Monday, August 31, 2009


What are you afraid of? I can tell you my cat is afraid of a plastic bag, especially one stuck around her as she is running. She was probably thinking it was going to get her. She hid behind the refrigerator with the bag still around her because she was afraid. She didn't come out until I moved the refrigerator and took the bag off her.

I'm afraid of snakes--even small ones. My husband can't stand wasps, but then he's been stung several times. Any time one gets into the house, I'm the one who has to go after it. Of course, if I see a snake, I make him take care of it. So what makes you quiver in your shoes?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Big doors and small hinges

Big doors swing on small hinges. I'm Dana Mentink, the smallest of hinges but I recently read a book that opened up some powerful notions about writing in my mind.
Jerry Jenkins’s book Writing for the Soul, is one of those small hinges supporting some very powerful ideas. I found it fascinating because, although you can find zillions of books on writing, this one is focused on how our faith fits into our writing business. Jerry ought to know. His Left Behind series has sold over 70,000,000 books. For a guy who started out as a journalist and sports writer, he’s done more than well in the fiction writing business.
Jenkins is quick to give the credit where it’s due. “I have learned that God often gifts people and prepares them before He calls them, which he did in my case.” His book addresses a topic that has always been a sticking point with me. How can a business which is so ego oriented (yes, that’s MY name on the cover folks) and encourages such blatant self promotion (yep, those are MY accomplishments there in the tag line on my e-mail) be honorable to the Lord? Jenkins has dealt with the same questions. Many of his 150 books aren’t Christian per say, yet he poses two interesting questions for consideration.
Why are you a writer?
Are you an inspirational writer?
He says the answers should have nothing to do with ourselves. “If God and others are not the reasons you write, you might as well write solely for the general market. That doesn’t mean everything you write has to be a sermon or packed with scripture, but your unique worldview should come through.” A unique world view can hum inside any type of well written fiction, Christian or not. If it’s not expressing our world view, then maybe we shouldn’t be writing it, or perhaps the answer to Jerry’s second question is no. It all comes back to the reason we write.
But what about the pride of publishing? That drive to see our own work made into book form? Isn’t it selfish and self serving? Jenkins says, “Real writers want to hold their printed words in their hands. If that’s you, good! Go for it! Nurture that natural desire to be published. It’s how you gain your voice. Frankly, when someone tells me he doesn’t care to be published or paid for his writing, but that he simply wants to express himself, I don’t believe it. He may be truly humble, but if his work is worth doing, his stuff worth writing, he should want it published and read as widely as possible.”
So why do we write? To convey our God inspired world view. And why should we strive for publication? Because that’s how we can share that worldview with others.
The book is also a wealth of information about practical writing advice. Things like pace, conflict, plot and all those nuts and bolts of good writing are addressed. It’s interspersed with vignettes from Jenkins’s biographies about some famous athlete’s and how their faith journeys inspired their athletic accomplishments. All in all, I found it to be a wonderful tool for any writer but in particular, Christian Big doors swing on small hinges Do yourself a favor and check it out!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Two Cents

Hi, it’s Leann Harris. Let me chime in with this “how I write” topic. I teach a writing course at the local community college. One class I teach is finding your own method of writing.

I am a plotter or as I like to call it in my class a linear writer. I write the first three chapters, get to know my characters, then write the synopsis. I stay very close to that synopsis. I have a friend who I critiqued with. She would never bring chapters, which drove me crazy. The way she explained it to me is she saw her book as a big picture. As she wrote, it wasn’t in order. She might write a scene in the middle of the book, then the opening scene, then a scene close to the end of the book. And she wrote everything in one file.

When she told me this, I thought she was crazy. Oh dear, how could anyone write that way? I was telling another friend this and she smiled at me and said she wrote that way, too. No, no, that can’t be. How can you write that way?

I thought they were both nuts, but the more people I talked to, I found the world of writers divided into plotters and big picture people. Once I discovered that truth, a lot of things made sense to me. Ever go to a workshop where someone is describing how they do something (place whatever you can think of) and you scratch your head and say “Huh?” Maybe that writer is a big picture writer and you’re a linear writer.

I was feeling pretty good about understanding the world of writing when I ran into a very ugly problem. I was writing a contracted book. I was closing in on the black moment and I was 100 pages short. After a few hours of panic, I realized I wrote one of the ending scenes early. I had to fill in to that pivotal point. Oh, I hated that. Of course the heroine had amnesia and I was stuck trying to find ways to fill pages. The heroine learned a lot about the hero she didn’t know…and so did I. This phenomenon has happened to me several times. It makes me crazy every time it happens.

I will never be a Big Picture writer. I am Linear. I’ve heard people say about writing a synopsis that it just takes the excitement out of writing the book. What I tell them is if I want to go from Denver to New Orleans, I look at a map and discover what roads I need to take, instead of hopping into my car and start driving. It saves time.

I know where I am going, I just don’t know all the things I’ll see on the trip.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Do you need a bump on the head?

Okay, we have kittens here. Two barn mums, or queens as they should be called, gave birth to 5 kittens each. One mum, a rather friendly one, had 5 very cute friendly kittens, which went to homes, etc. There's only one left, a soft angora like kitty that purrs all the time, loves even my great niece who totes him around.
But with the other cat, her babies aren't so friendly. There are three left, B1, B2 and Thumbs. Out of all of them, B2 was the nastiest, the meanest, the wildest kitten going. If you managed to catch her, she went insane, fearing for her life and turning into a quarter pound of nails and lungs.
Okay, three days ago, she went missing. Two days ago, she showed up, dizzy and staggering and with mismatched pupils. She kept turning around in circles and dragging her front paw.
I scooped her up and checked her out. It was as if she'd been hit by a car, a good possibility even in this rural community. But she showed no signs of infection or disease, just dizzy.
Well, not just dizzy. Her personality changed. Drastically.
The first day, she let me pick her up, the next day, she walked up to me. Today, she ran up to me. It didn't help that I was feeding her separately to ensure she didn't get shoved out of the way when feeding time came. She cuddled up to me, too, when I held her that first day, as if knowing she'd had a scare and needed reassurance.
Do we need a good scare, or worse, God forbid, a car accident to learn to be nice? To learn to appreciate those around us who care for us, and provide for us?
I sure hope not. We shouldn't need a bump on the head, or a brain injury to change our personalities from crabby to caring. And we don't need to. All we have to do is take that first step. Just not in front of a moving car, please.
No, this first step is in front of God. He can change your heart. He can take you from cruel to caring, from fearful to firm. Look what He did to Paul, to Jonah, to Moses, and all the disciples. Ask and He'll help.
It's been four days now, and the cat is still pleasant. She may or may not survive, but she's had me pondering what we humans need to learn.
Barbara Phinney

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How We Write

By Linda Hall

Going along with Lynette’s excellent column yesterday on pantsing vs. plotting, I thought I would add my two cents: It used to be that when people would ask me ‘how’ I wrote, I would mumble an answer about outlining and plotting. But, I never did answer the question directly. Maybe I was just too embarrassed.

But after 17 books, I’ve decided to come clean about my methods. ☺ I write my manuscripts by hand. Yes, I know – that’s archaic in our age of technology when we should be beaming our thoughts to our computers and have them come out in legible and lyrical sentences - but it seems to work for me.

I think I need that kinetic movement of my hand to generate ideas from my brain to the paper. But the news isn't all bad – I know Shorthand from my news-reporting days. My first drafts tend to be illegible shorthand scrawls done with medium point gel pens on ‘good-one-side’ paper that I get from the 'recycle' bin at the University when my husband works.

After my first draft is written, I ‘read’ it into my computer using voice recognition software. I then print it off, and begin re-writing and revising, and adding more illegible (to everyone else) scrawls.

My point in all this is that each one of us has to come up with the writing process that works. It’s good to get ideas on ‘how’ to write. Then try them out. Use what does work and eliminate what doesn't work.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pantser or Plotter...and a couple of conferences to think about

Hi all, Lynette Eason here. Over on the Faith Hope and Love loop, we’ve been talking about Plotting. Are you a pantser or a plotter? Which way is best? Is there a right way to plot a book? All good questions. Some of the answers have been very interesting. I don’t know why, but I’m just always curious about how other writers plot. I’m basically a pantser, letting the story take my characters where it will. (I like to call it intuitive writing, but whatever. I write by the seat of my pants basically…LOL.) However, because one of my editors requires a rather in depth synopsis, I’ve learned to plot the story out well enough to come up with a reasonably well-written synopsis. Not my favorite thing, I’ll admit, but if I want to sell books…well, gotta do it.

This has actually turned out to be a pretty good thing. I’ve developed an excel worksheet where I keep all of my information. My characters names, some background info and a physical description. I also can break down each chapter into scenes and whose point of view that scene is in. And the biggie. The timeline. Without that, I’m lost. If I don’t have my timeline, I end up with 46 hour days and my characters never sleep or eat. LOL.

So, I said all that to say, learning to plot has turned out to be very beneficial for me. (Not just because I need to have a plot in my stories—the editors and readers seem to appreciate that.) But also because the weekend of October 23-24, I’m teaching at the Carolina Christian Writers workshop in Anderson, SC on this topic. Plotting with Excel. It should be a great time and if you’re in the area, it’s very reasonably priced and the content is amazing for such a short period of time. A couple of other staffers are Yvonne Lehman, Les Stobbe, Linda Gilden, Director of the CLASS conference (which is going to be in New Mexico November 4-8 if anyone is interested – another amazing lineup of staff with agents and editors galore.) In NM, Terri Blackstock is teaching suspense, Nancy Moser is teaching the fiction track, Diann Mills is doing the Advanced Mentoring Workshop and there’s quite a bit of non-fiction stuff too. Check out the website and see what you think. I was supposed to teach at that one, too, but alas, no childcare. My husband will be gone that week and my parents (i.e. babysitters) will be on a cruise. I know, I couldn’t believe the nerve of them either. So, not this year. I’m sorely disappointed, but will get over it eventually. I hope. I still think it’s going to be a great event and want to give it a plug here.

I don’t have a website for the conference in Anderson, but if you want information on it, I can forward the packet to you. It’s all electronic.

So, plotting or pantsing? What works best for you? And how many conferences do you try to get to each year?

Hope I didn’t try to cram too much into one post. Plotting and conferences and overload, oh my!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Today we're welcoming Sailor, the heroine of Moving Target, an August 2009 release, by Stephanie Newton.

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 own a coffee shop. Murder wasn’t even on my radar until my business partner—my friend—was killed. If that wasn’t crazy enough…the cops thought I might have been the target.

2. So, during the book you met Gabe. Tell us a bit about him. What was your first impression? When did you know it was love? Gabe was my childhood sweetheart, but after the traumatic event that tore us apart, I really never expected to see him again. I knew it was love when he showed me a surprise that made me believe that God could rebuild our life together making us better and stronger for what we had been through.

3. What strengths/skills do you have? What is your greatest weakness? My greatest strength is compassion. My greatest weakness is fear.

4. What scares you? What scares me the most is the fear of being hurt and I don’t mean just getting my feelings hurt, I mean the deep, brutal kind of hurt that you aren’t sure you’ll survive.
5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I’m not sure I’d change anything. Obviously, I have faults and weaknesses that I’m working on, but sometimes I think those are the things that give us compassion for other people who may be in similar situations.
6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?
I’ve been a believer for a long time, but I didn’t necessarily believe all of God’s promises were meant for me.

7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story?
I know God wants me to live life to its fullest. There’s more potential for hurt that way, sure, but there’s also more potential for joy.
8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant. See the above answer. God is a loving God and He wants his best for us.

9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why?
It’s not really a dessert, but my specialty at the coffee shop are the fresh-baked homemade scones. Drop by for one anytime!

Yum! The scones sound good and so does this story. Thank you Stephanie for sharing Sailor with us. What a cool name!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


The police arrive too late—coffee shop owner Sailor Conyers's business partner has been murdered. What's worse, the bullet may have been meant for her. Her only protection is self-appointed bodyguard Officer Gabe Sloan. He'd be perfect defender material—if he weren't her ex-boyfriend.
Dealing with flying bullets tests Sailor's faith, but her dependence on Gabe tests her resolve. She'd turned away from him before out of fear. Now, desperation is drawing them together. Can she let go of the painful past and accept Gabe's love and protection? Or will the killer's aim shatter their chance at a future together?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Life Without Romance is Black and White written by Dave, for Carol Steward

My husband wrote that for me when I started writing romance. What a sweetheart, huh?

This week I've had many reminders not to take anything for granted. Though we've had numerous bumps in the road throughout our marriage, we're celebrating 31 years together!

Saturday my husband and I were on our way to the mountains for our first vacation ON our anniversary in at least 25 years, (since he started teaching) and were stuck in a traffic jam for over an hour. A drunk driver, with her children in her car, had caused an accident and taken another woman's life less than 10 minutes before we got to that particular place in the road. Had we not stopped for a Starbucks, it could have been us.

Later that day, my mother fell for the second time in two weeks, sending her to the hospital to deal with complications of her congestive heart failure. While this is nothing new, each time, we're reminded how fragile life truly is.

The day was full of reminders that life is a precious gift, even more precious when we can share it with someone we love and treasure. We're both very different people than that hot summer day years ago when we said "I do." Growing up, raising three children, and facing daily challenges, we both appreciate the blessings God has given us more every day. The good times and the rough times come and go, but our love makes it all bearable.

"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass... it's about learning how to dance in the rain." author unknown
Thanks, Dave, for teaching me to dance in the rain!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Calming First Time Nerves

Attending a conference is nerve-wrecking.

Let’s face it, you’re taking huge risks by going.

You've invested a lot of money: registration, hotel, airfare, some meals, and other incidentals. You’ve invested who you are – by attending you’re joining the ranks of those who have moved from wanting to write, to those who have taken steps to actively chase a dream. You’re risking your heart because you’ve gone public with your dream.

Bundle that with the fact that you might not know many people and you might be pitching the book of your heart to an editor and agent, and suddenly your stress is through the roof.

It’s okay.

Sit back, take a deep breath, whisper a prayer for peace and help.

You’ll be okay.

As someone who’s been in your shoes, and helps those first-timers attending ACFW each year, I’d like to offer a bit of advice.

1) Pray, pray, pray. If God has lead you to attend ACFW or another writer’s conference, then He has a purpose and a plan for your time there. It may not be what you intend. But pray and ask for His will to be done. Ask for opportunities to serve others – nothing better to take your thoughts off your fears than to focus on others. And ask Him for peace to carry you through the days.

2) Prepare, prepare, prepare. ACFW has a conference blog that is packed with fabulous advice on everything from how to get from the conference to the hotel, where to find food for Friday’s free night, and how to get ready for that editor appointment. Take advantage of that repository of advice. Get your one-sheet ready if you have time. Polish that first chapter, and have it in your bag for appointments. Have business cards to leave with those you meet. Get your toolbox loaded and ready.

3) Research, research, research. Take the time to know what the houses you are pitching are currently publishing. How does what you write line up with that? Is it a new niche? Different from current authors? Etc. Google the editors so you can learn what you can. Same with the agents. Some of the agents have blogs. Read them. It is a wealth of information not just about the industry and their firms, but also on personality. You can tell so much from how a person writes for a blog.

4) Relax, relax, relax. ACFW, at least, is one big family. You may not think you know anyone, but you’re wrong. You’ll spend the conference giving and receiving hugs from folks you’ve met on the loop or first timers loop. Reach out to others with a smile, and they’ll be delighted to reciprocate. At my first conference, the friend and I who had driven down together grabbed a gal who was flying solo for lunch. Before conference officially began, we’d connected in a very cool way.

5) Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. By serving others you will find yourself relaxing, meeting others, and having a great time. There are so many ways to do it that don’t take much from you, but help the conference run efficiently and smoothly.

6) Rest, rest, rest. Sometimes you just have to skip a workshop because you’re brain is on overload. Or you can’t fathom the thought of another meal surrounded by people. That’s okay. Escape to your room. Put your feet up. Take a bath. Read a book. Do whatever it takes to recharge. We understand.

7) And at ACFW don’t forget the prayer room. It is open all the time, and the perfect place to escape when you’re rattled and overwhelmed.

Can’t wait to meet you in Denver!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Brainstorming in "Real Time"

by Debby Giusti

Last week, I asked my critique partners, Harlequin Super Romance author Anna Adams (photo-middle) and Grammar Diva Darlene Buchholz (photo-left), to join me in a brainstorming exercise. We frequently use the technique to fine tune our stories, but I wanted to determine what we could come up if we started from scratch. As we bounced ideas back and forth, I typed the comments on my Alpha Smart—or at least as many as I could keep up with—and thought you might enjoy seeing how the bare bones of a story took shape.

Brainstorming works on the premise that two heads are better than one. Articulating ideas without a censor overrides the negative voices within and allows creativity free rein. Earlier this year, I posted a blog entitled, “Brainstorming Your New Bestseller.” If you’d like more information about the process, check out the archives for January 21, 2009 ( The post included guidelines for getting started and other how-to details about the technique.

Now back to our “real time” brainstorming. Here’s how the session played out:

I came up with a couple of hooks to get us started and threw out small town secrets and returning hero to the group. A helicopter and small plane had crashed a few days earlier so I added a plane crash into the mix as well. From there the discussion took off.

Anna: Maybe the hero survived the crash. Should he be the pilot?

Darlene: Maybe not the pilot but just onboard.

Debby: He’s in the small plane, flying with his friends perhaps.

Anna: Or was he with his family, and they died in the crash? He and his wife were giving the children a last vacation before the parents separate.

Darlene: Because he’d met his soul mate.

Debby: She lives in the small town.

Anna: But they know they can’t be together.

Debby recaps: The hero’s family died. He returns to the small town to reconnect with the woman he loves.

Darlene: He’s moved back to the small town because that’s home.

Anna: The town is Heartwood, GA. After the crash, everyone offers him condolences, and he feels like a fraud.

Debby: What about the other woman?

Anna: The soul mate is avoiding him.

Darlene: She feels like a fraud as well.

Debby: They had a relationship, which ended years ago before he left town. He married and has brought his family back to Heartwood, but why?

Darlene: To de-clutter their lives and return to small town life and basic family values.

Debby: Were they living in the fast lane?

Darlene: The good life.

Anna: But they were disconnected.

Darlene: And too busy.

Debby: That’s why the marriage was floundering. They returned to Heartwood to save their marriage and their family. Now the hero has nothing except his business. Which is what?

Darlene: He’s an investment broker and worked from home.

Debby: The economy turned bad. He lost a considerable amount of money so they had to return to the simple life for financial reasons. The vacation had been paid for before they lost their wealth.

Darlene: They have two children. Ages 4 and 6.

Debby: What if the children were at home with a sitter? He and the wife were the only ones onboard. She died in the crash. Now the hero husband has to care for two little ones.

Darlene: He should be the pilot.

Anna: There’s more inner conflict if he is the pilot.

Debby: Folks in town are compassionate. The plane crashed and burned. He tried to save his wife and was burned doing so. People call him courageous.

Anna: The other woman, the heroine, is the doctor who handles his burns.

Debby: That’s the homecoming angle. He’s been in a burn center in Atlanta, and he’s coming home to face his children. Where have the kids been?

Darlene: With the grandmother. The wife’s mother has cared for the children. They adore and trust grandma.

Anna: Her daughter told her things weren’t good so grandma wonders if the husband killed her daughter.

Debby: Let’s see what we have. Internal conflict: The hero blames himself for his wife’s death. (Moderator directs the group to key elements needed in the story.)

Anna: He’s been living a lie…still is living a lie. Everyone feels so bad for him.

Darlene: He doesn’t deserve their trust and compassion because he’s not who he seems. He’s wearing a mask. Although he was trying to make the marriage work, his heart wasn’t in it. He was trying for the sake of the children.

Anna: Now the burns are on his face so he really does have a mask.

Debby: The children are afraid of him because of the burns.

Darlene: If his injuries were severe, would his mother-in-law still be against him?

Debby: He did maintenance on the plane, but with money being tight, he failed to fix something he didn’t think would be a problem.

Anna: So when the mother-in-law accuses him, he feels guilty.

Darlene: He wonders if his oversight caused the crash.

Debby: What if someone sabotaged the plane and caused it to crash? The mother-in-law thinks the hero did it. That’s the external conflict: He has to prove he didn’t kill his wife and find out who sabotaged the plane and why.

Darlene: Others may have wanted him to die because they had invested with his company and lost their fortunes. They wanted to kill the hero, not his wife.

Debby: Time check: We’ve worked for 25 min.
(Moderator keeps track of the time and introduces new elements or characters that need to be considered.)

Debby: Let’s move to the heroine. She’s a physical therapist, and he needs therapy for his burns. They both grew up in Heartwood. He left, married and then moved back. His mother-in-law--the children’s grandma--came back too.

Anna: Why did the heroine stay in town?

Darlene: Both the hero and heroine had moved on from their past relationship. She’s not a risk taker. Hearth and home are important. She wanted to stay in Heartwood because she likes small town values. He was the one who needed the glitz. She was the small town girl.

Anna: She knows who she is.

Darlene: She’s anchored in what really is important and is happy in Heartwood.

Anna: She’s made friends with the mother-in-law who needed some type of physical therapy, although the heroine didn’t want to get involved with the hero’s family.

Debby: The more the mother-in-law talked about the family--the happy family--the harder it was for the heroine. Hearing about the hero’s happy family made her realize what she didn’t have.

Anna: The mother-in-law continues to need help with the children.

Debby: The children like the heroine.

Anna: She’s an outdoor person. Lots of fun. Perky.

Debby: The hero’s been receiving rehab in Atlanta for three months.

Darlene: He doesn’t know the heroine is so closely involved with his family. She’s falling in love with his children.

Anna: She instinctively knows how to take care of the children.

Darlene: He’ll be frustrated at times because she’ll know what to do and he won’t.

Anna: The mother-in-law tells the heroine something was wrong with the marriage. One of the children overhears the conversation and asks the hero about it.

Darlene: “Didn’t you love, mommy?” the child might ask.

Debby recaps: The heroine is falling in love with his children and also loves him. What’s the conflict?
(Moderator directs the discussion back to the conflict.)

Anna: The heroine knows the hero's not ready to love again.

Darlene: She knows he won’t stay. He left her and left Heartwood before. He’ll do it again.

Debby: What if the mother-in-law builds up the marriage to the heroine and tells her it was perfect.

Anna: Building up the marriage brings comfort to the mother-in-law.

Debby: The mother-in-law and daughter had an argument prior to the flight.

Darlene: The heroine feels she could never take the place of the wife, especially after everything the mother-in-law has told her about the happy family.

Debby: What’s the external conflict?
(External and internal conflict are key elements needed for character development.)

Darlene: The FAA and the local sheriff would investigate and find something is at fault with the downed plane and so the hero is accused of killing his wife.

Debby: The external conflict is the heroine can’t trust a man who’s killed his wife. Could there have been something in his youth that’s questionable and underscores his possible guilt?

Darlene: What if he’s just taken insurance out on both he and his wife. That looks bad. He’s been preoccupied with his work. Right before the crash, he realizes they need insurance, which plays into the motive for murder.

Debby: The conflict should be more than what people in town think.

Darlene: Right now, it’s just two people not allowing their emotions to get through.

Anna: What if she’s the sheriff, and she’s investigating the crash.

Darlene and Debby: YES!!!
(Anna has come up with strong external conflict for the heroine. As the sheriff, she has to investigate the crash. The hero is the likely suspect.)

Darlene: She was the kid who came from the wrong side of the tracks and felt her station was below the hero’s. What if she had been abandoned?
(Darlene refocuses the discussion on the heroine’s internal conflict.)

Anna: The heroine’s mother abandoned her so she feels drawn to the mother-in-law. She also knows what the hero’s children are experiencing and knows they need a mother.

Debby: Time check: 54 minutes.

Debby: Six minutes are left. Can we go deeper? What would Donald Maass tell us?

Darlene: Let’s think about the villain. Maass says villains need to have likeable qualities.

Anna: The villain has to be someone they both care about. It’s got to be mother-in-law. She knew that hubby and her daughter weren’t getting along, and she decided to get rid of the hero.
(Anna has provided a good villain, hopefully one the readers won’t suspect until she is revealed in the climax. Red herrings will be established to deflect attention away from the mother-in-law.)

Darlene: The mother-in-law lost her fortune in the hero’s investment company. She was afraid he was gong to leave her daughter.
(Darlene goes more deeply into the mother-in-law's motivation.)

Anna: If she kills him, the mother-in-law gets to stay with the kids. She didn't think the wife was going to be on the plane.

Debby: Hero and his wife were going to meet at the vacation spot. The wife was going to drive.

Anna: So when the husband is alive, the mother-in-law is even more upset.

Darlene: The mother-in-law has been a good person, a good mother and grandmother, but she’s let her bitterness and anger get the best of her.

Debby: She’d worked so hard to establish a nest egg that’s gone now.

Anna: More important is her daughter’s happiness.

Debby: What if the mother-in-law’s husband had left her, and she had nothing. She’d been abandoned and didn’t want that for her daughter.

Darlene: The mother-in-law had been talked into investing with the hero’s firm.

Anna: She was afraid of money and didn’t know how to handle it because she had so little.

Debby: She was being the loving mother in her mind, trying to protect her daughter from divorce and destitution.

Debby: Time check: 60 minutes. End of session.

In one hour, we went from small town secrets and returning hero to the beginning of a story. The hero was a financial broker who lost his own fortune as well as the fortunes of those who invested with him, including his mother-in-law.

The hero moves his family back to his hometown of Heartwood, GA, in hopes of saving his marriage. He and his wife take a vacation they arranged and paid for prior to their financial ruin. The wife planned to drive and meet her husband at the resort but at the last minute decided to fly with him.

The plane had been sabotaged and crashed. The hero tries to save his wife from the burning wreckage and is burned doing so. He spends three months in rehab in Atlanta while the mother-in-law cares for his children.

The story opens as he returns to Heartwood. Because he took out a huge insurance policy on his wife shortly before the crash, he is suspected of murder. His children have trouble accepting him back into their lives because of his burns. They gravitate instead to the heroine who has helped care for them over the last three months. The children have grown to love her, and the hero soon realizes he still cares about her as well.

The heroine came from the wrong side of the tracks and never felt equal to the hero. Her mother abandoned her, as did the hero, so she has a natural fear of being abandoned again. When the man she once loved--and realizes she still has feelings for--is suspected of murder, the heroine, who is also the town’s sheriff, needs to uncover the truth. The hero’s children have stolen her heart, and the old feelings she had for the hero soon resurface.

The mother-in-law has lost the nest egg she worked so hard to build after her husband left her. She struggled to raise her daughter and doesn’t want her child to suffer the way she did. Knowing the son-in-law will leave her daughter with nothing, the mother-in-law sabotages the airplane so her daughter will receive the hero’s insurance. She never suspects her daughter will be onboard.

Yes, the story needs more work, but we came up with a strong beginning packed with conflict. Further brainstorming can enhance the plot even more. If you have a suggestion, leave a comment, and we can continue to work online.

Hopefully the “real time” example shows how effective brainstorming can be. The process increases creativity. Inhibitions are put aside, allowing fresh ideas to emerge.

If you’d like to improve a story you’re working on, gather a few friends and see where brainstorming takes you. Remember to keep comments positive as you plow forward. There’s never a wrong response, and one idea always feeds another.

Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How much is too much?

I recently had a reader email that gave me pause. This reader was nice in that she complimented my writing and such but she thought I'd put too much violence in the particular book that she read. Hmmmm. I went back to look at the book, Double Jeopardy. I don't know. Maybe? I think its a subjective issue. To me, the violence/action/suspense are pretty tame in my stories. But then again, I read single title suspense thrillers that would probably give some people nightmares. I also watch scary/gory movies in the dark alone. I know, I'm a freak. My family teases me about this. I guess I know its not reality.
I recently had a friend who is in law enforcement comment that she can't write suspense books because she lives it everyday and wants to break from her reality when she writes. She's working on a paranormal time-travel romance. I'd say that's a break. Her comment made me think about why I write romantic suspense. Well, I love the romance genre. And I also want a break from my stay at home mom life. For me suspense/action and yes, with some violence is the break from my reality. Though I don't watch the news or TV reality shows. I don't want that much reality in my life. I like my made up stories.
So, for you dear readers, how much is too much?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Who Do You Identify With?

I recently had a person in the know tell me.... change the heroine's career because readers don't identify with this career.

It made me think about 'me' as a reader and who I identify with. Now, I'm not going to talk about LIS books, per se, because I read them all and I don't read them as a reader. I read them to see what my peers are doing, and yes I analyze them as to what I think the writer did well and what didn't work for me. If I get lost in an LIS (which I often do) it's like a gift. So, I'm thinking about the last few books I purchased and really enjoyed. Susannah's Garden by Debbie MacComber: Heroine is a fifth grade teacher (I'm a teacher) who is on summer vacation. By the end of the book she's decided to buy a flower shop (not on my list of things to do. I kill flowers).

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz: Thomas is a fry cook (I cooked in an Italian restaurant all through high school)

The Bone Yard by Michelle Gagnon: An FBI agent (secretly, if I were braver MUCH braver I'd want to be a FBI agent)

The Ex-Wive's Survival Guide by Debby Holt: Stay at home mom. (No, don't read anything in this. I have a four year old. I'm not raising him alone. I told my husband on our wedding day that if it wasn't working, he had to give it 50 years, and then I'd listen to his complaints.)

The Maverick Preacher by Victoria Bylin: Innkeeper. (I'm pretty sure that I am just yuppy enough to have the bed and breakfast dream. Too bad I hate laundry. I think there's a lot of laundry in this dream).

There are two books, from just weeks ago, that I did not finish. Ironically, and I just noticed, both of them featured poor girls who were existing in the life of wealth and privilige either because they married into it (big mistake) or they were undercover.

Now I know... I'm not going to write about the Paris Hilton lifestyle.
And, many of my heroines are teachers or work in restaurants. Or, they work in environments that become a community (Yes, my favorite TV shows are community TV shows. I love, love, loved the Gilmore Girls. And, I was a big fan of Wings.)

How about you? What H/H's do you read? What jobs do you identify with?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Final Warning Character Interview

Today we're welcoming C.J. Tanner, the heroine of Final Warning, by Sandra Robbins, August, 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.

My name is C.J. Tanner, and I am the hostess of C.J.’s Journal on WLMT radio. I was thrilled when I was given the coveted drive time slot to broadcast my show, and I have worked hard to make it one of the most listened to programs in all of the Oxford area.

When I began the show, I never expected that one of my listeners who called himself Fala would involve me in his deadly murder plan. When I received a riddle in an email challenging me to a game, I thought it was a joke, but I soon learned differently. He sent me another riddle that gave clues to who he was about to murder and told me I could save the person’s life if I solved his riddle. When I couldn’t, the murders began. First one, then another. With each email I couldn’t solve, my guilt increased because I knew there were people walking around Oxford who were about to be murdered, and I had no idea who they were.

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

Actually I already knew Mitch when the book began. We had met about two years earlier when I interviewed him about a murder for the radio station. He’s a detective for the Oxford Police Department, but I really remembered him from our college days. Of course back then, we moved in different circles. He had no recollection of me, but I had never forgotten his dark hair and eyes that reminded me of pools of chocolate. After that interview he asked me out, and we began to date. Mitch asked me to marry him about a year and a half later, and I accepted. It only took me six months to discover that I wasn’t slated for the happily-ever-after I’d always wanted, so I broke the engagement. I’d never quit loving him, but I had problems that stood in the way of our happiness. So when the book begins, we are both still trying to adjust to the change in our relationship.

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

I am an organized person, and I really have a way of connecting with people. I think that is why my radio talk show C.J.’s Journal has been such a hit on WLMT radio in Oxford. I can empathize with people and feel the hurt or anger they’re experiencing. My greatest weakness is that I find it hard to believe anyone would ever love me. My parents were more focused on their next drug fix than on me, and my father was abusive to my mother. I’m determined that no man will ever control me like that.

4. What scares you?

One of my greatest concerns is that I will never overcome the fears I suffered as a child and be able to have a relationship with a man who loves me.

Of course that fear has taken second place right now as I try to find out who Fala is and why he has chosen me to be the one to try to stop his murder spree.

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

Mitch is concerned that I charge into situations without thinking of the danger. After my scary confrontation with Jimmy Carpenter, the rumored drug lord in our town, I think Mitch may have a point. I need to exercise caution before jumping into action.

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

At the beginning of my story I am determined that I will never have anything to do with God again. There were many nights when I was a child that I lay in bed and prayed that my parents would quit partying in the next room or would show me some attention. When they didn’t change, I decided that if God didn’t have time for me, I wouldn’t waste my prayers any more.

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

The end of the story is quite a different matter. When my life is in danger from Fala, I realize that God has never left me. He’s been there all the time waiting for me. WhenI finally open my heart to Him, I realize that God was justas hurt by my parents’ choices as I was, but they made their own decisions. I also see how God used Mitch, a wonderful man, to keep reminding me of God’s love.

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

The scripture at the beginning of the story is from 2 Timothy 2:13 which says, If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. That scripture really speaks to me because God never denies us His love. Even when I protested that I didn’t believe in God, He was faithfully waiting for me to return.

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

I think I would be a chocolate éclair. I give the impression of being in control of my life, all organized and stoic like the crisp outside of the éclair. On the inside, however, I’m unsure of myself and doubt my actions. Sometimes I feel much like the gooey mixture in the middle of the éclair, almost like my internal organs are made of custard. I suppose the chocolate icing on top of the éclair is like the radio personality I’ve become. I have a great appeal to my listeners. They think I’m smart and don’t fear anything. Only my closest friends, however, know the real C.J. that lives inside me—a scared little girl who still relives her horrible childhood and who is afraid to reach out for the love she’s offered.

Thanks for having me today. I enjoyed sharing some insight into my story with your readers.
And thank you Sandra, for sharing CJ with us. This sounds like a great read!

Saturday, August 15, 2009


"Let's play a game..."
One e-mail, and radio show host C. J. Tanner becomes a pawn in a madman's game. Only by solving his riddles can she stop the murders. And only Mitch Harmon, her ex-fiancé, can help her put an end to the killer's plans.
Mitch knows he has to discover the killer's true identity. Otherwise the man's obsession with C.J. will have her following his steps to become his final victim. Mitch won't allow anyone to harm the woman he let slip away. He'll keep her safe—even if he has to put his own life on the line.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Reading a new book and working on a sequel...

Greetings on this sunny Friday. Yes, the sun is out FINALLY here in Massachusetts. This has got to be the rainiest summer on record.

I'd actually hoped to give you a review of Lenora Worth's Code of Honor today. It was one of the many books I took home from the RWA National Conference in Washington, DC last month. But alas, writing, both fiction and freelancing, has kept me from finishing. I will say this though. Brice Whelan is an absolute doll as a hero and all I can think about when I read this book is Gerard Butler. More on that after I finish the book.

Okay, it's back to work for me. I'm anxiously awaiting to post the cover of my December 12/09 book, Yuletide Protector. I've seen the cover and it's gorgeous. I can't wait to share it with you all. In the meantime, I'm working hard on a sequel to Yuletide Protector and hope to have that to my editor within the next week.

Until next time, many blessings, Lisa Mondello

Thursday, August 13, 2009

On the Brink*

This blog, this day, finds me on the brink of many things.

Tomorrow, I will turn over to my editor my fifth revision of the synopsis of House of Secrets, which will be released in July 2010 and is a sequel to Field of Danger, out this December. The manuscript itself is due October 1, so I am on the brink of the writing journey.

In my real life, I’ve been freelancing as an editor for a few publishers, and making multiple trips to another state, where my mom is facing some serious health concerns. The projects have had some tight deadlines . . . and I’ve missed a few, making me question whether I need to continue on this path while we have no idea what turn her health will take.

Prayer is difficult as is perseverance. But God dots the path with His lamps.

Recently, I was proofreading First Chronicles for a new Bible, and I came across a verse that startled me. Now, admittedly, I’ve not paid much attention to this historical book in the past, and like a lot of folks, I got to the “begats” and skipped to the good stuff.

And, in doing so, I skipped some of the really good stuff.

Take note of the last line of the passage 1 Chronicles 7:20-24 (NIV):

The descendants of Ephraim:
Shuthelah, Bered his son,
Tahath his son, Eleadah his son,
Tahath his son, Zabad his son
and Shuthelah his son.
Ezer and Elead were killed by the native-born men of Gath, when they went down to seize their livestock. Their father Ephraim mourned for them many days, and his relatives came to comfort him. Then he lay with his wife again, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. He named him Beriah, because there had been misfortune in his family. His daughter was Sheerah, who built Lower and Upper Beth Horon as well as Uzzen Sheerah. . . .

Uh . . . wait a minute. What? His daughter built three cities. His daughter? Since when did women in Old Testament times build cities?

Apparently, anytime God wanted them to.

This verse contrasts with 2 Chronicles 8:5, in which we find out that Solomon rebuilt the cities, so they must have been quite important to trade, defense, and growth of the kingdom. And I was so startled by Sheerah’s appearance that I almost overlooked that this passage describes the lineage of Joshua. Sheerah is a part of a much larger picture.

Apparently, women of God are truly limited only by what God wants them to do.

So here in the midst of the “begats” I’d never read was this scrumptious reminder that God uses EVERYONE to achieve his purpose. Men, women . . . even the occasional talking donkey. The limits we place on ourselves are just that. OUR limits. Not God’s. As far as I can tell, He’s not particularly fond of our limits either. Just ask Jonah.

Even as I thought about Sheerah and her cities, another lamp appeared in a project I was working on. This phrase is from Dr. Adrian Rogers: “If the devil never bothers you, it's because you're both going in the same direction.”

It's definitely not GOD who enjoys the limits we place on ourselves. Ouch.

Time to step over my brink and dive in. Persevere and follow those dots of light in the distance. God’s direction is limitless . . . and always true.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Who me, scared?

After reading Margaret's blog about scary things, I have to admit I'm pretty much scared of everything. Which is why I've tried to teach my children NOT to be scared. This is hard for a mother who wants to protect her children, as we all do of course. But my mother (bless her) sheltered me to the point of not allowing me to find courage on my own. She meant well, I know. But I felt stiffled at times. I'm not a very good swimmer because she was afraid of the water. I've had to learn how to swim mostly on my own but I made sure my two children knew how almost from birth. I'm terrified of spiders but I can't blame this on my mother. We both were terrified of them when I was young because we lived in a rickety old farmhouse and the creatures and critters were just a part of life--bugs, spiders and snakes, you name it. I saw it. One morning when I got up early to go work in the tobacco patch, it was chilly. My mother told me to get a jacket from my closet. I did so and when I put my arm through the sleeve, out came my hand with a big brown spider clinging to it! I can still to this day feel the touch of that spider on my hand. Naturally, I screamed and danced around and threw that jacket across the room. And even now, when I go to get a jacket out of the closet, I open the sleeve first and peer down into it to make sure nothing is nesting inside. That kind of clawing fear can surround us and cause us to close ourselves off from life's grand adventures. I make myself try new things so I won't miss out on the fun of life because of the fears in life. These days, my fears and worries seem to stem from making sure my children are safe and healthy--and I mean the big ticket kind of safe and healthy--safe in God's love and healthy in all their choices. And that can be even scarier than a big hairy spider clinging to your hand. But God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of hope. Writing about scary things in our suspense books is fun, but trying to get through scary things in life is tough sometimes. So I always look first, just to be sure. Then I take that leap of faith.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Scary Things

I've asked this before, but I like to revisit it every once and a while to see if anyone has new things out there.

One of the questions asked of the heroines is what scares you. I started thinking about that. What really scares me? Here’s my list: something happening to my husband, son or granddaughters (or for that matter anyone I care about), a tornado hitting my area, snakes, not pleasing the Lord (He’s done so much for me), not being able to write a book (drying up), rats, not having a clean toilet (no, not really, I just threw that in to see if you were still reading), and probably a lot of other things I can’t think of because I haven’t had them happen to me or someone I know.

I will say researching different methods of murder that I wouldn’t want to be murdered or left in a casket alive underground. I could go on and on, but I’m sure you are ready instead to share what scares you.

Also, can a hero have the same fears as a heroine might and still be a hero? Women can be afraid of a lot but so often we don't want the men in our lives to be afraid like we are. This goes even more for reading a story. How fearless should our heroes be?

So fess up—what scares you?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Speed Trap Interview

Today we're welcoming Sheriff Mandy Scott, the heroine of SPEED TRAP BY PATRICIA DAVIDS an August 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’m the sheriff of a small Kansas town. Our county has more cows than people so you wouldn’t expect it to be a hotbed of crime, but that’s exactly what happened when a major meth lab began operating in our area.

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

Garrett is a wonderful man, but it wasn’t love at first sight. Just the opposite. He was my prime suspect in the murder of his ex-wife. The first thing I noticed about him was how still he was. It was as if he was holding himself apart from the world. The next thing I noticed was his dog, Wiley. Nobody can miss Wiley. He loves attention and he loves food. He’s a wonderful mutt with a broken tail and the real hero of this story.

Against my better judgment, I found myself drawn to Garrett the first time I saw him with his son, Colin. He was so determined to be a good father. I think that’s what made me fall for him.

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

My strength is my faith and my skill comes from my training. My father was a cop so I knew going in what a cop’s life was like. My greatest weakness is that I can’t always trust people the way you should be able to do in a small town.

4. What scares you?

A child in jeopardy. Not being able to save a child. I failed once to save a little girl and I’ve had a hard time forgiving myself for that failure.
5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Not much. I’m pretty happy in my own skin, and I’m so blessed with the way my life has turn out. Especially now that I have Garrett, Colin and Wiley in it.
6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?

My faith had always meant a lot to me. At the start of this story it was important and I thought I was in a good place, but we can all grow in our faith.

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

I learned to lean on God’s strength and mercy to see me through some terrible moments in my life.

7. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
The scripture at the start of the book refers to Garrett. He had a terrible childhood. He thought God had turned His back on him. With Colin’s help I was able to make Garrett see that he could leave his past behind and become a new man, a real father and a member of God’s family.

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

Hot apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, because I’m an all American girl even if I wear a badge and a gun.

What a great sounding read! Thank you Pat for sharing Mandy with us.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


The fatal crash was no accident. The killer's only mistake was leaving behind a survivor…a four-month-old boy. For his sake—and for his murdered mother's—Sheriff Mandy Scott will see justice served. And she already has her prime suspect: the boy's father, Garrett Bowen. Yet despite the evidence against him, something about the reclusive rancher makes Mandy question his guilt. Nothing is as it seems as crime starts spiraling out of control in Timber Wells. If Mandy lets herself trust Garrett, will he shield her from danger, or send her racing into another lethal trap?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Week at TSD

I just finished a week’s workshop at the Texas State School for the Deaf. It started on Sunday and went through Thursday at noon. We were not allowed to voice (talk) but were to sign to each other. A small tasted of the world the deaf live in.

Well, about Wednesday all of us hearing folks were going crazy. The rule was if there was a deaf person in the room we had to sign. Not a problem, but when we were out of class, we voiced along with signing. Now the only problem with that little scenario is you can’t sign ASL and voice English. It would be trying to speak Spanish and English simultaneously. It can’t be done, believe me.

What did I learn in that week? The class I found the most interesting was facial expressions that Deaf put into their signing. Just as we use tone and intonation in our speech—-you know when your children are in trouble by how they call mom, facial expression is how you give expression and tone to your signing. That are called mouth morphemes.

What does that have to do with writing? When I write, I have to paint the picture of what is happening and the speaker’s expression. It made me think how I could better describe for the reader the expression on the character’s face. My workshops taught me to be much more observant. Hearing folks depend on their ears. Deaf depend on their eyes. Readers do, too.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Where is the summer going?

I am camping as we speak.  I'm sitting at a spare picnic table trying to pick up the wifi with a red laptop.  It's early in the morning, and most campers pulled out Monday morning.  Up here in New Brunswick, we had a holiday on Monday.  
It's only early August and I can see my breath this morning.
Yes, all of you sweltering in other parts of the continent, I could see my breath this morning.
But it's all part of the deal here.  I'm used to it.  
The one thing I 'm not used to dealing with, is some tight deadlines.  I've got to finish a manuscript by Sept 30, paint birdfeeders for a fundraiser and we've been invited to several functions this summer.  
Summers are for time off, aren't they?
And yet, we weren't planning to go anywhere for holidays because both our kids are working full time, so we squeezed in some fun activities on weekends.  Take this one for instance.  We went to the drive in theatre.  The triple bill showed Aliens in the Attic first, and to tell you the truth, I loved it!  The funniest part came when the kids had to use an old rotary phone!  Hilarious!
Well, my fellow campers have made coffee for me, and must go.  They're staring to tease me about sitting out in a field by myself.
I guess I'm outstanding in my field.
Groan.  It's early.  I can see my breath, and I need coffee.  What more can I say?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Writing Lessons

Reading back over the recent Ladies of Suspense posts, I came across Ramona Richards’ post about awards and such. It made me think of something I learned recently.

I have to admit, I entered the Rita. Nothing. I entered the Booksellers Best Award. Nothing. I entered ACFW’s Book of the Year Award. Nada. I entered a couple of others. Nothing. I can honestly say I was happy for those who finaled or won, however, I’m big enough to admit, I would give a sigh and say, “Hm, so what was wrong with my books?” Not that I was whining…much. Still, it made me wonder. It affected me to the point that I was questioning my writing, thinking things like, okay, so my books aren’t good enough, what redeeming qualities does my editor see that apparently no one else does, etc.

Then I really had to have a conversation with God about the reason I was writing. Like God generally does, He set me straight. All in all, He once again reminded me that HE is in control of my writing, my career, and my books. And all of the contest wins and losses. Once I accepted that—AGAIN (I went through all that angst before I was published), I came to a peaceful conclusion that as long as I was writing for Him, nothing else mattered…much. LOL. And then I got the call that I finaled in the Maggie Contest. Of course I was excited and thrilled. And laughing at the way the Lord teaches us lessons. Hopefully I learned it well enough not to need a repeat. Has God taught you anything about your writing in the last few weeks? If so, I’d love to hear about it!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fugitive Family Interview

Today we're welcoming Alexander Cooke, the hero of Fugitive Family. His life went from riches to rags and then rags to riches in Pamela Tracy’s August Love Inspired Suspense.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be in the midst of such suspense.
Just a year ago, I was an ordinary guy. Maybe too ordinary. I had a wife, a daughter, and a job – only I didn’t think of them in that order. I usually put my job first. I was a bank manager, a pretty posh position which allowed my family to enjoy a pretty posh life. Then, someone robbed the bank and framed me. Worse, that someone kidnapped my wife! Since blood – my wife’s - was found at the scene, the cops figured I’d offed my wife, intending to also take off with the bank’s money and start a new life. The cops didn’t seem to be able to believe I was innocent, and since I have a five-year-old daughter, I had to act quickly before whoever was doing all this got ahold of her.

2. So, during the book you Lisa Jacoby. Tell us a bit about her. What was your first impression? When did you know it was love?
After escaping from the police, I snatched my daughter and went into hiding – trying to do what the cops were not doing: find the real bankrobber. Amy and I took different identities. Amy became Amber. We met Lisa because for Amy’s well-being, she needed to be in school, around kids her own age, and have a somewhat normal childhood. Lisa Jacoby, the heroine (not a strong enough word to describe who she really is) was Amy’s first grade teacher. My first impression wasn’t too wonderful. I plowed into her car the day they discovered my… my wife’s body. I was trying to escape what I’d just heard on the news. Even then, Lisa was a study in patience. See, I didn’t have car insurance. I’m pretty sure most fugitives don’t! My real first impression concerned just how she brightened my daughter’s world. Pretty soon – thanks to a church softball league we were both on – she started brightening mine. Only I couldn’t let her know. Whoever killed my first wife was still out there!

3. What strengths/skills do you have? What is your greatest weakness?
Strengths? Well, I get things done. From work, and then when I was first arrested, until now. As a bank employee, I was highly respected, honest, and progressed up the ladder quickly. When I was first arrested, I quickly figured out if the killer was going to be found, I needed to do it, and I did. That leads me to my greatest weakness. I always that ‘I’ had to be in charge. I didn’t rely on God, only self – which lead to selfishness. Throughout this whole ordeal, the one plus has been the relationships I’ve built not only with my daughter, but with God.

4. What scares you?
Are you kidding? What scares me is knowing a madman can change your life in a blink, leaving you vulnerable and your family at risk.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
How long I relied on self. My first wife never had my full attention, devotion. Now, thanks to my daughter, her teacher Lisa, and God, I know the power, the wonder, of devotion.

6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?
LOL. My faith was non-existent. I only knew about God because of one foster family. A family I didn’t manage to keep for long. My God was money and position.

7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story?
“Fear thou not: for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yah, I will help thee; yeah, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
This verse from Isaiah says it all.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
After I escaped from police custody and grabbed Amy, I was truly alone. I had never felt so alone, not even when I traversed through the foster system. I first attended church because I knew to keep my identity a secret, I needed to do everything I could to ‘not’ be the old Alexander Cooke. Alexander Cooke, a year ago, was not a church goer. Alexander Cooke, today, is not a church goer, he is a church.

9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why?
I’ve not told you enough about Lisa Jacoby, and how she’s a rock in my world. If I have to be a dessert, I want to be whatever dessert she’s drawn to.

Thank you Pam for sharing Alexander with us. This sounds like an exciting read. Can't wait to get my copy.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Six months ago, Alexander Cooke's life was wrecked. His wife was killed, his workplace was robbed…and the evidence pointed to him. He saw one way out—he grabbed his daughter and ran. Now he's got a new life. Yet even with his new identity as Greg Bond, he's still looking over his shoulder. Still waiting for danger to reappear. Then he meets charming schoolteacher Lisa Jacoby, and forgets to keep his distance or protect his heart. When the killer returns, Alex won't run again. He's found a love—a family—he'll face anything to protect.