Thursday, April 30, 2009

A New Dawn

Tomorrow, May 1, is my birthday, but I’ve been celebrating for more than two weeks. And for a very unusual reason.

On April 14th, I was laid off from my day job. For most people this could be a disaster. I felt only relief that bordered on giddiness.

It’s all about feeling God’s tug on my life. For several months, I’ve felt as if God were leading me in another direction, one away from the job I did every day and more toward one that drew deeply on the gifts I’ve had since birth. Gifts HE gave me.

I’ve been resistant, mostly because of fear. I’m a single mom, and that steady paycheck carries with it a seductive illusion of security, almost like watching a storm while standing in the sun. But sometimes, when God leads you to the edge of the ledge, if you don’t take the leap, He’ll get behind you and shove.

So I’ve been shoved, and this year, spring—and my birthday—truly has become a time for change for me. My daughter graduates from her special needs school and comes home full time, so Mom has as well. To write, to help care for Rachel, and, hopefully, to listen more closely to God. A new dawn.

And a new direction. This weekend, I end my birthday celebration in Huntsville, Alabama, at the Heart of Dixie Reader’s Luncheon. I’ll be there to sign my new book, The Taking of Carly Bradford, which releases in May. This is going to be a May to remember for a long time.

I’ve leapt—now I believe He will help me soar.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What makes a Keeper?

Have you ever had the experience of watching a movie with an “expert” and have them tell you that the movie people got it all wrong? I have. My husband is a computer whiz, built his own PC in the mid-seventies (my age is showing) and always comments at the critical part of the movies when the computers blow up that’s not how it would happen. When we were watching 24 a couple of years ago and Jack was racing out of the room after sabotaging the computers, having the computers flame out, my husband said, “Not true.”

Well professional writers sometimes get picky like that when they read. It’s worse if you teaching writing, which I do at the local community college. But when you come across a book that knocks your socks off, that is pure pleasure. I had that happen the other day. I usually read action adventure and intrigue books, but I read my friend’s current book, HAND ME-DOWN-FAMILY by Winnie Griggs (Love Inspired Historicals, Mar 09). This is a wonderful story about a woman who becomes a mother and widow to her mail--order family. The story kept me turning the pages, eager to see what comes next. This is a keeper for me. It reminded me of Courting Miss Hattie by Pamela Morsi.

What makes a good book? Is it the writing? Plotting? The characters? What is it that makes those certain books stand out among the others? I love action and write it, but when I think about the books that I’ve written, what do I remember the most? It is the characters. My first book was the heroine’s story. She was the son her father never had.

I’ve read a lot of good books and over the years the level of writing in popular fiction has risen. (I think RWA is responsible for that.) But, what is it that makes a story stay with you?

What do you think makes a book a keeper? What is one of your keepers?
p.s, the picture has nothing to do with my thoughts. It was just a fun picture my son took while in Austin a couple of years ago.

Monday, April 27, 2009

State of Play

I saw a suspense movie last week--State of Play with Russell Crowe. I really enjoyed it. I knew the ending had a twist but it still took me by surprise (more likely because I forgot that I had read about the surprise ending). The action was great and the budding relationship between Crowe's character and the new reporter was interesting. I would recommend this for someone who likes suspense and action.

The only thing I didn't care for was Crowe's hair. He's a good actor and does well in this movie, but I wanted to get my shears out and cut away on that hair. And I like long hair on guys. Now that could be suspenseful--me chasing him around, trying to cut his hair. So what do you think about the hairdo?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Code of Honor Interview

Today we're welcoming Brice Whelan, the heroine of Code of Honor, Love Inspired Suspense, April 2009 Lenora Worth. 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 Ireland but after my father died my American mother wanted to move back to her home town of Atlanta, Georgia. I started college in Georgia and met Selena Carter there and fell for her instantly. I never told her this, however. But my poet’s heart pined for her. I probably would have told her, but after meeting her father who was a member of the elite Christian organization called CHAIM, I decided to join that organization. And Selena wanted nothing to do with anyone who became a CHAIM agent. She knew the sacrifices her father and mother had to make when she was growing up. The work is dangerous and secretive, but I knew I wanted to be a part of the special team that helps Christians in trouble the world over. And that is what brought me to Northern Argentina to rescue Selena before a gang of rebels would come back and find her as the lone survivor of her village.

2. So, during the book you were reunited with Selena Carter). Tell us a bit about her. What was your first impression? When did you know it was love?
As I said, I fell for Selena the first day we met in college. We got into an argument about politics and I was hooked. She was fiery and determined and she truly had a missionary’s heart. She wanted to serve God, even back then. I’m a man of faith, but Selena has the kind of faith that can move mountains. And get a person in serious trouble at times.

3. What strengths/skills do you have? What is your greatest weakness? My skills include mostly physical stuff. I had to train in a kind of special ops mode after joining CHAIM. That’s because we’re sent into very dangerous situations so we have to know how to handle any obstacles. My weakness-handling Selena Carter. She did not want to leave Argentina. She was a missionary nurse down there. And she felt guilty for being the only survivor of that horrible attack. But her father and I think she’s still in danger. Selena is definitely my weakness and my Irish heart tells me that is going to get both of us in trouble.

4. What scares you? Failure.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d try to less controlling. With Selena, I sometimes treat her in a condescending way only because I want to protect her. I have to remind myself she’s very capable of taking care of herself. I need to learn how to appreciate that more and I guess I need to back off from “coddling” her as my dear old papa would say.

6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?
I’ve always had a strong faith and the poet in me loves reading the Bible as a source of inspiration. I have a strong feeling I will need to turn to God in order to do my job and save Selena.

7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story?
At the end of the story, I’ve lost a bit of my faith because Selena has been keeping secrets from me. And that hurts. But God will provide. I just have to pray my way through this and learn and grow and I have to learn to trust Selena again.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant. “He who follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness and honor.” Proverbs 21:21
I love Proverbs, and I especially believe in this verse because in CHAIM (which means “life” in Hebrew and in this case stands for Christians for Amnesty, Intervention and Ministry) we learn that we shall honor God above all else. We have a certain code of honor and that is to help and protect all Christians the world over. Even the stubborn ones like my dear Selena.

9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why? Probably Apple Pie. My mum taught me to love this very American dish. It’s sweet but strong and tart, too. I’d like to believe I’m those things. Selena, however, probably wouldn’t agree with that.

Thank you Lenora for sharing Brice with us. Can't wait to see how the Irishman and his lady get their happy ever after. Sounds like an exciting read!

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Get in, save the girl and get back out. That was CHAIM agent Brice Whelan's mission. But saving missionary/nurse Selena Carter might be more difficult than expected. Selena's run-in with a drug cartel put the people in her care in danger. Yet the danger doesn't end when Brice brings her home. The counterfeit drugs have entered Georgia, and this time Selena isn't about to run away. Brice's mission hasn't changed; he still needs to keep her safe. And that means staying by her side—whether she wants him there or not

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Susan Boyle Lesson

There are few moments in life when we confront our own failings head on. Good books cause us to do that and so, this week, did a short clip on You Tube. I’m sure many of us watched Susan Boyle’s triumphant audition on Britain’s Got Talent. It was a moment when a plain, middle aged, chubby spinster stood on stage and gave a riveting singing performance that wowed judges and audience alike. It was not the performance that we should take note of, as much as why it shocked us. To put it plainly, society judges the worth of an individual by what is written on the outside. It’s true, no? Oh we make exceptions for the extremely wealthy and powerful, but sad to say lovely people are valued and assumed to have more worth and talent than extremely plain ones.

How could we have gotten to this place? The Beatitudes give us a list of blessings and not one refers to external appearance, yet on this planet the people we idolize are the stars and actors who give us a beautiful figure and face to adore. That is why the Susan Boyle video was so stunning, because it took us to task for our attitudes, for our assumptions that a homely figure has no blessings to offer. Susan Boyle made us look inside ourselves.

As I mentioned earlier, good books do this, don’t they? They are the kind of books that stay in your mind long after the last page is turned. Often they are literary in nature (The Five People You Meet in Heaven, The Life of Pi, The Secret Life of Bees) but occasionally a romance will surprise you by painting a picture of a person so complex, so revealing of both their ugliness and spiritual beauty that you can’t get the book out of your mind. An example? The book Mrs. Mike, written by Benedict and Nancy Freedman in 1947. Do you have any favorite books that stay in your mind and soul?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The storms of life--now that's suspense

Hi from Lenora. We've had lots of spring storms all across the country. Storms are scary. You can't predict nature. I think that's why suspense writers love a good rain storm. I mean, is there anything more exciting and chilling then "a dark and stormy night?" Storms are suspenseful because we don't know the outcome, no matter how much technology the weatherman flashes across the television screen. We have a weatherman here who comes on and stays on the air during storms. He goes over and over the circulation of the storm, the times it might hit certain areas and how much wind and rain might come. My husband thinks he's a bit over the top since we believe if a big one is coming, we're not going to be in front of the television, fascinated by the rotation. No, we will be in our "Harry Potter" room underneath the stairs with our cat, our son (if he's home of course) and me wth my purse and my flash drive (and as many shoes and books as I can throw in there with me, probably!)Storms are interesting but sometimes we miss out on a lot if we're watching the storm approach. It's like that in life, too. We worry so much about the approaching storm, we forget to enjoy each precious minute of life. But I love it after a storm when things settle down and you can hear that soft dip, drip of the rain coming off the freshly washed roof. The birds begin to chirp again and the sun moves through the wet earth with a shining hope. Sometimes, we see a rainbow after a big storm. Once when my son was around four, he and I went for a walk after a storm. We turned a corner and there up in the sky was the most beautiful rainbow. He pointed with his chubby little finger. "Look, Mommy. A rainbow. I bet God put that there just for us." I thought that was so sweet and so profound. God puts rainbows in our lives, even after the distruction of a storm. There is always hope. And even though in our suspense books, we write about danger and survival, we also write about hope. Because in our particular brand of romantic suspense, we give the hope of long-lasting love and we also give the hope of an eternal faith through the love of Christ. Christ was and still is our rainbow after the storm. We might have to hide in the closet, afraid and clinging to each other. But we can emerge to see the sun shining and God's rainbow spreading out to us with open arms. This is the beauty of nature. And this is why we respect nature and enjoy its bounty. I took the above picture of a sunflower immediately after a fierce rainstorm. We were out on a country road. The flower is still wet, but the bee continues to soldier on. As should we! Lenora :)

Psalms 107:28-30--"Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble,
and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm,
so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet;
so he bringeth them unto their desired haven."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


by Linda Hall

I recently completed a major revision of a Love Inspired Suspense which is scheduled for a January release. (Storm Warning is the title of that upcoming book - so now you know.) This particular book had to be basically gutted and rebuilt. The whole time I was making these revisions, the picture that came to my mind was of taking one of those serrated grapefruit spoons to the inside of said fruit and scraping it against the inside hard. Then removing all of the sections and putting them back differently. It felt like that. It hurt like that.

This made me think of what Jesus wants to do in me - scrape out the insides of my soul, my mind, my spirit and turn me into the kind of woman who loves more and better, and desires God more than just about anything in her life, including her career. He does this through the hard things in my life - the pain, the blows. It’s sort of like feeling the serrated edge of the grapefruit spoon digging out everything I hold dear. Until all is stripped away and I’m laid bare before God.

And then God – like a careful writer – puts it back together and better than before. I’m not there yet – not even close. I need many more ‘revisions’

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Power of Words

I'm a writer, which makes me weird, I suppose. But, God made me this way for a reason. He gave me a love for words, love for creating, a stubborn will to keep going with my writing when it looked like I’d NEVER be published—and a heart for Him.

He also gave me the desire to take the gifts he’s given me and do my best to make something beautiful, to create something that He can possibly use to change someone’s life for the better. Or to make someone stop and think and say, “Wow, I’ve never thought about God like that before.” Or, “I didn’t know God loved like that, I want to find out more about Him.”

I get so many reader emails thanking me for writing good clean, entertaining stories that they’re not embarrassed to read in front of their children or friends. And I thank God everyday for the privilege to serve Him in this way.

So, anyway, back to words. I was sitting in church Sunday and the pastor talked about our responsibility as Christians to spread the word of God. He quoted a man by the name of John Piper who said, “What would the world be like, the home, the church, the school, the town square—if words were used the way Jesus used them?”

Think about your words. Why does it seem like it’s easier to say something negative rather than something positive? Why is easier to cut someone down, slander someone’s name, rather than to build someone up and offer encouragement?

Now think about this. You’re on the receiving end of harsh criticism. Blasted for not doing something right. Something you tried your best to do and maybe you fell a little short. How do you feel? Lousy, right? Shot down, your self-esteem takes a beating. Well, when we let our tongues run loose with no self-control, we have the ability to change a life forever. I don’t want to be responsible for that kind of change.

On the other hand, think about how you feel when you’ve attempted to do something and still fallen a little short. Someone comes up to you and thanks you for the effort you’ve put forth then says, praises your efforts and then says, “Would you like a little help on the rest of it? I can see you’re having some trouble, tell me what you need.”

A no-brainer as to what Christ would say, isn’t it?

As Christians, we are to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them everything I have commanded of you. How are we to do that? We use our words. As my pastor said this morning, "We are to gather with the disciples, to drink in Christ’s love then we are to go. To speak of His love. We are to speak of grace and truth, purity and power. We are to imitate Christ Jesus. We are to change lives, not through our power, but through the one who equips us.

A simple concept, isn’t it?

But how often do we live it?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Murder at Eagle Summit Interview

Today we're welcoming Liz Carmichael, the heroine of Murder at Eagle Summit. Wow, you've just had quite an adventure.

I sure have. Who knew a ski resort could turn out to be such a frightening place!

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

I’m a classical musician, and though I live in Kentucky now, I went to school at the University of Utah, where my family lives. My cousin and I have had a pact since we were girls – she’ll sing at my wedding, and I’ll play at hers. So when she and her fiancé decided to have a romantic winter wedding at the ski resort where we spent so much time during college, my friends Jazzy and Caitlin and I packed up our instruments and headed west so our trio could play. Of course I was looking forward to attending my cousin’s wedding, but there was a little matter of turning over a family heirloom, and I dreaded that. And I definitely didn’t want to see the best man, Tim Richards.

2. So, you knew Tim before? Why didn’t you want to see him again?

Well, it’s a little embarrassing. Tim and I were college sweethearts, and we got engaged during our senior year. But I got cold feet. We didn’t part on the best of terms, so I definitely wasn’t looking forward to seeing him again.

And the circumstances when I did see him were a bit of a shock. Tim is now a deputy sheriff in Park City, Utah. The first morning after I arrived for the wedding, a frozen body was found on the ski lift that runs right outside my room’s balcony. During the night I might have seen the victim – or maybe it was the murderer – and that’s bad enough. But even worse, I had to be interrogated by my ex-fiancé! Not a good start to a family wedding weekend.

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

I’m really independent, and I think that’s a strength. Also, I’m normally level-headed, and I tend to stay calm during stressful times. I accomplish this with a bit of an acerbic tongue, which I inherited from my grandmother. She’s another person I wasn’t looking forward to seeing in Park City, because I knew she would take every opportunity to remind me how I embarrassed her when I broke off my engagement with Tim. If you ask my grandmother, she’ll tell you my greatest weakness is my unreliability, and she’ll hold up my failed engagement as an example.

But personally, I don’t think I’m unreliable at all. If I have a fault, it’s that I carry independence to an extreme. I wield it like a shield, so much that I have trouble accepting help from anyone else even when my life is in danger. Not good, especially in the situation I found myself in at Eagle Summit.

4. What scares you?

If you’d asked me that question a year ago, I would have said, “What’s there to be afraid of?” But I’ve had a couple of encounters with some pretty frightening people recently, and now people with a personal agenda and no conscience scare me.

Another thing that scares me—though I don’t admit this, even to myself—is the suspicion that I made a terrible mistake when I broke up with Tim. What if he was my only chance at happiness? What if I never meet anyone else who can measure up to him? I don’t want to end up like my grandmother, alone in my old age, cranky and sarcastic.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d have a stronger faith, like my friend Caitlin. Her faith is so out there, you know? When something scary happens, like when we thought our room may have been searched at Eagle Summit Lodge, her first reaction was to pray. She’s always that way. I wish my first thought was to turn to the Lord instead of plowing into a situation with stubborn determination that usually ends up getting me in trouble.

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

I’m a Christian, but I’m hiding some secrets – from my friends, from myself, even from the Lord. I don’t want to face a painful truth about my past actions, so I don’t think about it.

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

In an odd way, I’m grateful for the horrible things that happened at Eagle Summit, because they forced me to open up to my friends about my past. And when I did, Caitlin and Jazzy prayed with me. It was like their prayers and their encouragement cleared out some things that had been clogging my prayer life.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
"Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7, NIV)
I had some dirty secrets in my past, secrets that made me feel unclean. Now they’re all out in the open, and I’ve been forgiven, both by God and by Tim. (Oops! Did I give anything away?)
And, of course, there’s the reference to snow, which is all over the setting of this story.

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

Nobody could ever call me sweet. I’m too straight-forward, and occasionally a bit sarcastic. So I’d have to be a dark chocolate mousse, bittersweet and so deliciously rich you can only handle a few bites before you push it back and say, “That’s enough!” And yet, just recently I’ve softened a bit. So maybe you could plop a dollop of cream on top – thick, sweet, and white as snow, of course!

By the way, if you’d like to see a video about my experience in Murder at Eagle Summit, check out my friend Virginia Smith’s website. I told her my story, and she insisted on making a home movie out of it. Don’t tell her I said so, but it’s not half bad.

Wow, this sounds like a riveting story. Can't wait. Love the video. Very fun.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


A romantic ski resort seems the perfect place for a wedding. Until a murder on the slopes turns everyone on Eagle Summit into suspects. Liz Carmichael, the bride's cousin, saw a shadowy figure on a chairlift in the middle of the night. But was it the victim or the killer? Liz goes to the police—and finds herself giving the report to her ex-fiancé, Deputy Tim Richards. After a three-year estrangement, she could finally make things right—unless the killer finds her first….

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Interview with fabulous suspense author Randy Singer

I'm delighted to welcome my friend Randy Singer. You've heard me rave about By Reason of Insanity, and I'm sitting with bated breath waiting for his next novel. But today, he's stopped by with a great interview filled with great insights into his books and how he balances a crazy life of attorney, author, and pastor.

Now here's the interview...

By Reason of Insanity was a legal thriller that my husband and I both loved. The pages couldn't turn fast enough. How did you get the germ of the idea?

Like many of my stories, the storyline for By Reason of Insanity was not triggered by a single idea but by the intersection of several ideas that together created something I wanted to explore. Looking back, I think there were four little streams that trickled together to form the small river that became By Reason. The first stream was the increase of a strident form of atheism in our culture. These new “atheism evangelists” won’t be satisfied until everyone else shares their lack of faith. They deny anything spiritual. There is no dimension except for the one we can see, touch and smell. The second stream was another cultural trend, somewhat contrary to the first, i.e. the fascination with the paranormal. Shows like Medium demonstrate that even in investigative work, police sometimes seek aid from those who claim an ability to communicate with another dimension. A third stream consisted of reports from the mission field, particularly in Muslim countries, of unbelievers experiencing visions and dreams that pointed them to Christ. Does God still work that way? Just on the mission field or here in America too? And finally, a single Bible verse helped trigger my thinking as well. As Paul is defending himself in front of Agrippa, making some very convincing arguments, Festus blurts out: “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.” Acts 26:24

Now you’re starting to see where the insanity came from.

See this is why I'm still struggling to hit upon that great idea publishers will fight over. It's the streams that come together to make a runaway river of a book! This book is filled with so many twists I almost felt like a pretzel at the end...and then it twisted again. What made you kept tweaking the plot?

A “twisted” sense of fun. Sorry, bad pun. My goal is to try and surprise readers two or three times at the end of each book. But I have in mind a certain kind of surprise. Any writer can surprise readers with something out of left field but that will just leave readers with a sense that the writer didn’t play fair. The best kind of surprise is something the reader never sees coming, like a silent train whispering down the tracks, but once the train hits, readers can dust themselves off and say, “I should have seen it coming.”

I so agree. I feel cheated if the device and answer is from left field, but when the author has out thought me I love it. And come back for more, and more, and more...Quinn Newberg takes on the hard cases -- even when he doesn't necessarily believe in his client's innocence. Have you had cases like that in your practice?

Yes and no. Quinn specializes in criminal cases. I primarily handle civil cases. We both practice at relatively large firms. We can both be somewhat choosy about the cases we accept (unlike lawyers who work at a public defenders’ office who must accept anyone who qualifies). I generally represent the plaintiff in civil cases, meaning I’m the one filing suit, so I will simply refuse the case if I don’t think it’s got merit.

There are times, however, when I represent a defendant who I’m pretty sure is “guilty” (we call that “liable” in the civil context). When that happens, I will counsel the client to make a fair offer and we try to settle the case.

I love the complexity of civil litigation, but you're right...there's often a certain amount of "guilt" on each side. Which leads to the next question: If the case doesn’t settle, how can you defend someone that you think is liable?

For the answer to that, I turn to the story in John 8 where Jesus defended the woman caught in adultery (on procedural grounds) even though he knew she was guilty. God is a God of justice. But God is also a God of mercy. Sometimes, as lawyers, our job is to advocate for mercy and let the system be responsible for deciding what constitutes justice. As Christians, we should all be grateful for the fact that Christ became our advocate while we were still guilty and gave his life so that we might have mercy and grace rather than justice and punishment.

You write legal thrillers. Why do you think people are so fascinated with all things legal? And what keeps you writing them?
The courtroom is our modern intellectual version of the Roman Coliseum. It’s where all the big life issues are contested and resolved: When does life begin? How do you define marriage? Should the United States waterboard terrorism suspects at Guantanamo? Etc. Another reason people love the courtroom is because one lawyer, committed to his or her cause, can make a tremendous difference not just for his/her client but for all of society. The courtroom tends to level the playing field between David and Goliath, between Joe Plumber and IBM.

That's frankly why I became a lawyer...watching HSLDA attorneys in action in the political arena. I wanted to do that! If you could write any book you wanted and know it would land on the bestsellers list, what would you write?
The books I’m writing now. When I write, I try to put aside thoughts about who might ultimate read the book, or how I can make it sell better, or what a particular market might demand or expect. I try to write the stories that God has placed on my heart and let all this other stuff take care of itself. Since these are the stories I’m most passionate about, I wouldn’t write a different kind of story if I knew it would make the NYT list.

Great perspective. And timely as I'm evaluating next steps. As an attorney, I know I sometimes find myself analyzing legal thrillers for accuracy. What's your pet peeve legal mistake in novels?

Wow. Great question. There’s not one particular mistake, but I can tell when a legal thriller has been written by someone who is not a lawyer or when a thriller involving a trial has been written by a lawyer who is not a trial lawyer. There are so many nuances in the way cases actually get tried in the real world—attempting to write about it without being there is like trying to write about brain surgery if you’ve never been to medical school. A lay person might enjoy the story but a real brain surgeon will put the book down after the second chapter. Having said that, my “pet peeve” is when fictional attorneys do no pre-trial discovery and are still operating under the old “ambush” system of litigation that disappeared decades ago in this country.

I agree! Makes me think they haven't seen the inside of a courtroom in a LOOONNNGGG time. How do you balance your many hats of author, practicing attorney, and pastor? It makes me tired just typing that!
Probably not as well as I should :-) A few keys that work for me:

1. Have great people on your team and rely on them. It’s especially important to have people whose skill sets complement yours rather than duplicate yours. For example, we have a wonderful administrative pastor at church who takes a big burden off me for the administrative tasks.

2. Put systems in place and stick to the systems. I work collaboratively on my books, cases and sermons. The systems I have in place help me tap into the creativity and thinking of many others so I can merge that thinking into a (hopefully) cohesive product.

3. Protect some alone time with the tenacity of a mama bear. I need time alone during productive parts of the day to write, craft sermons, and work on critical parts of my case. This means I’ve got to have a sanctuary where I can get away from life and people—turn the cell phone off and really concentrate.

4. Manage expectations as tenaciously as you manage time. One of the things that makes my three hats possible is that everybody knows I’m trying to juggle lots of different things. I try to keep expectations low and then exceed them. A related issue is making sure expectations are clear and, in the best case, written.

5. Remember that “no” can be a spiritual word. I try to major on the big items and ruthlessly evaluate every request for a piece of my time by asking whether this is the best use of my time or just a good use of my time.

By the way, I obviously concluded that this blog interview was the best use of my time. Love what you’re doing here. Cara, good luck on the writing and running! One of the things I’ve discovered is that my best plot twists frequently come to me while I’m running. Has that been your experience? (Lawyers have to ask questions—it’s in our blood—not just answer them).

Thanks so much for making the time. I truly am a huge fan...and on the running -- I tend to read or catch up on movies. But it's also a great time to pray and meditate...when I can slow my mind down enough. Thanks, Randy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April Showers?

Debby Giusti

“What happened to my baby?”

Wealthy heiress Eve Townsend is close to death. But before she dies, she has to know: what happened to the daughter she gave up for adoption twenty-four years before? Did she inherit her mother’s life-threatening disease? Medical researcher Pete Worth is ready to find answers by tracking her down. And when he finally locates Meredith Lassiter, he finds her widowed, pregnant and on the run. The loan sharks who killed her husband want her dead…and Pete is the only one standing in their way.
My area of the country has been deluged with rain. Drastic changes in temperature have spawned tornadoes that force us into our basement as sirens blare a warning to find shelter. Trees have been uprooted, streams have overflowed their banks and hail has caused damage to vehicles and property. All great fodder for a suspense writer to use in upcoming books.

Weather plays an important role in my stories. My first book, NOWHERE TO HIDE, featured a hurricane that trapped the heroine and her son in an ocean cave. In SCARED TO DEATH, a tornado struck while the villain stood over the hero and heroine with a loaded gun. MIA: MISSING IN ATLANTA had a snowstorm that blanketed the city and impacted the hero’s ability to fight off the villain. Wind and rain played a role in COUNTDOWN TO DEATH, and the book I’m currently working on ends with an ice storm.

Writers strive to up the stakes and put their characters in threatening situations. Inclement weather compounds the problem and is a universal danger readers understand. If you want to increase the tension in your story, take a tip from Mother Nature and make the weather miserable. Throw in tornadoes, hurricanes, snowstorms, hail and ice to enhance the suspense and improve your story.

Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti
Visit me at where I’m also blogging today.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sacrifical Love

One of the most sacrificial women I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with is Bettie Mitchell, founder of Good Samaritan Ministries in Beaverton Oregon. When my husband and I first moved to Oregon we needed some guidance. Through a friend we learned of Bettie and Good Samaritan Ministries. For over fifteen years Bettie has been our mentor, counselor and friend. I thank God that Bettie answered His call on her life. I know my writing has matured and grown through all the wise counsel and from our family's experiences with GSM. My husband's trip to Uganda with a team from GSM inspired one of my earlier books, A Sheltering Heart.
For over thirty years this ministry, inspired by the Biblical story of the Good Samaritan, has been sharing unconditional love and helping those in need throughout the world. GSM reaches out in compassion to help those in crisis within their communities through counseling, fundamental education, and emergency services without fees regardless of race, nationality, religion or economic status. This ministry is unique in that those who run the GSM offices in other countries are natives of that country. The GSM headquarters offer support and training so that others may be a Good Samaritan to their neighbors. If you would like to learn more of this amazing ministry go to

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Camper

This past weekend, we went camping - only we didn't start with a we.

First, let me give kudos to my husband. See, I'm mailing revisions for a book off on Wednesday morning (think last minute). I'm not done. Husband is aware I'm not done. He even vaguely realizes that he's partly responsible for me not being done. So, he comes up with a brilliant idea. See, he was off work both Thursday and Friday. He decided to go up to the campsite on Thursday to get a great spot. He offered to take Mikey with him. My first thought: an evening alone! (almost better than Christmas). My second thought: Without me there, Mikey will wander out into the desert and get lost. My second thought won, and Mikey stayed with me and my husband went camping alone for one whole day. Me, being typical female, told my friends my husband's idea about taking Mikey camping and how I didn't go for it. 100% (Okay, I only told three) said, "Mikey would have been fine. You're an idiot."

Okay, I'm an idiot.

Next, Friday Mikey and I head up to the Superstition Mountains. Don's called twice. He's having a blast, can hardly wait for us to get there. I'm supposed to be following his brother. Me, in a little RAV4; brother pulling a camping trailer. I take side road to buy fresh oranges (to no avail; closed for season). Then, I take another side road (need gas, but no gas station here). Finally, I find gas station way down the road. Needless to say, the entire road trip, there, had maybe a 30 second sighting of the camper I should have been following. I get to the area where we're camping, and yup, miss the turn. We eventually get to the campsite and almost immediately the wind start blowing.

Then, the skies open up, and it rains - all night long.

Saturday was pretty much spent inside a camper. Looking out the water logged window, I notice that huge cactus by my car. It's taller than my house (the cactus, not the car). Last time we were here the people next to us said they saw four rattlesnakes. Guess we're safe this time. About two, the rain stops. Of course, we can tell by the sky that it won't be stopped for long. We rev up the quads, only to turn back when we get a little high into the mountains and see snow ahead. Two seconds into the return ride, the rain keeps us company. Eventually the rain stops, and we find a place to eat lunch. Magic. There's a waterfall (running quite nicely thanks to all the rain). Don and Mikey build a dam. Uncle Steve becomes the project manager. Mommy and Aunt Patti (also a writer) talk books. Dam breaks, clouds open up, and it's back to the camper. Mommy and Mikey stay inside and watch Caillou. Everyone else sitting by the campfire in the rain.

Yesterday was gorgeous. I'll post pictures later after we unload the camper, but picture this. My son, carrying his Spiderman Easter basket, hunted for Spiderman Easter eggs in the desert. Too cool. It was a great day. We took a forty-mile ride back into Montana Mountain. We explored an old cabin: dirt. We went into a deserted mine: no flashlight so we didn't go far. We rode on roads that had scarey drop-offs: Eek!

After we'd loaded the camper and I was waiting for Don to do his last minute check, I looked out at the cacti, mountians, and sky, and marveled at all God has given us.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Cloud of Suspicion Interview

Happy Easter, everyone. Today we're welcoming Patrick Rivers, the hero of A Cloud of Suspicion, Book four of the Without A Trace continuity by Patricia Davids, an April 09 release from 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.

Thanks for having me here. How did I end up in the midst of such suspense? I’m still asking myself that. I had no intention of ever returning to Loomis, Louisiana, but recently my step-father passed away. To my surprise, his will stipulated that I had to return to Loomis in person to settle the estate if I wanted any of the proceeds. I don’t understand why he did that. We weren’t close. I’d like to think he was trying to make up for the way he treated me after I was accused of rape ten years ago. I guess I’ll never really know. God moves in mysterious ways.

2. So, during the book you met Shelby Mason. Tell us a bit about her.
Shelby is simply the greatest. We actually first met back in college. She worked at the school library. She was something of a mouse back then, but she loved books. It was something we had in common. My mother was a book collector before she died.
I met Shelby again the first day I was back in Loomis. What a shock! She had turned out to be quite a beauty. No man alive could forget those eyes.
I knew I wouldn’t be welcome in Loomis because of the old rape charge hanging over my head, but when I saw Shelby again, she was brave enough to ignore the looks and the whispers and talk to me like I was nothing more than an old friend come back for a visit. I think I fell in love with her right that minute, but it was weeks before I could admit that. After all, I didn’t intend to stay in Loomis. But when I saw someone was trying to hurt Shelby, I had to stay and protect her.

3. What strengths/skills do you have? What is your greatest weakness?
I’d have to say my greatest strength is my dogged determination. I worked hard to get to the top my profession. I design motorcycle. My greatest weakness has to be the fact that I don’t trust people easily.

4. What scares you?

Nothing much. Okay, I’m scared of letting my friends down. I don’t have many and they mean a lot to me.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I think I’d like to be more outgoing. Shelby has that gift.

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

I didn’t have much in the way of faith when I first came back to Loomis. I blamed God for the things that had gone wrong in my life. I figured I’d do better depending on myself instead of some unseen force.

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

I think I’m back on the right path. Shelby helped me to see that if a guy blames God for the things that go wrong, he also has to give Him credit for the things that go right. I’d never looked at it that way before. I’m open now to learning about what God wants me to do with my life.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
Psalms 86:7 In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.
It’s one of Shelby’s favorite bible verses. She’s clinging to the hope that her missing friend Leah will be found safe and sound. Shelby's faith is rock solid. I deeply admire that about her.

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

Pardon my laugh, but no one has ever asked me that before. What kind of dessert would I be? I guess I’d want to be a chocolate brownie. Plain, simple, no frills, but yummy. That’s me.

This installment of the Without A Trace series sounds exciting.
Click on the above link to go on a mystery hunt with Pat on the eHarlequin site.

Can't wait to read about Shelby and Patrick. Thank you, Pat, for sharing.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


"What's he doing back in town?"

With his black leather jacket, Patrick Rivers looks every inch the bad boy the townsfolk believe him to be. Ten years ago, he left Loomis, Louisiana, under a cloud of suspicion. Back to settle his stepfather's estate, Patrick knows he isn't welcome and can't wait to leave. Until Shelby Mason gives him a reason to stay. Because Shelby knows a secret…and someone in Loomis will do anything to keep her quiet.

Read Excerpt

Friday, April 10, 2009

April showers and...A dark and stormy night

April showers make most people think of flowers in bloom. But to the romantic suspense writer in me, it also makes me think of dark and stormy settings for my stories.

I'm glad you're with me on this Friday. I'm Lisa Mondello, one of Friday's CRAFTIE Ladies of Suspense. Since the weather is warm and rainy, with a little bit of fog floating over my garden, I thought I'd talk about setting in stories.

When an author writes a setting well, it's almost like another character in the book. But it's not just the town the story is taking place in, or the buildings or houses the scenes are happening, it's the location and weather and obstacles of the landscape that all work together to create drama and suspense.

Let's take this scenario:

The villain has just taken the heroine to a lighthouse at the end of a narrow peninsula and the hero needs to save her before the villain kills her. It seems simple enough for the hero to do the job on a bright sunny day, right?

Now make the lighthouse up on a hill.

Now make the lighthouse only accessible by a narrow foot path.

Now make it night.

Now make it foggy.

Now make it raining to the point where the hero has difficulty seeing.

Now make a windy Nor'easter blow up the coast during high tide.

You don't have to throw the kitchen sink in your story. But as you add detail to the setting, the simple rescue on a bright sunny day isn't so simple anymore. You've created drama and suspense. That's not to say that drama and suspense can't happen on a bright sunny day. They certainly can. But you could use another element to create drama. A fast moving river the character needs to cross. A boat that is sinking with the character still inside.

One of my favorite settings for a "last stand" is in the movie Thunderheart with Val Kilmer. The sun is shining on the reservation. Val Kilmer and Graham Greene are tucked away at the bottom of the mesa with nowhere to go. The FBI is surrounding them and Val makes a bold and heroic move. He and Graham turn and walk toward the mesa in what looks like certain death. I don't want to give any spoilers but let's just say it was a great and suspenseful scene that uses setting well. If you haven't seen the movie, put it on your NetFlix list.

Are there any books or movies you've read or seen where setting is use to make the suspense more compelling? If so, leave a comment and let me know. You'll be entered into our monthly drawing to receive 4 Love Inspired Suspense books.

Until next time, many blessings, Lisa Mondello

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

April the Month of Sacrifice

by Barbara Phinney,

This year, Easter falls in the month of April, and as with the rebirth of the land up here above the equator shows us, we're ready for a rebirth in our own lives.
Which means sacrifice.
In fact, as in our books, where the hero and heroine sacrifice something for the love of the other, I have found myself doing the same thing.
My daughter is whipping me into shape. (I told her that ROUND is a shape!)
My husband and I are off to Florida in two weeks and my daughter is determined that I look my best. She's got me on a diet she read about in her Self magazine. While she says she can feel the pounds dropping off her (she's 19, for goodness' sake. Cutting out one fancy cappiccino will do that), I'm looking at the itty bitty portion of food she's made for me and thinking that pounds aren't falling off me, it's tears of sadness!
But this is the month of sacrifices. I must make some, and even in my writing, I need to make some. I have a deadline coming up and I need to set aside the things I like to do in order to focus on my manuscript.
I need to show my readers that my characters are worth rooting for, that they have learned valuable lessons in the course of the story, and that the bad guys don't get ahead.
We sacrifice all the time. But we must also remember the ultimate sacrifice God made for us, by sending His only Son to take the blame for all our sins.
We can't match that, but we can sacrifice things in our daily lives. Things we don't really need and that aren't good for us, but what we want just the same.
Things like all that food I was eating. And the time I was wasting instead of working on my manuscript.
Time to rethink our lives and what we're doing that isn't healthy for us.
Time to thank God for all He's given us.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The sun is shining and it truly looks as if spring if here. Finally! Signs of spring are everywhere--the trees are budding, the neighbors have a number of gorgeous paint foals romping in their pastures. Our own three horses are shedding into their sleek summer coats already. Soon, our hostas will be peeking up through the woodchips and the apple tree will be in glorious bloom. Every day, there's something new to discover that heralds the new season. Each April, I long for a big garden...until I remember that I seem to have a black thumb when it comes to anything except for those wonderfully hardy hostas!

The past month has offered time for a different kind of discovery as well--I've been catching up on my "To Be Read" stack of Love Inspired Suspense novels. I've been finding excellent authors whom I hadn't read yet, and have been re-visiting old favorites, too. Have you read books by all of the authors on this blog? Check out the list on the sidebar, then make sure you give everyone a try. I'm so happy to be surrounded by such wonderful writers!

Best wishes for a lovely spring,
Roxanne Rustand

Monday, April 6, 2009

Suspense in everyday life

As a writer of romantic suspense I put my heroines through a lot of situations most people don't go through in their everyday life--thankfully!!! Lately I have had a heroine running for her life from hired assassins, being stalked, facing down the barrel of a gun, being swept away by a raging river, hanging on the side of a cliff, being hit over the head by an intruder, caught in a fire and on and on. I think you get the picture. A lot of bad things happen to my heroines.

In real life we don't usually deal with those kinds of situations and boy am I glad we don't. It's fun in my imagination, but it wouldn't be in real life. However, ordinary people do face a different kind of suspense in their lives. Right now I'm waiting on pins and needles (don't you love that cliche) for the birth of my granddaughter. It used to be one of the things that was suspenseful in childbirth was the sex of the baby. Not anymore. If the parents chose, they know early in the pregnancy if it is going to be a boy or girl. I know there are occasionally mistakes made but not usually. However, childbirth is still filled with suspense. Will everything go all right? Will the baby be all right?

What are some suspenseful things you've encountered in your life lately?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Shadows on the River Interview

Today we're welcoming Ally Roarke, the heroine of SHADOWS ON THE RIVER By Linda Hall, April '09 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.

My name is Ally Roarke and I'm a boat designer by profession. I've got a degree in Marine Engineering Technology from Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada. As you probably can tell, I grew up around water and love boats. As for the suspenseful situation I found myself in - well, that's something I certainly didn't plan and didn't ask for or want. And if I could go back to that time when I was fourteen and erase that horrible day from the calendar, I would.

But, there's no erasing the video, is there?

When I was fourteen I watched a boy from my church push my best friend off a bridge to her death. No one believed me when I told them what I saw. It was so hard for me for so long. Finally, I was able to put it out of my mind.

And then twenty-five years later the person who did this found his way back into my life.

So, that's where I am at the beginning of my story - SHADOWS ON THE RIVER.

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

Mark and I were work friends before anything serious developed between us. He is smart, capable, an excellent boat designer in his own right. It was difficult for me to have any kind of serious relationship with any guy. I was a single mom and my daughter is profoundly deaf. Any men I happened to date, and there weren't a lot - took one look at my life situation and said, "bye bye." No one wanted to be sadled with a disabled daughter, but that word really bugs me because deaf people aren't disabled.

Maybe the turning point was when Mark met my daughter for the first time. Instead of running from her, or looking to me for guidance, he bent right down to her level and tried talking with her, with me as the sign language interpreter. It was so neat to see. Although, I didn't admit it at the time, I think that's when I fell in love with him.

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

I'm an excellent boat technician and designer, but on the flip side, I think that's my biggest weakness. I've had this little racing sailboat design in my mind and on paper since my university days. And I'm afraid it's no good. I'm afraid to show it to people. In other words, I'm afraid to put it "out there."

4. What scares you?

That my daughter will need me and I won't be there for her. That what happened to me when I was younger, will happen to her. I would do anything to keep her safe.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My reticence, my fear of trying anything new.

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

Oh, I was pretty mad at God. Wouldn't you be? I had gone through something so horrible when I was younger, because not only did it affect me, but it affected my parents as well. Suddenly, I was the "girl who tells lies," or the "girl who makes up stories." It affected my father's business and we eventually had to move. I'm not kidding. It was that bad.

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

It's been a real growth experience for me. Mark has helped me a lot. I am happy to say that God and I are friends once more. Yes, I had been through a horrible experience, but I had let it turn me into a bitter, withdrawn woman, because, oh yes, I forgot to mention this - My daughter's father was a jerk, and walked out on me before Maddie was even born! So, yes, I was pretty bitter. I had a lot to learn about forgiveness.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
The scripture is from Matthew 18:21-22. This is the passage where Peter is asking how many times we should forgive people. "Seven times?" Peter asks. Jesus answers and says, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy seven times." Which means - there should be no end to our forgiveness. I've also learned that forgiveness is not for the other person, it's for the forgiver. That was a lesson I had to learn.

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

Maybe cheesecake? I'm not sure why I said that - it was just the first thing that popped into my head.

Cheesecake works for me. This sounds like a rollercoaster ride of a story. Can't wait. Thanks for sharing Ally with us.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I was only fourteen when I witnessed a murder on the riverbank. A murder that went unpunished. Unless you count what happened to my family. We were forced out of town by the teenage killer's prominent parents. And the murder was forgotten—by everyone but me. Now, the killer is a respected businessman. I can't let him get away with it. But I'm a single mother with a child to protect, what can I do? The new man in my life, Mark Bishop, warns me to be careful. For there's already been another murder. Close to home.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The hottest new (old) romantic suspense

The hottest new romantic suspense on my bookshelf is one that was written almost seventy years ago and you know what? It’s an absolute page turner. I refer to Mrs. Mike, by Benedict and Nancy Freedman. For those who haven’t read it, it’s the story of Kathy, a young Bostonian girl, who winds up marrying a Candian mountie and living in the middle of the remote Canadian wilderness. All I can say is WOW!
I’ve tried to determine exactly why this book lingers in my heart and mind. Is it the romance? Yes. The bond between Kathy and Mike is one that gives her the strength to leave her world, her culture and her weaknesses behind. It’s also the kind of love that triumphs over the adversity and hardship they both face in a savage land.
Is it the setting? You bet. I couldn’t in my wildest imaginings have come up with a place so cut off from civilization, so chock full of native peoples, white trappers and the odd displaced Frenchwoman. Every page brought a fascinating new challenge, some humorous, some heartbreaking, borne of this remote location. The amazing characters like Oh Be Joyful and Jonathan Forquet could only exist in such a fantastic setting.
Is it the plot? Absolutely. It’s part mystery. (Who really killed Cardinal?) Part suspense. (How are they going to survive the tensions between the natives and whites that constantly threatens to boil over?) It’s a tender story of family. (The diphtheria epidemic and the fire were completely mindblowing.) All of the elements are presented without over sentimentalizing or dropping into the predictable “romantic misunderstanding” or overdone plot devices so common to our genre. This book continually hints at one thing and delivers another with such soul satisfying emotion that the reader can only turn pages in wonder.
****I offer a side note here. In California it is a growing trend to refuse to immunize children for fear it might contribute to autism. I can only say after reading the diphtheria epidemic scene in Chapter Twenty Four, thank God for the gift of immunization!
I can’t imagine why it took me so long to stumble upon this worthy book. I hope it challenges me to craft a story of poignant relationships, extraordinary courage and most of all, the highs and lows of human nature.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April Showers….

Gardening is a passion of my. Not only is it fun to plant, but watching my plants go is such a pleasure. Writing is like that. You have a germ of an idea. You plant that in your fertile brain and then you let it grow. Writing that story is much like watching your plant grow. What you want is that final flower—a finished book.

When folks come by and admire you garden, no one knows how much work went into it, the constant tending and watering—writing and rewriting. It is that final flower—the book that others enjoy that the writer wants to savor.

Not all books are created equal. Some books flow and are easy. The words are there when you sit down to the computer to write. Of the 14 books I’ve done 2 occurred that way. The other books I’ve done are like getting blood from a turnip. Every word is a struggle and the characters fight you every page.
Plants are that way to. Some grow without any tending, while others need to be babied and require a lot of work to get it to grow. When the plant is in full bloom, people can’t tell the easy ones from the difficult one.

What does that mean? Why am I telling you this?

Writers can’t let their feelings stop them from writing. This is a job, and I have to consider it as such. My muse has to work everyday, no matter what it feels like.

If I put in the work, then that plant grows, and when it is over, others can enjoy that plant.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April fool's! Lenora Worth :)

You know that old saying, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." When writing suspense, we sometimes get our characters into a mess of trouble. We let them get fooled by the bad guys or we have them suspcious but trusting all the same and then WHAM, a heroine gets kidnapped or she has to turn to the hero for help. And she won't be fooled again!

That's the fun part of building a romantic suspense story. We get to put elments in there that can also fool the reader. But this is a good thing. If the reader figures things out right away, then she might get bored. We don't want that. We throw in a few twists or red herrings or we add a bit more mystery. We want our readers to keep turning the pages.

That got me to thinking. What is the most suspenseful book you've ever read? I've read a lot of mysteries and suspenses but one book stands out in my mind. I think the title was "A Man To Die For" and it was by Eileen Dryer. That book was so good but it sure gave me the willies. And I knew who the bad guy was. But he was so smooth, he fooled everyone. He was a doctor but the heroine, a nurse, just couldn't quite believe he was all that good. She just knew something was wrong. And he knew that she knew something was wrong! Scary, suspenseful and hard to put down. Sigh--one day I will write such a book.

Anyone else have a favorite scary book? Did it keep you in suspense until the very end?

Lenora :)