Friday, October 31, 2008

Sony/Kindle Follow-Up

This comment came in regarding my post on the Sony vs. Kindle--on my Facebook page, which includes feeds from this blog. It's an important addendum with updated info on the new Sony. Sue Brower from Zondervan said:
"Okay, I will give the perspective of a very satisfied Sony Reader fan. I love my Reader! I can download manuscripts (without having to go through Amazon) just by saving them as an .rtf file and then importing to the Reader. Having to download from computer sure hasn't stopped me from downloading any book I want. I tend to "buy ahead" anyway. I have anywhere from 6-10 books lined up to-be-read. The Reader I have does not have highlighting, but I don't miss it--I still prefer to work on a manuscript with a big screen. It's light, it's easy to use, and the battery lasts forever. Now there is a new Sony Reader available, same price as Kindle, and it does have the highlight and text entering feature. I'll just have to wait for awhile to get that one.

"By the way, Sony is the only one that it is helping with a retail solution. You can buy "smart cards" at Christian bookstores, take them home and then download your book. This allows you to scan the book a bit, touch and feel the printed copy, then go over to a rack and buy a download--same price as the printed book or a little less. The brick and mortar retailer makes money, the author makes money, and the publisher makes money. Yippee! We call ours Symtio."

I posted about Symtio last July, when Zondervan first unveiled this new product at ICRS. Please refer to that post for more information and to see a video on the product.

Happy weekend, BGs! So who's going out and buying a Sony/Kindle? Or getting on Twitter? Or ... visiting their mom in Oshkosh?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Twitter Tools

Thanks to all who commented on yesterday's post. Lots of opinions about Twitter out there! Some say it's not for them; others insist it's way cool on a personal as well as professional level. Despite my arguments against Twitter, I do see the positive benefits. I just might join myself someday.

Note some positive comments to yesterday's post from Laura Christianson, co-owner of He Blogs, She Blogs:

"... I started following a few marketers, authors, and marketing bloggers on Twitter and learning from them. They posted all kinds of cool stuff that I could use - links to helpful blog articles, ideas for how to build my business, etc. I began doing the same and people started following us ... I limit myself to about 10 minutes a day on Twitter (okay...20) and I post--and read others' posts--as I'm transitioning between projects. I view it as simultaneously taking a break and getting inspired for my next project."

On an author's loop agent/author Terry Whalin mentioned numerous sites that help folks learn Twitter and moderate its use to an effective level. I'm printing them here with Terry's permission.

Twhirl: desktop software that helps organize Twitter

Free ebook on how to get the most from Twitter

Tweetlater: to set up your tweets on a time release schedule

Twellow: a twitter search tool but you can also set up your profile, increase your visibility, etc.

Qwitter: catching people who quit following you on twitter

Twitterless: keeping track of your followers

Twitter Alerts: like Google Alerts except for Twitter. You can set up different key words and see how people are talking about your name or your book--and it sends it right to your email address.

Anybody have other helpful Twitter sites?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I'll admit I'm not the techie-minded get-every-new-gadget and do-every-new-computer-thingy type person. Hey, I'm still patting my own back for getting on Facebook. (And am finally managing not to make an idiot of myself.) And yes, in case you hadn't noticed, I do blog. So there. But this Twitter business ...

Thing is, everybody seems to be doing it. From authors to agents to corporate execs like Michael Hyatt. I just don't get it.

On one author loop these past few days we've been discussing Twitter. Okay, they've been discussing. I've been lurking. And thinking what any self-respecting, calamity-minded suspense author would think: Twitter is a stalker's dream come true.

I gotta write a novel about that some day.

So why does this Twitter thing keep tweeting at me? Because as a self-respecting, marketing-minded suspense author, I can't help but notice when other writers say things like:

My blog feeds to Twitter help pull in new blog readers.
Networking through Twitter has helped me sell books/get freelance writing jobs/etc.
Twitter has gotten me interviews regarding my latest release

Now I do understand that you shouldn't actively market on Twitter. Quite the opposite. You join to build community. But ya gotta admit, it's sort of like the old Rotary Club. Good ol' Bob The Insurance Guy didn't actively hit up Rotarians to buy insurance, but you can bet when members needed new policies, they gave the guy a call.

But Tweople (Twitter People, if you have to ask) Twitter all day long. How do they find the time? Why does anybody care what they have to say? When I think of having to Twitter three or four times a day, even more--as if book deadlines and regular blogging isn't enough--all I think is "more pressure to be creative." And besides, I have a confession to make. Come closer, 'cause I'm only going to say this once. In a whisper.

I'm really a very boring person.

Here's what my Twitters would look like:

10:27 a.m.: Sitting in my office at the computer
2:42 p.m.: Sitting in my office at the computer
5:36 p.m. Sitting in my office at the computer

I will take a break to make dinner if my husband's not traveling for business. If he's gone, my evening Twitter would read:

7:34 p.m. Sitting in my office at the computer

Who would care? And why should I care about other people's daily minutiae? All the same, I hear about all this Tweople Twappiness and Twoy, and I feel like I've been left out of the Twarty.

What's a girl to do?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Kindle Vs. Sony Reader

Yesterday in a comment regarding the post about Zondervan's partnership with Sony Reader, someone asked how the Kindle and Sony compares. Here's some info I've gathered.

Mark and I have a Kindle. (Actually it's his--Christmas present last year.) We love it. Easy to read, easy to turn pages. Great for loading manuscripts! For example, once I finish a book I can email the manuscript to his Kindle email account, and he can read it on the Kindle rather than carrying around a bunch of pages. I hear many agents and editors are using this feature now, as the Kindle also allows you to highlight passages and make notes on the pages. Not sure the Sony Reader allows highlighting or note-taking. I've heard one report that it doesn't.

Another big difference between the two is that the Kindle doesn't need a PC to transfer content to it. The Sony Reader does (and it's not MAC compatible). Let's say you're in an airport and see a new hardback for sale for $25. With your Kindle you can get online and order the book--and have it within 30 seconds--for under $10. (Assuming it's available; many new titles are going directly to Kindle.) The Kindle also allows some web browsing and has a dictionary.

With the Kindle you can subscribe to online newspapers daily or get it just for one day. Let's say you're traveling and miss your daily hit of the Wall Street Journal. You could buy a hard copy, but newspaper reading is hard on an airplane. On the Kindle you could download the day's issue in seconds. If you have a regular subscription, the minute you turn on your Kindle, the day's issue is there.

As a pure e-reader, the Sony is a little smaller and lighter, I hear. And it's cheaper.

Problem is, my knowledge is limited (and unfair) because I don't have a Sony Reader. So below are links to thoughtful analyses and comparisons of the two:

Popular Mechanics

Gizmodo comparison 1

Gizmodo comparison 2

Gadgets Page

Mid-day update: In today's comments someone has said that the Sony IS now Mac compatible.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Zondervan and the Sony Reader

Recently announced on the Zondervan web site:

Zondervan will serve as the preferred distributor of the Reader Digital Book by Sony to the Christian-retail market. Zondervan will sell both individual Reader Digital Books to retailers and will also offer special pricing of Zondervan content for the Reader. A select number of digital titles will be available, with more being introduced in the months ahead. An interactive point-of-purchase demonstration fixture for the Sony Reader is also available for Christian-retail stores through Zondervan.

“Zondervan is committed both to meeting our consumers’ desire for quality Christian content in a digital format and also equipping our CBA retail partners to succeed in the fast-growing digital world,” said Moe Girkins, Zondervan president and CEO. “Our relationship with Sony is an important step in achieving both of these goals and we are excited to offer our CBA partners the unique ability to sell not only the digital content but also the device to access the content, which we view very much as a competitive advantage for them.”

Introduced in 2006, The Reader Digital Book by Sony was the industry’s first product of its kind. The second edition of the product was released in 2007, featuring expanded capabilities and features. A recent firmware upgrade gave Reader users compatibility with EPUB (a format poised to become the industry standard), Adobe Digital Editions, and the capability to reflow standard text-based Portable Document Format (PDF) eBooks for improved flexibility and readability, among other features.

Last July at ICRS Zondervan unveiled their new Symtio product. With both Symtio and now the Sony partnership, it's clear Zondervan wants to stay at the forefront of the digital age of reading.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fiction Becomes Reality

Shnakvorum rikoyoch. Dine tif rikshin yarga! (Greetings, friends. I have great news!)

"We got major trouble on two fronts today." S-Man sank against a counter stool, hands waving. "This Saurian character keeps insisting his name isn't Gruin when I know it is, and that he's only three aboyoch old--mighty young for a shopkeeper. And he informs me he has just one leg--" S-Man's eyes widened, his hangs hanging in the air. "Wait!" He blinked rapidly. "The hatchling Rathe saved during his training had its leg bitten off, and he would be about three aboyoch right now!" S-Man's mouth rounded, possible consequences of the new story twist flitting across his face. Pushing away from the counter, he gave Bailey a grim look. "Oooh, Rathe isn't going to like this one bit."

--S-Man makes his entrance in Violet Dawn, first of the Kanner Lake series

Yup, a couple of you guessed my news yesterday. The intriguing science fiction story that inspired the popular character of S-Man, aspiring novelist in the Kanner Lake series, has been sold! Starfire, written by Stuart Stockton, will be released April 1, 2009 from
Marcher Lord Press, CBA's new publishing house for speculative fiction. What's more in this fiction-begetting-fiction-turned-fact story, the real-life release of Starfire fits perfectly with its fictional Kanner Lake release.

Stuart not only allowed me to use the Starfire manuscript in my Kanner Lake series, he also wrote for the character of S-Man on Scenes and Beans, the Kanner Lake blog. Read S-Man's description of how he came up with the idea for his Saurian world and characters in three posts on Scenes and Beans, starting with July 11, 2006.

About Starfire:

On an alien world far from Earth, a Saurian warrior named Rathe seeks to rise from lowly origins to achieve greatness in the Karn Empire. Rathe is haunted by a terrible secret as his military squad is given a mission that will take them deep into enemy territory and the deceptions of his allies. Soon he must make a terrible choice: save his empire, or save his world--which will cost the life of a friend. All the while Rathe confronts Wayfarers telling him there is a Being who desires his worship, a Being who has a plan for him.

Here's what editor/publisher Jeff Gerke has to say about his acquisition of Starfire:

I'd read a bit of Starfire back when I was over Realms at Strang Communications. I loved that it was a completely non-human, non-Earth story, and I thought the writing was strong and the imagery powerful. But I knew I would be in for a terrible fight at the publishing house to get such a story published. I knew the committee would feel--probably rightly so--that the usual Christian fiction audience would not be willing to embrace such an unusual science fiction story about computer-using dinosaur people.

So years later when I launched Marcher Lord Press I was pleased to see Starfire show up again in my acquisitions files. This time I was not limited by what the traditional Christian fiction demographic might like. So I sat down to read the full manuscript, this time free to publish it if I liked it.

And, oh my goodness, did I like it. I found it utterly original and captivating. Every time I thought I knew what was going to happen, I would turn the page and something entirely unpredictable but fascinating would happen instead. I found myself thinking about the story when I had to put it down to do other things. I couldn't wait to get back and find out what would happen to Rathe and what he would decide to do about the Starfire.

I'm publishing the story because it's exactly the kind of thing I seek for Marcher Lord Press titles--and because I love the story and the writing. I'm pleased to know I've created a publishing company that can bring this kind of way-off-the-edge-of-the-map story to fans of Christian speculative fiction.

Visit Stuart's web site for more information about Rathe and Starfire.

In the months leading up to the release of Starfire, I will be telling you more about the story. Perhaps I'll interview Rathe. He's ... not quite human, you know.

Do leave your congratulations for S-Man in the comments. I mean--Stuart.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


This week I heard some really cool news. You'll think it's mighty cool too. Want some hints?

1. It's not about a book of mine ... yet it is.

2. When fact makes fiction, and fiction makes fact ...

3. The news is absolutely out of this world.

Guess away if you so choose. You have all day. Seeing as how I'm a suspense author, I'll tell you ...


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mellifluous Ideation

I have developed ischial callosities from sitting at my computer, fighting cryptomnesia as I struggle with plotting a new manuscript. Methinks I shall defenestrate the thing (the manuscript, not the computer), and simply become a scrimshanker. I started this business entirely too panglossian, which does not mean I'm pusillanimous, but does make me wish for a sinecure.

Okay, your turn.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Catch These Bestseller Lists

The new CBA bestseller list is now online. Titled the November list (because it will be printed in the November issue of CBA's magazine), it reflects sales in the month of September. On October 1 I ran a
post on the then-current lists of CBA and ECPA, but they didn't compare well because the data only overlapped one week. CBA's new November list and ECPA's October list compare better. ECPA's October list uses data from the last week of August and first three weeks of September, so the lists have three overlapping weeks. I've highlighted books appearing on one list and not the other in blue. First--once again, here's ECPA's October list.


1 The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
2 The Longing, Beverly Lews, Bethany House/Baker
3 Jessie, Lori Wick, Harvest House Publishers
4 Sinner, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson Publishers
5 Dead Heat, Joel C. Rosenberg, Tyndale House Publishers
6 A Promise to Believe In, Tracie Peterson, Bethany House/Baker
7 Where the Heart Leads, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Bethany House/Baker
8 Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Waterbrook/Multnomah
9 Sunset, Karen Kingsbury, Tyndale House Publishers
10 Unexpected Love, Judith Miller, Bethany House/Baker
11 Fireproof, Eric Wilson, Thomas Nelson Publishers
12 The Note, Angela Hunt, Thomas Nelson Publishers
13 A Sister's Hope, Wanda E. Brunstetter, Barbour Publishing
14 The Yada Yada Prayer Group, Neta Jackson, Thomas Nelson
15 The Perfect Life, Robin Lee Hatcher, Thomas Nelson Publishers
16 The Forbidden, Beverly Lewis, Bethany House Publishers/Baker
17 The Last Jihad, Joel C. Rosenbert, Tyndale House Publishers
18 Someday, Karen Kingsbury, Tyndale House Publishers
19 When the Soul Mends, Cindy Woodsmall, Waterbrook/Multnomah
20 Riven, Jerry B. Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers

Here's CBA's new November list:

1 The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
2 Sunset, Karen Kingsbury, Tyndale House Publishers
3 The Longing, Beverly Lews, Bethany House/Baker
4 Jessie, Lori Wick, Harvest House Publishers
5 Sinner, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson Publishers
6 White Christmas Pie, Wanda Brunstetter, Barbour
7 Fireproof, Eric Wilson, Thomas Nelson Publishers
8 When the Soul Mends, Cindy Woodsmall, Waterbrook/Multnomah
9 Unexpected Love, Judith Miller, Bethany House/Baker
10 A Promise to Believe In, Tracie Peterson, Bethany House/Baker
11 Dead Heat, Joel C. Rosenberg, Tyndale House Publishers
12 A Sister's Hope, Wanda E. Brunstetter, Barbour Publishing
13 Plain Perfect, Beth Wiseman, Thomas Nelson
14 Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Waterbrook/Multnomah
15 Where the Heart Leads, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Bethany House/Baker
16 Convenient Groom, Denise Hunter, Thomas Nelson
17 Whirlwood, Cathy Hake, Bethany House/Baker
18 Rebecca's Reward, Lauraine Snelling, Bethany House/Baker
19 The Forbidden, Beverly Lewis, Bethany House Publishers/Baker
20 Dawn's Light, Terri Blackstock, Zondervan

Congrats to the following Christian novelists on the current New York Times bestseller list, reflecting sales for the week ending October 11. The NYT list uses sales data from secular stores, including independent book retailers (statistically weighted to represent all such outlets); national, regional and local chains; online and multimedia entertainment retailers; university, gift, supermarket, discount department stores and newsstands. It does not include sales of these books in Christian bookstores.

16 Sunset, Karen Kingsbury. (Tyndale)
19 The Longing, Beverly Lewis. (Bethany House)
26 Fireproof, Eric Wilson, Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick (Nelson)
28 When the Soul Mends, Cindy Woodsmall (WaterBrook)

Meet Diane and David Munson

While I was in Minnesota for the ACFW conference I did a signing on Sunday at the beautiful Northwestern Christian Bookstore in Maple Grove. Also signing that day were Diane and David Munson, a husband-and-wife team who write legal thrillers.

Wow, what a background they have! Diane, an attorney for over 20 years, served the U.S. Department of Justice as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C. As a federal prosecutor she brought indictments, tried criminal cases, and argued appeals. Earlier, she served the Reagan Administration, appointed by Attorney General Edwin Meese, as Deputy Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. She worked with the Justice Department, the U.S. Congress and the White House on major policy and legal issues.

David served as a Special Agent with the Naval Investigative Service, U.S. Customs, and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration over a 27-year career. He conducted many investigations and often assumed undercover roles, including infiltrating an international drug smuggling organization. He traveled with drug dealers, met their suppliers in foreign countries, helped fly their drugs to the U.S., then feigned surprise when shipments were seized by law enforcement. Later his identity was revealed when he testified against the group members in court. While assigned to DEA headquarters in Washington, D.C., David served two years as a Congressional Fellow on the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and as a staff investigator.

Now David's retired from all that. He looked around and thought, "Hm, what to do now? I think I'll write books." Diane pulled back from her legal work to help.

So far they've published three novels with small press Faithwalk Publishing--Facing Justice, Confirming Justice, and their latest, The Camelot Conspiracy. In The Camelot Conspiracy, TV reporter Kat Kowicki is demoted after taking on a powerful U.S. senator. Sent to Chicago where her career began, Kat receives evidence previously given to the Warren Commission about President John F. Kennedy's assassination but never disclosed to the public. When she investigates the evidence, Kat is targeted by former government agents in a shadow government determined to keep hidden secrets--old and new.

Diane and David are wonderful Christian people. And terrific marketers. Boy, did they know how to do a signing. They travel a lot promoting their own books. See their schedule for the next few months here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lawsuit Against God

From yesterday's AP wire service:

LINCOLN, Neb. — A judge has thrown out a Nebraska legislator's lawsuit against God, saying the Almighty wasn't properly served due to his unlisted home address. State Sen. Ernie Chambers filed the lawsuit last year seeking a permanent injunction against God.

He said God has made terroristic threats against the senator and his constituents in Omaha, inspired fear and caused "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants."

Chambers has said he filed the lawsuit to make the point that everyone should have access to the courts regardless of whether they are rich or poor.

On Tuesday, however, Douglas County District Court Judge Marlon Polk ruled that under state law a plaintiff must have access to the defendant for a lawsuit to move forward.

"Given that this court finds that there can never be service effectuated on the named defendant this action will be dismissed with prejudice," Polk wrote.

Chambers, who graduated from law school but never took the bar exam, thinks he's found a hole in the judge's ruling.

"The court itself acknowledges the existence of God," Chambers said Wednesday. "A consequence of that acknowledgment is a recognition of God's omniscience."

Therefore, Chambers said, "Since God knows everything, God has notice of this lawsuit."

Chambers has 30 days to decide whether to appeal. He said he hasn't decided yet.

Chambers, who has served a record 38 years in the Nebraska Legislature, is not returning next year because of term limits. He skips morning prayers during the legislative session and often criticizes Christians.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Caught Ya Bloggin'!

Hmm. Seems Jasmine of the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show blog has been hearing stories about my escapades with wildlife in Idaho:

I suspect that if the deer in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho could read, they’d have a much healthier respect for Brandilyn Collins’s plants...

Read more of the two short October 13 posts here.

Recently Richard Mabry--Doc, as I like to call him--did an interview with me. I never quite know what Doc's going to ask. This time he managed to cover a broken ankle, writing with my daughter, and an insider's look at my next book, among other subjects:

Doc: Brandilyn, you’re just back from the American Christian Fiction Writers meeting, and it seemed as though every place I looked, there you were. I know that ACFW is very dear to you. What were some of the high points of the meeting for you?

BC: Although I’m “out front” a lot since I serve as emcee, each year the highlights of the conference for me take place out of the limelight and in a very quiet venue ...

Read the rest of the interview on Random Jottings.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Me No Phone Home

Agh, I'm having trouble with my phone!

It all started a couple months ago. Only I didn't know it for a long time because we were at the Idaho home, and the problem's on our home line in California. We had the handy-dandy call waiting thing. In case we couldn't flash over when a second call came into a line we were already using, we opted for the phone company's message center to click in after five rings. The center would take the caller's message. Sounded great. But the only way I'd know a message was sitting at that center was by clicking onto the home line to dial out and hearing a series of beeps before the dial tone kicked in.

Well guess what. The message center screwed up. It started kicking in after one ring, not leaving time for our own voice message machine at home to come on. Nobody could get throuh to us. I called a few weeks ago. They tried to fix it. They said it was fixed. Which was true--for about a week.

Then it started acting up again. Yesterday the stupid thing decided to go one step further. It picked up a call before it even rang in my house. Happened to be a very important scheduled phone call from my editor. Forty-five minutes later, wondering what on earth had happened to her, I stumbled upon the message she'd left at the phone company's message center. Editor and I had our phone conversation. After which I promptly called the phone company and asked them to take off the message center feature. Clearly they couldn't fix the thing, so let's just get rid of it.

Not that easy. It came bundled in my package of services, see. Couldn't be taken off by itself.

"Okay. Give me a new package then."

The gal promptly looked for one. She was most helpful. She was also very agressive in hard-selling me more services. "Do you have internet? Who with? Your cable company? I could save you so much money ..."

"No thanks, let's just get this issue fixed."

A minute later she launched into her spiel all over again. About the money I'd save. And did I know they also have a dish now for TV? If I'd just bundle all those services together ...

"Wow, you all do everything these days. Wanna come clean my house?"

I said it so sweetly she apparently missed the snarkiness and kept up her spiel. I finally had to tell her no, no, and no. Just fix my phone!

About that time we got cut off.

Gritting my teeth, I dialed the phone company and started all over again. Got a different gal. Who was also most helpful. And who also launched into her own version of I Am Hard-Sell Mama. I thought the first gal had moxy. She was peanuts compared to this one. I lost count how many times I had to say no. I even had to pull out my Scarlett O'Hara, "Ah'll think about that tamarra" line. The hard sell kept coming. "No," I said. "No, no, no!" Finally she shut up. And replaced my old bundle of services with a new one that didn't have a message center.

Yay! My phone was fixed.

Not. An hour later the line didn't work at all. Callers got constant busy signals. I couldn't get a dial tone.

Narrow-eyed, I settled myself in my desk chair, prepared for another lovely, loooong, no-no-no-read-my-lips-no chat. I called the phone company back. Un-nice thoughts ran through my head: This would NOT be a good time to try to sell me new services ...

I got no person at all. Only a canned voice. Which asked me for my name, phone number, was I calling on the bad line, yada yada. It looked me up in its computer and said okay hold--but you'll have a long wait. I waited. The canned message machine kicked on again--at the very beginning. I answered the questions again. Got in line to wait again. Finally Canned Voice came back. "Let's test your line." Fine, I'm sure you'll get real far with that. Canned voice again: "We will proceed with this problem." In other words whatdya know, lady, you're right. It done broke.

I waited all this time for that?

CV asked when I wanted a tech to come out. It could be the following day. Wow, what service. I said yes! That was the good news. Bad news: scheduling is anywhere between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Guess who's not leaving the house today.

I'm thinking by the time the tech leaves, both my home line and my business line won't work. Neither will the fax line.

And these guys want me to sign up with them for my internet?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Havah, Tosca Lee's second novel, has just been released. I've been awaiting this book's release with much anticipation. Her first, Demon, was my favorite read of last year. Demon was a Christy finalist this year, and recently won second place in the Book of the Year award. Tosca's writing is marvelous, and the story-beanth-the-story in Demon is one you'll not forget. If you haven't read this book yet--read it.

Now on to Havah. Publishers Weekly awarded it a rare starred review: "A passionate and riveting story... Lee’s superior storytelling will have readers weeping for all that Havah forfeited by a single damning choice." You can read the prologue and first chapter at the Havah website.

Tosca is giving away some copies of Havah plus Legend by David Rohl (about the possible location of Eden’s garden), and two DVDs on Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel on her blog. To be eligible to win these books and DVDs, leave a comment on the blog. She'll wait a few more days before announcing the winners.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Cross-Eyed from Computerizing

Oh, man, whatta weekend. I'm writing this Sunday night at almost midnight to post to you all for Monday. I've spent all weekend setting up my new computer. Sheesh, what a mess.

It's for a good cause, however. I got a handy-dandy small but powerful HP laptop and two docking stations--one for each home office. Once it's all set up when I travel I'll just slip the laptop out of its docking station and take it with me to the other house or wherever. Up to now I've had three computers, one for each house, plus the laptop. I've used to back them all up, so I could download a file saved on one to the other. Still, one computer will be so much easier. There have been lots of times when I've been in Idaho and wanted an email I'd recently sent from my California computer. Now no more of that.

But it's so much stuff to move over! I used back-up drive to move all the files, but still ya gotta export and import Outlook and iTunes. Ya gotta get the fancy monitor that pivots from landscape to portrait mode working. (This is one thing I haven't done yet. I'm stuck in landscape, and I absolutely love to work in portrait mode. With a 20-inch screen you can see a lot without scrolling. Great for writing books.) Ya gotta get the bluetooth mouse and keyboard working, and the internet stuff. Ya gotta get the desktop looking just the way you want it. And on and on.

I did insist on the computer being built with Windows XP, not Vista. Vista--uh-uh, I ain't goin' there. All I hear about it are bugs, bugs, bugs. The Office software is upgraded to 2007. Some nice changes in Outlook and Word.

Okay, you Mac people out there, I hear you. Knock off your smart comments. I don't want a Mac.

Ugh, computerizing. Makes me cross-eyed.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Theya Culpa

We all know about the Bailout/Rescue Plan--whatever you want to call it. We all know the Dow is falling, and big banks and lenders have failed. Politicians and TV talking heads alike are raving about who's to blame. Of course one political side blames the other. I don't want to go there; I'm keeping this nonpartisan. And both sides and the media are definitely blaming the "Fat Cats on Wall Street."

Apparently it has become politically incorrect to place any blame whatsoever on the individual borrowers who signed the mortgages in the first place.

Yes, CEOs of the failed companies were greedy and irresponsible in their decisions. And certain politicians on both sides helped feed the problem. My opinion is not to take away any blame these folks deserve. It is to say that individuals were greedy as well. But we're not hearing about that. Politicians don't want "Main Street" folks mad at them so close to an election. They want to be seen as fighting for the "Little Guy." And the TV pundits don't want to lose viewers.

I've heard arguments that signers of the subprime mortgages, who later walked away from their payments, really didn't understand what they were signing. In other words, again it was the fault of mortgage companies for being fraudulent. Maybe that's true in some cases. But the print's there to read before you sign. I think many of these signers just wanted more house than they could afford. They looked at the big home and small payments and chose to overlook the fact that the payments would go up in five years. Nor did they consider that the mortgage was too large a percentage of the house's value because they were making little to no downpayment. And if the price of the house slipped, they could be upside down. Simply put, they got into too much debt. It's not that much different than overspending on your credit card.

Doesn't it sound harsh to blame the poor folks who've lost their homes? It's so much easier to put 100% of the blame on the Washington and Wall Street bigwigs. This seems to me one more slide in the downhill slope of our country. For the past two or three decades, individual culpability has diminished. This has become a real moral problem in America. When people don't take responsibility for their own wrong actions, they don't change. Which means they're apt to go out and do the same dumb thing, or something akin to it, next time. Mea culpa? Never. Theya culpa. It--whatever the problem--is always someone else's fault, or it's a disease, or the result of an abusive childhood, whatever.

Unfortunately, diseases and abusive childhoods do exist. Greed and poor decisions among corporation CEOs and politicians also do exist.

So should personal responsibility.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Professional Wedding Pix

First, thanks for the comments yesterday. Seems F&F is loading well for readers now. That's great! If it's giving you trouble, let me know. I figure silence means all is well. (Although if it's slower today, it's probably due to the pictures on this particular post.)

Last week the professional photos from my son's wedding in our Idaho home came in. Here are a few samples from the day, taken around the property and during the ceremony.

Handsome men (Brandon in center)

The girls

Beautiful Sarah

Men coming down the stairs in great room to begin ceremony

All stand for the bride

Presenting Mr. and Mrs. Collins (ceremony moved outside after all the wedding party gathered in great room)

In backyard after ceremony

Mark and I with new married couple

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Blog Load Time

For a long time now it seems this blog has been loading slowly on all three of my computers. One or two people have also told me the load time was so slow they had to start reading F&F through Feedblitz. I've also noticed some other blogspot blogs that I like to read load slowly. So I did a little investigation through googling to find out what's up with these trouble blogs. Keep in mind I'm no blogger or html expert.

I found this very helpful blog analyzer tool through Just type in the URL for your blog or other site and this tool will analyze how long it takes to load. Most importantly it will give you a list of Analyses and Recommendations, coding various elements of your blog green (doing fine), yellow (cautionary) and red (fix it!).

Yikes, I came up with quite a few reds. I immediately took some unnecessary widgets and links off the sidebar, and I reduced the number of posts that show at a time to four. Soon as I did just these two simple things, F&F loaded faster for me. How about you? Did you notice it loading any faster?

There are still a couple red items in my template that are beyond my fixing, what with my limited knowledge. Are there any blogger professionals out there who can be hired to fix these issues for me? They have to do with overall page size and image sizing. If you know someone, please leave a comment or email me. Perhaps F&F is loading quickly enough now and no more needs to be done. But that'll depend on your feedback. I appreciate your comments.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Thunderous Silence

Recently my husband and I rented Witness--a 1985 Harrison Ford movie. Ford plays John Book, a hardened city cop who goes into hiding in Amish country to protect himself and a young boy who knows too much. Kelly McGillis plays Rachel, the boy's mother. The movie won two Oscars--Best Screenplay and Best Film Editing--and was nominated in six other categories.

I love this movie. What strikes me most about it: the silent scenes.

If you haven't seen this movie--rent it. If you have seen it--rent it again. Pay special attention to the dialogue--and lack of it. Sometimes no dialogue at all is the most effective.

I won't include spoilers here for those who haven't seen the film. Instead I'll generally note that there are numerous key sequences or scenes in which not a word is spoken. The actions, facial expressions, and body language say it all.

Which makes me think--how effective is the dialogue in my novels? Are there scenes in which my characters could best convey meaning by action only?

DVDs are wonderful things, thanks to the extras. I always like to watch an interview with the director. The Witness DVD includes long interviews with all major players in the movie--director, producer and actors. After noting the lack of dialogue in key scenes, I was very interested to hear the director, Peter Weir, talk about the end of the movie. In the last scene between John and Rachel, the script contained a couple pages of dialogue--John telling Rachel how he feels and why he's making the choice he's making, and Rachel doing the same to John. Peter Weir cut all the dialogue. In that final crucial scene! Others protested that he was nuts. But he won out. And the scene is powerful because of its lack of dialogue. The acting is so good, and everything in the story has so led up to this moment that words would be superfluous. We know what each character is thinking.

Hm. Something to think about as I start a new book. Are there scenes in which the action between two people could be written so powerfully that no words are necessary?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Back in California

Got back last evening to California after ten days in Idaho. I think I'm parked here now--at least for a few weeks.

Yesterday's birthday was fun. Thanks to so many of you who sent birthday greetings--some on this blog's comments and many, many more through private emails.

Have to say, the best birthday greeting came on the card from my terrific husband. On the front:

For My Wonderful Wife

We've been together a while, but I STILL remember that magical moment I looked at you and thought, "WOW! What an irresistible babe!"

Inside the card:

I think it was this morning.

How can ya not love a guy like that?

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Big 52

Yup, that's me on my birthday--Sunday, Oct. 5. I am now officially accepting all forms of well-wishes--haiku, limericks, odes, mixed metaphors, wacky similes, or just plain "Happy 52nd birthday" if you're feeling brain dead.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

News Bits

1. Check out the author home page on Shoutlife. This month I'm the Staff Pick. This happened as a result of my meeting Shoutlife owner Stevie Mac at the Mall of America booksigning put on by the ACFW conference. If you're not on Shoutlife, I urge you to put up your own page. It's a Christian-oriented online community, and it will connect you with many like-minded people. (My page is here.)

2. Yesterday was the release date for John Olson's Shade, his vampire-novel-that-doesn't-really-have-vampires-but-might-as-well-have. This is the infamous manuscript presented to agents and editors some years ago at Mount Hermon, to which Steve Laube responded, "Wouldn't touch that with a ten-foot pole." Hm. Isn't the same Steve Laube now John's agent? Matter of fact, did he not sell same said manuscript to Karen Ball at B&H? Fans of Steven King and those wanting more Christian horror-type novels, John's Shade is for you. Publishers Weekly said in its review: "With breathless pacing, a sharp sense of suspense, memorable descriptions and a churning plot, this novel is a must-read for those who enjoy such authors as Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti. Readers will appreciate carefully woven themes from Dracula, science, faith, conspiracy theory and divine battle."

Order Shade from Amazon.
Watch the trailer.

3. The new Christian Fiction Online Magazine is now available. Check out October's issue here. My article, third of four parts on Story Resolution, is here. CFOM is a very informative and entertaining magazine on the industry of Christian fiction.

4. Check out this absolutely gorgeous cover for Robin Lee Hatcher's A Vote of Confidence, releasing from Zondervan next spring. Robin writes books 180 degrees from what I write. But we have the same publisher, and the cover artist has really knocked it out of the park for her next book and mine (Exposure).

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

October Bestseller Lists

Here are the two current bestseller lists. CBA's October list reflects sales in August. ECPA's October list would normally reflect sales in September, but since it was put up early (as they did last month), I'm guessing they "rounded the corner" on a month again--perhaps using two weeks of August data and two weeks of September data. (Michael--if I'm wrong, please advise.) Titles on one list and not the other are highlighted in blue. These lists look really different, so perhaps ECPA has used more data from September than August, such as first three weeks of September and last week of August. At any rate--congrats to the folks on one list or another, regardless of when your sales were made.

CBA (Numbers in paratheses indicate placement on the CBA Top 50 List)

1 (1) The Shack ,William P. Young, Windblown Media
2 (22) A Sister’s Hope, Wanda Brunstetter, Barbour

3 (37) Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Multnomah (WaterBrook)
4 (43) Adam, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
5 (50) The Note, Angela Hunt, Thomas Nelson
6 A Lady of Secret Devotion, Tracie Peterson, Bethany House (Baker)
7 Dawn’s Light, Terri Blackstock, Zondervan
8 Yada Yada Prayer Group, Neta Jackson, Thomas Nelson
9 Riven, Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale
10 Rook, Steven James, Revell (Baker)
11 Perfect Life, Robin Lee Hatcher, Thomas Nelson
12 Sabrina, Lori Wick, Harvest House
13 Mermaid in the Basement, Gilbert Morris, Thomas Nelson
14 Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis, Zondervan
15 Someday, Karen Kingsbury, Tyndale
16 The Last Jihad, Joel Rosenberg, Tyndale
17 Dead Heat, Joel Rosenberg, Tyndale
18 Skin, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
19 The Forbidden, Beverly Lewis, Bethany House (Baker)
20 Allison’s Journey, Wanda Brunstetter, Barbour


1 The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
2 The Longing, Beverly Lews, Bethany House/Baker
3 Jessie, Lori Wick, Harvest House Publishers
4 Sinner, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson Publishers
5 Dead Heat, Joel C. Rosenberg, Tyndale House Publishers
6 A Promise to Believe In, Tracie Peterson, Bethany House/Baker
7 Where the Heart Leads, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Bethany House/Baker

8 Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Waterbrook/Multnomah
9 Sunset, Karen Kingsbury, Tyndale House Publishers
10 Unexpected Love, Judith Miller, Bethany House/Baker

11 Fireproof, Eric Wilson, Thomas Nelson Publishers
12 The Note, Angela Hunt, Thomas Nelson Publishers
13 A Sister's Hope, Wanda E. Brunstetter, Barbour Publishing
14 The Yada Yada Prayer Group, Neta Jackson, Thomas Nelson
15 The Perfect Life, Robin Lee Hatcher, Thomas Nelson Publishers
16 The Forbidden, Beverly Lewis, Bethany House Publishers/Baker
17 The Last Jihad, Joel C. Rosenbert, Tyndale House Publishers
18 Someday, Karen Kingsbury, Tyndale House Publishers
19 When the Soul Mends, Cindy Woodsmall, Waterbrook/Multnomah
20 Riven, Jerry B. Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers