, Jasmine is not at all close to my heart. I never wanted to write even a second book about her and definitely not a third or fourth. Like most of the readers, Jasmine got on my nerves – a lot! She’s not based on anyone I know, but as I continued her story through the many novels, people told me that they often saw themselves in her. That’s a hard thing to admit, but I do believe there are parts (small parts) of Jasmine in all of us – a woman who is just trying to do good, but is always dragged back (by her own behavior) to what’s familiar. And no, I don’t take characters from real life. Are you kidding me? My imagination is so much more interesting than my friends.
3. What are you working on now? Are more Jasmine books in the works?
I thought I made it perfectly clear at the end of Sins of the Mother that there will be no more Jasmine books! She is over. At least in her own stand-alone books. I am thinking about doing collaborations with a couple of other authors and Jasmine may show up in those books. But she will never be the major character in my books again. I am so glad to be working on and discovering new characters. My next book, The Cougar, introduces the readers to characters they’ve never met before. And that’s all I’m going to say.
4. What do you like to do in your free time? Is there anything that particularly inspires your creativity?
Free time??? What’s that??? Writing one book a year doesn’t leave much free time. But, I do make time for working out – I used to run marathons, but when I had my hip replaced last year, my surgeon told me my running days are over. I love, love, love to read. I’m one of those writers who’s blessed to be able to read while writing – reading doesn’t affect my writing at all. Besides that, I enjoy spending time with family and friends...sounds boring, huh?
5. How do you balance your writing career and your personal life?
That’s a great question! I was just telling a friend today that I don’t do a good job of balancing my career and my personal life. Unfortunately for me, I haven’t been able to support myself on writing my novels alone. So, I have to do many other things – and hence...no free time and very little personal life. I’m hoping one day this will change. Maybe when I’m sixty or seventy...or ninety...
6. Do you hash out your entire plot before writing your novels or do you just start writing and see what happens?
I used to just start writing, but because I’m trying to write more than one novel a year, I now work from an outline. With an outline, most of the plot is hashed out, but most times, the characters will surprise me and change course. I always let the characters do their thing. For example, the ending of Sins of the Mother is totally different from what I’d planned – the characters took over and I let them.
7. What are some of your favorite books? Your favorite authors?
My all time favorite author is Richard Wright. Some of my favorite contemporary books are: Child of God by Lolita Files, Freshwater Road by Denise Nicholas, Abraham’s Well by Sharon Ewell Foster – just to name a few. I love books that entertain and teach me something at the same time.
8. What are you reading now? Do you have any recommendations?
I’m reading Mistress of the Game – the last Sidney Sheldon book. Last year was a great reading year for me – The Devil is a Li, by ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Be Careful What You Pray For by Kimberla Lawson Roby (she let me read the manuscript!), What Doesn’t Kill You by Virginia Deberry and Donna Grant, The Warmest December by Bernice McFadden, After by Marita Golden, Sins of the Father by Angela Benson, Orange Mint and Honey by Carleen Brice, and Gather Together in My Name by Tracy Price Thompson. Those are just a few of the best. (I told you that I love to read!)
9. You do a lot of touring and motivational speaking. What do you enjoy most about these engagements? Do you connect with your readers? Do you have any favorite moments from your tours?
I really, really, really love touring. I love the chance to talk to talk to readers about my stories. I love the fact that I have to tell readers over and over that the characters and stories aren’t real! LOL! I enjoy speaking as much as I enjoy writing.
10. Who among your contemporaries do you admire?
I really admire Eric Dickey because he takes the craft of writing to a new level with every book he writes. I read his books to be entertained, but I also read his books to learn. No one teaches me and inspires me with their words the way Eric does. I also admire Kimberla Lawson Roby because she connects better with her readers than any writer I know. She’s balanced her career fabulously – the right amount of creativity with business. Truly left brain/right brain and because of that, she has built an outstanding career. Her skills at writing and business puts the MBA I earned from a top twenty school to shame!
11. Do you have a favorite of your own books?
Nope! Okay, well, maybe JOY.....
12. You write YA fiction and adult fiction. Do you approach the two types of writing differently? Do you enjoy one more than the other?
Yes, I approach the writing differently. I write all of my teen books from a first person point of view. That allows me to get into the head of teenagers, to actually become the teenager. My adult books have all been written in third person – at least until this point. And, I don’t enjoy writing one more than the other – not at all. Writing for teens and writing for adults allows me the opportunity to satisfy my desire to write for everyone. There are other genres I’d love to write in – I’d love to write a non-fiction book about surviving my husband’s death and even a children’s book, but I’m not able to do that yet because of contractual obligations. Hopefully one day I will be able to write all the books inside of me.
13. What is the single most important thing you hope that readers take from Sins of the Mother?
Wow! You know, I never sit down and say, “What is the message I want people to take away?” I truly just write the story and then the message shows up. And what’s great is that the message is different for each reader. I guess what I want readers to get from all of my novels is that in every situation, God will carry you through.