Thursday, 31 March 2011

Character Spotlight ~ Richard Mabry's Elena Gardner

Dr. Elena Gardner

Richard Mabry, M.D. has turned a medical career into a storytelling one! Mixing medicine and suspense has become his forte. Be sure to pick up his his latest book, Diagnosis Death, and enjoy.

Over to you, Doc:~

Brief physical description

Dr. Elena Gardner has long dark hair, brown eyes, and a model figure. Her looks hint at her Hispanic heritage—her father was a wealthy Mexican businessman, her mother the daughter of a US diplomat—and she definitely turns heads.

Actor/famous person

She’s been compared with Eva Longoria.

Strengths and weaknesses

Elena has the strengths exhibited by any woman who completes medical training: the ability to work hard, to focus her thoughts and efforts even when personal problems come along, and a sharp mind.

Unfortunately, she isn’t always as self-confident as she might be, especially when circumstances keep cropping up that make her doubt herself.

Quirk (if any)

Elena is ambivalent about her heritage—both embarrassed and proud. Since she was reared by her mother’s sister after her parents were killed in an auto accident, she grew up as an Anglo, barely speaking any Spanish.

Your inspiration for the character

Actually, the inspiration for the story stemmed from the accusations levelled against a friend and colleague that he engaged in euthanasia of critically ill patients during the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Because I’m a native Texan and familiar with the Hispanic culture, I changed Elena to a female doctor with the mixed heritage I’ve described.

Background to the story

In addition to the story about my colleague I’ve mentioned, I was tasked with discontinuing life support after my first wife suffered a fatal stroke, so I knew the emotional turmoil involved in such a decision. That led me to think in terms that evolved into the story of Diagnosis Death: what if a doctor is accused of mercy killings, including her own husband, and despite threatening midnight phone calls and a damaged professional reputation, she won’t—or can’t—defend herself?

Thanks Doc ~ always a pleasure to have you make a house call ;-)

Relz Reviewz Extras

Reviews of Code Blue and Medical Error

Character spotlight on Cathy & Will

Interview with Richard

Visit Richard's website and blog

Buy Richard's books at Amazon or CBD

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

CFBA Blog Tour of Wolves Among Us by Ginger Garrett

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Wolves Among Us
David C. Cook; New edition (April 1, 2011)
Ginger Garrett


Ginger Garrett is the author of the Chronicles of the Scribes series (In the Shadow of Lions, In the Arms of Immortals, In the Eyes of Eternity), Dark Hour, and Beauty Secrets of the Bible. Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther was recognized as one of the top five novels of 2006 by the ECPA.

Focusing on ancient women's history, Ginger creates novels and nonfiction resources that explore the lives of historical women. A frequent media guest and television host, Ginger has been interviewed by Fox News, Billy Graham's The Hour of Decision, The Harvest Show, 104.7 The Fish Atlanta, and many other outlets.

A graduate of Southern Methodist University with a degree in Theater, she is passionate about creating art from history. Ginger resides in Georgia with her husband and three children.


This richly imagined tale takes readers to a tiny German town in the time of “the burnings,” when pious and heretic alike became victims of witch-hunting zealots. When a double murder stirs up festering fears, the village priest sends for help. But the charismatic Inquisitor who answers the call brings a deadly mix of spiritual fervor and self-deceptive evil. Under his influence, village fear, guilt, and suspicion of women take a deadly turn. In the midst of this nightmare, a doubting priest and an unloved wife—a secret friend of the recently martyred William Tyndale—somehow manage to hear another Voice…and discover the power of love over fear.

Dinfoil, Germany, 1538. In a little town on the edge of the Black Forest, a double murder stirs up festering fears. A lonely woman despairs of pleasing her husband and wonders why other women shun her. An overworked sheriff struggles to hold the town—and himself—together. A priest begins to doubt the power of the words he shares daily with his flock. And the charismatic Inquisitor who arrives to help—with a filthy witch in a cage as an object lesson—brings his own mix of lofty ideals and treacherous evil. Under his influence, ordinary village fears and resentments take a deadly turn. Terror mounts. Dark deeds come to light. And men and women alike discover not only what they are capable of, but who they are…and what it means to grapple for grace.

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

Rel: I've been on deadline for my FamilyFiction articles so my reading is behind but I have loved everything Ginger has written and I'm sure this fascinating book will be no exception.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The winners are....

No Safe Haven ~ Nolene & Ellie (AUS) and Kim & Sherry (USA)

Waterfall ~ Ben

Waterfall by Lisa Tawn Bergren

"The middle of nowhere. Where the nearest unattached boy appeared to be about seventy years old."

While most teens would die to spend a summer in Italy, Gabi and Lia Bettarini find it more than a little passe having spent many summers following their parents around Etruscan archeological dig sites. In violation of their mother's strict instructions, and in an effort to stave off boredom, Gabi convinces Lia to sneak into a newly discovered tomb to explore. Gabi gets more adventure than she bargained for when she finds herself transported to the sixteenth century and lands in the middle of a fierce battle between opposing Italian knights.

Rescued from an attacker's sword by handsome knight Sir Marcello Forelli, Gabi is whisked off to his father's castle, fearing she may not find her way back to the 21st century.

"He was certainly the first man I'd seen holding a real sword and in full-on knight gear-tunic, tights, breastplate, the whole enchilada. Somehow he made the look work."

Marcello is a young man destined to defend his father's castello and marry well to protect the Forelli's reputation and financial holdings. More than a little intrigued by the tall, attractive and oddly spoken Gabi, Marcello is torn between loyalty to his family and the strange, new visitor who may be friend or foe.

As enmity rages between the Houses of Forelli and Paratore, Gabi finds herself out of her depth in a world of danger, fear and unexpected heartache.

With more sword fights than The Princess Bride, more swoon worthy heroes than Twilight and adventure and intrigue in abundance, Lisa Tawn Bergren has penned a fabulous story in Waterfall. Emotive and fast paced, this novel, although written for
teens, will undoubtedly find itself a wider audience just as the Harry Potter books did. What's not to like about time travel, chivalrous knights, a courageous heroine, an exotic location with humour and romance in abundance? With characters that will grab your heart and not let go and subtle spiritual undertones, Waterfall has wide appeal, for any reader who enjoys being swept away on a wave of adventure. Lisa doesn't shy away from the natural outcome of sword battles and the limitations of 16th century medicine yet it is not overly graphic. With Cascade and Torrent to follow later this year, Lisa will gather a legion of faithful readers craving the continuation of Gabi, Lia, Marcello and Luca's story. I have no hesitation in letting you know I am one of them. Brava, Lisa, brava!

As seen at

With thanks to TitleTrakk for my review copy

Relz Reviewz Extras

Character spotlight on Gabi, Marcello, Lia & Luca

Exclusive Q&A with Lisa

View the trailer

Enter Lisa's contest to win a Kindle & more

Visit Lisa's author website and her travel website

Buy Lisa's books at Amazon or Koorong

Monday, 28 March 2011

Character Spotlight ~ Rachel Hauck's Joy Ballard & Luke Redmond

Joy & Luke

Rachel books are always terrific reading so get your hands on any that you can! Enjoy this look behind the scenes of her latest, Dining with Joy.

Over to you, Rachel:~

Brief physical description

Joy is athletic, on the tall side, long auburn hair. Hazel eyes.

Actor/famous person

Mia Hamm, the American soccer player

Strengths and weaknesses

Joy ~ Ability to win people over. She confident so she gives others confidence.

She is too giving. Too trusting. And she can't cook.

Luke’s strength is his ability to over come. He dropped out of high school but made something of himself in the NY kitchens.

His weakness is his reading difficulties. His lack of education which cripple his confidence.

Joy is his weakness. :)

Your inspiration for the character

Joy is a little bit of every women. The one who does the job because it needs to be done. The one who wants a little bit of something for herself, her fifteen minutes of fame. The woman who feels trapped in a job she’s not qualified for but is in the flow of it and can’t find a way out. Money, time and other commitments hold her feet to the fire.

But her courage and winning spirit was inspired by University of Alabama softball player, Kelsi Dunn.

Luke, the hero, is like the man we all want to know and love. He’s a good guy. The strong, silent type but discerning and intuitive.

He’s a rancher turned chef. I mean, really, how cool.

Background to the story

Joy Ballard is a cooking show host who can’t cook. She took the show over for her dying father and desperate producer.

She’s good in front of the camera but deep seated resentment toward her father keeps her from learning to love food.

Luke Redman learned to cook after his mother died. He made her lasagne recipe and watched his dad smile and laugh for the first time since his mom’s funeral. He learned the power of food and fellowship.

When his Manhattan restaurant fails, he finds himself in the lowcountry of South Carolina to regroup.

Joy’s show is sold and the new producer loves the chemistry between Joy and Luke, She pairs them to create an exciting format for the new network.

They have no plans to fall in love. But God has other things in mind.

Lovely to have you visit, Rach, as always :)

Relz Reviewz Extras

Reviews of Dining with Joy, The Sweet By and By, Love Starts With Elle, Sweet Caroline and Diva NashVegas

Interview with Rachel

Visit Rachel's website

Buy Rachel's books at Amazon or Koorong

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Bound by Guilt by CJ Darlington


Roxi Gold has been shuttled from one foster home to another for most her life. She longs for a family and will do anything to fit in even if it’s against the law. Soon she’s traveling the country in an RV, stealing rare books from unsuspecting bookstores. She knows it’s wrong, but if she refuses, she’ll be put out on the streets.

Police officer Abby Dawson has seen the worst of society, and not just at work. Her ex-husband wrested her daughter away from her in a bitter custody battle. The job she once loved has become a chore, the world isn’t any safer, and there’s no joy in her life.

One fateful night a man’s innocent blood changes both Roxi’s and Abby’s lives forever. One searches for justice; the other finds herself on the run until a first edition of
The Great Gatsby
catches up with her. Will the power of forgiveness set them free, or will they both remain bound by guilt?

My take:~

CJ Darlington impressed with her debut novel Thicker than Blood and she has reinforced those feelings with Bound by Guilt. A moving story of a young girl, dealt a tough hand as a child, wrestling with choices she knows are wrong and an embittered police officer, estranged from her father and daughter, reeling from her brother's murder. Mixing the intriguing world of rare books, a solid suspense thread, complex characters dealing with deep seated emotions and strong faith themes, CJ has proven she is an author with a very bright future.

With thanks to Tyndale for my review copy

Relz Reviewz Extras

Review of Thicker Than Blood

Character spotlight on Christy & May

Visit CJ's website and blog

Check out, founded by CJ and her sister, Tracy

Buy CJ's book at Amazon or Koorong

Friday, 25 March 2011

Q&A with Mesu Andrews

Author Mesu Andrews has tackled the daunting subject of the life of Job in her debut novel, Love Amid the Ashes. It is my delight to have Mesu visit Relz Reviewz for the first time.

Rel:~ What appeals to you most about writing fiction?

Mesu:~ I began writing fiction because it was the only way I could hope to publish the message of my Song of Solomon Bible study. I began presenting women’s retreats in 2000 based on an incredible love story drawn from Solomon’s most famous song, but no self-respecting editor would take a chance on a novice author writing a Bible study on the controversial Song of Songs. So I taught the principles through compelling fiction...and now I’m hooked! I have always enjoyed studying the context of Scripture, the history, the original languages, the environment of a scene. Now that I write fiction, I get to share those intriguing details with those who read the stories...instead of boring my husband and children with endless facts!

Writing Biblical Fiction ~ the burdens and the joys?

I love it when my writing partners read a scene and say, “Is that really in the Bible?” Or when we laugh out loud or cry with the biblical characters. Writing biblical fiction is different than other forms of fiction because in many cases the characters are the real forefathers of our faith, the preservers of the sacred text that bears God’s Name. Since historical data is limited, I am given liberty to dream and imagine, but I am bound by my faith in God’s Word to remain completely faithful to its unyielding truth. I cannot, will not, deviate from biblical details (to the best of my knowledge and research). That can at times be burdensome because—quite frankly—God doesn’t always make believable choices, and fiction’s first rule is that it must be believable! But my greatest delight comes when readers hurry to their Bibles and read familiar passages with new passion because of the story my imagination has spun for them.

Which character did you connect to the most?

Nogahla—hands down. This little Cushite maid was supposed to have a few mentions as Dinah’s handmaid, but by the third chapter, she was practically writing her own scenes. I fell in love with this character’s simple yet profound faith, wishing that in life’s most trying moments, I could slice through the tension with Nogahla’s grace and innocence. She’s sort of like a pre-Holy Spirit.

Which character was the most difficult to write?

Another “hands-down” winner—Job. Because I, too, have struggled so long with chronic illness, I dreaded Job’s emotional tug-of-war with his friends and with God. I really thought I had moved past the grieving of chronic illness (there is a grieving of one’s lost healthy self with a lifetime diagnosis), but I discovered in the days of writing Job’s scenes that my grief simply was dormant. Perhaps Job’s exchange with God was so poignant because I was blessed anew with Job’s realizations. A God who never leaves, never stops loving, always has a greater purpose and greater blessing waiting for those He adores.

What was your favourite scene to write in Love Amid the Ashes or share your favourite paragraph?

Okay, I’m a little embarrassed to admit this...I’d like to say it was one of the great spiritual revelations of Sitis or Dinah or Job or... But I’m a romantic at heart, and my favorite scene is actually on p.124, when Job arrives in Sitis’ bedchamber all ash-covered after grieving their losses. She mops his face with her scarf and says he looks nothing like her husband with his head shaved and tear-streaked cheeks. When he asks her to close her eyes and speaks to her so tenderly, asking, “I this your husband’s voice?” And then, “Was that your husband’s kiss?” Well! I just want to kiss him myself! It’s another glimpse of Job’s integrity, beyond his godliness, into his masculine tenderness.

Thanks Mesu :)

NB. I'm sorry to say I am a bit behind in my reading but look for my review of Love Amid the Ashes soon

Thursday, 24 March 2011

A Heart Most Worthy by Siri Mitchell


The elegance of Madame Forza's gown shop is a far cry from the downtrodden North End of Boston. Yet each day Julietta, Annamaria, and Luciana enter the world of the upper class, working on finery for the elite in society. The three beauties each long to break free of their obligations and embrace the American dream--and their chance for love. But the ways of the heart are difficult to discern at times. Julietta is drawn to the swarthy, mysterious Angelo. Annamaria has a star-crossed encounter with the grocer's son, a man from the entirely wrong family. And through no intent of her own, Luciana catches the eye of Billy Quinn, the son of Madame Forza's most important client. Their destinies intertwined, each harboring a secret from their families and each other, will they be found worthy of the love they seek?

My take:~

Beautifully and uniquely told, Siri Mitchell's latest historical novel, A Heart Most Worthy is a wonderful addition to any reader's bookshelves. I enjoyed the omniscient point of view (imagine a narrator) admiring Siri's courage to write outside the box and do it successfully. Siri's characterisation is always exceptional and you will connect with Luciana, Julietta and Annamaria on a deep level as they battle family expectations, deprivations, attraction and cultural constraints. The city of Boston and the Italian immigrant communities come alive through Siri's attention to detail and skillful prose. A Heart Most Worthy is a joy to read for anyone who appreciates exceptional storytelling, historical detail and stories of love.

With thanks to Bethany for my review copy

Relz Reviewz Extras

Exclusive RBC Book Club Interview with Siri

Review of A Constant Heart and She Walks in Beauty

Character spotlight on She Walks in Beauty's Clara Carter, Love's Pursuit's characters and A Constant Heart's Marget & Lytham

Visit Siri's

Buy Siri's books at Amazon or Koorong

The Lightkeeper's Bride by Colleen Coble

Mercy Falls Telephone Company operator, Katie Russell loves her job connecting callers to each other but her parents and businessman Bartholomew Foster have a different future mapped out for her. Katie is torn between the knowledge that an engagement to Mr Foster would secure her family's financial future and the lack of emotional connection to the man himself.

Newcomer Will Jesperson has finally landed his dream job, as a lighthouse keeper, which will enable him to pursue his fascination with predicting weather and tide patterns. Plucking victims of a pirate attack from the sea is an unexpected and shocking task for his first day on the job.

When Katie overhears an ominous and threatening conversation on her phone line, she finds herself thrown into an unusual partnership with Will, as the two incidents connect. As they look for answers Katie finds her life in danger and her heart on the line.

Colleen Coble returns to Mercy Falls with another historical suspense that will delight her readers as she provides the expected handsome and courageous hero alongside a demure heroine, devoted to her family and friends, yet chafing at the restrictions in her life. The suspense is well done, with plenty of twists to the tale and a few red herrings. Both Will and Katie have to deal with people close to them who have made poor choices where forgiveness and compassion are the only ways to restore the relationship and Colleen weaves the spiritual themes naturally into the story. Bartholomew Foster is clearly an unpleasant man and with all such relationship triangles where the hero is impressive in every imaginable way, it is a little unrealistic to consider a woman such as Katie would consider him husband material, even with the pressure imposed by her parents. That said, as with all Colleen's novels, there is much to like about The Lightkeeper's Bride
but it is a story that will appeal mostly to those who enjoy a traditional historical romance rather than readers looking for something out of the box.

As seen at

With thanks to Titletrakk for my review copy

Relz Reviewz Extras

Review of The Lightkeeper's Daughter

Character spotlight on Addie & John

Visit Colleen's website and blog

Buy Colleen's books at Amazon or Koorong

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

CFBA Blog Tour of Vicious Cycle by Terri Blackstock

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Vicious Cycle
Zondervan (February 22, 2011)
Terri Blackstock


Terri Blackstock is a New York Times best-seller, with over six million copies sold worldwide. She has had over twenty-five years of success as a novelist. She sold her first novel at the age of twenty-five, and has had a successful career ever since.

Besides entertaining her readers, Terri tackles issues that she hopes will change lives. Her recent book, Predator, was inspired by her experiences on Facebook and Twitter, and her concern that people posted too much personal information about themselves. The book deals with an online predator who uses social networks as his playground. She hopes the book will change readers’ online habits. Her New York Times best-seller, Intervention, was inspired by her own personal struggles with a daughter on drugs. In the book, a mother hires an interventionist for her drug-addicted daughter. But on the way to treatment, the interventionist is murdered, and the daughter disappears. Barbara, the mother, sets out to search for her daughter. Terri modeled Barbara after herself, and poured many of her own emotions and experiences into that character. As a result, many families experiencing drug addiction have written to thank her for telling their story and giving them hope. Vicious Cycle, Book Two of the Intervention Series, releases February 22, 2011. She’s currently working on Book Three.

Other recent books include a stand-alone novel called Double Minds, as well as Last Light, Night Light, True Light and Dawn’s Light (from her acclaimed Restoration Series). She is also known for her popular Newpointe 911 Series and Cape Refuge Series. Terri makes her home in Mississippi, where she and her husband Ken are enjoying their empty nest after raising three children.

Terri has appeared on national television programs such as “The 700 Club” and “Home Life,” and has been a guest on numerous radio programs across the country. The story of her personal journey appears in books such as Touched By the Savior by Mike Yorkey, True Stories of Answered Prayer by Mike Nappa, Faces of Faith by John Hanna, and I Saw Him In Your Eyes by Ace Collins.


When fifteen-year-old Lance Covington finds an abandoned baby in the backseat of a car, he knows she's the newborn daughter of a meth addict he's been trying to help. But when police arrest him for kidnapping, Lance is thrust into a criminal world of baby trafficking and drug abuse.

His mother, Barbara, looks for help from Kent Harlan---the man whom she secretly, reluctantly loves and who once helped rescue her daughter from a mess of her own. Kent flies to her aid and begins the impossible work of getting Lance out of trouble, protecting a baby who has no home, and finding help for a teenage mother hiding behind her lies.

In this latest novel of suspense and family loyalty, bestselling author Terri Blackstock offers a harrowing look at drug addiction, human trafficking, and the devastating choices that can change lives forever.

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

Watch the Book Video:

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Character Spotlight ~ Melody Carlson's Four Lindas

The Four Lindas

Melody Carlson is back with her Four Lindas series ~ a unique series with the stars of the tales all women in their 50s! Be sure to check out each of these appealing stories.

Over to you, Melody:~

Brief physic
al description

The Four Lindas are four uniquely different women in their fifties. But unlike the previous generation, these women feel more like the “new forties.” Janie (an attorney who’s moved her New York practice to Oregon) is a tall thin redhead with classic features. Meanwhile Abby (a homemaker turned inn owner) has sandy colored hair, carries a few extra pounds, and a warm smile. Marlie (an artist who’s reinventing her career) is a short brown-eyed brunette and likes to dress in a Bohemian style. Caroline is the “glamour girl” who left Hollywood and a disappointing acting career behind.

Actor/famous person

Okay this pic of the old cast of 30-something is probably more like the Lindas a few years ago. But they are an attractive group of women who appreciate friendship and fun!

Strengths and weaknesses

Empty-nester Abby is kindhearted, hospitable, generous…almost to a fault because she sometimes neglects herself as well as her fledgling bed and breakfast. Also, she focuses more on her husband’s health issues than her own.

Janie is an educated, intelligent, driven attorney learning how to operate in the slow lane. Despite her sleek appearance, she still struggles with identity issues which confront her in her hometown as she tries to figure out a romantic relationship with Victor.

Marley, is a talented artist with a sensitive spirit. Still recovering from a bad marriage, she too is navigating a relationship with a man, while attempting to balance her newfound creative career.

Caroline is an optimist and survivor. But her faded dreams of fame are behind her as she tries to figure out how to best care for her Alzheimer’s stricken mother.

Quirk (if any)

These women, despite their differences and the years and miles that stretched between them for decades, manage to form a bond of friendship that is to be admired. They show us how important women friends are at this stage of life.

Your inspiration for the characters

At a high school reunion where I totally enjoyed my old friends, I couldn’t believe how easily it was to just pick up where we left off. So many things happen to us in adolescence that stay with us forever. So many memories that have contributed to who we are today. It’s a delight to know that ‘you can still go home.’

Background to the story

I thought what if I created a story setting with a fictional club of girls—all with the same first name—let them grow up together then all go their separate ways, but reunite them as 50-something women? Ironically, as I worked on the books I realized there are some striking similarities between 50 and 15. Not to even mention hormones! But both generations often find themselves embarking on a new stage of life; discovering things about themselves; finding out where they fit in this ever-changing world. Thus began The Four Lindas, a series of four books about four women who readers tell me feel like “art imitating life.” I take that as a high compliment. I know I’ve loved writing about the Lindas!

Thanks Melody ~ so appreciate you sharing again about the Lindas :)

Relz Reviewz Extras

Interview with Melody

Character spotlight introduction to the Four Lindas

Further spotlight on the Four Lindas

Visit Melody's website

Buy Melody's books at Amazon or Koorong

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Bathsheba by Jill Eileen Smith


Bathsheba is a woman who longs for love. With her devout husband away fighting the king's wars for many months at a time, discontent and loneliness dog her steps--and make it frighteningly easy to succumb to King David's charm and attention. Though she immediately regrets her involvement with the powerful king, the pieces are set in motion that will destroy everything she holds dear.

Can she find forgiveness at the feet of the Almighty? Or has her sin separated her from God--and David--forever?

My take:~

I have been anticipating reading Bathsheba ever since I finished Abigail and once again Jill Eileen Smith has delivered a vivid portrait of one of Kind David's wives, with historical detail and intelligent conjecture. Bathsheba, her husband Uriah and King David are all fleshed out and their thoughts and motivations examined with sensitivity and insight, based on the Biblical storyline. David and Bathsheba's story reveals how pervasive sin can be and lead us to do unthinkable things. God's redemptive love is also displayed in all its power, even as the consequences of David and Bathsheba's choices play out for the rest of their lives. David's reign overflowed with drama and intrigue and no doubt it was impossible for Jill to include it all, resulting in the ending feeling a little rushed. That said, I highly recommend this challenging and thought-provoking story which left me pondering the lessons to be learned. Jill's books always have me turning back to the scriptures to reread the Biblical story and Bathsheba was no exception ~ I encourage you to do the same.

Available March 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

With thanks to Revell for my review copy

Relz Reviewz Extras

Review of Abigail

Visit Jill's website/blog

Buy Jill's books at Amazon or Koorong

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Julie Carobini shares about Otter Bay & more

I've always enjoyed Julie Carobini's books and here's a chance for you to discover more about them from Julie herself.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Q&A with Lisa Tawn Bergren with North American Giveaway

I adore Lisa Tawn Bergren's writing and have nearly all her books on my shelves (including her early 90's books!). Lisa is a talented writer and a gorgeous person so enjoy this Q&A and be sure to get your hands on Waterfall (David C Cook), whether you are young, old or inbetween!

Rel: What appeals to you most about writing fiction?

Lisa: I think I’m an empathetic soul. I love to dive, headlong, into other people’s experiences, struggles, triumphs. Fiction is the vehicle.

Why Christian fiction?

Because God is the center of my life. If faith can’t be a part of my stories, at least in some form, then it’s adrift, just as I am without Him. Some of my fiction has strong evangelical content, and some of it is very subtle. It all depends on the characters, emotional and plot arcs, and what feels natural. I always try to avoid the soapbox, but always strive to remain honest.

Name five things you can’t live without

God, family, friends, learning, laughter.

Favourite book ~ Favourite movie ~ Favourite TV show

Impossible to answer on books—I’m a super-eclectic reader and lately, I’ve been reading a ton of YA, mostly secular (not a whole lot on the Christian market). Movies: Far and Away, True Grit, Gladiator, Return of the King. Anything epic and saga-ish. TV: Modern Family, The Office, V, Amazing Race.

Where is the most interesting place you have been?

Another impossible question for me (see our travel web site, Some answers: Inside the Great Pyramid in Giza, Egypt. Floating atop the Dead Sea, Israel. In the streets of Jerusalem. Beside old sugar mills in the West Indies. Wandering through a medieval castle in Italy…

What did you want to be when you grew up?

An archaeologist. I wanted to BE Indiana Jones. I’m guessing that’s not a huge surprise to my readers…

What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?

I have to have a hot shower every day and I don’t camp. Love, LOVE the outdoors. But I want a shower in the morning and my awesome, Comfort Foam mattress at night. No matter how much my kids whine at me. We do day hikes.


Waterfall is your first YA book. Is the writing experience different to your adult novels?

In some ways, it was a throwback to my early days of writing romance. And I had to get back in touch with my “inner teen.” My voice had grown a bit too adult in my 44 years, so I had to pull it back a few notches and really pay attention to how kids think/speak/process. However, YA has gotten very sophisticated in recent years, giving me lots of room to flex.

Which character did you connect to the most?

Gabi, my heroine. When you’re writing first-person POV, it’s hard not to be her in some ways.

Which character was the most difficult to write?

Fortino, Marcello’s brother. I wasn’t sure how long I wanted him in the picture, and in what capacity…

Why the fascination with medieval times (considering your Gifted series too!)?

It’s inherently romantic to me. Lords and ladies. Chivalry. Fighting for honor, love, territory, faith, freedom. When it gets down to it, there is no way I’d want to live then (see previous statement about needing hot showers and a fabulous bed), but in my mind it’s somehow different, otherworldly, drawing me in…and the world was on the verge of a total change, on the precipice of modernity, in a lot of ways, with the Renaissance around the corner.

What was your favourite scene to write in Waterfall or share your favourite paragraph?

I love battle scenes and the big, romantic scenes that you can feel. That’s when I’m in the zone, writing as fast as my fingers can move, pouring my vision onto the page. And there are lots of those in WATERFALL.

Cascade and Torrent are next ~ what can readers look forward to?

More battles, more adventure, more romance, more excruciating tears, more healing, more learning, more embracing life…in short, more of Gabi and Lia’s saga in a foreign—in time—land!

Sigh! Lisa ~ a delight to have you visit and share about your writing and your fabulous new series. Thank you for using your gifts for us to enjoy :)

Relz Reviewz Extras

Character spotlight on Gabi, Marcello, Lia & Luca

View the trailer

Enter Lisa's contest to win a Kindle & more

Visit Lisa's author website and her travel website

Buy Lisa's books at Amazon or Koorong

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Character Spotlight ~ Ginny Yttrup's Kaylee Wren & Sierra Dawn

Kaylee & Sierra

Ginny Yttrup's debut novel is a must read story. Be sure to find a place for it on your bookshelves. For now, enjoy this insight into Kaylee & Sierra.

Over to you, Ginny:~

Brief physical description

Kaylee Wren is a ten-year old waif. She has "stick straight hair that is dark as soot." She is under-nourished, thin, and pale. Her ribs are visible beneath her ill-fitting tee-shirt, and her luminous eyes are sunken in her face. But there is still a sparkle of life in her intelligent eyes.

Sierra Dawn is thirty-four, tall, fit, and healthy. H
er skin glows from the time she spends outdoors and her long, wavy blond hair is streaked with strands of silver. She is natural, little make-up, and dresses simply and comfortably.

Actor/famous person

Many authors will find a picture for each of their characters--either a famous person or a picture of someone they find online. This helps them to begin creating the character. However, when I thought about doing something like that for my first novel, the idea didn't fit. I had such distinct pictures of my characters in my mind that pictures of other people felt like just of someone other than who I was writing about. It almost felt disloyal to my character to post a picture of someone other than them. I guess that's just how my crazy mind works!

Strengths and weaknesses

Kaylee is resilient, like the redwoods in the forest she loves. There is an emotional strength to her that belies her age and experience-a strength, in my mind as the author, that comes from the God who loves her. She is wise and intelligent. I struggle to assign a weakness to her. Any weakness comes from her unfathomable circumstances. She is a resourceful child who employs coping mechanisms to deal with the abuse she suffers. Her primary coping mechanism is silence. Her silence, her inability and unwillingness to speak, become something she hides behind in order to protect herself.

Sierra's stre
ngth, primarily her faith, unfold with the story. Her weaknesses are highlighted in the beginning of the book. She is angry with herself and refuses to accept God's grace. She is clinging to the shame of her sins and punishing herself for her failures. She works to control her circumstances and is reluctant to delve into her emotional pain for fear of what she'll find. Sierra's transformation in the story is as significant and perhaps more profound even than Kaylee's.

Quirk (if any)

Kaylee is quirky! But in endearing ways. Because of her solitude, she's found ways to occupy herself and to escape emotionally from the trauma she endures. She reads a dictionary left by her mother and memorizes the words and definitions. She defines her world by the dictionary. She also reads a 1950's edition of Etiquette by Emily Post and applies what she learns in the book which, when she encounters Sierra, makes for some fun and quirky moments.

Sierra is l
ess quirky. She's an insomniac who often does her best art work at night and because of her need to control her circumstances, she keeps people at a safe distance emotionally. But at the beginning of Words, you see the first crack in Sierra's shield of control when she gets a dog. It's the relationship with her dog that begins to soften her. Sierra's relationship with her dog, Van, is one of my favorite relationships in the book.

Your inspiration for the character

Kaylee was a character who just came to me. That's the only way I know how to describe it. For a long time, I felt like I had a child living in my head. She followed me around as a silent observer of my life. I finally had to put her on paper and Kaylee was born. I hope, with Kaylee, that I've painted a picture of the face of child abuse. I hope she, in her sweet and quirky way, becomes the child every reader wants to wrap their arms around and protect. That is what victims of childhood abuse need--our compassion and our action.

Sierra is a composite of many people. I met an artist, years ago, at a ferry
station on Vancouver Island. Her name is Sekoya Dawn and her work is incredible. I found her intriguing and when I began to create Sierra, I remembered Sekoya. Sierra is also a composite, physically, of the many women I've observed during a lifetime spent vacationing in the Santa Cruz, California region. She is a throwback to the age of the hippies and her looks, her style, and her art all represent Santa Cruz. Emotionally, Sierra is a composite of the women I had the honor of working with through Barbara Wilson's Invisible Bonds Bible Study. Women bound by shame, but longing for the freedom found through Jesus Christ.

Background to the story

The story is loosely based on my own history of childhood sexual abuse. The circumstances, the characters, and the setting all differ. But the emotions, Kaylee's pain, are based on my own struggles and pain. Writing Words was an act of redemption for me--a way to assign purpose to the pain I suffered. The story felt like and still feels like a gift from God to me...and to others who suffer.

Thanks so much for sharing, Ginny ~ your story and Words are inspiring!

Relz Reviewz Extras

Review of Words

Visit Ginny's website and blogs

Follow Ginny's journey with her next novel here

Buy Ginny's books at Amazon or Koorong

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