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Fiction, Family Life, Religious & Inspirational, Christian, Young Adult
Abby Stein is young, smart and obedient. But even obedient girls can make a mistake once in a while. While most girls learn a lesson and move on, Abby isn’t allowed to do that. When a poor choice at a party leaves Abby pregnant and alone, her overly religious parents and church community will make her life so miserable that she’s forced to consider suicide. In desperation, Abby makes a desperate call from the parking lot of New Hope Christian Church. Pastor David Owens leads a fledgling congregation at New Hope Christian Church and answers the call. As the suspense increases, so does the little group of congregants working together in a race to save her life. Can they get through to Abby and show her God’s true love before it’s too late?
**Twisted Faith is the second book in the Faith Series**
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“It’s about babies,” I blurted out.
“Babies!” my mother cried, incredulously. “You know I can’t have any more babies,” my mother said, a bitter sadness in her eyes. My mother had lost two babies following the birth of my little sister. My parents had wanted more children—a fact I couldn’t understand—but after the last miscarriage, my mother had hemorrhaged and the doctors had to perform a hysterectomy. They said it was God’s plan and they would have to live with His decisions, but I could see the pain.
I shook my head again, more slowly this time. “Not you, Mother…me,” I said, my voice a soft fluff of words, but loud enough to be heard.
“What did you say?” my mother demanded.
I looked at my father, who sat with his fingers laced together, two fingers sticking up, like he used to do when my sister and I were little and he would play the “here’s the church” game with us. He just kept tapping his two index fingers together, his eyes stonily boring into me. I didn’t answer my mother’s question, as I took it to be rhetorical.
After what seemed like an eternity my father spoke. “No, Abigail.” His tone was low, guttural, commanding. As if merely by demanding “no” of me, my body would comply. I almost laughed, but I didn’t, catching myself just in time.
My mother, taking me totally by surprise, rose from her seat, strode across the room and struck me across the face. “Whore,” she spat. My mouth hung open slightly, and I could feel the tingle where she had slapped me. I would have expected it of my father, but my mother! My mother, in all my conscious memories, had never struck me.
I raised my hand, caressed my cheek. “Do you think that will make it go away?” I asked. Her response was to slap me again. This time I stood straight as an arrow. My mother reached out, grabbed a handful of my hair and dragged me through the doorway and up the stairs, stopping outside the bathroom. “Get in there,” she demanded.
I narrowed my eyes at her. My heart started thumping so hard I could feel it punctuate my breathing. “Why?”
“We are going to wash the seed of the devil away from you.”
I wasn’t sure what she was talking about, but I complied. I would have been more than thrilled to make this whole thing go away. I’m not sure what I expected, but I followed her command without comment. I was shocked when she followed me in. “I can bathe myself,” I said.
Wordlessly, she reached under the bathroom sink and took out a box. Immediately I thought of the kind nurse who had given me the pregnancy test. The words on this box read Massengill Douche. I’m not wise with the ways of the world, but I did know what a douche was. “Mother!” I cried.
About the Author:
Victoria was born in Jamestown, New York, but grew up in Southern California. She now resides in Elk Grove, California with her husband, children, and grandchildren. She was an avid reader as a child and couldn’t wait for the next good book to be placed in her hands. It was only natural she would turn to writing as a career choice. She has been writing since childhood, always looking for the next story to tell. Writing is as natural to her as living. She loves getting to know her characters and bringing them to life. She is in as much anticipation about the ending of a story as she hopes her readers are.
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Thanks for doing an interview! Could you tell our readers a little bit about your writing journey? I began my writing career somewhere about the mid-eighties. I did it because I wanted to see if I could do it. Well, I did do it. But that’s where it ended. When my mother-in-law came to visit, she happened to pick it up off the typewriter and came to me saying, “Did you write this? It’s really good.”
So, I merely said, “It’s not really that good. It has tons of holes in the story and many mistakes in the manuscript.”
She said, “So you’ll fix it and get it published.” I just smiled, put it in a box and placed it on my closet shelf. It stayed there for over a decade and a half, while I went on living my life, never pursuing my dream of becoming a writer.
Of course, I never had a lot of self-esteem growing up. I was a moody kid who loved to read and dream big about being a writer. I had a boring life and often pretended I was someone else. I carried on conversations with myself, imagining what I would say as this person, and what would my companion say back? I had little encouragement from my parents, who would say, “You have some imagination there… which I took as a put-down. Something as foolish as writing was a dream I couldn’t possible achieve. I took creative writing in high school, loving the exercises the teacher would give us. My favorite was when she’d take us outside to lie down on the hill and look at clouds. Then we’d go back into the classroom and describe what we saw. My teacher always praised my work, but still I lacked confidence. I published many poems in the high school newspaper, receiving plenty of praise from classmates, but still I didn’t think I could make it.
So, I graduated high school, got married and had a baby right away. Then I went to medical assisting school and spent the bulk of my career tending to patients’ needs. Not that I didn’t find that fulfilling, I did, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do, what I felt was my path. Somewhere around 2008 my youngest child and I were discussing dreams and visions. I told her I’d always wanted to write a book. She said, “You should, Mom. I’ll bet it would be good.”
I said, “Actually I have written a book.” I still had that 1987 manuscript on my closet shelf. Although it had moved many times with me to different closet shelves, it was still there in the box I had sealed it in. I pulled the yellowed pages out of the box and handed them to her, a sheepish grin on my face. She immediately sat down to read it. When she finished it, she exclaimed how good it was, but pointing out it still had all the typos in it.
She said, “You should get it published.”
I thought about it for a while and realized, how could I encourage my children to follow their dreams if I wasn’t willing to do the same.
So, I ripped it apart, changed, deleted, and updated scenes, got out as many typos as I could find by myself and sent it off to an agent… and then another one… and another one… and another one… After some disappointing relationships and failed attempts, I finally saw my first novel in print. Then I immediately began on the second.
How many books do you currently have published? I currently have 9 novels and three short stories published. Of those nine novels, four of them are adult stories, two are young adult, and three of them are children’s middle-grade stories that feature my grandchildren as the main characters.
What has been your favorite book to write so far? Why? I think I felt the most satisfied after writing, Lacy’s End. I had a friend who was a victim of domestic abuse. She taught me that victims don’t always feel they have a choice. I wanted to show my readers the possibilities that were there for them. I had the most fun writing Fight For The Kingdom. I never thought I could write a fantasy, but when I finished it, I realized how much fun I had.
Are you currently working on a book? Will this be your next release? I’m currently working on the third segment in my Crime Solver’s Detective series. The title is Carnival Caper, and it will take all my grandchildren to the California State Fair. It will be the next published story. Also, in the research and outline stage is book three in the Faith series. Darkest Faith will again feature Pastor David Owens as he helps a girl deal with Bi-Polar disorder.
What do you enjoy most about writing? Writing is an escape for me, a way for me to experience life a different way. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a story teller. When my children were young, they preferred stories I’d created for them over books I could buy them. I enjoy entertaining people with story.
Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it? I am fortunate not to have experienced writer’s block. I have, however, been stuck in a dilemma as to which way I wanted to take a scene. When that happens, I just step aside from my writing and go and do something else for a while. When I’m ready, I just return and my indecision has resolved.
Have you ever had one of your characters to take a twist you weren’t expecting and surprise you? I have had characters surprise me. In The Victim’s Shadow is a prime example of that situation. When the concept of Katherine and John first came to me, they were meant to be lighthearted co-workers who decide to have a baby together when Katherine begins to hear the tick of her biological clock. They would soon realize they are really in love but won’t admit it to each other. As I began writing the story, Katherine’s backstory developed into an unsolved mystery and she became a victim.
Which of your characters is your personal favorite? Least favorite? Why? Jessica Crawford, Coveting Love and Confronting Truths is my favorite character. What I love about her is the honesty, integrity, and strength she shows. Having been abandoned by her father when she was a child, and then later overcoming the betrayal of someone she trusted, she became a strong woman. I’m not sure I have a least favorite because all my characters intrigue me. However, if I’m forced to choose, I would probably choose Phillip Stewart, also from Coveting Love, because he hurts my Jessica.
So far, what has been your favorite scene to write? In Capturing Faith, Ryan has a conversation at a graveside. The scene represents an experience I had after my father died.
What lessons have you learned since becoming a writer? Do you have any tips for new writers? Telling a story is easy. Writing a quality novel is hard; it takes determination, lots of studying the craft of writing, and endless hours of marketing your work. It’s a highly-competitive market these days, but the joy of seeing a review from a reader who gets the message of your story is worth all the work.
If you were to recommend your books to a stranger, which book would you advise them to start with? Why? That’s not an easy question to answer. I write multi-genre, so if you like a good suspense novel, I would recommend In The Victim’s Shadow. If romance is your thing, Coveting Love. If you’re looking for a book for your kid who likes adventure, Fight for The Kingdom. YA enthusiast, Twisted Faith.
Do you have any extras you’d like to share, like a teaser about an upcoming new release, a summary of a deleted scene, or a teaser about a surprising plot twist or character? Here’s the prologue from my upcoming novel, Darkest Faith.
Into darkness I descend where not one bit on light can peer.
There is no ladder upon which I can climb, no friend to reach down a hand
No enemy to spur me to action, for I am alone.
Who then will be my light in this darkest of pits.
I looked toward the ocean, at the boardwalk where the crowds of day visitors had thinned to nearly nothing, and then back at the ocean. The sun was just going over the horizon and cast an orange glow low in the skyline. I looked back at the boardwalk again. Nobody was looking at me. But then, why would they? I’m so plain and ordinary…nothing but a speck in this giant bed on sand.
The wind blew back my hair, giving me a whiff of what four days on the run smelled like. I had to find a shelter where I could bathe. Even I couldn’t stand my stench. There were two in town. One had full facilities but made you work for your keep. I didn’t mind the work, but the facility lacked anonymity—and I desperately needed that right now. The second one was always full. Even when I tried to get there early, all the beds were taken. There was a third shelter, but it had no bathing facilities, and it was at a church, where someone told me the pastor made you listen to a two-hour lecture—that he called a sermon—before he’d hand out a bowl of soup and a pallet and blanket. I’d rather sleep under the boardwalk with the hobos and rapists.
I hoisted my pack over my back and began to trudge toward the street. I would be better off there, where the sounds of the traffic would drown out my thoughts and take my mind off what I’d done. I knew they were looking for me. My phone had rung every five minutes until I’d finally turned it off. Then I’d dumped it in a trash can outside the Starbucks where I’d spent my last two dollars on a hot coffee.
I’d walked by an electronics store, stopping to see if I could catch any evidence that my crime had gone live for all the world to see. Stabbing your mother in a fit of rage was not an acceptable form of behavior, according to my father at least. I felt a tug on my heart, more like a piercing pain. Was she dead? Was she seriously wounded?
I longed to know, but I didn’t want to risk calling home. What if my father answered the phone? But maybe it would be Timmy. Timmy would be home from football practice by now. Why didn’t those news people give a helpful update? All they kept doing was running the same ole news footage. “Teenage girl stabs mother after altercation at home.” Then they showed my mother being loaded into an ambulance and the ambulance driving away.
Someone bumped me, and I looked up. A man was talking to me.
“I asked if yous gonna eat that.”
“Eat what?” I said.
“You stupid?” He pointed to my hand. “You gonna eat that sanwich?”
I looked down at my hand. “What?” I didn’t even remember getting the sandwich. I looked around. Where had it come from?
The man snatched the sandwich from my hand. “That be my can, by the way. You get yous own can. And all the cans on this block be belongin’ to someone.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
The man walked away. I shook my head. I looked back at the TVs. There was no mention of any woman being murdered, just the loop showing them taking my mother away in an ambulance. That was a good thing. That meant I’d probably only wounded my mother.
I shuffled away from the electronics store. I tried the first shelter, but when I got there the doors were closed and a dozen or more people sat on the front steps. I had no luck with the second, either and began to cry. My head pounded with pain and I’d never been so hungry in all my life. Maybe I could try the church, if I could find it. Ashcroft wasn’t nearly as big as say San Francisco or Portland, but it was big enough and my family wasn’t into the church thing.
I walked up to a woman I’d seen before, waiting outside the shelter. The woman was scraggly, more so than I was anyway. Her matted hair had things sticking out of it as if some bird had decided to make a nest in it. The woman immediately clutched her bag to her. “Go away,” she said, cowering against the wall.
“I just want to ask you a question.”
“Go away. I don’t know nuthin.” The woman pressed herself harder against the wall.
“I just want to know if you know where the church is.”
“Go away. Go away. Go away.”
The woman began rocking back and forth. I stepped back.
“Leave her alone,” a man’s voice said. I whirled to see a man who was just as dirty and disheveled as the woman. He was bald and his face and scalp held days, weeks, maybe even months of grime. His two front teeth were rotting and had big black holes in them. He pushed a shopping cart full of cans, blankets, take out containers, most likely rescued from a dumpster behind all the restaurants on sixteenth street.
I fought back tears. Is this what was going to happen to me if I stayed out here too long? What choice did I have, though? I couldn’t go home, not after what I’d done to my mother. Even if the police weren’t there to arrest me, there was still my father to deal with. “I just want to know where the church is.”
“She can’t tell you nuthin. Can’t ya see she ain’t right in the head? What yous want with the church?”
I sniffed to fight the tears. The last thing I needed was to look like a baby out here. I closed my eyes, smelling the man, or was it me, on the breeze. I couldn’t stop the tears and began to sob.
“Shiiit,” the man said, drawing out the word. “Princess, you need to get yous ass home before you’s Daddy sends out the guards.” He laughed and began to walk away. He got about ten yards when he turned back to speak to me. “It’s on Fourteenth and J. You can’t miss it—big cross in the yard says New Hope Christian Church
on it. But just so yous know, he don’t give nuthin for free. He’s gonna dice you up and feed you to that god of his. He’ll take away every inch of you’s soul, and you won’t even knows what he’s doin’.” He turned back and walked away.
I pulled my flimsy jacket more tightly around me and crossed my arms over my chest. The breeze coming off the ocean was no longer just a breeze. A full-force wind had picked up, with the night temperatures dropping rapidly. I shivered and looked toward fourteenth street. It wasn’t that far. It shouldn’t take more than fifteen to twenty minutes to walk to it. Could I survive a two-hour lecture in exchange for a bowl of hot soup and a pallet? A gust of wind blew the hood off my head. I yanked it back on and began walking in that direction. What would it hurt to just check it out?
I saw the cross come into sight and knew this was the place. I looked it over. It didn’t look that bad. There certainly wasn’t anything there that would make me think they’d steal my soul. Exactly what that something might look like, I didn’t know.
I approached the building with trepidation, hesitating at the bottom of the steps as I stared up at it. Slowly, I began to ascend the stairs, my legs feeling heavier with each step I took. When I finally reached the top step, I hesitated outside while I contemplated going in. The door creaked when I opened it. I cringed, hoping nobody heard it. The man on stage was talking. He couldn’t possibly be the preacher the rotten-tooth man spoke of; he looked young. I’d expected some old man with hard, lecturing eyes.
He paused as I took a seat and I closed my eyes. “Please don’t talk to me,” I whispered. “Please…please…please…leave me alone.” I bowed my head and the man started talking again.
His words weren’t threatening at all, and his voice was smooth and lulling. My eyes grew heavy and began to close. I opened them wide with my fingers, holding them there. I’d barely slept last night, having crawled under a bush in the park, where I had to battle a multitude of critters who were scavenging for food. The previous night a policeman had chased me off the park bench, yelling at me that it wasn’t a bed and the good, hardworking people of the community didn’t put that bench there for me to sleep on.
I sneaked a peek at the preacher and quickly looked back down before he caught me looking. My head grew so heavy that I couldn’t hold it up. I lay down on the bench and draped my arm across my eyes. Thoughts drifted through my head, visions of the year soaring by. How had I come to this point? What went wrong? What happened to the happy child I used to be? When had I stopped being Jordan Hampton, obedient daughter and loving sister, to Jordan Hampton possible murderer?
Now it’s time to get to know you! What are some of your favorite books to read? Oh goodie. Favorite all-time book thus far is Intensity by Dean Koontz. I just love the determination and bravery of Chyna in that story. I also love books by Jodi Picoult and Stephen King.
What about television shows? Movies? My favorite TV shows in order are: The Walking Dead (love,love,love this, but not for the zombies. I enjoy the struggle for survival), Criminal Minds, Chicago Fire, Mom, Big Bang Theory, and Young Sheldon. I could go on, but I don’t want you to think I’m a total TV freak. I’m not a big movie fan. I typically go with my husband, but I love movies with Liam Neeson or Denzel Washington.
Is there a book that you have read that you feel has made a big impact on your life? Why? I’ve read many heart-felt stories, but I can’t recall any single book that has made an impact on my life, unless you want to consider the Bible.
Can readers find you at any live events, such as book signings or conventions? I recently spoke at a women’s luncheon, but I have no upcoming events scheduled at this time. I will post any future events to my website, so check back later.
If you had to sum up your life as a writer in ten words, what would you say? Being a writer is the most fulfilling job I’ve ever done.
Do you have anything else you’d like to share with readers? I love to hear from readers. I want to know if my writing touches you. So please, contact me, connect on Facebook, leave reviews. I do read them all. And thank you for being a reader.