All Our Empty Places – Blog Tour + Author Interview

Release Tour banner - All Our Empty Places (1)


I’m excited to welcome a new author friend to the blog! Alicia Ruggieri has released the second book in her A Time of Grace series titled All Our Empty Places. As part of the blog tour, she has graciously stopped by for an interview!

Howdy, Alicia, and welcome to the blog! To start off give us one fun fact about yourself.

Hmmm… How about this? I was a competitive Irish stepdancer for years… and I have not a wee drop o’ Irish blood! 🙂

Awesome! I did a few years of Irish dance myself! What inspired you to begin the A Time of Grace series?

Well, the A Time of Grace trilogy started with a supposedly-standalone book, The Fragrance of Geraniums. And that book came from a childhood memory of an elderly woman’s upstairs library room filled with “winterized” geraniums, their unique spicy-bitter fragrance saturating the air. After releasing Fragrance, many readers asked for the continuation of Grace and Paulie’s story… hence All Our Empty Places.

That’s a wonderful memory to turn into a book. What is the theme that you want to convey through All Our Empty Places?

That Jesus Christ Himself is the only one who can fill our “empty places” – that God can only use us when we realize how truly broken as sinners we are, because then He can fill us with Himself – and that, in that process, His grace will be sufficient for us, because His power is made perfect in weakness, not in human strength and ability.

I couldn’t have said it better myself! Do you have a favorite quote/passage from All Our Empty Places?

I can’t give my favorite passage with a spoiler. 🙂 So here’s one that I really like. It takes place toward the end of the novel:

A train whistle sounded.

Sam watched in disbelief as Sarah stood, shaking.  She bit her lip until it turned white. “It’s better if I go. Start your life fresh, Sam.” She grabbed for her suitcase handle.

His own legs drained of strength, but Sam forced himself to rise. He grasped her arms just above the elbow, firmly enough to let her know that he meant what he said, but gently, too. “Sarah, you are the life God has given me. You and your children. You can’t forget the past. You and I and Ben – all of us – we’ll all carry those scars until Christ comes for us or we go to meet Him.  We are all broken. God only uses empty, broken people.”

“Easy for you to say,” he heard her mumble.

“It is not easy for me to say!” Sam flared. How could she say that? He had lost everything of value when he had grasped at the world, only to realize when it was too late what he had done. Then, the one whom he believed that God had given to him as a balm had died in the flower of her youth. He had thought himself a dry branch until the Lord had shown him the mercy of Sarah’s return into his life.

Looking down into her wide, glossy eyes, he softened his tone. “When we’re broken, Sarah, He can build us up into His temple. When we’re empty, He can fill us with Himself. With His strength. With His power.”

“All aboard train three!”

Sarah blinked back the moisture lurking in her eyes. “I’ve gotta go.” She shook off his hands and grabbed for her suitcase.

Thank you for sharing! What is your favorite part about the publishing process?

Finishing! 😉 To be honest, I love the whole process. I’m a very hands-on, learn-by-experience type of person, so I really enjoy the plotting and anticipation of writing, then the actual writing, the editing, working with my cover designer to create something that really shows the spirit of the novel, connecting with readers… It’s really enjoyable for me from beginning to end, though not without difficulty and struggles, too.

Finishing probably has to be one of my favorite parts, too. 😛 If you knew you were going to leave an unfinished manuscript behind, what would you do?

I would provide the plot for the rest of it, I think, and ask that the outline be published with the rest of the book. That’s something that has always aggravated me: when an author doesn’t leave any direction as to where she would have led the story, and so someone else takes up her unfinished draft and concludes it in such an odd and unlike-the-original-author way. So I’d like to leave the plot outline, if possible!

Yes! I totally agree! What fictional character do you most want to ask you out on a date?

Well, since I’m married, I’m not entirely sure that a date would be appropriate! 😉 Haha! How about a dinner, instead? I’d love to have dinner with Sir Gibbie from the book of the same name by George MacDonald. We’d have bannocks, of course! J

Haha! I’ll make sure and modify that for the future. 😛 You can’t go wrong with a George MacDonald character.

You are stuck in a magic elevator with only three buttons. Floor 1 reveals a wizard in a pointy hat waiting for you with a prophecy in his hand, Floor 2 opens into a clockmaker’s shop with his little Elven assistants, and Floor 3 opens to a room with a comfy-looking armchair beside a cheery fire. Which do you choose and why?

No contest. Door One. Obviously, that’s Gandalf the Grey – Who would ever miss the opportunity for an adventure with him? “You never know where you might be swept off to!”

But of course! That’s all the questions for today. Thanks for stopping by, Alicia! 

Thanks for having me, Claire! It’s been very fun. 🙂

About the Author

Alicia G. Ruggieri writes Christ-centered fiction that speaks of redemption. She received her B.A. in Communications and History from Rhode Island College and lives with her husband and their emotionally-disturbed pug on the New England coast.

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About the Book

In 1935, when the bank calls in her mortgage, Sarah Picoletti – now a penniless widow – finds herself and her children on the brink of homelessness. Sick at heart, she plans to beg her brother in New Jersey to take her family in.

Then Doctor Samuel Giorgi knocks on her door. Godly and well-off, Sam seems to have put the careless ways of his youth behind him, and he also appears to have one desire: to make Sarah his wife, two decades after he broke their engagement.

However, nothing prepares Sarah for the storm that breaks once she makes her decision. Everywhere she turns, the errors of her former choices confront her, insisting on her inferiority and the irreparable brokenness of her past. Sarah begins to wonder if Christ really can bring true redemption or if He is limited by her frailty.

Meanwhile, her daughter Grace faces new challenges in her own life. When her relationship with Paulie changes unexpectedly, Grace realizes that she must make a decision with the potential to alter both of their futures.

Compassionate and intensely poignant, All Our Empty Places paints the portrait of a mother and daughter with broken pasts, who dare to step into a future overflowing with the grace of the Cross.



Book one, The Fragrance of Geraniums is available for $0.99 until October 31! Find it on Amazon! 


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