Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Award of Excellence to Molly Noble Bull!

The winners have just been announced for the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence for 2008. This is an award given by the Southern Magic branch of Romance Writers of America. In the Inspirational category, the winner is . . .

Molly Noble Bull!! Her book Sanctuary was voted as tops in this category by librarians, booksellers and avid readers of romance. It is exciting to see one of the books I reviewed receiving recognition for a novel that clearly presents a Christian worldview and seeks to glorify our Lord. Congratulations, Molly!

A review of this book appears in my blogs from October 2007.


The entire list of winners of the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence:

Historical-- My Lady's Treasure by Catherine Kean
Short Contemporary-- Blackmailed into Bed by Heidi Betts
Long Contemporary-- Riding the Thunder by Deborah MacGillivray
Paranormal-- Lady of Light and Shadows by C. L. Wilson
Inspirational-- Sanctuary by Molly Noble Bull
Contemporary Single Title-- Learning to Breathe by Karne White
Series Romantic Suspense (tie)-- The Perfect Stranger by Jenna Mills and
One Cool Lawman by Diane Pershing
Young Adult-- Prom Dates from Hell by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Novella-- Two For the Money by Leigh Wyndfield

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


May I introduce you to the main characters of Never Ceese? While the plot is important to the story, the characters are essential. After all, it's named for Ceese. And the sequel is named for Richard.

Ceese Photobucket

She was born Cecilia Collette Porter in Port Hampton, Wales, on January 8, 1802. Her parents were the Reverend Meredith Porter and his wife Julia, who had seven children before Cecilia was born. Ceese was her nickname. From the prologue, the reader knows that her mother was attacked and raped by a man, then scratched by a werewolf. It was for a sign, and it somehow affected Ceese before she was even born. She never knew the truth behind the attack on her mother, and Meredith raised her as lovingly as any of the other children. Ceese has striking emerald eyes, or at least she did as a child. After she became a werewolf, they were golden in wolf form and a greenish-gold in human form. With her round face, short blondish brown hair, and the striking eyes, She would have probably been noticed by others even when she didn't speak. I get the impression that she appears to be about 18, perpetually, in spite of being around for a couple of hundred years. When it became too difficult to live with humans, she turned to the wolf form for countless ages, and so when she answered a call to turn to the human again, she was like a naive child in the society of the 21st century. She had hidden from it for so long that it was only with difficulty that she even remembered speech and wearing clothes. There are some humorous scenes because of this, such as when she uses her leg to scratch an itch, and when she attacks Richard's 'mouse,' the one on his computer. Even with the tutoring she got from Penelope and Richard, New York was like a foreign planet to her.

I feel a warmth for Ceese from the very beginning, because she seems to be a sweet person, one who really wants to escape the curse of the wolf. When something startles her or angers her, however, she quickly loses control to the wolf. My guess is that it is the prayers of others, on her behalf, that has helped to restrain the urge to curse others. Ceese wants to remember her family and the teachings of her father. She tries to remember scripture, and even manages to say words that hurt her because of the curse. Holy words. She has a special ability to get inside people's minds and plant thoughts to make them act or say what she wants. She can also read thoughts of others at times, sometimes even at far distances. In, addition, Ceese displays some of the instincts you would expect from a wolf, although they are somewhat muted in human form. The others soon learn to trust her instincts about people and situations. And once she has connected with a person, as she did with Penelope or Rodney, she displays complete trust in that person. A dangerous enemy, but a most loyal friend.


The vampire is probably in his twenties, tall, with long bleached-blond hair and refined manners. Unlike Ceese, he refuses to remember his past. He has successfully forgotten who he was or who his parents were. It seems that he gave up long ago on any thoughts of redemption and has resigned himself to remaining in the cursed state. And yet...he takes pains to resist cursing another. He insists that he can't have feelings like normal people, yet he does not want to be parted from Penelope (he calls her Mama) and always gives in to her wishes (once he throws a bit of a tantrum). While he shows great disdain for his immoral neighbor and some unsavory characters in New York, he's considerate enough to the maid. And then there is his odd relationship with Ceese. When she shows up, he is jealous of all the time she spends with Mama, he loathes having a werewolf around, he fights with Ceese physically and vocally, but once he promises Penelope that he will look out for Ceese, he becomes quite protective. In fact, the more time they spend together, the more protective he becomes. Richard is sardonic, cynical, and jaded. Yet he shows his soft side with Penelope. He would do anything for her. She brought out the good in him which he denies is there. It's interesting how modern technology has entered his world, unlike that of Ceese, and his prized possession is his computer. And the main activity he does on this computer? Order blood, of course! Thanks to blood banks and such online, he gets a supply that fills his refrigerator.


Penny, also called Mamá by Richard, is the key connection for the werewolf and the vampire. Penny was a childhood friend of Ceese's, probably the closest friend she ever had. For some reason there is a very strong supernatural bond between them. The bond is strong enough that Ceese comes to the castle in answer to a telepathic call from Penny. Somewhere after the time Penny met Ceese, she met Richard and fell in love with him. Details leak out slowly about hem, so I don't want to say too much. Suffice it to say that Richard bonded with her in a way he didn't with any other human, but there was no sexual encounters. This is one detail that I think is quite different from some of the other modern vampires; Sue Dent's vampires and werewolves apparently don't become aroused that way. Penelope has grown old while Richard hasn't changed, and as the story begins, she is quite feeble. Yet she has this telepathic ability and a few other supernatural ones as well (hey, remember, this IS fiction!). She seems to know things that others don't. Unlike Richard and Ceese, her emotions run deep and true. At some point in the past she also became a Christian, and her faith is strong. Her greatest desire is to see Richard and Ceese break free from their curses, to be redeemed. Thanks to Richard, Penny learned to use the computer and found a relative in New York, a "granddaughter" named Cassie Felts. She began corresponding with Cassie, discovered that the young woman was working with genetics and DNA, and had a fascination with vampires. After many email back and forth, Penny became convinced that the answer to breaking the curse lay with Cassie. Before her time was gone, she called Richard in to tell him all of her plan and push him to take Ceese to New York and meet with Cassie.

Cassie Felts

American college student, working as an assistant to a strange but brilliant DNA researcher. Not knowing any family at all, Cassie is overjoyed to hear from a grandmother in England, Penelope. Eventually she learns that Penelope shares her fascination with vampires. Even more than that, she knows one intimately. Her grandmother's notes make up an important part of Cassie's personal notes, since she knows very few other people will believe it. Cassie appears to be a rather brilliant student, a young woman of the 21st century who is fairly sure of herself and what she wants to do. Unfortunately, she is just a bit too trusting and shares too much with Dr. Henderson, the obsessed professor that she worked with. Cassie naively believes that Henderson wants to help people, as she does. She doesn't realize that this megalomaniac is searching for eternal youth.


Rodney is Cassie's suitemate, and when he first appears in the novel, he is totally out for himself, even if it means selling information to get good grades. He had been passing Cassie's emails on to Dr. Henderson. Worse, he even conspired to waylay Richard and Ceese when they arrived, taking them to Dr. Henderson instead of Cassie's place. Amazingly, Ceese connected with Rodney (just how much she connected is kind of funny), and he started to change to a good guy as the action progressed. He and his two friends Josh (a hopeless drug addict) and Kyle provide some drama and humor in the second half of the book. Necessary minor characters that move the story along as well as providing some laughs and gasps.

I've mentioned Dr. Henderson, but since his role is mostly in the last section of the story, I don't want to write any spoilers, at least not more than I may have already. Let's just say he is the main nemesis, the great obstacle in the path for Ceese and Richard. Other characters that appear include Meredith and Julia Porter, Ceese's father and mother, who are essential to the tale. Zade is another werewolf, one who wants Ceese to come back with him, who lurks around the castle while Ceese is there.


On the main CFRB website, David Brollier has a wonderful discussion about the curse. I love how he applies it to all of us.

I missed one at Back to the Mountains, written by Stephen Rice. Interestingly enough, this one also has to do with the curse.

Melissa Meeks recorded her musings today at Bibliophile's Retreat.

Christian Mystery Writer

Although Never Ceese is available through other venues, we urge you to go to your local Barnes and Noble or order it through them online. If your local store doesn't have it onhand, they should be happy to order it for you.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Unstoppable Cecilia (Ceese for Short)

There’s a little novel that has been out for over a year now. People like me continue to discover it, each one of us certain that we’ve have found a hidden gem that defies description. That is to say, it doesn’t exactly fit into any tidy categorization or cubbyhole. Much like its author. What am I talking about? Never Ceese, the debut offering of Sue Dent. This week, the first full week of April, CFRB has decided to make Never Ceese their feature novel. A list of some participating bloggers will appear at the bottom of this article.

Is it a horror story, fantasy, science fiction, adventure, thriller, or what? Yes! While the story begins in the forest in Wales and a medieval castle in England, this vampire and werewolf are not typical of Gothic horror. Much of the traditional legend is present, but Sue Dent has added quite a few of her own twists in a modern-day setting. As a result you find a neighbor shooting silver bullets, a vampire with no reflection, but also a scientist gathering DNA and experimenting with genetic engineering, New York gangers at night, and University politics. For once the vampire and werewolf are the good guys, not monsters, and the reader will be rooting for them as they look for a way to remove their curses. Unlike any such creatures I have known before (and granted, I am not that familiar with lycanthropy or vampirism as a whole), Ceese and Richard have controlled the monster-curse in that neither of them has ever “cursed another” by biting or killing any other person. Richard is cynical, but Ceese holds to a hope of redemption The characters have plenty of tension, but a lot of humor is written into the tale, situational as well as in the conversations.

I’m not saying very much in the article today, but I intend to delve further into the characters and some issues later on in the week. I hope you get the idea, though, that I like the story. Action, humor, and spiritual matter; it’s a great story and more. If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you will soon. The sequel, Forever Richard, is due to be released in 2008, so you will want to read the first book in order to get the most out of the second one. I am extremely anxious myself to read the further adventures of Ceese, Richard and their friends (and nemesis).

Never Ceese
Author Sue Dent
Young Adult Fantasy
ISBN: 978-159958-017-3
Publisher: Journey Stone Creations
2006; 300 pgs; hardcover; $17.95

You can find more about Sue Dent and Never Ceese at http://www.suedent.com/ , www.shoutlife.com/suedent, and http://www.neverceese.com/

CFRB will be running blogs about Never Ceese all week at http://cfrblog.blogspot.com/

Other bloggers include the following:
A Frank Review
Back to the Mountains (Stephen Rice)—by the way, at least one of Stephen’s blogs is guaranteed to be hilarious.
Bibliophile’s Retreat
The Time Mistress (I’ve heard rumor of some unusual interviews that involve characters from a couple of stories. Should be interesting.) At least some of these blogs will also be posted on Geralyn Beauchamp’s Shoutlife page.
The Queen of Convolution

I will add more as the week progresses.

You can purchase Never Ceese at Amazon.com (price $12.73), and Barnes and Noble ($12.99).