Friday, June 28, 2013

Spotlight on Elizabeth Goddard

Elizabeth Goddard is an award-winning author with well over a dozen romance and romantic suspense novels, including the romantic mystery, The Camera Never Lies—winner of the prestigious Carol Award in 2011. After acquiring her computer science degree, she worked at a software firm before eventually retiring to raise her four children and become a professional writer. A member of several writing organizations, she judges numerous contests and mentors new writers. In addition to writing, she home schools her children and serves with her husband as he pastors a church in Louisiana.



Suspense Sisters welcomes our own Elizabeth Goddard for a short interview and then a spotlight on the five books she has releasing this year. 

SS: Wow five books. Tell us how that came about.  

BG: Through a lot of blood, sweat, and tears! I'm sure any one of the suspense sisters will tell you writing on double deadlines is killer. This time last year I signed a two book contract with Love Inspired Suspense and then a three book contract with Heartsong now under Harlequin. In addition, three books that I wrote in 2009, Disarming Andi, Exposing Amber, and Praying for Rayne, have been repackaged into North Dakota Weddings, which I've already mentioned on the blog. 

SS: Sounds like you work hard, but what do you do for fun?

BG: Ha! I haven't had any leisure time this past year because of my writing deadlines and because I home school my three sons. This year has been the hardest. But school is out now and I only have one book left to turn in and that's not until October. I've been so relieved and excited to have some extra time so I've spent it catching up on books I've wanted to read by some of my favorite authors. As for other things I do for fun, I love finding new and healthy recipes and cooking for my family. Can't tell you how much I enjoy finding delicious ways to serve them healthy meals. I know. I sound like a commercial. Crazy, right? I have all these new cookbooks I've wanted to try, so try them I am. Also, I've taken on training for a half-marathon with my son. He's in his early teens so it's nothing for him, but I'm an overweight fifty-year old woman. I admit, I love the challenge and things are going better than I could have imagined. I'm up to twenty miles a week. It's a miracle. And yes, in case you want to know, it IS fun. I've gotten the runner's high and entered "the zone" and even hit "the wall." Those are terms I just learned! 

SS: What are your plans for the future, writing-wise?

BG: I'm taking a short and much-deserved break from writing, that is, after I turn in another proposal. There's a waiting period to hear back on the proposal, and I'll work on my book that's due in October. I'm hoping to continue to write for Love Inspired Suspense for years to come. I love romantic suspense and adventures stories. I might try to sell a historical series, and I'm definitely hoping to sell to one of the trade houses. I have several possible ideas in mind--one is set in the south and one in the Pacific Northwest, which I love. If you've noticed, I set a lot of stories there. I live in the south now, grew up here, but it's hot and I like for my mind to be in cool places. 

SS: Tell us about your books releasing this year. 

BG: In addition to North Dakota Weddings, which I've already mentioned, Riptide releases on July 1st. If you're a fan, you can help me by buying that book on that day, if you plan to make your purchase via Amazon. Then in September, Love in the Air, releases. This is my hot-air balloon story set at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta--I enjoyed writing this and I'm so excited to see it published. In December, I have two more books releasing, Love on the Slopes, the second in my New Mexico series for Heartsong, and Wilderness Peril, another Love Inspired Suspense--the last book in my learjet repo man series (an unofficial title). Next spring, and I know we're only talking about this year, but I wanted to mention the third book in my NM series--Love in the Wind releases. I have book covers for three of the five books, so far.

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? 


True life threatens true love in three contemporary romances from North Dakota. Andi is remodeling a decommissioned missile site and searching for a treasure hidden within. Can she detonate her feelings for the owner when romance gets in the way? Amber is excited to be a new summer intern for the Harrington museum and Dr. Brandon Selman. It's the opportunity she needs to determine her future, but will past secrets be her undoing? Rayne's job designing magnificent fountains for FountainTech is a dream come true until charges of corporate espionage swirl. Is it the end of her dream. . .and love?




KYLE MORGAN HAS RETURNED. . .
He was Nikki Alexander's first crush--until his stunts in a hot-air-balloon race led to a family tragedy. Then he disappeared, leaving her brokenhearted. Now he's back and stirring up all her emotions.
Blaming himself for her brother's death, Kyle stayed away. But now Nikki's in trouble. And he knows he must step in to make it right. He'll help save her balloon business. . .and prove this time he's here to stay. But first he must win her forgiveness before he can win her heart. 




WILDERNESS PERIL: (NO COVER YET)

ON THIN ICE

Run off the road and left for dead, Shay Ridiker's only hope for surviving the frozen claws of the wilderness is pilot Rick Savage. The beautiful airplane mechanic came to Alaska expecting a routine repo, but a missing coworker and a cripple plane are just the tip of the iceberg. Now held captive by ruthless killers at a derelict gold nine, Shay needs Rick's protection more than ever. But Rick has shadows that follow him into the land of the midnight sun. With gunmen at their backs, can he be all Shay needs--a haven. . .and a hero?

I'll be sure to post the Love in the Wind cover and blurb when they're available.

SS: Any parting words? 

BG: I thank God every day for my blessings and I feel especially blessed to be a professional writer, to be able to write stories that glorify Him. Thanks so much for the chance to participate in this blog, and for this interview spotlight. 











Thursday, June 27, 2013

When life gets a little crazy...


Hi all, Lynette Eason here. Welcome to Thursday. It should say, Welcome to Wednesday, but well... I missed posting yesterday. Sigh. But anyway, let's jump right in to what I thought I'd share with you today.

I just read two blog posts this morning. One about living adventurously. I laughed. I truly do not need anymore adventure in my life.  And one about cleaning the clutter out of our lives. I didn’t laugh so much at this one. This one kind of hit home. Because the author talked about the fact that you have to clean out before you can add. Meaning, if you want to say yes to something else, you need to get rid of something first. This is so true. I find myself saying yes to more and more, but the problem is I’m not getting rid of anything. This leads me to feeling quite overwhelmed and well—cluttered. There’s always too much to do and never enough time to do it all. When I’m working on A, B and C – D, E, and F get neglected. I don’t like that.

So, what’s a girl to do? I started looking at my schedule. Homeshool starts in August. Just one kid, though, thank goodness. I have a book due September 1, another book due on October 1, and a new proposal due on October 5th. I leave on the July 7th for vacation until the 12th, have two speaking engagements on the the 13th and 15th, then leave for a conference on the 17th until the 21st. On the 21st, I fly to the Dominican Republic until the 27th. I have one conference in August, two in September, and one in October. And I’m supposed to write these books during all of them. I’m already hyperventilating. PLUS, I’m thinking about starting a new business.

Okay. As I look at this craziness, I think, “What do I get rid of? How do I clean out some of the clutter?” And I realize. I can’t. Not only that, but I don’t want to. Apparently, I like schedules like this. I thrive on schedules like this. I appreciate the down time, I don’t necessarily like fighting for the writing time or forgetting things like when it's my turn to post on a group blog, but I absolutely LOVE the travel and the craziness being a write comes with. However, adding homeschool into the chaos might tip the scales a bit. The writing time is rather abundant right now. I don’t usually have a hard time finding it. Using it wisely is another topic for discussion. We won’t go into that now. But very shortly, writing time is going to be a scarce commodity. And I have deadlines.

What about you? How do you find time to do the things you have to do? And want to do with neglecting the things that are also priorities – family, God, friends, down time, haircuts, grocery shopping…lol. You get the idea.

What's a girl to do?

Monday, June 24, 2013

HELPING CHARACTERS USE NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION


 
 
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.
 
 
HELPING CHARACTERS USE NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION
 
The 1997 remake of 12 Angry Men chronicles the deliberation of a jury as they change from an eleven to one decision in favor of conviction to all jurors deciding that the boy on trial is not guilty. The movie also provides a good lesson on how writers can have characters use non-verbal communication effectively. Throughout the movie, prejudices rise to the surface, personal problems distort judgment, and antagonism and alliances between the men emerge. At the end of the film, as the jury leaves the deliberation room, one man pulls out a chair for an older gentleman on the jury and hands him his hat, two others help their fellow jurors get their coats on. Finally, the juror who pushed for not guilty from the start gets the coat of the juror who was the last hold out for guilty and helps him into it.  No dialogue is spoken. Four times, gestures of kindness between men who were at each others’ throats take place.  This silent scene is so much more powerful than if one of the characters had simply said, “I think we’ve come to a place where we can respect each other despite our differences.” Making the same point using with non-verbal cues was much more effective storytelling.
 
The above example from 12 Angry Men is a solid example of plot moving forward without dialogue. Using silence and non-verbal communication in this way avoids a story becoming overly preachy. A reader or a viewer is allowed to come to their own conclusions. What is interesting about the example from this movie is that the same message, men who have come to a place of respect after a fierce battle, is not shown just once between two characters, but four times. The repetition drives the point home, but remains subtle because of the lack of dialogue.       

Characters can speak in code and even lie, but body language gives them away.  One way to use non-verbal cues is to have it stand in contrast to dialogue.  If a character says “I’m open to any suggestions” and then crosses his arms, the closed off posture demonstrates that he is thinking the exact opposite of what he is saying. When an actor prepares for a role, he is encouraged to figure out what the subtext of his dialogue is. Subtext is simply what the actor really means. It’s real dialogue beneath the spoken dialogue. An actor or a character can say “I love you.” And really mean “Please don’t leave me” or “I hate you.”  The subtext of dialogue is usually evident in non-verbal communication, through eye contact or lack of it and vocal quality. Proximity, whether a character is advancing or retreating from another character, also communicates subtext. When actors for a movie or stage play are blocked (meaning the director tells them where they stand and when they move) one of the things a director considers is what unspoken message the movement conveys to an audience. In the same way, in fiction the movement of characters from touching to being across the room from each other tells the reader something.        

Finally, non-verbal communication tells the reader who a character is, what he or she is like. Someone who constantly invades other people’s personal space will be viewed as aggressive or socially inept. Or the inability to understand personal space may hint that the character has learning disability like autism. Vocal quality as well reveals what kind of person your character is. In the current book I am working on, I have a character whose body language suggest she is about to share a confidence and then she talks at full volume. Without coming out and saying it, I hint at my character’s background of not having been taught some basic manners. Non-verbal descriptions of characters demonstrates their level of confidence and comfort with their surroundings and present situation. A character conveys a message through a nervous gesture, tugging on a button or tapping of the foot. Inability to maintain eye contact or a breaking off of eye contact influences the readers understanding of the characters’ motives. Thinking about body language is especially important when you want to convey a character’s thought but you are not in that character’s POV.        

Depending on which expert you talk to, non-verbal communication constitutes between 60 to 90 percent of our communication. It makes sense then to incorporate it into our fiction. Sometimes a scene is more powerful when the plot is moved forward without dialogue. Non-verbal communication can be used to show what a character is really thinking and feeling, even if he is saying something different. Finally, people communicate a great deal about themselves and their state of mind and background through body language. Dialogue is an effective way to move a scene forward, but balance the spoken word of characters with the unspoken messages.     

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, June 21, 2013

INTERVIEW WITH HEIDI GLICK


Heidi Glick has a B.A. in biology, a minor in Bible from Cedarville University, and a passion for writing Christian fiction. Additionally, she is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and has written two articles for Intercom. When not working, Heidi spends time with her husband, son, and two dogs, Cocoa and Sparky. She attends Grace Chapel in Mason, Ohio. 
 
 
 
S.S. Welcome to the Suspense Sisters, Heidi! How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was 13. I started out writing plays.

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 don’t write full time because I stay at home with my son, which I enjoy. Sometimes I write while he naps or I work on freelance editing/writing jobs.

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

When I heard my name mentioned in my book trailer and when I saw my name on Amazon, I finally felt like a real author.

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

My husband and my mom have both been very supportive. So many times I’ve wanted to give up, and my husband has encouraged me to keep writing.

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

I like to read suspense. I’ve tried my hand at romance, but somehow suspense always seems to work its way back into the story.

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

I share my faith through fiction, so faith is integral to my writing.

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

If I couldn’t write, but I get to do whatever I want, then I’d produce Christian films or do the audio for audiobooks.

S.S:  Tell us about your current release.

In Dog Tags, a former Marine determines to protect the woman he loves at all costs, and yet his own secrets might turn her against him forever.
 
S.S: Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

My favorite character is Mark Graham because he is a broken man but a man of honor.

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

The Knight would be my least favorite, because after all, he is the villain.

S.S: What are you working on now?

I’m working on an environmentally themed suspense series and the sequels/spinoffs to Dog Tags.

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

Skydive—which might be hard to do because I have a fear of heights. Although, I have thought of going in one of those indoor skydiving simulators.

Travel to Europe.

S.S.: Where can readers find you on the internet?
 
 
S.S.: Which writers have influenced your style?

Ted Dekker and Irene Hannon.

 


LEAVE A COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A COPY OF HEIDI'S BOOK, DOG TAGS!
 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The History of the Texas Rangers


Hi, I'm Margaret Daley. I have written four books in the Men of the Texas Rangers Series for Abingdon. The last one, Severed Trust, will be out in October of this year. I also have written one book for Love Inspired Suspense about the Texas Rangers. What a group!

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about the baseball team in Dallas called the Texas Rangers. I’m talking about the oldest state organization of law enforcement officers. Sam Austin formed the first version of the Texas Rangers in 1823. The word “rangers” was coined because these men ranged over the land they protected and guarded.

Through the early years the Texas Rangers, one of the main duties of the group was to protect the people against Indians. Then after the Civil War in 1874 the organization was divided into six companies with 75 men and usually a captain. Their duties were partly a soldier and partly a police officer. By the 1900s the organization totally focused on enforcing the law. A Texas Ranger was called in when the case was too risky for the local agency.

Today there are 150 Texas Rangers who served the state in many investigative capacities. They are part of the Texas Department of Public Safety. The Texas Rangers’ headquarters is in Austin. There are six companies: Company “A” headquartered in Houston, Company “B” in Garland, Company “C” in Lubbock, Company “D” in McAllen, Company “E” in El Paso, and Company “F” in San Antonio. The companies were adjusted recently.

The Texas Rangers handle the usual kind of cases like murder, assault, robbery and kidnapping, but they are also tasked with investigating threats against the governor and other state and federal officials. I used some of these crimes for the stories in my series: The Men of the Texas Rangers (Saving Hope, Shattered Silence and Scorned Justice).

My newest release in her Men of Texas Rangers series is Scorned Justice, #3. It is available at bookstores or online at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Christian Book Distributors and wherever fine books are sold.

Friday, June 14, 2013

GINNY AIKEN Interview - WIN A FREE BOOK REMEMBER ME WHEN


Please welcome Ginny Aiken, author of Remember Me When and one of my very good friends! She is giving away a copy of her newest release and trust me, it's AWESOME. Just answer the question at the end of the interview and you'll be entered into the drawing.


           Ginny, welcome to The Suspense Sisters. So glad you could visit today. Like many of your fans, I love your books. Love the humor, love the fun, love the suspense in them! LOL. But anyway, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a former newspaper reporter, and live in northwestern Indiana with my engineer husband and our youngest of four sons—the oldest two have married, and they plus the third have flown the coop. The oldest and his wife have even made me the proud grandma of two precious boys. I was born in Havana, Cuba, and raised in Valencia and Caracas, Venezuela, where I discovered books early. I wrote my first novel at age fifteen while I trained with the Ballets de Caracas, which eventually became the Venezuelan National Ballet company, but then wisely burned that tome when I turned a “mature” sixteen. Stints as a reporter, paralegal, choreographer, language teacher, retail salesperson, wife, mother of four boys and herder of their numerous and assorted friends—including multiple soccer teams, marching bands, and the 135 members of first the Crossmen and then the Bluecoats Drum & Bugle Corps—drove me back to books in search of my AWOL sanity. I’m now an author of thirty-six published works, with two more in production, and have won various awards for my writing, including the Mid-America Romance Writers Fiction From the Heartland award, and a Romantic Times Reader’s Choice award. I love to share my passion for storytelling, and have taught novel-writing seminars and workshops at Harrisburg(PA) Area Community College and Penn State University. I’m also a frequent speaker at Christian women’s and writer’s workshops, but have yet to catch up with that elusive sanity.

Tell us a little about your new release. Is it the first in a series or a stand alone?

Remember me When is book 2 of the Women of Hope series. The books are based on the life of a biblical character, in this case, the story of Abigail, King David’s less famous wife. Abigail showed enormous courage and the conviction of her faith when she went against her first husband’s wishes and did what God called her to do. In my book, Faith Nolan is in a terrible marriage, one based on the lie that is her husband’s life. When his contrary nature and greedy actions hurt logging camp owner, Nathan Bartlett and his men, Faith risks her well-being to do right in God’s eyes.


Inspired by the biblical story of Abigail in 1 Samuel, a Christian woman stands up for what is right, despite life-threatening consequences.

When Faith married her husband Roger Nolan he seemed to be an upstanding businessman, owner of a remote mercantile outside the town of Bountiful, Oregon. But Faith quickly learned the truth-that her husband is dishonest in his business practices and likes his liquor, turning mean when he indulges. 

When Faith discovers that Roger has yet again failed to deliver critical winter supplies to Nathan Bartlett, owner of the nearby logging camp, she takes the order up the mountain herself. 

Furious, Roger confronts Faith when she returns, and she is knocked unconscious. When Faith wakes, she finds Roger dead in a pool of his own blood, and she soon stands accused of murder.

Having fought in the War Between the States, Nathan has seen enough violence to last a lifetime. He has always admired Faith's quiet strength and integrity and finds it hard to believe such a gentle woman capable of harming anyone. 

However, Nathan begins to struggle with his instinct to protect Faith when evidence mounts against her. As more and more people begin to think Faith is guilty, only her trust in God can give her the hope she needs to survive this trial.

    
How do you get the inspiration for this book?

I have always loved God’s Word, and the women of the Bible have always held particular interest for me. I find in them inspiration for my daily life, and just by playing the ‘what if…?’ game, I knew I wanted to see how those great truths would play out in a different time and place. I chose the American West because…well, how better to show a woman’s life in a new world where choices often mean the difference between life and death?


What kind of research did you do for this book?

The research for this series was extensive. I love American history, and I especially enjoy learning about the Victorian era, since it often played out against the raw landscape of western expansion. I knew little about logging camps and how our legal system played out back then. It took tons of minute digging to gather enough detail to create these stories.

What do you hope your readers will get out of the story?

The one thing I especially wanted to present to my readers was the perfect timelessness of the truths in the Word. It doesn’t matter where you are or when in God’s calendar you live, His Word remains valid, living, and never-failing.

Anything else about writing, yourself, or your books you’d like to add?

I never thought I’d be where I am today. Writing a novel and having it picked up by a real-life, honest-to-goodness publisher was a dream I didn’t think I was worthy of attaining. This year, I celebrated the 21st anniversary of my first sale to one of those honest-to-goodness publishers. Remember me When is the 36th novel I’ve sold, and the awe has never gone away: God blesses us far more abundantly than we can begin to imagine. My prayer for each one of my readers is that our Father will take my willing surrender to Him and His glory so that He can use it to bless those who pick up one of my books.
       

Where can people find you?

I’m available! I’m on facebook, so you can just search my name. But I also have a website and do answer email.

Get in touch. I love to hear from my readers! I hope you’ll get to know my Women of Hope, and love them as much as I do.

Okay, readers, if you could travel back in time and talk to anyone, who would it be and why? And no, you can't say Jesus. You can still talk to him. I'm talking about a dead person. LOL. Those who leave a comment and contact information, will be entered into a drawing for a free copy of Remember Me When. Good luck!


What People Are Saying About Ginny’s Books!

“In this engrossing second installment of her Women of Hope historical series, Aiken delivers a beautiful, inspirational slice of life set in 1880s Oregon… Rich with details, the events unfold very naturally.”

“Aiken’s second Women of Hope novel connects nicely to the first… The 1880 Oregon setting is accurately illustrated and the heroine’s journey to renewed faith in God is nicely depicted.”

“Masterful storytelling, witty dialogue, and characters you’ll never forget.”

“An engaging tale of duty, romance, family and love… I’ll be eager to see what character Ms. Aiken chooses next to feature in this exciting new series.”

“Ginny Aiken is a captivating storyteller who offers her readers a delightful journey they won’t soon forget.”

“Ginny Aiken has a beautiful ability to mingle comedy with tragedy, making the reader laugh and cry almost in the same breath.”

 


 


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

In the News. . .


Often authors grab their stories from the headlines and twist them around to create something new and fresh. But sometimes, things happen the other way around. A story is written and then we see something similar in the news. That happened to me last week.

Two unrelated news stories come together in one novel that I wrote four years ago!

If you keep up with the news you’re aware of the government spying via the NSA and data mining techniques, etc. You might have also caught the snippet of a story about someone who purchased a decommissioned missile silo from the cold war and is refurbishing it into his home.

In Disarming Andi, my hero Vance is working on a classified government project—data mining software to predict or find potential terrorists. Isn't that what the government claims to be doing now?

It just so happens that Vance is also finishing out a project to retrofit an old missile silo. This is one of my earlier books and it was great fun to write. I enjoyed learning about the missile silos, their uses--past and present--and how one would go about refurbishing them.

Also, I learned much about North Dakota’s big role in the cold war. Want to find out more?

Here is the whole blurb for Disarming Andi:

Vance inherits a missile launch site—a relic from the cold war buried beneath the plains of North Dakota. But he doesn’t consider staying in the underground dwelling until he meets Andi, the woman responsible for remodeling it into a lavish home.

Upon meeting Vance, Andi may have just gotten her second chance to discover what her grandfather hid inside the old missile base decades before when he served as a missileer. Is she prepared to detonate her growing feelings for the new owner in order to find the hidden treasure?


You can order all three of my Heartsongs sprinkled with suspense—Disarming Andi, Exposing Amber, and Praying for Rayne—packaged in North Dakota Weddings. This collection releases July 1st and you can pre-order it today for your eReader or in print. 

North Dakota Weddings:

True life threatens true love in three contemporary romances from North Dakota. Andi is remodeling a decommissioned missile site and searching for a treasure hidden within. Can she detonate her feelings for the owner when romance gets in the way? Amber is excited to be a new summer intern for the Harrington museum and Dr. Brandon Selman. It’s the opportunity she needs to determine her future, but will past secrets be her undoing? Rayne’s job designing magnificent fountains for FountainTech is a dream come true until charges of corporate espionage swirl. Is it the end of her dream. . .and love?

And as usual, I am giving away a copy! Please leave a comment about what you think is the most unusual aspect of this story along with your email address!

Blessings!
Beth



Monday, June 10, 2013

Inspiration...everywhere

We just returned from twenty-three days in Ireland and England.  It was a dream trip from childhood, but also one I'd long hoped to take as a research opportunity.

One can Google details, look at the photos in coffee table books, and talk to people who live in another country, but its never quite the same as actually being there and experiencing that country, culture and terrain.

When you travel, are you sometimes surprised by the little differences you hadn't expected?  A different city...another state...a different region of your country...the accents, the terminology for basic things, the general vibe can be so unique.  For instance, in all of Ireland, at restaurants, hotels and B&Bs, we found brown sugar, white sugar and raw sugar available on the table for coffee, but no artificial sweetener...and in both countries, "mushy peas " were the standard addition to every order of fish and chips.  We have never seen that in the USA!

While on our trip, I took pages and pages of notes for the future, and took thousands of digital photographs (hoping for a few that would turn out all right!) and tried to absorb the details and the differences we discovered while traveling, hoping to better flavor a book proposal later on.

I was charmed by some of the signs we
saw...like "Polite Request: No Parking Here"  in an English village, and I was a bit overwhelmed and saddened by the many political murals on the sides of buildings in Belfast, which really brought home the anguish and intensity of the past Irish troubles.
The impact of hearing about it from afar and seeing the many well-tended memorials displayed today are indeed, worlds apart.

And I never thought we'd actually see gypsies--real ones--camped along the side of a road in England! With horses!  We'd passed by earlier in the day, and their horses were staked out to graze along the road...then found them hitched up and ready to move on when we passed by later.
All of these things could someday flavor or even inspire a new story idea.


And for a story idea farther back in time, the tombs and marble effigies in the crypt below Christ Church in Dublin could provide a lot of ideas.   Take a look at the figures standing around the deceased in the marble effigy.

Just the positions and expressions seem to reveal very different emotions in these people....from the mourning woman and supportive person at her side, to the casual stance of the man at the right...idly waiting to take over the man's title and lands?  Maybe not, in real life, but my mind started to come up with all sorts of possible scenarios.

Writers draw from their own experiences, the news and their research when coming up with  settings, characters and details for their stories.

Even if you aren't a writer, where have you been that seemed perfect for inspiring a story?  Or are there current events that would seem like a good basis for novel?  What type of stories (and settings) do you like to read the most?

All the best,
Roxanne Rustand







Friday, June 7, 2013

Interview with Sandra Orchard, author of Deadly Devotion



Sandra Orchard is an award-winning Canadian author of inspirational romantic suspense, whose novels include Deep CoverShades of Truth, and Critical ConditionShe is an active member in American Christian Fiction Writers, The Word Guild, and Romance Writers of America, and lives in the Niagara area of Ontario, Canada. To find out more, and to read interesting bonus features for her novels, please visit www.sandraorchard.com or connect at www.Facebook.com/SandraOrchard


Interview with Sandra Orchard:
1.  What made you start writing?

I’ve always loved to write, but I never imagined myself as a fiction writer until I discovered inspirational romance and romantic suspense. The books started piling so high in our house that my husband suggested I write my own. I didn’t need to be told twice. J

2.  How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?

I began my first novel in the fall of 2004, and signed my first contract six years, and six much-revised manuscripts, later. I currently have 10 novels contracted/published.

3.  What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?

Spending more time with my grandchildren—very tempting!

4.  Tell us about the book you have out right now.

Deadly Devotion is the first book in my Port Aster Secrets series with Revell Publishing. It is a standalone mystery, however, the budding romance between the hero and heroine, and an underlying suspense will arc the three-book series.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

Kate knows the truth is out there—but if she’s right, that means a killer is out there too.

Research scientists Kate Adams and Daisy Leacock were on the brink of a breakthrough for treating depression with herbal medicine when Daisy was suddenly found dead. Kate knows that her mentor’s death wasn’t suicide or a careless accident—and she’s determined to do whatever it takes to unearth the truth about what happened to the woman who changed her life.

Former FBI agent Tom Parker is finding it hard to adjust to life back in his hometown of Port Aster. Though an old buddy gave him a job as a detective on the local police force, not everyone approves. Tom’s just trying to keep a low profile, so when Kate Adams demands he reopen the investigation into her friend’s death, he knows his job is at stake. But despite his attraction to her, Tom thinks Kate herself may have something to hide.

As evidence mounts, a web of intrigue is woven around the sleepy town of Port Aster. Can Kate uncover the truth? Or will Tom stand in her way?

5.  Did you do any special research for this book?

Yes, since the heroine is a researcher of herbal medicine, I spent a great deal of time researching herbal remedies, particularly those served as teas. The original title of the story was Murder by Marigolds, so you can imagine the unusual kinds of tea I explored. I also took a position on a sensory panel at our local research station. Through that I was able to get a feel for the variety of research projects that are undertaken, the kind of equipment to be found, the security and much more.

6.  What are you working on right now?

Line edits for the next book in the Port Aster Secrets series, and polishing an upcoming Love Inspired Suspense set on an Alaskan cruise, and beginning the final book in this series.

7. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?

Shades of Truth, the second book in my Undercover Cops series with Love Inspired Suspense. The heroine was inspired by our former pastor’s daughter who worked at a Christian youth detention center. It was a fascinating book to research. The heroine’s Christ-like love toward the inmates challenged and inspired me, and the hero’s need to both accept God’s forgiveness and forgive himself is a theme very dear to my heart.

9.  Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t be in a rush. Enjoy the journey. There is much to savor along the way. 

Suspense Sisters, thank you very much for inviting me to visit today! I’d love to giveaway a copy of Deadly Devotion to one of your blog readers, but to have their name thrown into the hat (please let your email address--draw the winner on Sunday night), I’d like them to answer this three-part question:

What is the most unusual or most effective folk remedy that you or someone in your family has tried? For what ailment? And how well did it work?



Monday, June 3, 2013

CREATING THE ANTAGONISTIC SETTING


Award-winning author, DiAnn Mills, launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. Currently she has over forty books in print and has sold a million and a half copies.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope and Love, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a mentor for Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writer’s Guild. 

She lives in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn and her husband have four adult sons and are active members of Metropolitan Baptist Church.

Website:  www.diannmills.com

CREATING THE ANTAGONISTIC SETTING

A trait of a bestselling writer is the ability to raise the stakes for the protagonist. A writer often turns to the obvious means of adding tension, stress, and conflict to a scene: characterization, dialogue, plot twists, and emotive conflict. But an antagonistic setting means shaky ground for the point of view character. Survival extends beyond fighting a villain, either physical, mental, spiritual, or natural. By using an antagonistic setting, every breath is met with potential disaster.

How does a writer accomplish an antagonistic setting? Begin by concentrating on a few traits of a villain: determined, powerful, an outward appearance of beauty or charm, and the ability to deceive. The adversity of setting can be obvious or hidden, but include it in ways that force your character to make tough decisions and then accept responsibility for those actions. A setting becomes even more antagonistic when the setting is unfamiliar to the character.  

The following are examples of an antagonistic setting in a few popular genres. 

Contemporary: What looks like a beautiful afternoon in a park for a family reunion becomes the site of an untimely death when lightning strikes a beloved character.
 
 
Fantasy: In a land faraway, a kindly king is replaced by a tyrant who levies heavy taxes on his subjects.

Historical: A wagon train pulls into a peaceful valley where the weary travelers can rest before heading across a vast prairie. The green surroundings are shaded by tall trees, and a clear stream is filled with fish. A scout points out there is only one way in and out of the valley, but the travelers insist upon staying. Early the next morning, the travelers discover they are surrounded by hostile Indians.

Romance: A couple honeymoons on a deserted island, surrounded by white sandy beaches, exotic plants, and colorful birds. Their cell phones have no service, but they don’t care. An unexpected storm rises, bringing high winds and twenty-foot waves. The island paradise has now become a prison.

Sci-Fi: An isolated, peaceful planet is invaded by aliens who require the inhabitant’s water supply for their own survival. 

 
Suspense: A heroine refers to her backyard as a haven. A tall, stone wall frames nature’s display of green and flowering plants. But when a killer chases her into her haven, she is trapped by what she thought was her respite.

Thriller: An aid to a popular politician is invited to a mountain retreat with other staff members. An expected snowstorm traps all of them inside the lodge. While there, the aide discovers the politician is accepting bribes that affect the safety of the entire country. The aid realizes he must escape before thousands of people are killed.

What about your story? Have you set your characters in an idyllic environment that makes solving the goal easy and pain free? Why not muddy the waters and cause the protagonist to squirm, fight, and ultimately overcome every obstacle place in his way?

I believe you’ll be pleased with the results—and so will the reader.