Wednesday, March 27, 2013


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

All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”

Readers can learn more about Nancy through her Web site: or her blog She is also active on Facebook.
Authors love some of their book covers and shudder at others. Most of us have little control over our covers. Many times, publishers create them without much input from their authors. I’m blessed to have a publisher that asks for my input, although the final decision is up to them. Thankfully, I’ve loved every cover they’ve done.

I thought you might like to see some pictures from a photo session with the model selected as Hope, in UNBREAKABLE. She was a great choice, in my opinion. If you’ve read UNBREAKABLE, does she look like the person you envisioned?   

Photographers take many different shots, not certain which one will finally make the cut.

 Notice the model’s jeans and sandals showing beneath her dress. I thought this was a cute picture.


The different shots are carefully considered.
And finally, here's the result!
Do you “see” a character in a book from a picture on the cover – or do you ignore the cover and create your own idea as you read?
Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of UNBREAKABLE – or a copy of UNFORESEEABLE when it comes out in September. Your choice!
Here's the cover for UNFORESEEABLE.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Difference between a suspense and a mystery

Hi everyone, Lynette Eason here. I was trying to think of a topic for today's post and thought I'd answer a question that I got the other day. What's the difference between a mystery and a suspense? Below are sixteen suggestions. I was wondering if you agree with them. Do you have any differences that you would add? Any you disagree with? Leave a comment and I'll put you in a drawing for my newest release, When A Secret Kills to release the first of May.


She's come home to put a killer behind bars.
But the killer plans to put her six feet under.

Investigative reporter Jillian Carter knows it’s time to put the past to rest. She’s tired of looking over her shoulder, letting a killer go free. She’s no longer the scared kid who changed her name and disappeared. Now, no matter what the cost, Jillian must do what she is trained to do—find the truth and expose it. And the truth is that Senator Frank Hoffman committed murder ten years ago—and Jillian watched it happen.
Didn’t she?
Get ready for the spine-tingling, nail-biting conclusion to the explosive series.
“A fabulous read! Eason is a master at romantic suspense. I gobbled up the novel in two days and promptly ordered the first two books in the series. Highly recommended!” – Colleen Coble, author of the Rock Harbor and the Hope Beach series.
“Fast-paced romantic suspense with compelling characters who pull you into the story and make you care what happens to them.” – Margaret Daley, author of Scorned Justice and the Men of the Texas Rangers series.
“Clear the runway and fasten your seat belts. This novel captures the reader in the first line and doesn’t stop until the end. Eason has created a suspense-packed story that captivates.” – DiAnn Mills, author of The Chase and The Survivor.

Sixteen Differences between Mystery and Suspense

Taken from: Skillman, Trish MacDonald. Writing the Thriller. Writers Digest Books. 2000.

A mystery concerns itself with a puzzle. Suspense presents the reader with a nightmare.

A mystery is a power fantasy; we identify with the detective. Suspense is a victim fantasy; we identify with someone at the mercy of others.

A mystery can be likened to a myth. Suspense is more like a fairy tale.

In a mystery the hero or heroine already has the skills he or she needs to solve the puzzle. In suspense, he or she must learn new skills to survive.

In a mystery, thinking is paramount. In suspense, feeling is paramount.

The most important action in a mystery takes place offstage. In suspense, the important action happens onstage.

A mystery usually takes place within a small circle of friends. The hero or heroine of a suspense novel often finds him or herself thrust into a larger world.

Readers of mysteries are looking for clues. Readers of suspense are expecting surprises.

In a mystery, information is withheld. In suspense novels, information is provided.

The ideal reader of mysteries remains one step behind the hero or heroine. Those who read suspense should be one step ahead of the hero or heroine.

Mystery readers expect a series. Those who read suspense know a book can be a one shot.

The hero or heroine in a mystery is looking for suspects. The hero or heroine in suspense looks for betrayers.

A mystery hero or heroine must confront a series of red herrings. The suspense novel hero or heroine faces a cycle of distrust.

Mystery endings must be intellectually satisfying. Suspense endings must provide emotional satisfaction.

Mysteries are usually three hundred manuscript pages. Suspense novels can be longer.

Friday, March 22, 2013


John Robinson has been married thirty-nine years to the finest woman on the planet, his wife Barb. The father of two grown sons and grandfather of two, he’s also the retired owner of a successful financial planning firm. John hopes to go into full-time writing someday; as the author of the popular Joe Box suspense series, he’s well on his way. He’s made some good friends in the publishing world, including writers Karen Ball, Brandilyn Collins, Alton Gansky, and Christy-award winner James Scott Bell, and all of them greatly—and graciously—shared their talents in helping John hone his craft. In addition to his writing John is a much in demand speaker and teacher, having taught fiction tracks at the Glorieta Christian Writers conference just outside Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The first title in his Joe Box series, Until the Last Dog Dies, was published by RiverOak Publishing in a three-book deal, which also included the hard-hitting When Skylarks Fall and To Skin a Cat. All three works received outstanding reviews, and John stands ready to continue to deliver more nail-biting, heart-stopping suspense.
S.S: How long have you been writing?

I’ve always liked to write, even from my early teen years, and when I was in college I was student affairs editor for the school paper. I didn’t start writing with the goal of being published, though, until maybe a dozen years ago. It was a lot harder than I’d thought it would be.

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?

No, but I wish I could write full time! For my day job I’m Director of Business for a large firm that does medical contracting for the military, here and overseas. Sometimes that means travel, and last year they sent me on a ten-day junket to Saudi Arabia. There I met with government officials, including several sheiks, and the surgeon general of the Saudi army; very interesting!

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

I’ll never forget it. Because of its theme and unconventional main character, my first Joe Box novel, Until the Last Dog Dies was a booger to get published. My agent shopped it tirelessly, but kept coming to me back with stuff like “they love your writing, John, but Joe scares them to death; he’s too rough, and they’re afraid women won’t buy it.” To which I responded, “jeeze Louise, it’s not written for women!” Months passed, and my agent finally said they’ve done all they could, but can’t place it with anybody. That was in December of 2002. Flash forward to July of 2003. The CBA trade show was in Orlando that that year, and my agent was attending. As the story was told to me, the head buyer of one of the largest Christian bookstore chains was speaking with one of the marketing directors for Cook Communications, which owns RiverOak Publishing. They were talking about this and that, when the buyer said in an off-hand way, “I heard you’ve bought a novel featuring a Christian private investigator.” The Cook guy said no, he’d heard wrong, they took a pass on it. To which the buyer came back, “that’s funny; we could probably move a lot of units of that.” The Cook guy took that info to his people, and they told him, “how about that, see if it’s still available.” The Cook guy found my agent and asked if Until the Last Dog Dies was still on the table. Stunned, my agent said yes, and they proceeded to verbally cut the deal on the floor of the CBA. True story!

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

My wife, without question. Beyond that, I’ve been blessed to get to know—and be cheered on by—such stellar writers as you, Nancy, James Scott Bell, Brandilyn Collins, Cec Murphey, Robert Liparulo, Terri Blackstock, Eric Wiggin, Jeff Gerke, Deb Raney, Karen Ball, Gayle Roper … wow, I know I’m missing some.

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

Good question. I’ve always liked edge-of-your-seat movies, so when I started writing, the transition seemed normal. That said, I do have one SF novel out, The Radiance. People who’ve read it have been asking for a sequel, and that may happen one day.

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

In varying degrees, my faith is interwoven in everything I write. It’s more direct in my Joe Box novels, but it’s also found in the SF work I mentioned above, and that was published by secular house. It’s probably the most plain in Heading Home, which is now up on Kindle.

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

Man, that’s tough. It’s almost like saying if I couldn’t breath, what would be a good alternative. In all seriousness, though, if I couldn’t write, I’d like to be an actor (you in the back there, stop laughing!).

S.S:  Tell us about your current release.
Ah, that would be Heading Home. How it came about sounds incredible, but I assure you it’s true. It was New Years Day, 1999, and I was watching one of the bowl games on TV when suddenly I started seeing something different on the screen. Don’t laugh, but it was almost like watching a movie. During that I was unaware of the passing of time. When I roused myself I found only a few minutes had passed, but amazingly I had the entire plot of Heading Home completely lined up in my head; it was then just a matter of writing it down and editing it. Here’s the plot: the Bible makes it clear no one knows the day or the hour of Christ's return. But it doesn't say we won't know the month. Or the week. When every Christian simultaneously receives a message that Christ will return sometime in the next seven days, the world is thrown into stark panic. Two old friends, hardened combat veterans from the closing days of the Vietnam War, set out on a suspenseful quest to redeem that time. What they can't know is they and their entire church have been targeted for satanic annihilation.

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

Many, many years ago, when I was a young Christian, I heard a radio preacher say something startling. He said that while the Bible makes it clear no one knows the day or hour of Christ’s return, it doesn’t say we won’t know the month … or the week. What would you do, he said, if you knew, beyond doubt, Jesus was coming to take His people home sometime in the next one hundred and sixty-eight hours? How would you live those hours? How would it impact your witness to the lost? That percolated in my brain for the next thirty years, and finally it came to birth in Heading Home.

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

That time, as we’ve known it, is over; that’s plain to anyone with eyes. Things are winding up here on planet Earth at a blistering pace. We have to redeem that remaining time, because we’re not promised our next breath.

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

I’d say it would have to be a tossup between Nick Castle and CT Barnes. Although utterly different in background, temperament, and even skin color, their being brothers in Christ—as well as having served in combat together—gives them a grittiness and singleness of purpose.

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

That’s easy, the villain Sangre. This would-be Satanist thinks he’s the one causing so much grief throughout the book, while being totally unaware the devil is his real puppet master. I got to go very deeply into this man’s twisted psyche, and while it didn’t make me root for him, it did help me understand him. And in a way, pity him.

S.S: What are you working on now?

My agent is shopping the very first of my new suspense series to the general market. It’s called Pitfall, and concerns a former Army Ranger named Cameron Bane, and who exacts a chilling revenge against the shadowy government agents whose disastrous intelligence error resulted in the loss of his entire command in Iraq. Using their hush money against them, he now takes on hopeless tasks for helpless people, engaging in rough adventures that just skirt the edge of the law. For free.

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

Five years. Writing, teaching, and speaking full time. Ten years, ditto.

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

Lived in Montana, and taking a trip into out space; that last one may to wait until the rapture.

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

Back in college, when my cousin and I would drop sodden rolls of toilet paper on the heads of drunks as they’d come up the walk to our dorm. I guess I should mention we lived on the twentieth floor, and by the time those rolls would hit, they were moving along at a real clip. The effect was … satisfying.

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

Saying goodbye to our baby daughter, Sarah. She’s been in heaven for quite a few years now, and has probably been driving Saint Peter to distraction.

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

My website is
You can find my books on Amazon:
 My three Joe Box novels: Until the Last Dog Dies, When Skylarks Fall, and To Skin a Cat
Then there's The Radiance, and finally, Heading Home.

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

My favorite movie is Open Range, my favorite musical is Les Miserables, my favorite band is Yes, my favorite color is blue, and my favorite meal is country ham, greens beans with fatback, cathead biscuits with clover honey, spoonbread, chocolate pie, and good, but not great, coffee. Due to a brain injury when I was nine I’m dyslexic, and can only type with my thumbs and index fingers. I also have syndactyly, giving me webbed toes.

Now, aren’t you glad you’ve read this far? I know I am!

John is giving away a copy of his book, UNTIL THE LAST DOG DIES. Leave a comment, along with your contact information, and Monday, he'll pick a winner!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Revenge: A Driving Force

Revenge: A Driving Force
By Margaret Daley

I was in the middle of writing Scorned Justice (out this month) when the show Revenge came on last year on ABC--a show about a burning need to seek revenge on someone who had hurt the lead character. At least that was the impression I got from the ads about the new show. I have to confess I actually haven't seen the show. But it summed up my story--to what lengths would someone go to get back at another. A person takes the first step in a path of revenge, and before he/she knows it, there is no turning back. The need consumes him/her.

When revenge starts consuming the character, the fun really begins. The stakes are heightened. The villain starts to lose it and make mistakes. A show I do watch--Once Upon a Time--has revenge driving the plot. The Evil Queen wants to make Snow White pay for what she did as a child. This revenge dominates the Evil Queen's life.

Revenge is one of the basic motives for a person murdering another. There are others like greed, hate/love, the need for power. When I wrote this book, I wanted to show how far someone could go, how it changed his/her life. And since this is an inspirational romantic suspense, I needed a happily ever after ending so there is a consequence for the revenge beyond going to prison.

The faith element in the story is the opposite of seeking revenge. If a person forgives rather than holding a grudge, then there is no revenge. The Lord wants us to forgive trespasses against us. From experience when I've let go of my anger, I'm much better off. Anger has a way of festering and feeding off of you. Negativity can take over your life, destroy it.

What movie, book or show you've read or seen that has revenge at its core?

Friday, March 15, 2013


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.

SS: First of all, how long have you been writing and have you always wanted to be a writer?

I measure the time I decided to become a writer from when I joined my first critique group over 22 years ago. That would have been in 1991. My first book was published in 2003. I always gravitated toward the arts. I was never a Math and Science kind of person.  I majored in film production in college. But I didn’t see writing as an option until I had kids. I needed a creative outlet and writing was something I could do in small increments and work around having small children. 

SS: What is your process when you are writing a book?

I think most people develop a process that lessons the fears they have about writing. For me, I fear that my idea can’t really be made into a book, that I will get to page 60 and there won’t be any more story. So I write hard and fast to get the rough draft done. No stopping, no going back to fix things. As the story unfolds, I’ll make notes on post its of what I will need to go back and change. Once I have the rough draft done and I can see the structure of the story, I can breathe a sigh of relief.

In that rough draft, what I am striving for is for all the scenes that need to be there and for the action to unfold in a logical way (that means sometimes scenes get moved around) I don’t worry about description or even the names of minor characters. I will say thinks like “Officer Blank Blank walked through the police station.”  I have a lot of characters named Blank Blank in my rough draft. Even if I have named a minor character in a previous chapter, I don’t want to go back to look up the name because it shuts down the flow of the story. Also, I might have something in brackets or bold that says Need More Description Here or Research That.  I don’t worry about the emotional responses of the characters being fine tuned or layered.  That will come in a later draft. When I don’t like an emotional response, the note in my manuscript will say (icky). Honestly, there are parts of the rough draft where I type “Blah blah blah” because I know there needs to be more something in that part of the story, I just don’t want to think about what that something might be when I’m doing the rough draft.

With every book during the rough draft when I hit a wall, I hear that voice that says, “There is no story here.” That when I go back to my mantra. Trust the process Sharon. Trust the process.       

SS: What accomplishment are you proudest of in your life?

Believe it or not it’s not writing a book. Being a mom and staying the course through the difficult teen years (believe me there were times I wanted to get in my car and drive away) is toward the top of the list.  But when I look back on my life, I think the thing I am proudest of is getting a college education. At the time, I didn’t realize the odds were against me finishing.  My father was a high school drop out who worked as a miner all his life. My mother started nursing school, but didn’t finish. I was one of six kids and we lived really close to the poverty line. I didn’t have a car in college and lived on top ramen and the samples they handed out in grocery stores ( a little bit of hyperbole there, I did buy groceries). One summer, I lived with three other girls in a two bedroom apartment. My rent was $67 a month.  I never thought of myself as suffering or deprived because I was getting to go to college. It was one of the happiest times of my life.   

SS: Tell us about your new book.

Guard Duty is the third book in the Texas K-9 Unit series. Rookie Police officer Valerie Salgado can identify a murderer who is probably a member of the crime syndicate that has plagued the town of Sagebrush, Texas for months. With a death threat hanging over her head, she has new responsibilities caring for her niece and proving herself as a member of the K-9 police unit. When FBI agent Trevor Lewis comes into town looking for a fugitive, he offers her protection in exchange for her help.  A troubled childhood has left more walls around Trevor’s heart than a maximum security prison. The book is the third book in the Texas K-9 Unit series.   Margaret Daley (also a suspense sister) wrote the book that comes before mine.

SS: Writing is normally a solitary activity, did you like working with the other authors?

I had so much fun. I’m doing another continuity series for 2014. I think because writing is usually kind of a lonely process, it was refreshing to share with other authors via the email loop while working on the book.

SS: Finally, if you weren’t writing what would you be doing for a career?

Probably saying, “would you like fries with that?” a lot. Seriously, I have a really limited skill set. I think I would in one way or another be doing something connected with storytelling.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Writing the Countercultural Hero or Heroine

Jill Elizabeth Nelson writes what she likes to read—tales of adventure seasoned with romance, humor, and faith--well-suited to her tagline: Endless Adventure, Timeless Truth. 

She has been delightfully astonished to receive several awards, including the prestigious Carol Award through American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Jill speaks regularly at conferences, writer’s groups, library associations, and civic and church groups. When teaching classes for writers, she thrills to bring the Ahah! moment to her students as they make a new skill their own. 

Jill and her husband live in rural Minnesota where they raised four children and are currently enjoying their grandchildren. 

Visit Jill on the web at: or look her up on Facebook: or Twitter:!/JillElizNelson. Her latest release and tenth book is Betrayal on the Border from Love Inspired Romantic Suspense. 

In my most recent release, Betrayal on the Border, my heroine is an ex-Army Ranger, and the hero is a television news reporter. As the story progresses, the heroine becomes the hero’s bodyguard as he digs into the truth behind a massacre of army and law enforcement personnel perpetrated by an infamous drug cartel. Who within their own group betrayed them to the cartel?

The premise is a bit futuristic as the Army is considering the admission of females to the elite Rangers but hasn’t formally made that decision yet. However, I wanted my heroine to be at the extreme end of the spectrum as far as what might appear to be a “man’s occupation.” I was careful to give her distinct touches of femininity within her countercultural career choice—like preferring bubble baths to showers.

I painted the hero as intelligent and insightful and brave and <gasp> sensitive. Not that he’s prone to emotional outbursts himself, but he empathizes with the feelings of people around him. On the other hand, the heroine feels deeply but keeps her feelings—and her tears—bottled up inside her. One of the pivotal moments in the story comes when she finally releases those pent-up emotions.

One of the Questions for Discussion at the end of the book asks the reader to take a look at the reasons why the heroine has refused to allow herself the release of tears. The reasons have their roots both in her upbringing and her training. I hope they are apparent enough that the reader can pick them out and discuss them.

I also made the hero self-assured and unthreatened by the heroine’s military competence. My heroine is totally appreciative of his lack of resentment toward her abilities. She views this as a mark of true manliness. Do you agree?

As a reader, how do you feel about countercultural heroes and heroines? Are you okay with role reversals? What makes stories like that acceptable to you? Is there anything that would irk you in a book like that?

The Bible also features countercultural heroines—like the story of Deborah and Barack in the book of Judges. Can you think of any other examples?

For an opportunity to win a signed copy of Betrayal on the Border, please leave a comment that answers one or more of these questions. If possible, give an example of a book that you’ve read that featured countercultural characters and what you thought about it.

I’m all ears to hear your insights.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Proposal Time

Elizabeth Goddard here. Celebrate with me. I just turned in a romantic suspense manuscript to my editor last week and now I’m gearing up to write my proposal for another series, and yes, it will be romantic suspense. I’ve concluded this is my favorite part of the process—deciding what I want to write about next. 

The setting, the characters, and the plot elements are up for grabs.

This is the moment when all things are possible.

But sometimes too many possibilities can become overwhelming. In the end, I must decide what I feel comfortable writing about and also remember my audience and what they would enjoy reading.  And yes, what I enjoy reading, too. I especially love spy novels and movies and maybe one day I’ll have the opportunity to write something along those lines.

If you haven’t already figured it out, most of my stories are packed with action and adventure in exotic and exiting locations. They include intrigue and danger as well as humor. I loved Romancing the Stone and it’s still one of my favorite old movies, so when a reader commented that Treacherous Skies had a Romancing the Stone kind of feeling, I couldn’t have been happier. Hopefully, the kind of stories I love to read will come out in the stories I’m writing.

So where do I go from here? Or rather, how do I get what’s whirling around in my thoughts into a solid proposal? 

I’ve pondered several ideas over a few weeks now, maybe even months, as I finished up on other book deadlines. Over time, one of ideas began to emerge as the strongest and most viable.Today I dived into the research for this particular series—the characters, their possible backgrounds, and the geography for the setting. Of course, the stories (the books in the series) must have danger elements. 

I wish I could share more with you about this new series and hopefully, it will sell and you’ll find out soon enough, but in lieu of that, I thought it would be fun to hear from you about some of your favorite romance movies. Sometimes I love to watch my favorite movies to stir up inspiration for new ideas. I started out making a list of romantic suspense movies, but the list grew to include much more. 

Some might consider the movies I enjoy a little corny, but I often keep to light-hearted side of things rather than heart-wrenching. There’s enough real life happening that I want to enjoy the escape. Here are a few of my favorite romantic movies—some with more romance, some with less. Maybe this will give you a little glimpse into the flavor of my stories.

( DISCLAIMER: As is the case with most movies these days, there might be inappropriate content for some, in which case, we fast forward.)

 Sahara, True Lies, Knight and Day, Killers, Duplicity, Leap Year, Seventeen Again, Letters to Juliet, Eagle Eye.

There are plenty more but I’ll stop there. Now, what are a few of your favorites?


Friday, March 8, 2013



Veronica Heley celebrates the publication of her 71st book in May 2013, having been in the business for over 30 years. She lives in Gt Britain and is currently writing two gentle crime series set in different areas of London. She also produces the occasional short story. She’s involved with her local church and community affairs, likes to break for coffee with friends and does the garden when she has time. She has been a member of a book reading club for 40 years, but has decided that life is too short to read depressing literature any more.  

I had a nice surprise the other day. At least, I thought it was a nice surprise at first, but now I’m not so sure, and I’d love to know what you think.

I knew, in a general sort of way, that some of my backlist were going to be re-issued in large print hardback, soft cover and as e-books by Chivers, but I’d forgotten all about them until a package dropped through my door the other day, containing copies of a book I’d written in 1976! Now even I, who am no mathematician, can work out that I wrote that book over thirty-seven years ago. I had a twenty-four inch waist in those days and was a frail little thing. Mm. Well…thirty-seven years on, and approaching 80 years of age, we will not talk about my waist measurement!

The re-issue was for CRY FOR KIT. I looked at the cover, and wondered if I liked it – not that I have had anything to do with the design. But the original cover was about the only one I ever liked from Robert Hale, all those years ago. And then, of course, I was seized with doubt. Was it really such a good idea to reissue books I wrote when I started to learn my craft? Those early books were written for the general market place and I, as a beginner, wrote what I thought was needed to break into that market. But from 1980 onwards I moved into writing books with a Christian background. Some were taken up by mainstream publishers, but most were commissioned by Christian publishers such as Lion, Bible Reading Fellowship and Scripture Union. From 2000 on, I’ve hardly done anything but write the Ellie Quicke Mysteries and the Abbot Agency books, with their specifically Christian background. But those early books…?

So what are my readers going to think of them? Ought I to be ashamed of what I produced then? All right, so Chivers obviously thought they’d be able to sell some copies or they wouldn’t have done anything about it…but…really? So many years on?

I began to read CRY FOR KIT and well, you’ll have to judge for yourselves, of course, but it rattles along at a great pace and yes, hopefully it will still amuse. But I do have to point out that the heroine was not a virgin before she got married. And then, within the week, a second re-issue from Chivers arrived. This was SCREAM FOR SARAH, first published in 1975. So I started to re-read that and…oh dear…this is where sex and violence rear their ugly heads.

I can’t think that fans of Ellie Quicke and Bea Abbot are going to enjoy them. Will they ask for them at libraties, and then be worried about the direction in which my writing is taking me?

Do I panic? Am I in trouble, or can I trust my readers’ good sense?

Or should I just point to the latest Bea Abbot book, FALSE ALARM, which came out in the UK last November and should be available elsewhere in the world as of this minute? This is the 7th in the series and has had some good reviews from Kirkus and Library Journal. It’s available as a hardback at present, but also as an e-book. In this story, Bea Abbot is asked to track down the person who laid a booby trap for the powerful Sir Lucas Ossett in his own block of flats. The tenants include a ‘therapist,’ a sacked employee of Sir Lucas’s, and a cross-section of yuppies and oddballs with life-threatening problems. A cat has met an untimely end, and snow is forecast. Can Bea separate the foolish from the murderous and reveal who it is who has brought death and destruction to this exclusive part of London?

I’d welcome your thoughts on this knotty problem.

Veronica Heley

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


“I have been in love with story all my life,” says Gayle Roper, the award winning author of more than forty-five books. “Give me a story with strong characters and a captivating plot, and I’m one happy reader. Or writer.”

Among Gayle’s awards are the prestigious Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award, the Carol Award from American Christian Fiction Writers, two Inspirational Readers Choice Awards, and three HOLT Medallions. She has been a Christy finalist three times and has received the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Reviewers Choice Award from Romantic Times Book Report.

For her work in training Christian writers Gayle has won special recognition from Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, St. Davids CWC, Florida CWC, and Greater Philadelphia CWC.  She lives in southeastern Pennsylvania. She enjoys reading, spending time at the family’s Canadian cottage, gardening, and eating out every time she can manage it.

Last time we talked about the real clue being hidden in a cluster of false clues or red herrings, like the contents of a purse. Hidden in with the lipstick, the train schedule, a stamped letter, a chiropractor’s card is the library card that leads to the killer.

Another way for clues to be hidden in plain sight is through misdirection. By that I mean overwhelming the important with the unimportant.

Eighteen year old Jodie found her father murdered. Three weeks later:

“Jodie,” Mac said, “what a lovely dress.”

Jodie smiled shyly. “Thanks, Uncle Mac.”

“Your father would be so proud of you.”

Jodie looked skeptical.

Mac reached to push the library door open. “Well, you looked lov—” He stopped abruptly. Not much surprised him, but he was poleaxed by what he saw.

Jodie could not see this! She’d had to face enough in the past three weeks. She didn’t need this too. He shifted his position, trying to block her from what he’d seen and the distress it would cause.

But her indrawn breath told him she’d seen her mother deep in the embrace of Ken Wiley, an embrace that held nothing of the comfort of a friend and much of the intensity of a lover.

Mac’s heart wrenched at the pain on Jodie’s face. With a sob, the girl turned and ran, distress in every line of her body.

“Jodie,” Mac called, but she kept going. Even if he went after her, how could he tell her that there was nothing wrong with her mother kissing her late father’s best friend.

If this was a book, we’d expand the scene in the library, making more of Jodie’s distress and Mac’s unhappiness. We’d have the widow try to defend herself and Ken attempt to explain away the obvious.

But the real clue would be Jodie looking lovely. Slowly, little by little, people would notice her wearing makeup, dressing more stylishly, blossoming, becoming a woman rather than the stunted person she’d been under her father’s overbearing control. Little by little her motive of resentment, anger, and bitterness at his treatment would become evident.

But always the clue would be buried in something else that seemed more important. It’s all about misdirection.