Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Fun--Dress As A Favorite Character!

Happy Halloween!

It won't be long and the little ones will be knocking at my door, saying "Trick or Treat!" My eldest daughter started a tradition when she was too old to go out but enjoyed dressing up and passing out candy at our home. She always made the kids do a trick before they got a treat. It's become a family tradition, and we enjoy seeing what the children come up with each year. Often they'll sing a song or do a little dance. Sometimes they give up, and say they can't think of anything. Then we quickly offer suggestions. "Can you hop on one foot?" we'll ask. "How about turning in circles?" Relief usually washes over their faces when they realize they don't have to do anything too difficult, and the candy treats they receive at the end of their "performances" makes it all worthwhile!

Many of the schools in my area encouraged the children to dress as their favorite characters in a book. I'm sure we'll see lots of Harry Potters tonight. That got me thinking about the characters I loved when I was a child . . . Carolyn Keene's Nancy Drew is perhaps my all-time favorite. I read every book Ms. Keene wrote and then reread them! Another story I liked to reread was CHARLOTTE'S WEB, by E. B. White.

By middle school, I was hooked on the big sagas and loved James Michener. Anyone remember HAWAII? I googled Michener and found a news report published when he died that said he lived in Waikiki when he was writing the huge tome. His daily schedule was to write from 7:30 AM until noon and then do research in the afternoon. It also said he finished the book in ten months!

Many, many, many years later, I read my first romance, SHANNA, by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. That tale swept me away to another time and place, and I've been hooked on romance ever since. What about the suspense stories I love to read? I'll have to save them for another post. It's time to get ready for the trick or treaters!

Have a fun night with your ghosts and goblins!

Wishing you abundant blessings!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Libraries and Romance

I recently attended two conferences this month. The first conference was in Redmond Oregon at the Eagle Crest Resort. What a beautiful place and with the fall leaves turning colors, shades of gold, brown, green and reds with the occasional burst of deep burgandy popping through. I was part of a panel that spoke about romance to a group of librarians. What could be better than talking about the romance genre to people who love romance books?! The librarians were so interested in the Christian romance genre. They asked tons of questions and were very enthusiastic. I had a great time and even managed to write on my free time. The second conference was in the Seattle area, a very pretty city, by the way. The venue for this event was a bit different. It was to introduce the romance genre to librarians in the King County library system, the second largest system in the country. There were about thirty romance authors representing all the different subgenres of romance. We each had a table where the librarians would come and sit for ten minutes and talk romance with the authors, then they'd shift to the next table. This was a fun and exciting way to explore the romance genre for the librarians. Many were very surprised by the genre and many were avid romance readers. Going to the library is a wonderful way to test drive an author before investing in their books and once you find an author you like, the library will usually be able to find that authors backlist for your reading pleasure. And did you know that for every five requests of a book title the library will buy the book to have on stock. So if you can't find a book at the library, ask your librarian if they can get it for you and tell your friends.

A Tribute

Years ago, I remember taking a picture of my Uncle Arnold. He was sitting in his living room reading a book. He was 94 years old. At the time, the RWR (Romance Writers Report) was doing segments about "Who" read romance. In my picture, Arnold - a onetime railroad employee - was holding my first book: a romance. No, the picture really wasn't staged. Arnold read all my books. Not just the ones I wrote, but all my books.

My parents thought I was a bit strange. They would take me to the toy store and say, "Go pick out a toy." Have I mentioned I was raised an only child? I would go get a book. In amazement, they would look at the book, look at each other, and say, "We'll get you the book. Now, go pick out a toy, too." Seven books and one toy later, we would leave the toy store.

Arnold didn't think I was strange.

I never really came home after college (color me stupid). Mom and Dad finally packed up most of my stuff and put it in the basement (right next to the stuff I packed up after college). For the next few years, my dad would go down in the basement, pick up a box, and carry it over to Arnold.

Yup, you got it. Inside those boxes were books. I probably had 5000 (I'm not joking) in boxes down in the basement. And, Arnold, now retired, needed more books. He read all my books! He read my Steven Kings, my Dorothy Daniels, my Douglas Adams, my Nora Roberts, my James Herriots, my Danielle Steels.... He should have been a reviewer.

Last Tuesday, my Aunt Auralie died. She's my aunt on my husband's side. She was 81 (Arnold died when he was 97, by the way, and read almost the whole time). She was a reader! Oh, she was a hoot. I'd give her my books, she'd read them, and then she send them to relatives. And, she loved gathering her books and heading to the used bookstore exchange so she could get even more books at a bargain.

These two people were not my fans, they were my family, and my eyes tear up at remembering the final chapter of their lives.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Opening Up the Writing Toolbox...

Last week I talked about different writing profiles. We all have different profiles and many times we actually have a combination of several profiles. The same goes for the tools we use when we're writing. For years I have wanted to be a linear writer, starting on page one and typing through in order, revising and cleaning up along the way so that when I type The End, the story is pretty much finished. Life (writingwise) would be so much simplier if I could only do that.

And so, I've tried to develop the habits of a linear writer, using tools that they might use to organize their writing to make my task easier. Unfortunately, it doesn't work with me. As much as I try to write linear, my brain doesn't work that way. I'm definitely a combo of puzzler/pantser, writing out of order enough so I can see how the story is going to unfold and fly by the seat of my pants to piece it all together. What I've found is that just as no two writers are alike, no writing tools should be used alike.

Let me explain. One of my favorite writing tools is a big piece of paper. That's right, just a big piece of paper. I fold the paper into fourths and in each section write 1-4. I base this on the screenwriter's 3 act structure for storytelling, breaking the second act into 2 sections because it's the middle of the book and has more meat to the story.

Now, I didn't invent this writing tool and I realize that not all tools will work the same for every writer. What I did do is discover that even though this is a tool that is meant to be use to plot out a story and make sure there are no holes in the plot, not every writer is going to use it the same way. For instance, a linear writer will write all the basic details of the story all the way through to the end, hitting only the opening, high points, black moment, and conclusion. A plotter won't be satisfied with a small piece of paper and will usually have to either get a really big poster board size piece of paper or write really small. Both will usually complete their 3 act structure plotline before they start the book.

But a puzzler and a pantser doesn't always know what is going to happen in the story. When I write my 3 act structure, I have an idea of how I am going to start the story and can fill in those details simply enough. I may have a scene or two in my head revolving around a turning point in the story and if I'm lucky, I even know the ending. (I do have some proposals written where I've jumped ahead and written the ending before I've written the middle of the book. I love happy endings.) A pantser won't know where they're going until they get their and like a puzzler, will use the 3 act structure AS they write the book to keep them on track and to recognize any holes in their story as they write. It's all organization and can help keep you from getting off track and having to cut chunks of your story during revisions.

If anyone would like to get a copy of my 3 act structure outline with details on what information should be placed where, simply comment here on the blog with your email address and I will email you a copy of the form I use. It's a great tool and I keep it handy for every book I write.
Next week I'll talk about using index cards as a tool for writing.

Don't forget, there is still time to enter my contest to receive the entire Texas Hearts series from Avalon Books. Just email me at with the word CONTEST in the subject line and you're entered!

Until next time, many blessings,

Thursday, October 25, 2007

10, 20, 30 Years ago

My friend Crystal Miller tagged me with this question: Quick: What were you doing ten, twenty and thirty years ago?

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.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Today's Heroes!!!

I've been glued to FOX News and the coverage of the wildfires in California! My heart goes out to all the folks who have had to evacuate, often just ahead of the flames. So many of them are holed up in shelters, waiting to learn whether their homes and possessions have been destroyed. Yet when they're interviewed by the news reporters, invariably they're upbeat and optimistic about the future. They talk about their overwhelming gratitude to be alive and to be together as a family, and they always mention the firefighters!

So today I wanted to send a shout out to the California firefighters! Despite soaring temperatures and lack of sleep, they continue to work round the clock, putting their lives on the line time and time again. They're heroes in my book.

True story: A news clip last night showed a pile of photographs, family albums and other mementos the firefighters had pulled from a burning home. Covered with a thick plastic tarp and somehow skipped by the fickle flames, the items await a family who will eventually return to find their home destroyed. No doubt, the objects the firefighters saved will be treasured always.

If you've heard of a story, please share it with us. Know some special guys or gals you'd like to recognize from your local fire department? Leave a comment and tell us about them.

I'd like to thank the firefighters in Fayette County, Georgia, for all they do to keep us safe. They're the greatest! A special thank you goes to my nephew Nick, who's a firefighter in Marin County, north of San Francisco. Nick, we're proud of you!

It's almost time for the nightly news so I'm heading for the television to see the latest update, praying the end is in sight!

Wishing you abundant blessings!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Creating Suspense

I've learned so much in the past few years about writing suspense. I've learned how to keep the tension high by ending scenes with cliffhangers, questions, and disasters. I've learned to up the pacing by being careful with how much introspection I use and by converting as much narrative into dialogue as possible. One thing I just learned with the book I just turned in, was that there are different types of suspense stories and that some are easier to write than others.

1)there is the hero or heroine as some sort of law enforcement person, whether a small town sheriff as in my Feb 2007 release Double Deception, or a cop, or an FBI agent, or a lawyer, or a private investigator or or a DA, or Firefighter, or EMT get the idea. By the very nature of their job, suspense is built in and they have the resources to pursue the villians.

2)another type of suspense story can have a reporter, insurance investigator, the body guard or the miliatry character. Again by the nature of the characters career choice you can build a believible suspense story.

3)then there's the type of suspense story where the protaganist is in danger, hiding, running, keeping one step ahead of the bad guy. This element of suspense works well with the other two types because if one character is the hunted, then the other by their skill set can protect and help solve the crime, mystery, bring down the bad guy.

4) but what about the type of suspense story where the two main characters are normal humans with average, everyday lives. This is the trickiest type of story to write and keep suspenseful. I've found in this type of story, there is a risk that the characters are mostly reacting to what's being acted upon them rather than actively pursuing the bad guys/solving the mystery.

How does an Economics College Professor and a cocktail waitress/actress work together to stay alive and bring down the guy? This was the feat I had to accomplish in the book I just turned in. What I did to keep the book suspenseful while keeping the hero/heroine together (to build a romance) was to have several subplots threaded through as well as getting inside the head of the bad guys. My current book will also be one of these types, with an investment broker hero and a woman trying to save her family's flower farm. They must work together (and build a romance) to try solve the mystery of who's sabatoging her flower farm. As I start to write I'm sure I'll add a police officer as a secondary character who can be a resource, but as with any good romance, the hero and heroine must be active together.

Are there other types of suspense stories? What are some ways you've found to up the suspense your writing? As a reader of suspsense what do you like about the suspense genre?
I would love to hear what you think!!

Monday, October 22, 2007

I'll Huff and I'll Puff...Nope, not enough wind...

Crawling from bed, I'm thinking about posting. I'm thinking good things because I actually have something to post about - something that I think is interesting.

Sitting in front of the computer, I (blurry-eyed) wait for the thing to boot up and I'm amazed by all the messages that have amassed since yesterday. Then, I realize they're e-cards, and I remember, "Oh, yeah. It's my birthday."

It's my birthday but that's not the interesting thing I'm going to post about. Oh, and don't ask me my age. Suffice it to say, I still miss hip-huggers and bell-bottoms.

This past Saturday was the sixth meeting of CWOW (Christian Writers of the West). It's a fledgling little group of inspirational writers. It's a diverse group with everyone from multi-published to dabbling. Right now, it's very small. We only had six yesterday, but the six who attended really gained a lot of perspective about characterization.

Of the six, we have one man. He's fascinating and always adds to the discussion. Saturday, he added without meaning to.

Here's the scenario. I'm 30 minutes late for the chapter meeting of which I'm president. No, I'm not a late person. My son woke up with a rash. I made the doctor's appointment well in advance of the meeting, but the doctor took almost two hours to see us. Thus, I'm literally running from doctor to meeting. I come into the restaurant and sit down. As I'm trying to organize and redirect the meeting, I notice Ralph's hat.

It says, "Center for Domestic Preparedness".

Now, see, my husband was at the doctor's with me. He and I both dealt with a two-year-old who got more than antsy after being in an examining room for almost two hours. Husband knew I had a meeting and was not running late but running past. Needless to say, soon there was tension not only between screaming two-year-old but also between non-screaming-but-very-much-wanting-to-scream Mommy and Daddy.

"Ralph," I asked casually. "Did you go to this center before you got married?"


Me, I'm thinking about sending my husband. Clearly he needed to be domestically prepared. I only wished I'd known about the center before we married.

Cathy spoke up, "Yeah, where is this center?"

Kimmy said, "I thought the hat was a joke."

Ralph said. "What are you ladies talking about?"

"Your hat," said I. "Is that place for husbands who want-"

"-and need help in the marriage relationship," finished Cathy.

Ralph shook his head sadly. "Uh, ladies... I'm in the Reserves. This is a military defense center."

Hmmmm. Well, one thing for sure. Sometimes this thing called love does feel like war. Luckily, in my home, there's always a happy ending, and when we wave our little white flag, there's a red heart in the middle of it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

What kind of writer are you???

After years of struggling with the way that I write, I've come to realize that all writers fall into one of 4 writing profile categories. Understanding which type of writer you are can help you write more efficiently.

Linear Writer
This is the type that I always admired. A linear writer writes an outline, starts at the beginning of the story on page one and writes chapter by chapter. After each chapter, she revises, gets the chapter in good shape before moving on to the next chapter. When shes done with the book, all she has to do is a read through to tweak words here and there and shes done.

The Plotter
The plotter is someone who loves to immerse themselves in every detail of the story. They will spent long hours getting to know their characters. They fill in long character charts that tell them everything from the hero and heroines favorite color to what they had for breakfast that morning. This is all before theyve written a word of the manuscript. Plotters love to find out everything they can about the story before they write.

The Pantser
The pantser is the writer who sits down at the computer and doesnt know where her story is going to take her. This is very exciting as some writers like to discover their characters the same way the reader does. Some writers feel stifled by outlines and lose interest in a story if they know too much about it. Unfortunately, if the writer doesnt know where shes going with story, she may spend a lot of time wandering about on the page while she tries to find the story.

The Puzzler
Like the name implies, the puzzler writes their story like a puzzle, writing scenes out of order and then piecing them together to make the story whole. Puzzlers usually see scenes of the story very vividly and feel the need to write them down before they lose them. They see the beginning, the end and some of the scenes in the middle. How those scenes transition from one scene to the next is another story. Thats for them to piece together.

Although writers might favor one type of writing profile, most writers are really a combination of two of the above types. Knowing how you write can help you choose the best way to organize your writing and write more efficiently.

2007 Lisa Mondello

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Crimson Eve Review

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

Blogging and stuff!

Welcome, Roxanne! We're so glad you're one of the Craftie Ladies of Suspense!

Blogging on Wednesday is always fun because it signals the middle of the work week. I'm currently pushing to finish the rough draft of my fourth Love Inspired Suspense--COUNTDOWN TO DEATH will be out in October 2008. Seems like a long time from now, but it takes about a year to turn a manuscript into a book.

What's my writing style? I like to do my first draft on my AlphaSmart, a small and sturdy word processor that was originally developed for school children. Since the Alpha has a tiny screen and few editing options, I'm forced to move forward with the story, getting words on paper that turn into scenes and build to chapters. When I've finished writing for the day, I download the text into my computer and count the pages!

I'm more than half finished and right on schedule. Of course, once I complete the first draft, I'll go back and start rewriting. That's the fun part! I love moving words around on the page and working to make dialogue stronger, the pace faster, the suspense more gripping . . . you get the idea. If you're nodding your head in agreement, then you're a writer too!

By the way, visit, a new blog started by a group I belong to called The Seekers. We came together in 2005 for online support. All of us were unpublished at the time, doing well in contests and hoping "The Call" would come in the not-to-distant future. Now six of us are published and the others are so, so close. Camy Tang set up our blogspot. Thanks, Camy! Mary Connealy, Janet Dean, Cheryl Wyatt and Myra Johnson have posted their comments so be sure to stop by and take a look. Also, Myra has a great website that's lots of fun. She challenged us to look back 10, 20 and 30 years and remember where we were then. Check out her blog at

Since Myra tagged me to comment about my life back then . . . ten years ago I was a full-time mom and a part-time writer, doing freelance magazine work. Twenty years ago I was living at Fort Polk, LA, with my sweet hubby and three beautiful children. My writing was on the back burner, and my schedule was filled with church and community volunteering. Thirty years ago . . . I'm not sure I can remember back that far! Just kidding! I had two babies, we lived in Kirksville, MO, where my hubby taught ROTC at what's now Truman State University. Toward the end of our three years in Missouri I wrote a piece about being an Army wife called "Sisterhood," which continues to be given to Army wives throughout the country. Okay, that's my look back. Now, you're tagged. Where were you 10, 20, 30 years ago?

Have a great week! See you on the blogs!

Wishing you abundant blessing!
Debby Giusti

Monday, October 15, 2007

Humble Pie

Prologue: It was a dark and rainy night. Our heroine (the writer) drove through the gloomy night as lightning flashed dire warnings of doom. Shadowy figures appeared and disappeared on corners, behind trees, and beside telephone poles (sigh - a telephone booth would be scarier). Gray cars, with muted licenses plates and tinted windows, followed, only to turn away just when our heroine (the writer) started to get suspicious. On the passenger side seat lay a package. Often our heroine would look at the package, shudder, and then with grim determination continue her course. Time was of the essence (think deadline). Finally, the destination loomed ahead.

Knock Knock

Brave Reader (Liz) : Pam, you're here.

Brave Writer (Pam) carefully holding out package: Yes, it was a dangerous drive. Many times I almost turned back.

Brave Reader (Liz) eye package suspiciously: Do you want to tell me about it?

Brave Writer (Pam) just one sob, then a stoic look: It was a line editor with a loaded pen. She bled on every EVERY page, well except two. She rewrote paragraphs, deleted great chapter endings, eliminated humor. She, she, almost killed it.

Brave Reader (Liz) gingerly accepting package: I, I'll read it. I, I'll try to help.

Brave Writer (Pam) hanging head: I hope it can be saved.

Two weeks later

Epilogue: It was a phone call, of all things, that ended the story. Brave Reader (Liz) talking to Brave Listener (Doris).

Brave Reader (Liz): Have you read Pam's first two books?"

Brave Listener (Doris): I tried to buy the first one, but it's out of print.

Brave Reader (Liz): I'd lend it to you but I don't think I have it.

Brave Listener (Doris): Why not?

Brave Reader (Liz): I read them in manuscript form before they go to the editor. I look for mistakes. And, by the way, I'm reading the third in the series and it's the best one yet.

Later Doris picks up the phone and call Brave Writer Pam and tells her...

Letters to Brave Writer (Pam) can be sent care of

RestHaven Home for Neurotic Writers
123 She's Still Blubbering Incoherently Lane
Shock, Arizona 85257

Nuff said!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Hi, everyone!


I was supposed to post on Saturday, but had a bit of trouble figuring out how to do it. That got me thinking about how much has changed since I wrote my first book. That one came out in 1999, and the years since then have brought such amazing changes in technology for writers.

With my first few books, I amassed stacks of research books to make sure the details were exactly right. Now, at the touch of a key, the entire world unfolds on my computer screen through the wonders of Google. Changes in the publishing industry? Word travels at the speed of light. Computers have more bells and whistles, the printers are faster, the storage media we have is smaller and so much more portable. I now dictate text to Dragon, and it speedily types out paragraph after paragraph...yet still, the long hours spent planning and writing and fine-tuning a manuscript are just the same.

My topic will be "the craft of writing", and I look forward to the coming weeks so I can talk about something that I enjoy so much. I would love to hear from you, regarding what you'd like to discuss, here. Are aspiring or published authors reading this blog? Readers, who are curious about some aspect of the writing business? Let me know!

Just to introduce myself, I've written nineteen novels thus far. I switched gears this past year, and I'm so excited about that! My first three romantic suspense novels for Love Inspired Suspense will be coming out starting in December (2007), then February and March of 2008. It's an honor to have this opportunity to join the wonderful writers here at Craftie Ladies of Suspense...and it will be an honor to meet those of you who are following this blog.

Soooo...what would you like to talk about?!

Roxanne Rustand

Friday, October 12, 2007

What's in a name CONTEST...

I love putting animals in my books and creating a personality to go with them. Usually these animals mimick some personality trait from an animal I currently have or once had.

The reason I'm on this topic is that a friend of mine called me this morning to ask me to help her brainstorm the name of a dog she was going to use in her WIP (Work-in-Progress). I usually like coming up with names because they can add interest to the characters. And since animals have their own character and don't have to have conventional names like Sara or Ruth or John, you can have a little fun.

In past books, I've used names like Otis the Wonder Dog (seeing eye dog featured in The More I See) and Dexter the cat (lazy friend and confident to the heroine in Gypsy Hearts) and Sweet Sassy's Smile and Smokin' Diesel E(Cutting horses in The More I See). It's fun and I've come to love those characters as much as the hero and heroine.

I'd like to have a little fun with this while helping out a friend. Come up with a bunch of interesting names for a playful little golden retriever and post them here in the comments area. If my friend picks your name, I'll send you an autographed copy of Cradle of Secrets, my 11/07 release from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. It's available right now at if you can't wait until it hits the store shelves.

And remember, the contest to win my entire 4 book Texas Hearts series from Avalon is still being held until November 1st. Simply email me with the word CONTEST in the subject line and I'll enter you into the drawing.

Until next time, many blessings, Lisa

Thursday, October 11, 2007


The ACFW National Conference was a couple weeks ago. Each year I wait with expectation for the conference. And this year was awesome! Over the last two years, the conference has become a highlight of my year. I love the opportunity to meet so many people, reconnect with old friends, and soak in every writing tip I can.

One of the challenges any time I walk away from a conference like ACFW that is packed with information on becoming a better writer is figuring out: what next?

Two years ago, I knew nothing. NOTHING. I drank in everything I could learn — even though it was like sipping from a fire hose — and enjoyed meeting attendees without regard for whether they were an editor, agent, published author, or brand-spanking new like me. And that relaxed attitude made the conference so enjoyable. And out of that conference God opened doors that led to my first four contracts.

Last year, at the opening general session of the conference, I received my first contract — for Canteen Dreams, the book that releases this month. Much of that conference passed in a blur. I kept waiting for someone to realize they’d given the wrong person the contract. Fortunately, Heartsong Presents stuck with me and later gave me two more contracts.

This year –wow! God exceeded my expectations all over again. He has nudged open doors that are mind-boggling. Hopefully, in the next few months I’ll be able to say more. For now, realize that He has exceeded my dreams.

This may sound strange, but God’s encouraging me to step back and dream a bit with Him. He’s throwing open doors I hadn’t even thought to ask Him to do. So now I need to sit down and dream. What does He want me writing in two weeks, two months, two years, two decades? Are my dreams big enough for what He wants to do? What stories generate a fire of passion in me that can’t be ignored? With all the possibilities, which ones fit what He is doing in me? And for me it’s hard to slow down and back away. So that’s my challenge in the coming weeks. One thing I’ve learned over the last two years — His dreams are so much bigger than mine.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


As I look over the last dozen posts, it's fairly evident that not many folks have made comments on our blog! Thanks to all of you who have stopped by and said, "Hello!" Here's the question I'd like to throw out to everyone else: What do YOU want to talk about? We've been concentrating on writing. Maybe that's a mistake. Maybe you're interested in other things like . . . what?

Will you let us know? You don't have to sign your name. Stay anonymous, if you wish, but give us your two cents! Okay? If you want book reviews or advice for getting published or info on our latest work in progress or . . . you get the idea. Leave a comment and mention your favorite subject so we can ensure that you, dear reader, come back to visit the Craftie Ladies over and over again.

It's your turn!

Looking forward to hearing from you, and as always, wishing you abundant blessings!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Moles-to remove or leave alone?

This morning I went to a dermatologist to have a mole on the arch of my foot 'looked' at. I kind of suspected it would need to be removed, but naively I thought I schedule it for around Christmas time since it took three months before the doctor had an opening to see me in the first place.
Now, you have to understand that I'm of Scot/Irish decent with freckles and moles all over, including my liver! So I said yes when the doctor asked if I'd like her to do a full screening. I've never had a doctor check my scalp before, well...except in grade school when the nurse would come through checking everyone for lice. It never even crossed my mind that I might have moles on my scalp. Luckily, she didn't find anything concerning there. There are several moles that she measured and that we are going to 'watch'. However, she did find one on my forearm that she declared needed to be removed. Okay. I'm thinking at Christmas I'll have two removed. Ha! She removed them right then and there and will be sending them out for biopsy. We'll have the results in a few days. I did not watch. Even looking at the stitches in my foot and on my arm makes me queasy. But I am glad that she was assertive and that I was flexible. I know that God set this up because I know I would have fretted and stressed about the minor surgery. Yes, this isn't a particularly convenient time, (I'm traveling next week) but it was the right time. God always is on time at the right time.
I hope that if you have any moles or spots that suddenly appear, change color or shape, that you'll have them 'looked' at.
May God bless you this week!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Write Now I'm Righting...

Nope, the title is not a typo. I'm writing now... about the rodeo...something I know next to nothing about. So, in order to get the scenario right... I'm having to do massive research. This must be why so many say "write what you know." Still, seventeen books into my career, I'm thinking I'd have stopped at book six had all the heroines been overweight teachers addicted to Murder She Wrote and sleeping late.

I've been to the rodeo :) I do know guys who actually bull ride. And, best of all, I saw Urban Cowboy. LOL, I added that last movie as a joke. My first stop, when starting to write the book was heading to Borders and trying to find a biography. I didn't find one, so if anyone knows a good book about a bull rider, please let me know.

What I'm doing now is plugging along and whenever I come to an area that requires expertise, I turn to the Internet. Good ole key word has helped me know that barrel racers do the cloverleaf and that 17 seconds is good time. I'm learning about eight seconds (Eight Seconds is a movie I saw a long time ago and must watch again). You know where I'm finding the best into. I got to Amazon, to the listing for rodeo movies, and I read the reviews. Not only do I get recommendations as to which movies are authentic, but I also get jargon. Because of Amazon, I know I need to find a movie called Cowboy Up.

Right now, what I want most is to find out what the other cowboys call a clumsy bull rider.

Have a great day all, and remember to "Write it Right!"

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Review: Bayou Justice

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 5, 2007

It's in New York!

So many readers from the Steeple Hill bookclub have emailed me to say that they loved Cradle of Secrets but desperately wanted to know if there was a sequel. Well, joy and elation. I finally finished Her Only Protector, which is the sequel to Cradle of Secrets, my first Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense that will be on the shelfs 11/6/07. I packaged it on Monday and sent it off to New York. Now comes the nail biting while my editor reads it.

Her Only Protector will tell the story of Dylan and Cash's little sister Sonny and how she goes to Colombia to rescue her niece, only to be stopped by a ruggedly handsome bounty hunter who is on the hunt. It's fast paced and full of action and I had a blast writing it. Thank you to all the bookclub fans who emailed me. Keep those emails coming because I love to hear from you.

I've already started working on the third book in the series, a reunion story. But I'll have more about that later. For those of you who aren't on the bookclub, the count down to Cradle of Secrets is 33 days and only 27 more days to enter the contest to win all 4 hardcover books in my Texas Hearts series with Avalon. To enter, simply send an email to and put CONTEST in the subject line. I'll choose one lucky winner who will receive the entire collection.

In the meantime, if you can't wait until 11/06/07 to get your copy of Cradle of Secrets, you can purchase it right now at

Until next time, many blessings, Lisa

Thursday, October 4, 2007

So what do you like to see?

In preparation for this new proposal/series I'm not talking about yet, I spent last night reviewing my favorite legal suspense novels looking for elements that made them work. Here are a couple threads I'm finding, tell me what you think.

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.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Moonlight and Magnolias!

This past weekend, I attended Georgia Romance Writers' Moonlight and Magnolias Conference, held in Atlanta. GRW is my home chapter so I'm always proud of the M&M, but this year, under Dianna Love Snell's leadership, the conference was better than ever.

Close to 300 writers participated in the three day event. We started early Friday morning with a pitch workshop. Fourteen published authors helped the unpubbed perfect their pitches. I sat at a table with some great writers who knew their stories and just needed a little tweaking to make their pitches soar. All of them went away with requests from editors and agents. Way to go, Ruth, Pat, Julie, Cheryl, Emily and Anne!

Linda Howard was our keynote speaker and entertained us with stories of her country life in Alabama where she and her hubby, two dogs and a gazillion head of cattle make their home. Linda's a wonderful, down-to-earth woman who puts everyone at ease. She also has a great sense of humor so we were laughing 'til our sides hurt as she explained how to outwit a stubborn cow.

Jennifer St. Giles and I presented a workshop with our agent Deidre Knight on Saturday and gave away copies of our books. Deidre donated a free read won by publicity guru Heidi Danis.

The highlight was the Maggie Awards ceremony. Dear friend and fellow Steeple Hill author Merrillee Whren won in the Short Contemporary category much to our delight! GRW authors Stephanie Bond and Tanya Michaels went home with a Maggie in their respective categories! Congrats to all the winners!

Many of you probably recognize Tanya's name. She ran the RWA workshops this past year and often publishes articles in the RWR. GRW recognized her contributions to both our local chapter and RWA by presenting her with the Sandra Anglain Chastain Service Award. Brigit Anderson also won for her continued service to GRW.

After two back-to-back conferences, I have to admit what Dorothy said in THE WIZARD OF OZ is true: There's no place like home!!!

Wishing you abundant blessings!


Revising and Polishing a Manuscript

I'm done!! Book number ten is done. The first draft that is. Now comes the part I really like. The revising--per my critique partners suggestions. Sometimes I use their suggestions and sometimes not. But if they agree on something, then I pretty much figure they're right. Though I'm careful to still protect my voice and my style. After I go through their comments, then I do my polishing. If I have time I print out the whole book and read it through, making comments on the hard copy to later change on the computer. But, I don't have the luxuary of time right now, so I will read each chapter on the comupter (though I enlarge it to maxium size for reading purposes--haven't adjusted to the reading glasses-ugh), polishing the motivations, the setting and description, cutting unnecessary words and phrases and adding more emotion. Then I will print the chapter and move on to the next until I'm all the way through the manuscript, by then I'm ready to send it off. Whew!!

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Rose by any other Name

Recently I was sitting with a group of writers and we started talking about names. My name is Pamela (no surprise if you looked at my picture), and I love my name. I think if my parents had named me something else, I'd have always longed for Pamela. In the "Writers' World" Pamela is not overused. The good news is that it is also not stereo-typed.

My good friend Stacy Cornell just sold to Special Edition. Congrats!!!! Stacy and I had this conversation years ago. She says, "There are no Grandma Stacys." She thinks her name does not age well.

There are names that are stereo-typed. For example, Grandpas are named Walter, Henry, Arnold, etc. Grandmas might be Pearl, Opal, etc.

Then, there are the vogue names. I recently sold two books at the same time, and received this advice from my editor: Change one of the names. Both sons should not be named Justin.

Yup, that's right. Two different books and both had young boys named Justin.

Right now, in the Writers' World, heroines are named Jessica, Natalie, etc. Heroes are Sam, Joshua, Matt. Children are Justin, Courtney, and Britney.

Years ago, I sat next to a writer and she was telling me her great story idea, set in Ireland, and I - being young and stupid - said, "Well, don't name your hero Ian. The last five romances I read that were set in Ireland had Ians as heroes." You guessed it. She'd named her hero Ian, and she wasn't about to change it.

Face it, names changes as the world changes. My mother was Rosemary; my father was Albert. Grandma was Rose; Grandpa was Robert. None of those names are 'really' popular right now. My husband's mother was Irene; his father is Robert.

Now, Bob is a bit longer lasting. There are still plenty of Roberts out there (I should know I teach college freshman). By the way, in the land of the early twenties, the most common names are Christopher, Amanda, Ashley (which can be spelled five different ways!), Josh, and Sarah.

So, what makes a name long lasting? Dunno, you tell me.