Monday, June 30, 2008

Meet Rita Nominee: Amy Wallace

Amy Wallace is a wife, homeschool mom of three, writer, speaker, Bible study leader, and avid chocoholic. She loves crafting high-action suspense that delves deep into heart issues, but who she really is can be summed up in a few short words: Amy is a daughter of the King learning to live and love with laughter. Amy is also the author of Ransomed Dreams and Healing Promises, books 1 and 2 of the Defenders of Hope series, a contributing author of God Answers Mom's Prayers, God Allows U-Turns for Teens, Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Diabetes, and A Cup of Comfort for Expectant Moms.

Stop in for a taste of dark chocolate suspense at

1. Describe your RITA phone call.

Being a homeschool mom, I rarely answer the phone during school hours. So it was easy to ignore the first few times the same out-of-state area code popped up on Caller ID. After about five similar calls and no messages, I was sure the person calling was an annoying telemarketer. And I was ready to let them know what I thought about their pestering should they call again.

Well… they called again. And my terse greeting received a cheery answer from a very sweet lady with RWA. Once I realized this was no telemarketer, I was mortified. So I didn’t even hear what contest she was calling about.

Not too long after, I left for a writer’s meeting and shared my embarrassing phone call. A dear friend about fell out of her chair with excitement, “YOU are a RITA FINALIST! That is SO awesome!”

By that point, I was asking the Lord’s forgiveness for being rude on the phone and tearing up with thankfulness that even when I’m not listening or looking, God still finds ways to lavish His goodness on this undeserving child.

2. Tell us about the RITA book and why you think it stood out in the crowd.

To be a RITA finalist with my debut novel was a God kiss that my heart desperately needed. Physical challenges and painful circumstances of the previous two years had left me feeling broken and abandoned. But when I learned RANSOMED DREAMS was a finalist, I sensed God whisper to my heart that He sees. So for me, this honor was a gift God knew would encourage me to keep going. And it has.


Chained To Yesterday
When tragedy struck and Gracie Lang lost everything, her faith crumbled, and nothing but the drive for justice propelled her forward. But after two years of dead-end searching, the truth Gracie seeks is the very thing her stalker will stop at nothing to hide.

Forgiveness Unlocks the Future
An FBI agent in the Crimes Against Children Unit, Steven Kessler spends his days rescuing other people’s children and nights caring for his son. He’s through with God, embittered by his ex-wife who abandoned them both.

The Past Is the Key
A plot to kidnap a British ambassador’s daughter dangerously intersects Steven and Gracie’s worlds–a collision that demands a decision. But are they willing to pay the high ransom required to redeem dreams and reignite hope?

3. How many books have you written?

I’ve written three Defenders of Hope novels, and a fairytale for my kids which they think is “way cool.”

Stuffed into a file cabinet and a jump drive, I have two other novels and one novella which may someday see the light of day.

4. Do you have a favorite?

Tough question! If pressed to choose, I’d say RANSOMED DREAMS. Because in writing that story, I saw with my heart that God had indeed called me to write and would equip me for every step of this journey.

5. Describe your writing process.

My writing process has evolved from just sitting down to type in that blissful state of ignorance and excitement to doing fairly detailed chapter-by-chapter outlines and character sketches before I begin to write. Because the Defenders of Hope series is suspense focusing on Crimes Against Children FBI agents, I had tons of research to do before I began crafting the stories. Once my research helped me define the timeline, I set to work on the chapter-by-chapter and character details. I've found the outline and information about the characters incredibly helpful in keeping me on task with the story, not only the action plot, but also the development and depth of the characters.

6. When did you decide to become a writer and why Christian fiction?

I conceded to begin the writing journey when my husband and God teamed up and pushed me in that direction. I’ve always written and even won an award in fifth grade for a truly wretched first attempt at suspense. But the dream of writing for publication didn’t enter my mind until God plopped some novels in my lap and sent a dream that dogged my sleep. Then my husband took the initiative and scheduled an interview for me with a Secret Service agent he knew. After frenzied research, an amazing interview and watching these dream characters come to life, I was in it for the long haul because I'd found something I could put my whole heart into, something I'd been created to do.

Why Christian fiction? When I sat down to write the story that would become Ransomed Dreams, my heart’s desire was to portray real emotions and the struggles many believers face. It never crossed my mind not to write about God and His involvement in our lives through the vehicle of fiction. For that reason, I’m honored to be called a CBA author.

7. Tell us about your next or upcoming projects.

The second Defenders of Hope novel, HEALING PROMISES (April 2008), is about FBI Agent Clint Rollins who takes a bullet during a standoff, which might just save his life. But not even the ugly things he’s seen during his years working in the Crimes Against Children Unit could prepare him for the beast of cancer. As he continues to track down a serial kidnapper despite his illness, former investigations haunt his nightmares, pushing him beyond solving the case into risking his life and career. Clint struggles to believe God is still the God of miracles. Especially when he needs not one, but two. Everything in his life is reduced to one all-important question: Can God be trusted?

ENDURING JUSTICE is the third Defenders of Hope book releasing spring of 2009. Hanna Kessler’s childhood secret remained buried for decades. But when the shadows of her past threaten those she loves and the system fails FBI Agent Michael Parker—setting a white supremacist free—they must learn the difference between vengeance and justice is their choice to heal.

8. Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?

I’m a firm believer that God never wastes an experience or trial. So if we’re willing to be honest and open about where our lives have taken us—first with the Lord and then with others as He directs—there’s great potential for hope and healing and seeing the redemptive hand of God at work through us. In the writing realm, my mentor calls it “bleeding into your work.” A graphic but appropriate description. Oftentimes it feels exactly like it sounds.

Powerful words are born out of our willingness to embrace our experiences and allow God to use them for His good. And powerful words draw people into a place where they’re more open to hearing the Lord and letting Him heal their hearts. Those words give us an entrance into another’s soul.

So consider your story. Ask God to use it. He will.

There are people waiting to hear the words only you can uniquely share. And I pray that as you share, you’ll see that nothing in God’s loving and compassionate hands is ever, ever wasted.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Christian Fiction Online Magazine

Starting July 1st there will be a new online magazine for Christian Fiction lovers. Check out the web site at I will be writing a column occasionally for this magazine. The first one will be in October.

I will be writing on category romance. Is there anything you would like to see me address in the column? I want to fit it to what a reader would want to see. What are you interested in? How a book comes to be? What happens to a book once it's bought? How writers come up with their ideas? There is so much that can be covered. So this is your opportunity to let me know what you want.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Romantic Times Top Pick!

Most authors sweat out reviews for their books. I know I do! While I know that not everyone is going to love everything I write, no one wants to think someone didn't like their book. It's very exciting to find out when a reviewer enjoys a book enough to give it special mention.

So you can imagine my surprise when I found out my August 2008 book, Her Only Protector, was given a 4 1/2 star review from Romantic Times AND was listed as a TOP PICK for the month! Her Only Protector is the follow up book to my November 2007 release, Cradle of Secrets. Readers are still writing to me asking when the sequel will be available and I'm happy to say that you won't have to wait that much longer!

Check out the full review of Her Only Protector by picking up a copy of the August issue of Romantic Times or visit their website at

NEW INTERVIEW: I have a new interview posted over on myspace by Chicklitgurl! Here's the link: . Enjoy!

Until next time, many blessings, Lisa Mondello

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Anathema Review

From time to time in addition to reviewing Love Inspired Suspense books, I will also let you know about other suspense books I've read and enjoyed. Here's one I raced through:

If you've read my blog or reviews, you've probably figured out I'm a fan of Colleen Coble's suspense. They are all so good! Sometimes I wonder when -- if -- I'll be disappointed. Her latest release, Anathema, tops them all.

In Anathema, Colleen brings her fiction to Indiana for the first time, this time in the heart of Parke County and a close-knit Amish community. Here's the quick summary:

After years of running, Hannah Schwatrz has finally built a life for herself--far from the insecure husband who bullied and abused her. Far from the close-knit Amish community who raised her, then shunned her. Still haunted by nightmare memories of her parents' murder and the guilty secret that made her anathema--a true outcast--from her friends and family.

Only love can bring her home again. Love for a child she had feared was lost forever. And love for the peaceful people who shaped her life. But can love heal old wounds . . . or keep the community safe from a deadly danger?

This book is richly layered with conflict. But it's not all external conflict related to finding the killer and staying alive. Instead, as I've come to expect in Colleen's books, the internal conflict is as compelling -- maybe even stronger -- than the problems plaguing Hannah and Matt.

Hannah is so conflicted about the Amish faith she abandoned and the problems that she created for herself when she left. She has a hard time separating those she controlled from the ones she didn't ask for...and is left paralyzed. She's also running scared from her abusive husband, but he's found the one tool that could drag her back to him -- the idea that her daughter is alive. Could he be telling the truth?

Matt hides a secret from Hannah that can only destroy the relationship they may have. But he doesn't see that he has a choice. He's also torn between duty and the past.

Add in a host of supporting characters, and the texture and twists of the plot form a tangled weave that pulled me through the pages and chapters. I have to admit, I did not fully guess the killer. I was close -- only the person I thought was the killer was the accomplice.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Week 18: Turning Points

Go to any writers’ conference and you’ll find someone talking about turning points. The way they’re handled can determine a story’s impact on the reader.

Donald Maass, in his WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK, writes, “Stories, like life, are about change. Delineating the change scene by scene gives a novel a sense of unfolding drama, and gives its characters a feeling of progress over time.”

He offers the following as possible turning points:
●Arrival of new information
●Shift in the course of events
●Letting go of the old way

Maass challenges us to heighten the changes, which occurs when we build anticipation, increase tension or add surprise. I recently judged a submission in a contest where the writer had a significant turning point, but her delivery was off. My suggestion? Lay a dramatic foundation that builds step by step until the turning point is revealed.

Setting can play an important role. Think how an encroaching storm could symbolize a character’s growing rage or the gentle ebb and flow of waves on the sand could be an outward sign of an inner healing.

Sometimes seemingly inconsequential props and the way the character responds to those props can expose a deeper change that is occurring, thus intensifying the turning point. In my second book, SCARED TO DEATH, Kate Murphy finds her missing cross and places it around her neck, revealing she is ready to embrace life—and love.

Maass frequently finds turning points underplayed in the manuscripts he reads—and rejects. On the other hand, stories flooded with emotion, with conflict, with drama, with electrifying turning points capture his interest and his representation. This week, let’s work on our turning points so we can transform our stories into breakout novels.

Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings!
Debby Giusti

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Final Justice Interview

Today we're welcoming JENNIFER PAPPAS, the heroine of FINAL JUSTICE, the last book in the Reunion Revelations series from Love Inspired Suspense, releasing in June.
Wow, you've just had quite an adventure.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be in the midst of such suspense.

It all started when I went to my ten-year reunion at Magnolia College. When I saw the friends I'd had in college, it was as if we had never been separated. But everyone wasn't there, and before long, we knew why. One of our classmates had been murdered, and one was a murderer. I certainly didn't intend to become involved, but the killer had other plans.

2. So, during the book you met MASON GRANT. Tell us a bit about him. What was your first impression? When did you know it was love?

Mason had been a close friend back in college, but something happened our senior year that changed him. Now he had lines around his eyes and a wary set to his mouth that hinted at trouble. At first, I thought it was going to be impossible to break through the barriers he had erected, but circumstances kept throwing us together, and I realized that the feelings I'd always had for him were stronger than ever. The question was, did he feel anything? And if he did, would he ever be able to show it?

3. What strengths/skills do you have? What is your greatest weakness?

I've never thought of myself as having any particular strength, but I do have a heart for children, and I'd do anything to protect a child. Maybe that's why I'm running the nursery school and after-school programs here at Magnolia Christian Church. And I guess that's why I couldn't walk away from Mason's troubles--I had to find a way to help his little daughter.

4. What scares you?

The thought of failing a child is my biggest fear. I came close to that once, and only through God's grace was that child safe.

5.If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I've always wished I could be a little more outgoing, like my friend Kate. But Mason seems happy with me just the way I am!

6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?

Even though I was a devout Christian, I see now that I wasn't really trusting God with my problems.

7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story?

The dangers I went through showed me that relying on God is the only way to live. I know that I can turn to Him with every problem. Now I can truly walk in faith.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.

"If you search for good, you will find favor, but if you search for evil, it will find you." That passage is from Proverbs 11; vs. 27, and it really says it all about what happened to us. Penny turned to evil, and once that happened, she couldn't stop.

9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why?

I guess I'd be something wholesome and tender, like the wonderful apple crumb pie my mother used to make!

Watch for new books by Marta Perry from Steeple Hill: FINAL JUSTICE, June, LI Suspense; MISSION MOTHERHOOD, July, Love Inspired; LI Classics 2-in-1 volume reprint of HUNTER'S BRIDE and A MOTHER'S WISH, July.

Thank you Marta for sharing Jennifer with us. I can't wait to read the book.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Meet RITA Nominee: Karen Harter

This week Karen is our guest here at the craftie ladies. Pull up a chair, sit down, and get to know her. It's what I intend to do.

Karen Harter’s books have been translated into eight foreign languages. Last year her novel, Where Mercy Flows won the Christy Award for Best First Novel. Her books have been featured in Reader’s Digest Select Editions alongside bestselling authors like Mary Higgins Clark and Lee Child. The Seattle Times featured her first novel as a recommended read. She is thrilled with the nomination of her second book for a coveted RITA award.

Karen and her husband live in Mount Vernon, Washington where they pastor The Valley Church. They love to fish the many streams and lakes surrounding their home. Karen has recently (after raising three boys) decided to learn to cook. Maybe that will bring them back home.

1. Describe your RITA phone call.

It was a busy morning; schedules to keep and a to-do list as long as a roll of toilet paper. The phone call telling me I was a RITA finalist stunned me momentarily, but then the next call came and I was off and running. It was not until much later that day that it sunk in. A finalist for a coveted RITA award! Little ol’ me? Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

2. Tell us about the RITA book and why you think it stood out in the crowd.

Sidney Walker is a single mom, raising her kids in the safe environment of Ham Bone, Washington, a small town tucked against the foothills of the mountains. But despite her efforts to protect them, her fifteen year old son, Ty, is broodingly angry and has run away into the woods. The handsome sheriff who appears with a warrant to search her home seems to have an anger problem himself, and a personal vendetta against Ty. His repeated visits leave Sidney shaken, and questioning her sweet son’s innocence. She prays that God will send a man to help her raise her children, and of course he answers in the strangest way.

Readers tell me they relish the way the layers of each character are slowly peeled away until they understand each one intimately. Everyone loves Millard Bradbury, the old man across the street, who has a problem with sulky teenagers and pesky moles. And of course, they cringe when the evil ex-husband/dad appears, suddenly wanting to become a family again. I believe people say “I couldn’t put it down!” because they care so much about each member of this evolving “family”.

3. How many books have you written?

I’ve written four complete novels. The first one is great for leveling table legs or starting a fire. Two are published, and the fourth is just about finished.

4. Do you have a favorite?

Yes, my first published novel, Where Mercy Flows, which won a Christy award last year. It’s told through the eyes of Samantha, a single mom carrying a load of guilt, who becomes destitute and has no choice but to return to her parent’s home on the river of her childhood, along with her illegitimate son, TJ. She was never been able to live up to the strict standards of her powerful father, Judge Blake Dodd and it seems nothing has changed. Her childhood friend, Donnie Duncan, runs his father’s ranch just up the road. He vies for her love, but she’s not free to give it. Sam still longs for forgiveness for what she did to her estranged husband, and for the child she threw away.
This story is really a parable. It’s about me and God; maybe you and God too. When my life was full of sin, I pushed my heavenly Father away. I couldn’t see my way out of the darkness. But he loved me all along, and it was through his amazing sacrifice that I no longer carry a load of guilt. Keep some tissues with you when you read this story of a struggle between father and daughter, and Samantha’s ultimate redemption.

5. Describe your writing process.

A story begins with a character who appears in my head and begins to walk around in there. I think about him/her or them for weeks, maybe months while their story unfolds. I may write little scenes that will occur somewhere in the book, which helps me develop their voice, their motivations, their past. I pray for the Lord’s message and write down the theme or what I want the reader to take away personally from this story. Eventually I use 3x5 cards to map out scenes, which can be rearranged until I know the order of the chapters. On each card I briefly write Intention, Conflict, and Collision. (I learned this from writing coach, Gloria Kempton at a conference). This keeps me on track and ensures that at the end of each chapter there is a collision, or dramatic point that pulls the curious reader into the next chapter.

Then I write and see what really happens, often surprised by the wonderful characters and events that weren’t even in the cards!

6. When did you decide to become a writer and why Christian fiction?

I dreamed occasionally about being a writer during high school and college when teachers told me I had a gift. It was a romantic concept at the time. I saw myself living in a little cottage by the sea where I sustained myself simply by writing, growing vegetables and harvesting crab and fish. That didn’t happen. It was not until I was sitting in church one morning with a husband, two young boys, and a mortgage career that I made the decision. Rather, God made the decision, and through the pastor’s teaching on the parable of the talents, dropped it into me. What transpired between the Lord and me that day is unforgettable! I’ve gone back to that in moments of discouragement and know beyond a shadow of doubt that this is His plan for me, and that he will use the words he gives me to draw people to the Truth.

7. Tell us about your next or upcoming projects.

I’ve just completed a story about a Jewish single dad, whose heart is broken when his daughter runs away. In his search for her, he becomes involved with the Human Services Director at a downtown Seattle church, a disorganized goy woman with blond hair the length of his grass between mowings. When she risks her life to save his daughter, the attraction that he’s denied is beginning to feel like love. But she is a Christian and he’s Jew. They are oil and water. How could they ever become the family that he craves?

I believe the next project is Annie and The Fisherman, a love story that’s been walking around in my head for at least two years. I’m also working on A Train to Somewhere, which is about an unlikely friendship that develops between a flighty art student and her mandatory college roommate, a beautiful, but bitter violinist. Oh, the trouble they get themselves into! But they survive into adulthood, and Kenzie (the artist) is still trying to crack the crust around Maggie’s heart, while Maggie attempts to break up her friend’s pending marriage. This is a best friend story with lots of romance woven in. Possibly a series.

8. Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?

If you are a Christian writer, then you are an ambassador for Christ. Your motivation, your passion should be to glorify Him. Be sure that you are gifted and called to serve him through the written word, because, believe me, there will be times of discouragement. I know that I would have quit if not for the knowledge that this is God’s assignment for me.

And of course, pursue excellence. Read quality writing and attend conferences. Pray each time you sit down to write. This is the real key to success. It’s almost like cheating but you never get busted because the words that come out of you are being whispered by the Spirit of God. Oh, and have fun. Words are fascinating, dazzling like crystal beads, and you get to string them together into unique stories like no one else can!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I'm done/Get Smart

I am finished with writing my book (Poisoned Secrets--yep, a Love Inspired Suspense--kinda obvious by its title) that's due next week!!!!!!!! Can you tell that I am excited? Writing suspense can be hard--juggling a romance, a suspense and a faith element. It's a nice feeling to have it done--soon to be mailed. Just in time for my vacation. Now I can go lie on a beach without a care for one whole week.

In celebration I went out to lunch with a good friend and then to see the movie Get Smart. I can remember watching the show back--actually I don't remember when it was on television. The movie was cute, light and had funny moments. I thought they did a good job recreating the characters. If you want to escape to a movie that isn't serious or heavy, Get Smart is the one for you.

On the subject of movies, there are several I can't wait to see. They showed a trailer for Batman that looked really good. I loved the first one with Christian Bale as Batman. Also Hancock seems like a different kind of super hero movie. I will be interested in seeing how they transform Will Smith's character into a "hero" because he certainly isn't one at the beginning from what I've seen on the trailer.

What are some movies you are waiting to see or have seen this summer that you would recommend?

Friday, June 20, 2008


I'm a puzzle writer. When a story comes to me, I do not get it in order of how the story will enfold. I usually end up having one clear scene in my head and then the story builds on that.

Many times the scene that is most clear to me is the opening. The heroine is going about her life as normal and then something drastic happens to spin her world upside down. I usually can't wait to write that scene, so I jot down the bones of it in a file and then put it aside until I can work on it. Since I'm usually working on several projects at a time, I need to keep good files to keep all my stories straight.

You'd think that when the time comes for me to write the story, scene two would naturally be the next scene I work on. Not necessarily. For me, stories come together as puzzles. I know the beginning. I know a scene in the middle somewhere and I almost always have the ending mapped out before I even know how the hero and heroine are going to get there. In fact, if you look on my hard drive, you'll see lots of stories with beginnings and endings already written.

I've tried many times to write in order. When I force myself into this mode, I get writer's block. I've come to realize that I'm a big picture sort of gal. I see the the progression of the story coming together as a whole rather than in a linear fashion. Now that I don't force myself to write in order, I write much quicker than I used to.

I talk about puzzle writing as well as linear, pantsers and plotters in my Understanding Your Writing Profile workshop, which I will be doing this weekend for the New England Chapter of RWA. What kind of writer are you??

I'm already starting to hear from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense bookclub readers about Her Only Protector. If you in the bookclub and have read Her Only Protector, please drop me a line and let me know how you liked the book!

Until next time, many blessings, Lisa Mondello

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Writing Inspirational Romantic Suspense

For years I’ve wanted to write books. It was one of those dreams that refused to die, even when I would take it out periodically and ask God if I should let it die.

Yet even as the dream stuck with me, I’d look at the marketplace and wonder if I’d ever be able to write the kind of books I wanted.

You see, I love suspense. I guess there’s something in the combination of the ticking time bomb and solving the mystery before it’s revealed that I really enjoy. And ten to fifteen years ago, about the only writers I’d read were Mary Higgins Clark, Tom Clancy, and John Grisham. I knew for the most part that I could trust their books to be clean, yet have that race against time feel. I scoured bookshelves in Christian bookstores, but never found anyone writing like that. And I didn’t trust non-Christian authors enough to pick up their books without a recommendation from someone I trusted.

Why write something that didn’t have any place in the marketplace? Maybe that’s why God kept telling me to wait.

Fast-forward ten years to 2005.

The dream still hadn’t died, but now there were some fantastic authors available in the Christian market. Colleen Coble. Brandilyn Collins. Brandt Dodson. Tim Downs. I discovered their books and felt a surge of hope. Then Steeple Hill started its Love Inspired Suspense line. Now a group of wonderful suspense writers is very active in the CBA market, and my first, Deadly Exposure releases this month from Love Inspired Suspense.

So why do I write Inspirational Romantic Suspense?

First, because in inspirational suspense, I can show how God is active in our lives. Even when we aren’t looking or can’t see Him, He is our rock and shelter when our worlds fall apart. While most of us will never run from stalkers or try to solve crimes, we all have times our lives seem out of control, and any reminder God is still on His throne and in control is encouraging and needed.

Second, I love the twists and turns. I have never been told I couldn’t put something in a plot. I’m able to handle real world issues, without inserting elements that I don’t believe in. To be blunt: sex and language. Rarely do either of those propel a story forward and add to them. Instead, I can write the kind of book I want to read. And that I won’t blush if my grandmother picks up.

Third, they are fun to write. I can research. I can plot. I can develop characters. But at a certain point, the plot and/or characters are going to take over. Then I don’t even know exactly what is going to happen. And that’s fun.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Summer's here and many of you will be going on vacation this month. If you're looking for a great beach read, pick up Karen White's new release, THE MEMORY OF WATER. Karen's a dear friend, fellow Georgia Romance Writer and writer extraordinaire! MEMORY is an exceptional book that kept me reading into the wee hours of the night.

Karen uses many of the techniques Donald Maass describes in his WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK. She weaves plots layers together with breathtaking notes of conjunction that left me in awe! The internal conflict for each of the major characters is expertly crafted and the problems overlap and intertwine leading to a climax that had me gasping for air.

The back of the book blurb reads: On the night their mother drowns trying to ride out a storm in a sailboat, sisters Marnie and Dianna Maitland discover there is more than one kind of death. There are also the deaths of innocence, of love, and of hope. Both harbor secrets about what really happened that night--secrets that will erode their lives as they grow into adulthood.

After ten years of silence between the sisters, Marnie is called back to the South Carolina Lowcountry by Diana's ex-husband, Quinn. His young son has returned from a sailing trip with his emotionally unstable mother, and he is deeply disturbed and refusing to speak. In order to help the traumatized boy, Marnie must reopen old wounds and bring the darkest memories of her past to the surface. And she must confront Diana. . . before they all go under.

MEMORY OF WATER ranks 4 1/2 stars for summer reading!

Wishing you abundant blessings!
Debby Giusti

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bayou Paradox Interview

Today we're welcoming Tara LeBlanc, the heroine of Bayou Paradox, June 2008. Wow, you've just had quite an adventure.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be in the midst of such suspense.

It seems my life took a drastic turn, and I really couldn't tell you how it began. Well, yes, I can. My sisters and Grandmere became Jesus-freaks, leaving me to defend the family's traditions all alone.

2. So, during the book you met Sheriff Theriot. Tell us a bit about him. What was your first impression? When did you know it was love?

I've known Bubba almost my whole life, but never really "noticed" him, if you know what I mean. He's always been my oldest sister's boyfriend's friend, not someone I thought of outside that perimeter. But when his aunt got so ill, and then Grandmere became sick as well, I knew something was wrong. Bubba's stubborn and by-the-book, and a Jesus-freak to boot, but there was something in his eyes. Something that made my heart lock everytime he got near me. It just took me a while to admit it was deeper feelings.

3. What strengths/skills do you have? What is your greatest weakness?

I can cook a really mean jambalaya! LOL I know a lot about nature and plants. I know that God put some foliage on this earth for medicinal purposes. Weaknesses? Hmm. My sisters would say I'm stubborn and independent. I like to think I'm determined and strong.

4. What scares you?

After what I've been through, not much anymore. But during the course of this story, and a little after, I was scared of not being forgiven. I've lived a life that I didn't think God could ever forgive me for. But I was wrong. :D

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I think I'd change my temper. It sure flares up at the most inopportune times! LOL

6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?

I had no faith then. I thought my sisters and grandmother were freaks. That they were delusional.

7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story?

A Christian, but have a LOT to learn. Thankfully, I have an amazing family who share the gospel with me, and a man I love who adores God.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.

It took me some time to realize that I CAN call on God, and He will hear me. I guess considering the path I'd strayed down, I didn't expect Him to listen to Me. Something else I was wrong about! LOL

9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why?

A Fudge Sundae--because I'm both hot and cold at the same time. LOL

Thank you Robin Carroll for sharing Tara with us. I can't wait for the book to hit the shelves.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Meet RITA Nominee: Pamela Tracy Hey, that's me!

Every other week I'm able to pull up a chair and either interview an old friend (like Linda Goodnight) or a new friend (like Irene Hannon). This week, I'm interviewing me. Hmmm, the chair across from me looks hauntingly lonely. I could bounce back and forth (since I joined Weight Watchers last Tuesday that might be a good idea) or I could simply position a mirror and smile at myself while I talk (I was raised an only child, this idea has merit. Of course, doing this also reminds me of why I joined Weight Watchers). Hmmm, I might tell you what I did, later. Heeeeere's Pamela

PAMELA TRACY started writing at age twelve (A very bad teen romance featuring David Cassidy from the Partridge Family). Later, she honed her writing skills while earning a BA in Journalism at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas (And wrote a very bad science fiction novel that didn’t feature David Cassidy.) Pamela sold her first romance It Only Takes A Spark to Barbour in 1999. Her next book Daddy for Keeps is out from Harlequin’s Steeple Hill Romance line in January of 2009. Since then she’s written a variety (sixteen made it to book shelves; Four are covered with cat hair and still hiding under the bed) of novels, novellas, and prayer books.

1. Describe your RITA phone call.

Of all my friends who entered, I think I expected it the least. Lisa Mondello mentioned to me that Tuesday morning that "Calls are going out." I promptly forgot. When my cell phone rang at 10:25, I was in my office five minutes away from teaching a comp class. When Jill St. John said, "I'm calling from RWA..." My first thought was, "Oh, the Desert Rose chapter is having a contest next weekend. They must have a question." Then, she said, "Your book, Pursuit of Justice, is a RITA® finalist."
I about fell over. I did make a lot of noise (apparently, according to my coworkers, a lot of noise). And, promptly I made three quick phone calls: best friend, editor, and agent. Then I went off to teach a class to 24 students who'd never heard of the RITA®.

2. Tell us about the RITA book and why you think it stood out it the crowd.

Pursuit of Justice felt like a different book right from the beginning. I started writing it, oh, eight years ago. It was before baby, before marriage, I think I started it between anthologies. See, there was like a six book span where I wasn’t writing novels, instead I was writing – making that selling – novellas and prayer books. The 80 pages novellas kept having suspense elements and I kept muttering “Arg, if I could only have 200 more pages, I could ‘really’ make this a suspense.” Well, during that mind thought, Rosa’s (she’s the heroine) story tapped me on the shoulder. Rosa’s a wonderful gal. She tapped me, complete! I knew the beginning, middle, and end. That usually doesn’t happen. Of course, I got to about chapter two of her book, and I think I sold a prayer book. Once I finished the prayer book, I made it to chapter five of Rosa’s book, and then I sold another anthology. Every time I started to work on Rosa, I’d sell something else. Finally, I got an agent and he sold Rosa while she was only about 75% complete. Rosa finally got closure. What makes this book stands out is it was eight years in the making, and the whole time I was learning craft via the other sells. Boy, was Pursuit of Justice developed.

3. How many books have you written?

Four under the bed
Sixteen on the shelves
One in progress

4. Do you have a favorite?

Of course! Pursuit of Justice! First, it’s a RITA finalist (pinch, pinch) Plus, not only did the book and her characters keep me company for eight years, but Rosa then asked her friends if they’d like books too. Ruth and Mary both said yes. There were two more books published by Love Inspired Suspense: The Price of Redemption and Broken Lullaby.

5. Describe your writing process.

I have an old calendar and a spiral notebook by my computer. I usually roll out of bed about 5:30 a.m. Blurry eyed, I head to my computer. On the calendar, I keep track of the timeline. For example, Rosa was set in winter, so I decided on the month, and then in my calendar, I chose a day and wrote it down for her to get stopped for speeding by the cops. I tend to have my romances start and stop within days. Nope, don’t like that. Keeping the calendar helps me give the romance time to develop. The notebook has three columns and usually about fourteen rows. I keep track of every chapter – writing down what happens to her in column one, what happens to them in column two, and what happens to him in column three. Each row, of course, is a chapter. I’m a SOTPs writer. I’m working on a suspense called Lost Identity right now. I’m on chapter six. So, rows 1 – 5 are pretty filled. I kept track of names, happenings, etc. Rows 6-14 are sparse. I’ve jotted down ideas (in pencil so I can move them). I’ve also figured out that this will not be a 14 chapter book, so I’ve X’d out rows 13 and 14 and moved what few scribbles I have to other rows/ chapters. I have a toddler and a full time job, so I aim for three pages a day. In a current calendar, starting with Monday, I’ll write 103 – 106. On Tuesday, I’ll write 106 – 109. On Wednesday, I’ll write 109 – 112. You get the idea. Now, I ‘really’ aim to get those pages done. If I get more, I adjust my numbers. If I get less, then the next day I REALLY have to work. I don’t put number goals for the weekend. Anything I write on Saturday and Sunday is a gift.

6. When did you decide to become a writer and why Christian fiction?

I decided to become a writer as a toddler. I’d scribble and then take the scribbles to my dad and demand he tell me the story I just wrote. He’d make up a story. Um, he was an old army man, currently a lumberyard manager. I’m pretty sure his stories were scary (LOL! Which is probably why I write suspense and have dead bodies in my books). I think what happened next is I fell in love with David Cassidy (although it was Bobby Sherman who answered my fan letter) and wrote stories about him. Fast forward a few years and you have my girlfriends and I making up stories about the boys we’d met at Skateland (I still remember those boys’ names). Finally, I started writing stories in my notebook. I wrote a secret baby – about the time a fifteen year old friend had a baby. I wrote an historical – about the time I read my first romances (Hmmm, shall I admit I cut my teeth on Rosemary Rogers, Patricia Mathews, and Jennifer Wilde?)

I REALLY decided to become a writer in the weeks after my mother died. I’d told her I was going to be a writer. I purchased a computer from Montgomery Wards and set it up on a card table in my bedroom. I wrote a 300 page, single spaced, (not yet completed) Star Trek TNG. Then, I took a creative writing class at a local college and changed to romance and wrote four books (the before mentioned four that are under the bed). As to why Christian fiction… Well, I am a Christian and God pretty much nudged me in the right direction.

7. Tell us about your next or upcoming projects.

My first Love Inspired romance Daddy for Keeps comes out in January of 2009. I have a web master heroine and a bull rider hero. It’s a secret baby (I’ve come a long way since age 15 LOL) Then, I’m working on a three book suspense series called Seeking the Lost about three sisters. It hasn’t sold – yet.

8. Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?

Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Read in the genre you think you’ll write in. Don’t expect it to happen overnight. Never give up. If you write a page a day, you’ll have a novel in a year. Go to workshops, conferences, make writing friends.

Thanks for having me!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Drama in real life....

This has been an unbelievable spring. The newspapers, television and radio coverage has been non-stop, here, regarding the flooding here in Cedar Rapids. Over 25,000 people evacuated from their homes. Over 12,000 without power, and it could be weeks before it’s all restored. Our entire downtown is underwater--our beautiful library--submerged. The historic, beautifully restored Paramount Theatre. Countless businesses. On the news this morning, they said that over 1,300 blocks are under water. Mercy, one of our 500 bed hospitals, had to be evacuated in the middle of the night.

A friend is pregnant, with two small children, and both her and her husband are abruptly out of work because the places they worked for aren't even visible. The water is finally starting to recede, but even when it does, the devastation will have a huge impact for a long time to come. Many workers won't have a job to go back to, because so few businesses carried flood insurance. Stories abound about the people in large surrounding residential areas who don’t have it either, because they were told such high waters had never happened, and no one even dreamed it ever could. My friend started picking up hours at a restaurant, and some man left her a $50 tip with a note "Buy groceries" and she burst into tears on the spot.

Whole bridges have been swept away. Officials parked a heavy train--with hopper cars filled with rock, hoping to stabilize a trestle after another one upstream was swept away. Now that second trestle AND the train are in the river. Cell phones are iffy--sometimes they work, sometimes not. Not sure why--unless some of that local equipment is underwater somewhere or maybe, because so many land phones are out of commission.

At our house, we have been lucky. After our first long power outage, we were able to call around until we could find a generator, and got it set up un time to keep our sump pumps going and our lower level dry, and we are out on the county on a well, far away from the flood waters. We've lost electricity a number of times though, and word is that the whole power infrastructure is so taxed that its possible many more areas could lose power long term.

Cedar Rapids' water has crested and will take maybe a week to recede, but now Iowa City south of us is getting hit, and will crest this next week. The U of Iowa library and many other buildings have been evacuated.

But next...the clean up. I can only imagine that the large areas of homes that have been underwater so long will need to be razed--especially the low income areas. After weeks of rain, we sure don't need more, but two nights ago, another storm hit, with large hail, and we could hear the mares and foals in a pasture next door, running, and whinnying in panic because it hurt and they couldn't escape it. Last night—another storm. Looks like rain is on the way again, today. Things will get better, but my heart just aches for all the people who have lost everything, and who have few resources to get back on their feet. No jobs, no homes, no precious mementoes.

This spring, Iowa has had a number of killer tornadoes, including an F-5 that decimated two towns, and the one that tragically hit a boy scout camp in western Iowa. Flooding has brought hardship to many communities north of us, and is now heading south. So today, instead of talking about writing, I guess I’d just like to ask that you all keep the people of Iowa in your prayers.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

The dog days of summer

Okay, I know that picture isn't of a dog but all I have is my cats. This one is Ringo (named by my son who is a huge Beatles' fan) and this is usually what he does summer and winter. We need to take lessons from our pets about how to take it easy. He runs around about ten minutes then takes a nap. He eats then takes a nap. He drives me crazy with his whining (sounds just like a baby) then takes a nap. Not that I advocate sleeping all the time, but we really do need to learn to relax and take things a little less seriously. Look at the road rage. I want to shout at the person who is jumping out of his car to hammer the other driver, "Get over it. So he cut you off. Will it matter in ten years?" (Actually will it matter in an hour?)

So what kind of pet (or like my son pets) do you have? What have you learned from your pet? What has your pet given you? Mine have given me hours of pleasure. When I'm upset, holding one of my cats (usually the one that weighs less than ten pounds, not Ringo who's pushing twenty pounds) is calming. I read once that people who have pets live longer. I don't know if that's true or not, but I know they make me laugh with their antics.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Understanding Your Writing Profile

A few years back I learned something. Not every writer writes the same way. After networking with other authors and writing over 17 manuscripts, I knew that writers approach their projects differently.

It wasn't until I was working with children with learning disabilities that I realized that a lot of the patterns we have as adults are evident in the formative years of reading and writing. There are 4 types of writers. Plotters, linears, Pantsers and Puzzlers. It got to be so that I could tell which child was which and the types of problems they had with writing were the same problems that my fellow authors talk about having trouble with as adults.

From this I developed my workshop Understanding Your Writing Profile which helps writers discover what type of writer they are. I'm doing this workshop for the NEC local chapter in Wellesley on June 22. If you're in the area, please stop by and discover if you are a plotter, a linear, a pantser or a puzzler writer.

Until next time, many blessings to you, Lisa Mondello

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Curious about writing and conferences? Then stop by the ACFW conference blog tour. It will run the rest of this month, July and into August. You'll learn what editors and agents recommend and are looking for. You'll hear the memories of people who've attended in the past. And you'll learn why the conference is valuable to so many. So be sure to swing by the tour!

6/11 Cara Putman
6/11 Chip MacGregor
6/12 Pamela James
6/12 Wanda Dyson
6/13 Ane Mulligan
6/13 Jennifer AlLee
6/16 Robin Miller
6/16 Christina Nelson
6/17 Annette Irby
6/18 Sharon Hinck
6/18 Martha Rogers
6/19 Susan May Warren
6/20 Camy Tang
6/23 Deb Raney
6/23 Ronie Kendig
6/24 Colleen Coble
6/25 Rachel Hauck
6/25 Denise Hunter
6/26 Diann Hunt
6/26 Brandilyn Collins
6/26 Cathy West
6/27 Jill Elizabeth Nelson
6/28 Eileen Watson
6/28 Gail Gaymer Martin
6/30 Sue Brower
6/30 Julie Carobini
6/30 Lynette Sowell

7/1 Mary Connealy
7/1 Gina Conroy
7/1 Steve Laube
7/2 Rachelle Gardner
7/2 Lena Nelson Dooley
7/3 Chip MacGregor
7/3 Linda Fulkerson
7/4 Terry Burns
7/4 Rebecca Yauger
7/7 Susan Downs
7/7 Carla Stewart
7/8 Marcia Gruber
7/8 Donita Paul
7/9 Rose McCauley
7/9 Leanna Ellis
7/9 Rebecca Germany
7/10 Sharon Dunn
7/10 Janice Thompson
7/11 Pam Meyers
7/11 JoAnne Simmons
7/14 Celia Tomer
7/14 Janice Olson
7/15 Cheryl Wyatt
7/15 Angie Bredenbach
7/16 Christina Berry
7/16 Megan DiMaria
7/17 Roxanne Rustad
7/18 Margaret Daley
7/21 Marjorie Vawter
7/22 Pam Hillman
7/28 Sandra Robbins
7/28 Virginia Smith
7/30 Cara Putman

8/1 Christa Allen
8/3 Deborah Vogts
8/4 Michelle Sutton
8/4 Susan Meissner
8/6 Tiff Stockton
8/8 Patti Lacy

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Week 17: Subplots!

This week we’ll take a look at what Donald Maass has to say about subplots, in his WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK. While he admits the term “has an almost old-fashioned ring,” he is quick to show how stories can be enhanced when subplots are well layered and engaging.

According to Maass, today’s stories seem more immediate than in the past primarily because of first-person POV as well as the rather recent use of what Maass calls “close or intimate third-person point[s] of view.” Just as Maass encourages us to delve deeply into our hero and heroines' conflicts, motivations, problems and goals, he also challenges us to develop the situations involving our secondary characters equally as well.

Multi-faceted characters—whether primary or secondary—are essential for a story to resonate with readers and editors alike. Secondary characters never take over the book, but the problems confronting them—their plot layers—should embellish the story and make it better. Well-defined subplots are a hallmark of the breakout novel so let’s get working to ensure our secondary characters meet the Maass standard.

Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings!
Debby Giusti

Visit me at where I’m blogging today about what I’ve learned with the first year of publication and three books under my belt.

Keeping Her Safe Interview

Today we're welcoming Rae Benton, the heroine of Keeping Her Safe June 2008.
Wow, you've just had quite an adventure.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be in the midst of such suspense.

I¹ve often thought of when and where everything started. Really, it began before Hunter went to prison, when I was still in high school. My father was looking to get rich, and got involved with some pretty shady schemes.

2. So, during the book you met Hunter Gordon. Tell us a bit about him.
What was your first impression? When did you know it was love?

Hunter and I knew each other when I was still a teenager. Dad brought him home one day, saying he¹d hired him to do some general labor in our family¹s woodworking shop. Dad felt sorry for him, I think. Hunter was a guy about seventeen, kicked out his house, acting all tough. Back then, I thought he was pretty intriguing, in that teen kind of way.
But as for love? It wasn¹t until he¹d returned from prison, after Dad died, telling me how my father thought I was in danger and had asked him to watch over me. But it wasn¹t until we¹d been chased, shot at, long after I had to decide to trust him, that I began to wonder if I might be in love with him.

3. What strengths/skills do you have? What is your greatest weakness?

I¹m determined. I like to get things done, to keep busy and I hate procrastination. In a way, it¹s also a big weakness with me, too. I tend to fight my fears with harder and harder work. I¹m pretty good at carpentry and woodcarving. It¹s very relaxing, which I guess is what I need. But my greatest weakness is I can jump to conclusions. It¹s odd, because it all ties in with my Christian growth, like God knew exactly how to work in me.

4. What scares you?

Being alone. I¹d already lost my mother years ago, and my father died just before Hunter returned. It was really scary. You¹re never prepared to be an orphan. To know that there¹s no one left who loves you unconditionally.
That was my biggest fear.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I wouldn¹t be so worried about things. I tend to brood over things I have no control of. I¹m better than I was, but it¹s a hard habit to break.

6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?

That question kind of ties in with my fear. I thought that there was never going to be anyone who could love me absolutely regardless of who I was or what I was. I¹d actually forgotten that God is that person. He¹s my father. Another thing was that I couldn¹t forgive Hunter. To me, I had all this anger and fear all wrapped up in me, and wasn¹t willing to let God help me with it.

7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story?

Let me tell you this. Hunter showed me how much God loves us all. His
faith always amazed me and even drew me closer to him. And it¹s funny, but
God took me to the end of my rope and forced me to finally ask Him for help.
When I did, I knew I could let go of a lot of my anger and I could trust God to be my Father in Heaven, who has my best interests at heart.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.

It¹s Romans 8:1 and so appropriate. Those of us who are Christian in our hearts know that we won¹t ever be condemned. I¹m so thankful for that. The verse is practically my daily motto now.

9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why?

Dessert? Who has time for dessert? We¹re rebuilding my family¹s woodworking shop and before that, I was so wrapped up in my anger and fear and workĊ  Oh, well, let¹s see. It¹s definitely not date squares. After Dad¹s funeral, I don¹t ever want to see another one of them. But I am partial to nut bars. I love cashews and almonds and chocolate. My cousin used to make them for Dad and me. Maybe now everything¹s settled down, she¹ll make them again. I hope so. I miss them.

Barbara Phinney
Suspenseful stories to inspire you!
Desperate Rescue LIS Sept 07 4 1/2 stars from RT!
Keeping Her Safe LIS June 08

Thank you Barbara for sharing Rae with us. The book sounds fabulous.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Meet Rita Nominee Irene Hannon

Last week, I had you pull up a chair and get cozy with Linda Goodnight. It was an honor. As I mentioned, in the writing world, personally Linda and I have known each other for about a decade. This week, Irene Hannon is sitting in the chair and I feel all gushy. There's that wonderful poem "Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver but the other's gold". Well, Linda is an old friend (Opps, she just yelled at me. I guess I can't use the word old and the name Linda in the same sentence) and Irene is a 'new' friend. Irene, it's so great to get to know you via the RITA nomination. Okay, enough ramblings from me. HEEERE'S IRENE

Irene Hannon, who writes both romance and romantic suspense, is the author of more than 25 novels. Her books have been honored with a RITA Award, the Holt Medallion and a Reviewer’s Choice Award from Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine. More than 1 million copies of her novels have been sold worldwide. A former corporate communications executive with a Fortune 500 company, she now writes full-time for both Steeple Hill and Revell. She and her husband live in Missouri.

1. Describe your RITA phone call.
I got the call early in the morning, not long after I sat down at my computer to write. Needless to say, it was VERY difficult to concentrate after that! I did manage to stick with my work in progress all day—after calling a few friends and family members to share the news, of course. But the next morning I took a couple of hours off and treated myself to Starbucks!

2. Tell us about the RITA book and why you think it stood out in the crowd.
There is a lyrical quality to Rainbow’s End that may have appealed to the judges. The beautiful but remote setting was also an integral element of the story, with the physical isolation acting as a metaphor for the emotional isolation of the three main characters. That may have helped make the book stand out, too.

But bottom line, I think the deeply emotional story is what vaulted this book to the finalist list. The book is about two lonely people—a shattered man and a disfigured woman—who join forces to help a traumatized little boy. Along they way, they reconnect with life and find healing, hope and love. It’s a very uplifting, inspiring story, and based on the incredible reader response, it touched a lot of hearts.

3. How many books have you written?
My 25th book was published in May 2008, and I’m under contract for eight more with two different publishers.

4. Do you have a favorite?
That’s like asking a mother to pick her favorite child! I like all my books. I honestly can’t single any one out; they’re all special in their own way. I do have to say, though, that I’m extremely excited about my upcoming suspense debut, and I do think the three books in my suspense series are among the best I’ve written.

5. Describe your writing process.
I’ve been very blessed for the past 4½ years to be able to write full-time after a long career in the corporate world, where I juggled my day job with my writing. Now, I spend every weekday (and some weekends) writing. I’m generally at my desk by eight or eight-thirty and I begin by polishing the pages I wrote the day before. Then it’s on to new writing. I aim for 10 good, new pages a day. I do work from an outline, though these have become less specific through the years.

If I’m in the plotting stage of a book, I may spend a lot of time researching or simply sitting around in my office or garden staring into space. It’s sometimes hard during those phases to convince people I’m actually working!

6. When did you decide to become a writer and why Christian fiction?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. In fact, I was one of the winners in a complete-the-story-contest for a national children’s magazine when I was 10, so I’ve been in print for a long time! My first novel was published in 1985 with Thomas Nelson, which had just started a line of inspirational romances. However, they were about 10 years ahead of their time and the line folded.

I then wrote six books for Avalon before I connected with Steeple Hill. Avalon isn’t a Christian publisher, but it does focus on books with very wholesome, traditional values. I write Christian fiction because it fits my world view and because I sincerely believe it’s possible to tell a compelling, entertaining story without explicit sex, profanity or gratuitous violence.

7. Tell us about your next or upcoming projects.
I have a number of exciting projects in the works.

First, I have a three-book FBI-based suspense series debuting with Revell in February 2008 called “Heroes of Quantico.” I have just received an absolutely glowing endorsement for the first book, AGAINST ALL ODDS, from the master of inspirational romantic suspense, Dee Henderson, so I’m VERY excited about this new venture. The first book revolves around a member of the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team, who is assigned to protect the daughter of a diplomat engaged in a sensitive hostage situation in the Middle East. It’s very fast-paced and exciting!

I also have a new book coming out from Steeple Love Inspired in February 2008. (That will be a first for me—two new books in one month!) APPRENTICE FATHER is about a man wary of commitments who finds himself responsible for two emotionally fragile children when his sister dies in a domestic violence incident. Help comes in the form of a physically handicapped woman whose deep, abiding faith turns off the anti-religion hero, but whose kind and loving ways begin to melt the ice around his heart..

Then, in May 2009, I’ll launch a new series with Steeple Hill called “Lighthouse Lane.” The books are all set on Nantucket, and I’m deep into writing those at the moment.

You can find out more about my upcoming books at

8. Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?
Read a lot. Learn the basics. Write, write, write. Join a group like Romance Writers of America. Submit to contests and read the feedback with an open mind. Attend conferences. Network. And never, ever give up! I had written three books before I sold my first novel. I’m glad I persisted!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

eHarlequin Web site

We have recently started posting the character interviews at eharlequin (hosted by Steeple Hill's parent company). The Love Inspired Suspense books are offered at a 20% discount (for up to 5-6 months after they come out and they come out a month early--July books are up now). Also, if you buy $25 worth, you get free shipping (and no sales tax). Not a bad deal when ordering books.

Check out the Steeple Hill section at eHarlequin at
There are many different areas to participate in. I love to hang out at the Forums. But there is also the Blog section and the 100,000 Book Challenge that Harlequin is participating in to promote reading worldwide. There is a place to put reviews of books (from any publisher). Many readers and writers hang out at the site.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Author Copies

Today is one of those days that authors love. It's the day I received my author copies of Her Only Protector. The UPS man who dropped off my boxes had no idea why I was so giddy when he handed the boxes over to me. But I knew, even before I looked at the address on the box that they were from Steeple Hill. The boxes had the telltale diamonds that symbolize they came from Harlequin Magazine.

Of course, no one was home at the time when I ripped open the first box and pulled out a copy and did a happy dance in the kitchen. And since I have teenagers, they were less than enthusiastic when I shoved the book in their face as they walked through the door after school.

I'm use to this. This is why I share my writer moments with other authors and readers. Only you, people who have a love of books, can understand how exciting it is when a box of books arrives.

If you're on the Steeple Hill Bookclub, please let me know when you receive the August books! Even though Her Only Protector won't be in bookstores until August 2008, I know bookclub readers will have received their monthly stash and may have read the book. If you do, please email me and let me know your thoughts.

Until next time, many blessings, Lisa Mondello

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Bayou Paradox Review

In this fourth installment in her Bayou romantic suspense, Robin Caroll brings readers a fast-paced read filled with romance.

It can cure you. Or it can kill you.

The untamed Louisiana bayou is not for hte faint of heart. But until now, Tara LeBlanc has always considered it a sanctuary, its lush foliage a source of medicinal healing. What evil has infiltrated her haven? Two elderly women she loves lie near death, and Tara knows their illnesses are no accident.

Only one man can save Tara from the same fate: Sheriff Rene "Bubba" Theirot. The strong-willed lawman throws his all into protecting her, laying his heart on the line as well as his life. Now they both stand to lose it all as a killer gets ready to pounce....

Tara is deep into voodoo and fighting the efforts of her sisters and her grandmother to introduce her to Christianity. Then when her grandmother and the woman who is now mentoring her in voodoo are found ill, Tara is determined to find out what happened and to use voodoo to restore them to health.

Bubba is just as determined that the voodoo can only harm them. He tolerates Tara until she gets too close to the line, and her life is in danger. Neither expected the attraction...especially when there is so much to keep them apart. And why is it so hard for the doctors to help the two women recover? Was there really someone else involved? And if so, why? What could they have that he wanted? The more Tara pushes, the more Bubba begins to believe she may be on the right track after all.

Once again Robin Caroll has written a book that moves. The pages flip fast and furiously. And I found myself completely vested in the characters -- even Tara who hasn't been the most sympathetic character in past books.

And while this book is technically the fourth, it stands well on its own. Anything you need to know is slipped into the story without distracting from the current plot.

I highly recommend this book to lovers of romantic suspense.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Week 16: Bring out the Loom!

Last week we discussed plot layers, which Donald Maass, in his WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK, explains are “when more than one thing is happening simultaneously to the hero.” We counted the layers or problems facing the hero and heroine in our stories and looked at ways to increase that number. Maass hinted that this week’s lesson would introduce the pivotal points intersecting the layers, or what he calls the nodes of conjunction.

How are the problems intertwined? Does the secondary character’s back story play into the hero’s current struggle? What about the heroine’s internal need? Does that shed light on the hero’s external goal? Maass provides examples of how to weave the layers together so they impact a resolution that reveals each character’s relevance to the story in a satisfying conclusion.

Perhaps this meshing of plots and characters more than anything else—at least in my humble opinion--defines the breakout novel. Harlan Coben and Jodie Picoult are two favorite authors who have mastered the technique. Each time I read their books, I am amazed at the intricate way they weave their stories, sprinkling in pertinent facts that intersect (nodes of conjunction) and lead to a climax that always takes me by surprise.

How do we accomplish that in our books? Get out a paper and pencil and note anything in your story that can overlap—characters, conflict, subplots. Now combine these smaller units into larger groups. The villain’s sister was the heroine’s best friend all during high school. The hero worked construction for the company where the murdered man was last seen. The high school best friend was dating the hero and didn’t tell him the murdered man had been stalking her for two months prior to his death. See how the story builds and the reader is drawn more deeply into each layer of the action?

Let’s re-look our current work-in-progress to determine nodes of conjuncture that weave the plot layers together. Maass has given us another blockbuster technique. Our job is to incorporate what we’ve learned into our own stories.

Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings!
Debby Giusti

PS: This week's Love Inspired Suspense, KILLER CARGO, by Dana Mentink, shows how plot layers can be woven together into a great story! Be sure to get Dana's book and the other exciting stories available this month from Steeple Hill.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Killer Cargo Interview

CONTEST WINNER for MAY 2008.....Karen B. Karen can you please send your contact info to by June 10th so we can get the books to you. YEA!! Karen!!

Today we're welcoming Maria de Silva, the heroine of Killer Cargo, Love Inspired Suspense, June 2008. Wow, you've just had quite an adventure.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be in the midst of such suspense.

I’m a pilot, you see, make my living shuttling cargo. On the last trip I found a package stowed amongst the kitty litter and the dog kibble that was most definitely not supposed to be there. It’s the kind of package that people would die if they lost, or kill to get back. From the moment I found it, I was fighting for my life.

2. So, during the book you met Cy Sheridan. Tell us a bit about him. What was your first impression? When did you know it was love?

Cy is an ex soldier and committed environmentalist. I first met him when I crashed a car in his creek. First impression? A ruggedly handsome and somewhat obnoxious hermit type. After I came to know him, I discovered there was a very good reason for his reclusive ways and his protectiveness. I guess when he was shot trying to protect me, it hit home that this wasn’t your average man. He loved me enough to die for me and at that moment I realized the feeling was mutual.

3. What strengths/skills do you have? What is your greatest weakness?

I am ferociously determined and independent. I don’t back down from a challenge, not a physical one anyway. Cy would say my greatest weakness is impulsivity. I admit, sometimes I start battering down the door before I check to see if it’s unlocked. Character flaw, I guess.

4. What scares you?

Facing what happened to my father because of me.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would erase that one moment in time when I was careless, that one moment that changed everything for all of us.

6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?

I’m ashamed to admit, I’ve been hiding from God.

7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story?

I’m ready to face my past and accept that God forgives and He wants me to as well.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? Psalm139:7

There is nothing too big for God to help you with and no place too distant to fly away from His grace and mercy. Unfortunately, I had to learn that the hard way.

9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why?

Oh finally an easy question. I’d be a platter of docinhos, my grandmother’s Brazilian treats filled with sweet cheese and soaked in sweetened condensed milk. Why that? It takes me back to another time when life was a simpler, less complicated thing. How’s that for sweet?

Dana Mentink
Writer of the wild, wacky and wondrous.
Trouble Up Finny's Nose, January 2008

Thank you Dana for sharing Maria with us. She's an interesting woman and I can't wait to read the book.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Meet Rita Nominee: Linda Goodnight

For the next few weeks, Monday's Craftie Lady will be posting interviews from the 2008 Rita nominees. For me, it's been a true joy getting to know the other seven ladies. We somewhat call ourselves the Rita Gang. So, here you go.

They say the writing world is small. Well, it is. The first name on the list for 2008 RITA for Inspirational Romance Fiction is Linda Goodnight. I was so tickled when I saw her name. See, I've known Linda physically (met at an RWA conference and on early loops) and figuratively (my critique partner of six years Libby Banks migrated from Oklahoma WHERE she also critiqued with Linda Goodnight). We both started our careers with Barbour, and we both contributed novellas to the anthology Lessons of the Heart.



Beginning her career as Golden Heart finalist in 1999, Linda Goodnight’s books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Among her awards are the Booksellers’ Best, ACFW Book of the Year, and a Reviewers’ Choice Award from Romantic Times Magazine. A former teacher and nurse, she currently writes for both Harlequin Romance and Love Inspired. She and her husband live on a small farm/ranch in Oklahoma. She is delighted and honored to be a 2008 RITA finalist.

1. Describe your RITA phone call.

On ‘the call’ day, I was in town doing some business, partly in self-defense because I didn’t want to sit around all day wishing for a call that didn’t come. I had just pulled up to the stoplight when my cell phone rang.

I answered the phone, expecting my husband. Instead, I got Kelly St. John. She said she was calling for RWA and asked, “How are you today?” The realization struck that this was the call I had wished for. A zing of energy tightened the hair on my head. My skin prickled. It was the weirdest sensation-good, but weird. When I could talk, I replied, “I think I just got better.”

Kelley laughed and went on to tell me I was a finalist. About that time the light changed and I had to drive. To this day, I have no recollection of driving for the next few miles. I kept saying, “Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh. Is this real?” and other gushing idiocies. At one point, I think I asked if it was April Fool’s Day.

I’ve always heard people say they pinched themselves to see if they were awake. I actually did that, thinking I must be dreaming. I mean, really, me a RITA finalist? It had to be a dream.

When Kelley finally got rid of me, I drove the seven miles to my house, laughing and crying and praising the Lord. Nah, I wasn’t excited or anything.

2. Tell us about the RITA book and why you think it stood out it the crowd.

I honestly don’t know why A TOUCH OF GRACE stood out from so many other really fine entries. I only know what the book meant to me and how much I loved the characters, the setting, and the theme. The key verses for that book are Isaiah 58 and Matthew 25, which are also my life verses. Maybe my passion for orphans and the needy was projected to the readers. Whatever the reasons, I am grateful.

Here’s a little blurb:
Ian Carpenter is a street minister with a heart for broken people and a subconscious that’s trying to tell him something. Gretchen Barker, an investigative reporter with a dark and painful past, turns the spotlight on Ian’s ministry when her drug-addicted sister turns up dead on the front lawn of the mission. Ian thinks he has nothing to hide. But he does. And the revelations shake the very foundation of who he thinks is and what he believes.

3. How many books have you written? Over 25

4. Do you have a favorite?

I’ve heard authors say that picking a favorite book is like choosing a favorite child. Although all my kids were favorites, I do have books that stand out in my heart and mind - All three of THE BROTHERS’ BOND, for instance, including the RITA nominee and last year’s ACFW winner, A SEASON FOR GRACE. I truly love those books and thank God for giving me the opportunity to write them.

5. Describe your writing process.

The process changes with every book, but the core way I write doesn’t. I am basically a seat-of-the-pants writer with a little structure to keep me focused. Once I get an idea, I spend a lot of time fleshing out my characters, although I won’t really know them well until I get into the book. I also use a plotting circle that I devised using the “mythical hero’s journey” to lay out the big things that must occur. (An overview of the circle is on my website.) The rest comes organically as I write.

6. When did you decide to become a writer and why Christian fiction?

I’ve always loved the power and beauty of words, but it wasn’t until the mid-nineties, after a serious illness, that I began pursuing the big dream of publication. The desire was always there, I just didn’t think I could actually do it.

Although I did not start out in Christian fiction and still write sweet romance that is not specifically Christian, I love the thought of writing something that directly brings glory to God and has the opportunity to bless or encourage a reader in Jesus’ name. My reader mail lets me know that Christian writing, even when its major purpose is entertainment, is a ministry, and I take that very seriously.

7. Tell us about your next or upcoming projects.

My next book releases in early July! WINNING THE SINGLE MOM’S HEART is a sweet romance from Harlequin available for pre-order at This is book four in an adorable author-generated series called “The Wedding Planners”. We authors had so much fun writing the books we now have a Wedding Planners’ blog that features real wedding tips, proposal and wedding stories from your favorite authors, visits from wedding experts, great prizes, as well as info about the series. I hope you’ll check us out.

I also having Christian fiction scheduled for September-A BRIDE BY CHRISTMAS, a Barbour historical anthology, and A TIME TO HEAL, a contemporary from Love Inspired.

8. Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?

Years ago I met an assistant editor at a conference in Oklahoma City. Fast forward several years and that assistant was now a senior editor who approved the purchase of my first book. As she handed the manuscript to my then and now editor, she said, “Linda is a lovely person. You’ll like working with her.” When my editor told me this I nearly fainted. I had met that woman one time as an unpublished writer and she remembered!

That incident taught me a valuable lesson. Be nice to everyone. The publishing world is small, and both editors and writers have long memories.

And to the usual “study the craft” truths, I’ll add one other thing: If your book is good enough, someone will pay you. Don’t pay them. I feel so bad for new writers who are duped by vanity presses.

Thanks for having me!

Visit Linda at: and or zap her an email and

Sunday, June 1, 2008

I love books. Any kind of books. The aromas of coffee and books in Barnes and Noble make me sigh with pleasure. The scent of an antiquarian book shop is just as enticing. And I love finding treasures—whether it be “Plotto”, a marvelous, very old book on plotting fiction that I found in an old bookstore in the French Quarter of New Orleans, or the very newest treasures on writing. Whether you are a beginning writer or have a number of books under your belt, there is always so much more to learn!

My office walls are covered with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with novels and research books and books on writing. Debby is reviewing one of my favorites here—and it has been such fun to read her posts on Donald Maass’s “Writing the Breakout Novel.” And I’m learning even more, from the way she is discussing and encapsulating sections of it. I’d like to let you know about a couple of other excellent books—one that has just been released.

If you haven’t read James Scott Bell’s “Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure” (another favorite!!) published by Writer’s Digest Books, I'd like to encourage you to do so. I bought a copy a couple years ago. Started highlighting sections—and then looked back and realized that I’d painted the entire book in highlighter yellow. I bought a copy for my daughter, who plans to be a writer, and bought three copies to give to writer friends...then lost my neon-yellow copy and picked up a replacement for me. I may be one of the author’s biggest customers. (smile)

Well...Bell has done it again. He has a new book out now, “Revising and Self Editing”, also by Writer’s Digest Books. Whether you’re just getting started on a story, have a finished manuscript to fix before submitting to an editor for the first time, or you’re a seasoned author, this book has so much to offer. Must be learned behaviors from my college days, but once again I find myself reading with a marker in hand, highlighting all the things I want to learn, and remember, and try to apply to my own writing. And now....this book by Bell is rapidly turning lime green. (smile) I would love to hear about your favorite books on writing!

Roxanne Rustand