Friday, May 29, 2009

Interview at Erynn Mangum's Blog

The lovely Erynn Mangum (author of the Laura Holbrook series and the upcoming novel Cool Beans) asked me some great questions about my writing process over at her blog.

Find out my responses to the Qs:

  • Why did you decide to write fiction? How did you get published?
  • How do you usually get ideas?
  • Do you ever have problems finishing a book or an idea? How do you overcome that?
  • Are there any books on writing that have helped you?
  • What's your favorite part of writing? Your least favorite part of writing?
  • How do you take your coffee? :)
I tell the whole story of how my first novel Thicker Than Blood (coming in January 2010 from Tyndale House) found it's publishing home.

Check out the interview here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Reader Poll - What do you call your mother?

My next novel features several characters who are mothers. I'd like to know what you call your mother.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir

Mark Mynheir is one of a few authors in Christian fiction to give us an inside glimpse into real-life police work. A detective himself, Mark infuses his stories with the gritty details you'd expect from a man who's worked on narcotics units, SWAT teams, and many other high-risk operations.

His previous novel The Void, caught my attention, and The Night Watchman has done the same.

Publisher Summary:

Ray Quinn is a tough, quick-witted homicide detective in love with his partner, Trisha Willis. She gives Ray something to live for—something to hope in. Until a barrage of bullets leaves Trisha murdered and Ray crippled.

Struggling with his new physical disability and severe depression, Quinn turns to whiskey, scorn, and a job as a night watchman to numb the pain. But when a pastor and dancer are found dead in an apparent murder-suicide, the pastor’s sister approaches Quinn for help.

Reluctantly, Quinn takes the case and is plunged into the perilous Orlando. Soon he discovers that, not only was the pastor murdered, but the case may be linked to his and Trisha’s ambush. Torn between seeking revenge or responsibility, Quinn is thrust into the case of his life.

Author Mark Mynheir gives readers his most profound police thriller to date with The Night Watchman (first book in The Night Watchman Private Detective Agency Series). Readers of all ages will devour this gripping murder mystery that bristles with tension and intrigue. In a taut cop-style all his own, Mynheir delivers an inside look at the thoughts, feelings, fears, and challenges police officers experience while investigating violent crimes and the lost souls who commit them.

For purchasing options, visit Random House's website here. Visit Mark's website here.

I'm giving away a copy of this novel! To get yourself in the running, leave your name and your favorite police/detective/crime fiction character in the comments. I'll draw a winner next Friday, June 5th.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Location, Location, Location ... of my book

For the past several days I've been laboring over where to set my novel Thicker Than Blood. Should I name the state in which it takes place? Should I name real towns or stick to fictional ones? For me, this is serious stuff. The decisions I make now will affect this book forever!

You might be thinking, "Didn't she already write this book?" Um, yes. I did write it. And I made everything up, including the towns. But now that it's finally going to be read by people, I've been reconsidering my reasoning. I'd stuck to fictional places out of equal parts laziness and fear. Laziness because research is not my strong suit, fear because of thoughts like, "What if I get something wrong?" Neither are reasons not to use a real setting.

So as of today I have officially decided to set my book in Colorado. It's a state I love and have visited often, so I feel I can portray it with some realism. I am naming many real towns, like Longmont and Monument. But the main town of Thicker Than Blood, Elk Valley, will be fictional. It's going to be set in a real area of the state under the shadow of the Spanish Peaks (pictured above) where a town called La Veta sits now. But by replacing that real town with a fictional one, I will have some liberties I might not otherwise have had.

I pray I'm making the right choice! :)

What are some novels you've enjoy that have featured real towns? How about fictional ones? Which did you enjoy more?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Renee Riva (Advice for Novelists, Part 97)

Here's another entry in our ongoing Advice for Novelists series. I've asked editors, authors, agents and publicists their response to the question:

"If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?"

Go to the writing conferences. Get to know the people in the industry, show your work, take workshops, develop your skill, network, eat good food, and laugh! I tried to go to the same good conferences each year, networked with some of the same editors and agents who were interested in my work before. Each time I got a little closer to the goal, until it finally happened. The Christian conferences have people who are so willing to help you get to the next step, direct you to the next person to show your work to, and give you encouragement. As authors, we all know what it took for us to get published and we want to give others the same encouragement.

--Renee Riva, author of Taking Tuscany & Saving Sailor. Visit her online at her website.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I Dream Of . . .

Lately I've been thinking about beginnings. No, not of books. Of stories. MY story. What was it that compelled me to write? See, for as long as I can remember, I've loved to read and writing stories was a natural extension of that. When I was around eight I started an ambitious project called “The Horse’s Story” on my Dad's old Panasonic word processor. It was about a horse named Loopter (how's that for an imaginative name) who would become Joshua of the Bible’s horse. He was going to be a witness of the walls of Jericho falling down, but . . . I never finished it.

Then there was my epic (started when I was twelve) called “Moby”, about a Labrador Retriever trying to find his place in this world. He tried being a lap dog (with some humorous consequences!), a fire dog, a police dog, a sheep dog . . . he never did find out what he was meant to be ‘cause I never finished that story either.

As I look back I see that writing has been in my life for many, many years. Did God put that desire in my heart? I think so now. At the time, I had no idea. When I was a teenager I remember practically begging God, "Lord, show me what I'm supposed to do with my life!" My parents would always tell me I had plenty of time to find out, I was still young, but at the time it seemed like my life was practically over. :)

When I was fifteen I started a story that would change the way I thought about writing. It was about two sisters who hadn’t seen each other for years but eventually met again. That story became my first novel, Thicker Than Blood, which will be published January 2010 by Tyndale.
If you'd told me at the time that story would be my first book, I don't know if I would've believed you!

I don't recall where I heard this advice, but someone has suggested we think back to the things we dreamed about and wanted to do when we were ten or eleven. Often, those desires are clues into what God has called us to do. And many, many times we forget about those youthful dreams, abandoning them for whatever makes more money, or makes more sense.

The cool thing is, it's never too late to pick up those dreams of your childhood, dust them off, and make them happen. It might take baby steps at first, and years before you see their fulfillment, but I'd encourage you to at least think back to when you were a kid. What were your dreams? Or better yet... what did you enjoy doing?

God really does equip us at an early age for our calling. I'm learning that, and it's exciting to think about.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Taking Tuscany by Renee Riva

This week the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is featuring a sequel to a book I loved. Saving Sailor by Renee Riva is a novel that flew under the radar---but shouldn't have. It was a delightful story with a main character who reminded me a little of Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird, but even more charming.

I am so thrilled to re-visit A.J. Degulio in Taking Tuscany! Since I only received the book a couple days ago I haven't finished it yet. But here's the sign of a great book...even without reading the whole thing, I highly recommend it!


Renee Riva writes humorous stories with a message, for both children and adults. Having been raised in a large Italian family with a great sense of humor, she has much to draw from for developing quirky characters.

She loves sharing her secrets for story starters at Young Author events, helping to spark the imagination of young minds. Renee and her husband live in Richland, Washington, with their three daughters, a dog, a cat, and until recently, her beloved hamster—may she rest in peace.


A. J. Degulio loved the idea of a visit to the Old Country... until her family decided to stay. It's 1972 and she's turning fourteen in a crumbling castle on a hill in Tuscany, wishing she were back in Idaho with her beloved dog, Sailor. In Italy, her blonde hair makes her stick out like a vanilla wafer in a box of chocolate biscotti, and she's so lonely her best friend is a nun from the local convent.

The challenges of roots and relatives are nothing new to A. J., but she's going to need more than the famous Degulio sense of humor to survive. Can't anyone see that Italy isn't really home? It will take a catastrophe - and a few wise words from a friend - for A. J. to understand that sometimes the only thing you can change is your perspective.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Taking Tuscany, go HERE

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Editing Letter

My good friend WordVixen posted this hilarious video at her blog the other day. She thinks I should do something like this! :) All I know is I was smiling and chuckling to myself when I watched it and then re-watched it. I'm going to send the link to my editor at Tyndale who's getting ready to send me my first editing letter for my novel Thicker Than Blood!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Writer to Writer

When I first started to learn the craft of writing I devoured every writing how-to book I could find. I learned so much in those first few years. But after awhile I had trouble keeping my perspective as a Christian author. Reading the now out-of-print Writer to Writer by Bodie & Brock Thoene helped me get it back.

Last night I pulled this worn book off my shelf, and was again encouraged by nuggets like this:

Has God put the desire to write in your heart? Have you honestly analyzed your motives and the level of your commitment? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you should, in fact you must, write!

But wait a minute, you say. I never made a bargain with God to become a writer. I've never traveled in foreign countries, or hobnobbed with famous people, or been recognized as an expert at anything! What can I possibly write about that anyone would want to read?

Notice how cleverly Satan moves in to interfere with your desire to write when it becomes a desire to serve God? Almost the instant you decide that you want to follow God's leading into writing for publication, the devil is right there whispering in your ear that you'd be wasting your time.

Satan isn't called the father of lies for nothing, you know. He wants you to think you have nothing of value to offer because you haven't had unique experiences or training. Baloney! Listen to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11:

To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

See? You have a unique perspective! No one has the combination of gifts of the Spirit in the same proportion that you do. No one! What's more, God has been leading you through experiences and circumstances that contribute to you being you and no one else. No one has all your memories. Even identical twins have some experiences they haven't shared.

If God is calling you to be a writer, then He will lead you from this point on. And you will soon discover that He has known all along that you'd have this desire and has been building into your life a whole set of unique events from which you'll be able to draw your own one-of-a-kind perspective.

Wow. I find this very encouraging! I hope you do, too. If you're interested in owning your own copy of Writer to Writer, it is available used at Amazon here. The submission and market info is dated, but the stories and encouragement are not.