Saturday, 29 October 2011

RBC Book Club Interview with Pamela Binnings Ewen

Our October selection, Pamela Binnings Ewen's heartbreaking and hope filled tale, Dancing on Glass, made for an excellent discussion and time of reflection.  Pamela generously shared of her time, answering our varied questions below.

Pamela's story delves into the difficult topics of spousal abuse and codependency against the backdrop of 1970's New Orleans and a young woman forging a legal career yet finding herself lost in a marriage that should have never been.

**Please note spoilers below**

 Pamela:~ Hello everyone! I really enjoyed your questions. I’ve combined them where they were similar. Hope that works! Put on your reading glasses—Here goes! 

S and J: You’ve asked what my motivation was for writing this story. 

I've thought about writing it for years. Several ideas coalesced in my mind around the same time a few years ago and I knew it was the right time. One point had to do with my previous book, The Moon in the Mango Tree, and the role women played in the world at that time, the1920's. That was the story of my grandmother's life—I was close to her, loved her dearly. She was a suffragette and a wonderful singer. In 1918 she married my grandfather, a medical doctor, and immediately he went off to war—WWI. While he was on the battlefields in France, she continued studying music. One day she was given the opportunity to begin a career with the Chicago Opera. She was thrilled. Couldn't wait for my grandfather to return to discuss this—he could practice medicine in Chicago. She could sing. When he returned from the war however, he was a changed man. He'd seen such misery on the battlefields that he couldn't see returning to life as a society doctor in Philadelphia. He told her that he was accepting a position as a medical missionary in Siam (now Thailand) and expected her to be thrilled. 

Now. In the United States women finally won the right to vote in 1920. The door of opportunity opened enough to let in a sliver of light. But the idea of a woman having a career on stage was still new and very controversial in my grandmother's world. My grandmother was devastated, but she felt she had no choice other than to accept her husband's decision. As her mother advised, the husband is the one with a career. Her job as his wife was to create a home for him in the mission. And she loved him, of course. So, instead of singing on the stage, she found herself in the jungles of north Siam as a missionary wife. Throughout that dazzling decade—the jazz age—but the longing to sing never left her. Through the years she wondered what life would have been if she'd chosen to continue singing. In the end, she was faced with a choice between two things she loves, and that's the essence of the story.

That choice. Because at least, and at last, the choice was hers to make. 

This is a long way of getting to your answer, but notice that Dancing on Glass is set in 1974, about half-way between my grandmother's time and today. Amalise has chosen a career in law. She has opportunities my grandmother never had, but still she's chosen to work in what was then a man's world. That's also close to the time when I was going to law school, and then practicing law. So the timing of the story isn't coincidental. I thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast the issues that my grandmother faced in the  1920's, and some of my own in the 1970's; not only the woman's role in the world and how society views that, but also in their relationships with men. 
And that brings me to the second reason for writing the story. Over the years we women have come to a point where we can really reach for the stars. Whether that means working inside the home or outside, today we have a strong support network to make our choices, unlike my grandmother's time. Women in your country and mine are now accomplished, educated, strong, and often financially independent. And yet still we find some of these same strong women seemingly trapped in abusive relationships.  I've known some. I've also experienced some aspects of Amalise's relationship with Phillip. We read about in the headlines all the time. Often it's a secret until something outside our control lets it out. Media love to ask the question when they find out: Why did she stand by her man? 
This is an important question. I believe there are many more women in Amalise's predicament than we know, women living two lives...compartmentalizing. Keeping secrets. But understanding is the key. Knowledge is power, and the key to prevention. The standard answers to the question—low self-esteem, unhappy childhoods, etc., don't stand up when you look at these relationships today. However, although we've become stronger over the years, we've also retained our softer sides, our nurturing instincts.  I think of this as the double-bind.  And in the case of predatory relationships, perhaps that's the lure.

What do you think about that? 

For R and J too: Faith on Trial led me to Christianity. I think of that book as my own faith journey. Here’s what happened. I was raised in a Christian home, but as a young adult I began questioning some of the fundamental principles of Christian faith, the dark questions that some of us are faced with in the night. Is it really true? This was the nineteen sixties. There were many strong and rational writers at that time arguing in books and media and universities and songs that this life is all there is—you'd better make the most of it. 

These writers and philosophers made compelling arguments against religion. So I went to my pastor and asked the question: How do you know the Gospel stories are true? I asked the question that way, because Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the keystone for Christianity. But the answer I got was this: There's no way to prove it. You just have to have faith. 
My mind could not accept that answer no matter how much I wanted to believe. (Perhaps that trait is what made me a lawyer!) At any rate, as I said in Faith On Trial, unfortunately, you cannot just make yourself believe. My heart wouldn't accept what my mind rejected. So I walked away in the sixties an agnostic and I got on that treadmill and started to run. Went to law school. Became a lawyer. And for the next fifteen or so years, I was agnostic, although always, always…I wanted to believe. After many years of searching for answers, one day it occurred to me that lawyers examine the validity of past events all the time, proving whether or not they really occurred. We do that by examining the credibility of the evidence and witnesses. Balancing things, coming to conclusions based upon this standard: After looking at all the evidence, is the event more likely than not to be true. This is called a “reasonableness” standard.  
So I put the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John on trial. It took almost 15 years to research the evidence and put it together, using the most original sources that I could find. Piece by piece I strung the evidence I found into a chain of proof, as you would in a trial. And as I did this, I began to realize that the actual evidence I was finding–archeological, scientific, medical, forensic, historical contemporaneous writings, studies in linguistics, papyrology, history—all, combined, provided an extremely powerful case. A case that would clearly hold up in court. By the time I’d finished researching and writing Faith on Trial, I was a committed Christian. This changed my life. Soon after I resigned my partnership at my firm to write, because I had ideas that I longed to discuss with readers like you!! 
Here's a strange thing though. While researching my Grandmother's story for Mango Tree, I came across her letters home, and her family's letters to her throughout the 1920's. In the letters I discovered that my grandmother had had the same questions about faith that I'd had. She came to Christianity by a different route, but the similarity was very strange. 

A – Did I answer the first part of your question about how I conceived the story? It was really just a step from there to the process of developing the actual story itself because most writers write what they know. So Amalise became a lawyer, and the setting was New Orleans, because that's my home. New Orleans is a magical city and I thought of it almost as another character in the story. 
Creative Commons
The actual process of writing, for me, is really fun. I start with a stream-of-consciousness draft that NOBODY ever sees. I don't worry about sentence structure or character arcs or anything at this point. Just get the story and people down on paper. After that, I begin what I think of as the real craft that is, shaping the story. That involves creating chapters, getting inside the characters, doing lots of research. For example, the mid-nineteen-seventies were one of my favorite periods of time in New Orleans. But I still had to go into old newspapers to recall exactly what was going on in the news, what movies were popular, what songs, etc. 
But once I get to this stage, I'm creating a world in my mind. When I write, it's as if I've shifted into this other world. I put myself in the character's place when I'm writing, as if I've become that person, and the story takes over. Rewriting is amazing, and with each rewrite of the book I find something new that strikes me as critical to the character's choices, or go deeper into the psychology of relationships. 
You are perceptive. And C – this is also for your last question. Getting inside a character, and his or her point of view, can be very emotional. For example, when I was writing Mango Tree, I'd put Liebestraum on 'replay' for hours and just get lost in that world and the emotions. That was particularly true because I loved my grandmother so, and yet she was a very complex person and I knew that I had to show her flaws as well as the wonderful parts. So it is emotional, but also exhilarating because you feel that you are creating something that will last, and something that will touch the lives of many other people.  
With Amalise and Phillip, some of the situations did come from my own experience and so yes, it was sometimes difficult to write. Not always, because I hope that readers find the happy side of Amalise as well. And I think the city of New Orleans adds some whimsy to lighten things up a bit. Still, some parts of the book were hard going. Not only because I'd been there to some extent, but also because I knew that many other women reading this book would see themselves, and as I was writing my prayer was to get things right. To be able to tell someone else's story to a reader who'd thought she was alone. And to warn the ones who recognize themselves but haven't been completely lured into the trap just yet.  Here's the thing I mentioned earlier about 'secrets'. When you are in an abusive relationship, whether it's emotional or physical, keeping this a secret is often a top priority. Amalise doesn't want to put the burden on her parents, doesn't want to hurt them. She also doesn't want them to jump into things and force choices on her. She wants to make decisions herself, from her own perspective. Also, at one point she reflects that if anyone at the firm knew what a mess her home life was, they'd have less respect for her. That need to keep one side her life a secret forces her to compartmentalize, to focus on one thing at a time and force the other problems away until their turn comes along. Which means in a way that she lives in the moment. Remember? She picks her battles. 
How did I deal with this emotional situation? Well, I do tend to compartmentalize. And I’ve left those years behind. I'm now married to a wonderful man, my oldest, best friend. (Sound familiar?) 
Prayers in italics: I generally like to distinguish the character's 'specific' thoughts (as opposed to general reflection) and one way to do that it to use italics. Amalise's faith is so personal to her that often her specific thoughts are informal dialogue with her Abba, which sometimes also take the form of prayer. As to Amalise's mother's prayers, my original thought was to put all of Mama's those in italics but the publisher thought that was too much. 
Why did I set the story in 1974/75? R, this is for you, too. As I mentioned above, one reason was to show the changes in women’s' lives from the time of my grandmother, and also because that was about the time I was in law school. But in addition, I thought it would be fun to strip away the years and show readers what New Orleans circa 1970's was like. The city was smaller, much like a small town. And much less self-aware. There was less glitz then. Physically, also, it was different, particularly in the areas visitors see around the French Quarter. 
C - Regarding the 'observer'. The philosopher Descartes described the way we all watch ourselves internally. Have you ever found yourself doing that—a sort of running internal commentary on your actions or decisions or what's going on around you? (Giving yourself a mental high-five, for example?) With me, sometimes that inner voice is my conscience. Other times thoughts pop into my head from nowhere, it seems. And sometimes I think maybe it's God's way of communicating with us—the counselor, or Holy Spirit. The observer is that little voice inside that monitors what we're thinking and doing, and sometimes lifts the veil so that we can see more clearly. 
Yes, as I mentioned above, I have been involved in such a manipulative relationship and it took a long time for me to understand what had happened. Again, R, this answer is for you, too. I think something new is happening in relationships between men and women as a result of that double bind I mentioned earlier, and it's due to our nurturing, maternal instincts, and it's this. Many women today are able to leave a relationship like this. Many are financially independent. Many are strong, self-confident, and educated. So the real question here is why don't women like Amalise caught in predatory, abusive relationships like this leave? Dancing on Glass is not autobiographical, but some of the events are taken from my personal experience, and some of it comes from observing others, and some from extensive reading and research. Television, magazines, newspapers are all full of these stories. In the U.S. Elizabeth Edwards, deceased wife of presidential candidate John Edwards comes to mind. Reporters everywhere asked “Why did she stand by her man?” Dancing on Glass is my attempt to answer that question in a modern way. I hope that readers will find something new in the way they analyze and understand these relationships after reading the book. 
As I said above, writing this story was definitely sometimes stressful. It's also sometimes frustrating to read, I know, because as a reader, you had a bird's eye view and wanted to warn her. As the writer, I wanted to do the same, but there’d have been no story if (1) I'd wised her up and she’d walked away from Phillip at the first warning sign, or (2) if you, the reader, weren’t alert to the possibilities and consequences of her flawed choices as you read along.    
But, at the end? Hmm… if I were Amalise, I don't know if I'd have handed Phillip the branch. (How about you?)  
J – I was at a dinner party one night and a woman at our table talked about her grandmother, named Amalise. Her grandmother was from Louisiana, of French and Creole origin. I thought the name was beautiful and conscripted it! Amalise’s last name, Catoir, was the name of a wonderful friend of mine who passed away recently of an aggressive cancer at the age of 30. Anna Marie Catoir gave me consent to use her last name. She was a little flash of sunshine and readers might think this is strange, given the nature of this story, but I think of Amalise that way, as optimistic, faithful, trusting. As to the use of the name Ama in the prologue being confusing, I hadn't thought of that before. But I can see how that might be so.  
When is enough, enough? I find that out in rewrites and have to try to discipline myself. As a writer I want to create a world for my readers, though, so there is a fine line to draw. Editors also help with that. They're ruthless with that red pen! 
I can't speak for other publishers, but B&H Publishing Group hasn't set out any censorship rules for me. They are looking for a story that clearly differentiates between good and evil, however, and more specifically that has a Christian view of what that means. I've also found that they've been willing to listen when I'm making a point in a way that might be viewed as traditionally somewhat edgy, so long as that differentiation comes out in the actions of the characters and their inner reflection.  In Dancing on Glass, Amalise makes some bad choices, but her faith is steadfast. God is always there to pick her up. To give her another chance. To guide her one way or another to the right path. And to help her when she suffers those consequences. My own view is that this is the nature of God's grace, and this is one of the points of the book. No matter what, you are never alone. Remember the parable of the 99 sheep safe in the fold, and the question—which one of you would not leave them to go find the one that is lost. 
I do think these views differ among publishers, however. But I've been with B&H since I began writing with my first book, Faith on Trial, released in 1999, and so can't make a valid comparison with others. I think if you look at the books published by any house, you can get a pretty good view of how they view this question. 

J – How do you spot a person like Phillip? Very good question and you're correct that this is difficult because he can be charming, sociable—he's a chameleon. He creates a mirror for our own wants and needs. That's what makes him so frightening. These types of people are adept at appearing to function normally, indeed very successfully sometimes, in society. The point is that predators can be very difficult to spot. 
Phillip Sharp is based primarily on a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder in an out-of-control situation where no recognition or help is involved. In the note to readers in the back I recommended a book titled “I Hate You—Don't Leave Me” for those who want to learn more. (Kind of says it all, doesn't it?) The beginning of Amalise and Phillip's relationship was quite intense...too intense, it moved too quickly and that's one warning sign. Emotional blackmail is another. My hope, and prayer, is that readers come to a new understanding of relationships like this and overcome the desire for secrecy to seek help. This is not the usual analysis of abusive relationships—this is not the Burning Bed. (Remember that movie?) In a relationship like this between Phillip and Amalise, it's futile to think you can fix the problem on your own. For readers involved in such relationships, understanding what's happening and that you are not the only one caught like this is critical. Please seek help. 

R – How did I research Phillip’s insidious psychological effect on Amalise? As I mentioned above, some of my knowledge comes from personal experience. I also worked with several psychiatrists who specialize in this personality disorder to help me understand. And lots of reading to fill in the blanks. 

T – Yes The Moon in the Mango Tree is very different from Dancing on Glass, but I had no trouble with the transition. Basically they are alike in this way: they both deal with women who are faced with difficult choices that many of us must make during a lifetime. They’re both (in a general way) optimistic about life. In the case of my grandmother in Mango Tree, she was on a faith journey. In the case of Amalise, her faith was well grounded, and even when she took the wrong path, she blamed herself, not God. So faith plays a large part in both books. In Mango Tree it’s more subtle.  
But you’re right, they’re also very different. This drives my publisher crazy since readers come to expect certain consistencies among the books of a writer they like. Secret of the Shroud is different, too.  Dancing on Glass is the first time I’ve written a series, using the same characters and location and extending the story through three books. Chasing the Wind, the sequel to Dancing, will be released next year, August 1, 2012. But even though it continues the saga of Amalise and Jude, it’s still a very different story. (I just get carried away, I guess.) 

T - you asked if I needed to take breaks from writing a character such as Phillip. Yes, yes, and yes!  
How did writing this story impact me personally, and my faith? As I mentioned above, it was very personal to me. Perhaps the book was a catharsis of sorts, a way of understanding. But the character of Phillip didn’t stick around afterwards. As you may know, by the time Dancing on Glass was released, I’d written and turned in the second book, the sequel, which was a lot of fun to write. So, in a way, Phillip is truly gone. 

As to faith—one of the wonderful things about Christianity is God’s grace. Knowing that He understands our weaknesses and flaws, and will forgive and help us up each time we fall, no matter how many times that happens He is always there: That is the gift of faith. 

My favorite way to de-stress is to read. I have a great office where I write, upstairs overlooking a small lake that flows into a beautiful swamp. (In fact that swamp and the great white herons were my muses for the last few scenes in Dancing!) But I have to get away to relax. So I go down the street to a local coffee shop that has a pretty covered patio and I sit out there and read for a while. It’s my ‘time-out’. I also exercise on the treadmill every day, but I read while I’m doing that too.  

A writer’s life is almost the inverse of a lawyers’ life, and I love each one. I feel so blessed to have been given the chance to have two absolutely wonderful careers. During my 25 years as a lawyer I learned so much and met so many great people. I can truly say that I loved that time. Same with writing – I love the creative process itself. It’s like magic—you have a thought, or a question, and you noodle on it for a while. Then you begin researching the question to find out more about it. Finally you sit down (very important!). And begin writing, and then rewriting, rewriting, rewriting…shaping it into something that you hope will survive and get to readers. And best of all, getting to know readers like all of you!! 

Sounds like Pollyanna, I suppose. But I enjoy life. 

Re my bio: I live in Mandeville, Louisiana, which is exactly 23 miles north of New Orleans across Lake Ponchartrain, over the causeway. This area is locally referred to as the Northshore, and it’s in the Greater N.O. Metro Area. Lots of trees and rivers and lakes over here. About 10 degrees cooler. Things are slower, but we have a thriving literary community too. This is Walker Percy country. 
But I think of New Orleans as home. It’s a city that gets into your blood. My favorite part of the city…hmmm. Well, I have to choose two because I love them both, and have wonderful memories over the years in them. First: the French Quarter. I loved stripping away the years in Dancing, going back to the Quarter the way it was when I was a young mother raising my son. I’d take him on the streetcar down to Jackson Square and he’d chase the pigeons there. We’d stop at Café du Monde for beignets, and walk through the narrow streets. Spend the whole afternoon there. Some scenes in Chasing the Wind (next summer) come from many of those memories. Also, there’s such an eclectic literary community in the Quarter. For instance some friends of mine life on Pirate’s Alley in the heart of the French Quarter in a house that William Faulkner owned and wrote in.  
Tulane: stock.xchng
Second: The university area around Tulane and Loyola Universities. I attended Tulane, undergraduate and 1st year of law school. It’s a beautiful campus, filled with live oak trees and spreading grass. Lots to love there. And Audubon Park across St. Charles Avenue from the universities was practically my second home when I was younger. It’s just beautiful, a place in those days where you could bring a blanket to the lagoon and feed the ducks, or spend the afternoon playing croquet with friends, or just lazing around. It’s bordered by the Mississippi River. There are lots of good local restaurants around there, and lots of night-music--blues, jazz, funky music. You name it. 

N and R– My journey to writing comes from my journey to faith, so I think your questions are answered above.  

Thanks for the wonderful questions—very thoughtful and perceptive, all. Keep in touch! And don’t forget, Jude and Amalise live on in Chasing the Wind, out next August!  Big hugs - Pamela  

Just wonderful, Pamela ~ thanks so very much for sharing in this way with us :)

Relz Reviewz Extras
Character spotlight on Amalise & Jude
View the trailer
Read Tracy's review of The Moon and the Mango Tree
Interview with Pamela
Visit Pamela's website

Buy Pamela's books at Amazon or Koorong

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Character Spotlight ~ Patti Lacy's Kai Chang & Gloria Powell

Character Spotlight ~
Kai & Gloria 

Patti Lacy has written a deeply personal story in Reclaiming Lily ~ enjoy meeting Kai & Gloria.

Over to you, Patti:~

Brief physical description
Kai Chang, M.D.—a petite yet sturdy woman with a strongly sculpted face and straight black hair styled in a chic yet professional way. Kai’s luminous dark eyes have experienced suffering and unbelievable sorrow for one only thirty-five. Actress Sylvia Chang nails my mind’s-eye image of Kai.

Gloria Powell—a tall, thin woman who carries herself with an air of fragility tinged with insecurity. Gloria has the pale skin and blue eyes of Mia Farrow. You can see Bethany House’s vision of Gloria on the cover of Reclaiming Lily!

Strengths and weaknesses

Kai Chang—a compassionate, intelligent woman who burned kerosene oil by the liters to ace the tests she needed to gain entrance to the ivy-covered gates of Harvard and its med school. Driven to conquer the deadly polycystic kidney disease lurking in Chang genes, Kai passes her medical boards and is licensed as a renal specialist. Despite her successful career, her attentive boyfriend, her American citizenship, Kai cannot escape the iron grip of fate and guilt that has hounded her ever since she left her youngest sister on orphanage steps. Kai must reclaim Lily and get her tested for PKD…no matter what.

Gloria Powell—Gloria has battled insecurity ever since her father’s lurid affair and the ensuing divorce of her parents. Then Andrew Powell, a fellow Baylor University student, gives Gloria all she ever wanted when he gets on one knee right in the campus quad and asks for her hand in marriage. Ecstatic in married student housing, the two plan for a family as Gloria majors in education. Soon she has a classroom full of children…but none of her own. China flings open its orphanage doors, and the Powells find Joy, the child of their heart. Then teenaged angst whirls into their family, as do shoplifting charges, Goth clothes…and a supposed Chinese sister bringing ominous news. Can Gloria’s faith and psyche withstand yet another barrage?


Gloria digs at her palms when nervous.

Inspiration for character

Kai Chang—a real-life doctor who acted, with her brave sisters, to save their family during China’s Cultural Revolution.

Gloria Powell—those pastors’ wives who must wear so many crowns as they serve the Lord, their family, and their husband’s congregation.

Background to the story

Because both of my brothers are adopted, I’ve always been fascinated with the questions that swirl around that process. Where’s that other family? Why did they place one of God’s greatest gifts into the arms of other folks? As the daughter of missionary/teachers to China, I was drawn into the “Lost Girls of China” phenomena that has gained worldwide attention since the doors of China's orphanages have been flung open. My seed of my character Lily/Joy germinated by a combination of those two interests.

Then in 2009, my mother contacted a Dr. Chang for a medical procedure...and discovered a "God" connection since my mother had taught English as a missionary in Kai's city years before. After the procedure, my mother awoke from anesthesia to find Dr. Kai in tears, saying, "You have cancer. But you will become my American mother, and I will help you through this."

Soon Dr. Kai became a part of my family as well...and shared the story of how she and her sisters saved her parents following their return from a Cultural Revolution era prison. I now had the multicultural and historical links that I love to include in stories.

A friend's battle with PKD (polycystic kidney disease) provided the Jodi-Piccoult-like crisis that gave me enough material to write a story. Reclaiming Lily was born!

My adoption information is taken directly from the files and life of a friend who shared her daughter's journey to China. I also read over 20 books (most of which sag my shelf) about China, its history, its people, with a focus on its lost daughters, including The Waiting Child by Cindy Champnella.

Thanks so much for sharing this, Patti ~ so looking forward to reading the story :)

Relz Reviewz Extras
Character spotlight on Sally Stevens (What the Bayou Saw)
Character spotlight on Mary Freeman (An Irishwoman's Tale)
Visit Patti's
website & blog
Buy Patti's books at Amazon or Koorong

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Coming in mid 2012 from Revell

As promised, I'm back with May to August releases from Revell and would love your thoughts on these novels.

I always enjoy Kathleen and Lorna's (cover to come) books and while I'm looking forward to Irene's story the cover model looks nothing like I imagine Cole Taylor!  I love the simplicity of Eva's cover and the pink high heels on Janice's :)

Any favourites for you?

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning by Olivia Newport

Lucy Banning may live on the exclusive Prairie Avenue among Chicago's rich and famous, but her heart lies elsewhere. Expected to marry an up-and-coming banker from a respected family, Lucy fears she will be forced to abandon her charity work--and the classes she is secretly taking at the newly opened University of Chicago. When she meets an unconventional young architect who is working on plans for the upcoming 1893 World's Fair, Lucy imagines a life lived on her own terms. Can she break away from her family's expectations? And will she ever be loved for who she truly is?

Readers will love being swept away into a world of mansions, secrets, and romance as they follow Lucy through the streets of the Windy City during one of the most exciting times in the city's history. From opulent upper-class homes to the well-worn rooms of an orphanage, Olivia Newport breathes life and romance into the pages of history--and everyone is invited.

May, 2012

The Ride of her Life by Lorna Seilstad

The only man pragmatic Lilly Hart needs in her life is a six year old. Widowed two years ago, Lilly leaves the shelter of her intrusive in-laws' home to stand on her own and provide for her young son by working for the summer as a cook at Lake Manawa. However, her in-laws find that life utterly unsuitable for their grandson, and when a row ensues, a handsome stranger--who designs roller coasters, of all things--intercedes on her behalf. Still, Lilly is not about to get involved with any man, especially this cocky (though charismatic) gentleman. Little does she know she is about to begin the ride of her life.

Filled with delightful characters and the romance of summer, The Ride of Her Life is another supremely entertaining story from the witty Lorna Seilstad. Readers will laugh out loud and sigh contentedly as they spend the summer of 1906 in Lake Manawa.

May, 2012

A Love Forbidden by Kathleen Morgan

Moved by the desire for adventure and a yearning to help the Ute Indians, twenty-year-old Shiloh Wainright impulsively accepts a teaching position at the White River Indian Agency in northwestern Colorado. The new job, however, isn't what she imagined it would be, and Shiloh soon finds herself caught in the cross fire between the Utes, their unyielding Indian Agent, and the unrealistic demands of the US government. Her unexpected encounter with Jesse Blackwater, an embittered half-breed Ute and childhood friend, only complicates matters as they battle their growing feelings for each other amidst the spiraling tensions threatening to explode into a catastrophic Indian uprising.

Set amongst the wilds of the Colorado Rockies in 1879, this is a tale of a forbidden love and a faith tested in the cauldron of intolerance and the harsh realities of life on the untamed frontier. Bestselling author Kathleen Morgan deftly explores themes of mercy, fidelity to one's beliefs despite what others think or do, and compassion for those different from oneself as she plumbs the depths of the human heart and the healing power of God's love.

May, 2012

Waiting for Sunrise by Eva Marie Everson

Life sometimes gets the best of us. For some it's the daily pressures, for others it's the shadows of the past. For Patsy Milstrap, it's both. When she travels to beautiful Cedar Key on Florida's Gulf Coast in search of healing, she never dreams her past will be waiting for her there.

With a large helping of Southern charm, Waiting for Sunrise is a touching story of family, young love, and the need for forgiveness. Author Eva Marie Everson expertly draws out the bittersweet moments of life, weaving them into a tale that envelops the soul.

June, 2012

Mary Magdalene by Diana Wallis Taylor

Long maligned as a prostitute or a woman of questionable reputation, Mary Magdalene's murky story seems lost to the sands of time. Now a portrait of this enigmatic woman comes to life in the hands of an imaginative master storyteller. Diana Wallis Taylor's Mary is a woman devastated by circumstances beyond her control and plagued with terrifying dreams--until she has a life-changing confrontation with the Savior.

Lovers of historical and biblical fiction will find this creative telling of Mary's story utterly original and respectful as it opens their eyes to the redeeming work of Christ in the lives of those who follow him.

June, 2012

The Director's Cut by Janice Thompson

Tia Morales is used to calling the shots. She's the director of the popular sitcom Stars Collide, and her life on set is calculated and orderly. Well, most of the time. But her life outside the studio is another matter. If only she could get her family to behave as well as her stars do! When she starts butting heads with handsome camera operator Jason Harris, it's enough to send a girl over the edge. Will she ever learn to let go and take life--and love--as it comes?

Full of the humor and crazy family dynamics Janice Thompson fans have come to love, this colorful story gives readers an inside look at Hollywood and a healthy dose of romance.

June, 2012

Joy Takes Flight by Bonnie Leon

Kate Evans and Paul Anderson are finally married, settling in, and starting a family. They rejoice when Kate finds she is pregnant, but soon it is clear that there are hurdles ahead. Should she continue in her dangerous profession as an Alaskan bush pilot? Can she really fall into the role of a wife? Then tragedy strikes, life begins to unravel, and Kate fears she may have lost Paul for good.

Chock-full of high-flying adventure, romance, and the drama of life, Joy Takes Flight is the exciting conclusion to Bonnie Leon's Alaskan Skies series.

July, 2012

The Gifted by Ann Gabhart

By 1849, Jessamine Brady has been in the Shaker Village for half her life, but in spite of how she loves her sisters there, she struggles to conform to the strict rules. Instead she entertains dreams of the world outside. When Tristan Cooper seems to step out of those dreams to entice her into the forbidden realm beyond the Shaker Village, her life turns upside down. Will Jessamine be able to survive the storms of the world? Or will she retreat back to the peace of Harmony Hill?

The thousands of loyal fans of Gabhart's Shaker novels will love this entrancing story of learning to trust the gifts God gives us and let him guide us through life.

July, 2012

Lethal Legacy by Irene Hannon

The police say her father's death was suicide. But Kelly Warren says it was murder--and she has new evidence that she believes proves it. Detective Cole Taylor doesn't put much credence in her claim, and nothing in his case review suggests foul play. But when Kelly ends up in the emergency room with a suspicious life-threatening medical condition, the incident strikes him as more than just coincidence. Digging deeper, he discovers she's linked to a long-ago crime. Is history repeating itself? And who wants Kelly silenced?

With her trademark high-intensity action and taut suspense, Irene Hannon closes out her Guardians of Justice series with a story of old grudges and budding romance that is sure to increase her substantial fan base.

August, 2012

The Haven by Suzanne Woods Fisher

When Sadie Lapp steps off the bus in Stoney Ridge after being in Ohio for the winter, she is faced with a decision--one that goes against her very essence. Yet it's the only way she can think of to protect a loved one.

Schoolteacher Gideon Smucker has been crazy about Sadie since boyhood. But his response to her surprising decision undermines his own reputation--and his relationship with Sadie.

College student Will Stoltz is spending the spring at the Lapp farm as a guard for a pair of nesting Peregrine Falcons--courtesy of the Lancaster County Game Warden. Will needs to get his life back on track, but his growing friendship with Sadie threatens his plans.

The lives of these three individuals intertwine, and then unravel as unexpected twists create ripples through the town of Stoney Ridge . . . and through Sadie's heart.

August, 2012

Dying to Read by Lorena McCourtney

Cate Kincaid is just dipping her toe into the world of private investigating until one of the many résumés she has floating around lands her a real job. All she has to do is determine that a particular woman lives at a particular address. Simple, right? When the big and brooding house happens to contain a dead body, this routine PI job turns out to be anything but simple. Is Cate in over her head?

Readers will be hooked from the very first chapter of this fast-paced and witty romantic mystery from bestselling and award-winning author Lorena McCourtney.

August, 2012

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Coming in mid 2012 from Bethany House sharing new books with you and Bethany House always has a lot to offer and the range below which will be hitting shelves mid 2012 are looking great, don't you think?

Let's talk!  First covers ~ I love Ann's sepia coloured cover and J. Mark Bertrand's, themed with his others in the series.  As far as the historicals go, more of the same although I quite like Tracie & Judith's with the couple in the background - they remind me of Gilbert and Anne!  Mary's just don't appeal to me but her writing is fun so it won't put me off reading it.

I love discovering new authors so keen to read Dani, Becky and Todd's books (I never go past a great legal thriller!) and I'm delighted Don has brought back Jack Hawthorne.  I'm tipping Ann, Karen W and Mark's will be fantastic and I can assure you Karen Hancock's Arena is a brilliant read as I have it in its original form.

All in all, I'm excited about these offerings ~ what do you think?

NB. Some of the title links to Amazon aren't working yet but they should be soon.  I'll be back tomorrow with Revell's releases so be sure to drop back.

Jane Morrow has a dilemma. She's engaged to Seth Ballantine, a member of the National Guard's 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, and he's returned from Iraq severely wounded. Jane hasn't seen him for nearly a year, and with trepidation, she heads to the VA hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, where he is being treated.

Seth isn't happy to see her. He'd asked her not to come. He wants to end the relationship. But Jane loves him, and despite his injury, she's determined to convince him that they can have a life together. Her faith has never been strong, yet she hopes God will answer her prayers and tell her what to do.

Beautifully written, Travelers Rest takes readers on a journey through pain and tragedy to a place of hope and redemption. 

May, 2012

Bailey Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey again. She has a past, and a reputation--and Yancey's a small town. She's returned to bury a loved one killed in the plane crash and is determined not to stay even an hour more than necessary. But then dark evidence emerges and Bailey's own expertise becomes invaluable for the case.

Cole McKenna can handle the deep-sea dives and helping the police recover evidence. He can even handle the fact that a murderer has settled in his town and doesn't appear to be moving on. But dealing with the reality of Bailey's reappearance is a tougher challenge. 

She broke his heart, but she is not the same girl who left Yancey. He let her down, but he's not the same guy she left behind. Can they move beyond the hurts of their pasts and find a future together? 

May, 2012

Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When her grandmother asks Kate to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance, takes a leave of absence from her job as a social worker, and the two of them set off.

Upon her arrival in Redbud, Kate meets Matt Jarreau, the man her grandmother has hired to renovate the house. From the first moment she meets Matt, Kate can't help but be attracted to him--he's got a combination of good looks and charisma that draw and tug at her.

But she knows there's zero chance of a romance between them. Matt's in love with his dead wife, and even if he weren't, Kate realizes that she's way too ordinary for him. For Matt Jarreau is no ordinary guy. Kate discovers that he was once a great NHL hockey player who left the sport when his wife--an honest-to-goodness former Miss America--was diagnosed with brain cancer. Matt's been hiding from people, from God, and from his past ever since. Yet Kate is absolutely determined to befriend him, to try to reach him, to help him in some small way.

No, Kate's not looking for love. She knows better than that by now. But when the stilted, uncomfortable interactions between Kate and Matt slowly shift into something more, is God finally answering the longing of her heart? Or will Kate be required to give up more than she
ever dreamed?

May, 2012

When Laura Marquardt first meets Brandon Reid, their encounter is anything but pleasant. But when the two are seated together at a dinner party, they soon find that they share similar interests--Laura desires to educate blacks, and Brandon, as a white officer over colored troops, eagerly supports her cause.

When Laura's sister, Carissa, marries her Confederate beau, Laura finds herself in a difficult situation when she overhears plots to kill Union soldiers. Though in her heart she feels she should share this information with Brandon, Laura fears she will betray her sister's trust and possibly endanger her sister's life. And when Brandon's motives for pursuing her come into question, her heart is even more conflicted. Where is God leading her?

June, 2012

No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.

Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short-straw bride?

June, 2012

When costume-maker Ellie Moore suddenly finds herself out of a job in the middle of a bleak Chicago winter, she uses her knowledge of theatrical disguise to secure a position as an undercover operative with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Her assignment: find the culprit behind the theft of silver shipped from the mines near Pickford, Arizona.

Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie begins her investigation. Soon she finds she must also pose as the dazzling young Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk. 
Mine owner Steven Pierce is about to lose his business after the theft of several bullion shipments--until hope arrives in the unlikely form of Lavinia Stewart, who offers to invest in Steven's mine. In his wildest dreams, Steven never expected to be rescued by an inquisitive gray-haired widow... or to fall head over heels for Lavinia's captivating niece, Jessie.

But then the thieves come after both Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn't safe no matter which character she plays! Will she be forced to reveal her true identity before the criminals are caught? What will Steven do when he discovers the woman he loves doesn't exist?

June, 2012

Amy Knackstedt moves with her children to Weaverly, Kansas, to escape the speculation surrounding her husband's untimely death. She hopes the new location will provide a fresh start for them all. But her neighbor, Tim Roper, is not pleased to have a Mennonite family living next to his apple orchard. When the children try to befriend him, he resists.

Tim left the Mennonite faith years ago and doesn't want any reminders of his former life. Yet Amy and Tim find their paths colliding far more than either could have foreseen. Will this tentative relationship blossom into something more?

July, 2012

Just three years after the recovery of Elisha's bones, Dr. Jack Hawthorne has given up teaching and resumed the practice of archaeology, although his frequent absences have put a strain on his relationship with Esperanza. Things heat up when Esperanza receives a call from an antiquities dealer with troubling news about Jack, and her fears are confirmed. Jack has gone to Libya in search of another biblical artifact: the Nehushtan, the serpent staff of Moses.

After Jack arrives in Libya, he soon discovers he isn't the only one searching for the Nehushtan. Later, in attempting to steal it, he finds himself in the hands of a man who just might be his match. Jack and his friends must stay one step ahead of the Libyan government, an overambitious member of the Vatican hierarchy, and an Egyptian assassin--if they stand any chance of staying alive long enough to recover the staff.

July, 2012

Marc Royce stares down from the helicopter on the Rift Valley slashing across Africa like a scar. Tribal feuds, drought, and dislocation have left their devastation. And he sees a new wound--a once-dormant volcano oozing molten lava across the dry landscape-and clouds of ash obscure his vision. His undercover assignment is similarly obscured. Supposedly dispatched to audit a relief organization's accounts, Marc finds himself amid the squalor and chaos of Kenyan refugee camps caught in a stranglehold of corruption and ruthlessness.

But his true task relates to the area's reserves of once-obscure metals now indispensible to high-tech industry. The value of this rare earth inflames tensions on the world's stage as well as among warring tribes. When an Israeli medical administrator, Kitra, seeks Marc's help with her humanitarian efforts, they forge an unexpected link between impoverished African villages and another Silicon Valley rising in the Israeli desert. Precious metals and inventive minds promise new opportunities for prosperity, secure futures, and protection of valuable commodities from terrorists. As Marc prepares to report back to Washington, he seizes a chance to restore justice to this troubled land. This time, he may have gone too far.

July, 2012

Publishers Weekly calls J. Mark Bertrand's writing "gritty and chilling." He returns once more to the streets of Houston for another twisting mystery featuring Detective Roland March. This time, a new case is launched by the discovery of a headless corpse... only the investigation quickly becomes complicated when a blood sample analysis brings a phone call from the FBI.

The body was an undercover agent working to bring down Mexican drug cartels. The feds want the case closed rather than risk exposing other agents in the field, but March can't abide letting a murder go unsolved. And he doesn't have to dig long to figure out something isn't right. Someone is covering something up, and it seems that everyone has something to hide. Maybe even March, as the case soon intersects, unexpectedly, with the murder that led him to become a homicide cop, all those years ago. 

July, 2012

Lizzie Engel is used to running away. At eighteen, she left her Mennonite hometown, her family, and her faith with plans never to return. Five years later, Lizzie finds she'll have to run again. False accusations at her job, a stalker, and a string of anonymous threatening letters have left her with no other options. This time, however, her escape is back to Kingdom, her hometown.

As Lizzie becomes reacquainted with Kingdom, she realizes she may not have left her Mennonite roots and her faith as firmly in the past as she thought. She draws on the support of Noah Housler, an old friend, as she hides out and attempts to plan her next steps. When it becomes painfully clear that the danger has followed Lizzie to Kingdom, suspicions and tensions run high, and she no longer knows who to trust. With her life and the lives of those she loves at risk, Lizzie will have to run one last time--to a Father whose love is inescapable.

July, 2012

The Deposit Slip by Todd M. Johnson

When Jared Neaton grew tired of the shady ethics of his big law firm and left to go out on his own, he never expected the wheels to fly off so quickly. One big case collapsing on him has pushed him to the brink and it's all he can do to scrape by. He can't risk another bad loss.

Erin Larson is running out of options. In the wake of her father's death, she found a slim piece of paper--a deposit slip--with an unbelievable amount on it. Ten million dollars. Only the bank claims it has no record of the deposit and stonewalls her attempts to find out more. This lawsuit, her last chance, has brought only intimidation and threats. Now she needs to convince Jared to take a risk, to help her because the money is real. And both need to watch their backs as digging deeper unleashes something far more dangerous than just threats.

July, 2012

Arena by Karen Hancock (repackaged)

Callie Hayes is living a life of fear and disillusionment when she is dropped into a terrifying world where a battle rages between good and evil. With limited resources and only a few cryptic words to guide her, Callie embarks on a life-changing journey.

Award-winning author Karen Hancock mesmerizes readers with vivid imagery as her compelling characters navigate the devious terrain of an alien world.
July, 2012
Almost Amish by Kathryn Cushman
Julie Charlton is at the breaking point. She's overwhelmed and burned out, and in today's unrelenting society, her kids are, too. When her sister-in-law Susan, a Martha Stewart-in-training, lands the chance to participate in a reality TV series promoting simple living, and needs another family to join her, it seems like the perfect opportunity.

The location is an idyllic farm outside an Amish community in Tennessee. Julie, with her two children, joins Susan and her teenage daughter for a summer adventure. Susan needs to succeed in order to become self-sufficient after an ugly divorce, Julie needs to slow down long enough to remember what her priorities are and regain a sense of purpose and meaning. It becomes clear from the start that "living simple" is no simple matter.

With the camera watching every move, Susan's drive for perfection feels a lot like what they left behind, while Julie suddenly finds herself needing to stand up for slowing down. With each new challenge, their season of "going Amish" gets more and more complicated, as each woman learns unexpected lessons about herself and her family.
July, 2012
After fleeing North Dakota and the now defunct Wild West Show, Cassie Lockwood and her companions have finally found the hidden valley in South Dakota where her father had dreamed of putting down roots. But to her dismay, she discovers a ranch already built on her land.
Cassie's arrival surprises Mavis Engstrom and forces her to reveal secrets she's kept hidden for years. Her son Ransom is suspicious of Cassie and questions the validity of her claim to the valley. But Lucas Engstrom decides from the start that he is in love with her and wants to marry her.

Will Cassie be able to build a home on the Bar E Ranch and fulfill her father's dream of raising horses, or will she be forced to return to the itinerant life of her past?
August, 2012
To Love and Cherish by Tracie Peterson & Judith Miller
When Melinda Colson's employer announces they'll be leaving Bridal Veil Island to return to their home in Cleveland, Melinda hopes her beau, Evan, will propose. But Evan isn't prepared to make an offer of marriage until he knows he can support a wife and family. Evan works as the assistant gamekeeper on Bridal Veil but hopes to be promoted soon.

Letters strengthen their love, but Melinda remains frustrated at being apart from the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with. Then she learns of a devastating hurricane in Bridal Veil and knows she must give up her position as a lady's maid and make her way back to Evan.

The destruction on Bridal Veil is extensive, meaning every available person is needed to help with cleanup and repairs. Melinda finds a new job on the island, but Evan seems even busier than before, meaning she still never gets to see him. Has she given her heart to the wrong man?

And when Melinda overhears a vicious plot against President McKinley, who is scheduled to visit the island, is Evan the one she should turn to? Will Melinda and Evan ever get the chance to stand at the front of a church and promise "to love and cherish"?

August, 2012

Over the Edge by Mary Connealy

Seth Kincaid survived a fire in a cave, but he's never been the same. He was always a reckless youth, but now he's gone over the edge. He ran off to the Civil War and came back crazier than ever.

After the war, nearly dead from his injuries, it appears Seth got married. Oh, he's got a lot of excuses, but his wife isn't happy to find out Seth doesn't remember her. Callie has searched, prayed, and worried. Now she's come to the Kincaid family's ranch in Colorado to find her lost husband.
Callie isn't a long-suffering woman. Once she knows her husband is alive, she wants to kill him. She's not even close to forgiving him for abandoning her.

Then more trouble shows up in the form of a secret Seth's pa kept for years. The Kincaid brothers might lose their ranch if they can't sort things out. It's enough to drive a man insane--but somehow it's all making Seth see things more clearly. And now that he knows what he wants, no one better stand in his way.

August, 2012

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