Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Renovating Rel????

When I first read Sharon Hinck's The Secret Life of Becky Miller I began to wonder if she had super-dooper telescope with which she peered into my windows in Melbourne, Australia to find inspiration for her story! That is Sharon on the left here, not me! Sharon tells me that is not so but I am still wondering with the release of Renovating Becky Miller which continues the tale of a dedicated mum, trying to meet all the expectations placed on her and a few more things too.......

Sharon decided to turn the tables on this blog tour and asked me (a mum with 3 kids, hubby doing job search, leader of women's ministry and a recently completed renovation...understand my concerns about a telescope?!) to answer some of her questions! Please note I am making generalisations here! So here goes:~

Sharon ~ One of my writing profs drilled in to me to write specifics, not generalities. So when I wrote The Secret Life of Becky Miller, the character was a very specific Midwestern, North American mom. Yet I’ve heard from people who’ve read the book in South Africa, the Philippines, and of course, Australia. It raises the question for me—which aspects of Becky’s lifestyle feel “foreign” and are unique to her culture?

Rel ~ A paid women's ministry role-ha! I laughed that it was contemplated at all :) Aside from the very few mega-churches all such roles are done on a volunteer basis. I think also what we would see as Becky's "over the top" approach to that ministry ~ all the extra bits and pieces Becky did to make the retreat and stall special and decorating homes for the significant holidays, just isn't usual here.

Which elements of her day-to-day life felt universal to you?

The real mum (I can spell! That is Mom here!) stuff - rushing around for the kids, wanting the house to be clean, trying to do too much, worrying, maintaining friendships, cooking, searching for purpose......

Are those of us in the U.S.A. more obsessed with doing too much and fixing everything than women in other cultures?

Mmm...I would have to say that it would seem Aussie women are more relaxed as a whole. Plenty of us try to do too much but there are just as many who won't buy into that which is good. The down side can be that we can be apathetic about important issues.

In Renovating Becky Miller, we see Becky and her colleagues at her church confronted with questions about church growth, effectiveness, workaholism. Do you see the same drivenness to “make a difference in a big way” in the church body in Australia?

Yes and no! There are always people who have "driven" personalities but as a general rule our churches are much smaller say on average 100-500 people and that impacts what can be achieved in a financial sense. Churches still want to have an impact but on a smaller scale, in their community.

Are churches Down Under also wrestling with issues of which ways a church can minister effectively in the modern world?

Most definitely! We struggle with indifference, we don't have a church "culture" so to speak. The vast majority of Australians do not attend church, it isn't the expected thing to do do if you attend church in any capacity you are an oddity in the sense of being very different to most others in the community.

Among my circle of friends, many have experienced several of the issues faced by the Miller family in Renovating Becky Miller . . . Overscheduling, financial stress, remodeling a home, caring for an aging parent, marriage roles. When you gather with a group of women friend in Australia, what are some of the key struggles you and your friends end up talking about?

Our kids ~ how they are going at school, what high school to send them to, do they mix well with their friends, what activities they do. (Homeschooling is very rare, most kids attend their local government school which provide a good education but many want to send their kids to a private school for the high school years - the status of these schools is somewhat different to private schools in the US) Also our husbands ~ what they have or haven't done right!!!! And families, parents etc. I am constantly amazed by how many of my friends have fractured relationships with either their parents or in-laws. And, of course, what might happen next on Lost!

What are some of the key battles young moms in Australia face?

Tiredness ~ the number of other areas of our lives this impacts is huge including dealing with our husbands and kids, our emotional state and ability to cope with the all the tasks of being a mum.

Work/life balance ~ many women need to return to work with the higher cost of living and finding something that can work around the children is always difficult. Childcare is expensive and not always available which causes a lot of pressure. And often those of us who choose to stay at home feel looked down upon by others and that to be a contributing member of society we need to be in some form of paid employment!

Image ~ while this is not to the extent it seems to be in the States (most of my friends whack on a bit of lippy (lipstick) and that is it and no one thinks they are underdone)! It is more the need to look like we have everything under control and communicate to others that all is good even when underneath it might be a disaster (just like Becky).

Thanks so much Sharon for stopping by ~ hope this gives a little bit of insight into the life of an Aussie mum :)

Be sure to check out both of Sharon's books - you will laugh, cry, be entertained and above all you will finish them with a smile on your face :)

The winner of Fair Game is....


Congratulations :)

Monday, 26 February 2007

Book Giveaway ~ Reclaiming Nick

Susan May Warren has sent me a copy of Reclaiming Nick to give away and it is signed by her good self :)

Check out my review here and if you are interested leave a comment on this post saying you would like to be included in the draw! My husband will be pulling the name out the hat for my giveaways to ensure it is all above board!!

As always, those with Australian postal addresses only please ~ apologies to everyone else!

This draw is open until Monday 5th March, 2007

Saturday, 24 February 2007

And the winner of White Chocolate Moments is....

Tracy - congratulations!

Remember you need to be in it to win it!

Aussie readers click on the book title below and post a comment and you will be in the draw to win:~

Fair Game open until Monday 26th March

Perfecting Kate (signed by the author) open until Friday 2nd March

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Perfecting Kate by Tamara Leigh

5 Stars

Katherine Mae Meadows is an up and coming artist whose personal life is on the down and out! Kate has sworn off men determined to embrace the single life, refocus her faith, enjoy the birth of her best friend's first child and witness to her wayward room mate.

When Michael Palmier, make up artist to the stars, shows an interest her, Kate is so flattered that she accepts his recommendations to improve her image, undertaking a number of treatments to rectify her "flaws".

A new contract to create a mural for the burns unit at a San Francisco hospital creates havoc with Kate's schedule and peace of mind. The aloof yet magnetic Dr Clive Alexander is determined to frustrate Kate's artistic endeavours and deride her physical improvements!

Perfecting Kate epitomises the joy that can be experienced with a great book! It is entertaining, witty and held me captive from the first chapter to the last word. Kate is an endearing and authentic character with an honest and unique voice. Tamara Leigh adds depth to this story with Kate's health issues and Clive's traumatic past but does so without dampening the enchanting tone of the story. I laughed, cried, and cheered with Kate, wanted to help fight her battles as well as knock some sense into her from time to time. I have no regrets about reading this book late into the night to learn the culmination of the physical and spiritual journey of this woman.

Tamara Leigh has sealed her fate as one of my must read authors!

Check out Stealing Adda and look for Tamara's next novel, Splitting Harriet, releasing in November, 2007 with Multnomah.

Tamara has kindly offered me an autographed book to give away so please post a comment letting me know you would like to be included in the draw to win :)

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Subscribe to RelzReviewz

Hi - hadn't realised my blogarithm subscription link had disappeared! I have added it back in so if you would like to receive an email everytime I update my blog then put your email address in the Blogarithm box located in the right hand side bar (not the one in this post!). Your email address is not disclosed to anyone including me! It looks like this ~

CFBA Blog Tour of Wedgewood Grey by John Aubrey Anderson

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing Wedgewood Grey
(Faith Words, February 2007)
by John Aubrey Anderson.


John was born five miles north of the setting for Abiding Darkness, a cotton country town within a rifle shot of two rivers, a bayou, a double handful of lakes, and endless acres of woods.
After graduating from Mississippi State, he flew six years in the Air Force then twenty-nine years for a major airline. And now he gets to write.

He and his wife have been married for forty some-odd years and live in Texas—about twenty miles south of the Red River. He spends the biggest part of his time writing; she’s immersed in leading a comprehensive, women’s Bible study. They like greasy hamburgers and Dr. Peppers, most species of warm-blooded creatures (the kind that don’t normally bite), and spending July in the mountains.


Wedgewood Grey is the second book in the Black and White Chronicles. The first was Abiding Darkness (August, 2006).

Mississippi cotton country . . . in the spring of 1960.

The War At Cat Lake is fifteen years in the fading past . . . but the demonic beings who launched that first battle, are alive and well at Cat Lake. Waiting.

Late on a Friday night, on a muddy little road a mile east of Cat Lake, a ten-year-old black child is forced to watch while a gang of white men beat his mother to death. Aided by Mose Washington, an old black man, the boy exacts a measure of his own revenge. When the sun comes up on Saturday morning, Mose and the boy are fugitives.

Missy Parker Patterson, who as a child stood at the epicenter of the first war, is married and living in Texas. In the aftermath that follows Mose Washington’s disappearance, she goes back to Cat Lake to discover that the demonic beings have been anticipating her return . . . and so begins the second battle of The War At Cat Lake.

In 1962, an old black man and his grandson move into the country near Pilot Hill, Texas. The people in the local area are told that the old gentleman’s name is Mose Mann—his grandson introduces himself as Bill. However, the lives of the new arrivals are not as peaceful as they seem. The unassuming old black man and his grandson are being pursued by a triad of formidable and unrelenting adversaries . . . a ruthless political leader, an enduring lie, and an invisible army allied beneath the banner of a hatred for God.

Wedgewood Grey is a story about the impact of choices that real people—people like you and me—are sometimes forced to make.

The Author's Website:


Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0446579505

I can't speak highly enough of John's books! Check out my review of Wedgewood Grey here !

Book giveaway ~ Fair Game

Here's another book I have to give away to any of my Australian readers ~ Fair Game by Elizabeth White. Just post saying you would like to be entered into the draw by Monday 26th February, 07.

Leave an email address so I can contact you :) Just leave a space before and after the @ so trawlers can't pick up the address.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Wedgewood Grey by John Aubrey Anderson

5 Stars

"If you forget everything else that happened here tonight, you need to remember this...this isn't a crossroads, it's a threshold."

Missy Parker is married and has moved away from Cat Lake but despite the passing of fifteen years, the evil that lurked in the murky waters still exists biding its time for her return...

Mose Washington shares his days with his former employer and now close friend, Mr Bobby Parker, ignoring speculation about their unusual relationship from folk who don't know any better. His evenings are spent wandering around the woods watching the deer and thanking the good Lord for the time he had with his late wife, Pip.

When an old foe disturbs Mose's prayers, he once again steps in to protect the innocent from evil incarnate, saving the life of a young boy, Bill and becoming a fugitive from justice.

Rookie FBI Agent Jeff Wagner is assigned the case to locate an old black man, a young boy and one good looking Redbone hound after the discovery of a scene reminiscent of a battleground with bodies found in such a state as to disturb the most seasoned police officer. When the locals calmly describe demons and evil spirits to justify the gruesome events, Wagner, a West Texan, deep in Mississipi territory, tries to find a better explanation...and fails.

John Aubrey Anderson not only equals his first book, he improves on it! Wedgewood Grey is another intellectual thrill ride, with the same evocative language and wonderful character depth as Abiding Darkness. Mose is again a pivotal character with Missy and Pat making a late appearance in the book but the focus on new character, Jeff Wagner, is brilliantly done. He is genuine and appealing and his journey of discovery is not to be missed.

John Aubrey Anderson imparts wisdom through his elegant prose placing the reader at the heart of every scene, easily connecting their emotions to those of the characters. Jeff Wagner's character brings delightful humour to the story which eases the emotional turmoil at just the right moments. I was totally absorbed by this story and can't wait for the next instalment in the Black or White Chronicles, And If I Die, releasing Summer (USA), 2007. I am delighted to have it on good authority that it won't be the last either! (Thanks JAA!)

Book Giveaway!

Oops! Aussie readers ~ Forgot to add the book giveaway to my review post......let me know by posting a comment here that you would like to be entered into the draw for a copy of White Chocolate Moments before Friday 23rd February!

Monday, 19 February 2007

Midnight Sea by Colleen Coble

4 1/2 Stars

Midnight Sea is Colleen Coble's latest Women of Faith novel and draws on characters from her Aloha Reef series.

Leilani Tagama is making every effort to lay to rest her reckless past, working on her aunt's coffee farm and pursuing her love of floristry design when she is blinded by a bullet in an attack against a fellow worker.

Ben Mahoney reluctantly agrees to help Lani as she comes to terms with her blindness as he has a special affinity for those without sight, stemming from his past and the guilt that eats away at him. He introduces her to Fisher, a golden retriever he is training as a guide dog, and Lani falls in love - with the dog!

The mystery surrounding the shooting looms larger as Lani's life is threatened again, she befriends a young Tongan boy she fears is being abused and she discovers a treasure people are willing to kill for.

Colleen Coble has written a terrific romantic suspense, one I would rate as up there with her best. The setting in Hawaii is again captivating and her detailed descriptions have you smelling the coffee and hearing the surf. Lani and Ben are fascinating and substantial characters and while they struggle with the usual issues of guilt and a sad past, Colleen's writing is refreshing and totally absorbing. The suspense will have you anxious to turn each page but hoping the story doesn't end. A number of the secondary characters are calling out for their own stories to be told - I hope Colleen gets a chance to write them!

White Chocolate Moments by Lori Wick

3 Stars
White Chocolate Moments tells the story of young Arcineh Bryant and her grandfather, wealthy business owner, Sam Bryant.

Arcineh is eleven years old when she loses her parents in a traffic accident and moves in with her grandfather, Sam. She lives a life of privilege but is scarred from the loss of her parents. When her grandfather begins to play family favourites with his other grandchildren, Arcineh feels rejected and finally leaves in search of love and acceptance.

The first half of the novel describes Arcineh's childhood and provides the foundation for her later actions as an adult. The story moves along at a slow pace but picks up when Arcineh steps out to seek her own life and identity. While the outcome is predictable the different characters, especially Arcineh's new friend Jalaina and romantic interest Gage Sefton, pique interest in the ending.

If you enjoy a slow-paced, gentle romance Lori Wick's latest offering should not disappoint.

Saturday, 17 February 2007

And the winner is......................

Tracy :)

I have your details so will send the book out ASAP!

Aussie readers keep an eye out for other book giveaways soon..................

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Reclaiming Nick by Susan May Warren

5 Stars
Nick's thoughts on Piper:~ "That lady looks like a stiff wind could knock her clear to South Dakota...........She doesn't belong out here"

Piper's thoughts on Nick:~ "Underneath that six-foot-one-inch frame, dark eyes and muscular alpha-male exterior lurked a bona-fide bully"

So begins Susan May Warren's Reclaiming Nick, the first in her new Noble Legacy Series, set in the charming town of Philips, Montana.

Nick Noble deserted his father's Silver Buckle Ranch ten years earlier, a hurt and angry 18 year old determined not to return to the land where his dreams for the future were shattered. With bitterness and guilt tormenting him, Nick can't face going back even for his father's funeral. When he discovers his father has bequeathed half his inheritance to Cole St John, Nick's best friend until Cole betrayed all he held dear, Nick can't return fast enough to reclaim what is rightfully his.

Piper Sullivan endured a tormented upbringing to become a feisty, award-winning journalist determined to expose injustice especially the one perpetrated on her brother Jimmy resulting in a jail term for a crime he didn't commit - the police officer in question, Nick Noble. Determined to reveal Nick's dark side, Piper poses as a cook and obtains a job as ranch cook at the Silver Buckle, despite her distinct lack of culinary skills and her vegetarian status right in the heart of cattle country!

Susan May Warren's story is replete with humour, attraction, betrayal, jealously, desperation and intrigue all wrapped up in a very appealing cover! Nick and Piper are genuine, three-dimensional characters drawing the reader into their past hurts and the choices that will set their future. Nick's bitterness and Piper's vendetta give great scope for Susan to communicate the message of forgiveness and redemption and she blends it seamlessly into the storyline. The ripple effect of Nick's desertion is expressed in the lives of Cole and his family adding substance and appeal to the story.

The ranching way of life and the small town of Philips is described with an honest look at the great community spirit entwined the financial pressures of living off the land. You will want to visit the Silver Buckle and sit on the porch watching the horses then mosey on down to Lolly's Diner and order a cheeseburger.

Susan's writing is both enchanting and evocative drawing the emotions the characters feel into your own heart, leaving you frustrated with the misunderstandings, laughing at the city slicker's efforts and crying with the prodigal's heartache. This book has it all and more! If you want to know more about Nick, check out his website!

Nick's siblings, Rafe and Stefanie are introduced hooking you into Book 2, Taming Rafe. If the sneak peek at the end of Reclaiming Nick is anything to go by it will be a sure-fire hit!

Click here for my interview with Susie and find out which actor she would choose to play Nick :)

CFBA Blog Tour of Christian Writer's Market Guide by Sally Stuart

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing Christian Writer's Market Guide
by Sally Stuart


For more than twenty years, the Christian Writers’ Market Guide has offered indispensable help to Christian writers. This year, for the first time, this valuable resource comes with a CD-ROM of the full text, so you can search with ease for topics, publishers, and other specific names.

The 2007 edition also includes up-to-date listings of more than 1,200 markets for books, articles, stories, poetry, and greeting cards, including information on forty new book publishers, eighty-three new periodicals, and thirty-four new literary agents. Perfect for writers in every phase, this is the resource to get noticed–and get published.

It contains listings for: 695 periodicals, 228 poetry markets, 355 book publishers, 133 online publications, 29 print-on-demand publishers, 1185 markets for the written word, 321 photography markets, 31 e-book publishers, 122 foriegn markets, 112 literary agents,and 59 newspapers.

It also gives you comprehensive lists of contests, writers groups and conferences, search engines, pay rates and submission guidelines, editorial services and websites.

Christian Writers’ Market Guide is a "must have' for any serious Christian writer that is looking to get published!

The book link is: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400071259

Sally's website is: http://www.stuartmarket.com/


Sally E. Stuart is the author of thirty-four books and has sold more than one thousand articles and columns. Her long-term involvement with the Christian Writers' Market Guide as well as her marketing columns for the Christian Communicator, Oregon Christian Writers, and The Advanced Christian Writer, make her a sought-after speaker and a leading authority on Christian markets and the business of writing. Stuart is the mother of three and grandmother of eight.

Sunday, 11 February 2007

Fair Game by Elizabeth White

4 1/2 Stars
What do you get when you cross a vegetarian animal conservationist with a bow and arrow toting hunter? Fair Game!

Widow Jana Cutrere is heading back to her hometown of Vancleave, Mississipi with her two young children hoping to inherit her grandfather's property and open a wildlife rescue centre. She brings with her a lifetime of regrets but a new faith which gives her hope for the future.

Grant Gonzales has finally convinced Alvin Goff to sell his prime land so he can realise his dream of a hunting reserve and leave the city rat race behind. He didn't count on rescuing a woman, her two kids and an injured deer from the woods nor did he anticipate that it would be Cupid's arrow flying straight for his heart!

Elizabeth White has penned another engaging romance brimming with humour, unique characters and just the right amount of attraction and tension between Jana and Grant. Their differences of opinion are well fleshed out and the moments of conflict are authentic and not trivialised.

Elizabeth has brought back some of my favourite characters of all time, Tommy Lucas and Carrie Gonzales from her novella, The Trouble with Tommy in Sweet Delights . Tommy, Carrie and other quirky secondary characters add depth and spiritedness to the story. While this is a delightful romance, Elizabeth adds extra substance to the story with Jana dealing with the fallout from her wild youth and her own insecurities while Grant contemplates his approach to the animal species of God's creation.

This book is a keeper and leaves me highly anticipating Elizabeth's next novel, Off The Record, releasing August, 2007.

Elementary, My Dear Watkins by Mindy Starns Clark

4 stars

Jo Tulip, home hints heroine, is back in the final instalment of Mindy Starns Clark's Smart Chick Mysteries, Elementary, My Dear Watkins.
Jo finds herself at the heart of another puzzle but one more deadly as she is pushed in front of a train by an unknown assailant, fleeing to her grandmother's mansion who has her flanked with bodyguards.
Danny Watkins, Jo's dearest friend and now true love, is living his dream of pursuing a photography career in Paris. When a further opportunity arises with a salary and benefits he can't begin to fathom, Danny ponders his future.
A mysterious young genius, a life changing drug and a betrayal that strips Jo's heart bare are all connected but can Jo join the dots before a successful attempt on her life is made?
Mindy Starns Clark has created lovable and quirky characters in this series and their appeal continues throughout this final book. Jo and Danny also have depth which is drawn out through Jo's struggle with her parents and extended family who have never accepted her life choices and Danny's desire to pursue his career dreams. The mystery is detailed and keeps the reader guessing and you just might find out how to clean that cheese encrusted toaster oven!
I eagerly anticipate this author's future offerings. Ms Clark's previous series, Million Dollar Mysteries are also well worth the investment!
Australian readers ~ Post on my blog indicating you would like to be in the draw for a copy of Elementary, My Dear Watkins by 16th February and you have a chance to win!

Interview with Laura Jensen Walker

Laura Jensen Walkeris a national speaker and the author of several books including Thanks For The Mammogram, Dreaming in Black and White and Reconstructing Natalie, Women of Faith's Novel of the Year for 2006.

Laura graciously gave of her time to do this interview with my Book Club after we had discussed Reconstructing Natalie.

Why a story about a 27yr old getting breast cancer?

Because, unfortunately, women in their 20’s are also getting breast cancer. It’s not just women over forty who get this disease and I wanted to draw awareness to that. I was 35 when I was diagnosed and was told ‘you’re so young!’ and yet when I travel around the country and speak about breast cancer, at every event I always meet at least one or two young women in their 20’s who are fighting it! And I wanted to give a voice to those women, and in particular, to show what it might be like for a young, single woman to go through the experience.

What made you choose Tap dancing as a hobby for Natalie?

Because I’ve always loved it (especially watching it in the old MGM movies with Gene Kelly, Ann Miller, etc.) And I’ve always longed to do it (and may still take lessons ONE of these days) but years ago a tap-dancing friend tried to teach me the basic step-ball-change step and I just couldn’t get it. One of these days, though… Also, for Natalie, I thought it was important to show her growing and trying new things having beaten cancer. We’ve all heard about breast cancer survivors going whitewater rafting or climbing mountains to celebrate their victory, but I wanted something a little different.

I absolutely thoroughly enjoyed reading Reconstructing Natalie; was writing the book an easy task for you?

In some ways, yes, in other ways, not so much. Natalie is very near and dear to my heart because of the subject matter and I’m really hoping it will minister to a lot of women, but reliving those chemo scenes as I was writing them wasn’t fun! It was also the first time I’ve ever had to ‘kill a character off’ and that was difficult too. (Although the less said about that, the better, as I don’t want to spoil it for readers who haven’t read it yet.)

Did you put much of yourself & your own experience into Natalie’s character?

Some… That initial blindsided feeling of shock and fear when you’re first diagnosed with cancer was the same, as were the reactions of some friends and acquaintances, and Natalie’s chemo reactions were pretty much mine (unfortunately because a nurse forgot to give me my anti-nausea medication BEFORE my first chemo) however rather than having my treatments in a chemo-recliner at a cancer center, I was hospitalized each time because of the high dosage I received. There were definitely bits and pieces of my experience woven into Natalie, but a huge difference was that I was
married and had an amazingly supportive husband to help me through my cancer experience, while Natalie was single—which comes with its own unique set of concerns when you’re dealing with breast cancer.

I noticed the running theme of movie titles throughout Reconstructing Natalie, and having read your other two fiction books, I was wondering where your obvious love for movies comes from? Have you really seen them all?!!

From my dad. As a little girl I’d get to stay up late on the weekends and watch The Late Show (Movie—not Letterman) with him where he told me many things about the stars (i.e., that Alan Ladd was so short, he had to stand on a box to kiss his leading ladies, and that Betty Grable had her famous legs insured for a million dollars, that John Wayne’s real first name was Marion, etc.) And I’ve seen a zillion movies, but not all. (Just about every one that I listed in the end of Dreaming in Black & White though.) There’s still a lot of classics I haven’t seen, but want to, including: Ben Hur, The Grapes of Wrath, Spartacus, The Day the Earth Stood Still…

Favourite movie and or favourite line please!

Too hard to pick just one! I’ll try to narrow it down to three though:
The Best Years of Our Lives
Meet Me in St. Louis (with the incomparable Judy Garland)
But wait! I forgot To Kill a Mockingbird, I Remember Mama (a must for every woman writer, especially if she’s Norwegian) Random Harvest, Bringing up Baby, The African Queen, Little Women… the list goes on and on.
Favourite line(s):
“We’ll always have Paris.” (Casablanca)
“Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” (All About Eve)
“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” (Casablanca)

If you were casting roles for Reconstructing Natalie, who would you choose?

Natalie – A brunette Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Garner or Anne Hathaway. (Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock would also be great, but I’m not sure they’re young enough since Natalie’s only 27…)

Merritt (Natalie’s artsy, curvy best friend) - Drew Barrymore or Scarlett Johannson

Jillian – Gwyneth Paltrow or Kate Hudson

Rashida – Queen Latifah or Jennifer Hudson from Dreamgirls if she were older

Andy – Matt Damon or Jake Gyllenhaal

Have you seen Reconstructing Natalie impact women to self examine/see a doctor, etc.

Yes—a few women have written to say that after reading Reconstructing Natalie, they went and scheduled a mammogram. And a couple male radio hosts told me they now feel more prepared/know what to expect and how to act, should, God forbid, their wives ever get diagnosed with breast cancer.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Ideally, 6-8 months, but I’ve done some fiction in less than four (although I hope never to do that again!) My short, non-fiction humor’s completely different. My average was usually 3-4 months, but I’ve done a couple in just six weeks.
Not having read your other fiction books it does appear though that they are about younger women (at least one other one is). Why is this so?
Because I’m writing chick lit, and by definition, chick lit is about youngish, single women (in their 20’s and early 30’s.) Also, I didn’t get married until I was almost 35 and I well remember those singles days and all my longings and hopes (and neuroses, too J )

If you are willing to share, what (one is fine) on your road of faith changed as a result of your experience with cancer?

I came face to face with the fact—and the fear—that the cancer might kill me, one night at 3 a.m. in my hospital bed, but when I cried out to the Lord for help, He comforted me through His Word (the Psalms, especially Psalm 18: 4-6, 16-17) “The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help…He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.”
His Word took away my fear and replaced it with a sense of absolute peace. I knew that my Lord would rescue me. I didn’t know how, only that he would—whether that meant healing me or taking me home to be with him, I was no longer afraid. Death could claim my cancer-ravaged and chemo-riddled body, but it could never touch my cancer-free soul. The Lord promised he would never leave me or forsake me, and he never has. He never will. It’s wonderful to have that assurance so completely and totally.

You have written a number of non-fiction books - Who encouraged you or what made you decide to write a novel and seek its publication?

I’ve loved—and devoured—fiction my whole life. (I read much more fiction than non-fiction.) And in my heart of hearts, that’s what I always dreamed of writing. But non-fiction was a natural outgrowth of my journalism background, and it came easily to me. Pretty soon, I’d written 10 non-fiction humor books, but around the ninth one, I was feeling a little burned out and didn’t have much else funny to say (especially since I mined my own life for my books.) I’d already written about dating, marriage, breast cancer (Thanks for the Mammogram) and menopause (Mentalpause —I went into it early thanks to chemo J ) as well as friendship, home improvement, etc., and was thinking, what else can I write about? My family had all been encouraging me for some time to move to fiction, but I was absolutely terrified to try. I felt I didn’t know a thing about writing a NOVEL! Too scary. Too intimidating. No way could I ever do that!

But then, on my way to a writer’s conference I was having a dialogue with God—basically saying, okay, Lord, what am I supposed to do now? Am I done with the writing and is it time to call it a day and find a 9-to-5 job again? Or… (big gulp) am I supposed to try and write fiction—my lifelong dream? Except, I don’t even know how to begin! So if that’s what you want, Lord, you’ll have to show me very clearly ‘cause I’m clueless.

Then I took a fiction class with the amazing T. Davis Bunn and he said “Before you even begin to write your novel, you have to know—or have a general idea—of how it’s going to end.” A-ha! That afternoon I went to a fiction editor’s panel where you can ask questions and I timidly raised my hand and asked, “Um, are you looking for humor?” And one of the editors said (and they all emphatically agreed) “IF you can write it. Most people can’t.” Bingo. That’s when God showed me that humor would be the bridge to take me from non-fiction to fiction. A few hours later I scribbled the opening line to what would become my first novel (Dreaming in Black and White) “My thighs were at it again.” I wrote a couple more paragraphs and nervously showed them to my good friend Dave Meurer to see if he thought that maybe, just maybe, I could write fiction. Dave howled with laughter. Whoa. When the guy who’s been called ‘the Christian Dave Barry’ thinks your stuff is funny, that’s a good sign. Encouraged, I went home and wrote several chapters which two of my novelist friends—Randy Ingermanson and Cindy Martinusen—kindly offered to read. When they both told me they ‘loved’ it, I cried.

And then I put together my first fiction proposal and sent it to my agent. After he read those initial chapters, he called and said, “Congratulations! You have a whole new career as a novelist.” And that’s how it all began. So thank you, Mom, Michael, Lisa, Dave, Davis, Randy, Cindy, Chip and the CBA fiction editors from that Mount Hermon panel.

What are you working on now?

A chick-lit series called ‘The Paperback Girls Adventure Club’ that revolves around a group of women in a book club who decide to not only TALK about the books they read, but also to start living out some of the adventures in the books! The first book in the series (which I’m currently writing) is Daring Clementine which will release in June/July 2008.

Who inspires you?

My dear friend Annette Smith, one of the best ‘undiscovered’ (but not for long) novelists in CBA. Her A Bigger Life is absolutely fabulous! Also, Cindy Martinusen, Anne Lamott, Rick Bragg, Lisa Samson, Pat Conroy, Jennifer Weiner, Siri Mitchell and some I’m probably forgetting at the moment…

What are you reading at the moment?

Dave Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwiler, and West with the Night—the memoir of Beryl Markham who was an adventurer and pilot in Africa in the 1930’s. (The latter two are research.)

Please share something of your faith journey

Although I had a background of church and Sunday School when I was young, I left that behind as a teenager. My father—whom I adored—died when I was 15 and the next several years were filled with grief, anger, and confusion as I sought to fill the huge gap in my heart he left behind.
Finally, I came to the Lord when I was 27 and on the verge of suicide after some wild-and-crazy years of bad choices and bad relationships. Shortly after becoming a Christian, I met, began dating, and soon became engaged to a nice Christian guy—who dumped me a week before our wedding. (It wound up being a very good thing, and definitely God’s leading, although I couldn’t see it at the time.) At the time, all I felt was devastation and hurt. That break-up proved what I’d always believed—that no man could ever love me because of my past.
But Jesus did. And as He healed and restored those broken places in my heart and soul, He was also preparing the man he had for me. A man who would accept and love me unconditionally. Like Jesus did. A man who only one year into our marriage when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, would kiss my mastectomy scar and say, “I love this scar because it means I’m going to have you with me for a long time.” Thank you, Lord, for your perfect providence!

Any final comments..............

Thank you so much for choosing my heart novel, Reconstructing Natalie for your book club. I pray it will help remind you to be diligent about your own breast health—get to know ‘your girls’ intimately! And if you ever do feel an unusual lump, or something out of the ordinary, that you’ll get thee to a doctor immediately.

Early detection is key. It helped Natalie. It helped me. And it can help you. And more than help, it can save your life! God bless.

Thanks so much Laura for an inspiring and entertaining interview!

One last quick thing: I just realized the best actress of all to play Natalie (if Hollywood came calling)…drum roll…

Natalie Portman! Wouldn’t she be absolutely perfect? Don’t know why I didn’t think of her earlier—since she even shares the same name. Duh.
Thanks Laura :)

Look for Laura's new release,
Miss Invisible, due out in March, 2007.

Check out my review of Reconstructing Natalie here!

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Book Giveaways!

The following reviews (not necessarily in this order) will be coming soon:~

Elementary, My Dear Watkins by Mindy Starns Clark

Captives and Kings by Craig & Janet Parshall

The Root of All Evil by Brandt Dodson

Sticks & Stones by Susan Meissner

White Chocolate Moments by Lori Wick

The Secret of Us by Roxanne Henke

I am delighted to advise the publisher, Harvest House, has given me a copy of each of these titles to give away. Simply leave a comment when the review is posted and I will pull a name out of a hat to choose a winner. These giveaways will be limited to my Australian readers at this time :)

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

CFBA Blog Tour of The Longing Season by Christine Schaub

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducting The Longing Season (Bethany House July, 2006) by Christine Schaub.


Christine Schaub is the author of the MUSIC OF THE HEART series, including Finding Anna, the “rest of the story” behind the writing of the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” (October 2005) and The Longing Season, the story behind “Amazing Grace” (July 2006) with Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Books.

In 2003, Christine won the “On the Page” screenwriting contest at Screenwriting Expo 2 in Los Angeles. Her one-page story, written on-site in 24 hours for Jacqueline Bisset, was selected by the actress as the best Oscar Wilde-type comedy for her persona. While working in freelance corporate communications, Christine completed three feature-length screenplays, including a drama/comedy, romantic comedy, and sci-fi action/drama; developed four biopic teleplays for the stories behind the hymns; and published an online column for the MethodX website (Upper Room Ministries). Christine honed her writing skills after more than 15 years in corporate communications for healthcare, pharmaceutical, and entertainment companies. She has also been a featured conference speaker on working with at-risk youth and changed lives in the classrooms with her creative presentation style.

Christine's love for the arts and creativity have taken her from church platforms to civic and professional stages, performing classics and dramas from her own pen. Christine graduated from Anderson University with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications. She has served on numerous boards and committees, usually as Communications Chair, and has received both regional and national awards in writing and design.


All of the books in the MUSIC OF THE HEART series are based on a hymns and their histories. The Longing Season is about one of the greatest redemption stories of all time: John Newton and his song, Amazing Grace.

Nature conspires against him, tossing the ship like a toy. Directionless--just like his life.
It seems his odyssey will end here, in the cold Atlantic.
Grief and terror grip his heart, but he will not surrender...not yet.
She reads the sentence again and again.
The first day I saw you I began to love you.
He'd written the words, sealed and posted them, then vanished.
She has a choice--turn toward the future, or wait, wating and hoping.
And so begins her season of longing.

Christine's website link is: http://www.christineschaub.typepad.com/

The book link is: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0764200607

Monday, 5 February 2007

Ransomed Dreams by Amy Wallace

4 Stars

Welcome to the new kid on the block in romantic suspense ~ Amy Wallace!

Her debut novel, Ransomed Dreams kicks off her Defenders of Hope series, published by Multnomah and releasing April 17th, 2007.

Gracie Lang's life is shattered by the hit and run death of her family and is consumed by her desire to find the man responsible. Teaching first grade at the exclusive Hope Ridge Academy and her golden retriever, Jake are the only things anchoring her in this life.

FBI Agent Steven Kessler has been flying solo as a parent since his wife's betrayal and desertion nearly five years earlier. Becoming the Crimes Against Children Coordinator has kept the guilt of his failed marriage and his rejection of God at bay - just.

When the British Ambassador's daughter is kidnapped and Steven and his team, Clint Rollins and FBI newbie, Michael Parker are assigned to the high priority case, the pressure mounts. The ambassador is bent on hiding his past, the kidnapper is elusive and time is running out for the victim. In this tense environment Gracie and Steven meet, their attraction signaling a fresh start for them both but soon the demanding nature of Steven's job and Gracie's unforgiving heart toward her family's killer trample any hope of a future together.

Amy Wallace takes the reader on a roller coaster ride through the emotions from the heart-wrenching grief of a young widow to the torment experienced by an FBI Agent when an investigation fails to the hope birthed through forgiveness. Gracie and Steven are fascinating and authentic and the author does not shy away from the hard realities of life which gives her characters a depth and purpose the reader can relate to. Her minor characters and the "bad guys" are also well-developed. The suspense is tight and the romance captivating reminding me of Dee Henderson's O'Malley series. While there is some disjointed writing from time to time, I have no doubt Amy Wallace is an author to watch and I eagerly anticipate the sequels which tell the stories of Clint and Michael respectively.

Check out my interview with Amy, here!

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Then Came Faith by Louise M. Gouge

4 Stars

This is the first novel I have read by Louise M. Gouge, author of the award winning Ahab's Legacy series.

Then Came Faith is an American civil war era tale about the usual protagonists, Juliana, the Northern abolitionist and Andre, the Southern slave owner. The difference with this novel is that it is set after the conclusion of the war and describes the issues and points of view of both characters with great clarity.

Juliana has moved to New Orleans with one goal - start a school for the children of former slaves and be a part of the South's recovery. Andre harbours great bitterness in his heart due to the shattering losses his family experienced at the hands of the Northern Army and the murder of his father by his best friend, a Southerner but Northern sympathiser.

Andre and Juliana's attraction is immediate yet upon hearing her Boston accent, Andre's instilled manners desert him and he vows never to speak to her again. Circumstances arise which bring Andre and Juliana into regular contact and despite the heated disapproval of their fledgling friendship by her confidant, Amelia, and Juliana's own reservations their romance blossoms. That is, until the realities of their moral and cultural differences interfere. Threats are made, people are murdered and deceit abounds which drives a wedge between the two that may be insurmountable.

Louise M. Gouge writes a fascinating tale of this period of reconstruction in the South and brings it alive in the reader's mind. Her characters are well developed and the secondary characters contribute much to the flavour of the book. The romance developed a little too quickly and initially felt somewhat contrived but this passed and I ended the book feeling the author gave a clear picture of the social tragedy of slavery while not over-demonising the position of the Southerners. The thread of mystery surrounding Andre's father's death wove in well with the romance and added substance and appeal to the story. This is the first in a series and I would recommend it especially to lovers of historical novels.

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