Thursday, July 31, 2008

Writing Deadlines Colliding: risk of implosion ahead

A quick post today, because I really need to be writing chapters. Lots of them!

Monday I turned in what I thought was the last four chapters in the Complete Idiots Guide to Business Law to hit my August 4th, half the book turned in deadline. Tuesday I got an email from my wonderful editor that they needed two more elements.

I panicked. Not so much that I'd have to write more. I have to write two more chapters this week anyway. But because I'd counted the elements carefully, and was sure I had done it right. If they said they needed more, it meant I was missing something. Yikes!

I really don't have time to miss anything right now. So the emails flew back and forth for half an hour until I figured out where my counting differed from theirs.

Now we're back on track. I wrote the front matter yesterday morning and now have over half turned in. Wooh. And got to check another element off :-)

It's been fun, but it's always a learning curve when I start working with another publisher. They all have their unique ways of doing things!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

FHL Conference 2008

Today’s the Faith, Hope and Love Chapter Conference in San Francisco. My roommate Darlene Buchholz and I are staying at the San Francisco Marriott where the National Romance Writers of America Conference is being held. We’ll leave the hotel early and head to the JW Marriott for the FHL event.

This year, there’s a fantastic lineup of speakers. Lyn Cote is our keynote. If you want info on the Christian publishing houses, check out Lyn’s web site for the latest: Lyn keeps all the Steeple Hill authors up-to-date on publishing trends and stats, and I know her talk will be fantastic.

Gail Gaymer Martin will present a workshop on Christian Romance Plotting—Not Plodding. I’ve heard Gail speak before, and she’s wonderful. Last December, Gail’s how-to book on writing Christian Romance was published by Writers’ Digest.

Our own Craftie Lady of Suspense Roxanne Rustand will present a program on Career Building—Before and After the First Sale that’s sure to interest unpublished and published writers alike. Although Roxanne and I have chatted online, we’ve never met in person so I’m excited about having that opportunity today.

Narelle Atkins, our conference chair, has done an outstanding job. Narelle’s from Down Under and organized everything long distance. Thanks, Narelle, for all your hard work!

An added bonus will be the editors and agents joining us:
Cynthia DiTiberio from Avon Inspire
Dave and Sarah Long from Bethany House
Michelle Grajkowski from 3 Seas Literary
Danielle Egan-Miller and Joanna MacKenzie from Browne and Miller Literary
Janet Kokobel Grant and Wendy Lawton from Books & Such Literary Agency

No wonder I’m excited!!!

It’s time to head to the conference! Wish you could all be here. I’ll take notes and fill you in next week.

Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings!
Debby Giusti

My new Web site, created by AUTHOR DESIGNS, should be up and running. Check it out and let me know what you think:

Visit my other fun blog:

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Greetings from San Francisco! The big annual RWA writers conference starts this coming week here, kicking off with a huge literacy fundraiser booksigning on Wednesday. If you would like to meet your favorite authors and live anywhere close by, this will be your golden opportunity!

My husband and I arrived a week early to enjoy the area, but he'll be heading back home on Tuesday. SF is such a lovely city--and so cool, I've been wearing a jacket the entire time. The cable cars, the water, the wonderful restaurants --especially the Blue Mermaid here on Fisherman's Wharf--have made this a special week. But ahhhh...the real excitement and fun begins when several thousand writers converge on the conference hotel!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Dark Knight

This isn't exactly a review of the movie because I don't do reviews. Rather it is about my impressions of the movie which by the way fits in this blog well. It was SUSPENSEFUL! I really enjoyed the The Dark Knight (it is rated PG13, I'm sure, for the violence). The characterization of Batman was great. He is definitely the Dark Knight. He fights evil (in this case the Joker, played beautifully by Heath Ledger), but he also fights his own desire to have a life outside of the Batman persona. He doesn't think he's what the city needs. The city needs a White Knight (actually I think we need anyone who will fight the evil in the world). Personally I think the city needs the Dark Night, Batman. He puts fear into the villains who prey on people. This is a movie about good versus evil. It's a movie about hope, too (that's what our books are about). This is illustrated in several scenes but one particularly sticks with me. I won't try to give the scene away, but there is a beautiful scene toward the end where this is exhibit in an unlikely way (on the boats). Also the end shows this.

What better message than hope can triumph and good can win against evil! We need this, especially in a world where terrorists leave their imprints all over our lives. I'm getting ready to get on a plane to go to San Franscisco. I will have to put all my liquid items in my bag that goes in the belly of the plane or only carry a limited amount on the plane in my carryon. If you are someone who has had her luggage lost, you travel like me prepared to do without for a few days which means you put at least a day's change of clothing in your carryon along with all your toiletries. But not anymore because of a terrorist. Oh, well, change is part of life and I will make do with what I have to.

So my question to you is do you have a favorite movie or book hero who is the meaning of the word hero in every aspect? I have to admit I'm intrigued with this new Batman version.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The 24 Hour Rule...

Rejection is a part of a writer's life both before being published and after. I can say with absolute certainty that every writer who receives a rejection feels validated that they are in fact a bonafide writer while at the same time feeling really, REALLY awful.

We all handle rejection differently. Depending on the story and how much I want to finish writing it I can range from being mildly disappointed to being unable to speak in between sobs as I cry to my agent and my critiquing partners on the phone. Since I've been writing for well over a decade, my writing friends, as well as my family, have seen me through quite a few rejections. I've been fortunate enough that in these last few years or so I haven't seen that many rejections on manuscripts I've submitted. I consider that a blessing I've been given as I now write stories that I love. It's been so long since I've received a rejection that I'd forgotten about the 24 rule I'd established long ago on how to handle them. This week I dusted off my rule book when a rejection came in with my name on it!

See, I'm a firm believer in forward motion. You don't get published if you sit and wallow too long. Why? Because when you're wallowing, you're not writing! The story can't get written if you're not writing. Yet we're all human and need to nurture the pain we feel. Let's face it, rejection levels our self confidence. It makes us feel we're no good at what we do. But if we allow those feelings to fester, they only get worse, not better. It stops our creativity and our forward motion.

So when I get a rejection on a manuscript I've submitted to a publisher, I allow myself 24 hours to feel really, really rotten. During that time I can cry to whoever will listen and hand me a tissue. I'll eat chocolate or chocolate ice cream. I'll get hugs from my family, support from my writer friends and even a kick when I need it. (Thanks, Pam!) And through all that the wheels start turning again.

Within 24 hours since my rejection coming in, I'd turned my attention away from the sting and focused on the next step. Hour one I cried. Hour two I talked about it. Hours 3-6 I don't know what I did, BUT I do know that by hour 7 I was getting a pep talk and kick from Pam and by hour 8 I was writing again. Only took 8 hours. By hour 11 (at 2:30AM) I was IMing with my agent, telling her "Don't worry. I'm back in the saddle." We even brainstormed a new series. I consider that a blessing!

If you're a writer, rejection is bound to get you at some point. And the worst thing that can happen is that it will prevent you from writing, prevent forward motion. So remember the 24 hour rule. Let yourself feel really bad for 24 hours and then move on. Either get your manuscript out the door to someone else or start writing something new.

Next week I'll be writing to you from San Francisco where I'll be meeting up with some of the other CRAFTIE LADIES of SUSPENSE.

Until next week, many blessings. Lisa Mondello

Thursday, July 24, 2008

HUGE Booksigning

Sorry for the delayed post. Today has evaporated -- and I still have to write oh about two chapters before I can call it a night.

What has captured my attention, you ask?

A huge booksigning that for some odd reason, I'm in charge of.

You see on September 20, over 100 (107 as of tonight) Christian authors will be at the Mall of America signing books as part of the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference.

At least 3 of the lovely ladies from this blog will be signing: Me, Margaret Daley, and Debby Giusti.

So mark your calendars. It's going to be a huge event! We'd love to have you join us if you can.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Week 22: Comfort Scenes

In this week’s lesson from WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK, Donald Maass discusses what I call comfort scenes. Again Maass provides specific examples. He cautions the writer to be wary of scenes set in the kitchen, living room or while driving a car. He also gives a thumb down to scenes involving drinking coffee or tea or smoking, although he mentions the latter is rarely found in today’s commercial fiction.

Maass is so anti-comfort scenes that he instructs writers to cut them, especially in the first fifty pages of the book. He goes on to say when he discusses this concept in workshops, he finds great opposition from writers. No doubt because many of us place our characters in those very situations. The hero and heroine saunter into the kitchen, grab a cup of coffee and do what? That’s the key.

Maass makes the point that drinking, driving, non-action scenes lack tension and do not move the story forward. USUALLY. Although he does provide examples of such scenes written with a master’s pen that heighten the tension and therefore are effective.

While we may bulk at Maass’ suggestion to “cut the scene,” we should thank him for alerting us to the danger they pose to our writing.

Comfort scenes may provide too much comfort. We want our heroes and heroines to struggle, to butt heads with opposition, to confront problem after problem. If they take time to drink a cup of coffee, ensure that heightened tension follows them into the kitchen or living room. In the same way, create driving scenes that accelerate the drama instead of applying the brakes.

Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

Fellow authors Janet Dean and Missy Tippens and I, along with Steeple Hill senior editor Krista Stroever, will present FIRST YEAR ON THE JOB: From “The Call” to Publication at the Romance Writers of America Conference, on Friday, August 1, at 3:15 pm. Hope you can join us!

Clipart from

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Double Jeopardy Interview

Today we're welcoming Patrick McClain, the hero of Double Jeopardy, by Terri Reed, released July 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 must say I was minding my own business, I’m an Economic Professor, when the temp hired to convert the college’s computer system started having some very strange things happen to her. Next thing I knew, I’m having an altercation with the US Marshal’s service and putting my own life on hold to help Anne.

2. So, during the book you met Anne Jones. Tell us a bit about her. What was your first impression? When did you know it was love?
My first impression of Anne was, she’s so young! Well, come to find out she’s only a few years younger than myself. And she had the most incredible violet colored eyes. I can’t say I like her spiky deep red hair but somehow she grew on me. And then I find out her eyes are blue and her hair is actually very blonde. I think I first realized I’d fallen in love with her when she sustained an injury during a shootout with some very nasty characters. But I didn’t admit it to myself until she’d walked out of life and I thought I’d never find her again.

3. What strengths/skills do you have? What is your greatest weakness?
I’m very logical and analytical, which makes for a great professor but not so much with interpersonal relations.

4. What scares you?
Guns. You see my father was shot and killed in the line of duty. And then people were shooting at Anne and all the old fears and grief surged to the surface.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
That I don’t take enough risks in my life. I was so set on keep my life exactly as it was, that I almost let the love of my life go.

6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?
When my father died, I felt very betrayed by God. How could He let this happen when I so diligently prayed for my father’s safety every night?

7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story?
Anne helped me to see that God’s way are not our ways. That He gives us all, even the bad guys, free will. By blaming God, I was cutting myself off from His comfort and peace.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
And those who know your name put their trust in you; for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalms 9:10

This scripture really speaks to the heart of trusting God no matter what the circumstances.

9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why?
Okay, you’re going to laugh, but vanilla ice cream. Yes, it seems so boring, but it tastes the best and can be paired with so many wonderful and delicious sauces, fruits, cakes, get the idea. Vanilla ice cream is a foundation for which to build upon. I want to be that foundation for my family.

See more of the McClains in Double Deception, February 2007, Double Cross, September 2008, Double Threat Christmas, December 2008

The McClain’s: Bound by faith, honor and love.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Meet RITA Nominee: Cindy Woodsmall

This interview was a long time coming. The inspirational RITA finalists decided to post the interviews in the order the RITA announced them. Settle back and enjoy one last introduction from the 2008 RITA nominees!

Cindy Woodsmall is the author of the best-selling novels WHEN THE HEART CRIES and WHEN THE MORNING COMES, the first two books in the Sisters of the Quilt series. Her real-life connections with the Plain Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity. Cindy lives in Georgia with her husband, three sons, and one daughter-in-law.

What a busy and fun day that was! On Tuesday of each week I have an assistant, Barbara, who comes in and we juggle as much of the non-writing-related aspects of being an author as we can. The call came in during one of those days. Like other authors, I screen calls during work hours, so when I didn’t recognize the number I didn’t answer. I had a couple of radio interviews that day, so Barbara started fielding phone calls from the downstairs office. (Two of my children grew up and moved out, so I now have two offices! ;-)
When she shared the news that I was a RITA finalist, I stared at her for a long moment, then mumbled, "Is this a joke?"
She shook her head, smiling broadly.
I gaped at her. "Are you sure? The RITA?"
She laughed. "I’m sure."
Once I got over feeling stunned, excitement grew like a crescendo in a wonderful piece of music. Eventually, the song dissolved into two women in a home office, squealing in delight.

WHEN THE MORNING COMES is book two in a three-book series, each chronicling a different aspect of Hannah’s journey. At the beginning of book two we see her as a seventeen-year-old Amish girl who has been betrayed by her family, her fiancé, and even her faith.
Broken, she steps off a train to search for a shunned aunt she hopes still exists. With only an eighth-grade education, she has little knowledge of how to survive in the outside world.
I think what sets this book apart is the parallel journeys of reaping devastation and the hope of building life anew.
A man, who has lost just as much as Hannah has but is nothing like her, becomes an unlikely champion who grows to love her like no other.

So far I have three novels completed, with the third coming out in September.
Book one in the series is WHEN THE HEART CRIES.
Book two and the RITA finalist is WHEN THE MORNING COMES.
Book three is WHEN THE SOUL MENDS, and it will be out September 16, 2008.

Since all three of my books are part of the same journey, each one is a favorite for a different reason. Hannah’s Old Order Amish innocence, strength, and epiphanies work both for and against her in each book. I think those things will linger in my heart as I continue to write more books.
Book one, WHEN THE HEART CRIES, made the CBA best-seller list and was an ECPA Christian Book Award finalist, along with books by Karen Kingsbury, Angela Hunt, and Charles Martin. I didn't think it was possible to be more pleased with a work, but book two, WHEN THE MORNING COMES, made the New York Times best-sellers extended list (#34) and is a RITA finalist, so I’m just off-the-wall excited. Of course, those who know me best would tell you I didn’t need a set of books to be off the wall. ;-)

I’m a super plotter who starts by taking the time to discover who the characters are. That begins with who their parents were and the mood of the home throughout their childhood, and it includes any traumatic or ecstatic experiences they had while growing up.
I spend time inside an Old Order Amish home, living as my characters do, while interviewing those within the community and seeing firsthand the various trades in which they make their living. This ensures that my characters and plots have a solid foundation.
The next step is to spend a week plotting out each character’s goals, motivations, conflicts, as well as the events that distance each one from his or her goals. I don’t plan out the epiphanies but allow those to grow organically as I write. So far they’ve surprised me every time.
After all that prewriting, I let creativity take over, ignoring or changing the outline as needed. I extensively edit, edit, edit as I go. After that I send each chapter to my critique partner. Since she’s also part of the planning and plotting process, she knows the story inside and out. She critiques with great scrutiny, and I pay close attention to anything she has to say.

I decided to write when I had no other choice. The stories inside my head wouldn’t go away and refused to become quiet, so (long story short) I began writing.
The stories grow naturally from characters who may tremble in pain, fear, or confusion, but whose faith is never negotiable to them. Although the journeys are not about being or becoming a Christian, the characters have a God-centered world view, and the stories are about them dealing with the traumatic and ecstatic parts of life the best way they know how, and both the beauty and the distress of doing so.

I’m about halfway finished with THE HOPE OF REFUGE, an Amish novel where the lead heroine, Cara, is a single mom living in Bronx, New York. Cara had been raised in foster care, and while trying to keep her own six-year-old daughter from the same fate, she begins following pieces of a memory that lead her to an Old Order Amish community. What she discovers inside this community seems more destructive than all her years of having no one.

Pray. Not so much about God opening doors for you as much as seeking from Him your direction, your inner compass. Be willing to lay writing down. Be willing to revamp your entire lifestyle in order to write. Be ready to follow every rule concerning writing. Be ready to break every rule.

Be ready.

That’s what listening during the quiet hours can do for us—cause us to be ready to both hear and follow to the best of our ability.

But please, please remember that success is not about how many books we’ve written or sold—if any. Success is being His and walking in whatever that means from His perspective, not some preconceived idea of ours or those around us.

Thank you so much for such a wonderful interview! I’m deeply honored to be a RITA finalist with such a wonderful lineup of authors.

I welcome the readers of this blog to visit me at my Web site, where I have a couple of contests running. One offers a chance to win an autographed copy of all three books, and one is a year-long contest with a chance to win an Amish-made quilt.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

ACFW conference--why go

This is a picture of Linda Goodnight (on the right) and me with our Book of the Year plaque for last year's contest.

This is the first year I am going to teach a class (How to Write an Inspirational Romance) at the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference in September (18th-21st) in Minneapolis. In the past I have been a member of a panel, but this year I have the floor all to myself. I am really looking forward to imparting my MANY years of knowledge (HA!). I think the thing I've learned the most over the years is that you need always to be sharpening your skills, that you never stop learning.

This is a picture of the panel I was on last year--Lenora Worth, Irene Brand, me (seated on the left) and Debra Clopton.

I am so looking forward to this conference--each year it has gotten better (It's gonna be hard to top last year). Here are ten reasons you should consider going to the ACFW conference if you write Christian fiction.
10. To hear Angela Hunt speak--the keynote speaker
9. To meet with an agent
8. To meet with an editor
7. To sing songs and share worship with others (this is one of my favorite activities--so moving)
6. To see people who have become friends (often getting to know them online through the ACFW loop)
5. To go to the Mall of America for the huge booksigning on Saturday (stop by and say hi to me--I'll be signing)
4. To eat your meals while you get to pick an industry person's brain (try to ignore the fact that I had the words meals and brain in the same phrase--during the meals it is a great time to converse with an author, agent or editor who is hosting a table)
3. To see Randy Ingermanson blush while he tells you how a man thinks (very interesting presentation)
2. To attend the gala Saturday night for the Genesis contest and the Book of the Year Contest (I am a finalist for Heart of the Family in the Short Contemporary and Vanished in the Short Contemporary Suspense.) and cheer all your favorite authors

Now a drum roll for the number one reason:
1. For the fellowship with people who go through what you do to write their stories glorifying the Lord

Some more pictures from last year:

Friday, July 18, 2008

Backlists and Ebooks...

I just love it when I hear from readers. Truly. Every time I get an email I'm all giddy that someone has read one of my books.

Since my next release is Her Only Protector, I've been thrilled to hear from the bookclub readers who've already read the book and couldn't wait to email me to tell me how they liked it. I'm also surprised at how many people are still picking up a copy of Cradle of Secrets and writing me to tell me they enjoyed the book. They're always thrilled to know they won't have to wait long for the sequel. Just a few weeks and Her Only Protector will be hitting the bookstore shelves.

Which brings me to the backlists and ebooks subject line of my post. As many readers know, Steeple Hill books are available in paperback for just one month on the bookstore shelves. If you happen to find a great author or a series you love mid-way through the series, it's hard to go back and find those first books unless you can get them at a used bookstore. But not anymore.

All Steeple Hill books are available on EBOOK! So it doesn't matter if you miss a couple of books from a great author. You can always go back and purchase an ebook to download to either the Kindle or some other software platform. These ebooks can be read on your computer, a PDA or ebook reader.

I have to be honest with you. I love the feel of a paperback book in my hands, love to turn the pages and look at the cover. But I also love the idea of being able to load a ton of books on one device and store it there. I have a friend who just emailed me to tell me she won a Kindle in a contest. I must admit that I'm green with envy. But alas I can't justify purchasing another device to read ebooks since I already have one. I still have my old Rocket Ebook Reader that I purchased 10 years ago! While not as light and easy to use as the Kindle and certain not able to hold as many books, the Rocket is a great little device to load 8-10 books on as well as my own manuscripts for editing and final read throughs.

My point (and yes, I do have one) is that I love that technology has given us choices. I no longer have to hunt down a book I missed when it was on the shelf. I can buy an ebook from a new favorite author. And I no longer have to choose which books to bring with me on a trip because I can't fit them all in my suitcase on one device. I can bring enough books to last me an entire vacation! (I love reading while I'm camping. And the Rocket is great for night reading since I don't have to hold a flashlight and a book at the same time!)

I'd love to know your thoughts on ebooks and ebook devices. And if you're one of the lucky readers who has a Kindle, let me know what you think. I have a feeling, despite the fact that I still love my Rocket, that the Kindle may go on my Christmas List.

Until next time, many blessings! Lisa Mondello

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Writing can be very solitary work.

Think about all the hours that a writer spends in front of a computer crafting the words and story that a reader can inhale in a few hours.

I belong to American Christian Fiction Writers and a couple other loops as a way to connect with other folks who's brains work the same way -- or at least in a similar fashion -- to mine.

Last Thursday Rebecca and I traveled to Orlando for a writer's retreat with about 70 other published authors. (Okay, Rebecca's a tad young to be a writer -- we're still working on cooing -- but everybody loved her!)

The retreat was exactly what I needed. A chance to be with other writers. A chance to learn and think creatively. A chance to brainstorm with a friend who's plot imploded. A chance to relax and refocus. A chance to work on galleys with minimal interruptions. A chance to start my next novel and work on character sketches. A chance to reconnect with industry professionals. And a chance to step back and just be.

Then there were all the folks who loved on Rebecca. Colleen took her one afternoon. Karen Ball will always be the baby whisperer to me. Tammy Alexander rocking her like a pro.

I also got to attend the International Christian Retail Show otherwise known as ICRS. It was a reader and writer's dream to walk the floor for a day. I had so much fun joking with friends during their booksignings as I opened books for them. Maybe some day I'll have as many people as Brandilyn Collins, Michael Synder (Author of the clairvoyant dog) and Cindy Woodsmall did at their signings.

And running into so many people. It was a blast to meet Jennifer Rothschild -- we agreed it felt like we'd known each other for years.

All in all, I felt like a kid in a candy store living another part of this dream. And I feel smack dab in the middle of an awesome community.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Week 21: Building Bridges

Donald Maass, in his WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK, says, “The number one reason my agency rejects manuscripts is insufficient tension or conflict, especially in the opening scenes.” That comment should make us pause and reconsider the way we begin our stories.

This week, we’re looking at what Mass calls, “Bridging Conflict,” which refers to secondary problems that “bridge” the gap between the beginning of the manuscript when we’re forced to work in information to set the plot in place and the actual onset of the story. A bridge might also span larger plot points to hold the reader’s interest later in the manuscript.

Ever wonder whether to open with a prologue? Maass weighs in with a definite NO! In fact, he writes, “I hate most prologues.” More often than not, according to Maass, prologues are written about a character the readers don’t know and don’t care about.

I’ve heard Jennie Cruise say basically the same thing, although she adds that readers identify with the first character they see. If that character is not the protagonist, then the reader must develop a new relationship once the hero or heroine is introduced.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? So no prologues in our stories, unless they establish an immediate connection between reader and protagonist and help the story to dramatically and systematically unfold.

Now back to bridging conflict. Michael Hauge, in WRITING SCREENPLAYS THAT SELL (another great reference book I highly recommend), discusses the “outside action opening.” That’s when a film or TV program focuses initially on an action sequence that will not be developed further within the show, but provides a hook to grab viewers and pull them into the hero’s world.

Sound confusing? Think of the opening of a cop show. A chase scene, hostage standoff or drug raid initially grabs the viewers and throws them into the middle of the action. They’re hooked, and also relieved when the life-threatening situation is resolved usually because of the hero’s quick response to the crisis. The hero cop saunters back to the precinct, basking in the praise of his fellow officers, unaware that his world is about to cave in around him.

The hero’s competency has been established. The viewer knows he’s a friendly guy who’s well liked by his peers and doesn’t deserve the larger problem that will soon befall him when the screenwriter reveals the cop’s teenage daughter has been kidnapped by terrorists, a bomb has exploded in city hall and/or the chief of police has been arrested for drug possession.

Tess Gerritsen, one of my favorite authors, sometimes uses the same technique to establish her physician heroes. The story opens in the operating room. Tension is high. The surgery is risky. The doc saves the patient while Gerritsen weaves key information about her protagonist into the scene. The reader feels a connection, is hooked on the story and can’t put the book down when Gerritsen quickly introduces the major conflict around which the book is based.

This week, let’s look at any valleys we may have created in our stories and build bridges of conflict to raise the readers’ interest and expectations. In addition, we need to ensure our opening scenes are packed with tension and conflict, delete prologues unless they help establish our protagonist and keep the pace moving throughout the story with secondary problems that bridge the major plot points together.

Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings!
Debby Giusti
Stop by
Today I'm blogging about the WRITE ATTITUDE.

Bridges . . .Golden Gate Bridge . . . RWA National Convention in San Francisco . . . planning to attend?

Fellow authors Janet Dean and Missy Tippens and I, along with Steeple Hill senior editor Krista Stroever, will present FIRST YEAR ON THE JOB: From “The Call” to Publication, on Friday, August 1, at 3:15 pm. Hope you can join us!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Grits and Glory Interview

Today we're welcoming Ann Trask, the heroine of “Grits and Glory,” by Ron and Janet Benrey, the third novel in the Glory Mysteries Series, Published by Love Inspired Suspense, released in July, 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 moved to Glory, North Carolina, last year, after I earned my business degree. I soon became the administrator of Glory Community Church. Only a few months later, Hurricane Gilda, a major storm, targeted Glory—and I found myself alone inside the church during the worst of the wind and rain. Although Glory was evacuated, I decided to stay, because the church was a designated storm shelter. And so, I was inside when our steeple blew down and apparently killed Richard Squires.

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

Hmmm. I met Sean just before Gilda stuck; frankly I thought he was a jerk. Sean worked for the Storm Channel. He and Carlo Vaughan, the channel’s drop-dead gorgeous on-the-air reporter had come to Glory to cover Gilda. Sean was the behind-the-scenes person, who drove the broadcast van and set up the lights and camera. I must admit that I was instantly attracted to Carlo—so was every other women who saw him in person. But over the course of the next week, I discovered that Sean was by far the nicer of the two.
Sean and I were thrown together by unpleasant circumstances. He could have left town, but instead he supported me when most other people questioned my judgment and blamed me for Richard Squires’ death.
I slowly came to realize that Sean loved me and I loved him.

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

I’m a detail oriented person and highly committed to following-through when I begin a project. I’m proud to say that people can rely on me to get the job done. But, my greatest weakness is that I sometimes let the “garbage” from my past shape the present. Happily, I’ve learned to turn my past over to Jesus, so those days are gone.

4. What scares you?

Ironically... wind, rain, and darkness. This is because of an “incident” that occurred when I was 17 years old. Back when I was a youth leader, a thunderstorm trapped me and several kids in a shed that eventually collapsed.

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

That’s easy... I wish that I’d been able to let go of the past. Happily, Sean convinced me to follow the famous “bumper-sticker advice”: let go, let God. I’m moving down the road to change.

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

I began as a Christian with significant doubts. I’d experienced enough unpleasantness in my life, that I questioned whether God was really in charge. Frankly, I was convinced that I could do a better job of orchestrating my life.

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

I’m a much, much stronger Christian. I’ve learned to trust God and to turn my problems over to him. I now walk in real faith

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

Isaiah 43:18 beautifully sums up the lesson I learned during the course of my story: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” (Isaiah 43:18, NIV)

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

Without doubt, a big bowl of Rocky Road ice cream. I ate so much during of this story, that I sometimes felt I was becoming a dessert.

Yum! Thank you Ron and Janet for sharing Ann with us today. This sounds like an intriguing read.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Meet RITA Nominee: Susan May Warren

What a privilege to have Susan here today. I was just reading Cara's review (last Thursday's post) of Wiser than Serpents and thinking WOW! As I read Susan's review, I'm still thinking WOW!

1. Describe your RITA phone call.
The truth is, well, I had FORGOTTEN about the RITA. I’ve never finalled. Never even remotely thought I would final. So, there I am, reading my email, sipping coffee, sitting in my pajamas, and in comes a call. I see it’s RWA and think, uh oh, I forgot to pay my membership or something. Because WHY would they be calling me?
You could have pushed me over with a puff as the voice on the phone told me that Taming Rafe finalled in the RITA. In fact, I think I uttered an incredulous, “HUH? What?” Thankfully she repeated her news, slowly and clearly.
And then dancing started.

2. Tell us about the RITA book and why you think it stood out it the crowd.
Taming Rafe is about a bull-rider who finds himself at the bottom of his game, even his life. He’s lost everything and has made some pretty bad decisions. Into this mess walks Kat Breckenridge, a philanthropist who is trying to fill her deceased mother’s big, fashionable shoes. She’s got some mystery to her past that draws her to cowboys, but most of all, Rafe had decimated her latest charity event, and owes her big. As they sort out blame, and eventually come together with a game plan, they discover each one offers the other healing in ways they could never imagine. It’s a mulit-layered story, with a subplot romance, and a story within a story that illuminates the emotional plot of all the characters (and has it’s own plot). It was my most ambitious story to date, a challenge to write, and I loved it. I’m so thrilled that the RITA judges liked it!

3. How many books have you written?
Twenty-two, including novellas.

4. Do you have a favorite?
Oh boy – I love my first story, Happily Ever After – I wrote it from such a pure place, it’s still the story of my heart. And then there’s Everything’s Coming up Josey, my chick lit story – finally got to tell the truth about being a missionary. And then Rafe…well, who doesn’t like a cute Bull Rider?

5. Describe your writing process.
I’m a detailed plotter, plotting out the story, the subplots and even the epiphany. My character is pretty fleshed out when I start the first page. However, after that it gets really messy. I slap down the first draft without grammar or spell checking, just a download from my brain every day for a month or six weeks. At the end of the day, I simply save and crawl out of my mess of research books lying open around my writing chair. The next day, I crawl back in. I don’t cook. I don’t clean. I do shower. But my entire brain is on Book. My family calls it (kindly) being under my “Thought Blanket.” THEN, after the book is roughed out, I go back, chapter by chapter, adding in all the elements I’ve forgotten, as well as texture, and richer description. And then I go through again, smoothing it out and polishing it. THEN I print it, and read it, adding in final proofing or edits. By the time I turn it in, I’ve read it four times, at least.

6. When did you decide to become a writer and why Christian fiction?
I LOVE to write. I would rather write than eat (my children occasionally bring me food). And, I was a missionary for years, and I truly believe that the best stories engage the spiritual element in us. I love to stir up issues of the soul, and let the reader ponder them with the character, hopefully long after they put the book down. My hope is that my readers, regardless of their spiritual background, would see God at work in their lives, loving them, giving them grace, just as He works in the character’s life on the page.

7. Tell us about your next or upcoming projects.
I just finished a book called, “Here Comes Trouble.” It’s a novel about a girl who returns home after ten years to discover the mess she left behind. But she’s a different person now. Can a girl change her stripes in her own hometown? Or will she always be labeled Trouble? Funny, and romantic, with elements of mystery and suspense, it’s the first in the PJ Sugar series.

8. Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?
Yes – Read books in your genre, take notes, analyze, write, then continue the cycle….forever. *g*

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hi, again,
Sorry I missed posting last weekend. We were camping in the Tetons--one of my favorite places in the world--and not only didn't I have internet access, but cell phone reception was iffy, too. It's funny, realizing just how dependent we are on technology these days!

What a glorious place it is--incredibly rugged mountains rising out of flat terrain, beautifully clear lakes, wonderful trails. The best part was that our daughter and one of our sons was there, too. Family means everything! The Tetons-or rather, an area just south of them--provided the setting for the Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense trilogy I had out this past winter. I half-imagined my characters coming up to say hello!

What are your favorite places to vacation? I'd love to hear about them. And I'd also love to hear from anyone who has favorite things to do and see in the San Francisco area--and favorite places to eat, too. As already mentioned here on the blog, the RWA conference will be there the last week of this month. It would be great to have some good recommendations!

Wishing you all the best,

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Fun in the Sun!

This is a slideshow of my vacation to Curacao this past week. I had a great time. The people were friendly and welcoming. I mostly sat on the beach or at the pool. I lived in my bathing suit most days except when we took a tour of the island. In the pictures of the capital Williamstad you can see the Dutch influence. This island is only 35 miles from Venezuela. It is arid and cacti are everywhere. I thought I was in Arizona there for a while. So it wasn't any surprise that it didn't rain on us while we were there.

The local language is Papiamentu (a mixture of many language from Dutch to Spanish to African to English), but a lot of the people speak Dutch, English and Spanish. I never had trouble communicating while I was there.

The trade winds blow almost all the time--our tour guide said 360 days out of the year. When the wind dies down, everything shuts down. School is called off. Businesses are closed. I was glad the wind was blowing or it would have been VERY hot.

The water is beautiful (I have several pictures of it) and the diving is great in this area--although all I did was snorkel.

The older man is my husband, Mike. The younger one was our tour guide (I have a picture of him at the blow hole on the north side of the island). He was so interesting with lots of information about Curacao. And he wasn't that bad to look at either.

The best thing I saw was the salt flats where flamingoes could be seen. They come to have their babies before going back to South America. I would have had a picture of some except they were too far away to really tell what they were with my camera. The one chance I had for a close up I couldn't get my camera out fast enough to take the picture. The flamingo flew away and it was beautiful to watch him fly (first time for me to see in real life).

Friday, July 11, 2008

Countdown to San Francisco...

In just a few short weeks, I'll be boarding a plane to San Francisco for the Romance Writer's of America's National Conference. I've gone to this conference for the last couple of years and always enjoy meeting old friends, making new ones, meeting with my editors and my agent.

To be honest, I'm not looking forward to the plane ride. I'm not a white knuckle flyer, but I don't relish the idea of having to sit still in a seat for 5 1/2 hours. And that's just one of the connecting flights I'll have to take to get there. I'll be traveling for most of the journey with my longtime friend and fellow writer Natalie Damschroder and I'm sure the excitement of seeing Natalie will make the journey so much nicer.

Any time I go to a conference there is so much preparation I need to do ahead of time. Right now, the Craftie Ladies and I are awaiting a shipment of CRAFTIE LADIES OF SUSPENSE Highlighter/Pens that were so popular last year. I got a package of cover flats for my August book, Her Only Protector, that I'll have to slice up and make into postcards and bookmarks to give away. And aside from having to do some shopping for a few new outfits, I'll need to make sure I stock the refrigerator for the family so they don't miss me while I'm gone.

I'm sure you'll be hearing more about the RWA Conference in San Francisco over the coming weeks, but I do want to give you time to mark your calendar for July 30 5:30-7:00. If you're in the San Francisco area you'll want to stop by the San Francisco Marriott. RWA holds a literacy book signing that is open to the public and there will be over 500 authors signing their books. All the proceeds go to literacy, a great cause. Most of us CRAFTIE Ladies will be there signing as well. So it's your chance to meet us and get some signed books from your favorite authors!

Until next time, many blessings, Lisa Mondello

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Review: Wiser than Serpents

Susan May Warren's latest thriller Wiser than Serpents, is another page-turning, nail-biting, can't-life-stop-until-I'm-done kind of book.

The third in the Mission:Russia series, this book from Steeple Hill stands completely on its own. Somehow I have book two but managed not to read it, yet didn't feel like I missed anything that was important to this book.

Yanna Andrevka infiltrates a human slavery ring in an attempt to locate her sister who has vanished. David Curtiss has spent months attempting to infiltrate an organized crime cartel. All seems to be going well until he finds Yanna at the meeting he's supposed to have with the kingpin. From the moment he sees her the story rushes into overdrive in classic Susan May Warren style.

If you love books with international intrigue and a thread of romance, this book is for you. You get to hop around the globe with the characters, all while learning more about the human slavery issue. Susan is donating a portion of her profits from each book sold to International Justice Mission, a non-profit dedicated to fighting human slavery.

While this book may seek to highlight an issue, that focus doesn't preach or slow down the plot. Instead, it enhances it as you get an international and stateside exposure to the problem.

note from Susan:

Did you know that there are 27 million people around the globe held as slaves today – more thank 80% of them women and children, and up to 50% minors. In fact, there are MORE slaves today than were in the time of William Wilberforce. That leaves me horrified, and it was those stats that compelled me to write a story with a human trafficking plotline.

Wiser than Serpents is a continuation of the Mission:Russia series, a thriller about Yanna, whose sister is snatched through a Russian dating service, and disappears. Yanna enlists the help of Delta Force Captain, David Curtiss to find and rescue her. Readers who’ve read, In Sheep’s Clothing and Sands of Time will recognize Yanna as the tech expert, and David as the solid Christian of the group. (Read the 5-Rose Review here!)

The book is written from the point of views of the rescuers, not the victims, and offers hope and empowerment, instead of feelings of helplessness. It raises awareness without lowering the standards of Christian fiction.

However, the world is real, and the need to get involved is great. I so greatly admire people who take their beliefs and put action to them –hence why a portion of the proceeds of Wiser than Serpents is going to help the International Justice Mission, (, an organization dedicated to rescuing victims and fighting the scourge of slavery.

Contest Info! Susan will be giving away 3 SIGNED sets of the Mission: Russia (In Sheep’s Clothing, Sands of Time, and Wiser Than Serpents) series. To enter the contest…click on over to Susan’s blog tour post here ( and tell us which ministries/charities you support and why! Susan will randomly select three winners!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Week 20: The List of Five

As I work my way through Donald Maass’ WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK, I am often struck with the author’s ability to hone in on the very essence of good writing and the concepts and techniques that define a great book. This week is no exception.

If anything, Maass seems to underplay the ease with which he ferrets out basic elements that produce a memorable read, as if anyone could come to the same conclusions should they choose to look deeply into contemporary literature. I, for one, consider Maass a story expert, if not genius, and deeply appreciate the straight-forward way he lays out examples in his workbook so that I can easily grasp the sometimes complex, sometimes abstract, sometimes subtle, yet always profound insights he provides.

This week, Maass gives us five elements that provide what he calls “high moments” in a story when a book soars. They’re the “ah-ha” moments that make us pause in our reading to savor the richness of the story.

The List of Five:
Reversal of direction or transformation
Moral choices or tests of character

When we provide opportunities for a character to forgive a wrong or put the needs of another before his own, we are elevating that character’s worth. When characters are elevated, readers are elevated as well.

If our character reverses direction within a story and the reader understands why that change or transformation occurs, we have given the reader a deeper insight and connection with that character.

Moral choices that test our characters allow readers to grapple with those same issues and hopefully learn and become morally strengthened because of them.

Death is universal. Each of us will face the loss of a friend or loved one. How we handle that loss is a reflection of the relationship, our view of life, whether we have faith in God and the strength of the inner fiber that defines us. Death within a book allows the reader to study his or her own response to loss. A well-written character that grapples with death provides insights for readers to store in their own internal arsenal to be drawn out and used when they face separation and loss.

Those of us who are writers should memorize Maass’ list of five and when fleshing out new plot lines ensure at least one, if not all, are incorporated into our stories. Forgiveness, self-sacrifice, transformation, moral choices and death will elevate our characters and our stories as well.

Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings!
Debby Giusti

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Shadows at the Window Interview

Today we're welcoming Lilly Johnson, the heroine of Shadows at the Window by Linda Hall, July '08. 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've been on the run. For eight years I've been on the run. I thought I had hidden myself well enough....but the past has a way of catching up with the present. And so that's where I am. But you'll have to read the rest of the book to find out the rest of my story. It would take too long to go into it all here again.

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

Greg is such a teddy bear. Everyone loves Greg. He's a youth pastor and loves kids and kids love him. He's wonderful and affable and there are times when I don't think I deserve him. I met him when I moved to Boston and decided to 'try' church. We just sort of hit it off right away.

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

My greatest strength? Oh, right away I would say music. I was born with music in my blood and have studied it most of my life. I play the piano, guitar and sing. So, that's what I'm talented at, but greatest strength? I would like to say I'm devoted and steadfast, but that's not really true. I can't even say I'm very honest. Maybe, just maybe a strength would be determined. Yes, that's it - I'm determined. I wouldn't have come to Boston if I wasn't determined.

4. What scares you?
Many things; lonely dark alleys, unlocked doors, ground floor apartments, sounds that I can't identify. I'm afraid of a lot of things. that's my problem.

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

I would have taken advantage of the music scholarship and gone on to college right after graduating from high school instead of waiting so long.
6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?

It's strong, but hadn't yet been 'tested'.

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

After my faith had been tested big time, I think I'm even closer to God.

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

2 Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

This Scripture is significant because for a long time I tried to be that 'new creature' on my own. Then, a whole bunch of circumstances intervened - which are written about it my story - Shadows at the Window- and I learned that that is not the way at all. That being new has to come from Christ.

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

Does it have to be dessert? Can't I be popcorn? Porcorn is something that my roommate Bridget and I seem to live on!

Thanks for the chance to be interviewed!

Lilly Johnson

You're so welcome, Lilly! And thank you to Linda Hall for sharing Lilly with us. I look forward to reading this story.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Meet RITA Nominee: Tamara Leigh

Tamara Leigh is a wife and a mother. Although she holds a master’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology, she has written full time since her first child was born in 1993. Her first seven novels earned awards and became national bestsellers, but she was dissatisfied that the stories were not God-honoring. In 2003, Tamara determined to write books that more directly represent her faith. Tamara and family live in Tennessee.

I screen most of my calls, especially during “writing” hours, so when I didn’t recognize the number that popped up on caller ID, I didn’t answer. And they didn’t leave a message. “Fine,” I muttered, “it can’t have been important.” They called again. “Hmm, persistent.” And again. This time, since I was in the kitchen making coffee, I decided to get rid of the pests once and for all. When the caller identified herself as being from RWA, I winced. What did you do? Break a bylaw? Delinquent on your dues? Hold it—the contest! Dream on, you did something wrong. And then I was told that SPLITTING HARRIET had been nominated for a RITA. A RITA! My Harriet was up for a RITA! I don’t remember much of the exchange that followed, but when I hung up, all happiness broke loose. Very undignified, but joyous!TELL US ABOUT THE RITA BOOK AND WHY YOU THINK IT STOOD OUT IN THE CROWD:

The back cover of SPLITTING HARRIET says it best:
Once upon a time, I was a rebel. And I have the tattoo to prove it.

Did I mention I’m also a preacher’s kid? That’s right. And like the prodigal son after whom I modeled myself, I finally saw the error of my ways and returned to the fold. Today my life is all about “lead me not into temptation.” When I’m not serving as Women’s Ministry Director at my father’s church, I’m serving at Gloria’s Morning Café. I even have worthy goals, like saving enough money to buy the café, keeping my Jelly Belly habit under control, and never again hurting the people I love. No more parties. No more unsavory activities. And no more motorcycles! You’d think I was finally on the right track.

But since my dad’s replacement hired a hotshot consultant to revive our “dying” church, things aren’t working out as planned. And now this “consultant” says I’m in need of a little reviving myself. Just who does this Maddox McCray think he is? With his curly hair that could use a good clipping, tattoo that he makes no attempt to hide, and black leather pants, the man is downright dangerous. In fact, all that’s missing is a motorcycle. Or so I thought… But if he thinks he’s going to take me for a ride on that 1298 cc, 16-valve, in-line 4-cylinder machine, he can think again. Harriet Bisset is a reformed woman and she’s going to stay that way. Even if it kills me!

That’s Harriet, and was she a delight to write! Well, mostly. It took four revisions to get the proposal right. At one point, my poor editor even asked if I’d like to set Harriet aside and work on something else. You see, as originally plotted, SPLITTING HARRIET was heavy on church politics and light on humor and romance. And this is chick lit. Though I’m still growing out the patches of hair I pulled, according to readers, I hit on the right balance between a girl, a guy, a Jelly Belly addiction, church growth, the acceptance of God’s forgiveness, and humor. I believe that is what made Harriet’s story stand out.

SPLITTING HARRIET is my tenth published novel. My first seven books (1994-2001) were medieval romances written for the secular market. Though I believe I handled the requisite love scenes tastefully in those first books, I am so blessed to now be writing in the inspirational market. FAKING GRACE, available this August from Multnomah, will mark my eleventh book. The twelfth book, PAYING PIPER, is the first in my SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT series, and the deadline is fast approaching…

Now, you can’t have a favorite, can you? That’s like having a favorite child. Okay, not really, but I do like them equally, just in different ways—STEALING ADDA because it was my first inspirational book and featured a medieval romance writer as a heroine (very cathartic); PERFECTING KATE because my heroine has to overcome low self-esteem which I have struggled with like so many women; SPLITTING HARRIET because of my heroine’s difficulty in accepting God’s forgiveness (been there); and FAKING GRACE because we all need grace and to be “real.”

I am very organized, so one might expect my writing to be highly structured. It isn’t. I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer. Though I sometimes start with a plot and create a character to fit, and other times start with a character and create a plot to fit, I really don’t know the story or character well enough to synopsize until I’ve written a hundred or so pages. Unfortunately, if it turns out that the story doesn’t fit the publisher’s line, the wasted time and energy can really smart. If you can avoid it, do not follow my example! However, I did recently purchase a nice set of index cards and am determined to overcome this weakness.

Once I have the “green light” on a story, I try to write 1,000 words a day; however, I rarely hit the bell. I’m also an “edit as you go” writer. Though some frown upon this, it allows me to stay on top of my story and makes for fewer rewrites. When “writer’s block” hits, which I know some say doesn’t exist, my best remedy is to put away the computer and pull out a notepad and pen. What may have been a one-page-day often becomes a five-page-day.

When I reach “The End,” I read through the manuscript with an eye toward cutting (I always exceed my word count), then again to check for consistency, pacing, and characterization. If I come in ahead of deadline, I put the manuscript aside for as long as possible, then do a final read before sending it off to my editor.

From the age of ten or so, I was writing full-length novels –well, what had the potential to be full-length novels. When my husband and I began planning for children, I decided to pursue my dream of being a writer in hopes it would allow me to remain home and raise our family. In 1993, two weeks after sending my first manuscript to my agent, Bantam Books offered me four-book contract. After lengthy negotiations (“I do, I do, I do!”), I accepted.

Following the publication of seven medieval romances with Bantam, HarperCollins, and Dorchester, I left the secular market to write for the inspirational market. For several years, I'd felt God moving me in this direction, but ignored the calling. Following a struggle between what I was comfortable doing and what I knew I should be doing, I finally crossed to the "other side". As for the leap from medieval romance to "chick lit", I didn't see that coming. Set on bringing my medievals into the inspirational market, I was stunned when the publishers asked my agent for "something different." And, boy, is “chick lit” different!

Up next is FAKING GRACE:

All she wants is a job. All she needs is religion. How hard can it be?

Maizy Grace Stewart dreams of a career as an investigative journalist. A part-time gig at a Nashville newspaper might be her big break. A second job at Steeple Side Christian Resources could help pay the bills, but Steeple Side only hires committed Christians. Maizy is sure that she can fake it with her 5-Step Program to Authentic Christian Faith—a plan of action that includes changing her first name to Grace, Jesus-themed accessories, and learning “Christian Speak.” If only Jack Prentiss, Steeple Side’s two-day-stubbled, blue-jean-wearing managing editor wasn’t determined to prove her a fraud.

When Maizy’s boss at the newspaper decides that she should investigate—and expose—any skeletons in Steeple Side’s closet, she needs to decide whether to deliver the dirt and secure her career, or lean on her newfound faith, change the direction of her life, and pray that her Steeple Side colleagues—and Jack—will show her grace.

If writing is “in your blood”—kind of like the first bloom of romance rife with infatuation, longing, and need—you will WRITE. Through writer’s block, interruption, revision, and criticism, you will PERSIST. Once your story is on paper, you will REVISE—detail characters, fill gaping holes, pump up scenes, etc. You will SEEK FEEDBACK, asking trusted friends and other writers to read your work. Organizations such as American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA) have local chapters where you can network with other writers. And you will READ, not only books on the craft of writing, but other authors whose work you admire. Lastly, you will be PATIENT and PRAY (Psst…that last one really ought to come first).
Thanks for having me!


Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

I know most of you are out and about having a good time at barbeques and 4th of July fireworks instead of staying in and reading my blog today. But for you diehard readers, please drop a line and let me know you were here. If you do, you get entered into the CRAFTIE LADIES contest for a chance to win all 4 Love Inspired Suspense books for July.

I love the 4th of July. Not just because of all the reasons listed above but because of the reason for the holiday. Patriotism is something we've been hearing a lot about in the media these days. We see it in romance novels as well. There's nothing more appealing than a patriotic hero! That's for sure.

I got to thinking about all those patriotic heroes, both in romance novels and in real life. My husband is a former marine and has a strong love of his country. I love reading military romances because I can always see that strong love of country in those heroes and it reminds me of my husband.

Tell me about YOUR favorite patriotic hero. Is there a particular book that you love because the hero has a strong love of his country...and the heroine? Is there a person in your life that inspires you because of their patriotism? If so, let me know. I'd love to hear your story and by leaving a message, you'll be entered into our drawing for 4 free Love Inspired Suspense books for July!

I also want to let you know that eHarlequin has the August books (Her Only Protector) up for sale at 20% off and free shipping until July 7th! This is a great way to get your stash of books at a discount and save money on shipping as well. Check out!

Until next time, many blessings to you all! Lisa Mondello

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Interview with author Christy Barritt

Christy Barritt is a friend who has just seen her second book release. Suspicious Minds was a great read, as is this interview. So turn on some Elvis and kick back...

This is your second book...was it hard coming back to the same main character? Why or why not?

I actually loved coming back to the character of crime-scene cleaner Gabby St. Claire. It was like visiting with an old friend. I’m familiar with her, so I knew exactly how she would react to certain situations.

I love how she always belts out lines from classic songs. Why the Elvis theme this time?

I’ve been writing for my local newspaper for five years now.
One interview I did was with an Elvis impersonator (or, an Elvis Tribute Artist, as I was quickly informed) performing at a senior citizens’ center. I had no idea what to expect before I went. After I finished the interview (and I’ve had easier times getting interviews with senators than I did with this guy after his show), the president of his fan club came running after me as I walked to my car. She presented me with an autographed picture of him. I thought, this man has a fan club? The ideas spun from there.

What did you learn writing this book?

This book explores the issue of loneliness. I think this issue will only become a bigger problem in the coming years. With technology being what it is today, people can do everything from home without ever having to interact with anyone. While in some ways this is convenient, in other ways it’s isolating. I explored this issue through a couple of storylines within the book. I know as someone who works from home, I’ve struggled at times with loneliness. The book encourages readers to value the importance of friendships.

What's next for you?

I’m currently working on book number three in the Squeaky Clean series. It’s called Organized Grime. The mystery in this book centers around Gabby’s best friend, Sierra, who gets herself mixed up with the wrong people. Suddenly, the FBI is looking for her on eco-terrorism charges. This book will also wrap up the series. I’m dragging my feet to finish it because I’ll miss my characters after this book is complete!

If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and who would you take with you?

This might sound crazy, but last week I was supposed to go camping in the mountains with my family. The day I got there, I got a virus and… we’ll just say it wasn’t pretty. We had to pack up and come home. So, if I could be anywhere right now, I’d want my vacation back! I’d be in Virginia’s mountains with my family!

July Contest

Every month here at CRAFTIE Ladies of Suspense we hold a drawing for the month's Love Inspired Suspense books. All you, the visitor, must do is leave a comment on any or all of the blogs throughout the month to have your name entered into the drawing.

At the end of the month, we'll draw a winner for the FOUR books!

This is a great opportunity to win a book by a favorite author or discover a new favorite.

So comment away and check back at the end of month to see who our drawing winner is. It might just be YOU!

For the month of June our winner is Ellen, who posted on the Final Justice Interview blog.
Ellen, please email your contact information to

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Week 19: Internal Change

Last week, we looked at Donald Maass’ WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK and discussed turning points in regard to plot. Today we’ll examine turning points that have to do with our characters’ inner journey.

As we all know, our heroes and heroines must change and grow. Those moment of change are internal turning points when life is seen, is recognized, is understood in a new and different way. Profound or subtle, if the change is relevant to the character’s growth, it should be revealed to the reader.

Maass suggests comparing and contrasting a character before and after a major plot turning point—or action turning point—for insight into the response that character has or will experience internally. When we, as writers, recognize that transformation, we can weave pertinent details into our stories, which allow the reader to recognize the change as well.

Just as we describe a sunset or a garden in bloom, so should we detail the impact events have on the inner person. Maass suggests doing “emotional research.” How does a flesh and blood person react to a similar situation in real life? That glimpse of reality will give authenticity to our characters, which will resonate with readers.

Happy writing!

Wishing you a joyous Fourth of July! As always the men and women in uniform will be in my thoughts and prayers. Because of their heroism, their great sense of duty and unfailing dedication, we can experience the wonderful life we live in the United States of America, which is truly the land of the free and the home of the brave. If friends or loved ones are serving in our Armed Forces, please email their names to me at so I can pray specifically for them.

I ask for your prayers for a wonderful young man named Matt. While in basic training at Paris Island, he was severely injured and has a long and arduous year of therapy ahead.

God bless Matt.
God bless our valiant soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen.
God bless the USA!

Wishing you abundant blessings!
Debby Giusti