A “spotlight” is defined as “intense scrutiny or public attention.” “A lamp projecting a narrow, intense beam of light directly onto a place or person.” Or in my case, possibly a great author. Come back regularly to check out my latest Spotlight!
Let’s meet Sarah!
Sarah, thank you for joining me. I’m excited to introduce you to my readers and to get to know you a bit. I have a few questions for you before we get into the information on your book. So here we go!
If you had to give up snacks or music while writing, which would you choose?
This is a tricky one, because in addition to being a writer, I’ve recorded four instrumental piano albums, so music is a definite passion…but if given the choice between music and snacks while writing, I would have to keep the snacks. My waistline, however, might prefer the music.
What is your favorite time of day to write, and why?
I am a natural night owl, so I tend to write in the evening after my family has gone to bed. With four young children at home, finding quiet time to write is a bit of a challenge, and I’m not quite disciplined enough to wake up at 5 AM to write before everyone else is awake.
I like to joke that once my kids are all back in school (we’ve been virtual for the last year) I’ll be able to write from 9AM-2PM instead of 9PM-2AM, but for now I try to squeeze in writing time where I can.
Does writing your book bring healing to you, personally?
When my daughter was first diagnosed with hydrocephalus and Gorlin Syndrome, the whole idea of raising a child with an uncertain future felt overwhelming. I wanted to do everything I could to protect her, keep her safe, and give her the best possible future.
When you’re facing something like a genetic syndrome or a chronic medical condition, there’s a lot that’s completely out of your control, but I’ve come to realize that our story can help provide hope to other families walking down this same special needs path.
Writing The Wonderful Way You Are helped to bring a purpose to some painful moments on our journey. When I hear from families who have been impacted by the book, it helps me recognize that even our most difficult seasons can be used for good.
Why did you write this book?
When my daughter was preparing to enter preschool, I had fears that were common to a lot of parents: I wondered, “Will the other children be kind to my child?” For parents raising a child with physical or neurological differences, there’s always that fear that they will be teased or treated unfairly because of their condition or diagnosis…because, let’s face it, sometimes kids are downright mean.
So for me, The Wonderful Way You Are, was a way to remind my daughter that is wonderfully made and that it’s OK to be different from the crowd – that she is dearly and completely loved.
I also thought it was important for children without disabilities or medical conditions to see representations of these kids in order to spark conversations in the classroom and in the home.
If you could write anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
When I was in college, I studied abroad at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland. My apartment was just around the corner from Edinburgh Castle. I used to take my textbooks and assignments and work in the castle courtyard. It was pretty much the coolest thing ever.
Sarah, thank you for sharing your heart with us today. As the mother of a child born with a heart defect I can really relate, as I’m sure many of my readers can. Now let’s learn about your beautiful book!
About the Book
Book: The Wonderful Way You Are
Author: Sarah E. Brooks
Genre: Children’s Non-fiction Picture Book (age 3-7)
Release date: October 10, 2020
Every child deserves to feel fully loved, fully seen, and fully known.
We all long to feel accepted and loved. Our special needs children are no different. Growing up with a disability or chronic medical condition can create a unique set of challenges and may leave a child asking questions like:
“Why am I the way I am?”
“Is there anyone else out there like me?”
“Where do I belong?”
“Is it OK if I don’t look, think, or move like those around me?”
Based on real special needs children, the book’s vivid illustrations and rhyming text help children, with a variety of medical conditions, see their story reflected on the page, because every child deserves to see their story told.
Unlike other books that focus on a single condition, this book highlights a variety of children with different complex needs.
Some of the conditions included:
Wheelchairs and Mobility Aids
When special needs children know they are wonderful, not in spite of their differences, but because of them, they are equipped to not just survive, but thrive.
Click here to get your copy!
About the Author
Sarah Elizabeth Brooks is a special needs mom to a warrior princess and three fantastic sons. When she’s not writing or recording instrumental piano albums, you can find her dodging Mt. Laundry to sneak away with a cup of hot tea, some dark chocolate, and a good book.
More from Sarah
I was always that awkward kid at recess who opted to sit on a bench with a book. Not because I was antisocial, but because I loved being able to experience new worlds and adventures through the pages of a book. As I grew, that love of reading stayed with me, and it’s a pastime that I hope to pass on to my own children.
While, I always knew that I wanted to write a book one day, a rhyming picture book about special needs kids was not on my radar…that is until my youngest daughter was born. At five-months-old, she faced her first brain surgery, with a second brain surgery following two months later.
When we received her diagnosis of Gorlin Syndrome, I went into mama research mode. I wanted to do everything I could to help keep her safe and prepare her for the future. As my daughter prepared to enter a preschool for children with developmental disabilities, I wondered how others would treat her.
The Wonderful Way You Are is a love letter from a parent (or grandparent) to the child they love. It acknowledges some of the unique challenges that can come with being different from those around you, while reinforcing the truth that we all have a unique gift to share with the world.
My hope and prayer is that this book will be a blessing to families with children of all abilities, that it will open up conversations about difference, and encourage and equip children to know that they are wonderful, exactly the way they are.
Thanks for taking the time to join me on this journey!
For Him and My Family, May 19
Inklings and notions, May 20
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 21
Texas Book-aholic, May 22
Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, May 23
Locks, Hooks and Books, May 24
Library Lady’s Kid Lit, May 25
A Baker’s Perspective, May 26
deb’s Book Review, May 28
Beauty in the Binding, May 29 (Author Interview)
cats in the cradle blog, May 29
A Modern Day Fairy Tale, May 30
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 31
Vicky Sluiter, June 1 (Author Interview)
Mary Hake, June 1
To celebrate her tour, Sarah is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon Gift Card and an autographed copy of The Wonderful Way You Are!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
Jaycee Weaver lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her amazing husband, three daughters, two crazy shih-tzus, and a dwarf rabbit. When she’s not writing, she’s probably in pursuit of her 90 million other hobbies or shuttling the kids around. Jaycee loves to read multiple genres, drink too much coffee, sing, take landscape and floral photos, sew, cook, bake, and craft nearly anything. She considers herself a recovering perfectionist and occasional hot mess. She does her best to live her faith in action, being open, honest, and real; letting God be Lord over the good, the bad, and the ugly even when it’s hard.
Twisting a Tale!
Retelling classic fairy tales can be quite a challenge, especially when a notorious story is only about a page and a half long. Such was the case when I finally settled on The Frog Prince for my contemporary Christian romance novella twist in the just-released Once Upon a Summer collection.
If you aren’t familiar with the tale, it can pretty much be summed up like this:
- Spoiled princess plays with her prized golden ball at a pond every day. Ball falls in, she has a dramatic hissy fit.
- A frog—who in truth is an enchanted prince—agrees to retrieve ball in exchange for her friendship.
- Princess ditches the frog.
- Frog tracks her down and she’s forced to fulfill her promise.
- Snotty princess is so irritated at having to be near the frog she literally throws him at the wall. (Though in some versions she actually does allow him to sleep on her pillow and in others she kisses him goodnight.)
- Her outburst turns him back into a prince.
- For some unknown reason, the poor frog falls in love with the brat. (In case you can’t tell, I wasn’t terribly impressed with her.)
- She agrees to marry him, though why he wants her I still don’t know.
- His servant Henry learns his master’s enchantment is over and the iron bands placed around his heart to keep it from breaking fall off.
- Everybody’s happy.
I know. Say what?! How on earth was I able to bring that into a modern setting to fit within the other amazing stories in the collection? I mean, Toni Shiloh’s Beauty and the Beast retelling is spot on and thoroughly enchanting. Teresa Tysinger’s Gwen and the Three Dates is an excellent homage to Goldilocks and the Three Bears. And Andrea Boyd’s version of Rapunzel? Seriously ingenious and adorable.
I was so stuck, let me tell you. The only thing I knew for sure was that I’d fallen in love with the Reyes family from A Splash of Love in 2019’s Once Upon a Christmas and wanted my newest hero to be Derek’s younger brother, Jaime.
After a serious brainstorming session with my awesome aforementioned writing friends (plus the incredible and funny Mikal Dawn), I finally had an outline.
- Spoiled diva reality star Charlotte Lavigne flees Hollywood after a full-scale hissy fit.
- She runs into former costar JT Rana*, who offers her a place to hide out with his family in New Mexico until things blow over.
- JT Rana, whose real name is Jaime Reyes**, left California after their teen drama was cancelled and lives in anonymity running a food-based charity.
- Charlotte manages to fall into the river which leads to the pair striking a bargain.
- And… then what?
Unlike the Grimm’s tale, I wanted to redeem the bratty princess and give the pair a better reason to fall in love and discover their HEA than someone getting thrown at the wall. I mean, why would a princess kiss a frog? Why would the frog kiss such a beast? Both seemed pretty unkissable to me, which is where my title came from.
Enter a cast of side characters who stir the plot and spur our leading characters to dig a little deeper (no pun intended, Disney, since Princess and the Frog is based on E.D. Baker’s The Frog Princess, an entirely different story unrelated to Grimm’s). The women in Jaime’s family have a profound influence on Charlotte and working with Jaime opens her eyes to the world beyond her pampered existence. Her own mother causes some drama as well because every fairy tale needs a dead father and wicked mother or stepmother, right? Ha ha!
Jaime couldn’t exactly be perfect either, so he’s got to get over some of his rather sticky, warty pride and let go of the past before he can discover the best partner for his future.
All in all, I hope you’ll find I did justice to the original tale while updating it for the modern contemporary Christian romance genre. It was so much fun to write, and I can’t wait to revisit the Reyes family at least one more time!
Meet Toni Shiloh!
Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and multi-published Christian contemporary romance author. She writes to bring God glory and to learn more about His goodness. Her novels, Grace Restored, was a 2019 Holt Medallion finalist, Risking Love a 2020 Selah Award finalist, and The Truth About Fame a 2021 Holt Medallion finalist.
A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and of the Virginia Chapter, Toni seeks to encourage authors in the writing industry. She loves connecting with readers and authors alike via social media. You can learn more about her writing at http://tonishiloh.com.
Once Upon a Summer
An Ever After Summer by Toni Shiloh, is a contemporary retelling of Beauty and the Beast, featured in the anthology collection below.
From the back cover:
Embrace the enchantment of summer with these contemporary twists on timeless tales.
A New Beginning — Who is she? Acacia Martin raised by an impostor mom serving a prison sentence for her sins, or Jasmine Callahan abducted at birth from a family she’s yet to meet? Luckily, she has Drake to help her untangle the mess that is her life. Will he ensnare her he art in the process?
An Ever After Summer — The employees of In a Bind are terrified of Jean-Luc Thibodeaux, so Bellamy Larson hops on a plane to France to deal with the beastly client. Yet once she arrives, she’s convinced he merely needs a friend. Then her heart begins to want ever after, not just one summer.
Gwen and the Three Dates — Life isn’t a romantic movie, but Gwen Lochs is determined to find her leading man. When she joins a cheesy dating site, Gwen agrees to just three dates. Can Ben Smith watch his best friend and soulmate find someone else? A romantic comedy about searching for that just-right love.
Unkissable — Reality diva Charlotte Lavigne’s on-camera meltdown reminds former teen-TV prince Jaime Reyes exactly why he left Hollywood ten years ago. A chance encounter leads to a bargain that transforms them both. When it’s time to face her past, will their rediscovered love be strong enough to build a future together?
Let these four sweet contemporary Christian romances take you away this summer.
Releasing May 25, 2021.
Toni, we’d love it if you would tell us a little about your story!
My story, An Ever After Summer, is a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Bellamy is tasked with organizing Jean-Luc Thibodeaux’s château library. It’s set in France over the summer and brings in all the things I love about the story. A surly hero, a kind heroine, and a cast that adds depth to the story.
What is your writing process like?
I’m a total pantser and do not use an outline to start the story. I start with an idea and from there, I spend time with the characters. Get to know them, what they look like, what makes them tick, you know the standard questions. Once I feel I know them, I start writing the story and see where it takes me.
What would be the verse that fits your story and why?
Matthew 28:20, “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (NJV) is the verse that most fits the story. Jean-Luc fills abandoned after losing his wife and walked away from his faith. Bell showed him that God never left him alone.
What’s a normal writing day like for you?
I do some admin type work in the morning for a couple of hours while my kids start distance learning. Then I write at least an hour before lunch, break, and then write until I hit my word goal. If I meet it and still have time leftover to write, I’ll exceed it for those days when life throws everything at me.
Who would you cast to play the characters in your book?
For An Ever After Summer, I pictured Seal for Jean-Luc and DeWanda Wise for Bellamy Larson.
The Silver Shadow Epic Book Launch
About the Book
Book: The Silver Shadow
Author: Liz Tolsma
Genre: Christian Historical/Suspense
Release date: May 2021
A Shadowy Figure Is Intent on Harming Denver’s Women
Book 11 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History
Denver of 1900 is still a dangerous place to be following the silver crash of 1893. And of out of the dark comes a shadow intent on harming women. Ambitious young Denver newspaper reporter Polly Blythe is searching for the big story that’s going to launch her career. On Friday evening, August 24, 1900, she gets her break when two women are cracked over the head within a two-minute walk of each other. But policeman Edwin Timmer thwarts Polly’s ideas of a serial criminal. . .until the shadowy figure strikes again. Will the reporter and the policeman team up to find the culprit before he strikes too close for comfort?
One Friday, August 24, 1900
What is this?” Balding Joe Ward, his light-colored hair curling over his ears, smacked his copy of the Denver Post against his desk. A whiff of newsprint filled the city editor’s office.
A headache started at the base of Polly Blythe’s neck and stretched up and over until her temples throbbed. The click-clack of typewriters behind her as her fellow reporters wrote their newspaperstories didn’t help at all. “My article?”
“Yes, your article.” The middle-aged Mr. Ward came to his feet and stared down at Polly.
She hunched over. “Is there something wrong?”“
Wrong? You’re asking what’s wrong? Everything.” He drew out the last word.
“What do you mean by everything?”
“It’s facts. Nothing but the facts.”
“Well, I mean, Mrs. Pettigrew sent me the information about her daughter, so I wrote my articleabout her engagement from that.”
Mr. Ward slapped his wide forehead. “Mrs. Pettigrew is as dull as they come. Your article matches the woman well. But there are rumors about the haste of the wedding. You should have included that. We want sensational. Attention-grabbing. Articles that will leave the entire city buzzing.” He gestured wide, almost knocking over his coffee cup. “We want people to have to buy the Post to find out all there is to find out. Mr. Tammen and Mr. Bonfils would not be pleased with this. Not at all.
”Under the weight of Mr. Ward’s glare, Polly sagged. “Did you want me to lie about Miss Pettigrew?”
“There’s a difference between lying and embellishing. Learning to walk that line is what makes or breaks a reporter. That’s why I don’t hire anyone who hasn’t completed school or who hasn’t worked for a publication before.”
Would you like to read more excerpts?? Check these out!
Excerpt Two: https://beckiebythebook.com/2021/04/12/book-launch-the-silver-shadow/
Excerpt Three: https://janemouttet.wordpress.com/2021/04/12/epic-book-launch-the-silver-shadow-excerpt-3/
Excerpt Four: http://www.simpleharvestreads.com/posts/the-silver-shadow-book-excerpt/
Excerpt Five: https://abakersperspective.com/the-silver-shadow-by-liz-tolsma/
Excerpt Six: https://litteraegaudium.wordpress.com/2021/04/10/the-silver-shadow-epic-book-launch/
Excerpt Seven: https://www.susankbeatty.com/silver-shadow/
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Liz Tolsma is the author of several WWII novels, romantic suspense novels, prairie romance novellas, and an Amish romance. She is a popular speaker and an editor and resides next to a Wisconsin farm field with her husband and their youngest daughter. Her son is a US Marine, and her oldest daughter is a college student. Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. Please visit her website at http://www.liztolsma.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter (@LizTolsma), Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. She is also the host of the Christian Historical Fiction Talk podcast.