Friday, October 30, 2009

Giveaway: 48 Copies of Eyes of Elisha

UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed and the winners have been chosen. Thanks to all who participated!

Two days ago on Facebook I asked for ideas of how to give these 48 books away. Friends responded with lots of great ideas. After reading all the comments, I decided on my plan.

First, a little more about these books. These are mass market paperbacks--my only novel to be published in this size. They are remnants from a special print offer for Eyes of Elisha. With the purchase of another book, buyers could pick up the mass market EOE for 99 cents. This was a one-time deal, and no more books like these will be printed. Call 'em collector's items. :)

Eyes of Elisha was my first suspense, published in 2001. It was a bestseller and remains one of my most popular titles. It features Chelsea Adams, who has the gift of visions. Which, uh, tend to get her in a little trouble. My second suspense featuring Chelsea is Dread Champion. Chelsea also comes back later to co-star with forensic artist Annie Kingston in Web of Lies, fourth and final in my Hidden Faces series.

The giveaway:

1. Twenty copies will be sent to folks who've never read a Brandilyn Collins novel. (Do such people really exist?) Do you have a friend or family member who loves suspense but has yet to discover my books? Leave a comment telling me your friend's name and why you want him/her to receive a copy.

2. Ten copies will be sent to church libraries. Would your church library be interested in this novel? Tell me the name of your church and why you think it would.

3. Ten copies will be sent to members of ten different book clubs. Do you think your book club would be interested in reading Eyes of Elisha? Tell me about your club, and why you think EOE would be a good fit. (By the way, I have discussion questions for EOE I can send you.)

4. Eight copies will be sent to people who promise to blog about their experience in reading the book (without giving away any twists!) Send me the URL of your blog and tell me why you'd like to receive a copy.

In each instance I'll choose recipients from the comments. In your comment please include your email address in this spelled-out form: name (at) server (dot) com.

Everybody got it? Have fun with your creative comments! Don't forget to leave your email address.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Christian Fiction Blog

I'm not in the habit of writing a post whose one goal is to point you toward another blog. But such is the case today. Dianne Burnett, wonderful cheerleader for Christian fiction at, has started a blog. Her entries are short and quickly read--pointing you toward new books and inside looks at Christian novelists. She also includes updates regarding upcoming titles to watch for. Do yourself a favor and visit the Fiction Blog. You may want to bookmark this site.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Twitter (& Facebook): Tweetin' You Right?

I'm a little less Twitterpated than I used to be.

I've now been on Twitter for about a year. I currently have 6175 followers. This list grows daily of its own accord. I haven't gone after new followers on Twitter for a long time.

I've been on Facebook for around thirteen months. My friends on Facebook equal 2836 as I write this post. But this list also grows regularly. I see a minimum of ten new friends a day. I also have my Fans of Brandilyn Collins group page with a current 975 members.

So much for the stats. My thoughts on these two social media sites:

1. Twitter is becoming business-heavy. Most of my direct messages (which are private) these days are from business accounts wanting me to buy this or go to some site. I'm now even seeing @Brandilyn messages from people I'm not following and are not following me, but who want me to see their spam tweet.

2. I auto-follow and auto-unfollow on Twitter because I can't keep up with it manually. Once you hit some magic number, 5000 for certain, it all just gets too much to manage. Problem is, auto-following lets in all the riffraff. I could manually unfollow as I see them pop up. But I'd be doing that all day long. I could also go through my entire account, delete the junk, then turn off auto-follow. I would need a clone to do this.

3. Interaction with my real-people tweeps is way down. Perhaps everyone's account is becoming so large, they can't see individual tweets, and so do little responding. I know that's the case with me. And when I send out a tweet, sure I'll see retweets and some responses, but nothing like I used to. Sometimes I feel like I'm speaking into a shouting crowd.

4. #3 notwithstanding, I still post tweets on Twitter, which will then feed to Facebook as updates. I use Tweetdeck, by the way. And for regularly scheduled posts, such as Today's Word, I use Tweetlater. (Now called SocialOomph.) Dumb new name, but very helpful app.

5. My Facebook page, in contrast, is seeing more and more action. Here the friends are real people--that's the difference. They're responsive to my updates. It's a great place to keep in contact with my readers and find new ones. Yesterday for example I put out an update about having 48 copies of mass market Eyes of Elisha to give away. I asked for ideas as to how I should structure the giveaway to attract new readers. (This one didn't go through Twitter--too long.) I received thirty or so responses with some good ideas. I'll be deciding how to proceed on that giveaway in the next few days. A number of weeks ago I asked my friends for ideas for the third Rayne Tour book title--and got the perfect one: Final Touch. Numerous people respond to my Today's Word every day, and we discuss all sorts of things. I'm finding Facebook a very effective site. And I'm going to think of ways to use it--and my fan group there--more.

So how about you? How are Twitter and Facebook treating you? Got any advice for managing my cumbersome Twitter account?

By the way, if you don't like the new way Facebook is feeding you updates, you can change it back to the original. (I know this thanks to one of my very helpful friends.) On your home page look to the top left menu and click on MORE. Then drag STATUS UPDATES to the top. After dragging to top, click on it. Your default will return to the way it was before.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Of Fences, Chicken Heads, & Other Sundry Items

Recently Tim George of Unveiled: Exploring the world of Christian suspense, mystery, and the occasional sci-fi interviewed me, posing some provocative questions. Among them:

"This interview is a first for me. This marks the first time I have ever interviewed both a character and the author of the novel that character appeared in. Any idea who I am talking about?"

We also discussed two important things a writer should remember, the background of the Big Honkin Chickens' Club, and working with our kids. (Tim says he and his son "nearly killed each other" while building a fence.) So how was it that my daughter, Amberly, and I have managed to write books together?

As for that character question, I thought, Ah, yes. "You're talking about ..."

Read interview here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

"Don't FOX Me In"

Over the weekend a spirited but civil debate about Obama's dislike for FOX News took place on my Facebook page. It was prompted by this comment that I posted on Saturday morning: "Obama's attempt to squelch free press through marginalizing FOX--whether you voted for him or not, don't you find this disturbing?"

Many answers, in a word, were "Yes." Here are a few other comments:

"How can he possibly take on something as fundamentally important to democracy as free press?"

"No one is forced to watch Fox, and it should be available as a choice."

"Seems there are more checks than balances."

"We no longer watch any TV. We used to be especially disgusted by news bias. We get our news from other sources."

"Journalism should cover only the facts. Let us decide whether we agree or disagree."

"I kind of like FOX being silenced."

"You may like Fox being silenced. But will YOU be next?"

"I think it's shameful that this even happened but I do think Fox News had it coming."

As for my thoughts: Regardless of whether you like FOX or not, I think what Obama tried to do is very disturbing. This isn't about politics. It's about the freedom of the press to disagree with the president. And that is why the other news organizations said "no way" to FOX being left out of the Pay Czar's interview. I doubt they have any love lost for FOX (whose ratings are often higher than theirs), but they're thinking, "We could be next."

Further, the exclusion of FOX as a perceived dissenter of this administration inherently implies that the other news organizations are saying just what the president wants. They're the "good guys" of whom he approves. You might as well boil a true journalist in oil as tell him that. Biased or not, all true journalists like to think of themselves as reporting the "truth," not what the president or any other politician wants them to report.

This brouhaha, in my opinion, has make Obama look petty at best and scarily controlling at worst. And ironically, it has only served to drive more viewers to FOX. Their numbers are soaring.

Hmm. Maybe the marketing plan for my next suspense novel needs to include royally ticking off the president ...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Know Any Teens? Help Them Win an iPod

The Last Breath contest is now open for teenagers 13-18. Grand prize: an 8GB iPod, pre-loaded with Rayne Tour books Always Watching and Last Breath. To enter just send in an e-mail. Go
here to enter and read all rules.

What teenager can you tell about the contest?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oh Joy, Halloween's Around the Corner

I hate Halloween.

I know, I know. I’m a suspense novelist who kills people and writes about things that go bump in the night. You’d think Halloween would be my favorite day. Nuh-uh.

Can’t say when I grew to hate it so. I certainly did my share of trick-or-treating as a kid, collecting my sackful of candy and hogging it down for weeks afterward. And when my kids were little, I did the dutiful mom thing and took them around. Never liked doing it, though. I was already slipping into my hate mode.

Our kids are spread seven years apart, so when our son was twelve, I allowed him to start taking his little sister door to door. I wiped my hands of that task forever—and quite happily. Only thing was, I found myself stuck at home answering the door for all the other trick-or-treaters. Didn’t like that either.

I guess you could call me the Grinch of Halloween. (I suppose that would be the Grinchoween.)

I just can’t find anything particularly good about the day. I know some people really abhor the idea and will have nothing to do with it. I don’t go that far, although much of the reason I don’t like the day has to do with its less-than-desirable origins. On the practical side, kids simply don’t need all that candy. I have a theory that dentists (and we all know how evil they are) invented trick-or-treating.

So years ago when our kids were still both trick-or-treating, I came up with an idea. It was brilliant on numerous fronts. First, it infused some positive spin on Halloween—for me, of course. Second, it immediately diminished some of my kids’ candy stashes, which was more than needed.

My idea? Parent tax.

I called it tax, when in reality it was more like a tithe. Following that wonderful biblical principle of first fruits belonging to God—ten percent off the top. Although in this case the ten percent didn’t go to God; it went to Mom.

I’d wait by the door for the return of my hapless children. (My excuse was, I was stuck there anyway, having to answer the bell so often.)

They’d sidle in, holding their bulging bags behind them. My arms would reach out, my voice clipped and authoritative. “Parent tax.”

Their shoulders would droop. Exchanging sighs, they’d hand over their loot.

I always took the chocolate. Mini Baby Ruths, M&Ms—plain and peanut—Twix bars, Snickers. This wasn’t as hard on the kids as you might think. If they complained too loudly, we compromised. But most of the time, they were into all the sugary stuff that’s not worth eating anyway. Gummi bears, licorice (what insanity led to the invention of that horrible stuff!), sour tarts. Blah. They could have that rot.

Now the kids are grown and gone. On Halloween night hubby and I turn off the porch lights and pull down the shades. “We’re not home!” our house screams. “Stay away!” Such total party-poopers. But tell you the truth—most of our street’s the same way. It works. We don’t have to buy candy any more. Not one visitor on Halloween night. I cackle about that all evening.

But, man, I seriously miss that parent tax.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Marketing: FAIL

For years in the area of one of our homes I've admired the work of a certain landscaping company. (I won't even say which home, to grant said company further anonymity.) I will call this company A.L. for Artistic Landscape, for indeed that is what they do. I've never seen a local TV or newspaper ad for A.L. Instead the only marketing I've noticed is their tasteful, small signs in the yards of homes that they've landscaped. These front yards are testaments to the great work A.L. does. Their landscapes are works of art.

Which is why, when my husband and I wanted to do some changing of our plants in our front and back yards, we decided to call A.L.

Actually, Mark picked up the phone. I later wished I had. At A.L. Mark reached an assistant. "Hi, we're interested in some landscaping. Could someone from your company come out and see what's needed?"

"Okay. How much do you want to spend?"

"Uh. I don't know."

"Because if you spend $7000 or so, I'll come out. But if you spend over $15,000, the owner himself will come out."

Oookay. Mark thanked the assistant and hung up.

When he reported the conversation to me, I was astounded. Landscaping is expensive, I know that. It wasn't the prices that surprised me. It was the way in which A.L.'s design service was presented. If I'd been the one to call, I'd have pressed with further questions--like this:

"Are you serious? Do you have any idea how this spiel of yours comes across? You're telling me unless I spend top dollar at your company, I will receive less than your best design. You've just erased years of positive marketing in sixty seconds."

I can understand a company's policy of giving higher end service to higher paying customers. Maybe that's not all that unusual. But surely there's a better way to talk to the customer. The conversation left me wondering if all the beautiful front yards I'd seen were the design of the "owner himself." What would I be getting with the mere "assistant?"

Sad, isn't it, to see how quickly all those years of positive thoughts about this company went in the tank. And then it got me thinking. With all of my own marketing, people may have positive reactions to what I do. They may read this blog, visit my Web site, receive my Sneak Pique newsletter, visit my Facebook page. I often give away books because I believe if a new reader is exposed to my work, he/she will like it. But, mercy, I want to be just as good at presenting myself when someone actually contacts me.

One negative connection can wipe out a lot of previous positive reactions.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bestseller Lists for September

Both lists for Christian fiction are now in. ECPA's "October list" and CBA's "November list" both reflect sales in the month of September. Books appearing on only one list are highlighted in blue.

ECPA Numbers in parentheses refer to the book's placement on ECPA's Top Fifty list.

1. (3) The Missing, Beverly Lewis, Bethany/Baker

2. (5) The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
3. (7) Green, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson Publishers
4. (10) Take Two, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
5. (11) A Cousin's Prayer, Wanda E. Brunstetter,Barbour
6. (15) Take One, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
7. (20) Dawn's Prelude, Tracie Peterson, Bethany/Baker
8. (23) Fields of Grace, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Bethany/Baker
9. (24) The Secret, Beverly Lewis, Bethany/Baker
10. (29) The Hope of Refuge, Cindy Woodsmall, Waterbrook/Multnomah
11. (35) Eye for an Eye, Irene Hannon, Revell/Baker
12. (38) Double Minds, Terri Blackstock, Zondervan
13. (44) Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Waterbrook/Multnomah
14. Fireproof, Eric Wilson, Thomas Nelson
15. A Cousin's Promise, Wanda E. Brunstetter,Barbour
16. Man of His Word, Kathleen Fuller, Thomas Nelson
17. The Carousel Painter, Judith Miller, Bethany/Baker
18. A Surrendered Heart, Tracie Peterson/Judith Miller, Bethany/Baker
19. Hinds' Feet on High Places, Hannah Hurnard, Tyndale

20. Any Minute, Deborah Bedford, FaithWords

CBA Numbers in parentheses refer to the book's placement on CBA's Top Fifty list.

1. (6) Missing, Beverly Lewis, Baker
2. (7) The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
3. (9) Green, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
4. (13) Take Two, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
5. (22) A Cousin’s Prayer, Wanda Brunstetter, Barbour
6. (25) Intervention, Terri Blackstock, Zondervan
7. (28) Dawn’s Prelude, Tracie Peterson, Bethany/Baker
8. (36) Take One, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
9. (39) The Secret, Beverly Lewis, Bethany/Baker
10. (42) Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Multnomah/WaterBrook
11. (45) Fields of Grace, Kim Sawyer, Bethany/Baker
12. Measure of Mercy, Lauraine Snelling, Bethany/Baker)
13. The Hope of Refuge, Cindy Woodsmall, WaterBrook
14. An Eye for an Eye, Irene Hannon, Revell/Baker
15. A Gift of Grace, Amy Clipston, Zondervan
16. Though Waters Roar, Lynn Austin, Bethany/Baker
17. The Knight, Steven James, Revell/Baker
18. Who Do I Talk To?, Neta Jackson, Thomas Nelson
19. Shades of Blue, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
20. The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis, Zondervan

Monday, October 19, 2009

American Idol Meets Book Publishing

Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction, today announced the debut of a revolution in fiction acquisitions.

"Marcher Lord Select is American Idol meets book acquisitions," says publisher Jeff Gerke. "We're presenting upwards of 40 completed manuscripts and letting 'the people' decide which one should be published."

The contest will proceed in phases, Gerke explains, in each subsequent round of which the voters will receive larger glimpses of the competing manuscripts.

The first phase will consist of no more than the book's title, genre, length, a 20-word premise, and a 100-word back cover copy teaser blurb. Voters will cut the entries from 40 to 20 based on these items alone.

"We want to show authors that getting published involves more than simply writing a great novel," Gerke says. "There are marketing skills to be developed--and you've got to hook the reader with a good premise."

Following rounds will provide voters with a 1-page synopsis, the first 500 words of the book, the first 30 pages of the book, and, in the final round, the first 60 pages of the book.

The manuscript receiving the most votes in the final round will be published by Marcher Lord Press in its Spring 2010 release list.

No portion of any contestant's mss. will be posted online, as MLP works to preserve the non-publication status of all contestants and entries.

Participating entrants have been contacted personally by Marcher Lord Press and are included in Marcher Lord Select by invitation only.

"We're also running a secondary contest," Gerke says. "The 'premise contest' is for those authors who have completed a Christian speculative fiction manuscript that fits within MLP guidelines and who have submitted their proposals to me through the Marcher Lord Press acquisitions portal before October 29, 2009."

The premise contest will allow voters to select the books that sound the best based on a 20-word premise, a 100-word back cover copy teaser blurb, and (possibly) the first 500 words of the book.

The premise contest entrants receiving the top three vote totals will receive priority acquisitions reading by MLP publisher Jeff Gerke.

"It's a way for virtually everyone to play, even those folks who didn't receive an invitation to compete in the primary Marcher Lord Select contest."

The premise contest is open to anyone with a completed Christian speculative fiction manuscript that meets MLP guidelines for length, content, genre, worldview, audience, etc. To enter, authors must complete the acquisitions form found at the Marcher Lord Press site and supply all the components listed below on or before October 29, 2009.

Marcher Lord Select officially begins on November 1, 2009, and runs until completion in January or February 2010. All voting and discussions and Marcher Lord Select activities will take place at The Anomaly forums in the Marcher Lord Select subforum. Free registration is required.

"In order for this to work as we're envisioning," Gerke says, "we need lots and lots of voters. So even if you're not a fan of Christian science fiction or fantasy, I'm sure you love letting your voice be heard about what constitutes good Christian fiction. So come on out and join the fun!"

Marcher Lord Press is a Colorado Springs-based independent publisher producing Christian speculative fiction exclusively. MLP was launched in fall of 2008 and is privately owned. Contact: Jeff Gerke,

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wonderful Little Prayer

"Wonderful little prayer." These are the three words I've written in my Bible beside Psalm 40:17.

Since I am afflicted and needy,
May the Lord be mindful of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Do not delay, O my God.

These are hard times. So many out of work. So much sickness. Dangers, threats, and unknown futures. This verse is a great little prayer to shoot heavenward--often.

Do you need this prayer today?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Two Sneak Piques

1. Parable is a CBA marketing group with about 150 member and franchise stores. They have a huge sale every October, with door prizes and games and lots of great deals. This year during their "Outrageous Sale" on the 16th and 17th, Parable stores will be giving away copies of Last Breath, #2 in the Rayne Tour series, as door prizes. If you visit a Parable store during these two days, you just might win a copy. Find a Parable store near you.

2. Just in--the cover for my next adult suspense, Deceit, releasing next summer.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Christy Award Winner Athol Dickson's LOST MISSION

"Lost Mission is a story about mistakes and miracles, taken directly from the headlines of our time, and the history of times long past." --Athol Dickson

Athol Dickson’s novels have been favorably compared to the work of Octavia Butler (Publisher’s Weekly), Daphne du Maurier (, by Cindy Crosby, Christianity Today fiction critic), and Flannery O’Connor (The New York Times). His They Shall See God was a Christy Award finalist. River Rising was selected as one of the Booklist Top Ten Christian Novels of 2006 and was a Christianity Today's Best Novel of 2006 finalist. Both River Rising and The Cure won Christy Awards for best suspense novel. Winter Haven was a finalist for the 2009 Christy Award in the suspense category, making four novels in a row to receive that honor. His seventh novel, Lost Mission, was recently released. I asked Athol to tell us the "story behind the story" of Lost Mission. Here's his reply:

From the beginning I intended Lost Mission to be an epic suspense story spanning two centuries and brimming with magical realism. It’s about Lupe de la Garza, a simple shopkeeper in a mountain village in Mexico, who believes God wants her to go to America to preach the gospel. She is guided on her quest by her people’s greatest treasure: an altarpiece painted by an eighteenth century Franciscan friar who founded her village after fleeing the mysterious destruction of his California mission outpost. When Lupe is distracted by desire for a young minister, and when her preaching in a southern California beach town inspires only apathy and laughter, she begins to lose faith in her mission. Then a slumbering evil that destroyed the friar’s Franciscan mission rises up again after two hundred years, and Lupe once more looks to the altarpiece for guidance, only to find the true purpose of her quest in the midst of her single greatest fear.

Those of you who have already read my novels know I work hard to come up with unusual stories, and as you can probably tell from the description above, Lost Mission is no exception. It interweaves two storylines: the modern life of the remarkable Lupe and those whom she encounters, and a historical tale of the founding and destruction of a Franciscan mission in what is now called southern California. The story involves not only a poor Mexican who comes to America to try to save our souls, but also a modern day Robin Hood who steals from rich Christians to give to the poor, and a grieving billionaire who would rather build a community of monastic isolation exclusively for Christians than face a fallen world. Woven through all of this is an underlying sense of doom, as we begin to see eerie connections between what these people do, and what destroyed the original Franciscan mission in the same location more than two hundred years before. All of it is set in beautiful surroundings, where hummingbirds shoot like little rockets among cascades of crimson bougainvillea and the constant trickle of Spanish fountains.

The idea for Lost Mission began to come to me a few years ago, as I watched two separate but related scenarios playing out in the American church. First I read an article which claimed South Korea sends more evangelical missionaries than any other nation except the USA, yet in 1980 there were only 93 South Korean missionaries in the world. Astonishing! I was also shocked to learn that the USA does not even rank in the top ten nations in terms of missionaries sent per congregation. I learned this shortly after the Episcopalian church elected Gene Robinson as their first openly homosexual bishop. In that case, I was amazed when African and Latin American bishops in the Anglican tradition offered to allow dissenting Episcopal parishes to disassociate themselves from Robinson’s diocese and join theirs. So we now have Protestant churches in America functioning under the authority of bishops in Africa and Latin America, a startling reversal of the pattern of centuries past. All of this radically changed my paradigm, as I began to see the USA through the eyes of Christians from what we once condescendingly called the “third world.” I realized many believers on other continents no longer view the USA as a source of Christian thought and support, but see us rather as a people in tragic decline with a dire need for the Gospel. How did we come to this? It was a question ripe for exploration in a novel, so I tucked it away for more consideration.

A little later, I observed an ongoing theological discussion between members of the “seeker friendly” movement, the emerging church movement, and more traditional evangelicals. What I saw made me think I might have stumbled onto at least part of the answer to my question. Rather than approaching each other as loving brothers with mutual respect and a willingness to assume the best, these Christians came with narrow agendas, intent on pontificating about their point of view whether the other guy was listening or not. The theological discussion rapidly devolved into questioning each other’s motives, and eventually sank to the level of insults. I found this especially intriguing, because these Christians who all believed they were so different were in fact all sinning against each other in exactly the same ways. Could this experience offer a glimpse into the reasons for a shift of Christian influence from the North American continent to Africa, Asia and Latin America? Again, the question seemed perfect for a novel.

Everything began to come together when I visited the Spanish mission at San Juan Capistrano. I was intrigued by the beauty of the place—if you haven’t been there, you really must go—and especially by its history. Reading between the lines, it seemed to me that many of the same mistakes I saw the modern church making in the USA had already been made centuries before, by the Franciscans who settled in California. With that thought a framework for the story of Lost Mission began to rise in my imagination, and eventually it became the story as it is.

If you’ve never read one of my novels, I hope you’ll start with Lost Mission. If you do, I think you’ll discover that my stories are hard to define. Lost Mission is not a classic suspense story in the wonderful way Brandilyn writes suspense, yet it will still keep you on the edge of your seat much as she does. It’s not a romance, although two of the main characters are driven into impossible circumstances by forbidden love. It’s not fantasy, but many of the events are quite mysterious and—dare I say it?—magical. And it’s not exactly literature, although I hope you will agree with the critics so far, who are saying things like, “Lost Mission is redemptive storytelling at its highest level . . . ” (Jake Chism, I think at heart, Lost Mission is simply a story about mistakes and miracles, taken directly from the headlines of our time, and the history of times long past.

Visit Athol's Web site
Read Athol's blog

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

That Insidious Grammar Disease

"For he and I."


Pardon me while I rant. I first ran a post like this one three years ago, and the situation has only grown more dire since then. This subject-turned-direct-object thing is really getting old. A good 90% of the population now spouts such nonsense.

I have no idea who started this idiocy, but I do have distinct memories of beginning to hear it. Somehow it caught on more and more until today people do things for subjects regardless of their level of education or socio-economic status. People with college degrees, masters and even doctorates have fallen prey to the For Subject Syndrome. Professionals as well as blue collar workers have been hit. The For Subject Syndrome has so permeated our society that even writers, professional speakers, and preachers are among the victims. I tell you, I'm reading nonfiction books these days with this kind of mistake in it. Which means the authors are writing it, the macro editors are missing it, the line editors are missing it, the copyeditors are missing it, and the proofreaders are missing it. Why? Because they've heard it so much, they now think it's right.

You tell a teenager, “No, say ‘it’s for him and me’”—and the kid will look at you like you’re crazy. That’s because this highly contagious Syndrome has been around since these kids started talking. They don’t know life without its affliction.

The funny thing is, the For Subject Syndrome is selective. You don’t hear people say, “That one’s for I.” As long as the direct object is single, you’ll hear the proper “me” or “her,” etc. But when the direct object doubles, watch out. The Syndrome kicks in.

How can we stop the madness? Is there no inoculation for this insidious disease?

I hereby proclaim a new national organization to fight this monstrous plague—KUDOS. Keep Using Direct Objects Society. Members have but one decree—to wipe the For Subject Syndrome off the planet. Every time you spot an FSS in writing—point it out, and earn KUDOS. Every time you hear an FSS spoken—shake your finger at the speaker and earn KUDOS.

Who will join me in this worthy organization? KUDOS members, unite!

State your intent to join, then document a recent occurrence of FSS—and start earning your KUDOS today. Together we can restore our world!


AnitaS is the winner from Photo Friday, with this caption:

Can you hear me now? Does your child exhibit selective hearing when it's time to leave the park? Then try the Attention Grabber! This little tool will suck your child's ear right up to it so there's no way he can ignore the sound of your voice telling him it's time to go. Stay tuned for the portable conveyor belt making it easier to then drag your kicking & screaming child from the park!

Anita, please email me with your choice of one of my novels and include your address. Send to: brandilyn (at) brandilyncollins (dot) com.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Burning Cigarette in a Couch...

How long does it take a burning cigarette left in a couch to catch a house on fire?

It’s amazing the factoids I’ve gathered, writing as a full-time novelist for the last ten years. I know tidbits on all kinds of things. Sometimes the weirdest of things. All because at one point or another, I’ve needed them in a book. If I had to list every piece of data I've researched, the list would take me a week to type. Here are just a few questions for which I've had to find answers.

1. Do teeth ever float? (dentist question, of course)

2. Who’s present at a C-section? (doc question)

3. The moon phase on a certain night one year in the future, when my book is taking place. (online research. Great web site at:

4. What time the sun will rise/set on a certain day in a certain town a year in the future. (online at: This site also gives moon phases.)

5. What times the tide will go out/come in on a certain beach on a certain day a year in the future. (online:

6. How does strychnine kill you?

7. What would a judge do if he/she heard someone had threatened a jury member?

8. How does a forensic artist recreate a face from a bare skull?

9. How does a detective make a mold of a footprint?

10. How does a mass spectrometer microscope work?

11. What are the exceptions to the hearsay rule in law?

12. What’s the procedure for doing a sweep of a room for bugging devices?

13. What are the various ways to bug a phone?

14. How can you track someone’s whereabouts through their cell phone?

15. How many officers serve on the police force of a town of 1700 people, and how do they run their shifts?

16. How do night vision goggles work, and what are the choices in buying a pair?

17. Does a car rental agency ever make a copy of a renter’s driver’s license?

18. In Idaho, can you tape record a conversation when only one person in that conversation knows it’s being recorded? (Answer: yes. This is not true of many states.)

19. How is Pitocin (drug used to induce labor) administered?

20. How long before a cigarette in a couch burns a house down?

21. What’s the frequency for Oakland, California air space?

22. How do forensic anthropologists determine gender/age from scattered human bones?

23. What’s the procedure for a private adoption?

24. How long before wild animals eat a corpse in the woods?

25. At what stage of development was DNA in 1992?

26. What kind of little wild animal might steal bones?

27. On car dealership lots, where are the keys kept for all the new cars? (Answer: in a lock box on the car. The sales person carries a key to get into the lock boxes.)

28. Are the windows in the parking lot shuttles at a certain airport tinted?

29. Where do out-of-state media get their big news trucks?

30. Under what conditions can a single hair yield useable DNA?

Readers—did you ever stop to think of all the things novelists have to learn just to write one book? Writers—you have some interesting research questions of your own? Let's hear them. Who knows, maybe you’ll mention a factoid I'll need to know some day...


Don't forget to vote for your favorite caption from Photo Friday. Winner announced tomorrow.

Friday, October 09, 2009

It's Photo Friday!

Okay, you know what to do. Write the most creative caption for the crazy photo--win a book (your choice of one of my novels). Come back some time over the weekend and vote on your favorite caption. I'll remind you all to vote on Monday. Winner will be announced Tuesday.

This month's photo is from wife, mother, and aspiring novelist Shirley McClay. Shirley, since your picture was chosen you, too, win a book. Please contact me with your choice: brandilyn (at) brandilyncollins (dot) com.

Do you have a photo unusual and crazy enough for Photo Friday? Please email it to me (as an attachment to the email) for consideration.

All right, caption writers--just what is going on in this picture?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Though Waters Roar

I am traveling to Kentucky today to visit Mom for a week. Lookin' forward to rides in Ruth's Rocket.
While I'm on a plane--check out the CFBA's book tour today on Lynn Austin, a wonderful historical writer.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Though Waters Roar

Bethany House (October 1, 2009)


Lynn Austin


Along with reading, two of Lynn's lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Five of her historical novels, Hidden Places, Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, A Proper Pursuit, and Until We Reach Home have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction.

Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn's novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel.


"Thank goodness you're such a plain child. You'll have to rely on your wits."

So went the words of Grandma Bebe. And for all of my growing-up years, I scoffed at the beauty of my sister and what I saw as her meaningless existence. But my wits hadn't served me well in this instance, for here I was, in jail. And while I could have seen it as carrying on the family tradition (for Grandma Bebe landed in jail for her support of Prohibition), the truth is, my reasons for being here would probably break her heart.

So how did I end up becoming a criminal? I've been pondering that question all night. Perhaps the best way to search for an answer is to start at the very beginning.

Harriet Sherwood has always adored her grandmother. But when Harriet decides to follow in her footsteps to fight for social justice, she certainly never expected her efforts to land her in jail. Nor did she expect her childhood enemy and notorious school bully, Tommy O'Reilly, to be the arresting officer.

Languishing in a jail cell, Harriet has plenty of time to sift through the memories of the three generations of women who have preceded her. As each story emerges, the strength of her family--and their deep faith in the God of justice and righteousness--brings Harriet to the discovery of her own goals and motives for pursuing them.

If you would like to read the first chapter of
Though Waters Roar, go HERE.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

DECKed-Out Fiction

Last week I received this message (run here with permission) from aspiring novelist Kim Rojas about a class I taught for the Christian Writers' Guild (CWG) conference earlier this year:

Dear Brandilyn,

I am one of the Craftsman II students. In 2009, I didn't attend your DECKed out fiction, but I bought the MP3. Since I drive to Denver (1.5 hours) and back every day, I have time to listen. And listen And listen to it. Today, October 1st, I submitted my novel to the Operation 1st Novel Contest, which I do not feel would have happened without your (and Doc Hensley's) teachings. Thank you so much. I learned how to add to kick it up a notch...that anger is a secondary emotion and that Desire drives the novel. I think the Desire was the key component that gave me the confidence to write 76,853 words in the month of September.

Thanks again. I'll let you know how I fare.

Kim's e-mail reminded me that I should tell others about the availability of the DECKed-Out Fiction Course. It's four hours of teaching taken from concepts in Getting Into Character, mixed with other of my writing techniques. The D,E,C,K, stands for Desire, Emotion, Conflict and Kick. Each of the four parts is available in its own CD for $11 or MP3 for $7 from this Web site. The full course can be purchased for $35. Proceeds go to the company who recorded these courses for CWG.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Rewrite And--Oops, Another Year

Today I begin the rewrite for Deceit, turned in August 1. If you read my post last week about the different kinds of edits, you'll understand when I say this is the first edit--the substantive or macro edit. Fortunately in Deceit's case, the rewrite is minimal. Basically my editors are asking me to deepen my protagonist's characterization (through a few choice sentences here and there), wait awhile longer to reveal a certain plot point, plus deal with changes in sentences throughout the book--which is more the track change or line edit stage. The manuscript was turned in very clean, the editors say.

Surprising, really. When I turned in this book I was sure it was terrible. Shows how well I can judge my own work by the time I turn in the draft. I've simply looked at it too much at that point to see it clearly.

I look forward to diving in. Over the weekend I reread Donald Maass' The Fire in Fiction. I want to look at Deceit with some of Maass' concepts in mind to see where else I can improve the manuscript.

On another note--I'm 53 as of today. I am now officially and ever so humbly (!) accepting creative birthday greetings, including limericks, puns, crazy sentences using some of Today's Words--or whatever you might come up with. (A straight happy birthday works too.)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Different Kinds of Edits

Recently on an author's e-mail loop someone asked the question: what's the difference between a substantive edit, a line edit and a copy edit? These terms can be confusing. Author and editor Alton Gansky wrote a good response, run here on F&F with permission:

Substantive edits (often called macro-edits or developmental) deal with big picture issues. Is the manuscript the right length? Does it match what was promised in the proposal? Are characters developed? Is the dialog believable? Does the plot flow? Does the story make sense? Usually a substantive editor is not concerned with the finer points of craft unless so much craft is missing it makes the book weak and unacceptable. So let’s say you’re writing for Howard/S&S. Dave Lambert will read your book, praise it, then point out its problems in a ten to twenty page letter. That’s his job.

Line editing is more detailed and concerned with how the story reads. A good line editor will fix broken sentences, typos, dialog problems, continuity, breaks in logic, chronology problems, etc. The line editor goes line by line and makes the changes or makes suggestions. Usually, the author reviews and accepts or rejects all adjustments. A good line editor will also review the comments made in the macro edit to make sure the author didn’t overlook something. Line editors would change my sentence in the above paragraph from the unnecessary passive, “Does it match what was promised in the proposal?” to, “Does the work meet the promises of the proposal?” Or something like that.

A copy editor is a superhuman with the gift of detail. Not only do they know the nuances of the semi-colon they care about it’s use (and such things as my using it’s instead of its). They also make sure that your manuscript matches the pub’s style sheet. Do you capitalize Heaven or not? What about pronouns for Jesus and God? Is the Christian Writer’s Manual of Style to be preferred over the Chicago Manual of Style? Which dictionary should be used in determining if gunbelt is gun-belt or gun belt?

As Alton noted, there are various names for the substantive edit. Terms for the other edits can also vary from house to house. For example the line edit may be called track changes. And I've found with my publisher that the continuity aspect--did a character's eye color change from green to brown, do specific timelines run logically--is often more in the third stage--the copy edit--than the line edit.

Alton has noted these three main edits in order--from substantive to line edit to copy edit. After that comes proofing the galleys. And after that--a book!

Watch trailers for Alton's recent books, Certain Jeopardy, The Bell Messenger, and Enoch
Follow Alton on Twitter
Alton on Facebook

An Unpost

Two months ago, on August 1, I turned in Deceit, my next stand-alone adult novel. Yesterday, at the end of a long day, I turned in Final Touch, third in Amberly's and my young adult Rayne Tour series.

At 10:00 p.m., instead of writing a post for today, I celebrated ...

All the way to bed.

Perhaps I shall post tomorrow.