Friday, 29 December 2006

Sands of Time by Susan May Warren

4 Stars

Susan May Warren's sequel to In Sheep's Clothing, the first in her Mission: Russia series, centres around Russian FSB officer, Roman Novick and American missionary doctor, Sarai Curtiss, both entangled in a murderous political coup and the theft of unused Russian uranium.

Both Roman and Sarai are nursing broken hearts from their failed relationship thirteen years ago. Sarai has since become a medical saviour to the families in Irkutsk, Siberia, opening a clinic to help the sick and share her faith. Her dedication to her cause places her in extreme danger when she fails to save a little boy dying of an unknown sickness and then as all foreigners are ordered to leave. At the request of Sarai's brother, Roman defies his superiors and travels to Irkutsk, knowing Sarai will reject his efforts to protect her but unable to let her become trapped.

Sands of Time is another fast paced novel, although a little less intense than its prequel in the initial chapters. Roman and Sarai are appealing characters despite Sarai's reckless disregard for her own safety. Their interaction is just right, drawing on the strain of their parting, years earlier, and the attraction that remains. Susan May Warren's time as a missionary in Russia is evidenced by her knowledge of the political issues and Russian society which she has put to good use, transporting the reader to the cold and barren wilderness of Far East Russia and personalising the Russian characters. Readers will enjoy Vicktor Shubnikov's (In Sheep's Clothing) cameo appearance and I certainly hope there are more books to come in this entertaining romantic suspense series!

Thursday, 21 December 2006

Christmas Joy

Wishing you all the joys of Christmas remembering Jesus' birth and God's plan of love and compassion - Happy Christmas!


Monday, 11 December 2006

10 of my top reads for 2006

I have enjoyed more than ten fantastic books this year so apologies to those authors I haven't included in this post! Here is a selection of my favourites as the year draws to a close.............................

Allah's Fire by Chuck Holton and Gayle Roper

Castles in the Sand by Sally John

Coldwater Revival by Nancy Jo Jenkins

Everything's Coming Up Josey by Susan May Warren

Freefall by Kristin Heitzmann

My Life as a Doormat by Rene Gutteridge

Reconstructing Natalie by Laura Jensen Walker

The Cubicle Next Door by Siri Mitchell

Valiant Hope by Donna Fleisher

When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin

Thursday, 7 December 2006

Defiance by Don Brown

41/2 Stars

Don Brown's consummate JAG advocate, Lieutenant Commander Zack Brewer returns in Defiance, the third book in the Navy Justice series.

Still grieving the loss of Diane Colcernian at the hands of extremists, Zack remains with the Navy seeking refuge from the public interest which arose from his previous legal achievements. He is unwittingly thrown into the spotlight again when his current trial is hijacked by US presidential hopeful, Senator Eleanor Claxton, seeking to garner support for her liberal views and label the trial as a witch hunt. At the same time Navy intelligence reveals Zack's life may be in danger from the same terrorists that kidnapped Diane nearly 18 months earlier.

NCIS agent, Shannon McGilverry, is assigned to protect Zack but as she begins to link a murder in Paris with rumours of hostages hidden in the Mongolian desert, her own heart is the one at risk, threatened by each truth she reveals. Zack is not only targeted by terrorists but also someone closer to home.

Don Brown has succeeded again, penning an engrossing story of political intrigue and high suspense which kept me reading well into the early hours of the morning. His personal experience as a JAG officer lends authenticity and credibility to the courtroom scenes and Navy details. The ending left some unresolved issues and Zack's faultless personality is a little overstated but in the end these things do not detract from a top-notch story and leaves the way open for a further book in this enthralling series.

If you haven't already done so I recommend reading Treason and Hostage before Defiance is released by Zondervan in March, 2007.

Another first for Amy Wallace

Read the gripping first chapter of Amy Wallace's Ransomed Dreams at the Defenders of Hope website and actually turn the pages online - very cool!

Don't forget to register to win some great monthly prizes and a grand prize drawn in the New Year.

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

CFBA Blog Tour of Never Ceese by Sue Dent

This week the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is doing a tour for Never Ceese by Sue Dent.

It is notable that Sue is one of our CFBA members!


Sue Dent was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi and currently resides in Ridgeland. When not writing, Sue designs websites and works with digital photograpy.Sue loves to hear from her fans through her Website in fact, the push from eager readers has already set the ball rolling, and she's hard at work on Forever Richard, the sequel.In Never Ceese, Sue sets out to prove that faith and fun can live happily in the same story, and that vampire/werewolf fantasy can have a spiritual message too.


Never Ceese takes religious fantasy to a new level, bringing an entirely new Light to a very dark side of fiction, doing a very admirable job to prove that vampire/werewolf fantasy does not have to be evil to be enjoyed.
The story starts with the classic tale of an English manor owned by Richard, the vampire who righteously is the bain of his neighbor's existence, what with the missing goats and all!
Then enters Cecelia, better known as Ceese, the young werewolf maiden who's arrived via invitation by Richard's aging companion, Penelope.
Ceese and Richard would prefer to tear each other apart, literally, but they are drawn together by their mutual love for Penelope. She is dying and has one request...that the two of them love one another.
This is the overall theme throughout Dent's interesting tale of two who were wronged but learn to work together. Meanwhile they are threatened by an evil stem cell researcher who wants the immortality and power that he thinks their blood will bring him!

Dent's characters do differ from the stock one's we're all accustomed to in a very important way. They are not mindless, brutal killers. Bloodthirsty, yes, but they are constantly resisting the urge to kill, and, thus, curse another human. Feeding on rodents, goats, virtually any warm-blooded animal helps to satiate the never ending thirst for blood, but how long will they be able to resist that most delicious morsel man?
There is a chance that their curses can actually be lifted if they can find the strength within to resist their selfish natures and act selflessly toward another. Will they succeed? That same basic choice lies before us all every day...
A vampire and a werewolf, one determined to, once again, be able to acknowledge what will get her to heaven, the other no so sure he can. A spiritual fantasy designed to spark the imagination, to speak to the heart as well as entertain.

The Never Ceese book link:

Sue Dent website:

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

Cover Art for Courting Trouble by Deeanne Gist

Check out the great cover to Deeanne Gist's third book,
Courting Trouble
, releasing in June 2007.

From Deeanne's website, a sneak peek:-

Essie Spreckelmeyer, who turns thirty in 1895, decides she is through waiting on the Lord for a husband. So, she writes down the names of all the eligible bachelors in her small Texas town, makes a list of their attributes and drawbacks, closes her eyes, twirls her finger, and ... picks one.

A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist

41/2 Stars

Deeanne Gist's first novel, A Bride Most Begrudging, is refreshing and entertaining in a genre where you may think you have read it all.

It's 1643 and a ship arrives in the new colony of Virginia, filled with women known as "tobacco brides", hoping to snare a husband and a chance for a new life.....except one Lady Constance Morrow, transported against her will and desperate to return to England.

After a humiliating experience as the brides were purchased, Constance finds herself at the home of Drew O'Connor, the only single man in Virginia who does not want a wife, especially one with without any practical skills in cooking or home making. Drew cannot fathom a woman who is beautiful yet argumentative, intelligent yet impractical and claims to be the daughter to an earl!

This book is beautifully written transporting the reader to the New World with rich and colourful descriptions of the scenery and culture. The dialogue between Constance and Drew is both witty and enthralling as they grapple with genuine emotions and social constraints. If you choose historicals sparingly, as I do, make sure Deeanne Gist's books make the cut!

Deeanne has a fabulous website so check out her sequel,
The Measure of a Lady which I will review soon!

Monday, 4 December 2006

Interview with Susan Meissner

My book club recently enjoyed an email interview with Susan Meissner
after reveiwing her book,
A Seahorse in the Thames. I have posted our Q & A's below.

Qu: Which character do you identify with most, and why?

SM: Whenever I write a book in the first person, my main character is probably more like me than any other character in the book. I’ve never known the sorrows that Alexa has but if I did, and
I didn’t have God as my anchor, I would probably be just like her! Her responses to the troubles in her life are mine, were it not for grace at work in my life!

Did this book come from your own personal experiences or from the lives of people close to you?

I am thankful that I’ve not faced even half of the conflicts these people have faced. I have not known the loss of a sibling or the breakup of my parents’ marriage or the ache of loving the wrong man. I had to imagine what that might be like.

What prompted you to write this book?

It was all about the seahorse. When I read about its discovery I thought to myself, “Now that’s a metaphor for a story!’ Finding beauty in an unexpected place!”

What was your favourite part of this story?

I don’t consider myself a writer of romance, but I have to admit I like the part when Stephen kisses Alexa and she is overcome. Tears form in her eyes and he wipes them away with his thumb., fingering the wetness like it is silk. Yeah. That makes me feel happy inside.

What made you write about finding glimmers of hope as you put it at the end of the book?

Well, life sometimes doesn’t offer much more than glimmers and they’re easy to miss. And if we miss them, all we see is the stuff that makes us sad. And that’s not a pleasant thought. So it just seems to me that a reminder that we sometimes have to kneel down to look for little joys is a good thing.

What are some of the glimmers you have come across in your own life? When did you realize that faith in God is better than anything?

There was a time in the early 90s when my husband was out of work and it looked like there was no end in sight. Month after month of searching and praying was yielding nothing. I had to find my joys in little things like a gentle Christmas Eve snowfall, the prayers of my children and birdsong. My faith became my everything when I was 13 and I realized God was as good as He is big and wise.

How long does it take you to write a book and what is your usual process?

I outline and plot my stories before I write one word, so I usually have a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen. And since my kids are either teenagers or out of the nest, I have the house to myself weekdays. Makes for fabulously quiet writing time. I can usually finish a book in about 6 to 8 weeks.

Where in general do you obtain you ideas from?

Most of my ideas come from a snippet of something I will read in the newspaper or magazine, like when I read about the seahorse in the Thames or the sudden return of a woman kidnapped when
she was a child (which was the idea behind my second novel, A Window to the World. I guess my ideas come from real life. I watch life being lived and take notes.

Were any of the character's experiences in the book based on your personal experience?

No, hallelujah, they were not!

Rebecca's situation was interesting - was her situation based on someone that you know or have heard about, or did the story just evolve with the book? It brought home to me how much of a responsibility we have to be a positive influence in the lives of the people we touch, no matter who they are.

I have known people who've suffered severe head trauma and who emerged from their injuries with personality changes. And the effects on their families were also very notable. Injuries that severe, that leave a person changed and forever dependent, take a huge toll on the family unit.

Did you leave the ending hanging about what happened to Stephen so that you can write a sequel?

I left it hanging because that is the essence of the story: it is truly a glistening shimmer of hope. If I were to tell you outright that Stephen survives, you would be robbed of that sense of hope and expectation. Does he survive? Well, what do you think? How brightly does your hope for him shine? I think he lives!

The book focused on the main character - Alexia and the situation’s she found herself in & the thoughts she had. The other characters had very interesting and deep stories to tell but we only got snippets of them. Do you think that the book could have had more depth to it, if you told more of their story & not deviate from your premise by so doing?

You ask a very interesting question! I set out to write this book from a single point of view, Alexa’s. I wanted the reader to see the people in
her life the way she sees them. To get inside the other people’s heads I would have changed the view from first person to third or I would have had to alternate chapters between first person points of view. I am reading Lisa Samson’s “Straight Up” right now and she alternates between the first person points of view of two characters and a third person point of view for a third character. It’s very effective for her story, but I don’t picture it working for Seahorse. It feels like this is the only way it could have been told.

Did you have the seahorse story in your mind first and then develop the characters around that or was it around the other way?

I had the seahorse motif first and I just tried to think up a tale that would fit the idea that things of beauty are sometimes lurking in dark corners.

What does a normal writing day look like for you?

When I’m in write mode I start about 9 a.m. and keep at it until 3 or 4 p.m. or until my teenage sons come home from school. Right now, I am in research and planning mode for the book that is due on March 1. I plan to start on it next Monday. Yikes!!

Did you always want to be an author?

I have always loved writing, ever since I was a little girl. I didn’t dream of being an author because it seemed too big a dream. To me, an author was someone who was published, and that just seemed too big to hope for. I have since learned to dream bigger! I am soooo glad God didn’t pay any attention to the shape of my dreams, that He paved the way for me to be published despite my near-sightedness.

How long does it take you to write a book from first ideas to finished product?

Most of the time it takes about six to eight weeks of five-days-a-week writing. But I plot before I begin writing. I interview my characters and wait until I feel fairly familiar with each of them before I begin.

I loved the theme of looking to find something beautiful in the midst of things which are not, I know that this has been true for me in my own life. Where did your inspiration for the book come from?

It really did come from reading a tiny newspaper article about a seahorse being found in the Thames by a London fisherman. It just struck me that this event made international news. A seahorse was the last thing that fisherman expected to find that morning. Sometimes the blessings of God are in shadow. We have to look close, bend down and squint. But they are there.

In the story of Clement, the fisherman almost misses the seahorse as he is not expecting to find anything of beauty in the river. Do you think we often miss that glimpse of splendor?

I do. I know I do. I am learning not to miss it, but it is a process. We’ve been conditioned, I think, to expect loveliness to be obvious. Sometimes loveliness is falling in love with a man with a brain tumor. You wouldn’t think that to be lovely unless you looked at the situation with different eyes.

What books might we be able to look forward to in the near future?

I have ideas swimming in my head for many more books! One in particular, was just fleshed out last month when I wrote the last word of Blue Heart Blessed; a book about a woman who opens a second-hand wedding dress shop with the intention of selling her own, unused wedding dress — her groom left her at the altar! But every time someone tries to buy it, she talks them out of it. Poor thing. It’s part chick-lit, part soul lit. It’s a fun read. It comes out in Jan 2008!

I like the way the main character, Alexa analyses the others’ actions and reactions to the various situations that unfolds in the story. Do you ‘ study’ people you know in order to come up with such believable personalities?

I have lived in a small town the last 12 years and have been able to live up close to many different personality types. When you live in a small town, you don’t have to study too hard to get a glimpse of the breadth and depth of the human quilt. I will be moving from the rural Midwest to southern California in January and I will miss that. I imagine I will be drawing from my Midwest experience for years to come!

Please share with us some of your spiritual journey.

I was raised Catholic and feel that my upbringing prepared me for a deep relationship with Christ. I committed my heart and mind to Jesus when I was 13 and I eventually left the Catholic Church, but I am glad I have known God since my earliest childhood memories. My husband Bob is a scholar of the Word and a pastor so I have grown in my faith by leaps and bounds because of the influence of this man, my best friend. We’ve lived overseas and in different parts of the US and have been involved with many different kinds of churches, but the bottom line is, Jesus is Lord. That’s all that matters.

Have you been published in the secular market? Why Christian fiction?

I haven’t been published in the secular market aside from newspaper articles — I was a managing editor of a local newspaper for a number of years. I chose to write for the Christian market because it seemed to fit me best. Someday I’d like to write a book for the secular market but that still honours God. Wouldn’t that be cool?

Symbolism plays a large part in your stories – please explain your reasons for your use of it.

I like symbolism because it is like art. It is subtle and
inventive and when the reader gets it, they feel like they’ve been let in on an amazing secret. It is so much more impacting than just telling someone something.

What are you reading now or who are some favourite authors?

I read a wide variety of authors. I like Lisa Samson and Siri Mitchell on the CBA side. I have also enjoyed books by Jane Hamilton, Sena Jeter Naslund, Ursula Hegy, Anita Shreve and Barbara Kingsolver.

I note you are a guardian ad litem – what does that entail?

I have actually given that responsibility up because it entailed so much of my time. I was involved with children in my county who were in need of an advocate in the courtroom. Many of them were truant, some were living in troubled homes, some were being neglected. My work with them included visiting them in their homes or foster homes, working with social services and other agencies to find the best solution for their predicaments and writing recommendations to the court. It was very rewarding, equally frustrating and of course, time-consuming. I gave it up when my writing vyed for these kids’ attention. They deserve someone who is single-minded.

If you were casting actors for a movie of “Seahorse”, who would you choose?

What a fun question! Let’s see. . . . I don’t know of any sets of twins, so the actress playing Alexa would have to play Priscilla, too — ala Parent Trap. . . Perhaps Brittany Murphy for Alexa and Priscilla, Natalie Portman for Rebecca, Diane Keaton for their mother, and maybe Josh Hartnett for Stephen!

Thanks for sharing with us Susan - it has been delightful! We look forward to reading your future books.

Read my review of A Seahorse in the Thames

Read my review of
Widows & Orphans

Check out Susan's other books:

Why The Sky Is Blue The Remedy For Regret In All Deep Places A Window to the World

Friday, 1 December 2006

FIRST Day Blog Tour of Eye of the Oracle by Bryan Davis

It is December 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!)

The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and their latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature author is:


and his latest book:

Eye of the Oracle

Bryan Davis is the author of the four book Dragons in Our Midst series, a contemporary/fantasy blend for young people. The first book, Raising Dragons, was released in July of 2004. The second book, The Candlestone, followed in October. Circles of Seven debuted in April of 2005, followed in November by Tears of a Dragon.

Bryan is the author of several other works including The Image of a Father (AMG) and Spit and Polish for Husbands (AMG), and four books in the Arch Books series: The Story of Jesus' Baptism and Temptation, The Day Jesus Died, The Story of the Empty Tomb (over 100,000 sold), and Jacob's Dream. Bryan lives in Winter Park, Florida with his wife, Susie, and their children. Bryan and Susie have homeschooled their four girls and three boys.

To read more about Bryan and his books, visit the
Dragons in our Midst Website or visit Bryan's blog.

Eye of the Oracle

by Bryan Davis

Dragons in our Midst - Prequel
Oracles of Fire - Volume 1


The Seeds of Eden

Angling into a plunging dive, the dragon blasted a fireball at Lilith and Naamah. The two women dropped to the ground just as the flaming sphere sizzled over their heads. Naamah swatted her hair, whipping away stinging sparks that rained down from the fireball's tail.

With a flurry of wings and a gust of wind, the dragon swooped low. As razor sharp claws jabbed at the women, Naamah lunged to the side, and Lilith rolled through the grass. A single claw caught Lilith's long black dress, ripping it as the dragon lifted toward the sky.

Naamah jumped to her feet and helped Lilith up. The dragon made a sharp turn in the air, and, with its jagged-toothed maw stretching open, charged back toward them.

Lilith pushed a trembling hand into the pocket of her dress. "Only one hope left," she said, panting. Pulling out a handful of black powder, she tossed it over her head. "Give me darkness!" she cried.

The powder spread out into a cloud and surrounded the women. Naamah coughed and spat. The noxious fumes blinded her and coated her throat with an acrid film. A hand grabbed her wrist and jerked her down to her knees just as another flaming cannon ball passed over their heads.

"Crawl!" Lilith ordered.

Naamah scooted alongside Lilith as she scuffled over the dry tufts of grass. Sparks from the rain of fire ignited tiny blazes that illuminated their hands as they passed through the veil of darkness.

Naamah gagged but refused to cough. With a guardian dragon hovering somewhere overhead, giving any clue to their whereabouts could be fatal.

After several minutes, Lilith whispered, "I think I found the cave."

Her hands, barely visible and clutching a small bundle of sticks, crawled over a bed of gravel and then to a rocky floor. When she finally stopped, Naamah sat up and gazed into the dark cloud behind her. She squeezed fractured words through her tingling throat. "Will the dragon follow?"

"Shachar is persistent," Lilith rasped, "but she is no fool." She coughed quietly, clearing her voice. "She will not risk the possibility that we're a diversion for a more dangerous attack. If she doesn't find us soon, she will go back on patrol."

"What about her dragon sense? Won't that draw her to us?"

"I'm not sure. A dragon's danger alarm is still a mystery to me. I think since our only direct threat is to the ancient garden she patrols, her sense of protection will draw her there."

The black cloud began to dissipate, revealing the mouth of a shallow cave, barely deep enough to keep out the wind. Close to the back wall, the women found a flat stone and built a fire next to it with Lilith's collection of sticks. When the crackling flames began to rise, Lilith and Naamah sat on the stone to rest.

From her pocket, Lilith withdrew a small bundle wrapped in a black cloth. After untying a knot on one end, she produced an earthenware cup filled with herbs. "The way to Eden has yet another obstacle," she said, tossing a pinch of the herbs into the campfire. "Our task will not be easy."

Sparks flew toward the cave's low ceiling, riding on thin strings of silvery-green smoke. Naamah breathed deeply of the aroma-saturated air, a pungent blend of camphor and garlic. She exhaled, tasting the herbs at the back of her tongue. "What could be more difficult than getting past a dragon?"

"There are forces in our world that dwarf the power of dragons. I have foreseen much that you don't know."

Click on the FIRST link to read the rest of this chapter.

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 609 pages
Publisher: AMG Publishers (September 25, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN: 0899578705

Wednesday, 29 November 2006

CFBA Blog Tour of Landon Snow and The Island of Arcanum

Christian parents are finally offered a true Potter alternative...

All the adventure of Harry Potter...

None of the sorcery!

This week the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is doing a blog tour for Landon Snow and The Island of Arcanum by R.K.Mortenson, published by Barbour Publishing (October 2006).

About the AUTHOR:

R.K.Mortenson is an ordained minister with the Church of the Lutheran Brethren. He has been writing devotional and inspirational articles since 1995. He currently serves as a navy chaplain in Florida and lives with his wife, daughter and son in Jacksonville.

This page at Barbour's site provides a few good links, two as recent as last week: The top link there goes to a story about Randy's adoption experiences, the second link goes to the Landon Snow short at Clubhouse magazine.

Randy got the idea for this series one late night, when flute music woke him from a sound sleep. As he stood at his window, trying to locate the source of the sound, he spied a library across the lawn. Suddenly, he envisioned an eleven-year-old sneaking out of his bed and stealing to the library in the dead of night...And thus Landon Snow was born.


In the latest adventure of
Landon Snow And the Island of Arcanum, Landon, once again visits his grandparents in Button Up, Minnesota. If your familiar with the first two books, Landon Snow and the Auctor's Riddle, and Landon Snow and The Shadows of Malus Quidam, you'll know that Landon's adventures always start at the Library in Button Up.

This time, Landon's most dangerous journey yet, begins in a rowboat-shaped tombstone that floats. And it's lucky for him that it floats because a few drips from the library ceiling turns into a powerful waterfall.

The stone turns into wood, the stone book propped up in the prow of the boat turns to paper. The left page says "ANCHOR". The right page says "AWEIGH".
"Anchor aweigh?" said Landon.
Holly whispered, "Did you hear that?"
No one has time to respond, however. The next instant saw the water before them dropping away as the water behind them grew into a giant swell, pitching them headlong into the abyss.

Landon will have to protect his two younger sisters, Holly and Bridget, who wind up in the boat with him headed towards The Island of Arcanum. On the Island, the animals of Wonderwood are imprisoned and the evil shadows of Landon's nemesis, Malus Quidam lurk!

With the help of some old friends, a horse named Melech, an odd fellow named Hardy, a girl named Ditty, and the poet/prophet Vates--Landon seeks to unlock the island's dark secrets and escape with the animals intact.

But first, he must navigate his way through unchartered waters and battle the villainous Archans...Can Landon and his friends rescue the animals from deep within the island's stronghold?

R.K.Mortenson's website:

Book link:

Interview with Charles Martin

On 13th October, 2006, my book club interviewed Charles Martin, author of The Dead Don't Dance , Wrapped in Rain , When Crickets Cry , Maggie and Chasing Fireflies (releasing in 2007).

We reviewed When Crickets Cry and then spoke to him via conference call. Below is the transcript of that interview which was fun and informative. Please forgive my typing errors!

Thanks again Charles for the gracious way you answered our many questions!

CM: Hello, this is Charles

NJM: Hi Charles, Narelle from Australia here. How are you doing?

CM: I'm good, how are you?

NJM: We're well, thanks. Had a good chat about your book.

CM: Oh, yeah?

NJM: Yeah. They've all made heaps of noise, couldn't stop talking and now they've gone all quiet on me!

CM: Well, don't do that!

NJM: No! We really appreciate your time so thanks for giving it to us.

CM: We're going to have to get over the language barrier!

NJM: Ok, you can't understand me?

CM: I can understand you a little bit, but it's more like after you say it. It takes about 30seconds for it to kinda swirl around in my head and then it's okay so that is what she said!

NJM: I'll speak a bit slower...

CM: Oh, that's much better!

NJM: We have a South African girl here so that will be even better!

CM: Oh goodness! How many of you are there?

NJM: 16

CM: Ok. It sounds like you have a good phone or something because I can hear all of you. A lot of times when I do this whoever is calling me I can't really hear but you all sound really, I can hear you really well.

NJM: That's good, you just can't understand us!

CM: I have no idea what you are saying!

NJM: Well, this a new experience for us too, this conference call so we will just see how it all pans out.

CM: It's not necessarily new for me but its something that I am still a little , like, I mean its sort of a strange thing, I mean don't you all have something better to do than sit around and talk to some guy in Florida and Georgia at this time of night on Friday the 13th or something?

NJM: We're all, you know, enjoying a night together!

CM: There's the truth of it. I'm curious, since your there in Australia, here right now it is the morning of the 13th. What is it where you are?

NJM: It's 9.15 on the night of the 13th.

CM: Ok. So you're almost 15 hours ahead.

NJM: Something like that – we like being ahead of the pack! How about we get into it?

CM: Ok

NJM: One of the favourite questions, no doubt you have heard it before and will probably have your answer all ready, what inspired you to wrote When Crickets Cry?

CM: A couple of things. If you read any of my other stories, especially The Dead Don't Dance, you will see in the acknowledgements, that, um, I am 36 now, when I was 27 Christy and I were out then at Virgina Beach. It's on the east coast of the United States and it's about due east of our capital. Anyway, we were out there at Graduate School and I was travelling to work one morning for UPS. Do you have UPS there? Postal service?

NJM: Something like that.

CM: Anyway, I was going to work for this big shipping company and I had to be at work about 3am so its about 230am and I am driving to work and I had this flash or this, I don't know, this picture that I kinda saw that was pretty detailed for me and I guess I had seen them most of my life but never really paid attention to them and I mean its just a daydream that I see in sort of technicolour. And I made some notes, I always carry a little notebook with me, and I made some pretty detailed notes and as the months went by it sort of became more solidified and that's when I sort of strapped a novel around it and that became The Dead Don't Dance. That has occurred to me with most, all of my stories now and I finished, I guess I've written five novels now.

With When Crickets Cry the first thing I saw was a little girl in a yellow dress standing on a street corner in Clayton, Georgia, selling lemonade and the thing that struck me was a scar on her chest, it was just a little scar and a little pill container. Somewhere along that time, this kind of all happened around the same time, I began thinking about the heart and just, I don't know, just sort of this miraculous thing I hadn't thought of, here's this little organ that sits in the middle of our chest and it really ticks non stop until thay day you die, it never takes a break, it never takes a vacation. Something about that amazed me.

And then the first part of this equation was, Christy and I have three boys and the boys and I were reading somewhere in Proverbs and we ended up in the fourth chapter and the Psalmist was trying to give his admonition to his son and it starts in the second chapter and goes all the way through the third and it ends in the fourth and for some reason we got to the middle of that fourth chapter where he says “above all else guard your heart” and it just struck me, I don't know why, but it just struck me that here is the wisest man on the planet, saying “above all else”.

Those three things occurred within about a week of eachother – the picture I saw in my head, my thinking on the heart, then Charlie and that got me going towards the book that you all read.

To read the full interview, click here

Read my review of The Dead Don't Dance

Read my review of the sequel

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Freefall by Kristin Heitzmann

5 stars

With December just around the corner, I imagined I had read all of the best books of 2006. By the end of the first chapter of Freefall I knew I was mistaken!

Set on the Hawaiian island of Kauai,
Freefall commences with a woman tumbling down a waterfall and the testing of Monica Pierce's fragile emotions. Monica's instinctive compassion welcomes the beautiful but injured stranger into her home, her memory lost due to the traumatic fall. Monica names her Jade. As a result of a tragic childhood, Monica has always relied heavily on her protective older brother, Cameron, an insurance fraud investigator living on the mainland. Monica calls him to utilise his investigative skills to determine Jade's identity. Upon his arrival, Jade's reluctance to contact the police places Cameron's suspicions into overdrive and another man's life in the balance.

When Jade's identity is confirmed as the latest Hollywood "it" actress, Gentry Fox, the ugly side of such fame threatens to overwhelm her as she struggles to remember her past. Cameron's immediate derision of her occupation and the lifestyle he imagines Gentry has sought, is tempered as Gentry's strength of character emerges as they search for answers to the tragedy that befell her. In turn, Gentry glimpses Cameron's cynical and hardened exterior for what it is, a damaged heart and soul, following the early loss of his parents and his wife's more recent betrayal. Cameron resists his attraction to Gentry as danger continues to haunt her. The suspense ramps up and the relationships of all characters are tested as unscrupulous people seek to destroy Gentry's image and possibly, her life.

Kristin Heitzmann has written a powerful novel of suspense alongside a beautiful character study of the fragile yet indestructible nature of human emotions. Her characters have depth and authenticity, from Gentry and Cameron through to blind Okelani, Monica and police officer, TJ Kanakanui. The book delves into issues of integrity, the allure of wealth, the burden of guilt and the miraculous and forgiving nature of God. Secrets and Unforgotten are must read books but Kristin Heitzmann has trumped even those with Freefall.

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Remember Nick?

Susan May Warren, one of my favourite authors, is launching her Noble Legacy series with a Meet Nick site and giveaway!

Reclaiming Nick releases in January, 2007 and here's a sneak peek..............

Nick Noble hadn’t planned on being the prodigal son. But when his father dies and leaves half of Silver Buckle—the Noble family ranch—to Nick’s former best friend, he must return home to face those he left behind. And to make sure that the Silver Buckle stays in the Noble family.
Award-winning journalist Piper Sullivan believes Nick framed her brother for murder, and she’s determined to find justice. But following Nick to the Silver Buckle and posing as a ranch cook proves more challenging than she first anticipated. So does resisting his charming smile.
As Nick seeks to overturn his father’s will—and Piper digs for answers—family secrets surface that send Nick’s life into a tailspin. But there’s someone who wants to see the Silver Buckle leave Noble hands, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen, even if it means taking a life.

Click here to register for a chance to win a bundle of Susan's books!

Monday, 20 November 2006

CFBA Blog Tour of Cool, Calm & Adjusted by Kristin Billerbeck

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Calm, Cool, and Adjusted by Kristin Billerbeck


Kristin Billerbeck was born in Redwood City, California. She went to San Jose State University and majored in Advertising, then worked at the Fairmont Hotel in PR, a small ad agency as an account exec, and then,she was thrust into the exciting world of shopping mall marketing. She got married, had four kids, and started writing romance novels until she found her passion: Chick Lit.


Calm, Cool, and Adjusted is the third book in the Spa Girls Novels.
Billerbeck did a great job with the characterization of Poppy, a quirky Christian chiropractor who is a health nut. I'm talking real NUT. She is so obsessed with health that she forgets about living. When she finally realizes that she is over the edge obsessed, she doesn't know how to stop herself.

Best friends since Johnny Depp wore scissors for hands, "The Spa Girls" live very separate lives, but stay in touch with routine visits to California's Spa Del Mar.
The third novel in the Spa Girls Series focuses on Silicon Valley chiropractor Poppy Clayton, who is as calm, cool and adjusted as they come. Or is she? Known for her bad fashion sense, a love for all things natural and the inability to get a second date, Poppy is beginning to wonder if she might be misaligned herself. Her route to self discovery will be an unnatural one - a plastic surgeon, a dilapidated house in Santa Cruz, a flirtatious client, and a blind date from the dark side.

It's all enough to send a girl - and her gal pals - running for the comfort zone of their spa

Thursday, 16 November 2006

Interview with Amy Wallace

Welcome to Amy Wallace, author of Ransomed Dreams and fellow CFBA blogger to Relz Reviewz.............

Rel: Thanks Amy for joining me! Please share some of your writing/publishing journey with us

Amy: I began my writing journey oddly enough. In searching for good stories to share with my girls one Christmas, I came across some grown-up novels. Devouring my first taste of fiction since my college years, I'd then hand the books to my husband and tell him how I'd change them. After about seven, my husband handed a book back and said to write my own. I shook my head. But then a dream about FBI agents and a mom in trouble wouldn't be dismissed. So I wrote the story and got involved in an awesome writer's group called the American Christian Fiction Writers. I spent a little over three years learning the heart and craft of writing, all the time working on a number of novels, short stories, and proposals. Then I received a recommendation for an agent who loved my first book and we signed a contract. Eighteen months later the publishing house I dreamed of working with offered me a three-book contract.

Boy, does all that sound nice and easy. Actually this journey has been anything but. It's more closely resembled a difficult pregnancy than a walk in the park. But God returns me to a few basic things: He called me. He promised to equip me. And I rise and fall to Him alone. The other big thing God reminds me of often is that writing is an act of worship. True worship is costly, so says 2 Samuel 24:24. It's my constant prayer that with every step of this writing journey I'll offer up to God a pleasing sacrifice, an offering that has indeed cost me something.

Who encouraged you or what made you decide to write a novel and seek its publication?

I think it was my intent from typing the first word that I'd seek publication because I wanted someone to hear the story I had to tell. It never occurred to me not to try. God was gracious to put some amazing writers in my path who read my pitiful fledgling attempts and took me under their wings, showing me kindly how to improve . They also encouraged me to keep at it. So I did. I love that many novelists say the key to good writing is putting your backside in the chair and doing the work. I'd add praying all the way is the best way to retain your sanity.

Why Christian fiction?

Christian fiction is simply a natural fit for who I am and how I view life. My husband and I share a life's passion to know God and show others how He heals hearts and how we can glorify God by enjoying Him forever. We tend to focus on the Body of Christ to live out that heart desire, but are open and willing to go where He sends us and share with anyone He puts in our path.

I note you homeschool your children. What does a typical writing day (or night!) look like?

A typical writing day looks like a Saturday. :-) That's the day I work from 9am to after midnight and get the majority of my writing done. I attend to edits and business things during the week while my children have afternoon quite times and then I also work after bedtime.

As a confessed chocoholic, what do you recommend to get you through those difficult writing days?

Godiva is my chocolate of choice! But any chocolate will do on those tough days. On really difficult days, I pair my favorite dessert with a white chocolate mocha from Starbucks and lots of prayer. Together those help me salvage and learn from even the worst of writing times.

What are you working on now?

Ransomed Dreams will release in April, 2007 and now

I'm working on editing the second book in the Defenders of Hope series and will be writing the third soon. What I'll be working on after that is still a little fuzzy in my head. I have an idea for a second suspense series and am praying about story specifics and when to get busy with that.

Why FBI Agents and children?

I wanted to be an FBI profiler after I graduated college. But that's not the path God intended for me. Instead I get to interview, read about, and then write about people I admire~ without having to do all the pushups. LOL Why children? I adore my children and am passionate about them being a gift to treasure and helping tired moms (what mom isn't tired?) remember that.

When writing these books, did the plotline or characters come first?

That's a tough call. I'd have to say I knew the characters first, but the basic plot came hand in hand with Gracie and Steven. It was in telling their story that I got to know them, which made the rewriting of the entire book go well and end up being a story I'm excited about sharing.

Do we "see" some of you in your characters?

Totally. But it's not the obvious character choices. In truth, there are bits and pieces of who I am in every character.

Many authors say they "hear" their characters talking to them. How does it work for you?

I don't really hear my characters; I see them. It's like having a movie reel playing all the time in my head. Often that's incredibly distracting. But the cool thing about the way I'm wired is I see these stories and characters as ways the Holy Spirit speaks to me. Many times God touches on areas where I'm weakest or leads me to explore my greatest fears. In telling the best and most intense story I can, I walk it through with my characters and I'm changed. I love that part of being a writer. Especially when I don't have to get shot at to learn!

If you were casting actors for a movie of Ransomed Dreams, who would you choose?
That's tough because even though I "see" my characters, I see more of their inner life than physical descriptions. Besides, I'm woefully inept in keeping up with Hollywood names and faces.

The Defenders of Hope website has a page with resources for protecting children. This is obviously something very close to your heart. Can you explain your passion and what you hope to achieve?

My best friend says that when we're at a mall she's looking for great shoes while I'm monitoring the exits. I totally resemble that statement. Growing up military behind the Iron Curtain, I used my imagination early to dodge "spies" and concoct stories of what would happen if. Now as a mom and a suspense writer who does tons of research, my imagination takes me places I hope to never go in real life. I'm painfully aware that we don't live in a safe world. So I want to share all I've learned with other moms as well as to encourage parents to not walk by fear, but be armed with knowledge tempered with faith in an all-powerful God.

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

I LOVE Christian fiction! My all-time favorite author is Dee Henderson. Mark Mynheir, a cop writer, is at the top of my list too. I also really enjoy Robin Jones Gunn and Kristen Billerbeck. Three new entries to my favorites list are authors Karen Ball, Rene Gutteridge, and Trish Perry. I love to read everything these authors write and I wait a tad impatiently for their next release.

Where is your favourite place to read a book?

Anywhere with chocolate. :-) I especially love reading outside or reading side-by-side with my hubby curled up on the couch.

Who inspires you?

My children. They love life and they love God unapologetically. They work hard, play hard, and get back up when they mess up. They also forgive easily and love deeply. I want to grow up to be more like them.

Please share some of your faith journey

I was an alcoholic at age 13 and a total type A personality on a crash course toward destruction. When my military family moved back home to Louisville, KY I made a friend in my sophomore German class who invited me to church. I ran for cover. What little I knew of God conjured pictures of thunderbolts and scowls. But try as I might to avoid church, I eventually slipped through the doors of a Baptist church and heard for the first time that God wanted a relationship with me and that the cross was proof positive He was serious about sin as well as able to cleanse and heal me and make me a beloved part of His family. I think I wore out the entire church staff and youth group with my endless questions. I didn't receive many answers that satisfied, but when I realized the depth of my sinful aching heart and that God still asked me to come, I stepped into the most amazing love affair ever. I was 15 then, and while there have been plenty of times I've said "this is NOT what I signed up for" I've come to see there is no better place to be than in the arms of my Savior experiencing the love of my heavenly Daddy.

Any last words.................................

My prayer for my readers is that they will come face to face with the God who smiles at them and longs to draw them closer and closer to Himself. I also pray they'll know deeply His never-ending love and heart healing so that they'll find their passion and live fully the story God has placed them in.

Thanks Amy for sharing so honestly - you have been a delight to interview :) I can't wait to read Ransomed Dreams. Look for my review in early 2007!

Amy is a fellow CBFAer so check out Amy's Blog for more of her thoughts.

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