Saturday, January 31, 2009

FEATURED THIS WEEK: EVIDENCE OF MURDER BY JILL ELIZABETH NELSON


The photographs Samantha Reid uncovers in her new store are shocking. Horrifying. And dangerous. This new evidence could reopen a decade-old multiple homicide case that someone wants desperately to keep closed. And when the evidence comes out, a reluctant Samantha is drawn straight into the spotlight. All the attention is wrecking her business—and drawing the killer's eye straight to her.

Then she meets Ryan Davidson, the last surviving member of the murdered family. In spite of herself, she's drawn in by his need to find the truth. Together, they work to unravel the mystery, while the killer works to keep the secrets buried—forever.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What does a hero look like?


A hero is a big muscular guy who runs into burning buildings, hacks down doors with an ax and makes the big save, right? Sure, that’s a hero for sure but my newest book, Flashover, takes a deeper look. What if the firefighter was a woman? And what if her entire identity/self worth was wrapped up in her high profile job? And what if she was injured in an arson fire and taken off duty for a while?
Since my husband is in the fire service, I am somewhat familiar with the culture. Many little boys (and even a few girls) from the time they are preschoolers, look up to firefighters as larger than life heroes and indeed, they are. I won’t ever forget watching the towers fall on 9/11, knowing that scores of firefighters had just fought their way through the smoke and debris into the building to begin rescue efforts. I kept asking my husband over and over as the structures crumbled and fell. “But they’ll get out won’t they?” He didn’t answer me because he knows the code. Firefighters are first in, last out. They are heroes, without question, willing to lay down their lives for complete strangers.
But not all heroes wear badges and charge in with sirens screaming. Day to day, we are surrounded by them. Regular folks with nobility of spirit. Sometimes it takes real courage to stand quietly beside someone else, with no applause, no adulation from the masses. Sometimes it is the steadfast heart, the resolve to do the right thing even when no one is looking, the decision to love thy neighbor when it’s so very hard to do, that makes a hero out of an ordinary Joe or Jane.
One of the greatest heroes I’ve ever encountered is a woman whose name I don’t even know. She saw my distress, my terror for myself and my unborn child and she left her desk to come and hold my hand. I never knew her name. I don’t think she ever really knew mine. But I won’t forget that day, the gentle squeeze of her hand and her decision to be a hero for me in that moment.
The Bible says, “Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12
What better defines a hero than that?

Amazing Grace

In 1995, I was the program director for my writer’s group. I had picked up our speaker at the airport and taken her to breakfast. This was our September meeting, the 4th Saturday of the month. I had blueberry pancakes. After eating, we drove to the meeting. As we were setting up, I got sick to my stomach and ran to the bathroom and lost my breakfast. (It took years for me to be able to eat blueberries again.) I didn’t let go of the toilet because I continued to heave. Several minutes later the paramedics arrived and pried me away from the toilet. Once I was at the hospital, I remember seeing my husband and son walk into the cubical. I also remember my best friend, who was at the meeting, walking into the room.

That’s the last thing I remember until mid-November, 2 ½ months later. The first thing I can remember is sitting at a table and looking at all these people who had their heads shaved. Some of them looked really bad. Little did I know that I looked worse. I only had half my head shaved.

I had a brain aneurysm. A vessel in my head burst and I bled into my brain.

One night the doctors called my family in and told them they didn’t think I’d make it through the night. It devastated my family. My daughter, who was in college at the time, was the only one who didn’t give into despair. She prayed and held onto her Heavenly Father. She needed her mother to see her through life. I think it was her faith that God honored.

When I talked to my husband and children, they told me what had happened. Apparently I was in a lot of pain, I was given such huge doses of antibiotics to keep the infection in my brain down, my blood stopped clotting. If it could go wrong, it did.

It took nearly six months for me to get up to speed. I lost part of my children’s childhood, but I wonder how much of our kids growing up years most parents really remember? If people bring up things, I might not be able to recall it instantly, but with thinking, I can access the memory. Oddly enough, all the plots I had in my head before the aneurysm were there after. My writing was a blessing. It made me think, remember, plot. That first book after the aneurysm was a personal triumph. I gave a copy of it to my doctor.


This traumatic event is imprinted in my family’s consciousness. They all have stories of that time, of the odd things I did and the weird stories I spun. Personally, I think they are fibbing. They have fun now telling me the things I said.

It’s as if it happened to someone else. Of course, I have lots of holes in my head, divots where they put in shunts. I still have a shunt in my head. One time when I was reading in Exodus, about Moses wanting to see God’s glory, God didn’t allow Moses to see Him. He put Moses in the cleft of the rock and put his hand over Moses as He passed by. After reading that, I knew where my consciousness had been. I had been in the cleft of the rock with God’s hand covering me. None of the pain and agony had touched me.

I am whole. Plotting. Writing. Blessed. I thank my Heavenly Father for his mercy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Is the Suspense killing you?

Made you wait, didn't I? One day, I will get accustomed to my new blogging schedule. And one day, my house will be clean and I will cook a nice meal for my family. Are you laughing as hard as I am right now? Writing suspense is fun because it allows me to do things that I normally wouldn't do in real life, such as jump out of planes or chase bad guys. Okay, I have actually chased a few bad guys but just because they cut me off in traffic! Once I had a bit of a race with a semi-trailer truck on the Interstate. And I drive a Miata. Imagine me, zooming alone in a car that is like a "go-cart on steriods" as one friend called it and glaring up at this big monster truck, with a big monster trucker glaring back at me. Who do you think won that one?
I did pass him and zoom away with integrity and grace--or at least I hope that's how I looked. Anyway, in my books I can create scenes such as this and actually get away with doing it. Suspense is a challenge as a writer and requires a bit more research than most stories. You know, all those gadgets and secretive things are interesting to research and very valuable for making a story realistic. But I often worry about having to kill off characters. I guess it's better to do that in a book, however, than in real life!

But the suspense of life is what makes it exciting. Have you ever had something scary happen to you and then you laugh about it later. Or maybe you've had a truly scary event in your life that has made you feel more vulnerable and not so safe?
Sometimes, it can be fun waiting to see what's around the bend and other times, it can be very frightening. It was a dark and stormy night can apply to many things in life. But ... even in the worst of times we have to remember that God is our refuge and our strength. There is no suspense in faith, because faith is the substance of things hoped for, the unseen things that bring assurance and courage, rather than the unseen things that only bring worry and fright. I hope that even in times of great suspense, you can turn to God and know that He will be your strength and your shield. Oh, and if you happen to see a little blue Miata chasing a trucker on the Interstate, just throw up your hand and wave. That would be me, pretending to be a spy!

Lenora :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Romantic Suspense and the GREAT Romance

I am well aware that what I write verges on fantasy. I mean, how many times do we really get involved in the kinds of escapades that we authors of romantic suspense write about? How many times does the normal person actually stumble over a murder victim and then get caught up in the mystery of it? The mystery writer, Ruth Rendell (one of my faves), was asked this very question. The interviewer asked her if she, like her protagonists, ever came across a dead body. Her response, in her lovely British accent was something along the lines of, “Oh my goodness no, I would be horrified!”

I have had well-meaning friends ask me how could I waste my time writing such drivel? (The implication is that there are important books to be written, and why don’t I write one of those?) Well, actually, my friends are nicer than that, and they don’t actually say those words, but the meaning comes across that way to me.

With me, it has to do with God. Yes. God. I have also heard Christian romance writers say that we write romance because God gave us love and romance for us to enjoy. I don’t believe this for a minute. God didn't give us romance. It’s not for our benefit. God IS romance. And we who are made in God’s image and know God are involved in the greatest romance ever. Our romantic hero is Jesus, himself.

Therefore, every time I write a romance I am writing an allegory, a parable which points to the GREAT romance. I am, in essence, re-writing again the story of how much God loves us, pursues us and eventually finds us.

An excellent book that spells this out is THE SACRED ROMANCE by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge. Have a look at: http://www.ransomedheart.com/

So, what about the suspense part? Look around. We are in conflict. This world is in conflict. And one of the hallmarks of a good suspense novel is, you got it. conflict. And, in our books, good always overcomes evil in the end. Because that is what will happen at the ‘end’ of all things.

So, yes, what I write is fantasy. It is entertainment, but every time I write a romantic suspense I am pointing to the GREAT romantic – Jesus, himself.

One day we shall participate in the biggest and best wedding feast of all – the wedding feast of the lamb. And talk about good food – our finest meals and most wonderful wine will have nothing on that banquet. So, until that time all of us here at Craftie Ladies of Suspense will write that story over and over and over again in many different ways.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Walking through open doors

Walk through the doors God opens for you; take advantage of the opportunities God wants you to have.

You know, when I started writing, I developed a crazy mind. Let me just warn you. Writers are certifiably crazy, especially suspense authors. We can see trouble in any situation. Any innocent situation. And we can’t turn it off! A clown at a birthday party becomes a CIA agent in disguise. The tall child in the middle isn’t really a child. He’s really a midget in disguise, a terrorist who’s going to pretend he’s blowing up the balloons, but is really releasing a deadly gas contained in the helium tank. Come on y’all, you can’t tell me that’s not crazy. Seriously, I see stories everywhere. My parents went on a cruise and I’m warning them about the cabin attendant. He could be killer in disguise, hiding as a worker so he can escape the cops on his tail.

It’s exasperating, really. Because I start liking gifts like these t-shirts that read: "Please do not annoy the author, she may put you in a book and kill you."

All kidding aside, God’s opened a lot of doors in my 41 years and I wish I could say that I walked fearlessly right through all of them. Unfortunately, I’m sure I slammed a few closed or walked right past them, never noticing they were open and God was going…um, right here, Lynette, right here. Then I’d look back and slap my head going…I can’t believe I did that. After a while, I caught on. I’m a pretty smart girl…occasionally. It usually doesn’t take me too long to catch on to stuff so I started looking for the open doors.

I started expecting them because I was tired of missing them! We have to look for opportunities to serve and not be terribly surprised when God provides them. Especially if we’re praying for them. Why are we surprised when God answers our prayers. I mean if we’re praying, don’t we expect an answer?? And sometimes that answer comes in the form of an open door.

For example:
Ten years ago when I started writing, I never had a clear picture of where it was leading or even what I was doing really. But I had this fiction idea and my prayer was, “God, use it if you can.” Can you imagine a dumber (is that word?) prayer? “If you can.” God probably just shook his head. Anyway, my daughter was about six months old when I first started putting story to paper – or rather, really old, untrustworthy laptop—my husband travelled a lot and looking back, I was probably a little lonely.

So, I started taking all the voices in my head OUT and started giving them life. It was a fascinating process, a laborious undertaking, but I finally finished it. During the writing of it, I kept coming back to…why am I doing this? Putting time and energy into this manuscript that was probably going nowhere.

But I’m stubborn. My husband’ll back me up on that one.

During the writing of this first book, I occasionally stopped to read and I came across a story by a woman and loved it. It was called The Negotiator by Dee Henderson. It had her email address in the back so I just wrote her a little note to say how much I loved the story ,that she was now my favorite author and when was the next book coming out??!!

And she emailed me back! I couldn’t believe it. I was in AWE that this author and probably very busy person had taken the time to write to little ole me. And a relationship developed as a result. Dee took that manuscript that I’d crafted over the last several months and critiqued it. Every last word. She pointed out every mistake I made. And trust me, she must have worked for HOURS on that thing because I made a lot of mistakes.

I didn’t know it, but God was preparing me. He had opened the door to a friendship that I’d never even considered. But he was providing the tools that I needed in order to step through another door that he was going to open when the time was right. You know, hindsight really is a wonderful thing.

Now, I thought that manuscript was perfect. Especially after Dee got through with it and I made all her suggested changes. I thought I would submit that baby and editors everywhere would be having a bidding war over the chance to publish it.

I was wrong.

God wasn’t ready to open that door for me yet. I was ready for him to open it, but he knew stuff I didn’t. Like that manuscript was REALLY bad. Only I couldn’t see that. I didn’t understand why it got rejected. But God knew.

So, I kept writing and Dee kept encouraging. And I kept getting rejected. But I was learning, building my skills, honing the talent and doing what God had given me the desire to do. Write. I wanted my writing to make a difference for him and he knew that. That’s why he kept providing what I needed, sending me encouragement—in the form of my mother mostly—and equipping me by placing people in my path that could grow me. As long as I was willing to be taught. And I was.

Finally, after I’d attended several conferences, entered numerous contests to receive feedback, taken that feedback to heart and implemented it, I finally had a story—that I’d never intended to be a story!

I’d read about a contest online. It was for Harlequin. One of their other lines—not the Christian line. But they were offering $1,000 to the first place winner. I got this brilliant idea. I’d enter and win the money. I was so na├»ve.

Anyway, I entered and didn’t win, but I did get a request for the full manuscript from one of the top acquiring editors at Harlequin. That’s when I realized I was getting closer. To be honest, I was almost ready quit. Only I couldn’t. Because I had to write the stories that kept popping up, because God was getting ready to open a door for me. I did a little research on the line this editor wanted the book for, but realized there was no way I writing that. My husband was a minister. I had children that would one day read my stuff. God would know I wrote it. Huh uh. My writing was going to make God proud. I told her thanks but no thanks. Now, if I hadn’t been spiritually awake, if I’d been willing to compromise on my beliefs, I might have been able to convince myself that that was a door opened by God. After all, I’d been praying, please Lord, let someone want to buy my book. And here I’d gotten a call asking for a full manuscript! And I won’t say it wasn’t tempting, but ladies, if something looks real good, but you feel convicted that it might not be the right thing to do? Listen to that conviction. Be able to discern what God wants from what YOU want. Because that uneasiness that I felt at the thought of sending in my manuscript to that editor? That’s God saying uh, uh, uh. Wait on me.
That wasn’t his door! In fact, if I had gone ahead and gone in that direction, who knows where I’d be today? But I can bet it wouldn’t be right where I am and that’s right in the middle of God’s will for my life.
But I was hugely encouraged.

So on I trudged.

Finally, I sent the story off to the Steeple Hill Suspense line. All 90,000 words of it. I waited and about three months later, I got the whole manuscript back in the mail with a four page revision letter saying if I was willing to cut 30,000 words (you do the math. Yes, that’s 1/3 of the book!) the I could send it back and they would reconsider it. This was in September. I had a four page revision letter that just looked huge to me. I told God I couldn’t do it. God told me I could. We argued. I don’t recommend it. You’ll lose. God always wins. I revised the manuscript. And sent it back in January of 2007. Then it hit me. I’d almost slammed that door in God’s face because in February 2008, I got a call saying they wanted to buy my book!

God had thrown the door wide open.

And I walked through it.

You know, when I decided to write about this, I said I was going to write about walking fearlessly through the doors God opens, it didn’t occur to me until now that I might should have left out that word, “fearlessly.”

Because while I was thrilled beyond belief that I’d finally done it, God had allowed me to get that call, I wasn’t fearless! I was scared to death! Because you know what my next thought was?

What if they want me to write another one??!!

Then I had to suck in a deep breath and go, “Okay, God, I know this is Your plan. I don’t need to be worried, right? Right??

And so, yes, I wrote another one. And another. Then four more. God has blessed me so incredibly through writing. He’s opened so many doors for me. Including the one here tonight. And hopefully, I’ve honored him by stepping through it. If you're a writer, keep going. Trust that the doors will open in due time. Put your focus on God, step through the doors he’s opened for you and soak in the blessings he desires to bestow upon you.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Heart of the Night Interview

Today we're welcoming Eli Trudeau, the hero of Heart of the Night by Lenora Worth release Janurary 2009.

Wow, you've just had quite an adventure.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be in the midst of such suspense.
I am a agent for a secretive Christian organization called CHAIM (that’s Hebrew for life and pronounced “Hy-EM.” But for our purposes, it stands for Christians for Amnesty, Intervention and Missions. We go into dangerous places to help Christians all over the world. And we sometimes make people mad when we do this, so we have to be very careful and very secretive.

2. So, during the book you met Gena Malone Thornton. Tell us a bit about her. What was your first impression? When did you know it was love?
Gena is a unique woman who happened to be raising my son. I didn’t know that until recently, however. I was not too pleased to find out everyone around me had been keeping this a secret. You see, I thought my son was dead. So I resented Gena at first,so I left Louisiana and went to her house in Maine and well ... I broke in. But after she flipped me over with a move that any CHAIM agent would have been proud of, I saw the light. The woman can take care of herself and she loves Scotty so much. I knew it was love when she had her boot shoved against my chest and refused to let me up, but it took me a while to admit that. I’m stubborn that way. And I sweet-talked her into letting melive.

3. What strengths/skills do you have? What is your greatest weakness?
My strength comes from knowing that my son is alive. That alone gave me a reason to live. And that alone has become my weakness. I’ve stared down bad guys and survived dangerous situations, but looking into his innocent little eyes did me in.

4. What scares you?
That I might love again and lose again.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? This constant ache inside my heart that won’t allow me to be more loving and faithful to God.

6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story? At first, I’d lost all faith after certain events from the past. But Devon, my fellow CHAIM agent and his soon-to-be wife Lydia, both showed me that God has not abandoned me. I didn’t feel worthy of God’s love and I didn’t really feel worthy of my son’s love. Gena is helping me with that.

7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story?
At the end of the story, that hurting place inside my heart is no longer cold. I’m no longer cold. A few years ago, I had to take some time off from CHAIM and go to “a desolate place” to find some peace and to get over the death of my wife and my unborn child. But the child is alive and I had to save Scotty and Gena from harm’s way when some of the people CHAIM angered came after us. My reason to live has now increased by two. I love Gena and Scotty and I want to be the best father and (hopefully) husband I can be. Gena is a good woman and Devon was wise to send my son to live with her. (She’s Devon’s sister by the way.)

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
It’s significant because it is Mark 6:31. “And he said to them, Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” That’s what I had to do. I was sent to a CHAIM stronghold in Ireland where my friend and CHAIM agent Brice Whelan worked me over with personal questions and lots of “time to reflect.” I was close to going over the edge after I lost my wife and child. Brice helped to bring me back. But Gena and Scotty brought me out of that desolate place and now I'm not so cold anymore.

9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why? Bread pudding, chere. I’m a Cajun after all.

Whew! This sound sooo good! I can't wait to get my copy. Thank you Lenora for sharing Eli with us.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

FEATURED THIS WEEK: HEART OF THE NIGHT BY LENORA WORTH



Secret agent Eli Trudeau grieved the loss of his wife and baby. Then he discovers his son is alive—and living with an adoptive mother, Gena Malone. Despite the secrets and lies, Eli can't deny the truth: Gena loves the boy. Yet Eli grew up without a father and won't do that to his own child. When someone dangerous comes after them, Eli takes Gena and his son deep into hiding. As he grows closer to them, he discovers that he's more than just a maverick operative. After his dark, troubled past, he's finally found faith and family. And he'll do anything to protect both.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Perseverance

Happy Friday! It's been a very long week for a short work week. I've been very preoccupied lately with family and the challenges of working with the powers that be of the medical system. I'm not a newbie with this, unfortunately, but even after eleven years of navigating the system it is still as confusing as ever. Which brings me to the topic of perseverance – a common trait among writers, and seniors.

Eleven and a half years ago my mother had a major stroke which left her paralyzed on her left side. Ever since, she has been a constant role model of perseverance. Eleanor Roosevelt once said "Women are like teabags. We don't know our true strength until we're in hot water." That has certainly become evident for my mom, and the rest of our family has learned a lot about ourselves through her trials as well. Physically, naturally, we have learned to pay attention to warnings on medications and make life choices based upon our family history. Strokes are a genetic challenge that her side of the family has been plagued with-inflicting four members within at least the last two generations. But more than that, we've learned much about what God wants from each of us – today, tomorrow, and always.

Mom could have chosen to give up – all the odds were against her at that point, but she decided that God had another purpose for her life. She learned to walk again, she has lived independently for the majority of the past 11 years, and still, as she faces the "finishing school" stage of her life – assisted living and full time nursing care – we learn what it takes for each of us to persevere.

I look back with amazement at what not only my mother has accomplished in the last eleven years, but what God has blessed her with because she made the choice to persevere. She's inspired and encouraged those around her, seen her grandchildren marry and had the blessing of getting to know her great-grandchildren. But more than that, I've learned over and over that I can do all things through God who strengthens me. I have learned that I need to take care of myself, but not only myself. I've learned to prioritize and recognize when I'm out of sync with God. And even when I'm overwhelmed, I KNOW that God is carrying me through the tough times as long as I stick with HIS plan for me because I have claimed God as my Savior. For years I tried to deny that deep in my personality, I am a caregiver. I remember arguing this point with author, Chris Pacheco years ago, when I was a child care provider. I argued that caregiving was my "job," it isn't "who" I am. God must have heard, because ever since, he's given me opportunities to show me that I can be anything I want for a career, but I AM a caregiver. It is but one of the many gifts of which God has blessed me.

Even as a Christian, I know the struggles don't go away. I'm still struggling to accept that God's plan is different for each of us, even though in my brain, I know that, it's much more difficult in practice. I struggle with equity, and wanting everyone to do their fair share. I've pasted 1 Peter 4:10 into my mind to remind me to focus on MY plan, no one else's. "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." This week has been a constant reminder that God's promise will be my reward. As I maneuver the requirements of the health care system, I'm tested. My patience, my faith, my endurance to persevere. I admire my mother, her perseverance and strength, and that she made that choice to live, to continue to use the gifts God gave her to teach her children.

I hope that each of you will persevere in God's plan for you. As Christians, our trials will be countless, our blessings out of this world. With the many challenges we all face in 2009, all of us must deepen our faith. We must rely on God's steadfast love and promises. "but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

In God's love – persevere.

Carol Steward

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rick Acker Comes to Visit

I'm excited to welcome a new writing friend, Rick Acker, for an interview. He's an attorney in California who manages to find time to write. Here's more from Rick.

Your two latest books are legal thrillers with a technological twist. How did you find the germ of an idea that got you going?

Dead Man’s Rule literally began with a “germ of an idea.” I’d been following news stories about the old Soviet bioweapons program and the carelessness with which it was shut down. Germ warfare factories were simply abandoned when funding ran out, scientists with only one marketable skill suddenly found themselves without jobs or pensions, and so on. So I started talking to people I knew in the intelligence and bioweapons defense fields to explore story ideas. At first, I asked questions like “How hard would it be to breed weapons-grade smallpox in a high school lab?” By the time I finished, my main question was “Why are any of us still alive?” Scary stuff.

I slept much better while writing my second techno-legal thriller, Blood Brothers. This one was inspired in part by the “berserkers” mentioned in ancient Norse sagas. They were wild warriors with incredible strength and speed who were virtually unstoppable in battle. Most historians think they were real, but the secret to their remarkable skills has been lost. The most common theory is that they took a drug made from some unknown plant, so I started wondering what might happen if that plant were rediscovered and a pharmaceutical company began to make drugs out of it. There would be some impressive benefits, of course, but there might also be a few unforeseen side effects . . .

By day you're a deputy attorney general in California. Did that make writing legal thrillers easier or more challenging? Why?

Both easier and more challenging, actually. Easier because I get to work on fascinating investigations and lawsuits that generate at least one book idea per week. Harder because most of the cases are sealed and I can’t actually use any of those ideas until the seal is lifted (if it ever is).

What made you decide it was time to write a novel? And how did you get the ideas for your initial young adult mysteries?

Back in the days before minivans came with DVD players and iPod jacks, I was the designated entertainment on all our long family drives. I can’t sing and my joke repertoire is limited, so that left storytelling. The most popular stories were mysteries and adventures about kids a few years older than mine, so I told a lot of those.

Most of my stories were forgotten five minutes after we got out of the van, but every now and then my wife would say, “You have to write that one down.” So I’d write it down, send it off to publishers, and wait for the rejection letters. Until one day a publisher decided not to reject one of my books after all.

Why do you think people are so fascinated with all things legal? And what keeps you writing them?

It goes back to the first rule all fiction writers learn: Every good story needs a good conflict. In our society, we tend to resolve most major conflicts (and plenty of minor ones) through lawsuits, which makes them natural springboards for all sorts of stories. If a young man retaliates against a bully and kills him, there will probably be a murder or manslaughter trial. If a widow’s evil in-laws try to cheat her out of her inheritance, a suit in probate court will often follow. If a romance collapses on the eve of the couple’s wedding, they may well sue each other—over ownership of the house they had bought together, for example. Pretty much any good story is a good lawsuit waiting to happen, and vice versa.

Note to nonlawyers: We’re exaggerating a little here about how interesting law really is. Anyone who is really “fascinated with all things legal” has never spent a Friday night researching local court rules to figure out whether footnotes in a brief are supposed to be in 12-point or 13-point font.*

*Correct answer in California federal courts: 13-point. And yes, there are judges who really care about this.

Um, the judges aren't quite that picky here in Indiana. If you could write any book you wanted and know it would land on the bestsellers list, what would you write?

Good question. I’d love to write a novel that captures the essence of the law and tells a compelling story of personal courage--like To Kill a Mockingbird or A Man for All Seasons. Except with a romance and a few explosions thrown in to spice things up.

Love the explosions and romance is always nice. As an attorney, I know I sometimes find myself analyzing legal thrillers for accuracy. What's your pet peeve legal mistake in novels?

Overwrought courtroom scenes. I hate those. Writers know that trials are supposed to be dramatic, but they don’t always know how to create drama without breaking fundamental legal rules. So they insert fiery exchanges between lawyers and judges, surprise witnesses, and heartfelt speeches to juries in the middle of trial. That stuff virtually never happens in real courtrooms, and when it does it usually ends with a mistrial and the dramatic lawyer in jail for contempt of court.

Tell us more about Blood Brothers. What surprised you most as you wrote this book? And what did you learn from your characters?

I was surprised by how much my characters wanted to talk. I had conceived of Blood Brothers as a fast-paced thriller with lots of twists and turns, some hard-hitting courtroom scenes, and a final surprise on the last page. The published book has all those elements, but it also has more character-driven scenes than I anticipated. I’m glad it turned out that way; the story wound up having more depth and resonance than I had expected.

As I got to know the characters better over the course of the book, I realized that most of them were facing the same questions: What do you want more than anything else? What are you willing to do—and sacrifice—to get it? Jesus’ answer to the first question was simple: To love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. His answer to the second was even simpler: Everything. As I pondered how my characters would answer those same questions, I became uncomfortably aware of just how often my own answers differ from Christ’s.

Thanks so much for joining us, Rick! Here's more about Rick:

Rick Acker writes his novels while commuting to and from his "real job" as a Deputy Attorney General in the California Department of Justice. His most recent novel, Blood Brothers, is an intense sequel to the legal thriller Dead Man's Rule. Christy award-winning author Randy Ingermanson calls Blood Brothers "an excellent legal suspense novel, with a strong biotech backdrop. It reminded me of Michael Crichton's latest novel, Next, except that Blood Brothers is better." Rick is also the author of the well reviewed Davis Detective Mysteries, a series of adventure/mystery novels for "tweens."

Rick is a transplanted Chicagoan who spent thirty-five years in the Midwest before finally trading the certainty of winter and mosquitoes for the risk of earthquakes. He now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, Anette, their four children, and two cats.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Introducing Debby Giusti



Hi! I’m Debby Giusti, one of the old timers on the loop. In case you didn’t know, I’m a medical technologist by profession, was a stay-at-home mom when my kids were young, freelanced for years writing for medical publications and ladies’ magazines, and now have the privilege to write inspirational romantic suspense for Steeple Hill.

All About Me:
1. How I got my first name? My mama named me, of course. My dad may have had a little input, but I think he left the final decision to my mother. Throughout her pregnancy, I was going to be Deidre, but close to delivery, she thought folks might have difficulty with the spelling so I ended up Deborah.

2. How I got my writing name? See above! :)

3. How I pick my character’s names, good guy and bad? I love names! Especially if they’re unusual. The heroine in YULE DIE, which will be out in Dec ’09, is named after the receptionist in my dentist’s office—Callie. The villains? I’m not sure where their names come from . . . probably my dark subconscious.

Three Really Interesting Tidbits About Me:

1. I lived in Japan when I was a young child and in Germany when I was a young woman, but nothin’ beats the USA!

2. I live on a lake now and love water . . . a trip to the beach is a must each summer!

3. My favorite TV program is 24!

All About my Books:

1. How I stumbled into writing suspense . . . it what’s I’ve always read and always loved.

2. My favorite suspense book I wrote and why . . . whichever one I’m working on because it provides the greatest challenge.

3. My favorite suspense book I read and why . . . Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier, probably impacted me more than any other book I read as a young girl. Winning the Daphne du Maurier Award for Inspirational Suspense in 2008 was an incredible honor because Rebecca meant so much to me.

All About Others:

1. My favorite author is . . . Tess Gerritsen because she combines her medical background with spine-chilling suspense

2. My best writing friend is . . . so many, but critique partner Darlene Buchholz tops the list, along with Seeker friends, the Ladies of Suspense, Love Inspired authors and GRW members.

3. My most loyal fan is . . . I love them all! Thanks to them, I’m able to keep writing!

The funniest thing that’s ever happened to me because I’m a writer . . . I participated in a Moveable Author Feast . . . authors rotate from table to table talking about their books in ten minute intervals while people eat lunch. After giving my spiel fourteen times, I wasn’t sure what my name was, let alone the name of my book.

The craziest thing I’ve done gathering research for a novel is . . . I talked to the local funeral director about how long after death blood could be drawn from a human body.

A real life murder that fascinates me . . . Yikes, I don’t like to think about this one. I turned on Dateline one Friday night and realized the murderer they were talking about was a guy who had lived on my cul-de-sac when I was growing up. I was a friend of his younger brother.

Finally, I’m excited about this blog because . . . well, because I’ve enjoyed it in the past and know, with the addition of so many delightful writers, it’s bound to get even better.

Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti
http://www.debbygiusti.com/
http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com/


Watch for Debby's next book, PROTECTING HER CHILD, in May 2009. YULE DIE will be out in December 2009, and KILLER HEADLINE will follow in February 2010.
Hi, I'm Roxanne Rustand, and I'm delighted to meet you! I hope you will come back to this blog again and again, to meet all of the other authors here and to find out what we're up to. Murder and mayhem, no doubt, but you might also find chances to win prizes, read about personal revelations, and even find a recipe or two.

My Masters degree was in nutrition--a perfect background for becoming a romantic suspense writer, don't you think?! I'm a clinical dietitian and work part-time in a psychiatric facility. By night, I'm a writer--and just wish there were 48 hours in every day.

My husband and I live out in the country with our two goofy border collies, three horses, and lots of snuggly barn cats. Two of our children are in college, and one is applying to grad school. I miss the days when all three were running around the house in their footed pajamas, leaving toys strewn everywhere!

My mom thought I was going to be a writer from the time I was in grade school. I wish I'd listened to her sooner, because I'd have a whole lot more books published by now if I'd started that young! I actually stumbled into writing by accident, thanks to a friend who gave me a novel back in the early 1990s. I only read non-fiction at the time, but she dared me to start reading it, and then put it down. I did--but not until I reached The End at four o'clock in the morning. With that, I became an avid fiction reader. And then that same friend asked if I would start writing articles for her magazine, and she even gave me a computer!

Writing those articles was so much fun that I started writing stories, and then started to dream about being published. And when guns and bodies and nefarious villains started creeping into those stories, I realized that I'd found what I loved to write the most: Romantic suspense!

The most fun I ever had with the researching my books was when I got to spend a lot of time with a rodeo contractor for my book, Rodeo! But honestly, the entire process of writing offers so many opportunities to meet fascinating people, who live fascinating lives. People are so willing to talk about their careers and their experiences, and that information is invaluable when writing a story that will ring true to the reader.

I'm excited about this blog, because we've now added some new faces, and it will be such fun to hear what everyone has to say. I hope you'll come back and join us often!

Take care, and God Bless!
Roxanne Rustand

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Life and Times of Pamela Tracy


Hi, I'm Pamela Tracy and I'm one of the original Craftie Ladies who never introduced herself properly, so I’m excited to get to do it now. By day I'm a mommy, wife, schoolteacher, friend… but alone in my home office, I write suspense - complete with dead bodies and chase scenes. Aha, so you want to get to know me... well, okay, here's a bit about me.

How I got my first name? My mother originally wanted to name me Denise. She had it all picked out. Then, her cousin had a little girl a few months before I was born. My mom and dad panicked (well, not really, but they’d never talked about a different name). They bought a baby book. I guess it took them all the way to P to find a name they both liked. Ironically, I never met the other Denise. Then, too, I love the name Pamela. I think if that hadn’t been my name, I’d have wished it were.

How I got my writing name? Pamela Tracy is my maiden name. I already had eight books out by the time I got married. I didn't realize how quickly the maiden name fades. I thought because I spent forty years as 'Tracy', the Tracy part of me would be stamped everywhere. I think I was wrong.

How I pick my characters' names, good guy and bad? I’m a schoolteacher. I see names every semester. I know which names are popular for what age. Right now, I’ve got Sarahs and Jessicas galore in my classes. There are tons of Christophers, Joshuas, and Nicks, too. If I’m stuck, I got to my old class rosters. The book I’m writing now has Tamara as a hero. I think I saw the name online a lot. The hero is Vince. Really, he’s an old high school crush. The villain is William Massey. He tapped me on the shoulder and already had a name. I didn’t need to look.

Three Really Interesting Tidbits About Me… This one’s really easy. See, at my school, wheneever the school paper needs a quick story, they write about me because there are three things that make me unique.

One. I am adopted. I was adopted at birth by two super wonderful people. I had a Leave It To Beaver childhood. Mom stayed home and took care of me (only child) and Dad went to work. At five, I’d stand by the door waiting for my favorite person in the whole world to come home. About eight years ago, I found my birth family. It was a bit scary. I did the phone call, “Hello, my name is Pamela and I was born on October 22nd, do you want to talk to me?” Luckily, everyone did. My birth mother is involved in my life. She’ll be here to visit in a few weeks. I have a half sister. And, I have a full brother. They were in my wedding! I’ve also met my birth father and his two daughters. On a scale of 1to 10, our meetings have pretty much been tens.

Two. I had my first child at age 44. He’s Mikey. I never prayed so hard in my life. See, I married at 41. I’d just about given up thinking there was one for me. (Maybe that's why I read and wrote so many romances) Then, I met my husband Don and he figured it out first. He just kept coming back and calling. My friends loved him. Soon, I loved him, too. So, I was a first time bride at 41. He’s a first time husband (a little younger). We wanted kids. We never gave up. We lost three babies in a two year period. A specialist told us to stop trying. Top trying? If I stopped trying, I wouldn’t have Mikey. He was born at 8 pounds, healthy, and looks just like my husband.

Three. I’m a romance writer! Pinch, pinch. Today on the radio, the disc jockey was having a hard time saying “The Cardinals are going to the Superbowl!” Did I mention I'm from Arizona. Go Cardinals! Me, I don’t have a hard time saying, “I’m a romance… wait. I’m a published romance writer!”

How I stumbled into writing suspense... I didn’t stumble. I staggered. My first three published books were all contemporary romances. Then, there were two historicals. Then, a few more contemporaries… and mysteries kept sneaking into the contemporaries and historicals and the editor kept saying, "Pam, cut this..."

My favorite suspense book I wrote and why... Pursuit of Justice. I started it eight years ago. Eight! From the first page it had a different feel. Smooth, engaging. I knew I was doing something right. Every time I started working on it, I sold something else. Finally, I got an agent (Hello, Steve Laube!) and he sold it before it was finished. I got to finish it. It (and God) took me to the RITA awards.

My favorite suspense book I read and why... It’s Walking After Midnight by Karen Robards. I love the premise. A janitoress, cleaning in a funeral home, and a dead body that’s not really dead. A chase scene. And the heroine takes her cat. There’s suspense and humor. My critique group and just about everyone else keeps making me take the humor out of my suspenses. See, I watch CSI when I’m deep into the suspense. But, all the other times, I’m watching The Gilmore Girls. Sometimes my humor gets cutesy instead of snarky. Bad Pam.

All About Others:
1. My favorite author is.. Wow, there are so many! And since I’m afraid I’ll leave someone out, here they are in tiny, tiny, print. ( ) Wow, I didn't know you could make print that tiny. I’m sure your name is here.
2. My best writing friend is... Cathy McDavid has been beside me from the start. And, our careers pretty much parallel each others. She's my rock. Then, of course, I have Lisa Mondello, Roz Denny Fox, Georgina Devon, Kim Watters, Patti Osback, and the Craftie Ladies!
3. My most loyal fan is... Right now, Wendy Lemme. She helped critique my January 2009 Love Inspired Romance Daddy for Keeps. I put her in the dedication, and she bought 16 books! Hmmm, if I put Obama in the dedication, you think he’ll buy a lot of books? Then, there's Lynn Rush, an up and coming writer who is part of my local ACFW group. She's fan, friend, and a bit more.

The funniest thing that's ever happened to me because I'm a writer... I once scared a bunch of hotel maids because I was busy drawing the executive suite trying to get itin my brain for a book I was working on (picture me with a notebook and pencil scribbling like crazy while they cleaned). They thought I was immigration.

The craziest thing I've done gathering research for a novel is.... I called about ten funeral homes trying to find out when bedding was added to caskets.

A real life murder (crime) that fascinates me is/was.... Charles Starkweather.

Finally, I'm excited about this blog because... I get to know other LIS authors, not only do I get to know them, but they’re becoming friends. Okay, Lisa wants to be family! I’m learning so much from them. Plus, some of the LIS readers are becoming pals. I love this blog!

Have a great day. I need to take my old body and check on my preschool and maybe, just maybe, I'll get a little farther in that RITA book I'm judging. (Eight! I got eight!)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

BAYOU BETRAYAL INTERVIEW

Today we're welcoming Monique Harris, the heroine of Bayou Betrayal by Robin Caroll, releasing January 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.
Well, I can assure you, I never intended to find myself in such a predicament. After losing my mother and my husband, I wanted to find my biological father and relatives. I moved to Lagniappe, not sure what to expect. But I never expected to find what I did.

2. So, during the book you met Deputy Gary Anderson. Tell us a bit about him.
Well, Gary was like a breath of fresh air for me. He’s noble and strong, a good man of faith—quite the catch. What was your first impression? As I met him first under such dire circumstances (my house burning down), the only impression I can recall is his strength. When did you know it was love? It wasn’t any sudden realization, it was more like I just knew it in my soul.

3. What strengths/skills do you have?
My strength is that I’ve come to understand that no matter the trials in life, God is with us. It took me some time to grasp that. What is your greatest weakness? Too many to list! LOL I suppose my independence streak.

4. What scares you?
So many things used to frighten me, like being alone. But, after my husband died, I was forced to live alone. There isn’t much that frightens me anymore because I know I’m never alone—God is always with me.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I don’t think I’d change anything. Even the bad experiences I’ve endured have played an important part of who I am.

6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story? A little angry with God that He took both my mother and my husband from me.

7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story? Content in knowing that God’s master plan is always for my benefit, even if I don’t know it until later.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant. Psalms 32:7—That God DOES protect me from trouble and surrounds me with songs of deliverance.

9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why?
Oh, my. I suppose I’d be a nice butter pound cake—can be dense at times, but is very rich. And that’s how I feel—rich and blessed by God with my family and friends.


Thank you Robin for sharing Monique with us. This next installment of the Bayou series sounds intriquing. Can't wait to read it!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Featured This Week: Bayou Betrayal by Robin Carroll


Monique Harris has finally found her biological father! She just didn't expect to find him in prison for murder. Yet his relatives—her family—live in a lovely Louisiana town. And when her husband's suspicious death leaves the young widow with nowhere to go, she heads to the bayou. But someone wants her to leave, and threats escalate until fire is set to her home—with Monique inside. Deputy sheriff Gary Anderson assures Monique he'll keep her safe. And that they just might have a future together. Yet the bayou's murky depths hide more than just a would-be killer….

Friday, January 16, 2009

Getting to know you! Craftie Ladie of Suspense Lisa Mondello

My this blog has grown and I'm so glad it did! It's great to be hear in such wonderful company. If you're a veteran reader of this blog, you know me. But if you're new, my name is Lisa Mondello and I love writing inspirational romantic suspense for the Love Inspired Suspense line! I'm a Gemini, so I'm use to splitting myself in twos. Part of the day I'm a freelance writer and part of the day I write my stories. I'm the mother of 4 teenagers and am currently elbow high in financial aid forms for my son, who will be going off to college next year. (I can sympathize with those of you in the same boat!)

Here's a little more about me:

1. I have no idea how my parents came up with the name Lisa. I just know that when I was pregnant with my daughters my husband wanted to name both of them Lisa. I nixed that. I wanted them to have their own identity.

2. My writing name is my maiden name. My married name is...well...unusual. Hard to pronounce and hard to spell. I figured if anyone was ever going to find my books on a bookstore shelf I'd better stick with something phonetic!

3. My characters names just pop into my head. If I'd decided a character is going to be part of a particular ethnic group I go searching online at name sites until one jumps out at me.

Three Really Interesting Tidbits about me? My kids will tell there aren't any. But they're teenagers so mom is totally uncool anyway. I'm used to it.

1. I used to manage a regional rock band called Childhood. We did a lot of recording studio time, showcases and even got an all expenses paid trip to NYC to be interviewed by Julie Brown on MTV. Fun days.
2. I'm a huge Elton John fan. I'm not sure there is anyone who's known me for more than 5 seconds who doesn't know that.
3. Oh, man, we have to have 3? Pam? Help me out! You don't I'm uncool like my kids do.

All About My Books:

1. I didn't set out to write suspense originally. Dead people just started showing up in my books. For instance, my first manuscript was supposed to be a Harlequin Romance until a dead body wash up on the Cape Cod shore. Pretty soon my heroine was running for her life from a man she didn't remember because she had amnesia and didn't realize she'd witnessed a murder. After a while you stop fighting it. The rest is history.
2. Ooh, that's hard. It's usually the one I'm working on because that's the one I'm most excited about at the moment. Bird of Prey is a story I'd originally targeted for Harlequin Intrigue when they were having their big writer's contest and it was ultimately requested for a full read. It didn't end up at Harlequin Intrigue, so I am in the process of revising it for Love Inspired Suspense. I'm thrilled to know readers are finally going to be able to read this story because I just love the hero!
3. I'm going to have a hard time remembering the title but it was an Alicia Scott story from way back. I couldn't put it down because I had to see them get away. There was this one scene where they had to crawl through this crevasse to an open cave. The heroine made it through but the hero had filled out a bit since the last time he'd tried to crawl through when he was in high school and got stuck half way through a 20 or 30 foot crevasse. The heroine had to save him when he started turning blue. I remember reading the book and curling into a ball because it felt like I was right there stuck with him. Great book.

I really don't have a favorite author. I love reading a while variety from Nora Roberts, to Gayle Wilson, Lisa Jackson, Suzanne Brockmann, Dee Henderson, Karen Kingsbury and the whole lot from Steeple Hill.

I'm blessed with a lot of writing buds and I don't want to exclude any of them. This group is fantastic. I met a lot of my writing friends way back when on the AOL Series Romance Message Board. Don't go looking for it because it's not there anymore. When it closed, we all picked ourselves up and moved to a new yahoo group we affectionately refer to as the Series Mafia. There are about 30 of us there. Of course Cathy McDavid, Tracy Madison, Natalie Damschroder, Cathy Andorka and Pam Tracy have been my biggest champions throughout the years and have seen me through a lot of personal and professional...stuff.

I think my most loyal fans are my mom and my sisters and sister in law.

Hmm, funniest thing that ever happened to me as a writer??? My friend Jeannie, who is a huge Linda Howard fan, likes to tell the world that I'm a writer. No matter where we are. No matter who is there. I suppose it's funny only if you know Jeannie because, well, she loves me and is proud of me and well, I should really hire her as my publicist.

The craziest thing I ever did to research a book was send a letter to Bernie Taupin's ranch asking for info on cutting horse training. I'd gotten the idea for my book The More I See after reading an article on his ranch and then contracting the book through Avalon. I figured one of my horse owning friends would know SOMETHING about it and help me out, but none of them did. Finally with a deadline looming over my head and no research gathered, my friend Natalie said to me, "What is WRONG with you? You never hesitate to pick up the phone for research." My reply? "But it's Bernie Taupin. You can' t figure out why I'd be a little nervous? You do know who he is, right?" "He owns a ranch, right?" "Yeah." "Oh, he's the rodeo guy you were telling me about?" "Not the reason I'm nervous." And then I told her and she understood but still urged me to make the call. I didn't think I'd actually talk to him but I'd hoped for a ranch hand or manager or stable boy or someone who could point me in the right direction for research. I wimped out and sent a letter and was very surprised to get an email back from someone at the ranch giving me info on who to contact. Very nice of them. I ended up getting in touch with Punk Carter, who was fabulous and The More I See is still one of my favorite books to this day.

A real life murder(s) that still fascinates me to this day is the still unresolved New Bedford Highway Murders. Women were found just a few feet from the side of the road on the highway I traveled every day to go to work. It affected me so profoundly because for a year and a half I drove by these poor women on my way to work and no one knew they were there. The press had all but convicted a boy I'd graduated high school with as the killer, but he was later found to be innocent based on DNA evidence before it ever went to trial. But the damage had been done and he was labeled a killer. (The press hadn't been so quick to scream his innocence in the headlines as they were his supposed guilt.) It was a tragedy on so many levels and the case is now cold.

I'm really thrilled to be on this blog with such fantastic writers. Until next time, many blessings, Lisa Mondello

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ramona, Diving in, Head First

Hi, I'm Ramona Richards, and I love being a part of this support group (aka blog) of ladies because we just don’t think like most people (just check out Barbara’s intro down there). Like superheroes, we have secret lives. When we’re around other people, we may look and act normal, but leave us alone with a computer, and our minds turn to twists of fate, dark and stormy nights, and the details of grisly crimes and misdemeanors.

In my “ordinary” life, I’m an editor for a Christian publisher and the mother of Rachel, a 21-year-old with severe disabilities who has brought me the greatest joy – as well as the nastiest worries. But as the author of seven books, including four Love Inspired Suspense novels, I’ve killed best-selling authors and auction agents, kidnapped children, and fired an entire assortment of weapons at my heroes, heroines, and villains.

Such delicious, malicious fun. So how did I get here?

Well . . . back at the VERY beginning, I was named for the preacher’s wife – an auspicious start which I was bound not to live up to. The fun part is that brother’s name is Ray, and when my parents named me, they had no idea Ramona was the feminine form of Raymond. In addition to our names, my brother and I shared the same curiosity about the world, which meant it was almost impossible to get us to look at a camera – too many other intriguing things going on around us. I write under my own name; the Richards arrived 25 years after Ramona (and should actually be Ricciuti, but that’s a story for another time…).

I name my characters in about the same random fashion. Sometimes, the characters tell me what their names are, especially the heroines. (I warned you that we don’t think like most folks . . .) When it comes to villains, however, I try to use a name that doesn’t fit anyone I know – or know about. I would never name a villain Heath, for instance. Not only because of Heath Ledger but because my first boyfriend had that name. When I’m stuck, I turn to the phone book or to the stack of church bulletins and concert and play programs I’ve kept for just that purpose and play mix-and-match with first and last names.

Three Really Interesting Tidbits About Me

1. I love to hike and scuba dive, so my dream vacation is a week on the island of Dominica.

2. I once held a kingdom-level office in the Society for Creative Anachronism (Deputy Reporting Seneschale for the Kingdom of Meridies)

3. While I was still in college, I broke my ankle backpacking, but I hated being in a cast, especially when this really gorgeous guy wanted to go rock climbing. With the help of a friend, I sawed my way out of the cast. Even have the pictures to prove it. Kids, do NOT try this at home . . .

Is it any wonder I like adventurous books? My first “novel” (I was ten and it was teeny) was a mystery; I’ve always loved them but never thought I had a talent for them. I tried my hand at everything else, including science fiction, but nothing took off. Then I revamped an old mystery as an inspirational romantic suspense, and it sold two weeks after I submitted it. Sometimes when God opens a door, He opens it W I D E.

My favorite of the books I’ve written (so far) is definitely The Taking of Carly Bradford, which comes out in May. My heroine, Dee, has been through a horrific trauma, and is just now pulling out of a dark depression. She’s a little unsteady at the beginning, but strong. The story revolves not only around the suspense of the kidnapping and threats to Dee but how the case works to help her heal.

I read a lot of suspense, and the books that bring me joy in the reading include those from Robert Crais, Angela Hunt, Jeff Lindsay, Dee Henderson, and the ladies on this blog. And all the classic authors. And Elizabeth George. And Lawrence Block. And . . . you get the idea.

My favorite non-suspense author is Dorothy Dunnett. Her novels are intense, poetic, beautiful, and every sentence is a delight to read. Where else could read about the surprise attack of an army of helmet-wearing sheep followed shortly by a scene so gripping and real you’ll throw the book against the wall?

My best writing friend is Carol Lynn Stewart, who also writes as Carolina Montague. Even though we are worlds apart with what we write, she’s been an encourager, critique partner, and unbelievably loyal friend for more than a decade.

The funniest thing that's ever happened to me because I'm a writer came from a woman who’s known me for several years. She knew I was a writer and editor but not what kind. When I gave her my first suspense book, she read it almost without stopping. She kept repeating, “It’s a REAL book. It reads like a REAL book! You’re a REAL writer! I had no idea you wrote REAL books!” I was afraid to ask her what she thought I wrote before I gave her the book.

The craziest thing I've done gathering research wasn’t originally for a novel. In 2003, I sold an article to Today’s Christian Woman about women addicted to Internet pornography. I spent a lot of time on porn site message boards, communicating with the people who hung out there. Some were reluctant to talk, but many were forthcoming about why they go to such sites. The article won an award for reporting – and it did provide some ideas for a novel, yet to be developed. I also had a “fun” time cleaning my computer afterward.

A real life murder that fascinates me is the Black Dahlia, Elizabeth Short. LA’s greatest cold case has had a lot of theories about what happened, and James Ellroy wrote a masterful novel about it, but it remains unsolved.

Finally, I'm excited about this blog because these ladies are some of the most fabulous people I’ve had the privilege to know. I look forward to learning from them and sharing with them and our readers. Our readers are awesome, and I hope to meet a lot more through this blog.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Barbara Phinney reporting in!

I called my mother-in-law up one day and asked her, "Where’s a good place to hide a body?"
She didn’t hang up. She didn’t even hesitate in her answer. She simply said, "Well, the old mine shaft up at Copper Mine Hill would be a good place."
Take heart, niether of us are nefarious, evil people. My sweet, patient mother-in-law is simply used to having a suspense writer as a daughter-in-law.
Hi, I’m Barbara Phinney, and being a little bit of a rebel, I’ve decided to write this blog in a different format. I want you to be able to ‘see’ and ‘know’ me through my writing, my words, my style, and my quirkiness. Lenora Worth likes to think she’s the femme fatale of the Love Inspired Authors, and that’s cool, but I want to be something unique, too. And at my writer retreats, (with fellow Craftie Linda Hall), I’m told, (sometimes by Linda Hall) that I’m nothing if not unique.
As a Christian and a suspense writer, I have to say that I’m not having any trouble merging the two opposites. In fact, I relish it. I used to write for Intimate Moments, so suspense writing is something I’m used to. But the Christian part of me had some issues with my writing at that time, and I knew that I was preparing myself to write Christian suspense. I want to get down and dirty in my writing, but my editor often tugs back on the reins and cuts back on my feed, and I find myself settling in to writing good ol’ suspense again. No more hilarious, ‘ooh, found a skeleton in the pastor’s closet’ stories. (Yup, I wrote that once. It’s a good story, too, just no one will buy it.)
I love the weather, too, and wonder why more authors don’t use it. Of course, weather sometimes doesn’t change for them like it does for us in New Brunswick, Canada. It’s the same for food. I love food, and love describing it, but to others, it’s a plot point onto which they touch only enough to move their stories forward. Too bad. Food’s delicious.
The creative process is wonderful. Thinking of names, places, and is something I ponder for days. My own name came from Saint Barbara, (boy, my parents were really pushing it, weren’t they?) because Saint Barbara is the patron saint of Firepower and my uncle died in the war, as a gunner in the artillery. But do you ever notice that names tend to run in families, communities, etc, but who wants to read about the five Jimmy Smiths in town? Or that the beautiful woman next door has the name of Gertrude because her grandmother had that name? So, we must think of lovely, image appropriate names.
Personally, to that I say pah! Just like settings! I always ask my husband why Survivor isn’t set in the Arctic. He says because the women wouldn’t wear bikinis. I say pah to them, too. Let’s rally around the unusual, ask for the different, stand up for the unique!


Ahem, I better get off that soapbox. (I told you I was different). There are times when I’m as boring as watching paint dry, and times when I will split your sides. Hopefully the latter will be in this blog. And if you think it isn’t, let me know. Having had a career in the military, (Canadian Armed Forces) I can take a few criticisms. Just tell me what you want to read and in the meantime, enjoy this blog!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Introductions are in Order




Happy New Year!
My name is Terri Reed and I love to daydream. And I love even more that I can take those daydreams and turn them in to stories. I’m a wife and mother first and foremost. My family is and always will be my top priority. But when the hubby is off at work and the kids are off at school, I get to close myself in my office and write. I have a big, comfy chair and a nice workspace that is literally clutter so much you can’t see the desk. I work best in clutter and chaos. And with music playing, all types from jazz and show tunes, to rock and classical to Christan gosspel and contemporay.
My faith has sustained me all my life through the ups and downs and writing books with character of faith has deepened my faith. Before I sold I couldn't figure out what was missing from my books. When I decided to incorporate my faith in to the stories I found the missing element. God has blessed my writing richly and to Him I give any glory.
All About Me:
1. How I got my first name? My mom had narrowed the name search down to Erin or Terri (not short for Teresa). She thought Terri sounded bubbly. I’m more an Erin at heart but hey, I answer to Terri. And I try to be out going but it’s a stretch. I’ve gotten better at it as I’ve matured and aged. (ugh, I sound like a bottle of wine).
2. How I got my writing name? Terri Reed is my legal name.
3. How I pick my characters' names, good guy and bad. There’s no rhyme or reason to how I pick names. Sometimes I’ll look up names if I want one from a certain time period or country in a book that I have called the Names through the Age by Teresa Norman. Sometimes the names will come to me in my daydreaming, but I am careful to make sure it’s not a name I’ve used in another book and that doesn’t sound like or have the first initial of another character in the book.

Three Really Interesting Tidbits About Me:
1. I used to be a model. I lived in New York City and Chicago. I did mostly catalog and magazine work but a few commercials as well.
2. I was a gymnast all through high school and then coached gymnastics up until I gave birth to my second child.
3. I love children. I would prefer to spend my time with kids than adults. And if I did pregnancy better I would have had more children but I hated being pregnant. With both of my children I was sick/throwing up from the moment I conceived right up until I gave birth. I would love to raise a whole house full of kids, but I’m blessed with my two.

All About my Books:
1. How I stumbled into writing suspense...Somewhere along the way I heard someone say write what you love to read. And since I devour suspense novels, writing books with some suspense seemed the logical choice. Back when I first sold to Steeple Hill in 2003, there wasn’t a suspense line so I had to keep the suspense aspect to a minimum. But thankfully, they started Love Inspired Suspense and I found a home here. Though I still really like my Love Inspired Romances (two of which are being reissued in March in a 2 for 1 volume) and I have a story idea bouncing around my head for another romance sans suspense. We’ll see.
2. My favorite suspense book I wrote and why...Oh, that’s hard. I have two, I guess. Beloved Enemy, March 2007. I’m not sure that it was my best book but it was the most fun. I was book three of continuity about six sisters who were trying to uncover the mystery of their mother’s death. Each book was loosely based on a Shakespeare play. Mine was Romeo and Juliet. I had fun with the concept and with using phrases of the old bard as I built the characters.
And A Sheltering Love, June 2004(a RITA finalist book) even though this book was under the Love Inspired Romance imprint, it still have a thread of suspense running through it. I think I identified most with Claire, the heroine of the book.
3. My favorite suspense book I read and why...Now that is really hard. I have shelves full of my favorite keepers. Most of which are suspense books. One book in particular that I love and reread often because it helps me with the structure of the short suspense book is Tess Gerritsen’s Presumed Guilty a Harlequin Intrigue from years ago. I saw that it has been re-released recently.

All About Others:
1. My favorite author is… again, another hard question. I have so many favorites. Tess Gerritsen, Harlan Coben, Faye Kellerman, Lisa Gardner, Cindy Gerard, Lenora Worth, Margaret Daley.
2. My best writing friend is...I have several but my two closest are Leah Vale and Lissa Manley. We’ve been critiquing for nearly thirteen years.

3. My most loyal fan is...my husband. He’s not a big reader, especially of fiction but he has read every one of my books to date.

The funniest thing that's ever happened to me because I'm a writer...not sure I have anything fun to relate, but I do find it interesting that because I write people assume I’ve graduated from college. I wish. That is one of my biggest regrets--that I dropped out in my third year to pursue modeling since I had no idea what I want to do with my life.

The craziest thing I've done gathering research for a novel is...convince my husband we needed to go on vacation to Hawaii so I could research the island of Maui. It really didn’t take any convincing, but I wrote the trip off and used everything I saw, felt, smelled, and heard while on the island of Maui in my September 2008 book Double Cross.

A real life murder (crime) that fascinates me is/was...The murder of fashion writer Christa Worthington in January of 2002 in the small Cape Cod town of Truro.

Finally, I'm excited about this blog because...we have such a wonderful collection of authors participating,

Monday, January 12, 2009

Margaret Daley's Intro (8 months late)


Brief Intro:

I am a wife to a wonderful husband, Mike. We’ve been married for thirty-eight years (I was young when we married) and we have one son. Although we didn’t have many children, my son does. His wife is expecting their fourth daughter at the first of April.

In 2000 Steeple Hill bought my first Love Inspired book, and I began my foray into the Christian market. Before that I had written secular books for various publishers. My world changed that day Ann Leslie Tuttle called me to tell me she wanted to buy The Power of Love. Little did I know how much.

Over the years my journey with the Lord has changed and deepened. As I explored my characters’ faith, I also explored my own. I think the Lord had that in mind all along because he kept hinting at me to write for Him, then finally He shoved me. He gave me a story I could only tell one way—His way. Since that time the number of books I’ve sold has climbed to sixty.

All About Me:

1. How I got my first name? I used to think I had been named after Princess Margaret of England, but I wasn’t. I understand there was a friend my parents knew that had the name Margaret and that was who I was named after. I never met her. But thinking you were named after a princess always sounded so much more romantic, especially to a daydreaming young girl.

2. How I got my writing name? My writing name is my real name. You know about Margaret. The Daley came when I married Mike. When I first started writing for Silhouette in the early 80s, I used my maiden name. The publishers (back in the dark ages) wanted a pen name, not your real name. I was so excited finally to be able to use my real name.

3. How I pick my characters’ names, good guy and bad? Most of the time I’m not sure how a name comes to me. Usually I’ll hear one I like the sound of and will remember it. Then when I have to come up with character names, one will pop into my head. I used Colin (So Dark the Night) because of the actor who played Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. I love that movie and he was great. I used Cara because my niece is named that. I’ve used Mike or rather Michael because I love that name. I’ve used Slade because it sounds strong to me. You see there are many reasons why I choose a certain name. I’ve even been known to look in the telephone book for last names. I come up with a first name and then search for a last one that goes with it (never the other way around).

Three Interest Tidbits About Me:

1. Well, I don’t know about interesting, especially three. This one I have to think about. I love writing suspense and reading it, but I couldn’t imagine hurting anyone (I avoid stepping on bugs). Of course, if you saw the books I have in my library, you would wonder—Murder One, Scene of the Crime, Strictly Murder, Deadly Doses, to name only a few.

2. I was a cheerleader in high school for basketball, and I hate basketball (well, now I tolerate it since my husband enjoys it). And the reason I went out for cheerleading was because if we were one we didn’t have to take gym. Practicing the last hour was our gym hour. And I hated the outfit we had to wear in gym.

3. I love to travel and have been many places in the world. My favorite is Tahiti. It is as beautiful as the pictures you’ve seen—Bora Bora is to die for.

All About My Books:

1. How I stumbled into writing suspense…was because I have read so many, and I have a vivid (and some say) warped imagination. I see a situation and love to turn it around and put something suspenseful and dangerous into it. I was at yoga class the other night at church. The teacher wasn’t sure if anyone else was coming and it was time for class to start. She didn’t know whether to go ahead and lock the outside door or leave it ajar for anyone who might come late. Of course, my mind started thinking of all kinds of bad things that could go wrong with that unlocked door, a group alone in the building and darkness outside.

I am a puzzle solver and very analytical. That fits well with my suspense writing. I look at a problem from all angles and have great critique partners who step in if I don’t catch something.

2. My favorite suspense book I wrote and why? Picking my favorite is hard because each one has meant a lot to me, but if I have to it would be Heart of the Amazon because I love the jungle. I’ve even been to a couple of rain forests for research purposes (a whole other story). But not only did I love the setting, the concept intrigued me. Picture African Queen meets Romancing the Stone. That’s Heart of the Amazon.

3. My favorite suspense book I read and why? Amazonia by James Rollins. I love his books and this is the best of them. I love it because of the location but the plot and characters kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. Great book!

All About Others:

My favorite author is James Rollins.


My best writing friend is my critique group (Glo, Caron, Vickie, Therese and Jan). They are great and so supportive.

The funniest thing that’s ever happened to me because I’m a writer is researching a book and wondering if I was on the FBI watch list. I could picture myself being carted off to Guantanamo Bay (I think that’s where they send suspected terrorists), never to be seen again. I even warned my husband, especially after calling the FBI office to ask questions. Actually I heard today on the radio the FBI are looking for applicants. I wonder if they could use a romantic suspense writer.

The craziest thing I’ve done gathering research for a novel was learning to scuba dive and dragging my husband along with me. He almost “died” on one dive when the instructor ignored my husband’s signal he was running low on air. Finally Mike took out on his own and found the line to the surface. As he pulled himself up the rope, he ran out of air halfway up.

A real life murder (crime) that fascinates me is when a student of mine was murdered. It has never been solved to this day and it’s been twenty years. I taught children mentally challenged and how anyone could want to murder a student with special needs was and still is beyond me. It was a horrific crime that rocked my world and our school. He was murdered along with his older brother a few weeks before Christmas while his parents were out Christmas shopping.

I’m so excited that we have added more writers to this blog. I want you to get to know as I do these wonderful, talented authors who write for Love Inspired Suspense. What a great group to be a part of!!!

Have an awesome 2009 and visit often!

Margaret

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What Sarah Saw Interview

Today we're welcoming Jocelyn Gold, the heroine of What Sarah Saw, January 2009 by Margaret Daley.

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.

One of my good friends, Leah, went missing and her three year old daughter might know something. A former colleague from New Orleans when I consulted with the FBI asked me to help him find out what Sarah saw since I'm a child psychologist.

2. So, during the book you met Sam Pierce. Tell us a bit about him. What was your first impression?

Sam is an FBI agent who works out of New Orleans. We worked together on some cases. The mistake we made was dating. I cared about him a lot (okay, I was falling in love with him), and he wasn't able to open up to me. He shut me out, especially on a kidnapping that ended badly. We both were hurting and couldn't turn to each other. I decided it was time to leave and start a new life because what I was doing was tearing me up inside.

When I first saw Sam several years ago, he exuded strength and confidence. Still does.

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

I understand what people are going through. I can get to the bottom of their problems, except I couldn't help Sam in New Orleans. He wouldn't let me in.

My greatest weakness is caring too much and getting emotionally involved when I shouldn't.

4. What scares you?

Being alone for the rest of my life. I want a family.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I need to be in better shape--exercise more. But you see I don't like to exercise so it's hard to be in good shape without doing it.

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

I'd given up on the Lord. I'd seen so much suffering I couldn't see Him at work.

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

I now know the Lord is with us always. We just have to learn to listen to Him when he speaks, which I'm still working on.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the Lord our God is holy. Psalms 99:9
Our Lord is awesome. He often works behind the scenes but He's always there. This verse is one of praise which I think is so important in our worship. We often ask him for help but sometimes we forget to stop and just praise Him for being there for us.

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

Pecan pie with vanilla ice cream--I'm from the deep South and pecan pie is one of our favorites.

This is going to be an exciting continuity and Jocelyn and Sam are terrific characters. I can't wait to see what happens to them.
Thank you Margaret for share Jocelyn with us.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Featured this Week: What Sarah Saw by Margaret Daley


The only witness when a single mother mysteriously vanishes? Her three-year-old daughter. FBI agent Sam Pierce needs to question little Sarah. Yet child psychologist Jocelyn Gold will barely let him near the girl. Or herself. The tragic conclusion to a kidnapping case broke Sam and Jocelyn apart years before, and their hearts still haven't healed. But for the child's sake—and her mother's—they must join forces to uncover just what Sarah saw.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Famous authors and their pets

Hello, from a new craftie lady! I’m Dana Mentink, author of three Harlequin LIS books and a Heartsong Presents mystery series. I’d like to say I live a glamorous life with limo rides and people to follow me around and arrange bits of my life. In truth, I’m the farthest thing from glam that a middle aged mommy type can be. Recently, I decided to investigate the lives of some uber famous authors and see what their lives have in common with mine. You know what I found? What’s the one thread that binds me with the four great authors I researched? We all have faithful companions of the animal variety. I myself have a dog rescued from starvation and a turtle with foot problems. More on that later. Let’s check in with some rich and craftie authors, and see who hangs out in their lives.

Janet Evanovich shares office space with her beloved parrot Ida. He’s 24 years old and she describes him as “quite rude.” Janet gets up every morning at 5 a.m. to write when it’s just her and the parrot. How’s that for a faithful companion?

Ernest Hemmingway was a cat lover. He had 30 pet cats and the most unusual was a six toed cat given to him by a ship’s captain.

Sue Grafton is also a cat lover. She cares for Beau, a feral cat, and Molly and Emma, the more domestic variety. Emma insists on keeping a cardboard box in the kitchen so she can keep tabs on the comings and goings of the household.

Charles Dickens owned Turk the mastiff, but his favorite pet was a pet raven named Grip. When Grip passed, Charles had him stuffed. The bird now resides in the Free Library on Logan Circle in Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

So there you have it! The key to being an uber famous author of mystery and suspense? Share your life with a pet! How many of you out there share your hearts with something furry or feathery? Write in and tell us all about it.

“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.” –Charles Dickens

Hello

Hi, I’m Leann Harris. I am so excited to join this site with all these wonderful authors. I’ve a boring teacher by day. I teach high school and by night I write danger and suspense. I’ve often wondered about my desire to write murder. It worried me. What did it say about me? What was wrong with me that I couldn’t write a story without a dead body? I wanted to write romance, but falling in love is so boring, but throw in a dead body, and now you have excitement.

So what about me?
How I got my first name is when my mother was in nurses’ training, she had a good friend with my name. Years later, when I was born, I was named after her friend.
My writing name is my middle name. I’ve just sold my 11th book. It will be the second for LIS.
How do I pick my hero/heroine’s name? That is probably what takes as much time as anything I do in a book. I have to know their names. I go through the phone book and try out the names. I also have a baby name book I used for my children’s names. It has old names in it, but those names are rock solid. I also like to see the meaning of the names. I had one character that was named Matthew Hawkins. He’d been a book before. As I continued writing his story, there was something wrong. When I started referring to him as “Hawk” I knew that was the right handle for him.

Interesting tidbit…
1) I am a master composter. When I took the class, I thought what a wonderful way to get rid of a body. One of the people working with the city composting education said that is how they dispose of farm animals in Indiana. Who knew?

2) I sign. I taught deaf students most of my teaching career. Now I teach ASL to hearing students. Today is voiceless Thursday. It takes twice as much work for me to make my students understand--but the only way they will learn ASL is without voice.

3) I survived a brain aneurysm. I bled into my brain one Saturday at my writers’ meeting. I remember clutching the commode throwing up blueberry pancakes (it was a while before I could eat blueberries again) when the paramedics pulled me out of the bathroom and took me to the hospital. Three months later, I started to remember. There are a lot of lessons I and my family learned. I hope to share some of those lessons in future posts

About my Books:
1. How I stumbled into writing suspense...Again, I find my brain just puts dead bodies in the plot. Reading the newspaper, you see about a murder and my mind starts spinning ‘what if’. What I love is a good ticking clock in the plot where the hero/heroine have to solve a mystery.
2. My favorite suspense book I wrote and why...This is like asking me which child do I love the most. In each book you write, there is something that you love.
3. My favorite suspense book I read and why... There are so many good suspense books. The fun thing is to find an author you like and then gobble up every other book they have written. Try any of the ladies on this site. You'll be in for a good read.

Leann