Monday, 31 August 2009

Character spotlight ~ Janice Hanna's Belinda Bauer & Georg Kaufman

Today the spotlight shines on............................Belinda Bauer & Georg Kaufman

Janice Hanna, who also writes as Janice Thompson, is an author for all tastes! Writing contemporary and historical fiction, always flavoured with humour, her books are enjoyable and entertaining.

Enjoy this look into her characters from Love Finds You in Poetry, Texas.

Over to you , Janice:~

Brief physical description

Belinda Bauer is tall blonde with a nice figure. She doesn’t see herself a beautiful, but others do.

Think Drew Barrymore

Georg Kaufman is tall with dark wavy hair and a dark mustache. Because he’s the town barber, he keeps himself very tidy/well-groomed.

Think Zachary Quinto.

Strengths and weaknesses

Belinda sometimes gets ahead of the Lord. She’s got her heart set on bringing brides to the town of Poetry and tries to pair up the incoming ladies with the town’s men, but she often gets it wrong!

Georg’s most obvious weakness would be that he can’t see what’s right in front of him. He works on one side of the street, Belinda on the other. He needs to “cross the Jordan” to get to the Promised Land. And he needs to be courageous enough to tell her that he’s not looking to be matched up with a potential/incoming bride because he’s already in love. . .with her!

Quirk (if any)

Belinda is the best arm wrestler in the county

Georg is a poet (but doesn’t know it)!

Your inspiration for the character/s.

I’d always wanted to write a bumbling matchmaker story, so coming up with Belinda’s character just came naturally. I saw her as someone with a great heart and pure motives, but someone who (often) jumped out ahead of the Lord!

As for Georg, I needed a leading man who was a little on the “shy” side. Georg, the town barber, just fit the bill. One of the things that inspired me with both of these characters was a trip I took to a small town called Wimberly, Texas. While there, I went to visit a little “ghost-town” (think Universal Studios). The photos from that visit were the inspiration for the town, which (in turn) inspired me to craft the perfect characters!

To see the photos, visit my book trailer:

Background to the story

The way this story came to be written is actually kind of funny/quirky. I was in a terrible accident in 2007 (shattered my ankle, which required two surgeries and lots of metal plates/screws)! While recovering I had a lot of free time on my hands. (I couldn’t really go anywhere, so I had plenty of time to write!) At that time, I put together the proposal for this story (originally titled Mis-Matchmaker), which I submitted to another publisher. I was sure they would pick it up, and when they did not, I was devastated!

Shortly thereafter, I was put in touch with Rachel Meisel, editor at Summerside, (which was a brand new line at that time). When I saw that she was looking for a story set in Poetry, Texas, I replied, “Oh! I have a story that will work for that town!” I pulled out my Mis-Matchmaker proposal and dusted it off, tweaking the story to work with the poetic theme. And because I’m a native Texan, setting it so near my home was icing on the cake! Rachel loved the story idea. . .and the rest is history!

Great background to the story, Janice - thanks for sharing :)

On Thursday, I will be spotlighting Maureen Lang's Juliette Toussaint and Charles Lassone from Look to the East. You will get to see some pictures from Maureen's research trip to France.

Relz Reviewz Extras

Visit Janice's website

Character spotlight on Janice's Bella & DJ from Fools Rush In

Visit Summerside Press' Love Finds You website

Buy Janice's books at Amazon or Koorong

Friday, 28 August 2009

Friendship Friday ~ What do you value in your close friendships with women?

This is my final Friendship Friday post for now :(

I hope you have enjoyed the insights of the women who have shared over the past months about their friendships ~ my thanks to each and every one.

A new series of posts are coming to Fridays from next week ~ they will be fun, informative and something you can use! I think you are going to love them!

For now, I can't think of a more lovely woman to end my Friendship Friday posts with than the talented Rachel Hauck!

Rachel Hauck

In my college days, I was in a sorority. I loved the camaraderie we shared. I loved meeting in the kitchen at one a.m. to raid the fridge of left overs. I loved how much we laughed. To this day, it's one of the things I love most about my friends. I value honesty and acceptance in friendships. I don't do well with women who want to change me. I love engaging conversation and insight on life.

On Tuesday nights, I participate in a ministry which takes place in a coffee shop. There are five of us, all women. We've had long conversations about life and love sitting around the table. What I value from these women in their insight about God and life, and ability to listen. And yes, we laugh.

Sweet Caroline ~ Love Starts With Elle ~ The Sweet By and By (Dec, 2009)

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Character spotlight ~ Laura Frantz's Lael Click

Today the spotlight shines on...............................Lael Click

Laura Frantz has made a stellar debut with her first historical romance, The Frontiersman's Daughter. Lael Click is a character that will stay with you for a long time, as will the three men whose lives are changed by this unique woman.

Enjoy finding out a little more about Lael! Over to you, Laura:~

Brief physical description

Lael Click is known for her unusual height and the fair hair that falls to her feet. Her eyes, the vivid green of spring, are sometimes obscured by her spectacles. Full-figured, she longs to be small and dainty but alas, she is not.

She resembles Sissy Spacek in her younger days - feminine yet with a decided spark and stubbornness. (or a pic you have or a drawing/painting - no need to be a known person!)

Strengths and weaknesses

High-spirited, she is often tempted into trouble with renegades and Indians. Shunning the dandies of colonial Virginia, she prefers manly men, and has a weakness for rugged yet refined Scotsmen who arrive unannounced in the Kentucky wilds. Independent yet loving, plain-spoken yet kind, Lael is a bit of a riddle to all who know her. She is good at keeping secrets, both her own and others, often to her detriment.

Gerard Butler as Ian

Quirk (if any)

None that I can think of but my next character, Morrow Little, in Courting Morrow Little, has plenty J.

Eric Schweig as Captain Jack

Your inspiration for the character

Since I was born and raised in Kentucky and have had family there since the late 18th-century, it's been a privilege to study the lives of pioneer women and the many, often unbelievable stories, of their lives. Lael is the embodiment of these wonderful women - their courage and fortitude, their beauty and grace despite the uncivilized conditions in which they lived.

Background to the story

The Frontiersman's Daughter is actually a composite of my Kentucky childhood and all the lore and legend I learned growing up, coupled with my own imaginings of what life must have been like for a famous frontiersman's daughter. Kentucky is a magical place with a magical history and I hope the book shares that with readers.

Aussie actor David Wenham as Simon

Thanks so much, Laura :) I am so looking forward to your future stories.

On Monday, the spotlight shines on Janice Hanna's Belinda Bauer & Georg Kaufman from Love Finds You in Poetry, Texas. Hope you join us!

Relz Reviewz Extras

Review of The Frontiersman's Daughter

Visit Laura's website and blog

Buy Laura's book at Amazon and Koorong

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Coming in 2010 from DiAnn Mills and Tyndale House

DiAnn Mills' first book in her Call of Duty series, Breach of Trust, is one of my favourite books of 2009, so I am highly anticipating the next in the series, Sworn to Protect.

Check it out:~

Sworn to Protect by DiAnn Mills

Danika Morales has sworn to protect our borders.
But that oath has come with a price.

Two years ago, her husband was shot and killed trying to help undocumented citizens—the very people Danika is responsible for deporting as a border patrol agent. His murder was never solved.

Now, a recent string of attacks and arrests leads Danika to believe her husband’s death wasn’t just a random act. It may be part of a larger conspiracy, and it appears that she’s the next target. When the Border Patrol discovers that one of their own is leaking top-secret information, Danika turns to the only person she can trust—a doctor at the local medical clinic. Together they search for answers before more innocent lives are destroyed.

Releasing April, 2010

CFBA Blog Tour of The Frontiersman's Daughter by Laura Frantz

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Frontiersman’s Daughter

Revell (September 1, 2009)


Laura Frantz


I was born and raised in Kentucky and my love of history goes deep - way back to the 18th-century when my family first came into the Bluegrass State. It will always be home to me, even though I now live with my husband, Randy, and my sons, Wyatt and Paul, in the misty woods of northwest Washington. I go back as often as I can to visit family and all the old haunts that I love.

I grew up playing on the original site of Fort Boonesborough and swimming in the Kentucky River and climbing the Pinnacle near Berea and watching the great outdoor dramas of the early settlers. Often my cousins and brother and I would play in my Granny's attic and dress up in the pioneer costumes she made us and pretend to be Daniel Boone, Rebecca, Jemima, or the Shawnee.

As I grew up I began to write stories and they were always historical, filled with the lore I had heard or read about. It's no accident that my first book (which is actually my fifth book - the others were practice!) is about those first Kentucky pioneers.

I feel blessed beyond measure to write books. My prayer is that you are doubly blessed reading them.

Note: Laura Frantz credits her 100-year-old grandmother as being the catalyst for her fascination with Kentucky history. Frantz's family followed Daniel Boone into Kentucky in 1792 and settled in Madison County where her family still resides. Frantz is a former schoolteacher and social worker who currently lives in the misty woods of Washington state with her husband and two sons, whom she homeschools.


Lovely but tough as nails, Lael Click is the daughter of a celebrated frontiersman. Haunted by her father's former captivity with the Shawnee Indians, as well as the secret sins of her family's past, Lael comes of age in the fragile Kentucky settlement her father founded.

Though she faces the loss of a childhood love, a dangerous family feud, and the affection of a Shawnee warrior, Lael draws strength from the rugged land she calls home, and from Ma Horn, a distant relative who shows her the healing ways of herbs and roots found in the hills.

But the arrival of an outlander doctor threatens her view of the world, God, and herself--and the power of grace and redemption. This epic novel gives readers a glimpse into the simple yet daring lives of the pioneers who first crossed the Appalachians, all through the courageous eyes of a determined young woman.

Laura Frantz's debut novel offers a feast for readers of historical fiction and romance lovers alike.

If you would like to read the first chapter of
The Frontiersman’s Daughter, go HERE

Really enjoyed this one! Check out my review, here.

Coming in April/May from Abingdon Press

I wonder if this post will create such an enthusiastic response from you as did yesterday's post of Abingdon's February/March releases!! You can check that post and the comments, here :)

With the releases below, Abingdon is pushing some boundaries and thinking outside the square - I really like that :) There is something about each one of these stories that appeal ~ how about you?

Need something else to look forward too in the New Year in addition to these interesting titles? I will be shining the spotlight on many of the characters from these books - it is going to be fun!


Wildflowers of Terezin by Robert Elmer

Wildflowers of Terezin is a sweeping historical novel set against a backdrop of danger. A Danish Lutheran pastor’s complacent faith is stretched to the breaking point during World War II when he meets a young Jewish nurse Hanne Abrahamsen and becomes deeply involved in Resistance efforts to save Denmark’s Jews from the Nazi prison camp at Terezin, Czechoslovakia—also known as Theresienstadt.

Challenged by his evangelical brother and swayed by his own attraction to Hanne, Pastor Steffen abandons his formerly quiet, uninvolved life and hesitantly volunteers to help smuggle Denmark’s Jews out of the country before a Nazi roundup. Steffen finds that helping his Jewish neighbors is the most decent, spiritual thing he has ever done. As he actually does God’s work, rather than just talking about it, Steffen’s faith deepens and he takes greater risks in his sermons.

When things go terribly wrong and Hanne is sent to Terezin, Steffen finds his heart fully engaged. He undertakes protests and rescues that are more and more dangerous, never imagining where it will lead him, or the ultimate cost of his decision to get directly involved.

Releasing April, 2010

Code Blue by Richard Mabry, MD

In the first book of the Prescription for Trouble series, “Code Blue” means more to Dr. Cathy Sewell than the cardiac emergency she has to face. It describes her mental state as she finds that coming back to her hometown hasn’t brought her the peace she so desperately needs. Instead, it’s clear that someone there wants her gone…or dead.

Cathy returns to her hometown seeking healing after a broken relationship, but discovers that among her friends and acquaintances is someone who wants her out of town…or dead. Lawyer Will Kennedy, her high school sweetheart, offers help, but does it carry a price tag? Is hospital chief of staff Dr. Marcus Bell really on her side in her fight to get hospital privileges? Is Will’s father, Pastor Matthew Kennedy, interested in advising her or just trying to get her back to the church she left years ago?

When one of Cathy’s prescriptions almost kills the town banker, it sets the stage for a malpractice suit that could end her time in town, if not her career. It’s soon clear that this return home was a prescription for trouble.

Releasing April, 2010

Highland Blessings by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Highland Blessings is the story of a highland warrior who kidnaps the daughter of his greatest enemy and clan chief to honor a promise he made to his dying father. Bryce MacPhearson, a highland warrior, kidnaps Akira MacKenzie on her wedding day to honor a promise he made to his dying father. While Akira’s strength in the Lord becomes a witness to Bryce, she struggles to overcome her anger and resentment when he forces her to wed him, hoping to end a half-century-old feud between their clans. While Akira begins to forgive, and Bryce learns to trust, a series of murders leaves a trail of unanswered questions, confusion, and a legacy of hate that once again rises between their families.

Clearly, a traitor is in their midst. Now the one man Akira loves no longer trusts her, and her own life is in danger. Can Bryce look beyond his pain and seek the truth? Will Akira discover the threat against her before it’s too late? How will God turn a simple promise into bountiful Highland blessings?

Releasing May, 2010

They Almost Always Come Home by Cynthia Ruchti

When Libby’s husband Greg fails to return from a two-week canoe trip to the Canadian wilderness, the authorities soon write off his disappearance as an unhappy husband’s escape from an empty marriage and unrewarding career. Their marriage might have survived if their daughter Lacey hadn’t died…and if Greg hadn’t been responsible.

Libby enlists the aid of her wilderness savvy father-in-law and her faith-walking best friend to help her search for clues to her husband’s disappearance…if for no other reason than to free her to move on.

What the trio discovers in the search upends Libby’s presumptions about her husband and rearranges her faith.

Releasing May, 2010

The Narrow Path by Gail Sattler

Miranda Klassen’s Mennonite church is big and modern and she loves the mixture of faith, action, and activity. But in order to follow her dream she moves across the country to a small town to organize the 25th anniversary celebration of an Old Order Mennonite church.

Ted Wiebe has been assigned to assist and guide Miranda, feeling good that his church has chosen another Mennonite. But except for sharing the same basic faith and denomination, their churches have nothing else in common. His church embraces old-style roots, so Ted expects to find someone similar at the airport: a woman who never wears pants, no body piercing (including pierced ears), no makeup, and wearing a head covering as a sign of modesty, someone else who lives in accordance with old-fashioned values. But the woman who acknowledges him is wearing unreasonably high and outlandishly expensive shoes, denim jeans, and makeup, including bright red lipstick. As she gets off the plane she’s fiddling with an iPod and yapping on the cell phone. When Miranda enters Ted’s church and community she feels like she’s been transported back into Little House On The Prairie.

Ted is supposed to help Miranda fit in, and Miranda is supposed to help his church reach out into the community. When it’s time to start planning and organizing for the celebration, then the fun really begins.

Releasing May, 2010

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Just Between You and Me by Jenny B Jones


Maggie lives life on the edge, seemingly unafraid of anything. But the image she so carefully constructed is coming undone.

Maggie's job as a videographer takes her around the world. She tells people's stories, especially those of impoverished children. That's when she feels most alive, like she's making the world better.

But when a secret from her past resurfaces, Maggie gets a call that sends her home. Her dad desperately needs her help. Her estranged sister has run off, leaving 8-year-old Riley in his care.She returns reluctantly, hoping to help her niece. There she reconnects with Cooper--a once awkward and shy, now handsome, veterinarian. Her feelings sky rocket when she's with him, but she's afraid if she shows him her true self, he'll reject her.

An honest, hilarious journey that will transform Maggie--if she just learns to trust more and fearless.

My take:~

Jenny B Jones has received the stellar accolades for her YA fiction so it was with high expectations that I delved into her debut foray into adult fiction. Just Between You and Me didn't just meet those expectations but blew them out of the water! Brilliantly written, charmingly witty and deeply emotive, this book is a treasure to be read many times over. Quite simply, Jenny has an innate ability to connect with her readers by drawing characters so natural and real, that you share in their awkwardness and insecurities and celebrate their joys. The romantic tension is perfect, the family dysfunction so genuine it is painful to read and the impact of mental frailty poignantly drawn. I adored Maggie and Connor, felt Ben and Riley's heartache and admired Beth and Mark's unwavering faith. Jenny weaves meaningful and challenging spiritual threads throughout the story that will speak to your heart. I do hope this is the first of many such stories from this exceptional writer.

Relz Reviewz Extras

Visit Jenny's website and blog

Buy Jenny's books at Amazon or Koorong

Coming in February/ March, 2010 from Abingdon Press

Abingdon Press has been cranking up its fiction arm and I am delighted at the variety of subject matter they are tackling with the novels they are releasing in 2010.

I've been waiting a long time to read a Ronie Kendig story and I love the sound of it and I think the protaganists in Debbie Viguie's novel sound fantastic.

How about you? Anything take your fancy?

Click on the title and author links (where available) for more and be sure to check back tomorrow for more great titles from Abigindon.

The Pastor's Wife by Jennifer AlLee

Maura Sullivan never intended to set foot in Granger, Ohio, again. But when circumstances force her to return, she must face all the disappointments she tried so hard to leave behind: a husband who ignored her, a congregation she couldn’t please, and a God who took away everything she
ever loved.

Nick Shepherd thought he had put the past behind him, until the day his estranged wife walked back into town. Intending only to help Maura through her crisis of faith, Nick finds his feelings for her never died. Now, he must admit the mistakes he made, how he hurt his wife, and find a way to give and receive forgiveness.

As God works in both of their lives, Nick and Maura start to believe they can repair their broken relationship and r
eunite as man and wife. But Maura has one more secret to tell Nick before they can move forward. It’s what ultimately drove her to leave him three years earlier, and the one thing that can destroy the fragile trust they’ve built.

Releasing February, 2010

Walking on Broken Glass by Christa Allan

Already sloshed from one-too-many drinks at a faculty party, Leah Thornton cruises the supermarket aisles in search of something tasty to enhance her Starbucks—Kahlua, for example. Two confrontations later—one at the grocery store and t
he other with her friend Molly—Leah is sitting in the office of the local rehab center facing an admissions counselor who fails to understand the most basic things, like the fact that apple juice is not a suitable cocktail mixer. Rehab is no picnic, and being forced to experience and deal with the reality of her life isn’t Leah’s idea of fun. But through the battle she finds a reservoir of courage she never knew she had, and the loving arms of a God she never quite believed existed.

Releasing February, 2010

The Big 5-0h! by Sandra D Bricker

Olivia Wallace has a birthday curse . . . or so she thinks. It was a broken heart on her 16th, a car accident on her 21st, pneumonia on her 30th, and a fall down a flight of stairs on her 35th. There were Ohio blizzards on her 38th, 39th, and 40th; and six days before her 45th, she lost the love of her life to a heart attack. Numbing grief stole that birthday and a couple more to follow and, on the morning of her 48th birthday, she received the call she’d dreaded ever since losing her mom so many years ago…she was diagnosed with stage-3 ovarian cancer. The doctors didn’t hold out a lot of hope, but Liv survived and maintained her faith. Months of surgeries and chemotherapy and radiation treatments followed.

But now, as her 50th birthday creeps up the icy Ohio path toward her, her hair has grown back, her energy level is up, and she is officially cancer free. It makes her nervous. After everything she’s gone through, Liv hates the idea of driving on icy roads and returning to work as an O.R. nurse in a local Cincinnati hospital.

Her best friend Hallie knows just the thing to break Liv out of the winter doldrums, while providing a safe haven of warmth, sunshine, and a time to regroup: a holiday in the Florida sunshine!

Releasing February, 2010

Dead Reckoning by Ronie Kendig

Underwater archeologist Shiloh Blake is consumed with passion for the water and inflamed at the injustices of life, blaming her secret agent father for her mother's death. When her first large-scale dig traps her in the middle of an international nuclear arms clash, she flees for her life and is followed by an unknown man. Who is he? How is he always one step ahead? Reece Jaxon is a former Navy SEAL, who now serves his country as a spy. His mission is threatened by the beguiling Shiloh Blake as he hunts down the sources to a nuclear dead drop in the Arabian Sea. The only way to end this nightmare and prevent a nuclear meltdown is for Shilo
h to join forces with Reece. Will Shiloh violate her vow to never become a spy like her father? Will she reconcile with her father? Will her trust issues destroy her chance for love? And will she allow God to help her through this ordeal?

Releasing March, 2010

The Lord is My Shepherd by Debbie Viguie

Cindy’s church is getting ready to celebrate Easter, and Jeremiah’s Temple is preparing for Passover when Cindy literally stumbles over the body of an unknown man lying dead in the sanctuary. The church was locked, and a bloody cross necklace on the floor seems to be the only clue. The killer is likely a member of the congregation, but there are hints that similar deaths have happened in the past. Are Cindy and Jeremiah dealing with a serial killer? They have to unravel the clues before Easter Sunday arrives and more people die.

Cindy and Jeremiah come from two different worlds, even though they work right next door to each other. Cindy is a strong Christian who lives a normal but somewhat dull life, working as a church secretary. Jeremiah is a Reformed
rabbi with a mysterious past full of danger and excitement. But one eventful Easter/Passover week, the two find themselves working together to solve a murder and stop a serial killer from striking again. Solving the mystery should put an end to their alliance, but the church secretary and the rabbi quickly find themselves enmeshed in another mystery. Soon the two form a friendly alliance and friendship, exploring personal history and faith and growing closer with each passing adventure. Despite their differences Cindy and Jeremiah find a lot of common ground.
Releasing March, 2010

Monday, 24 August 2009

Character spotlight ~ Golden Keyes Parson's Madeleine Clavell

Today the spotlight shines on...................Madeleine Clavell

Golden Keyes Parson's In the Shadow of the Sun King received rave reviews and was a finalist in ACFW's Debut Book of the Year category. Golden's stories are set in one of my favourite historical periods and having studied the period extensively in both my secondary and tertiary education, it is dear to my heart! I can't wait to delve into her books.

Enjoy this look behind the scenes of the sequel, A Prisoner of Versailles - over to you, Golden:~

Brief physical description

Average height and weight, angular face with strong chin and high cheekbones, dark hair with titian highlights, blue-green eyes, olive skin.

Actor/famous person

The model on the cover of "Prisoner" is a pretty accurate depiction. Actors that I envision in the role are Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jacqueline Bissett, Julia Ormond or Sandra Bullock.

Strengths and weaknesses


Courage, strong will, love of family and strong faith


Stubborn, control issues, self-centered and manipulative

Quirk (if any

I can't rea
lly think of any "quirk" that Madeleine has.

Your inspi
ration for the character

The inspiration for the character was my French Huguenot ancestor whose family, the Clavells, had to flee the Catholic persecution in France. However, my actual ancestor was born after the family fled France, but she was a strong wom
an of faith who eventually came to America as a widow with her children. The storyline between Madeleine and King Louis XIV is purely fictitious, but the history of the period is based on fact.

Background to the story

The Clavells were Huguenots (French Protestants) from southern France, and
had served in King Louis' court when Madeleine was young. She and the king were childhood playmates, and as they grew into young teen-agers fell in love. When Madeleine's parents saw what was evolving between the two, they left court and settled into their estate in southern France. Madeleine met a young fellow Huguenot soon after that and they married, having a child quickly after their marriage.

The Edict of Nantes offered protection to the Huguenots from the Catholic government of France, but it had begun to wear thin. Louis started sendin
g out dragoons to "convert" the Huguenots and if they refused, their children were taken from them and put into convents and monasteries to be "educated," and many of the men were sent to the galleys. Madeleine's friendship with Louis had offered her family protection, until now. Her husband, Francois, is sentenced to the galleys, Their daughter is kidnapped and taken to a convent, but her sons successfully escape under the care of her brother-in-law. Madeleine appeals to the king for leniency based on their past relationship to no avail, and the family escapes to Switzerland.

It is at this point that "Prisoner of Versailles" begins. Louis, having sent spies into Switzerland to ferret out the fleeing Huguenots (which he actually did), kidnaps Madeleine and her oldest son, Philippe, and brings them back to Versailles. He suspects Philippe is his son, and he attempts to persuade Madeleine to become one of his official mistresses.

Thanks Golden - what a fascinating story behind your characters and book!

Relz Reviewz Extras

Visit Golden's
website and blog

Buy Golden's books at
Amazon or Koorong

CFBA Blog Tour of Surrender the Wind by Rita Gerlach

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Surrender The Wind

Abingdon Press (August 2009)


Rita Gerlach


Rita Gerlach has published three historical novels plus articles in
Writers Gazette, Write to Inspire, Will Write 4 Food, and The Christian Communicator.

She also is the editor of Stepping Stones Magazine, an online website focused on writing, marketing, and promotion for writers. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and The Western Maryland Writers Guild.

She currently lives in Frederick, Maryland. You can also visit her at her Blog


Seth Braxton, a patriot of the American Revolution, unexpectedly inherits his loyalist grandfather's estate in England. Seth is torn between the land he fought for and the prospect of reuniting with his sister Caroline, who was a motherless child taken to England at the onset of the war.
With no intention of staying permanently, Seth arrives to find his sister grieving over the death of her young son. In the midst of such tragedy, Seth meets Juleah, the daughter of an eccentric landed gentleman. Her independent spirit and gentle soul steal Seth's heart. After a brief courtship, they marry and she takes her place as the lady of Ten Width Manor, enraging the man who once sought her hand and schemed to make Ten Width his own. From the Virginia wilderness to the dark halls of an isolated English estate, Seth and his beloved Juleah inherit more than an ancestral home. They uncover a sinister plot that leads to murder, abduction, and betrayal--an ominous threat to their new life, love, and faith.

If you would like to read the prologue of Surrender The Wind, go HERE

Watch the trailer:

Read my review, here

Surrender the Wind by Rita Gerlach


Seth Braxton, a patriot of the American Revolution, unexpectedly inherits his loyalist grandfather's estate in England. Seth is torn between the land he fought for and the prospect of reuniting with his sister Caroline, who was a motherless child taken to England at the onset of the war.

With no intention of staying permanently, Seth arrives to find his sister grieving over the death of her young son. In the midst of such tragedy, Seth meets Juleah, the daughter of an eccentric landed gentleman. Her independent spirit and gentle soul steal Seth's heart. After a brief courtship, they marry and she takes her place as the lady of Ten Width Manor, enraging the man who once sought her hand and schemed to make Ten Width his own. From the Virginia wilderness to the dark halls of an isolated English estate, Seth and his beloved Juleah inherit more than an ancestral home. They uncover a sinister plot that leads to murder, abduction, and betrayal--an ominous threat to their new life, love, and faith.

My take:~

Rita Gerlach knows how to weave an epic tale of love and danger and in her latest historical romance, Surrender the Wind, she does that with ease. Replete with historical detail of both America and England in the late 1700s, well rounded characters and an intriguing plot, readers will be transported to a time where betrayal and trust were found in equal measure. While I found the language and drama a little over the top on occasion, I will certainly look for Rita's future offerings. I have no doubt Rita will attract a devoted following as she continues to create stories with such a high level of intrigue and romance.

Relz Reviewz Extras

Visit Rita's website and blog

View the book trailer

Buy Rita's books at Amazon or Koorong

The winners of Love's First Light are......

The Random Number Generator selected:~

US winners ~
Marjorie & Jessica

Aussie winners ~
WendyB & Nolene

Congratulations! You must respond to my email within 7 days to claim your book :)

Saturday, 22 August 2009

A Widow's Hope by Mary Ellis ~ Tracy's Take

Publisher’s Synopsis:

After the death of her husband, Hannah Brown is determined to make a new life with her sister’s family. But when she sells her farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and moves with her sheep to Ohio, the w
ool unexpectedly starts to fly. Her deacon brother–in–law finds just about everything about Hannah vexing. When his widower brother shows interest in the young and beautiful widow, the deacon turns to prayer for guidance. Hannah thought she could never love again, until she meets the strong, gentle farmer. Unfortunately, Seth Miller’s only interest is in Hannah’s sheep. He is content in his bachelor state and slow to recognize his daughter’s need for a new mother. Yet God offers Seth the perfect solution to their problems if he could only open his heart again...and love.

What I thought:

It is with quite a splash that Mary Ellis has plunged into the pool of Amish fiction. Her style and plot are fresh and engaging which will no doubt quickly earn her a loyal following amongst readers, like myself, who love to escape into the simple Amish way of life.

I was intrigued from the outset, with ‘A Widow’s Hope’. I have rarely come across an Amish novel where the female protagonist is a successful business woman and earning her way without relying on male family members. Hannah is a magnetic character with whom I felt and instant bond. Mary brings out her strength and depth with poise and authenticity, which encouraged my ability to relate easily to her. I shared Hannah’s plight and frustrations, which were many, and celebrated the unforeseen solutions that she discovers as truly as if she were a close friend. Mary skilfully draws in family relationships and the nuances that make up very r
eal family dynamics. I love that the Miller’s faults and struggles were delved into in order to add weight and validity to the storyline.

Mary brings out lessons for each of us when seeing life through Hannah’s eyes. I was reminded that seeking the truth rather than relying on assumptions is truly worthwhile. Hannah’s story also brought into sharp focus, the knowledge that God has a plan for our lives and works to see His plan brought into action if only we would trust Him with the details.

It is with eager excitement that I will be waiting on the release of the sequel to ‘A Widow’s Hope’, due for release in early 2010. ‘Never Far From Home’ will continue the story of Hannah’s niece, Emma and will no doubt cement Mary Ellis’s place as an author whose work is eagerly sought after.

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

Relz Reviewz Extras

Visit Mary's
Buy Mary's book at
Amazon or Koorong

Friday, 21 August 2009

Getting to know Amanda Cabot

Amanda's passion for books, reading and writing started at a very early age and she is now pursuing that passion, writing fiction full time. Paper Roses, the first in Amanda's Texas Dreams Trilogy has garnered some lovely reviews and I'm sure Amanda's stories will be around for a long time to come.

Over to you, Amanda:~

Your first pet’s name?

Ginger. He – yes, despite the name, he was a male –
was a blond Cocker spaniel, my family’s first pet.

Your best friend’s name in primary (elementary) school?

That would be my younger sister Cathie. She was always there as my best friend and confidante, the one person who
knew my dreams.

Did yo
u have a special toy that went everywhere with you when you were young? Please describe.

I’m afraid not.

If you could meet a famous person, who would it be?

I have to admit that that varies by the day. Today’s candidate is author Penelope J. Stokes. I’ve enjoyed her books, particularly her World War II trilogy, and would like to meet the person who created such memorable characters.

If you were stranded on a desert island what one object would you want with you? (Besides your Bible of course)

Since you said I could only have an object, not a person (in which case it would be my husband), I’d choose a laptop. Not an ordinary laptop but one that’s solar powered and has unlimited storage space, so that I could write. Oh, what’s that? There are no solar-powered, unlimited-storage laptops? I guess I’d better not get stranded on a desert island!

What's your favourite ice cream flavour?

Strawberry sorbet. It’s so easy to make and oh, so delicious.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A writer. Even though I somehow knew (and don’t ask how I knew this, because I can’t answer it) that it would be a difficult way to earn a living, that was always my dream. The dream came true right before my thirtieth birthday with the sale
of a short contemporary romance. I learned two things from that sale: first, that writing was not the way to pay the mortgage but, more importantly, that it was something I truly loved doing. From then until about five years ago, I wrote part-time while I worked fulltime. Other than the long hours, it was a perfect blend of practicality (the day job) and dreams (the writing). Now I’m a fulltime writer.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Greece. I’ve done a lot of traveling, both for leisure and as part of my day job, but that’s one place that I haven’t visited, even though it’s always intrigued me. I studied the classics in high school and think it would be wonderful to see the Parthenon and cruise the Greek islands. Someday, maybe I’ll get there, and then – who knows? – I may write a book or two with Greek settings.

Besides God, who has influenced you the most?

The honor goes to two of my high school teachers. One was an English teacher and advisor for the yearbook staff who believed in my writing and encouraged me to pursue it. The second was a Science teacher who taught me that almost anything is possible if you set a goal and work toward it.

What's your favourite book?

Growing up, my favorite book was Little Women, and I’m still drawn to it for its portrait of a difficult era in American history. I admire Louisa May Alcott’s skill in blending humor with decidedly serious subjects and her portrayal of the four very different March sisters.

What part of your daily routine do you enjoy most?

Answering fan mail. It’s wonderful to hear from readers and to learn what the liked (and didn’t like) about my books. On a good day, the likes outnumber the dislikes.

What's your favourite movie?

It’s an oldie: Charade. Besides being a fan of Audrey Hepburn (elegance personified!), I love the juxtaposition of comedy with the mystery. Then there’s the Parisian setting. And the music. And … well, you get the idea.

Where's the most interesting place you have been?

Singapore. When I first learned that I was going there on a business trip,
I was less than thrilled by the prospect. That was before I did some research and learned that it was an absolutely fascinating place, not just a shopping haven (although that was definitely an attraction, since I was scheduled to visit in early December and could do my Christmas shopping there) but also a wonderfully cosmopolitan city with four different cultures.

Most of the trip was predictably boring business, but I did have some memorable experiences, particularly on the second weekend I was there. As a tea drinker, I had what I describe as the perfect day. It started with a Chinese tea ceremony. You know the kind: take off your shoes, sit on the floor, sip tea and eat delicious food, all the while listening to soft, relaxing music. I never wanted to leave, but shopping beckoned. Shopping was interspersed with iced tea at (don’t laugh) McDonalds. The culmination was English high tea at the venerable Raffles hotel. Think scones, finger sandwiches, tiny cakes and strong English tea. It was a truly delightful day. Of course, the next afternoon I broke my foot, but that’s another story.

While Singapore was the most interesting place I’ve visited, the prize for
most unusual goes to Carhenge. If you’ve never heard of it (and few people have), it’s a site in western Nebraska where an enterprising family attempted to recreate Stonehenge by burying old cars in the ground. Since seeing is believing, I’ve attached a picture.

What's your most fervent prayer?

That I may use the talents God has given me to His glory.

What's the bravest thing you've ever done?

Would you count it brave to swim with the dolphins in Florida and snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef when you’re deathly afraid of deep water? The truth is, I don’t think I’m a very brave person.

What gift have
you received that you will always treasure?

My paternal grandmother had very little money, but she wanted each of her grandchildren to have something special. In my case, it was a vase that had been in her family for years. I’ve never put flowers in it, because I’m afraid something might happen to it, but I used it as the inspiration for Sarah’s birthday present in Paper Roses.

What is your favourite Bible verse (or "one" of your favourites) and what does it mean to you?

Although there are others that I turn to at various times, Joshua 1:9 is the
one that brings me the most comfort, for it reminds me that God is with me, no matter what happens, no matter where I go.

Paper Roses

Why historical romance as opposed to other genres?

Although I’ve written both contemporary and historical fiction, I have to admit to a strong preference for tales of days gone by. I love fiction because of its ability to transport us out of the here-and-now into a different world, and what’s more different than an earlier time? I also love learning about (and writing about) different eras, seeing how the social constraints of the time influenced characters.

Please describe
your main characters with one word

Sarah: courageous

Clay: loyal

What characteristics did you want Sarah to have most?

Though she hasn't been physically strong since the riding accident, I viewed Sarah as a woman with great inner strength and courage. After all, it took courage, strength and determination to travel thousands of miles to marry a stranger, to care for her young sister, to overcome the town's prejudice
s and to seek the identity of Austin's killer.

How prevalent was the tension between the German and French settlers as depicted in your story?

Since most of the Hill Country was settled by Germans, the tension between them and the French was minimal -- mostly because there weren't many French immigrants. But Castroville, the one town that was founded by settlers from Alsace, did have tension between the two groups. (Portions of the founder's journals that are available online confirm this.) I used the fact of Castroville's existence to create my fictional town of Ladreville, and I exaggerated the conflict for dramatic reasons. Still, having lived in both France and Germany and seeing the historical enmity between the two countries, I don't doubt that the tension could have been even greater than what I depicted.

Your second Texas Dreams novel releases in March, 2010 ~ a sneak peek, please?

If Paper Roses was my mail-order-bride book, Scattered Petals is my marriage-of-convenience book. Only, in this case, it’s a matter of inconvenience. G
reat inconvenience for the hero and heroine.

As part of the titling process, my publisher asked me to describe the book in two sentences. For someone who’s hard-pressed to stay within word count limits, that was a challenge, but here’s what I wrote for them.

All her life, Priscilla Morton has longed for adventure, and so she heads for Texas, never dreaming that the adventure will leave her alone, badly injured and dependent on a handsome rancher who reminds her of her worst nightmare. Zachary Webster knows he’ll never marry, for that would involve admitting the biggest mistake of his life, but how can he refuse to help Priscilla, even if she’s a reminder of his sin?
(You’ll note that those were two rather long sentences.)

All three books are set in the same fictional Texas town and feature characters who are introduced in the previous book. Since one of the things that annoys me as a reader is having to read books in order, I’m careful to have each of mine – even when they’re part of a series – stand alone.

What is in your writing pipeline now?

As I write this, I'm putting the finishing touches on the third of the Texas Dreams books. This one is tentatively titled Tomorrow's Garden and is scheduled for publication in March 2011.

I recently signed a contract for a trilogy set during World War One, and I'm currently working on a proposal for three books set in Wyoming. I’m excited about both of these projects. The WWI series features men and women who stayed home but were nonetheless involved in the war. That’s why my proposed series name is Home Front.

As for the Wyoming books, I'm looking forward to introducing readers to my adopted home. Although most people have only vague impressions of Wyoming, its nickname is "The Equality State" for good reason. It was the first to give married women the right to own property in their own name. It was also the first to grant women suffrage and to allow them to serve on juries. The list of "firsts" goes on, but if I tell you everything, there won't be a story left.

Thanks so much, Amanda ~ it sounds like you have some fabulous books to look forward to.

Relz Reviewz Extras

Review of Paper Roses
Character spotlight on Sarah & Clay
Visit Amanda's
Buy Amanda's book at
Amazon or Koorong

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