Saturday, November 29, 2014

MURDERED BETWEEN STALAGMITES BY BETHANY MACMANUS



Bethany lives in Houston with her husband, daughter, son, and vampire cat, Snarf. After practicing as an RN for five years, Bethany left the nursing field to pursue a writing passion the Lord planted in her heart when she was a child. As Nancy Drew mysteries were her guilty pleasure during those early years, she naturally gravitates her pen toward the things that go bump in the night, and most of her plots have a psychological spin.

She’s allergic to cheese, Sulfa drugs, and people who stop in the middle of intersections while driving.


You can find out more about Bethany by visiting her Website.  

Bethany's next book, Murdered Above Volcanoes, will be released in 2015.


MURDERED BETWEEN STALAGMITES (Novella)

They thought they were going to become reality show stars.


What they got was murder.

When Jacob Mercer is trapped with seven strangers in a series of caves, he determines to seek out the mysterious predator responsible for the hoax which lured them there.


Then, one of the inhabitants is murdered the first night, and Jacob has to play detective.
 

Will he uncover the killer of Siren Song Caves? Or will the killer find a way out before anybody else?
 

Character Interview for Suspense Sisters: Jacob Mercer
 

SS: Hello, Jacob. I understand you got yourself mixed up in some crazy hoax, in those Blue Ridge Mountains caves. Why did you decide to play detective?

JM: I guess I'm just a nosy kind of guy. That, and because nobody else had time. They were all just concentrating on surviving.

SS: You sound like someone I'd like to have around in an emergency. Do you keep a cool head in those kinds of situations?

JM: Depends on the situation. Mostly I just like to ask, “what if?” and “why?” I question everyone's motives. (squinting) Speaking of which, why are you asking me all these questions, anyway? (winks) Just kidding.

SS: What do you think is your greatest weakness, Jacob?

JM: I hold everyone at arm's length. It's hard for me to trust people enough to let them in. If you're in, it's because I've known you and watched you for a very. Long. Time.

SS: What about Sherri? Did you let her in?

JM: (fumbling with keys in his jeans pocket and expelling a quick breath) Sherri Eason and I are still getting to know each other. I prefer not to comment further.

SS: Please show me what is in your pockets, besides your keys.

JM: What? Um...okay. (empties pockets out on the counter) This powder and medicine dropper make up my fingerprint kit. I learned to keep those close so I don't have to improvise with whatever's on hand. That scrap of paper is a ticket stub from a Skillet concert I took Sherri to. I always carry a small pad of paper and a pencil, also. I've ruined one too many loads of laundry, leaving pens in my pocket.


SS: Okay. Thanks for the interview, Jacob.

If you would like to win a copy of MURDERED BETWEEN STALAGMITES, please leave a comment, along with your contact information. U.S. only for print copies. Outside the U.S., the winner will receive an ebook.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Writing in the Now!

When teaching the techniques of Deep Point of View that will virtually squash issues with show/don’t tell, I emphasize the importance of writing lively, linear prose. In other words, every sentence must remain in the Now—not darting ahead or lagging behind in the sequence of events.

This does not mean our characters can’t consider past or future events. However, handling reminiscence or anticipation requires a separate technique that is covered in my book on Deep Point of View, but not in this blog post.

Effective Deep POV demands that we take our reader through the experiences of our Point of View Character (POVC), step-by-step, as if the reader resides within the character. Don’t run ahead. Don’t lag behind. Remain ever in the now.

Fire That Lazy Sentence Construction!

A common issue is the tendency to try to compress current events through lazy sentence constructions like such and such “made” or “caused” the character to react in such and such a way. If we hold ourselves to the standard of active prose in the now provided by Deep POV, we will avoid slipping into this kind of limp “telling” mode.

Here are a few Shallow and Deep examples to help clarify the difference between lively narrative and dull, telling mode that is signaled by shortcut words like “made” or “caused” or “gave.”

Shallow:  Seth let out a sneeze, and the loud noise in my ear made me jump.
Deep:  Kerchew! I jumped like Seth had jabbed me with a stick rather than just about sneezed my ear off.

Shallow:  The unwashed carrot gave her mouth a tang of dirt.
Deep:  She chomped a bite from the carrot. Bitter grit ground between her teeth. Ewww! She glared at the yellow spear in her hand. Who forgot to wash the vegetables?

Shallow:  The hot, stuffy air caused my head to spin.
Deep:  The heavy air wrapped me in cellophane. A sauna would be less stifling. Every thought wilted in my brain—shriveled like my last hope of a breeze.

See how much more interesting and active are the Deep examples? The event—the sneeze, the bite, the stifling heat—occurs, and then we hear exactly how the POVC reacts and thinks about the event, all in proper order and with a lovely savor of voice.

Notice also that this approach applies equally to First Person as well as Third Person. There is a common misconception that writing in First Person automatically becomes Deep POV. Not so! When I began writing a First Person story, I discovered the need to employ my entire arsenal of Deep POV techniques in order to guarantee that Deep POV experience for my reader. Who knew?!


BIO: 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 enjoys speaking at 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 bestselling handbook for writers, Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View, is available at http://amzn.to/IvOTkj. Visit Jill on the web at: www.jillelizabethnelson.com or look her up on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/JillElizabethNelson.Author. A novella entitled, New Years Target, in the anthology Countdown to Danger, is her upcoming January 2015 release from Love Inspired Romantic Suspense.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A VISIT WITH SUSAN SLEEMAN





SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of inspirational and clean read romantic suspense books. Awards include Thread of Suspicion-2013 Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Best Book Award, No Way Out, and The Christmas Witness Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence finalists.
 

In addition to writing, Susan also hosts the popular website TheSuspenseZone.com.

She currently lives in Oregon with her husband, but has lived in nine states. They have two daughters, a son-in-law, and an adorable grandson.



A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A ROMANTIC SUSPENSE AUTHOR

The explosion rent the air. Concussive waves rumbled through the ground and a fireball whooshed overhead. In the background, a machine gun’s sharp pings competed for my attention.

A terrorist attack. No. Just a day in the life of a romantic suspense writer.

I’ve always wanted to write stories filled with adventure, excitement, and strong female characters who could hold their own in difficult situations, but my life is far too tame to give me a background for these stories.



Enter the FBI’s Citizen Academy. Six weeks spent with generous agents sharing about their work, all culminating with a day at their firing range to shoot guns and blow things up. With experiences like this one, I feel like I can write stories that let readers hear the explosions, taste the gunpowder after the shot is fired and feel the danger.

As an added bonus, the academy opened doors for me participate in a mock plane crash drill at Portland International Airport. Talk about exciting! Seeing trained emergency workers stream toward a plane crash with only one goal—to save lives.

I so admire these people. They are true heroes and I want to bring characters just like them to life in my next series, First Responders.

This elite six-member First Response Squad includes two hostage negotiators, a sniper, a bomb technician, an EMT, and an intelligence coordinator.

 
 
SILENT NIGHT STANDOFF kicks off the series this month where hostage negotiator Skyler Brennan’s life is on the line when armed robbers strike her bank. Rescue comes from the last person she thought she could count on—her ex-boyfriend who once chose his job over their relationship.

FBI agent Logan Hunter knows how much is resting on this case. The promotion of his dreams…and the safety of the woman he’s never been able to forget. But when an unexpected twist in the case pulls Logan in two separate directions, he’ll have to make an impossible choice. Will he manage to have it all by Christmas—a career and love—or will he lose them both?
The other five books feature one member of the team and will release through in 2015 and 2016. I already love the men and women of the FRS. Their strength and courage. Their willingness to rush into disasters to help victims. They don’t let emergencies fluster them. They do their job and save lives. No matter the toll it takes in their own lives. No matter the peace it steals. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about my First Responders as they work to recapture that missing peace and find love. I know you’ll agree, they are what true heroes are made of, and our lives are so much better for the real heroes in the world.
 
Readers can connect with Susan at:
 
Her Website - http://www.susansleeman.com
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/SusanSleemanBooks
Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/susansleeman
Review Site - http://www.TheSuspenseZone.com


If you'd like to win a copy of SILENT NIGHT STANDOFF, please leave a comment, along with your contact information. U.S. only, please.








Thursday, November 20, 2014

DREAMING UP A SERIES WITH GAIL PALLOTTA



A computer novice, I shivered in my seat when I read the message online from Mildred Colvin, one of my critique partners. She and her son, Jonathan Colvin, suggested we write retold fairy tales and each of us self-publish our own book. 

We all agreed we’d be there for each other if any of us got stuck during the process. Translated that meant someone would bail me out of my technical gaffes. I chose Jack and the Beanstalk because it would lend itself to mystery and suspense, and I’m a huge fan of the genre. 

Mildred, who’s self-published over twenty books, spearheaded the effort. Vanessa Riley, who’s a talented designer as well as writer, volunteered to create a cover for each book.     
We’re a laid-back group, so no one set rules about which fairy tales we chose or what direction we took with the retelling. We did want and need consistency. 

First we discussed length and decided on novellas. Considering several options on how to tie them all together, we chose the location. June Foster had already started her story in a town called Fairwilde. We all agreed to put our characters there, but instead of having them in a particular town and state, we created Fairwilde Kingdom. I think this was important because it gave us a way to use more than one setting for our stories. Vanessa suggested the same size for the covers along with a title, sub-title and series name. We call each of our books A Fairwilde Reflection Novella.

We started writing and critiquing immediately. Working in our fantasy worlds over the span of a year brought us lots of joy. We hope our books will do the same for our readers. 

I believe all of us sought additional editing and proofreading before publishing our novellas. Mountain of Love and Danger was critiqued a second time and edited by Lisa Lickel. My husband and daughter proofread it. They’re tough.

First out was At the Edge of a Dark Forest, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast by Connie Almony; next, Red and the Wolf, a version of Little Red Riding Hood by June Foster; third, Mirror on the Fall, an adaptation of Snow White by Mildred Colvin and Jonathan Colvin; fourth, Swept Away, a twist on Cinderella by Vanessa Riley and lastly Mountain of Love and Danger.  

MOUNTAIN OF LOVE AND DANGER

Jack Greenthumb finds romance in Fairwilde Kingdom—a different day—a different girl. Then a cruel mystery begins. Dad’s beaten, the family farm destroyed and Jack’s true love, Gwendolyn Bante, kidnapped. Jack’s undercover operation reveals Gwenie’s a captive atop a mountain accessible only by helicopter. Reaching her is a dangerous expedition even for a champion rock climber like Jack. However, a Greenthumb Acres employee plants a miraculous seed from Heaven for the rescue. Suspense mounts as Jack scales the perilous cliff to face a brute and a treacherous descent in this retelling of the fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk.






The Five Girls and Jonathan:

Connie Almony: Connie’s trained as a mental health therapist and likes to mix a little fun with the serious stuff of life. She was a 2012 semi-finalist in the Genesis Contest for Women’s Fiction and was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Winter 2012 WOW Flash Fiction Contest. Her newest release, At the Edge of a Dark Forest, is a modern-day re-telling of Beauty and the Beast about a war-vet, amputee struggling with PTSD. Visit Connie at
http://www.infinitecharacters.com and http://www.ConnieAlmony.com.

Mildred Colvin: Mildred’s been writing sweet inspirational romance since 2001, and is an award-winning author of over thirty novels in both historical and contemporary themes, as well as four compilations, and one audio book. Mildred is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is active in two very special critique groups. She is also active in her church and enjoys special times with her husband, children, and grandchildren. Her hobbies, when she has time, include quilting, photography, and gardening. Of course, reading is more than a hobby. It’s a way of life.

Jonathan Colvin:  Jonathan has recently joined Mildred in brainstorming, plotting, and editing several of their books, including Mirror on the Fall.

June Foster: An award-winning author, June Foster is a retired teacher with a BA in education and MA in counseling. In 2013, June's book Give Us This Day was a finalist in EPIC's eBook awards and in 2014 a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards for best first book. Ryan's Father was one of three finalists in the published contemporary fiction category of the 2014 Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest and Awards. Deliver Us was a finalist in COTT's 2014 Laurel Awards. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood Series, Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, and Deliver Us, and Hometown Fourth of July.  Ryan's Father is available from WhiteFire Publishing. Red and the Wolf, a modern day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, is available from Amazon.com. June enjoys writing stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word.  

Vanessa Riley: Vanessa holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering and a masters in industrial engineering and engineering management from Stanford University. She has been a radio anchorwoman and church announcer. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, and Specialty RWA Chapters: The Beaumonde, Faith, Hope, & Love Chapter, and the Georgia Chapter. She juggles mothering a ten-year old, her eighteenth wedding anniversary, engineering, writing and speaking at women's events. Here first book, Madeline's Protector, is also a Regency just like her fairy tale. She’s represented by The Knight Agency.

Gail Pallotta: Award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, Mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. Her teen book, Stopped Cold, finished fourth in the 16th Annual Preditors and Editors readers’ poll and was a finalist for the 2013 Grace Awards. She’s published short stories in “Splickety” magazine and Sweet Freedom with a Slice of Peach Cobbler. Some of her published articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. Visit her web site at http://www.gailpallotta.com

For your chance to win either a print copy or an eBook copy of MOUNTAIN OF LOVE AND DANGER, leave a comment, along with your contact information. U.S. only for print version please. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

INTERVIEW WITH RONIE KENDIG








INTERVIEW WITH RONIE KENDIG
 
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?

Yes, I am a full-time author, but I am also a homeschooling mom. I have four children and have graduated half of them, leaving me with my fifteen-year-old twin sons. I’m investing more time with them during these final years to help prepare them for college.

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

For the last five years, I have written military suspense and been published in that genre, but I have, simultaneously, written speculative (fantasy, science fiction) stories. It’s with great joy that I will see the first of those speculative novels published next year. Embers, book 1 of Abiassa’s Fire, will release September 2015 from Enclave Publishing.

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

Faith is an integral part of who I am and how I live my live, so it will invariably filter into my writing. However, I approach each story with the intent of letting the faith element, however small or large, be organic to the character and the story itself. Raptor 6 had a much stronger and more obvious faith thread than Hawk, but there are elements of faith in both stories.

S.S: Tell us about your current release.

Hawk is the second book in the Quiet Professional series and features the heroes who were the ODA team in the A Breed Apart series about military working dogs. Here is the blurb for Hawk: Raptor’s communications expert, Staff Sergeant Brian “Hawk Bledsoe is struggling with his inner demons, leaving him on the verge of an “other than honorable discharge. Plagued with corrupted intel, Raptor team continues to track down the terrorist playing chess with their lives. Afghan pilot Fekiria Haidary is devastated when a systems glitch on her aircraft forces a weapons launch on a safe target. And when the deadly bombing separates Brian from the team, he must make an impossible choice: save his brothers-in-arms, or save the woman and children depending on him to survive a brutal snowstorm

S.S: What are you working on now?

Currently, I am working on finishing Embers, the first of my fantasy novels to find a publishing home. In addition to that I’m working on a new paramilitary suspense series.

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

It’s been my lifelong dream to visit Israel, to walk where Jesus walked. I’m determined to fill that dream in the next 5 years. Also, I want to go to Hawaii, and it looks like my husband and I will do that next year for our 25th anniversary.

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

I can be found at www.roniekendig.com, on Facebook (www.facebook.com/rapidfirefiction), Twitter (@roniekendig), Goodreads (www.goodreads.com/RonieK), and Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/roniek/)!

Ronie is giving away a copy of HAWK! Just leave a comment, along with your contact information, and we'll pick a winner next week!











Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday



Elizabeth Goddard here. 

I watched a behind-the-scenes clip of a recent movie where the main actors discussed working with the director. He made them act out each scene they filmed twelve or more times. Over and over they acted out the same scene. With each take he’d direct them, change things up. Maybe an angle here or an expression there. It wasn’t that they portrayed the characters wrong on the first take, but my impression was it was more about experimenting until they knew they had the scene exactly right. 

And I thought wow, I could use that in my writing. I know plenty of people already do this. I’ve talked to numerous amazing popular authors who’ve told me they go over their story ten or more times, adding depth, fleshing out. I don’t know about you, but I can’t see anything after reading my story twice. 

But listening to the actors on the clip inspired me to make an effort to experiment with my story scenes, whether I completely rewriting a scene or continue to flesh things out, I need to go through my scene ten, twelve, fifteen or more times.

I suspect this is one thing that separates the average writer from the exceptional. Okay, now go and try it. 

Have fun!



Elizabeth Goddard is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than twenty romance novels, including the romantic mystery, The Camera Never Lies—a 2011 Carol Award winner. A 7th generation Texan, Elizabeth graduated with a B.S. degree in computer science and worked in high-level software sales for several years before retiring to home school her children and fulfill her dreams of becoming an author.  She lives in East Texas with her husband and four children.