Thursday, January 31, 2013

Archetypes in Christian Romance

I read Christian Romance( mostly historical ) that's what I do. I have done this since I was a child and I read probably about 100 of these books a year.

Like any other genre or sub-genre, it comes with its own archetypes.

I am currently reading the pitch-perfect and deliciously edgy Bees in the Butterfly Garden which pairs our Christian heroine with a thief and a rather illustrious skill-set for deceit

Well-known author ( and one of my favourite bloggers), Kaye Dacus, posted about some of the Romance archetypes we find in the classic Damsel and the Warrio Hero metrics of the fiction; but also about some of the archetypes we find in Christian Historical Romance. It put me in mind of the book I am currently reading....

"In inspirational romance, we have our own set of stereotypes to deal with: the pioneer widow who must marry a stranger to survive; the nineteenth century teacher who’s gone west to teach and bring God’s word to the heathens; missionaries and preachers; secretaries; characters with jobs so vague as to be nonexistent; ranch owners who take in wayward boys; the good Christian girl who must “save” the backslidden or non-Christian hero; and so on."

I always find Kaye's blog posts interesting; but this post was particularly thought-provoking-- Especially as I was having a similar conversation with Joanne Bischof on facebook yesterday---particularly her collective decision with her editor to make her hero, Gideon, more of a rake than would be anticipated in the genre.

What archetypes do you notice most in Christian Historical Romance? Are there some that drive you batty?

Who are you favourite Christian heroes?  my TOP 5
---though I might have to re-do the list because I have read so many books since then >

I look forward to publishing my review of Kaye's new book Follow the Heart ( a sumptuous Victorian romance set during the Great Exhibition) shortly 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Litfuse Blog Tour: Safe In His Arms by Colleen Coble

Born and raised on sprawling Texas land, Margaret O’Brien prides herself on her competence as a rancher. But her father believes she’s made for more than just dawn-to-dusk work. He wants her to have the love of a good man, to raise children, to build a life. But Margaret gave up such dreams years ago. She’s convinced no man would have her, that the ranch is her life now.

So when Margaret’s father hires Daniel Cutler as a new foreman, she’s frustrated and suspicious. Then an overheard conversation links him with a gang of bank robbers, and she’s downright worried. Daniel swears he’s not involved, but Margaret’s not convinced. She knows the man still has secrets. But would a criminal be so kind and talk so convincingly of his faith? As a series of tragic “accidents” threatens all she holds dear, Margaret must decide what to trust: her own ears, her best judgment . . . or what her heart keeps telling her.

From the author of the best-selling Blue Moon Promise . . . an exciting tale of danger, romance, and faith played out under Texas stars.

I have to confess that this tour crept up on me and I haven't finished reading the book yet. You will note that I have been posting intermittently of late and that is a result of a few personal projects that have been taking my time and that I can share with you later.

I can tell you that devoted readers of Colleen Coble's work ( and there are many ) will feel at home in this world.   Readers who are looking for their next Western romance and adventure have also come to the right party.  I have yet to read the first in the series Blue Moon Promise and while I am aware of over-lapping characters, I have caught on rather quickly ---such is the gift of an author who is able to work on stringing threads from previous novels together while making them work as stand-alones.

Coble has a wide historical and contemporary range and her storytelling ability and light characterization easily sweep all eras.

While, unfortunately, I am not able to infuse more of my personal opinions of the story so early in my reading of it, I can say whole-heartedly that Coble knows her marketplace and writes for the enjoyment of her readers.   I hope you've found your next read! 

I received this copy through the Publisher 

Guest Post: Karen Schreck and COVER REVEAL

While He Was Away Walmart-Exclusive Cover Reveal
 and How Inspiration Can Come From Anywhere:
Even a Trip to the Grocery Store and a Handful of Long-Lost Photographs
By Karen Schreck

I sometimes wonder what my mother would say if she knew that her story—one of the saddest, sweetest love stories I’ve ever heard—was retold in a new way in my young adult novel, While He Was Away.

Now Sourcebooks Fire is sharing the story yet again, in a second, exclusive edition, released nation-wide at Walmart.  The fact that Sourcebooks believed enough in While He Was Away to bring it to life the first time felt like a much-needed confirmation of years of hard work.  The fact that they are standing behind my book again in this way . . . well, it feels like a miracle.  I’m truly grateful.

I wonder what my mother would say to this incredible news? I like to think she would be grateful too.  I like to think she would be happy.  She wanted her story heard after all.  So much so that it was one of the last things she told me, just before she died.

One rainy night when I was fourteen, right before cancer left her to ill to talk, let alone drive a car, my mother said, “Come with me.  We’re going shopping.”  We drove to the little local market and wandered up and down the aisles, as she threw in a can of tuna, some dishwashing soap, and other little things we didn’t need.  We paid for these little things.  She looked anxious and tired, still she hadn’t said a thing; we hadn’t spoken a word.

It was only when we were parked in our driveway again that my mother said, “I was married once before when I was very young.  He died a hero in WWII.”

And that was that.  Soon after, she died.

I thought about my mother’s mysterious love story for many years.  I talked to relatives, found long-lost photographs.  The story took seed in me.  It flowered into a novel about a young women whose boyfriend leaves for the Iraq War.  In her loneliness, she seeks out a grandmother she’s never met, whose first husband died in WWII.  She seeks out a character inspired by mother.

A late night drive, a few words spoken in the dark.  Even things as simple as this can inspire a novel.

Friday, January 25, 2013

When People I Know and Like Write Books....

...when people I know and like write books I must, must promote them.

You can be order Allison Pittman's All for A Song RIGHT NOW.

We like Allison.

( I am looping you, unsuspecting reader, into this like. trust me. WE LIKE ALLISON)



That way, when you hear me talk about it in a little while at further detail you'll be, all, OOOOO! I knows what's going on......

Thursday, January 17, 2013

the return of 'Les Miserables'

Face it, everyone loved the film and now those who have seen the stage show a billion times (like myself) and the film version: and perhaps the film version and a concert; but never a stage version--- have the opportunity to see it on stage again.

This was only a matter of time because Toronto loves  Les Miserables and we were awesome enough to have Colm Wilkinson here for years ( he lives here, you know, and has done since Phantom) But what is EQUALLY awesome is that Ramin Karimloo, another great theatre star from Toronto, has been signed to play Jean Valjean when it returns in September.

The Mirvish season opens with Ramin Karimloo as Valjean!

Read here

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Litfuse Blog Tour: The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen

I am kind of doing double-duty on The Tutor’s Daughter and will be writing a feature review for the Novel Crossing website in the near future.  << UPDATE: HERE IS THAT REVIEW>>

However, OBVIOUSLY, I wanted to take part in the Litfuse blog tour  and want to give you a taste of a few of the exceptionally readable parts of this compelling tale:

Take note….

If you like Jane Austen you have come to the right party. As fast as you can say Northanger Abbey, The Tutor’s Daughter scales the great cliffs of Cornwall, its haunted old stone churches and its treacherous seascapes and paints this lugubrious canvas with mystery, intrigue and ROMANCE…. Yes! ROMANCE!

So, a few snapshots of what you are getting yourself into:

Those Wily Westons:

There’s dashing and amiable Philip and Darcy-esque Henry ( who is, of course, outwardly brooding and tortured and surly for a good reason) and two spirited younger brothers under the tutelage of Emma Smallwood’s father

There’s EMMA:
A feisty bookworm who, just like me, would rather shove her trunks full of books instead of clothes (duh!) when preparing a trip to the coast. Her journal entries? Divine.  Her Jane Eyre-esque penchant for hearing soft noises and music at night? SO Thornfield. Her annoyance with the insufferable flirt Lizzie? The same annoyance I would have.

The world of The Tutor’s Daughter takes us to a different kind of estate than the previous manors introduced in Klassen’s Regency Fiction.  The sea pairing and the whirling history and mystery surrounding the tale will leave you with the best kind of chills. Indeed, I am not usually thrown off the scent as a reader, but even I was left guessing as to motive and outcome…..

Check out this LifeWay video wherein Julie answers questions on Christian fiction and Publishing and her passion for Jane Austen:

Make sure you go to the LITFUSE LANDING PAGE to visit the other tour stops.

I received this book care of Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Today's stops:

Chelsey | Charming Chelsey's
Lydia Harris | Squidmom
Paula | The Phantom Paragrapher
Athena | Our Crazy Life
Rachel | a fair substitute for heaven
LaTawnia | LaTawnia Kintz Reviews
Danielle | The Happy Wife

Friday, January 11, 2013

Silas Marner (BBC 1985): the Condensed Version

(note: I haven’t read this book since High School; but I think this adaptation stands up? I mean, it seems similar….doesn’t it?  YAH!)


BEN KINGSLEY: I DID NOT STEAL that guy’s gold. I  have CATALEPSY which means sometimes I just fall asleep for no reason.  I was watching over that guy and I fell asleep and somebody else stole the gold.

WILLIAM DANE: I used to be your best friend; but I needed gold.  LOOK HERE, church elders:  HERE IS BEN KINGSLEY’s pocket knife !  IT IS PROOF! PROOF THAT HE STOLE THE GOLD!


BEN KINGSLEY’S FIANCEE: I no longer want to marry you, you GOLD STEALER

BEN KINGSLEY: Okay, Okay. I get it. I’m a leper from this community and you don’t want me in church. Fine. I’ll just go and wander about. You stupid Calvinists. I am wandering the Midlands until I settle somewhere.  I might be dejected; but I CAN STILL WEAVE!
 Oh look! Raveloe! Good Name! Good Cottage. I will weave things here and be an anti-social outcast and scorn community because I was BETRAYED BY CALVINISTS and church is kinda for mean people who accuse other people.
And I am going to store up all the GOLD that I am given as PAYMENT by these here Raveloeans….erm… Raveloeites?  ….THESE HERE TOWNSPEOPLE!.....
And I am going to HIDE it under the floor boards after counting it each night and revel in its awesomeness. I am like a Victorian Rumplestiltskin, so I am.
*counts gold. Hides gold*

DUNSTAN CASS: *strolling through the forest* What have we here?  A guy who is standing up and sleeping at the same time? Weird! Oh! It’s that weaver! Oh look! He dropped his gold. Odd to have SO MUCH GOLD WHILE SLEEPING WHILE STANDING UP IN THE FOREST. Mayhap I should steal it. Because this plot doesn’t have enough to do with GOLD.
*thinks of stealing it*

BEN KINGSLEY: *suddenly awake and no longer in catatonic fit*: were you going to steal my gold? Shame! It’s mine. FORSOOTH!

DUNSTAN CASS: *goes to pub, tells everyone that Ben Kingsley has lots of gold*

BEN KINGSLEY *does nothing to hide his gold in a better spot than underneath the floor board*

DUNSTAN CASS: *steals the gold*


DUNSTAN’S DOUCHEBAG OLDER BROTHER: How are you, secret wife who is addicted to opium?  How have you been neglecting my child who just sits here all blonde and cute while you go and imbibe opium?

OPIUM ADDICTED SECRET WIFE : arasdgjkl;sadjkfj ajdsklf; jkld!!!! I am a terrible mother *imbibes opium*

DUNSTAN’S DOUCHEBAG OLDER BROTHER:  Never mind, secret wife, I will leave you and our child until you clean up your act.  Meanwhile, I’mma gonna go home where my DAD is a SQUIRE and ignore you and your plight and your opium addiction and this cherub who is my daughter. 

OASW: asdjkf jadks;f jkal;ds jfkl;ajdkfl jaksld; jfkljk!!!

DUNSTAN’S DOUCHEBAG OLDER BROTHER: I shall host a big Christmas dance and everyone will dance as they do in those Jane Austen films. Ah, look! Sister Julienne from Call the Midwife. You are fair. Even though I am married and have a daughter, I shall claim you and your porcelain skin.



BEN KINGSLEY: nwjkl;lasdkjfkla;j dkfljk!  MY GOLD! IT IS STOLEN! I HAVE NOTHING LEFT TO LIVE FOR! IT WAS ALL I HAD IN THE WORLD! I LOVED HOARDING GOLD! No. NO! I don’t want a new hobby. I just wantz more GOLD GOLD GOLD!


OASW: I shall bring my child to SQUIRE CASS’ estate and crash their party! HEYO! With my daughter in TOW! And he shall claim his daughter and I shall get more opium money. Oh wait. I die…. I DIE…. The world is blurry before mine eyes…. Too. Much. Opium. Daughter, daughter, where are you going?

*daughter crawls into Ben Kingsley’s cottage*

BEN KINGSLEY: egads! A baby!  With golden hair! GOLD! This is the GOLD I NEED!  THIS SYMBOLIC GOLD
*checks outside*
Looks like her mother is dead. I guess I’ll just adopt her. Why not?
*goes and peeks into the Cass Estate Party*
Hey all! I’m that reclusive weaver whose gold was stolen. Mind if I keep this baby ? her mother is dead outside in a ditch.

DUNSTAN’S DOUCHEBAG OLDER BROTHER *somewhat conflicted* Dead Opium Addicted Secret Wife. My. But, I guess this means I can get engaged to Sister Julienne.  Wanna marry ,Sister Julienne?

SISTER JULIENNE: sure thing!

DUNSTAN’S DOUCHEBAG OLDER BROTHER: Here, for your services in helping this abandoned “orphan”, I give you some gold. Buy food and stuff for the child.

BEN KINGSLEY: I SHALL CALL HER EPPIE! She shall stay with me while I weave. She is better than gold.  I also think that I can start finding a way back into the community! Mayhap these people are not so bad. MY LIFE HAS BEEN CHANGED!
*goes all Jean Valjean *

SISTER JULIENNE: It appears that I cannot have children

DUNSTAN’S DOUCHEBAG OLDER BROTHER: WHAT? How!????  This sucks. I wanteth CHILDREN. I mean I already have… but…. I mean. I WANTETH CHILDREN!

*years pass. Eppie grows up all beautiful and rural and rustic and pastoral and likes to weave flowers in her flowing locks. She takes up with a local farm boy and as fast as you can say: Hand me that Pitcher, has found love and happiness*

BEN KINGSLEY: Eppie, you are the light of my heart. YOU ARE SO MUCH BETTER THAN GOLD!


DUNSTAN’S DOUCHEBAG OLDER BROTHER: So you see, Sister Julienne, the weaver’s ward, Eppie, is actually my child. We shall claim her and bring her here. Also, it looks like my brother Dunstan stole Silas Marner’s gold. Look, here is his corpse all rotted and interred in the earth. There is gold near it.

SISTER JULIENNE: I am surprisingly unrattled that you had another secret wife and failed her so that she died of an opium addiction. Also ,that you abandoned your only child to live with that strange reclusive weaver. Whatever you say. Love ya!

DUNSTAN’S DOUCHEBAG OLDER BROTHER: I want Eppie back, Ben Kingsley, she is mine.


EPPIE: BUT HE RAISED ME. You’re THE DEFINITION OF DEADBEAT DAD! You suck!  I am staying here. I am marrying my farmboy. You can take your squiredom and your estate and go to…to… HALIFAX

BEN KINGSLEY: this is touching. Indeed, this is a touching way to end the movie.  You, Eppie, and you, Farmboy, go and get married and stay by me the rest of your lives.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

It's Redeeming!

Sorry for the silence, friends. I have been extremely busy at a work conference.

As well as being nominated for several Academy Awards, I was THRILLED to see that Les Miserables tops Christianity Today's list of 10 Most Redemptive Films of 2012

Read here:

Also, Breakpoint editor ( and our friend), Gina Dalfonzo, wrote about its redemptive nature on the Breakpoint Blog (and even mentioned my review in the Further Reading portion)

And, BRAND NEW, Gina added this insightful piece to Breakpoint citing Plugged In and rallying Christians who have heard ill of the film to take the plunge.

Read my review of the film here

We must never complain that Hollywood is devoid of faith-based stories!

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Condensed 'White Collar': S 4. Ep. 1: WANTED

Soon, friends, White Collar season four returns. Some of you are all, like; but RACHEL, that aired so long ago (Summer) and I CANNOT REMEMBER what happened! Fear not! I gotz your back, friends. I have recaps of the book-end episodes ( the two best episodes ) to refresh your memory:





NEAL: PROVE IT [but he really actually stole it]

BEAU BRIDGES: I want NEAL to work with me in WASHINGTON! 

PETER: but that would SEVER our bromance. besides, I am the only one who can handle NEAL! I understand him! HE COMPLETES ME! 

MOZZIE: I want to go to an island in the sun

NEAL: *torn* I love you Mozzie, and I want an Island in the sun; but I also love PETER and EL and JUNE and this little family in NEW YORK! plus, my FATHER is dead and ELLEN! ELLEN is back in my life. Kinda.

BEAU BRIDGES: I am ONTO YOU! I am arresting you and taking you to WASHINGTON FOREVER

PETER: *looks at NEAL and shakes his head, which in WHITE COLLAR LAND means: RUN! RUN AWAY!, NEAL! RUN!*

NEAL: *cuts his anklet, leaves New York and looks sullen on an airplane*

NEAL: *glistening, walks out of the water a la the same shot they used in Casino Royale when Daniel Craig was sporting his shorty shorts*

MOZZIE: This is the LIFE! 

NEAL: I kinda miss New York sometimes; but look! a disposable love interest...
DISPOSABLE LOVE INTEREST: I disposably love you

MOZZIE: *drinks sangria*

NEAL: *is in cahoots with some Island thief*


PETER: put up roadblocks and wanted posters!! 

BAD FBI AGENT: FIND him and bring him to MEEEE!

PETER: *perturbed* this isn't fair! He's my BESTIE! *mopes*

MEANWHILE in a FORD which is the most AWESOME CAR in the world and there is NOTHING like A FORD, EL and PETER are on STAKEOUT [in a FORD]
PETER: *eats devilled ham*

EL: You miss Neal. I can tell because we don't need to speak, our love is so silently strong. Also, this FORD can read my deepest thoughts and desires, so cool it is.

PETER: *off-handedly smirks about NEAL being difficult. But, really he is ACHING inside*


PETER: we should find this ELLEN person. I need to get to NEAL and warn him. Let's DRIVE this AMAZING FORD SOMEWHERE AMAZING

PETER: i'm a friend of NEAL'S


EL *magically* would you like to come to my house in brooklyn and tell my husband and I where NEAL is?

ELLEN: *shrugs* you're pretty and nice. fine.

NEAL: *cahoots with other beach-y con guy*


MOZZIE: "this is the life, Lolana"* talks to his bobble-head hula girl doll*

NEAL: Look! i'm going to make an elaborately ornamented sandcastle and add Christmas lights.

PETER *torn and saddened* : So you see, ELLEN, if anything happened to NEAL, I would just throw myself off a cliff. It might seem odd my emoting like this about another man in front of my wife, but she feels the same way; because NEAL is our FAMILY. 

SATCHMO: *growls jealously*

ELLEN: here's NEAL'S top secret pager number

PETER: thanks!

PETER *pages the TOP SECRET PAGER while making a sandwich, presumedly devilled ham*
Later than THAT:*his cell phone rings*

NEAL* from beach house*: ELLEN is that you! 

PETER: no, it's PETER

NEAL: I was kinda sleeping here Peter, let me run out onto the sand while the moon catches my wavy black hair

PETER: *bites sandwich* Sure, I can wait

NEAL* now on the sand as it ripples like a ribbon on the waves and shards of moonlight catch his chiselled face and peppered stubble*: Peter, I am not coming back to New York

PETER: there is a BAD FBI guy after you I NEED TO PROTECT YOU! *emotes*

NEAL: I appreciate you and I miss you; but my life is here on the beach with Mozzie and cavorting with this criminal and drinking sangria with my disposable love interest

PETER: be careful 

PETER:*TRACKS NEAL'S location and DIANA and JONES set up a big operation in the dining room* 

NEAL*: throws cell phone ruefully into the water and ALMOST CRIES*


PETER: I must go to him

DFSGWIIAFENAT: fine. but let it be on your conscience. this is not bureau business.

NEAL:* gets deeper and deeper with this bad guy*

DISPOSABLE LOVE INTEREST :*serves sangria at the bar*

MOZZIE: *talks to Lolana and has a good time with a hawaiian shirt on*

MEANWHILE PETER shows up on THE ISLAND  in a MINT green POLO SHIRT and goes to the nearest hat shop
PETER: have you seen this guy! he wears hats


PETER: have you seen this guy

DISPOSABLE LOVE INTEREST: *conflicted* umm.... he's kinda hiding around here

BAD FBI GUY: LOOK who SHOWED UP, suckers! *holds up wanted posters* I want THIS guy *points to picture of NEAL'S face with disdain* I WANT HIM DEAD OR ALIVE!  See, Burke, you're not the only person who got here immediately after commercial break. WARP SPEED! have a sangria!
GUYS AT THE BAR: we want MONEY! *run out in all directions to find NEAL for cash reward*

PETER: *so angry and traumatized he forgets his wallet on the bar dashes over to BAD FBI GUY* YOU CAN'T HURT MY CI! I will foil your villainous plot and I will save Neal like the wonderfully moral emblem of greatness that I am! 

Little ISLAND URCHIN *steals PETER'S wallet from bar*

BAD FBI GUY: *snortles* Your WALLET was stolen; but you can FIND CAFFREY and bring him to ME and get the billion dollar reward

PETER: *harumphs* YOU SUCK

IN THE STREETS PETER chases the LITTLE ISLAND URCHIN around and then up a steep staircase.
PETER: *hears NEAL'S voice and dies of happiness*

NEAL: hiding behind a door* COME ON IN

PETER: *comes in! *

NEAL:* hands PETER his wallet*

PETER *looking like he just won a million bucks and its his birthday and he is on a treasure hunt with old flags while riding a unicorn, so happy is he, HUGS NEAL for a long time*

NEAL *looks with the I CAN'T BELIEVE I AM LOVED look*

MOZZIE: Suit! 

PETER: that other FBI GUY IS BAAAAAAAAAAAD! he wants your blood! 

MOZZIE: everyone wants our blood because we have a bounty on our heads!

NEAL: *calm and collected* Let's STAGE A PLAN!