Sunday, 30 September 2007

Interview with Lisa McKay

Lisa McKay's debut novel, my hands came away red, has impacted me on many levels and I encourage everyone to read it as soon as they can. A fellow Aussie, Lisa could hardly say no when I pestered her for an interview so enjoy reading about an Aussie girl made good in the States, in her career as a forensic psychologist and now, as a talented and compassionate author.

Here are Lisa's thoughts:~

ON WRITING...

Please share some of your writing/publishing journey with us

I could write a book on that alone – although it probably wouldn’t be that interesting, come to think of it. In short, I decided to write this book when I was 18. I took me until I was 25 before I wrote anything that seemed to “work” and another four years after that before I had a complete first draft. In comparison, the publication process was actually quite smooth (so smooth my editor has warned me not to tell this story at writer’s conferences, should that time ever come, as he says people will hate me and there might be death threats). I submitted the manuscript unsolicited to three publishing companies and five agents and ended up signing a contract with the first publishing company I had queried.

Why Christian fiction?

I never set out to write “Christian fiction” – I just wanted to tell a story about a girl who collides with some of the harsh realities of this world we live in, and has to confront a lot of questions about meaning and purpose and faith. Although I started by submitting to Christian publishing companies I wasn’t at all sure they would be interested because the story is so “gritty” in places. On the other hand I thought secular publishing companies wouldn’t want it because (as one of my friends said) “God does get mentioned an awful lot.” I’m so thankful it’s found a home, and the team at Moody Publishing has been a dream to work with.

What kept you busy before the writing bug bit?

Studies, mostly. I was a full time student and trying to figure out what on earth I should be doing with my life next (a question I still ask regularly).

Are you planning to write another book?

Yes. I’m mulling over fiction ideas. I think I have one I’m just about ready to start working on in the next couple of months. I’m also thinking about some non-fiction ideas.

You have a full time job as a forensic psychologist involving a lot of travel ~ what on earth does a “regular” writing day look like for you?

A regular writing day is usually a weekend day at the moment. I try hard to reserve Sunday afternoons and evenings for writing – and also write at least one or two evenings a week. It’s challenging. That rhythm works well for writing essays – which are much shorter and self-contained pieces – but could be a lot more difficult in terms of writing another novel. We’ll see.

On my hands came away red...

How was this story placed on your heart?

I was 18 and preparing to go on my own short-term mission trip to the Philippines when I read a story in the Washington Post about pirates in South East Asia. I wondered what would happen if a mission team ran into these pirates, and why it seemed like to me there were so few stories about Christians having their faith tested by contemporary events (as opposed to stories set hundreds of years ago or in the future). And I decided I would write a book that explored something like that. Over time the location and the issues in the story changed. Pirates never quite make an appearance in “Hands” – although they are mentioned.

What was your favourite scene to write?

It's too hard to pick just one! So here are two favourites. I loved writing all the scenes with Jip and Kiki in them because they usually made me laugh. I also really liked writing the near-drowning scene - there was something about trying to capture that experience through the eyes of the narrator herself that was really fascinating.

I love that Cori is an Australian character ~ did you ever contemplate making her American?

Nope, and one of the reasons (although not the only one) is very practical. The book is written in the first person, and I would find it very difficult to erase all the Australianisms from my speech if I was trying to write from the point of view of someone who was born and raised in the States.

Obviously your work impacted the storyline - to what extent?

It’s interesting how the strands weave together. While the vast majority of the first draft of this novel was written before I started working at the Headington Institute, I do think my study and working experiences with trauma prior to that gave me additional insight into various characters reactions and the sorts of existential questions that are often raised by highly traumatic experiences.

Any ideas who you might cast in a movie of the book?

Wow. No, not really. I've been so busy writing I haven't watched too many movies lately so I'm not up on young actresses and actors. Cori would have to have an Australian accent though J.

Many of the scenes in the book are emotionally exhausting - how did you cope writing them?

On some days, and with some scenes, it was very difficult. Writing the first massacre scene, for example, floored me emotionally for days. I spent a fair bit of time in and around writing many of the scenes in this book feeling some combination of dazed, desperate, despairing, and exhausted. Yeah, I know, it makes writing sound really fun!

When I was working on this book I rarely wrote for more than five hours in a single day. That was generally about my limit for how long I could sit with that intensity. Exercising and reading something very different from what I was working on - something light and fluffy – and prayer, and spending time with other people also helped counterbalance some of the heaviness.

What impact do you hope this book has upon the reader?

For starters, I would love for people to be captivated by this story and find it compelling and moving and authentic. I didn’t write it only because I wanted to entertain, but that’s part of it.

I do hope, however, that people are not only entertained but also challenged. Challenged to think deeply about some of the hard questions the characters grapple with, and also challenged to learn more about the reality of the need and hardship that exists in so many places in Indonesia and elsewhere. Ultimately, it would be even better if that translated into action – that people ended up encouraged to contribute to meeting those needs in small or big ways - financially, practically, or in other ways.

ON MATTERS PERSONAL...

Do you read Christian fiction yourself? If so, some favourite authors or books both Christian and/or secular?

I read a lot – both Christian and secular. Some of Christian fiction books I’ve really enjoyed recently include Feeling For Bones by Bethany Piece (a fellow Moody author), The Dead Don’t Dance by Charles Martin, and The Secret Life of Becky Miller by Sharon Hinck. Additional books I’ve really enjoyed recently include Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, by Dinaw Mengestu, and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

What are you reading at the moment?

Anne Lammott’s Bird by Bird.

Favourite movie and favourite line from a movie?

I thought first of the movie The Princess Bride – and then I thought of a particularly apropos quote – “Never get involved in a land war in Asia.” But I can’t really say it’s my favourite.

My favourite that I’ve seen recently is Amazing Grace.

“When people speak of great men, they think of men like Napoleon - men of violence. Rarely do they think of peaceful men. But contrast the reception they will receive when they return home from their battles. Napoleon will arrive in pomp and in power, a man who's achieved the very summit of earthly ambition. And yet his dreams will be haunted by the oppressions of war. William Wilberforce, however, will return to his family, lay his head on his pillow and remember: the slave trade is no more.”

Who inspires you?

People like Wilberforce inspire me. If there is any shred of truth in some of the stories about him, he was torn between his desire to live a quiet life of contemplation and his sense that he was being called to fight for a cause – the abolition of the slave trade – on a far larger stage.

I’m privileged to know many people around the world who have sacrificed in big and small ways to work in some way for human rights, poverty alleviation, health care, and education… to work for good. They all inspire me.

How many countries have you lived in and where do you feel most at home?

I’ve lived in Australia, Canada, the US, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, the Philippines and Croatia. How does the song go, though? “I still call Australia home” J. With one exception, my immediate and extended family all live in Australia and it’s the country I have considered home my entire life.

Please share some of your faith journey...

I became a Christian very young – I can’t remember a single point where I made the “decision” to believe as a child. As an adult, however, I have grappled with the same questions that haunt various characters in Hands, and the paradox that seems inherent in the concept of loving, omnipotent, God and the flourishing of suffering and evil. Sometimes I feel that the older I get, the fewer “certain answers” I feel there are in life and in faith. But, so far, even when my mind has been most occupied in tripping over it’s own questions there has still been a deeper river running through my soul, bearing me along, refusing to relinquish me permanently to the rapids of denial, doubt, and fear.

Some essential questions for an Aussie living in Los Angeles!

What was the most difficult cultural adjustment to living in the US?

I don't know if this was the most difficult, but it was one of the difficult ones - is the general difference in sense of humour and the use of sarcasm. I had to learn that people would take me seriously if I said something with a straight face, no matter how ridiculous it was - and then we'd both be embarrassed when it turned out I was teasing. I am less sarcastic here, especially with people I don't know well.

Have you kept your Aussie accent?

I'm trying! I fought hard to get that accent back after mostly living overseas between the ages of 7 and 19, and I am fighting hard to keep it now!

Favourite place to visit in the US

I have problems narrowing things down – so instead of one – here’s five favorite places: Yosemite National Park (it's just fantasy novel beautiful). The Santa Monica pier (I feel like I'm starring in a movie when I step onto it). Old Town Pasadena (it's actually not very old, but it's cute nonetheless). Washington DC (my sister lives there). Hawaii (that place is just tropical island idyllic)

Do you still eat vegemite on toast for breakfast or have you converted you to waffles?!

Neither. I'm a raisin bran and 1% milk girl. Except when I haven't had any time to grocery shop (which has been happening a lot recently) and then I'm half-ashamed to admit I'm a "Starbucks for breakfast" girl. I have yet to see them serving any “vegemite scones” at starbucks, but I live in hope.

Any last words...

Thanks for reading this far! If you’re interested in finding out what I’m up to, visit my website at www.lisamckaywriting.com - where you’ll find a number of my essays. And if you’re if you are interested in learning more about ways to contribute to poverty alleviation and justice advocacy in Indonesia or other areas of the world I urge you to check out the websites of International Justice Mission (www.ijm.org) and Opportunity International (www.opportunity.org). I am donating my author royalties from the sale of “Hands” to these two organizations.

Lisa ~ it has been a fair dinkum delight to interview you - LOL! Thanks so much for giving of your time. I will be holding you to that next novel idea :)

To read my review, click here.

my hands came away red is available now and published by Moody. For Aussies, pre order from Koorong by clicking here - you won't be disappointed!

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Aussie Giveaway ~ Remembered by Tamera Alexander

While I don't read a lot of historical fiction now, Tamera Alexander is one author I won't miss. I am thrilled to be giving away a copy of her latest release, Remembered.

For a preview click here!

To enter tell me know one reason that might make you wish you had been born 150 years ago!

Post by midnight on Friday 5th October to be entered in the draw. Australian addresses only please :)

Friday, 28 September 2007

Playing with Fire by Melody Carlson

Summary

Drugs, Drugs and more Drugs!! This is the only thing on Samantha’s mind. Samantha doesn’t know what to do, everywhere she looks there is something or someone to do with drugs.


Zach is back home from rehab and seems to be back on track, until he starts to sneak around and hang out with the wrong crowd. Samantha must have been dreaming if she wanted her family to be normal again, She starts to have visions and dreams about drugs and now that Zach might be losing it, things aren’t looking up for Sam and her family.


Samantha is in a real pickle with all of this on her plate. Who is taking drugs and who isn’t? Who is the supplier of it all? Sam doesn’t really want to get Ebony involved because it could result in someone close to her getting into big trouble. Samantha now has to work secretly and constantly if she wants to find the mastermind of this big mess!


Commentary


Playing with Fire is an exiting and heart racing book. When I read it I didn’t want to put it down. I love reading books written by Melody Carlson


Samantha McGregor is a very busy character who is always on the move, but always manages to make time for God. This is one of the reasons why I liked Playing with Fire so much, it was never boring.



Guest YA Reviewer: teen Chloe~Anne

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Wedding Bell Blues by Linda Windsor

Publisher's Synopsis:~

Alex Butler is a successful home decorator who thinks she has finally gotten her life together. But when the man who broke her heart sixteen years ago returns to Piper Cove to be the best man in her sister's wedding, and appears to have changed his ways, Alex can't escape the butterflies in her stomach every time she sees Josh around town. But Alex can't be distracted now... her family has enlisted her to make this the wedding of the century. To pull the shindig off, she pools the talents of her three best friends – Jan, who creates desserts to die for and will help with the cake and catering, tomboy Ellen, who works at a family–run landscaping business and will handle the flowers and decorations, and Sue Anne, who can...well, Suzie Q can pinch hit for Alex while she is tied up renovating an old Victorian for her sister's wedding gift.

When Alex discovers Josh living in a construction trailer next to the house she is remodeling, she feels like fate is telling her something. As the wedding approaches, and the Butler family faces a threat to their solid reputation, will Alex and Josh be able to resist the forces that seem to be drawing them together?

My thoughts:~

Linda Windsor has long been a favourite author of mine, penning humourous tales of spunky women looking for love and finding mishaps and adventure along the way. Wedding Bell Blues is no exception. Alex is a heartwarming mix of independence and loyalty, the latter holding her back from stepping away from her father's domineering presence in her life. When Josh Fraser shattered her heart and their wedding vows sixteen years earlier her devoted friends, Suzie, Ellen and Jan flew in to protection mode and with Josh's sudden reappearance, her friends once again take on their guardian roles.

Wedding Bell Blues
is a vibrant and fun story with plenty to love about the characters and setting. Alex learns transformation is possible and a future she thought lost may still be on the horizon, if she can get past her hurt and fear. Without a doubt, Linda has drawn me in with one story to the lives of the women of Piper Cove and it is with great anticipation I look forward to Ellen's story, a Harley riding, practical woman and absolutely no time for romance, in the 2008 release of For Pete's Sake.

The Piper Cove Chronicles are published by Avon Inspire.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

CFBA Blog Tour of Remembered by Tamera Alexander


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

REMEMBERED

(Fountain Creek Chronicles, Book 3)

(Bethany House, 2007)

by


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tamera Alexander is a bestselling novelist whose deeply drawn characters, thought provoking plots, and poignant prose resonate with readers. Alexander’s books have won multiple awards, including Romance Writers of America’s 2007 RITA® for Best Inspirational Romance, the 2007 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, 2007 Bookseller’s Best, and Library Journal’s Top Christian Fiction of 2006.

Her books have received acclaim from Library Journal, True West Magazine and Historical Novels Review, and Rekindled debuted on the CBA fiction bestseller list. She has a professional background in business management and conference coordination. A leader of women's ministries for over twelve years, she is currently active in music ministry, facilitating small groups, and mentoring other women. A graduate of Harding University, Tamera lives with her husband and their two teenagers in Greeley, Colorado.

Her other two books in the Fountain Creek Chronicles are Rekindled (Book 1) and Revealed (Book 2)

To celebrate the release of Remembered, as well as the 3-volume boxed set of Fountain Creek Chronicles (Rekindled, Revealed, and Remembered), Tamera is currently giving away boxed sets in a contest on her website. Check out the contest at http://www.tameraalexander.com/ .

From a Distance, the first book in Tamera’s next historical series (Timber Ridge Reflections) releases in spring 2008.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Though loss is often marked
in a single moment,
letting go of someone you love
can take a lifetime...

The threat of war--and a final request--send Véronique Girard from France to a distant and uninviting country. In the Colorado Territory, she searches for the man who has held her heart since childhood--her father. Pierre Girard left Paris for the Americas to seek his fortune in fur trading, vowing to send for his wife and daughter. But twenty-five years have passed and his vow remains unfulfilled. Sifting through shards of broken promises, Véronique embarks on a dangerous search for a man she scarcely remembers.

His grief finally healed, Jack Brennan is moving on with life. After years of guiding families west, he is now working as a freighter to the mining towns surrounding Willow Springs. What he doesn't count on is an unexpected traveling companion on his trips up into the mountains, and how one woman's search will cause havoc with his plans... and his life.

"Alexander again delivers a most amazing story. The characters are more than words on the page; they become real people. Though there are French words sprinkled throughout the story, they enhance the emotions rather than distract the reader." --Romantic Times

"...a rich historical romance by possibly the best new writer in this subgenre." --Library Journal

"Alexander has done it again with Remembered, third in the FOUNTAIN CREEK CHRONICLES. She's fashioned characters that are as rich and deep as the mountains and valleys they explore throughout the pages, coloring the story as adeptly as the heroine does her canvas. I was drawn immediately into the ages-old heartaches of both of the main characters, understanding at once Veronique's reticence to make a place for herself in the unknown wilds of America and Jack's uncompromising love for this land that he’s cut a swath through time and again. They both have a series of mountains to overcome in the search for Veronique’s father, but I enjoyed watching their faith and appreciation grow with each turn of the page. And woven adeptly through it all is the encompassing truth of the Lord's sovereignty—that sometimes He takes away, and sometimes He gives us what we need, not what we're looking for.

Anyone's who's read the other Fountain Creek books won't want to miss this one, but it easily stands alone. The characters will take you by the hand and lead you heart-first into their stories, and by the time they release you at the end, you'll feel as though you've taken up residence just across the Creek from them, as surely as they have in your heart." --Roseanna White, christianreviewofbooks.com

"Remembered, the third book in the FOUNTAIN CREEK CHRONICLES, takes us back to Willow Creek and revisits beloved characters from the previous two books in the series, Rekindled and Revealed. Tamera Alexander has the remarkable ability to create places, and characters who endear themselves to us, even those just briefly mentioned. If I had lived in the late 1800s, I would love to have met these people and would surely have been inspired by the way they lived out their faith.
Remembered is a delightful read, well-researched and well-written. I expect to see great things from this author in the future." --Lindsey Freitas, bookloons.com

"Remembered is an absolutely wonderful continuation of the FOUNTAIN CREEK CHRONICLES." --Amanda Schafer, armchairinterviews.com

To read my thoughts on this delightful book, click here!

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

A Hideous Beauty by Jack Kavanaugh and Giveaway!

I am giving away a copy of Jack Kavanaugh's latest release, A Hideous Beauty. To find out more read below for details of the book and an interview with the author. This contest is open to ALL my readers wherever you may live in this big, wide world so post a comment for your chance to win before midnight on Monday 1st October, 2007.

Kingdom Wars #1:

A Hideous Beauty

Howard Books,

a division of Simon & Schuster

ISBN 13: 978-1416543404

ISBN 10: 1-4165-4340-6

Award-winning Jack Cavanaugh engages readers in his latest release, A Hideous Beauty, a riveting supernatural thriller that is first in The Kingdom Wars series. This project is the ultimate fusion of suspense, politics, and the supernatural.

Imagine America’s borders have been breached—but not by something you can see. Homeland Security doesn’t even acknowledge this terrorist group exists. Yet hundreds, possibly thousands of spies are crossing our borders every day.

They are renegade angels, agents of destruction from a supernatural realm.

They move among us virtually undetected.

For millennia they have acted as sleeper agents, influencing human history. All the wars in the world pale in comparison to the havoc they can wreak.

And now, one man is about to be sucked in to the battle.

Pulitzer Prize winner Grant Austin returns to his old high school to flaunt his accomplishments in the face of his childhood nemesis, Miles Shepherd. But he discovers a conspiracy of cosmic proportions involving a plot to assassinate the president and implicate Grant as a conspirator.

In an effort to unmask the assailants and salvage his own reputation, Grant enlists the aid of a wheelchair-bound professor of theology, a high-powered Washington insider, and an investigative reporter who just happens to be his old flame.

As Grant peels away the layers of conspiracy, the truth takes on a hideous beauty— for nothing is what it seems to be. Not even Grant Austin.


Jack Cavanaugh is an award-winning author of twenty-three novels, including the eight-novel series The AmericanFamily Portrait. Nearly half a million copies of his novels are in print and have been translated into six languages.

He is the recipient of the coveted Christy Award and Silver Medallion. Cavanaugh also teemed with the late Bill Bright to produce a four volume historical fiction series set during times of revival in America. (Proof, Fire, Storm, and Fury).


Q&A with Jack Cavanaugh, author of Kingdom Wars #1: A Hideous Beauty

Q. How did you get the inspiration to mix genres like you did in this book: suspense, political fiction, and the supernatural? How do you even classify the book when describing it to others?

A. Kingdom Wars is supernatural suspense, the everyday world colliding with the inhabitants of heaven. In A Hideous Beauty, the point of collision is the political arena when a plot to assassinate the president is uncovered. In the second book, Tartarus, the conflict erupts after a newly discovered ancient manuscript leads archeologists to long-lost New Testament treasures.

Q. Where did you birth the idea for this book? When? How did it come about?

A. As a student of the Bible I have developed a fascination with the way it describes the supernatural and natural worlds overlapping. It assumes the overlapping is obvious to everyone. The book of Hebrews tells us that we might at times find ourselves entertaining angels and not be aware of it. But it never says whether the angels we encounter will be friendly. After all, Lucifer is an angel. That’s all it took to get my imagination jump-started. I dove into the Bible looking for instances of encounters with the supernatural and developed my stories from there.

Q. What sort of research was necessary for writing Kingdom Wars?

A. Extensive. I have used the same approach writing these contemporary novels that I used while writing historical fiction. Instead of tracking down historical documents, I have researched the Bible (translating from the original languages), read numerous theological books on angels and the supernatural, and read popular and literary works, such as Milton’s, Paradise Lost and Dante’s Divine Comedy. I want to introduce the modern reader to the supernatural through stories just as these men did for their readers in their day.

Q. Which one of your characters is most like you, and why do you say that?

A. Grant Austin. His personality is more me than any other character I have written. I even went so far as to set the story largely in El Cajon and San Diego where I grew up using places I frequented, such as the high school, though I changed the name.


Q. What takeaway points do you hope the reader pulls from this book?


A. Angels are real. They are here. They are active. And some of them are not friendly. In the front of each of the novels I included quotations from other Christian scholars like C. S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer, who have said essentially the same thing I’m saying, only I’m saying it in the form of a story.


Q. What other books are in the series, and when will they release?


A. At present, there will be a second Kingdom Wars book. The working title is Tartarus and it is scheduled for release Spring 2008. The concept for this book is the advantage rebel angels have over humans in terms of life span. Their lives span millennia. We have less than a century to learn about them, adapt our way of thinking to their presence, and engage them in battle. They can use this disparity to give them a tactical advantage. Think of it as time-released terrorism. The story begins when a fraudulent First Century manuscript is unearthed two thousand years after it was created.

Q. For the writers out there, what’s your favorite writer’s block trick?

A. You’re not going to like my answer to this question. I don’t believe in writer’s block. Writing is hard work. When the going gets tough, by calling it writers block we make ourselves victims and waste time searching for a cure to make writing easy. Serious writers show up every day. They rejoice in the serendipitous times and put their heads down and work through the tough times. Their passion drives them.

Q. Writers say they either neglect something or someone, or rely on caffeine or cravings during hectic deadlines. What do you catch yourself doing when you are down to the wire with your works-in-progress?

A. I do my best to keep my perspective. No book is worth sacrificing my relationship to God, my wife, or family. I work hard, usually ten to twelve hours a day, six days a week. Neither will I sacrifice quality for a deadline. Years from now, no one will remember whether or not you made the deadline, but everyone will know if you wrote an inferior book. That’s not to say that deadlines are irrelevant. Missing a deadline puts pressure on a lot of good people. Publishing is a partnership. I do my best to fulfill my contracts and write to the best of my ability, and I hope my publisher will contribute to the best of their ability.

Q. Can you share something with our readers about what God has been teaching you lately?

A. Not surprisingly as I search the Bible for supernatural encounters, the lessons I have been learning are in the area of living a spiritual life. The book of Ephesians has been particularly helpful. I have been learning that intangibles such as courage, confidence, truth, humility, and patience are not simply characteristics of a spiritual person, they are that person’s offensive and defensive weapons. When the adversary attacks with doubt, lies, and intimidation, we fight back by choosing to live confidently, by choosing to tell the truth, and by choosing to take a courageous stand.


Q. What else would you like your readers to know about you, or about Hideous Beauty?


A. Grant Austin’s use of humor in the face of adversity is a Cavanaugh family trait. We laugh a lot. Our family gatherings are marked by levity and laughter. We laugh during difficult times. Sometimes we laugh at the wrong times. (I once laughed myself out of $800 during a negotiation for a speaking engagement.) I have standing instructions for kazoos to be passed out at my funeral. My family will know what to do with them. I want them to laugh in the face of death and not to mourn as those who have no hope.

The winner of Guardian of the Veil is...


Kathie ~ congratulations!

Please send me your snail mail to relzreviewz @ gmail . com (without spaces) and I will arrange for your book to be on its way :)


Check out my new giveaway for A Hideous Beauty by Jack Kavanaugh here open to ALL my readers!

Monday, 24 September 2007

CFBA Blog Tour of Blessed Assurance by Lyn Cote


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


BLESSED ASSURANCE
Avon Inspire (October 1, 2007)
by

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lyn Cote's journey to becoming a published author was a long one - she started her first book when her daughter was 13 months old and her first novel was published when her daughter was about to enter high school. But Lyn was writing for a market that hadn't taken shape yet - the inspirational fiction market.

In 1996, Lyn Cote's first inspirational historical manuscript was a finalist in the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart Contest. This became her first historical novel, Whispers Of Love, in her BLESSED ASSURANCE series.

Most recently, Chloe, the first novel in Lyn's "Women of Ivy Manor" historical series was a 2006 RWA Rita Award finalist for Best Inspirational, as well as a finalist for the Holt Medallion and the National REaders Choice Contest.

Lyn also writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She lives in the lovely northwoods of Wisconsin with her husband and three cats. Aside from writing, she also likes to knit, crochet, read, and do lunch with friends.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Now available for the first time in one edition--All three novels from Lyn Cote's beloved Blessed Assurance series

In Whispers of Love, Civil War widow Jessie Wagstaff must fend for herself and her son. When a stranger, Lee Smith, befriends Jessie's son, even though she recognizes nine-year-old Linc's need for a father figure, she's reluctant to let a new man into their life. When the Great Chicago Fire blazes, every heart is pushed to its limits.

In Lost In His Love, Jessie's son Linc, a social activist and reporter, charms his way through the upper class of San Francisco to build much-needed support for his fight against child labor. His main target is Cecilia Jackson, a beautiful heiress who doesn't recognize the crucial part she plays in this dangerous exploitation. As the secrets of her family's dark past are exposed, Cecilia must revive her own wounded spirit and find the strength to lean on the never-failing love of Christ. But when the 1906 earthquake hits, everyone's faith will be put to the test.

In Echoes of Mercy, Meg Wagstaff challenges the racial barriers of 1920s New Orleans in order to prove that her childhood friend did not commit murder. The stubborn lawyer prosecuting the case, Gabriel St. Clair, is an authentic Southern gentleman who makes the mistake of underestimating Meg, both her tenacity and her charm. Despite their many differences, sparks begin to fly. But when Meg discovers the truth, will Gabe be able to protect her from those who can't afford to have justice prevail?

"A beautiful tale of love, forgiveness, and acceptance."
~CBA Marketplace

The winners of the Trophy Chase Trilogy are...

ad and Davo ~ congrats!

E & H were delighted they were able to pick a name each this time - LOL!

Your books are on their way :) You will receive the third book in January, 2008 when it releases ~ enjoy.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Blog tour of The Begotten & The Betrayed by Lisa Tawn Bergren

I have enjoyed Lisa's books for years and was intrigued by the thought of her writing a medieval suspense series given her past novels were mainly in the romance genre. Well, Lisa has left me in no doubt about her ability to write a stunning tale with everything you could expect from an epic adventure steeped in the mysteries of faith and the age old battle between good and evil! I have reviewed the books below but first a little bit about this amazingly talented author!

Lisa's Bio:~

Lisa Tawn Bergren is the author of 28 books, with over 1.3 million sold. She is a publishing consultant, writer, Bible study leader, mother a
nd wife. Her hobbies include travel (mostly from an armchair), reading, watching movies, cooking and exploring with her family. Lisa's most recent books include The Begotten, The Betrayed, God Gave Us Heaven, What Women Want and The Busy Mom's Devotional. She resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado. To sign up for her monthly email (which includes a new, unpublished devotional) go to www.LisaTawnBergren.com and join her newsletter list.

Now for my reviews:~

The Begotten

A betraye
d noblewoman, her mute freed slave and her devoted white falcon, Bormeo find themselves drawn in to an old priest's belief that she, Lady Dario d'Angelo has a holy gift, one of healing and is chosen by God to impact the world as one of his Gifted. While mystified by Father Piero's message, Daria thoughts are transformed when God uses her to heal a nun's mangled hand. Journeying back to her home town of Siena, Daria saves the life of a Captain of the Vatican Guard, Gianni de Capezzana, a man of great faith and God's gathering of the Gifted has begun.

Sought after by the church hoping to harness the Gifted's power for its own gain while being hunted by an evil Sorcerer bent on the destruction of God's people, this unlikely group of believers seek out an ancient prophecy to guide their way and protect the world from an insidious evil.

I was enjoya
bly engaged in the first seven chapters of The Begotten but as the action and suspense started to build I was totally committed to this intriguing tale of faith, rich in history with mesmerising characterisation. Lisa Tawn Bergren's extensive research is obvious with fascinating detail of the political and spiritual climate of Italy in the 1300's. Her pacing of the suspense and adventure is perfectly timed for a downright captivating and challenging read. Lisa's villain is just as well drawn as the members of the Gifted, each one captivating me with their unique abilities, unique personalities and differing faith journeys. Amidst the intrigue, whispers of romance and swordplay is a message of faith and the importance of God's timing in our lives not to be missed. Containing all the ingredients for an epic thriller, this series appeals to both men and women and I can't recommend it enough!

The Betrayed

Lady D
aria and Father Piero continue to seek out the lost parts of the Pauline letter they are convinced will light their way. Surrounded by her faithful knights, the young child Tessa with her own gift of discernment, Daria continues to heal and the Gifted's powers and faith strengthen. The sorcerer feels their spiritual growth and plans well to slowly and methodically destroy Daria's friends by exposing their weaknesses and taking Daria for his own. Drawn in to a trap by a once faithful friend, Daria's small band of spiritual warriors and friends are wrongfully accused, sold in to slavery, tortured and slaughtered, and her own soul laid bare. God's prophecy for the Gifted suddenly seems beyond their grasp.

Lisa Tawn Bergren does not let up in the sequel to The Begotten. In this intensely powerful novel the Gifted are tested beyond their own power to stand firm as the evil one plans a concerted attack to bring Daria to his side. The adventure is gripping and the heartache palpable yet newer members drawn to the Gifted provide comic relief in a world sliding into despair. When I read the last page of The Betrayed and closed the book, I was disappointed not to find myself on one of the islands of Venice, so rich and descriptive is Lisa's writing!

Piero's plainness and humility, Gianni's strength and devotion, Vito's humour and Hasani's visions all play a part in this captivating story that leaves you gasping for breath, challenged in your faith and eagerly anticipating the final instalment, The Blessed. Trust me, you want to read these books, live the adventure and delight in their truth.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

The cover art journey of Every Secret Thing....

I know many of you have enjoyed the Bethany House Book Cover surveys I have posted recently. Jim Hart from Bethany thought you might like knowing a bit more about the process and how Bethany uses their surveys to make a final cover art decision! I know I am interested so here is a peek at how the cabin beat the arch and the umbrella!

Jim shares some details from the survey:~

"With total responses, the Cabin cover polled the best (followed by Umbrella, then Woman), but it wasn’t necessarily a clear winner (only by a couple of percentage points), so we did a number of breakdowns by sex, age, preferred genre. It maintained the lead except in a couple of interesting categories – particularly that it lost ground among readers who said their favorite genre was Contemporary (the Umbrella cover did well here). This gave us some pause, as we definitely wanted to appeal to the fans of the contemporary fiction genre that the book is in, while not discounting that the Cabin cover still won with all respondents.

We then decided to look at negative elements in the comments – what items about the particular covers did people react strongly to? The key negatives we saw recurring were (we looked at both the comments in the survey as well as what people said on various blogs that posted a survey link):

Cabin – Too “scary” or dark; the Title treatment (people didn’t like typeface or placement); the figure (hard to tell whether it was male or female)

Umbrella – didn’t fit the genre/feel of the description; looked too much like other covers in marketplace; generally uninteresting

Woman – didn’t fit the genre/feel of the description; uninteresting; and the woman herself turned off a lot of respondents

We had a lot of response to the survey, so here’s just a few comments to give a sense of where we were drawing our conclusions from:

“I like both romance and mystery and this [cabin] cover promises both, plus I like the ‘

old’ look of it”

“Although [umbrella] is a close competitor, [cabin] wins out because of the presence of the architecture. It fills up the front of the cover much more than the girl with an umbrella – which makes me think the main character may be a child”

“I don’t much care for the font used on [cabin], but the pic is good. [umbrella] yells chick-lit at me, and I wouldn’t pick it up. I think I’m getting an M. Night Shyamalan feel from [woman].”

“I want a closer look at who or what’s behind or through that door! However, I hate the font choice and arrangement of title words. They just don’t seem to fit the feel of the rest of the cover.” [about the Cabin cover]

“Regarding [umbrella]—not interesting—though I do like the notebook paper background (relating it to school). [Woman] looks like non-fiction, and at first glance it is hard to tell if the person is a man or a woman.”

“[umbrella] and [woman] keeps the reader removed. We are passively looking at someone. [Cabin] gives us the choice to buy the book and walk through that door. We know we’re walking into ‘something’, but what....”

“[umbrella and woman] seem more expected and like so many other covers on bookstore shelves.”

“[Cabin and woman] look like men are featured on the cover”

“[Cabin] looks like a Stephen King imitation” / “looks too creepy” / “makes me think Haunted House” / “makes me think of a horror movie”

“[Cabin] is too “dark”, [umbrella] is too “light”, but [woman] is mysterious”

“[Cabin] doesn’t tell me anything. [Umbrella] is catchy and literary-looking but doesn’t convey anything about the plot.”

“[umbrella} just doesn’t stand out. Seems ordinary.” / “looks boring” / “boring, so many like them” / “not interesting” / “too boring”

Since the Cabin cover won the numbers game, Umbrella got a lot of criticism for being too indistinguished, and Woman failed to really resonate with people, we went with Cabin, but decided to tweak it a bit (change the type treatment, make the figure more obviously a woman). I should also point out that Ann liked the Cabin cover... Version 2 is what made it into the catalog and remained the cover until shortly before it went to press, when we tweaked it again to make the figure even more clearly a woman and lighten the color slightly.

And there you have it; a little look at our survey process and determining the final cover." The final cover is this last photo on the right.

Rel here:

Hope you liked this insight ~ please comment and let me know your thoughts on the process and if you think Bethany made the right decision!!!

By the way, I have read this book and it is a lovely story ~ look for my review at TitleTrakk soon :)

Jacob's List by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Pamela Nolan has remained in a stale marriage to Dr Michael Nolan for the sake of their only son, Jacob. As Jacob immerses himself in college life and his "list", a quest to conquer ten adrenaline spiking experiences, Pam's reason for staying is quickly dissolving.


When tragedy strikes unexpectedly, Jacob's list is incomplete and the already distant Nolans flounder further in their rage against the man who caused their loss. Shattered, Pam seeks solace with her closest friend, Rainelle while Michael repels any form of comfort and their rift grows ever wider.

If they can overcome their sorrows and bitterness, the Nolans may discover that Jacob's list could lead them to a mountain top experience neither one believed possible.

Stephanie Grace Whitson has plumbed the depths of grief and heartache in this beautiful novel of restoration and forgiveness. Pam and Micheal's loss is agonising to read and their inability to comfort one another painfully realistic. The Novacs, dear friends of Jake, epitomise a family living out their faith and are juxtaposed brilliantly with the Nolan's in their response to grief and loss.

Jacob's List is an enthralling read with an honest and confronting look at a damaged family living with the worst loss they could experience. My heart was engaged with Pam's journey as a betrayed wife and grieving mother but Stephanie Grace Whitson's innate characterisation had me feeling just as much heartache for Michael as he confronts his own choices and their consequences. Against this backdrop and interwoven seamlessly is the story of the man responsible for the Nolan's grief and his desperation and contrition is palpable.
Providing light relief to this dramatic and intense novel are the antics of Jacob's rambunctious standard black poodle, Rambo. When all is said and done, the beauty of this novel lies not just in the destination but in the harrowing journey of a family stripped bare then lovingly restored to faith and healing.

CFBA Blog Tour of The Ex-Files by Victoria Christopher Murray


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Ex Files
(Touchstone June 19, 2007)
by


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Victoria Christopher Murray always knew she would become an author, even as she was taking quite an unlikely path to that destination. A native of Queens, New York, Victoria first left New York to attend Hampton Institute in Virginia where she majored in Communication Disorders. After graduating from Hampton, Victoria attended New York University where she received her MBA.

Victoria spent ten years in Corporate America before she decided to test her entrepreneurial spirit. She opened a Financial Services Agency for Aegon, USA where she managed the number one division for nine consecutive years. However, Victoria never lost the dream to write and when the “bug” hit her again in 1997, she answered the call.

Victoria originally self published Temptation. “I wanted to write a book as entertaining and compelling as any of the books on the market, put God in the middle, and have the book still be a page-turner. I wasn’t writing to any particular genre – I didn’t even know Christian fiction existed. I just wanted to write about people I knew and characters I could relate to.”

In 2000, Time Warner published Temptation. Temptation made numerous best sellers list across the nation and remained on the Essence bestsellers list for nine consecutive months. In 2001, Temptation was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in Outstanding Literature.

Since Temptation, Victoria has written four other novels: JOY, Truth Be Told, Grown Folks Business, and A Sin and a Shame. All of her novels have continued to be Essence bestsellers; her last three each reaching #1. In addition, Victoria has received numerous awards including the Golden Pen Award for Best Inspirational Fiction and in 2006, she was awarded the Phyllis Wheatley Trailblazer Award for being the pioneer in African American Christian Fiction.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

The Ex Files:

A Novel About Four Women and Faith...

There are four ways a woman can handle heartbreak. She can fall apart, seek revenge, turn cold, or move on. The Ex Files is the story of these four women:

When Kendall Stewart finds her husband and her sister in bed together, she vows to never let anyone get that close again. But when she is faced with saving the life of the woman who destroyed hers, will she be able to forgive?

When an NBA superstar tells his mistress, Asia Ingrum, that he's decided to honor his marriage vows, her shock quickly gives way to revenge...but her decision may come back to haunt their five-year-old daughter.

Every night Vanessa Martin wonders why her husband committed suicide. Even worse, she contemplates joining him in eternity. Will Vanessa be able to gather the strength to live again?

Sheridan Hart is finally finding her way after a lie destroyed her seventeen-year marriage. Her new love is ready to get married, but will she commit to this younger man or is her ex-husband taking up too much space in her heart?

When their pastor asks Kendall, Asia, Vanessa, and Sheridan to meet weekly for prayer, they can't imagine they will have anything in common. But then a devastating tragedy strikes and these strangers are forced to reexamine their choices. Will they find true friendship, or will prayer -- and their union -- fail them?

I haven't had the opportunity to read this book so no review at this stage :)

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