Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Revealed by Tamera Alexander - Review/Interview

softcover, 2006, Bethany House
ISBN: 0764201093
336 pages

The second book in the trilogy Fountain Creek Chronicles, Revealed captured my attention within the first few pages. This is Tamera Alexander first series, and a great introduction to a wonderful new author.
The story follows Annabelle Grayson, a woman whose husband had accepted her past and loved her in spite of it. Upon his death, she is left alone to fight the bitter memories of a previous life she can’t change.

Haunted by angry words said to a brother now gone, Matthew Taylor struggles to find his way. Wrong choices catching up with him, he’d do anything to leave it all behind.
Two people needing to accept God’s unconditional love, and each others’ shadowed lives.

With the people of Willow Creek knowing her past, Annabelle Grayson McCutchens is desperate to leave and start fresh. But she needs to find a guide to take her to her late husband’s land. Matthew Taylor’s contempt for his late brother’s wife is unmasked, but he needs the job.

Two unlikely people, with God’s loving mercy, embark on a journey of the heart.

Can Annabelle show Matthew that the person she has become is not the person she was? Can Matthew understand his late brother’s acceptance for a scarlet woman and discover the reasons he’d loved her, for himself?

Tamera Alexander weaves a beautiful story of God’s abounding love and forgiveness. Her characters come to life as each page turns. This story is an uplifting tale of forgiveness, acceptance and God’s power to change people.

Once engrossed in the characters I couldn’t put it down, I was wrapped in the story until the final page. I am very eager to read more of Ms. Alexander’s work.
Questions & Answers with Tamera Alexander
Gail: When did you begin writing?
Tamera: I’ve always loved writing, even as a young girl, and dreamed of being a writer when younger, but never thought I had any talent at it. So I tucked it away…until God unearthed it again a few years back.

The first novel I wrote in 1999 is one I targeted specifically for Bethany House and their historical line. It got to the final review board but then was ultimately “passed over” in early 2002. There were problems in that novel and in my writing that I needed to work on, so they were right to let that one slip through their fingers! After that experience, I realized that if I was going to have a good shot at this publishing thing, I needed to get serious about learning the craft and addressing the weaknesses in my writing.

I joined American Christian Fiction Writers (HUGE for me!), and began dissecting novels—books that I’d loved and read multiple times—with the goal of finding out what made them ‘tick’ for me. I prayed that God would bring people into my life who would help me become a better writer by telling me what I needed to change, how I needed to grow. And He did. I’m so thankful for those writing partnerships.
Gail: Your book Revealed deals with forgiving past actions and hurts, not only in others but also in yourself. What inspired the story for you?
Tamera: Revealed was inspired by some real events in my life. But to tell this accurately, I need to start with the people who first inspired me to write…

Several people, some of whom I’ve never met (other writers), have inspired me to follow this dream of writing. But one person whom I did know and who influenced me in a lasting way was my 7th grade teacher, Miss Debra Ackey of Idlewood Elementary School in Tucker, Georgia. In fact, I dedicated Revealed to her with hopes that a copy of that book will some day find its way into her hands.

I was sexually abused as a young girl (my perpetrator was not someone from my immediate family nor a blood relation), and I was dealing with a lot of guilt, doubt, and repressed anger during those years (7th grade). Writing served as an outlet for me. Looking back at the stories and poems I wrote during that time, it’s easy to see that I was obsessed with death, and the source of those feelings isn’t hard to understand.

With God’s strength and mercy, I’ve long forgiven the person who abused me, and I’ve thanked God often for placing Miss Ackey in my life at that time. She read so many (what I’m certain were) horrible poems on death and dying, and encouraged me anyway. She reached through the pain I was dealing with, past the ugliness I felt steeped in, and she breathed new life into my dry bones. I pray she’ll one day know just how much she did for me.

And I also pray that God will use the story in Revealed to breath new life into others who share a past similar to mine.

Gail: I know you are working on another series, can you tell us anything about it?
Tamera: I’m currently writing From a Distance, Book 1 in a new series entitled Timber Ridge Reflections.

Here’s a brief peek into the book:

When Civil War Sharpshooter Daniel Ranslett moved west, the strong, silent loner hoped to find solace following the devastation of his beloved South and a tragic and untimely death. Ten years later, he's not looking for love when he finds an unexpected, unwanted attraction to a Yankee photographer who is determined to get the picture and tell the story, as long as it’s not her own.

Elizabeth Westbrook believes some secrets are meant to be kept, but finds her own life in peril when her assignment to photograph the newly-discovered cliff dwellings takes an unexpected twist. A photograph she takes turns out to be the convicting piece of evidence in a murder trial—the murder trial of a man she would never have thought capable of the act.

For thirty years, Elizabeth has remained unmarried and untouched, waiting for her life to begin. Yet she’s accepted loneliness as a way of life. That is, until Daniel Ranslett. Now a Son of the South and a Daughter of the North must decide if secrets will come between them forever . . . or free them to love.

From a Distance releases in Spring 2008.

Gail: What is your favorite part of the day to write?
Tamera: Late at night. I write during the day too but I seem to get the most done during the hours of 10 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Gail: What are some helpful hints that you can share with us about the process of getting published?
Tamera: I would encourage writers who have a goal of being published in the Christian Bookseller’s Association (CBA) to join a professional writers’ organization such as American Christian Fiction Writers ( Iron sharpens iron and being in relationship with other writers—critiquing their work and having your own work critiqued—is crucial. Then…write, write, write. And read the genre in which you write. The best writers are great readers!

Gail: Is this series the first work you have gotten published?
Tamera: Yes, it is. Fountain Creek Chronicles (Rekindled, Revealed, Remembered) are my first books. I’ve still got my first novel that I wrote tucked in my desk beside me—right where it should be! ;)

Gail: Is there a certain book out of the Fountain Creek Chronicles series that is your favorite, and why?
Tamera: That’s like asking a mother which of her children is her favorite. I’d have to say that of the three, I love the married romance in Rekindled, the sarcasm and healing in Revealed, and the foreign flair and restoration in Remembered. But of the three, Revealed will always be special due to the nature of that book and its personal connection with my past.

Gail: Do you struggle with a certain aspect of writing?
Tamera: Yes, the entire first draft! Seriously, writing the first draft of a novel is flat painful for me. Yes, there are occasional moments of “yippee!” this came together, but most of it just plain hard work. However, I LOVE the rewrite stage!

Gail: What is your favorite part of the process of writing a book? From the beginning, to actually seeing the book in your hands?
Tamera: Rewriting, no doubt about it. The rewrite stage is when the book just blossoms in regard to character depth and in seeing how God has brought everything together for that particular story. Yep, rewrites. I love them!

Gail: Just one fun question to get to know you better. What is one of your worst habits, in any area, that you wouldn’t mind sharing with us?
Tamera: Oh...let’s see…that’s actually easy to answer right now. I tend to overextend myself. I always think I can do more than I actually can. Or write faster than I actually do. Or juggle more plates in the air that I can actually manage.

This is NOT something I like to admit but I had to call my editor today and ask for another month with From a Distance. The story is coming together well and I’m loving Daniel Ranslett and Elizabeth Westbrook (the hero/heroine) but with our family’s move from Colorado to Tennessee in June, I’ve just flat gotten behind on everything in my life. So that’s my worst habit right now—overcommiting. That and eating Peanut M&M’s for breakfast.

Thanks so much Tamera, for your time, insight to writing, and a peek at your new series coming out!

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