Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with a Book (or two or three)

with guest Kristen Ethridge

Good morning, Seekerville! I’m not usually a morning person, but I’ve taken vacation this week to do something crazy—be a full-time writer! I’m so excited to have a whole week to do nothing but hang out with imaginary people. So, let’s get this party started! Who’s got the coffee?

One of the most fun things about being a writer—at least for me—is getting to create a community. I’ve chosen to set all my books in the fictional beach town of Port Provident, Texas. And while I love “meeting” new characters and getting to know them and tell their stories, I love writing a series because it means I get to go back and visit old friends from previous books.

In my first book, Saving Gracie, I got to tell the story of Gracie Garcia, an English as a Second Language teacher who falls in love with Jake Peoples, the developer that she first met when he handed her an eviction notice. In my second book, Second Chance Sweethearts, the story centers around Gloria Garcia Rodriguez---Gracie’s nurse-midwife sister—and her high school sweetheart, Rigo Vasquez. Gracie and Jake make a few appearances in the book, and now have a baby girl, Gabriella. One of the most fun scenes for me to write was when Jake gets to give Gloria dating advice after all the grief that Gloria gave him in the first book.

In August, I released The Doctor’s Unexpected Family. This time, my readers got to learn the backstory on City Councilwoman Angela Ruiz, who appeared briefly in both Saving Gracie and Second Chance Sweethearts. In this story, a medical emergency after a hurricane brings her to depend on Dr. Pete Shipley, a skilled doctor…who just happens to have been Gloria’s boss at the local birth center.

At the beginning of October, I’m releasing Shelter from the Storm—thestory of Becca Collins and Dr. Ross Reeder, two animal lovers who can’t stand each other. They’re thrown together because of Hurricane Hope, which is the key theme of this current Port Provident-based mini-series. In Shelter from the Storm, you’ll find out if Becca and Ross can quit arguing long enough to find common ground and save the furriest residents of Port Provident from the effects of the storm. Plus, you’ll get to see Rigo Vasquez, Angela Ruiz and more.
Visiting Port Provident is like attending a family reunion—but without all the potluck dishes. (Unless you count the fresh seafood at Porter’s or the homemade Mexican food at Huarache’s, the restaurant owned by Gracie and Gloria’s family!) And that’s just the way I planned it. I wanted to create a diverse community that reflected the one I used to live in. I wanted to feature different characters from diverse backgrounds, because I’m a big believer that we need diverse books. To me, Port Provident is a town whose strength comes from the people, community, and churches you’ll find there—in short, it’s probably a lot like where you live. (Well, just with a beach that’s only blocks away from wherever you are.) In fact, I say that the stories of Port Provident are “Inspirational Romance in a Beachside Town You’ll Want to Call Home.”

And I’m especially proud of the fact that recently, The Doctor’s Unexpected Family hit #1 on Amazon’s Hispanic-American literature chart. It means that there’s a place on bookshelves for diverse characters of faith. And I couldn’t be more excited that this milestone happened during Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs through October 15. In fact, on October 2, I’m joining other Christian authors in a Facebook party to celebrate our books featuring diverse characters. I’d love to invite you to join me. RSVP here!

What about you? Do you enjoy reading characters from all walks of life? Are you like me—do you enjoy books in a series so you can go back and visit “old friends” as you read new stories? What are some of your favorite series to read? 

I’m in vacation mode, so I’m going a little crazy today. I’m going to give away a Kindle
copy of The Doctor’s Unexpected Family and a pre-order copy of Shelter from the Storm (you’ll get it when it releases in early October—but just in case you win a different book, be sure and go to my Amazon page and click the yellow “follow” button so you’ll be notified of upcoming releases in the Port Provident series—there are two more scheduled through the end of this year!) 

Plus, I’m also going to throw in FIVE copies of Storm Surge, my non-fiction book that released last month. It’s my memoir of the life lessons I learned going through Hurricane Ike and the Bible verses and stories that had special meaning to me at that time—and if you’re going through storms in your own life, I hope that they’ll inspire you to ride the waves and rise above. My time of rebuilding during Hurricane Ike inspired the Port Provident: Hurricane Hope series, so it’s also a glimpse for readers into the real-life story behind the stories. Comment below for your chance to win!

The writing bug bit Kristen Ethridge around the time she first held a pencil. A 2012 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award Finalist, Kristen was discovered by Harlequin through their 2012 So You Think You Can Write contest.

Kristen is the award-nominated author of the Port Provident series with Harlequin’s Love Inspired line and Laurel Lock Publishing. Her August 2015 release, The Doctor’s Unexpected Family, reached No. 1 on the Amazon Hispanic-American literature chart. Her favorite stories are filled with love, laughter, and happily ever after--and her favorite happily ever after is the story of God's love. Although she has fun creating characters, Kristen's favorite people are her family. She lives in Texas with her husband, children and a self-important poodle. Keep up with Kristen by joining her newsletter list and her author pages on Amazon and Facebook. You can also visit her online at


Ruth Logan Herne said...

I love diverse characters. I don't care what ethnicity or race or background, I like realism in my stories, so this is a wonderful post for me, Kristen!


I've got it right here for youse, and it's good! Strong enough, but not too strong.

Kristen, I love that you're venturing into multiple venues! Tell us more about that, pretty please?

And thank you so much for being here today!

Mary Preston said...

I love to read right across the board when it comes to characters. A great post thank you. STORM SURGE sounds fascinating.

Evelyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome back to Seekerville Kristen! I brought a nice Guatemalan Banana Bread to the party.

I love how your books all have the series theme running through them and especially love the Port Provident logo.

Do you keep a series bible?

Evelyn said...

I love characters from different walks of life as you called it. Since I'm an Asian, so I'm reading mostly European and American characters. It's surprising at first with the different way of speaking but soon I grow to love all characters.
Christian books are totally amazing. I love it when they put Bible verse in it and they would relate to the story, so we will remember God's love and words in our life.

Jill Weatherholt said... entire week off to write, sounds wonderful, Kristen. Gosh, you're certainly busy with your series. I love that most of your book take place near the ocean. There's something so relaxing about an ocean setting. I love the Port Provident logo.

Jackie said...

Hi Kristen,

I'd love a week off to write! Enjoy your time!

I enjoy series, and I usually write with the idea of a series in mind. My two favorite settings to write are the North Carolina beach and Kentucky. I adore both of these areas.

Your stories sound great! Congratulations on your new release!

Rhonda Starnes said...

I hope you have a productive week as a "full time" writer, Kristen. I'm a school teacher, so I always look forward to my summer "job" as a full time writer. The main problem I run into is that I get easily sidetracked by all the things that need done around the house.

Your books sound wonderful. I love reading books with diverse characters.

Loves To Read said...

What an interesting post! Please enter me in the drawing for your book.

Jeanne T said...

You are fortunate to get a whole week off to write! :) Reading characters from different walks of life and different ethnicities. I married a man who is of Japanese descent, but I haven't tried writing a character like that yet. :) Maybe in a future book. Your books sound like fun reads!

Cindy Regnier said...

Thanks Kristen - Your books sound wonderful and I am excited to read them. Hoping your writing week is very productive. Sounds so fun (I had to skip my writing vacation this year so I'm a little jealous.)
You've made me think about settings. Maybe it's time to venture out and try someplace new. . .

Kristen Ethridge said...

Ruthy, thank you for your enthusiasm for bringinc caffeine to the masses this morning! To answer your question, the truth of the matter is that I kind of fell into it. I knew I needed to make some changes with regard to commitments for publication schedules with Baby #3 on the way, but before I bowed out gracefully for a bit, I decided to put out the two books I had pretty much done. And the crazy thing is I've gotten wonderful feedback on them and so now I'm determined to get the whole series done before Little Ethridge 3.0 gets here. So I went into it trying to take a break, and now I'm busier than ever! And I am having the time of my life--God has definitely been right there on this one, laughing alongside me.

Mary, THANK YOU! And I hope you'll enjoy Storm Surge. It was started in 2009, right after the hurricane. Now, seven years on, it's amazing to look back and see God's faithfulness.

Tina, how did you know banana bread is my favorite? MMM. I love the logo too! I think the designer did a fantastic job with it. I have similar specific ones for the Port Provident: Hurricane Hope series and one for the Port Provident: Holiday Hearts (you heard it here first, Seekerville!) series that I plan to release next year. As far as a series bible, I SHOULD have one, but I find I'm writing too fast and furious now to sit down and put it together. So mostly, I pull up old manuscripts and look up things I need to refresh my memory on. I know Port Provident itself really well because it's a fictional version of Galveston, Texas, where I lived for 5 years (and where I was born long before that).

DebH said...

Hi Kristen
I loved Saving Gracie, unfortunately my book budget hasn't allowed me to follow up on your other books as of yet. I love book series for the same reasons you stated in your post. I love "visiting" characters from previous books and getting a look-see at their continuing HEA.

As for diversity, I'm with Ruthy. I don't really care about the ethnicity of the characters as long as they are characters that have depth and are people I grow to love. I also like peeking at other cultures anyway, so I'm all for diversity. Keeps things from being bland.

Put my name in the draw please. I'm making a note to self to update my wish list so I don't forget to purchase more books in your series as budget allows. I really enjoyed Saving Gracie. I know I said that already, but it bears repeating.

Kristen Ethridge said...

Evelyn, thank you! And yes, I love it when characters are real people--and I think a real depiction of day-to-day faith is part of that.

Jill, thank you! I wish I was sitting ON a beach writing this week--that's the only thing that would be better. I have pulled up many pics of my May trip to Cozumel on my phone this week, I'll be totally honest. :)

Jackie, you know, I've never been to either of those places...sounds like I need to put them on my go-see list. Port Provident is a Texas beach because that's what I know well. I love when we can bring a little bit of "home" to readers around the world through a story.

Rhonda...we are NOT even going to talk about my house right now. It's pathetic. I need a cleaning fairy. Always tell yourself that your house cannot be worse than mine at this very moment.

Loves to read--thank you...and you're definitely entered!

Jeanne, thank you! Japanese characters would definitely be fun! I think there's so much to learn and experience from all sorts of different cultures and it sounds like you've got some wonderful first-hand insight there!

Cindy, thank you! It's definitely fun to fall in love with characters AND a setting. I hope that as the Port Provident series unfolds, I'm able to do that with readers. I think of what Marie Force has been able to do in the ABA market with Gansett Island. I'd love it if Port Provident was the Gansett Island of the CBA market--a place where readers loved to visit and escape to.

Kristen Ethridge said...

And for everyone who asked about the writing here's the real scoop. I just discovered 2 weeks ago that I got an extra week of vacation this year (I hit a milestone with my company). I thought it started NEXT year. Then I realized that since we had to cancel our Disney cruise at Thanksgiving (I'll be about 32 weeks pregnant and they won't let you on the boat after 24 weeks)...that meant I had TWO weeks of vacation to take before the end of the year. And I am a girl who DOES NOT leave vacation on the table. So I set some crazy ambitious writing goals, told my boss I was turning off the email for a week (she's amazingly supportive of my writing--in fact, her teenage daughter told her to tell me the other day that she wants me to sell a million copies! My boss' response was "No, she can't do that or she'll quit!" HA!)

And so here I am, writing up a storm (well, technically, I'm writing up a storm ABOUT a storm--Hurricane Hope and the aftermath, specifically!) The weather here in North Texas has been awesome, so I've been doing a lot of writing on patios with chips and queso. It's been serendipitous. I AM taking 2 hours off today to cut/color my hair, so you can see I'm a girl with priorities. Writing will just have to wait.

Can't wait to chat more with the lovely Seekers today!

DebH said...

p.s. Happy writing during your week off. I hope and pray it is abundantly productive for you.

Kristen Ethridge said...

Oh, DebH, you made my day! Thank you for your sweet words about Saving Gracie! I'm so glad you loved it. Saving Gracie is definitely a book that is near and dear to my heart--so I <3 that you enjoyed it! :) We'll definitely put you in the drawing. (And if you win and would rather have a copy of Second Chance Sweethearts so you can read Gloria's book, let me know.)

Marianne Barkman said...

Oh, Kristen your series sound delightful, just like your post today. Don't you need reviewers! Or a street team?
By the way, Sandra, have your review done, just not posted yet. Thanks!

Myra Johnson said...

Welcome, Kristen! Another Texas girl--YAY! I'm a North Carolina transplant who was born and raised in Texas and lived my whole life there until 2006. We lived in Houston for our last 13 years in Texas, so we enjoyed those trips to Galveston and walking the Strand. I hated seeing in the news what Ike did to the island.

Kristen Ethridge said...

Marianne, thank you! And yes, I probably do need both and have neither! #badauthor

If you're interested in something like that (offer extends to anyone here), message me through my FB author page: and I'll work on pulling something together. It sounds like an idea whose time has come.

Kristen Ethridge said...

Hi, Myra! I love that you've been to The G. We loved living there. After Ike, we actually had two stores for about a year and a half on The Strand. I love Galveston and I'm super proud to be a BOI. (Born on the Island, for non-Galveston folks) In fact, I made up a similar designation for Jake in Saving Gracie. He's a BOP, or "Born on Provident." :)

Cara Lynn James said...

Hi, Kristen! Glad you came to Seekerville today.

I love to read about people with different heritages than mine especially Hispanic.

Wilani Wahl said...

Kristen, I can't wait to read your series. I picked up Second chance Sweethearts but haven't had a chance to read it. then I learned more about you at a facebook party a month ago and ordered a used copy of Saving Gracie through Amazon. It has not arrived yet. I have an e copy of the Doctor's Unexpected family. I will definitely want to get a copy of your newest book coming out in October. This series sounds awesome.

I am planning to be at your facebook party on Friday.

I am hoping that today will be a day of celebration. If it weren't for the fact that I have to be ready to teach Cubbies tonight. I would be writing. I have between 2,000 to 3,000 words to write in order to finish my first ever novel that I started during Speedbo in March 2014. I am really want to write The End.

Have a great day everyone and when I finish my book I will let you know!

Caryl Kane said...

Hello Kristen. I enjoy learning about different cultures. My pastors are Mexican and I love them! It was fun meeting you recently at your facebook event. Since I am going though a stormy season, I would love to read STORM SURGE.

psalm103and138 at gmail dot com

Kathryn Barker said...

Hi Kristen,

Our little family is diverse and our extended family is also a fabulous mix of cultures. Such fun to be surround by love from all! My major in college was anthropology/sociology and the Lord has fulfilled my dream of meeting people from all over the world. One experience I never expected was taking salt-milk tea with a family living in a Ger (like a Yurt) in Mongolia!

Would love to read your books...thanks for sharing! Wishing you and your family much joy...and have fun writing this week!!

Missy Tippens said...

Welcome back, Kristen! I love diverse communities so love to read about them. I'm excited your series are doing so well! I, too, love your logo.

I had to laugh about your answer about the series bible. I've been winging it like that on my Seeker novellas that we've published. I keep opening old files to do a search for facts about the characters! LOL I need to get my act together to save time. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Wilani, you're almost there!! Be sure to let us know when you type The End!

Missy Tippens said...

Kristen, enjoy getting your hair done! I love those days. :)

Sandy Smith said...

Kristen, I read Second Chance Sweethearts and loved it. Great characters. I do love reading series. One of my favorites has been Jan Karon's Mitford series.

I would love to be entered to win any of the mentioned prizes!

Kristen Ethridge said...

Cara Lynn--thanks for stopping by! I love getting to learn about different people and places too. Being a Texan, I have a lot of experience in diverse communities. We have people from EVERYWHERE it seems here. When I was little, I lived on the Texas/Mexico border and that's where my family is from, so having Hispanic characters was just a natural fit when I started creating Port Provident. Gracie Garcia in Saving Gracie has a lot of background in my mom's work as an ESL teacher and my oldest daughter's involvement in a Spanish immersion preschool and elementary school. (She actually spells and reads better in Spanish at this point!)

Kristen Ethridge said...

Wilani, MUAH! Thank you! I hope you enjoy all three books. THANK YOU so much for picking them all up! I love that you were at that Facebook party last month. I had a blast there--my 30 minutes went way too fast! So many wonderful people! I'm participating in another one this Friday (link in the blog above) and I'm coordinating one for February and am trying to get another one together for early next year with some other author friends. I think it's a great way for readers to get to meet writers and hear about new stories directly from them. Plus, they're just super fun! So excited you'll be there Friday!

PLEASE let us all know when you finish your book--definitely post something over on my Facebook page ( so I can Snoopy dance with you! Finishing any manuscript is a big deal, but the FIRST "The End" is so super special!

Kristen Ethridge said...

Caryl, I'm so glad you were at the recent Facebook party too! I hope you'll be at Friday's party as well--I can't wait to "see" you there! Fingers crossed that you win a copy of Storm Surge. There are quite a few copies up for grabs, so I hope one finds its way to your Kindle, and I will be praying for you as you navigate your own stormy season. Hang in there! Hugs!

Kristen Ethridge said...

Kathryn, I feel a story in the making with this Mongolian yurt experience! How unique and fabulous. I bet it was a really amazing moment for you. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing about it--you may be the first person I know who has been to a Mongolian yurt!

Thanks for the wishes on the writing. I am having a blast--but as usual, I'm behind on my word count goal. Gotta get those fingers typing faster today and tomorrow!!! (After the haircut, of course.)

Tina Radcliffe said...

A full week! Heaven. Lately I've been toying with the idea of a weekend in a hotel. That way I can't see all he other chores that call my name.

Tina Radcliffe said...

You've had s very prolific year for a writer with a day job and kiddos. And it's only September!! Way to go!!!

Kristen Ethridge said...

Hi, Missy! Thank you! :) And yes, isn't it insane when we don't have time to do the things that will save us time? I have a few more weeks of writing insanity and then I have a short list of things I have to accomplish to get my life back in order--and I may add putting together a Port Provident bible on that list.

And yes, the haircut... I've been letting my hair grow out for well over a year. It's about shoulder-blade length. But I need to go back to the real me, the short-haired me. And I'm very, very, very seriously considering putting fire ombre coloring on the tips. Because this girl is on fire. Or something like that. Writing like my hair is on fire is probably a more accurate statement. Either way, it's time for something fun and sassy. We'll see where it winds up.

Kristen Ethridge said...

Sandy, thank you! So glad you liked Gloria and Rigo's story. I loved writing it and I really came to just plain love them. Gloria's a handful to get on paper! She's been in both Saving Gracie and The Doctor's Unexpected Family and had her starring role in Second Chance Sweethearts--she's practically family at this point!

Kristen Ethridge said...

Oh Tina dear, you don't even know what I would do for a weekend with no children and room service and a big fluffy bed all to myself. Just me and my laptop...aaaah. Like seriously.

Could this room be on a beach in Cozumel?


kaybee said...


kaybee said...

I like reading series! Drives me nuts when local library doesn't have all the books in a series. I also like writing them. It's almost a natural progression for me to see the potential in a secondary or minor character, and spin something off with them. It would be difficult for me to do a stand-alone.
AND I love diversity. What a rich, colorful world we live in, and how much we can learn from each other.
Would love to win a print book if you have any (don't own e-reader).
Thanks Kristen.
Kathy Bailey

Becky Dempsey said...

A week to do nothing but write. Ooohh, I like the sound of that. I do like series when you can see characters you've met before. I've enjoyed Susan May Warren's Christiansen family series and Melanie Dickerson's as well as others. I'd love to win a book :)

Vince said...

Hi Kristen:

I met you when your first books was coming out and at that time you were not sure if you could find the time to write a sequel -- which I really wanted to you do. Now I see you have books busting out all over! What did you do to go from problematic to prolific? I think I'd like to get some of that. : )

I like diversity but it does not have to only be cultural. I like diversity in occupations, hobbies, world-views, activities, family situations and travels. After all, what do they say is the 'spice of life'?

My favorite locations for stories are where I'd like to live. If I'd like to live there, like Canyon Springs, Arizona, then obviously I'd like to visit it often. You know you're doing well when your fans think you take too long between books.

So here's the big question: what are you going to do when a LI editor tells you to move out of your beautiful Port Provident location? Have you thought of Corpus Christi? Not a bad name for an inspirational book. Maybe you could name it, Spiritus Christi, to keep it fictional.

Your town reminds me of a day I passed around a handful of Roman coins to my class. One lady jumped out of her chair and shouted, "These coins are fake! This one has the word 'Provident' on it."

I was taken back for a moment and then said, "Yes, and did you also notice it is in a Roman Type Font, too? 'Provident' is a Roman word. The Romans even had a Goddess named Providentia."

I always think of this story when I see your books. Maybe you could get a photo of this coin for your website or business card. The coin I have was absolutely minted during the life of Christ so it is fun to hold it in my hand and think that Jesus could have had this very coin in his coin purse.


Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Kristen. Congrats on your series. Love the setting. Even the food served in the area sounds great! :-) Writing fast probably helps you keep the facts straight. Go you!


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Kristen I love that you took this brave and fun step. Honestly, I can see huge advantages for young moms to choose the indie route. Traditional publishing is a whole different game, and I love it, but it's a challenge to deal with deadlines and feedback and edits/revisions when small children's lives are at stake.


I'm so glad this is working out for you!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Kristen and welcome to Seekerville. Thanks for sharing your series community and the advantages of creating that imaginary community to place in your series. I love revisiting favorite characters. Julie and Mary are experts at that.

Have fun today and thanks for sharing with us.

Valri said...

Hey, Kristen always great to hear from you! I love both single title books and series. They are different but each have their positives! I look forward to your series!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Oh yes, I forgot to mention how much I appreciate reading diverse characters, something you know means a lot to me from my post on Monday. Great going and congrats on being # 1 on the Hispanic - American literature chart.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Vince, how interesting about the coin. What a thought. smile To think Jesus held that coin. wow

Sandra Leesmith said...

Kaybee, I'll take some banana bread. Thanks a bunch.

Pam Hillman said...

Kristen, great to have you. I'm with Vince. Diverse characters, locations, and occupations. The occupation part seems a little harder to accomplish when writing historicals, especially for the womenfolk, but we manage. lol

In my latest proposal, I have a melting pot of Spanish, French, British, and Irish. So, I'm definitely branching out! :)

Sandra Leesmith said...

Yay, Wilani. You are so close to THE END. I hope you're planning something special to celebrate.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi again Kristen, I just read how you got your extra week of vacation. congrats on your new little one coming. And yay for a whole week of writing. Have fun.

Happy writing.

kaybee said...

Sandy, TINA brought the bread, but I'm happy to share.

kaybee said...

I'm off from my day job next week, and also my part-time job. I hope to spend some time "snowflaking" my next project and editing two books, one chapter from each at a time. Writing is joy and not a chore so I don't mind doing it on "vac."
I will also probably spend more time on blogs.
One of my favorite recent examples of diverse characters is Lucia and Berto in Ruthy's Kirkwood Lake series. I love love love Lucia's big heart and strong faith. I still want to make the Dulce de Leche cake. Maybe for the holidays.

S. Trietsch said...

Welcome Kristen! I was born in Galveston and lived in TX until 5 yrs ago when we moved to GA for my hubby's job. I'd love to read your memoir!! Please enter me into your drawing and enjoy your write-cation!!


Debby Giusti said...

I'm feeling your energy and enthusiasm...and I've already fallen in love with Port Provident! Growing up as an Army Brat, I was surrounded by diversity. The Army truly is a melting pot with folks from all over the world. Plus, we moved around so much that I was from...well, everywhere! :)

Congrats on your success! Glad you have the week off. Happy writing...and happy baby #3! So excited for you on all fronts.

Reaching for Tina's banana bread, although your salsa and chips look good too.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Hey, hey, hey, chickies, I got me no series "bible", either.

BUT... I do make a name chart for each book, with eye color for significant people just to keep me from having to look things up. And if there's a special store, I jot down that name too, because Sandy's might become Sarah's and Hammerstein's General Store became Ballersteins... but I caught it! :)

So I jot them in a single Word doc and then I have that open as I work on the series. So right now I have a Grace Haven book and list open and my Sewing Sisters Society name sheet open. That's just enough to keep me from having to re-open files repeatedly.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Mary Connealy just mentioned on Facebook/facebook that I mock her over here...

In my defense, it is IMPOSSIBLE to mock someone who hasn't even bothered to show up yet!

I may have mocked her previously.

It is, (I confess) possible.

Connie Queen said...

Good afternoon Kristen.
Love all the Texas girls! I'm about an hour north of Dallas so I think we're close.

I'm love ethnic diversity in stories as long as the story is not about their race. Does that make sense? I want to know them as people.

My oldest son's first wife was from Russia. And then my next two sons married Hispanic sisters. I'm always learning something about their cultures. Son #2, Connor Callahan Queen, and his wife had a baby in January. They decided to name their baby Johnny. I thought, "yeah, little Johnny Callahan". Nope, their family doesn't use middle names. But didn't they understand I really liked that middle name??? LOL.

Mary Connealy said...

UH OH! I should have come a few minutes earlier so Ruthy would be AFRAID to mock me.

(yeah right!)

Anyway, Kristen, what a great blog post. Love the clash and richness of different cultures. Clash because of the different traditions, food, music, faith, richness for all those same reasons.

Barbara Scott said...

Ditto what Mary C. said. Adds a little spice to love stories too.

Ruthy, isn't your nickname Mockingbird? ;-)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Connie, I agree. We talked about this when Piper was here. I've used a tri-racial heroine and a Hispanic heroine and her family and NO ONE CARED, but the stories were about the people... not their skin color.

And I think that made all the difference. When I teach kids about diversity, I use a bowl of eggs, all shades of brown/tan/white/green/blue.

And inside each one is an egg... virtually the same except in size.

And they get it!

Kristen Ethridge said...

Well, Team Seekerville, I'm back briefly. I've decided to do something crazy town with my hair today. So I'm reading all your lovely comments as my hair color processes. It's basically a hair midlife crisis, but cheaper and less permanent than buying a Porsche or a Harley. Bwahaha!

Since I've only got a few minutes until I have to get my hair washed, pardon me for answering collectively...

Kathy/Vince/Pam/Connie--I think the story ALWAYS has to be about the characters and their growth and their organic story. If you try and force an agenda or issue or one specific thing, readers know it and your characters do too.

I think that's why I set out to create a community vs saying I was focusing on one particular trait. You get all sorts of strengths and weaknesses in a community and the people who live there evolve and grow--and new people move in and bring new gems to mine for new stories.

Vince, of course I remember you and my trip to Tulsa! What a fantastic coin story. Thank you for sharing it! As far as leaving Port Provident, I kinda hope I don't have to for a long, long time and that it will be my choice if I ever do. Right now, these current releases are not with LI, so I have the freedom to continue the Port Provident stories as long as my little brain cooks them up and readers want to read them.

Stephanie, I am SUPER excited to have another BOI on this thread! Oh my goodness! I've had lots of folks who have been to Galveston chime in on blogs and Facebook and such, but never another BOI (at least one that I don't know personally from my time there!)

More to come...

Mary Connealy said...

Kristen my midlife crisis seemed to center around donuts. Good for you with the hair.

Tina Radcliffe said...

The average life expectancy of an American woman is73.6. Doesn't that seem awfully young to you??? So midlife passed me by and I didn't have a crisis. Now I'm depressed!

Christina said...

I have read both Saving Gracie and Second Chance Sweethearts and enjoyed them both. I agree that it's important to have diversity in our books. I wonder if maybe the reason we don't see it as much as because, for me at least, we don't feel we have the ability to write a believable character of a different ethnicity from our own? Anyway, I'll look forward to reading Shelter from the Storm. Congrats on your wonderful books!

Sandra Leesmith said...

RUTHY are you saying we can call you upstate New Yorkers eggheads??? chuckle

Great concept though. To use the eggs. You are so clever.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Good grief Tina, I only have two years left. I'm the one depressed. lol

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi KB, sorry thought you had bought the bread. I'll send Tina a thank you. smile It was yummy.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Kristen, So how did the hair turn out? You need to make another profile photo so we can see it. And anew hairdo does wonders. For me anyway. smile

Julie Lessman said...


You're singing my song, darlin' -- I love, Love, LOVE "books in a series so (I) can go back and visit “old friends” as (I) read new stories." Which is why I wrote the 7-book O'Connor family saga -- once I fall in love with a character or setting, it's just so darn hard to say goodbye, isn't it???

Your books sound great and SUPER CONGRATS on hitting #1 on Amazon's Hispanic-American literature chart -- that is a lot to crow about, girl! Port Provident definitely sounds like a place I'd like to live/visit, so I think I need too soon ... :)


Kristen Ethridge said...

Valri--I'm so glad to "see" you again! It's been a while!

Debby--I'm jealous that you've gotten to live all over the world. (Ross, the hero in Shelter from the Storm is also an Army brat, so I think y'all will get along!)

Ruthy--Maybe a simple Word doc is all I need. I'll start there. :) And I can't believe you'd mock! You? :)

Janet/Becky/Barbara--Thank you for stopping by and for chiming in on this fun discussion!

Mary--I'm so glad you stopped by, but I'm sorry it took Ruthy mocking to get you here. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm glad you're here, no matter what the persuasion was!

Y' hair appointment took three hours. I am part Chia Pet. And then I had to feed small children. So...sorry for the delay!

Kristen Ethridge said...

Tina, it is NEVER too late for a midlife crisis. I say so.

Mary, bwahahaha. I may have picked up a cookie on the way home. I'm not far from a donut intervention.

Christina, I completely understand what you're saying. I think that does hold a lot of us back--write what you know and all that. I just tried to create real people that I'd like to spend time with (and happen to cook excellent tamales and live in a wonderful, close-knit community.) And thank you for reading Saving Gracie and Second Chance Sweethearts. I hope you enjoy Shelter from the Storm and The Doctor's Unexpected Family!

Julie--I think you and I could definitely be friends! I COMPLETELY agree. And thank you for the sweet words.

Sandra--the hair is now red ombre and about 5 inches shorter. It would have been even more red except that she underestimated how much hair I had (part Chia Pet, I'm telling you!) and had to do more texturing and trimming than she thought, so the really bright stuff was all left on the floor. SO SAD. I walked in the door and my three-year-old said "Oh, Mama! You hair! It's orange! And bwown. I WIKE IT. It ca-zy." Crazy is a high compliment from her. And her hair (both my girls, actually) is naturally "orange." So both my girls are big fans of the color choice today. It's been 15 years since I've had my hair colored. I know I am not smart enough to figure out how to change my avatar right now, so I'll post a pic over on my Facebook page in just a second (

Cate Nolan said...

I was thinking of your books today, Kristen, when we suddenly had a hurricane in our forecast!

Vince said...

Midlife Crises
& Black Moments

Just as black moments don't always occur on the same page but are relative to the number of pages in the book, so too midlife crises are relative to a given individual's actual lifespan. However, if you've not had a midlife crisis by the time you are sixty, then your life will probably be sent back for revisions -- which, by the way, is a good argument for reincarnation.

Tanya Agler said...

Kristen, I love series. Someone mentioned Jan Karon's Mitford books in the comments. I love Father Tim (and Dooley and Cynthia and Lace and Puny...). I love to read series, and if I've read more than two in a series, it usually means I really care about the characters. I read a lot of cozy mysteries and romance novels so I've read a lot of different series.

For me, it doesn't matter the background. I love a good story. I've really enjoyed Piper Huguley's Milford College series and Belle Calhoune's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (I figured it was okay to name the series in the comments today).

Kristen Ethridge said...

Stay dry, Cate! I just saw a few hours ago that one was headed that way--clearly I have NOT been paying attention.

But...East Coasters, do *I* have the perfect read for your weekend! Hee hee hee.

Kristen Ethridge said...

Vince, you're a hoot!

Tanya, I love Piper's series and Belle's. In fact, I was just talking to Belle about 5 minutes ago. Her series has been a real inspiration to me--I tell her about once a week I want to be her when I grow up! LOL

Mary Connealy said...

Tina most of us are just to blasted busy to fit in a mid-life crisis. Maybe when I age 90...I'll buy a red Porsch.

Okay, forget that. Who can afford that?
I'll buy a red Buick convertible.
Except I would NEVER take the top down. What if a bug flew into my mouth?
Plus, does Buick even make convertibles? I admit to never checking

So maybe a red pickup truck? Oh forget it, we already have one.

sigh....planning a midlife crisis sort of defeats the purpose I reckon.

Kristen Ethridge said...

Mary...I say have whatever kind of crisis YOU want.

But no, I think Buick is out of the convertible business. :) (So long, Sunfire, we remember you fondly.)

Walt Mussell said...

I'm on the diverse character side of things. When you've got authors that do great research, you learn a lot when you're dealing with what's unfamiliar.

Deanne Patterson said...

What an interesting post ,Kristen. I also enjoy reading about different cultures and nationalities. I very much appreciate when what I read is authentic as well ! You are a new to me author but I'd be very interested in reading one of your earlier books , a Love Inspired one. So write away and enjoy ! 📚
Deanne Patterson

ohiohomeschool said...

I really enjoyed your post. I like it when characters from other stories are woven into new ones. I am often still thinking of them and it is fun to see what they are doing now!
Becky B

Suzanne Baginskie said...

Hi Kristan. Thanks for sharing about different cultures and using them in your writing. I like reading about series characters too. You have been very prolific. Keep doing what you are doing. Your blog introduce you to me and many others. Isn't networking great. I will check out your website and books. Keep on writing.

Suzanne Baginskie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly Blackwell @ Heres My Take On It said...

I grew up surrounded by many different cultures so it is perfectly natural for me to read a book that reflects that. I am also a huge fan of a series especially when they take place in a certain locale. I look forward to reading your series Kristen! Congratulations on hitting #1!