Alison Stanley – Insight

Rather than ask Alison for a standard interview, I asked her if she would share part of her life with us, either how she met her partner, how she came to know the Lord, or something interesting from her family heritage. Alison has chosen to tell us how she met her husband.

Best of Friends

AlisonStanleyI first met my husband Josh on a youth group camp when we were both 13 years old. I don’t remember much about that because, unfortunately, I had a crush on his friend at the time. Fast forward five years and we met again at the Campus Bible Ministries group at University.

We were acquaintances for a couple of years, attending a few camps and missions together, then one day I was chatting to a friend online and she let it slip that Josh liked me. I was so surprised—he was the kind of guy I used to watch from a distance, but never thought I’d have a chance with. He was a strong Christian, sporty, funny and handsome—I wondered if there would be any sparks between us.

I found his email address and made first contact. We emailed back and forth for a month, sharing what was happening in our lives. It was the highlight of my morning, opening my emails and finding one sitting there from him. After emailing each other for a month, we went on our first date to the movies on his birthday (lucky it went well!). He was so easy to talk to, and we’ve been best friends ever since.

That was a very sweet story, Alison. Last week I reviewed Trust Me Twice, which can be read here. Tell us Alison, what are you working on now?

I am working on the next novel in the Oakley series. Here is what I can tell you about it so far…

Is it possible to find true love twice? When, at the age of 30, Karen Wilson loses the love of her life to a tragic car accident, she can’t imagine ever falling in love again. Two years later, with God’s help, Karen is finally ready to move on her life, but when a guy four years younger than her starts showing interest, will she accept his advances? Meanwhile, Karen’s grief and loss website is gathering many fans, including an intriguing single man, who Karen immediately connects with. As events take a sinister turn, she must work out which man to trust before it’s too late.

Wow, Alison, that sounds very intriguing. I’m looking forward to reading it. Thanks for joining me on my blog!
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Carol Preston – Insight

Rather than offer Carol Preston a standard interview, I asked her to share part of her life with us – either a story about how she met her husband or her testimony of faith. Carol offered to share about both.

carol-photoMeeting my husband, Neil, and beginning my faith journey, really happened about the same time. It all seems so long ago now that I can hardly imagine being without either. I was just thirteen when my Mum and I attended a Christian rally with an American speaker, whose message really made it  clear to me that a commitment to follow Jesus would give my life meaning, purpose and joy. So I pushed my way to the front when the invitation was given and I’ve been walking with God ever since.

Within weeks my Mum decided it would be best if we began to attend the church she had grown up in, and that was the Church of Christ. We began going to services in that church and I went off to youth group with a couple of my friends. Neil was one of the youth group leaders and over the next couple of years we got to know each other, fell in love and we were married when I was just 19, and he 20.

In those days this was a pretty normal pattern amongst the young people at church. We all wanted similar things and had similar expectations. We were focussed on living our lives for God and partnering with someone of like mind was a priority. So while we experienced all the challenges of getting to know someone new and working out how to love, bless and support one another, neither of us had any doubt that we were meant to be together for our lives.

And now here we are 45 years later! Plenty of ups and downs, two wonderful children, a wonderful daughter-in-law, and son-in-law, and four gorgeous grandchildren. A  very blessed life for which I am very grateful.

How wonderful to have both found the Lord and the love of your life around the same time. Last week I reviewed Carol’s novel Tangled Secrets in conjunction with the ACRBA blog tour. You can read the review here. I asked Carol to tell us what she’s working on now.

At the moment I am writing my ninth novel. It’s an historical fiction, of course, and based on the real lives of some more of my ancestors. This is quite a different story though, as it’s based on a family who immigrated to Australia from Germany, to work in Grafton. The family, along with many others, was supported in coming here to take up work in a factory belonging to a German immigrant who had been very successful in business and wanted to share his good fortune with fellow countrymen.

So I’m moving away from stories about convicts and facing some interesting challenges of writing about language and cultural barriers which would have faced these newcomers. Of course, it’s still a love story and there are some sad, as well as exciting historical events which occur during the period about which I’m writing – the late 1800s. I’m really enjoying the research and the writing and hope it will be a really good read. I have no title yet but it will essentially be a story about belonging.

Sounds great Carol! In the meantime, the last of Carol’s Turning the Tide Series is out now. Here is a bit about it:

trulyfreelargeWhen Betsy’s beloved grandfather dies in suspicious circumstances she is determined to find out the truth about his final hours. Even when she uncovers long held secrets in his past, she holds onto her belief in his goodness.

But the journey to truth reveals issues in her own family and that of her father, from whom she has been estranged for many years.

Can she face her own past?

Set in the early colonial days of New South Wales and based on real characters in the mid 1800s. Truly Free continues the story from Tangled Secrets, Books 3 and 4 in the Turning the Tide Series.

Carol Preston – Tangled Secrets

4 – 8 March

Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance
is introducing

Tangled Secrets
(Even Before Publishing Sept 2012)

by

Carol Preston

Available at Amazon for $1.99 for the month of March

About the Author

Carol lives in Wollongong, NSW with her husband, Neil. As well as writing novels based on her family history, Carol has a private counselling practice and enjoys reading, gardening, spending time with her four grandchildren and bushwalking. She has pursued with great admiration the lives of her ancestors in Australia and has greatly enjoyed writing novels based on their stories and the inspiring history of the Australian people. For more information about Carol’s books and her other interests she can be contacted on her website: http://www.carolpreston.com.au

About the book

In tragic circumstances Beth and her brothers are left in England to grow up without their parents. When Beth’s childhood dream to be reunited with her father in Australia finally eventuates she finds that dreams do not always come true.The reality she faces is a tangled web of disappointment, deceit and mistakes. Further abandonment follows. Will she ever find true love? And will she discover she doesn’t have to be alone before it is too late?Set in the early colonial days of New South Wales and based on real characters in the mid 1800s.Revisit Charlotte and Thomas from Charlotte’s Angel and Mary’s Guardian, and meet new characters in this new novel by Carol Preston. Mary’s Guardian was a finalist in the fiction section of CALEB 2011.

Amanda’s Review:

I’ve read several of Carol’s books now and I love the way she creates full characters and lives and stories from the details she has unearthed from her own ancestry. It really gives you a sense of what life might have been like in the early days of Australia for these people.
I was glad to hear that Carol’s next novel, Truly Free, is a follow on from Tangled Secrets, because while I really enjoyed the read and kept wondering what would happen left, some things were left unresolved. I am looking forward to reading the rest of this story when Truly Free is released in June this year.
If you love to read about the pioneering days of Australia’s history, you’ll love Tangled Secrets.

Rita Stella Galieh – Insight

Rather than offer Rita Galieh a standard interview, I asked her to share part of her life with us – either a story about how she met her husband, her testimony of faith, or a story of heritage from her family’s past.  Rita offered to share about her faith.

RitaPicI became a genuine follower of Jesus in my first year at Art School. When I first met my husband at a Youth For Christ meeting, he challenged me by asking did I use my gifts for God. I hadn’t ever thought to as I wasn’t good missionary material, but decided if the Lord could use them I would.

Our God is a wonderfully creative Being. And I feel privileged to use my gifts in His service, writing my own songs and drawing while my husband preaches. I love writing historical novels around the Victorian era, its customs intrigue me. Despite these differences,  people still struggle over the same temptations, conflicts and yearnings to find true love. So through the lives of my characters, I can weave God’s loving forgiveness and promise of salvation to all who follow His Son, Jesus.

In my first Australian novel, Fire in the Rock, I delved into my Jewish roots for my heroine.

Last week I reviewed Rita’s book, Signed Sealed Delivered. You can read it here. Rita, what are you working on now?

 Right now I’m polishing Books II and III in my trilogy, with Book I already published as Signed Sealed Delivered.

Thanks for joining me on my blog, Rita. For more information about Rita and her books, go to http://www.ritastellagalieh.com/.

Jennifer Genat – The Old House at Mount Munecarthur

TheOldHouseAtMountMunecarthurFrom the Back Cover:

It is 1955, and deep in the Australian bush, an old stone house stands lost in a haze of yellow wattle blossom, unseen by a human being for more than thirty years. That is, until a lonely young girl comes upon it and begins to dream…

At age sixteen, Alison is mature and independent beyond her years, having survived the death of her mother, then her father. Leading a solitary life, with stepparents who barely notice her except as a household drudge, she relies on her own determination and inner strength rooted in her faith. But this faith is even further tested when, returning home late one evening, Alison overhears talk not meant for her ears — her stepmother confessing her open resentment, dislike, and sinister intentions towards her.

Coping with this looming threat, Alison becomes even more intent on solving the mystery of the sleeping house in the bush. She hovers between elation and fear, not knowing who to turn to until her childhood friend, Wes, returns. Even so, Alison’s troubles are by no means over. She must face desperate danger before she is finally able to lay down a burden she has carried for years. Timeless, multi-stranded, romantic, and brimming with suspense, The Old House at Mount Munecarthur takes readers on an adventure they won’t soon forget.

Amanda’s Review:

I’m so glad that I — along with a fellow writer who happened to be with me at the time — found this novel on the shelf in my local Christian bookstore. It is not so easy to find in general, unless you’re looking online, but it is a gem.

Written in omniscient point of view, The Old House at Mount Munecarthur took me a little getting used to, as most of what I read these days is in deep third person. But once I adjusted, I became engrossed. This novel had all the elements that I love — Australiana, adventure, mystery and suspense. Romance was only hinted at really and I suppose could have been developed more, but I loved it anyway. There were enough twists and turns to keep me turning the pages to the end.

Congratulations to Jennifer Genat on a wonderful debut novel.

About the Author:

IMGP0455I am proud to be a vintage model of the 1950s, born in “the bush” and growing up amidst the relics of the Central Victorian gold rush. My schooling—including two years with the Correspondence School—was undertaken at a small town Higher Elementary School, from which I went to Teachers College in Melbourne.
I taught at two country High Schools, in arts and crafts, over a period of ten years, before going to the Bible College of Victoria.

Peter and I married in 1985, had four children fairly quickly, and I never went back to teaching. Instead, when our children’s progress allowed me a little “me” time, I entered the world of second-hand books—buying, repairing, cataloguing and selling by mail order, an absorbing hobby which resulted in a house full of books.

I thought I had at last discovered my real vocational passion. But, no one was more surprised than me when after being persuaded to try the computer for putting together my book catalogues, I promptly wrote a book! And then another, and another… I love it!

Andrea Grigg – A Simple Mistake

7 – 11 January
is introducing
(Wombat books 1 April 2012)
by
Andrea Grigg

About the Author:
Andrea Grigg grew up in Auckland, New Zealand, but has lived most of her life in Australia. She lives with her husband on Queensland’s Gold Coast, where they have raised their three adult children – two daughters and a son. If she isn’t teaching ten-year-olds, being a domestic executive or socialising, Andrea can be found in her cave, writing stories.
Short Book Description:
When Nick and Lainey meet again after 10 years so much has changed. Nick is now a famous celebrity and Lainey is the girl he left behind. As a member of a highly successful band and with an emerging acting career Nick can have any girl he wants. Now he wants Lainey back.
They had been so close when growing up, but after Nick left to seek fame and fortune, Lainey had never heard from him again. Now she has moved on from what she felt for Nick as a teenager. Or has she?
After discovering what kept them apart for so long, they tentatively rekindle their past romance. The feelings are just as strong as before but can Lainey accept Nick’s lack of faith? And can their new relationship survive Lainey’s secret?
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Amanda’s Review:

I really enjoyed this book. The cover has a fresh summery appeal to it for starters. This novel showed how one simple error can change the course of a person’s life. But is it for better, or is it for worse? You will have to read it to find out.

The thing that stood out to me most about A Simple Mistake, was Andrea’s portrayal of the Christian walk. It gives an honest view of our daily struggles, temptations and decisions we make based on faith, that aren’t always easy or painless. Andrea showed how God wants to be part of our everyday life, without sounding preachy or pushy.

Aside from this, the storyline was great and kept me up reading past my bedtime for a number of nights. I loved the chemistry between Nick and Lainey, that kept drawing them back together. The romantic side of me was very satisfied. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a great contemporary romance.

My Top 5 Reads for 2012

Since I don’t actually get to read a huge quantity of books every year, I will limit my favourites to five. Funnily enough that is the exact number of books that stood out for me above the rest last year for one reason or another — either extremely inspiring, toe-curling entertainment, or deeply challenging. So, without further ado, here they are (in no particular order):

front cover (2)

 Jo Wanmer’s book, Though the Bud be Bruised, rocked my world — to put it bluntly. You can read my review here.

TheMerchant'sDaughtercoverI loved, loved, loved The Merchant’s Daughter — especially since Beauty and the Beast is one of my favourite fairy tales. You can read my review here.

Stories of Australia's Christian Heritage by Elizabeth Kotlowski

It was so inspiring to read about the godly characters who explored and pioneered this Great South Land in Stories of Australia’s Christian Heritage. Read the review here.

11834189Redeeming the Rogue was another novel that hit all the right buttons for me. For my full review, see here.

childofthemistAnd of course, I can’t go past a great medieval romance. Child of the Mist turned me into a fan of Kathleen Morgan. Here is my review.

Are any of these on your favourites list? If not, what was your top read for 2012?

Skye Wieland – Insight

Rather than offer Skye Wieland a standard interview, I asked her to share part of her life with us – either a story about how she met her partner, her testimony of faith, or a story of heritage from her family’s past.  Skye offered to share the story about how she came to know the Lord. Be blessed as you read.

My Testimony

My journey from with God has so many facets and layers, but today, I’d like to share my very initial encounter and the journey that led to that.

I grew up in a home that knew nothing of God. We were agnostic. My parents reasoned that there could be a God out there, but it didn’t concern them. My dad kept books in mysteries of the world like UFO’s and as a teenager; I would often drink all these books in, and began to wonder myself what was the meaning of it all. Why did we exist? What was the meaning of life, really? (Not just the tongue-in-cheek things were read and seen in entertainment such as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.)

One day however, my mum began search more seriously. She started to go to church, looking for answers. My father was especially in tune with the spiritual world at this time (though not Christian) and while mum was in a place of sitting on the fence, we had some eerie things happen in our home. I used to wake frightened hearing someone in high heels walking our hallway in the dark hours of the night. Dad would awaken to see one of my mum’s passed away relatives, sitting on the edge of the bed, weeping over my mum. Dad got a little worried at this point and wanted mum to stop digging because he thought the apparition was a real relative trying to stop mum from making a decision for Christ. We know now that the enemy is just as real as God and he will stop at nothing to stop us turning to Christ. I was frightened by the things I felt in the house, so without knowing the reason, I kept a bible by my bed to keep me safe, though I never read it.

Finally, mum came to a point where she made a decision to follow Jesus. Dad soon followed in his own way and began a great spiritual head for our household, being quite in tune with the ways of spiritual warfare. As kids, we were dragged to church every week, but I still didn’t own my parents new belief. I had an inquisitive mind that enjoyed sciences of the natural world. To me, theories such as evolution were gospel…and the story of creation and a real God, just clashed with that mentality way too much. I dismissed it as a nice fairy tale.  Being a teenager, I also figured that mum was just going through another one of her phases and that it would soon blow over.

It was only after it seemed to get stronger over the months, rather than fizzle out, that I began to wonder. I also saw changes in mum’s personality. Her short temper was disappearing, she had grace, she was relaxed. I’d never seen her like this. So, finally, I asked her if it was all real. (Now, my mum always had an answer for everything, was always happy to be the authority.) When I asked, instead of preaching at me, she told me to ask God myself. This in itself was so out of character that I was blown away. I said, “But, how? I don’t know how to pray even.”

Again, mum said to go ask God.

This made me quite upset and I turned to my room in a huff. Once there, I prepared for bed and said a clipped upset little prayer. “God, I don’t know if you’re real, or how to even pray to you. Show me what to say…” then it fizzled off. I went to sleep expecting nothing.

In the middle of the night, I woke with a start. I had a scripture reference in my head. I looked at the bible on my bedside table. It had never been opened. I didn’t know any references, but something drew me to look up the index and just see if the book of Luke perhaps was actually there. I sat up, a little excited. I actually felt my spirit quicken and I knew somehow that God was trying to communicate with me. The numbers from Luke were so clear in my head, but when I found them, I was blown away to tears. It was Luke 11:2 where Jesus was teaching the disciples how to pray.

For me, this was a tangible answer from God.

Wow! That gave me goosebumps and tears, Skye. Thanks for sharing. Last week I reviewed Skye’s book, Sarah’s Gift. You can read it here along with more information about Skye. In the back of Sarah’s Gift is a blurb about the second book coming in Skye’s Dare To Follow series. I thought I would share it here. I look forward to reading more of your work in the future, Skye. 🙂

Mark’s Strength

Mark and Sarah van der Merwe think they may have escaped the attention of the ivory smugglers they faced in the past while saving the elephants in Kruger National Park. However, now fighting depression and isolation, the backslidden couple venture back to the place which caused their greatest grief, in order to find closure for their current pain. Little do they know that evil raises its head once more and uses a lost little Zulu boy as bait. Will they show him the way to God, or will they end up in more trouble than they can possibly handle on their own?

Skye Wieland – Sarah’s Gift

From the Back Cover:

Sarah White, an Aussie horse trainer running away from her past, tries to start a new life at a safari business in South Africa. Elephant culling, strange recurring dreams, and a supernatural encounter lead her to discovering an amazing gift she has. Will she use this gift or remain paralyzed by her traumatizing memories?

Sarah’s Gift is the first book of Skye Wieland’s Dare to Follow trilogy about a group of friends who find God and themselves in the midst of adventure, danger, and amazing vista.

Amanda’s Review:

Sarah’s Gift is a great debut novel from Australian author, Skye Wieland. Her descriptions of the African savannah and the different wildlife which exists there brought them to life as I read. Skye is obviously very familiar with horses as well, as the relationship between horse and rider throughout the novel is a highlight.

The development of Sarah and Mark in their character as well as their relationship together progressed to a wonderful ending, with a hint of more to come in the following books in the series. This novel struck me as being delightfully different from many other romances, and the difference lies in ‘Sarah’s gift’ — a unique idea that made me think ‘what if’, but it was thoroughly enjoyable, and you will have to read it to find out more.

The best thing I took away from this Sarah’s Gift was the reminder that God doesn’t revoke His calling, even when we make huge mistakes. One warning for sensitive readers: there was a moment in the story which I felt was quite gory, but it was relatively brief and didn’t detract from the story as a whole. If that doesn’t bother you, if you love romance and animals, and enjoy a bit of adventure thrown in, this book is for you.

About the Author:

Skye Wieland lives in Queensland, Australia, with her husband and two children where they share a love of horses. She is a secondary high school teacher with a passion to help students discover their potential in life and to strive for it.