Friday, December 21, 2007
I interrupt this Christmas blogging break to announce that Library Journal has named Crimson Eve one of Christian fiction's best novels in 2007.
LJ also named Crimson Eve the Top CF Suspense Novel of 2007.
The other four top CF novels of 2007 are:
Cleaver, Steven. Saving Erasmus: The Tale of a Reluctant Prophet (Paraclete)
Lliteras. D.S. The Master of Secrets (Hampton Roads)
Smith, Annette. A Bigger Life (NavPress)
Watson, Jan. Willow Springs (Tyndale)
Read the entire list of Best Books.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I e-mailed my book, Vain Empires, off to the publisher on Sunday. I've been rather brain dead since then.
I'd been too busy to think about Christmas until I jogged past G.G. and saw him in his Christmas red and green. "Yo!" he shouted, "tell those BGs I said Merry Christmas!"
I'm off to Idaho today for the Christmas season. Will be returning just before New Years. I'll be taking a blogging break during this time. (Unless there's a picture or two I just have to post.) It would be great to be taking a total break from work, but that's not to be. During the next two weeks I have to rewrite one book and plot another. Sheesh.
See you all in 2008!
Friday, December 14, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
My return trip on Sunday was not to be.
That morning freezing rain was predicted for Chicago the entire day. By 9:00 a.m. flights to O'Hare were already running two hours late. By 5 p.m., when my flight from O'Hare was scheduled to take off for San Francisco--the whole dratted airport would likely be shut down. I could be stuck back in the Red Carpet Room with Mr. I-Am-The-World Cardiologist.
Uh-uh, ain't happenin'.
I called my niece's husband, a US Air pilot. (US Air is the sister airline to United.) "What should I do?"
He told me to try rerouting through the south. "You can try calling, but they'll want to charge you. Best thing is to go to the airport and see what they'll do."
I tried calling United. The very polite girl in Bangalore was no help at all. (She's probably never even seen freezing rain.)
So I packed and trucked to the airport. I did not, however, take the sheets off Mom's guestbed before I left. Call it intuition.
There were no available flights to reroute through the south. I could take my chances with O'Hare that day or change my flights to the following day. Guess what I chose.
Mom was thrilled to have me back so soon.
However, I did have to hole myself in her office and work. At that point I couldn't lose another day from writing. I managed to put in 8 hours. She made me a fine dinner.
Ya just can't beat the service of a great mom.
On Monday I actually made it home. And only forty minutes late. Amazing.
Tuesday here in California I worked from morning til night. My deadline is now three days away. Sweat time. As usual I am convinced this is the book to end my career.
Sigh. When will it ever end?
Opening my e-mail yesterday morning, I found a well-timed tidbit. A very kind author pal sent me an excerpt from one of his fans who'd mentioned me. It read:
"Secular books, of which I have a scad because I love mysteries and such, are inclined to have unacceptable language, though I do purchase authors who don't use that much. Dean Koontz, for instance can terrify a person until they go to sleep with the lights on while using lovely, almost poetic language. Not that the author of Eyes of Elisha didn't do the same."
Got me through the day, I'll tell ya.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Actually I'm not lost. I managed to make it to Lexington. I didn't even arrive at the infamous hour of 10:30 p.m.
I arrived at 11:15.
Hey, what's a 16 1/2 hour trip to see my mama?
When I arrived my bag was not on the go-round thingy. But it was waiting for me at the American counter.
Thank you, God.
I almost didn't make it due to a few not-so-minor details. After trucking a good five miles from the United terminal to the American terminal, I checked in at the counter for a boarding pass. Gal looks at my ticket. "Well, they gave you a ticket but United never called over here to get you a seat assignment. So I'll give you a seat, but if more American passengers check in, I'll have to take it back."
"What? I've had this reservation for seven hours now."
"I've never heard of a reservation being cancelled just because there was no seat assignment."
"But my bag's even been rerouted to this plane."
Of course the American plane was also late. I had to wait another hour to find out if I even got on the thing. If not, I'd be on my own in Chicago for the night with no bag.
When I finally went to bed in Mom's guestroom I slept like a rock. Funny thing. I dreamed all night about killing a certain arrogant cardiologist while chanting, "I'm smarter than everybody. I'm a suspense novelist."
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
I must be out of my mind, trying to fly through O'Hare Airport in December.
Destination: to visit my mom (Mama Ruth) in Kentucky. Yes it's a mere 10 days before my deadline (chalk up another reason to call me crazy), but there's a strong compelling factor for this trip. Mom is about to turn 91. And if that isn't reason enough to carve out a visit--she's now 90.
Ya gotta enjoy your parents while you can.
Flight from San Francisco was A-okay. Only forty minutes late. Largely empty. I got an aisle seat by the galley with lots of extra leg room. I chose the 6:00 a.m. flight so I wouldn't be connecting through O'Hare onto the last flight of the day that arrives into Lexington at 10:30 p.m. Too late, and if it was cancelled, I'd have to wait overnight. So I got four hours of sleep and arose at 3:30 to make the early flight.
I am now in O'Hare. It is 5:00 local time. I was supposed to leave at 2:30. My flight into Lexington was cancelled due to weather conditions between here and there.
Immediately I got in the line for customer service to rebook my flight. Took an hour to get to the counter. In the meantime I jumped on the ol' cell phone. Called United. The helpful guy in India was happy to book me on the next available flight--8:00 a.m. the next morning. Hey, what's it to him? In Bangalore it's nearly 8:00 a.m. now.
I accepted the reservation and kept working.
Delta wanted to sell me a 4:40 flight for a mere $689. I told the gal I only wanted to fly an hour away from here, not to New Zealand.
American held me a space on an 8:10 p.m. flight. Lands in Lexington at--you guessed it--10:30.
United--yes I called back again--would book me on a 5:40 flight to Cincinnati. Which would go through Detroit or some such nonsense and get me to Cinci after 8:00. Which would be followed by a two-hour drive to Lexington. Arrival time--the bewitching hour of 10:30.
At the counter finally, United agreed to book me on the American flight and pay for it. My bag would even be transferred to arrive with me.
A mere six and a half hours left to wait. No problem. I have a book to write.
I hit the Red Carpet Room, of which I am not a member, but my husband is. Forked over $50 to be his "guest" for the day. I figured on a quiet place to write. Much better than bustling gates.
There's food in here. I've gone through crackers and cheese, strawberries and grapes, tomatoes and carrots dipped in ranch dressing. Coffee. A candy bar. (I hadn't eaten all day.)
There are people everywhere on the phone. Talking loud. Why can't they just read the paper or something? The guy across from me right now is discussing "executing the Australian office." I think he means starting the plan but I'm picturing bullet-ridden bodies down under the water cooler.
To the left of me a self-important doc has talked incessantly to a dozen or more people. Reminding each of them how very crucial he is to the turning of this world upon its axis. He actually said at one point, "I don't trust people because I'm smarter than everybody else. I'm a cardiologist."
I stuck my hand on the side of my face so he wouldn't see my snicker.
Straight across is a group of travelers chattering in French. One of the women has a full Abercrombie bag with one of its signature well-pecced young men in a to-die-for loll. Which reminds me of taking my daughter to college last September. We were milling around campus buying things for her room, and this hot guy rings up our tab. She turns to me. "See that guy? He's hanging on my wall."
An Abercrombie model.
Time passes. The arrogant doc has left. Now in his seat is a concerned father on the phone to his wife, perusing a web site of their errant son's bad grades. Beyond him two Indians with heavy accents, talking about seed money. I don't think they're discussing corn. A woman is blathering to her daughter about her late plane. Another guy's ticking through today's Dow like he owns it. All around this place phones are ringing and computers blinging. People trot back and forth to the food, the bar.
How am I supposed to work in all this stimuli?
And let's not forget I'm only scheduled to arrive in Lexington at 10:30. I may spend the night here yet. Without a bag. It's probably been rerouted to Hawaii.
Oh, joy. Someone new just sat beside me. Can't wait to hear his life story.
Time to see what new delicacy awaits at the food bar--
Oops, maybe later. My cell phone's ringing.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Here I am again at countdown. Twelve days until deadline. And five of those days (this Wednesday through Sunday) I'm visiting my mom in Kentucky.
I've edited everything I've written. Now just on to finish the thing. I'd edited the first 200 pages before. Was sure it read fine. Well, it did--then. But it's the most amazing thing to see the veil fall off my eyes. Happens every time regarding all the extra words I load in. Usually I don't see them until the rewrite. This time in editing the 270 pages I'd written so far, I lost a lot of pages. Man, I was wondering if I'd have a book left. Now everything looks trim--until I see it next time, I guess. I did near have a heart attack seeing all those pages go bye-bye. But for heaven's sake, the thing read terribly.
Why can't I just write it right the first time?
December 15 is not an ideal time for a deadline. I'd prefer the first. Actually it was initially set for the December first, but last spring I was looking at my fall schedule and thinking, "Nope, no way." So I asked for two extra weeks--and I've certainly needed them.
If my blogging's meager these days--now you know the reason.
Christmas? Shopping? Who has time for that?
Friday, November 30, 2007
Right now I am praying for so many Christian friends who are fighting terrible illnesses/health problems. They've been through surgery, chemo, years of treatment--you name it. Some need a miracle to pull through. Some will take months and months of healing. I pray the psalms over these folks. Any psalm intreating God's help can be used to pray against illness. You might have to change a few words to fit the situation, but I don't think God minds. I encourage you to pray the psalms aloud for those who are battling sickness. Nothing is more powerful in prayer than God's own Word.
Here's the BPV (Brandilyn's Prayer Version) for Psalm 31, as I might pray for a friend who is a Christian. (Based on the New American Standard Version.) Just fill in the name(s) of your own friends and family members, and pray along.
In You, O Lord, ____ has taken refuge;
May she (or he) not be ashamed.
In Your righteousness deliver her.
Incline your ear to me--rescue her quickly.
Be to her a rock of strength, a stronghold to save,
For You are her rock and her fortress.
For Your name's sake, lead and guide her.
Pull her out of the net this illness has laid for her,
For You are her strength
Into Your hand I commit her, Lord.
Ransom her, O God of truth.
I hate the regarding of vain idols,
But I trust in You, Lord.
I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness,
Because You have see ____'s affliction.
You know the troubles of her soul.
Don't give her over to the hand of this enemy.
Set her feet in a large place.
Be gracious to ____, Lord, for she is in distress.
Her eye is wasted away from grief, her soul and body also.
Her life is now spent with sorrow and sighing.
Strength fails her, and her body is wasting away.
Because of her illness she may feel like she's a reproach to her neighbors,
An object of dread to her acquaintances.
Some may not want to see her.
She may feel forgotten, our of mind, like a broken vessel.
She may have heard the words of many that terror is on every side.
Illness takes counsel against her, scheming for her life.
But she trusts in you, Lord, and I trust in You.
For You are our God.
Her times are in Your hand.
Deliver her from the hand of this illness and from its persecution.
Make Your face shine upon her.
Save her in Your lovingkindness.
Let her not be put to shame, O Lord,
For she calls upon You.
Let this illness be put to shame, let it be silent.
Let lying lips be dumb that speak arrogantly against ___
With pride and contempt.
How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for ____.
Which You have wrought for ____,
Because she takes refuge in You before the sons of men.
Hide ___ in the secret place of Your presence from this illness.
Keep her secretly in Your shelter from the strife of this disease.
Blessed be Your name, Lord,
For You have made marvelous Your lovingkindness to ____
During this besieged time.
If she says in alarm, "I am cut off from God's eyes!"--
Even then You hear her prayers and supplications when she cries to You.
I love You, Lord, I and all Your godly ones.
I know You preserve the faithful and fully recompense the proud doer.
Help ____ be strong. Help her heart take courage
For she hopes in You, Lord.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Coeur d'Alene was front and center this morning on Good Morning America's "Flip the Switch" promotion, highlighting the best Christmas holiday lighting celebrations across the country. Made me right proud.
To see the video of Cd'A's lights and fireworks, go to this page on GMA's web site and look in the top right corner. It's a beautiful sight even on the small video, but it can't begin to compare to being at the real annual event. These lights will be up through the rest of the year.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The December bestseller lists are up, posted last week. This list reflects sales in the month of October.
This month's list for fiction only goes up to 18. It's typically gone to 20. Don't know why they've cut it. The other lists I checked don't seem to be shortened.
Of note on this month's list--Cindy Woodsmall's second novel, When the Morning Comes, is back, this time tied with Jan Karon for #4. Cindy's first novel, When the Heart Cries, is at #15. What great placement for a new author! And Kim Sawyer's Beginnings is at #13. Ted Dekker's latest, Blink of an Eye, is at #18. It's sure to move up on the next list, as it was released October 7. Crimson Eve is at #17. And Francine River's Redeeming Love continues its staying power, hitting at #11.
The top 8 books on the fiction list made the Top 50 list (which includes all books published within CBA, fiction and nonfiction), ranging from placing at 2 to 47.
See the entire fiction list here.
Monday, November 26, 2007
The live airing, shot from 4-6 a.m. Pacific time to be run from 7-9 a.m. Eastern, will be a recreation of the Christmas lighting ceremony held every year in Cd'A on the Friday after Thanksgiving. On that night there's a parade down Sherman, the main tourist street one block from the Coeur d'Alene Resort. (I don’t think the parade will be redone for the GMA show.) After the parade everyone crosses the street to the huge resort lawn for the lighting ceremony. First there are Christmas songs performed from a stage with huge speakers. Then there's the countdown to the fireworks. At "0" the rocky beat Christmas music blasts on--and the fireworks begin. They're terrific! Sent off from barges just off the beach. This is my favorite part. I just go nuts, dancing around and clapping at the show. (My daughter, now 18, usually chooses to distance herself from me at this point.)
After the fireworks, hosted by the Hagadone family, co-owners of the Cd'A Resort, all the lights of the resort come on at once. Now this is no small sight. The resort buildings and hundreds of trees light up, including the world's tallest Christmas tree. Beyond that the resort runs an animated light show that includes over 250 displays and 1.5 million lights. The show starts at the resort and runs in the water across the top of the lake, ending at the world's only floating golf green. Through December folks can take cruises on the large resort boats to see the animated show.
Good Morning America will pop back and forth between regular programming and its live airing of the various towns' celebrations. The show's grand finale at 9 a.m. reportedly will be 90 seconds of the Coeur d'Alene fireworks and music.
For more about the GMA show—go here.
Friday, November 23, 2007
This week's CFBA blour: The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Deck Out
Turkey dinners, tree trimming, and decking the halls--it's that time of year again! And I, Jodi Baxter, can't wait to celebrate. My kids are coming home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then all of us Yadas are getting decked out for a big New Year's party.
But God's idea of "decked out" might just change the nature of our party plans. A perplexing encounter with a former student, a crime that literally knocks me off my feet, a hurry-up wedding, and a child who will forever change our family...it's times like these that I really need my prayer sisters.
This holiday season, we Yada Yadas are learning that no one can out celebrate God. So let's get this party started!
THE YADA YADA PRAYER GROUP GETS DECKED OUT is a festive novella featuring America's favorite prayer group, the Yada Yadas!
Sometimes dubbed "chick-lit" for their bright covers and catchy titles, this series provides far more depth than witty banter and wacky situations. Inspired by a prayer group of real women, each book will have you laughing, crying, and perhaps praying anew.
In this highly anticipated installment, the Yada Yada sisters-a group of multi-cultural friends-and their families prepare for the event of the season. This novella picks up a year and a half after the end of book #6, The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling, and concludes the series with some twists and turns that will amaze and encourage you. It also sets the stage for Neta’s new series with new characters and new situations but also occasional roles for the beloved Yada Yada sisters in familiar Chicago neighborhoods with all their cultural richness.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
I recently watched the movie The Straight Story for the first time, based on the real life story of a seventy-something-year-old man who crossed the state of Iowa in his 1966 John Deere tractor. It’s a David Lynch film.
Very slow movie to get started (especially for a suspense author). You just have to sit back and get in the groove. But I loved it. Just a feel-good type movie. Not until after the movie did I learn it was based on a real story. So I went googling for the guy’s name—Alvin Straight. Neither was I familiar with David Lynch films, which apparently are quite dark. I ran across this very long review of TSS. It totally changed the story for me. Based on the premise of what kind of films David Lynch usually does, it talks about the dark side of TSS, how the surface, sweet story masks something totally different. I think the review is quite plausible. In fact it answered logic questions I had about the movie, which cannot be explained if you see The Straight Story as merely a feel-good, sweet story.
I’m no dummy when it comes to picking up symbolism in a story, but I never saw any of this dark underside of the movie. I'm not alone. Most of the reviewers didn't either, which was exactly the point of the reviewer linked above--i.e., the other guys missed the whole point of the story entirely. (Since the movie's based on a true event, Lynch would have perhaps taken lots of license in creating the dark underside to the film.)
All of which leaves me to wonder: what good is symbolism or allegory running beneath the obvious, surface story if hardly anyone gets it?
I'm struggling with this question in writing my current manuscript, Vain Empires. (The title is taken from a line in Milton's Paradise Lost.) On the surface the story is my trademark "Seatbelt Suspense." But it contains quite a bit of symbolism about the fall of man--and how Satan, through his temptation of Adam and Eve, taught man to pursue "vain empires" instead of believing in God.
I keep wondering how many readers are going to see all the symbolism in my novel. I'm thinking--particularly because of the genre in which I write--perhaps not many. In a large way I foment "surface reading." I try to write suspenses that are fast-paced with twists and chapter hooks. My readers get into the groove of trying to figure out the twists before I spring 'em. With all the action going on, even smart readers may miss underlying symbolism. And the majority of my readers are Christians. How much less, then, would a non-Christian reader see the symbolism? And these are the folks who'd need to see it most. Now if I relied on that symbolism as the only Christian content in the novel--in other words, wrote in a "Christian worldview," as it's often labeled, but saying nothing about God in the surface story--would the story "work" if most people never see the underlying message--the point of the book?
I'm apt to think the book "works" if a reader finds it good suspense. That's what it's supposed to be. If the surface story rocks--hey, I've done my job as an entertainer. But the deeper side of me--the side that wants my stories to mean more than only what's on the surface--would be disappointed.
Some in the Christian writing world are apt to hold up Jesus and his parables as examples of how our storytelling should be. In Jesus' day those who got it got it, and those who didn’t, well, too bad for them. In fact nobody got it until he explained the parables to a select few. But is that really an example to take for my own writing? Do I want my novels to be that hard to “unpack?”
I asked some other writers about this, and here's how one responded (used with permission):
I am not of the camp that believes that we can write allegory with religious themes to our modern audience and expect them to see that other layer below the story. Blind eyes have enough trouble discerning John 3:16, let alone something I turn into an allegory. Unless allegory is explained to the reader. . . I just don't see the point.
Bottom line for me is this: Why would someone use allegory which essentially obscures the message they want to impart to a great part of their audience? I don't see the point. ESPECIALLY in a society that is becoming increasingly unimaginative and illiterate. IMHO allegory does NOT "reach more.. It "confuses more." And the fact that the only people who "got" the parables were the few who were there later when Jesus EXPLAINED them is my defense. Jesus told PERFECT stories. . . . and still the majority of the people remained clueless. Now He had an eternal purpose in doing that and He was God. That was a specific time in history meant for a specific people. I don't think it was an example for me to follow in my writing life.
What are your thoughts on this--for my writing, for your own, for CBA fiction in general?
Friday, November 16, 2007
Man, my blogging's been lousy lately. (Yeah, you're saying. Tell us about it.) Especially this week. I'm too busy writing. I've had too many outside appointments, which always messes me up. I've had some kinda stomach thing all week. And I'm fresh out of post ideas.
Actually not totally out. Just stalling. There's something I really want to blog about--in fact, for about five days--but it'll take getting permission.
I suppose I could just go days without blogging. But I feel guilty. Worse, I'm afraid you won't love me anymore. (You know us writers--so full of self-confidence.) So here I am, exhausted, wanting to go off to bed (yes, I actually post these things the night before), and instead of doing that, I find myself blogging about not having anything to blog about.
I wonder if this is the most blogged about topic on earth.
What have you blogged about lately? Anything exciting? Perhaps you should just direct all the BGs to come to your site. It's bound to be more entertaining.
Maybe this mood of mine is also due to the fact that I'm four weeks from deadline and just sure this time--as I am every time--that I'm writing a total bomb. That the book's so bad even this post will look great in comparison.
Somebody tell us a joke. Somebody write a limerick. It's Friday. Somebody save me.
This week's CFBA blour: Try Dying, by James Scott Bell. Read the Forensics and Faith interview with Jim about this book.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Yes, I've been quiet on the ol' blog lately. One, I've been very busy. Not that this is going to stop anytime soon. Next deadline is next month. Two, I'm empathizing with my writing bros and sisters who are on strike.
Well, you have to admit the second one sounds good anyway.
Have you see the video on how different our world would be without screen writers? Watch it first, then read on.
Methinks we can surely come up with a few sorely changed lines on our own. In fact, lines that could send the whole movie on a new tangent. Here's a few from me:
1. End of Casablanca: "We'll always have Paris. In fact, here are the tickets. Alls we gotta do is bump this guy off."
2. Woman in When Harry Met Sally's infamous restaurant scene: "Don't give me what she ordered. I think she's choking on it."
3. Ahnold in The Terminator: "I'm outta here--for good."
4. Darth Vader in the aha moment: "R2D2's your father."
5. Apollo 13: "Houston, you've done an impeccable job."
Friday, November 09, 2007
Happy Friday. I'm happy to feature fellow Sta Akra member Robert Liparulo and his novel, Deadfall, for this week's CFBA blour.
Robert is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly.
Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.
Robert's first novel painted a scenario so frighteningly real that six Hollywood producers were bidding on movie rights before the novel was completed. His acclaimed debut novel, Comes A Horseman, is being made into a major motion picture by producer Mace Neufeld and his short story "Kill Zone" was featured in the anthology Thriller, edited by James Patterson.
Bob has sold the film rights to his second book, GERM. And he is writing the screenplay for a yet-to-be-written political thriller, which sold to Phoenix Pictures, for Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, The Guardian) to direct. He is currently working on his fourth novel.
About the book:
Deep in the isolated Northwest Territories, four friends are on the trip of a lifetime. Dropped by helicopter into the Canadian wilderness, Hutch, Terry, Phil, and David are looking to escape the events of a tumultuous year for two weeks of hunting, fishing, and camping.
Armed with only a bow and arrow and the basics for survival, they've chosen a place far from civilization, a retreat from their turbulent lives. But they quickly discover that another group has targeted the remote region and the secluded hamlet of Fiddler Falls for a more menacing purpose: to field test the ultimate weapon.
With more than a week before the helicopter rendezvous and no satellite phone, Hutch, a skilled bow-hunter and outdoor-survivalist must help his friend elude their seemingly inescapable foes, as well as decide whether to run for their lives...or risk everything to help the townspeople who are being held hostage and terrorized.
An intense novel of character forged in the midst of struggle, survival, and sacrifice. Deadfall is highly-aclaimed author Robert Liparulo's latest rivetingly smart thriller.
Notes from Bob:
I’d like to give away five signed copies of Deadfall to readers of CFBA blogs during my tour. All they have to do is sign up for my e-mailing list (they won’t be inundated!) by visiting my website and going to the “Mailing List” page. Or email me with “CFBA giveaway” in the subject line.
I'm also holding a contest on my site:
**one winner a week till the end of the year for a signed Deadfall
**one winner a week till the end of the year for an unabridged audio MP3-CD of Deadfall
***and on Dec. 31, I’m giving away an iPod Nano, pre-loaded with an unabridged audio recording of Deadfall
Winners are selected from my e-mailing list—sign up at my site. If a winner has already purchased what he/she wins, I will reimburse them for the purchase price (or give them another—whichever they choose), so they don’t need to wait to see if they win before buying Deadfall.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
When you don't have time to keep up with your own news, search the Internet.
A few days ago I ended up on my author page at amazon.com--now I can't even remember why. Lo and behold I saw an unrecognized book cover with my name on it. What the heck?
I vote for all three.
Now with an easier-to-read version, the books may disappear all the faster.
Next time I can spare a few minutes, I plan to google myself. Maybe I'll discover a house I didn't know I owned. Or a long lost brother or sister. Better yet, a rich and generous uncle.
Best of all--I book I didn't know I'd written. I could turn it in for my next deadline.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Kuyper believes the early success is due to ECPA members taking ownership of this event – from signing up for exhibit space to marketing and promoting to local attendees.
The Christian Book Expo, a new consumer-oriented book event announced early in 2007, will bring together publishers, authors and consumers. “We are astounded at the advance exhibitor response,” says ECPA President Mark Kuyper. “We anticipated strong support, but the level of enthusiasm and commitment we’re experiencing—especially this far in advance—far exceeds our expectations.”
The Premier registration ended on October 22, 2007. The next deadline for discounted registration is March 20, 2008.
ECPA has secured more than 389,000 square feet (100,000 is designated for exhibit floor space) for the Christian Book Expo at the Dallas Convention Center. Adds ECPA’s Kuyper, “If the trend continues we will have to go back and book more space. We urge exhibitors to confirm booth space early so they don’t miss out.”
ECPA created the Christian Book Expo to directly connect with their core market—anybody making or influencing book buying decisions. As a result, publishers, ministries, authors and booksellers are invited to exhibit at this open-to-the-public event. Activities at the three-day Expo will include workshops, seminars, mini-events and evening programming—all lead by authors.
For more on the event, go to www.ChristianBookExpo.com. Launched in September, the website serves as the “go to” source for consumers, authors, librarians, religious leaders, pastors, counselors, book retailers, international rights, media and exhibitors.
Visit this page on the Expo website for more information about authors' involvement at Book Expo.
Friday, November 02, 2007
I'm in Idaho this week and next, slaving away to get a bunch of pages written for Vain Empires, my stand-alone novel that will release in the fall of '08. Yesterday I went for a hair cut. A very well-timed hair cut.
Not only because my bangs were in my eyes and driving me crazy. But because my female protagonist happens to be a hair stylist. And coming up next week I have to write a scene of her at work.
Up until now she hasn't been at work. Because she's been ... a little busy. You know, a dead body and all that. Well, don't feel sorry for her. After all, she did try out for my suspense novel and got the part, so what should she expect?
So yesterday I asked my unsuspecting stylist if I could interview her while she worked. I needed to understand hair cutting. What do you do first, second? That funny way you cut with the scissors angled--is there a name for that? How much do your shears cost? Yada, yada. She said sure.
She had no idea what she was getting into.
As luck would have it (if you believe in such a thing), she was training someone. So as she cut she was explaining to him what she was doing. Perfect. I listened and took copious notes. All while trying to hold my head just where she placed it. ("Control the head--that's your responsibility," she told the trainee. Fascinating stuff.)
As she lectured, I kept playing the annoying novelist and interrupting. "Wait, what did you say?" "Point cut, what's that?" "Whadya mean a blow line versus a weight line?"
Plus all my added questions: How many hours did you train? What did it cost? Can I hold your shears? What do different people's hair textures feel like? Do you always look at hair when you see people on the street? (Answer--yes. On TV too. Everywhere.) When you mix color for a highlight, how does that work? What does it smell like? What kind of shoes do you wear? What's the best thing about your job? (I didn't dare ask her the worst thing. She'd probably say annoying novelists.) How do your hands feel after being in water so much? (Surprising answer--not dry, not wrinkly, due to all the conditioners they massage into the hair.) "When do you pump the chair higher? When do you pump it lower?"
I learned how to find the natural part when the hair's wet. How to section. How to shape. Why stylists turn away from you often and check you in the mirror. I could have asked questions all day.
She took it all in stride. Didn't even ask me about my book. I found this comforting. She's a new stylist to me, see, and I didn't really want to explain that I kill people for a living. I mean, what if she wouldn't want to do my hair anymore?
I did have one very disconcerting moment. My stylist's colleague came in, looking bored. I told her as much. "Yeah," she said, "I am."
Uh-oh. I knew it then. I just knew. "You get stood up?"
Oh. My. That's how it all starts in my book. Protagonist stylist gets stood up. Goes home early. And the trouble begins.
I couldn't help thinking of my S-Man story.
When we were done I thanked my stylist profusely. Got her last name's spelling right so I can put her in the acknowledgments. She still didn't ask about the book.
Paying the checkout girl behind the spa counter, I opened my wallet--and found a fat black spider. She gasped. I flicked it out and killed it. Then sighed. "Five or six books ago I wrote about spiders. They're still trying to get me back."
She gave me a slow, round-eyed nod.
Amazingly, I left with another appointment on the books for December.
Bet they can't wait.
Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped.
Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!
In addition to Surrender Bay, the second Nantucket book releases in April 2008. The title is The Convenient Groom and features Kate Lawrence, a relationship advice columnist, whose groom dumps her on her wedding day. Denise is currently at work on the third Nantucket book (Oct 2008) which is untitled so far.
About the book:
As their long-dormant romance begins to bud again, Sam must face the fact that Landon still doesn't know why she really left the island. Will the secrets she's hidden all these years tear them apart? Or is Landon's love really as unconditional as he claims?
"I've always thought Denise Hunter was an amazing writer but this wonderful story sets her firmly at the forefront of compelling love stories. How Landon breaks down Samantha's determination that she is unworthy of love kept me glued to the pages. An amazing story!"
--Colleen Coble, author of Fire Dancer (Smoke Jumper Series)
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Here's a behind the scenes look in World Magazine at Bella, a faith-based movie with a pro-life view, that opened in 30 U.S. cities last weekend.
World Magazine is a weekly publication with a Christian worldview that can be received online or in print. Subscribe here.
This week's CFBA blour:
The Return, by Austin Boyd
Austin's a great guy and an incredibly hard worker. He applied that work ethic to learning fiction--and watch out. Austin don't mess around.
Austin Boyd writes from his experience as a decorated Navy pilot, spacecraft engineer and an astronaut candidate finalist. Austin lives with his wife Cindy and four children in America’s “Rocket City”--Huntsville, Alabama, where he directs business development for a large NASA and defense contractor. His creative talents include inspirational fiction and poetry, finely crafted reproduction colonial furniture, archery and long distance cycling. He serves his community as an advocate for a crisis pregnancy center and as a motivational speaker in the area of lifestyle evangelism.
The Return is part of the Mars Hill Classified Series with The Evidence and The Proof
About the Book:
IS SEEING BELIEVING?
Six years after completing a manned mission to the Red Planet, Admiral John Wells is set to make another journey to Mars. But this time his crew is not alone, as John's team encounters a secret colony comprised of individuals pursuing John Raines' strange religion, the "Father Race."
While John begins to uncover a web of lies on Mars, his wife and daughter are struggling for survival on earth. Now John must survive his dangerous mission and find a way back home, even as a shocking plan begins to unfold millions of miles away on earth.
Austin Boyd is back with his third thrilling novel in the Mars Hill Classified series, full of high-tech intrigue, memorable characters, and adventure that transports readers to another world.
From the Back Cover:
With nothing left for him on Earth, Rear Admiral John Wells didn't hesitate to lead a third NASA team to Mars, but he never dreamed that one day they'd look out their laboratory module into the lights of a slow-moving vehicle not their own. In the third installment of the Mars Hill Classified series, life on Mars becomes increasingly more unpredictable as the past collides with the future and nothing, not even the dead, is as it seems.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, the fate of hundreds, including John Wells' family--presumed dead these last six years--rests precariously in the hands of Malcolm Raines, self-proclaimed Guardian of the Mother Seed and Principal Cleric of Saint Michael's Remnant, and his insidious plans for the Father Race.
Wells will find himself in a race against time and all odds to expose the truth: about Mars, about Malcolm Raines, and, if he's very brave, about himself.
Monday, October 29, 2007
I recently read James Scott Bell's latest novel, Try Dying, and enjoyed it very much. Here's a little inside scoop from the man himself as to what the book's all about.
Hey, Jim, thanks for coming over to Forensics and Faith. So tell us about this latest book of yours.
Try Dying involves a highflying lawyer--Ty Buchanan--whose fiancée is killed on page one. It looks like an accident, but maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was murder. When he tries to find out, he gets in bad, bad trouble. He’s befriended by a fallen priest and basketball-playing nun, and other characters who will recur.
You went over to Center Street, part of the Hachette Book Group, to write this one. Try Dying is more for the general market than for inspirational. Why'd you do that?
I haven’t been happy about some of the trends in contemporary, secular suspense. And I think the audience out there is getting tired of the gratuitous elements. I believe you can write page-turning suspense without that, like some of the great crime novels of the 40s and 50s. I wanted to offer that, because I see the need for it.
Tell us about the next Ty Buchanan novel. When will it be released?
Try Darkness is due to be released in July of '08. This one involves the murder of a woman in a transient hotel, and her six-year-old daughter, whom Ty must protect.
The book jacket on Try Dying calls this novel "modern noir." Define that term for us.
Noir is generally about a struggle to survive in the big city, where cons and crime abound. Good and bad meeting on the mean streets. It's a post-WWII genre of film and novel, very American.
The opening of the story sets up that noir feeling immediately--the "news-story" sounding narrative then immediately turned to become personal for the main character.
Yes, I've done this before. It gives a kind of feel of a 50s crime film, with those narrators. Then we see it is the lead character who is narrating.
Where does your love for noir fiction come from?
I was a film major in college, back when film noir was just becoming appreciated. Paul Schrader had written a seminal study of noir for Film Comment magazine and came up to UCSB and I got to interview him. We were all studying these films. I just fell in love with them. Especially the ones that took place in Los Angeles, my hometown.
Noir is really a spiritual journey. The characters have to decide which side -- good or evil, law or crime, truth or lie -- they are going step into, with commitment. You can't be on the fence. If you are, if you try to play both sides, you usually end up dead. Or in jail.
Sometimes, you face down your dark side and come out into the light. Like Glenn Ford does in The Big Heat, one of the all time classic noirs. That's sort of the feel I want for the Ty Buchanan books.
You did a wonderful job of creating the dark, "cement jungle" atmosphere of Los Angeles--to the extent that the city itself almost became a character. What are some techniques you used to do this?
That's part of the noir style. The city does become a character. It adds to the mood, the texture, the plot, the inner life of the characters.
One technique I use is to visit every location I write about. I take pictures and walk around and feel the atmosphere. I talk to people and listen for interesting stories.
One of your trademarks is your crisp, fresh dialogue. How do you create that? Do you hear the characters talking in your head?
I've always loved dialogue. Maybe this goes back to my acting days, when I did a lot of improv. I was always mimicking other actors, too.
I have to be able to "hear" my characters first, so I spend time getting a feel for their voices. I edit my dialogue a lot, cutting out words, tightening. Looking for places where I can replace dialogue with something else -- action, reaction, silence.
The rave review from Booklist says you are "very good at keeping secrets." How do you do that? Do you plan well ahead or make them up as you go along?
Part of the fun, and challenge, of modern suspense is creating surprises. We've had so many movies, books and TV shows that do this.
I'd say that one thing I do is make sure that every main character has a personal secret, one that would give them a motive to lie. Then I try to create webs of relationships between the characters, that I don't reveal until near the end. Surprises seem to happen naturally that way.
Thanks so much, Jim.
Here's the review buzz about Try Dying.
Publishers Weekly: "[an] engaging whodunit ... Readers will enjoy Bell's talent for description and character development."
Booklist: "An appealing and series-worthy protagonist ... Fans of thrillers with lawyers as their central characters—Lescroart and Margolin, especially—will welcome this new addition to their must-read lists."
Friday, October 26, 2007
I am highly recommending Tosca Lee's debut novel, Demon, A Memoir. This is a novel that will stick with you. That you'll think about for days later. I still ponder it and see new layers of meaning. This is one book you should not miss.
Demon is beautifully written. Lovely prose. Great use of emotion. Tosca Lee describes ethereal scenes we know happened--because the Bible says so--in ways that will make you understand them, see and hear them, like never before.
I was completely drawn in by this book. I learned things about the Bible, about myself. I will not read the Creation story, or the story of Lucifer's fall again without picturing the scenes described in Demon.
Back cover copy:
One night changes everything.
Recently divorced and mired in a meaningless existence, Clay drifts from his drab apartment to his equally lusterless job as an editor for a small Boston press—until the night Lucian finds him and everything changes with the simple words: “I’m going to tell you my story… and you’re going to write it down and publish it.”
What begins as a mystery soon spirals into chaotic obsession as Clay struggles to piece together Lucian’s dark tale of love, ambition, and grace…only to discover that the demon’s story has become his own.
And then only one thing matters: learning how the story ends.
Ah, yes, and how does it end? I had no idea. And I think it ends brilliantly.
BHCC members--this is not a scary book. It's labeled "contemporary," not "suspense." No excuses here. Read it.
Read the first chapter.
In addition to reading the first chapter--and you'll be glad you did--check out this "Story behind the story."
Tosca is now at work on her second book, Havah: the story of Eve.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Here's an interesting article from the New York Times about the formation of its bestseller lists.
This week's CFBA blour: The Illuminated, by Mat Bronleewe.
IT'S BEEN 500 YEARS IN THE MAKING...PREPARE TO BE ILLUMINATED...
August Adams has failed his family before. He's sacrificed relationships in pursuit of adventure, fame, and money. Now the very lives of those he loves depend on his ability to decipher a centuries-old puzzle encrypted in the colorful hand-painted illuminations that adorn three rare Gutenberg Bibles.
It's a secret that could yield unimaginable wealth, undermine two major religions, and change the course of Western civilization. Two ruthless, ancient organizations are willing to do anything to get their hands on it. And August has the span of one transatlantic flight to figure it out.
If he fails, those he holds most dear will die. If he succeeds, he'll destroy a national treasure.The clock ticks, the suspense mounts, and the body count rises as August pits his knowledge and his love for his family against the clock, secret societies, and even Johannes Gutenberg himself.
"...this rare breed of suspense thriller combines mysterious hidden clues, secret societies, buried treasure, double agents, and the Knights Templar...if you turned National Treasure into international treasure, traded DaVinci codes for Gutenberg Bibles, married it to Indiana Jones, and added the pacing of 24 you'd be in the neighborhood of Illuminated...on a scale of one to 10, this one goes to 11." -Aspiring Retail Magazine
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Here's the CBA November bestseller list, reflecting sales in the month of September. It includes many of the usual suspects, but note the incredible placement for Cindy Woodsmall. Cindy has only two books published so far--and they're both on the list. Notice that her latest, When the Morning Comes, is also number eight on the Top Fifty list. What a terrific accomplishment for a new novelist!
Kudos to Cindy; her publisher, Waterbrook; and her agent, Steve Laube.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
As of Saturday afternoon, thanks to the CFBA blour, Crimson Eve was #2 on Technorati's "most popular books" list, and Violet Dawn and Coral Moon were #4 and #5.
Seventy-one members of CFBA took part in the Crimson Eve blour (blog tour), with 50+ members leaving comments at the CFBA blog with links to their posts.
I offered a free copy of Crimson Eve to those who'd never read one of my novels--up to the first 50 responders. Responses poured in and all 50 books are now spoken for. My assistant's gonna be busy mailing those out.
The first day of the blour (Wed., Oct. 17), Crimson Eve's amazon ranking was 12,910. By the third day it had fallen in ranking to 27,670. (Remember, a few books sold can make a big jump in amazon rankings.) In the five days before the blour started, rankings were between the 14,000s and the 20,000s. So all in all, not a big change during the actual tour.
When it comes to blours, amazon rankings aren't the main concern in considering how well the tour went. It's good to climb up high in technorati numbers, because that indicates anyone searching that "most popular" page will have at least seen the cover of the book. Better indications will be down the road, although hard to document (as marketing ventures so often are). I used the opportunity to give away copies to folks who've never read my books, and I think in general that's one of the best marketing tools for a book. Get the product in new readers' hands. Especially if the product is being very highly rated by folks who are used to reading the author.
Thanks to all the CFBA members who posted for me. And thanks most to Bonnie Calhoun, who runs CFBA and is a true saint for all she puts up with in keeping members in line, including me.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Okay, all you computer folks--help me out, will ya. I have Adobe Photoshop, see. It's great for pictures and is my default way to open up photos. That's all well and good. But somehow it's also gotten to be my default for opening up pdf files. I don't want that. Reading a pdf file in Photoshop can be a total pain.
So--how do I change the pdf default in my computer to Adobe Reader while keeping the photo opening default with Photoshop?
And while I'm at it, you computer folks have any other handy dandy morsel tips to send my way? Chances are I or some other BG don't know about them.