SPEAKER: Linda is a member of AWSA, and is available to speak to your organization, at your conference, or as part of a workshop.
Contact her at

AGENT: Linda is a an agent with Hartline Literary Agency. She would love to represent that next great American novel! She will look at nonfiction, but she LOVES FICTION--historic, suspense, romance or all of the above.

AUTHOR: Linda writes romance in all categories, but what is her fave? Suspense, and not only suspense, but SUSPENSE SEALED WITH A KISS

Sunday, December 19, 2010



Thank you all for joining me this year.
I pray you will have a wonderful
Christmas and an amazing New Year.

Let the true meaning of Christmas
crawl into your heart and find
a welcome home there.

Peace and prosperity to you and your family
this Christmas and the whole year through.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Hmmm. Maybe that should be in the blink of an eye.
Or maybe the block is writers’ block?
Christmas is close with kids and other family members all
geeked about the holidays, presents to be purchased and wrapped,
special services at church, dinners to be cooked, fudge to make,
pies and cakes, sugar cookies.
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
It is so easy at this time of year to get caught up in the Christmas
trappings that we, as writers, find excuses to
forget about writing, or worse yet,
we try, but the words won’t come.
Her long, slender fingers ruffling the blond curls on his forehead
become reindeer antlers and peppermint sticks in our minds.
Panic sets in and soon the whole mood to write is gone.
There comes a time when the
staunchest writer has to take a break.
How about now?
Dig out the fruitcake or sugar cookies, a cup of tea or cocoa, and a
movie—find out whether or not Chevy Chase CAN INDEED
create the perfect Christmas or if Ralphie gets his Red Ryder gun.
Put you pen and paper or computer away, and
simply enjoy the holiday.
Give that writer’s mind a rest.
Unless, of course, there’s an editor breathing
down your neck asking
for the next great American novel from you. (then you’re gonna have to work)
But if you are able, enjoy this season, set work aside for a
couple weeks, and put your thoughts on what
is really important this time of year.

The Baby in the Manger
Because in the BLINK OF AN EYE,
the season will be gone.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Unfortunately, that's what I'll be doing.
Too much gobble, gobble.
And yet, I wanted to stop long enough to wish all of you

Did you wake up in a warm bed?
Others are cold and alone.

Can you pay your bills (for the most part)?
Others are losing their homes.

Are you able to say you ate too much?
People are starving all over the world.

Are you free to worship the One and True God?


God be with all of you and your families...


Sunday, November 21, 2010


I don’t generally chime in a lot about issues other than writing, but what on earth is happening on DWTS? For those of you who don’t have a clue,
DWTS is Dancing With the Stars!

The show is SUPPOSED to be about taking
NON-DANCERS and with the help
of a professional (and these folks are brilliant, especially Louie whose choreography is spectacular, but I digress)
they learn and improve as much as possible.

NOW, every season manages to have a couple people with little to
no performance experience and they are
generally voted off right away.
But occasionally, as with Emmett Smith, football pro, they improve so much
that the voting public puts them through over very talented,
albeit, already performer, personalities.

And that is the case this year. Bristol Palin is being
crucified in the media
along with her mom and the Tea Party movement, and any other
conservative out there daring to admit to voting for her,
because she, as a non-performer, has made it to the finals.


We had to listen to Maks and Brandi (who until their loss, I found to be one of my fave couples) whine all week because she was voted off. She WAS brilliant. She’s also an actor, singer, performer with, I believe, some dance background. Just like Jennifer Grey from Footloose, who is the leader on the show. She is WONDERFUL, but we’re comparing apples and oranges here, folks. What’s so hard to understand in all this.
The show is
who learn the ropes gradually and get better each week.

Just heard a man shot his TV
‘cuz he was so angry
Bristol made it to finals.
WOW! That was intelligent. It’s a show, people.
It is, what it is. Get over it and get on with your real lives.
Cheer for your favorite and be happy for whoever wins,
‘cuz that was
who the voting public wanted. They all work hard and deserve for us to support them all. Show a little class in a world gone nuts!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sanity Prevails

Thank you Fox News for taking a stand.
Thank you Amazon for allowing sanity to prevail.


It’s Veteran’s Day and as a veteran, I have very strong feelings about the direction of the country that I swore allegiance to. The country and it’s tenets. BUT, and I say this sadly, I feel as if we have come to a place where the intent of the Founding Fathers has become so perverted that they, themselves, would no longer recognize their original meaning. Particularly of:


Was it the intent of those good men who gave all they had that we should sit here, in front of our computers, and be subjected to the kind of filth that slithers over the screen at an ever-alarming rate? Do companies, in this instance, Amazon(with whom I and many other authors have done a LOT of business), have the right to sell a book under the guise of first amendment rights whose topic enslaves millions of children worldwide?

Is it a coincidence that John Walsh was on the morning news explaining that wealthy western countries are the source of so many pedophiles? Babies . . . yes, I said babies, some as young as five years old are being enslaved for the sole purpose of being a source of pleasure for pedophiles.

And all under the umbrella of FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS!

My heart broke this morning when I read the response from Amazon that it is taking the stand that it would be “censorship” to not sell a book because of the opinions expressed in the book.

Fox News is calling for a boycott that would hit Amazon where it would feel it, in the pocketbook at Christmas. And the only way to do that is to express our concerns, as writers, who may or may not have books for sale on Amazon. WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

I understand this topic is a difficult one for us, as writers, but if we won’t stand up for the innocence of children, who will? Aren’t we the men and women who have changed history throughout civilization with our words? And though Amazon is such an important element in our business, what are we going to put first?

I ask each of you, whether you are a reader or a writer, where do you stand on this issue? What is your heart telling you?

I’d like to hear back from all of you.


Monday, November 8, 2010


Seeing the world through a midwesterner's eyes!
Stop by and enjoy smirks, smiles, squabbles and quirks
all through the eyes of various midwestern writers.

Hopefully, you'll take away some tid or bit

you didn't know about people from the midwest.

Come on by, now, ya hear?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010





Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween for Suspense

What better night for a novel about suspense
than one that surrounds Halloween?
Who’s hiding behind that mask? Is it really a teen
at the door in a vampire costume expecting candy or
someone more sinister?
Do you use holidays, special circumstances, and
times of year to make your suspense novels
that much more flavorful?


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Christmas is Just Around the Corner

With Christmas just around the corner, we should be thinking of books as a way to reach our middle schoolers. What better book to take our boys(and girls)into the land of mystery, than

Sam Cooper, eleven years old and full of curiosity has moved a lot in his short life. Now, living in Florida, he quickly makes friends and their adventures begin with a diving trip they don’t happen to mention to their parents. It can only mean disaster.

What happens when the boys are stranded on a deserted island by a tropical storm? You guessed it; they encounter mysterious characters on the island obviously harboring secrets. LOST ISLAND SMUGGLERS will keep your boy or girl reading well into the night.


Never fear, there’s nothing better than nurturing the love of books in your child. Take this opportunity with Christmas just around the corner to buy
LOST ISLAND SMUGGLERS for your son or daughter, niece or nephew, or even the paper boy.

Max Anderson’s ability to capture the reader’s interest and keep him or her guessing well into the night whodunit, will thrill any child on this year’s Christmas list.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bobby's New Book

Bobby's book below is a great thought to ponder this Sunday.
Are we the Christians we want to be?
Do we at least try?
forces us to ask ourselves if we're living the life we should.
God bless you all,

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Guest today, Bobby Weaver, is the author of:
Before we dig into that title, Bobby, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Well Linda, I am a relatively new Christian (thanks to an on-air national fight with Howard Stern…yeah, THAT Howard Stern). I was pretty much a human disaster for the first 50 years of my life….then Jesus showed up and he is in the process of revolutionizing my life. You can see the press release that explains a lot by going to:

Very impressive, Bobby. I encourage you all to check out the press release; it’s thought-provoking to say the least.
Okay, so this is quite an explosive title. Certainly puts the responsibility in our hands for how we represent ourselves to the world. What made you pick this topic?

I chose the topic by observing one particular person that kept figuring out ways to alienate seekers and new believers from the Christian faith. This person was a hypocrite and a world-class judge…he could and would judge anyone at the drop of a hat. By the way, that person was me.

How did you muster the courage, no, let’s be honest, the guts to write on this?

That’s an interesting question. I don’t think it took courage or guts. I think maybe “obedience” is the better word. It just became so obvious to me that I could write a book about “us Christians” that did a poor job of representing our faith because I was one of them.

What gave you the idea? Any special event that triggered your thought process?

I suppose my “road rage” had a little something to do with the original idea for the book. Thanks to my dad’s OCD concerning driving skills, I was brought up being overly observant of the behavior of other drivers on the road. And I recall on several occasions’ Christian drivers either cutting me off, running a red light or whatever. And why did I assume they were Christians? Because they advertised it! Yep, right on the rear of their vehicles with bumper stickers “fish” emblems and so forth. And that is when it occurred to me that many of us might be inadvertently driving people away from our faith by our actions. And not just by our driving habits, but other habits such as our language, our attitude, our “judging others” and many more

More than one of us can identify with that, I’m sure. At least, I know I can. I’m one of those drivers-OUCH.
What kind of response have you had?

I have probably mentioned the title of this book: “If It Weren’t For Us Christians, There’d Be A Lot More Christians” at least 350 times to fellow Christians. Almost to a person, the response has been a big smile or laugh and a comment like “Isn’t that the truth!?” My publisher even said originally that the title was too long but by the time I agreed to change it, they had mentioned it to a lot of people and had the same positive response. So we stuck with the original title…and I’m thrilled we did. People relate big-time!

Was your family behind you or did they try to persuade you not to tackle this hot button subject matter?

The family was fine with it…I mean, this is a real tame venture compared to my

LBJ…Life Before Jesus.

Where does your passion come from?

It comes from trying to imagine someone dying and going to hell because one of “us Christians” scared them away from the faith.

Do you have any other books “under construction” at the moment?

Yes, I have a book to be out next year. It is called “Kids Pray The Darndest Things.” It is a collection of short prayers that kids say to God. Here’s a couple of samples:

Dear God,
Last year Timmy Johnson tole me that hell was 3 times hotter than Tabasco Sauce. I haven’t missed Sunday School since.
Alan M. Age 6

Dear God,
I know you are perfect and all, but what’s up with naps and spinach?
Susie Y. Age 7

Dear God,
We had a popularity contest at our skule today and you won! You beat Santa Claus by 2 votes and hammered the tooth fairy by 24.
Billy S. Age 8

There’s not a mom out there who doesn’t hear “the darndest” things. Thanks for sharing your new book idea with us. And thanks for:

Bobby, all I could think of during this interview is the scripture that tells us we are the salt of the earth. Better to flavor like salt than sting like pepper. Thanks for reminding us and best of luck and blessings with this book.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


So, your crit group tells you the story rocks! Now what?
You attend a conference and meet an interested agent. Now what?
You send a proposal to the agent, wait a couple months.
He/she wants you for a client. Now what?
Numerous publishers say no, a couple “might” be interested.
One finally asks for a full read. Now what?

They like it! A contract is signed.
Now what?

Are you facing the end of a long journey or are you merely at the beginning?
If you think you’ve arrived—you’re crazy. This is just the start.

Now, you have to sell yourself, your story, a reason for someone to lay out a lot of money to read all that work you’ve devoted the last 2, 3, 10 or 15 years to.

We so often think, “if only” this happens or that happens,
THEN I’ll be happy. THEN I’ll have what I want.

Don’t look now, but your happiness doesn’t rest in being published or validated in any other way. Your happiness is there every day of your life to have for the grabbing. BE content with the life you have and view the extras as just that. Or like my mom used to say, the frosting on the cake. But don’t miss out on the yummy cake while you’re waiting for the frosting.

Life is too precious to overlook any one day.

Are you enjoying your writing journey even if no publisher has signed you?
Do you write because you have to?

If you write because you have to as surely as you have to breathe, then you are writer, published or not!

Have a happy one!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


At some point, we’ve all said it.
I mean to do it. The day I receive a contract to publish one of my novels, I am going to paper my office with the rejections. And since I have such a large stockpile of “paper”, I can be discriminating.

:( I’ve kept the rejections in binders. :(

That way, I can go back and (torture myself), no, read the encouraging notes, which helped me, as well as the form letters which did little to "form" me on my path to publication. They came in an array of sizes, shapes, and colors.

Now, years later, working as an editorial assistant to Terry Burns, my agent, I begin to understand why and how the rejections are given out. Many writers, just like myself, are so close for so long. Just a bit more work and the novel would be accepted, but in our haste to “get the next bestseller out there” we cut corners, don’t study the craft sufficiently, don’t wait for the right moment to approach an agent or editor. And, unfortunately, burn a lot of bridges in the process.

Just like sadness is the only way to understand joy, rejection is the only way to appreciate acceptance. If it were handed to us on the proverbial silver platter, would we be grateful for the gift or merely nurse a feeling of entitlement?

Ahem, I know myself. Had I been published years ago, I would never have honed my craft and been able to help others do the same. Plus, I would have put 400 pages of garbage into a book which would no doubt have eventually found itself on the shelves of some dollar or .99 store.

But you’re convinced your baby is ready to walk. “Mom said it was the best story she’d ever read!” Of course she did. She’s mom. But an agent or editor doesn’t give a flying rat’s patoot what mom, or Aunt Jenny, or Uncle Jebb, or even the crotchety neighbor next door thinks. They KNOW what the public is reading, and what the public expects. They don’t tell you these things to hurt your feelings (okay, I know a couple who might) but rather, to lift you up to a point where you will work harder at your craft to be able to bring it into the public arena one day.

The hardest lesson God has been trying to teach me for 60 years (yes, I said sixty!) is to have patience. I know you don't want to hear this, but God’s timing isn’t always our timing. Even when we’re in panic mode, He’s looking at the Big Picture, not the grain of sand we call life.

Well, I’m preaching to the choir, folks, as I pick out which of the lovely shades of recycled gray, green, or blue to use on the north wall, just behind the computer. After all, that’s the one I’ll be looking at the most often when I sit down to write, rewrite, and rewrite some more.

Good luck, may God’s blessings pour over your work, but ‘til they do, remember, in your patience, you’re learning something wonderful.

And isn’t that what life is all about?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

My review of DECEIT by Brandilyn Collins Suspense at its absolute best!

When I finally got my hands on a copy of DECEIT, I figured I’d start reading, do a little of the work piling up on my desk, and then read a bit more when I got the chance.


After devouring her book EXPOSURE last year, I should have known better.
So in my world of imagination, I waited for Brandilyn to drive up in that little sports car called Suspense that gets your blood pumping from 0-60 in 3.4 seconds.

She looked at me with eyes that said, “You’d better buckle your seatbelt.”

How could I forget?

“Oh, yeah,” my imaginary friend murmured, “and pull it tight.”

I gulped, snugged it across me, and turned the first page.

Years after the death of her best friend, Linda Jackson, skip tracer—Joanne Weeks is still doing her best to see Linda’s husband, Baxter, brought to justice. No easy task since he’s close friends with the chief of police, is an elder at his church, and pillar of the small community.
Pages shot through my fingers as I glanced over at Brandilyn.

“Why? What did he do?”

She shifted gears and raised a brow. “I’ll let Joanne tell you.”

Here was this middle-aged woman filled with despair, years of despair over the loss of her friend. Joanne turned tired eyes in my direction. “Because he killed my best friend, Linda.”

The chapters had my heart pumping full throttle (all thoughts of the work which awaited me were sent away with the pit crew).
Suddenly, Brandilyn careened to the left, leaving me grasping the handle of the car and praying we’d make the curve. I fanned through some more pages, but just as the car stabilized, she lurched to the right. The belt tightened across my chest so hard, I was sure I could feel the bruises the change in direction had caused, but I didn’t care. I had to find out what was going to happen.

Finally, I leaned back in the seat, content. I was sure, as I have been with so many other suspense authors, I knew what awaited me on the next page.
But Brandilyn hit the brakes.


The airbag slammed me in the face, stopped me cold. Told me I wasn’t so smart after all. “What happened? Man, I didn’t see that ending coming!”

Brandilyn just smiled, opened the door, and offered a short salute.
“See you next time.”
I’m not sure who nicknamed Mary Higgins Clark the queen of suspense. Obviously, they hadn’t read anything by Brandilyn Collins. She takes you on a wild ride that leaves you flipping pages faster than a Whirling Dervish. Without preaching, she forces you to evaluate yourself and your belief system in such a way, you’ll never view the world the same again. What is in the heart of man and what lies merely on the surface? Who knows for sure. She digs, analyzes, and digs some more, leaving the reader questioning who’s lying, who’s telling the truth?

For me, DECEIT is Brandilyn’ best novel yet. I wondered after EXPOSURE how she could possibly top that.
Well, she did.
When you buy DECEIT, and you should, be sure and fasten that seatbelt!
And if you hear a faint voice say, “Really tight.” Don’t hesitate.
This is Seatbelt Suspense at its finest.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Wow, great idea for a reality show.

Stephen King steps up, writes a couple paragraphs and then the
“guest” writer fills in the rest. When done, the winning
“guest” gets a publishing contract with Harper Collins,
Simon and Schuster, Zondervans or
any other publisher of his/her choice.


Now, that’s the way it should come to us.
Wrapped in a bow and filled with all the goodies
the literary world has to offer, but . . .

and here we are, plugging away at the keyboard,
not with Stephen King, but with the cat,
or the dog, or the ferret or (fill in your own helper).
Chris Harrison isn’t holding a rose, waiting
for us to finish the next great American novel.
“Will you accept this publishing contract?”
And he hands us the rose.

Jeff Probst might be closer to reality.
After all, to make it in writing,
you need to persevere and be . . .
A Survivor!

Friday, September 24, 2010


Well, just came back from my oldest daughter’s wedding.
Didn’t find any new characters in Oregon to write about,
but when I returned home
and looked at the photos, there was this old, chubby, bald,
homeless lady in a bunch of the photos.

Yikes! It was me!

I’m not that old in my stories when I picture
myself as the protagonist.
So, what happened? Did that old broad with the
sagging eyelids and thin hair
just move in one day when I wasn’t looking?
Okay, so now I have a new character to work with.

A bag lady in
the middle of romantic suspense?

Hmmm. I see some possibilities.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Theatre and Fiction Parts I and II Revisited


A couple folks who just joined were interested in the theatre/fiction blogs, so I thought I'd repeat these two interviews with actors/director. Enjoy!

Interview with Rachel Arbaugh
Originally from Michigan, Rachel is finishing her
degree in Theatre at Regent University in Virginia.

As an actor, when you first get a part, how do you prepare for it?

I first read the script over and over. Then I do a play analysis and a character analysis, pretty much filling out a series of questions that makes me reflect on the character’s past and current situation.

You once showed me a journal that you
used to get ready for your part as Jo March.
What was the purpose of the journal?

I actually copy and cut up my script and glue the script to one side, leaving the other side open for notes and pictures. I find pictures online that help get me into the mind of the character for certain situations. When Beth died, I needed an immediate and emotional reaction in rehearsal and sometimes the scenes were rehearsed out of order, making it hard to build emotion. It’s also hard to get to a high emotional level when you are literally reading your scene; this way I could look at an image that would immediately get me there. I also knew that actor wasn’t really dying, so it helped me feel a real emotion. As an actor you still have to live in the moment even though you already know the future. For that scene, I found pictures and artwork of sisters. Some paintings that really spoke to me were of people dying in their beds with someone at their side. I had pictures of babies, of sisters, one was a little girl looking into her sister’s bassinet. To get me where I had to be, I needed to have old memories as part of the current situation, so looking at “her” as a baby, then her as my dying sister really helped.

That’s perfect because as writers, we have
to somehow create a past for our characters in much
the same way. Can you give me an example of another
memory you created for that part?

All the sisters and Laurie would play tag and hide and go seek before and during some rehearsals. That way we could bond as a family. It’s easy to do what’s in the script, but in order to create a relationship that’s fun and playful, you have to do things that actually get you there. (I should say also say that these emotional connections need to be done in a safe way, so you still know that you are you and your character is your character. You always have to be careful not to get “too” connected to your scene partner. You must know where to emotionally stop.)

One of my readers mentioned setting an object next to
her computer to make her think of her character.
Have you ever done that?

When I was in, As It Is In Heaven, a show about the Shakers by Arlene Hutton, the little girl my character was raising got taken away by her dad. Throughout the whole show, my character was sewing a ragdoll, and it’s something my character always had with her. And the audience didn’t know what it was for, but it was a connection I was able to make with the little girl. My character gave it to the little girl when her dad took her away. It was an emotional connection that was tangible; I could actually hold it and look at it. For me it was a representation of the little girl, allowing me to build emotion throughout the show. I endowed that object with emotion, so that anytime I looked at it, I would remember “my” little girl and have an emotional response.

In writing, there are a few main themes that are
repeated over and over, much like re-cycled characters.
We try and make the characters fresh in each novel.
How so with a character on stage?

It’s always different with everyone. You will always bring something different because you are you and no one else can bring that to the character. You will always have your past and your world view. Everything that makes you—you, will be in your character. And that’s something no one else could ever play the same. You also have a script in which the author has givens for you. These are things that make that character a unique person. So between the author and the actor, a lot of thought is put into that character. And like I said, you put yourself into it.

From an actor’s point of view, what would you ask of
a playwright to help in your role? Help your character
have a multi-dimensional character?

Please don’t stereotype your characters! No one is just good or just bad. And don’t judge your character, because we, as actors, are told never to judge our characters. We play them in the moment and don’t judge their actions. You wouldn’t want to say, “That’s not something I would do, so it’s bad.” If you do that, you’ll have labeled that character instead of making her a real person. Please give us conflict, decisions should never be easy. So I’d say, “Nothing is black and white, nobody is or all good or all bad, and people do things for a reason”.

To finish, if you had a chance to play a character. What kind would you pick?

I want a chance to play a character with depth. But, of course, it’s up to the actor to make whatever part they get, the best they can be. Again, I wouldn’t want to judge a character before I even started.

How does your faith affect the way you view a
character or your decision to take on a part?

It has everything to do with it. Not in what I choose per se’, but how I go about it. You always have to ask yourself, “What is the story that needs be told and how can I do justice to it?” If there is a message that needs to be told, or a story that I believe needs to be relayed, I am a servant to that message, whether I initially “like” that part or not. You play the part that you have to because you believe that God will ultimately use you. If you have faith in God you must have faith in all aspects of servitude. It’s not ever about us, and that’s what we have to remember. When people refuse to do something or play a certain role, it’s mostly about themselves, they are selfishly saying that they don’t want people to judge them. (Though I’ll say, it’s not always the case, it’s just often the case.)


Rob Arbaugh
Rob Arbaugh is originally from Michigan.
He is an actor, director, teacher, fight choreographer
and designer. Rob is finishing his MFA in Acting
degree at Regent University this May. He and other graduates
have already started a theatre company that
will be moving to Chicago next fall.

Rob, you once told me how a director has to look at the stage and “see” a picture. As writers, we have to help the reader “see” the picture in his/her mind’s eye. How do you do it on stage?

First, as I’m directing, I’ll see in my head what I think
a scene should look like. The whole play picture,
they become stills, each individual picture and then
I let that go and let the actor do whatever. Meld my
overall picture with their individual pictures to see
what I have to get. But then you have to let the actors
flow to be able to create themselves.
As a director, I let the world of the actor play into the story.

That’s interesting because as writers,
our characters often
take off, so to speak, and turn
into personalities we never expected.

It’s the same with an actor’s character, seeing what the actor will
bring to the table. It’s a collaborative process.

Sort of like the writer and character working together to create a “real” person. Our characters often seem to have minds of their own, like your actors.

After this first step, I watch everything I’m creating
and make sure every moment and every thing
is grounded in reality. In other words,
don’t create a picture just for the sake of the picture on the stage.

It’s easy for a writer to get caught up in that and
put in an action just for the sake of the character
doing something during dialogue.
When a crit partner tells us, we need some
action here, it’s easy to want to
just fill in. And sometimes that doesn’t
move the story along at all.

Well, I had a professor once say, if you start with the phrase,
“Wouldn’t it be cool to…” then it’s probably not too
brilliant an idea because you’re doing something
just to be cool. “Oh, I’ve always wanted to do this.”
Whether it fits or not.

So there has to be a reason for every action/reaction
on stage just like in a book?


Why did you choose the expression “a picture”?

Because a picture is used to reflect life back to people.
So they can see life in a mirror. And take the message
to instill it in their own lives. The picture grounds them
in reality. A springboard for self-reflection.

I guess that’s similar to readers seeing themselves
on the pages of the book. We can have reality
reflected back or the suspension of reality
for a while, but still,we want to see ourselves
in the characters. Okay, I realize scripts aren’t
filled with description,but what piece of advice
would you offer from the director’s point
of view to help us make our readers
see what we want them to see?

I think from the directing side of things that you have
to present real people, not characters.
“Characters” are a misconception in theatre or any
aspect of the arts. One of the biggest mistakes is that
you play a mood or character stereotype.
When you do, what you have becomes a
two-dimensional object instead of being real.
As a director and actor, you have to become a child
of psychology, a student of human nature.
I can imagine that would help the writer as well.
As a director, my job is to
bring a script from page to stage.
I have actors to help me. For the writer, it should
be the same thing. When I read a character in a book
going through situations, I tend to cast the roles in my head.

How does your faith impact what you do?

I am faith-filled so everything I do is Christian.
But truthfully it all comes down to speaking truth.
God is truth, and whether the truth comes
from a believer or a non-believer, truth still comes from God.
Sometimes in the strangest places.

Rob, thanks so much for taking time from your schedule.
I know finishing this year has you really multi-tasking
to complete your degree. Do you mind if I
shamelessly let you promote
your site for Uncovered Theatre Company?

Not at all. Just want to say as artists, our whole goal in
our company is to create art that helps people
self examine. I can send that same charge
to writers; stories shouldn’t be in vain, just like
shows on the stage.
Be passionate about what you’re writing.
Visit us at:

Monday, September 6, 2010


Utilizing the senses in fiction
When we first moved into our 120 year old home,
I found wild violets, wild asparagus, and
wild strawberries at the back of the property.
Now, I have wild concord grapes growing everywhere.
Yummy, tangy grape jam.

But what can you do with wild violets? They are so fragrant,
so beautiful, and so DELICIOUS!
Have you ever considered wild violet jelly?
It is a delicate flavor that is wonderful on homemade biscuits.

What an amazing thing to include in a story.

Very few people have heard about violet jelly, let alone tasted it.
Can you imagine your heroine picking a bunch,
smelling deeply of the rich aroma, and
putting them on display in her old farmhouse.
The next day, she picks another bunch and turns them into jelly
to take to a sick neighbor. Can’t you just feel the senses
all kicking in when the reader hears about and tastes on
the tip of their tongues your wild violet jelly?

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that draw a reader in.
Have you ever tasted wild violet jelly?
Ah, it’s heaven to the tongue and makes for a
spiritual connection to the bounty God offers.

Don’t neglect these wonderful opportunities to titillate
the senses of your reader. Walk outside, close your eyes, and
what you should add to your story.

Anyone with any particular scenarios
where you used the senses to
connect with your reader?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Woohoo! The brown stumps with green
all over them really are trees.

The cataract’s gone, folks.

Where did that young woman with thick
brown hair and bright blue eyes go?

She’s an old coot. Cataracts and all.

Only now, there’s just one bad eye and it sees pretty good!
The years flew by just like my grandmother said they would. And she was a wise woman. Lived into her 90’s and was sharp (almost) as the proverbial tack. She had silver hair swept up in curls all over her head like Spring Byington, and if you know who she was, you’re as old as I am . . . maybe older.
(December Bride)

Time moves ever forward.
Are you living your dream?

If you aren’t at least attempting to put some time in on your writing, if you’re only skimming by, if you don’t treat writing like (at least) a part-time job, then why bother in the first place to think of yourself as a writer?

If God blessed you with a story. Write it!

And now that the surgery’s over, I have no excuses.
Back to the proposals that have been sitting here, waiting for me
to LOOK at them.

Woohoo! There really are words on the pages!!!
Important details were highlighted and made larger for the rest of you

Friday, August 27, 2010


What’s going on?
If this is true, is it good news for ebooks or for print? Or for both?

Check out the article:

Interesting piece with lots of fodder to consider.
Fodder or manure?
You be the judge and weigh in with your comments.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Well, folks, the evidence is mounting. I read on Daily Finance today that B&N reported a 'heavier quarterly loss than investors were expecting'.

What does this mean?

Well, duh, they didn’t make enough $$$$$$$$$$ to please their investors.
So the question that remains is why?

Hook your seatbelt, because times, they are a changin’!!!!!

E-books were a pipe dream a couple years ago. Few people believed they would amount to anything, let alone the mammoth sales they are now posting.
And let’s face it, anyone who expects to be pubbed at a huge house who doesn’t see a prior big sales following is simply holding out for a fantasy contract. The net might as well offer fantasy publishing right along with fantasy football. The chances are slim to none you’re going to kick the winning goal first time out.


With sales in a funk, we have to look at new venues to get our names out there. And if smaller houses take chances on us and we do well with them, why would we want to change to someone who didn’t want to give us a break in the first place? Just saying…

As writers are we willing to be realists as well?
Let’s think about working our way up just like folks do every day in every career. Get your foot in the proverbial door and push it open, one book at a time. Before you know it, you might be the one helping B&N get their tootsies back on solid ground.

Like I said before, one alone can’t change anything, but when we start being the agents for change throughout the industry, who knows where our writing might take us?

Sunday, August 22, 2010



The world is changing people! Are you open to the changes taking place?

At a recent conference, there was a lot of discussion about ebooks. I’ve noticed that people I never dreamed would have Kindles are reading like crazy since they can now take their books wherever they go, with hundreds of choices at their disposal.

What do all of you think?

Would you be willing to publish ebooks? How about ebook/print combos? For years there was a stigma attached to ebooks, but then again, there weren’t many being sold. Have you seen the number of choices now available? The sales numbers? There are authors who are now breaking in enough to make a living at writing. (Gasp)

I recently heard that White Rose Publishing is now expanding their line to include, not only romance, but their sister company, Harbourlights will publish women’s fiction, westerns, suspense/mystery and the list goes on.

When I talk to someone in my age group, you know, the we’re-a-little –older-than-God bunch, they are mostly immoveable. “We want the book in hand. We want our books in print. We want (the world to stop changing so doggone fast).”

But that’s not the reality of pubbing today.

Younger adults, on the other hand, LOVE the whole Kindle thing. And they are now reading books again. A connection?

Would you, as an author, be more inclined to go with a publisher who offered ebooks and print?

Just curious how everyone out there feels. My thought (even though I’m in the oldie group) is that ebooks are ground floor/cutting edge and will be catching up quickly with print. There will be more opportunities for more writers. There will still be a few Grishams and Evanovich’s, but there will also be so many additional choices for the reader.

Lemme know whatcha think. You’ll be my new BFF(s) and I’ll LYA for responding.

Good grief, I feel like such an ID10T!

Thursday, August 19, 2010



Wonderful characters don’t happen by chance. They are created. Just as if they were mixed together in a test tube with all the right (or wrong) chromosomes. What does the test tube, or better yet, natural origins, say about your character?

Did he have such a horrible childhood that he’s now a sniper on top of a tower (every mom’s nightmare the first time her son behaves in a bizarre manner).
Or is she so narcissistic that she’s grows up to become a sociopath?

I’d like to include a progression for developing a character. Hope you enjoy.

A male character says, “She was beautiful.”
This means something different to each person. What does it mean from your character?

Go deeper.

Hair flew around her shoulders until, like threads of spun gold, it brought out the shine in her eyes. Her lips, plump and sweet, smiled at him.

Is this enough? Do we know who she is yet? Still deeper. Add a layer. Tell us even more about her than she was merely beautiful.

Her eyes covered him in pleasure, like liquid silk. Soft hands, those of an angel, like when he was sick, brushed his cheek. Her lips, warm and inviting caused his heart to thicken in his chest. He had to move, had to look away, even pluck his eye out if he had to.
“Mother! Leave me alone!”

We managed to create an Oedipus all from she was beautiful.

Don’t be afraid to dig deep to bring out the best (or the worst) in your characters.

Develop your characters as if your life depended on it.
In suspense, it truly does.

Monday, August 16, 2010


For anyone who missed the Faithwriters conference last weekend in Livonia, Michigan---shame on you. You missed a conference of a lifetime. Tim Boyle and David Ian with their wonderful humor (after all, they are A-C-T-O-R-S!) and performances had more tears flowing than a funeral.

Wonderful topics were covered and the intimate group of people allowed everyone to get to know each other.

And I haven’t even mentioned the fudge yet. Whew!

If you haven’t joined, don’t waste another minute. Jump on the net and sign up. You won’t be sorry. This is a truly amazing bunch of people with hearts after the Lord. It was a writers’ conference that just happened to be filled with all Christians--go figure. Attitudes of acceptance and caring with plenty of good information and loads of humor.

Thanks Scott
and Deb (all the way from Australia with Steve)
for making it such a success!

Yeah, Faithwriters! Great job!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Hot off the press!
Ever heard that before?
Did you believe it?
Well, believe this . . .

Here it is. Check out the link below. Yesterday, Aug. 9th, Dorchester Publishing announced a plan to stop its production of mass-market books and will be going to trade market and e-book solely. What do all of you think? Is this the cutting edge of a complete change for books or will the printed book "in hand" always be there?

Anybody with thoughts about how this is going to affect the publishing industry or is it merely another indy press changing direction?

Let's get into a meaningful discussion for a few days on where and why we see the industry heading. I'll do another post to open this discussion if anyone's interested.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


What do you draw on (assuming you aren’t a serial killer) to create evil characters? Hopefully, none of you are truly in tune with your wicked sides. So, how do you create a character that is so opposite from what you know? Do you watch a lot of scary movies? Read true crime? Have a bizarre imagination? Just what do you do to put the evil, nasty, dark side of life onto your pages?
And how do you balance that dark side with light?


There must be a reason why you choose to write evil.
How about sharing?

Friday, July 30, 2010


I’d like to introduce Bryn Jones, a partner in crime (sorry about the cliché) over at Terry Burn’s client page. Bryn tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up on the mission field, surrounded by the Old World of Italy. While there, I started writing and drawing comic book super heroes. By the time I graduated from high school, my passion for writing drove me to write 10 screenplays, one of which was a quarter finalist in the Academy of Motion Pictures Screenplay Competition (1994). After college I wrote for church newsletters, company papers, and any other place that would let me. In 2001 I sold my first article to Discipleship Journal. I wrote about trusting God while facing first-time fatherhood. I now have four wonderful children who constantly challenge and inspire me. My first major fiction sale was to Focus On The Family’s Breakaway Magazine. After selling six short stories to Breakaway, I decided to write a thriller for my first novel. I'm currently building a web site for my work at, which should go live soon.

Bryn, whatever made you put on the hat of writer? We all know it’s not for the money, not in today’s economy.

I've always enjoyed making up stories. My Grandma Jones always appreciated my creativity. I think that, along with my dad doing freelance writing inspired me toward that role. And yes, it is not financially rewarding at this point. What I find rewarding is when a story comes out the way I 'felt' it when I got the idea. I usually will get a feeling of something that I want to convey, followed by a couple images, a character emerges and the story builds from there. But the story doesn't always come out exactly like I felt it initially. A few times, the finished product creates that same feeling and I know I've hit exactly what I wanted when I got that first glimpse of the story.

What do you write? After seeing your you tube promo, I’m assuming it’s along the line of suspense/mystery?

I write all sorts of speculative fiction in my short work. I tend to select the genre that best forms a vehicle for the theme I'm writing. The Next Chapter, the one Terry Burns is marketing for me, is a suspense/thriller with a ticking-time-bomb pacing and some elements of The Fugitive. The theme involves God's sovereignty amid unimaginable situations. My current work, The Hand of God, is more Indiana Jones meets '24' and has more quippy humor and adventure to it. My short stories have been futuristic/End Times, werewolf, fantasy and action-adventure. So, I guess I'm sort of all over the board.

Where do your ideas come from? I always tell people mine come from a slightly demented mind. Wanna admit to that or do you have another, more sane, answer?

I guess I'll go with the demented mind theory. I rarely accept things the way they are originally presented. Thus, I find that the world is far more interesting and humans are much more complicated than the nightly news might indicate. As I sift current events and study the Bible, I get fired up about our duties before God and moral truths. My best outlet for that excitement is my writing.

How much time can you give to your writing? Do you set goals for yourself, something to achieve in x-amount of time?

My time is hard to apportion. When I wrote short stories for Breakaway and wrote my novel, The Next Chapter, I had two kids (and felt very busy). Now I have 4 kids 9 and younger. So, my goal that used to be to write at least 5 pages a day has been hard to keep. But I'm getting back there now that the kids are not hanging from light fixtures, climbing on tables or getting their legs stuck in floor vents as much anymore.

We all know getting an agent is probably harder than getting a publisher . . . “Sorry son, no experience, no sales, see me once you’re pubbed.” What was your road to finding an agent like?

I tried getting an agent or production company to look at my screenplays when I first started out. But I knew nothing about writing and my screenplays were faint shadows of a glimpse of an idea that might be promising if I'd taken the time to learn to write. It wasn't till a few years later that I figured that out and decided to get published in magazines. I read Strunk & White's Elements of Style and nearly memorized it. Then I wrote a number of short stories, exploring everything. They were mostly crazy and pointless. I submitted one of them to a magazine and got rejected. I was afraid of further rejection, but I forced myself to write an article about trusting God. It came as an idea from when I taught swimming. I would teach kids to float by holding the back of their head and have them lie back and look up at me. I'd tell them, “Lie back and look up and you'll float.” Then it hit me that God tells us the same thing. I wrote up the article, shopped it around to every magazine I could find and ended up selling it to Discipleship Journal. Liguorian also wanted it, so the next year I sold it to them, too. From there I got a short piece sold to Evangel, a Methodist bulletin insert, then got in touch with Michael Ross at Focus On The Family. He said he loved my style. I didn't know I had one, but I was thrilled. He ended up buying more stories than they were able to publish before the magazine was shut down. After that, I wrote my novel, which took a year to write the final draft. I'd written a rough draft in a few months, but scrapped it all. I re-wrote it, researched for it and took my time. When I was done, I wrote a proposal and marketed it to every agent that might consider Christian novels. I had positive interest to my query the whole way and had a good number of requests for the full manuscript. One fairly well-known agent kind of went back and forth on it after asking for a re-write. I had Trident Media looking at it, too. But everyone seemed to be hot, then cold or offered a simple pass. My wife thought I might want to give up and just write short stories. But I hung in there and I got an e-mail from Terry Burns. It was a Wednesday, I think, which I found was a good day to get e-mails (Mondays and Fridays are always bad). Terry said he sat down to read my manuscript and read it all the way through. I had to read that e-mail three or four times before it really sunk in. Soon I had a contract with Hartline. As for that being easier than getting a publisher, that remains to be seen, I suppose.

Tell us about the present story you’re shopping around? Mainly for men or for a mixed market? Want to give us a taste of what’s to come?

The Next Chapter comes from an idea I had of a writing game in which whatever is written would really happen. So, Sal Russo, a successful writer, gets a package that details a girl's abduction. The chapter ends with instructions for him to write the next chapter in her life, or she'll die. To convince him that this is for real, the killer includes bagged heart with the chapter. Sal remains skeptical until he sees breaking news about a girl abducted just like the chapter described. From there he finds himself being set up for various other girls who had been abducted years before. His only hope is to keep the girl alive somehow until he can find her, rescue her and clear his name.

My next book, The Hand of God, involves the discovery of a fragment of the original Ten Commandments that were shattered at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Various groups want to recover all the fragments for different reasons and the adventure will push the characters to face a truth they all find hard to accept. Is that vague enough? I'm in the process of writing it, so I can't really be more specific.

Your imagination is awesome and I can’t wait to read your first novel. You write a lot like my son who has the same, can’t write with kids situation, only so far, he plans to wait a few more years, but the writing sounds so similar. Yup! Demented minds. Runs in our family.

Bryn, thank you so much for joining us.
Hopefully, the next interview
is just around the corner when
your first book is released and you're
hearing rave reviews.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Hang up the phone, he’s in your house!
Don’t look out the window . . .

What one-liner sets your nerves tingling?
Do you have a favorite?
Do you watch thrillers? Suspense? Cozies? Horror?
Tell one scary thing that can keep you from falling asleep.
Are you a worrier by nature?
Afraid spiders are falling from the ceiling once the lights go off?
How about a few suggestions that might find their
way into my next suspense novel.

Help me out here.
Scare me so bad I can’t sleep.

Okay, this is a suspense blog, stop the whining.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Aren’t these nasty dog days of summer perfect for writing murder, or abduction, or maybe something far more sinister?

What ideas are sizzling through your mind today?

These hot mamas are the perfect time to imagine an abducted orchestra director confined in a sweltering room with no a/c. A rusty, squeaky fan over his head squawks its complaints every revolution and reminds him to wipe his forehead, but he can’t. A burlap hood is tied too tightly at his neck and he simply has to sit as the squawk increases the drip, drip, drip down his eyes and over his mouth. As he waits . . .

Or an afternoon storm knocks out, not only the a/c, but all the electricity in a small town in rural Georgia. The old couple inside, alone and dependent on each for many years, must decide whether to brave the 104 degrees outside or to hide in a hotter than humane closet after they hear scraping noises coming from under their front porch. Is it their drug-addicted son returned to steal from them again, or an animal trying to burrow under the house, away from the sizzling heat?

With bugs more plentiful, and grass the color of wheat, a woman bags up a lunch and her favorite book. She limps to her car, deposits her crutches in the back, and drives to the lake a quarter mile from her home. There, her nineteen-foot sailboat beckons her to skim over the water and feel a breeze for the first time in two weeks. Having been holed up in her tiny apartment, a poor substitute for the sprawling house she's about to lose in a nasty divorce, she longs for a few hours on the open water. Waves of heat slither up her legs as she makes her way over the dock. A couple hundred feet from shore, the wind dies, but a boat pulls alongside. It’s her ex-husband’s best friend, Jason and . . . a girlfriend? Can't be, Jason's never hidden the fact he's not into girls. She waves and the boat pulls even closer to reveal Jason, her ex-husband, a thick coil of marine rope . . . and a gun.

How big a role does weather or conditions of any kind play in your writing? Do you base an entire scene around it? Do you start with . . . it was a dark and stormy night?

Ooh, I hope not.

Or do you treat specific conditions like salt to sprinkle and flavor the writing?
Whatever you do, don’t waste these dog days writing about skiing in Colorado. Feel the heat as you bump off the elderly couple, the musician, or the woman whose settlement depends on whether or not she lives to get to court.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Dr. Richard L. Mabry
A retired physician and author of fiction and non-fiction,
Dr. Mabry is with us today to discuss his debut novel,
Code Blue and the second in his Prescription for
Trouble series, Medical Error.

Dr. Mabry, welcome to Suspense Sealed with a Kiss. From the first words of Code Blue, it sounds like you’re a perfect fit for my suspense site. I can’t wait to have a read of this novel and the next. What makes a man retired from the medical community decide to write such a suspenseful novel?

I sort of backed into writing fiction. After the death of my first wife, I wanted to use my journal entries as the basis for a book about grief and the loss of a spouse. That’s when I discovered that one doesn’t just “write a book.” I attended a writer’s conference, and not only began to learn the fundamentals that helped me put together what ultimately became The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse (Kregel, 2006), but was encouraged by some excellent authors, including James Scott Bell and Alton Gansky, to try my hand at writing fiction. It wasn’t until I’d completed three novels that didn’t sell that I discovered my true writing voice: medical suspense with heart.

And that leads us to the fact you’ve also tweaked your novel with a bit of romance. I was surprised reading your site about the twist of romance. Not generally the man’s genre. What piqued your interest to want to add the romance angle?

I discovered that the vast majority of Christian fiction readers are women, and that they appreciated both a female protagonist and a bit of romance. I hadn’t done a very good job of including these in my first three (unsuccessful) books, and decided to remedy that. With the help of my wife, Kay, who is my first reader, I took off in that direction, and apparently I succeeded.

I couldn’t help noticing the huge smile on your face when you held the first copy of Medical Error. Which was more exciting, the first release, Code Blue, or the second, knowing that people loved your work enough that the publisher believed in you for a second book?

Oh, that’s like asking which child is your favorite. The answer is generally the one you’re holding at the moment. I got a tremendous thrill from seeing my hopes and dreams come to fruition with the publication of Code Blue. The way in which that one-book contract became a three-book commitment from Abingdon Press is sort of a God thing, so holding the first copy of Medical Error was special as well.

Medical thrillers have so much to offer the reader, both men and women. What makes yours stand out? If I go to the bookstore and put down my money, what would make me pick your novel instead of, say, Robin Cook? (just as an example)

I read a lot of medical fiction, both Christian and secular. I enjoy the writing of Robin Cook, Tess Gerrittsen, and my friend, Michael Palmer, and am flattered when a reviewer (in this case, Colleen Coble) says, “Move over, Robin Cook.” Other than the Christian worldview, which I try to incorporate without hitting my readers over the head with it, I suppose the difference is that I try to offer what I call an easy read: Enough medical details to be interesting without being gory. Enough romance to be realistic without being mushy. Enough suspense to keep a reader’s interest without making them sleep with the lights on.

Do you have any advice you’d like to pass along to new authors that might offer them a word of encouragement in this crazy career called writing?

I wrote three books (four if you count the one that I completely broke down and rewrote), received forty rejections, and quit writing once before I signed with my current agent (Rachelle Gardner) who sold my novel to Barbara Scott of Abingdon Press. I look on that period before I was published as a training course, something to prepare me for the eventuality of publication. God’s timing isn’t the same as ours, but His is perfect. As you wait, keep on improving your craft. And remember that if no one except you reads your work, it’s still affected one person.

Dr. Mabry, thank you for stopping by and sharing with us.
Please join Dr. Mabry on his blog and at his website where links to purchase his books are available. and

Sunday, July 4, 2010


God bless America, one nation, under God.
Hope you all have a Happy Fourth,
please remember those who died for your freedom!

Monday, June 28, 2010


So no new post this week. My very handsome son
and his beautiful wife
are in town after being out of country for 5 years!
With three gorgeous grandchildren to get to know again,
my priorities are definitely on family this week.
Once they've gone, look for a long and very
boring post as I sit behind the screen, crying,
sniffling, and trying to figure out a way to put my
emotions into a new story.
Yup . . .

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What on Earth was God Thinking?

And therein lies the answer...
He isn't on earth. Or of the earth. But we are. And so we have questions: why was my son born without arms, why did Grandpa forget who I am, why did my son die in Iraq? So many questions without answers.
Talking to one of my critters today...
Discussing how we question what God is thinking in certain circumstances. Oh? You never did that? Welllllll....I have. And so have most of us, even if we think "we've arrived" spiritually. The questions are part of who we are. They make us examine our faith from time to time. Make us step out and do things we shouldn't and/or do things we should, even when most people won't.
How about your characters?
Do you allow your characters to have frailties?
If you don't, you're missing out on a wonderful opportunity to create a fully dimensional character. Without doubts, without spiritual questions, how will the reader know where your character stands, or what to expect from her/him in certain situations.
Will a prostitute usually be in church on Sunday?
If you have a character questioning the life she's leading, you just might find her there soaking up the love and forgiveness like a sponge-sorry about the cliche but it really fit here.
Opportunities as abundant as rain in a thunderstorm...
Give your characters a gift. Give them the freedom to question, have doubts, have spiritual strenghts and on occasion, experience an epiphany-aha moment.
Your story will love you for it...

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Have you had an event, so frightening, that you just had to sit down and put the frightening experience to paper? Suspense! A terrible, wonderful, scary thing to waste.

My experience was on a dark and stormy night.

Oops, wrong story. Let’s try again.

Snow battered the wiper blades, the wind howled, and my twelve-year-old daughter had a birthday sleepover. Already, the roads were nearly impassable as we crawled at a slo-mo pace. This better be some birthday party, I thought.

Sliding around a corner, we saw the house. Huge. Birthday balloons waved hello in the front window and a couple balloons were slammed hither and yon on the mailbox by the wind.

We unloaded my daughter’s things, but as she turned from the car, the color drained from her face.

“Mom. I forgot my pillow.”

“Okay, well have fun.” Had to get out of there before she could say… .

“Mom, I can’t sleep without it.” Too late.

I realize I was never nominated Mother of the Year. (Although I’m sure some shrink somewhere, if he talked with my kids, would nominate me for some kind of mother, but I digress).

“All right, all right. I see the writing on the wall. I’ll—be—baack!” Drove home through almost a foot of snow now. Wind still howled, snow still yada, yada, yada.

When I returned to her friend’s home. I stared at the house this time. The trees’ gnarled branches gave the house a creepy look. As if giant arthritic hands surrounded it. I gulped. What did I know about these people? They were veritable strangers and


Okay, reality check. I knew their kid, had met them at a school function, and hadn’t heard on the news of any bodies found in their back yard. NOT YET!

And anyway, if she had a problem, she’d call in a Michigan second (ours are different from any others, you see).

Left the pillow in the hands of a grateful daughter (remember that, Rachel, when the shrink asks) and started the engine so I could battle at least 18” of new snow. (I might exaggerate just a bit from time to time).

As I drove away, car sliding side to side, I couldn’t help wonder, what if Rachel were only five? What if she couldn’t call if a problem arose? What if I couldn’t get to her in the storm? What if I’d missed the mug shot of those people on American’s Most Wanted? What if . . . oh why did I ever leave that tiny baby in the hands of those felons!!??!!

Arriving home, sweat speckling my forehead, heart rate somewhere near five hundred, I sat down at the computer, and BLOW OUT THE CANDLES AND SAY GOOD-BYE was born:

In Toledo, Ohio, five small girls huddled together, tears their only comfort. The van imprisoning them drove away from a recently emptied house. One girl couldn’t stop shaking, another continually wiped her nose on her coat sleeve, and two clutched at each other with clawed hands, never taking their eyes off the couple in the front seat. Anger vaulting to the surface, the fifth girl, brave beyond her years, dug fingernails into her hand until the tender skin bled.

The vehicle wasted no time heading for Chicago where, once again, the wheels of corruption would turn another truckload of frightened five-year-olds into pure gold.

Use those rare opportunities when unbelievable, heart-stopping fear strikes to hit the keyboard and write suspense. You only get the opportunity to encounter really creepy a few times in your life.

Anyone with a similar experience that forced you to hit the keyboard?

Thursday, June 3, 2010


It's that time of year again.
Daphne and Genesis results!
I've received a few notes from friends who
were discouraged with the outcome of their
contest entries. Some grumbled,
Oh! The judging!
Another said,
That's it, I'm done writing. Enough already, I'm
not as good as I thought I was.
Allow for the human element...
Judges give up their own time to take on dozens of other
peoples' work. No pay, no thanks, for the most part,
and no time to work on their own projects.
Okay, sounds noble, huh? Let's allow for the human aspect.
Some "might" do it because they think they're REALLY good.
Others, just to be encouragers. Others yes, because someone
did a bit of arm twisting followed by a dose of guilt. And they
felt obligated.
Did you get a bad crit? From one judge or all?
The same comments from all?
Take two aspirin and revisit
your work in the morning.
Don't make any rash decisions or quick changes.
Think about the judging comments, any that were similar,
roll over in your mind and decide if they really apply
to you. Be honest, be open-minded.
If two or three judges loved something and one was
having PMS at the moment, then put aside the one
negative and concentrate on the constructive crits of the others.
Step away from the crits for a couple days and come back.
If the judges were spot on, then start taking some of the
wonderful free classes in cyberland.
ACFW offers plenty and so does
You have free writing help at your fingertips.
Learn and rewrite. Learn more and rewrite again.
Soon you'll be a pro at POV and Show and Tell and
you'll be getting offers for partials and fulls.
Judging is subjective. Learn from it, move on, and work
your way to publication.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Workin' My Tushy Off

Ah, if only...
Wouldn't it be nice if working that hard actually got rid
of some of the Memorial Day barbecue? I'd be able to eat
two dinners and five desserts, cuz I've been workin'!

A couple projects for the boss, three for myself. My first
real romance instead of suspense, finishing my fourth
suspense, and helping another writer with hers. Okay,
make that six desserts. Cuz my tushy's disppearing as we
speak. Yeah, right!

We sure think we work hard in this country, don't we?
But I can tell you who works harder than even a dedicated
writer. And we work hard!

Our military men and women.
They get sent wherever Uncle Sam wants to send them
whether they like it or not, even when they have wives
expecting babies, husbands trying to cope being Mr. Mom
to toddlers, and occasionally they have to do it all over again
for a second, third or fourth tour of duty. Why? Because they
are guardians of freedom and of the faith. They put their lives
on the line everyday, every hour, every minute
so we can sit here and complain about how tough life is, how
hard we work. They go even when their personal lives are interrupted in ways we can only imagine.

They fight the good fight.
Okay, time to hop off the soapbox and get back to work, after all,
I've dropped from a size 16 to a 6 just writing this post. Woohoo!
I'm workin' my tushy off word by word.
And it's time to get back to business.
God bless you troops
and God bless the USA!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Building Layers

Building Characters in Layers

The same way actors build characters in layers, writers can ramp
up the heat and make their characters sparkle like gold
in the depth of the earth. Depth, hmm.
Just what we want for our characters.

Try this little exercise:
He was cold.
(Too often a novice writer’s way of “telling” us)

Now, show us how cold he was:

He shivered, wishing the clothes he wore covered his body better.
Thinking back, he remembered the hot chocolate
his mom had made. Mmm. That would taste good
right about now.

Now, show us how cold he was and
let us discover something about him:
He shivered, wishing the clothes he wore covered his body better.
He sure could go for some of his mom’s hot chocolate right
about now, but he’d never taste it again.
Might never see her again.
He sneezed, the spray turning into miniscule ice crystals
before they hit his lap. “Hey, you got any blankets?”
Rubbing his hands to increase the circulation, he waited for them
to pass by the last time. Footsteps. A small crease of light.
No blanket. Just the dark. He wrapped his arms as tightly
across his chest as he could and
wished he’d stayed closer to Sarge.

Can you feel the cold?
What did this scene tell you about him? Do you know
where this character is? Who this character is?
The first line “told” us this man is cold. Period.
Not a lot to go on.
The second gave us a bit more info. He’s so cold, he wishes
he could have some of his mom’s hot cocoa to warm him up.
The third, a much deeper layer, tells us he’s cold,
wishes he had hot cocoa
to warm up, but that somehow, he can’t change his circumstances
because of something he did or didn’t do. It gives us a
much deeper look into who he is.
Does your writing just “tell” the reader
your character’s cold, or do you
hint to them what’s behind the cold?
Who do you think our character is?
Try some layers to add depth to your gold, the kind
that sparkles in the walls of the mine (mind).

Sunday, May 9, 2010

What's Important

Hey there moms and surrogate moms.
The need, the desire, the aching in the bones to be a pubbed author. Ahh, what a feeling, what a goal to reach. But the smell of baby powder or fresh shampoo in a toddler's hair, that is a joy beyond description. When the writer part of your life gets crazy, when another rejection fills your email or your mailbox, stop and remember, this isn't why you're here. When the blank page stares you in the face and dares you to write another word, but nothing comes, remember, this isn't why you're here. If a contest judge decides your work isn't worth anymore of your time, if an agent looks at you with disdain, if an editor tells you your work simply isn't for their line, remember this isn't why you're here.
If you wake up in the morning, and your family calls you blessed, remember, God called you to be a mom. If you face another day of vomiting and high fevers, spend a few minutes on your knees and remember, God called you to be a mom. If you discover your child has a special need and you're sure you aren't equipped, call on God and remember, He called you first to be that mom.
When all the world is courting insanity and you wonder if it is all worth it, look in the face of your child, and know you are blessed. The rest of your life is simply "the frosting on the cake" as my mom used to say. I knew from the time I was born that my life was blessed because of one woman and through all my mistakes, all I ever wanted was to be a blessing in return.
Through our failures and successes, know that we are called to be guides, nurses, cooks--good or bad, teachers, leaders, boo-boo kissers. We are called by God to a greater endeavor than man can imagine. Greater than being writers, greater than being nurses, greater than being teachers, CEO's, secretaries, firemen, police officers, soldiers, or sales clerks. Managers, fast food cooks, crossing guards, or architects. We are called to greater things than life can offer.
We are called to be moms. Whether it is to children of our own, or to others who need a mother's love, we are called.
Are you called today? Do you hear the voice of God asking you if you made today count?
Be blessed!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Welcome to author CARA PUTMAN

I’d like to introduce author,
Cara Putman.
An honors graduate of University of
(Go Huskers!) and George Mason Law School, Cara is an attorney licensed in Virginia and Indiana. She clerked for the Honorable Loren Smith
at the Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. before following
her husband to Indiana.

In 2005 she attended a book signing at
her local Christian bookstore.
At the book signing her husband told
Colleen Coble that Cara wanted to be writer.
She's been running ever since to keep up.
Barbour's Heartsong Presents has released four
of her books, including Canteen Dreams, a WWII historical set in Nebraska that won the 2008 Book of the Year for Short Historical.
She also writes romantic suspense for Harlequin's Love Inspired Suspense and the Complete Idiots Guide to Business Law.

Cara is also an attorney, wife, mom to three, homeschool teacher,
occasional professor at Purdue, active at her church,
and all around crazy woman. Crazy about God,
her husband and her kids that is.

Cara, your writing is so diverse, I’m hesitant where to start. So let me go to one of my favorite (and my oldest daughter’s) time periods. WWII. You’ve written quite a few romance novels in this historical era. What drew you to WWII?

There is something magical about that time. I love the movies, the music, the history, the clothes. I call myself an old soul in a young body. But I also think there’s something compelling about the fight. The war pulled the nation together in a way that inspires me. And there was a clear right and wrong, good v. evil. It was a time of immense hardship, but everybody pulled together.

When did you start writing and why? You seem to have “had it all” with the American dream. Family, fast-paced career. What would make someone switch to writing?

Writing was a lifetime dream of mine. I started my first books as a young teenager. They were fun ways to explore my love for history, but then I started college and didn’t have time to keep writing, but the dream never died. God has given me amazing opportunities. And all of those diverse experiences help me with writing and speaking. It also gives me the ability to write a diversity of characters because I’ve seen so much.

Every few years, I would get the urge to write and would offer it back to God. Is this something You have for me? Or is this something I should kill while focusing on something else? When God said to start, it’s been a sprint since.

My interest peaked when I read DEADLY EXPOSURE. The novel your sister (great salesman by the way) convinced me to buy because it had a theatre theme. Wonderful book. What made you make the stretch from historical to suspense?

I have loved reading suspense since I first discovered Mary Higgins Clark. So actually when I started to write, Deadly Exposure was the first book I plotted. I love suspense. I love the race to figure out who did it. I love the ticking imperative to get the bad guy before he gets you. I love the pacing. That’s why I’m really excited about this July’s release of Stars in the Night. It marries my loves of World War Two and romantic suspense.

What are you currently working on?

Today I just turned in edits for a book I’m writing for a Guidepost mystery series. It will release in September and was a lot of fun and work to write. I’m starting work on my next Guidepost book and working on some proposal ideas I have for more World War Two based suspense.

Thanks so much for having me, Linda. I’m so glad you enjoyed Deadly Exposure.

Cara, if anyone wants to contact you, do you have a website?

They can find me through my website

Okay folks, don’t pass go, don’t collect the two hundred clams, just rush out and buy one of Cara’s books. You won’t be sorry. Cara, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us.