Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Road to the Christys!

Welcome to Road to the Christys Blog Tour!

The Christy Award Dinner will be held next Monday, July 16, in Orlando, Florida in conjunction with the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS). I am beyond thrilled that I will be attending for the second year in a row!

Beginning yesterday, July 9, and continuing through Tuesday, July 17, blog tour participanats are celebrating the 2012 Christy Award nominees leading up to the Christy Awards banquet in Orlando, July 16, and the winners after they are presented.

Today, I am delighted to present a finalist in one of my very favorite categories, Historical Romance.

Tamera Alexander is a gifted author, and A Lasting Impression is aptly named not only for its story but for the impact it makes on those who visit the Belmont Mansion via its pages. Here is a summary of the story, followed by what I wrote in my review last November:

A fake. A forger. More than anything, Claire Laurent longs for the chance to live an authentic life, to become the woman she wants to be. And she'll be given that choice. But will it come at too costly a price?

Claire Laurent's greatest aspiration is to paint something that will bring her acclaim. Yet her father insists she work as a copyist. A forger. When she's forced to flee from New Orleans to Nashville only a year after the War Between the States has ended, her path collides with attorney Sutton Monroe. She considers him a godsend for not turning her in to the authorities. But after he later refuses to come to her aid, Claire fears she's sorely misjudged the man. Finding herself among the elite of Nashville's society, Claire believes her dream to create a lasting impression in the world of art is within reach--but only if her fraudulent past remains hidden.

The Federal Army has destroyed Sutton's home and confiscated his land, and threatens to destroy his family's honor. His determination to reclaim what belongs to him and to right a grievous wrong reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined--as well as the woman he loves.Set at Nashville's historic Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Mrs. Adelicia Acklen, A Lasting Impression is a sweeping love story about a nation mending after war, the redemption of those wounded, and the courage of a man and woman to see themselves--and each other--for who they really are.


Oh. My. I don't even know where to begin to write a review that can do justice to Tamera Alexander's latest masterpiece. When I opened this book, I knew I was in for a treat, and I still managed to be overwhelmed by it. Tammy is truly one of the most gifted authors I have read, and A Lasting Impression is her best novel yet. Just as a black and white sketch is only a faint depiction of a painting, the summary above can only give a glimpse into the outline of this book. Tamera Alexander brings life and color to these characters and this setting, not with brush and palette, but with words painted across the page. I found myself having a tug of war as I read: wanting to practically inhale the book to discover what happened next, yet also wanting to linger and stretch it out, making the story last as long as possible. Her characters practically step off the page - they are that well-portrayed. Claire's heartaches and fears, as well as her hopes and joys, are palpable, and I felt every one of her emotions as I read. Mrs. Adelicia Franklin Acklen made me sit up straight and proper; she was quite intimidating. And I absolutely quaked whenever Mrs. Routh, the housekeeper, walked into the room! That woman made my heart pound! The historical detail and the setting are richly depicted and neither heavy nor laborious, as some historical fiction novels can be. In fact, several times as I read, I found myself stopping to reread a portion because the prose was so breathtaking. Yet it never felt overdone or as if Tammy had just dumped a thesaurus onto the page! Beautiful spiritual truths are woven seamlessly into the story and give it a depth which makes it more than simply a pleasant read. Deceit, despair, forgiveness, redemption, faith, trust, and love make this an incredible novel. I think this is the first book I've ever read that I've been sorely tempted to immediately begin again reading Chapter One as soon as I turned the final page! I reflected on the characters and the message of the book for days; it definitely made A Lasting Impression on me!

Last year at ICRS, I had the privilege to sit down and chat with Tamera Alexander. She was nominated for a Christy last year as well, and this is what she had to say about awards:

I look at finaling in the Christy Awards as a win. I’ve finaled five [Mocha with Linda here: 2012 is number 6!] times, I think. It’s all very subjective – the difference between first place and second, third, fourth, whatever, is sometimes just a point or less. You have to remember that. You’re there by the grace of God to be given that affirmation at that time. But awards don’t sell more books, necessarily. It doesn’t mean that book is any better than another book. The awards are wonderful. But I think the affirmation from and the connection with readers is what’s wonderful. On that day when I think “I can’t write! What on earth am I doing trying to write another book?!” I don’t turn around and look at the awards. I get out reader mail and say, “I remember that--- when [this reader] wrote that she had just lost her mom after reading Within My Heart and it helped her on her journey, and her sharing that helped me on mine.” I remember you and I wrote some while Mom was sick and afterwards, and that just helps so much because you don’t feel alone. You realize we’re all in this together!
She also shared a little bit of her writing journey and how it related to A Lasting Impression
I always say writing is a journey, and it really is for me. I’ll be frank: it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There are a lot of things I can do that are easier than writing! I am currently contracted for a few more books but after that, I have no idea if God will continue to open a door for writing or not. If not, I’ll do whatever He wills because—and this was a theme in one of my books, too—I want to be centered in the middle of God’s will, whatever that is, no matter what it is, because that’s where the greatest happiness and contentment is found. Oftentimes I’ve kinda kicked against the goad or tried to go my own way. We try to chase after things we think will bring us happiness. That’s one of the themes of A Lasting Impression: chasing after what you think will make you happy and not really being authentic in your faith or as a person. You’re putting a front out there when really, the happiest and most contented—and honestly, the most effective for the kingdom—you’ll be, is just to be who you are, to be authentic. That’s been my journey over the last year and a half, specifically, of writing A Lasting Impression. That book is also my first antebellum book, a Southern historical.

I’m working on the next book, which takes place in the Belmont plantation. There will be three Belmont books and three Belle Meade books. So I’ll be in the South for awhile, writing about mansions. I’ll probably stay in the post-Civil War era, looking at the histories of those homes and those families, but it will be the fictional story woven behind the backdrop of the history. That will keep me busy, the way that I write, for probably four to five years, and then after that, who knows?

You can read that full interview with Tamera Alexander here.

I'll be interviewing Tammy next week about her next book, To Whisper Her Name (the first in the Belle Meade series), which will be released in September.

And I'll be eagerly watching to see if A Lasting Impression wins the Christy Award!

Come back Thursday for a look at another Christy finalist. To follow the Road to the Christys, check out the Christy Award Facebook page.

Also, you can be part of the action on Monday night by signing up for the Christy Award Liveblog, to be hosted by author Rachel Hauck!


View blog reactions


Teri said...

Great post and review, Linda! I've read all of Tammy's books and loved every one! I've not had the privilege of meeting Tammy in person, but from the interactions I've had with her, she seems to be very genuine. Love what you shared about her perspective on being nominated for awards and on writing.

pol said...

Hi Linda, loved reading your review and the comments from Tamera's about awards she has received and the ones from readers. I love to read books she has written. I have never had opportunity to meet her but she would like to. thanks for sharing today.
Paula )(kyflo130@yahoo.com)