Friday, January 29, 2010

The Mad Dash to Deadline!

Hi from Lisa Mondello! I'm going to make this post short and sweet because I am DEEP in the final stages of finishing a manuscript for Love Inspired ROMANCE that is due Feb 1st. Truthfully, no matter how much time I have to write a book I always have my back up against the wall. I need that deadline to get the muse kicking into overdrive.

I wanted to take a moment to announce that as of Monday, I will be JOINING the
Craftie Ladies of Romance site and will have my first post announcing my next book titled Fresh Start Family, which will be published 10/10. This move doesn't mean at all that I'm abandoning Suspense. Far from it. Like Ramona, I find that dead people just naturally end up in my stories and since that can't be helped, I might as well just go with what works for me.

Anyway, as I finish up these last pages on my manuscript, I want to tell everyone that I do have an exciting suspense in the works. My editor already has the follow-up story to Yuletide Protector on her desk and I'm anxious to hear word on whether or not Love Inspired Suspense will be publishing Jake Santos' story. Those of you who have read Yuletide Protector will remember Jake as being Kevin's partner on the police force. I'll keep you posted!

I do invite you to visit me on Monday at our sister site,
Craftie Ladies of Romance, where I will be making my first blog post.

Until next time, many blessings, Lisa Mondello

PS. If you are on FACEBOOK and want to follow along with the posts on the Craftie Ladies of Suspense loop, scroll down the sidebar and join us on
FACEBOOK. You won't want to miss a word of the upcoming VALENTINE's MURDER the CRAFTIE Ladies have in store for you!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Killing Ways

Hi, I’m Ramona and I like to kill people.

In print, that is.

Anyone who follows me on Facebook or reads my blog knows that I adore the television show, Castle, and not just because Nathan Fillion really is “ruggedly handsome.” The show actually snagged my interest with the first line, which is repeated every week:

“There are two kinds of folks who sit around thinking about how to kill people: psychopaths and mystery writers.”

First time I heard it, I wanted to hug the writers.

Flashback to a trip to LA, when my friend Bruce was doing his best to impress me with how fast he could take the curves of Mulholland Drive. In middle of one of his tire-screeching downshifts, I looked out over the ravine and asked, “How often do the road crews come through here?”

“I’m not sure. Why?”

“Just wondering how long it would take to find a body dumped into the ground cover.”

There followed the sound of different kind of clutch, then he said, in a slightly choked voice, “This IS for a book, right?”

OK, yes, I hesitated before answering. Just to see if he’d slow down some.

He did.

My friends have even started kidding me about it. A photographer friend once commented that he sees a great barn to shoot. I see a great barn to dump shooting victims in.

Sometimes I even upgrade to something nicer than a great barn. The book that follows Field of Danger is House of Secrets, in which I turn a renovated Victorian into a giant puzzle, the solution to which will solve not one murder but two – one of them more than 20 years old. More clues to come.

Until then, I hope you enjoy the upcoming CRAFTIE Ladies mystery, a Valentine’s story I know you’ll love.

Rick Castle, eat your heart out.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Describing winter--Lenora Worth

I live in the deep south and I love palm trees. My two big saga palms and another taller palm tree were just beginning to mature into lovely plants. That is until the artic blast that swept across the country caused their lovely fronds to turn an ugly brown. I found a little green underneath the brown so I'm hoping I can revive them come spring. Seeing all the brown in my yard where green used to be got me to thinking about how we describe settings in our stories. If I had to describe my yard right now it would read like a mystery novel:

The paltry wind did a lazy dance over the cold water of the unused swimming pool, causing a clutter of wet drowned leaves to float like a corpse in a never-ending swirling circle across the frigid gray water. The trees shivered with bare-boned chills each time a gust of icy wind hit them. They had already surrendered their lovely leaves and now they stood like laughing skeletons, hovering over the barren wasteland of twisted vines and long-dead blossoms. Who had lived here last summer? Who had laughed and splashed in that water? Would this vast garden of doom and gloom ever allow flowers to bloom again? Would the wind ever blow warm and balmy over the ancient roses and camellias? Or would death cling to this silent, uncaring landscape until everything had turned brown and decayed and forgotten?

Well, you get the picture. I can't wait for spring. How would you describe your winter garden? Is it pretty and snow-white, still blooming with winter blossoms or maybe like mine--not that bad unless your write suspense and your imagination goes wild. It was a dark and stormy day .....

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Shivery Winters

I love snow.  And cold.  I love fluffy down comforters and crackling fires and wool sweaters, baking fragrant loaves of bread and snuggling on the sofa with our dogs and a good book.  Except... I really need to be writing one instead of reading, so I'm mostly at my computer these days!

Here in the Midwest, we have all four glorious seasons that sometimes hit with a vengeance...and that certainly has been the case this winter. Last night,  I drove home in intermittent white-out conditions due to a ground blizzard  whipped up by 30-40 mph winds.  I'll bet those of you in Florida and California are chuckling, as you look out the window and enjoy green grass and sunshine! are all of you spending your winter evenings? What have you been reading lately? 

Have you ever visited, where you can share the titles of the books you are reading, and make comments on them? It's an interesting and informative place where you can discover new book titles, and new authors.  Have you visited ? Its a Christian alternative to  Myspace and Facebook, and it has become hugely popular!

Do you have favorite places on the web that you'd like to share?

Roxanne (The All Creatures Great and Small Place)

Monday, January 25, 2010


I read about some interesting facts about what life was like 100 years ago. It made me take a good look at our life today and how much things have changed in just 100 years.

Here are a few of the facts:
Average life expectancy 47 years
10 mph was the maximum speed limit
Average worker's pay was $200-400 a year.
90% of doctors didn't have a college education.
95% of births were at home.
Sugar 4 cents a pound
Leading cause of death pneumonia and influenza
6% of American were high school graduates.
230 reported murders in all of the United States
Crosswords puzzles, canned beer and iced tea hadn't been invented.
Most women only washed their hair once a month (shampoo usually Borax or egg yolks).
Average hourly wage 22 cents
8% of homes had a telephone.
14% of homes had a bathtub.
Only 8000 cars in the United States with 144 miles of paved roads
No Mother's Day or Father's Day

My hair started itching when I read women usually didn't wash their hair but once a month. On the list for leading cause of deaths heart and stroke was 4th and 5th. Cancer wasn't even on the list. Boy has the world changed in 100 years. Think about what has happened in our lifetime--cell phones, computers, the digital world, knowing what happens almost instantly halfway around the world, not to mention the medical break throughs. I wonder what the difference will be in another 100 years. What do you think? No cars? No printed books? Cancer threat conquered?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Craftie Message of the Day: Just Do It

Yes, that means you!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Weekends! from Carol Steward

On the way to work this morning they had a trivia question. "What is the one thing that makes everyone happy?" When the caller answered the question, I realized they're right. We live for Fridays because the weekend will bring a break from the normal rushing around. In my life, it isn't any slower, with laundry, housekeeping and socializing, but I still look forward to it.

Last weekend, we had Martin Luther King day off, so even though I had a birthday party and cakes and craziness, I still had the weekend to recover from it all.

What is your opinion, does a weekend make everyone happy? Why do you think it does?

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Writing: a life of trust...

The word of 2010 for me is trust.

Trusting God more in all areas of my life. And that includes writing.

Writing is a weird life...not very stable. We write from contract to contract. And sometimes the contracts overlap, like mine are right now, making life a wee bit crazy.

Other times, we're out of contract and wondering if and when the next one will come.

A perfect place to exercise trust.

Do I really believe God has a plan and will for my life that includes my writing? I say I do, but the rubber meets the road when I'm waiting for that next contract. What a great opportunity to develop more trust and faith!

So this week I'm working on two books: editing Stars in the Night for Summerside Press's new historical suspense line and writing a mystery for Guidepost's new mystery series. Both very fun projects that I've enjoyed. And the chaos continues until March 1. Then I'll have time to finish a proposal, dream up new stories, and see what God has for me next.

Praying that you will find it ever easier to trust God in your life.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


By Debby Giusti

This month launches the 2010 Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense Continuity Series, PROTECTING THE WITNESSES, featuring six stories that, to quote the back-of-the-book blurb, revolve around "new identities, looming danger and forever love in the Witness Protection Program."

Chicago Mafia don Salvatore Martino is dying and his son Vincent takes over the family operation. Years earlier, the testimony of a green-eyed woman named Eloise Hill sent Salvatore to jail for murder. For her own safety, she was placed in witness protection in Montana, but the mob’s after her now, and in their attempt to find Eloise, innocent women end up dead.

Be sure to look for the following stories in the series wherever you buy Steeple Hill books:
TWIN TARGETS, by Martha Perry, Jan 2010
KILLER HEADLINE, By Debby Giusti, Feb 2010
COWBOY PROTECTOR, By Margaret Daley, Mar 2010
DEADLY VOWS, By Shirlee McCoy, Apr 2010
FATAL SECRETS, By Barbara Phinney, May 2010
RISKY REUNION, By Lenora Worth, June 2010

Book 1 is on sale now. Watch for my story, KILLER HEADLINE, which will be released in February.
Two women in the witness protection program have been murdered in Montana. The connection? The mob…and the victims' green eyes. Coincidence? Not according to journalist Violet Kramer, who's counting on her exposé to reveal the truth, protect women in danger—and establish herself as an ace reporter. Undercover cop Clay West thinks she's making a deadly mistake that could bring the mob to her door. And when the lawman with the piercing black eyes insists on protecting her himself, Violet knows she's already in danger.

To get a behind-the-scenes peek at how continuities are developed, visit me today at where I'm talking about The Continuity Challenge.

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

CNN Justice

So yesterday I was perusing the Internet and went to CNN. I like to see what's happening in the world. Up at the top I clicked on the Justice tab. It seemed like a good place to gather some story ideas. The first story I read was a cold case about a missing teenage boy.
I found this story disturbing on so many levels, mostly because I have a teen on the cusp of driving. My heart and prayers go out to the parents of this teen.

I wonder how do parents of teens balance protecting your child and giving them the freedom they crave?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hoax or Not: You Be the Judge

Pamela Tracy here, and I've been writing suspense too long. Nope, say it isn't so!!! My friends and family pretty much have stopped sending me email jokes, stories, cartoons, and such because they know I don't read them. When my boss sends me something, I do read it. He's my boss. So, last week he sends me an email titled "So you think you had a bad day?"
There were seven bad day stories, none of which made me blink, and then I came to the final story which I've posted here. I read it; I sit back; I blink, and I say hmmmmm.
Now, I've been writing suspense for over a decade. I've asked fireman about the smell of dead bodies. I've called funeral homes to ask about the lining in coffins. I've chased down a garbage man to ask about the hopper. It should be no surprise that I said, "hmmmmm." See, five days in an office... the writer in me says, "Nope, can't happen. Bad smell." I checked it out on and sure enough HOAX.
Ironically, that night I attended a workshop given by a homicide detective. I asked him if the above scenario was possible. Keep in mind. I'm in Arizona: the land of burn. I wore sunglasses today. The summer I moved here temperatures reached 122.
He said, "Tell me about the air conditioning in the office?"
Ah, exactly what a suspense writer wants to hear.
So, what do you think? Given the right degree of air conditioning, could the hoax turn into a plot for a suspense novel?

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Today we're welcoming Nori Edwards, the heroine of Storm Warning by Linda Hall (January 2010) Wow, you've just had quite an adventure.

I guess I have! Thanks for noticing.

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

My husband of many years passed away two years ago leaving me a widow with teenage twin daughter to raise. That was such hard time for all of us. After almost two years, I decided I needed to make a change. I sold our house in the city and bought a so-called 'resort' on a lake in Maine. I say 'so-called' because maybe I didn't check it out as thoroughly as I should have. It required a lot of repair work! And wouldn't you know it, I couldn't find anyone to come and work on my place, which was literally falling down around me! And that's how I met Steve - well, actually it was a bit more involved than that. I was out kayaking and got caught in a storm. Steve Baylor literally rescued me from bashing into my own dock. And I guess that's where the whole thing began: the romance, the mystery, the "ghosts" even.

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

Well, first of all he is big! That was the first thing I saw when he was standing on the dock at my cabin. He's six foot five and weighs - well, let's just say he's not the kind go guy you want to meet in a dark alley if he's not on your side! He's incredibly strong. He used to be a cop - well, even more than cop, he used to be a sort of spy. Well, really I have not too much of an idea of what he used to be. He doesn't talk about that a lot.

When did I know it was love? Although I probably wouldn't admit it, I think I knew it was love when I saw him standing there on my dock. I don't know - there was just something about him. And then when I hired him to fix up my cabins, my admiration for him just grew and grew.

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

I'm an artist, so I guess you could say that is a skill that I have. Technically, I'm a muralist. People hire me to paint murals on the sides of buildings.

My greatest weakness I guess is fear. I'm a bit of a pessimist and sometimes it's difficult for me to trust.

4. What scares you?

Not being in control scares me. And when my first husband died, I felt so out of control. I never want to feel that way again.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would be less afraid of showing people my art. I know that sounds strange coming from someone who paints humongous pictures on the sides of buildings, but it's true! I'm very self-conscious about my art. I'm timid to tell people I'm an artist. I would be more self-confident if I could.

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

I was pretty mad at God for letting my first husband die. I was mad at God for taking away all that was familiar to me.

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

I realize that God loves me and wants the best for me. I'm not 'mad' at him any more.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
The verse at the beginning of my story is Psalm 90:1 - 'Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.'

When my first husband died it felt like my house was not my home any more. There was nothing I could do to turn it into my home any more. Nothing felt familiar and 'home' to me. I was searching for a 'home'.

It took me until the end of the book to realize that God is my 'home.'

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

I would be cheesecake. Don't ask me why. It just jumped into my head when I read the question. Maybe it's because I love cheesecake.

Great story, Linda! Thank you for shairng Nori with us today.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Writing Pros agree....or not.

Writing is not so hard now is it? One goes tappity tappity on the keys and after a while, it all adds up to a brilliant novel. Uh huh, and I’m in contention for a gold medal in Olympic ice skating. Fortunately, in the Writer’s Digest anniversary issue, there is a collection of some sage advice from the biggest names in writing, but alas, they don’t seem to agree on all the finer points. Let’s take a look.
Outlining anyone?
“I make a very tight outline of everything I write before I write it…” This comes from writer Tom Wolfe. So the outline is critical…unless you’re Robert Ludlum.
“Sometimes one can overanalyze, and I try not to do that. To a great degree, much of the structure has got to come naturally out of the writing,” Ludlum says. Hmmm.
Let’s take a look at inspiration.
From author Frank McCourt, “Sit and quiet yourself. Luxuriate in a certain memory and the details will come. Let the images flow.”
Andy Rooney is more pragmatic. “My advice is not to wait to be struck by an idea. If you’re a writer, you sit down and d*** well decide to have an idea. That’s the way to get an idea.”
Okey dokey. Let’s try another topic. No matter what the project, great writers no doubt share that sense of confidence, of knowing they are masters of the written word. Don’t they?
“Every idea is my last. I feel sure of it. So, I try to do the best with each as it comes and that’s where my responsibility ends. But I just don’t wait for ideas. I look for them. Constantly. And if I don’t use the ideas that I find, they’re going to quit showing up.” – Peg Bracken
And from the supremely confident John Toland, “I’ve always had complete confidence in myself. When I was nothing, I had complete confidence. There were 10 guys in my writing class at Williams College who could write better than I. They didn’t have what I have which is guts. I was dedicated to writing and nothing could stop me.”
So the bottom line? People are different. Writers are different. Life stories, motivations, world views are as different as fingerprints. We need to find our own way. I will close with a quote that applies well to all of us, no matter what the circumstance.
“Don’t quit. It’s very easy to quit during the first 10 years. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t writer, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” – Andre Dubus
So what works for you? What keeps you sitting in that chair writing away? Add your two cents about what keeps you writing.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Maile Moment

I have a granddog. She is a character. When my daughter bought the dog, she was the quietest of the puppies. That was because she had worms. My granddog's name is Maile. That is Hawaiian for flower.

One evening my daughter came over with her husband and Ms. Maile. After my daughter and I finished the work on the computer we were doing, they got ready to go. I walked into my bedroom and discovered Ms. Maile laying on my bed. Here at grandma's house, she's not allowed on furniture and beds. (She's allowed on those at her house.)

I backed out of the room and started laughing until my sides hurt. My reaction wasn't one Cesar Milan would recommend. But, when she came again the next week, I made sure she didn't get on the bed.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Food Inc

There are many things I could blog about today, but one stands out clearly in my mind.
The documentary Food Inc.
I know I'm deviating from the normal blogs here, but since we all have to eat, and since we authors are especially prone to food cravings, we need to be informed.
My sister-in-law recommended this documentary and it's available at most video rental places now, and well worth watching. It tells the story of our food, how it is controlled by big business, lobbied by power and completely turned into a major industry rather than the gentle farmer we expect. It talks about organics, money, power, fast food, and even poverty.
Now I live in Canada, so I am in no position to say 'shame shame' here on the food industry. We're more than likely in the same boat as the US. One good thing about where I live is that if I wanted to buy half a steer for my freezer, I have the opportunity to meet the big fellow first. But it's not so everywhere and it's shocking to see so deep within the industry that still shows pleasant valley farms on the packages of their products.
But regardless of who you are, you should watch this documentary. We need to make informed decisions in our lives, and regardless of whether you agree with organic farming, or if run a farm that sells to one of the big four food producers, or if you are just an eater like me, you need to see this film. We all have a right to know what's in our food, and make informed decisions of such.
Thankfully, the documentary ends with a positive note, and in no way blames the farmer. We need to continue to support our farmers, yield to them on those secondary roads and not grumble at the smell we get sometimes. They feed us.
We just need to know what happens after the food leaves the farm and before it reaches us.
Food Inc. Watch it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Does my editor hate me? Do I hate myself? And other life changing questions...

Lynette Eason here. Happy Monday. I finally am able to come out of practically total hibernation since…um…October? I can’t believe what I did to myself with deadlines and stuff. I briefly wondered if I was really mad at myself when I meekly agreed to each and every deadline put before me. But now it looks like the end is in sight. The light at the end of the tunnel, etc. Or at least it did—until my editor hit me with another deadline this past week. Then another. ALL before the BIG deadline where a major proposal was due. I wanted to ask her if she hated me. I finally decided she doesn’t and I’m grateful for the work.

So my husband is still talking about moving to Nashville. This has been a major unmade decision lingers over my household. I don’t want to move to Nashville. I want to stay right smack dab in the middle of my comfort zone. I mean, why mess that up, right?
Then he asks, “But what if God wants us to move?”
My response. “What if He doesn’t?”
“But what if he does?”
“Then he does. I’ll go ask him and let you know what he says.”
Two days later, hubby asks, “Well? What did God say?”
“He said he’d get back to me.”
“Uh huh.”
I sigh. “It’s COLD in Nashville in the winter time.”
He laughs. “It’s cold here!”

Very true. The jury’s still out on the move, but it’s definitely COLD here in South Carolina. So cold I think I saw an Eskimo building an igloo up the street.

Other questions that sometimes plague me. I’ve written a lot of books lately. Would it kill my career to take a break? Do I even want to take a break? Do I NEED to take a break?

How about you writers out there. Do you ever think about taking a break from writing? I think about it, I just don’t think I have it in me because I come up with an idea for a new story just about everyday! And I look forward to my writing time with an excitement that hasn’t grown old—yet. ☺

Just wondering if I'm weird or normal. Well, never mind that part. I'm a writer. I'm weird. How about the rest of you?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Twin Targets Interview

Today we're welcoming Jade Summers, the heroine of TWIN TARGETS, by Marta Perry, January.
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.
As a librarian, I should be living the most quiet life imaginable. But when my twin, Ruby, went into Witness Protection, it changed things for both of us. I moved to Montana in the hope of seeing her again, but it was too late.

2. So, during the book you met Deputy US Marshal Micah McGraw. Tell us a bit about him. What was your first impression?
I have to admit my first impression was very negative. The Marshal Service was supposed to keep Ruby safe, and she died. How could I possibly trust him, knowing that? When did you know it was love? When I realized that this man would willingly sacrifice his life to save another, I knew I could love him and trust him forever.

3. What strengths/skills do you have?
As a librarian, my most useful skill is the ability to find out about almost anything! That’s how I learned where Ruby died, allowing me to attend her funeral and say my final goodbyes. What is your greatest weakness? My life has taught me not to trust anyone. I always thought that was a strength, until I met Micah.

4. What scares you?
Trusting someone and being betrayed. Also guns, snakes, thunderstorms, and nightmares! I’m really not well suited for adventure, but it was good to learn I can cope if I have to.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d love to be more open with people.

6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?
Questioning. I had faith once, but so many bad things had happened that I didn’t understand how God, if He really cared, could allow them.

7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story?
When every other prop was stripped away, I discovered that God was all I could rely on, and He was enough.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
That passage from the Twenty-Third Psalm was the first scripture verse I memorized as a child, and when I truly was in the valley of death, I saw that it was true.

9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why? Apple Pie. It symbolizes to me the kind of everyday safe life I never had.

Thank you Marta for sharing Jade with us today. Can't wait to read this exciting story!

Friday, January 8, 2010

January Blues...

With all the rush of holiday excitement, parties and food, it sometimes takes a while to recover. For me, I always feel a little blue in mid-January. While I love the holidays, they can be both exciting and stressful. There is so much going on in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years that I look forward to being able to take a deep breath in January.

But then when mid-January comes and I'm left with putting away decorations and sorting through winter clothes that need to be brought to Goodwill. Then there is the snow keeping me housebound. January and February are cold and snowy months here in New England. With all that I start to feel a little bit of the blues. I start to miss the excitement of the holidays and at the same time are glad that life has calmed down.

Have you ever felt that? Happy and sad the holidays are over, both at the same time?

Since I work at home, I think it's easy for cabin fever to set in during the winter months. In the summer, I can always move my writing spot to the deck or find a quiet place on the lawn with my laptop or a good book. With 8 inches of snow on the ground right now, finding a quiet and relaxing space outside is not possible.

I find that getting out of the house works. I don't mean getting out to do chores like grocery shopping or picking up the mail at the post office. I need something to look forward to, like having coffee with a friend or even finding a local breakfast place with good Wi-Fi so I force myself out of my comfortable jammies and out into the world, even if all I do is converse with the waitress who fills my coffee cup. I'm pretty easy to please. I really don't need much.

What about you? What do you do to get rid of the January Blues?

Until next time, many blessings, Lisa Mondello

Thursday, January 7, 2010

viruses and bugs, oh my

This just in from Lenora Worth. I've had computer woes all week and finally had to resort to doing a total restore on my computer. I had something invade my machine, flashing all these dire warnings and telling me I needed to download a whole new security program because my computer was infested. Funny, since I have a good security program and it had just done a complete scan. I tried ignoring the pop-ups, tried deleting them, even tried screaming at them. This stuff kept popping up even when I was in my word processing file and not online. So ... my husband did a restore in the wee hours of the night so I could get something in to my editor before the noon deadline the next day. What a hero! And what a mess. Things are back on track now.

All of that to say, isn't this always the way when we get hit with a bug or a nasty virus? It seems this time of year with winter rattling the windows and dry heat valiantly trying to keep us warm, we get sick. Our bodies send us dire warnings to take care, slow down, reboot. But we push these pop-ups away, trying to get on with our work. And yes, we scream at a sore throat or a little cough, hoping that will solve things. But our bodies have built-in security systems that try to alert us that we need to rest and restore. So while my computer seems to be safe once again, I have several hard working friends who've been sick through the holidays. My husband and my son both have the sniffles. Me, when I get stressed my back goes out. Never fails. This time, my upper back is not happy. It was bothering me before all these woes and now it's sending out alert signals to beat the band. I will rest and take care. But with the artic blast covering most of the country, it bears repeating-take care, stay warm, stay healthy and listen to the warning signs. Sometimes a good restore can save a lot of trouble down the road. Now ... I must get to work but I will listen to my alert signals and act accordingly. (Hot chocolate helps!)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Out of the (C)Old, Comes the New

Yeah, I know…bad pun.

I grew up playing in cemeteries. Our family church homes were tiny congregations adjacent to graveyards, and my friends and I always bounded away as soon as we could from church events and family reunions. We'd race among the stones, catch lizards, and perch on granite monuments and make up spooky tales about the ones who lay beneath.

Old gravestones are always the best, and one of my favorites is in the Forest Chapel United Methodist Church graveyard in Hartselle, Alabama. My family attended for a few years when I was a kid. Scratched deep into the stone by an obviously caring, if uneducated, loved one are the words:


So who was (hoowa) Joshua and why did he die at 29? Was it a fever? Accident?


So it is that I’ve been fascinated with cold cases most of my life. My next book for Steeple Hill, House of Secrets, is a combination story involving a new and cold case, and the book after that is as well. And the one after that.

In fact, it looks as if cold case romantic suspense may be my niche. After all, if I need inspiration, all I have to do is pay a visit to a few of my old haunts (so to speak) and dwell a while on the lives of the saints who have gone before. Their world and lives were as fascinating as our own.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A True Winner

I was racking my brain trying to come up with something to write about today. This isn't really about something suspenseful but I dreamed about it last night.

I'm not sure why I dreamed about this but years ago I had a student who had a disease that made him look like a little (about four feet tall with short legs) old man when he was sixteen. I knew his life expectancy wasn't long and he had lots of health problems. But he was such an inspiration to me and everyone around him.

One year at the state games for Special Olympics in Oklahoma (I was a coach for 18 years), he was determined to do the 400 meter walk although it was hot and humid. He didn't sweat so being in hot weather was hard for him. When his event was called, he went to the starting line and began his trek. Not a third a way around the track, he began to have trouble because of the heat and not being able to sweat. A volunteer walked with him, keeping cold cloths on his head and neck. He had to rest periodically, but he was determined to finish the race. He did a long time after everyone else, and when he walked across the finish line, he walked across to a standing ovation. He showed the crowd at the stadium what a true winner was that day. He proudly displayed his ribbon the rest of the time we were there. Every competitor got a place ribbon depending on where they came in. It didn't bother him that he was last. He finished the race. That was his dream and goal.

What was unusual about the dream was that I was on Letterman (by accident and that's a whole different blog) and ended up telling this story. Don't ask me why. I don't know. But the dream was so clear that I remembered it vividly this morning.

What unusual dream have you had?

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Today we're welcoming Jackie Swann, the heroine of Endless Night, a Love Inspired Suspense January release by Dana Mentink. 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.
The Delucchi Lodge, in the remote Alaskan wilderness, was a place where I enjoyed the best moments of my life, until the day my brother died there. Now, with no place to run and people trying to kill me, I find myself back here in this incredible place. The irony is insane.

2. So, during the book you met Roman Carter. Tell us a bit about him. What was your first impression? When did you know it was love?
I grew up with Roman. I loved him from the time I was barely a teenager. That all changed when my brother died because of him. In that moment, both our lives changed forever.

3. What strengths/skills do you have? What is your greatest weakness?
I’m a faithful, loyal person but I can be stubborn and judgmental.

4. What scares you?
I am scared that I will live my whole life with this anger burning inside, the terrible rage at losing my brother that only gets worse as time goes by.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would be able to let go and let God change me from the inside out.

6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?
I’m angry at God, closed to his voice and eager to show that He is not a part of my life.

7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story?
On my knees, where I should have been all along.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow:
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool. Isaiah 1:18
Forgiveness is sometimes harder to accept than to offer but He gives us the chance to be perfect again, white as snow and all we need to do is take His precious gift, especially me and Roman.

9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why?
I’d be a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, kinda serrated and hard on the outside, but inside very soft and vulnerable.

Wow, exciting! Thank you Dana for sharing Jackie with us, this sounds like a great read to start the new year with. Hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Year!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Top Ten Ways to Welcome a New Year from a Suspense Writer’s Viewpoint, Carol Stewar

10. Bring out the FIREWORKS, or, create your own!
9. Have a CLUE marathon. An evening with Colonel Mustard in the library can’t be all bad, can it?
8. Drive over the river and through a blizzard to you in-law’s home. Okay, I am driving to my mother-in-law’s house for New Years but this time there is no blizzard. Not that I haven’t driven through my share of blizzards to get just about anywhere. I’m too old and wise to do that now. Last Christmas we were determined to trek from Colorado to Arizona to spend the week with our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter, but there was a storm in the forecast, so rather than skidding right though the middle of it, we went South to Mexico, then back up to Phoenix. It was a very impressive storm, which we saw the dark gray clouds to our West the entire drive South, and saw the remaining 4 to 5 feet of snow on our way home a week later.
007. Stir up a little suspense - watch a James Bond Marathon with some popcorn and your favorite drink, shaken, not stirred. Which is your favorite Bond? Mine top favorite will always be Sean Connery, followed by Pierce Brosnan.
6. Ride Along with your local police officer. You’ll be surprised to find out what all happens in your hometown, but don’t forget your “WRITER” body armor, like my favorite new TV star, Richard Castle.
5. Attend a WhoDunnit Party. Or if you’re feeling VERY brave, plot your own. Dress up like a favorite fictional character.
4. Fall asleep writing your next novel zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Dream up some new ideas for those future books as long as your dozing. Just don’t forget them when you wake up.
3. Invite your writer friends over for a brainstorming party. Come up with crazy new scene ideas or Act out scenes from your book, exactly like you’ve written it, just to see if your scenes are accurate. Be ready to laugh until you cry!
2. Take your “Pink Lady” out for some target practice. (The “Pink Lady” is a pink Titanium Smith and Wesson 45 caliber hand gun.) Until Santa takes the hint that I’m serious about putting this on my list, I’m going to have to take my dad’s Colt out instead. Hey, we authors need to do our research the old fashioned way.
1. Cozy up by the fireplace with a cup of cocoa and a book by your favorite author. Just do it!