Tell Me You Love Me Anthology Exclusives!
Well, here we are; after nearly a year in the works, Tell Me You Love Me is just fifteen days from publication! Some of you may remember my excited ranting about the fact that my story was accepted alongside eleven others, and some of you may even remember editing it for me (thank you so much, by the way (: ) and now it's ever so close to getting out into the world!
So, to celebrate the near release of the anthology (and the end of a wonderfully aesthetically-pleasing blog tour) I've got an exclusive interview for you with another featured author, the wonderful Saraina Whitney, a sneak-peek at my short story (shh!) and some details on how you can get your hands on your own copy of the anthology!
So, without further ado, c'est parti!
Hello Saraina, and welcome to the blog! Could you start by introducing us to yourself and the story you’ve written for the Tell Me You Love Me anthology?
Thank you for having me, Lucia! I’m a teenage Christian bookworm and storyspinner (and introvert) who lives in the Illinois countryside with my big family! Besides books, I love listening to and making music, collecting quotes, watching movies that make me cry, and daydreaming about my stories as I do chores around the house. (To make the chores more fun, of course. *chuckles*) The story I wrote for Tell Me You Love Me is a fantasy romance about a young noblewoman and a private investigator, and the story explores what sacrifice means in love and how you don’t have to be perfect to be loved. Because I can’t think of a better way to describe it succinctly, here’s the blurb for “To Be Loved:”
A young noblewoman's recklessness cost someone his life. Stricken with regret and shame, Evangeline has fled her home city in disgrace, rejected both by the family she loves and even, she fears, by God. She's desperate to start a new life all alone, separated even from Reed, the private investigator who stole her heart years ago. But he's just as desperate not to let her face this nightmare on her own. How can his most relentless efforts ever convince her that she is still wanted?
Awesome! So first off, when did you first start writing? What inspired you to become a writer, and what authors continue inspire and influence you today?
I’m one of those writers who give this question a very unexciting answer and say they can’t remember a time when they didn’t write! 😂 Granted, my first stories were…funny, but (perhaps thankfully?) I didn’t realize it at the time; I just kept writing and imagining new worlds to explore. I will say I think books inspired me to write. Before I wrote, I read. And that started me attempting to write books of my own!
Ooo, what authors inspire and influence me today…that’s a great question! S. D. Smith (The Green Ember) and Andrew Peterson (The Wingfeather Saga) are two hugely influential authors for me. I adore their books, and even though I currently don’t write much Middle-Grade fiction, the overarching themes of their books, the heart and soul with which they’re written, continue to inspire me today. I’ve also found authors like Rebecca Ross (The Queen’s Rising), Jocelyn Green (Veiled in Smoke), and Julie Lessman (A Passion Most Pure) influencing my writing style in different ways!
What was your first writing project? On the flip side, what is your current writing project?
My first big writing project was a book called The Rivermans, which was based on my family’s life. It was a slightly disjointed mess of amusing misadventures and lessons characters had to learn. (And let’s just say that in the hypothetical copyright page, I couldn’t honestly say that any resemblance to any persons, living or dead, events, or locales was entirely coincidental.)
My current project is a historical romantic suspense novel which I'm in the drafting stages of writing! Set in 1947 London, it’s about a quiet yet ambitious seamstress named Gillory Durand, who’s given the keys to her dream of becoming a pianist, and over the course of events, she discovers that no amount of success can earn the love she’s seeking. Meanwhile, when a kind-hearted yet jaded and sleep-deprived WWII veteran named Ean West meets and falls in love with her, she becomes an unexpected danger to his intentions to stay closed off from everyone, even himself…and even God.
I’m working to have the first draft done early this spring, and I definitely plan to publish it someday!
What are your favourite genres to write in?
Fantasy feels most like home to me, which is somewhat weird because I don’t adore worldbuilding (the details…my poor brain 😂), but I love how there’s so much freedom in that genre. There aren’t any hard-and-fast rules, and you can set your story wherever you want!
Also, I will always love writing historical fiction and romance! (Well, I can’t help at least a thread of romance from popping up in any of my stories, regardless of what genre they’re in!) I think historical fiction is so delightful because you can explore the past through your characters and watch history come alive before your eyes. It’s just so fun!
What inspired your featured story, 'To Be Loved'?
Originally, I had several ideas for what the vibe of the story might be, from a grunge contemporary vibe (*stifles laughter because To Be Loved couldn’t be more opposite from that*) to a cozy holiday/party vibe. But I was most drawn to a more soft, tender fantasy vibe, and as I thought more about it, I had a snippet of dialogue pop into my mind, which I scribbled on paper and which quickly grew into a full short story. (Now it’s the middle of the existing story! For some reason, the beginning of the story is rarely the first thing that pops into my mind, lol.)
Now for a fun question – what would your dream writing session look like?
Ohh, this is a fun question!!! Well, it would last all day long, with short breaks in between. There would be scented candles that reminded me of the WIP I’m currently writing, an open window in front of my desk, music to set the mood in the background, and a cup of tea.
Either that or I’d have my writing session sitting outside under a tree, but preferably with no bugs. I guess I couldn’t control that, lol!
If you had one (or two) pieces of advice for newer writers, what would they be?
Wow…that’s a hard question. (Meaning a good one! XD) The most important would be to surrender your writing journey to God and let Him lead you. Don’t be ashamed to boldly share your faith through your stories, and write with His glory in mind. You don’t need to force it, writing sermons instead of stories (not that sermons are in any way bad, obviously), but when you feel the Holy Spirit leading you to include a certain message, a truth, etc., then do it! Write with that higher, divine purpose in mind.
And secondly, on a more practical note, don’t be afraid to try new things! I was going to say to practice writing, but although that’s obviously good advice, an even better way to implement that would be to try new techniques, new kinds of stories. Get out of your comfort zone and experiment! Have fun! If you only write full-length novels, try flash fiction and short stories. If you only write fantasy, try a new genre. Or if you only write about characters just like you, explore a character who’s the opposite of your personality. Try discovery-writing if you only outline, and vice versa. You will grow SO MUCH by experimenting and trying new things in writing.
Thank you so much for taking the time to be interviewed, Saraina, and congratulations on being featured in the anthology! One final question for you: where can readers find out more about you and your stories?
Thank you so much for interviewing me, Lucia!!! Your questions were perfect and I had so much fun answering them!! :D <3 Readers can keep up with my writing journey by following my blog and/or joining my newsletter, where I share writing tips, talk about my stories, and do occasional giveaways!
a little bit about Old Time Devotion
You've heard a little about Saraina's wonderful featured story, To Be Loved, so I thought I'd give you all a little sneak peek at mine! Old Time Devotion is one of my more unique pieces, but it's got a special place in my heart as a story that expresses the fact that there's no time limit for love - and a beauty in waiting on God's timing.
The Story Blurb
Gabriel Dawton, the newest resident of the Tranquillity Retirement complex, is doing his very best to ignore the fact that being seventy-three does in fact make you an old man; but when he meets Evangeline Jones, a retired gospel-singer trying to accept that any chance of a love life is far gone, he begins to wonder if being a life-long bachelor really is God’s plan for his life. And while Evangeline longs to believe that their relationship will work out, she starts to doubt. After all, who gets married at seventy-one?
Want to hear a little bit more about what the writing process and inspiration for Old Time Devotion? Check out the interview I did with Saraina over on her blog!
About The Anthology
By now you might be wondering what exactly this anthology is, along with how and when exactly you can get hold of it. Never fear! All the answers are below.
Tell Me You Love Me – a timeless collection of stories that truly understand the meaning of “I love you”
Twelve young Christian authors have come together, alongside romance novelist Grace A. Johnson and editor Issabelle Perry to show our world of depravity and cheap imitations of romance what love really means: faith, hope, and sacrifice.
These stories range from contemporary YA to historical to fantasy, and tell diverse, unique love stories that compel, captivate, and warm readers’ hearts with their sweet and authentic nature.
Featuring work from Michaela Bush, Saraina Whitney, Karynn Heckler, Margaret Copeland, Lucia Molano, Sarah Lawton, Brooklyn O’Brennan, Mackenzie Hendricks, H.S. Kylian, Lydia M. Jupp, Katherine Perry, and Amelia Cabot, the Tell Me You Love Me anthology is the collaboration of talented and inspirational young writers you’ve been waiting for!
When Does it Release?
Where Can I Get It (And Review It)?
Whew! That's all for now! If you'd like to read the wrap-up post, you'll be able to find it on Grace's blog, Of Blades and Thorns, sometime later today! And you'd like to catch up on the other posts in the tour that you've missed, I'll drop the schedule below.
Grace A. Johnson – tour kickoff – January 17th
Michaela Bush - January 18th
H.S. Kylian – January 19th
Michaela Bush - January 19th
Amelia Cabot on Of Blades and Thorns – January 20th
Issabelle Perry – January 23rd
Maggie Copeland on Of Blades and Thorns – January 24th
Saraina Whitney – January 26th
Katherine Perry – January 27th
Mackenzie Hendricks – January 30th
Lucia Molano – January 31st (you're here!)
Grace A. Johnson – tour ends – January 31st
Have a lovely day! < 3