Welcome back. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
As a pastor’s wife, I’ve seen more masks than I care to count and behind each one is a story. Usually a story of heartbreak, struggle, failure, and victory. In Christian circles, we tend to only show people our shiny parts, not the ugly, rusted sin that mars all of us.
My characters epitomize the word flawed which is probably why we can all relate to them. Nothing is more beautiful than when we see a person expose all their challenges and mistakes, and then watch what amazing things God can do with each one of them.
I consider myself a crossover writer, filling the huge gap between mainstream and Christian romance. I write coming of age books, exploring deep subjects and struggles in every book, yet keeping the content clean enough to pass on to your teenage daughter.
There will also always be an inspirational message in my books because I believe God is at the center of any true healing.
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
Oh wow. There’ve been so many. Two of my three kids have been baptized. Those two events are equally the happiest.
How has being published changed your life?
I can’t say being published has changed my life much. I self-published my first three books and truly enjoyed the process. My forth book is being traditionally published, and I’ve enjoyed the process as well. They both have their pro and cons. Mostly, I love writing and thanks to the Internet and eBooks, I get to make my passion a career.
What are you reading right now?
I’ve had several author friends recently publish books, so I have been reading theirs. Of the Persecuted by Angie Brashear in the next one on my list to read.
What is your current work in progress?
I am working on Book 2 in the Set Apart series. Like my other series, all books are stand-alone, full-length novels, but carry the same theme throughout.
Book 2 is about Cody James. He is one of the young men that Matt Holloway (Mercy’s Fight) trains, and he experienced severe bullying when he was a sophomore in high school. Book 2 starts at Cody’s senior year and addresses the horrific effects of physical and cyber bullying that is so relevant for our youth today. It also shows the challenges of peer pressure and how to use one’s influence to make a difference in people’s lives.
I’m about halfway finished with this manuscript, and I love the story. Even though my characters are younger than usual, 17 and 18, their lives and choices mirror so many of our own.
What would be your dream vacation?
I have always wanted to go to
Greece. That is number one on my
How do you choose your settings for each book?
My books are primarily driven by the characters and the message, so the setting is usually based around those two things. In Mercy’s Fight, the main setting is a Children’s Center in a rough neighborhood. Because Matt works with troubled youth and mentors them, I thought it was a perfect way to bring him and Grace together.
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Francine Rivers. I think she is an amazing writer who has had an incredible journey in the publishing industry. I admire her willingness to tackle hard subjects in such a powerful way.
One of the highlights of my writing career was sitting at the same table with her at a Meet and Greet. She’s a delight to visit with. What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I like to run (for pleasure, not exercise). I also like to play games with my kids or watch movies with the family. I’m pretty simple.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
I think every writer wants to improve craft. My background is not literature or writing, so I’ve had to learn a great deal about book and sentence structure in a very short period of time. Mostly, I try to keep learning and growing as a writer, and with every book, I find more and more power in my voice.
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
First, I would tell them to take a Margie Lawson class. Then I would tell them to join a writer’s critique group with people who will be constructive in their comments. I wrote my first two books in a vacuum, and while I had friends and family give comments and advice, my writing did not grow. During my third book, I started networking with other authors, and have grown exponentially since.
Tell us about the featured book.
My new series is called Set Apart and its purpose is to show how even though our pasts may shape us, it does not define us. Right away I knew Book 1 (Mercy’s Fight) would be about one of my favorite characters from my previous series, Matt Holloway.
Matt is a tatted-up, former bad boy, who is as Alpha male as they come. He’s strong, confident, and has a heart of gold. He came from an abusive home, got in trouble as a teen, and spent two years in juvie. Yet, he turned his life around and was devoted to helping others heal. His only fear is love. He is terrified that his past will destroy anyone who dares to love him.
Grace is just the opposite. She comes from a life of luxury, where she was adored by both of her parents. Raised in a Christian home, she had never really experienced heartbreak until her fiancé of four years cheats on her. Determined to find her way, Grace moves to
North Carolina, but she is naïve and
completely out of her element.
Matt and Grace come together through their mutual love for troubled children, and show that not only do opposites attract, but they can also bring the best out of each other. Matt shows Grace how to be a fighter and that’s good because she’s about to have the biggest fight of her life.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Disoriented, I blinked repeatedly, trying to get Bruce’s face to come into focus. His lips were moving, but no sound penetrated the haze. Attempting to push off the floor, I stopped as pain coursed through my elbow.
“Matt!” Muffled but audible, his voice drifted through the fog. Then my ears cleared with a pop.
“Can you hear me?” Bruce asked, his voice now sharp and clear even though his face still blurred in front of mine.
“Why am I on the floor?”
Bruce let out a relieved sigh and then helped me up and into one of the club chairs he used for counseling. The motions revealed that my elbow wasn’t the only part of my body suffering. My back ached and my hip throbbed.
Finally my vision normalized and I recalled some of what had taken place. I’d come in to bring Bruce the file on his new patient, a recovering drug addict recently out of rehab who was coming by stipulation of his parents. We had talked a little about the case and then ... nothing.
Bruce handed me a bottle of water and sat across from me, still watching me with concern. “If this is your subtle way of letting me know you need some time off, I’d recommend just asking for it next time.”
Still a little dazed, I scanned the room, trying to get my bearings. “How long was I out?”
“Minutes, maybe, but you went down hard. I want you to go see a doctor. A healthy twenty-five-year-old man should not be passing out. Are you eating okay?”
Bruce’s fatherly tone made me chuckle. I guess he had kind of taken on that role. Although I now ran his counseling practice and side business, a wrestling gym, he still took a personal interest in my life. Of course, he’d also been my counselor for years and the one to lead me to Christ.
I must know what comes next. Can’t wait until I receive the book. How can readers find you on the Internet?
I love engaging with readers and have several ways to do so!
My website: http://tlgray.com
Thank you, T L, for sharing this new book with us.
Readers, here is a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.Mercy's Fight (Set Apart) - Kindle
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