Welcome, T. L. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
My first book, Shattered Rose, was probably the closest I ever have been to a character. The lead female suffers from a poor body image and makes mistakes and choices based on those insecurities. I, too, had a long battle with learning to love myself and accepting that Christ chose me, imperfections and all. That was a huge victory for me. My hope is that it will be for other women as well.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I’m not naturally quirky, but I am surrounded by craziness from my husband and three children. They make me more fun and less serious, so singing “Let it go” at the top of my lungs with my daughter is up there.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
In November of 2012, I hit a point of frustration with the book market. I thoroughly enjoy Contemporary Romance and found that the chasm between Christian and mainstream romances was so huge that I wasn’t satisfied with either. At the same time, I wanted to send a message to young girls that Christ is the only one who can heal the hurts in their life. The path grew from there. Write a crossover romance that has a little heat but still shows a greater message.
The response to my first work was so positive that I decided to write another, and another. The rest is history.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I read a wide range of fiction from Christian to mainstream, paranormal to historical. My favorite remains contemporary romance, but mostly I love a book with strong characters and a heart-pounding plot that leave you in awe when the book is closed.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I just make sure I take a little time for myself each day, whether that means writing or reading or just enjoying a good show. I try to keep it all in perspective. We are a very blessed nation.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I try to pick names that match their personalities. I also like to choose names that are common. In Shattered Rose, Avery is the girl next door with a heart of gold. Jake is the heartthrob playboy, and Parker is the stable, kindhearted Christian.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I’ve had several moms email me about giving my books to their teenage daughters. They said that it made their girls want to talk to God more. They also said it opened dialogue between the two of them as they discussed the issues that were written about in my books. That truly is the greatest outcome of this journey.
Yes, it is. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I have no idea, but if I had to choose, I would pick a horse. I’d love to be outside grazing all day and still have the freedom to run like the wind.
What is your favorite food?
Anything pasta with lots of cream sauce.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I am a storyteller and love picturing the scenes in my head and putting them on paper. As my journey has progressed, I’ve learned more about being a craftsman and using language and structure to enhance the story. It’s the technical polishing that is the most challenging for me. But, I’ve surrounded myself with some amazing writers who are eager to share their wisdom.
Tell us about the featured book.
Shattered Rose is the first book in the Winsor Series, which is a series about healing and redemption. The series includes three stand-alone novels, each featuring different main characters, but has a story thread that’s woven throughout. The series is complete and can be found on Amazon.
Shattered Rose is told in first person from Avery Nichol’s point of view. She is in her second year at
and ready to tackle the world. To her delight, she is able to get a room in
University Apartments where she meets her new roommate, Issy. That move will
ultimately change the course of her life. Winsor University
Avery is the average, every day girl. She’s smart, shy, and also suffers from extreme self-esteem issues. When she looks in the mirror, she still sees the fat girl from middle school, who was teased and tormented by her peers. So when Issy’s cousin, Jake, suddenly takes an interest in her, Avery falls hard and fast. The problem is that Jake is so broken and wounded by his own past that he walks away, shattering Avery’s heart.
Broken and lost, Avery meets Parker, and soon she begins to see herself differently. The wounds that were once so deep finally begin to heal. But just when Avery starts to feel whole again, she faces the impossible truth. Jake never really left.
This book is more than just a romance. It’s a love story between Avery and herself as she learns that her imperfections are exactly what make her so beautiful to God.
Shattered Rose has 130 five-star reviews on Amazon.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Nothing made sense; nothing was in focus. I sat down, desperate for the pain to stop. I didn’t know who I was anymore. Everything I once valued and held true, I had discarded without any regard for the consequences.
I could sense people around me, some even staring in my direction as I sat frozen to the bench, but I didn’t care.
The numbness was welcome. Maybe it would calm my shaking body or reach my mind, consumed still with thoughts of him. Thoughts trapped in permanent rewind, reminding me over and over again of how much I failed.
There was music playing around me, and I tried to get my ears to focus on it, to hear anything that might help me stay above the gripping, smothering nothingness that was everywhere around me.
How did I get to this point? How did I let the chains get so tight that they were crippling every part of my body, dragging me further and further into this pit?
Screaming replaced the numbness. It roared in my head, begging me to let out its fury. But I just sat there, unable to move, trapped in a silent prison of my own making.
The truth glared at me, mocking me for denying it for so long. I was living a lie, existing in a shell of self-delusion. Tears like fire raced down my cheeks, provoking me with each drop.
I had become nothing…and he knew it.
The air was getting thicker, the heaviness starting to choke me. Just breathe…in and out…just breathe.
The bench shifted slightly and a warm hand covered mine. Looking up through my tears, I saw warmth and compassion in the eyes of a stranger.
My surroundings slowly came into focus, my ears awakened to the sounds around me.
“Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
The message rolled around in my head and suddenly, deep down, a spark ignited. I had forgotten the feeling as it had been so long since I’d felt anything other than despair.
Hope, just a glimmer, but hope all the same.
How can readers find you on the Internet?I am a social media nutcase. Visit my webpage at http://tlgray.com. I’m also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tlgraybooks. Twitter @tlgraybooks, Instagram and Pinterest.
Thank you, T. L., for sharing your book with us. My copy just came this week. I'm looking forward to reading it.
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Shattered Rose (Winsor Series) (Volume 1) - paperback
Shattered Rose (Winsor Series) - Kindle
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