I hope you had a great weekend. Today I’ve got the awesome Barbara James on the blog. We’ll be discussing her book, Reaching the End Zone: Suzette. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee) and chat with us!
About the Book
Suzette didn’t expect to get her Mrs. degree.
Suzette Nagel never imagined Bobby Sills would show up at the church where she was serving. But there he was, agreeing to take her with him on a road trip from New York City to Virginia for the wedding of her best friend, Ayanna Pagdell, and Bobby’s brother, Todd.
Suzette thought Bobby, an accountant based in New York City, was pleasant, but cool and distant, while Bobby thought Suzette, a seminary graduate student from Massachusetts, wasn’t his type.
By the end of the weekend, they discovered more than they bargained for, an attraction they didn’t anticipate. Suzette found that Bobby was more on her wavelength than she ever imagined possible, while Bobby experienced a welcome relief from the cut throat dating scene in New York City.
But will family pressure for her to return home to Massachusetts after graduation force them apart?
***Although this book is the second in a series, it can be read as a stand alone.***
Toni: Thank you so much for joining me today. How about we start off with you telling us a little about your story.
Barbara: Suzette is a young seminary graduate student who finds her happily ever when she expects it least, after a road trip with Robert, the groomsman who partners her as a member of the bridal party in the wedding of her best friend Ayanna.
Robert is the older brother of Todd, the hero in Getting out of the Comfort Zone: Ayanna.
Similar to Ayanna and Todd, Suzette is strong in her faith, while Robert is lapsed in his. How do they negotiate their attraction in the midst of her faith commitment and his lack of faith?
The traumatic circumstances that led to the loss of faith in Todd and Robert’s family—the death of their younger brother—comes to a greater resolution in this book.
Toni: Sounds like a great story. Describe an average day for your main character.
Barbara: Suzette’s average day changes throughout the book, and that is what makes her story interesting, how she grows and changes over time.
At the beginning, she’s on summer break and working as nanny, because it’s the best way for her to make money during the summer. By working as a nanny, she’s drawing upon her prior experience as a schoolteacher–she taught before attending seminary.
Once school begins, Suzette is taking her classes and serving as a lay minister in the parish where she is doing her ministry internship. As part of her training, she assists at the Sunday service and organizes programming for young adults in the church community.
At the end of the book, she graduated seminary and was ordained. Suzette is in this in-between period of getting ready to undertake her first full time job in Children, Youth, and Family ministry. So she is drawing upon her skills as a teacher and developing her ministry in a church setting. Other than that, she was preparing for her wedding and getting ready to move out of her apartment. Robert found them a new place to live in the neighborhood where he lived prior to meeting Suzette.
Toni: Definitely a versatile day! What message do you hope readers will get out of reading your story?
Barbara: To remember the importance of faith and community in supporting our journeys in life and in dealing with trauma.
Toni: Amen! Do you eat and drink while writing? Listen to music or require silence?
Barbara: I might drink while I’m writing, especially in the morning. My ritual is to make a pot of hot tea with lemon. It has a great citrus taste that I find refreshing. I only tend to listen to music if I need a song that encapsulates the feeling of a scene. I tend to include those on a Spotify playlist. Otherwise, I’m silent, but for the distractions of the news and social media! But I’m trying to lessen those distractions during Holy Week this week, and especially since social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic has led to services being shut down.
Toni: I love Spotify playlist! Do you fly by the seat of your pants or do you outline?
Barbara: I outline but then it seems that I then fly by the seat of my pants, because it’s impossible, I think, to get everything right the first time I begin outlining. I want to have a general idea of how the story will go, but things change as I start to understand my characters better and as new things I think about or learn about help me to shape the story. That’s why I think of myself as a type of “pantser plotter,” within the writing community on Twitter.
Toni: Awesome! Do you like milk or dark chocolate? Ice cream or sorbet? Spring or summer?
Barbara: I love all types of chocolate, my trips to the Lindt chocolate store can attest to that! I like ice cream, especially mint chocolate chip or cookies and cream. Those are the flavors I just love. I prefer the in-between seasons of spring and fall, because it’s not as hot and not as cold, plus spring is a time for new beginnings. In addition, I love the fall colors.
Toni: Fall colors are pretty beautiful. Before you go, please tell us how can we pray for you.
Barbara: Thanks for asking. I would want prayers not only for me, but for all of us who are living in Covid-19 hot zones. It’s a great challenge, worrying about ourselves and our families, our health and wellbeing.
Toni: We’ll be praying! Readers, do you have any questions for Barbara?
About the Author
Barbara James is an avid romance reader and an Episcopal clergywoman who became inspired to write her own novels. What an amazing journey it has been!