Friday, August 01, 2014

Writing: Interview With Reviewer Rel Mollet

I honestly can't recall when I "met" the woman responsible for Relz Reviewz. I've come to know and respect Rel Mollet, who calls Australia her home. I regret having to miss last year's conference of the American Christian Fiction Writers, because I also missed an opportunity to meet this lady in person. However, I'm happy to introduce her to you via this interview.

Rel, thanks for being with us today. You’re a wife and mother. You’re an attorney. You’re an active member of a book club. You review books and post character sketches on your site, but also write for several other blogs. How do you keep all those balls in the air?
By juggling really, really quickly! Actually, you can ditch one of those “you’re” labels. After a fairly long and painful story, which I won’t bore people with, but it includes soul-searching, wrestling, and much prayer, I’ve left the law behind and am looking to focus on work within the CBA context. I think the trick is when you are truly passionate about something – in my case, supporting Christian storytellers and connecting them with readers – your juggling skills improve immeasurably! That said, I do need to be careful I’m not neglecting one area in favour of another.

What problems do you encounter because you blog about books written by people half a world and eight or nine time zones away from you?
Not as many as you may think! Face to face content is somewhat problematic but Skype is a wonderful thing J The internet and email has shrunk those borders and hurdles a lot. I’m in touch with authors, publicists, and publishers everyday even if it means getting out of bed a little earlier or staying up a bit late to catch people during their office hours.

How do you get your books?
            I receive books from publicists and publishers for the most part who are looking for a review or other kind of promotion of their authors’ books, sometimes from the author directly (which to this day remains a thrill for me!), and yes, I even purchase some myself.

Your reviews are straightforward, and you emphasize that reviewing a book doesn’t guarantee you’ll endorse it. Have you had some less-than-positive feedback when you reviewed a book for which you didn’t care?
Honestly, not really. I will usually let the publisher or author know that I’m posting a less than stellar review, as a courtesy. My experience has been that as long as a review isn’t personally scathing, most authors are accepting of a review that contains feedback of a negative nature. I’ve recently posted a review for a very popular author which, while overall was positive, did contain a particular concern I had with one part of the story. That writer still posted the review on their social media. That’s a writer comfortable with their craft and who realise not everything is for everyone. I admire that and it makes me want to read their stories even more.

What do you do with review copies after you’ve finished reading them?
Keep them! What else do you do? Surely, you’re not suggesting I discard a book?!? Seriously, I find it extremely difficult to part with any of my books but around 12 years ago, long before I was reviewing, I began lending my books out to my family, friends, church members, friends of friends, and more ;-) Christian Fiction is pretty much inaccessible at public libraries in Australia, aside from the odd Kingsbury or Dekker novel, so it is a privilege for me to share the books I love so much with others. Reviewing books has been a Godsend in so many ways as it keeps me in books with which I can share the love! With nearly 3000 CF books, you can imagine what my house looks like, so the more I can lend the better for my family – LOL!

Have you ever considered joining the ranks of writers, instead of being a reviewer?
Nope! Having had the privilege to see firsthand the agony and ecstasy of the writing life, having walked along the publishing road with a number of dear author friends, I’m happier being the recipient of all that blood, sweat, and tears rather than have the personal experience of it!

Any final comments for my blog readers?
Never underestimate the power of a story, nor the effort, energy, and heartache a writer experiences creating that story. May a great book be just around the corner for you all!
Thanks Richard – what a treat to visit your blog. Thanks for having me, mate ;-)

Thank you, Rel. Readers, if you have any questions for this talented lady, please leave a comment.

And thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Back In Business Tomorrow

Wow, we must be having fun, because time has just flown since I posted that I'd be taking a blogging holiday until August 1.

Tomorrow we get started with my regular Friday post on writing, this time an interview with reviewer and supporter of Christian writing, Rel Mollett. I hope you'll come back for it.

It's my intention to continue (at least for a while) my schedule of posting something about the writing life each Friday, while my Tuesday posts will be whatever catches my attention for that day. If you'd like to see something different, here's your chance. Just leave a comment.

See you on Friday.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

"Between Engagements"

Ask an actor who's not currently under contract for a play or movie what they're doing, and they're likely to reply that they're "between engagements." I love that. They don't say they're out of work. They don't intimate that they're no longer an actor. Instead, they speak as though there's another acting job just around the corner, and they're waiting for it.

As the publishing world changes, some of my colleagues who've had books published by recognized publishers now are without a contract. The ready availability to self-publish a book has led many of them to seek this avenue of getting their work out. Others bide their time, continuing to wait for a contract with a traditional publisher. But if you were to ask any of them what they were currently doing, you wouldn't get an answer that they were no longer a writer. Rather, they're just "between engagements."

Because my next novel of medical suspense will be published by a different publisher, it's necessary to slot its release into a schedule that's locked into place a year or more in advance. That means it will be about a year between publication of novels for me. Before this contract, I had no idea about my next book, but I kept writing it. It wasn't that I was no longer a writer. I was just "between engagements."

What about you? Have you ever had no idea what or where your next job would be? What did you do? And how did you keep up your spirits? How did you manage to maintain the attitude that you were just "between engagements?"

(picture via

I'll be taking a blogging hiatus for the balance of the month of July. I'll see you back here in August.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

My Thoughts On July 4

Every morning for years Kay and I have offered prayers that include our nation and our world. At no time in our nation's history has this been more appropriate.

When I was commissioned in the United States Air Force, I took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. So far as I know, that oath is still valid, and I try to live up to it. It is my sincere hope that others will follow suit in the days to come.

As we celebrate the anniversary of our nation's declaration of its independence, seeking freedom for the inhabitants of this land, I hope the occasion will mean more to you than baseball games, swimming, and backyard cookouts. My prayer is simple and sincere: God bless America.

(I won't be blogging on July 4, but I hope you'll come back on July 7 when I discuss the concept of "between engagements.")

Friday, June 27, 2014

Writing: A Writer's Hierarchy Of Needs

This idea has been percolating in my mind since the announcement of the ACFW's Carol Award finalists (and, no, I didn't make it this year). Just as Maslow postulated that humans have a hierarchy of needs, I believe there is a similar pyramid for a potential writer.

At the base of the pyramid is the thought, "I'm going to write a book." And those who carry that out--who actually put tens of thousands of words together until they reach "the end"--are to be congratulated. They have done something not everyone has done.

But then come the dual steps of gaining representation by an agent and getting acceptance by an editor or publisher. That's something to celebrate. However, the writer's tasks are just beginning. Once a book is published, there are several goals for a writer: reviews, sales and awards.

Good reviews by sources such as Romantic Times Book Reviews are sought after and enjoyed when they come. When they don't, writers often wonder what they did wrong. The answer is that tastes in books are different, and what one reviewer pans a reader might love. Go figure.

I won't go into some of the tricks that have been used in the past to get books onto a "best-seller list." Let's just say that the definition is a loose one, and although I could use the term I choose not to.

As for awards, there are a number of them out there. I've been fortunate to have my share, but it pains me when I find myself frustrated not to be a finalist for every one. That's not how it works--or, at least, not how it should.

I haven't even talked about publishing a second or fifth or thirtieth book. When I started trying to write seriously, I had no idea the industry was this complicated. Did you?

What's your take on my "hierarchy of needs" for a writer? I'd love to hear.