Friday, October 2, 2015

All Our Empty Places | Interview and Giveaway

Alicia has been such a cheerful support to me and my writing, so when the tables turned and she asked for bloggers for her release of All Our Empty Places, I was excited to jump on board!

AllOur Empty Places  is the second book in Alicia's "A Time of Grace” trilogy
Purchase on Amazon:
Read my personal review of it here.

However, you don't want to miss Book One, The Fragrance of GeraniumsThe good news, is that you can get it for 99 cents on Amazon right now! (until October 31)
(I have read and reviewed Book One on Goodreads)

In 1935, when the bank calls in her mortgage, Sarah Picoletti – now a penniless widow – finds herself and her children on the brink of homelessness. Sick at heart, she plans to beg her brother in New Jersey to take her family in.

Then Doctor Samuel Giorgi knocks on her door. Godly and well-off, Sam seems to have put the careless ways of his youth behind him, and he also appears to have one desire: to make Sarah his wife, two decades after he broke their engagement.

However, nothing prepares Sarah for the storm that breaks once she makes her decision. Everywhere she turns, the errors of her former choices confront her, insisting on her inferiority and the irreparable brokenness of her past. Sarah begins to wonder if Christ really can bring true redemption or if He is limited by her frailty.
Meanwhile, her daughter Grace faces new challenges in her own life. When her relationship with Paulie changes unexpectedly, Grace realizes that she must make a decision with the potential to alter both of their futures.
Compassionate and intensely poignant, All Our Empty Places paints the portrait of a mother and daughter with broken pasts, who dare to step into a future overflowing with the grace of the Cross.

Alicia G. Ruggieri writes Christ-centered fiction that speaks of redemption. She received her B.A. in Communications and History from Rhode Island College and lives with her husband and their emotionally-disturbed pug on the New England coast.

Twitter: @aliciaruggieri

I was blessed to be able to interview Alicia. Her striving to keep Christ first is such an encouragement and challenge to me.

1) What most influenced you in writing A Time of Grace trilogy?
Well, the A Time of Grace trilogy began with The Fragrance of Geraniums, and that began with a strong childhood memory of an upstairs room filled with “winterized” geraniums. They say that memories that have scents attached to them imprint themselves most strongly on our minds; this was certainly that case for that. I’m thankful to the Lord for imprinting the memory of an old, slightly-dusty room with sunlight filtering through sheer curtains, heat emitting from old radiators, table after table of cut-back geraniums, and – most potently – the flowers’ bitter-spicy fragrance filling the air. All through my growing-up years, I knew that a story lurked there.

2) With which character in your series can you most identify?
I get asked this a lot, and it’s always a hard question to answer. J Here’s why: Every (main) character I write has something of me in them – Otherwise, I couldn’t identify with them enough to depict them believably. But, in All Our Empty Places (book two), I definitely can relate to the theme of finding our sufficiency in Christ alone – not in our education, nor who our friends are, nor in our own abilities, nor even in our identification with Christianity – but in Christ Himself. It’s so easy for me to lean on something other than the Lord Christ for satisfaction, for competence, etc. But as Sarah finds – and to some extent, Grace – there is no true sufficiency but His grace. “The well is deep” (John 4:11), but He is our Living Water, who will quench our thirst utterly.

3) How do you balance writing with home duties?
It’s a combination of a few things for me – first, I prioritize. As my pastor says, we have to put God first, always. Then we have our responsibility to our families, and then to our work. So my goal is always that God gets my best time, not the leftovers. That means that I go to Him first in the morning through His Word and prayer and that I seek Him throughout the day. Then I have my responsibilities to my family; those need to get taken care of next. And my writing – my work – gets the final place. I also make lists of what needs to get done both in my household and in my work. That has proven extremely helpful for me. Finally, but not least, I seek the Lord regarding how He wants me to spend my time. He is very near to us, if we would but call on Him. So, if I’m conflicted about something seemingly small, I ask Him to give me His wisdom and then move forward with what I believe He wants me to do. J Of course, I am not saying that I do this perfectly or even well. But that’s my goal: to honor Him first, then my family and the work He’s given me to do.

4) How long have you been writing?
I’ve written for as long as I’ve known how to write, and I’m so thankful for teachers and a mother who strongly encouraged me in that. For years, I wrote play adaptations for a local children theatre, which was a great blessing! My first novel was published in 2013.

5) Do you usually plot out your novels or just write as the ideas come?
I used to write as the ideas came, but I’ve gradually transitioned to a mixing that with plotting. Funny as it sounds, I love the freedom loose plotting gives me. Having said that, if I feel that God is leading me to direct the story in a different way than I’d originally planned, I change it. And I usually don’t plot my endings. J Those just have to “flow” out of the story, and, if the story’s right, then the right end will come. Before I plot, I usually have lots of notes regarding where I think the story should head. I can’t start plotting without that composting.

6) Do you find yourself using struggles, victories, and spiritual lessons that you have personally experienced to help teach lessons in your books?
Oh, yes. 2 Corinthians 1:4 tells us that God gives us difficulties and learning lessons so that we can comfort others with the comfort we’ve been given by Him. It’s hard to give someone in the trenches tips on how to survive and defeat the enemy unless you’ve gone down into the trenches, too, and by God’s grace, lived to tell of it.

7) What would you say to encourage a young Christian writer?
First, seek the Lord above all else. Don’t be mediocre in your walk with Him, and don’t separate your walk with Him from your writing. Second, read classic, well-written literature widely. Third, write the way God has gifted you – don’t copy someone else. Yes, other people’s writing should influence your style, but let your writing be unique, the way God has gifted you.

8) Would you share your salvation testimony?
Certainly. J  I became a Christian when I was a young child; I am blessed to have a mother who loves the Lord and strove to bring her children to Him. However, it wasn’t until I was in my early teens that I really began to wrestle with whether I truly believed that Christ is the only Way among all other religions. At that time, I sought the Lord strongly. He heard me, and He brought me into a deeper walk with Him through my own study of His Word, through prayer, through Christian living books such as those by Oswald Chambers, and through the godly example of my older sister who lived at home.

9) What are some of your favorites?
- Song
Oh, that’s hard. J I’ll narrow it down to hymns, okay? One of my favorite hymns is “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting” by Jean S. Pigott.
- Book(s) ;)
This is a cruel question. ;-) It somewhat depends on genre, but I think that I can safely say that my favorite fiction book is Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis and my favorite nonfiction is My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.
- Pastimes
Reading (obviously!), baking, organizing, finding more dogs to rescue on Craigslist, and enjoying my nieces and nephews.
- Dessert
I’m going to pick two. First, my mother’s Italian Easter bread – She only makes this anisette-flavored braided bread once a year, and it’s so good that I sometimes eat it for breakfast, lunch, and (shh!) dinner in the few days preceding Easter! And, second, peanut-butter cheesecake. 
- Bible verse
There are a few that are very dear to my heart. Two that God brings me back to are:
2 Corinthians 4:7 nkjv – “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”
Romans 8:38-39 – 31 nkjv – “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Thanks for having me, Amanda. J It has been a delight!

One winner will receive – a signed softcover of All Our Empty Places; a mug with 2 Corinthians 12:9 inscribed on it; Caramel Apple Biscotti; and Harvest Spice Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate mix. (Open to U.S. residents only due to shipping costs.)

Hurry! The giveaway ends tonight at midnight!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you want to see Alicia's book reviewed on other blogs, have fun hopping! :)

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2015 (release day)
Tour wrap-up @ A Brighter Destiny


Alicia G. Ruggieri said...

Thanks for hosting All Our Empty Places and me, Amanda! :-)

Amanda T. said...

So happy to do it, Alicia! :) May the Lord bless you and your writing!

"For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God," Ephesians 2:8

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