It’s wonderful to have you here today, Susan. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Louisville, Kentucky and raised in the Detroit metro area. Sick of winter, I moved to the Southwest coast of Florida and haven’t regretted it. We have the best beaches here. I’ve done a variety of things for a living, from working at McDonalds while in college, to teaching Speech, Drama and English in middle school and high school, to trying cases as a personal injury attorney. I have a son and daughter in law who live in Boston.
In Bradenton, Florida where I now live, I joined a Christian writing group who encouraged me to write for publication. Along with attending an ACFW conference a couple years ago, I got up the courage to finish my first Christian romance novel, Her Next Dance, where I incorporate my love of ballroom dancing with my experiences as an attorney. I’m blessed that it was published by Winged Publications, Forget Me Not Romances, along with the next two romance novels in the Dancing into Romance Series: Dancing with a Cowboy and Save the Last Dance.
My latest novel, Save the Last Dance, is about Liz Everton, a ranch owner and paralegal whose husband passed away years ago and who recently lost her father. She’s attracted to a widower, Isaiah Comstock, the minister at her small community church. Although they’re in the same ballroom dance class, Isaiah feels neglected by the beautiful redheaded Liz. But she senses there is something holding Isaiah back from dating her. Is it the fear of church gossip or something else, something deeper involving his past which is keeping him from getting to know her?
What is the inspiration behind your story?
Feedback from the first two novels alerted me that paralegal, Liz Everton, was a sympathetic character that most people really liked, particularly because of her language and her bravado. She was going to be the main character of the second novel until God took me in another direction with a new character, Elaine “Lainey” MacDonald, a paralegal and survivor of an abusive relationship. So, I knew my third novel would delve into Liz’s story, her past, present and future. In this book we see more of Liz’s nurturing side since she becomes like a second mother to a new young employee of the firm and future lawyer, David. In each of my three novels, one of the characters comes to believe in and accept Jesus Christ as her/his Lord and Savior. I invite your readers to guess who that character is in this novel. I am giving away a free copy of this novel to the first person who posts a comment on this blog guessing the character correctly.
What was the catalyst for your interest in writing?
Definitely my Christian writing group where we hold each other accountable to our goals each month, critique each other’s work, do writing prompts (exercises), and have a round robin Q & A session where no question is too ridiculous to ask. Asking questions and reading what others have written educated and motivated me to become the best writer I can be.
Are you a night owl or morning person?
I’m a morning person. After going to bed by ten most of the time, I’m up early. After I exercise, I sit down and write. That means I “fade” in the afternoon when you’ll probably find me taking a nap. I’m blessed to have the luxury to do that as a retired empty nester living in a serene condo near my favorite dance studio and beach.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I tend to be a combination of the two. I let the words flow from the Holy Spirit to begin with then summarize each chapter I’ve finished which helps when I sit down to write the next chapter. That gives me a sense of where I need to steer the plot in upcoming chapters, determine where the climax should be, what I need to tie in before the end of the book.
What are your three favorite books?
How about my four favorite books: The Bible; The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald; Downtown by Anne Rivers Siddons; and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.
If you didn’t write books, what would you do for a living?
I’ve been fascinated with medical shows. As a personal injury attorney for more than 30 years I read medical records as a part of my job. Now I’m interested in watching reality shows showing surgery and medical procedures (like Skin Decisions, Grey’s Anatomy, Dr. Pimple Popper and New Amsterdam. This leads me to the conclusion that I would have enjoyed being a doctor. Before the virus, I’ve enjoyed serving as a lay pastor in a retirement center, leading a non-denominational service for them. So, I’ve thought about becoming an ordained minister or doing a M. Div.degree. All things are possible with God’s help!
Share your favorite excerpt from your book:
She saw Isaiah at a polite distance away and approached him saying, “I thought you left already.”
“No, I was waiting to talk with you,” Isaiah said with urgency in his voice. “Who was that young man you were dancing with?”
“Uh, just interested. I’m surprised to see you dancing. It hasn’t been that long ago that you lost your father.”
“Are we replaying the scene from Gone With The Wind where Aunt Pitty Pat didn’t allow Scarlett to dance after her husband died?”
“No, no, of course not. I’m just glad you’re doing well.”
“Not only doing well, I’m thrivin,’ like you said in your talk last Sunday. God wants us to have an abundant life.” Looking him straight in the eye, Liz asked, “Anything else on your mind, Pastor?”
He looked down, his hand fidgeting with his keys. Looking up briefly he blurted out, “I wanted to dance with you tonight. The young guy beat me to it. Then you introduced him to everyone except me.”
He cut her off. “Am I what?”
Silence. Liz was thinking she would say the word, jealous. Then something within her kept her mouth closed and told her to let him speak.
“I’m always looking for people to invite to our church.”
Jealousy doesn’t suit you, Isaiah, especially with David. He’s young enough to be my son.
The Spirit prompted her to keep that to herself. So she walked to the door shaking her head and said, “See ya’ later, Pastor.”
She heard his voice behind her. “See you Sunday, Liz.”
To herself she said in a whisper, “Unless I go explorin.’”
Getting into her truck, she started it and made the right turn on U.S. 301, then another right to head to Myakka.
On the drive home, she prayed,
Jesus, I thank you because I am thrivin’ and startin’a new chapter. New beginnings. I need to worship you, live, laugh and love; the three “l’s” of life. I feel like explorin’ other churches and meetin’ other people.
Keep walkin,’with me, talkin’ with me and guidin’ me as to what I should do in the future, ‘cause I’m trustin’ in you.
* * *
It didn’t go well with Liz.
Isaiah reflected on what he could have done better on his drive back to Myakka. He could send her flowers. But he didn’t know if she liked flowers. Do all women like flowers or not?
If he had to describe Liz to someone, the first word he’d use is “independent.” She’s also attractive in a natural sort of way. Not all made up and phony, but sincere and caring. Not a wilting pansy, but a beautiful wildflower. Not a simpering, self-conscious female, but a confident, nurturing, and friendly woman. His thoughts went further,
Why am I so nervous around her? I’m supposed to be her confident pastor, a role model to her and our community.
No. Boundaries, remember. You’re her pastor. She is part of your flock. Practice restrained kindness around her.
But when I’m around her I just want to reach out and hold her hand, caress her soft face, put my arm around her and kiss those lips—And that’s a big NO!
How about just one hug, Lord? I’m craving human touch. Doris passed over a year ago. Is it too early for these cravings?
Here is the lovely cover of Save the Last Dance, the back cover blurb, and buy links. Be sure to leave a guess as to what character becomes a Christian in this book to enter Susan’s drawing for a copy!
Strong and confident, paralegal Liz Everton is one of the only female ranch owners in Florida. Having been a widow for many years, she strives to live life to the fullest on her own. So, why is she attracted to the minister of her small, community church?
Pastor Isaiah Comstock is a widower who is fascinated with Liz’s wisdom and beauty. Being an introvert, he forces himself to interact with his parishioners and to go to ballroom dance classes where he may be able to dance with Liz. When a weather emergency forces them together, can he overcome his past mistakes and church gossip to turn their friendship into love?
Buy Link: amzn.to/3gflchi