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Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas Everybody!!!

It's only days away and I still have several things to do. I think we're farther behind this year than ever before. Still have cookies to bake, buckeyes to dip in chocolate, presents to wrap (not to mention a few yet to buy) it just seems like it snuck up on me this year.

I think part of it has to do with the fact it's like 50 degrees here. That is way weird for Indiana. I need snow, people. There's just something about looking at the clean white snow on Christmas morning to put you in the holiday mood.

On a writing note, I heard back from the editor about my book Prescription for Murder. She liked the proposal. She gave me a few editorial suggestions and asked me to send her the complete. I'm currently working on those changes and hope to get it back to her in a couple weeks. It was so fun to hear from her. I fully expected to get a rejection, which I still might, but at least the story intrigues her enough at this point. That's something, I guess. ;)

Also, I had the chance to get together with two of my writer friends this week. We don't have as much time to do that as we'd like. It was a fun refreshing time to reflect on our writing accomplishments for 2006 and our goals for 2007. I came away feeling refreshed and ready to plow into those goals. Why do we keep ourselves so busy we don't have more time for these special moments?

Finally, I'm working on a top ten books for 2006 this week. I will be posting that next weekend. Hope you'll stop by to see if one of your favorite books might be on the list. Until then, have a very Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Hi all! I just wanted to touch base with you all. I've been very sick. Between antibiotics, breathing treatments and's been a long couple weeks. I'm sorry for the lack of interesting tidbits lately. I hope to be back up and running in a few days. Blogging has been the last thing on my mind. LOL.

Talk to you all soon!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Welcome & Congratulations to Robin Caroll!!!

Most of my ACFW friends know our guest today. Robin Caroll, aka Robin Miller, recently sold her first romantic suspense. Bayou Justice is scheduled to be released next October.

Robin, thank you for taking the time to be here, tell us about yourself. Family, career, degrees/college interests, anything people might not know about you. (that you want to share)

RC: I've been happily married for seventeen years, I have three beautiful daughters-ages 16, 6, and 4. Something people might not know about me? Hmmm. Let's see. I was a cheerleader in high school. LOL

OH, three girls, good luck with that. LOL. Kidding. I bet it's a real learning experience for your husband. ;) How long have you been writing?

RC: I think I've been writing ever since I could pick up a pencil. I was writing "fiction" back as a child where I'd write plays and then act them out for my parents. I got serious about writing back in the early 1990s, but then had my first child. Three years ago I completed my first manuscript geared toward the CBA.

Wow, how many completed manuscripts do you have?

RC: Eight, but there are two that are buried UNDER my filing cabinet that will never see the light of day. LOL

EIGHT!!! Sheesh, what is your writing schedule? How many words a day or hours?

RC: Okay, I don't have a schedule, per se. I get the story worked out in my head and then I write. Luckily, that's almost every day. When I'm in the "zone" (as my children call it) I do about 5-6K a day.

Are you a stay at home mom? What's a normal day for you? (as far as how you squeeze the writing in between regular mom duties)

RC: Yes, I am a SAHM. I only have one child left at home this year. So my writing "day" begins after hubby takes the two older kids to school. I do phone calls from 8-9, do my web presence activities from 9-10, then begin my actual "writing" at 10. I normally try to actually write between 10-12, then I have lunch with my youngest. I don't get back to "writing" until the time spot between picking up the kids from 3-4:30. My writing day is finished then and it's all family time. Unless a story's burning or I'm on a deadline. Then, I can write again after the kids go to bed after 8.

You just sold Bayou Justice. Big congratulations. ;) I know many people are thrilled for you. Tell us about the book and how it came about. Including when you started the book and how long it took you to sell it.

RC: This book was like going home for me! I'm from Louisiana and grew up with bayous, swamps, etc. From the time this book was brainstormed (thanks, Colleen) it took me about three weeks to write it. It flowed. I could feel the words falling out of me. My agent submitted the full ms to Krista at Steeple Hill in September, and I got "the call" on October 18th!

I read on your blog that you're planning to fill your readers in on the process of publication. I know it's pretty early in the game, but has there been any surprises. Something you didn't realize about the process?

RC: I had no clue what an art fact sheet was! When my editor sent it, bless her, she explained what it was. I called Colleen in a panic. She assured me I was in good hands and told me not to worry about getting it "perfect".

What about your other stories. Do you have them out somewhere?

RC: I have a single title out being shopped. Matter-of-fact, I should be hearing back from that editor in the next couple of months. Very exciting. And I do have to finish the ms that placed 2nd in the Genesis. It's only half written.

What's been the most important writing skill you've learned that has helped your writing? Plotting, character development, researching, etc... Something you think newbies need to focus on mastering.

RC: Okay, I'll admit it, I DETEST the synopsis. I don't write them. LOL I do an 8 page character synopsis on each of my characters which includes the GMC for each of the 3 main acts of the story. I write from that.

I know we have a common mentor, Colleen Coble. She's an incredible writer with an amazing heart for new writers. But you also have some amazing writing buddies. How did you all meet and how does your group work? Do you all crit each other? And do you crit as you write or wait until the whole rough draft is complete?

RC: Colleen is the best! She encourages me when I'm down and gives me advice and guidance. I love her! I would not be where I am in my writing today without her. My cps are AWESOME, too. Actually, I began asking certain writers to join a group. We aren't an ACFW group, but we're all ACFW members. I can't remember if I snagged Dineen Miller or Ronie Kendig first, but it was back-to-back. Then we roped in Ron Estrada (bless his heart-being the only guy) and then later, Heather Tipton. We send chapters as we write them. We don't have any "rules" just whatever works. Sometimes we have a couple of us working toward a deadline, and we try to give that person or persons full attention. It all just depends. And it all works out.

Share with us the how you found out about your sale? What did you do to celebrate or have you had time yet? ;)

RC: I received the call from my agent! Let me tell you, my emotions went haywire...I laughed, cried, screamed, jumped up and down...everything. The best part? Hearing all the excitement in everyone else's voices when I told them. AWESOME. My hubby was leading the men's Bible study at church that night, so we couldn't go out. On his way home, he stopped at our local coffee beanery and brought me home like 5 different desserts!

LOL. How sweet of him. What about book two?

RC: Bayou Justice will be out October 2007 by Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Book two? It's working title is Bayou Corruption and I'm just starting on my character synopses now. I'm hoping to be able to submit it to my editor just after the first of the year.

There you have it, folks. You now have the scoop! Good luck, Robin, with all your writing endevours. Plan on stopping back often to talk about your current projects. ;)

RC: Thank so much for interviewing me, Sabrina. It's been fun.

For anyone who leaves a comment, I'll come back here next fall and enter you in a drawing for one of Robin's books. I know, a while to wait, but a free book is worth the wait!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Election, by Jerome Teel

It's that time again. This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is reviewing Jerome Teel's latest book, The Election...I've recently become a frequenter of Jerome's blog, Christian Political Fiction. Whenever I find something interesting in the political newsfront, I check Jerome's blog to see what he says about the topic. Although, I haven't read his new book,The Election, it is on my to be purchased list. My friend Cara Putman has a brief interview with Jerome. Hop on over to the Law, Books, and Life and see what Cara's been able to learn about Jerome.


Jerome Teel is a graduate of Union University, where he received his JD, cum laude, from the Ole Miss School of Law. He is actively involved in his church, local charities, and youth sports.

He has always loved legal-suspense novels and is a political junkie. Jerome and his wife, Jennifer, have three children-Brittney, Trey, and Matthew-and reside in Tennessee, where he practices law and is at work on a new novel.


They seek ultimate power.

Nothing can stand in their


Ed Burke has waited a lifetime to become president of the United States. He's not about to let his nemesis, Mac Foster, stop him now...especially when he's sold his soul for the Oval Office.

Claudia Duval has lived a rough life. And finally, things have turned around for her after meeting the wealthy Hudson Kinney. But is all what is seems?

When a prominent citizen is murdered in Jackson, Tennessee, attorney Jake Reed doesn't want to know the truth. He just wants to get his client off. But as he investigates, he uncovers a sinister scheme. A scheme that would undermine the very democracy of America...and the freedom of the entire world.
The Election, by Jerome Teel, is a fast-paced, highly readable mystery filled with suspense, intrigue, and political conspiracy. Teel skillfully weaves together themes of faith, family, suffering, and providence in a way that not only compels, but enlightens."

David S. Dockery-President, Union University

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Review of Dandelion Dust

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Karen Kingsbury's latest book, Like Dandelion Dust. Let's learn a little bit about Karen and this wonderful book.

USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury is America's #1 inspirational novelist. There are nearly 5 million copies of her award-winning books in print, including more than two million copies sold in the past year. Karen has written more than 30 novels, nine of which have hit #1 on national lists, including award-winning Oceans Apart, One Tuesday Morning, Beyond Tuesday Morning, the Redemption Series and Firstborn Series, and several other bestsellers, one of which was the basis for a CBS Movie-of-the-Week and Gideon's Gift, which is currently in production as a major theatrical release for Christmas 2007.

Karen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Don, and their six children, three of whom are adopted from Haiti.

About the Book:

Jack and Molly Campbell enjoyed an idyllic life (great house in a fancy neighborhood, high-paying job, and a beautiful little boy) in their small hometown outside Atlanta with their adopted 4-year-old, Joey. Then they receive the phone call that shatters their world: a social worker delivers the news that Joey's biological father has been released from prison and is ready to start life over with his son. (It's discovered that Joey's birth mother forged the signature of Joey's birth father, making it a fraudulent adoption.) When a judge rules that Joey must be returned to his father (a man who cannot separate love and violence), the Campbell's, in a silent haze of grief and utter disbelief, watch their son pick a dandelion and blow the feathery seeds into the wind.

Struggling with the dilemma of following the law, their hearts, and what they know to be morally right, the Campbell's find that desperation leads to dangerous thoughts. What if they can devise a plan? Take Joey and simply disappear....LIKE DANDELION DUST.

Click here to purchase this great book.

Review by Mimi Pearson

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Congratulations, Jennifer Cary! You won your own copy of The Reluctant Burglar. You're going to love this book. The other day when I finished it I was sad to put the characters away. LOL.

Thanks, everybody, for playing along. (even you shy girls that didn't post) ;) Hope you'll stop by again.

And thanks so much to Jill Elizabeth Nelson. You're a peach! Can't wait to read the next book.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Author Interview + Book Give-away! Welcome Jill Elizabeth Nelson

If Desiree Jacobs knows anything, it’s art. Her father, whose security company is internationally renowned, taught her everything he knew. Most of all, he taught her about honor, integrity, and faith.

Special Agent Tony Lucano knows Desiree Jacob’s father is an art thief. But what he can’t figure out is Desiree. Is she an innocent victim…or a clever accomplice?

Then her father is murdered. And along with his company, he leaves Desiree a hidden container full of stolen paintings. But she can’t put people out of jobs, and embarrass international museums that have been displaying clever forgeries. No. She must find out why her honest father would turn criminal. And she must return the priceless art to the rightful owners without their knowledge. Even if it means facing down a ring of cutthroat art thieves…or accepting help from the man she most distrusts.

Wow, if that doesn’t make you want to go out and buy this book, I don’t know what will. Let’s meet the author behind this clever story. The Reluctant Burglar is Jill Elizabeth Nelson’s first published novel.

Hi, Jill. Thanks for being here today. I’m looking forward to getting to know you today. Please tell us a little about yourself and your family, and your job as a reviewer.

JN: My first and only marriage is still
going strong after 25 years. We have four kids who’ve pretty much flown the coop. Yet, the chickadees keep coming home to roost. Puzzling phenomenon. We must not give them enough incentive to stay away.

By day, I masquerade as secretary to the CEO of a health care corporation and as housing manager for a senior apartment complex. By night I throw off my mask of conformity and turn into a wild and crazy writer who can hardly wait to jot down all the cool things my characters are telling me, so I can share them with my readers.

But before I entered the realm of published novelist, I enjoyed three great years as a book reviewer for Romantic Times magazine, a secular periodical catering to women readers. Publishers would send me their inspirational fiction several months before the books were available on the shelves, and I got to share with an international market of readers what I thought about these books. How cool is that!?

When my own book contract came along, the magazine required me to step down from my reviewer position—conflict of interest. I’m thankful for my years as a reviewer. The position put me in touch with what was happening in the inspirational fiction market and helped me position my work for a sale.

Wow, you work full time and still find time to write. Impressive. Do you have any hobbies or interests you’d like to share?

JN: Reading, writing, camping trips with my family. My version of camping is a motor home with an electrical hook-up. Not very primitive, but very relaxing to be out in nature away from the regular daily bustle. I bring my laptop and write without even the temptation of checking my email.

No temptation to check your email…you are a strong woman. LOL. Now, how long have you been writing and how long did you write before you were published?

JN: I’ve been writing since I penned—er, penciled—my first mystery novel in sixth grade. No trace of that youthful manuscript exits today, and the world is grateful. Since then, my writer’s journey has taken me in many different directions. I’ve worn the hats of journalist, columnist, essayist, poet, storyteller and book reviewer. Somewhere along the route, in my early days, I earned a BA in literature and creative writing.

The dream of becoming a published novelist was born and died several times before the fulfillment. Sometimes that’s the way it has to be because the Lord knows we’re not ready for the dream to become reality. But about six years ago, when my children started flying the nest, I began writing a novel that wouldn’t let me alone until I got it on paper. That isn’t the one that eventually sold, but working on it primed the pump, and I kept writing manuscripts until the contract happened. God’s timing, not mine.

Are you one of those writers that had to go through lots of rejections before you were published or was it a fairly simple process?

JN: I assume you mean “published” in book length. Yes, I had about four years of rejections until my first novel sold. During that time, I published many articles, essays, short stories, and book reviews. Publishing short pieces was and continues to be a part of my writing ministry, but in my pre-book contract days, it was also a way to build credits and name recognition in writing circles.

Getting to the point of receiving a book contract offer isn’t a simple process. It just isn’t. A lot of factors contribute, especially old-fashioned hard work and perseverance. I always recommend that aspiring authors join writers groups, either on-line or in person. We need the accountability and the encouragement these groups can provide. And the networking opportunities are vast, particularly in on-line groups such as American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) where the membership includes agents and editors.

Back to you. What were you doing when you found out you sold The Reluctant Burglar? How did you celebrate?

JN: In the fall of 2005, my cell phone rang during the awards banquet at the Christian Writers Group conference. (I was naughty and left it on because I was expecting to hear one way or the other.) I dashed into the hall, clutching the phone. My also naughty agent began the conversation as if she was preparing me for a let-down, and then she announced, “And they’re offering you a three-book contract!” I had an Aaaaah! Moment, then settled in to hear the details. It was a blast being able to share my news with a whole conference full of fellow writers, many of them personal friends. I feel like that was a special gift to me from the Lord. And an intriguing God-incidence stood out to everyone when my news became common knowledge—the conference theme was “Answer the Call.” Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

What kind of writing schedule are you on?

JN: My general writing goal is 1,000 words per day at least five days per week. I never do exactly that. On days when I’m a little “stuck” and need to brainstorm plot, I might only write a few hundred words. On days when everything’s clicking, I might do 1,500 or 2,000. My contract gives me six months to write each book in the series. Those months seem to slide by pretty fast.

I read that you put your writing on hold while you raised your family. I work outside the home and finding time to write without making my family sacrifice is a big struggle for me. What advice would you give women like me? (no pressure, lol)

JN: I admire women who can raise young children and write, too. It didn’t work for me. But then, I wasn’t able to be a stay-at-home mom. Working full time, then coming home to the needs of a large family left no room for writing. The dream was dormant inside me during those years anyway. I’m sure that was God’s grace.

For women who have the awesome privilege of being home with their little ones, an hour or two a day at the computer might be possible. Notice I say “might.”

Whatever your situation is in the motherhood arena, if the call to write is heavy on you as well, be happy with small but steady progress. Be consistent. Be persistent. Cut yourself lots of slack so the inevitable interruptions don’t stress you out. Enjoy the writing journey as much as you enjoy your kids. Don’t make the two roles competitive. Besides, raising kids gives women LOTS of fodder for books. Count your little blessings, and then put them to bed. LOL

Small but steady progress…my new mantra! I read that you literally dreamed up your character in RB. Tell us about that? Do you typically dream up your books?

JN: I don’t typically sleep-dream my novel scenarios. I do typically wake-dream them, often while lying in bed trying to sleep, but my brain is still going a hundred miles an hour concocting scenarios for imaginary people. Only a writer can get away with such confessions and not be considered a candidate for a white jacket.

For the Reluctant Burglar concept, I woke up one night with my whole body tense after dreaming that a woman had sneaked into a home in the wee hours of darkness to return a genuine painting that had been stolen and replaced by a clever forgery. I didn’t know much about her except that she was an expert at what she did, and if she were caught, disaster would follow for lots of people. My imagination began to play with that nugget, and Burglar was born.

Tell us a little about this book and what it meant to you to tell this story?

JN: I love stories where people risk much to do the right thing, and I hate hearing about art or antiquities desecrated or stolen. Putting these elements together into a tale of intrigue with a sassy heroine and an intense hero came pretty naturally. I’ve really enjoyed writing about Desi and Tony.

I write what I like to read. My personal style always includes some level of adventure and romance mingled with pathos and humor. This particular series lets me indulge all my preferences and put it into a package with spiritual meaning incorporated throughout. As my web site says, I write romantic suspense for people who enjoy a fast-paced adventure with more meat on its bones than just a slick plot.

The spiritual theme of Reluctant Burglar is sorting out what to do when it looks like any choice will invite disaster. It’s a story illustration about learning to trust God’s higher knowledge, not our own wisdom and understanding.

This is a part of a series. Would you like to share a little about the other books?

JN: The To Catch a Thief series has a lot of juicy elements that made it attractive to a publisher and, hopefully, to readers—a spitfire heroine righting a wrong in an outrageous way, mortal and moral danger, the unique angle of the high end art world, and a hero that even my winsomely conservative editor describes as—ahem—“hot.”

Reluctant Runaway, which is about ready to head for the typesetter, comes out in March 2007. This one delves into the world of cults and outlaw motorcycle gangs. Interwoven themes are the need for belonging, discerning the truth in a deceitful world, and generational consequences to people’s actions—for good and for evil.

In Reluctant Smuggler (releasing August 2007), our heroes are pitted against a Mexican drug lord engaged in a deadly art for drugs scheme. The theme focuses on the essential role of hope in sustaining our faith, and the disastrous consequences to society when hope is absent.

Each of the books has a specific art focus. Burglar spotlights the European masters, and Runaway exposes readers to American and Native American art. Smuggler takes readers south of the border to explore Hispanic art and culture.

What other projects are you working on?

No “other” projects right now. My plate is full with the current series assignment. I’m about at the half way point in the Reluctant Smuggler manuscript. Things are getting right interesting for my characters. . I hope my current publisher will continue the To Catch a Thief series

What has been the most fun part of publication and the least favorite part?

Writing. The process offers enough joy and despair to be a love/hate relationship in itself, especially when you actually have to meet a deadline, and you have no clue other than a miracle how that will be accomplished. God is good. He gives me grace to do what would be impossible in my own abilities.

Wow, thank you so much, Jill. I appreciate you being here and I loved this story. This is the first book in a long time that I thought, “I wish this were a movie.” It was a very well thought out book. Can’t wait to read the next one. I hope you’ll come back next year to talk about Reluctant Runaway.

Now if you’d like to win an autographed copy of The Reluctant Burglar go to and find the name of Desiree Jacob’s father. Email me the name and I’ll draw from the entries on Wednesday. Good luck!

Thanks so much, Sabrina. I'm always happy to hear from people who enjoy books, whether they've read mine or not. Drop by my web site. My contact page has my email link, and I'm
especially excited when I see I've got new newsletter subscribers.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Congratulations to Heather Gunn!

Hey everybody! I'm sorry I didn't post this earlier. My family has been struggling with colds. Yuck.

Anyway, congratulations to Heather Gunn for winning the autographed copy of Finding Faith. I know she's going to enjoy this book. Heather once you read it be sure to drop me a line and let me know what you thought. ;)

Thanks, Denise. You were a wonderful guest. You're welcome anytime.

FYI I'm working on an interview with Jill Elizabeth Nelson. Author of The Reluctant Burglar. This is a great book, written by a clever and witty woman. I hope you'll stop by Monday to meet her and enter for your chance to win an autographed copy of her book!

One last final note. I did finally send in my book Prescription for Murder a few weeks ago. Pray for me to have patience. Even if it's a rejection, I'd rather know sooner than later. ;)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Welcome, Denise Hunter

One Woman Sacrificing Everything For Her Career... Paula Landin-Cohen, an investigative reporter, feels like a fish out of water in the small town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Then she's offered her dream job, as a TV reporter in Chicago. There is so much to gain and so much to lose...including the only man she's ever loved.

A Young Girl's Longing for Acceptance...Linn Caldwell has made a lot of mistakes-bad mistakes. She can never forgive herself for all the pain she's caused others. How can she dare to get close to anyone again?

And The Road To Forgiveness... What will happen if Paula and Linn's secrets are revealed? Will the men they love ever be able to forgive them?

Have you ever started a book and thought, ohhh. I can't wait to see how the author resolves this. That was me this weekend. I started this book Friday afternoon. I finished it Saturday afternoon. It was "that" good.

Finding Faith has great characters that you feel like you know. Believable conflict and a touch of romance and suspense. There were even issues in this book that are taboo and though hard to think about, Denise came to a very realistic resolution. There were sad moments along with joyous moments. My emotions were all over the place with this book. I'd highly recommend it. That's why I'm so excited to have fellow Hoosier, Denise Hunter here to talk about her book and herself.

Many of you know her from the Girls Write Out blog she co-writes with writing buddies, Colleen Coble, Diann Hunt, and Kristin Billerbeck. If you haven't checked it out, do so soon. Denise Hunter lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons. If you haven't seen her in person, she's a darling, petite woman who appears very shy.

Denise, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be here. Having had the privilege of meeting your family, specifically those darling boys, I know you have plenty to keep you occupied. For that handful of people who don't know you, tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

DH: I'm happily married to a business owner, and as you mentioned, I have three boys. I like to read, watch chick flicks (I've watched You've Got Mail dozens of times), and eat dark chocolate. Not very original, but there it is. I play drums on our church's worship team and lead a book discussion group there as well. I started writing 10 years ago and have been very blessed to publish 12 novels/novellas in that time.

Did I read you're from Ohio? How did you meet your husband and end up in Indiana?

DH: Yes, we're actually both from Ohio. We met when he was asked to fill in as music director at the church where I grew up, and the rest is history. It was a bit awkward because he was 21 and I was only 17. We went to a high school play on our first date, and the lady selling tickets says, "One adult and one child?" ACK! It was so humiliating. We married three years later and he got a job in Indiana shortly after that.

Oh Denise...that's too funny.;) I recently listened to an interview you did on WBCL with friends Colleen Coble and Diann Hunt.(go to the mid morning page and search the archives for Author Author to hear this interview)You all were asked to say something about the other two that people might not know. Colleen said you're "girly" (which is hard in a house full of boys) and Diann said she admired you as a wife and mother. That you always put your family first and do what's best for them. That's no little thing. Especially when writing, if you let it, can consume so much time. How do you make time for both a successful writing career and all that goes with raising three boys?

DH: Well, I always wanted to be a stay at home mom, and I'm that, first and foremost. When I started writing, the boys were little and I wrote only during their naptimes. Talk about slow progress! But even if you only write two pages a day, eventually you have a book. My plan was to get a writing career started so that by the time they were all in school, I'd be writing regularly. God has blessed me by granting that dream. I try not to write when the kids are home, though in the summer, that's sometimes impossible. My publishers have been very gracious to give me the time I need.

It sounds like you have your priorities straight. Because ultimately, even if all the career stuff goes away, our family is what's important. So what's a typical day for you?

DH: As boring as it may sound, I'm very much a routine person. After I drop my kids off at school, I come home and do my Bible study then start writing-usually emails . I call it warming up. After I'm done with emails, I read and edit what I wrote the day before, then I write until I've met my quota, which is currently 6 pages. I get up every so often to throw a load of laundry in the washer. My life is so glamorous. When I finish a chapter, I send it to my critique partner, Colleen Coble, and when she sends it back, I make the suggested changes. I'm usually done writing by noon, which gives me time to get housework and errands done before I have to pick up the boys. After that, it's after-school activities, homework, dinner, showers, and the day is gone.

I admire you structured, routine type people.LOL. How many books do you strive for each year? And do you schedule "off" time?

DH: It depends on my deadlines. Right now, I have a book due every 9 months, which is great. Before I sit down to write a novel, I get out my family calendar and mark the days I'm planning to write-usually 5 days a week unless there's a holiday. I don't write on the days my kids are home from school, so I guess those are my "off" days. Everything else, doctor appointments etc, I schedule around my writing time.

Now enough with the pleasantries. LOL. The real reason you're here. This book, Finding Faith, is fabulous. I'm eager to talk about this story. I can honestly say this is one of the best books I've read all year. It amazes me that you're able to come up with such intricate, detailed stories. Colleen has often compared you to Karen Kingsbury. That in itself is such an honor. However, I think you're writing is getting to a point that your style and talent are no longer going to be compared to other writers, more that you're going to be the author that writers hope to be compared to.

DH: Well, that is such a nice thing to say!

There are some deep issues in this book. I know you don't want to give anything away, but tell us about the story and the characters.

DH: Finding Faith is the story of Paula, a Chicago TV news reporter, who has a deep dark secret that if uncovered, could put her marriage in jeopardy. When she covers a "switched at birth" story, her secret threatens to be revealed. Paula is a Type A personality whose career has been her first priority. Because of this, she's made poor choices, and in the story, those decisions come back to haunt her. There's also a subplot with a young lady named Linn who's made her own share of bad decisions. She finally finds a man to love, but fears he's outside of her reach. Finding Faith has drama, romance, a bit of suspense, and a surprising twist.

More than once I had tears in my eyes. Your ability to make me care for these characters was masterful. I'd think "don't do that, it's going to make things worse" all the while knowing that as humans we all have the ability to make things worse when we try to "fix" things without the help of God. Were the choices made in this book hard to write? Emotionally challenging?

DH: When I first started writing novels, I didn't want to make anything bad happen to my characters. I'm a nice person, and it seemed so cruel. LOL But story requires conflict, otherwise you have a sagging middle, a depressed writer, and then out comes the chocolate. It's not pretty. It's easier to be tough on my characters! Honestly, delving into the emotions comes naturally to me. Not that I have a huge well of pain to draw from, but everyone has experienced the basic emotions to some degree, and I draw from that when I write.

The study questions are fabulous. Do the authors write these or someone at the publishing house?

DH: Typically the author writes them, but for Finding Faith, my editor offered to write them because I was swamped at the time. She did a fabulous job!

You introduced a few new people in this book. Will we be seeing these characters in another series? Or are you done with them for now?

DH: I did leave a little wiggle room for another book, but other opportunities have come along, so I'm going to leave those characters where I left them.

Tell us about your current projects. And what kinds of things are you hoping to write in the next few years.

DH: I'm very excited about my current projects! WestBow Press (Thomas Nelson) has contracted me to write 4 romances set on the island of Nantucket. Each story will take an attribute of Christ and play out through the romance between the hero and heroine. On the surface, they're love stories, but there's a deeper meaning in the way the hero loves the heroine the way Christ loves us. The first one, Surrender Bay, is due out in October, 2007 and they'll be released every 6 months.

Oh...I can't wait until October '07! Finally, just for fun, tell us what authors you love to read? No pressure. LOL. Who's books do you race to the bookstore to get?

DH: Deb Raney, Francine Rivers, Lynn Austin, Nicholas Sparks, to name a few.

Great authors. You have great taste...Now for the fun part, Denise is graciously giving away a signed copy of Finding Faith. But you have to work for it! Go to her website at and find the name of Denise's husband. Then email me the name. It's pretty simple, really. I'll draw a name from all the entries this Thursday.

And thanks so much, Denise. This was fun. Hope you stop back again.

DH: Thanks so much for having me! Best wishes with all your writing endeavors!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Finding Faith

I can't go to sleep and it's all Denise Hunter's fault. LOL. Her newest book, Finding Faith, has long been on my tbr list and I've finally started it... I can't put it down. I should have known-I remember when I read her book Mending Places and had the same trouble. Regardless, I'm enjoying this book, immensely.

I'll be posting a review of it Monday and hope to have my interview with the dynamic author posted on Tuesday or Wednesday. Hope you'll stop back to meet this fabulous writer.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Win a copy of Violet Dawn

Something sinuous brushed against Paige’s knee. She jerked her leg away.

What was that? She rose to a sitting position, groped around with her left hand.

Fine wisps wound themselves around her fingers.


She yanked backward, but the tendrils clung. Something solid bumped her wrist. Paige gasped. With one frantic motion she shook her arm free, grabbed the side of the hot tub, and heaved herself out.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It’s been a great privilege to be one of the original writers for Brandilyn Collins character blog, Scenes and Beans. Brandilyn created the blog to give readers a chance to get to know the characters from her newest book, Violet Dawn.

In Violet Dawn, Brandilyn uses her expertise to meld together past and present to give you a fast paced, thrilling and sometimes panic filled adventure. If ever there was a writer who succeeded in joining the exhilarating journey of suspense with the expert characterization of a general fiction, Brandilyn has done it with this one.

Usually in a suspense the thrill is figuring out the killer/thief/bad guy before more doom becomes the main character. In a general fiction, the reader is brought along on a journey. By the end of the book, you feel like you know the characters and feel for them in whatever dilemma they find themselves in. In Violet Dawn, you have the refreshing collaboration of both.

The book starts out in present day with a young woman who makes an unexpected discovery in her hot tub. (Warning to any hot tub owners, you may not be eager to enjoy a nice long soak after reading this story)

Through the course of the book, you get to know the characters of Kanner Lake, Idaho. They range from an eccentric sci-fi writer, retired logger, successful realtor, to a whole variety of folks. People you can meet over at Scenes and Beans.

Throughout the book, you get to know a young girl, Rachel, who, sadly, is living in an all to real and horrible situation. By the end of the book, you want to save this girl from her circumstances. Instead, you finally figure out what Rachel’s story has to do with the current problems of Kanner Lake.

This is not a book for the faint of heart. There was a point in this book that I put my hand to my chest, tears in my eyes and nearly prayed for one of the characters. Seriously, the imagery was that awesome!

As always, Collins did an extraordinary job with this story and I have absolute faith that this story will be exceptionally touching to people who have survived some kind of abuse or emotional hardship in their life.

Now for the fun part. Go to the Scenes and Beans website and find the name of the pastor for Kanner Lake. Email me the name and I’ll put you in a drawing for an autographed copy of Violet Dawn. You could have your very own copy of the book by next weekend. Hint, there’s a cast of characters on the main page of the blog! And don't put the answer on your comment. You'll give it away for the next person. ;) Happy sleuthing!

p.s. Because the publicity for this book was so huge, I know a lot of my readers have this book. If you do and you've blogged about Violet Dawn, feel free to leave your link.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


HOT OFF THE PRESS-- My dear friend, Cara Putman, just called from the ACFW conference. She found out tonight that she sold her first book, Canteen Dreams. I am so excited for her. She's worked so hard this last year. Hop on over to her blog and congratulate her. I just interviewed her last week. Now you can say you knew her when!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Pleased to introduce Cara Putman

I know you're probably getting tired of me saying how much I love certain writers I spotlight, but today is no different. I have the privilege of introducing you to another good friend. I've known Cara Putman for a little over a year now and I've learned so much about her in that short time. She's an extremely hard worker. If she sets her mind to something, rest assured she's going to accomplish it. I don't think she'll mind me saying she's very goal oriented. Professional. And eager to accomplish those goals she's set for herself.

Currently, she's the Indiana ACFW chapter president. Along with that, she's also an original writer on the Brandilyn Collins Kanner Lake character blog. That's not to mention all the other hats she wears. Cara, thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be here. Please tell us about your family, friends, career. Anything you'd like to share.

CP: I'm an attorney in Lafayette, Indiana, who's long had a secret desire to be a writer. For as long as I can remember I have inhaled books, and I even tried writing novels as a young teenager. One centered on the Lost Colony of Roanoke, and the other in Boston during the Revolutionary War. I LOVE history, so that's what I wrote. My mom tells me she still has those somewhere, but I'm not sure I want to uncover them.

In April 2005, I went to a book-signing at our Parables store and met Colleen Coble. As I was chatting with her, my husband came up and asked Colleen "Has Cara told you she wants to be a writer?" The rest, as they say, is history. The really cool thing is I would have never told her that was a secret desire of mine, but Eric did.

Eric and I have been married for ten years, and have two wonderful children. Abigail is in first grade and will turn six in October, and Jonathan will be three in November. Before we moved to Lafayette, Eric and I lived in DC for eight years where I worked for several conservative non-profits, went to law school at night, and then clerked for a federal judge. I've also paged at the Unicameral in Lincoln, Nebraska, worked for one of the smallest NBC affiliates, and made more onion rings at Runza restaurants than should be legal.

Some of my readers know that I credit Colleen with encouraging me to follow my dream of writing. I love that we have that in common. You touched on this above, but have you always had that drive in you to write? And why did you put it on hold for so long?

CP: I've always had a desire to write, but as I hit college, it moved to the back burner. Then came the early years in a career, lots of travel, marriage, and law school. Yet there was always this yearning in my heart to see if I could do it. Every couple years I would pull the dream out, blow the dust off of it, and hold it up to God. "Is now the time, Lord?" If He said, "Not yet," I'd tuck it back on the shelf and work on whatever He had in front of me.

Then we moved to Lafayette. I had a two year old and no job. No friends, no connections. Abigail and I spent a lot of time at the library, and I began checking out books on how to write. Before I could get started, I had a job at a law firm and another bar exam to study for. Then April 2005 came, and Colleen was so encouraging. I started praying and dreaming up plot lines. Registered for my first ACFW conference. Sixteen months later, I have two complete manuscripts and am incredibly excited about my current project, Book One in the Cherry Hill Mysteries series.

My favorite of your books is definitely your first Cherry Hill book. I think readers are going to love your characterization. On another note, I always ask this questions...I know it's tough, but who are your favorite writers?

CP: I LOVE Colleen Coble, Wanda Dyson, Brandilyn Collins, Mary Higgins Clark, Mary Jane Clark, and so many others.

Do you have a favorite verse? Something that speaks to you at this time in your life.

CP: Several. Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. NIV, I Timothy 4:12 Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity, Also Joshua 1:8-9 , and very recently Isaiah 43:18-19: it is so encouraging to know that God is doing something new and actively preparing the way for me.

Wow, Cara, I have three of these same verses highlighted in my bible. These are great examples of how God speaks to us at all different seasons of our life. No matter where we are or what we're going through.

Now the fun part. I'd like to share some of your writing talent with my readers. Could you give a brief buildup of the scene you're going to share?

CP: This is the opening scene from my current work in progress, Rush to Judgment, the first book in the Cherry Hill Mysteries series.

Hayden McCarthy winced as a flash of sunlight glinted from the barrel of the gun William Devine grasped. Every bad joke she'd ever heard about the only good lawyer being a dead lawyer looped through her mind as she fought the tremble that threatened to shake her limbs.
Now isn't the time to fall apart. Her heart pounded, and she forced a tight smile. You've survived the FBI and media hounding you. You can find a way out of this.

Her gaze flitted from the gun for a brief second, long enough to see if Judge Cochran had any plans. His face had blanched even whiter than usual, and he slowly shook his head as if afraid of what would happen if Devine turned his attention on him.

Where is the baliff? He'd left the courtroom moments before Devine pulled his gun. God, we need some help now. She tried to relax in the knowledge God didn't take coffee breaks unlike the baliff, but her pulse refused to cooperate. It only picked up its pace as she fought panic. Her hope of finding peace and healing in Cherry Hill evaporated with the realization that if she survived this it only meant more news trucks parked outside her apartment. God, all I want is people to forget my role in blowing the whistle on Jonas Walker, lobbyist and turncoat extraordinaire, and live in peace.

Her client whimpered from under the broad table, and Hayden refocused on the gun. Hayden pushed a quivering hand on top of Deanna Devine's head, praying she'd quiet down and stay under the counsel table. When the whimpering continued, she kicked Deanna with the pointed toe of her pump.

"You think you can save her? The judge certainly won't." Her client's soon-to-be ex-husband spat the words at her as he waved the gun from behind his table. "Looks like itÂ’s just you and me, Hayden."

How had William gotten that hunk of metal in the courthouse anyway? In D.C. deputy marshals would have forced him to kiss the cold marble floor in seconds. But she'd left D.C. for the calm of Cherry Hill, Indiana. And just think I'd moved here to escape the chaos and danger.

"Come on, Billy." The nasally sound of Judge Harry Cochran's words plopped like handfuls of mud into the silence. "There's no need to get violent."

"Shut up, Judge. I ain't pointing this at you. She's the one destroying my family."

Hayden struggled to recall the instructions she'd received in a personal safety class her parents had required her to take in high school. Was she supposed to grab his arm and twist? Sweep a leg around his knee? None of the moves had involved a gun, had they? And she hadn't practiced any in a pencil skirt even if she could remember the moves. Every instinct screamed to duck, but her knees refused to buckle. Instead, she stood like a tree rooted in place.

(don't you wish you could go buy this book? I have faith we'll be seeing it on bookshelves someday!)

CP: Thanks so much for inviting me to be part of this, Sabrina. I am so glad God has allowed our paths to cross. You are such a blessing to me!

And, Cara, you know you're such a blessing to me, too. I hope you all will put Cara on your list of future favorite authors. We're sure to see her name again. In the meantime, check out her blog at

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Thanks so much to Crystal Miller, my latest guest. =) Great job and very informative. I'm going to take a week off from the interviews this week just because I have a couple other things I'm working on. Then next week I'll have up my interview with another good friend, Cara Putman. She's a wife, mom, writer...oh and did I mention she finds time to be a lawyer. LOL. You'll want to stop back to meet this dynamic woman!

Now if you'll remember I'm writing for Carla Radling on the Brandilyn Collins character blog. One of my posts will be up on Thursday. Be sure to check it out and leave a comment. Just click on the blog link.

And finally, if you haven't picked up your copy of Violet Dawn yet--get one! It's fabulous. It's not just a great suspense,it also touches on the tragic life of a young woman and how she learns to cope with the wrongs done to her as a child. As always, Brandilyn Collins leaves you not only feeling for the victim, but able to relate to her on several levels. She does an impeccable job of bringing you into the story. A perfect example is her character blog. A way for readers to get to know the characters better. Be sure to get the book and check out the blog. If she's not your favorite suspense author...she will be!

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Book Doctor...Crystal Miller

The last few years have been so great getting to know other writers, published authors, editors, and all those other people in our business. As with anyone, there are always a few people you just really click with. I'm fortunate enough to consider Crystal Miller one of those people I click with. She's been a great friend and I consider it a true blessing to have her on this journey with me.

I think by the time this interview is over you'll see her humor and wit and know exactly why I consider her so dear.

If you don't know her at all, here are a few things you might find interesting. Crystal Miller has reviewed hundreds of books over the last ten years and in particular in the areas of health, diet, exercise, fitness, curriculum, Bible studies, Christian living, parenting and Christian fiction. Her book review column has appeared in Montgomery’s Journey magazine (with 20,000 readers), Church Libraries magazine, and numerous other print media.

She’s the editor of Fort & Field Christian Writer’s Newsletter and has written articles for a variety of publications, such as Christian Communicator and Women of Spirit on topics including writing, conferences, health, spiritual issues, diet, exercise and parenting. She’s written for newspapers, ezines and magazines. She co-wrote a parenting column with Teena Stewart called Stayin’ Alive While Parenting Teens. (Both still alive.)

Currently Crystal works for several literary agents and occasionally editors as a first reader and book doctor while she continues to fine tune her own fiction and nonfiction manuscripts. She wrote a nonfiction women’s humor book called, This Ain’t No Glamour Detail, receiving rave reviews from editors, but didn’t have a glamorous enough platform for it to actually be published. (Where’s Chonda when you need her?)

For the last 25 years, Crystal has been married to Chris, an ER physician, and is mother to their four boys ages 21-15. Next year will bring her and her husband into a new level of parenting (and poverty,) when 3 of the 4 will be in college. Her experience as a former P.E. teacher, elementary teacher, reading specialist, apartment flunky painter, dessert girl, Wendy Lawton’s assistant interview flunky, preschool teacher, Christian school board vice chairman and education curriculum chairperson, a payroll clerk/business manager for an Interpreter for the Deaf referral group, track and field/basketball and cheerleader coach, competition trapshooter and head-on car crash survivor has served her well for book reviewing and content editing (People that survive enough trials are called experienced.)

She’s been a leader in Bible Study Fellowship, and has been the head of various children’s Sunday school departments and programs, as well as made it through many summers as a VBS leader(ask her to sing a song or cram marshmallows into her mouth—or both at the same time.) Check out her web site at: for humor, reviews and general blonde moments and her blog, for thoughts expressed in her diner, The Chat ‘n’ Chew Café.

Crystal, thanks so much for taking the time to be with us. How exactly did you get involved with the editing side of writing.

I was reviewing so much (plus attending conferences,) that editors and publicists were getting to know me. One day I got an email from an editor friend and he asked me to read a manuscript, just to get a “reader’s feedback,” since it was a book where he saw great potential. Editors do not have time to coach and give feedback to “almost there” authors. So, I not only read it, but I gave comments (rather brash for someone unpublished) of what I saw wrong with the content, various things. The editor liked it and sent my comments on to the author without revealing who I was.

I’d also critiqued/edited for author friends. My name kept popping up with editors through authors, and eventually with an agent. From there the editors and agents just asked me directly if I’d read, do editing, fixes for authors they had who needed direction and feedback. I liked doing that, and plus, I’d get paid. But see? It was all a God-incident because back when I first started writing, we learned all about how it worked in publishing. (I took a full year at Taylor University’s professional writing program, both fiction and nonfiction, with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley.)

Crystal you make me tired just listening to you. LOL. On a different note, do you have a favorite scripture you'd like to share?

I have two:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Whenever my peace is shattered, all I have to do is listen to Jesus whispering in my ear, “Take heart, Crystal!” How can you fear and grieve when you hear that? Take heart…

I'm feeling convicted here, Crystal. You're so right. Sometimes we forget to listen to those quiet whispers in our ear.

If you're like most of us, you're going to hate this question. But I have to ask. Who are some of your favorite writers?

This is a trick question, right? I mean, I love authors and almost all the authors I’ve worked with are going to be my favorites, you see. (LOL) I do love to read—essential in editing and writing. I have enjoyed almost every genre in the CBA and several in the general market, but I especially love the CBA authors. If I go naming names, well, that mean I’d have name hundreds of authors!

But if you’re talking authors who have influenced my own style and voice--Mark Twain, Roald Dahl, Charles Schultz, Harper Lee, Louisa May Alcott, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Will Rogers, James Thurber and a huge amount of Southern writers from Eugenia Price, Margaret Mitchell, to Olivia Ann Burns and then, I adore James Michener, especially his Centennial—well, I really like to read, LOL. I love anything with a bit of humor and edge, which is why I currently love reading the works of Anne Lamott, Haven Kimmel, Garrison Keillor, Brenda Kinsel (a fashion author—ha!) and Deborah Paul, and while I’ve only read a few of Stephen King’s books, I really love his
On Writing book. And if you must really know—I love a good romance, whether contemporary or historical. (And if you write historicals, I’m a pushover to buy it.) But then, next thing you know, I’m reading Christian African American novels, Sci fi or fantasy (and have worked on all of these as a book doctor,) or a really good suspense or thriller.

Crystal I'd love to share a sample of your writing. Do you have something you can share with us?

I do have this portion of the first chapter of my This Ain’t No Glamour Detail: Beauty for Here and Beyond that has been on the internet. This is nonfiction. However, I am using some of my experiences from this book in my fiction.

The First Glamour Detail
By Crystal Warren Miller

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27 (NIV)

When God created Eve, she must have been some woman. The Bible says that the man, Adam, was created in God’s own image, so we know Adam was perfect. There is probably no man walking around today who even comes close to him in appearance, demeanor, or manners. Then God went on to make this “helper” for Adam by taking a rib out of Adam’s side. He called her “woman.” We refer to her as Eve. I’m not going to dwell much on the significance, symbols or interpretations of how God made her. I’m simply pointing out here that God is good, God is perfect, and God made these people perfect. She probably would make any woman on the movie screens or walking out of plastic surgeons’ offices today look like they needed to walk right back into the office (or over to her attorney’s office.)

It’s what happened in the next chapter of Genesis, chapter three, where all of women’s glamour problems begin. Here’s Eve in a perfect world with this perfect man, and she’s not even getting wrinkles. She’s never had to go through a blemish, as far as we know. She never has had to tweeze stiff hairs out of her chin. She never has had flabby thighs or a gray hair. It’s never occurred to her that maybe she’s not attractive to Adam or that her behind might look big when standing next to a rose or the daylily. She walks around naked and doesn’t even think about throwing on a natty robe or turning off the lights, because, well you know, there’s that roll around her waist. No, Eve never thought about these things. She’s perfect.
Then, one day she’s strolling through the garden, still not worrying about any of these things. She’s never had her nail break, and never had a hangnail. She didn’t worry about her skin being too pale, dark circles under her eyes, or moles growing out of her perfectly shaped chin (the kind that makes Michael Jackson call his plastic surgeon.) She’s never even had flaky, dry skin or embarrassing dandruff. Can I paint this picture any clearer?

Wow, good stuff. I hate to end here. I'd like to share the rest. Again, thanks so much for doing this, Crystal. You're a peach! Be sure to check out her blog and her website.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Getting to know Jennifer Tiszai...

It’s so fun to learn from published authors about their journey to publication. What it was like for them, and how long it took, etc… But what about before they were published? What about those years of learning craft and struggling to make ends meet? For every published author, there’re hundreds, if not thousands, of unpublished writers who work hard every day to make those stories come alive. Over the next few weeks I’m going to showcase these writers and their work. Hopefully by the time we’re done, you’re going to have a few new favorite writers you’ll be on the lookout for.

Today’s guest is a woman who has taught me so much about the business side of writing. I, along with Malia Spencer, was lucky enough to get Jennifer Tiszai as my official ACFW mentor. Over the past year Jen has taught us about things we’d never pick up on our own. She’s spent the last 4-5 years learning the business and perfecting her craft.

Welcome, Jennifer! Let’s just jump right in there. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Family, faith, careers, etc…basically anything you’d like to share. =)

Ah, you might regret leaving that wide open! My husband and I are native Californians that moved to Arizona over three years ago when we felt God calling us to do that. It was a pretty scary step for me because I felt like I was finally beginning to have some success with my writing and my music after putting all of that on hold to start a family.

We attended Saddleback, Rick Warrren’s church, and I was active there singing in the choir and on a worship team. I also led a team of writers that turned Rick’s sermons into small group Bible studies each week, wrote devotionals for the website, and wrote articles for the website. One of my favorite moments was when an article I wrote on my son’s dedication was posted on the front page of Saddleback’s website for ten days and received a million hits. So it was pretty hard to leave all of that behind and come to the desert, away from my beloved beach, and into the unknown. From the coast to toast, as we like to say.

Peter and I fondly refer to the next three yeas as boot camp. Peter was out of work for over a year, and we were pretty much challenged in every area of our lives. But we came out of it with the strong assurance that God is faithful to provide our needs, often using other people to do it. It deepened out trust in Him, and I know it was preparing us for even bigger challenges down the road.

What made you want to start writing? And who are some of your favorite authors? (no pressure here) ;)

I think I wrote my first story when I was six. I had an active imagination and was always coming up with stories for me and my brothers to act out. Star Wars seemed to figure heavily into them. I didn’t end up being a sci-fi fan, however. But creativity wasn’t encouraged in my family. It was expected that I would do something practical with my life. I went through multiple majors in college (pre-med, English, Business/finance—got a degree in that one, then philosophy, comparative literature, history—my other degrees). I worked as an underwriter for an insurance company, a job I grew to hate as it slowly ate away at my body, causing nerve damage in my neck, elbows, and wrists. Nobody knew much about ergonomics then.

Still, I struggled with how to work writing into the equation. I didn’t know any other writers. I didn’t get any support, and I didn’t have the time. So I would take creative writing classes, attended a conference, and mostly wrote when I felt inspired.

Until I started writing for Saddleback and met another writer who would become a good friend, Peggy Rose. She got me into some online classes, and we joined a writer’s group together. I attended Mount Hermon the next year, 2001, when I was pregnant with my son. But shortly after that, I had to go on bed rest with him and there went my writing for nearly a year. It wasn’t until we moved out to Arizona that I was able to commit to writing daily for two hours, and I finished my first manuscript, a historical.

Oh, the dreaded favorite author question. I’m pretty eclectic in what I read, but here’s a sampling: Richard Russo, Elmore Leonard, Dee Henderson, Suzanne Brockmann, Dale Cramer, Lisa Samson, Michael Snyder, Alison Strobel, Harlan Coben, Douglas Coupland.

Currently in the middle of some editing, she’s well past the honeymoon stage. ;) Her current WIP, Witness, is making the rounds through her agent. Tell us about the book.

Since it just underwent major surgery I’ve had to rethink my hook for it. It’s a romantic suspense, the story of Heather McAlistair, editor of a Christian teen magazine, who has lived a pretty sheltered life. Until she meets Detective Kyle Taylor. On their first date they get caught in the middle of a gang initiation robbery. She gets shot at, placed in protective custody as a material witness, and has her life turned upside down. Kyle tries to keep her alive, she tries to keep her job, and both of them have no idea that their biggest threat is closer than they think.

I’ve read the story. It’s fabulous. How’d you came up with the idea?

Thanks, Sabrina. It’s always nice to hear great things about your writing. This story was one of the ideas I was playing around with before I was seriously committed to writing. I don’t remember exactly how I came up with the idea, but I had typed up about 20 pages of it and stuck it in a drawer. When I made the decision to move from historicals to contemporaries, I pulled out my story folder. This idea, plus two others, came together to loosely form a series I’ve called Hometown Heroes. Each book focuses on one of the three friends: Kyle the detective, in Witness; Joe the fireman in Flash Point; and Scott the naval aviator in Justice.

What is the hardest part of writing for you, or your biggest challenge as a writer.

Two things, really. One, since I have little kids, I always struggle with feeling like writing is taking away from them and stuff around the house. Even though I know it’s good for them to live without me at their beck and call for two hours, and my husband is very supportive of this, I easily feel guilt over it.The second thing is really specific to writing. I don’t consider myself overly creative. I’m more of a concrete thinker and so I need a germ of an idea to build on. Once I have something to go on, I can move out from there. But the other problem this creates is what I call “quick-drying cement.” Once I go a certain way in a book with a plot or a character, I have difficulty seeing any other options. I am blessed with a few writing partners who understand my writing and what I want to accomplish, and still help me come up with new things that I can’t see.

And what do you hope to accomplish with your writing. To entertain, to minister, to educate, etc...

When I was writing nonfiction, the goal was to educate and minister to people while entertaining them. In fiction I think entertainment has to be the upper most concern. Yes, it’s great if people can walk away from my books relating in someway to my characters and their struggles. And I know my beliefs will always come through in my work, whether or not there is a heavy spiritual thread. I think one thing fiction does is explore ideas all of us have about life. A spiritual journey is a big part of that for everyone, so those kinds of questions are natural to explore. The degree to which the author explores those questions depends on the kind of story she is telling and the characters she has created. But if it’s not done in an entertaining way, it will come off as a thinly disguised sermon. And nobody enjoys that.The thing is, God called me to write. He doesn’t waste anything, so mostly I trust that He has a purpose in my writing and my job is just to be faithful to my end of the deal: sitting my butt in the chair and writing. :)

Thanks, Jen. Point well taken. Consider my butt in the chair! LOL. Now could you give us a buildup for the scene you're going to share with us?

This is a scene that got cut from the latest rounds of revisions. Originally, Kyle and Heather dated a little before the gang initiation scene. To up the suspense, I cut about 50 pages out of the first part of the book, making the gang shooting occur on their first date. So a lot of good stuff had to go. This scene takes place right before the shooting. Bernie is the one who introduced Heather to Kyle, but he has an interest in her as well, though Heather doesn’t realize it. Bernie had driven Heather to Bible study after Kyle got caught up in a case and couldn’t make it. But Kyle was waiting at Heather’s house when Bernie dropped her off, ruining Bernie’s plans, which included stalking her in the first version.

Bernie made a right on El Toro, curious if Kyle’s truck was still at Heather’s condo. He’d been driving around, not wanting to head home yet. What was Kyle telling her?

It had made his day when Heather had called him. He always knew if he could get her away from Kyle and just talk to her, let her get to know him, he’d have a chance. They’d always gotten along well at choir practice and in the green room. She’d liked his comments at Bible study tonight. He just needed to build on that.

He liked Kyle, but Bernie saw what Heather didn’t: Kyle was in love with his job. Everything else came second. She didn’t see that now, but she’d end up with a broken heart. He hated to see that happen to her.

Of course he could be there waiting with a shoulder to cry on. He turned into her complex. Kyle’s truck was gone.
Good. He hadn’t stayed long.
Maybe Heather asked him to leave. Bernie smiled at the thought.
He pulled out of her street onto El Toro, heading home. Passing the shopping center on his right, something caught his eye.
Kyle’s truck. Parked under a streetlight.
Bernie slammed on the brakes and swung into the parking lot. He scanned the area. The Jitter Bug was the only logical place. He eased toward the shop, peering through the big plate-glass windows into the brightly lit interior.
Kyle and Heather sat at a back table.
His stomach filled with lead. He slammed his fist on the steering wheel.
“No, Bernie, I’m too tired for coffee.” He mimicked Heather’s voice. Apparently not too tired for coffee with Kyle. He should have driven her here instead of her condo. Then he’d be in there with her now, and Kyle would still be sitting in the dark, waiting.
He sped out of the parking lot, nearly sideswiping another Honda idling near the entrance.

There you go, folks. One of our future authors of tomorrow. Be on the lookout for Jennifer Tiszai! And you can say you knew her when. ;)

Thanks for having me, Sabrina. This was a lot of fun. And you can bet I'll be letting you know if I get any good news on Witness. J

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Have you ever fizzled out? Not sure what I’m talking about?? I’m talking about that point in a persons life where they’re juggling about 15 things and uh oh…they drop 12 of those things. =)

That’s me. I’ve had these interview questions for the unpubbed writers sitting on my desktop. I have a manuscript proposal sitting in an envelope on my breakfast bar. (That I’m probably not even going to mail off) My parents both need me to take them to doctors appointments this week and I haven’t even started on the onslaught of homework and errands for my son or husband. Or even the article I’m now writing for our local paper. Sheesh! Throw in work, church, the PTO, open house, and whatever else and I’m going to be sitting in the corner rocking before the week is over.

How ‘bout you all? Ever feel pulled in too many directions? And just FYI, I’ve had my rant, I’ll have those interviews up soon. LOL

Thursday, July 27, 2006



What a blessing to have Rachel Hauck here to chat and talk about her upcoming release, Georgia on Her Mind. I confess, I only briefly met Rachel at conference in Nashville last year, I’ve seen Rachel around on the blogs, but I’ve known very little about her. When I do an interview with someone, I like to go to their website and blog and read everything I can about that person.

That’s what I did to prepare for this interview, too. I found the usual stuff--some basic family info, pictures, news on her books, etc…what I found especially unique was her deep understanding and faith in the Lord. Her blog post for Wednesday July 26th was such a blessing to me. Every post I read gave a little insight to the true heart of this writer and I hope when this interview is done, you’ll cruise over there to take a look.

Hi, Rachel, so good to have you hear today. Rachel, for those that maybe don’t know you, tell us a little about yourself. Family, faith, what made you want to be a writer. Anything you’d like to share.

RH – It’s good to be here! Thank you for inviting me.

About me? Well, I’m a young 40-something, or so I keep telling myself. Married to the coolest guy ever. We don’t have children, (God’s choice, not ours) but we have a couple of very spoiled pets. I’m the oldest girl of five siblings – and I’m not quite as bossy as my birth order might indicate.

I graduated from Ohio State with a degree in Journalism. I was a sorority girl, and partier, but met Jesus when I was six, and never stopped loving Him. I mean, once you meet the lover of your soul, it’s hard to forget.

My husband is a pastor, and I am a worship and prayer leader - two things that are my passion. Okay, three. We can count my husband in there.

On writing – my dad always told me I was a writer. He encouraged me, even wrote me letters when I was in college telling me what a great writer I was. I bet he only read one or two things I’d ever written. He just knew. I believe parents are so key in speaking truth and destiny into their children’s lives. My dad spoke destiny over me.

I did love to write, and kept journals for years. Then learned the discipline of news writing. I finally attempted my first novel when I was in my early 30’s.

I noticed you’ve traveled quite a bit. Do you have a favorite place?

RH – If you’ve ever traveled a lot, especially for work, my answer will make sense. My favorite place is home! God answered the desire of my heart to travel while curing me of said desire at the same time. Traveling is hard work, my life was not my own. I returned from a Friday lunch one day to learn I was on a three o’clock flight to Denver. What weekend plans?

I loved Australia, despite the incredible plane ride to get there. However, my work days were so long I didn’t get to see many of the sites. On the other hand, I met a lot of real, every day people and I love Australians.

I loved the people I met in every city and every country. Spain was a lovely place, and Ireland.

As I’ve said, I read most of your blog posts. I saw one where you talked about how much writing you do every day. I was very impressed. I think it was Georgiana who said her fingers would be numb if she wrote that much. LOL. Can you take us through a typical day for you?

RH – To be honest, some days are better than others. I write a lot on when a the deadline is waiting for me at the end of the month. My typical writing day starts mid-morning and I write from five to eight hours. Depends on the day. I do a lot of staring, too.

Once the book is done, and I’m rewriting, I can easily put in a twelve or fourteen hour day. But it’s dangerous because I get tired and end up skimming or making sloppy, hasty changes. I get so close to a book, I can’t see the strengths or weaknesses objectively. That’s what editors are for.

What kind of timeline is involved in one of your novels? From concept to mailing it off.

RH – I’m just now finding my groove on starting a novel from scratch and finishing it. Most of my ideas have been birthed over time and I took months and months to think about the characters and stories while writing another book.

For example: I came up with Georgia On Her Mind’s heroine, Macy Moore in November, wrote a synopsis and three chapters, but then had some suggested changes by an agent and by the time I made those and started writing, three more months passed. I finished it the following July.

Lost In NashVegas took me six months to develop the concept of Robin McAfee, an upstart songwriter. My first attempts at her story was sent back to me by my agent with a “hum, no.” I sold the story last August, started writing in October and met a January 31st deadline.

The book I’m writing now, Diva NashVegas was conceived in April and started in earnest in May. I’m rewriting and editing now. It’s due in a few weeks. So, I conceived of and wrote this book in four months. A miracle for me, and I have to say it was hard. Very hard, but I prayed and prayed, and stood on the Lord’s promise to help me. (Is 41:13.) On the other side of the story mountain, I have to admit Aubrey James is the most favorite character I’ve ever written. Something very touching about her.

Do you submit chapters to a crit partner or just wait until the book is finished for final editing?

RH - The critic process is difficult for me. Or should I say for those I’m asking to critique. “Here, can you crit an 80k word manuscript in two weeks? You don’t have a life do you?”

I write and rewrite. To be honest, I don’t think anyone’s first draft is crit worthy. So much changes in my story, a critiquers efforts would be wasted early on. I refuse to do that to anyone. However, my husband and a few others will take it during the last two weeks and read. I get good input from them.

Are you a detailed plotter or SOTP?

RH – I’m a mix of plotter and pantser. I definitely have to know my characters before the story resonates. But I also need to know the plot points. Usually they are somehow involved with the journey of the character.

The whole time I’m writing, I’m making notes, thinking things through, combing through the story in my mind. I constantly work on the story as I’m writing.

What’s the hardest part of writing? The actual plotting, proposals, marketing, etc…

RH – Getting the first draft on paper is the absolute hardest part. Figuring out the story and characters, letting it breathe and develop while trying to stick to “the plan” for the book. It’s like birth. Emotionally painful. I pray a lot.

I ask everyone this. What do you think is the biggest misconception for newbie writers and what advice would you give them?

RH – For newbie writers, it’s the idea that once they get published, they’ve arrived. Writing is the hardest work I’ve ever done. Working fifteen hours a day on a down computer system in Australia was easier.

Once a writer is published, then it’s about working with the publisher, writing the next proposal, working on craft, marketing and the ever dreaded deadline. I’ve heard new writers talk about not writing unless they feel inspired. Deadlines will change that.
Insecurity never leaves, either. All writers are insecure. There’s the dreaded idea that my publishers will wake up one day and realize, “Rachel Hauck is a fraud.” I’ve heard a lot of authors express this insecurity.

The only difference between pubbed and non-pubbed authors is track record. But insecurity is always around.

Also, I think it’s easy to think too much of ourselves. Getting published is wonderful and amazing, but we are really only legends in our own mind.

So, to all writers I say, keep it real. Keep your identity in Jesus, in who you are to Him, not what you do. If writing defines you, you’ll be crushed.

You are more than writing. You are the Beloved of the King of Kings.

One more thought here, networking! I don’t think newbies realize how important it is to network, go to conferences. I wouldn’t be where I am today without networking. (And God’s help.)

Also, treat your writing like a business, a career. Not a hobby. Invest in yourself with time and money. Very important in the process to believe you are starting a new business, and needs to be treated as such.

Is there anything you know now that you wish you had known back in the beginning of your career? Such as any profound advice for unpublished writers. No pressure. LOL

RH – Just know it’s a lot of solitary work. Missing out on TV shows, movies, friendships. It emotionally draining at times. Be ready to give of yourself. If you work at it, you will do well. Don’t let the tyranny of the urgent distract you. Get a schedule, and keep it. If you keep it 50% of the time, you’re doing well.

Also, write the first draft. Don’t keep rewriting and reworking the front of the book or chapters you’ve already written. Write the entire book no matter how much it changes, no matter how much you hate it. Write it! Then rewrite it and rewrite it again.

Most books need to be rewritten at least three or four times. Then the editor gets it and you rewrite once more.

Be teachable. Keep a willing and open heart. Though every book is a labor of love and tears, let others help you improve it.

Read, read, read. Read up, too. Classics, books on the best seller list. Listen to who others are talking about and read them.

Would you mind sharing with us the day you made your first sale and how long had you been writing before you were published?

RH- My first sale was a co-authorship with Lynn Coleman. We proposed a Heartsong series together. I met Lynn at a conference by the way. When I found out for sure HP was going to buy Lambert’s Pride, I was eating lunch in Chili’s with ACFW member Allison Wilson. Lynn called me to tell me the due date.

I wrote the story, Lynn edited and brainstormed with me. At the time of the sale, I’d written two books. One to never see the light of day, though there are some very memorable characters. The other was almost purchased by Heartsong, but they’d already contract a book with a similar plot.

I’d been writing since ’94, but not steady. I’d say I’d been writing for about four years when Lambert’s Pride sold.

How did you come up with the idea for Georgia on Her Mind?

RH – Grit and grind. I just thought and thought. Read several chick lits. Then pictured a girl on the phone with her friend, giving her the low down on her stinky work situation. I have to say Macy’s journey is an exaggeration of a few of my own corporate experiences. She is my most autobiographical character, but even that is about one percent.

The story was fun to write. I was working at the time as a software project manager, and I’d leave work, go home and write for a few hours.

Do you have a goal of how many books you'd like to write each year and do you schedule breaks?

RH – Currently, I’m writing two books a year for WestBow Press. I have three more to write for them, which I’m excited about. Breaks come when they come. I have set deadlines, and on paper it looks like I have six months to write each book, but by the time I do rewrites and then edits and galleys, I only have about four or five months to conceive of and write another book.

I’m working on getting a better plan for coming up with each book and writing while waiting for the previous book’s edits.

What are you currently working on?

RH – I’m writing a book called Diva NashVegas about a country superstar who’s life changes quite a bit one summer. I mentioned Aubrey James earlier, but I’ll say again what a great character she turned out to be. I love her.

Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview, Rachel. And I hope everyone will check out Rachel’s Website and her posts on FaithChick. May God continue to use you for His glory! And to win a copy of Georgia on Her Mind, go to Rachel's website and find the answer to this question. What is Rachel's favorite movie and her passion? Two things. Email me the answer and I will draw for the winner on Monday. Happy Sleuthing!

RH – Thank you so much for having me, Sabrina! It’s been fun. Be blessed, everyone.

Georgia on Her Mind is available August 1st. Click here to order now!

Friday, July 21, 2006


Thank you for commenting on Shirlee's interview. I had two girls who took the time to find out the answer to the trivia question. Cara Putman and Patricia Woodside. I've decided to send a book to each of you. I hope you'll all come back next week. I'm reviewing Georgia on Her Mind, followed by an interview with the author Rachel Hauck.

And again, I can't thank Shirlee enough. It's hard enough to get the writing done, but to take the time to do stuff like this...well, she's a gem! Thanks, Shirlee, and we'll be watching that blog for future lessons on writing, market and just general writing tidbits.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

p.s. Thanks, Camy, for the plug on your blog. You rock!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


I believe we (writers) have it so much better than those in years past. We have the internet for research. We have all kinds of books on craft. Writing conferences. But even more importantly, we have great published writers who give of themselves to those of us who still have so much to learn.

Having said that, most of my friends know I'm targeting Love Inspired Suspense for my Prescription for Murder book. Like most new writers, I try to read books in my chosen market as often as I can. It was after ordering Even in the Darkness and When Silence Falls, that I went in search of Shirlee McCoy's website and ultimately her blog. I've so enjoyed getting to know her through her blog. Her insight into the publishing/writing world has been very enlightening. I think it must be the teacher in her that brings out her mentoring side. =)
Thank you for being here, Shirlee. I've read on your blog you are the second of five children. Now married and the mother of four young children, who you homeschool. Sounds like your life is pretty full. And yet, you still find time write. Any tips on how you make it all work?

I always recommend that writers choose daily word count goals rather than setting a specific time or number of minutes they plan to write. This tends to work, because it forces us to meet a very specific goal. If I write for a half-hour, I may write half a page or five pages. My progress will be sporadic and I may feel that I'll never finish my project. If I commit to writing five hundred words a day, I'll make consistent progress toward finishing. That's always a good feeling!

What kind of timeline is involved in one of your novels? From conception to mailing it off.

It takes me about a month to prepare a proposal (three chapters and a synopsis). Once that's approved, I usually have the book written and mailed out within two months. So, I guess that would be three months altogether.

Sheesh, woman! What kind of word count do you strive for daily? And do you take a certain amount of time off in between books

I write 2,000 words daily. I like to take a few days off when I finish a project, but that doesn't always work out. Sometimes I get really sluggish and take off more time than I should! Or, I'll play around with different ideas and not focus on any one project. Other times, I move right into the next story.

Are you a detailed plotter or SOTP?

I'm a SOTP writer, but I wouldn't say it's the best way to go. I really admire people who can do detailed plots before they write. It makes the process easier. Now that I sell my work on proposal, I write a long synopsis before I actually write the story. So, I guess I do plot some.

I've asked many writers how confident they are of their work. (since this is a big issue for me) The answers have varied. Some writers know they are writing well and it's just a matter of time before they sell that first book. Then there are published authors I know who still struggle with confidence. Do you struggle with confidence, if not, what has been the hardest thing for you as a writer to overcome?

I'm never satisfied with what I write. I always feel it could be better. However, I also realize that I could spend ten years trying to reach elusive perfection. I've had to learn to do the best work I can, and then let it go.

If you could have one book on the writing craft, what would it be and why?

Wow, that's a good question. The fact is, I've never read a book on the craft of writing, so I can't even begin to answer this. To study writing, I'd want a huge pile of published books in a variety of genres. Reading good writing teaches a person the flow of good story telling. Good story telling is key to success as a writer.

Wow, to think of all the money you've saved. Those craft books aren't cheap! LOL. Did I read you do things a little different in that you don't have a "crit" group? Can you share why that works for you and if you have your work critiqued before sending it off?

I don't have a critique group. I do have readers. And I pay a freelance editor to edit my final draft. My method is pretty simple I write the first draft on my own, revise, send the revised draft to my freelance editor, incorporate the changes she suggests, pass copies of the manuscript to four trusted readers. When they finish with it, I ask for comments and suggestions, make any further changes, and send it on to my editor at Harlequin. It's a method that works well for me. Mostly because I don't see much benefit in chapter by chapter critiquing. To be truly assessed, a story should be read in its entirety. That allows the reader to really get a handle on its strengths and weaknesses. Of course, that's only an opinion .

What do you think is the biggest misconception new writers will have to face?

That writing is controlled by muse and passion, and that being an author is somehow easier because it is something we love.

I guess that's not really a misconception so much as a dream. Writing is hard work. It only gets harder after a writer is published. The best thing any writer can do is get into good writing habits before she's published. Then when the time comes, she'll know what she's capable of & how many books a year she can produce, how long it takes her to write a first draft, how long it takes her to revise. Those things are really important when a writer is facing deadlines. I love writing. I can't imagine not doing it. But there are days when I'd rather do anything but write (even clean the bathroom!). To be successful, a writer has to be willing to write even when she doesn't feel like it. I think that's probably the hardest part of what we do.

Great point! I often wonder how much I could write if I was on a deadline. Good writing habits would make that much less scary.

On a more fun note, tell us about the day you found out you sold Still Waters. How did you celebrate and have you ever had a fabulous "Author" moment?

Selling STILL WATERS was such an awesome moment. It was my parents' anniversary. They'd gone on a trip. My husband had just startehomeschooling Things were pretty typical homeshooling kids, cleaning, feeling tired. Then the phone rang. I looked at the caller ID, saw Harlequin's name and number, and almost didn't answer. I was that nervous! I'd been hoping to sell the book. I'd spoken to Melissa Endlich on the phone a few months before and she'd told me she loved the story and the writing. I assumed that if they were calling, they wanted to buy it, but I was so afraid I was wrong, that maybe Melissa was calling me because she felt so bad about having to say no. I finally managed to pick up the phone, and was blown away when I was told Harlequin didn't just want to buy STILL WATERS, they wanted to offer me a two book contract. Wow! What an awesome moment. Of course, I tried calling everyone I knew and no one answered. LOL. I finally got in touch with my husband after several tries. He brought home dinner and flowers and a beautiful card that I still have.

I think my most fabulous author moment was signing at the D.C book expo in June. There were thousands of people there. I think it's the first time I've really felt like an author. Most days I just feel like me.

Can you tell us about any new projects you're working on?

I've just finished writing, VALLEY OF SHADOWS. It's the story of a character who appears in EVEN IN THE DARKNESS. In it, I take a very sweet, unassuming and rather mousy woman and throw her together with a dark, angst-ridden hero. They make a great couple. It just takes them a while to realize it! That will be out in July 2007. I've also got a book coming out in February 2007. LITTLE GIRL LOST is the second in the Secret of Stoneley continuity. My other project still needs to be approved by my editor, so I won't give any details.

Wow, sounds like you're going to have a very busy 2007. As always, Shirlee, you've been such a blessing. Thank you for being here and for all the help and encouragement you give to newbies like myself! Please check out http://www.shirleemccoy.comfor more great information on Shirlee and to keep posted on her future projects. And if you haven't checked out When Silence Falls, here's the link to order.

Finally, if you'd like to enter to win one of Shirlee's books from my own reading library, please go to Shirlee's blog and email me the answer to this question...In Shirlee's opinion, what are the three secrets to success? I will put the names in a drawing and let you know on Friday who the winner is. Happy searching.