Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Things Are Not Always What They Seem

For Darryl and Catina Jones the fairytale life they envisioned quickly turns into the nightmare most marriages don’t survive. As bleak as the outlooks seems, it will be the combination of their love, faith and strong friendships that will see them through their trials.

In Sickness and In Health by Maxine Billings speaks to a matter that is not often written about. She also sheds light on the unexpected emotions that can directly and indirectly sabotage relationships and purpose.

                            DIALOGUE with the AUTHOR
One of the most exciting things about reviewing books is the opportunity to converse with the author. Below is a bit of what author Maxine Billings would like to share with her readers. Enjoy!

LUBF - Please introduce us to your story.

MB - As most people probably know, IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH is my sequel to THE BREAKING POINT. In The Breaking Point, Darryl and Catina had met through their respective friends, Evan and Justine. In Sickness and In Health begins with the two couples celebrating Darryl and Catina’s one-year wedding anniversary. During the celebration, Darryl and Catina surprise their friends with the news that they are expecting their first child. As with most newlywed couples, they are in such a state of marital bliss that they feel nothing can ever separate them from one another’s love. But when Darryl loses both of his legs due to a car accident, their love is put to the test in ways they never imagined.

Darryl, feeling like less of the man he was before his terrible loss, can no longer give his wife the love she still desperately needs and craves. But Catina vows to stand by him even though he is no longer receptive to the love she obviously still has for him. However, just when he gains the courage to move on with their lives, she is confronted with another test of just how far she’s willing to go to keep her marriage together.

LUBF - What was the reason for writing this particular story?
MB - When I wrote The Breaking Point, I knew there would be a sequel. I also knew it would be Darryl and Catina’s story, but I had no idea what the conflict between them would be. Since my ideas come from real-life issues, the thought just popped in my head one day to let Darryl experience the personal tragedy of losing both of his legs. In this way, I could show how a health issue of that nature would affect his and Catina’s marriage—really put it to the test.

My reason for writing this particular story was to show just a few of the ways that I imagine a marriage in this situation might be tested. As I’ve already mentioned, usually when a couple is newly married, they feel that nothing can separate them from each other’s love. They say their vows, but in their minds, they’re not considering that anything will ever happen to cause their love for one another to cool off. But if something does happen, how might they respond?

LUBF - Darryl and Catina's best friends were truly a blessing. Do you feel that friendships today lack the fortitude to overcome what these couples endured?
MB - I do feel that some friendships are lacking in this area because everyone is going through something. Sometimes we can get so caught up in what we personally are going through that we don’t always have the strength or the patience to help someone else get through their troubles. But truly loving our family and friends and keeping in mind the Golden Rule will help us in our determination to always try to be there for them no matter what. It doesn’t mean we will always do or say the right things, but we try because our motives and intentions are good.

LUBF - You provided great information in terms of the needs for Darryl. Overall, what would you like your readers to take away from this book?
MB - It’s one thing to say you love someone. It’s a whole other thing to show you love someone. As the saying goes, action speaks louder than words. Sometimes we’re like children who just have to have that toy in the store. Mama or Daddy may tell us no, but we want it so bad that we keep pestering them until they finally get it for us. Well, what do we do when the newness wears off or something on it breaks? Do we throw it aside and ignore it? Is the love we had for it at first no more? Marriage can be like that toy. Do we treasure it as much as we did in the beginning? Even if something in it gets broken, do we cherish it enough to try to fix it?

LUBF - Your works tend to focus upon family issues. Is that the impetus that drives your muse?
MB - Yes, family/relationship issues definitely stimulate my muse and keep my writing juices flowing. Family relationships are especially important to me. All relationships present challenges, and I find it very interesting how people interact with one another in any relationship.

LUBF - Share with us your latest news.
MB - I have another short story that I’ve written. I’m considering publishing it as my next new release, and I’ve already started on its sequel. I’ve also started a sequel to my first published novel A MEASURE OF FAITH. In the works, too, is my first young adult novel. After the release of In Sickness and in Health  this past April, I came up with the idea for another Breaking Point sequel. It will be titled FOR RICHER OR FOR POORER and will be Justin (Justine’s brother) and his wife Shayna’s story.

LUBF - Please share a little about yourself with us.
MB - I’ve been married for nearly twenty-nine years to a wonderful man and have two wonderful children. I have worked for the State of Georgia for over thirty years and am looking forward to retiring in the next four years. I enjoy cooking, gardening, dancing, and listening to jazz and R & B music.

LUBF - How can readers reach you online and/or request you for their event?
MB - My Web site address is www.maxinebillings.com
My e-mail address is maxinebillings@yahoo.com

Thank you so much for allowing us into your world Maxine. I look forward to your next work.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sight Before Seeing

Choosing To See takes us inside the private world of Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman. It is a world sprinkled with the good, the bad and the ugly that life metes out, yet through it all, their faith has been the thread holding them together.

The loss of a child is nothing any parent can prepare for. Rescuing the family from the aftermath is a journey that can only be made with God. With God the Chapman’s are making the journey back to wholeness. The trip has not been without stumbles, pain, depression and many shed tears. It is however one Mary Beth has chosen to tell via the sharing of her most private thoughts letters, and personal events.

This is by no means an easy read, but one that can be of help to those dealing with tragic family loss and depression. Mary Beth is to be commended for her courage and her generosity is Choosing to See beyond human sight.