Friday, May 31, 2013

Interview with Romantic Suspense Author Lisa Harris.

LISA HARRIS is a Christy Award finalist and winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 from Romantic Times. She and her family are missionaries in Africa where she home schools, leads a women's group, and runs a non-profit organization. She loves hanging out with her family, cooking different ethnic dishes, photography, and heading into the African bush on safari. 

SS: What do you consider to be the highlight of your writing journey? 

Finishing my first book was a huge highlight and accomplishment for me. That story will never be published, but for me it ended up being my first plunge into my writing journey. The other highlight was receiving a nomination for a Christy award for my novel, Blood Ransom.

SS: As a professional writer, how do you juggle writing with other responsibilities and family?  

Wow, this can be tough, especially during times like right now where I have a rewrite and a manuscript that are due on the same day. Thankfully, that doesn’t normally happen. I try to stay organized and plan out what I have to do every day so I don’t get overwhelmed with deadlines. I’ve also made a decision that family and ministry have to come first. Writing is important but I don’t want to miss what is happening around me—like my kids growing up—so while it can be tough, I’m constantly trying to ensure that I’m there for them. And they are there for me as well, helping around the house and picking up the slack when I have a lot to do.

SS: Tell us about the moment you finally felt like a “real author”?

Getting that first call a decade ago that someone actually wanted to buy my story.

SS.: Growing up, what books and authors did you love most?

I read and loved all of Victoria Holt’s books and remember deciding that I was going to write gothic novels when I grew up. I think the mystery and suspense underlying her stories made an impact on what I write today.

SS: How does your faith play into your writing?

While I always want the spiritual thread in my stories to be natural and not forced, it is very important to me to have my characters grow or be challenged in their faith. I also often it’s a thread I’m grasping with in my own life.

SS: In addition to becoming a writer, what other dreams do you hope to accomplish in your life?

For me, my biggest job is raising my children. Raising children for me has been a challenging and beautiful journey and to see them one day as well-adjusted adults with their own families will be a wonderful accomplishment!

SS:  Tell us about your current release.


Stolen Identity is a story about a widowed mother who gets caught up in a dangerous game when her identity is stolen. 

Danielle Corbit doesn't understand why someone would want to steal her identity. A single mother running a small business—nothing special, right? But after discovering a dead body on the Oregon coastline, she's attacked by a dangerous hacker who will stop at nothing to frame her. Only her former fiancĂ©, Jason Ryan, is willing to help. Years ago she broke his heart, but he can't walk away from a woman in need. He'll do anything to protect her from their unseen adversary. But is there enough time to work together and untangle this twisted web of fraud and deception?

SS: How did you come up with the idea for this story?

I had received a number of scam letters in my inbox and started researching how this worked. This led me to write Final Deposit for LIS several years ago, but I knew I wanted to delve into this topic again. Identity theft is on the rise with millions of people affected each year and criminals are making billions. 

SS: What’s the story’s takeaway?

One, when life spins out of control, remind yourself that your identity isn’t tied to the securities of this world. Hold instead to the hope found in our Heavenly Father.   

Two, do what you can to avoid identity theft. Here are some practical ideas to avoid being a victim of identity theft from the US Department of Justice:


SS:   What are you working on now?

Right now I’m finishing up two books, both due on June 1st. It’s keeping me just a little busy. J The first one is my next LIS set in South Africa on a game reserve. (Ever wanted to go on a
safari?) The second book is the first in a brand new romantic suspense series set in Atlanta, Georgia. This series revolves around the Hunt family who have served their country through the armed service or police department for generations. Despite conflicts that arise between them, they are close knit, stick together, and do whatever it takes to stop injustice.
  
SS:   Now let’s get a little personal. When you have the chance to relax and enjoy life, what do you do?

We live about forty minutes from the Indian Ocean, so as a family we try to take our days off at the beach just hanging out together. When we have a few days to get away, we love going to Kruger Game Park in South Africa. I find driving through the bush and seeing the animals.

SS:  What is your dream vacation? 

I love to travel and have been blessed to have visited a lot of different places in the world. Two years ago I went on a cruise with my husband for our 20th anniversary and loved the fact that I didn’t have to cook, do laundry, or clean for a week. Definitely a dream vacation for me!

SS: If you were a billionaire, what kind of charity or foundation would you start?

My husband and I actually started a charity three years ago called The ECHO Project, so I’d definitely want to grow this ministry. After living in Mozambique for a couple years, we started this non-profit to enable us to help more people and meet their physical needs. We distribute vitamins to children, help with educational needs like school supplies and uniforms, build houses for the elderly, help with micro loans and business guidance, and much more. You can read more about on our website, theECHOproject.org.


SS.: Wow! I guess you don't have to be a billionnaire to start one. Where can readers find you on the internet?

Would love to have you stop by my website www.lisaharriswrites.com or my blog myblogintheheartofafrica.blogspot.com.

SS.: What advice would you give aspiring writers?  


There are so many options available today for writers, but while there are many changes in technology, learning your craft is still just as important. Read books about writing, go to conferences, learn all you can, and most importantly write!

Thanks so much for joining us, Lisa!

To be entered in the drawing to win a copy of Stolen Identity, please comment below and don't forget to leave your contact information. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO...


 
 
Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Norman and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored fourteen books and is currently at work on a new series for Bethany House Publishing. The first book in her Road to Kingdom series, “Inescapable,” came out in July of 2012. The second book, “Unbreakable” released in February of 2013. The final book in the series, “Unforeseeable,” will be available in September of 2013.

Readers can learn more about Nancy through her Web site: www.nancymehl.com. She has a newsletter located at: www.nancymehl.blogspot.com, and is a part of another blog, The Suspense Sisters: www.suspensesisters.blogspot.com, along with several other popular suspense authors. She is also very active on Facebook.
 
WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO...
 
Writing for publishers can be exciting, disappointing, confusing, and fun. Sometimes, all these emotions happen with one book! There are a lot of things that happen behind the scenes that impact readers. For example, the other day a friend asked me about sequels that aren’t published. Readers who connect with certain characters feel that they’ve been left hanging. Authors get the email that starts out…”Whatever happened to…?” Today, I want to talk about why sometimes characters appear and disappear like mini-raptures.

When an author starts writing a series, we all hope we will be just like Sue Grafton. She started out with A is for Alibi and will release W is for Witness in September. I can only guess that the next books will be X is for X-ray, Y is for Yawn and Z is for Zzzzzzz, seeing her character, Kinsey Malone, must be in her eighties by now. Unfortunately, most publishers don’t like long running series. The current trend is three books and you’re done. For authors who are always optimistic (or living in a dream world), the hope is still out there that our editor will say, “This is the best series ever! Don’t make any plans for the next thirty years!” But, unfortunately, that doesn’t happen very often. So…characters we’ve planted in the background, hoping to bring them forward in a sequel, just float off into character heaven. Unloved, unfulfilled, and un… Okay, I ran out of “un” words. But you get the idea. This happened to me recently with characters from my Road to Kingdom series. So, what does a hapless writer do with these poor unfortunate characters that never get a chance to live out their fictional lives?

When I was notified that my Road to Kingdom series was over, and it was time for a new series, I was disappointed that Kingdom and its inhabitants were headed for character heaven. I quickly came to the conclusion that the only possible reason had to do with the Kingdom titles. We’d simply run out of titles that ended with –able. Inescapable, Unbreakable and Unforeseeable. All we had left were choices like: Unbelievable, Indescribable, Unworkable, Untranslatable, Unutterable, Unthinkable, Unprintable, Unidentifiable, Undecipherable, Uncopyrightable (yes, it’s a word!), Incomprehensible, and Insufferable. As you can imagine, it was a set up for disaster. Mean-spirited reviewers would have pounced on these unfortunate titles with evil relish. Now my editor hasn’t admitted that this was their thinking, but in my mind, this was the only possible reason to discontinue the series. This explanation makes me feel better. So leave me alone.

But what about poor Sophie who fled Kingdom in shame? And the suitor Hope didn’t choose? And what about poor plain Leah, the schoolteacher who never found love? What happens to these lost souls?

First of all, characters are never really wasted. They can make a comeback in a different book. For example, Leah Burkholder from Kingdom, Kansas, has become Sarah Miller, a schoolteacher in Sanctuary, Missouri. So, Leah’s story will be told. But what about Sophie and the young man rejected by Hope in Unbreakable? It would have been hard to recreate these characters under different names. Sophie would have had to cause chaos and leave town again. If the Sanctuary series stays at three books, poor Sophie will be cast out into the world for the second time. That just wouldn’t be fair. She could start feeling unloved.

In this situation, I contacted my awesome editor and mentioned that people in the real world actually do move. What if Sophie showed up in Sanctuary? And our poor man with the broken heart happens to be there as well? Thankfully, my editor gave me the go ahead. So, these characters will finish out their stories. My readers will be able to see their fictional lives fulfilled.

So, if you notice a character that springs to life in your favorite author’s book and then fades into the sunset before living a full life – have hope! They could make a comeback. They may look different, act a little different, and have different friends, but inside they’re the same.

Kind of like Doctor Who.

 


 

 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Prayed Up


Hi all, Lynette Eason here with some thoughts to share.

Do you ever feel like you take one step forward and then two seconds later take FOUR steps back?? LOL.

That’s how I feel lately. Like I just can’t get caught up. And that frustrates me. Because I want to be caught up. It's very important to me to have all the little boxes on my to-do list checked off. But I’ve come to the conclusion that being caught up with all the things on my to-do list isn’t nearly as important as being prayed up.

I’ve discovered Draw the Circle The 40 Day Prayer Challenge. Doing this prayer challenge has been amazing. And I don’t even know if I’ve been doing it “right”. What I DO know is that God can use even me and my crazy prayers to glorify his Kingdom. I wanted to share something that I read yesterday from this book.

“If we do little things, God will do the big things. But we have to do the little things like they are the big things. We cannot worry about what we cannot do; we have to simply do what we can. Oswald Chambers once wrote, ‘It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God; but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things.’ And if we do ordinary, God will add extra to it.”

This is how I think about my stories. I’ve come to realize that without God, my stories will never be anything more than just stories. But when I pray over each specific story and ask him to bless those who read each story, then the story become something so much more than the words that I wrote. It becomes a little thing that God can turn into a big thing. My story is something ordinary that God can add extra to. And that is amazing to me. But it’s also my prayer.

How about you? Is there something that you do that you feel is just ordinary, but you’ve God add extra to and make it extraordinary? Feel free to share!

God Bless!
Lynette

Friday, May 24, 2013

A SUSPENSEFUL CONTEST!


Can you investigate? Follow the clues? Solve the case?

If you can, you could win a selection of books by the Suspense Sisters!

HOW TO PLAY THE GAME:

Here are several questions. You will have to find the author's website or blog to discover the answers. Everyone who submits the correct answers will be entered into a contest to win books from the Suspense Sisters!

Don't forget to leave your contact information along with your answers. Only entries with email addresses are eligible!

HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS! HAVE FUN!

From DiAnn Mills: What part of the world has my interest and passion?

From Nancy Mehl: What did I make for my husband this year that he'd never had before? (Hint: You'll have to read my newsletter to find the answer. There is a link to it on my website.)

From Elizabeth Goddard: In what region of the country have I set several of my novels, a place where I lived for five years?

From Margaret Daley: Which one of my books is part of a Goodreads giveaway until the end of the month?

From Sharon Dunn: What is the breed and name of my dog, not the dog that is in my most recent book, Guard Duty, but the dog who lives in my house?

From Gayle Roper: What storm-ravaged part of the country is the setting for one of my romantic suspense novels?

From Jill Elizabeth Nelson: In what grade did I pen...er, pencil my first mystery novel?

From Lynette Eason: Name one of my favorite TV shows.

From the Suspense Sisters: Who wrote the very first post of the new year on our blog?

IF YOU FIND ALL THE ANSWERS TO OUR QUESTIONS AND POST THEM IN THE COMMENTS SECTION, YOU COULD WIN: 
 
 
The Survivor by DiAnn Mills



Inescapable and Unbreakable by Nancy Mehl




North Dakota Weddings and a Heartsong Trio: Disarming Andi, Exposing Amber, and Praying for Rayne by Elizabeth Goddard.

















             Guarding the Witness by Margaret Daley
                                                 
   
                                        
    
                       Guard Duty by Sharon Dunn


              Shadows on the Sand by Gayle Roper



    Betrayal on the Border by Jill Elizabeth Nelson




             When a Secret Kills by Lynette Eason



Twelve books by ten of Inspirational Suspense's best-loved authors!

Let the games begin! A winner will be selected next Monday!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

WRITING AND LOSING WEIGHT: THE SAME THING?


 

Sharon Dunn writes both humorous mysteries and romantic suspense. Her book Night Prey (Love Inspired Suspense) won a Carol award for 2011. Her first book Romance Rustlers and Thunderbird Thieves was a Romantic Times top pick and finalist in the inspirational Novel of the Year. Sassy Cinderella and the Valiant Vigilante, the second book in that same series (The Ruby Taylor mysteries) was voted book of the year by ACFW. Zero Visibility is her fifth Love Inspired Suspense with another one scheduled for release in March 2013 titled Guard Duty. When she is not writing, Sharon spends time with her husband, three children, two cats and a nervous little border collie named Bart. You can read more about Sharon and her books by visiting her website.

 
Writing and Losing Weight: The Same Thing?
 
I need to lose fifty pounds.  So what does that have to do with writing?  Both writing and weight loss are centered on a BIG GOAL, that bestseller that lands a million-dollar contract and the slim figure of youth, respectively.  I’ve read enough articles on weight loss to know that if I just focus the BIG GOAL, I will become discouraged every time I step on the scale.  I need to take my eyes off that twenty-pound loss and start celebrating smaller achievements like number of times per week I’ve exercised or that my jeans are looser than they used to be. Likewise, waiting around for that million-dollar contract will just leave you crying on your keyboard.  There must be some other way to measure success in writing…

Amount of time spent writing each week.  Think back to the time you first decided to become serious about writing.  For me, it was when I bought my first Writer’s Market.  If the number of hours a week you are putting into your writing has increased from that starting point date, it is cause for a congratulatory slap on the back.  If it seems like who’ve been trying to be a writer since you were in diapers, make today your starting point and set goals to increase the hours you put in at that keyboard.

Pieces out on the market.  Keep track of when and where you send your writing out and when it comes back. As soon as something bounces back from an editor, find another market for it and send it out.  Regardless of whether the pieces are rejected or accepted, the increasing number of manuscripts you have out on the market is an indication that you are moving in the right direction toward your goal.

Manuscripts completed.  When I first started writing, I had tons of first pages or first paragraph of stories, but very few that were completed. The inability to finish projects is a characteristic of a beginning writer.  The more stories you have been able to write “the end” on, even if they are not suitable for submitting to magazines, is another way to measure success in writing.  Also, look at the length of manuscripts you are writing.  When I started writing, I never thought I had the discipline to write a book.  Now I have completed three books, and two of them are ready to market. The book that will probably never be marketed because it’s so bad was a good warm up for the other two books.

Rejections accumulated. Rejection is good in this business.   That pile of rejections is an indication that you are that much closer to success. Think of it this way: the possibility of being rejected is also the possibility for acceptance. An editor will never knock on your door and say, “I used my psychic powers to ascertain that you have a story hidden in your drawer that we would like to publish.”  The more you send out, the more likely you are to become published.  Save all your rejections; they are evidence of your hard work. Set goals for the number of rejections you want to receive each year.  And when you reach that goal, celebrate. 

Save the personalized rejections (the ones where an editor put handwritten or personal comments about your piece in the rejection letter) in a special pile. They are cause for extra celebration. If you set goals for the number of rejections you want to get, eventually you will receive more personalized rejections than form letters and ultimately, your number of acceptances will increase.      

Success in writing can be measured in many different ways.  Maybe that big contract will never happen, but somewhere along the way a magical thing transpires: you will stop focusing on money and publication and learn to love the process of sitting in front of a blank screen creating new worlds and ideas…that’s the real success.  Now, about those fifty pounds.  They still sit serenely around my hips and stomach—but I did go for a thirty-minute walk today.

 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Writing an Inspirational Romantic Suspense


Hi, this is Margaret Daley.  My favorite type of book to write is a romantic suspense one. I have a copy of them out right now. Sometimes people ask me what is an inspirational romantic suspense.

An inspirational romantic suspense has three main elements: a suspense (and sometimes also a mystery), romance and faith element. For me that means I have to juggle three aspects of a story within a 250 page manuscript for my shorter Love Inspired Suspense. In my longer books for Abingdon Press in The Men of the Texas Rangers Series, I have at least a third more book but the plot is more complex. Not an easy task and one that requires a lot of planning and thought whether a long or short romantic suspense.

In a suspense, pacing is so important. A reader expects to be taken on a merry ride where the hero and heroine are threatened, running for their lives, trying to solve something, trying to save someone. In a mystery, which I call a whodunit, the action might be more sedate but not necessarily. My stories often combine the elements of a suspense and a mystery. However, in a romantic suspense the suspense must be stronger than the mystery.

A romantic suspense is usually fifty percent suspense and fifty percent romance. So often the problem arises when you are working your way through the suspense part of your book and you forget to have your hero and heroine fall in love. It can be harder to show it when they are being threatened or running for their lives. But if you have a furious pace throughout your book, it will overload your readers. I have read many romantic suspense books, and there should always be moments of down time. That can be when you build the romance between your hero and heroine. Even when they are running for their lives, it is a good thing to keep them emotionally connected and aware of each other.

In an inspirational romantic suspense you must also delve into the spiritual growth of your hero and heroine. I find it is easier in a romantic suspense because of the heightened action and often the life and death aspect of these type of stories. We turn to the Lord in times of trouble and when we need Him. This can feed very naturally into your story.

But again I will stress because you have to juggle faith, romance and suspense, you must plan. In a lot of stories, you will need to give false information and clues as well as real ones. Readers like to have a chance to figure out who is behind all the commotion in your story. I do realize in some suspense (not mystery) books the reader will already know who the villain is and that is fine. An example is the heroine being stalked by an ex-husband or ex-boyfriend. She knows who he is, but she is in grave danger.

So where do you start?  The first thing I usually come up with is a premise for my story.  Sometimes it can be something as simple as a favorite setting like the jungle in Heart of the Amazon or an occupation in Saving Hope (Texas Ranger) and in Guarding the Witness (a female bodyguard). In Scorned Justice I came up with the premise how far would someone go to get revenge.  Or in Vanished, the premise was what would happen if a sheriff had to be both lawman and father when his daughter is kidnapped by someone from his past. Usually it is easiest to come up with some kind of concept and build a story from there.

Friday, May 17, 2013

INTERVIEW WITH RONIE KENDIG


 
An Army brat, Ronie Kendig grew up in the classic military family, with her father often TDY and her mother holding down the proverbial fort. Their family moved often, which left Ronie attending six schools by the time she’d entered fourth grade. Her only respite and “friends” during this time were the characters she created.
It was no surprise when she married a military veteran—her real-life hero—in June 1990.  Married more than twenty years, Ronie and her husband, Brian, homeschool their four children, the first of whom graduated in 2011. Despite the craziness of life, Ronie finds balance and peace with her faith, family and their three dogs in Dallas, TX.
Ronie has a deep love and passion for people, especially hurting people, which is why she pursued and obtained a B.S. in Psychology from Liberty University. Ronie is an active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and has volunteered extensively, serving in a variety of capacities from coordinator of a national contest to appointment assistant at the national annual conference.
 
INTERVIEW WITH RONIE KENDIG
 
S.S: How long have you been writing?

I have been writing “toward publication” for over a decade. I have my first rejection slip dated 2003. In 2004, I joined ACFW because I’d been at a very small, local conference and the keynote speaker said if we were serious about writing, we needed to join ACFW. The keynote speaker was Steve Laube, who—three years later—became my agent.

S.S: Do you write full time? If the answer is no, what else do you do? If you are a full time author, what other jobs did you have in the past?

I feel like I write full time, but my real full-time job is homeschooling. We graduated one daughter more than a year ago, and now have three teens to guide through the high school years. Fun times! Honestly, this has been the toughest year for me, but I still write—in the evenings, after the kids are in bed.

S.S.: Who has been your greatest supporter as an author? 

My greatest supporter has been my husband. If it were not for Brian, I never would’ve had splashed into the waters of authorhood. I had lost my courage and confidence as a child, and I was too afraid to fail at something I loved so much. But Brian encouraged me to push on, to try it. Back by his love and confidence in me, I made the plunge!

S.S:  Why suspense? Do you write in any other genres? If so, what?

I honestly cannot imagine writing anything else. I write military suspense, but I also write suspense into the speculative pieces I’ve done. It’s always there. It’s the genre I read and enjoy the most. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m easily distracted, therefore I like writing action and fast-paced scenes.

S.S: How does your faith play into your writing?

Faith is absolutely essential to who I am, and it invariably exists within my writing. However, I do not write “preachy” scenes because I believe the best witness is an organic one. I believe we must win over lost souls with our daily living and being examples of Christ and His love to a hurting, dying world.

S.S:  Tell us about your current release.

Talon is the second book in the A Breed Apart series, and it focuses on a yellow Labrador named Talon who is suffering from PTSD, borne out of the attack that separated him from his handler. Aspen Courtland, the heroine, has been told her brother is MIA: Presumed Dead, but she doesn’t accept that decision. So when Dane Markoski shows up, with a theory that her brother is still alive, Aspen can’t resist the chance to prove the military wrong. She heads to Djibouti with a broken Talon and Dane to find her brother and the truth.

S.S: What is the main thing you hope readers remember from your story?

I always pray that readers see the hope of Christ in/through the stories I’ve written. Life is tough and really batters us, but I want readers to know Christ is there. God loves them. They are never alone.

S.S: What are you working on now?

I am currently working on Raptor Six, the first title in a spin-off series featuring the ODA team that has cameo appearances in the A Breed Apart books.

S.S: A tough question: Where do you want to be career-wise in five years? Ten years? 

I pray that in fives years I am completely comfortable in this new career and that I’ve worked out most of the kinks so that I’m thoroughly enjoying writing once more. In ten years. . .I pray I’m blessed enough to continue writing and telling stories of our military heroes. I’m also hoping that I will have, by then, launched the speculative fiction that I’ve been writing on the side, the fiction that keeps my well filled and my heart full.

S.S:  Now let’s get a little personal. Name two things on your “bucket list” that you haven’t done yet.   

Go to Hawaii.
Visit Israel.

S.S: What is the hardest thing you have ever done?

I think it’s a tie between surviving the loss of my mother to cancer and homeschooling my children.

S.S.: Where can readers find you on the internet?

I love hearing from readers and other writers! I can be found:

On my website – www.roniekendig.com
On Twitter – www.twitter.com/roniekendig
On Facebook – www.facebook.com/rapidfirefiction
On Goodreads – www.goodreads.com/roniek

 YOU CAN WIN A COPY OF TALON! JUST LEAVE A COMMENT, ALONG WITH YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION, AND RONIE WILL PICK A WINNER NEXT MONDAY!

 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Get a Clue!


We readers (and writers) who salivate over mystery and suspense novels tend to have a taste for the hunt—the pursuit of clues concealed in the forest of the story. Let’s expose some of these devious critters to see how the trail of clues works in our stories to help readers (and sometimes misdirect them) in unmasking the villain.

When clues are well laid out, by the time all is revealed in the final pages readers should be slapping their foreheads and saying, “I should have known!” If the solution pops out of nowhere or in a contrived fashion without an adequate trail of clues, readers are left saying, “Huh? Where did that come from?” It’s crucial for the reader feel that the writer has “played fair” with them so that they can look back in the storyline and exclaim, “Ahah! That makes sense.” Needless to say, this takes some finesse from us authors!

Mystery and suspense writers work with a number of key elements in developing and laying out clues for readers. I must confess that we consciously insert some red herrings among the real clues. A bit like magicians, we practice the art of misdirection, which ironically increases the fun for reader and writer alike.

Some clues are physical. These clues are objectively observable and quantifiable in the natural realm. This sort of clue might be anything from footprints or a blood trail to DNA or fingerprints.

Some clues are verbal. Dialogue between characters is essential in providing clues about guilt or innocence. It’s also entertaining to have a character say something that turns out to be vital to the solution, but the character herself had no idea of the clue’s importance. In fact, this is fairly common. An innocent remark from one character about how much another character (who turns out to be the culprit) loves grape jelly could turn out to be the clue that unmasks the villain!

Some clues are obvious—like the strand of pearls clutched in the victim’s fist. Some are subtle, and their significance doesn’t become clear until later. Some clues may appear obvious, but turn out to be irrelevant. Say, perhaps, there is the edge of a shoe print in the blood around the victim, but it comes out later that one of the suspects discovered the body, but because of a secret not connected with the murder, left the scene without reporting it.

One thing you might notice in mystery and suspense novels, most characters in the story—even the ones innocent of murder—have a secret that makes them behave suspiciously. This is one lovely way we writers scatter seeds of misdirection throughout the story.

Or conversely, another way that we can misdirect is by having the culprit behave heroically in some way during the course of the story, or we might create sympathy for the culprit by having them appear to be an underdog or a victim in some way. At times, the culprit actually arranges for themselves to appear a victim in order to throw the authorities or the sleuths off the trail. We writers entice our readers to like the villain or sympathize with them (but not too much) so that we throw them off the scent. Interestingly enough, the guilty in real life are often quite likeable or quite pitiable, which helps make this plot ploy reasonable and believable to readers.

Please share with us an example from your recent reading of a clue that the writer supplied that either threw you off the scent of the culprit (a red herring) or clue that struck you as particularly effective in creating that “Ahah!” moment at the end of the story. Everyone who shares will be entered in a drawing to win a copy of my most recent release, Betrayal on the Border.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Former army communications specialist Maddie Jerrard may not remember the details of the deadly mission on the Texas-Mexico border, but she knows one thing. She's not the one responsible for the massive ambush that left only her and investigative journalist Chris Mason alive. The culprit must be the only other survivor—Chris. Yet with suspicion—and danger—targeting Maddie and Chris, and a killer on their trail, partnering up is the only solution. But as Maddie and Chris get closer to uncovering the truth, they'll have to trust each other to make it through alive.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Award-winning author and writing teacher, Jill Elizabeth Nelson, writes what she likes to read—tales of adventure seasoned with romance, humor, and faith. Jill is a popular speaker for conferences, writers groups, library associations, civic and church groups. She delights to bring the “Ahah! Moment” to students as they make new skills their own. Her handbook for writers, Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View, is now available at http://amzn.to/IvQTkj. Visit Jill on the web at: www.jillelizabethnelson.com or look her up on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/JillElizabethNelson.Author or Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/JillElizNelson. Her latest release is Betrayal on the Border from Love Inspired Romantic Suspense.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Riptide: Up Close and Personal



Treasure Hunt


Two surprises await high-stakes repo man Jake Jacobson on his latest job. First, old flame Kelsey Chambers. Second, gunfire! Seizing the luxury yacht should have been easy, but he hadn't planned on Kelsey's appearance. Or that smugglers would hijack the vessel to find an antique map hidden on board. 

The map is Jake and Kelsey's only leverage. . .but it carries a price. Without it, they're as good as dead. With it, they're the target of a relentless hunt. Their failed relationship has Kelsey afraid to rely on Jake again. Can she count on him with their lives on the line? 


My newest romantic suspense, Riptide releases July 1st!


Initially, I entitled it Dead Ahead. Read the book and you’re sure to understand why that title is so appropriate. But most of the time publishers change the title. As it turns out—and I’ve only just realized this—Riptide hits the mark, metaphorically speaking.

Have you ever felt that life was sweeping you off your path, taking you in a direction or along a course you didn't want to go and yet you were powerless to fight it? I want to see those hands raised.

God is good.

All the time.

When I received my author copies last week I opened the book and read the Bible verse I’d chosen months ago:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2

Yes. The this new title--Riptide--works nicely.

Now I look back on the story and see that things have tied together in an amazing way. We’d like to think that we play a significant role in making sure everything works together, but in my experience, things work together best when I have nothing at all to do with them. Okay, laugh, but I’m just sayin’. . .

I work hard, of course, and try to plan things but I also pray and look to the Lord to lead. I’ve been surprised at the spiritual themes that come out in my stories. An unplanned course--or at least not planned by my hand--takes on a whole new meaning. But that should come as no surprise because all things work together for good to those who love God, right? 

Riptide is no exception. It’s an adventurous ride with twists and turns that  I couldn't have expected.

Now here’s the really exciting news. I need reviews. Lots and lots of reviews. 

I’m giving away TEN COPIES. That’s right TEN COPIES of Riptide. First you need to comment below and second please agree to post a review on both Goodreads and Amazon, at least those two venues.

I’ll randomly choose ten people from the comments below to receive a copy. If you'd like to be entered in the drawing, make sure to leave your email address so I can contact you. 

Or you can always PRE-ORDER Riptide. Not only will it be available for paperback and Kindle, it’s available in a Love Inspired Suspense Bundle with three more romantic suspense titles: 




Many Blessings!
Elizabeth

Friday, May 10, 2013

INTERVIEW WITH SUSAN SLEEMAN


 

SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of inspirational romantic suspense and mystery novels. Her first romantic suspense title, High-Stakes Inheritance, earned a spot on the ECPA bestseller list and her Garden Gate Mystery series, which features Nipped in the Bud, and Read Between the Lines, has enjoyed time on Amazon bestseller lists as well. And The Christmas Witness was named a finalist in the 2011 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. In addition to writing, Susan hosts the popular Internet website TheSuspenseZone.com. She currently lives in Oregon, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Her husband is a church music director and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law, and an adorable grandson.
 
INTERVIEW WITH SUSAN SLEEMAN

S.S: How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for 7 years or so.

S.S: Do you write full time? If the answer is no, what else do you do? If you are a full time author, what other jobs did you have in the past?

I am a fulltime author and I LOVE it. My first job started when I was young. My parents owned a grocery store and laundromat when I was growing up. They’d give all the grunt jobs—like cleaning grocery store coolers and washing machines to my brother, sister, and me. Not fun jobs I can tell you, but it taught all of us the value of hard work. I gradually moved up to cashier and worked all through college in another grocery store in the town where I went to school. Since then I’ve worked in management positions for major corporations and taught computers to elementary students.

S.S: Tell us about the moment you finally felt like a “real author”?

I never thought of myself as a real author until I signed my first book contract. And even then, I didn’t really believe it and was sure the editor was going to tell me she’d made a horrible mistake and changed her mind. She didn’t, but sadly the series was cancelled the month before my book was set to release. Wow, was I disappointed. But God had a plan for that book and when the line was revived in single titles, Nipped in the Bud finally came out. Did I feel like an author then? Yes, but only because, I had another book with a different publisher release the month before Nipped in the Bud and it made the ECPA Best Seller list. When I saw my name on a list with authors like Karen Kingsbury, Max Lucado, and Francine Rivers, I started to believe it. lol

S.S.: Who has been your greatest supporter as an author? 

Without a doubt it’s my husband, Mark. Though my daughters are super supportive and my other family members have been very supportive and helpful with the sales of my books, my husband is the one in the trenches—cooking dinner and doing just about anything else I need done when on a deadline. In fact, he’s in the kitchen cooking right now so I can finish interviews. Also, he’s always believed I could write a book and succeed in this business. Never once in the many years when I completed manuscript after manuscript without garnering a book contract with a publisher, did he think I should quit. What a guy!

S.S:  Why suspense? Do you write in any other genres? If so, what?

I write both suspense and mysteries, and my reason is quite simple. It’s what I love to read. A good suspense book keeps my attention and I can’t put it down. Though I enjoy reading well-written books in other genres, too, they don’t keep me riveted in the same way and I often lose interest and go back to the book at later date.

S.S: How does your faith play into your writing?

My faith is such an integral part of my life, I can’t separate it from what I do. I’m a Christian who writes novels so my books are all written from that perspective. My characters’ internal struggles always relate to a spiritual struggle they are experiencing. They work through their internal struggles in part by learning or employing a spiritual truth. Often the truth they learn is something I have struggled with or still struggle with in my own life. This is about to change, though, as I have contracted to write a three book general market FBI series called Agents Under Fire. I will still be true to the principles that guide my life, but the books won’t carry a spiritual message. I’m very excited about this opportunity as it gives me a chance to broaden my readership and provide riveting suspense novels to people who don’t want to read pages filled with sex and profanity and yet don’t want the spiritual message.

 S.S: If you couldn’t write, what else would you want to do?

I love to do web design, though I’m a self-trained novice, and create bookmarks and brochures so I think I’d go back to school for a graphic arts degree. I’ve always loved doing things like this. I remember when I would turn in my chemistry reports in high school, I’d get less than stellar grades because science is not my thing, but the teacher would give me high marks for the layout and design of my reports.

S.S:  Tell us about your current release.

No Way Out is book three in The Justice Agency series. This five book series features five adopted siblings who work together in a family run private investigation business. Each book in the series features on of the siblings. Cole Justice takes center stage in No Way Out. He’s been plagued with issues from two tours in Iraq and can’t seem to work through them. Until Alyssa Wells and her seven-year-old twins come barreling into his life. Alyssa has uncovered evidence that her police officer husband was murdered by his partner who wants to silence her before she talks and she must trust Cole to keep her safe while he brings the officer to justice.


 S.S: Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

Hmm, that’s a good question. I actually don’t remember where the germ of the idea came from as this book started with the characters. I’d gotten to know Cole in the first two Justice Agency book and I created a backdrop to share his struggles with serving two tours in Afghanistan while receiving a Dear John letter from home.

S.S: What is the main thing you hope readers remember from your story?

Both characters in No Way Out need to learn to turn their problems over to God and not focus on them. When they focus on the problems, they grow in size and scope and the characters can only find peace when they trust God..

S.S: Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

I liked Cole Justice since Double Exposure, book one in The Justice Agency series. All five of the siblings are in each of the books, and Cole played a small role in this first book. I didn’t know him all that well when I started writing Double Exposure, and was pleasantly surprised when he showed me that he was a very wise man. One who’d been through battles, both physical and emotional and had learned from them. He doesn’t always practice what he’s learned, but he’s very wise council for his siblings. I also liked the challenge as a writer of taking him from being a brooding, moody guy to one who embraces life and love at the end of No Way Out.

S.S: Who is your least favorite character in this book? Why?

It has to be Nolan, the former partner of Alyssa’s slain husband. He betrayed Alyssa’s trust, which is bad enough, but he also inserts himself in their lives as a confidant and surrogate father to the twins. Shame on him for betraying Alyssa, but it’s even more inexcusable to betray and hurt children. The lowest of the low, if you ask me.

S.S: What are you working on now?

I’m actually working on three projects right now. First, I’m writing Desperate Measures, which is the last book in The Justice Agency series. I’m so sad to say goodbye to these siblings, as I’ve come to think of them as real people. Don’t tell my hubby or he might think I’ve finally gone off the deep end. Second, I’m working on a mystery for the Creative Woman mystery series. This is the third book I’ve written for this series—www.creativemysteris.com—and has been such a fun book to write as it takes place in a castle in Scotland giving me a great backdrop for a mystery. And lastly, I’m working on Web of Deceit, which is the first book in the Agent’s Under Fire series I mentioned above. I’ve long wanted to do longer books and am thrilled that I finally get the chance.

S.S: A tough question: Where do you want to be career-wise in five years? Ten years? 

Assuming being a New York Times best selling author is off the table, I want to continue to have a solid writing career, writing suspense books. I know that sounds kind of simple, but career-wise my goal is to write the best books I can and make a decent living doing it. That means growing and learning as a writer. Finding out how many books I can write per year while remaining sane and having time for my family and hobbies. Trust me, this is a delicate balance when you’re writing five books per year and I want to get better at doing it all.

S.S:  Now let’s get a little personal. Name two things on your “bucket list” that you haven’t done yet.  

I would love to travel to Europe. After featuring Scotland in my latest mystery, I’d make that my first stop and take ferryboats to explore all of the islands. And I would love to have the perfect flower garden. Not that such a thing exists, but I enjoy working toward that goal.

S.S:  What is the silliest thing you have ever done? 

I can think of a lot of things that were foolish, but down right silly, I can’t come up with even one in recent years.

S.S: What is the hardest thing you have ever done?

I’d have to say the hardest thing I’ve ever done is trust God and refuse to worry when my husband unexpectedly lost his job awhile back. I was unable to work do to health issues so we had no income. I mean ZERO income with one daughter still living at home. When most people get laid off they’re eligible to receive unemployment. But churches are exempt from paying into the unemployment fund, making him ineligible for any payments. We had a roof over our heads, but we didn’t know for how long. Still, we both decided that we would trust God to provide. And he did. First, with generous gifts from our fellow church members. Second, he provided a new job within six weeks, which, if you know how slow churches are to call workers, you know that was a miracle in itself. We had to move cross-country, but the senior pastor of the new church was so amazing, the church uplifting and healing, and, if that wasn’t enough, the job turned out to be the best one my husband ever held. All I can say is Praise God. He is faithful.

S.S.: Where can readers find you on the internet?

To learn more about me you can stop by any of these locations on the web.

Website           www.SusanSleeman.com

Facebook        www.Facebook.com/SusanSleeemanBooks

Twitter            www.Twitter.com/SusanSleeman

Review Site     www.TheSuspenseZone.com

S.S.: Anything else you’d like to tell or share with us?

Just a big thank you for hosting me on your great blog and thank you to the many readers out there who purchase not only my books, but all the wonderful books in the suspense genre.  

Susan is giving away a copy of her book, NO WAY OUT. Just leave a comment, along with your contact information, for a chance to win!