Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In Like a Lion and Out Like One, Too

by Linda Hall

Yesterday morning I woke up to snow, and lots of it, and on this, the final day of March, the weather isn’t much better. So – March came in like a lion and here in the northeast it’s exiting like one, too.

And I’m still where I was two weeks ago when I blogged – slogging through a major re-write of my book. Oh, and I should mention – this was a book that I thought was “nearly perfect” when I sent it in to Love Inspired Suspense. Little did I know what was looming around the corner, but, really, I'm tired of all of that. I’ve been working all day, and soon I will head to lovely hot tub, a novel and then bed.

And yes – a novel. Even when I’m bogged down with writing and edits and rough drafts and more edits, I always take time to read. I think it’s vital for writers to keep reading – even when they’re busy. You would be surprised at the number of writers who, when in the heat of a deadline, don’t find the time to read. To me, this is so important. Reading others words helps keep my own voice alive and fresh. Reading others words helps me through the rough spots in my own work. Reading others words helps take my mind off my own for just a little while. What I DO give up is TV. I haven’t watched the news in weeks. Is there a world out there? But, I try not to give up reading.

Now – off to the hot tub!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Lord, give me a servant's heart

Craftie Ladies of Suspense Post

Since I’ve already posted my March madness story, I thought I would do something a little different today.

As I debated about what to write, God laid something on my heart that I thought I would share. One afternoon, my mom and dad had come to see my childrens' piano recital. Before they made the drive home, we stopped at a McDonald’s to chat, grab a snack and let the kids play a little. For various reasons, I was not in the best of moods, but was getting over it as I talked with my family.

A short time later, a bedraggled, rough looking woman approached our table. My daughter kicked me under the table and nodded to the woman standing there waiting to be acknowledged. My bad mood returned. I was really quite irritated at the interruption, but I smiled and asked her if I could help her.

She said, “Can I use your phone?”

My mind went blank. Use my phone? Just hand over my phone to a woman I don’t know and who may very well shove it in her pocket and walk out the door? I didn’t think so.

“I’m sorry, I don’t let people use my phone,” I replied.

She nodded. “Oh, okay.” And wandered off.

Oh, the conviction! What had I just done? If I were a character in one of my books, my readers would have hated me! Surely I could have offered to dial the number for her and talk to whoever she wanted to contact. I didn’t have to hand over the phone. When I pray for an opportunity to be a blessing to someone else, I’d better be prepared for God to answer! It’s quite possible He sent this woman to my table for a reason.

I just sat there a moment, arguing with God. “God, you have to be careful these days. There are some crazy and mean people out there.” (And as a suspense writer, with a suspense writer imagination, you wouldn’t believe some of the things going through my mind at that moment.) And it’s true you have to be cautious, but finally, I just couldn’t stand it anymore.

I apologized to the Lord and hurried to find the woman…only to find that my dad was already there dialing the number for her. She did keep trying to take the phone from him and he just kept saying, “I’ll dial the number.” And he patiently dialed each number she gave him. And each number he dialed was disconnected. So, we’ll never really know what she needed as she finally gave up and left the restaurant, but I was humbled and ashamed by my initial reaction to having my life interrupted.

And I prayed God would give me more opportunities to do the right thing. To help people who need it. After all, that’s why we’re here, right? To minister and be of service to others. To be like Jesus who hung out (and still hangs) with the “undesirables” and loves the “unlovable”. I’m so glad God doesn’t turn me away when I approach his “table”, but instead welcomes me with open arms, gladly offering to help in any way I need it. But, I’m especially glad He forgives and gives second chances!

I pray your coming week is filled with excitement, opportunities to help those less fortunate, second chances, forgiveness and love. Not to mention TONS of exceptional reading from the Craftie Ladies of Suspense!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cold Case Murder Interview

Today we're welcoming Jodie Gilmore, the heroine of Cold Case Murder; book three of the Without A Trace continuity series, by Shirlee McCoy, March 2009. 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 grew up in Loomis, Louisiana, and spent most of my childhood planning my escape. When I finally got my dream job as an FBI agent, it never occurred to me that I’d be sent back to my home town. I guess God has a sense of humor, because that’s exactly where my first assignment took me. I was supposed to serve as liaison between the locals and the FBI while I helped solve a missing persons case. Instead I got pulled neck deep into a decades old case that forced me to face my past and deal with it.

2. So, during the book you met Harrison Cahill. Tell us a bit about him. Harrison is a forensic anthropologist. The FBI brought him in to help identify the remains of two murder victims. What was your first impression? I wasn’t impressed and neither was he. Harrison thought I was too green an agent to be of much benefit to the case. I thought he was bossy and rude.
When did you know it was love?
When I realized that Harrison accepted me for who I was. I’d never had that before with anyone.

3. What strengths/skills do you have?
I’m independent and strong. I know how to get a job done. What is your greatest weakness? That I don’t want to ask for help. That I’d rather face things alone than rely on the people who care about me. I’ve had to learn that leaning on someone doesn’t make me weak. It makes me doubly strong.

4. What scares you?
The thought that I could turn out like my father – cold, hard and bitter, with little love for those around me.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
That’s a hard one. I’d want to change the resentment I had for my mother for most of my life. I’ve wasted a lot of energy on anger.

6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?
I believe in God, but do not have a relationship with Him.

7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story?
The journey I make helps me realize that God wants to be more than just a word in my vocabulary. He wants to have a relationship with me because He loves me just as I am.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
Galatians 5:1 says that we should stand firm and not let ourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery. I was a slave to my anger and disappointments. Through Christ, I have been freed to live a life of joy. When I find myself slipping back into old habits of thought and action, I remember the truth of that verse.

9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why? A twelve scoop sundae because it’s a dessert that can be shared by many, and I’d want to be something that brings people together.

To play a mystery game with the authors of the Without A Trace series go to the following link

Sounds like another intriguing story. Thank you Shirley for sharing Jodie with us.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Her hometown of Loomis, Louisiana, holds no charm for Jodie Gilmore. Why be reminded of her mother's abandonment? Then the novice FBI agent is assigned to a missing person's case, and refusal isn't an option. Her coworkers are counting on her. Surely the tight-lipped locals will talk to one of their own. Or will they? A decades-old double homicide is discovered, and Harrison Cahill, the handsome forensic anthropologist on the case, thinks Jodie knows more than she's saying. But speaking freely can be deadly in Loomis….

Friday, March 27, 2009

Keeping the Stakes High

Marching out like a Lion - Carol Steward

Writing suspense is much like watching a storm approaching, which is what happened today. You hear it's going to be bad, but you just don't know exactly what it's going to bring. I live in Colorado where we get a little of everything, blizzards, tornados, heavy rain, and intense heat, which also brings wildfires. The picture of the porch is what my porch looks like today, the other picture is the result of the blizzards of 2006. (they didn't load, so I'll try to add them at noon, Mountain time.)

Several years ago we were predicted to have a heavy snowstorm right before Christmas. It had been almost a decade since we'd had a "good" winter where we had more than one measureable snow storm here on the plains. It's "normal" for us to get a deep snow in the spring when the temperature will melt it the next day. So I was skeptical. That always does it. I went to work at 8 am, and we had an inch. I expected it to stop. (This might be a good time to confess that am a pessimistic realist.) An hour later, it was still snowing, and there was no end in sight. We had a building potluck planned for our Christmas potluck that day, and we had lugged our huge quantities of food to work. No one wanted to miss that! By 10:30, we had several inches of snow, and no end in sight. Work was cancelled, not just for that day, but for the next three days. Being that it was right before Christmas, that was cool. THEN we had to eat and figure out how to get home.

In writing suspense, you need to make the problem gradually get worse for your characters. I can do this, I have life training. In spite of driving an old car with no clearance for trekking through all that snow, I made it home. But, I had volunteered to go out of my way to take a co-worker home so her teenager didn't have to get out in the blizzard. When I finally make the normally 10 minute drive from my office to my house, 40 minutes later, I couldn't get a foot into my driveway. My husband was a principal of a middle school 40 miles away, and had to wait until every child had been picked up before he could leave. Finally, despite the noon release, he was finally able to leave school at 2 pm. We live right off the highway, and it's normally a 40 minute drive for him. An hour later he called. He was fine, but he had only made it to the edge of the town where his school was located. Snow kept piling up. I tried to shovel the driveway, with the cordless phone in one pocket and my cell phone in the other.

In suspense, it isn't even that we need to make bad things happening, it's letting the reader and the characters anticipate all that could happen. In real life, this is when being a writer is a bad thing. I've seen dozens of accidents from even good drivers after snowstorms like that one. I've always loved to shovel snow, but now I have a bad back. Just thinking of all of that could happen left me on edge. It's also what keeps people glued to the television to watch during and after storms. Did what we think could happen, actually happen? Every hurricaine season, I'm glued to the weather channel. Weather must facinate me, as it's suspense in real life.

So, another hour and only two feet of space in the driveway had passed, and my husband still wasn't home. The snow kept falling. He called, he was still okay, but couldn't go more than 10 miles per hour. And so the torment continued. And so did the blizzard. And so the snow continued, at about an inch an hour for two days. My husband finally made it home safely, after 3 hours in a blizzard. We lived with the snow for months. One way street, mountains of snow. AND COLD, like we've NEVER seen here. There was no place to put more snow. Cities all over the state were crippled. I know this is common if you live in northern New York or Minnesota, or even in ski areas and in Durango, Colorado. But I live on the sunny plains where THIS is an anomaly. I've grown up with snow, so it shouldn't have affected me like it did. I sat for days, just watching in disbelief. Wondering when it would end. Adding to the torture, it snowed once a week for four more weeks, and we literally, didn't see asphalt on the side streets for two months. Five months until the snow completely melted.

So when you wonder where writers come up with their ideas, when we live otherwise "normal and boring" lives, realize, it doesn't take much to make a suspense writer come up with ways to torture their characters. We are not dangerous serial killers, we've simply learned to make mountains out of a few snowflakes!

God bless, and happy reading!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

CBE Thoughts

I've been thinking about CBE since crossing the threshold on Friday afternoon -- actually since I got tasked last September with organizing the ACFW effort there. I think the CBE was a great idea. However, as with anything that is offered for the first time, there were some challenges. I was going to write a post on it, but instead am going to send you to Mary DeMuth's blog because I agree with everything she wrote (except the awards dinner and banquet cause I didn't attend those).

Frankly, my heart is grieved for all the people who poured their lives into this event in the six months I worked with them. They were professionals who swung for the fences.

I hope ECPA tries again. Some random thoughts on ways to improve it in the future:

The name didn't mean anything to readers. Instead, an expo sounds like a trade show not an opportunity to interact with authors and other readers. I haven't come up with an alternative to suggest yet, but I do think tweaking that could help because it would change the image in the consumers mind.

The price tag. I LOVE Books and Authors. LOVE them. But I thought several times (and my husband reiterated yesterday when I debriefed) that as a reader, I'm not sure I would have gone. Maybe for one day, but $59 (down to $49) is steep for three days -- especially if the workshops weren't effectively communicated. I love meeting authors like some would love meeting whoever the hot actor is at the moment. So like others have mentioned I would drop the price dramatically so that more money could be spent on books :-)

A corollary to the first two: it felt like an impersonal tradeshow. Everything about the Dallas Convention Center is large and oversized -- hmmm, must be in Texas LOL. I walked around several times trying to see it through the eyes of a reader. I think having a central selling point of some sort and then having clusters of authors might work better -- and the idea of selling books at the end of workshops for the participating authors is spot on. Make it easy for people to find the author they just interacted with. I was very surprised to have several of the folks who sat in on our workshop track us down later. It took some extra effort on their part.

The programming was spectacular, but the word didn't get circulated. One thing that I would encourage is to have some kind of postcard or form of tangible save the date card sent out several months in advance. It looked like most advertising was through email. Who among us hasn't received an email, thought "That looks interesting", inadvertently deleted the email or lost it the mass, and forgotten about the event? So something tangible, though more expensive, would help the event stick in people's mind.

Frankly, I hope ECPA tries again. It was so much fun to meet a couple of my readers and make some new friends while connecting with old. :-)

So I hope they tweak, adjust, and move forward. I think getting outside the traditional box will be important as we strive to continue to interact with readers and solidify their connection and commitments to our books.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Lion and the Lamb

This month the Craftie Ladies have applied the saying about March coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb to writing Love Inspired Suspense. The lion/lamb extremes are especially applicable to the suspense and romance arcs in our stories. On the one hand, we need to put our characters into life-threatening situations, but we also must ensure they fall head over heels in love. Adequately developing each arc can be difficult.

I write stories that take place over a short period of time. The hero and heroine are thrown together and, within the opening pages, embark on an adventure sometimes before they have time to catch their breath. While they need to be aware of the escalating danger, they also need to be aware of that special new person in their lives.

In order to set up a believable romance, the first meeting is important. That initial interaction between the hero and heroine must reveal both the attraction and the danger. Is there apprehension? Rivalry? Wariness? Reservation? Or love at first sight? For me, striking the right balance demands attention to detail and lots of rewrites.

The next time you read a story or write one, focus on the first-meeting scene. Despite the changing conditions of the unfolding story, the reader should recognize the attraction between the characters and the romance that is sure to follow.

May your life be enhanced by the books you read!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

Monday, March 23, 2009

But Why Will You Say I am Mad?

Ah, yes, the Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. Funny how a line so many of us have uttered can be traced back to one who uttered it in a story so powerful he gets endless credit.

Why will you say I, Pamela Tracy, am mad?

Here's why: I am a list maker.

Last week, I received my AA's in the mail. For those of you who don't know AAs are Author Altercations. Basically we get the finished version of our book in sheet form and have one last chance to make minute corrections. Since I was on Spring Break last week, I was one happy camper because I actually had time to read the AAs carefully. Still, don't picture me leisurely sitting in my chair with a soda (complete with straw) and BonBons next to me. Nope, not me.

Instead, picture me at the kitchen table. AA's are spread out in front of me, and there's also a notebook. The notebook reads like this:
Do Chapter One
Clean linen closest (Hmmm, no wonder I can't close the door. Crib sheets! My son is four! Oh, look, here's that Christmas tablecloth I've been looking for. How long has it been? Two years? Why am I keeping all these torn and raggedy towels? One-half of linen closet now lives at the Goodwill.
Do Chapter Two
Reminder to self - stop baking in glass dishes.
Do Chapter Three
I do laundry every day. Sometimes I do three loads. Okay, I confess, the every day gets away from. Sometimes clothes wait for me to remember them for three days.
Do Chapter Four
Clean Living Room
Mom's things in living room: Put books back on bookshelf. Dad's things in living room: Throw away newspapers, take shoes to bedroom, brush peanut crumbs off dad's favorite chair. Mikey's things in living room: I would need more blog space. So, you can say the word endless in the priceless tone.
Now, do the math. Four chapters a day, a 20 chapter book. It took me all week and my house is very clean. Okay, delete the word very in the previous sentence.

So, how do the rest of you tackle your AA's? Do you have as much fun as I do?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Silent Terror Interview

Today we're welcoming Ethan O’Hara, the hero of A SILENT TERROR, by Lynette Eason, March 2009. 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 detective with the local police force. My partner and I were out when we got a call about a 911 emergency. When we got to the home of Marianna Santino, we found that she had come home from work and discovered her roommate had been murdered.

2. So, during the book you met Marianna Santino. Tell us a bit about her.. What was your first impression? When did you know it was love?
Wow, where do I start? Marianna is such a vibrant, beautiful woman. Absolutely incredible. When I first saw her she was sobbing at the side of her murdered roommate and friend. I also realized she was deaf. But she pulled herself together and was determined to help us find out who killed the girl. That takes strength and that was impressive to me. As for love, I think I knew the moment I looked into her dark brown eyes. But I wouldn’t admit it for the longest time. My partner, Catelyn Clark, knew though. She still hounds me about that fact to this day.

3. What strengths/skills do you have?
I’m confident in my job for the most part. I have the ability to spot trouble and ward it off most of the time.
What is your greatest weakness?
Marianna. I care about her too much and it scares me. All the people I care about seem to either die or disappear out of my life. I suppose I have low expectations of people so I won’t be terribly disappointed when they meet them.

4. What scares you?
Going to sleep at night and having the nightmares press in on me.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Probably my sense of extreme responsibility. Because of my past, I don’t want to be responsible for anyone again. And when I end up having to protect yet another person I love, it scares me to death.

6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?
Questioning God. Frankly, I’m just mad at Him for allowing tragedy to strike for no reason. I don’t like things I can’t explain and tragedy is one of those things that complete confounds me.

7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story?
I realize God has a plan in everything. He’s sovereign and just and He loves us more than we can ever comprehend.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
Psalms 17: 8-9. “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who assail me, from my mortal enemies who surround me.” I think this is a fitting scripture as we needed God’s protection throughout the story. Without Him “hiding us in the shadow of his wings” we never would have made it through the whole ordeal. We had some very wicked people who were willing to do whatever it took to get what they wanted, so God’s protection was a vital part of keeping us alive.

9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why? LOL! Um, probably something chocolate. Because it reminds me of Marianna’s eyes.

Chocolate is always a hit! Thank you Lynette for sharing Ethan with us today. This sounds like an exciting read!

Saturday, March 21, 2009


When Marianna Santino's roommate is killed, Detective Ethan O'Hara can't fathom the motive. Then he realizes the deaf teacher was the intended target. Marianna must have something the murderer desperately wants. But what? Digging for the truth, the guarded cop tries to learn everything he can about Marianna. Her world. Her family. Her beauty, faith and fierce independence. In spite of himself, Ethan finds that he can't keep his feelings at bay. Soon, he's willing to risk everything—including his heart—to lay the silent terror stalking Marianna to rest.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fierce Heroes...and their softer sides.

Everyone loves a strong hero (at least I do) and so to keep in our theme of March Madness: In like a lion and out like a lamb, I thought I'd talk about strong heroes and what brings them to their knees.

For instance, take Gil Waite, the hero in Her Only Protector. Being a bounty hunter lends itself to being pretty brave right from the get go. If you've ever seen those bounty hunter series on cable, then you know these guys (and gals) go into dangerous places in search of fugitives who are doing their best NOT to get caught. Sometimes with a gun pointed in their face for their troubles. I don't know that you could call them fearless, because let's face it, you're stupid not to fear the unknown where criminals are concern. But you'd definitely call them brave, ready to take on any challenge. That why many times you see these guys (and gals) out playing hard and getting dirty. They live on the edge.

Now, introduce a baby into their lives and this fierce lion turns to a little lamb. If you have any doubt, just look at the cover of Her Only Protector. In Her Only Protector, Gil is big and bad when he's after Cash Montgomery. But faced with Cash's sister Sonny and Cash's baby in tow and the fierce hunter turns into the fierce protector.

What is your favorite story of fierce hero turning to mush because of a woman and/or baby? I know there are many. Remember, if you leave a comment you'll be entered into our drawing to receive 4 Love Inspired Suspense books for March. (Leave an email address so we can contact you if you win!) And you can always order Love Inspired Books from Amazon.com using our link at the top of the page.

Until next time, many blessings, Lisa Mondello

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day-Are you wearing green?

As a child I was teased for having red hair and freckles. I became painfully shy and scared by the negative attention my looks garnered. But then one day I learned of my Irish heritage. I have embraced my ancestory and my red hair and freckles. When I listen to my relatives tell stories, it's little wonder I am a writer. I can't wait to visit Ireland oneday.
I love the legand of St. Patrick, though, I'm sure his tale has been embellished over the years as only the Irish can do. I've included a couple of links to websites where you can learn more about St. Patrick and the day we celebrate.

Monday, March 16, 2009

March--time of change

When we think of March, we think of the saying, "In like a lion, out like a lamb." Usually this is referring to the weather (in Oklahoma often the weather is like a lamb at the beginning and a lion at the end). But I can see other references--one being biblical.

In like a lion, out like a lamb can also refer to the change that takes place in us and our surroundings at this time of year. Spring begins--the budding of the trees and flowers, the lengthening of the days, more sunlight to brighten our lives. I don't know about you, but when the warmer, springtime weather starts and vivid colors come back to the landscape, my spirits are lifted. It even has me looking around at the beauty God created for us to enjoy. I know their is a beauty in a snow covered landscape, too, but there's something about spring that seems to lift us up, give us hope.

There's another reference I can think of that goes along with the suspense we like to read and write. The lion represents the danger around us while the lamb represents the good and innocence. The lion represents the strong, the lamb the gentle. In the picture they coexist. That's not always the truth. In fact, I'm not sure how they got that picture taken with the lion and the lamb together. So often the strong gobble the weak up. Not so, with the Lord and that's the beauty we show in our Christian romantic suspense.

Anyone else want to compare what the lion and lamb mean?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Poisoned Secrets Interview

Today we're welcoming Maggie Ridgeway, the heroine of Poisoned Secrets, March 2009 Love Inspired Suspense. 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.

All I wanted to do was find my birth mother and learn about my heritage. The only way I could get close to her and her family was to move into the apartment across the hall from her. The problem was that three weeks before a murder occurred in apartment 2A and an intruder has been looking for something that had been in the place.

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

Kane is the Admissions Director at Seven Oaks University but also owns the apartment building where I live. I saw him the first time when I went to look at apartment 2A. He wasn't too keen on showing me the place, but he did, making it clear a murder had occurred in it. I fell in love with him when he insisted on protecting me and helping me to get to the bottom of the break-ins in apartment 2A.

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

My greatest weakness, at least in this case because it set everything in motion, is my curiosity. My greatest strength is my determination. It has helped me overcome my shyness and learn to speak out when I need to.

4. What scares you?

Being alone. I always seem to be on the outside looking in. Never quite part of a group.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My feeling I'm not worthy of being loved. As a child I was abandoned by my birth mother, and when I was finally adopted years later, my adopted mother didn't want to have much to do with me. Thankfully my adopted father loved me, no matter what.
6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?

My faith is the only thing that helped me through the tough times, the rejections.

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

Strengthened even more because of my painful journey in the book. I had to learn to forgive Vicky for giving me up at birth. I even had to forgive my birth father for all the bad things he was responsible for. Neither was easy.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to also love one another. 1 John 4:11
I had to learn to love myself in order to be able to fall in love with Kane. Except for my adopted father (and the Lord), I'd gone through life not feeling loved.

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

A piece of cheesecake, my birth mother's specialty.

Wow, thank you Margaret for sharing Maggie with us. This sounds like a terrific read.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Maggie Ridgeway has spent years searching for her birth mother. And now, thanks to an anonymous tip, she's finally found her. Taking the apartment across the hall from her mother's family, Maggie is determined not to leave until she gets some questions answered. Who is her father? Why did her parents abandon her? And what item in her new apartment is provoking multiple burglaries? After an interrupted break-in leaves Maggie unconscious, the building's owner, Kane McDowell, promises to protect her. But then he learns who she really is. When the past is unveiled, the shocking disclosures could tear Maggie and Kane apart.

Friday, March 13, 2009

March Madness: A Turtle's View on Writing and Life

Spring is in the air here in California. The afternoons are sunny, the lilies are leafing out and Boyd is coming out of her burrow and basking in the sun. Boyd, a twenty plus year old female box turtle who is not at all nonplussed at having a male name, has that kind of ponderous wisdom that we can all learn from. I’m quite positive this armor plated gal has plenty to share, via her humble human translator.
Number one: Start gently. Boyd starts every morning with a soak in some nice warm water. I take note of this as I rush into the kitchen at 4:30 a.m.; desperately searching for my Muppet coffee cup and calculating how many words I need to write before waking up the little Mentinks. Not Boyd. Rushing is not her gig. She hunkers down in that water and lets the morning come to her. I try to learn. Plopping into my office chair I start my day with a devotional. Today’s thought is from Maltbie D. Babcock. This is my Father’s world. I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas, His hand the wonders wrought. I think Boyd would approve.
Number Two: Plod ahead. Box turtles are not the most graceful creatures in the animal kingdom. I’ve seen this turtle work for a good five minutes to get over a pile of clothes left on the floor during her indoor gadabout. Those little legs scoop and dig and push until she triumphs. Is it poetry in motion? No. Does it allow for blistering speed? Nah. But that turtle will get where she means to go, just as that novel is written one pesky word at a time, or those pounds are whittled away ounce by tiny ounce. Perseverance? Thy name is turtle.
Number Three: Go outside. Writers and countless other busy adult types can exist for days, perhaps months without risking a sunbeam or two. Not so with a turtle. Boyd in particular will scope out a nice sunny spot and shimmy down into the flora and soak in the glory of the day. Go outside? When I’ve a thousand words to write, laundry to fold and a plethora of e-mails to return? How can I justify sitting when I am so thoroughly steeped in business?
Boyd fixes me with her yellow eyed stare and I have the oddest feeling that she understands God’s intent in Psalm 46:10 better than I do.
Be still and know that I am God.
Could a turtle really understand what’s important? The precious gift of sunshine, the enjoyment of a moment showered down on us and meant to be savored? The exquisite blessing of a sunny spring day?
She gives me a wink and continues to savor the blessing of a March afternoon. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll turn off my computer and go join her.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Roaring in like a Lion—leaving like a lamb

My favorite time of year is spring. I love to get out and work in the garden, planting the new annuals that will bloom during the summer. The trick in my region of the country is to plant early, giving the plants enough of a root system to survive the heat of a Texas summer.
What does that have to do with writing? I love to start working with my characters, starting with those “seeds” that are revealed to me. The hero of my next book lost both of his children to a terrible genetic disease. That’s all I knew. Who was this man? How did he come in contract with the heroine. What was her story?
Seeing the relationship grow is like watching my plants. I have to care for these characters, spend time with them, work to weed the idea garden when something pops up that distracts from my story. Often the results of their relationship surprises me. The characters blossom in ways that surprise, but are true to the characters. In the end that story is as satisfying as see my plants in the yard.
I will brag. The beautiful picture of bluebonnets above was taken by my son.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March Madness in the Far North

I know why this is called March Madness. It is a month of dirty snowbanks, ice on the sidewalks and too much work!

Since my last posting, the snow has gone down a bit. We still have high snowbanks, but now they are brown with mud and road crud and sheened with ice. There is nothing pretty about them. The roads are still slick to drive on, and even walking - which I love to do - is treacherous. So, I am mostly at home and working furiously on revisions.

Revisions. Revisions. They are a part of what we do as writers of Love Inspired Suspense novels. Sometimes I think readers get the impression that we can write good, bang-on novels right out of the box, but it's seldom that way. As I write this, on the desk beside me is a notebook with my latest novel printed off, along with my editors suggestions. The first thing I did was to go through it cutting and pasting and making global changes to it. Now, I'm working through each chapter and rewriting it. It's becoming a whole new book. (And I thought it was pretty good to begin with!)

The revisions are tiring and long, but they are getting done. Each hour goes by and more is accomplished. I work six days a week, pretty steady. My mother said to me, "I never realized what went into writing a book. It's hard work, isn't it?"

"Yes," I replied. 'It's hard work."

I tend to be a bit old-fashioned in my way of working. I write a lot by long hand. I tend to print off my work, and then make corrections with colored gel pens. I think the colors are so that I won't get bored! I like writing in pink.

So - that it my March Madness - which includes cabin fever, and writing and doing laundry and drinking cups of tea.

Monday, March 9, 2009

March Madness for Lynette Eason

Happy Monday all,

Yes, the Monday post is late. It's my fault, I confess. I had intended to post in advance but then life got in the way. Since March 1 (well, actually, I think it all started on February 28th, but we'll go with March 1), I've had two kids sick with the flu, a husband who has only been home one night out of all of them up to now, I'VE been sick, three doctor's visits, I have a book due in June that I really need to work on, got my edits for the Steeple Hill book, finished my edits for the Steeple Hill book, tore something in my knee which requires an Orthopedic visit this coming Thursday, my hot water heater died and had to get that replaced to the tune of $700, and found out today that my air conditioner is broken, so I'm hot! Oh, and yes, today is my husband's 40th birthday.

Yes, yes, March Madness abounds in the Eason household, but God is still good. Why? It snowed last week and was in the eighties today! My kids are well, my husband will be home on Thursday, I managed to meet with a friend today and laugh at how crazy my life was and I even remembered I was supposed to post today before it actually became March 10th. Did I mention it was my husband's 40th birthday? And best of all, my internet connection held long enough for this entry to post!

One things the pastor preached on in church yesterday was contentment. Being content no matter the circumstances that surround us. One profound statement he made was this:

Contentment = An anchored peace that is unmoved by the ebb and flow of circumstances.

I'm clinging to that as I learn to be content in the midst of craziness. I lean on the God of the universe who loves me in spite of me.

Now that's awesome!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Perfect Target Interview

Today we're welcoming Bayley Foster, the heroine of Perfect Target, by Stephanie Newton, a March 2009 release. 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 had some problems with a stalker when I was in college. I thought that time in my life was over, but when creepy—and familiar—things started happening again, I realized the stalker was back.

2. So, during the book you met Cruse. What was your first impression? I’ve known a lot of cops and I thought Cruse was just like every other cop I’d ever known—overbearing, know-it-all, hyperprotective.
When did you know it was love? It wasn’t a big romantic gesture that opened my eyes, more of a quiet night after a really rough day. I realized things weren’t as complicated as I’d been trying to make them.

3. What strengths/skills do you have? What is your greatest weakness? I’m skilled at plumbing repairs, thanks to the internet! And I definitely have a weakness for a good cup of coffee.

4. What scares you? The thought of not being able to find enjoyment in life.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Oh, wow. That’s a tough one. But really, I wouldn’t change anything. I might make different decisions…but God made me the way I am for a purpose.

6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?
I know that God is trustworthy—He has brought me through some tough times in my life—but trusting other people is more difficult. When the stalker comes back into my life, it even gets hard to see God’s hand at work.

7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story?
I’ve learned to trust Cruse and accept that God has a plan for both of us—together.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
I’ve spent a lot of my life being afraid. Psalm 27:1 tells me I don’t have to be—that I have a safe place to run to because the Lord is the stronghold of my life. I love that word stronghold. Can you imagine a safer place than that?

9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why?
A white chocolate mocha with lots of whipped cream, of course!

Thank you Stephanie for sharing Bayley with us. She sounds like a strong and caring person. Can't wait to read this story!

Saturday, March 7, 2009


The corpse in her path was Bayley Foster's first warning. The second? A break-in at Bayley's own home! She's certain that the stalker who once tormented her has returned to toy with her again. But has her stalker truly escalated to murder? Her fiercely protective neighbor, police detective Cruse Conyers, is determined to get answers. Even if it takes him into the murky depths of the criminal underworld. What he uncovers adds a terrifying twist to the case that could land both Cruse and Bayley in the cross fire….

Friday, March 6, 2009

March Madness in the life of Carol Steward

March in Colorado is definitely known for wacky weather. Spring one minute, snow the next. Wind all the time, through either spring heat (not to rub it in to you in the north, but we had 76 degrees yesterday) or wintry blizzards. This is typically our snowiest month, with April trailing close behind. This is not looking to be our snowiest year, which leaves us dry, dusty, and maddeningly fearful of wildfires. We've had four large fires already on the front ranges of the state.

March also brings spring, a time of longer daylight (whoohoo) and growth. With even a hint of moisture, bulbs peek out from the dried leaves of fall. Green grass starts to poke out from the brittle brown blades of winter. The trees are teased into letting the buds of new fruit out of their branches. (waiting in suspense, to see if we'll get another May blizzard to freeze the blooms of fruit trees.) And the madness of yardwork looms like a maniac just around the corner. In spite of that, I love spring.

I'm not sure, besides rolling off the tongue nicely and making a nifty name for the basketball playoffs, where the name March Madness really came from. I'm sure I could google it, but in my life, it indicates a time of change. Hurrying to get organized. Get the spring cleaning done. (No, it's not the same as it was in my mother's day, but it's still something I feel obligated to try to do.) Now I call it clearing the clutter - of winter, of a deadline, of well recouperation – from any of the overly stressful stages of life, and get ready for the next.

Families with young children are getting ready for the change in sports. Kids are in the parks practicing soccer, and baseball, and teen-age girls can be found in bikinis soaking up the sun. My motherly madness used to include cleaning the yard so it was ready for the kids to play right here at home. Packing for spring break to Grandma's mountain cabin, where we could move from spring back to winter in the matter of hours. Shopping for new clothes that the kids really can't wear until May because of the weather, but need because they grew 6 inches in the last weeks of winter. Oh, and I especially stressed over buying our "Easter dress," which always required snow boots rather than sandals and a down coat over it. Four years ago, it included the excitement of preparing for my daughter's wedding. (Happy Anniversary Sarah and Robert!) March Madness. That it is.

As a Christian, I love spring and getting ready for Easter. I love the reminder that God had all of this planned out for us an eternity ago. And has it all planned out for an eternity to come. I love that He knows we're going to make mistakes, and He loves us anyway. I love knowing that a fresh start is just a prayer away. After the bleek and sometimes bitter "rest" of winter, God gave us spring, in all it's glory to blow in and give us new hope for a fresh start. Growth and change. What will March Madness bring to your life this year?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

New Tool for Readers

ACFW has developed a wonderful new tool for readers. Check here to see what it's all about.

If you follow the link, you will see a new section for readers. It has three basic components right now, but we fully expect those to expand in the next year.

1) Genre list. This tool was unveiled in paper at the Mall of America signing. My sister Janna Ryan, who many of you met at the conference or know from her blog, put lots of hours into this project for us! This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a great place to start if you are looking for new authors to try.

2) There is also an author list/database. This allows you to enter an author's name and get a short sentence about what they write as well as a link to their website and shoutlife page.

3) There is a list of books divided by social issue. Looking for a book that deals with abortion, divorce, etc.? Then look here. Deborah Raney has kindly allowed us to post her list that has been developed over time, and ACFW will add to it over time.

So if you're looking for new authors to try or new books to read, check out this resource!

March Madness

In my last post I talked about how crazy life can get when living under deadline. This month is going to be a doozy. Full to the brim with all kinds of March Madness.

Monday the rewrite for my next LIS was due...Trial by Fire is going to be a much better book after the rewrites, but it almost killed me getting them in on time. Hmm...Writing a suspense book almost killed me.

Well, what really got me was two very sick kiddos the week after Valentine's Day. Three pediatricians in three different offices in less than 48 hours. I tried very hard to live in the moment and focus on hugging and holding those two wee ones, when all my mind could think about was the rewrite and the book that's due on April 1. (in fact I should be working on that right now. Sigh!)

So I had to do something I hate. I asked for help. I called my mom and asked if there was any way she could come from Nebraska and help me out. I am so blessed that she said yes.

She arrived last Wednesday and left yesterday. In between she homeschooled the kids, did laundry, kept us fed, went grocery shopping, and did all the other things she could think of to free
some time for me to write. It was such a help!

See the challenge is that no matter how well we plan, life erupts and gets in the way. I couldn't predict that my kids would have pneumonia, ear infections, and RSV. That's the kind of scenario I don't want to predict. But I could ask for help...as much as I hate to admit I need it LOL

With Mom here, I had to pull a few very late nights, but I got the rewrite in the mail Saturday. And now I have a good start on the book that's due April 1. I'll still have to be disciplined and stay on task, but now I'm not panicked. And hopefully my editors won't when they read these books!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

March Madness

How often does it snow in Atlanta? Usually once a year. For 2009, the storm rolled in on Sunday, March 1, while my family and I were in church. We came out of the sanctuary to see big flakes falling like confetti from the sky, covering everything in sight.

The snow continued throughout the day. Temperatures that had been in the balmy mid-60s earlier in the week dropped below freezing as Mother Nature reminded Georgians spring wasn’t here yet.

She failed to tell the flowers. My front walk was lined with snow-tipped daffodils. Azalea bushes, red buds and Bradford pears were blanketed in white, and the pansies got a frosting. The last of the white stuff melted today, and we’re expecting warm temperatures by the end of the week.

March Madness? You bet! With a start like that, the rest of the month could be whirlwind. My first continuity is due on my editor’s desk March 15th. I’m into the rewrites and spending lots of time with my hero and heroine to get their act together on the written page. Lucky me, I'm honored to work with a fantastic lineup of Steeple Hill authors, including Craftie Ladies Margaret Daley, Barbara Phinney and Lenora Worth.

As soon as that manuscript is headed to New York, I’ll start working on YULE DIE, a Christmas suspense, which will be out in December as a two-in-one with Craftie Lady Margaret Daley. Again, lucky me!

Best of all, my son and daughter-in-law are expecting their first child any day now. Hubby and I are waiting for the phone call and the good news about our precious new grandbaby.

Hope your March is full of madness! The fun kind, of course.

Happy reading! Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

Monday, March 2, 2009

Staying Home

Saturday morning, Mikey's grandmother called me on the telephone. She and Grandpa Charlie are snowbirds here visiting Phoenix from Omaha (Phoenix warm; Omaha cold). Here's the conversation.
Betty: Hi, Pam, do you have any plans today?
Pam: No, not really.
Betty: Good.
Pam: What do you want to do? (I'm thinking... Oh, good, something to do)
Betty: Whatever you want to do.
Arg. I was on my cell phone when the call came in and on my way to a meeting. Actually, for the A.M. I, at one time, had three things to do. One, work meeting (it won). Two, conference meeting for the 2010 Desert Dreams Conference. Three, a month ago, I'd arranged a playdate for Mikey. Two and Three got cancelled because of the work meeting. Afternoon and evening were free. When I hung up from Grandma, I had a job: find something fun to do.
You know, sometimes fun things fall in my lap. Sometimes I hear of a fun thing and arrange my life around it. Other times, I'm asked to come up with fun things. After the meeting I went home and ran three funs things by my husband (My favorite number is three). He didn't like any of them, (mainly because we get lots of out-of-town visitors and the well-known fun things we do until they're not so fun) and I was left with zero fun things.
We had a great evening. We stayed home. We had everyone over, cooked, and then sat in front of the television watching the Polar Express (My four year old's favorite movie right now).
It was a stress-free evening.
What do you do for fun?