Saturday, December 10, 2016

Interview with Laura Frances, author of Confessions of a Crispy Mom

Heidi here. Today we are welcoming Laura Frances to our blog.

Laura Frances grew up in the south, residing in North Carolina for most of her life. While she is southern, she is no southern belle. She loves the genuine, authentic people who call the south home, and is constantly inspired by the stories of their lives. For more on Laura, visit laurafrancesauthor.com.

Confessions of a Crispy Mom: A frazzled working mom of three, Delia Gray, struggles to keep her career, family, and sanity in tack. During one particularly bad day, she lashes out at everyone around her, including her father who has stopped by to visit. When she goes to apologize to him, he gives her a stack of letters from her mother who died when Delia was ten—something her mother asked him to hold onto until he felt Delia needed it most in motherhood. Delia's conflicted feelings towards her mother and the cancer that stole her life leaves her uneasy about whether or not to read them. But, when she does, she discovers a woman she never knew—who struggles with the same things in motherhood that Delia does. Funny and poignant, Confessions of a Crispy Mom is a deeply encouraging novel that will have you asking yourself: How do I make my years as a mom count the most?


Laura, congratulations on finally birthing Confessions of a Crispy Mom. We’ve walked this writing path together for years and it is thrilling to see Delia come to life in paperback, finally!  Your stories are always so unique, what inspires them?

You have truly been an integral part of my writing process for years, Heidi. You’ve made me a better writer by constantly challenging me. Thank you for that! As far as my ideas, I basically get them from the people I encounter in real life. Very often I’m a quiet observer, so I overhear a lot of conversations—not the same as eavesdropping, lol—and watch how people react to each other. I’m fascinated with relationships between close family members and the dynamics that often exist there. For this particular story, I was inspired by the heartbreaking situation of a friend and neighbor who discovered she had stage 4 breast cancer. We lost her so soon after her diagnosis that I was struck with grief over how someone so young, with such young children, could go so quickly. I thought a lot about how a mom prepares herself and her children to face the future without her, and how she dealt with her last moments with them. Delia’s story arose out of that.

Delia is a delight in how she deals with life, she is so genuine. You write in first person. Your writing, your voice, is so uniquely southern and easy to read. Tell us what goes into writing a chapter and the difference between the first draft and the final.

I typically have a loose idea of where I want the chapter to go before I begin writing it. When I say loose, I mean very loose. Often, it takes an unexpected turn that I didn’t see coming when I started. I sort of envision the scene like a movie in my mind and then start writing by describing what I see on the “screen.” My first draft and final draft tend to be very close story-wise. But, I find that I do have to go back in and add the senses to the story so the reader can see/hear/smell/taste what my character is going through. And I tend to write pretty tight, so I sometimes have to go in and add additional scenes with smaller characters to round out the story. As far as my voice, there are so many great characters in the South. It’s easy to find a good voice and “become” that person in my writing when creating a character.

I think one of the reasons I enjoy your writing is the small things you insert that truly make me feel like I am there with the character. How do you do that?

Thank you! I’m a very visual person and I pay close attention to people’s little quirks and habits. I think that truly defines a person’s uniqueness. So, when I’m writing I try to discover what would make each character unique as far as their quirks and habits and consistently add those into the story. I think it helps the reader to connect to the characters on a deeper level because they either know someone with that trait, or have it themselves.

Ahh, so true. Time for a fun question . . . You are alone and stranded on a desert island and can have ONE food product and ONE drink, what would they be?

Ok. This is embarrassing. My children tell me I’m addicted to Diet Mountain Dew. They try to keep it from me at times because it’s the one thing I HAVE to have in the house. I actually hissed at my son (jokingly) one time when he tried to take it from me, so now we all do that. Foodwise, I want to say donuts. I know I’m a total health nut. But, I guess if I was stranded and would only have one food for life, I’d get sick of those so I’ll go with almonds.

Almonds? Say it isn’t so . . . I thought for sure chocolate would be in there somewhere, oh well. What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with raising three children, being a single mom, and working full-time?

Making myself just sit and write. There are a million things that get in the way, especially now that I’m a single mom. Honestly, my writing has decreased significantly in the last three years as I’ve adjusted to that new lifestyle. But I finally feel like I’m getting a grip on it and am starting to plan a writing schedule for the New Year. It helps that my children are getting older and can at least make a sandwich when they need to if I’m overloaded.

Hmm, did my pantster writing friend just use the word schedule? Interesting, but getting back to the interview. How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?

I came to faith later in life, at the age of 30. So, I tend to build characters that have everyday problems. They aren’t perfect. They often are failing in their faith. And they don’t typically fit into the roles that publishers of Christian fiction allow. I’ve been told this makes it hard for me to fit into a certain publishing categories. But one thing I can say about my characters is that they are real. Just like Christians I would meet on the street every day who are doing their best, but likely failing in a lot of faith issues. I don’t want to ever suggest through my writing that being a Christian means being perfect, or that you have to strive for perfection. I think it’s misleading and can actually turn the reader away from the faith instead of toward it.

Laura, thank you for your time today, it was fun! And congratulations again on the release of Confessions of a Crispy Mom.


Thank you so much for having me. It’s been an honor. I'd love to give away a hard copy of Confessions of a Crispy Mom and one of the journals to go along with it. Thanks again for having me.

Wow, Laura, that'd be great. Alright guys, go ahead and post a comment now through December 11th to get into this drawing (leave your email addy in the comment). We'll announce the winner on December 12th at the Weekly Windup.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Confessions of a Crispy Mom by Laura Frances

Confessions of a Crispy Mom......I know, she had me at the word Crispy as well!

Heidi here. Confessions of a Crispy Mom is Laura Frances' debut novel, and what a novel it is.

A frazzled working mom of three, Delia Gray, struggles to keep her career, family, and sanity in tack. During one particularly bad day, she lashes out at everyone around her, including her father who has stopped by to visit. When she goes to apologize to him, he gives her a stack of letters from her mother who died when Delia was ten—something her mother asked him to hold onto until he felt Delia needed it most in motherhood. Delia's conflicted feelings towards her mother and the cancer that stole her life leaves her uneasy about whether or not to read them. But, when she does, she discovers a woman she never knew—who struggles with the same things in motherhood that Delia does. Funny and poignant, Confessions of a Crispy Mom is a deeply encouraging novel that will have you asking yourself: How do I make my years as a mom count the most?

Delia Gray and Dixie Boon are the best of friends. Delia Gray and Joanna Fripp are the best of frenemies. Except Delia and Joanna's kids are friends, well kind of. Delia Gray has three kids, a full-time job, and not many organizational skills. She's southern and hysterical to read about

If your looking for a fresh new voice and a laugh while you cry story, grab Confessions of a Crispy Mom today. I'm interviewing Laura tomorrow on this blog, and she has two giveaways. So join us for some insight and some free stuff!


Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Leper Spy--Reviewed by Shirley Raye Redmond

The Leper Spy

The Story of an Unlikely Hero of World War II

By Ben Montgomery

Chicago Review Press

Book Review by Shirley Raye Redmond


I love amazing true stories of little know heroes and heroines, like Desmond Doss, whose heroic and selfless acts of courage are now immortalized in Mel Gibson’s recent film Hacksaw Ridge about the Battle of Okniawa, where I grew up.

Recently, I read a book about another hero of WWII—Josefina Guerrero, a Filipina woman living in Manila. She was married to a teacher and was raising a 2-year-old toddler when she was diagnosed with leprosy. The gut-wrenching diagnosis turned Joye’s life upside down. Friends and family deserted her. Joey’s husband left her, taking their little daughter with him. Then the Japanese invaded Manila. Many of Joey’s friends and neighbors were killed, while others were rounded up and moved to concentration or labor camps.
But the enemy didn’t touch Joey. The Japanese had a horrific fear of lepers and never ventured near the leper colony or nearby cemetery. They wouldn’t even search her for contraband or touch any food she’d handled.

Joey became a spy for the American troops in the Philippines—delivering maps, secret dispatches and smuggled rations for G.I.s hiding in the cemetery or nearby caves.
Throughout the war, Joey continued to pray for healing, but God seemed to ignore her prayers. With a courage born of desperation, she continued to aid the American troops, saving the lives of hundreds of soldiers and her fellow countrymen, who were also fighting the Japanese.

After the war, Army chaplains found Joey living in the filth of the leper colony. They petitioned their Congressmen back in the USA to bring Josie to the USA to be treated for Hanson’s disease. This was granted. Not only was she cured, but the President also presented her with the Medal of Freedom for her selfless acts of courage during the war.

If you’re looking for an inspiring story to read over the holidays, I can heartily recommend this one.

An award-winning writer and frequent conference speaker,Shirley Raye Redmond is the author of two inspirational historical novels, PRUDENCE PURSUED and AMANDA’S BEAU, as well as two dozen children’s books. Shirley Raye holds an M.A. in literature. She has been married to her husband Bill for forty years. They live in New Mexico and are blessed with two grown children, two adorable grandsons, and one spunky Scottish terrier. Touch bases at shirleyrayeredmond.com or Facebook and http://www.writechildrensbook.com/blog