Friday, August 30, 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 homeschools, 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: Please share with us about your missionary work in Africa.

Almost ten years ago, our family moved to South Africa to work with my husband’s aunt and uncle, primarily with leadership training. After spending four years there, God clearly called us to Mozambique where we now live. While we still work for African Outreach Ministries, our work is focused more on discipleship and planting village churches.

It’s been an amazing and, at times, difficult few years, but I’ve see over and over how God is faithful. A couple of years ago, after dealing with the physical needs of people, we decided to start The ECHO Project (www.theECHOproject.org) to enable us to help more people. This non-profit helps with Education, Compassion, Health, and job opportunities. Last year we were joined by another couple who has a lot of agricultural experience and will be using these skills, as well as their ministry gifts, in conjunction with our work. 

 SS: What are some of the highlights of your life in Africa?

Besides ministry highlights and the people we’ve met, one of the greatest highlights has been the opportunity to travel. We spent five months in Brazil, learning Portuguese, have traveled some in Europe, and across southern Africa. Our kids have been able to scuba dive in the Indian Ocean, have seen the penguins at the tip of South Africa, and have encountered leopards and lions at Kruger Game Park.

SS: Tell us about your current release.

Dangerous passage is a novel exposing the darkness of human trafficking, not in some far away part of the world, but right here in the US.


When two Jane Does are killed on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia, detective Avery North discovers they share something in common—a magnolia tattoo on their shoulders. Suspecting a serial killer, Avery joins forces with medical examiner Jackson Bryant to solve the crimes and prevent another murder. But as they venture deep into a sinister criminal world, Avery and Jackson are quickly taken to the very edge of their abilities—and their hearts. 

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

Several years ago, I wrote Blood Ransom, a novel that focused on human trafficking in Africa. At the time, I had no idea this was an issue in the US. With this new series, I decided that setting this story in the US, the backdrop of human trafficking would not only make an exciting story, but would also help people become aware of this very real issue.

SS: What’s the story’s takeaway?

In the story, my main character, Avery North, struggles to balance life as a widow and a single mom with a full-time career. She has to come to the point where se realizes her weaknesses and fears and rely only on God’s strength.

In our own lives, we often feel inadequate to follow God’s call, but never forget that the God who created the universe loves us and wants to be our strength. He came to heal the empty and broken hearted, and those searching for freedom and hope. That’s what I hope readers take away from this story.

SS: How can readers contact you on the internet?

I love to hear from my readers! You can find me at my website, www.lisaharriswrites.com, or my blog, http://myblogintheheartofafrica.blogspot.com.


Lisa is giving away a copy of DANGEROUS PASSAGE! Please comment below and include your email address/contact information if you would like to be entered in the drawing.




Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Suspense and Pet Peeves


Hi all, Lynette Eason here...

I’ve started watching a new series called Zero Hour. It was cancelled after three episodes, but they filmed ten more so at least I’ll get to watch it to the conclusion. DiAnn Mills told me about the show and of course I had to check it out. There are a lot of things I like about it.

*The characters – why? Because they’re real. Maybe not great actors, but I like the characters. Their motivations are sharp and clear. I have no trouble understanding what they want. Hank wants to rescue his wife. The FBI agent (forgot her name, sorry) wants to kill the man responsible for blowing up the plane that her husband was on.  Vincent wants the 12 clocks. And so on.

*The plot – It moves. There’s never a dull moment. There is action, there’s the psychological tortures (lol) of wondering what’s going to happen next. I love the idea of a treasure hunt.

*The flashbacks are well done- They move the story along and help you understand what’s happening in the present.

*The villain – he’s truly evil and yet when his captive pulls a bullet out of his back, he thanks her.

What I don’t like about it.

*Some of the character’s actions are stupid. I don’t like stupid characters. In one of the first scenes of the show, someone is breaking into Laila’s store (Hank’s wife) and she doesn’t dial 911, she calls her husband. Dumb, dumb, dumb. But that’s not the fault of the actress, that’s poor writing. I get it, they had to get the husband to the store, but the writer should have come up with a better way. Like have them on the phone talking and THEN the intruder try to get in. He would over hear this and THEN shout at his co-workers to call the cops as he races out of the office to his wife. I mean, such a simple thing. And so much more believable.

*I don’t like that it warps scripture. But it’s not a Christian television show, so I should take that into account if I’m going to watch it.

*Everyone remembers stuff or sees something that triggers just the right clue that leads to exactly what they need it to lead to. Not necessarily predictable, but…lazy.

So, I’ve listed a few of my pet peeves as a reader/watcher and as a writer. And I've listed things I like?

What about you? Pet peeves and likes? Looking forward to hearing wheat you have to say.

Have a blessed day!



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               


Monday, August 26, 2013

RULES FOR WRITING DETECTIVE FICTION?????


 
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.
 
I’ve just finished a book that I have been waiting to see a Christian publisher put out for a long time. Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering (see the August 2 interview with the author on Suspense Sisters). This book recalls all the fun traditions of classic mystery aka Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers while adding a spiritual thread with a very soft touch. Good clean reading with a traditional whodunit. Drew Farthering makes the perfect British aristocrat turned amateur detective.  There is a touch of romance when Drew falls for the sharp witted American, Madeline Parker, but the focus is on the mystery and following the clues. The book has all that you would expect of a British mystery while adding something new to the genre.

If you do get a chance to read the book you might also want to check out Knox’s ten commandments for mystery writers written in 1929 which Deering references in her Author Notes. Knox was a priest turned mystery writer who came up with these rules for mystery writing. Thus Deering named her book the Rules of Murder in which she breaks all the outdated and somewhat silly rules Knox suggested. If you are a mystery lover, let me know what you think about these rules:

The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow.

All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.

Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable.

No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.

 
No Chinaman must figure in the story.

No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right.

The detective must not himself commit the crime.

The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader.

The stupid friend of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind; his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader. 

Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.

I hope you get a chance to pick up a copy of The Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering. 

Best                           

Sharon Dunn


 

Friday, August 23, 2013

INTERVIEW WITH JAMES RUBART


James L. Rubart is the best-selling and Christy award winning author of, ROOMS, BOOK OF DAYS, THE CHAIR, SOUL’S GATE, and MEMORY’S DOOR. During the day he runs Barefoot Marketing which helps businesses and authors make more coin of the realm. In his free time he dirt bikes, hikes, golfs, takes photos, and occasionally does sleight of hand. No, he doesn’t sleep much. He lives with his amazing wife and teenage sons in the Pacific Northwest and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman. More at www.jameslrubart.com

 
 
INTERVIEW WITH JAMES RUBART
 
S.S: How long have you been writing?

I dabbled with short stories for many years, but it wasn’t till 2002 that I got serious about writing. To be blunt, I was afraid. My greatest dream had always been to write novels, but I never took action, because what if I attempted my dream and it crashed and burned? I’d have nothing then, not even the dream anymore. What a lie. I think God gives us desires. Those desires reveal the way he designed us. That design reveals our destiny. My destiny was to be a novelist, even if I never was published. God’s definition of success and ours is very different. His definition is, “Did you try? Did you risk? Did you go for it?” So in the early 2000s I took the risk, started writing, and finished my first novel (ROOMS) in late 2005.
 
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?  

These days around 70% of my time is spent writing and related activities, the other 30% is running my marketing firm which I’ve owned since ‘94. I work for businesses, and authors, on their websites, advertising, branding, etc. I also teach and give keynote talks at churches, retreats, and conferences.

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

This might sound strange, but it wasn’t till I won the Christy for Soul’s Gate this past June. Yes, I knew I was an author before that. I’d written three other novels. I’d hit the bestseller list. I’d won awards for my other books, heard from many wonderful people how my stories had changed their lives—but there was something about standing up there on stage, looking out at all these people I’d admired for so long and winning an award I’d dreamed of winning for what seemed like forever that made it feel real. It was a surreal moment in the best way.

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

Without question my amazing wife, Darci. She’s talked me off the ledge so many times she has a lawn chair set up out there. She’s been my encourager, my editor, my counselor, my friend, my challenger, my rock.  

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

Not yet. I’ve always said you can only write in one genre, that readers come to expect a certain type of story from their favorite authors and to break out of that is to break a promise to your readers. But … I’m starting to toy with the idea of dipping my toe in the lakes of other genres as well as non-fiction. We’ll see.

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

I’ve never thought about it. I don’t try to put my faith in my novels. So far I’ve simply written the story that pops into my head, usually in the form of a question: What if you could walk into the rooms of your soul? (ROOMS). What if you could find God’s book of days on earth that shows your future? (BOOK OF DAYS). What if Jesus made a chair that lasted until today that has supernatural healing power? (THE CHAIR) What if you could send your spirit into other people’s souls to fight for their healing and freedom? (SOUL’S GATE).

So I don’t set out to write a story with faith elements in it, I just write the idea I’m passionate about, and so far, faith has organically been part of the story.

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

Make movies. I’ve always loved film, loved acting (acting in a community play is on my bucket list) so I’d be a producer or director. (And I’d love to write the screenplay.)

S.S:  Tell us about your current release.

Memory’s Door is the second novel in my Well Spring series and as well-received as Soul’s Gate (the first in the series) was, I think people will enjoy Memory’s Door even more.

The stakes are higher, the lows are lower and the battles are more epic. There were a number of scenes that brought dust to my eyes as I wrote them, and that’s always a good sign that I’ve captured a few elements that will go to the deep parts of people’s hearts.

It’s an epic story but at the same time deals with one of the most intimate, devastating issues of being human: our regrets. Here’s the back cover copy:

“The prophecy brought them together. But the Wolf has risen, and now their greatest battle begins.

The four members of Warriors Riding have learned to wage war in the supernatural, to send their spirits inside people’s souls, to battle demonic forces, and to bring deep healing to those around them.

But their leader Reece is struggling with the loss of his sight. Brandon is being stalked at his concerts by a man in the shadows. Dana’s career is threatening to bury her. And Marcus questions his sanity as he seems to be slipping in and out of alternate realities.

And now the second part of the prophecy has come true. The Wolf is hunting them and has set his trap. He circles, feeding on his supernatural hate of all they stand for. And he won’t stop until he brings utter destruction to their bodies . . . and their souls.”

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

My contract with its firm deadline was incredibly inspiring. Kidding. This is a deeply personal story that came out of time of spiritual and personal crisis and having to face my own regrets. Writing the novel was incredibly freeing and in some ways is an expression of my journals and the struggles I went through while writing it, coming out in published form.

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

Not surprisingly, that they can get free of their own deep regrets. Regrets are devastating because they not only keep us locked in the past, they keep us from living fully in the present and the future. There’s another major theme in the novel, but saying anything about it would be a bit of a spoiler. Sorry.  

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

Have to go with Marcus Amber (University of Washington physics professor) for this one. While Reece was arguably the main focus of Soul’s Gate, Marcus gets a little more of the spotlight than the others this time. He’s the one who has to face his deepest regret and somehow get free of it. Because if he doesn’t, his actions will destroy the other three members of the Warriors Riding.

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

Zennon. Why? Because he is bent on the utter destruction of The Warriors Riding. He’s brilliant, insidious, and has been orchestrating the Warriors demise for years.

S.S: What are you working on now?

I’m finishing edits on The Spirit Bridge, which is the third and final book in the Well Spring series—releases spring 2014—and starting on my next novel after that which will be a stand alone with a truly mind-blowing concept. And I have a major project I’m working on that I can’t say much about. Yet. (If folks are interested, they can go to my website and sign up for my newsletter and they’ll find out more as soon as I can tell them.)

S.S: Any writing goals you still hope to achieve?   

So many! I want to write Y.A. novels. I want to finish a number of short stories I started in my 20s. I want to write screenplays for my novels and turn them into movies. I want to write a number of non-fiction books. I want to co-write a novel with an author friend of mine. There’s more, but that’s plenty for the moment.

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

Ride my bicycle down the entire Oregon coast. (But I’d have to get in shape for that wouldn’t I?) Spend a month in Italy with Darci.

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

I’ve done a lot of silly/stupid/crazy things so this might not be the silliest, but it’s the first one that popped into my mind.

A friend and I were standing in a long line to see the first Spiderman movie and a local radio station was interviewing people as they came out of the theatre. I said to my friend, “C’mon, let’s pretend we just saw the movie.” So we joined the back of the line. When we reached the reporter he asked, “So wha’d you think of the movie?” I said, “Three thumbs up! It’s a superhero mutation!” The next day a friend of mine said, “Did I hear you on the radio yesterday?”

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

Jump out of an airplane at 10,000 feet. I’m terrified of heights, so forcing myself to toss my body out of that plane was a significant challenge. But wow, what a rush! I loved it. It was a tremendous metaphor for my life—that anything we want in life comes with a risk and most of the time, fear. But the rewards so far outweigh the downside that there’s no other way to live.

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

The best places are: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesLRubart  Twitter: @jameslrubart and my website: http://jameslrubart.com/

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

I stepped into my destiny after it was only a dream for a long time. If you’re reading these words and haven’t stepped into your purpose, do it. Take the chance. Jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down. It will set you free.
 
 
James is giving away a copy of his book, MEMORY'S DOOR! To enter, leave a comment, along with your contact information. James will pick a winner on Monday!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

INTRODUCING ELLEN KENNEDY!

It's my privilege to introduce the newest member of the Suspense Sisters - Ellen Kennedy! Ellen and I have been friends a long time. We met when we both signed with a small publisher many years ago. Although that situation didn't turn out the way we'd hoped, we both got something much better. (In my opinion, anyway!) We bonded through that experience and kept in touch down through the years. I've been her fan for a long, long time and am thrilled to finally see her wonderful books available for YOU to read. She's the Queen of Cozies, and you will love her writing almost as much as you love her.

Nancy Mehl


Ellen Edwards Kennedy (aka EEK) grew up in Miss Prentice’s region of far northern New York State and lived with her husband and children across the South and West.
Along with the Miss Prentice Mysteries, she is the author of a Christian romance novella, "The Applesauce War," in the anthology, THE FARMER'S BRIDE, from Barbour Books; and ANOTHER THINK COMING, a mystery set in Texas scheduled for future publication by Sheaf House. Book Two in the Miss Prentice series, DEATH DANGLES A PARTICIPLE, follows the further adventures of Amelia, Gil, Vern and Lily in the wintry North Country and book three that introduces us to Amelia and friends as teenagers, MURDER IN THE PAST TENSE, is currently in production. Ellen writes weekly articles at The Wordsmith Journal Magazine. Her column about writing and the Christian life is called "Behind the Mystery."

Ellen is a member of The Suspense Sisters, American Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Author's Network, Light of Carolina Writers, Sisters in Crime and MurderMustAdvertise.
She and her husband live in North Carolina, are born-again Christians, and the happy, blessed grandparents of five little answers to prayer.

INTERVIEW WITH ELLEN KENNEDY

SUSPENSE SISTERS: Hello, Ellen. Welcome to the Suspense Sisters. Here, have a cookie. How do you take your coffee?

E.E. KENNEDY:  Mmpgh. Thank you! Lots of hazelnut creamer, please. I am just so delighted and honored to be here.

SS: We’d love to learn a little more about you. For instance, how did you get into writing mysteries?

EEK: Well, to be honest, I never expected to become a writer. I originally wanted to star in Broadway musicals, but it turns out that I get my feelings hurt too easily, and couldn’t take the rejection involved. So I got into advertising instead. It was as close as I dared to get to show business. And it only required an attention span of :30 to :60 seconds.

SS: And when did you start writing novels?

EEK: Well first, I got married and spent a couple of decades hand-raising our two daughters. They’ve turned out really well, in my opinion. Of course, I may be prejudiced, but they are exceptionally intelligent, lovely girls. They’re both grown up now, with children of their own. We have five grandchildren, adorable babies. I have pictures. Wanna see? Here!

SS: Yes, thank you, they’re very sweet. I can see the resemblance. Um, getting back to writing. How about this: when did you write your first mystery?

EEK: Well, I was reading a paperback mystery and got so disgusted with it, I literally threw it across the kitchen. (I was glad later that I wasn’t in our living room with the picture window.)

“Even I,” I snarled, “could write a better book than that!” That’s what I said, right out loud. It took a while before I actually got a story pulled together, though.

SS: You had a few false starts?

EEK: (laughing) You better believe it! I wrote a few pages about a housewife who decided to moonlight as a detective, but I had no idea where to go from there. Did she need a license? Or didn’t she? Too complicated. And then I wrote quite a lot on a story about a college student whose roommate steals his work and murders him. It was set at my alma mater. But that very same plot turned up on Lifetime Movies, so I dropped it. (Had a nice title, too: The Thing With Feathers, after the Emily Dickensen poem? Ah, well.) Then I remembered Alfred Hitchcock and how his best movies seemed to involve nice, ordinary people thrown into extraordinary circumstances. So I created Amelia Prentice, schoolteacher, and had her trip over a body in the safest place I could think of, the public library.

SS: Did the name Amelia have any particular significance for you?

EEK: Nope, none whatsoever.

SS: All right. Um, you set your series in the Adirondack region. Is there significance in that?

EEK: Yes. I grew up there.

SS: I see. Okay, tell me about your titles.

EEK: Oh, we had fun with those! My sister had actually once been an English teacher and we got together and started batting ideas around. Ever since then, my husband and I try to come up with funny titles related to teaching English. I think a title is very important in catching a potential reader’s eye, don’t you?

SS: Definitely. What are some of your upcoming titles?

EEK: Well, you’ve seen the ones I already have: Irregardless of Murder—that’s the first Miss Prentice mystery. Then, there’s number two, Death Dangles a Participle. I just finished the unedited, raw version of number three: Murder in the Past Tense, which isn’t as funny a title, but directly pertains to the story. I had toyed with calling it The Comma Splice of Death, but my publisher liked the other name better. We like to kick around title ideas on long car trips. Here are a few more we came up with that I may or may not use: The Village Idiom; Murder, As It Were; Ending With a Preposition; The Revenge of the Apostrophe Police; Stranger Than Diction; To Viciously Split an Infinitive and Cursive, Foiled Again! I love titles!

SS: I can see that! Perhaps your advertising background helps in this.

EEK: I think so, now that you mention it. You know, all those slogans and things. There’s a downside to having written ads, though. We were required to be concise, and sometimes I’ll tell a story so concisely, it’s not really a full novel. My most recently-written novel, Murder in the Past Tense, is a very complex story, with many intertwining sub-plots, but it still kept coming up short in the number of words department. I will probably have to add a few more scenes to it to give it a satisfying length.  

SS: Well, Ellen, it’s been really pleasant getting to know you a little better. Have you anything you’d like to add to your comments?

EEK: Yes. These are just about the best cookies I ever put in my mouth. Is there any chance I could get the recipe?

E.E. Kennedy’s website is: www.missprenticecozymystery.com

DISCLAIMER FROM THE SUSPENSE SISTERS: (It is important to point out that both the interview questions and the answers were provided by E.E. Kennedy herself. No real human interviewer was harmed or embarrassed in the production of this page.)

 Ellen is giving away a copy of Irregardless of Murder Death Dangles a Participle. For a chance to win, leave a comment, along with your contact information.

 


Monday, August 19, 2013

The Eternal Value of Our Stories

The following is a message for writers from my husband, Doug, a non-writer whom I dragged to writers' conferences for many years in a row. One of those times he had a revelation that I hope will bless my fellow writers and readers alike. (The photo above is me and my husband from a mission trip to Thailand at the beginning of 2013. We had the pleasure of visiting an orchid farm.)

HERE'S DOUG:

I have been honored and privileged to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference a number of times with my wife Jill. She wasn't sure I'd like hanging out with a bunch of wild and crazy writers, and she thought I might get bored when she had to be at sessions.

The conference was an eye-opener. The excitement! The terminology! The only "pitching" I knew about before was in baseball, softball or horseshoes. Through all the feverish tension, I was overwhelmed at the love and encouragement people had for each other. And I thoroughly enjoyed the praise and worship, followed by devotions.

One morning after devotions, I went back to our room and spent time with the Lord, reading in the Amplified Bible. He took me to Romans 10 where I read, "But how are people to call upon Him Whom they have not believed (in whom they have no faith, on whom they have no reliance)? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard?"

Then I looked at Mark 16, where Jesus said, "Go into all the world and preach and PUBLISH openly the good news (gospel) to every creature (of the whole human race) . . . And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord kept working with them and confirming the message by the attesting signs and miracles that closely accompanied it."

I had never noticed the word "published" before in the Amplified version, and it jumped out at me, considering all the writers everywhere I went. At a keynote speaking session, the scriptures I had read were confirmed by testimonies shared.

People's lives are changed because of books. I believe God has called and commissioned Christian fiction writers to reach lost and hurting people who couldn't be reached any other way. If you're a writer and feeling tempted to give up. Don't! You will be surprised when you get to heaven at all the lives your stories have touched and how great your reward will be for obeying the call.

P.S. At the next conference, I suggest they have sessions for the spouses of the writers who don't understand and for the writers who don't understand their spouses not understanding. Make sense?

END OF DOUG

BEGINNING OF JILL

Wasn't that an awesome thought on the importance of fiction (including mystery and suspense) written from a worldview that honors God? Christian fiction (dubbed "inspirational fiction" by the secular market) is one of the few growing niches of fiction publishing today. Even readers who are not necessarily professing or strong believers number among those who contribute to the popularity because people are hungry for stories that convey hope in the face of an increasingly bleak world.

A couple of years ago, I interviewed a number of my fellow Christian fiction writers in order to collect testimonies about readers who have had their lives enriched by reading their books. Tales of lives changed and people discovering or rediscovering their faith were legion.

Do you have any anecdotes to share of how reading Christian fiction has impacted your life or the lives of those with whom you've shared our books? If so, do tell. It is priceless to hear that our work is making a positive impact on people.


I have a speaking engagement coming up at a library, and would love to glean more illustrations to share with the those in attendance at this library's annual meeting.

Friday, August 16, 2013

INTERVIEW WITH SANDRA ROBBINS


 
Sandra Robbins, former teacher and principal, is an award winning multi-published author of Christian fiction who lives with her husband in Tennessee. Angel of the Cove, her first book in the Harvest House Publishers historical romance series Smoky Mountain Dreams, released in August, 2012, and was recently named the 2013 winner in the Single Title Inspirational Category of the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. This award is given by the Birmingham Southern Magic Chapter of Romance Writers of America for excellence in writing romance. In addition in 2013 her Love Inspired Suspense books Shattered Identity and Fatal Disclosure were both awarded the HOLT Medallion in different categories of the Virginia Romance Writers of America contest to honor outstanding literary talent.

Dangerous Waters the first book in her Cold Case Files Series released the first of August and will be followed by Beyond These Hills, the third book in her Smoky Mountain Dream series in September.

To find out more about Sandra and her books, visit her at her website at http://sandrarobbins.net
or email her at sandra@sandrarobbins.net.

INTERVIEW WITH SANDRA ROBBINS

S.S: How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for about nine years now. I’d always told myself that someday I’d write a book. One night I sat down at the computer and just began to write. I knew nothing about the craft, so I got online and found an organization then called ACRW (American Christian Romance Writers). Suddenly a life long dream was becoming a reality.

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 do write full time now. I didn’t when I first started. I was working as the principal of an elementary school at the time. I loved my years in education and wouldn’t take anything for them. Now I feel fortunate to be able to work at home and set my own hours.

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

I knew I was an author when I got the call that I’d sold my first book, but the realization hit me when I held that published book in my hands. Although I’d longed for such a moment for years, I never thought it would happen. That was a precious moment in my life.

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

My family has been my greatest supporters. My mother who was an avid reader prodded me to follow my dream and never let me give up on it. My husband has been my rock and has encouraged me at times when I didn’t know if I could go on. My four children have been my champions and cheerleaders. I’m so thankful for all of them.

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

Besides suspense, I also write historical romance. I’ve always loved studying history, and I enjoy doing the extensive research needed to write a historical. This year has been a good one for me in both genres. Angel of the Cove, the first book in my Smoky Mountain Dreams series, recently won the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence in the Inspirational Single Title Category. This award is given by the Birmingham Southern Magic Chapter of RWA. Shattered Identity, the second suspense novel in my Ocracoke Island series, won the Virginia RWA’s HOLT Medallion in the Short Contemporary Category, and Fatal Disclosure, the third suspense in that series, won the HOLT in the Short Inspirational Category. I was thrilled that two of my novels won HOLTS in the same year.
 
S.S: How does your faith play into your writing?

My faith guides my writing. I knew when I first began writing that I would only succeed with God’s guidance. He has directed me to places that I would never have gone on my own, and He’s put people in my path who have enabled me to achieve my dreams and goals.

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

It’s difficult to know what I’d do if I couldn’t write. I was an educator for years, and I’d probably go back to that in some way. I did some online teaching for the university in my hometown when I first began writing, and I enjoyed that. I’ve come to enjoy being at home after so many years of rushing off to work every day, and I’d want to do something that I could do from the comfort of my home.

S.S:  Tell us about your current release.

My current release is Dangerous Waters. It is the first book in my Cold Case Files series and is set in Memphis, TN. The three books feature a team of detectives who work the cold case unit and solve crimes that have gone unsolved for years. The heroine in the first book was introduced in Fatal Disclosure. In Dangerous Waters Laura Webber returns to Memphis to find out who killed her parents in a car bombing when she was a child, and she enlists the help of her former fiancé who is one of the cold case detectives.
 
S.S: Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

The idea for this book, in fact for this whole series, came about because of a family in our church. About thirty years ago a grown daughter of our friends disappeared from where she lived in another state. They had no idea what had happened to her and lived with this loss until last year when they were finally able through a DNA database to find her. There was a police officer who had never given up on trying to reunite his unidentified murder victim with her family. Although they were able to bring her remains home for burial, her case is still cold.

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

I know how difficult the years have been for our friends who didn’t know what had happened to their loved one. I hope readers will understand the pain and heartbreak that many families in this country are suffering each day because of an unsolved crime that affected someone they love.

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

My favorite character is Brad Austin. He fell in love with Laura when he first met her outside the door of their high school freshman English class, and he’s tried for years to get over her after she broke their engagement and left Memphis. Now that she’s back and someone is determined she won’t find the answer to who murdered her parents, he finds she is once again at the center of his world. In my favorite scene Laura has been injured and is taken to the hospital. Brad, upset and scared, begins to talk to a little girl whose seated next to him in the waiting room. When she asks him if he’s prayed for his friend, he tells her he doesn’t know God very well. With the wisdom of a child, she pats his arm and says, “It’s okay, mister. He knows you.” Those words break down the wall of resistance Brad has put up to keep God out of his life, and he suddenly realizes that although he left God a long time ago, God had never forsaken him.

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

My least favorite character is the villain who wants to see Laura dead. This character puts all kind of danger in her path.

S.S: What are you working on now?

I am working on the third book in the Cold Case Files series. This book is loosely based on the story of the disappearance of our friends’ daughter. It doesn’t have a title yet and will be released sometime around May next year.

S.S: Any writing goals you still hope to achieve?

I would love to see one of my books on the NYT best-seller list, but I’m sure I’m not alone in that regard. That’s probably a goal we’d all like to see. Knowing that the chances are slim that I will ever achieve that goal, I’ll just keep on writing the stories that God places on my heart. He knows who needs those stories, and I’ll depend on him to help my books find their way to where they need to be.  

S.S:  Now let’s get a little personal. Name two things on your “bucket list” that you haven’t done yet.
 
I got to do one of them this summer when I took a cruise to Alaska. Now I’d really like to go to New England in the fall and see the colorful foliage. I’d also like to visit Mackinaw Island and stay at the Grand Hotel. I’ve wanted to do that ever since I saw the movie Somewhere in Time. 
 
S.S:  What is the silliest thing you have ever done? 

I don’t know if this qualifies for the silliest thing I’ve ever done or not. Believe me, I’ve done some silly things in my lifetime. But some years ago three friends and I, without bothering to call for reservations, drove two and a half hours to a popular restaurant for dinner. When we got there, we were told we would have to wait three hours before we could be seated. We sat there and waited and finished eating sometime around 11:00PM. Then we drove the two and a half hours in a blinding rainstorm along an interstate with huge eighteen wheel trucks passing us and throwing water all over our car to get back to where we started. I said a prayer of thanks when we arrived safely.

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

The hardest two times in my life were when when I lost both my parents. I miss them every day, but my faith has enabled me to get through those difficult times.

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

Readers can find me at my website at www.sandrarobbins.net and at Facebook or Twitter. I can also be reached at my email address sandra@sandrarobbins.net
 
S.S.: Anything else you’d like to share with us? 

Thank you for having me as a guest today. I love to hear from readers and get to know them. So I’d like to invite your readers to leave a comment today and let me know what kind of stories they like to read. Romantic suspense? Cozy mysteries? Thrillers? I think the great thing about being a reader is that there’s something to suit everybody’s taste.

I pray the Lord blesses each of you.
 
Sandra is giving away a copy of DANGEROUS WATERS. For a chance to win, read her interview, answer the question she asked, and leave us your contact information!




 
 
 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Novel Ideas


This month my family vacationed in Florida. It’s been a while since we actually took a vacation, so I really looked forward to taking my boys to Disney World and showing them the beautiful white Pensacola beaches on our way there.

With all the writing I’ve done the last several years (it’s a good thing), I needed not only a physical break from cooking meals and household responsibilities, but a mental break from home schooling and you guessed it—writing books. Too much writing over an extended time can zap creativity. I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do than lounge on a white beach in the sun and listen to the waves. The image became so real in my mind that I craved that moment, and I would have been devastated had some unforeseen event prevented that.

In the end, what I saw and felt in my mind actually materialized.
For that, I thank God because I’d prayed for this trip. He knew I needed it, my family needed it.

But how often do the dreams we hope for and envision in our hearts and minds come to pass in the way we expected? Not very often.

Bringing this back to writing novels—the same is true for the writing process. Often the novel idea that stirs inside and demands to be put on paper isn't what ends up in book form. It’s a struggle to take the feelings and the visions in my head and write them out, capture them, exactly as I see them. Other times I don’t have any expectations and am pleasantly surprised with what ends up on the page.

Regardless, there’s nothing more fulfilling for a novelist than seeing the novel idea take book form. Holding the fruit of your labor in your hands. But that fruit always starts with the seed of an idea.
I have a long list of ideas I want to explore. Some more than others, and there’s one  idea or premise, I've wanted to explore for several years. That’s setting a story at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

I love balloons. Always have.

In two weeks, Love in the Air will release.  I love how God always opens up a door for me to write about a setting I love. This story unfolded in surprising ways as I wrote, so I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

I should get my author copies soon. Today I’m giving away FIVE copies of Love in the Air. If you’re willing to leave a review up on Amazon and Goodreads, and to sign up for my newsletter at my website, then you are entered in the drawing.You must also leave a comment with your contact information here at the blog to let me know. If you have already signed up for the newsletter, you can let me know that too.

Or if you don’t want to do either of those things, you can help a writer by pre-ordering Love in the Air. In order to keep writing, we need readers to buy our books, too!

Love in the Air back cover:

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.

Thank you for spending time with me today.
Many blessings,
Beth