When brainstorming new plotlines for Stand By Me, the first novel in her new SouledOut Sisters series, Neta Jackson knew she wanted the story to center around a mature Christian facing a major crisis of faith.

What she didn’t know immediately, however, is that another protagonist of the young, idealistic variety would also take center stage. “My son suggested—somewhat tongue in cheek—that I should add someone like Kat to ‘fix’ the world to complicate the story and add tension with the older generation,” Neta shares. “In my own church community, there are a few dumpster divers who make it their ministry to rescue good food that’s being thrown away. There are others who are vegan or vegetarian for a variety of reasons. So I thought ‘Hmm, now this character is getting interesting!’ Plus it was fun thinking of two POV characters—a new challenge for me.”

Adding another layer of relevance are characters facing the hardships that come with challenging economic times. “Frankly, I barely scratched the surface,” Neta says. “But I did want to bring out how husbands and wives need to find a way to navigate these challenges together—and that might take sacrifice on the part of both in order to stay in unity.”

And considering she and her own husband, Dave, are both authors, what helps keep unity on the home front is a variety of similar interests including working outside in the garden and spending time with their grandkids.

“A weekly sleepover with the grandkids every Friday keeps us young, doing fun things like scavenger hunts and making homemade gifts,” Neta says. “Dave and I also enjoy camping with our pop-up camper. We even take ‘work vacations’—take the laptops to a campground and enjoy nature while we work! And our favorite mode of travel? Long train trips!”

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About The Author

Husband/wife writing team Dave and Neta Jackson are the authors or coauthors of more than 130 books, including the Yada Yada series, the Harry Bentley series, their children's historical fiction Trailblazer series, the Hero Tales books, and numerous nonfiction books with experts on topics ranging from racial reconciliation to medical ethics to ministry to kids in gangs. They live in the Chicago metro area, where their contemporary fiction is set.