Archive for February, 2015

Author Interview – T.I. LOWE

I’d like to give a big welcome to T.I. LOWE to my blog.

 t.i. lowe

rem: Thank you for joining us today, T.I. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

T.I. I’m a country gal from a little farm town in South Carolina- born and raised. I ventured out to Tennessee for college, but home called me to get back there after. My nosy neighbors are goats, chickens, and a few ponies.
rem: I’m not a native (born in Mississippi) and 16 years in Colorado, but after 26 years in SC, it’s my home too! So, at what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?

T.I. I’ve loved reading and creating stories all the way back to my middle school years. I used to keep a spiral bound notebook for scribbling down my stories. I was hooked on the Sweet Valley High books back then.
rem: I remember Sweet Valley High stories! Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?

T.I. I love the whimsical magic Sarah Addison Allen creates in her stories. I enjoy Janet Evanovich’s crazy whirlwind mysteries of Stephanie Plum. I feel inspired after reading the good ole boys Charles Martin creates in his books. I appreciate and can get lost in the Bronte worlds. I aspire to reach readers the way Karen Kingsbury and Francine Rivers accomplish. Really, I could write a book on all the authors I adore. I’m an avid reader.

rem: I’m always hard pressed to choose one single favorite author – or book – or song… LOL Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

T.I. I daydream a lot and the stories come to life there. Hot topics intrigue me. I see domestic abuse victims, rape victims, people battling substance abuse problems and I image the effects on their lives from these serious issues. My stories are born in the midst of this.
rem: Pretty much the same for me – storied “come” to me in random moments. What is your Writing Routine?

T.I. My routine is having no routine. When a story begins nagging me, I have to let it free—middle of the night or in the midst of some chaos.
rem: Seems us SC gals have a lot in common! What are your Top Writing Tips?

T.I. Write what inspires you and not try to write what you think will please others. Your words are a very personal expression. Let them out and don’t tiptoe due to the critics.

rem: Great Tips! Very true words indeed! Tell us a little about your writing journey.

T.I. I’ve always wrote, either poems, church plays, school paper. But I never gave the dream a true chance until the last few years. I wrote my first novel as a creative outlet during my mom’s battle with cancer. She made me promise to share it with the world. Unfortunately she passed away before I fulfilled the promise. Four months after she died, I kept that promise.


rem: So sorry about your mom. I know she’s pleased and honored that you kept your promise. What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

T.I. I love seeing a story unfold. And get absolutely giddy when in the midst, the story rebels and changes. I love that creative release! And of course the fans are awesome and so supportive. I’ve gained an abundance of new friends nationwide in the past year.


rem: What is the hardest aspect of being a writer?

T.I. The critics. People seem to enjoy being particularly nasty. I’ve learned quickly to not take those personally. I do appreciate constructive criticism and feel it’s helping me mature in my writing.


rem: Constructive criticism can be a mixed bag, but you are so right; when we keep it in perspective it is a positive force that helps us more than not. In Lulu’s Café, you write about extreme abuse. What piqued your interest in this tough topic?


T.I. I observed some women very dear to my heart struggle to free themselves from abusive relationships. I didn’t understand because I have been blessed with a gentle loving man, but I wanted to. So this story was born with me trying to understand as well as giving them hope and strength to seek out a better life.

rem: It is horrific indeed, and I know even if in some small way, your stories help by shedding light on the issue. If you could choose to be a character in a book, who would it be?

T.I. Who wouldn’t want to be married to the sexiest most kindhearted Rock Star, Dillon Bleu from Goodbyes and Second Chances?!?! I would be totally fine being Jillian Bleu!


rem: Haven’t met him yet! But he’s on my TBR list for sure! LOL Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

T.I. Lulu, hands down. She rocks! That lady is the lady I want to become—strong in faith, wisdom beyond measure, and giving heart.
rem: Dynamite in small packages, right? Tell us a little about your latest book?

T.I. My latest book is Goodbyes and Second Chances. This book I wanted to explore the topic of self-worth. Society seems to think that is measure with thick wallets and social titles. But it’s not. It’s measured by your heart! Dillon Bleu gets that and needs to show the love of his life, Jillian, that point as they try to give their relationship and second chance.

rem: As many years as I’ve struggled with my own self-worth, I can testify to that! What is your next project?

T.I. My next book to be released is Coming Home Again. It is the first book in a series I’ve written. Three books are complete so far and are awaiting patiently for their turn in the edit chair. I’m so excited to share these, but am practicing patience. I am currently journaling three other book ideas-developing the characters and such.


rem: Ah, yes, that virtue patience! I look forward to this next set of stories. I’m sure they will be just as powerful as Lulu’s! One last question: what does “T.I.” stand for? Inquiring mind – mine! – wants to know!

T.I. Those are my initials. T – Tonya and I – Inez. J

rem: Beautiful name! T.I, thank you so much for joining us today! It has been my pleasure to have you here!

“I’m just an ole country girl from the boonies of coastal South Carolina.”

Ms. Lowe attended Coastal Carolina University and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Majored in Psychology but only excelled in my Creative Writing Classes. Go figure!

She is the bestselling author of Lulu’s Cafe and Goodbyes and Second Chances,

and is currently completing my series – Coming Home Again:

  • Coming Home Again
  • Julia’s Journey 
  • A Discovery of Hope

Ms. Lowe focuses on southern women’s fiction. She feels led to broach some serious issues that plague us all, but in an entertaining and readable way.

She is a member of the ACFW. http://www.acfw.com/

You can find her at




“I am running with patience the race set before me, looking to Jesus, my author, and finisher of my faith.”

#tilowe, #SCcountrygal, #luluscafe, #goodbyesandsecondchances, #cominghomeagain

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According to http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vigil

vigil – noun vig·il \ˈvi-jəl\

  • a – a watch formerly kept on the night before a religious feast with prayer or other devotions; b – the day before a religious feast observed as a day of spiritual preparation; c – evening or nocturnal devotions or prayers
  • the act of keeping awake at times when sleep is customary; also: a period of waekfulness
  • an act or period of watching or surveillance: watch <kept vigil at her bedside>

 the vigil

Some vows should never be made. Some should never have to be made. When Cheryl Broussard broke her second cardinal vow, she had no choice but to break the first: fleeing the abusive relationship, she returns to her hometown of Bijou Bayou.

The twists and turns in this story are as swirling as the bayou they are written upon. Unexpected eddies and swirls keep the reader turning page after page after page.

As Cheryl strives to attain some degree of normalcy and balance in her life, life continues to throw her off balance. She secures a position as a Hospice nurse, and her cantankerous– and lonely – dying patient has her read old love letters. As she reads, Cheryl learns of a secret long kept, long hidden and finds herself riddled with the mystery of her client’s secret.

As Cheryl reads the secret in those letters, she also runs headlong into skeletons in her own family closet. Faced with the knowledge that her past was built on a lie, she is forced to embrace the uncomfortable truth. As her family seems to crumble apart, Cheryl is forced to embrace a new future and face the God she abandoned years ago.

Ms. Merritt weaves a colorful tapestry with story threads that criss-cross on every page. An unexpected pattern of vibrant colors, Vigil keeps watch for questions answered, mysteries solved, and a past as knotted as Spanish moss to be unraveled. As the clock ticks for Cheryl’s patient, so too, does she keep vigil over family members – the lies of the past unraveling and a heartbreaking calamity.

Will Cheryl take up the tapestry that is her life? Will she unravel the snarls and knots that lie in her heart? Can she embrace the colorful pattern God has for her life?

The substance of Ms. Merritt’s characters, the genuineness of their personalities and their life circumstances made them easy to know and to read. I sympathized with Cheryl’s struggles [indeed, I could identify with some of it.] My heart broke with her, I laughed with her and I cried with her. I appreciate the writing style of Ms. Merritt; it makes the reading a pleasure and I look forward to reading all of this author’s works.

I was given a copy of this book in return for my honest review.


Marian Pellegrin Merritt writes stories that blend her love of the mountains with her deep Southern roots. Her tagline, Where the Bayous Meets the Mountains, grew from both loves. She is the author of, Deep Freeze Christmas, A Cajun Christmas Miracle, and Southern Fried Christmas.

Her latest release, a Women’s Fiction novel, The Vigil, can be purchased at online retailers.

Marian is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Women’s Fiction Writers Association.

She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy and an accounting certificate from the University of South Alabama. This Louisiana native writes from the Northwest Colorado home she shares with her husband and a very spoiled Labradoodle.

Connect with her through:





Marian P. Merritt’s Readers Group


#marianpellegrinmerritt, #thevigil, #Louisianabayou, #brokenvows, #loveletters

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                          ten and a half

            Generously sprinkled with personal anecdotes and Insights as well as Scriptures, 10 ½ Sketches is delightful and entertaining. Ms. Harris’ writing style is sharp and witty. From “How Not to Kidnap a Cat” to “A Word to the Wise” from “Moving that Dream” to “Promote Yourself” I was entertained with her stories.

As a cat fancier myself, Chapter 1 in particular appealed to me. Never having lived on a farm, however, I learned a few things about my favored felines.

Ms. Harris takes these real-life scenarios and in true parable form, finds truths buried in them. Nuggets of eternity and of our spiritual walk buried right there in ordinary everyday situations and circumstances. She makes her readers laugh at foibles any of us could fall into, and moves us with the depth of the point she is making in any of her tales.

My favorite of her sketches has to be her final one. The part toward the end about the Canadian penny, the confluence of events that led to writing her story. It’s the culmination of her previous Insight, “A dream in the mind is intangible. Steps must be taken for it to become a physical representation. Setting goals and acting on them make a dream come alive.” Or as Scripture says it, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5 and “A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9.

Seems that’s what Ms. Harris’ intent is in all her sketches. To illustrate and demonstrate the plans of the LORD. Right where we are.

I was given a copy of this book in return for my honest review.

 susan harris

Susan Harris is a dreamer, speaker, and educator. She is a former teacher and transferred those skills from the classroom into organizations. Now she continues to inspire and educate through the medium of formal writing. Creating memories, preserving the past, and learning new things have been her lifelong passions, and her prolific and childlike imagination brings freshness to mundane topics. Susan’s first book is Golden Apples in Silver Settings: Words that have inspired audiences in snowy and sunny lands. Shortly after, her words captured the journey of the retired Canadian penny in two books: Little Copper Pennies: Celebrating the life of the Canadian one-cent piece (1858-2013) and Little Copper Pennies for Kids (both published by Borealis Press.) In her most recent book, Remarkably Ordinary: 20 Reflections on Living Intentionally Right Where You Are, she challenges the notion that a person needs bright lights or golden spoons to live more productively. Susan obtained her Bachelor of Science in Management Studies from the University of the West Indies and went on to complete a post-graduate Diploma in Education. She earned a Certificate in Theology from the West Indies School of Theology, and a Certificate in Writing from the Institute of Literature in Connecticut. She held the designation of Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) in Canada during 2008-2014 and continues to live by its ethics. Born and raised on the beautiful island of Trinidad, she now makes her home on the prairies of Saskatchewan with her husband, daughter, and the gregarious cats.

Contact Susan Harris at http://susanharris.ca

Find Susan on Facebook at https:facebook.com/SusanHarrisCanadianAuthor

Follow Susan on Twitter @SusanHarris20

#susanharris, #tenandahalfsketches, #hownottokidnapacat, #promoteyourself

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ABC’s of Thanks

A few weeks ago I was reading another blog [incidentally written by another robin] and she listed things in her life she is thankful for. Now, the way my brain works, I immediately was challenged to do the same. And the way my [ahem] discipline works, I did not immediately follow through.

Give thanks with a grateful heart, He tells us. And a merry, and are I say, thankful heart, doeth good like a medicine! I know, I’ve taken a dose or two. Giving thanks places our focus on Him, rather than on ourselves, or even what we are thankful for. And when we keep Him in mind, we can hear His voice, we are sensitive to His nudge and direction. We feel His embrace. And maybe that’s the greatest thankful of all, His presence.

Here, for your benefit – ‘cause I have the benefit of these blessings every day – is my list:

A – Amethyst; also Art

B – Bible, and Boldness

C – Cinnamon! and of course, Chocolate!

D – Devotional time with Father

E – Epiphany Revelations


F – Family and Friends; Faith

G – Grandgirls

H – Home

I – Identity (see Epiphany); also Irises

J – Journey (see Identity


K – Kitty Cats

L – Learning and Laughter

M – Music

N – New beginnings

O – Opportunities, God given = Divine favor

P – Purple! also [we are a] Peculiar People; also Piano


Q – Queen Anne’s Lace [special time and place]

R – robin birds of course!

S – Scripture! also Symphony

T – Trees; and Trivia – factoids that may or may not be useless except in context of my story!

U – Unsung heroes


V – Victory

W – Writing and Words

X – eXamples of Godly character

Y – YES and AMEN

Z – Zoe – life


NOTE: unless otherwise notated, all images are found on http://publicdomainpictures.net/ or http://pixabay.com/.

Also, I did not find an image to convey Zoe Life so I went with some whimsy – a zebra!

Now, what is your Alphabet of Thanks? Leave a comment and let us know!

#givethanks, #Godisgood, #whatsonyourlist, #alphabetofthanks, #merryheart, #thankfulheart

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 uncharted redemption

The Land is still primitive and simple, its people still content. And they still live minimal lives by the standards of the 21st century. But it’s not the 21st century, the year is 2025. And The Land is still isolated from the world, and its turmoil that swirls around them. No one had left The Land since the ancestors arrived there seven generations ago. Nor had anyone else discovered the island.

Two years have passed since the first installment in this series which introduces us to The Land Uncharted. Ejected from his aircraft during a military assignment gone bad, Lieutenant Connor Bradshaw has settled into life in this hidden land, and married. Now, the reader visits the story of Levi Colburn.

Levi’s life is shaped – and tormented – by two wrenching life events: the brutal death of his mother when he was a lad, and later, the rejection of the woman he loves. He can neither embrace his father – for not protecting his mother – nor Mandy Foster for spurning his love for her, not even in friendship.

Events collide when the unthinkable happens to Mandy. Levi, despite her seeming indifference to him, is driven to rescue her. And discovers some things along the way.

 Author Photo KBK

Keely Brooke Keith has once again woven elements together into a gripping tale. Mandy carries a secret that drives her every action – including her rejection of Levi – and is resigned to live her life without her dream. Ms. Keith builds up Levi’s every justification in feeling as he does – then breaks them down, eroding his reasons away til they crumble. Evil threatens the town of Good Springs in this story, and Ms. Keith’s characters rise to the defense and protection of their way of life.

Once again a delightful read. I was eager to check back on the Colburn family. Uncharted Redemption pulled me easily in to the story line as I identified with Mandy, and also with Levi. Ms. Keith has maintained the standard set with The Land Uncharted, and I expect nothing less with the third in this series.


#keelybrookekeith, #unchartedredemption, #theunchartedseries, #thelanduncharted, #unchartedinheritance

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Hey, ever’body!!! I’m B-A-A-A-CK!!! AGAIN!!!


Didja miss me??? After my blog-intense month of October, I took November as a sabbatical. Also intent on writing for NaNoWriMo…. #yadayadayada

This happened in July also, miss a couple of weeks of regular posting and suddenly it’s been weeks since I’ve posted at all, let alone regular!! So, I’m, er, uh – trying to get back in the saddle…..

Meaning, post regular posts. On Fridays. Every Friday. Starting today.

And today I’ve a little something special to share with you.


TESSA will be FREE for one day only!!

 slide 3

What day you ask?

Next Thursday.

That’s the 12th.

Why the 12th, you ask?

(good question)

‘cause IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!!!

Who wants to sing Happy Birthday to me!!!

#MYBIRTHDAYSCOMING, #mygifttoyou, #Tessaisfree, #onedayonly, #HAPPYBIRTHDAYTOME

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I’d like to give a big welcome to TESSA AFSHAR to my blog. Tessa, thank you for joining me today.

tessa afshar

TESSA AFSHAR: Robin, I am delighted to spend time with you and your readers. Thank you so much for inviting me to be a guest on your blog.

rem: Tessa, have become one of my most favorite authors, I’m excited to have you here. Let’s get started! Who is your favourite hero of fiction?

TESSA AFSHAR: With six million other women, I would probably have to choose Mr. Darcy. He starts off distant and at times even unpleasant. But he morphs into his true self, becoming humble, protective, and loving. That shift is very appealing.
rem: I’m with you, Tessa, ‘specially if you’re talking about Colin Firth’s portrayal! mmm… If you could choose to be a character in a book, who would it be?

TESSA AFSHAR: Probably Jane Eyre, just because that is my favorite book. And because she is witty and strong when you least expect her to be.
rem: Good choice, and good reasons! Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

TESSA AFSHAR: I imagine one of the Narnia Chronicles or perhaps Jane Eyre.
rem: Also good choices – totally with you on that as well! Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

TESSA AFSHAR: Bible characters that inspire me emotionally and spiritually, as well as my personal journals.

rem: Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?

TESSA AFSHAR: I don’t stick to one genre, but read a variety of books. I have been reading a lot of YA lately. C. S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles never seem to get old. I love everything by Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen. Charles Dickens has the best descriptions of any writer I know. One of my favorite books is To Kill a Mocking Bird. But sadly Harper Lee never wrote another book.

rem: I’m sure you’ve seen the news by now, that Ms. Harper is, indeed releasing the sequel, Go Set a Watchman! It is expected out in July! Tell us a little about your current project.

TESSA AFSHAR: I am thrilled to be working with Tyndale Publishing for the first time. They represent many legendary authors including Francine Rivers and Joel Rosenberg. Instead of the Old Testament, I am writing a New Testament story based on the woman with the issue of blood. The Bible does not tell us anything about her other than the fact that she was sick for twelve years, and lost all her money looking for a cure. So I got to make up her whole life before that. It has been great fun. I have another hundred pages to write in a tight deadline. So I would appreciate your prayers.

rem: This is what I love about Biblical, and historical fiction – studying and research with due diligence, toward accuracy – making up stuff!! It’s what we do!! And prayers, absolutely! What advice, do you have for others aspiring to publish a book of their own/follow their dream?

TESSA AFSHAR: First, for me, writing is not a hobby. It’s not even a job. It is a call. I believe I was created to do this. The Bible says that God created us in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us (Ephesians 2:10). I believe, in my life, part of that work is writing. So what shall I say when things become hard or seem untenable? Shall I walk away from God’s purpose? Shall I ditch my destiny just because it’s hard? If writing is a call in your life, you must persevere.


Second, I have writing partners whose opinion I trust. If they felt I was wasting my time over a certain project, they would tell me. Just as they wouldn’t let me walk out the door with toilet paper stuck to my skirt, they wouldn’t let me work on a book that had nothing to offer. Try to find writing partners who are a good fit for you.

Writing makes me myopic. I can’t tell good from bad in my own work when I am too close to it. I tend to have a negative perception of my writing. It’s easy for me to think doom and gloom about my work. So I trust my critique partners to help me discern whether my perceptions of failure are accurate. Make sure that you surround yourself with honest encouragement.

Third, I take a break. If I am under a deadline, that break might be for a few hours. If I have the luxury, I step away for a week in order to gain a fresh perspective.

Most of us struggle with some degree of discouragement. You don’t win victory by never having such feelings, but by resisting them. By overcoming and fulfilling your destiny.


rem: Great advice! What is your writing routine?

TESSA AFSHAR: Sadly, I don’t have one! With a very demanding full-time job, I write when I can. I like writing on my dining room table, because I can spread out with all the necessary research books around me. Of course, this is not particularly good for actually eating on my dining room table.
rem: I spread out also, or “nest” as I call it, on the couch in the living room. TV? What TV? What are your top writing tips?

TESSA AFSHAR: Dream big. Hone your craft. Love the characters you choose. Be emotionally honest. Write because you love telling stories, not because you want to be recognized or admired or make money.

rem: Check, check, check, and check! Tell us a little about your writing journey.

TESSA AFSHAR: I really only became a writer when I promised God that I would finish what I started! It took me a long time to get to that point of obedience. After that, things moved rapidly. Story in hand, I found an agent and within a few months Pearl in the Sand went into print.

rem: Within a few months! That’s awesome! That’s God!! What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

TESSA AFSHAR: Hearing how the stories impact readers.

rem: On your website, you give the “about me” basics – but leave us dangling with “a story for another time…” Can you share your conversion to Christianity and the impact is has had on your life? What do you remember about your Muslim upbringing, however nominal?
TESSA AFSHAR: (Robin, in order to answer all these questions I would have to write a book! So I have just shared the beginning of my Christian journey with your readers here.)

rem: LOL

TESSA AFSHAR: I was twenty-five when I first began my journey of faith. Although I had lived in the Christian West my whole adult life, I had never heard the gospel. I was going through a particularly difficult season in my life. One night, I had a vivid dream. In my dream I was on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. From a distance I saw a man walking toward me and I knew instantly that this was Jesus. As He drew closer, I felt very disappointed. You see, He was not handsome by any stretch of the imagination! The only Jesus I had seen up to this point was portrayed by a couple of very good-looking actors in TV movies. I thought, This is Jesus?

As He came closer I realized, Of course this is Jesus, for in His eyes I saw such depth of love and power that I almost fell to my knees. He asked me to follow Him and I did. In the dream not only did I know Him as Jesus, but I also knew beyond the slightest shadow of doubt that He was the Son of God, very God of very God, and unlike anyone else in the whole universe.

Shortly after that dream, friends began to ask me to go to church and Bible study. It was as though God Himself first opened a door in my inmost being and then He arranged for me to find out the facts! I simply fell in love with Jesus. There’s no one like Him.

rem: Tessa, your story gives me chills! And I confess, brought tears to mine eyes! How did you go from reading Jane Austen to writing Biblical fiction?  What was the impetus for your writing?

TESSA AFSHAR: The Bible is the greatest book ever written. Something about the stories it contains has managed to grab the human heart for thousands of years. More often than not, God chooses deeply flawed men and women through whom He fulfills His purposes. That’s why so many of us can relate to them! A broken woman who rises above her circumstances to make the right choice, to cling to God, and to ultimately overcome is an inescapably powerful character to read about. I relate to her brokenness and am inspired by her victory. In my experience, all of us struggle with various kinds of insecurities. We doubt ourselves. We even doubt God. But in God’s hands these fissures that run through the very fabric of our being can turn into glory, because the light of His countenance can shine through them. This is why I like writing Biblical fiction. That doesn’t mean I have stopped liking Jane Austen!


rem: Tessa, thank you so much for joining us today! It has been my pleasure to have you here!

tessa afshar books

You can connect with Ms. Afshar:






#tessaafshar, #pearlinthesand, #Biblicalfiction, #harvestofrubies, #harvestofgold, #inthefieldofgrace, #colinfirth

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