What is your name?
Tara Michelle Simpkins
What do you look like?
I am a petite brunette who has never paid attention to her looks. People have always called me pretty, however, my father always countered those statements with “pretty is as pretty does,” encouraging me to
be my best self.
Where are you today and what are you doing?
I’m curled up in Luke’s arms, narrating a cozy mystery on my living room sofa. The camaraderie between us is both restful and exhilarating.
Describe the outside of your home.
For thirty-two years, I have lived in the corner house of fourteen brick row houses on a semiprivate street. This year, I’ve paid attention to outside aesthetics and planted sweet potato plants under the living room window and a Japanese maple beside the short staircase that leads to my front door. A sweet gum tree shades my bedroom from direct sunlight from the east.
What’s the mood outside right now?
Joyously peaceful and silent except for the occasional barking dog. The neighborhood kids who have played outside since early afternoon have all gone inside their homes for the evening.
What is your favorite piece of clothing?
I’m wearing a pair of tattered jeans and a plum-and-white T-shirt that I purchased at the same time fifteen years ago.
What scares you?
Losing every person who is dear to me and living the rest of my life without a core family unit. Imagining a lifetime of loneliness induces fear.
How would your parents describe you?
Both parents considered me beautiful inside and out. Even as an adult they still called me their special treasure.
What’s the last thing you do before you go to bed at night?
Stand at the bedroom window, dreaming about tomorrow.
Who is your best friend?
Abby. She and I played hopscotch together before we even started kindergarten. She is closer to me than a sister or brother could ever be.
Do you believe the author did a bang up job of portraying you as a character that everyone would love to read about?
Overall, E. C. Jackson nailed it. However, she could have expounded on my tremendous self-control, insight, and willingness to seek common ground with the people who feature in my life story. Whereas Luke … Well, this question is about me and not him.
Author: E.C. Jackson
Publication Date: June 19, 2015
Genre: Inspirational Romance
Twenty-one-year-old Neka is a bit of an introvert, she also happens to be stunningly beautiful. When she discovers her friend James is about to be dumped, she sees the perfect opportunity to escape from her quiet life. Can she summon the courage to leave it all behind?
James Copley comes from a ruthless family. It’s rubbed off. Years ago, he disengaged from his brother’s smear campaign, but now his father has offered him an ultimatum, “Get married or lose your seat at the table.” Plotting to stamp his design on the family business, he proposes to a woman, even though he doesn’t love her. But his carefully laid plans start to unravel when she leaves him on the day she’s due to meet his family. Could years of planning his comeback vanish with her departure?
A possible solution comes in an unexpected form: Neka. She’s not only a friend, but the daughter of his benefactor. And she’s right there, offering to support him. But will her support stretch to marriage? He attempts to win her over to his plan but collides with her powerful father who wants to leverage the situation for his own gain.
In their fight for survival and love, they are forced to face some uncomfortable truths. Can they overcome thwarted dreams and missed chances to find true love, or does forcing destiny’s hand only lead to misery?
Nikhol Lacey stepped into the muted glow from the wall sconce above the door, grabbed her luggage from the porch, and hurried down the stairs. The path lights cast a shining arc across the yard. Pine scented the air, and fresh-cut grass clung to her sandals.
She sidestepped debris along the footpath to avoid snapping any twigs. To anyone looking, the maneuverings would have resembled a child’s game of hopscotch. It seemed like ages had passed, but at last she reached her destination. Lips curving into a fleeting smile, she placed her cases at the cab driver’s feet.
After shaking her hand, he lifted the bags. His raspy voice broke the silence. “Good morning . . .”
“Call me Neka.”
She scooted into the car and eased the door shut behind her. But she froze in place when the noisy driver stomped every twig she had missed and slammed the trunk. Her gaze swept over the second-floor windows. The house remained dark inside.
Good. No signs of movement.
Neka lay back on the cushion but bolted upright when the driver sped away, crunching loose twigs scattered across the road.
She brushed her fingers over her neck and chest and then clung to the front of her T-shirt. Familiar landmarks silhouetted against the dusky morning. She sighed, touching the window as her home faded into the receding darkness.
Regret surfaced. Would her family understand her leaving home without notice? Massaging her right earlobe, she laid her head against the seat.
James needed her. She was the only person able to help him. Finally, someone she cared about required assistance that only she could provide. Tears blurred her vision at the admission that she often felt unneeded. Self-revelation came at a price. Closing her eyes, Neka laid her face into the palms of her hand.
She was committed. It was too late to turn back now.
Lord, help me.
Author: E.C. Jackson
Publication Date: July 31, 2016
Genre: Inspirational Romance
It was a match made in heaven. Or so everyone thought. Sadie Mae Cummings is all set to marry her childhood sweetheart, Kyle, when she is assigned to tutor Lincoln, the new college football running back. This sophomore phenomenon has all the girls on campus knocking on his door. But Sadie isn’t interested in his advances.
Lincoln’s overblown ego doesn’t take well to being shunned, and he resolves to make Sadie his own. He pursues her relentlessly, until finally Kyle finds himself shut out of Sadie’s life, with their shared future crumbling around him.
After two years, Sadie’s relationship with Lincoln ends, and she is left having to put the pieces of her life back together. She desires nothing more than to recapture her relationship with Kyle. He has stayed true to the dreams they had planned together, living the vision even without Sadie by his side.
When she moves back to her hometown, she labors to rekindle their love. But things have changed, and Kyle has moved on. Sadie quickly discovers how hard it is to rebuild burned bridges.
Follow Sadie’s story as she fights for a chance to restore broken dreams. Will love endure?
This inspirational romance by E. C. Jackson is book two of the Hope series and is a standalone book.
Restless, twenty-one-year-old Sadie Cummings wiped down the counter space in her small kitchen nook. It was eleven o’clock. Five minutes had passed since the last time she’d checked. Sighing, she fretted about her boyfriend’s visit that morning.
“Why does he agree to come over, then not show up?”
In no time, morning had slipped into early afternoon. The breakfast she’d hoped would receive raves from Lincoln congealed on the stovetop. So much for using her cooking skills to entice him. With several swift movements, she scraped the masterpiece into the garbage disposal, fighting to control the uneasiness she couldn’t dismiss.
She was an expert at fooling herself and others, but today her mind refused to be pacified. One could only pretend for so long before the bottom dropped out completely. Truth had a bad habit of intruding into fairy tales. Especially when the make-believe stories were about real-life events.
The ringing cell phone grabbed Sadie’s attention. That her mother was on the other end was a forgone conclusion. Except for an occasional chat with her younger sister and older brother, the cell phone never rang. These days only her mother contacted Sadie on a regular basis. She peeked at the caller ID.
A moment before the call transferred to voicemail, Sadie snatched up the cell phone, held it against her chest, then gave a cheery greeting. Minutes later, she sauntered through the studio apartment thinking up reasonable excuses to end the call early. Jeanette Cummings expected a good deal more than her middle child was able to give.
Still stumped about finding an excuse to satisfy her mother, Sadie walked around in circles.
“Mother, I’m not trying to hurry you off the phone. I recognize your concern for the Franklins. Our families have been friends for years. It’s just . . . look . . . it’s . . . mother, I don’t have time to talk now.”
Sadie picked up twine from the counter and wove it between her fingers. Pulling it too tight, she winced, then unwound it from around her fingers and wrapped it around her thumb.
“I made plans for the day.”
Lincoln could arrive any moment. Somehow, she had to quickly end this conversation without hurting the only person who regularly called. Friendships were difficult to maintain these days. And her brother and sister only gave duty calls, then ended the conversation in a snap.
Jeanette sighed loudly. “I would offer to call back at a better time, but there isn’t one, is there, Sadie?”
“Mom . . .”
Sadie slowly shook her head. Guilt surfaced each time she talked to her mother. Raised in an orphanage, her mother wasn’t a clingy parent. She believed loneliness caused people to accept unhealthy conditions that a person who felt treasured might avoid.
“Of course, you’re removed from the lives of the families in Shiatown,” said Jeanette.
Blowing breath through her lips, Sadie laid her head on the cabinet with more force than intended. Wincing in pain, she rubbed the sore spot. The lull in the conversation helped gather her thoughts as her fingers massaged the painful area on her forehead. She parted her lips, then she shut them in hopes that her mother would continue speaking.
After a long pause, Jeanette spoke with a harsher tone than any she’d ever used with her daughter. “Listen to me. The Franklin family supported us through your father’s illness and death. We are burying Pastor Franklin this afternoon. His wife deserves a phone call from you.”
She paused before continuing. “Don’t forget, Sarah treated you like a daughter. You and Pastor Franklin shared the same birthday. September twelfth is four days away. My friend is burying her husband four days before his fifty-eighth birthday. And . . . what about Kyle? He lost his father and inherited a ton of responsibility on top of it. Honey, be the friend that I know you are. Time is slipping away. The funeral starts in two hours.”
Sadie stretched her neck from side to side, hanging her head in despair. Lately, her mother had begun to accept her decisions without fussing. However, today she seemed determined for Sadie to send well wishes to a man she’d rather forget. Feeling faint, she squeezed her eyelids together, but all she could see was Kyle’s sad gaze begging, pleading with her to choose him over the man Sadie picked.
Instantly, anger rose as Sadie justified that choice. She couldn’t back down now. There was too much lost ground and no way to regain her footing. The future she’d hoped for was gone. Somehow the leftovers had to be salvaged into a win or, at least, a tolerable solution.
Eyes darting around the room, she braced against the wall. “Friend? Kyle and I didn’t break up as friends. He acted like a judgmental pig; his last remarks were cruel.”
Sadie fumed. With one look Kyle had made her feel like trash. Less than the muck beneath his shoes. Disposable at best, and at worse . . .
Author: E.C. Jackson
Publication Date: December 5, 2018
Genre: Inspirational Romance
Love at first sight. It’s every girl’s dream. But Tara Simpkins is finding out it’s not as easy as it seems. Is this truly the man God sent to be her husband, or is she just desperate to escape her loneliness? The recent loss of both parents has left her reeling, and close friends don’t think she’s in any position to make major life decisions. She and her new-found love are convinced they can live happily ever after in the home of their dreams. His family thinks he’s moving way too fast and might disappoint the kind-hearted woman he’s fallen head over heels for. And then there’s Leah. Leah is supposed to be part of his past, but what if she decides she’s his future? Tara’s match made in Heaven may be over before it truly begins.
Tara Simpkins nibbled her balled fist, hoping to turn a rout into a win. Andy had spent three days installing her roof. He’d come into her life last Friday and was the perfect man. But unless she developed a way to keep him close, his exit would be speedier than his entrance had been.
The handsome roofer had captured her attention his first day on the job. He had even appeared mesmerized by Tara. That had never happened before. Men ran from her, not to her. She couldn’t tell what prompted his interest in her, yet he continued to hang around. She loved the chase but was unsure how to get herself caught. And that dilemma wouldn’t get resolved soon.
Andy seemed like her dream man. He was adept at keeping a conversation going, even though she wasn’t. Plus, he’d seemed curious about his customer in a non-threatening way. He resembled an old friend. The charisma he oozed added to his appeal.
Andy engaged her in conversation, despite her ignoring his charm. Thoroughly smitten, she downplayed his attention. Because of that, he seemed to slow the hunt. But he still knocked on her door each evening after the work ended.
Tara had come to expect those knocks. How would she survive once they stopped?
Author: E.C. Jackson
Publication Date: September 28, 2020
Genre: Inspirational Romance
Is there hope for this love between friends?
Pamela Hayes is a smart, successful business owner with a supportive family and a thriving bakery. She should be the happiest girl in the world. But she can’t shake the melancholy that accompanies every conversation she has with her best friend, Mark. Pamela doesn’t know how much longer she can hide her true feelings.
Why can’t Mark see how perfect they would be together? She would make a much better girlfriend than the one he currently has. Pamela prays he’ll come to his senses soon and realize he’s with the wrong girl. But when her dream comes true, it isn’t the fantasy she had envisioned.
There is trouble in paradise from the start, and all the red flags she’s been ignoring are starting to threaten her confidence…and her relationship with Mark. She’ll have to rely on family and her faith in God to help her secure the hope she so desperately needs.
Motes reflected in the sunlight that beamed through an eastern bedroom window. Background noise filtered past closed doors. Turning over in bed onto her stomach, Pamela Hayes yanked a beige satin comforter off the floor with one hand. That same hand then tossed a navy-blue neck pillow upon the bed. Footsteps on the other side of the door grabbed her attention.
Mom’s on her Saturday-morning prowl. Five, four, three, two, one …
Anna Hayes’s head poked inside her daughter’s bedroom. Hallway lighting bathed her trim figure in artificial brightness. “Morning, babe. Touching base before I go.” Her warm gaze surveyed the tousled bed. “From the tangled cover, it looks like you had a rough night.”
With a hand covering her yawn, Pamela shook her head and turned onto her side. “Just my normal Friday night tug-of-war. It’s my preferred method of winding down.”
Anna’s soft laugh sounded like music. “Any special plans today?”
Leaning on her elbow, Pamela rested her face on spread fingers as she gazed at her mother. Forty-eight-year-old Anna wore desert-green ankle boots, cropped white pants, and an oversized olive-green sweater. A brown suede bag hung over her shoulder.
“You look like a dream, Mom. If I didn’t know otherwise, I’d think you were going out with someone special.”
Laughter flitted through slightly parted lips. “I’m late. Give me a quick rundown on your activities for today.”
Oh boy. I had hoped she wouldn’t ask. Better mention my afternoon expedition last.
“Shopping for a spring wardrobe around noon. My jeans are tatty. And then, shooting the rapids.”
The door opened wider as Anna grasped the doorknob. “Water rafting somewhere near South Town?”
“Oklahoma City. The spring season begins today. It’s safe, Mom. Stop frowning.”
“I’m sure they take safety precautions. But promise to be extra careful. I can do without mental pictures of my twenty-five-year-old daughter drowning.”
Pamela flopped onto her back. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Thank you. I love surrender whenever I hear it.” Anna checked her watch. “I’ll be out late. Don’t hesitate to call if you need me.”
After those parting words, her mother floated out of the house. Her all-day Saturday excursions had begun late last year. A seeming whim had developed into a lengthy pattern.
After the front door lock clicked, a sleepy Pamela hid her head beneath the sheets and immediately fell back to sleep.
Author: E.C. Jackson
Publication Date: November 10, 2023
Genre: Inspirational Romance
Two men. Wrong choice.
Her life jumped the guard rails.
One fateful night, Tempia Wade believed a stranger’s lie, rather than the assurance of a trusted friend. Even though she had been blind sighted, the lapse in judgement extracted an exorbitant price.
Two years later, the twenty-three-year-old prayed for a second chance with the man she fell for at first sight. The loss of a promising relationship, long term friendships, and shattered dreams, now highlighted the memories of a bankrupt life.
Would Cory Sanders overlook her accepting a next day date and liaison with the other man she had met at the party they all attended? Or was permanent separation stamped across their unforeseen breach?
After installing HVAC systems at a new apartment complex, twenty-eight-year-old Cory Sanders should’ve headed home, eaten a sandwich, and stretched his five-foot-eleven-inch frame onto his king-sized bed. But today he sought diversions at a friend’s pool hall. The short trek across the parking lot led him inside a large yet cozy space teeming with some of his favorite folks. As his eyes adjusted to dim lighting, he stepped up to the counter of the juice and coffee bar.
Glancing at Cory, a middle-aged woman, brown eyes alert, paused her conversation with a customer. “Wait till I tell Dan who stopped by on a late Friday afternoon,” she said to Cory. “Of course, neither he nor our sons will believe me.”
Miss Laura’s husband, Dan, had been Cory’s father’s best friend since their HVAC training program days. He and his youngest son worked for Cory’s father’s heating and cooling business, while his wife helped their oldest son, Scott, run his pool hall.
“Keep our secret, Miss Laura, or someone will demand I show up more often.”
She winked as she laughed. “If anyone asks me, I’ll say you were just winding down from a tough workday.”
Cory chuckled. “Sounds like the perfect plan,” he said. “One pomegranate slush, please. And Miss Laura, let your son know adding slushes to the juice menu was an excellent idea. If he asks, tell him to add grilled cheese, hamburgers, and hot sausage sandwiches.”
“More approval will swell his head. Thank God, he won’t inquire.”
“I bet you he’d consider those suggestions if he did.”
“Serving food ain’t happening on my watch. This mama has enough tasks without piling on more. We’ll hold off on a food menu until Scott quits his day job.”
As Cory left the counter, Miss Laura snuck in, “See you next Friday.”
While sipping his slush, Cory peered around the cavernous room and took in the lively atmosphere. Ten pool tables were strategically set up to maximize solo and group play. Walking across the space, he passed a group of men ribbing each other. A fifty-something man pocketed a ball then spotted Cory. “Lookee here. Grab a pool stick, son.”
Cory sat on a seat close to the action and pointed at the bald, clean-shaven man. “Not today. I just came to watch you masters clean the table.”
“Take notes,” another man said. “Stu left this little boy hanging in the pocket.”
With that, Cory realized he had chosen the correct diversion after all. His bed and sandwich could wait until later that evening. These lively antics might delete a tiresome woman from his mind. Last year, he had purged her from his heart, but no matter how hard he tried, he could never seem to evict her from his mind. He hoped that changing his long-established habits might help.
Jackson’s favorite pastime is reading fiction. She enjoys taking the journey along with the characters in the books. That also led to her unorthodox approach to story writing. Her vision for each book she writes is to immerse readers into the storyline so they become connected with each character.
“The Write Way: A Real Slice of Life” is the slogan on her Facebook author page. She feels that if every person reading her books feels connected to the characters, her job is done.