Wednesday, October 31, 2007
"I've always thought Denise Hunter was an amazing writer but this wonderful story sets her firmly at the forefront of compelling love stories. How Landon breaks down Samantha's determination that she is unworthy of love kept me glued to the pages. An amazing story!"
--Colleen Coble, author of Fire Dancer (Smoke Jumper Seri
Denise has kindly agreed to an interview. Her sweet spirit and commitment to craft comes through in her answers. Enjoy!
1) Surrender Bay is the start of a new series for you. What is the inspiration behind this story and series?
Surrender Bay was born out of my desire to tell a unique love story. After three women's fiction books, I realized my main passion is romance, yet I didn't want to write a trite romance novel. I wanted to write something that showed God's love in real way, something that stayed with the reader for days afterward. I hope I managed to accomplish that.
The fiction team at Thomas Nelson really helped me hone this series into something unique. On the surface, they are stories of couples falling in love. At the heart, these stories are parables, with the hero of each story representing some quality about God's love. Surrender Bay focuses on the theme that God will never leave us. Hence, Landon never leaves the Samantha . . . regardless of what she does to chase him away.
2) This series is set in Nantucket. How did you decide on that location for the setting?
I was looking for something unique. Well, romantic too. :-) I tried to think about what settings appealed to me as a reader and yet haven't been overdone. Once I settled on Nantucket, my family visited the island, and I fell in love with the place!
3) Your prior series had a strong women's fiction bent. This one is different. In what ways?
Well, first of all, this one is pure romance. My last women's fiction novel, Finding Faith, had a subplot that was a romantic thread, and I noticed when I was writing that book that I enjoyed writing the subplot more than the main plot, even though it was only a simple romance plot. I also noticed as a reader I was having trouble finding love stories that were clean, well-written, serious, and emotional. I figured if I liked that kind of story, surely there were other readers wanting them too.
The other difference is something I alluded to above. The women's fiction novels had an overt faith threat in the plot. The characters talk about God and their faith--nothing wrong with that! With the Nantucket series, I decided to try the parable approach. I think parables have a unique way of showing us the familiar in a very fresh way. That is my hope with Surrender Bay.
4) As you wrote Surrender Bay, what did you learn from the characters?
I learned they had minds of their own! Just when I thought I knew what they were doing next, they went and changed things up on me.
5) Time for a fun question...if you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be and who would you take with you?
Alaska! I've never been before, but I'd love to find a quaint little town to set a story or series in. I'd take my family. We love trekking around together, and I'd want to cover as much of as Alaska as possible, taking in the gorgeous scenery and wildlife. The boys are 15, 12, and 9--great ages for traveling!
Thanks so much for joining me, Denise.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
A BIG APPLE CHRISTMAS
By Vasthi Reyes Acosta, Gail Sattler, Lynette Sowell, and Carrie Turansky
A Contemporary romance collection that captures the sights and sounds of the Christmas season in New York City.
How did you come up with the ideas for your novella?
Vasthi: Growing up in New York City, as a small Puerto Rican girl, I loved the fact that Christmas didn't end for me on Christmas day. We still had El Dia de los Reyes (Epiphany or Three Kings Day) to look forward to. We received gifts on that day as well. The night before January 6th, tradition dictates that water and grass be left out for the wise men and their camels. In return the wise men left us a small gift. I always felt special knowing that while my classmates enjoyed their Christmas gifts I still had more gifts coming after the new year. So naturally I wanted to write about our celebration of El Dia de los Reyes.
Gail: The hustle and bustle of New York City at Christmas time is special and unique, and fun! And most of all, crowded. Then I thought of what it would be like to be surrounded by such a crowd, with nothing but a list of fun places to go and fun things to do, and Shopping For Love was born.
Lynette: I think New York is a special place at Christmas time, and I'd always wanted to write a Christmas novella. Then one November, I saw a news clip of how the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is selected. Enter my widowed heroine and her scheming children who surprise her with a trip to see her tree in Rockefeller Center.
Carrie: I love stories that bring characters together who are very different from each other, so the idea of matching a professional organizer and a free-spirited poet intrigued me. New York City is a wonderful place to visit at Christmas time, and I thought setting our story there would be enjoyable for our readers.
It’s often said that writers need to read, read, read! So tell us what you are reading.
Vasthi: I'm always reading more than one book at a time. Master Class in Fiction Writing by Adam Sexton and Courting Trouble by Deanne Gist.
Carrie: I always have a book or two on my nightstand. Recently I’ve read A Bigger Life by Annette Smith, The Restorer by Sharon Hink, In Search of Eden by Linda Nichols, Off the Record by Elizabeth White, and Remembered by Tammy Alexander.
Lynette: I have a couple of Love Inspired Suspense novels on my stack. I just got started on Christine Lynxwiler's latest release, Forever Christmas.
Gail: A book by fellow author and friend, Lena Nelson Dooley.
What's next for you in your writing?
Vasthi: I'm hoping to find a home for my trilogy and write the third novel in the series.
Carrie: I am just finishing Surrendered Hearts for Love Inspired. Next I hope to work on a Civil War story set in Richmond. I also have an international adventure/romance set in Kenya that I am just beginning to brainstorm with my daughter who just returned from working in Africa for several months.
Lynette: I love mysteries, and I love romantic suspense. I'm working on becoming a better writer in both genres.
Gail: I'm working on a chick lit, but it's still in the beginning stages.
Are you a "plotter" or a "seat-of-the-pants" writer?
Vasthi: Both. I like to plot out as much as I can first to feel confident of the story I'm going to tell, but then I start writing and scenes appear that I hadn't planned, and characters show up that I didn't know, so I just flow with it.
Carrie: I am a plotter. I work on my characters and setting first, then I write a running outline that no one sees but me. (Thank goodness!) Then I revise that and write my synopsis. From there I begin writing and sometimes I deviate from the outline a little, but not too much.
Lynette: Both. I think the right amount of planning and plotting are necessary so I don't write myself into a corner. But I also like to keep my brain open for any neat twists that come up with my characters.
Gail: Definitely a plotter. I have to know the ending before I write the first word.
What writing resources do you recommend?
Vasthi: Become a member of American Christian Fiction Writers--it is a fabulous group! Subscribe to Writer's Digest, visit author web sites there is a lot of wonderful writing advice for free. Maybe someday I'll have my own web site too.
Carrie: I agree with Vasthi. Joining ACFW has helped me tremendously. I’ve also gained a lot from attending writers’ conferences. I often consult Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King.
Lynette: Besides finding a good critique group and writing group, read a lot. Pick up some good craft books. I like Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell and Getting Into Character by Brandilyn Collins.
Gail: Other authors are the biggest resource. Join a writing group, either in person or online, and get involved.
Who has been one of your best encouragers on your writing journey?
Vasthi: My family. They are my cheerleaders.
Carrie: My mother-in-law and my daughters.
Lynette: My husband. He won't let me quit.
Gail: My husband. He indulges me and takes care of everything he can so I can write.
Please stop by the special new web site we created for this book. You can read excerpts of each novella, learn more about the authors, see some of our favorite Christmas recipes and enjoy photos of New York City. We have some fun giveaways planned for our readers, so pick up a copy of A BIG APPLE CHRISTMAS and get ready to answer the questions and enter the draws starting in October.
You can learn more about the authors at their websites:
THE RETURN (Navpress Publishing Group July 13, 2007)
by Austin Boyd
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Austin Boyd writes from his experience as a decorated Navy pilot, spacecraft engineer and an astronaut candidate finalist. Austin lives with his wife Cindy and four children in America’s “Rocket City”--Huntsville, Alabama, where he directs business development for a large NASA and defense contractor. His creative talents include inspirational fiction and poetry, finely crafted reproduction colonial furniture, archery and long distance cycling. He serves his community as an advocate for a crisis pregnancy center and as a motivational speaker in the area of lifestyle evangelism. THE RETURN is part of the Mars Hill Classified Series with The Evidence and The Proof
ABOUT THE BOOK:
IS SEEING BELIEVING? Six years after completing a manned mission to the Red Planet, Admiral John Wells is set to make another journey to Mars. But this time his crew is not alone, as John's team encounters a secret colony comprised of individuals pursuing John Raines' strange religion, the "Father Race." While John begins to uncover a web of lies on Mars, his wife and daughter are struggling for survival on earth. Now John must survive his dangerous mission and find a way back home, even as a shocking plan begins to unfold millions of miles away on earth. Austin Boyd is back with his third thrilling novel in the Mars Hill Classified series, full of high-tech intrigue, memorable characters, and adventure that transports readers to another world.From the Back Cover: With nothing left for him on Earth, Rear Admiral John Wells didn't hesitate to lead a third NASA team to Mars, but he never dreamed that one day they'd look out their laboratory module into the lights of a slow-moving vehicle not their own. In the third installment of the Mars Hill Classified series, life on Mars becomes increasingly more unpredictable as the past collides with the future and nothing, not even the dead, is as it seems. Meanwhile, back on Earth, the fate of hundreds, including John Wells' family--presumed dead these last six years--rests precariously in the hands of Malcolm Raines, self-proclaimed Guardian of the Mother Seed and Principal Cleric of Saint Michael's Remnant, and his insidious plans for the Father Race.Wells will find himself in a race against time and all odds to expose the truth: about Mars, about Malcolm Raines, and, if he's very brave, about himself.
"Austin Boyd is one of the brightest new voices in Christian fiction. His long association with the space program lends authenticity as he reveals the turmoil in the minds and hearts of those who are willing to risk everything by making that journey. In The Return, we learn that both human emotions and God's presence reach far beyond the pull of Earth's gravity."--Richard L Mabry, author of The Tender Scar
Monday, October 29, 2007
The folks over at Bloggy Giveaways have organized a fall blog giveaway. I love giving things away without an excuse. Give me an excuse, and I'm a sucker. In the spirit of fall and thankfulness, I'm giving away an autographed copy of Canteen Dreams. Leave a comment on this post this week to be entered in the drawing. I'll post the winner's name this weekend.
About the book:
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” —John 15:13
In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Audrey Stone wants to help in the war effort. But what’s a young schoolteacher from Nebraska to do? When her community starts a canteen at the train station, Audrey finds her place. She spends nearly every spare moment there, offering food and kindness to the soldiers passing through. Despite her busyness, Audrey does allow some time to get to know a handsome rancher.
Willard Johnson worries about his brother who joined the navy to get off the ranch and see the world. When Willard’s worst fear is confirmed, he feels he must avenge by enlisting himself. But will his budding relationship with Audrey weather the storms of war? Or will one of the many soldiers at the canteen steal her away from him?
Can two such determined people find their place in the war and with each other?
I only have one rule...entries must be from the United States only. Thanks!
And go here to see the long list of giveaways.
- Mosaic by Amy Grant: Finished. Great book!
- Bygones by Kim Sawyer Vogel. Fantastic book! Once I picked it up I couldn't put it down. Also read the sequel Beginnings-- both in about 48 hours total. I honestly didn't think I'd enjoy books that deal with the contrast between Mennonite and current culture, but I LOVED these. Kim is such a talented writer! I'll have an interview with her up in the next week or so.
- Void by Mark Mynheir. Ohmigosh! Amazing. What a high concept book. Very enjoyable read!
- Several new books that have come in that I am really looking forward to reading include: Splitting Harriet by Tamara Leigh, When the Morning Comes by Cindy Woodsmall, and The Road Home by Tommy Tenney and Mark Andrew Olsen.
Football. What can I say? It's a good thing Husker football does not dictate my emotions. (Hey, quit snorting, Janna!). You see, we should have won on Saturday. Both the offense and defense showed up and played really hard. But we still lost. The only good news is I actually got to watch the game. Sigh. Oh well. GO HUSKERS! And the Purdue Boilermakers are still on a roll (6-2). And how about them Colts! Let's just say next Sunday's game with the Patriots is going to be amazing. Tom Brady (let's throw as many touchdowns as possible) colliding with Peyton Manning (it's all about team). Everything will have to work perfectly, but it should be a great day.
Back to our regularly scheduled blogging :-)
Thursday, October 25, 2007
IT'S BEEN 500 YEARS IN THE MAKING...PREPARE TO BE ILLUMINATED...
August Adams has failed his family before. He's sacrificed relationships in pursuit of adventure, fame, and money. Now the very lives of those he loves depend on his ability to decipher a centuries-old puzzle encrypted in the colorful hand-painted illuminations that adorn three rare Gutenberg Bibles.
It's a secret that could yield unimaginable wealth, undermine two major religions, and change the course of Western civilization. Two ruthless, ancient organizations are willing to do anything to get their hands on it. And August has the span of one transatlantic flight to figure it out.
If he fails, those he holds most dear will die. If he succeeds, he'll destroy a national treasure.
The clock ticks, the suspense mounts, and the body count rises as August pits his knowledge and his love for his family against the clock, secret societies, and even Johannes Gutenberg himself.
"...this rare breed of suspense thriller combines mysterious hidden clues, secret societies, buried treasure, double agents, and the Knights Templar...if you turned National Treasure into international treasure, traded DaVinci codes for Gutenberg Bibles, married it to Indiana Jones, and added the pacing of 24 you'd be in the neighborhood of Illuminated...on a scale of one to 10, this one goes to 11."
-Aspiring Retail Magazine
The publisher told me that when they bought this book, they expected it to be good. However, they were so blown away with the manuscript that they rushed it to hard cover. That's quite a vote of confidence from a publisher!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Ten Years ago: It was 1997. I was 23 and had just started my first semester of law school at George Mason Law School. I'd been married almost two years and lived in an apartment in Alexandria, Virginia with my hubby. I worked for a non-profit, the Leadership Institute, and I believe the organization was still in Springfield, VA, renting space in the Right To Work building. Though we were getting awfully close to moving to Clarendon in Arlington. The challenge was working full time and traveling most weekends during the semester and going to school five nights a week. Yikes!
Twenty Years ago: It was 1987. I was 13 and we lived in Seward, Nebraska. My mom and dad had our first Runza franchise. We were in our third year of homeschooling, and I loved school. Dad was starting to get the itch to open another store, so we'd move to North Platte within the year. I was active in a youth group in Lincoln, and this youth group revolutionized my life. It took my faith and made it active and incredibly real. The youth group camps were amazing -- no one treated us like kids and expected us to move in the Spirit. Foundational year for so many areas of my life. And we still lived mere miles from grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We probably butchered chickens that summer, too. Ugh.
Thirty Years ago: Umm, I was three. And I don't remember much. We probably still lived in Phenix City, Alabama. I had a younger sister and a dog named Blitz. What, you expect a three year old to remember more! :-) I know that Joanna Nash and I were already good friends because we were already celebrating our birthdays in joint parties.
I've loved each stage of my life, but am really enjoying this one -- even though it's filled with lots of changes and transitions. It's fun to look back and see how God has directed my life. So what were you doing 10, 20, 30 years ago?
I'd tag specific people, but I have a feeling you've already been tagged. Here we go anyway: Sabrina, Janna, Joanna, Colleen, and whoever else wants to join in the fun.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
So how do you figure out a child’s learning style? Take me for instance. Okay, so I’m not 12 anymore, but I had to laugh when I took a learning style test. I answered yes to both of these stsatements “I need to hear instructions” and “I need to read instructions.” Now those two options are supposed to be mutually exclusive, but for me they aren’t.
I take voracious notes when sitting in a lecture or listening to a sermon. I always remember twice as much that way. But just reading or just listening isn’t as effective. I need to interact with the material both ways. So me thinks I’m visual with auditory leanings. Then I look at another test and think maybe I’m a kinesthetic learner. Yikes!
Then there’s my daughter. I’m trying, really I am, to figure out how she learns best. She’s almost a fluent reader, but at this point 90% of what we do is auditory, because I’m still reading aloud to her. So I have to quiz her to see what she absorbed. Fortunately, she’s got a quick mind and good recall. But when it comes to math, I often have to visually demonstrate principles to her.
So what’s a parent to do? How have you learned to work with your child/children’s learning styles to make them successful in the classroom and life? For an interesting summary on learning styles, check out this page. And here’s a great chart from Cynthia Tobias to use with your child’s teacher.
Cross-posted at Generation NeXt Parenting.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Then on Saturday we lost to Texas Tech. That makes the season 4-4. We're not even bowl eligible yet. Sigh.
The good news is that Purdue won and is now 6-2 for the season! We were at the game with our dear friends the Jollys. They'd flown out for the weekend, and I've decided they are good luck charms. Now I have to figure out how to get them to Lincoln for a game before the Huskers' season completely implodes!
And I know I mentioned this before, but Tony Dungy's book is amazing. If you haven't read it and like football even the tiniest bit, I really encourage you to get the book. It is fantastic. And there are tidbits from the book I am pulling out in all kinds of conversations. Winning. Adoption. Dealing with a child's death. God directing careers. Choices you'd like to redo. Being able to look back and see God's hand in the decisions you've made. Excellent book!
Friday, October 19, 2007
1. Crimson Eve is book three in the Kanner Lake series, and it races to the end from the very first page. How did you get the idea for this book?
I sort of backed into it. When you’re writing a series, you have more to consider than just the current book. I knew Crimson Eve would be book three of a four-book series. I already knew what I’d be doing in the fourth book, Amber Morn. That story is a culmination of all my Java Joint characters—an ensemble cast. In the first two Kanner Lake books, Violet Dawn and Coral Moon, I featured Paige and Leslie, respectively as the main characters. What happened to each of them involved the whole town.
Kanner Lake’s a small, idyllic place. It used to be quiet until I got hold of it.
Wait a minute. I created it.
Well, anyway. (This fact-and-fiction thing can be quite mind-bending.) I figured with the havoc I’d already wreaked upon the town in books one and two, to be surpassed only by the havoc I planned to wreak in book four, I needed to give the poor town a break in Crimson Eve. So I focus on the character of Carla and take her out of Kanner Lake proper into the surrounding countryside. Only thing is, in giving the town a break, I then had to unleash all my havoc upon Carla herself.
2. This book, like the rest of the Kanner Lake series, blends the past and the present, but this time it collides on the very last page. Were there extra challenges to writing a book that is so closely woven in time?
The challenges I faced in writing the book focused more on the present-day events than in weaving the present with the past. In fact the dichotomy between how the past scenes and present ones play out allowed me to use the jumping back and forth in time to increase tension in an interesting way. The suspense action of the present-day story takes place in a mere 27-28 hours. The past story spreads out over about 10-11 months. Placing scenes from the wider-spread past story at key “hook” points in the current continuous-action story made those present-day chapter hooks all the more effective. Then, to keep readers interested in the past story, I tried to end those chapters also with strong hooks. In this way, the reader has questions and tension about both times in the main character’s life—and wants desperately to see how it all comes together in the end.
3. This is the first book of yours that my husband has read (I know, about time!), and he read it even faster than I did. Do you plan on cross-over appeal?
The majority of my audience is women, but many men read and enjoy my books. One of the ways I work to keep men interested is to feature a strong supporting male character. Now in Crimson Eve that’s not so much the case. For instance Chief Edwards doesn’t show up much in this story. Yet men do seem to be really enjoying this book. A bit surprising to me, because the issues covered are so female-oriented.
But—there’s always the suspense story itself, which men tend to like. And this is a chase story, which men also tend to enjoy. In addition the “bad guy” hit man gets to show a good side of himself, while a supposedly “good” and powerful man shows a very bad side. So perhaps it’s the multi-layering of the male characters that makes it all interesting.
Also, maybe it’s something else—an emotional impact at a level that a male reader may not even think he’d like in a book. But the dilemma that the teenage Carla gets herself into is so heart-rending. A slow play-out of certain tragedy—but you don’t know the final outcome. So even though that part of the story focuses on a teenage girl—I don’t know, maybe men feel a protectiveness toward her. For whatever reason, they’re getting caught up in her story.
4. The pages of this book are filled with the consequences of past decisions. What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
That the decisions we make in our present will form our past—which directly affects our future. We are what we have been. The terrible, wrong-headed decisions we can get caught up in may hurt us in unforeseen ways down the road—and even worse, hurt those we love.
For those yet to make the wrong decisions—I hope to steer them clear, make them think twice. For those who have long ago made the decisions—I hope to steer them toward God. He is the Great Healer.
5. What did you learn while writing this book?
Actually, I’m learning more now—with the release of Crimson Eve. I’ve been blessed to see all my books well-received. But the response to Crimson Eve has been way above and beyond what I expected. This book is resonating with people at a whole new level. Reader after reader says it’s my best, or at least their favorite of the Kanner Lake series. I’ve tried to study on what exactly that’s all about.
Perhaps it’s the blend of suspense with Carla’s characterization. Or perhaps the trauma in her life—caused by her own poor choices, and yet we can understand how she got there. Maybe it’s an ending that’s true to life in which not everything is neatly tied up. In fact I almost think we leave the story of Crimson Eve with more trauma than when we began. But that’s life, isn’t it. Tidying up our past isn’t a wave of the wand. Even when we ask God’s forgiveness. Even forgiven and washed clean spiritually—we can face an awful lot of baggage because of our choices.
As a wise woman once told me, “God will forgive you, but nature won’t.”
6. One thing I love about your writing style is that not one word is wasted. How many times do you scour a manuscript to achieve that tightness?
Thanks for that. Great feedback. Tightness in writing is something I really strive for.
Unfortunately I never get it right the right time. My typical MO is to overwrite in the first draft. Once I receive the editorial letter, I’ve had at least a month to be away from the story. During that time I regain my “fresh eyes” for the writing. When I go back to rewrite, all the extra words I would have sworn I deleted the first time just jump out at me. I cut, cut, cut. Never scenes—I don’t write a scene unless it’s needed. But a word from this line, two words from that one. Or three sentences from a paragraph. I may lose as much as 20 manuscript pages in this process. What’s left when I’m done is a swiftly-moving story. I’ve cut out the fat and left the meat.
Now if I could only manage to do that the first time around.
7. Amber Moon is the final installment in the Kanner Lake series. Can you give us a sneak peek?
Shouldn’t that be “Sneak Pique?” J
Okay. How about the draft back cover copy:
Bailey hung on to the counter, dazed. If she let go, she’d collapse—and the twitching fingers of one of the gunmen would pull a trigger. The rest of her group huddled in frozen shock.
The shooter’s teeth clenched. “You seen enough to tell you we mean business? Anybody who moves is dead.”
On a beautiful Saturday morning the nationally read “Scenes and Beans” bloggers gather at Java Joint for a celebration. Chaos erupts when three gunmen burst in—and shoot to kill.
Police Chief Vince Edwards must negotiate with the desperate trio. The gunmen insist on communicating through the “comments” section of the blog—so all the world can hear their story. What they demand, Vince can’t possibly provide. But if he doesn’t, over a dozen beloved Kanner Lake citizens will die …
8. Final question, what advice do you have for aspiring writers?
If you want to be published in fiction, understand that you have a long, hard journey ahead of you. You must keep at it. Learn the craft, learn how to deal with the rejections. Kick a cabinet when the rejections come, then get back to work. Most of all, keep God at the center of your life.
And know that you’re not alone. I’ve been there myself—on a ten-year journey to be published in fiction. You can read that long, frustrating, trudging, miserable, rejection-filled, grit-teethed, kicking-cabinets, ultimately victorious story—titled “How I Got Here”—in the archives on my blog, Forensics and Faith.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
WARNING! Do not pick up this book unless you have time to read it straight through.
Brandilyn’s books have never disappointed me, but this one was simply impossible to put down. Even when I figured out one of the plot points with 100 pages left I…COULD…NOT…PUT…THIS…BOOK…DOWN.
Crimson Eve is a classic woman in jeopardy story with plenty of twists ala Seatbelt Suspense. I have read all of Brandilyn’s suspense, but can’t think of one that has the tight timeline combined with knowing who the villain is. Usually in her books, the reader races to figure out who did it before the heroine stumbles in to harm’s way. And Violet Dawn had an extremely tight timeline, but Brandilyn did not reveal the real reason behind the actions until practically the end of the book.
This time, the reader knows much sooner exactly what is going on with enough fog to keep us guessing. At the same time, the knowing ratchets up the suspense to new levels.
Let me back up…Carla Radling, the realtor who participates in the Scenes & Beans blog, takes center stage in this third installment in the Kanner Lake series. She takes a potential buyer out to see Edna Sans (yep, that Edna Sans) estate. Everything seems okay until he tries to kill her. With quick action, Carla escapes but is completely isolated with nowhere to turn and no idea why someone is trying to kill her. Far as she can tell, she has done nothing to attract a price on her head of $500,000.
With her usual skill Brandilyn weaves layers and plot twists deftly into the story. Why is a woman in Washington State being threatened? And the folks at Java Joint, led by an upset Wilbur, are worried because Carla never just disappears.
As with the other Kanner Lake books, Brandilyn bounces the reader between the present and the past. And as she warns in the foreword, it’s almost impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins.
While I figured out much of the motivation, the twists and turns woven into the plot through the last page further mixed up what I thought about Carla. Another example of the deep characterization that fills this book.
So if you are looking for a suspense that will keep you up until the wee hours of the morning, race out and buy this one!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
But the great news is I'm holding the fruit of a lot of labor. And she's a beautiful baby! You should received them in your mailbox soon if you are a Heartsong Presents bookclub member. If not, they will be available on the Heartsong Presents website starting in December, Amazon.com sometime in the spring, and in bookstores everywhere late summer/early fall.
I'll be having my first booksigning, with six of my favorite writing buds on December 1 at the Carpenter's Son in Lafayette, so you can buy it there, too. And you'll have the chance to meet Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter, Brandt Dodson, Donita Paul, Jamie Carie, and hopefully Diann Hunt as well.
If you can't wait for any of those events, leave me a comment and I can mail a copy of the book to you for $5.00, assuming I'm not shipping it overseas!
I can't believe it! I'm holding my first book!
I'll admit I've been a fan of Amy Grant's since Age to Age was released way back in 1982. I was all of 8 I think. I also still vividly remember the two concerts I went to as a kid, both at the Nebraska State Fair. Awesome! And then while we lived in DC, Eric and I went to one of the Christmas concerts. Such fun.
But even though I've been a fan since childhood, I wasn't sure what I would think of Mosaic. It could be really good or really bad. Fortunately, it falls on the side of a really easy read.
The book has a reader friendly format. In the introduction Amy admits that she used to roll her eyes when she hear about someone writing a book just because a deal was offered to them. While she has spent a career crafting song lyrics, writing a memoir is a completely different task. I know I couldn't write lyrics, but Amy can write. Some chapters are barely over a page. Others may continue for ten pages.
The chapters are interspersed with song lyrics and poetry. The book truly is a mosaic of the stories behind the song, her heritage, and her life. It is a peek into the heart of a woman who has lived and experienced much. And a certain humblesness comes through in the ways she poles fun at herself. A couple quotes to give you a feel for the book and her style:
"Kids know who they are from the minute they are born. As parents, we have the fascinating job of slowly discovering them."
"The beauty of being in the middle of life is the vantage point it provides...Even from here I can see that growing old is not for the cowardly."
"This is trust: doing what you believe you are called to do and trusting that God will provide."
If you would like to be entered for one of three copies of the book I'm giving away, leave a comment with a way to reach you by Wednesday, October 24.
To think my book should arrive on my doorstep at the end of this week or early next week. And now I have a website. Yikes! I must be an author :-) God continues to blow me away with His grace and goodness!
I'm working to finalize a couple proposals this week and finish the rewrite of Deadly Exposure. Please pray that God will give me wisdom and creativity. Thanks!
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
On another note, Fox News reports that the first baby boomer signed up for social security. The first of 80 some million!
Monday, October 15, 2007
Eric tackled a couple jobs on our to-do list, and my heart is singing. Our shutters all look the same color! Woohoo! Sometime in the five years we've been here, they faded into three different colors. No more! Our house looks fresh, and the shutters look great. He also finished a painting project, I'd started. But I'm way too short to reach the stairwell area, and he tackled that for me yesterday. I know it wasn't important to him, but my heart is thrilled!
I picked up Tony Dungy's Quiet Strength this weekend. We've had it since right before it released, but neither of us had time to read it. Oh my gosh. Run out and purchase this book. It reads as well or better than most fiction, and my respect for the man just increases with each page. He's transparent, and if you love football, you'll really enjoy the tale. If you don't, you will still enjoy this look into a man of faith's life. Very good.
I'm an aunt again! Congrats to Joel and Michele on the arrival of their first. We are thrilled that she arrived safely -- after almost two days of labor!
And last night we kicked back with friends for a very spontaneous evening grilling hotdogs and smores. I ate way too many smores, and loved every second. When we lived in DC, we had neighbors that we'd often make smores with. It hasn't been much of a tradition here, but last night was special. These are the kind of friendships that you treasure when you find them. Our kids all love to play together, and the adults have a great time together, too. What more can you ask for!
So I hope that your weekend was filled with wonderful spontaneous times as well as times of checking things off your to-do list. Now it's back to rewrites and synopsis writing for me. Did I mention I made great headway on the revision of Deadly Exposure Saturday night (what you reserve Saturday nights for fun?!). I buckled down and got a lot done. I'll beat this deadline easily. Which is a good thing since I just got the revision letter for Sandhill Dreams Saturday.
Friday, October 12, 2007
The latesst book from Creston Mapes is Nobody. It's also the CFBA book this week. I wasn't going to particpate this week, but the buzz has been huge on this book. I did not get the book for the tour, so I can't tell you what I think of the book. Here's the link to Brandilyn Collin's post on the book. This is one I'm going to buy the next time I'm at Carpenter's Son.
Here's the synopsis:
Not everything that happens in Vegas has to stay in Vegas!
They said, “He’s a nobody.”
They were dead wrong.
When reporter Hudson Ambrose hears an early morning call on his police scanner about an injured person at a bus stop on Las Vegas Boulevard, he rushes to the scene to get the scoop.
His world is blown off its axis when he discovers a murdered homeless man with a bankbook in his pocket showing a balance of almost one million dollars. Should he wait for the police, knowing the case will get lost in reams of red tape, or swipe the bankbook and take the investigation–and perhaps a chunk of the money–into his own hands?
With sirens bearing down on the scene, Hudson makes an impulse decision that whisks him on a frantic search for answers, not only about the mysterious dead man, but about the lost soul lurking within himself.
Uncovering bizarre links between a plane crash, a Las Vegas pit boss, a dirty cop, and a widowed Atlanta business mogul, Hudson is forced to find out: who was Chester Holte, what was he doing on the streets, and why are his homeless friends convinced he was an angel in disguise?
Thursday, October 11, 2007
It's fall and time for another reading challenge from Callapidder Days. So far there are over 250 people participating in the challenge. Click on the link to go to a list. There are some great reads on there.
Here's the deal...I'm supposed to list the books on my reading list and keep you posted on my progress. My list is long and grows each day when the mail comes. Bethany House is really on a roll right now! But here's a partial list of the great books I can't wait to dive into this fall. And of course, check back for reviews!
- Try Dying by James Scott Bell: I'll also have an interview with him and give away copies of this book.
- Mosaic by Amy Grant: I'll have copies of this one to give away as well! Love that!!!! Anyone else want to sing My Father's Eyes with me?
- Searching for Eternity by Elizabeth Musser
- The Parting by Beverly Lewis. Can I admit I've never read anything she's written? So I guess it's time to try her.
- Allah's Fire by Chuck Holton/Gayle Roper
- Island Inferno by Chuck Holton -- Eric loved this one, grabbed it before I could.
- A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin. Can I confess that I haven't read any of her books yet, either!
- Bygones by Kim Sawyer Vogel. This is one of the few I didn't get to this spring.
- The Divine Appointment by Jerome Teel: ahhhh suspense and intrigue
- In Search of Eden by Linda Nichols: yep, it'll be my first book of hers, too.
- Ribbon of Years by Robin Lee Hatcher: My sister Janna raved about this book, so I have to read it.
- Watching the Tree Limbs by Mary DeMuth: I loved book two, so know I'll love her writing here too. Mary has such a way with words.
- The Cure by Anthol Dickson
- Void by Mark Mynheir. Vicky, the bookstore manager at Carpenter's Son raved about this book and I'm hooked in the first few pages
- Courting Trouble by Deeanne Gist: Every time I pick up this book, I enjoy it. I just get distracted to other things, and have to keep coming back to it.
- Just Jane by Nancy Moser. Same as Courting Trouble. Great book, just need to find time to finish it. These books almost feel like guilty pleasure. I can't really call it work when I read them, like with a good suspense since I'm not writing in those genres or time periods.
- A Promise to Remember by Kathryn Cushman: her debut book is well-written and women's fiction. Boy, does it deal with some serious issues!
- Everywhere that Mary Went by Lisa Scottoline: her first and it was nominated for the Edgar. I need to dissect that puppy! And I loved it! You have to be careful with her books, but this one's clean.
- The Third Victim by Lisa Gardner
- The Killing Hour by Lisa Gardner. Her books are INTENSE. I love that, but they are not for everyone. There's a lot I can learn about pacing from her books.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Last night I inhaled Lisa Scottoline's Courting Trouble. That is exactly the kind of book I want to write. I'm going to try to step back and analyze why I loved it so much. The voice is great. The plot moves. Things continue to get worse for the heroine. And the plot twists like a game of Twister. And the emotions are pretty real. Now I'm praying about how to ratchet the two proposals I'm working on up one more level. They're close, but not quite there.
See this is what I love about writing. The challenge never ends!
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
As I read, I kept trying to figure out what worked. Why do I reread his stories? I knew teh ending once I got going a few chapters, but I didn't care. I wanted to take the ride again. I wanted to suspend belief and root for the kid right out of law school as he took on the big, bad insurance company. I wanted to cry with Dot at her son's funeral and then at the end of the trial.
I think there are a couple things that Grisham does well. He sucks you immediately into the point of view of his character. And because you immediately care about the main character, you care about how the story will unfold. And then he does what Donald Maas recommends. Things get worse and worse for the hero. Some of it from his own stupidity and some just life being rotten.
And there's usually a mentor of some sort to make the plot believable. I'm not sure I buy that a judge would help as much as the judge in that book, but there's still the idea of someone there to guide the young lawyer and protect him from himself. And I was willing to suspend any disbelief because....
He creates a strong sense of David v. Goliath. By the middle of the book, young Rudy couldn't be anymore isolated as he takes on the insurance company if he tried. Literally everything has been stripped away from this kid...and then...
There's this big pay-off. And the reader cheers, high-fives Rudy, and celebrates the success of David taking down Goliath. But the story doesn't end there.
Nope. There are a couple more laps on the roller coaster before he lets us off. And in the end in this book...as happens in many of his...Grisham's hero is disenfranchised with the law and moving on to happier places. Hmmm.
I wonder just how many folks writing attorney novels used to be attorneys but abandoned ship because it didn't meet their expectations. I can name quite a few!
Monday, October 08, 2007
For years doctors have thought the appendix had no function in the body. I can remember in high school talking about the organs that scientists used to think were unimportant, but that we now know serve a purpose. About the only things left on the unknown list were the appendix and wisdom teeth. Now, I don't know that I'll every understand wisdom teeth! Ouch!
But researchers at Duke have hypothesized a purpose for the appendix. USAToday carried a great article on the research. According to their theories, the appendix serves as a back-up system for the good bacteria that our bodies need.
Personally, I find this fascinating. If you believe that God created life and humans like I do, then you know there has to be a purpose for everything. And I love the way He slowly reveals it over time. Each year He peels back another layer, yet the mysteries of the world are still limitless. He is so much bigger than we could ever imagine and His creation is amazing.
Even something as small and unimportant looking as the appendix as a divine purpose. And if God cared enough to make sure that even that tiny organ had a special job, then He certainly will do the same for you. All you have to do is read Jeremiah 29:11 to see that.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Bayou Justice is the debut release from talented author (and my friend!) Robin Caroll and avoids so many of the mistakes common to first efforts.
From the first line of chapter one, I was swept into the story and setting. CoCo LeBlanc just wants to protect the alligators that line the Louisiana Bayou outside her home, but finds her wrestling another body away from a gator. Luc Trahan, the grandson of the man she finds, wants to find justice but is reluctant to pursue it with his ex-fiancee. Together they must fight to find the killer before the killer strikes again.
This book is so tightly woven into the Louisiana Bayou that it could not take place anywhere else. It would be impossible to have the same story take place in Washington DC or Indiana. And the setting propels the story forward by providing a rich array of subplots.
Coco and Luc are well-developed characters with enough history between them to keep the romance and suspense interesting. Add in the fight between voodoo and Christianity, and there's enough conflict to populate several books.
I enjoyed this book, and think you will too if you are looking for a book balanced between romance and suspense.
Friday, October 05, 2007
1) Strong legal suspense starts with a strong what if. What if the father of a girl who was brutally raped by two men kills them? And what if a white man agrees to defend him in a rural southern town? That's a strong enough what if to propel John Grisham's first legal suspense. What if an attorney is desperate for clients because her husband has kicked her out and she's starting over in a new town? And what if a woman comes to her accused of murdering her husband but she has no recollection of the event? Those are the what ifs that propel Perri O'Shaughnessy's first book Motion to Suppress.
2) Setting doesn't matter as long as it is key to the story. Lisa Scottoline sets the majority of her books in Boston. Perri O'Shaughnessy uses Tahoe. And John Grisham favors Mississippi, Tennessee, and DC.
3) Characterization is secondary in some, but really propels the page-turners. I could see growth in John Grisham's writing as I flipped through ten of his books. That's encouraging to me. Especially since I love his first two books anyway. But some of the later books suck you in and don't let go. And I think it's because the characters are so clear and distinct.
4) The law can serve a multitude of functions. Maybe it's simply the backdrop because the main character happens to be an attorney. Or the book will focus on a trial and follow it from filing to discovery to court.
So what do you like to read in a legal suspense? I look forward to reading your comments.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
The fourth installment in Brandt Dodson's Colton Parker Mysteries, The Lost Sheep is a fantastic read. I don't usually like gritty PI type stories. The bleakness can wear me down. But there is something about the characters that Brandt crafts that propels me through stories that do nothing to hide the ugly side of life while reflecting enough light to keep the darkness from being overwhelming.
In The Lost Sheep, Colton Parker's 15-year old daughter runs away and leaves only a voicemail for her father. In it she tells him not to look for her and nothing else. From that moment he is desperate to find her before something awful happens to her.
From the back cover copy, I thought the story would start slowly with everything right in Colton's world. And after book three, I thought he'd deserved a moment to breathe. However, Brandt must follow Donald Maas' exhortation to torture his characters, because from page one the story raced to the ending. I started it at midnight, thinking I'd just read a chapter, and forty minutes later forced myself to put it down and turn off the light. Each time I picked it up it took incredible effort to put the book back down. The pacing of the plot is tight with short chapters that propel you through the story with the promise of "just one more."
The author has also populated the book with an assortment of supporting characters that reflect all aspects of Colton. Marty demonstrates a sacrificial way of living after a hard life. Mary Christopher shows up at a key time and prevents Colton's rage from destroying him. And Pastor Milliken surprises Colton with his past and his persistence.
The book is set in Indianapolis and Las Vegas, and the cities are carefully interwoven into the story with skill. Reading the book is like a visit to the under-belly of Sin City, but manages not to rob the reader of hope.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Come visit me over at Tiff Stockton's blog. She's got an interview with me posted in honor of the release of Canteen Dreams later this month. I hope you'll enjoy the inside look into how I came up with the idea for Canteen Dreams. Someday I'll have to tell the rest of the story, but for now, you can get the first installment over at Tiff's blog.
The Trophy Wives Club is a great addition to her list of books, yet filled with twists.
As the title suggests, this book deals with some serious issues: divorce, unmet expectations, disappointment, and legalistic Christians. I was very curious to see how Kristin would apply her brand of humor to these topics and was not disappointed.
Haley Cutler finds herself locked out of her home after her husband throws her suitcases on the porch. She's been a trophy wife for seven years and has forgotten who she is independent of her marriage. Now she has to discover that quickly. And with the help of the Trophy Wives Club she may just be able to do that.Haley was a character I could relate to even though I've never been a trophy wife or been divorced. She's something of a klutz, and even though she's lived through a horrible circumstance, she's a fighter. She's also a fundamentally nice person, who wants to figure out how to move on. Because of her new divorce, she's lost all of her friends. Because of her marriage, she's not very connected to her family. But when she follows up on a flier give to her by her husband's attorney, she finds a group of women who will help her through her transition whether she thinks she needs it or not.
The book has some of the standards you'd expect in chick lit. There's the talk about shoes that I'll never own, brand names I've never heard of, and lifestyles I can’t quite imagine but enjoy peeking into. But the fundamental questions, I can relate to all too well. What do we do when life disappoints? How do we handle rejection? How do we foster the dreams that have been dormant for years? And how do we reach out and trust again after being horribly hurt?
The Trophy Wives Club forms a rich backdrop of characters who highlight Haley's growth. And the changes she experiences are realistic - - for the most part. Haley grows into her own identity and watching that progression was a lot of fun.
If you are looking for a fun chick lit read, with underlying layers of richness, pick this book up. You won't be disappointed.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
We've got a big list of new Christian fiction releases for October 2007, just in time for those cool fall nights when you can sit by the fire with some fresh brewed tea or hot chocolate and savor the stories from these authors. I've also got a new Spotlight interview with author Robin Lee Hatcher this month. Be sure to stop and read Robin's interview and visit the websites of the following authors. Enjoy!
1. A Promise to Remember by Kathryn Cushman from Bethany House Publishers. The story of two grieving mothers on opposite sides of a wrongful death lawsuit.
2. A Season Of Forgiveness by Brenda Coulter, from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. Can a home-loving worrywart find happiness with a world-traveling "extreme" sportsman?
3. A Vow to Cherish, (mass market size)
Prequel to Within This Circle by Deborah Raney from Steeple Hill Books. When his precious wife receives a devastating diagnosis, John Brighton must decide how he will keep his wedding vows to the woman he loves.
4. And Baby Makes Five, Monterey Peninsula Series Book 1 of a 3 book series by Gail Gaymer Martin from Barbour Heartsong Presents. A pregnant, widowed migrant worker in labor, a wealthy ranch owner who lost his wife and son in childbirth, and God's miraculous blessings.
5. Bayou Justice by Robin Miller writing as Robin Caroll from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. When an alligator conservationist finds a dead body in the bayou, which just happens to be the grandfather of her ex-fiancee, she and her family, along with her ex, are prime suspects and must work together to solve the murder before the Cajun killer strikes again.
6. Beginnings Book 2 in the Sommerfeld Trilogy by Kim Vogel Sawyer from Barbour Publishing. Beth Quinn is starting over in her career, home, and relationships...but where does her heart truly belong?
7. Buried Secrets sequel to Heart of the Amazon by Margaret Daley from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. With people after them, Zach and Maggie race to find a treasure worth killing for.
8. Canteen Dreams Nebraska Brides series Book one by Cara Putman from Heartsong Presents. Can two people find love and a way to serve in the shadow of World War Two?
9. Race to the Altar by Gail Sattler, Ron Benrey, Gloria Clover, and Becky Melby and Cathy Wienke from Barbour Publishing. Romance is in the air for NASCAR fans.
10. Sanctuary Faith of Our Fathers series Book One of Three by Molly Noble Bull from Tsaba House. When Rachel Levin's loved ones are murdered, she flees her village with a handsome Huguenot, but a French captain wants her as his mistress. Or he wants her dead.
11. Sarah, My Beloved The Little Hickman Creek Series by Sharlene MacLaren from Whitaker House. Sparks fly, igniting the embers of love, when two warring misfits marry for convenience. Just enough plot twists to make for an unpredictable read.
12. The Blue Moon, Mysteries of Sparrow Island, Book 3, by Lorena McCourtney from Guideposts. A bird expert on the San Juan Islands finds a blue-diamond necklace, and way too many dangerous people are eager to claim it.
13. Walk Me to Midnight by Jane St Clair from Capstone Fiction. A writer and a psychologist team up to prove their friend was murdered by the famous doctor of death.
14. Who Am I? Massachusetts Wedding series, Book 1, by Lena Nelson Dooley from Heartsong Presents. When Leiann Hambrick's mother dies, Leiann discovers that the man who raised her isn't her father and she has a grandfather she never knew. Not everyone wants her to know who she really is.
15. Your Chariot Awaits, The Andi McConnell Mysteries, Book 1, by Lorena McCourtney from Thomas Nelson. An older woman unexpectedly acquires a limousine, but now there's the problem of that dead body in the trunk.
Monday, October 01, 2007
2) Kim Woodhouse's family is going to be on Extreme Home Makeover! She's an ACFW member in Colorado, and it's been fun to watch this process. To learn more about this family, click here.
3) Did you know the Michigan government shut down for four hours last night? Craziness. Governments continue to get more bloated, and the two houses had to pass two tax increases in the wee hours of the morning. It was interesting to read this article and see what parts of government were shut down and what were deemed important enough to stay open.
4) Ever been to North Carolina? That looks like the setting for my next series of books. I'll tell you more as we get further into negotiations, but I am so excited about this series. And about the setting. The kids are excited because it means more trips back to Highlands hopefully!
Like the title says....random musings. :-)