Friday, July 29, 2011

The woes of waiting...by Lisa Mondello

I don't think I ever grew up. Seriously. Does one every grow up and out of anticipation angst? If so, I haven't.

I've had a proposal at Love Inspired for exactly a week and I'm already pacing the floor like a kid waiting for Christmas or my birthday. I'm quite excited about this as I always am when I send in a new proposal. Will my editor like it? Will the senior editor offer me a contract? I hope so. I so want to write this book.

But, since there is always a chance they may NOT like the story, I hold myself back from continuing too much on the story. Why finish a story that ultimately will never be published? (Let's hope that's not the case, but just suppose for a minute.) If I spend all my time writing this book and it's a no go, I may be wasting one to two months of writing time for something that will never see the light of day. Been there. Done that. Just because I'm published doesn't mean I never see the R word anymore. I do. And I have the bruises to prove it.

But, alas, sometimes it's hard to tear myself away from a story I've fallen in love with. So what do I do?

1. Keep a file and give myself an occasional day to work on that story just so I don't lose the passion for the story and characters, but not enough to keep me from writing other things.
2. Work on my next proposal. If this one is a no-go, I want to be ready with something else. That's not always possible. But if I can do it, it makes life easier down the road. If the story IS a go, I have my next story already started.

Does this help the waiting? Sadly, no. I still obsess. And I will keep obsessing until I get feedback from my editor on the story. Luckily for me obsession doesn't keep me from writing. And I have a vast many writer friends who are in the same boat as me so I can vent and whine. (Bowing head in shame. Yes, I occasionally whine about my writing.) And my agent is always good to me, so all is good on that front.

Rest assured, as soon as I know the status of my proposal. So will you! You'll just have to live with me obsessing until I do.

Until next time, many blessings...
Lisa Mondello
http://www.lisamondello.blogspot.com

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A View from a Fall


Over the past few months, I’ve been in search of a new pair of walking shoes. I have some foot issues, so I didn't want to buy just anything. I’ve done that before, to not-so-much-fun results. A friend suggested toning shoes, those wonderful rocking shoes that supposedly tighten up loose muscles as you walk. So I took a look.

And laughed. The first article I read suggested that if you have balance problems you should avoid them. Well, OK, then. On to the next shoe style.

Because my lack of balance is legendary. I cannot walk straight, and falling is almost a pastime. I run into walls, trip over boxes, bump into counters. Two back-to-back sprains when I was a teenager left my ankles weak, so they flip easily. I loved to backpack and hike, so I used to carry crutches in my truck. I’ve fallen off walls, out of trees, up stairs, down stairs. When I was five, I fell on a furnace grate and ripped open my knee. Forty-five years later, I fell on a stone patio with the same result. I don’t avoid steps because I’m lazy; I do it because I’d prefer not to do a barrel roll down them.

But I don’t usually get hurt, and I got over the humiliation factor a long time ago. Sometimes, you just have to see the humor of the unexpected pratfall. When I was moving into new place a couple of weeks ago, I stepped in a hole and hit the ground so hard, face first, that my friend thought I was unconscious. Then she realized I was laughing.

Probably the queen of those moments was the last time I wore a mini-skirt. I’d lost weight. My legs were tan and firm. I was cute, prancing through K-Mart in my kitten heels and tight skirt. Got my items, checked out, and turned to leave. Only I didn’t get far.

One leg shot out from under me, and I went straight down, with my rear landing on top of my other foot. So sitting there looking like a one-legged goose, I giggled and tried to get up…only to realize my heel had snagged in my hem. I couldn’t reach it; couldn’t get my other leg bent. Couldn’t lean forward without tearing the back out of my skirt. I couldn’t get up without showing my behind to the world.

I was stuck. I put my head down, laughing so hard I couldn’t get my breath. The manager rushed over, seeing this woman on the floor shuddering helplessly. He wanted to call an ambulance, suddenly seeing his profits go up in lawsuit smoke. I waved him off, finally gasping out my predicament.

The sweet man tried so hard not to laugh I think he swallowed his gum. Finally, at my suggestion, he called over a security guard and one of the cashiers. She stood behind me, and the two men lifted me by the arms as she untangled my heel.

I once heard Liz Curtis Higgs talk about learning to laugh at yourself; that it’s a great sign of maturity. I think it’s also a sign that you can see yourself through others’ eyes, and that’s an extraordinarily valuable perspective for a writer – and a compassionate human being. To see the world as others do, can change your own.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Is it me or is it hot in here? Lenora Worth

I really do love summer. But after a month of one hundred degrees and holding, well, this is getting old. I got spoiled when my husband and I went on a roap trip all the way to New York City. The weather was lovely everywhere we stopped. Most days the temperature was in the eighties or nineties. I know come winter, I'll be shivering and complaining about the cold, but right now I'm enjoying my air conditioner. When it's this hot and dry, everything seems to wilt. Including my good manners.

But that brings me to the real subject of this post. I believe hot weather brings out the worst in people. Maybe that's why we set a lot of our suspense novels during the summer. It's hot, someone is trying to harm someone, someone's on the run, maybe without water, maybe walking across the desert, maybe stuck in a hot, sweltering building. Tempers flair and bad things happen. That is fodder for fiction writers. But ... it's horrible when we hear it on the news every night.

So, fellow suspense writers, do you believe summer makes people mean?

Let's discuss. I'll be back. I'm going to get some ice cream.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer Days...

Wow.  Can you believe it?  We're almost at the end of July, and this summer has been flying at our house.  The projects around our place in the country never seem to end, we've traveled some, and I'm just realizing that I've let several weeks pass without making serious headway in my office.  My husband says that it looks like a landfill, after my last deadline, and he's right!  Yet, this summer has offered many nice opportunities to be with family, and that comes first in my book. 
What have you been up to--and what will be your happiest memory of the summer of 2011?
Roxanne Rustand
www.roxannerustand.com

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dangerous Reunion Interview

Today we're welcoming Brock Gentry, the hero of Dangerous Reunion, by Sandra Robbins, releasing in July 2011.

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 thought I never would come back to Ocracoke Island when I left there six years ago because I had just broken my engagement with Kate Michaels who lived on the island, but now I find myself back. A few months ago I was working as a police detective in Nashville, Tennessee, when I received a phone call from a man who claimed to have evidence that would clear a man scheduled to be executed in a few weeks. I wasn’t familiar with the case because it had occurred before I came on the force, but I promised to meet with him the next day to listen to what he said. Before we could meet, I received a call that my father in California had been in an accident and wasn’t expected to live. I left a note for my partner and rushed to Los Angeles where I stayed for six weeks until my father was recovered. When I returned to Nashville, I found out there had been a series of mishaps, and the evidence never reached the proper authorities until after the man was executed. Later he was proven innocent. Harboring feelings of guilt over the man’s death, I came to Ocracoke to see if could find forgiveness from God for my failures and from Kate for hurting her six years ago. I never would have dreamed what events I would encounter there.

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

Kate and I met in college where we both majored in criminal justice and were on the track team. I loved her from the very beginning, but we had different ideas on where we wanted to go in life. I wanted to live in a city and work on a large police force. She wanted to live on Ocracoke Island, but I couldn’t see myself living on a speck of land twenty-five miles off the coast of North Carolina. Now six years later I’m back, and we met at a crime scene. She’s still just as beautiful as she was when we were in college.

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

I’m a good criminal investigator because I can think logically. I’m also loyal to my friends. I am working on overcoming my greatest weakness which is being more understanding of the feelings of others. That wasn’t always the case. When I was younger, I was cocky and thought I knew it all. I’ve come to see how wrong I was.

4. What scares you?

I want Kate back in my life, and it scares me to think she will never forgive me for what I did to her six years ago. I’m trying to show her I’ve changed, but I’m not sure she believes me yet. Even if she never does, I have vowed to keep her safe from a crazed killer who is stalking her.

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

I would work harder at relationships. I didn’t realize how important my father was to me until I almost lost him. It was the same with Kate. I’m beginning to see that the love you show other people helps define the type of person you are.

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

One of the things that Kate and I always disagreed on was faith. She is a strong woman of faith, but I never had much time for God. When my life fell apart, I wanted to come back to talk to Kate and see if she could help me find God on the island where she sees God’s handiwork everywhere.

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

Kate was right when she said I could find God on Ocracoke. God showed me He’d always been with me and was just waiting for me to accept Him. I’ll always be grateful to Kate for helping me to become a man of faith.

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

The scripture is Mark 11:25—And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

That scripture sums up the journey I take in Dangerous Reunion. Through faith in God, I learned to forgive myself for all the bad choices I’d made in my life and discovered that God didn’t hold any of my mistakes against me. Now I am able to incorporate that principle in my dealings with other people.

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

Just like apple pie is a traditional American dessert, I think I’m a typical American guy. I like sports and enjoy jogging every day. I love God and am content to spend time with my new family and friends. After all what’s more American than God, family, and apple pie.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

FEATURED BOOK: DANGEROUS REUNION BY SANDRA ROBBINS




A murderer on tiny, safe Ocracoke Island? Deputy Sheriff Kate Michaels doesn't want to believe it—until someone at the crime scene starts shooting at her. Then Nashville detective Brock Gentry shows up. Brock broke her heart years ago when he called off their engagement. Now, torn apart by a case, Brock seeks sanctuary on the island. Yet as the threats against Kate escalate—and Kate's sisters are targeted—she turns to the man she's never stopped loving. Even if their reunion is more dangerous than it ever was before.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Romance Novels to the Rescue!

Maybe, like me, you've read a blog post or newspaper article lately about how romance novels are ruining women's lives. Bloggers, psychologists, and theologians have all weighed in on how romance novels set unrealistic expections for relationships and lead to dissatisfaction, etc, etc.

Well, my goal here isn't to defend Christian romance novels or explain why I love them and read them ... and write them. But I have been thinking about those things a lot lately. And it got me thinking about when I was in college...

I began reading novels with a strong romantic story lines when I was in junior high. These were mostly historicals by authors like Gilbert Morris and Bodie and Brock Thoene. In addtion to being wildly entertaining, they modeled what a pure love can look like. And, yes, they modeled what a good man could be, who loves God and seeks to serve Him.

Fast forward seven years. I'd just finished my first year of college, which had been full of meeting new friends and wrought with plenty of heartache. One of my new friends was a guy who was a couple years older, lived off campus (that was a huge deal at the time!), and knew just the words to say to make a girl swoon. He also had what he called "a special relationship" with God, which meant he thought he could do anything he wanted without consequence. It also meant he wasn't concerned about purity or a God-centered relationship, quite the opposite of the examples I'd first read about in books and then seen in real life. Quite the opposite of what I hoped for in a relationship.

But I enjoyed his friendship, and we talked every night that summer. With just a couple weeks left before classes resumed in the fall, our conversation reached a head when he asked me, "Why aren't we dating?"

Oof! What's an immature 19-year-old kid with a grand total of one official boyfriend ever supposed to say to that? I wanted a boyfriend. And I really liked this guy. He didn't hold a candle to guys in the novels I read, so that's why I dug into depths of my mind and pulled out the best fairy-tale line I could come up with. "You're not the man of my dreams." (Feel free to laugh or groan here. Either is appropriate.)

He promptly told me that I wasn't the woman of his dreams either, and our friendship crumbled pretty fast after that.

So, was I missing some tact? Absolutely. Do I wish that I'd said something kinder? Yup. Did romance novels rescue me from a whole lot of heartache? You betcha! More than 10 years later, there's nothing I regret about not dating that guy. While I'm all for realistic expectations in a relationship, I'm also for not settling for less than God's best.

I still read them. And I'm going to keep writing them. Because I believe that good novels not only offer an escape, they also give us hope for the best that God has for each of us. Life's not easy--but good romances rarely portray it that way, anyway.

What have romance novels done for you lately?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Who's Your Family?

Family.

We all have them. And they are all so different.

I have been blessed with an amazing family.
This is my dad with me and my siblings on his back...a long time ago LOL. My parents just left yesterday after coming out for almost a week to free me to work on edits for two August 1st deadlines. They sent me flowers ahead of time to thank me for letting them come!

Did I mention I'm blessed?

But not everybody is so fortunate. They didn't grow up with loving parents in a secure home. They didn't receive hugs freely as a kid to have them to give to their kids. They didn't hear that they were treasured by God from an early age.

Experiencing that marked me. It made me the woman I am today.

Not hearing or experiencing that is just as scarring. It makes people who they are.

So think about your characters...what's their family like? Are their parents married? Divorced? Were they an only child or surrounded by siblings? Did their family have money? Were things hand to mouth? Did they grow up in a family with parents who led them to God? Or did their parents give them a warped image of God? Those questions matter because the answers change how they will respond to the life and challenges you're giving them today.

So what about you? Was your family more functional...or dysfunctional?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Suspense in New York City --RWA 2011!

By Debby Giusti
Three weeks ago at the Romance Writers of America Conference in New York City, I had the pleasure of attending “Up All Night,” a workshop with my favorite suspense authors Harlan Coben and Lisa Jackson. Coben shared aspects of his writing life with tongue-in-cheek humor that kept me smiling. “Part of my job,” he said deadpan, “is to convince my wife that I have one.”

Talking about suspense stories, Coben said he doesn’t “do murder.” Instead he prefers disappearances because there’s always hope. When and if that hope is dashed, the characters—and thus readers—experience gut-wrenching pain.
Jackson writes a 35 to 75 page synopsis, which she calls the “bare bones skeleton of the plot,” before she starts a book. Harlan doesn’t outline and, at the onset, only knows the beginning and where the story is apt to end up.

Calling herself a “fat writer” because she's wordy, Jackson admits she can’t spell and doesn’t have a big vocabulary, but she is a storyteller.
Coben says fear motivates writers. If you’re comfortable with your work, you’re dead. To be a real writer, you need "perspiration, inspiration and desperation."

“Don’t let anything get in the way of writing,” Coben challenges. Not even research, which he calls an excuse for not writing. “I’m always trying to look at things at a different angle and do the unexpected that fits.” More advice from Cohen: “Never chase the dollar, chase the reader’s heart.”

"The best way to improve,” according to Jackson, “is to write the next book.” She revises as she writes in what she calls a two-steps forward, one-step back fashion. After typing The End, she sends the manuscript to her sister, also an author, who tells her what works and what doesn’t.

Coben uses a forward-back pattern, as well. He writes 75 pages and then edits his work. At the end, he reads the entire manuscript out loud!

To learn more about my conference experience visit http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com/ today, July 20. I'm giving away a copy of THE OFFICER'S SECRET, the first book in my Military Investigations series, and THE OFFICER'S SECRET T-shirt, featuring my Prayer for Our Military. Size XL, it's perfect for a pool cover-up or nightshirt.

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

Monday, July 18, 2011

Messy!

I've had it! I can't walk in my office! I'm cleaning!

Ack!

So, over the Fourth of July, my family (extended, we're talking nephew, grandpa, grandpa, brother in law, sister in law, dog in law - well you get the picture) and I go camping in beautiful Greer, Arizona. (Yes, we went after the fire, which meant we had quads we couldn't ride, fishing poles we couldn't bait, etc).

When I came home, the bookcase in my office had finally given in to pressure. More than 500 books had tumbled to the floor.

My husband just shook his head and said, "Time to get rid of some of them."



He's right.

So, now I'm doing major cleaning. Not just of books (Should I get rid of the books Candy Stripers that I read when I was fifteen?) (And, no, I'm not talling you how long ago that was!)

Since I'm on a tangeant, I'm also getting rid of papers and do-dads. I'm getting rid of homework from the 1980's (boy has my grammar improved). I'm getting rid of cover flats from the 1990's (boy I've got thousands of cover flats. Maybe I should wallpaper?)

Here's the thing, since the books fell and were scattered all over my office, I've been having trouble writing. I think I've figured it out. I'm blocked by all this clutter.

Hmmm, you know, I've not used the exercise bike in years... should I get rid of it?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Her Guardian Interview

Today we're welcoming JULIA, the heroine of HER GUARDIAN by Sharon Dunn due out in July 2011.

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.

When I was 13 I was kidnapped by the cult leader Elijah True. I escaped when I was 20. It’s been two years now and Elijah’s trial is one month away. Elijah is in jail, but the cult members are very loyal and will stop at nothing to make sure I don’t make it into that courtroom. My father has hired a bodyguard, Gavin Shane, and we will hide out in a safe place until the trial.

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

He wasn’t what I expected for a bodyguard. I mean he has the build of a bodyguard broad shoulders, lots of muscle, but he kind of looks like he just stepped off the beach with his sun bleached hair and tan. I guess he just moved back to Montana from Florida. Something happened in Florida that he doesn’t want to talk about.

Also, I don’t know how to describe it but since we have been together, it’s like my load is lighter, like he carries some of the burden of worry and always having to look over your shoulder.

I don’t know if he even notices me in a romantic sense. I missed out on a lot of things when I was held captive: learning to drive a car, graduation, prom and dating. I’m twenty two years old and I have never been on a date. Honestly, I am kind of clumsy when it comes to making small talk with a man. I don’t know how to read the signals of attraction. I do think there is something between us, something more than a professional relationship.

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

Gavin says that he has been impressed with my ability to think on my feet and my survival instinct. I suppose that is true. All those years in the cult, I learned how to stay alive.

My greatest weakness is that I am tired of being confined. All those years in the cult being watched closely, then two years of staying in my father’s house and now this final month in a safe house. Now that the end is in sight, I guess I am restless. It’s like I have gone from one prison to another. I want to feel the sun on my face and go for a walk by myself. It would be heaven just to do something ordinary like sit in a coffee shop and read a book.

4. What scares you?

Elijah’s favorite form of punishment when I tried to escape or questioned his crazy beliefs was confinement. He pushed me into the crawlspace and slid the bolt. It was dark and there was a dirt floor. I could hear the mice moving around in the walls. Small spaces are hard for me, the sound of a door locking or a bolt sliding makes me cringe.

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

Actually, I have made a change recently that is kind of wild. I have this long blond hair. I’m really easy to spot at a distance because of that. Gavin thought it would be a good idea if I cut my hair and dyed it red for my safety. One of the reasons Elijah took me was he said the blond hair made me look like an angel. Something about changing my hair has been really cathartic, like I’m letting go of that old identity of the kidnapped girl and stepping into the new me, the me God intended before all of this happened.

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

My father brought me up with a strong faith and it’s what sustained me during my captivity. I saw the way Elijah distorted scripture and borrowed from other religions to suit his needs. And all those times I was locked into a small space, I prayed. Jesus was in there with me. I am not saying it was easy, but what Elijah intended to use to break my will I used to increase my faith.

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

So much was taken from me because of the captivity, just those ordinary things that everyone takes for granted. I will say that God truly can restore what the locusts have eaten. But the way he restores is always a surprise.

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

Guess I kind of hinted at that verse in the previous question. Joel 2:25 is the verse about how God restores. I think for anyone who has suffered loss or felt cheated by life in some way that is a good verse to cling to. But you can’t force God’s hand and dictate to him what you want the restoration to look like.

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

My life has been so complicated, so out of the ordinary. What I

Really long for is normal. So I don’t think I would want to be a fancy dessert. I think I would like to be an ordinary dessert like an oatmeal or chocolate chip cookie.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

FEATURED BOOK: HER GUARDIAN BY SHARON DUNN



Julia Randel was thirteen when she was kidnapped by a cult leader.It took her seven years to escape. Two years later her captor's trial is about to begin—and so are threats from his loyal followers. Julia is relieved when her father hires bodyguard Gavin Shane, but she's furious when he rushes her to a safe house. After years under lock and key, she doesn't want to be forced into hiding again. But with cultists seeking to stop Julia's testimony at any cost, it'll take both Julia and her determined protector to set her free for a new life—and new love.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Anniversary Present by Leann Harris

For our last anniversary, my hubby and I bought an iPad to celebrate the day. Well, several days after, I had to go to Houston and left the iPad with the husband. He's doing all sorts of neat things with it. He even drove to where I am and brought along the iPad to show me what wonderful things it can do. Several days ago, he called and told me he download one of Marty Perry's books. Great, but the iPad is in Dallas. I can't wait to read the book, but it will have to wait until I get home.

Technology is great, but you have to be in the same city to appreciate it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What do you mean, it's wrong?

Have you ever registered for some blog or board or such and they ask you to write in the numbers and letters in that little box?
You did, right? Well, more often than not, they, (those big 'they's' out there) keep telling me I'm wrong. It just happened this morning as I tried to join the Kindle publishing board. After all, I have 8 books available on Kindle. And I should be able to successfully register on something out there.
Sure my fingers are dyslexic sometimes but if I slow down, peer hard and carefully craft the letters and numbers, I expect the same respect back from that big machine in cyber space.
It doesn't respond in kind.
So I try again. I'm wrong again. I try listening to it, and if that actually works, I still get it wrong.
By this time, I'm usually ready to pound out "#@^$^&##^$#&(&^" or something equally rude, but I restrain myself and only scream at the computer, which often brings my daughter running.
Oh, no, she's not looking out for my welfare. She's come to laugh at me. Like that big machine in cyber space is doing.
"Hee hee, let's see how mad we can make Barbara!" I can still hear them. (user friendly is such an oxymoron)
Then I calm down, remember that God is probably telling me to get off the computer and do something else.
Sometimes I listen. Sometimes I dig my heels in. Most often I am not that successful.
But I do win.
I put the computer on defrag. It's like pushups for computer disobedience.
It's stupid, goofy, and useless, but it makes me feel better.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Story Ideas are Everywhere!


When people find out I write books, they have a tendency to respond in one of two ways. Either they ask “Where do you get your ideas?” Or, they say, “Boy, have I got juicy stories for you!”

If they offer personal stories sure to earn me all kinds of awards, I graciously thank them, but suggest they write the story themselves. Why? Because no one can tell your story as well as you can.

On the other hand, when someone asks, “Where do you get your ideas?” My answer is…everywhere. I sign onto AOL in the morning and there are a dozen story ideas waiting for me. I get inspiration from television programs, Facebook messages, a Santa Claus gnome suddenly appearing in my front yard, in July – true story. I also get ideas while I’m on my walk, inspired by brilliant colors of flowers in bloom.

For me, it’s the “why game” that turns a random news story into a full-length book. For instance, a few years ago a reporter covered a story about a woman who went missing on a ferry. She boarded the ferry in downtown Seattle and never got off on Bainbridge Island. They found her car on the ferry, her purse, her keys, etc. Where did she go? Since I’m into happily-ever-afters I decided she needed to escape to start a new life, a better life. But why? What was she running from? Did she feel she had no other options?

Game on! How would you write this one?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Quirks: Does Your Character Have Them?

We all have quirks.

One of mine is that I love traditions. So every July 4th week, I know I'll be dragging my kids to a blueberry farm at least once so we fill our fridge and hopefully our freezer with fresh blueberries. This year we went twice in three days -- so far. But my breakfast of choice is homemade oatmeal with blueberries on top. Every day. Of the year. Over and over. Quirk.

In my novel Stars in the Night, the heroine Audra has a charm bracelet that she plays with when nervous. In A Promise Forged, the heroine Kat is a ballplayer with the inaugural All American Girls Professional Baseball League in 1942, so she borrow a quirk from my grandpa and is constantly running a baseball through her fingers.  
 
In real life, I have a friend who always has a long-sleeved sweater on, no matter that it's 90+ degrees outside. I have another friend who keeps a running to-do list on a clipboard with sheets of notes -- in what appears to be random order. But she's one of the most organized people I know -- even if I could never make her system work.

Think about the people you know...most of them will have some unique quirk. Does she pluck their eyebrows out compulsively? Does she always wear big necklaces in layers? Does he always have a Swiss Army knife that he has to mail back every time he hits an airport?

These are the details that make people unique. They also serve as tells. "She must be nervous because she's doing X..." Your characters need these, too.

So what's the best quirk you've read in a character or given a character? And what's the best quirk you've seen in real life? I can't wait to see your answers!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dead Reckoning Interview

Today we're welcoming Ginny McCutcheon, the heroine of Dead Reckoning by Rachelle McCalla, July 2011.

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 an acrobatic flier, I’m used to living life on the edge and risking my life every time I climb into the cockpit. But lately, I’ve been in more danger than usual. I’ve been shot at—twice. My plane engine was tinkered with. One of my friends was horribly injured when she was flying my plane. If I didn’t know better, I’d think someone was trying to kill me.

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

Okay, don’t tell anybody this, but Ben McAlister has always been my hero. Not only is he an Air Force veteran who’s bravely flown many missions, but he’s also a super-swell guy. I even ‘borrowed’ his last name for my flying moniker—which nobody is supposed to know about, which is why I’m doubly upset that Ben figured out that Ginger McAlister is really just little old me, Ginny McCutcheon from down the road.

Love? Who said anything about love? Look Girlfriend, I’ve got a lot of planes to fly before I settle down with anybody.

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

I’m just about the best stunt pilot with two wings—or I was, before all these attempts on my life started giving me panic attacks. Just don’t tell anyone about the panic attacks, okay? I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m not fit to fly any more.

4. What scares you?

You mean, besides the constant threat of death around every turn? Ben McAlister scares me. Somehow, he managed to convince me to come back to Holyoake, Iowa. If he has that much influence over me, well, I don’t dare spend any more time around him than I have to.

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

Nine years ago, when my dad was diagnosed with cancer, I was supposed to help take care of him. I tried. Really I did. But I couldn’t handle watching him get weaker and weaker. As soon as I graduated from high school, I ran off and joined the Dare Divas Stunt Flying Troupe. And I’ve been running ever since.

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

I’m mad at God, because I prayed and prayed that God would cure my father’s cancer. Sure, Dad beat cancer twice, but it kept coming back, and he died. What did I do wrong? Was my faith not strong enough? I just can’t trust God since he took my dad away.

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

After everything I’ve been through and the way god has answered my prayers, I’ve realized that God really does love me. He really does care. Yes, my dad died and bad things happen, but that doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us.

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

Matthew 18:12-14

What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.

When I had wandered away from my faith, God sent Ben to come and find me. He brought me home to Holyoake and helped me realize how much God loves me. Along the way, I fell in love with Ben, too. Isn’t it amazing how God works sometimes?

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

I’d be red velvet cake. With my bright red hair and stunt flying career, I might look a little different from other girls, but at the heart I’m really just like any other cake.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

FEATURED BOOK: DEAD RECKONING BY RACHELLE MCCALLA



Risky maneuvers are no novelty for stunt pilot Ginny McCutcheon…until danger follows her to the ground. Someone's targeting Ginny—and former air force pilot Ben McAlister won't rest until he finds the culprit. He'll stay glued to Ginny's side until she's safe, whether the stubborn beauty accepts him there or not.Ginny tries to resent Ben's protectiveness—and instead finds herself falling for the man whose fierce determination so perfectly matches hers. But trusting Ben means going home, something she can't bear to do. Until someone gets very close to grounding her—and Ben—forever.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Black Moment by Lisa Mondello

As a reader, the black moment is the point of the story that always has me glued to the story. It doesn't matter if I have to cook dinner (I read while I'm cooking) or pick up the kids from school or work (warning, I may be late) or have to work on my book. (Okay, I do tear myself away to get pages written.)

It's the point where the story picks up "speed" because all seems lost, I'm sure the hero and heroine aren't going to get together and they can't resolve their problems, and I can't wait to find out how they actually do!

As a writer, I hate the black moment. I do. I become fully invested in my characters as I write them. Usually by the time I get to that big moment, I care so much about them that I...don't want to hurt them. I don't want to put them through pain or have their heart ripped out. I'm a nice person and I want to be nice to them.

But that's no good. And I know this in my head and need to convince my heart to go along with it every time I write the black moment in a book. In real life, we hate seeing people we care about struggle and suffer. In fiction, it's perfection. The more torture we inflict on them, the better the payoff is. Don't you think?

What's your opinion? Nice black moment? Or put the characters through torture? I vote for torture. It's the only way that makes fiction grab me by the throat and keep me reading until the end.

Until next time, many blessings, Lisa Mondello

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Life's Left Turns

Hi, Ramona here, and while so many of my fellow LIS writers were off gallivanting around NYC at the conference, I was moving. Again.

I moved last summer, when I sold my house. It was a nice but temporary place, and I hope this one will last longer. But…ya never know.

Because I do know that God is not only a God of U-turns and second chances, He’s the God of LEFT turns, those abrupt changes in your life that hit like a two-by-four across the nose. Sometimes I think my life has been made up of them.



This is a shot of my grammar school orchestra. I’m the flute player with the glasses. Yeah…geeky, I know. But it was the late 60s and you didn’t get cool until at least high school. For seven years, I planned to become the next great flautist. By the time I hit my senior year, I had a high-end flute, acceptance into a university music program, and a serious crush on James Galway.

Then one day I hit a wall. One day. Wall. Within 30 minutes I went from music to mass communications. Then to lost…because I had no idea what I wanted to do.

For more than a year, I just wandered, lost in my own life. Now I know it was part of God’s forging me through a left turn. Then it was just scary. Eventually, I learned that life is full of those sudden left turns. Love, loss. Marriage, divorce. Hired, fired. Children, who never turn out the way you expect. Faith that gets questioned and tested.

Only in hindsight did I see that all those turns were part of God’s plan; that He was always in charge of my life’s direction. Let’s just hope I can remember it the next time a left turn comes around.

So, what was your last unexpected left turn?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tired, driven and happy--Lenora Worth :)

I'm just back from a long road trip to RWA in NY. My husband and I love these long trips. We meander and explore on the way to our main event (which usually is a conference for me!). Along the way, I take notes on places and sights, thinking I might use what I see in a book one day. I love to play the "what if" game while we're on the road.

We stayed in some strange hotels--which always makes me think of "The Shining". Not that they were big and spooky, but some had smelly hallways and lamps that seemed to have a mind of their own. Bathrooms are always interesting along the drive. I could write a book on the best and worst public bathrooms along our Interstate highways!

People are fun to watch, too. I eavesdrop on conversations in restaurants and hotel lobbies, hoping to get an idea or two. I'm alway more observant about these things than my adorable husband. I'll lean close and say "Did you notice that couple in the corner?" To which he will reply "Where?" He doesn't have a clue. But he is good with a GPS and a map!

New York, of course, was full of interesting characters. From the sidewalk vendors to the street preachers and the Nekked cowboy and girl!!!! strange characters seemed to roam in packs around Times Square. But I also saw good, sweet people who had the spirit of humanity in their smiles. People just trying to get by and make a living. My husband is good about conversing with people who help us. I listen and see the smiles on their faces even when they are tired and weary.

That's the beauty of a great road trip--people, places, times, views, weather, sights, sounds, smells, taste (the food is always a pleasure) and touch. It's what our stories are all about. There is danger and intrigue out there in the big old world. But there is also beauty and mystery.

I love being a writer!!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New York!

The national RWA conference was in New York this summer, and it was a blast!  My daughter Emily and our usual roomies  enjoyed our room on the 40th floor of the Marriott Marquis, where we could see the dazzling lights of Times Square.  The RWA Board did a wonderful job of picking the conference site! Wonderful restaurants, Broadway shows all around...such fun.  We even got to see all of the premiere hoopla in Times Square,  in celebration of  the release of the new Transformer's movie.

Horse lover that I am, I just loved seeing all of the beautiful police horses on patrol around Time Square.  The cop in this picture was giving her horse his "break"--and though she is seen here tying him to a scaffolding that would be no match for a powerful horse heading in reverse,  she actually bow-tied a little leather shoelace around the pipe, then looped the reins through that--a nifty quick-release set-up in case he spooked.

The horses pulling carriages for hire around Central Park and Times Square were beautiful, too--sleek, fat and healthy looking, their white carriages so festive set against all the bright neon lights.

But the conference week was more that just the dazzling lights, crowds and wonderful restaurants.  The workshops, and all of the industry buzz in the hallways, left me re-charged and excited about getting back to work!

What are some of your favorite places to visit?  What vacations have been your most memorable? 


Wishing you a wonderful summer,
Roxanne Rustand
www.roxannerustand.com
Home at Blackberry Hill, 7/2011

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Innocent Witness Interview


Today we're welcoming, Vivian Leigh Grant from THE INNOCENT WITNESS by Terri Reed a July 2011 release.

Wow, you've just had quite an adventure.

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

I’m the wife of a senator who has

recently declared his intent to run for the presidency. I have one child whom I love dearly and would move heaven and earth to protect, which is what set my son, Mikey, and me on the run for our lives. I found my estranged husband murdered and my son was the only witness to the crime. Now the killer wants us both dead.

2. So, during the book you met Anthony Car

lucci. Tell us a bit about him. What was your first impression? When did you know it was love?

Anthony is a ex-Secret Service agent turned bodyguard hired by my father to protect Mikey

and me. I have to be honest and

say I didn’t think too much of Anthony at first. I thought he’d led the bad guys to us and I doubted his skill to keep us alive. But he risked his life over and over again to protect us both and somewhere along the way I realized I’d fa

llen in love with my bodyguard. I really had n

o intention of ever going down that path again, but God had o

ther plans when he brought Anthony into my life.

2. What strengths/skills do you have? What is your greatest weakness? My strength and my weakness is my love for my son

4. What scares you? The thought of anything h

appening to Mikey.

5. If you could change one thing

about yourself, what would it be?

I would be bolder. I allowed too many people to dictate my life.

6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story? I’ve had to rely on my strength to help me with my lovel

ess marriage and with my son’s autism. Without God’s mercy and grace I don’t think I could have coped.

7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story? When all was said and done, my faith was stronger because I had to really trust in the Lord in a way I’ve never had to before. I had to give up any semblance of control and put all my faith in God.

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

Psalms 46:1 reminds me that no matter what this world throws at me, God is my refuge and my strength.

9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why? I would be Crème Brule. The outside is hard and pretty b

ut inside is a soft center that is very pleasing.

Look for more interesting facts about The Innocent Witness