Nancy Ruegg and Mitch Teemley from my writer’s group both posted this review of my latest novel. Nancy wrote it and then Mitch reposted it on his blog. I ‘m so very grateful to both of them. The writing journey is lonely until you gather a community around yourself, and these two have been precious: Their blogs are well worth checking out.
Impressions Becoming Expressions
By Nancy Ruegg
Within the first year of moving from Florida to Ohio in 2014, I happened* to read about a writers’ group that met at a church not far from our home. It’s been my privilege to meet with these talented folks twice a month ever since. Among us are a few bloggers, several poets and short-story writers, a filmmaker, and four who are working on novels.One of those novelists is Colleen Scheid whose third book was published this spring: Someone They Can Trust (available on Amazon.com).
The three main characters—Maya, Matt, and Janice—are members of the same church and participate in the same small group. Though diverse in age, race, and background, these people become extended family for one another. Colleen shows us through story how such meaningful relationships can be built.What she doesn’t do is paint a perfect picture of perfect people. Maya, Matt, and Janice are each dealing with their own difficulties and fighting their own spiritual battles. Their struggles and imperfections, however, make them believable, and very quickly the reader cares about each one and how they might find release from what troubles them.One over-arching problem faces them all: their new pastor is not what they’d thought him to be. Matt and Janice are among the first to notice he seems a bit too charming and even manipulative.
And yet there are those within the church, even among the leadership, who think he’s wonderful. Given what Matt and Janice (and eventually Maya) discover, they must determine the best way forward for the sake of their beloved church.
Along with the intriguing plot, I also appreciated these aspects of Colleen’s book: the unique urban setting, the well-developed characters and the relational dynamics among them, the pleasure of three points-of-view instead of just one or two, and Colleen’s delightful, descriptive writing style.Here are a few examples of that style.[When Maya, an artist, is sketching swans]: “. . . she could rely on a delicious slip into a serene, joyful state. It seems to her that the Creator was letting her in on secrets, free to anyone who paid attention” (p. 2).“Maya could tell that the yard was landscaped by professionals. Impressive stone stairs angled up through three terraces with walls of the same stone, containing well-behaved plants that bloomed purple, pink, or white” (p. 113).[When worship leader, Matt, arrives at church one Sunday morning]: “Matt . . . found himself dragging his feet in the parking lot. It felt like the wind had changed. His enthusiasm used to sweep him into the building; now reluctance sucked him back” (p. 157).
Colleen writes on her About-the-Author page that her love of realistic stories set in real locations is an outgrowth of her journalism degree. Her interest in the interior worlds of her characters stems from a master’s degree in counseling. I would add that her years of performing with a Christian theater company have also fine-tuned her expression of character.
And all three of these areas of interest and expertise contribute to the authenticity of Colleen’s story—a story to enjoy and learn from. P.S. You might also like to celebrate Christmas in July with her collection of delightful stories for the season: Christmas on Pleasant Hill. You can access a review of this book here: https://nancyaruegg.com/2016/11/17/christmas-on-pleasant-hill/.
*Those of you who regularly read my posts know that I don’t believe so much in coincidence as I do in God-incidents. My introduction to this writers’ group is a prime example. Photo credits: office scene, http://www.pxfuel.com. All others used by permission from Colleen Sheid.