Grace in the Flames (Inspy Contemporary Fiction)
by Michelle Massaro
From Bev: Recently I read a debut novel that I had to share with y’all. You know how it is when you read the first few pages of a new-to-you-author and you’re not sure if a) the writer has any chops, and b) the story will grab your attention? Well, I have to tell you that Michelle DOES have mad writing skills and this story had my attention from the first few pages. And more than that, it was a real CPID* sleep stealer. Here’s the back cover teaser, and a sample scene, plus some Q&A with Michelle.
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Good job, Michelle!
*can’t put it down
Three people. One God of grace.
John Douglas thought he knew the future God had for him–raise a family and grow old with his bride, Hannah. But then a deadly house fire incinerated his faith, destroying the man he’d been.
Worship leader Jenni Dupont conquered her demons years ago and has the scars to prove it. But temptation strikes when her world is shattered, and this time she’s not sure if God can carry her through.
Bar waitress April Johanson lives with the secret trauma of an abusive past. Desperate to stay off the streets of Vegas, she’ll do whatever is necessary to pay the rent.
When their lives intersect, God will ask them to do the impossible. To love Him even if…
- What would you say is/are the major themes explored in your book? I always say the main theme is surrender. Second to that is divine love.
- What do you hope readers take away from this story? That our relationship with an Almighty God is not measured by how comfortable our circumstances are, but that despite the trials we face, God is real, and He loves you.
- Do you have a favorite character? I actually love them all! Over the years, they’ve all come so alive to me and it’s hard to pick just one. I’ve come to identify with each of them in different ways. April’s story in the initial drafts was always captivating for me and I relished returning to her scenes. But as time went on, I really got close to Jenni as well. I was always drawn to John and the way he looks out for others. They’re all my favorite!
- Sometimes authors slip in cameos of people they know in real life, or tuck other little gems into the pages of their story. Are there any fun Easter eggs hidden in your book? Yes! Two of my kids’ names are sprinkled in—Katy and Brandon—and I also slipped in mentions of a few other real-life friends: Chris Bowen is one, as well as Pastor Barry. And the dog, Sadie, is based on my childhood dog Sammy! I love doing stuff like this and will probably always find ways of placing people into my stories. It’s so fun!
- What’s next for you? I’m releasing a book called Better than Fiction in a few weeks. (facebook.com/betterthanfiction2016) It’s a two-in-one—contemporary women’s fiction and historical romance—set in my hometown of Corona CA in 1916, during the height of its famed road races. I co-wrote this story with April W Gardner over the past several years and we are releasing it in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the final Road Race. The contemporary side features an author struggling with feeling invisible in her marriage, who then finds her heart wandering toward a male friend—one she sees as ideal, attentive, spiritual, and attractive enough to base her fictional hero on. The historical side features a romance between a hotshot racer and a female mechanic.
While creating a fictional romance between her 1916 heroine and a reckless racecar driver, a novelist falls prey to an emotional affair with the man who inspires her handsome hero.
- What is the best/hardest thing about indie publishing? Retaining complete control is a good feeling, but the hardest part is learning to market so readers know I exist.
- How can readers best support their favorite indie authors? We need reviews. There is a minimum threshold of reviews needed to be considered for various promotions, and indies have a bigger challenge when it comes to crossing that barrier.
- Could you tell us about your journey to publication? In 2007 I was inspired by Stephanie Myers’ story of writing her books during her kids’ swimming lessons that I sat down at my screen determined to get an entire story written. I had no clue where to start such a monumental task so I started searching online for guidance. I ended up finding a NaNoWriMo board, and the Snowflake Method, both of which were so helpful in those early days. I wrote and rewrote this story multiple times over the next 8 years, learning the craft, attending conferences, finding mentors and critique partners. In 2012 the manuscript was a Genesis finalist under the original title, Beauty for Ashes. I rewrote the story again, sent it around to the big pub houses, and got great feedback. But it was not ultimately picked up. I finally decided last year to go ahead and release my baby on my own. Ultimately, I think this was the best choice for me for this title. It’s so near to my heart that I’m glad I have all the control in the final manuscript, the cover, etc. and it was time
- When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing? I love musical theater and old Rogers and Hammerstein movies, hanging out with my teens watching Once Upon A Time (though it isn’t what it used to be, we’ve bonded over the show. Plus, everyone says that my husband looks like Neal Cassidy,) and I recently WON a karaoke contest singing What I’ve Been Looking For from High School Musical with my hubby at our church’s Valentine’s Day dinner. =)
- Can you share a favorite scene/line from your story? Grace in the Flames is a weighty book, but there are definitely some lighter scenes full of fun and romance. This excerpt makes me smile. The hero works at a home improvement store and our couple have just begun moving from friends to something more when this scene takes place:
Once outside, he took her hand. “If you have an hour to spare, there’s something I want to do.”
She stopped while he got out his keys. “Like what?”
“You’ll see.” He released her hand for her to climb into the car, then waited till she was safely settled to close her door.
When they pulled up to their destination a few minutes later, Home Depot was the last place she expected to see. She shut her door and looked over at John, who wore the expression of a child on his way to Chuck E Cheese. “So…what are we doing here?”
He shrugged. “I used to love Saturday mornings building stuff with my dad. Come on.” He held his hand out and she took it, letting him lead her into the home improvement store. Strangest date ever.
When they’d stepped through the doors, John paused, lifted his face, and inhaled deeply. “Ah…smell that?”
“Saw dust and paint fumes?”
He led her toward the back center of the store where long tables had been set up. Small squares of wood lay on them, and tools, and her eyebrows came together. “What’s this?”
“Our Saturday morning project.” He grinned then grabbed a work apron from the table, slipped it over her head, and reached around her waist. His nearness made her head pound, and he smiled down at her as he secured the apron ties, giving them a little yank. She stumbled into him and her hands flew to his chest as she steadied herself.
They both froze. “Sorry,” she whispered up at him.
“Don’t be.” His hint of a smile made her heart skip a beat, then she followed his gaze down to where her hands were still plastered against his…very firm chest.
Red faced, she withdrew them and inched backward with a shaky smile. Her legs would not hold her up much longer if she didn’t get some distance. She pivoted toward the table and busied herself examining its contents. “So…how do I help? What do you need?”
“Well, first, you won’t be helping…you’ll be building. And second, you’ll need this.” From somewhere under the table, he produced a hammer and held it out to her with both hands.
She stared down at it. “It’s pink.”
He smiled. “Yep. And it’s yours.”
“You…bought me a hammer?”
She poked out her lips and nodded, then wrapped her fingers around the handle. “Thanks.”
Definitely the strangest date ever.
MICHELLE MASSARO writes contemporary fiction soaked in grace. She makes her home in Southern California with her husband of over two decades and their four children. She’s dabbled in homeschooling, teaching Creation Science, and leading worship. When she isn’t tinkering with words, Michelle enjoys old Rogers and Hammerstein movies, making kefir, and Sudoku. A new lipstick and a good French roast always make her happy.
Michelle’s contact information:
Amazon purchase link: http://amzn.to/1Y8EcPA
Better Than Fiction Facebook page: www.facebook.com/BetterThanFiction2016
Thanks for having me, Bev!
Bev: You bet, thanks for visiting, and keep up the good work!