Friday, May 28, 2010

Plan B - how is God going to show up?

Hey there, friends. Liz Johnson here.

I recently joined a small group through a church here in Nashville, and we've begun reading the new book Plan B by Pete Wilson, a local pastor who made national news for the way he recently organized the members of his church in flood relief efforts. I've been enjoying reading the book, and so far my favorite part is the subtitle: What to do When God Doesn't Show Up the Way You Thought He Would. Pete writes about how we should respond when life doesn't go how we planned, how we thought it would.

Lately I've been thinking about how that relates to me in my life, and also the lives of my characters. Afterall, isn't that what all good novels have in common? Books would be awfully boring if every character's life turned out exactly the way he thought it should. If she got everything she ever wanted with no struggle, there's no story.

And I think it's the same with real life. When everything turns out the way we think it should, we miss out on the story. Because the really exciting part of life isn't getting what we want every time, but rather waiting to see just how God is going to show up. Oh, He's promised He won't ever leave or forsake us, so He will show up. We just might not realize it until it's happened.

As I'm working on my new book, I've started asking myself how God will show up to the heroine. She feels like she's on Plan F, and she's not convinced that God will do what He's promised He will. But she's about to be surprised that the biggest pain in her life, is really a gift from above.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I think we have a story. :)

I hope this encourages you, both as you're writing and as you're walking your day-to-day life. Maybe you're on Plan B. Maybe you're on Plan Z. Either way, God is going to show up. Make sure you pay attention so you don't miss the good stuff.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

God's Faithfulness

I've been thinking about God's faithfulness lately.

You see, our church is in the middle of a series of miracles as we prepare to move to a new site in the next 18 months. Not something we sought -- but a highway coming through the sanctuary kind of makes it necessary.

It means we're in the middle of a building campaign and are being challenged as a congregation to dig deep as God moves us.

As a result, I've been thinking about the many times in my life God has been faithful to meet needs in big ways.

One I've ruminated on is college. Seven years of higher education is expensive. Crazily so for most people. But through a series of good choices and God's amazing intervention I was blessed to graduate without debt. That's given Eric and me such freedom. The freedom to make my children a priority. The freedom to invest in them through homeschooling. The freedom to respond to needs when God places them in front of us.

And my writing journey has been another. He has opened doors in His timing that I could have pushed on for a long time and never forced open.

How has God shown you His faithfulness? And if you wonder...if you have a hard time seeing His hand and His faithfulness...remember the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 100:
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Healing Character Wounds

by Debby Giusti

As writers, we know the importance of creating flawed characters that change and grow over the course of our stories. Looking back at my first writing attempts, I often chuckle. My heroes and heroines had it all—good looks, great intellects, poise and charm. Free of baggage, they were extraordinary humans whose lives were blessed in everyway. Of course, I had a lot to learn and soon realized that compelling stories involved characters that were true to life.

Last weekend, I attended a Christian healing seminar to learn ways to help those suffering from inner wounds, but shortly into the first talk, I knew that much of the information provided could be used in my books as well. The therapist who presented the program started off by saying all of us are wounded. Our unhealed wounds can trigger a response that negatively impacts the way we relate to others. The pain we experience often comes from the memory of an event that happened in the past. We hold onto a false belief about the memory that adversely affects the way we think about ourselves. If we can identify the false belief by bringing Christ into the midst of that painful memory, we can see ourselves through His eyes, discard the false lie we have been living and recognize the truth about who we truly are—a beautiful creation totally loved by God.

Michael Hauge, author of Writing Screenplays that Sell, presented a workshop at the Romance Writers of America Conference I attended, in 2007, that touched on the same subject. Hauge talked about including character wounds and flawed self-perceptions in our stories. He explained how a hero may be inhibited by a wound or source of continuing pain that happened in the past, which he has suppressed but hasn’t healed. The hero draws inaccurate conclusions about the wound to protect himself, while living with the fear that he could be wounded again. As a self-protective mechanism, the hero puts on a false front, or mask, which is the identity he presents to the world. Within the story, the flawed belief and protective identity must be stripped away to find the essence of the authentic person he truly is.

Whether in our books or in real life, the love of Christ heals. When we incorporate transforming moments into the lives of our characters, our stories can impact others in a positive way. Hopefully, readers will examine their own painful memories and recognize the wounds and false beliefs that weigh them down. Embracing the universal truth that Christ wants us whole and healed whether in fiction or real life, readers, writers and characters alike see themselves in the light of Christ’s abundant love and mercy and are transformed.

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Covert Pursuit Interview

Today we're welcoming Angie Carlucci, the heroine of Covert Pursuit, a May 2010 release by Terri Reed.

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.
Believe me I wasn’t looking for any suspense or adventure when I went to my aunt’s cottage on Loribel Island off the gulf of Florida. I was on a forced vacation from my job as a Boston Homicide Detective and was supposed to be relaxing, but I don’t do relaxed well, so when I saw a body bag being dumped into the ocean from a boat, I couldn’t ignore it. I had to act. Things sort of snowballed from there.

2. So, during the book you met Jason Bodwell . Tell us a bit about him.
What was your first impression? I first thought he was a laid back boat captain with too much time on his hands and too much curiosity for his own good. Little did I know exactly who and what he was.
When did you know it was love? You know I can’t remember the exact moment, maybe the first or second time he saved my life, or when I saved his. Or maybe it was when I realized how wounded his soul was or how generous and caring he could be.

3. What strengths/skills do you have? I’m good at my job and tenacious. What is your greatest weakness? Well, as I said I’m tenacious. That’s probably one of my biggest weaknesses, that and the need to prove myself.

4. What scares you? Emotionally I’d say losing the people I love. Physically...not much, well, except maybe the alligator that nearly had me for lunch. That was pretty scary.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Hmmm. Not sure. I know my parents wanted me to be more girly, but I was always wanted to be like my two brothers. That’s why I followed the men in my family into law enforcement.

6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story? I have a pretty strong faith, at least I thought it was but it was surely tested during this adventure.

7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story? Stronger. I have more clarity about God and His goodness.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
Zechariah 13:9
This verse speaks to the relationship between God and His people. I love that God knows each one of our names and recognizes our voice, and we can hear and recognize his voice.

9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why? I’d be a banana split with strawberry, chocolate and vanilla topped with whipped cream, nuts and drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauces. Because I’m multifaceted and so is this dessert.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Today's Woman versus Today's Writer

Pamela Tracy here, thinking about who I am and what I could be. I love this rhyme.

Wash on Monday
Iron on Tuesday
Bake on Wednesday
Brew on Thursday
Churn on Friday
Mend on Saturday
Go to meeting on Sunday

I don't know about you, but I do the laundry every day. It's called having two kids. One is five; the other is forty. My husband claims I can't blame him; after all, I'm the one who won't use the same towel twice. I respond that I've come a long way from my teenage years where I used two towels after every bath. See, I didn't want the towel that touched my feet to also touch my hair. What can I say: I was raised an only child. As for ironing: on average, I get down the iron once every six months. To me, wrinkles are in. WAIT! Wrinkles on clothes that is. I like to bake, when the mood strikes. I buy cookbooks about baking. And, about once every three months, a concoction appears - usually cookies or brownies and almost always from a mix. Brew? I'm not sure what that means. Churn... I know this thanks to Laura Ingalls. Probably the modern equivelent would be grocery shopping. Yes, I do this, sometimes once a week; sometimes twice a week. I like grocery shopping if I'm alone. I notice if my five-year-old comes with me, I spend more. Mend. Nope, nope, nope. Last time I found a hole, my birth mother snitched it. I did, at one time, have a place for items that needed mending, but after a few years, I realized that I'd never mend them so gave them away. I do crochet, though, and love love love it. Meeting. Yes, give me a gold star. On Sunday's we go to church. I get to sit in Bible class and learn. Yesterday we were talking about Moses and his father-in-law Jethro and Jethro advising Moses to let some of the Israelites take leadership roles.

Actually, though, the ryhme doesn't describe me. So, I've made a new one. One that does fit me a bit more.

Brainstorm and Reseach on Monday
Outline and Plot on Tuesday
First Draft and Critique Group on Wednesday
Edit, Proofread, and Revise on Thursday
Polish and send to agent/editor on Friday
Revisions on Saturday
Go to meeting on Sunday and PRAY.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Boston homicide detective Angie Carlucci thought she was getting a much-needed vacation. But her Florida Keys holiday is interrupted when she sees someone dump a body bag in the ocean. In the tangle between arms dealers and treasure hunters, she's the only witness—and the main target. Unless a certain boat captain can keep her safe…A pretty cop complicating his mission—and endangering his cover—is the last thing federal agent Jason Bodwell needs. Yet the more Jason and Angie work together, the closer they grow. Jason's willing to risk his life to solve the case…what will he risk for love?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Where did Mr. Darcy go?

Ah, Mr. Darcy! Dana Mentink here and I just watched Pride and Prejudice with my teen who recently finished reading the book. Darcy is the consummate brooding hero, is he not? It put me in mind of some other literary heroes; Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester and even the dashing Rhett Butler. They share some commonalities, the handsome, intelligent man who marches to his own drummer. He’s strong, somewhat rebellious and, in the Byronic hero, mysterious and sophisticated. You don’t see this type of hero to often in movies or TV. these days but I’m hoping the delicious Mr. Darcy type hero is alive and where somewhere in literature.

Can you suggest any to add to the list besides Darcy, Rochester, Heathcliff and Butler? Do tell!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Keeping things in balance

A friend recently asked me if the delusions of grandeur were getting to me.

Well, I'm here to set the record straight on this.

I don't have time for grandeur. But I wish I did.

I do not sit on a pink chaise and eat bon bons, dictating to a secretary. But I wish I did.

I have chickens, cats, multiple gardens, and a rejection from my editor. Right now, my hair is sticking up all over the place and last night I went to a going away party and bellied up to the dessert table completely forgetting my personal pledge to myself not to eat anything. I talked to a friend there and we ate and ate and ate.

No delusions of grandeur or of dieting. But I wish I did.

I'd be slimmer, more famous and have a contract.

On a more serious note, I know that rejections and life get in the way of my writing career, and I know there's little money for our trip to Bolivia, but I have to say I'm pretty blessed.

Let's take yesterday for instance. It was a gorgeous day and I loved the smell of spring in the air. Now those of you who live in places where sunny skies and warm temps are taken as the norm, they are so infrequent here that we actually consider shutting down the province and celebrating them. They are so incredibly precious to us here.

But there are other things I am thankful for. One of our cats delivered a snowy white kitten with a gray tail and one black ear. But though she's not nursing it, another mum who recently lost her babies has taken on the responsibility, and loving it. Now, isn't that precious?

And my spinach is growing in the garden, my flowers are blooming, not minding the weeds at all, and my allergies are doing just fine all things considered.

I'm blessed.

Look around. Are there things for which you consider yourself blessed?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Where the Road Ends

Pamela 'the explorer' Tracy here.

A few weeks ago, my family went exploring. Lately, we've found ourselves gravitating toward the Globe, Arizona, area (Yes, I'm thinking about setting a book there). This particular day, we parked the van and headed toward a waterfall that we'd see from the highway. The waterfall was cool (from a distance) but the jewel we stumbled upon was unexpected. See, we were following what we thought was a trail to the waterfall, but it was really an old road. Overgrown, broken, and thoroughly fun to explore. We picked our way past broken bottles (We were not the first to explore this road), crawled over trees stumps, and traversed mounds of dirt, and finally came to the jewel: an old bridge. Down below, the water quickly flowed and my son and his friend threw rocks and watched them splash. Me? I stood on the bridge and looked at the next place the old road would take me - right into the packed earth that lay beneath AZ 88.

We found the old road that connected Apache Junction to Globe. The new highway traveled beside it some and then was formed over it. The road we traveled abruptly ended into a wall of dirt.

Our writing is like that. Sometimes we know our story, but get excited about a side plot. We travel with our new idea - totally happy - and then hit a wall and can go no further.

Let me add to that: we can go no further at that moment.

Backtrack a little and you might find a different way to turn your story. Or, maybe it's okay to end with a road leading into a wall of dirt. My son wants to go back, not to the wall of dirt but to the stream. Maybe next time I go, my plot... I mean our adventured will follow the stream and we'll find another jewel.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Secret Agent Father Interview

Today we're welcoming Shelby Jacobson, the heroine of Secret Agent Father by Laura Scott.

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 was surprised myself, since I usually stay out of the limelight, and my day job is not at all dangerous as I run a Christian Day Care Center called Little Lambs. One minute I was taking care of my children the next I’m on the run with my nephew, Cody.

2. So, during the book you met undercover DEA agent Alex McCade. Tell us a bit about him. What was your first impression? When did you know it was love? My first impression was relief, because I knew as Cody’s father Alex would do whatever necessary to keep us safe. But I didn’t know it was love until he accepted God and put his life on the line for me.

3. What strengths/skills do you have? What is your greatest weakness? I think I’m a very good mother and teacher, but I was not good at being on the run, that was very hard. My biggest weakness is trust, it’s hard for me to trust men.

4. What scares you? Being alone with a man was always frightening, but with Alex, I never really had that fear.
5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I think I’d be more confident in my abilities right from the beginning. At first I was afraid, but as I gave myself over to God’s love and care, I became more self confident.
6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story? I always had a lot of faith, but needed to learn how to let go of the past.

7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story? By the end of my adventure, I fully accepted God’s love and support, completely letting go of my fear.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant. The scripture at the beginning of the story is all about conquering fear. And that’s exactly what I had to learn as I went through this adventure.

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

Gosh, I think I’d be an apple turnover because that’s what my mom used to make for us and just the smell of apple turnovers makes me think of home and family. Which is what I have now with Alex and Cody.

Thank you Laura for sharing Shelby with us. Can't wait to read this exciting story!

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Although he's never met the boy who arrives on his doorstep, undercover DEA agent Alex McCade can't deny the truth. The four-year-old is his child, and—like father, like son—little Cody has landed himself in the middle of a dangerous situation. Shelby Jacobson, Cody's aunt, tells Alex that Cody is the only one who can identify his mother's killer. So now the killer is after them both. With his newfound family in danger, Alex will do anything to keep Cody—and Cody's beautiful aunt—safely by his side.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Be a Detective: Creating memorable characters...

A big hello from Lisa Mondello! It's a special day. I actually have a lull in my writing schedule and have begun working on a new Love Inspired Suspense proposal. I'm really excited to be able to bring readers back to the beginning, bring in the Aztec Corporation and see if they'll come to justice for their crimes. More on that later. I'm hoping my editor loves the proposal when I send it to her later next week.

Anyway, today I'm going to talk about how writers need to be detectives. You don't necessarily have to write suspense to be a detective. Comedy writers, contemporary and historical romance writers need to be a detective as well.

To make stories that are believable, you need to dig deep. That's a tall order for someone who spends their days with characters that are a figment of their imagination. Yes, I know our characters are real to us AND to the readers...we hope. But they still start from that unknown place in our brains where we create them.

Every writer needs to go beyond face value to create characters that come alive on the page. We all strive for it. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes...well, we struggle until we get there. How do you dig deep to create believable characters?

First off, know much more about your characters than you need to know to tell the story. The reader doesn't necessarily need to know that the hero broke his leg in the 4th grade playing basketball or in a car accident unless the hero has a limp and that limp plays a part in the story. What if he longed to be a runner or be a Texas Ranger and that limp kept him from his dream?

Here's an example. Remember Billy Bob Thornton's character in Armageddon? He always wanted to be an astraunaut but got grounded because of the problems with his legs. We don't necessarily need to know a huge amount about why he needs leg braces. But the fact that he does and had a strong desire to "wear that patch" like Bruce Willis is the reason he pushes so hard for the team in space to succeed. Well, that and the fact that a 3 mile-wide asteroid is charging toward them in space and is going to abliterate Earth.

Let's face it, he could have easily just been a guy in Mission Control who wanted Bruce and his team get the job done. Period. It's the little details like that make a character come alive. They separate them from being ordinary and make them memorable.

In my 11/07 book Cradle of Secrets, the housekeeper, Aurore, has an gruesome scar on her face from a fire that happened 27 years earlier. It colors her character for the reader initially until you learn later in the book that Aurore received that scar saving the heroine as a baby from that same fire. Readers have told me that Aurore's character was one that stood out to them and provided a few surprises.

We want all our characters to be memorable. Characters don't need to have physical ailments to be memorable. Sometimes it's phobias. Sometimes it's just the baggage of life that has created motivation for them to act the way they do or create conflict with another person. When creating characters, we all start with a blank white page. It's how we color that page by digging deep and making that character come alive that makes them memorable.

What movies or books have characters that you can't seem to forget? I've love to know.

Many blessings, Lisa Mondello

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Girl with a Gun

This photo will be featured in a performance of An Optimistic Woman, a short play I wrote. The performance (on 5/21) is part of a month long celebration called “Women’s Work 2010,” sponsored by the Tennessee Women’s Theater Project. When I submitted the play to the contest a few things had not happened in my life.

For one thing, the rains had not come. I found it amazing how the Nashville floods turned everyone’s world upside down and sideways, even if our property escaped damage. Power, internet, and cell services were disrupted. Drinking water became scarce. Friends became desperate for help. It’s rather difficult to say, “Sorry, I have a deadline,” when the call goes out for salvaging what’s left of a life.

But there were deadlines, some unexpected. My line edits for the next book came in. I got a call for a new freelance editorial job. And I’m teaching at the Blue Ridge conference next week, so there were critiques to do and workshops to prepare. In the middle, I have to take the photos for the play and arrange for a rehearsal that’s to take place while I’m out of town.

But there’s a subtle lesson in the photo. Kim had to set aside her training to pose for this. Her training instilled in her one rule: You never point a gun at another human being unless you expect to shoot in defense. In fact, I wanted to shoot this at her range, but she said we wouldn’t be allowed to. She had to set that training aside to help me complete my project.

As writers, as women, as family members, as employees, we are steeped in responsibilities. LAYERED in the training to tackle them. With those responsibilities comes a layer or two of guilt as well . . . heaven forbid we drop the ball on anything.

But sometimes, we have to. Sometimes we have to say, “Yes, I have a lot to do, but right now, I need to go pack up a kitchen filled with sewer water and mud.”

Sometimes our training has to give way to our humanity.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dead Ringer Interview

Today we're welcoming Lucy Kimbol, the heroine of Dead Ringer,by Sharon Dunn, released this May.

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 live in a small town in Wyoming and work as fly fishing guide. I became the focus of a serial killer investigation because I look a great deal like the previous victims.

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

My first impression was not a good one and it had nothing to do with Eli. Eli was a cop and because of some things that happened when I was younger, I didn’t really trust cops. Eli was just sort of relentlessly gentle and I grew to trust him. I think the thing that made a big difference was when he helped me get a runaway boat out of the water. He ended up saving my life. I had tried to talk him out even helping me.

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

I love the outdoors. My grandfather taught me how to fly fish and I feel pretty confident out on the river. It’s also when I feel closest to God, being surrounded by his creation and beauty. As for weakness, my friends all say that I have trouble asking for help. I think it is because I have been on my own since I was eighteen. I love helping other people, but I can be so hesitant to ask for help. I think that was the thing that was so special about Eli. He didn’t wait for me to ask. He knew what I needed even if I didn’t know myself.

4. What scares you?

Losing the people I love and care about. I never knew my father. My mom died when I was eighteen and my grandparents before that, I almost lost my brother because of some bad judgment by the local cops here in Mountain Springs. Until I met Eli, I think there was a part of me that was afraid to love.
5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I can be a little stubborn sometime. I will say that since I met Eli, I am learning to laugh about that.
6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?

I became a Christian a little before my mom got sick. My relationship with Jesus has always been strong. He carried me through some hard times.

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

I think the missing piece in my faith was learning to be interdependent on the Christian community. It ties back into learning to ask for help when I need it.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
The verse is from Isaiah 41:10 and it’s about not being afraid because God is with me. Because of the losses in my life, I think I operated from a place of fear all too often. Falling in love with Eli taught me that you have to risk loss if you want to find love. It was so worth it.

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

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. I love fresh fruit. Apricots are my favorite.

Wow, sounds great. Thank you Sharon so much for sharing Lucy with us.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mothers--very special people

This is Margaret Daley here. A couple of years ago I posted this on a blog about brave women. It is a tribute to my mother and since yesterday was Mother's Day, I wanted to post it again. No matter how long my mother has been gone, she is never far from my thoughts and she had a huge influence on the type of person I am today.

Catherine David

As I thought about writing this blog and talking about a woman who was brave, I immediately thought about my mother. In fact, no one else came to mind except her. She’s been dead for over eight years now and I miss her every day. But I’m comforted by the knowledge that she touched so many people’s lives.

After my father died when I was twelve, she moved us to Mississippi so she could be nearer her family. There were three of us and she always was there for my two brothers and me. She’d taught nursing in Kentucky where we had lived. When we arrived in Biloxi, she went to work as a nurse. She filled several different positions in various hospitals over the years and even taught nursing at the junior college on the coast.

One year she was a school nurse for the Biloxi School District. That was the year Camille, a hurricane with winds over two hundred miles an hour, struck the coast and destroyed a lot of my hometown. She spent hours helping people get back on their feet as a nurse and friend. When something had to be done, my mother was at the front of the line volunteering to do it.

When she would talk about one of her patients dying, you would have thought it was her best friend. That was the way she was. She felt deeply another’s pain and was there to help the person get better. She was a caregiver and a deeply religious woman whose faith in the Lord never wavered through loss, illness and destruction (more than Hurricane Camille wrecked havoc on the coast where she lived).

When my mother retired from being Director of Nursing at Biloxi Regional Medical Center, the Board of Directors said:
Catherine David has been an inspiration to the nursing profession. She was a moving force and leader in the establishment of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Coastwide. She had shown genuine concern for the welfare of the patients and has demonstrated support and concern for physicians, employees and people of the community.

That was my mother, a caring, loving, concerned Christian. I miss you every day, Mom.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Facts about the Mountain Springs Serial Killer:
He targets women with long dark hair and blue eyes.
He finds his victims through an online dating service.
He's about to strike again.

When a distress call sends Detective Eli Hawkins to Lucy Kimbol, he senses danger straightaway. With her long dark hair and beautiful blue eyes, Lucy's a dead ringer for the local killer's other victims. And she is a member of the online dating service the killer frequents. But with her painful past, Lucy is reluctant to believe Eli's warnings. Winning her trust is the only way to keep her safe…if Eli is not already too late.

Friday, May 7, 2010

What to do after a break ...

Hi, there! Liz Johnson back again with yet another confession. (Y'all are going to think that all I do is break rules and confess about it.) I haven't written anything but blogs in over 3 weeks.

Yep, I'm under contract, with a July 15th deadline to finish my third Love Inspired Suspense book, but I haven't been able to write. It hasn't been writers block or laziness keeping me from my manuscript. It's been life. First a new job, then there was a move across the country, then a trip to see my new nephew and help my sister, then a flood that has ravaged my new hometown.

There was no way I could write as I watched the Nashville flood waters behind my house rise all weekend as the rain just wouldn't stop. And now there is so much to do to help the people of Nashville.

So what do you do when life keeps you from the writing?

Seriously, I need advice and help. I've completely lost my writing stride, but I have to get back on track. I have a deadline to meet.

I think my first step is recognize that I will be distracted right now. I will have other things--important things--requiring my attention and time, so for the time being, I have to embrace that. And then I have to figure out how to take what time I do have available and focus as much on writing during that time as I can. While that is truly freeing, I can't help but worry.

Will the real suspense of my next book actually be whether I can finish it on time?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Digging Deep

This year has many new steps in the writing journey for me. My first trade (it's kind of a big deal!) releases in July. And I'm writing for two new publishers...getting pushed in my writing in ways that is making me better.

But I've also been working hard on the marketing side. That means taking steps and doing the hard work of figuring out who I am.

I don't know about you, but that isn't easy for me. There's a strong people pleasing side to me and I've always been able to sense the "right" answers to questions...know what I mean...

So I've brought some people around me to help me dig deep.

It's actually been an exciting process as we've refined who I am as a speaker and writer. The theme was there. I actually did know it, but I needed help to mine it from its hiding place.

You see, I'm convinced Satan doesn't want us to know who we are. Or to truly get it. At the heart level. Because when we do, we are willing to do things for God that would seem impossible. But as He reveals who He created us to be and who we are in Him, a freedom and strength is released that has us running to tackle challenges and dreams.

So today my challenge to you: dig deep. Ask God who He sees when He looks at you. And be amazed!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Building Suspense with ACFW!

by Debby Giusti

Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure and honor to visit the American Christian Fiction Writers' WORD Chapter in Buford, Georgia. President Lindi Peterson (sitting to my left in the first photo) invited be to present a workshop on Building Suspense in Any Genre. The topic was fun to research and made me realize, yet again, how much I love the suspense genre.

The members were so warm and welcoming, and although I live quite a distance from where they hold their monthly meetings, I wanted to become a part of the group and joined that evening. Diana Shuford (far right in the photo below) and I rode together and hope to return at various times throughout the upcoming year. If you're a writer and live near the Mall of Georgia, check out this wonderful and talented group of writers!

During the program, I discussed a number of ways to build suspense that could easily be adapted to other genres. Suspense relies on tension and conflict, which must be in every book to keep the reader interested and ready to turn the next page.

One of my favorite suspense techniques is giving the reader a superior position. That's when he or she knows something the hero or heroine doesn't. A cop hero may learn the identity of the serial killer, targeting women in his hometown. The reader learns about the killer while in the hero's POV then, in the next scene, becomes totally engaged in the story when the heroine invites the killer, who--unbeknownst to her--is also a plumber, into her home to fix the clogged drain pipe in her laundry room.

Another favorite technique is to end a chapter with a cliffhanger and then reverse the POV in the next scene. The reader has to quickly read through the next scene before learning how the cliffhanger problem is resolved.

James Scott Bell's book, The Art of War for Writers, provided an interesting tip on writing comedy. Bell states, "To write a comedy, make the characters believe they are in a tragedy." He goes on to say the tragedy is trivial because the characters have blown something out of proportion. Often the situation can seem like a life or death issue to the characters, which means the author may often use suspense techniques to build up that trivial tragedy.

The old adage about learning when we teach held true for me last week. I learned a lot about writing in general and especially suspense because of the WORD ACFW Chapter. Thanks to all those who made the evening so enjoyable.

Happy writing! Happy reading!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

Monday, May 3, 2010

Make Sure to Dot Your I's

Pamela Tracy here. Sometimes I go to workshops and zone out, quite often actually. After fifteen years in RWA and the writing world, you've got to have a really unique and intriguing fish to hook me.
Last month, it happened. It had been a busy week. See, our local chapter was hosting it's conference, and I was helping. My husband was singing the "Are you going out again" song, and my five-year-old was echoing his own refrain of "Mommy, don't leave me." But, a sister chapter of RWA was having a speaker on Forensic Handwriting. Huh? Forensic Handwriting? Too cool. And, just what a writer of suspense gravitates to.
Probably, in the last five years, this workshop rates as number two (the first was a workshop that had a mock crime scene). It was awesome. The speaker had a sample of Ted Bundy's handwriting and went over what it showed. She talked a little about handwriting specialists were brought in for the Michael Jackson and lately Baby Gabrial case. Me, I'm rivoted.
I learned from my letter I's (according to the handwriting specialist) that I had a healthy relationship with my mother, and that there was some unfinished business with my father. But, the unfinished business is probably okay because he's not been gone too long and I'm still saying goodbye. I learned from my letter y's that I'm in a healthy relationship. hehehehehe. Yes, I came home and made my husband write his y's.
Fun, fun, fun.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fatal Secrets Interview

Today we're welcoming Kristin Perry, the heroine of Fatal Secrets, Barbara Phinney, May 2010.

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 don’t know if one could call it an adventure. After all, I had just lost both my parents and was still reeling from that when I found out I was adopted. So that was really what started my search for my birth mother.

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

Time wise, I guess it wasn’t long. In days, that is, but in what happened during that time, I feel it took ages. I mean, I’d hired Zane to help me find my mother, and he was rather reluctant to help me, and that just made me try harder to convince him, and find my mother myself. But as we began to work together, we began to really care about each other. With all that was going on, with all the attempts on my life, we didn’t have much time to think on how we were beginning to care for each other.

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

Hey, I’m just a university student. I’m still figuring out my skills. But I can learn quickly. I think my strength is my determination to prove myself. It’s also my weakness. I refuse to let go of something important to me.

3. What scares you?

Being alone. I mean, I was always with my parents. They were always there for me, and suddenly, they’re gone. Going on alone really scares me.

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

Being so naïve. I want to be able to figure people out faster. I guess that will come in time.
5. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?

It’s always been strong. I was really blessed with a great family, who loved God. But when I met Zane, and he threw questions about God at me, I was shocked. I didn’t know how to answer them. But I know that all I can do is explain about myself, and my actions should speak louder than my words.

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

I was stronger, in faith, in self confidence, everything. And I had a fiancé who had accepted my Lord as his Lord. But we’re both still learning.

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

It’s “With God, we will gain the victory, and we will trample down our enemies.” It just gives me strength. It’s saying that with God all things are possible. I don’t feel so scared now.

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

Oh, you’ve got my weakness! I love to eat, and I eat when I’m stressed. I’m not one of those who can’t eat when they are nervous. Give me a decent dessert when times are tough! As for one in particular, I love cinnamon buns, and I love pies. My newly found mother bakes up a storm, too, so I can’t see my turning my nose up to food anytime soon!

Thank you Barbara for sharing Kristin with us today. Can't wait to read this book!

Saturday, May 1, 2010


For my baby's safety, I must give her up…"An old letter is all Kristin Perry has of her birth mother. When the Witness Protection Program couldn't keep mother or daughter safe, the woman fled "underground." With the help of private investigator Zane Black, Kristin tries to track her down. Instead, though, she finds herself the target of a series of deadly "accidents." Zane's still searching for her missing mother—but now Kristin's starting to wonder if her family reunion will be the death of them all….
Read Excerpt