Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Introducing Rel Mollet


By Dorothy Adamek

It’s my pleasure to introduce and welcome Rel Mollet to our ACW readers, today. 
Rel’s a Melbourne girl, but she’s known worldwide for her reviewing of Christian fiction and much admired as a champion of writers. I had the privilege of taking Rel on a lunch date a few weeks ago. 
Rel Mollet ~ Relz Reviews
We first met many miles from home, at the 2013 ACFW conference in Indianapolis, where Rel captured some of her author interviews on video. You can see those, and much more at Relz Reviewz.

Rel’s joining us for a regular quarterly guest post at ACW. Look out for her first post next week. 
So why is Rel a much respected reviewer? Here’s some of what she shared with me. 
Dotti ~ You're known worldwide for your impressive website, author spotlights and reviews. How did Relz Reviewz come about, and what keeps you doing it?
Rel ~ Well, thank you for your kind words, Dotti, you’ve made me blush!
I began writing some fiction reviews for Koorong’s fiction e-newsletter around 2005, I think. I printed off each review to keep in a file as I was so chuffed to have the opportunity to talk about what I loved so much ~ quality fiction written by people of faith. That’s more of a mouthful than Christian Fiction but I think it more accurately reflects the reality. At the time, I was mentoring a beautiful young woman and she had started a personal blog that I loved to read. It struck me one day that the blog format would be a better way to “store” my reviews, and thus began Relz Reviewz. I knew my mum and sister would enjoy reading my reviews and didn’t once think my audience would be broader than those people who loved me!
I remember finding the courage to email the fabulous Siri Mitchell to thank her for the wonderful hours I had spent reading her novels, Chateau of Echoes and Kissing Adrien. She offered to put me in touch with her then publishing house to arrange review copies to be sent to me ~ I was beyond thrilled. Soon I became part of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, and began receiving books from all the major Christian publishing houses to review. This also enabled me to continue my practice of running a personal library ~ lending books to my family, friends, church family, and others who might not otherwise have ongoing access to Christian novels.
As for what keeps me doing it? Well, I am passionate about connecting readers to great faith fiction, I have a heart for authors who want to share their God given talents with readers – who have poured part of themselves into each story. I want to support them and connect them with readers who will be encouraged, challenged, and blessed by what they read. I want to continue to share my library with others. It is where my passion lies!
Dotti ~ Wow! I’m sure all authors would echo my thanks for your tireless work, encouragement and promotion. Australia is very blessed to claim you as her own, and I guess we’re ok to share you with the rest of the world. (wink)  Your website mentions your book club. How does that run and what's your involvement?
Rel ~ At the suggestion of a former pastor who knew my love of books, I began a book club around 14 years ago, and lead it at that church for about 12 years.  Upon leaving that church, I have began a book club in my home and am blessed to have some original members from the first meeting 14 years ago attending. We meet every six weeks on a Friday night, geared up to discuss a selected novel, enjoy each others’ company, and eat a yummy supper!
As a result of my connections with authors, publishers, and publicists through my blog, on most occasions we have input from the author of the book by way of a written Q & A, telephone conference, Skype, or video chat. It really adds something special to the night. We’ve had telephone conferences with authors including Tamara Leigh, Charles Martin, and Jenny B Jones. We’ve skyped with Ronie Kendig, had Q&As with Jolina Petersheim, Tosca Lee, Julie Cantrell, Cathy Gohlke, Robert Liparulo, and many more.

Dotti ~ I’m sure your book club members know they’re blessed to read and share some of your excellent choices. Reading for pleasure is one thing, but reviewing is a particular skill. What are the challenges in reviewing Christian fiction?
Don't hate me. Lunch date with Rel :)
Rel ~ For me, I don’t know that the challenges would be any different than if I was reviewing general market fiction. I want to write honest reviews but not scathing ones. Maintaining integrity with my readers is vital - I will say when something didn’t work well for me. However, I won’t shred an author to pieces if the book was poorly written but will highlight the positive and the negative, as I experienced it. My obligation as a reviewer is to my readers – not the author or the publishing house.

Dotti ~ How do you define a quality book?
Rel ~ A quality book to me is one that evokes a response. Whether that response be feeling encouraged, challenged, surprised, delighted, saddened, thrilled, terrified, or joyous. I want to feel engaged by the characters, immersed in the plot, transported to the location. A book that makes me think, question, or wonder. Those are quality books for me, even if in some instances they may have technical weaknesses, as long as those weaknesses don’t pull me out of the story too much, and I respond in some emotional or heartfelt way, I’m hooked!

Dotti ~ Thats’s a great checklist. What turns you off reading a book?
Rel ~ Cliches – whether characters, dialogue, or plot. Lack of authenticity. Bad cover art (unless I know the author’s work but I still might not read it publicly ;-) Might be shallow, I know!).

Dotti ~ No, I share your 'shallow' view of boring covers. Are there any writing mistakes or issues that bug you?
Rel ~ The use of “devastatingly handsome”! Ugh!!! Makes me shudder. What does it even mean?! 
Unauthentic writing.
Shallow characters. 
An antagonist that is overtly horrible/deceitful/mean in a way that is obvious to every other character but the heroine.
Dotti ~ So much to think about. I’m with you on those cliches. Thanks for chatting with us today, Rel. We’re thrilled to have you join the ACW team and look forward to your post next week. 
Rel ~ Thanks, Dotti, what a treat to visit here! Thanks for having me. 
*****
Please welcome Rel to Australasian Christian Writers. She’s made a compelling mark in the world of Christian fiction reviewing, and no doubt her wisdom in future posts will challenge us all.  
What would you like to see Rel cover next? 


*****

Dorothy Adamek lives in Melbourne with her Beloved and their three gorgeous kids.
She's the winner of the 2013 FHL ~ Touched By Love Competition. Enamoured by all things 19th century, she writes The Heartbeat of Yesteryear, Historical Romance - Aussie style. Come say G'day at her blog, Ink Dots. 

40 comments:

  1. I'd like to know what she thinks about "crossover" fiction and the trend for fiction from the big publishing houses (e.g. Thomas Nelson) to be more "inspirational" than "Christian".

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    1. A good questions, Iola. Something I too am very curious about.

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    2. Hi Iola ~ I do have thoughts on that question ;-) Look for a post about it down the track!

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    3. Looking forward to that one, Rel. And all of your posts here. :)

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  2. Great interview, ladies. Good to learn the history behind Relz Reviewz. Long may Rel continue to bless the global Christian writing community with her presence.

    Thanks Dotti for sharing Rel with the ACW team.

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    1. You are very kind, Ian ~ meeting writers like you makes reviewing a wonderful experience :)

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    2. My pleasure Ian. I had a wonderful afternoon getting to know Rel better. :)

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  3. Thanks for that interview Dottie and Rel. I had not heard of Relz Reviewz before. On my way over to check it out now.

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    1. Hi Dale ~ Hope you enjoy your visit to my blog.

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    2. So glad I could introduce Rel to the gang, Dale. :)

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    1. Sorry, had to delete my previous comment as too many typos. A lesson in more careful editing first before clicking on Publish?
      It was a privilege to meet you at the Australian Christian Library Association meeting in Melbourne last year, Rel. Just wish we'd been able to arrive earlier to hear all your very interesting talk. This is a great post and one I need to re-read and try harder to put your excellent points about writing into practice. I really do appreciate honest reviews. They should not only help readers to choose books that appeal to them but writers to always keep improving.

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    2. It was a delight to meet you, Mary ~ I have some of your books on my bookshelves. In fact, I think Road to Baragula was one I reviewed for Koorong when it first released!

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  5. What a joy to read this! I loved the interview, Dotti. Rel, I loved getting a peek into your beginning on this road, and how your heart for readers and authors is anchored in such genuine care. You're such a blessing!

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    1. You are always the sweetest encourager, Amanda - thanks for visiting and for your lovely comment xo

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    2. Hi Amanda, thanks for coming by and cheering for Rel. You're right about her being a blessing. :)

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  6. Thanks for the interesting interview, ladies. It's lovely to meet you, Rel. I have heard of Relz Reviewz but didn't know you are an Aussie. I appreciate your thoughts on what makes a quality book. I agree, the emotional response elicited from the reader should be top of the list. Thanks for your dedicated reviewing.

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    1. Hi Paula ~ appreciate your comment. I own an original copy of Picking Up the Pieces and thought it was a terrific book :)

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    2. Hi Paula, I'm sure you'll hear more about Rel and Relz Reviews in the days to come. :)

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  7. A really interesting interview to read--thanks Dotti and Rel. And welcome to ACW on a regular basis, Rel! I truly admire your dedication over all these years, not only in reviewing books but also in running that book club. What a neat idea of connecting via Skype or whatever with the author when you meet! God bless.

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    1. Hi Jo-Anne, I'm keen to know more about the book club, too. :)

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    2. Thank you, Jo-Anne. Book Club is just a real joy for me - I love it!

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  8. Great to meet you, Rel, and thanks Dotti for the excellent interview. Really appreciate Rel's checklists, both positive and negative. Good on you, Rel, for all your hard work and support of Christian fiction. Will head on over to your website now :)

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    1. Hi Andrea, we're thrilled to have Rel join us and share more of what's on her heart. :)

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    2. I appreciate that, Andrea :) Hope you enjoy your visit to the blog!

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  9. Welcome Rel. I first met Rel online around the middle of 2007 at Shelfari and she invited me to check out her blog. Have been a regular visitor ever since. I don't post as often as I use to be I do get the emails of all posts. Have won a few books there also.
    Look forward to seeing your posts Rel. Maybe one day when I get to Melbourne and meet Dottie I can also meet you. Bad cover art puts me off a book too. I have read some good books that I won but would never have looked twice at if it was in the bookshop.

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    1. Yes, Jenny... that's a date for when you're next in Melbourne. :)

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    2. Jen - it has been many years, hasn't it?! Can't quite believe it. Would love to meet up with you when you are in Melbourne! Always love your comments on the blog :)

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  10. I thoroughly enjoyed this interview with Rel, Dottie. Ahhh, just thinking of all those books to read. But also the integrity involved in being upbeat all the time by encouraging the author. So many shred an author's writing when they haven't attempted it themselves. It's great to know there's an Aussie reviewer out there who is so very helpful to her readers...and authors too. You can depend on someone like that.

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    1. You're so right, Rita. Rel is a dependable source of information and excellent example of a reader who knows what she wants in Christian fiction.

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    2. Thanks for dropping by, Rita, and for your kind words. Writers have been such a blessing to me, it's so good to be able to do something that supports them :)

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  11. Hi Rel and Dotti, great interview! Rel, welcome to ACW! We're excited that you're joining the team and I'm looking forward to your first post next week :) It was lovely to meet you in Indy last year and I hope we have an opportunity to meet again soon.

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    1. I'm so glad you persevered and found me at ACFW. Meeting you was a highlight for me. Fancy having to go halfway around the world to meet up with two wonderful Aussie girls! Come on down!!

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    2. Yes, it was slightly crazy to meet in Indy for the first time!

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  12. Hi Narelle, I'm so glad we tracked Rel down that night. It wasn't easy, but we found her in the end. :)

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  13. Hi Rel, welcome! What an amazing experience to connect with the authors as you read their books, I'm sure your group loves it! This is the second mention of a book club and I'm getting a hankering to join one - or start one. I'd love to hear more about what you hear from readers as so often we writers hear what writers think. It was great to hear your thoughts.

    Thanks Dotti for the interview - I'm glad you tracked her down too!

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    1. Thanks Catherine - book club is a real blast. I say go for it, one way or the other :) I do hear a lot from readers so I'll be happy to share.

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  14. Great interview Dotti & Rel. Fascinating to hear about how Relz Reveiw's came into being and also about the book club Rel runs.

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