Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Burn out or a change in direction?

by Linda Hall

Last week I had the privilege of attending Oasis: Refreshment for the Journey, our denomination’s annual convention. The keynote speaker was Ruth Haley-Barton of the Transforming Center. (http://www.thetransformingcenter.org)

I went in, frankly, tired. A bunch of close and difficult deadlines last year, feeling overworked in my church duties and a possible change of direction in my writing career, plus other family things had left me with little energy. Going to the convention was just another event on my calendar. When Ruth spoke that first time, it was like she was speaking directly to me. I could barely keep the tears from wetting my cheeks. And because my husband is hard of hearing, we sat down in the second row so he could see her lips when she talked.

Her subject was burnout - the fact that we do do do all the time without taking the time to simply ‘be’ in God’s presence. Sitting quietly in God’s presence is how he speaks to us. Sitting in solitude and silence is how he talks to us. We are so busy with church activities that we forget to worship.

What she said resonated with me on a deep, soul level. I am going to be making some changes. I need a quiet time in the morning - not the kind where I quickly skim through a prescribed passage of scripture and then ream off a list of ‘prayer requests’, but a time when I can sit in silence for awhile and listen to God. I’m also going to take a Sabbath Rest. My body needs one day a week where I completely unplug from everything - and that means shutting off my computer and unplugging the modem.

Here’s the book I’m currently going through chapter by chapter: Sacred Rhythms. I highly recommend it.


Monday, August 30, 2010

A $50 Million Dollar Advance a Reality...

...just not for me. Recently Janet Evanovich had asked for a $50 million advance on her next four books. This resulted in a big discussion on one of my writing loops. It’s not a Christian loop, but there is some great information to be gleaned from it.

I have to admit to a pang of envy. I can’t even imagine that kind of money. Just for writing four books. Which I plan to do anyway over the next year or so. $50 million!

Someone said on the loop that “it’s human nature to envy those who have more and nothing is ever going to change that.” I thought that was really sad. Because even thought I might have felt a momentary twinge of envy, I don’t have to let it be a big deal.

It makes me sad to think that some writers will never be satisfied with anything. Rave reviews, big sales numbers, huge marketing bucks invested by their publisher, etc. Because if you don’t have a balance, something to counteract that envy, then envy becomes bitterness and questioning of self-worth comes into play. Honestly, I want to have more character than that.

So I have to give myself a reality check every once in a while. When I feel professional envy (or any other kind for that matter), I know it’s time to dig deep into God’s word and have him remind me that HE’S the one in control of, not just my career, but my LIFE! If he wants me to have a $50 million advance one day, will I turn it down? Um…no. But I’ll rest assured HE wanted me to have it and whatever the dollar amount, HE’S the one who made it happen in the first place. So, while my advances certainly don’t rival $50 million, I can rest in the peace that comes with doing what I’m supposed to be doing—and getting the money he wants me to have.

How about you? Have you ever felt that little poke of envy when you hear of another writer doing great? Selling like crazy? Hitting the bestseller’s list while your book simply sells well? How do you respond?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Battle Is Over...

I’ve made no secret, on this blog or others, that life’s been . . . well, troublesome the last year. I’ve been in a pretty in-depth fight with God, which I didn’t even realize until fairly lately.

When I mentioned this at church one night, one of my friends just grinned and said, “And how’s that going for you?”


So, what happens when you surrender?

For one thing, life changes. And sometimes those changes, which you didn’t want, turn out to be better than you can imagine.

To translate that into reality . . . I’m now the in-house fiction editor at Abingdon Press. This prompted other changes, other decisions, and the barriers began dropping away like rocks from a landslide. In about two weeks, my life has done a 180-degree turnaround.

I lost the battle.

But I won the war.

So why do we forget that God knows best? Ego? Whispers from the dark side? I can guess all day long, but for now my goal is to focus on what lies ahead, not what lies behind.

And sing a few praises along the way that God never lets go.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Where is the sidebar--Lenora Worth

The mising sidebar had me imagining all sorts of dire things. I forget where I put things all the time and sometimes when I'm looking for one thing, I find another. That can either be delightful or frightening, depending on what I find. Once my husband lost a prized gold pocket watch that had belonged to his grandfather. He was so upset and he suspected the man who helped us move might have taken it. For years he lamented the loss of that watch. When we moved again, however, he found the watch way down in the back of the refrigerator behind a vegetable bind! Mystery solved. It had fallen out of his pocket when he was moving the refrigerator.

Then time past and one day years later, we couldn't find the spare key to his truck. We looked in all the usual places and finally gave up. He kept asking me if I had put the keys in one of my purses. I told him no, and even checked all of my purses--no easy task! About a year later, I went to get a jacket out of the coat closet and reached in the pocket. And there were the keys. He said "I told you so." And I said, "But they weren't in my purse."

My daugther recently got a new phone and one day after she'd been to the beach, she couldn't find her phone. She went back out to the spot where she'd been and started searching. Then she saw a couple with a phone. When she explained she'd lost hers, they said they'd just tried to call the first number in the address book--my number! Since I live about 600 miles away, that was kind of funny. But hey, she found her phone. Andshe thanked the honest couple for trying to help.

I don't know where our sidebar went or why it is hiding, but I do know that there is a lot of "stuff" in the world. No wonder we have a hard time finding things. Okay, let's hear about some of the things you've lost!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Case of the Disappearing Sidebar

We have a mystery going on at this site. We have a sidebar that doesn't show up at the site until you scroll down to the end. Pamela who developed the blog has done everything to try to get it back up where it belongs. Nothing behind the scenes has worked. One day it was in the right place then the next not.

Has this ever happened at anyone's blog? If so, how was it fixed? Is there anyone out there who can see the sidebar at the top where it belongs? Any suggestions on how to fix it? We need help.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Assignment:Bodyguard Interview

Today we're welcoming Katherine Barton, the heroine of Assignment: Bodyguard, by Lenora Worth, August 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. I was a happily married woman(or so I thought) then my husband, a Texas State Senator, died in a helicopter crash. After his death, I started getting strange phone calls and noticed someone had been in my office. My father, a high up member of the secret security organization known as CHAIM, hired a bodyguard to keep me safe. I don’t need a bodyguard, but my father can be pretty demanding at times.

2. So, during the book you met Shane Warwick. Tell us a bit about him. What was your first impression? When did you know it was love? Shane Warwick is British with a bit of Texas thrown in. His mother is British but his father was all Texan. My first impression of Shane was that he was handsome and such a gentleman, but I saw a spark of danger in his eyes. He’ll fight dirty if he has to. And I’m afraid he’ll willing fight for me, no matter what. My love for Shane grew with each passing moment. I felt safe with Shane. And he treated me like a lady, something even my deceased husband forgot to do at times.

3. What strengths/skills do you have? What is your greatest weakness? My strength lies in my need to help those who can’t help themselves. I’m the head of a charitable organization that goes all over the world to rebuild neighborhoods, build schools and offer medical supplies to those in need. My weakness—I don’t like feeling weak and I sure don’t like asking for help.

4. What scares you? Things I can’t control. And my feelings for Shane scare me because I can’t control the way he makes me feel.
5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I’d learn to listen to the people who want to help me.
6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?
I have a very strong faith. I needed it to get through my husband’s betrayal and death.
7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story? Solid. Shane taught me that I can believe in him and I already knew I could trust in the Lord.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant. “But they lie in wait for their own blood; they lurk secretly for their own lives. So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its owners.” Proverbs 1:18 V 19.
This verse sums up all that happens to me in this story. Those around me, the people I trusted the most, betrayed me in the worse way—for their own gain. It took away their souls, but I didn’t let it rob me of mine.

9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why?
Ice cream. Because sometimes I’m cold, but I can turn all mushy inside if I find a bit of warmth. Shane gave me that warmth. Now I’m ice cream with whipped cream on top.

Thank you Lenora for sharing Katherine with us today. This sounds like an exciting read!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Her father will accept only the best for Kit Atkins's protection. So when Kit is threatened, he calls on Shane Warwick, a CHAIM agent. Shane is calm, capable, protective—and way too charming for Kit's peace of mind. Yet despite her protests, Shane refuses to leave her side. As they hide out at a remote Texas ranch, a powerful bond grows between them, even as danger rises. Connections to the mysterious death of Kit's late husband reveal old betrayals. Suddenly, Kit's assigned bodyguard is the only person she can trust.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A little out of focus

Liz Johnson here ...
I went to the eye doctor this week. Generally not a traumatic expeirence for me, as I've had terrible vision since I was seven. But this week I went over my lunch hour and was surprised when they dilated my eyes. When I got back into my car after the visit, I discovered that I just couldn't get my eyes to focus. Try as I might, I could not make it out of the parking lot without wearing those silly, wrap sunglasses behind my regular glasses.

Do you have moments like that in your life, when you try to focus on something but it's just not working? And then when you put things in the right perspective, all of a sudden life becomes clearer?

That's how I've felt lately about the crazyness that has become my life. I'm so busy with my day job, writing, and trying to settle into a new city that sometimes I just don't know what to focus on. And if I can't bring anything into focus, nothing gets done.

What do you do when you feel that way? What lens do you put on to bring things into focus?

For me, that lens is prayer. When I start asking God to make my priorities clear, He makes it clear that my relationship with Him is number one. And when that's in focus, everything else becomes clearer, too.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I Spent the Weekend with Heroes

The first weekend in August I had the incredible honor of attending the Eleventh Armored Division's final reunion. These veterans were sent to Europe just in time to participate in the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, and part of the division rode in the three vehicles that liberated Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria.

I spent the weekend with heroes. Even today, 65 years later, they don't see what they did as a big deal. Instead, it was their duty. They did it well. And they came home to live their lives.

I was there to listen to stories. And boy did I! I talked to women, asking what their experience had been like during the war. Learned tidbits and details that will make it into books.

Then I got to spend a lot of time chatting with the gentleman in this photo with Tricia Goyer and her youngest. Chet served in the 11th. But what I found fascinating is that he spent time at the Hollywood Canteen and the Stage Door Canteen in San Francisco. We spent almost an hour talking about his experiences stateside before he was shipped out. Then, last night at the dance, he started telling me about what Mauthausen was like. Unfortunately, the band started playing again so we'll have to continue that conversation. But he is such a delightful gentleman, I can't wait to talk to him again.

And then at the dinner Tricia, her friend Michelle Hill, and I sat with the sons and daughters-in-law of a vet that Tricia knew well. I was spellbound as they recounted their dad's stories with passion and zeal. I so wish I could have met this hero before he died.

Tricia, thanks for inviting me along. It was the experience of a lifetime. And one I hope I won't soon forget!

And thank you to the men of the 11th Armored Division (past and present) for all you did. I didn't say it lightly when I told you you are my heroes. It was an honor to meet you and share the weekend and your stories. May God continue to bless you!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The End

By Debby Giusti

Did you hear my big sigh of relief on Monday? I finished THE OFFICER'S SECRET, Book One in my new Military Investigations series. Most of the day was spent preparing the manuscript for mailing.
The final process of printing off the pages, ensuring my printer didn't skip or leave something blank, adding a cover page and cover letter and burning a copy to a CD takes times. Finally, when the pages were neatly collated, bound with rubber bands and carefully placed within a UPS envelope, I sent it off to my editor in New York.

Once a manuscript has left my hands, I feel a great sense of relief, which lasts about three hours. Then I start thinking about all the changes I COULD have made.

For the last couple weeks, I've been working on the suspenseful climax and conclusion to the story. Often I found myself breathless as I ran for my life along with my heroine. I killed a few people but saved some too.
During the crunch time, I stay up late and get up early. Yes, I have bags under my eyes and my back aches from too much time at the computer, but I feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. I've created these characters and taken them on an exciting adventure. But now I have to say goodbye.

Usually I need a few days to unwind and catch up on all the things I've let slide--like housework! Then it's time to start working on the next book. Sometimes I'm not ready to create new characters. Seems I still want to spend time with the old ones that have become good friends.

How do you feel when a book ends...a book you've written?

Wishing you abundant blessings,

Debby Giusti
Visit me at http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com/ today to learn about Gadgets Writers Love.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Closer, Rizzoli and Isles, Burn Notice, oh my!

Terri Reed here and I have to admit it. I'm addicted to summer television. There so many great cable shows on this year. Thankfully I have DVR so I can watch my favorites at my leisure (after I get my pages written!)

Here are my top FIVE (note how many are suspense related):(of course once the fall shows start I'll have a new list! LOL)


Of course this list isn't all that I record. I'm recording the Drop Dead Diva series and the rerun of the first season of GLEE. Both to be watched later with my daughter. My husband and son will watch the other shows with me, but they won't tolerate DDD or GLEE. I'm not sure why. LOL.
But then again I won't watch Man vs Wild or Man vs Food with them, so I guess it all works out for the best. Ha!

Are you like me, addicted to the television? Which shows are you watching?

Monday, August 16, 2010

When I Grow Up, I Want to Be...

Live From Arizona: Pamela Tracy checking in.

Okay, I am alive, but no, this blog is not going live. This past month, I’ve been on writer’s overload. Really, it’s like Christmas. There have been so many author events that my husband is starting to tally how many times I swish out the door (okay, I’m too tubby to switch, and , really, swish is a word my critique group would cut.) Last time I blogged, I wrote about Lisa Gardner. This time, you get to hear about Tess Gerritson.
Location: The Poison Pen Bookstorn in historic Scottsdale, Arizona.
Perched on a stool, Tess Gerritson took the microphone and held me spellbound for about an hour. Tess’s foray into writing started with Harlequin because she wrote what she read: she read Harlequin. Then, about book eight or nine, she got a call from her editor. The message? Did Tess know that in the first three chapters there were thirteen dead bodies?


Not a Harlequin.

What happened next happened because of a number of events.
One: Tess was a doctor (her dad said being a doctor was a wise choice). This definitely helped when it came time to write thrillers with a medical background.
Two: She had small children, and was feeling torn about how many times both she and her husband (also a doctor) were on-call and neither could be with the children. She resigned from practice and wrote and mothered.

Switching from series to mainstream allowed Tess to deal with issues and story ideas that intrigued her. One, called the Dugway Incident, stood front and center. Tess said, “I remember reading about this farmer who was working in his front yard. He went inside after awhile because he had an earache. The next morning when he came outside, his front yard was littered with dead birds.” (This story, told by Tess, inspired me to google Dugway Incident. What a memory. Tess had all the details. She also had a story idea).

Tess also knew how to slant stories. She credits a third grade teacher for helping her with that. “Young children who want thrillers read about tigers and sharks. They are drawn to what can eat them.” Tess knew that adults were drawn to serial killers and that the main character (since most of the readership is female) needed to be a female because we’re drawn to who we identify with.

What made Tess’s talk even more interesting is that not only has she made it as a writer, but she’s also one of the few who’ve had their characters walk off the romance page and onto the television screen. The show Rizzoli and Isles is based on her characters and somewhat on her books. “Three years after the call that my book had been options came the pilot episode.”

Tess now has been on the road promoting both her books and the television series. A real perk is getting to actually see a television episode being filmed plus meeting the actors. No, at the end of the talk I didn’t ask if I could rub Tess’s head, but, yes, I wanted to.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Silent Protector Interview

Today we're welcoming Liz Tate, the heroine of Silent Protector LIS by Barbara Phinney August 2010.
Wow, you've just had quite an adventure.

Adventure? We were shot at, attacked, poisoned, all during a hurricane! Adventure is too mild a word for what happened to us.

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

Well, my name is Liz Tate. I live in Maine and my sister’s young boy is simply the light of my life. So when he went missing, and the police wouldn’t help me, I was beside myself. Then when he called me late one night, I was able to figure out where the police had taken him. That’s pretty much how this ‘adventure’ started.

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

When I first met Ian, I just wanted to throttle him. He’d taken my nephew and seemed to think he had the rights to do so. I was furious. And yet, he was a bit of a mystery. Here was a US Marshall and pastor all rolled into one. He was both but neither at the same time. I didn’t know what to make of him, let alone know I had started to fall for him. In fact, I don’t know if I can pinpoint the exact time I realized it. The whole notion of loving him and telling him made me feel so vulnerable, that it must have snuck up on me.

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

I like to think I’m logical and tenacious. But my biggest weakness is thinking I’m not doing a good enough job. I’ve screwed up in the past and am so scared I’m going to again.

4. What scares you?

That would be losing my nephew Charlie. To have something happen to him, and to not do anything about it, would be devastating to me.
5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d like to be able to trust myself more. I think I’ve learned that throughout this so called adventure. I would love to have more confidence.
6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?

My faith has always been strong, but I needed to learn that God is in control and I can do all things through Him.

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

Ian really helped me with this. He knows his Bible and he knows his own weaknesses. I was so much stronger and was able to trust that God was guiding me.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
Charlie really taught both of us about God. Naturally, he’s just a little boy, and he made deals with God, but he simply trusted and believed and came to Him as a child, like we should. That’s why Mark 10:15 is so important to me.

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

What an odd question! I would have to say, after being in southern Florida during the summer, I would want to be ice cream. Something creamy and yet fruity, like an orange sherbet. I’ve never been so hot in all my life!! And yet, here I am packing up to move down there to help Ian and that wonderful ministry he has started. Go figure!

Wow what an exciting story! Thank you Barbara for sharing Liz with us today.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


His life as a U.S. marshal was something Pastor Ian McNeal had left behind…until he's asked to care for little Charlie Troop. The boy witnessed a terrible crime and hasn't spoken since—except to his Auntie Liz, the one adult he trusts. Ian just wants to find the truth, something only Charlie can reveal. But Charlie isn't talking, and Liz is determined to protect Charlie against anyone who'd hurt, frighten or pressure him—including Ian. Yet with a killer dead set on making sure Charlie never speaks again, a protector like Ian is just what Liz and Charlie need.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Swan Song of Summer

Ah the swan song of summer! Dana Mentink here, counting down the days until kids (and teachers) go back to the classroom. I’ve been perusing my summer reading materials and wondering if it is possible to tell a lot about a person by their reading tastes. After contemplating my list, I’ve decided that I’m the bee mentality, buzzing along to the nearest pretty flower without much rhyme or reason to my choices. I did stick with one author, the marvelous Janette Oke for a while, but most of my choices weren’t even in the same genre. How about you? Did you read anything this summer that was a bit out of the norm for you? Something new that surprised you? Do share.

Some of my summer list:
Love Comes Softly (prairie romance)
Love’s Enduring Promise (prairie romance)
Skullduggery (mystery)
Fit to Be Tied (inspy romance)
The Teen Whisperer (advice)
The Virginian (THE original western)
Erma Bombeck (humor)

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Over this summer, the ladies of this blog have scattered to the four winds--or it seems that way. My husband and I went to Hawaii with my daughter and her husband. It was a great experience 10 days in paradise. We stayed with my daughter's in-laws and they were the most gracious of hosts.

We were there for almost two weeks. The breeze that constantly flowed through the house was heavenly and we were able to sleep without air-conditioning. For Texas folks, that is something. I got to walk on the beach, see a volcano, see Pearl Harbor. I tried going for a walk, worried I was gaining weight so I went for a walk in the neighborhood. It was like spending a half-hour on a stair-stepper. I was wiped out. Stuffing your face and losing weight. Now that's a wonderful trip.

(The pictures were taken at Pali Point and Punch Bowl, the military cemetery in Honolulu.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It's all about hope

Writers, like me, Barbara Phinney, all need critiquers, but we often go at it alone. I don't connect with other writers in the form of critiquing enough, and I should do more, but we need someone, anyone to point out our mistakes.I'm creating a proposal for my editor. It was brilliant, too. A good friend of mine sent me her synopsis to read, and I offered her some advice, pointed out the weak parts and the great parts and sent it back. With mine. Remember how brilliant it was? All right, my critiquer, name Carol here for anonymity, sent me back her thoughts. Well, my ending wasn't so brilliant. It looked more like I had written it in my sleep, in fact. But like a good friend she is, she suggested a resolution that was so perfect, that stupid, (yet brilliant) synopsis should have seen it before it insisted it be written. And of course, she pointed out some other tiny, little, itty-bitty holes. Such as why shouldn't a mother want to know the details of her daughter's death on a South American highway? (because it doesn't fit into my brilliant synopsis, of course)
And why did the bug bite not kill the villain, but almost took the heroine's life?
(because I said so, okay!!??)
So you can see, my brilliant synopsis might shine like an ugly baby to its mother, but well, it's an ugly baby, plain and simple.
But there is always hope. In fact, a guest speaker in church on Sunday talked of hope. How we hope in the Lord.And I can hope in this synopsis. The underlying message of trust and peace is still there. The faith not in ourselves but in God is still there. It's just the story around which it is delivered needs to be touched up.
Okay, more than touched up. More like total paint job.After all, I have hope!
Barbara Phinney, who will use any excuse to post her Bolivia mission pictures!!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Protective Custody Interview

Today we're welcoming Nicholas Floyd, the hero of Protective Custody, by Lynette Eason, released in August 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. Apparently, I made some pretty powerful people mad. I’m a judge and refused to recuse myself from an important case that’s getting ready to go to trial. Because I don’t believe in giving in to threats, I need the Marshal services to protect me and my familiy.

2. So, during the book you met Carly Masterson. Tell us a bit about her. What was your first impression? When did you know it was love? Carly is an amazing woman. I first met her two years ago before my wife was killed. She struck me as a very caring person, but she’s also stubborn and bull-headed. I knew it was love when I started seeing the more vulnerable side of her. As I learned more about what made her Carly, I started falling in love more every time I was around her—which was a lot considering she was one of the marshals assigned to protect my family.

3. What strengths/skills do you have? I’m stubborn, I have very strong convictions about what’s right and wrong. What is your greatest weakness? My greatest weakness would have to be my desire to be in control. I don’t like to be threatened and I refuse to give in—no matter the cost.

4. What scares you? Loving and losing. I’ve already lost two women who were very important to me. Loving and losing Carly would just about be the end of me. But I’m willing to chance it.
5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I can’t seem to relax anymore. Now that I’m raising two children, I need to learn to laugh more. Carly brings that out in me occasionally.
6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story? I’ve learned the hard way that God is who he says he is. My faith is strong, but throughout the adventure I had to really dig deep for every ounce of trust in me—especially after my nephew is kidnapped.

7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story? Stronger in it. God really showed up in a big way and I’m so grateful for his faithfulness.
8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant. Psalm 27:5 – “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.” I had to rely on that. We were hiding from the bad guys and it just seemed like they found us no matter where we went. God protected us through that and was faithful to keep us in his shelter.

9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why?
Probably a chocolate brownie – nothing fancy, nothing complicated. Just straight up chocolate. I’m pretty much a “what you see is what you get” kind of guy. I like that about chocolate, too.

Wow, intriguing story. Thank you Lynette for sharing Nicholas with us.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Guarding witnesses? All in a day's work for deputy U.S. marshal Carly Masterson. Protecting the judge who was indirectly responsible for her mentor's death? That's another story. Still, she won't let harm come to Judge Nicholas Floyd, or the niece and nephew in his care. She's determined to do the job right, and not let her emotions take over—no matter how wonderful it feels to be accepted by the little family. Can she let go of the past and learn to trust again before danger finds them once more?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Putting it together...To Series or Not to Series

Lisa Mondello here, still trying to unpack from my trip to Orlando for the Romance Writer's of America national conference. I saw a lot of the Craftie Ladies there and got a lot of time to have fun and talk business with my agent and editors about story ideas and writing series. Now my dilemma is where to start!

I've received a lot of reader mail from readers wanting to finally see a happy ending for Cash and Serena from the Cradle of Secrets (Cradle of Secrets Series #1) (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense #78)'>Cradle of Secrets series. I just want to know that I've listened and I'm working on an idea that I hope my editors and you will like.

I'm also working on a few more ideas that involve some characters I introduced in my October Love Inspired Romance that involve Army Rangers. More on that as it develops.

All this thinking about series has me wondering about other ideas that maybe you readers are looking for and haven't seen yet. If you have an idea, let me know.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Rejected Again. Now What?

Ramona here, and I LOVED reading about the great times everyone had at RWA this year. RWA is a conference I always enjoy, and I missed going. But while RWA attendees cavorted on the dance floor with my beloved CRAFTIE compatriots, I spent time recovering from my own adventure . . . and a rejection.

Two weeks ago, I went to New York City for a job interview. Awesome time in a phenomenal town. The interview went well, and I would love to have the job. But exactly 30 minutes before I left the hotel for the interview, I got an email from my agent. My last submission to Steeple Hill had been rejected.

Good news to go into an interview on, huh? I did a lot of fanning and grring to keep the tears out of the mascara. It hurt deeply, beyond the usual pains of rejection, for three reasons:

1. It was the third book of a three-book series.
2. I thought I had poured everything I’d learned from the previous five edits into the book.
3. I’m broke.

While I’d like to be financially solvent again, and I hate the idea of the nice set-up at the end of the second book going nowhere, it was number 2 that hurt the most. I’ve been studying the previous feedback and reading other LIS books. I’ve been studying how-to sites and books on romantic suspense. I’d gone into the proposal armed and ready.

Now I felt like an idiot who just wasn’t getting the point, and I didn’t know why.

Still don’t.

So what do you do when a rejection slices this deep into your psyche?

First, you get really angry. And I did—I threw things, screamed, cried, railed at the moon. Second, you get depressed. And I did—I moped around so much my friends were concerned. But that stage is also a processing stage, when you go over everything you’ve done; everything they’ve said.

Then . . . you get determined. They said my plot wasn’t worth re-writing, so I ripped it out entirely. I took my characters (all established in the first two books), my setting (likewise), and the basic premise for the romance/set-up. Then I changed the time frame (from prior to a restaurant’s opening to 2 weeks after it does), the title, and set the whole thing down in a new plot.

The original plot opened as the heroine fell through the floor and discovered a skeleton. The book now opens in the middle of a kidnapping scene. Literally. Here’s the first paragraph of the first draft:

Lindsey Presley struggled against her bonds. Sweat coated her back and legs where they pressed against the vinyl backseat of the 1968 Pontiac GTO. The fury that seared through her made Lindsey’s mind spin and her muscles tremble, but terror and pain kept her sane and focused. The last ten minutes played over and over in her head. How do I get out of this?

Will they like it? Don’t know. But I’ve tried. If they don’t, then I’ll take that rejection with the same cycle, although I’ll probably move on to the next book.

Anyone who thinks writing is easy should come to an RWA conference, sit down with us, and listen to a few war stories. We party hard because we work hard and take a lot of blows to the ego. But when you see that book cover, you know it’s worth it. You celebrate.

And, occasionally, buy a new pair of high heels.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Watching television--Lenora Worth

I just got back from Orlando, Florida and the RWA conference. Disney World was great, as Margaret Daley posted yesterday, but it was very hot! Our trip was good, even if I did have a few issues with a new blood pressure medicine that caused swelling and migraines. But now that I'm home and armed with new information to help me become a better writer, I'm going to take things a bit slow. It's just too hot to hurry, hurry!

One of the things I've enjoyed lately is watching my favorite television shows with my husband. He likes recording shows then sitting through a marathon night of catching up. Here are some of my favorites--(I love action and adventure.) First off, Burn Notice on the USA Network. This is probably my favorite. It's about a spy who got burned (a time out in spy language) and had to settle in Miami. (Horrible that they left him in such a downer of a place, huh???) Anyway, his mom lives there and he has a good friend who used to be CIA and an Irish girlfriend with her own shady past. It's so much fun and the show has a great website to keep things going. Next, one of my latest favorites over on TNT--Memphis Beat. This show sizzles with Memphis blues and quirky characters. The plots are amazingly simple and the crimes are amazingly interesting and they just come out of nowhere. You feel as though you're on a ride-along in the heart of the Delta. Love it. And one more new one--Covert Affairs on USA. This is kind of like James Bond meets Wonder Woman. A new female agent gets into the thick of things and hits the ground running. She's pretty, smart and in over her head. But she is an example of a strong heroine who manages to take care of herself. I like that. All of these shows are good clean fun and a great way to stay inside and escape the heat. It's pushing 104 outside my door today!

We love to write about these type characters in our suspense books and we like to heat things up with our plots and our action and adventure. So when I'm not writing suspense, I can live vicariously through these quirky, out-there shows. And stay cool while doing it. Oh, by the way, I did enjoy one other ride at Disney World. It was the Test Track at the General Motors sponsored exhibit. My husband is retired from General Motors and he came back to the hotel all excited and told me I had to go back and try out the Test Track. He said, "I know how you love fast cars." He was so right. I felt like one of the spies I love. No crash dummy here. Just thrills and squeals. Even in 104 degrees heat! Stay cool.

Monday, August 2, 2010

RWA conference in Orlando

I just got back from the RWA conference in Orlando. It was a wonderful, crazy week with lots to do. The neatest part of RWA conference is getting to see friends from around the world and meeting with the editors of Steeple Hill. The downside of the conference was the weather--sunny but very hot and humid. I drank a ton of water, trying to stay hydrated. Standing in a line in the heat isn't my idea of fun, but I did enjoy the Disney parks, especially Epcot. The different countries were neat to visit at Epcot. I also loved Animal Kingdom, especially viewing the animals on the safari. The two pictures I've included on this post are of a group of Love Inspired authors (with Dream from eHarlequin web site) at the eHarlequin PJ party.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Vanishing Act Interview

Today we're welcoming Nora James, the heroine of Vanishing Act, by Liz Johnson, August 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.
I had no idea that my dad was mixed up in a money laundering scheme until I was kidnapped by thugs. When he came to meet my kidnappers in an alley, I saw them shoot him, and I ran. I ran all the way to Colorado, where I hid out for a year and a half working at a mechanic. Little did I know that a ruthless assassin was after me until FBI Agent Nate Andersen showed up in town. I didn’t know he was looking for me, but I’m sure glad he found me!

2. So, during the book you met Nate Andersen. Tell us a bit about him. What was your first impression? When did you know it was love?
When I first met Nate, he was sleeping in his car, waiting for the mechanic to arrive. I was a bit annoyed that he immediately assumed I wasn’t the mechanic just because I’m a woman. I noticed that, and his steel-blue eyes. Shortly after that, he started showing up all over, including the class I was teaching at the community college. But when I started feeling like someone was watching me and then an SUV ran me off the road, I was so grateful to be able to run to him. Literally. When I was chased through the woods, I ran for his apartment. I think I first knew it was love he put a bag of peas on my ankle.

3. What strengths/skills do you have? What is your greatest weakness?
I surprised even myself at my fast I picked up the ability to fix cars. And when my boss asked me to fill in for him teaching the Auto Mechanics 101 class at the local community college, I couldn’t refuse him. Nate said I was a pretty good teacher, too. But I’m also pretty stubborn. When Nate tried to get me to go back to Portland with him, I refused to go. I had a good reason, of course, but I couldn’t be swayed.

4. What scares you?
I was terrified of being discovered by the men who shot my dad. Terrified of standing out in a crowd.
5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d definitely want to be braver during the hard times early on. I wish I hadn’t been so scared when I first started feeling like someone was watching me.
6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?
At the start of my story, I was afraid of trusting anyone. I was afraid of relying on someone else. I was worried that I’d let them down, just like I’d let my dad down. I couldn’t even trust that God could handle the things I was afraid of.

7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story?
By the end of the story, I’d learned that God was in control all along. He showed up by bringing Nate to me to help me through the most difficult time in my life. God rescued me and saved me even though I didn’t realize how much danger I was in at first. He proved himself faithful in my life, renewing my faith in His ability to control everything that scared me. That gave me new strength to face each day.
8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
My scripture is 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear or timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Clearly fear was a real problem for me, but God has overcome all of that and given me a spirit of power and love. That’s a promise.

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

Well my life has certainly been filled with ups and downs, so I guess I’d be a great big bowl of Rocky Road ice cream.

Thank you Liz for sharing Nora with us today. This sound so exciting!