Thursday, 30 October 2008

Character Spotlight ~ Christa Bannister's Sydney Alexander & signed giveaway!

Today the spotlight shines on...............................................Sydney Alexander

Christa Ann Banister has created one of the most engaging and smile-inducing characters in Sydney Alexander in her debut novel and its sequel. I have a sneaking suspicion that Christa has those same characteristics in spades!

Check out Christa's take on

Physical Description

With her dark brown eyes, decidedly old-school, slightly bushy eyebrows and style that can be both cutting edge and laidback, she's a modern-day Audrey Hepburn with shades of Jennifer Garner.

Rel:~ How cool that I stumbled upon! This is Audrey and Jennifer morphed together - LOL!

Strengths and weaknesses

Sydney is a likeable girl with strong opinions, a burgeoning faith and an insatiable love for people. In fact, she loves people sooo much that she's tempted to help even when it's not called for—especially when it comes to relationships. Sometimes she can be a little too sarcastic for her own good (she even jokes about it being her spiritual gift) and a perpetual jabberbox, (just ask her patient hubby, Gavin) but she's also fiercely compassionate, funny, a good listener and will be there for anyone—especially if he/she is going through a hard time.

Quirk (if any)

Does a fascination with garden gnomes count? Aside from that, she's got a quirky sense of humor and fashion and has a penchant for pondering wacky non-realities like what her life would be like if she'd been named something else.

Your inspiration for the character

Sydney was definitely inspired by my own life and adventures in dating before I met my hubby. But it was important to me for Sydney to have her
own set of qualities and life experiences, so she's just as much inspired by fiction as she is by yours truly.

Synopsis of Around the World in 80 Dates

Travel writer Sydney Alexander is ready for one particular journey to end: her frustrating search for a Mr. Right. But things are looking up: Just after landing her dream job, she meets an eligible round of bachelors.

Now Sydney will discover just how far she’s willing to compromise to land her dream guy.

Synopsis of Blessed Are the Meddlers

Sydney Alexander has found the man of her dreams and has permanently retired her serial-dating status. But soon Sydney finds her well-intentioned meddling causing cupid chaos with friends and family. She’s even on the verge of losing her dream job as her boss suffers the fallout of a failed lov
e connection.

Can Sydney help her friends pick up the romantic pieces while getting her career back on track?

Christa, this has been fun ~ thank you! I'm looking forward to reading "Meddlers" soon and interviewing you as well.

On Monday I will be shining the spotlight on Nicole Baart's Julia deSmit from her wonderful books, As the Leaves Fall and Summer Snow ~ just wait until you see the gorgeous photo of Julia!

Relz Reviewz Extras

Review of Around the World in 80 Dates

Visit Christa's website and blog

Buy Christa's books at Amazon and Koorong

Christa is generously providing a set of her books to give away, signed by her good self ~ what a great offer! This giveaway is open to ALL my readers.

To enter:~

1. Post a comment by midnight Sunday 9th November,

2. Tell me about a bad/funny/embarrassing dating moment (we all need a giggle in the current climate!)

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Diamond Duo by Marcia Gruver ~ Blog Tour

What is it about?

When Abe and Annie step off the train in Jefferson, Texas, the entire town seems to stop and indulge itself in the vision of Annie’s beauty, particularly the men. Bertha Biddie decides then and there that she must befriend Annie and learn her secret to wooing men’s hearts in order to turn the heart of one Thaddeus Bloom for herself. What Bertha doesn’t realise is that Thad’s heart is already set on her, but for some reason holds himself back.

Henry and Sarah King work hard to eke out a simple existence for themselves. Despite keeping to themselves and trying to avoid too much contact with white folks, they seem to find themselves at the centre of attention when Sarah makes a shocking discovery.

What I thought:

From the first sentence Marcia Gruver captured me with her stunningly beautiful prose. The characters of ‘Diamond Duo’ quickly came to life, engaging me further. And just when I was wondering exactly what the story line was, it revealed itself.

Bertha is a charismatic and quirky character. While at first she seems impetuous, her soft hearted care for others shines through quickly. Her impetus for striking up a friendship with Annie is quickly overshadowed and set aside when Bertha realises more serious problems face her new friend and she seeks to do all she can to help.

Marcia’s inclusion of Henry and Sarah King’s story at first made me wonder at their presence. However, their struggles with racism and being black offer insights into life in the South in 1877 that put later chapters into perspective.

Marcia has taken a real life story and skilfully blended it with fiction to create the gem that is ‘Diamond Duo’. She uses both ordinary life and tragic circumstances to portray the truth that God is trustworthy to take care of the details in our lives in a way that encourages the reader to do the same.

Guest reviewer:~ my good friend Tracy from Beyond My Picket Fence

Relz Reviewz Extras

Visit Marcia's website and blog

Buy Marcia's book at Amazon or Koorong

Read what other participating bloggers had to say:~

A Latte and Some Words
A Little Bit of Sunlight
Anne Greene
Be a Barnabas
Book Splurge
Cara’s Musings
Dawn Michelle Michals at ShoutLife
Erica at ShoutLife
God With Us - Finding Joy
Horizontal Yo-Yo
Janice Olsen
Lighthouse Academy
Mary Connealy - real life
My Christian Fiction Blog
Net’s Notes
On The Write Path
Pam Krumpe
Patti’s Porch
Readin N Writin
Simple Living Christian Style
Tamara Lynn Kraft
Terri Tiffany
The Friendly Book Nook
The Writer’s Tool
Writing by Faith

CFBA Blog Tour of An Irishwoman's Tale by Patti Lacy

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

An Irishwomans' Tale

Kregel Publications (July 8, 2008)


Patti Lacy


Patti Lacy graduated from Baylor University in 1977 with a B.S. in education. She taught at Heartland Community College in Normal, Illinois, until she retired in 2006 to pursue writing full time. She has two grown children with her husband, Alan, and lives in Illinois.


Far away from her Irish home, Mary Freeman begins to adapt to life in Midwest America, but family turmoil and her own haunting memories threaten to ruin her future.

A shattered cup. Cheap tea. Bitter voices asking what's to be done with the "little eejit." Mary, an impetuous Irishwoman, won't face the haunting memories--until her daughter's crisis propels her back to County Clare. There, in a rocky cliffside home, Mary learns from former neighbors why God tore her from Ireland forty-five years earlier. As she begins to glimpse His sovereign plan, Mary is finally able to bury a dysfunctional past and begin to heal. Irish folk songs and sayings add color to the narrative.

Watch the Book Trailer:

If you would like to read the first chapter of , go HERE

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Around the World in 80 Dates by Christa Ann Banister

Sydney Alexander is a faithful friend, a devoted sister, dedicated to her job and walks the straight and narrow! You would think applying all these great qualities to her dating life would net her a great guy - but strangely, no. Sydney continues to find Mr Flaky, Stinky, Tardy, Selfish and even Mr I Like Your Friend Better!

Determined not to give up, Sydney continues her search for the man who just might be the one, until it seems she has exhausted all possible candidates in Greater Minneapolis. Realising it might not be meant to be, Sydney decides to let go and let God!

I loved Sydney's take on life, dating and essential movies! Christa has given voice to every girl's heart as we navigate the treacherous and exciting waters of finding the right man. I laughed, grimaced, sympathised and cried with Sydney and I know you will too.

Around The World in 80 Dates is a joyful treat for young women to relate to and take heart, and older ones to reminisce about those special days fraught with an equal measure of angst and elation. I can't wait to read the sequel, Blessed Are the Meddlers.

Both Sydney's stories are available now from NavPress.

Relz Reviewz Extras

Visit Christa's website and blog

Check back Thursday for my Character Spotlight on the delightful Sydney and a great giveaway!

Buy Christa's books at Amazon and Koorong

Great suspense coming in 2009

Here are two books I am really looking forward to next year ~ Breach of Trust, the first in the Call of Duty series and Face of Betrayal, a Triple Threat novel.

DiAnn's suspense is fabulous so I am delighted she has a new series and am equally looking forward to debut novelist, Lis Wiehl's story. Both books feature strong female leads so that has got to be good!

Enjoy :)

Breach of Trust by DiAnn Mills

Paige Rogers is a former CIA agent who lost all she treasured seven years ago when her entire team was killed in a covert mission. She blames their leader—Daniel Keary—whom Paige believes betrayed them. Disillusioned and afraid for her life, she disappeared and started a new life as a small-town librarian. But when Keary announces his candidacy for governor of her state, he comes after Paige to ensure that she won't ruin his bid for office. He threatens everything she holds dear, and Paige must choose between the life of hiding that has become her refuge . . . or risking everything in one last, desperate attempt to right old wrongs.

Back Cover Copy

Paige Rogers survived every CIA operative’s worst nightmare.

A covert mission gone terribly wrong.

A betrayal by the one man she thought she could trust.

Forced to disappear to protect the lives of her loved ones, Paige has spent the last several years building a quiet life as a small-town librarian. But the day a stranger comes to town and starts asking questions, Paige knows her careful existence has been shattered.

He is coming after her again. And this time, he intends to silence her for good.

Releasing March, 2009 from Tyndale

Face of Betrayal by Lis Wiehl with April Henry

While home on Christmas holiday, a seventeen-year-old Senate page takes her dog out for a walk and never returns. Reporter Cassidy Shaw is the first to break the story. The media firestorm that ensues quickly ensnares Federal Prosecutor Allison Pierce and FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedge ... who just happen to be Cassidy's best friends. It appears the young page was romantically involved with a senator-a senator now under suspicion for her disappearance.

As time begins to run out for the missing girl, Cassidy, Allison, and Nicole fight to locate her before its too late, even while each fights her own personal battles-a stalker, single-motherhood, and an abusive relationship.

Releasing April, 2009 from Thomas Nelson

Monday, 27 October 2008

Character Spotlight ~ Amy Wallace's Gracie Lang and Steven Kessler

Today the spotlight shines on ..................................Gracie Lang and Steven Kessler
I first "met" the delightful Amy Wallace when I discovered a preview of her first novel Ransomed Dreams, prior to it's release last year. Since then, Amy and I have enjoyed sharing with each other through email, about our love of books, our daughters (we each have three daughters all born within a couple of months of each other) and our faith. I am always blessed and encouraged by Amy's blog posts and her novels.

Enjoy Amy's take on her main characters from
Ransomed Dreams:~

Brief physical description

Steven Andrew Kessler is tall (6’ 1”) with light brown hair and piercing blue eyes. He’s the only character I’ve ever “met” and that’s a story in and of itself. So now I don’t look for my characters in real life and I will never (please help me remember this, Lord!) introduce myself to them again and babble about how they’re really good looking but I’m not flirting with them…really.

The only actor I’ve seen that resembles Steven is David James Elliot as Harmon Rabb.

Gracie Ann Lang is athletic with long auburn hair and hazel eyes filled with wisdom, a weight of sadness, and the joy of family. What I love most about Gracie is her willingness to dream and keep living even when it hurts.

Ashley Judd in her Double Jeopardy role comes pretty close to Gracie.

Strengths and weaknesses

Steven’s strengths are the flip side of his weaknesses: loyalty and deep love for family and friends versus an “I can do it by myself” attitude when hurt, a strong sense of right and wrong that can get him into trouble when his hunches push him past compassion. He’s also a very passionate man who knows what he wants even when it’s hard to risk his heart again.

Gracie’s strengths are her faith and willingness to wrestle her doubts out with God. She’s also a deeply compassionate friend and teacher who gives her all to what she pursues. Weaknesses would be her fear and over-cautiousness.

Rel here:~ love your characters, Amy. They are one of your real strengths as a writer!

Quirk (if any)

Steven definitely has a quirk with his crazy kid-friendly ties and being a basketball aficionado. Not that adoring basketball is a bad thing… I’m just saying. ;-)

I had a lot of fun with Gracie’s quirk. She blushes… a lot. Since I do that, I figured it was only fair for someone else to deal with that too.

Your inspiration for the character

The image I have for Steven is a broken superhero toy. He’s powerful and dependable and fun when he remembers how to play. When I first met him in a dream, I knew he had a wounded heart. I also knew he needed to forgive himself. And it was a journey into my own need of self-forgiveness that compelled me to write Steven’s story.

My inspiration for Gracie was my own fear of losing my family.

Through Gracie, I wept and prayed through my greatest nightmare and came to a place where I could see God’s faithfulness even in the pain.

Synopsis of the book

Gracie Ann Lang is being watched by a man who will stop at nothing to hide the truth from her. Having lost the only man she ever loved and the children who were her world, the truth is all Gracie wants, an explanation for what really happened. She longs to move forward but is bound by chains of fear. Then she meets St
even Kessler, an FBI agent assigned to uncover an international plot to kidnap the British Ambassador's daughter. Steven awakens more than memories; he revives the possibility of a life Gracie desires. A life where healing and peace crowd out the nightmares. But his case and her past are dangerously connected. Suddenly, Gracie must decide if she's able, let alone willing to pay the required ransom to redeem dreams and restore hope.

Amy - thanks for sharing with us! I'm looking forward to spotlighting Clint and Sarah from Healing Promises as well as Michael and Hanna from your 2009 release, Enduring Justice.

Don't forget to comment ~ Amy and I would love to hear your thoughts! Did you picture someone different when you read Ransomed Dreams? Do tell!

Come back Thursday to discover more about Christa Banister's serial dater, Sydney Alexander, from Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed are the Meddlers ~ more fun to be had here :)

Relz Reviewz Extras

Review of Ransomed Dreams

Interviews with Amy ~ 2006, 2007 & 2008

Visit Amy's website and blog

Buy Amy's books at Amazon and Koorong

CFBA Blog Tour of Dangerous Heart by Tracey Batemen

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Dangerous Heart

Avon Inspire (October 14, 2008)


Tracey Bateman

Tracey Bateman published her first novel in 2000 and has been busy ever since. There are two other books in the Westward Hearts Series, Defiant Heart (#1) and Distant Heart (#2)

She learned to write by writing, and improved by listening to critique partners and editors. She has sold over 30 books in six years.
She became a member of American Christian Fiction Writers in the early months of its inception in 2000 and served as president for a year.

Tracey loves Sci-fi, Lifetime movies, and Days of Our Lives (this is out of a 21 year habit of watching, rather than enjoyment of current storylines.

She has been married to her husband Rusty for 18 years, has four kids, and lives in Lebanon, Missouri.


For the past seven years, Ginger Freeman has had one goal: find Grant Kelley and make him pay for allowing her brother to die. Growing up motherless with a father who leads an outlaw gang, Ginger isn’t exactly peaches and cream. So when she finally tracks down Grant on a wagon train headed west, she figured providence had stepped in and given her the chance she’s been waiting for.

On the wagon train, finally surrounded by a sense of family and under the nurturing eye of Toni Rodde, Ginger begins to lose her rough edges. She’s made friends for the first time and has become part of something bigger than revenge. Not only has her heart softened toward people in general, but God has become a reality she never understood before. And watching Grant doctor the pioneers, she’s realized she can’t just kill him and leave the train without medical care. Putting her anger aside, before long, Ginger’s a functioning part of the group.

But when the outlaw gang, headed by her pa, shows up and infiltrates the wagon train, she is forced to question her decision. Only self-sacrifice and her new relationship with God can make things right. But it might also means she loses everything she’s begun to hold dear.

If you would like to read from the first chapter of Dangerous Heart, go HERE

The winners of The Shape of Mercy are.....

Beth and Misty ~ congratulations!

I think you will find this an intriguing read :)

Saturday, 25 October 2008

2009 releases from B & H Fiction

B & H Fiction are a publisher to watch! Their increased emphasis on fiction is bringing about some fantastic books by brilliant authors and all these 2009 releases are no exception.

Click on the title links to pre order from Lifeway and on the author names to check out their websites.

I know Jamie's book, set in revolutionary France, is intense and captivating and Certain Jeopardy has hooked me from the synopsis!

Which book appeals to you?

Certain Jeopardy by Jeff Struecker and Alton Gansky

Six American men live behind a protective façade, their real work hidden from neighbors and friends. Different in countless ways, they are intimately the same in one: at any moment their lives can be altered with a phone call, and their actions may change the world.

They are Special Ops. And one team’s mission is about to hit certain jeopardy status when the discovery of an Al Qaeda base in Venezuela becomes secondary to thwarting the transport of a nuclear weapons expert from that training camp to Iran.

Informed by the true combat experience of Captain Jeff Struecker and finessed by award-winning novelist Alton Gansky, Certain Jeopardy is an immersing and pulsating fictional account of what really happens at every level of a stealth engagement: the physical enemy encounter, the spiritual war fought within a soldier, and the emotional battles in families back at home.

Available May, 2009

Perfect Piece by Rebeca Seitz

Perfect Piece is a perfectly conceived conclusion to the charming Sisters, Ink series of novels for women. At the heart of each story are four unlikely sisters, each separately adopted into the home of Marilyn and Jack Sinclair where they still meet as adults in their late mother’s attic to work on scrapbook projects and work through life together.

The Sinclair sisterhood is about to be rocked from its foundation when Meg—the bedrock sibling most like Momma—collapses with a brain tumor. Surgery removes the invading mass but leaves a sister full of mood swings, depression, anger, and bitterness. Tandy, Kendra, and Joy struggle to find a trace of their formerly happy sister, who always pointed them to life’s positives. Meg’s husband, Jamison, struggles even more. With no idea how to handle the new, unimproved person inhabiting his wife’s body, he finds it too easy to seek solace in the clever conversation of another woman. What none of them realize is that the wisdom they need is already at hand and readily available from someone they didn’t want in their lives in the first place.

Available June, 2009

Love's First Light by Jamie Carie

New from Jamie Carie, today’s most awarded new Christian romance writer.

Christophé, the Count of St. Laurent, has lost his entire family to the blood-soaked French Revolution and must flee to an ancient castle along the southern border of France to survive. But the medieval city of Carcassonne proves more than a hiding place. Here Christophé meets the beautiful widow Scarlett, a complex and lionhearted woman suddenly taken by the undercover aristocrat’s passion for astronomy and its influence upon his faith. Although their acquaintance begins brightly enough, when the Count learns that Scarlett is related to the man who murdered his family, he turns from love and chooses revenge. Heaven only knows what it might take for Christophé to love again, to love his enemy, and to love unconditionally.

Available July, 2009

Sweet Waters by Julie Carobini

There’s nothing left for Tara Sweet in landlocked Dexton, Missouri. Her fiancé called off their wedding, her sister is moving to Manhattan, and now her mother is marrying a much younger man with plans for a yearlong honeymoon in Europe. Tara believes a move back to her childhood home of Otter Bay, California, will help restore the fun and fearlessness she’s already missing in her twenties. Playing back memories of idyllic times spent there with her father along the majestic coast, a fairytale seems just around the corner.

Better make that a soap opera. After Tara finds a job in Otter Bay, makes friends at The Red Abalone Grill, and perhaps even a new flame in firefighter Josh, she begins to uncover shocking secrets about why her family left this heaven on earth all those years ago. And though she will have to question everything she has ever known, the faith that Tara must depend upon will be sweeter than ever before.

Available August, 2009

Friday, 24 October 2008

Book Club Interview with Sharon Hinck and The Restorer

Last Friday my book club had one of our best discussions with our selection of Sharon Hinck's The Restorer! Not only is it a wonderful tale but it is brimming with spiritual insights, challenges and encouragement. This story really spoke to some of our members in a unique way and I highly recommend it for book clubs looking for something that will spark great discussion.

The Restorer's amazing author, Sharon Hinck, graciously answered numerous questions from my members via email, the majority of which I am sharing here. Some special insights were just for us!! At the end of our discussion, we read our own questions aloud and shared Sharon's answers - it is a great way to learn more about your favourite authors and gain further insight into their stories.

A big thanks to my book clubbers who contributed to the questions for Sharon! And all our deepest thanks to Sharon ~ we so appreciate the time and effort you took to answer our questions, Shazza, which made our night fun and inspiring!

Sharon also has a YouTube video on her blog especially for Book Clubs and my DH set his laptop to run through our TV to show to us ~ it was great fun to see Sharon in action!

Check out the interview and others with Sharon here.

I hope you enjoy sharing our "time" with Sharon below:~

Were some of the spiritual insights that Susan learnt through her journey from your own faith experience?

Absolutely. I share her longing to be a faithful servant, and her awareness of her own frailty and utter dependence on God.

Did you have a name for the parallel world?

No, and I'm not sure why. I kept working around the issue . . . referencing the People of the Verses, the clans, the city of Lyric, the other place through the portal….but never had a name of the place as a whole. I still don't know why my creative subconscious was so adamant in not providing that… perhaps because the People of the Verses didn't name their world - didn't even think much in terms of “world” but simply their clans. Great question - one that still stumps me.

Do you have a belief that our God could also be the One in other worlds?

C.S. Lewis (after writing his space trilogy) was asked this, and I believe he said something along the lines of - God is big enough to do whatever He likes. It's a bit self-centered to think He DIDN'T possibly create others in other worlds. I liked that answer.

Where did the idea for the book come from, did she feel that she was shown the way to write this book?

I used to be the artistic director of a Christian performing arts group, and before I retired from that, was developing a script about a woman going into her attic and having devotions - and women from the bible (like Deborah) stepping out and interacting with her)… so that germ developed into a woman in her attic GOING somewhere (but I didn't want it to be Biblical times) and BEING a type of Deborah…and it just kept unfolding from there.

How long did it take to write?

Six months for the first draft…many many rewrites over several years.
I began writing it in October of 2002.

Who or what was the inspiration for S
usan's character?

First - Deborah (a mother in Israel who rode into battle) from the book of Judges. Second - all the women I know who are literally “pulled into another world” when they get the news that a friend has cancer, or a parent has Alzheimers, or a child has a learning disability. They enter a place they never expected to visit, and are called upon to fill a heroic role they don't feel adequate to fill. And God equips them, sends them allies, and works through them.
And interestingly, in many ways, Susan's journey has been my experience in the world of being a published author. J But I wrote the book BEFORE that happened.

Where did you get the ideas for the town's names and what the other world looked like?

I didn't want to re-create Middle Earth or the Wounded Land, or Albion, or Narnia - things that were already done beautifully by the masters. I wanted to do some twists on the traditional fantasy setting. That winter, Minnesota was grey and overcast - gray snow, gray sky, no sun. I wondered what a world would be like where people never saw the sun, or moon, or stars…and where their technology developed in completely different ways.

As far as the names, I tried to play with the environment a little, and also the musical “sound” of
various cultures. But I sneaked in Shamgar as nod toward the book of Judges (he was one of the minor Judges mentioned in the Bible).

What research did you have to do for this book?

Many trips to alternate universes.

(Hee hee! Okay, just kidding).

Swordwork, cultures without written languages, a little about technologies and physics… but it was predominantly spun out of imagination.

What type of books do you like to read?

Almost everything. I think that's why some of my novels combine more than one genre. I read general market novels, Christian novels, and a broad variety of genres.

I am interested to know where your idea came from for the Rhusicans. Have you had experiences where you've been amongst people who instil negative and evil thoughts?

Great question. I based the Rhusicans on our modern marketing industry…the folks who “create a need” by touching on people's deepest insecurities… saying “you aren't good enough” in whichever way their product can solve. I also have battled depression, so I know how difficult “mind poison” can be… how it can take hold, or dig in.

The challenge to go out of our comfort zone and face our fears is extremely daunting and requires us to put our trust totally in God. Have you found that by writing about Susan and her need to trust God to survive, has g
iven you more confidence to step out and face difficult challenges that may arise in your life?

I think I'm actually more like a character in the third book, who is EAGER to jump ahead and serve - but then gets in over his head. I tend to shout, “Yes, Lord!” but then find myself asking Him to let me turn back.

I DID find that the release of the book and the challenges I faced that year gave me lots of chances to live out the sorts of opportunities to lean into God more, and dig deeper - just like Susan had to.

What was the inspiration for your imagination to come up with the parallel world that was the setting of this series of books?

I think I answered that earlier, but it was in part from my love of “fish out of water” stories, in part a very dreary winter in Minnesota where it stayed gray a long time, and in part from my love of the Old testament stories of the Judges.

Do you have a mental picture of the characters as you write?

I don't even carry mental pictures of my FRIENDS very well. I'm not big on facial recognition. But I had VIVID senses of their personalities. Each character was very very real to me. I even found myself praying for some of them during my devotions, when I forgot for a moment they were just characters in a story. J

How do you choose the names for your characters?

I wanted Susan to be an “every woman” and I'm part of a small group Bible study at our church. There are two Susans, and two Marks (none are married to each other)…. So I used those two names as good central names.

Rhus is the Latin botanical name for poison, hense the Rhusicans. Much of the rest - I just grabbed “place-holder names” to use until I could work out careful choices, but ended up keeping most of them.

What do you consider an ideal vacation?

Hiking in the woods.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Used to be a night owl, but lately am more of a morning person.

What is your favourite snack?

Mashed Potatoes and gravy. (does that count as a snack?).

Otherwise, a snack mix I make with Cheerios and Rice Chex and peanuts.

Rel:~ Sorry but the whole cereal snack thing doesn't work for us Aussies but our born and bred American book clubber, Misty, was drooling - LOL!!

Favourite flower?

Everything blue (forget-me-nots, etc.) and
lily-of-the-valley. Oh, and lilacs and pansies.

How much of you is there in Susan?

See above…. A LOT… but in some ways, my spiritual walk with God has a LOT in common with Kieran's. I tend to wrestle with the One quite a bit.

I thought it was interesting that both the Restorers were people who struggled with their faith or felt it was all but gone. I'd love to know your purpose behind choosing those characters for the role

I'm in awe of how God chooses the
weak to confound the strong. He uses broken vessels and even rebellious or disbelieving ones. One character is inspired a bit by Gideon - who when He received God's call said, “If the Lord is truly with us, why have all these bad things happened to us?” (I was astounded to find those words in the book of Judges - because they felt so contemporary to me, and I hadn't remembered that aspect of Gideon). As I wrote The Restorer's Son, I felt overwhelmed by God's heart of love even for those who are wandering or challenging Him. I saw the way He pursues us because of that love.

What do the organizers of retreats & church groups usually ask you to speak on?

Going Deeper With God
The Value of the Arts in the Christian Life
Finding Ministry in the Midst of Motherhood
How to be a Hero
The Writing Journey
Those are a few. J

If you were given carte blanch to speak to a group (let's say a group of women…like us!), what is the topic that you would most passionately like to deliver to them?

Going Deeper with God (what that means, what gets in the way, and how powerfully He is using each of you, even when it's hard to see it) J There, consider that said. J

Who is your favourite author?

Too many to name. I grew up cherishing classics – Twain, London, the Brontes, Austen, Dickens, Stevenson, Conan Doyle, Kipling. Discovered C.S. Lewis and love everything by him – my favorite book is Perelandra. In the fantasy genre, I was influenced by McCaffrey, Lawhead, Tolkien, Donaldson, and many others. But I also read a wide array of other genres...everything from literary to mystery, sci-fi to romance.

Was The Restorer an easy novel to write?

Yes and no. It was my first novel, so it was SO FUN because I totally didn’t know what I was doing, and wasn’t worrying about all the things I was doing wrong. Each book I’ve written has gotten HARDER to write, because I know more about the craft. It was difficult because in the other world, since they had to sun, moon, stars, or fire, it kept me from using LOTS of the common images and metaphors I was comfortable using when I wrote. And it took extensive “world building” that my women’s fiction doesn’t require in the same way.

Did you plan at the start to have a series?

I don’t remember. I think I just started writing and watched to see what would happen. When I got to the end, I knew it wasn’t over yet. :-)

In your everyday life do you wonder what it would be like to live like Susan? and do you reflect back over life like Susan?

My everyday life – when my four kids were young and life was a joyous chaos – was very much like Susan’s. I have a loving husband, yet often felt overwhelmed by life and wondered if my life was really making a difference. Parenting is TOUGH and definitely makes us feel like we’re drowning some days. :-)

What has been the most encouraging feedback you have received regarding this series, by someone whose life has been touched by your story of The Restorer?

SO many amazing stories - from a gal who heard from God during her prayer time to get the book - and then He used it to speak to her…. to a woman who at a certain scene in book two, put the book town, cried before God, and said, “I'm tired of fighting you. I give myself back to you.” To a mom in crisis feeling she couldn't go on, who suddenly remembered the Rhusicans, and recognized the mind poison, and was able to fight it off and get through another day. I'm in awe that God could bring comfort and encouragement to others through this simple story. He is amazing.

Rel:~I am really looking forward to reading Sharon newest offering so I asked her about it as well. Who knows it might end up as a book club selection for us in 2009! As you can see below it is garnering some great reviews :)

Please share a little about your newest novel, Stepping Into Sunlight
, now available from Bethany House.

One tragic event.

One project of healing.

One step toward hope.

A story for every woman who has wondered where God is when life hurts.
Penny, a Navy chaplain's wife, witnesses a violent crime and struggles with post traumatic stress while her husband is on his first deployment. Far from family and friends, she fights to heal for the sake of her seven-year-old son, even though ordinary tasks take heroic efforts. She's haunted by flashbacks and is tormented by fear, so she designs a project to speed her recovery: doing one small, kind act for a different person each day. The results are sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, and often used by God in surprising ways.

PRAISE for Stepping Into Sunlight:

“Hinck, a 2008 Christy finalist for visionary fiction, offers an
especially grounded tale of sudden trauma and slow healing.

Narrator Penny Sullivan witnesses a horrific crime shortly before
her navy chaplain husband is deployed, so she is forced to cope alone with the psychological fallout from what she saw. Family issues from her past complicate her struggle and enhance its credibility. Strong Christian themes form a natural part of the narrative. Penny Sullivan's faith is shaken, and she wonders why God would appear to permit evil and whether her emotional turmoil can be healed.

A supporting cast of characters, from a nosy neighbor to the busy
faithful servant to the downtrodden who heads a local mission, adds quirk and richness. Hinck is a mother of four, and it shows in authentic details in her characterization of the narrator's worried, loving seven-year-old son who gets his first pet in some cute comic relief. Hinck has done her homework on post-traumatic stress syndrome, and is not afraid to show readers that challenges can deepen faith.”
-- Publisher's Weekly

"In this uplifting novel set in Chesapeake, VA, Penny Sullivan is
losing her grip after witnessing a traumatic event. . . Well written and
compelling, this title will appeal to readers of Karen Kingsbury, Ann Tatlock, and Angela Elwell Hunt.”
-- Library Journal

“Told with humor and lump-in-the-throat insight, Stepping Into Sunlight
is a compelling story of learning to live again after trauma. This was my first Sharon Hinck novel, but it garnered her a permanent spot on my favorite authors list.”
--Deborah Raney, author of A Vow to Cherish and THE CLAYBURN NOVELS series

“For anyone who has ever been afraid of what life may hold (and who
hasn't?), Sharon's novel is a beacon of hope and healing. Kudos!”
--Roxanne Henke, author of After Anne and Learning to Fly

“With a deft hand Hinck ushers the reader into the frustrating, inward
world of the victim, challenging us to gauge the level of our compassion for those who walk a journey we can't adequately imagine and daring us to wonder if we, too, could flatten our fears and replace them with modest, indiscriminate kindness.”
--Susan Meissner, author of Blue Heart Blessed

“A beautifully woven story of one woman's desperation, determination .
. . and hope. A cast of oddball, but thoroughly charming, characters, make this book a delightful read from start to finish. Highly recommended.”
--Kathryn Cushman, author of A Promise to Remember and Waiting for

“After finishing it, I wanted to press it into the hands of everyone I meet
and say, 'THIS! This is what my God is like! This is where you can find hope! This is what it means to live for Christ even when things are horrifically ugly around you. This is healing. This is what it looks like to hurt and to heal.' No pious platitudes. Reality Faith.”
--Cynthia Ruchti, “Heartbeat of the Home” radio broadcasts

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Unwrapping Christmas by Lori Copeland ~ Tracy's Take

Rel here:~ If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!! I'm not sure about you but stores here have broken out the Christmas decorations for purchase, way too early if you ask me! So instead, here is a little treat as Christmas nears in the shape of a book which actually released last year from Zondervan ~ enjoy Tracy's Take!

What is it About?

Rose Bergmen is busy. Along with her regular hectic schedule of volunteer and church activities, Christmas is right around the corner bringing its share of extra tasks. Rose seems to be able to find the time for the myriad of unexpected requests for her time and attention, but she just can’t seem to find a moment to cook a meal for her family, let alone sit down together to eat it. Rose feels the pressure of all the extra little things that are asked of her until she is forced, unexpectedly, to slow down and allow her family to get involved.

What I thought:

If ever there was a story to remind a busy woman that there is more to life than ‘doing’, ‘Unwrapping Christmas’ is it. Lori Copeland has managed to pack this short novella with a lot of punch. I easily identified with the pressure Rose finds herself under, struggling to keep up with the demands placed upon her. I ached for Joey, Eric and Anna as they sought her attention. And I understood the feeling that ‘something’s gotta give…but what?!’. I loved the way Lori took a reasonably small incident and used that to help Rose re-focus. The issue of serving God is one that Rose struggles with throughout ‘Unwrapping Christmas’. Through Rose’s life, Lori reveals the simple truth that God expects us to take care of the things He entrusts to us, without running ourselves ragged in the process and depriving others of the opportunity to serve and bless others.

Relz Reviewz Extras

Visit Lori's website

Buy Unwrapping Christmas at Amazon and Koorong

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