Tuesday Tantalizer – Interview & Giveaway with Shades of the Orient Author, Stephanie Guerrero

Today, I am very privileged to have Stephanie Guerrero here for an interview!  I connected with Stephanie back in October/November.  I know her brother and sister-in-law through my NaNo co-ML (The Barenaked Critic), and we writers all tend to gravitate around each other.  Stephanie just recently published her first book, Shades of the Orient (HardcoverPaperback, Kindle).

After the interview, we will be giving away a paperback copy of Shades of the Orient. Please keep reading for more information!

It’s wonderful to have you here today, Stephanie! Let’s just dig right in – when did you first start writing?
I first started truly writing fiction when my two oldest kiddos were 1 and 2 (they are now 12 and 13). My two little boys were twelve months apart, and though I chose to be a stay at home mom, I needed a mental creative outlet. I am a former middle school reading teacher, and an avid reader. One night a story idea came to me, and I began to grab snatches of time during the day and night to write. Because my family has been my main priority, getting published has taken time, but it was an adventure I am so blessed to have taken.

It’s hard enough finding time to write for me, even without kids. I can’t imagine what a struggle it was for you, and how good it must have felt to get the words on paper. What’s involved in your writing process?
I have a beginning and an ending in mind, but I love to allow my story and characters to develop as I go. Making certain there is an active, fast-paced middle of the story required a little more planning, but I often end up writing a surprise scene several different ways, letting my brain run through the possibilities, then I pick my favorite. ( I have a deleted scenes category like they do at the end of movies! They are so much fun to write.) Never stifle a good idea just because you are not sure it will fit. Write it out… let it flow… you can always delete it, but you never know where it may lead! 🙂

What was your inspiration behind “Shades of the Orient”?
Long story short… I found a really amazing quote among some correspondence between American officers involved in the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900. The quote stated that if any tale had all the elements of a good story filled with betrayal, power, greed, etc it would be the tale of the Boxer Rebellion. I took the bait, did the research, and the rest is history.
I will add this note however… The entire tale of the Boxer Rebellion is tragic and horrific. Somewhere between 10,000-11,000 Chinese Christians were violently murdered just because they followed the “foreigner’s God”. Many other foreigners were killed just for being foreign. I chose to use the two years leading up to and during the Rebellion as a backdrop to a tale of smuggling, betrayal and romance. I did not want to take away from the tragedy of the real people who suffered and died.

Are there any parallels in your own life to the struggles and growth the characters have with their relationship to Christ?
The tale of my female character is largely my own. There have been betrayals in my life and times when those I love have suffered greatly and I could not see the purpose and questioned the reasoning behind continuing to go beyond forgiveness and love… or even just love at all. Francesca’s struggle is my own. I have found that God has so deeply loved me that continuing to pass that on to others is not an option. I must love as He loves me.

Which character are you least like?
I am least like the character Black Jade. I really struggled to even come up with motivation for my bad guy because it is difficult for me to fathom why an individual would want to walk an evil path.

What was your favorite part to write?
There are a couple of surprise twists in the story that were a lot of fun to write. Since the story is an espionage there are quite a few “masks” that need to be pulled back. I had the most fun deciding how to “unmask” certain people.
My heart is also in the “romance” of the book. It was important to me to portray the fun and beauty of doing things God’s way contrasted with the devastation of following our own way.

Why did you choose to use WestBow Press? Are there any advantages or disadvantages you’ve encountered with self-publishing so far?
I never thought I would consider self-publishing until I discovered Westbow Press. Westbow is a division of Thomas Nelson Bible Publishers, one of the major Christian publishing houses. Thomas Nelson was receiving so many good manuscripts from new authors that they were unable to publish them all. They decided to bring Westbow as an arm in order to give these authors a shot while still monitoring the integrity and tracking the numbers. If a Westbow author is extremely successful, there is the possibility that Thomas Nelson will bring that author under its wing.

There are many advantages, these are just a few:
1.The books are printed on demand, so it makes self-publishing much more affordable.
2. I am now a professional, published author and that opens doors.
3. I owe all the rights to my own book. (Not so with a publishing house)
4. I had a wonderful creative team working with me.
5. I got to price the ebook (Right now its just $.99)
There are a few drawbacks:
1. There is no editor provided.
(I had two hard drives crash and there are newly typed pieces that did not get as much editing as I would have liked)
2. All promotion falls to the author, though advice is given.
3. I did not get to price the hard and soft covers. Books on demand are generally a little higher.

Do you ever want to pursue traditional publication at some point?
I would love for a traditional publisher to pick it up and promote it for me but I like the fact, too, that I own my own rights.

What do you like to do besides write?
I love to be outside and hike, garden or rock climb. Cooking is also a fun thing for me!

What is your favorite type of cookie?
Cookies in general are my favorite weakness! My newest favorite is peanut butter chocolate chip.
Check out this recipe: WOW!

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
(chocolate chips if desired)
Mix, drop onto cookie sheet, and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-10 minutes.

If I liked peanut butter, that looks like an awesome recipe! Stephanie, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy days for this interview! May God continue to pour His blessings out over you and your family!

Shades of the Orient

An action-packed suspense in the exotic Orient.
No one is who they seem…

A classic tale of good versus evil: spies, smugglers and betrayal

The Smuggler
Black Jade is many things… Hiding behind a prominent name by day and a Chinese mask by night, he can be anyone, just not the man he wants to be. Trapped in an ever tightening web of deceit, and pursued relentlessly by the White Dragon (Major Montero) he must choose which man he wants to be. When a way out is offered from a surprising source, will he choose power or let it go?

The Spy
A Spanish officer, a black market dealer, a shipping executive… Intelligence officer Philip Montero is skilled at wearing masks to defeat the enemy, but this time he must face the enemy within. When his body betrays him with night terrors, he must unlock the past in order to survive, but time is running out and Black Jade has targeted the woman of his heart. Betrayed by his family, his fiancé, and his fears, who can teach him how to trust again?

The Senorita
Shipping heiress turned missionary nurse, Francesca McRae is a target everywhere she turns. Desired as an heiress by power-hungry men and hated by the Chinese Boxers for her interference in the culture… she is surrounded by betrayal and hatred. None of her suitors are who they seem, yet one has stolen her heart. When loving others becomes more than she can handle, who can she trust?
Where do you turn when life is too much to handle?

To enter the giveaway, click the book cover below:

Shades of the Orient by Stephanie Guerrero