Interview with author Tessa Afshar

With valentines day a week ago from today, the air remains saturated with love and romance.

Tessa Afshar’s latest release, a ravishing romance develops between Priscilla and Aquila in Daughter of Rome, radiating the beauty of covenant. Tessa afshar's latest release, a ravishing romance develops between Priscilla and Aquila in Daughter of Rome, radiating the beauty of covenant. Click To Tweet

Today on my blog, I am honored to feature a post interviewing Tessa Afshar on her thoughts about romance and incorporating romance into her writing.

I want to thank crazy4fiction blog for the content of this blog and providing permission to use the content from their site.

This post was originally published as part of the Crazy4Fiction blog and is used with permission. You can read the original post here. (https://www.crazy4fiction.com/2020/01/21/romance-author-qa/).

Q: Relationships aren’t always smooth sailing. Priscilla and Aquila in Daughter of Rome have their share of challenges. How did you decide what obstacles to have them overcome together and how do you hope their story will encourage others?

A: Priscilla and Aquila were expelled from Rome, which meant they were forced to leave their home, dear friends, and established business ties. The implied emotional and financial stress in such an unexpected move is enormous and bound to affect even the strongest of relationships. In Daughter of Rome, I tried to capture some of the complexities of love in troubled times. The story reminds us how important it is to choose love in marriage, to guard it, to fight for it. To avoid listening to the negative conclusions that our wounded hearts press upon us. I hope readers will be inspired by Priscilla and Aquila’s brave love for each other, for God, and for friend and foe alike.

Q: Your novels are set during biblical times when courtship customs were different from today. How do you give characters in your novels romances that will resonate with contemporary readers while also not making the love stories feel too modern for the setting?

A: I believe there are certain things about the human heart that never change regardless of the era. Women will always want to be known and cherished. Pursued. Men still need to feel honored and respected. They still dread failure. The ancient Romans and Israelites might not have gone out to the local Italian restaurant for a first date. But the main ingredients of a good romance never change.

Q: Is there a scene between Priscilla and Aquila in Daughter of Rome that was the most fun for you to write? Which scene is it?

A: Oddly, it is the scene where Aquila almost ruins everything. He withdraws his first proposal. Caught in a whirlwind of judgment, he can’t wait to walk away. But the reader is also aware, perhaps more than Aquila himself, that he can’t really let Priscilla go. I love the charged tension Aquila feels in this scene, his heart torn between a consuming love and sharp censure. Even though the scene doesn’t have a happy conclusion, as readers we are aware that it will eventually lead to a more satisfying union.

Q: What’s one of your favorite romantic lines a character says in your novels?

A: Goodness! This one is really difficult to answer. The romance of a line usually comes from the buildup of many previous scenes, adding momentum. But here is a stab at an answer. I chose a short scene from Land of Silence:

He strode toward me without a word and, before I could object, grabbed hold of my hands and hauled me into his arms.

“Ethan! I am unclean!”

He cradled my head against his shoulder. “I have never known a cleaner woman.”

Author Bio – Tessa Afshar is an award-winning author of biblical and historical fiction. Her books have won the Christy and INSPY Awards and been voted by the Library Journal as one of top five Christian fiction titles of the year. Her first Bible Study and DVD, The Way Home, based on the book of Ruth, will be released from Moody Publishers in June 2020. Born in the Middle East, Tessa moved to England in her teens where she attended boarding school for girls before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds a Master of Divinity from Yale University, where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship for one year. She worked in women and prayer ministries for twenty years before becoming a full-time writer and speaker.

For Tessa’s latest release check out, https://www.tyndale.com//p/daughter-of-rome/9781496428707

Book giveaway

Tessa has been generous to provide a book giveaway to celebrate the launch of Daughter of Rome. To enter tag yourself in the comments below and/or tag a friend you would like a chance to win. I would love to hear why you would like to read biblical fiction. Winner will be selected randomly and contacted within the month of February.

Daughter of Rome review

By Shelley Singh

Synopsis

A woman with a devastating secret. A man bent on proving his worth. A chance encounter that catapults them into the heart of history.

When the daughter of a prominent Roman general meets a disinherited Jewish immigrant, neither one can dream of God’s plan to transform them into the most influential couple of the early church. Nor can they anticipate the mountains that will threaten to bury them. Their courtship unwittingly shadowed by murder and betrayal, Priscilla and Aquila slowly work to build a community of believers, while their lives grow increasingly complicated thanks to a shaggy dog, a mysterious runaway, and a ruthless foe desperate for love. But when they’re banished from their home by a capricious emperor, they must join forces with an unusual rabbi named Paul and fight to turn treachery into redemption.

With impeccable research and vivid detail, Daughter of Rome is both an emotive love story and an immersive journey through first-century Rome and Corinth, reminding readers once again why Debbie Macomber has said that “no one brings the Bible to life like Tessa Afshar.”

My review:

Tessa Afshar’s latest release is a literary gem. The biblical fiction genre is somewhat new to me, yet it did not take long to captivate my attention from beginning to end. The novel is set in ancient Rome with a of plethora amiable characters. Based upon the book of acts, Priscilla and Aquila play a central role in Daughter of Rome.

It is a joy to watch Priscilla flourish in her identity in Christ, as she wholeheartedly submits her life and fears continuously along a rocky journey. Her deeply rooted faith challenges us as readers to examine our own faith and despite the fragility of her heart, nothing can stop the force of redemption that is displayed so powerfully in her life.

It is evident that God has a special plan for women in the church and this is demonstrated skillfully through the character of Priscilla.

I absolutely adored their relationship including their seasons of disappointment along with their fierce commitment to God and to each other. Their relationship spoke to me on many levels; their intimacy was ravishing providing the reader much delight of wholesome connection. One of my favorite aspects of the novel was their relationship. The flavor of passion, commitment and growth as a couple is enchanting.  Despite a history of rejection from their families, they find grace in the arms of the Father and each other. Aquila’s tender care yet vigilant care foreshadows the heart of Lord for each one of us.

The beauty of covenant shines beautifully through this couple as Jew and gentile become one in Messiah.

The novel weaves various themes seamlessly throughout the narrative such as forgiveness, mercy, faith and hope amidst trials. This novel will be a healing balm to your soul, provoking you to grow in these areas as you receive courage to live abundantly and boldly for the kingdom.

With a touch of wonder he saw her eyes fill with tears. She drank the Word like it was life. Click To Tweet #daughterofrome #tessaafshar @Tessaafshar

Your heart will be aroused to seek after your first love while you glean wisdom from the steadfast faith of the early church. This book will make the Word come alive, leaving you in wonder of the mystery of grace.

I highly recommend this book, as I believe it will encourage you to explore biblical themes during an adventure in Rome, you will not want to miss!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book for an honest review. The words and opinions expressed are my own.

About the author:

Tessa Afshar is an award-winning author of biblical and historical fiction. Her books have won the Christy and INSPY Awards and been voted by the Library Journal as one of top five Christian fiction titles of the year. Her first Bible Study and DVD, The Way Home, based on the book of Ruth, will be released from Moody Publishers in June 2020. Born in the Middle East, Tessa moved to England in her teens where she attended boarding school for girls before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds a Master of Divinity from Yale University, where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship for one year. She worked in women and prayer ministries for twenty years before becoming a full-time writer and speaker.

A sneak peak into Daughter of Rome: https://files.tyndale.com/…/firstChap…/978-1-4964-2871-4.pdf

Tessa’s website: https://tessaafshar.com/

Facebook:           https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTessaAfshar/

Purchase here:

In pursuit of love: Book review

In Pursuit of Love: One Woman’s Journey from Trafficked to Triumphant by Rebecca Bender


Rebecca bender’s new book, in pursuit of love is a memoir of a young woman yearning for love who falls into the dark world of human trafficking in the United States. Her pursuit of love quickly morphs into a downward spiral of tumultuous cycles. Rather than finding love, she is exposed to a world full of manipulation and lies.
This vivid memoir encapsulates her struggles, fears, hopes and dreams with raw authenticity. Her gift for meticulous storytelling reveals insights into a world that is frightening closer than most of us realize. Her pursuit of freedom remains a common theme and her tenacity to survive despite the loss of her identity in more ways than one reveals her resilience throughout the story.
Her depiction of the effects of trauma upon the psychological, emotional and spiritual levels is clearly painted. It is evident that survivors of human trafficking require deep, intentional healing that is possible with the proper support and grace filled counseling.
Her words reveal her inner turmoil to truly be accepted and loved, an inherent need each individual feel and fills in a different way. However, she discovers the truth that this need can only be quenched with surrender to her loving Creator by allowing Him to bring her to a place of healing and ultimately, freedom.
This book is gripping from the first chapter all the way to the end. The story of being trafficked to becoming triumphant is apparent throughout the memoir, as it is a joy to watch Rebecca flourish into a woman of brazen boldness.
This memoir makes the word of God come alive in a fresh and dynamic way, making it evident once again, that grace has can reach individuals who have experienced the most horrific trials. This book is an arsenal of practical insights so that anyone can become an advocate for trafficked victims. This book is an arsenal of practical insights so that anyone can become an advocate for trafficked victims. Click To Tweet

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book by author for an honest review.



New

New

I love the sound of waterfalls. Years ago, I adored the sound of water so much that I brought a little waterfall fountain home one day and stuck it in a corner in my room.

The gushing flow of water is unapologetic and obnoxiously free. Living a life of freedom embodies flowing forward gracefully. But how does one do so with such gusto and force?

Is it possible to produce such fervent passion so consistently? Or is it really stirring up fresh vision to illuminate what may already exist?

Water brings new life. Perhaps, our souls can be revived to newness with holistic grace.Water brings new life. Perhaps, our souls can be revived to newness with holistic grace. Click To Tweet

Water cleanses and quenches; it is complex in function yet simple in chemical composition. Water is a source of life and brings the newness of life where present as does the Spirit of God.  In scriptures, water is often mentioned. The Word can cleanse and bring life as does water.

May your new year be crowned with words and fresh memories that are life giving. May you savor the words that bring your soul to life. May you rediscover the awe of the life you have been given and experience the abundance that is already yours, for in the newness, abundance is found.

~Tryst with transformation~

I don’t know about you, but I grew up resisting every big change that presented itself. I had my life planned out.; I would remain in Canada and branching out was never on the radar screen of my plans.

When I heard my parents had decided to move me to India in high school, I lamented to my music teacher. He was sympathetic and was offered the music room as an alternative living space. At the time, to my 13- year- old self, that seemed highly feasible. Unbeknownst to me, this move would begin to pry open the closed chambers of my heart. I wrestled with this change just like Jacob to shed and embrace new identity.

Jacob wrestled with an angel as he wrestled to receive an inheritance as he vehemently struggled with his old identity. Ultimately, we must shed the old to release the treasure within each of us the world desperately needs.

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. -Genesis 32:24

Transformation is defined as the process of changing into something new.

Each change brings the opportunity to transform into a deeper, fresher and more authentic version of self if we respond correctly and in tune with the Holy Spirit.

Changing seasons bring new colors, fresh fragrance and the promise of new hope is painted amidst the inevitable metamorphosis.

Our hearts need to be encouraged during change since we long for stability, comfort and semblances of familiarity.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? -Isaiah 43:18

Newness of life is always seen when a stark contrast manifests distinctly from the previous season. A change has occurred that cannot be denied; it is blaringly evident and declares its presence in full volume.

The stages of transformation are not always seamless, and the newly formed beauty does not always effervesce yet but may float to the surface gradually and quietly. This unravelling of beauty calmly presents itself in a way that provokes us to displace and shed scales of previous assumptions and embrace the increasing glory of fresh, confident truth.

Embracing transformation during transition is a process most people do not readily receive embrace but once embraced, the beauty in each moment can be discovered, amplified and celebrated. Click To Tweet

Do not be discouraged if spots show spots from your previous seasons.; release grace over yourself and look forward with wonder to the loveliness of grace to be revealed.

When I embrace grace, I can leave behind my resistance and hesitations until all that remains is a left is a tryst with transformation— for romance was always the greater portion. Copyright © 2019 Shelley Singh

~Spiritual dissonance~

              Do you ever feel conflicted and caught between the physical reality of what you see with what you experience in your Spirit?

Is congruity even possible between the worlds present of words to action?

Or is the distance too far that even the greatest faith cannot jump leaps and bounds to shorten this chasm?

What if those that proclaim grace hurl the sharpest stones?

What hope is there between the ongoing wrestle in the matrix of revelation to consume the influx of information?

Is victory a committed lover or a mere distant promiscuous dance?

What I reflect upon becomes my reality as consumption of time, energy and resources is what ultimately leads to the oneness of the consummation of relationship.

I choose sow grace to cover the cracks of my chasms and become closer to the initiation of intimacy.

Copyright © 2019 Shelley Singh

A melody complete

In your arms

I am undone

Attenuated whispers

Serenity overtakes my being

In your arms

I succumb to peace

Where passion and poetic prowess collide

The tenderness of romance

Held by an unspoken gazes

Where eyes speak

And sighs abound

Words exist among the silent spaces

In your arms

I find my song complete

-Embraced- Post birthday reflections

              Years ago, I spent a few years in California cultivating my new found faith in Christ. Lacking direction and mentorship, I found immersing myself in various forms of Christian media seemed to confirm what I was learning through revelation and scripture as well as hoping to find answers that I longed for. Movies were an occasional medium I used to grasp concepts and provide sustenance to my spiritual growth.

              One movie that resonated with me on many levels was the movie, October baby. The movie is based upon a young woman named Hannah who frequently deals with panic attacks and seizures. She feels a void in her life yet can’t fully comprehend the lack of memories and answers from the disconnected remnants of her past.

Long story short, she questions the meaning of her life and despite her young age, the existential crisis seems to take over her every waking moment resulting in havoc in her relationships and her health. She sets on a path to figure out why this disconnect exists and ultimately, finds freedom along the journey.

This movie resonated with me on many levels. For one, I struggled with my purpose from an early age when most children are lost in the wonder of childhood, questions of the purpose of my life would often plague me.

Birthdays are like other milestones; there is a bittersweet celebration that brings to surface memories, dreams, hopes and various reminders.  

As I wrestled with God about my birthday and raised up my doubts and questions, I laid out my feelings like a bare rug. And as I pondered over whether I was truly displaced, I heard another word interrupt my thoughts. “Embraced.”

Embraced, not displaced.

Perfectly ordered steps amidst the fragmented chaos. My Father in heaven celebrates my idiosyncrasies that may frustrate me or others. In the spaces of my open heart, I remember that fullness of life fills in the gaps that questions attempt to occupy.

What I sow, will grow.

When I choose to receive grace, the fullness of life will grow.

Fullness. My birthday is on the 7th of October and 7 signifies fullness. There is much celebration to be found in the gift of fullness. One gift I have been given as you have is the chance to discover and re-discover the joy in fullness.

In Your presence, there is fullness of Joy-Psalm 16:11.

Celebration is learning that there is so much life to be lived in each moment.  

Moments were never meant to be distant ethereal entities off in the future; moments are meant to capture wonder in the here in the present and in the next pair of eyes I will gaze into.  

Now, the gifts that color my soul to newness are usually not physical but ones that magnify the beauty of relational connection.

Copyright © 2019 Shelley Singh