Thursday, April 30, 2009

April '09 List of "Today's Word"

Okay, who's brave enough to fit at least six of these in one sentence?

IMMURE (im-MURE) verb--to enclose within or as if within walls.

NACREOUS (NAY-kree-us) adj.--pearly.

MENDICANT (MEN-di-kunt) noun--a beggar.

ADUMBRATE (ADD-um-brate) verb--To foreshadow; to outline broadly; to cast a shadow over.

QUOTIDIAN (kwo-TID-ee-un) adj.--occurring every day; commonplace/ordinary.

HOMOLOGATE (ho-MAHL-uh-gate) verb--to agree with/sanction; to approve, allow, or confirm.

PECCAVI (Puh-KAY-vee) noun--humble acknowledgment of sin or error.

IRENIC (EYE-ren-ick) adj.--operating toward peace and conciliation, especially among disputants.

SCIAMACHY (sih-AH-mu-kee) noun--a fight with a shadow; a mock or futile combat (as with imaginary foe).

CHRESTOMATHY (kres-TAH-muh-thy) noun-- a volume of selected passages or stories of an author.

NEOLOGIZE (nee-ALL-uh-gize) verb--create a new word or use old expression in a new way; coin a phrase.

RABELAISIAN (rah-buh-LAY-zhun) adj.--having robust humor/extravagance of caricature. From the satire of Rabelais.

AMBIVERSION (AM-bi-VER-zhun) noun--personality trait showing both introversion and extraversion.

CAMARILLA (cam-uh-RIL-luh) noun--group of advisers to someone in power, often secret/scheming.

SCANSORIAL (scan-SOAR-ee-ul) adj.--Relating to, capable of, or adapted for climbing.

CATASTASIS (kuh-TAS-tuh-sis) noun: dramatic complication just before climax of a play; climax of a play.

MUNDIFY (MUN-duh-fy) verb--to wash thoroughly; to clean.

HOBSON'S CHOICE, noun--an apparent freedom of choice with no real alternative.

FRIGORIFIC (frig-uh-RIF-ick) adj.--causing cold; chilling.

BRUMMAGEM (BRUM-uh-jem) adj.--cheap and showy.

IMMURE (im-MURE) verb--to enclose within or as if within walls.

NACREOUS (NAY-kree-us) adj.--pearly.

MENDICANT (MEN-di-kunt) noun--a beggar.

PIQUANT (PEA-kunt) adj.--pungent, spicy; ability to arouse pleasant mental excitement, provocative.

PUERILE (PYU-rile) adj.--childish or immature; of or relating to childhood.

TORPOR (TOR-pur) noun--state of mental/physical inactivity or insensibility; mental or spiritual sluggishness.

SALACIOUS (suh-LAY-shus) adj.--sexually stimulating to the imagination; lustful, bawdy.

NIDUS (NIH-dus) noun--a nesting or breeding place; a place where something originates or develops.

LIMN (LIME) verb--to depict by painting or drawing; to describe or portray in symbols.

EPHEMERAL (ih-FE-mer-ul) adj.--short-lived; transitory.

CAPTIOUS (CAP-shus) adj.--calculated to confuse; having the inclination to find fault.

ARCANUM (ar-KAY-num) noun--a profound secret or mystery; an elixir.

Read May '09

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Interview with Margie Lawson

Many of you know writing teacher extraordinaire Margie Lawson. If you don't--get to know her. She teaches fiction with amazing insights.

Today on the Five Scribes blog Margie Lawson interviews me about Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets an Novelist Can Learn From Actors. (Margie guest posts once a month on FSB.) It's an in-depth interview looking at various concepts I cover in Getting Into Character. Readers can leave questions in the comments section, and I'll pop in a couple times during the day to answer. The interview covers such issues as:

o Depicting chaos in a scene
o Subtexting in dialogue (when what's spoken ain't what's meant)
o The Four Ds of plot structure
o How a character's Desire drives the entire novel
o Portraying multi-level characters
o Creating characters from the inside out

Those who have read Getting Into Character often have follow-up questions. This is your chance for answers. Those who haven't read GIC can get a good taste of what the book is about--and likely learn something about writing fiction along the way.

Go here for the interview. Note: since my posts are always published the previous night (so East Coasters can read first thing in the morning), at time of this posting my interview is not yet up on FSB. It will be up Wednesday morning.

Creating a Google Profile

Yesterday on Twitter I tweeted about this Time magazine article on creating a Google profile. Who should create a profile, and what's in it for you? It's an article worth reading.

To view my Google profile, go
here. For some weird reason I couldn't get the URL using brandilyncollins. So I used seatbeltsuspense. Google kept telling me brandilyncollins is already taken. Oh, really. Just how many people are there out there with my name? But when I typed in that URL to go see who stole my name, Google tells me there is no such profile. Hmmm. The system clearly is not without its quirks.

Do you have a Google profile? Leave your URL in the comments so we all can take a look.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Why Thrillers? Why Now?

James Scott Bell has some thoughts today for Forensics and Faith readers:

You may have seen reports recently about how romance writing is flourishing in these tough economic times. The rationale offered is escapism, and there's something to that. People facing bad news generally don't want more of it in their entertainment. Romances offer simplicity, predictability and hope.

But let's put in a word about thrillers. I have a feeling this is going to be a growth category, too, in a big way.

Why? Because thrillers are the original stories, the most ancient and satisfying form of fiction.

I heard Lee Child wax on this theory not long ago. For those first communities, where each day could be your last, where enemies hid in the dark forests and unexplored plain, thrilling stories were, says Child, essential for "fear management." When the tale was told of heroes going out and conquering evil, the community was inspired to press on.

Cut to today. Turn on the evening news, or scan stories on the net. Dark indeed. What thrillers give readers, then, is still a form of fear management, a way to believe that evil can be overcome.

We who write thrillers are the voices around the fires now, especially in this age they call postmodern.

Coming out of the Enlightenment, rational thought and dogma ruled. Of course, we still had stories. But the teacher, preacher, priest and professor ruled the cultural roost. They taught from on high, in objective terms, about what should be thought, and why (of course, several wars broke out over differences here, but we'll let that pass for the moment).

Now we are witnessing a massive cultural disengagement with monistic authority and even objectivity about truth. People aren't trusting the old institutions so much anymore. So who is to guide them through the savage nights of the soul?

The thriller writers, that's who. Because story is how readers connect to truth. Stories are how they find their way in the dark.

Which gives us a bit of responsibility as tale spinners, wouldn't you agree?

I don’t mean we have to be sending "preachy" messages. As Sam Goldwyn once put it, "You want to send a message? Try Western Union." But he also said, "This script has too much plot and not enough story." What he was pointing to, in his inimitable way, was the deeper level of narrative--to theme.

I'm sometimes asked in interviews if there is a unifying theme in my books. I think so. They are all about the search for justice in a dark world. In that search, I hope to bring a little comfort and even inspiration to the readers. I know several other writers, including the administrator of this here Forensics and Faith blog, who hope the same thing.

So look for thrillers to keep up the pace in these times. Maybe they won't run neck and neck with romances, but when you want a gunshot instead of a kiss, we'll be there for you.


So, BGS, what's your response?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Influencer List for Exposure

When your worst fear comes true ...

Exposure, my next stand-alone adult suspense, releases in two weeks. Time once again to put together an influencer list.

In return for a free copy of Exposure an influencer agrees to help spread the word online and in person about the book. I'm looking for folks who can reach a good number of listeners. An influencer is asked to write an honest review for online bookstores--without giving away plot points of the story. Beyond that here are some other ways an influencer might help publicize the book:

1. Recommend it to your book discussion group.
2. Recommend it for your public/church library.
3. Post your review on your own blog.
4. Twitter about the book/put a note about it on your Facebook page.
5. Tell bookstore employees about the book and suggest they recommend it to suspense lovers.
6. Encourage your friends to read it/buy a copy.

You get the idea. All of these recommendations, of course, must be honest. If you don't like the book and can't recommend it--don't.

Influencer books come straight from the publisher so slots on the list are limited. If you're interested in being considered for the list, please e-mail me and tell me how you would publicize the book and what kind of following you have (online and by word of mouth). Have some bright idea I haven't mentioned? I'd love to hear it. Past influencers still need to e-mail me; with each release the list is started over. E-mail at: brandilyn (at) brandilyncollins (dot) com. Make sure to include your street address.

Behind the Scenes Look at Exposure

My Seatbelt Suspense brand means a fast start, fast pace, high stakes, emotive characterization, and plenty of twists. With each novel I work hard to meet the standards of my brand. But a good suspense is more than a tension-filled story. A good suspense says something about life, about our human condition--physically, emotionally, spiritually. It's a story that takes you to the depths, then brings you out with something to cling to.

So--what do you fear? More important, how much do those fears hold you back? That was the underlying question in my mind as I wrote Exposure. We all face fear--usually in a multiplicity of forms. Not until I wrote Exposure did I realize the extent to which those fears can bind us.

Fun fact: You long-term readers of F&F know my fear of the dentist. You can find my "World's Worst Dental Patient" story here in the archives. Some of that story made its way into this book.

From the back cover

Someone is stalking Kaycee Raye. But who will believe her? Everyone knows she’s a little crazy. Kaycee’s popular syndicated newspaper column pokes fun at her own paranoia and multiple fears. The police in her small town are well aware she makes money writing of her experiences. Worse yet, she has no proof of the threats. Pictures of a dead man mysteriously appear in her home—then vanish before police arrive. Multisensory images flood Kaycee’s mind. Where is all this coming from?

Maybe she is going over the edge.

High action and psychological suspense collide in this story of terror, twists, and desperate faith. The startling questions surrounding Kaycee pile high. Her descent to answers may prove more than she can survive.

Read the first chapter
At Amazon
Interview with about Exposure
Congrats to our winner from yesterday: Bill Giovannetti, please e-mail me. You've won Adam Blumer's Fatal Illusions.

Elisha's Bones

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Elisha's Bones

(Bethany House March 1, 2009)


Don Hoesel


Don Hoesel was born and raised in Buffalo, NY but calls Spring Hill, TN home. He is a Web site designer for a Medicare carrier in Nashville, TN. He has a BA in Mass Communication from Taylor University and has published short fiction in Relief Journal.

He lives in Spring Hill with his wife and two children.

Elisha's Bones is his first novel.


Every year, professor of antiquities Jack Hawthorne looks forward to the winter break as a time to hide away from his responsibilities. Even if just for a week or two. But this year, his plans are derailed when he's offered almost a blank check from a man chasing a rumor.

Billionaire Gordon Reese thinks he knows where the bones of the prophet Elisha are--bones that in the Old Testament brought the dead back to life. The bones of the prophet once raised the dead to life... but they vanished from history in a whisper.

Bankrolled by a dying man of unlimited means, Hawthorne's hunt spans the globe and leads him into a deadly conspiracy older than the church itself. A born skeptic, Jack doesn't think much of the assignment but he could use the money, so he takes the first step on a chase for the legendary bones that will take him to the very ends of the earth.

But he's not alone. Joined with a fiery colleague, Esperanza Habilla, they soon discover clues to a shadowy organization whose long-held secrets have been protected . . . at all costs. And he soon discovers those sworn to keep the secret of the bones will do anything to protect them. As their lives are threatened again and again, the real race is to uncover the truth before those chasing them hunt them down.

If you would like to read the first chapter of
Elisha's Bones, go HERE.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fatal Illusions

Today I'm introducing suspense novelist Adam Blumer, who just saw his debut work, Fatal Illusions, release from Kregel Publications. Adam works full-time as a freelance writer and editor. He lives in Michigan with his wife and two daughters.

For a chance to win a copy of Fatal Illusions, please leave a comment about our conversation with Adam.

Mark, welcome to Forensics and Faith. First tell us about Fatal Illusions:

Pastor’s wife Gillian Thayer, a calligrapher, is mourning the loss of twins who died at birth when she makes a discovery that shatters her world. She finds a love letter written to her husband, Marc. Before she can confront him, someone shoots Marc. He recovers, but the situation involving the woman who shot him is so complex and the media so relentless that the Thayers decide to take a sabbatical at a historical lighthouse in Michigan’s U.P. But someone else has also moved to the area--a serial killer and amateur magician who dreams of being the next Houdini. He strangled several young women in Cincinnati, but to pursue his dream of being a great magician, he must put the murders and his past behind him. He thinks he just needs time and distance, but he soon spots his next victim and can’t help himself. When Marc, the last person to see the victim alive, is arrested, he and Gillian find themselves thrust into the heart of a murder investigation and into the sights of a ruthless killer.

You've said God called you to be a writer. How did that happen?

I loved writing imaginative tales when I was a kid, but I didn’t start taking my writing seriously until I won a state high school creative writing contest. That’s when I realized that my writing was better than average and that perhaps God wanted me to do something with it. Because I loved writing and got good grades in English, I decided to get a journalism degree in college; it seemed like a smart vocational decision fitted to my skills. By then, it was pretty much a given in my mind that God wanted me to write. Exactly what I was supposed to write I didn’t know yet. For fourteen years I served as a staff editor for two ministries, but I always preferred writing stories.

Inquiring minds always want to know about getting that first contract ...

It took me a long time. I spent about twenty years pursuing novel writing seriously (and experiencing some ups but mostly downs) before my book proposal for Fatal Illusions got some attention. I began Fatal Illusions in 2002 in conjunction with a Writer’s Digest correspondence course on novel writing. I finished the first draft in the fall of 2005 and began contacting literary agents.

In January 2006, agent Steve Laube, a well-known and respected voice in Christian fiction, asked to see the full manuscript. Though he ultimately declined to represent me, he sent me a two-page letter, pointing out how few manuscripts reach the stage that mine did, and gave me eight pointers on how to make the novel publishable. Energized, I followed his advice and got to work, but I still couldn’t find an agent or publisher.

A year later, I contacted Kregel Publications about opportunities to edit books from home (my day job is as a freelance editor). The managing editor noticed on my resume that I had written several unpublished novels and asked to see my latest project. Kregel liked what they saw in Fatal Illusions and accepted it for publication. God opened a door I never could have opened for myself!

Whoa, twenty years is a long time. What kept you going?

I’m not really sure other than that God gave me the drive to keep writing and not to give up on the idea of being a published novelist. For quite a while, though, writing a novel was more a hobby than something I seriously thought was going to lead to publication. I wanted to be a novelist, of course, but I had a wife and two daughters to support. So I did editing to support them, published some short stories and articles on the side, and kept writing novels when I had time, wondering (and often doubting) whether anything would ever come of it. Each time I wrote another novel I believe I grew and improved as a novelist, so the unpublished novels weren’t wasted effort.

Why did you write Fatal Illusions? What was your inspiration?

Frank Peretti’s earliest supernatural thrillers taught me that Christian novels can do more than entertain. I wanted to write something not only suspenseful but also meaningful. My prayer is that the message will resonate with readers and maybe even challenge their spiritual thinking.
The novels of Mary Higgins Clark also inspired me. I studied the organization and plot lines of her novels and wondered if I could write something as good. I also like her shifting points of view and her short, numerous chapters. (Readers might notice a resemblance.) Her novel You Belong to Me especially inspired me to try my own hand at a serial killer “female in jeopardy” suspense tale. Because most Christian readers are women, I decided to make my main protagonist female—in fact, a pastor’s wife, a protagonist you don’t read about very often. Add to that my love of true crime and forensic science, and I was on my way. Christian suspense novels by Brandilyn Collins and Terri Blackstock have also been a big influence.

A past experience also provided a creative springboard. A church voted to remove from membership a believer who was sincerely repentant of immorality. I began to play the “what if” game in my mind. What if the person who was disciplined got really ticked? What if he or she became mad enough to kill? I thought a church discipline scenario created an unusual motive for murder—hence one of the subplots in Fatal Illusions. I also read Ruth Brandon’s The Life and Many Deaths of Harry Houdini. This biography of the famous illusionist fascinated me and helped me develop the characterization of my serial killer. In fact, readers will discover an important plot clue connected to Houdini.

That's a lot of inspiration! Talk to us about writing from the female POV. How hard was that for you?

It did create challenges in making Gillian a three-dimensional character who doesn’t think like me. Among several issues, she struggles with private grief and needs a godly female mentor in her life. Describing her struggles as a woman who has unique emotional needs and insecurities was often challenging. Thankfully, I had a few female first readers and editors to help me get her right.

Tell us about underlying themes in Fatal Illusions.

Mainly I probe the themes of secrets and deception (or “illusions” as my title suggests, though on a secondary level). As believers, how do we lie to ourselves and to others? Do we try to hide who we really are inside? What happens if we try to live a lie? Should spouses ever keep secrets from each other? What can happen if they do?

I also encourage readers to consider how they would protect their families if they faced the same type of evil the Thayer family must confront. (My serial killer cyber-stalks his victims weeks before he makes his move.) Many of the novel’s themes are areas I’ve had to work through in my own thinking. When life doesn’t make sense, how do I respond? Do I trust God, even when His ways are difficult to understand?

Sounds like you did quite a bit of research to make this book accurate.

Yes, more than I expected. Calligraphy didn’t require much research because I had dabbled in it in high school and won a few awards. Information about magicians wasn’t tough to find either because I had already been researching Houdini on the Internet after reading a biography about him. For serial killers, I watched a lot of Forensic Files and Body of Evidence on TV and read Mary Higgins Clark and other crime/suspense authors. One big area I had to research was police procedure, since a retired homicide detective helps the Thayers catch the Magician Murderer. I researched crime scene investigation, forensic science, computer crimes (since my villain is a cyber-stalker), and other related areas. But these have always been areas of interest, so I hardly thought of the research as work. Because Gillian is a professional calligrapher of famous quotations, Bible verses, and love poems, I also had to research her literary side, since that’s her lens for viewing the world.

What was the hardest part about writing this book?

Finding the time to write a suspense tale of this scope and complexity. (I’m a full-time freelance editor and write novels after my regular work.) I spent a lot of evenings and weekends on this project. Another problem was that I constantly questioned my abilities and doubted that my stuff was good enough to be published. These doubts fed procrastination. After all, if nobody’s going to want my novel, why push myself so hard? You can imagine my surprise when Kregel bought my novel. Today I write with a different attitude about my projects; I see them as God’s calling. God has opened doors I never could have opened for myself. I’d be a fool not to take advantage of every opportunity He gives. May He receive the glory!

A question just for fun. What's the quirkiest thing that's ever happened to you?

Has to be when I went on a trip to the Holy Land and met my wife. In the spring of 1995, still single and disillusioned with dating, I gave up on the idea of dating anyone ever again. I decided to go on a trip to the Holy Land as sort of a spiritual pilgrimage; I wanted to meditate on God and see what He wanted to show me about Himself. Wouldn’t you know it? What I least expected happened. At the Boston airport, I met Kim, a gorgeous brunette (her church group met mine) who’d brought the same novel to read on the airplane, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. No kidding. Then at London’s Heathrow Airport, the ticket person thought she and I were a couple and put us together on the all-night flight to Tel Aviv. Kim didn’t care for her sardines, so I ate them. The relationship appeared to be promising. To cut to the chase, we chatted in Jericho, conversed in Nazareth, and talked nonstop in Jerusalem. On the way home I sat beside her on the plane. A few weeks later, I visited her in Milwaukee and met her parents. By New Year’s, we were engaged. Pretty amazing, huh? I now tell singles not to look for a marriage partner. Seek God, and He’ll put you on a collision course if marriage is His plan for you.

We have quite a few aspiring novelists here at F&F. As your final remarks, what advice do you have for them?

Be patient and work hard, but keep in mind that doors will open for you only in the Lord’s timing. We can’t rush God. If He has prompted you to write, God gave you that desire for a reason. Explore what His will could be, but learn to wait on Him—perhaps even for a long time. When He’s ready, He’ll let you know. In the meantime, seek Him with your whole heart.

Thank you, Brandilyn, for the opportunity to introduce myself to your readers.
Reminder: If you'd like a chance at a free copy of Fatal Illusions, please leave a comment. I'll randomly draw a name and announce winner tomorrow.

Buy Fatal Illusions from Amazon.

Buy from

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bursting Spring

While a few places in the U.S. are still stuck in winter, spring has come to many. Today, a moment's pause to celebrate the long-awaited season. (Photos taken from our California backyard.)

Closing out with a night view

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hangin' With the SWAT Team

Okay, so we authors don't always live in our caves. Here's a recent story from the life of novelist Rene Gutteridge, a terrific writer. She's the author of fifteen novels, writing in the genres of comedy and suspense. Her thriller Listen will release in January 2010, and her newest romantic comedy, Never the Bride, comes out June 2nd of this year. (Story taken from an e-mail, run by permission.)

Author perk day for me! I got to go with the SWAT team during a training exercise, and volunteered to be part of the scenario. At first I was supposed to be a hostage in a HUGE warehouse. Once we got inside, the guy with me, who used to be SWAT with them, said he wanted to change the scenario and wanted me to be the bad guy! He said that would throw them, and it did :) So, if you can imagine little Rene with a gun, a bomb and a 6 foot 4 hostage...well, I played the role, let me tell you, like a crazy woman! I was making demands for the governor, a plane, cash...and a warm cup of coffee.

Sean, my husband, was in the bus parked outside, that was also in the scenario, so they had bad guys in two places. Poor Sean (who played a good guy) ended up with a bomb strapped to him. The "bad guys" made him go outside and tape up the bomb robot "eye", which is the camera, so they couldn't get any live feed back.

Today was a training exercise for the bomb squad and SWAT (we actually just call it Tactical Team here), to see how they could coordinate a double hostage situation in two locations with multiple bombs.

I was inside the warehouse in this office-type place that was off the ground looking over the floor area for three hours. It was like a mouse maze, and it was PITCH BLACK! I ended up letting my hostage go with the bomb strapped to him, and then I was toast, so I ended up surrendering after about thirty minutes because I didn't want to be thrown to the ground. It was super creepy, though. I was in total darkness. The only thing glowing was part of my gun. And I had about 2,000 square feet I could roam around in, so I'd go to these various windows and peek out. I talked with the hostage negotiator for about an hour. The scenario was that we were on the way to blow up the court house because my brother was about to be executed at 6 p.m. Things went wrong and we ended up hijacking a city bus, and then I escaped into the building with an off duty police officer as my hostage. It was interesting listening to the tactics of the negotiator. He really played on my female, husband, reputation. What will your kids think if they see you do this stuff? Etc.

It was so weird and soooo informative to play the bad guy! I was up in those offices that look down on the warehouse and I couldn't see ANYBODY! Never saw the negotiator or a single SWAT team guy (there were about fifteen of them, plus two snipers). I did see the bomb robot moving around, but that's it. My heart was really beating fast because it felt so real, but it gave me a perspective I couldn't have gotten any other way.

They take it all the way, too. I got arrested and then questioned by the SWAT team while they tried to get Sean off the bus with the bomb. Finally we had to go...Sean had a meeting at one.

They told me they like to use civilians on these things because we aren't familiar with all the operations like the SWAT guys are, so we're more like the real thing. So if you're interested, you might contact your local police department and see if they use civilians for their training. It was really a lot of fun!

In the down time, sitting in pitch black with my hostage, my bomb and my gun, the hostage told me about a novel he's been wanting to write. He actually wanted to do a scenario where I was a disgruntled novelist and I wanted the hostage negotiator to get my publisher on the line. Isn't that hilarious?? I told him that was really too close to home for me...

Monday, April 20, 2009

“LIVE LIKE A ROCK STAR” Sweepstakes Launches Today

Know any teens age 13-18? Tell them right now about the “Live Like a Rock Star” sweepstakes, sponsored by Zondervan to promote Always Watching. Entry into the sweepstakes is easy. And each entrant can earn up to ten entries, resulting in a greater chance to win. Grand Prize: $850 night out on the town, including dinner for six at a restaurant of winner’s choice, and limo service for the evening. The first 200 entrants will receive a free copy of Always Watching.


Always Watching– Rayne Tour Series book #1

Seatbelt Suspense® for young adults.

This daughter of a rock star has it all—until murder crashes her world.

During a concert, sixteen-year-old Shaley O’Connor stumbles upon the body of a friend backstage. Is Tom Hutchens' death connected to her?

Frightening messages arrive. Paparazzi stalk Shaley. Her private nightmare is displayed for all to see. Where is God at times like this?

As the clock runs out, Shaley must find Tom's killer—before he strikes again...

Watch the trailer.

Join the Rayne Tour series Fan Club.

“Mother and daughter team Brandilyn and Amberly Collins have stormed onto the YA scene in exhilarating style with this great new series. Always Watching is a fast paced whodunit set against the intriguing backdrop of rock star celebrity .... Shaley’s struggle to balance her public status with her true identity is one of the most interesting aspects of this story. [Brandilyn Collins’] adult fans will find much to rave about here, while new teen readers will love the youthful voice and perspective that Amberly Collins brings to the table. Underlying the tension and dread is a strong spiritual message about trusting in the God who is always watching over us.”

– Jake Chism, The Christian Manifesto

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Boneman's Daughters

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Boneman's Daughters

Center Street (April 14, 2009)


Ted Dekker


Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.

After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.

Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. Dekker's body of work encompassing seven mysteries, three thrillers and ten fantasies includes Heaven's Wager, When Heaven Weeps, Thunder of Heaven, Blessed Child, A Man Called Blessed, Blink, Thr3e, The Circle Trilogy (Black, Red, White), Obsessed, Renegade, and Chaos.


Would you kill an innocent man to save your daughter?

They call him BoneMan, a serial killer who’s abducted six young women. He’s the perfect father looking for the perfect daughter, and when his victims fail to meet his lofty expectations, he kills them by breaking their bones and leaving them to die.

Intelligence officer Ryan Evans, on the other hand, has lost all hope of ever being the perfect father. His daughter and wife have written him out of their lives.

Everything changes when BoneMan takes Ryan’s estranged daughter, Bethany, as his seventh victim. Ryan goes after BoneMan on his own.

But the FBI sees it differently. New evidence points to the suspicion that Ryan is BoneMan. Now the hunter is the hunted, and in the end, only one father will stand.

If you're an avid Dekker fan, and would like wallpaper and counters for your blog, go

You can listen to an audio clip

Watch the VIDEO:

If you would like to read the first chapter of
Boneman's Daughters, go HERE.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bestseller Lists for March

The ECPA "April" bestseller list and CBA "May" list are now both posted. Despite their differences in names, both reflect sales in the month of March. Books appearing on one list and not the other have been highlighted in blue.

CBA (Numbers in parentheses reflect position on Top Fifty List)

1. (2) The Shack ,William P. Young, Windblown Media
2. (3) Take One, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
3. (13) Fireproof, Eric Wilson & Alex Kendrick, Thomas Nelson
4. (16) A Cousin’s Promise, Wanda Brunstetter, Barbour

5. (17) Double Minds, Terri Blackstock, Zondervan
6. (21) This Side of Heaven, Karen Kingsbury, Center Street (Hachette
7. (28) Kiss, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
8. (46) Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Multnomah (WaterBrook)
9. The Centurion’s Wife, Davis Bunn & Janette Oke, Bethany House (Baker)
10. Every Now and Then, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
11. The Inheritance, Tamera Alexander, Thomas Nelson
12. Circle Trilogy, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
13. Against All Odds, Irene Hannon, Revell (Baker)
14. (tie) Shadows of Lancaster County Mindy Clark, Harvest House
14. (tie) Blink of an Eye, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
16. Luke’s Story, Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Penguin Group USA
17. The Real Enemy, Kathy Herman, David C. Cook
18. Deceived, James Bell, Zondervan
19. Surrender Bay, Denise Hunter, Thomas Nelson
20. Cry in the Night, Colleen Coble, Thomas Nelson


1. The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
2. Take One,
Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
3. Fireproof,
Eric Wilson, Thomas Nelson Publishers
4. A Cousin's Promise,
Wanda E. Brunstetter, Barbour Publishing
5. Double Minds, T
erri Blackstock, Zondervan
6. This Side of Heaven,
Karen Kingsbury, Center Street (Hachette)
7, Kiss, T
ed Dekker/Erin Healy, Thomas Nelson Publishers
8. Blink of an Eye,
Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson Publishers
9. The Centurion's Wife,
Davis Bunn/Janette Oke, Bethany House (Baker)
10. Against All Odds,
Irene Hannon, Revell (Baker)
11. Time to Embrace,
Karen Kingsbury, Thomas Nelson Publishers
12. Kidnapped,
Dee Henderson, Tyndale House Publishers
13. Every Now and Then,
Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
14. Surrender Bay,
Denise Hunter, Thomas Nelson Publishers
15. Redeeming Love,
Francine Rivers, Multnomah (Waterbrook)
16. Conspiracy of Ravens,
Gilbert Morris, Thomas Nelson Publishers
17. The Inheritance,
Tamera Alexander, Thomas Nelson Publishers
18. Sunset,
Karen Kingsbury, Tyndale House Publishers
19. Riven,
Jerry B. Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers
20. Shadows of Lancaster County,
Mindy Starns Clark, Harvest House

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Always Watching Sweepstakes Almost Here

Book one in the young adult suspense Rayne Tour series, Always Watching, starts shipping today. This is the series co-written with my daughter, Amberly, targeted for teenage girls age 13-16. The Rayne Tour series features Shaley O'Connor, daughter of a rock star. Shaley has it all--a life of backstage passes, fancy hotels and limos. Or does she?

"... will appeal to young girls and adults who enjoy a good yarn ... a solid choice for mother-daughter book clubs." --Library Journal


Read the prologue and first chapter.

The national "Live Like a Rock Star" sweepstakes will launch next Monday, April 20. Look for a post here on Monday with full details. It's open to teenagers age 13-18. The Grand Prize is something all teenage girls will want to win.

If you want to buy online, has the best price at $7.99. (Amazon is at $9.99.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

December '08 List of "Today's Word"

I'm continuing to catch up with Twitter on these monthly posts of Today's Word. Halfway through next month I'll post the list for January '09, and then we'll be up to date, since I started posting them here in February '09. All of the montly Today's Word lists will be linked in the F&F archives.

BLETCHEROUS (BLETCH-r-us)--disgusting, aesthetically unappealing.

SPHALLOLALIA (SFAL-oh-LAY-lee-yuh)--Flirting that doesn't lead anywhere.

ULTRACREPIDARIAN (ultra-CRE-pi-DARE-ian)-- Giving opinions on a subject beyond one's knowledge.

JOBBERNOWL (JOB-ur-nohl). A stupid person. A blockhead.

FILIPENDULOUS (fil-i-PEND-joo-lus) suspended by or strung upon a single thread.

HONEYFUGGLE (HUN-e-fug-gle)--To flatter in order to cheat or deceive. From honey Eng. dialect fugle--to cheat.

ACHALASIA (AK-uh-LAW-ze-uh)--failure of a ring of muscle (as a sphincter) to relax.

GARBOIL (GAR-boil). A state of disturbance. Turmoil.

REVENANT (REV-uh-nant)--One who returns, as from the dead, or after a prolonged absence.

PERORATE (PER-uh-rate)--To deliver a speech in a grandiloquent style, to speak at length.

CACHINNATE (KAK-i-nate)--To laugh very loudly or convulsively.

DEGLUTITION (De-gluh-TI-shun)--The act or process of swallowing.

ONEIRIC (oh-NEER-ik)--Pertaining to dreams.

FARRAGO (fu-RAH-goh)--Confused, mismatched group of words or ideas. Or--Half-truths designed to deceive.

NEOTERIC (nee-uh-TER-ik)--Recent in origin, new.

BETISE (bay-TEEZ)--General foolishness or stupidity. Or--an act of foolishness. From French bete--foolish.

TANTIVY (tan-TIV-ee)--A headlong dash. At a gallop.

EMBROCATE (EM-bru-kate)--To moisten and rub a part of a body with lotion.

RECUMBENTIBUS (re-kum-BENT-i-bus)--a knock-down blow.

AMYGDALINE (uh-mig-da-LINE) Relating to or resembling an almond.

ARRIVISTE (a-ree-VEEST)--one who employs any means, however unscrupulous, to achieve success.

RECTAMENTA (ruh-JECT-u-MENT-uh)--Rejected things.

SALVIFIC (SAL-vific)--Redemptive; having the intent to save.

CONCINNATE (CON-sinnut)--(adjective) put together with neat propriety; of elegant style.

PERSIFLAGE (PER-su-flazh)--frivolous bantering talk.

OZOSTOMIA (O-zuh-STO-mee-uh)--bad breath.

UNCINATE (UN-su-nut)--bent at the tip like a hook.

CHANTAGE (shan-TAZH)--Blackmail. From the French CHANTER--to sing.

KYOODLE (KI-yoo-dul)--to make loud useless noises.

Read January '09

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sara Mills' Allie Fortune

Sara Mills is a new novelist with two books now released. The Allie Fortune Mystery Series features "the only female private investigator in New York," set in 1947. One week ago Sara's husband died of a heart attack. He was only 40. His death left Sara a widow with three children. With her second book just released, Sara now has no time nor energy to help with its marketing. I'm joining numerous authors who are posting about Sara's fun and entertaining romantic mysteries and encouraging you to buy them--as one tangible way we can help our colleague. The following interview was first posted online last week by author Cara Putman--one day before Sara's husband's death.

Miss Fortune and Miss Match are delightful books set in NYC in 1947. Tell us how you got the idea for Allie and these books.

I got the idea for Miss Fortune in the middle of the night, when all good ideas come to me: One sleepless night I was watching The Maltese Falcon, and I started to wonder how different the story would be if Sam Spade had been a woman. She'd never have fallen for Miss Wunderly's charms and lies. She'd have been smart and tough and she would have solved the case in half the time it took Sam because she wouldn't spend all of her time smoking cigarettes and calling her secretary Precious.

The thought of a hard-boiled female detective got my mind whirling. I paused the movie and sat in my darkened living room thinking about how much fun a female Sam Spade could be. Intrigued but not yet ready to dash to my computer, I changed disks and put on Casablanca (my all time favorite movie). The sweeping love story, a tale full of hard choices and sacrifice was what finally made the whole idea click in my mind. If I could just combine the P.I. detective story of the Maltese Falcon with the love story from Casablanca, and make Sam Spade more of a Samantha, I could have the best of all worlds.

These books are so good, I wish I'd written them. How did you set the stage to capture that gritty PI feel without being dark?

I find that a lot of PI stories are gritty and dark, focusing on the worst of the humanity, and while I wanted the Allie Fortune mysteries to be exciting and tension-filled, I didn’t want them to be stark and hopeless. One of the things I tried to do to counteract the darkness was to give Allie a multi-layered life. She has cases, relationships, friends and family, all of which I hope combine to make the stories textured, rich and full of life.

Allie is a character I'd love to have coffee with. What did she teach you while you wrote these books?

Allie was a great character to write. One of the things I learned from her was that human relationships (man/woman, mother/daughter, friends) are complicated and full of unspoken rules and expectations. Allie is a rule-breaker at heart and it complicates her life on a regular basis. One of the storylines I loved most is Allie’s relationship with her mother and how it grows and changes and how it’s shaped her. Another dimension of Allie’s character that really taught me a lot was her willingness to do whatever was needed to help those she loves. There is no price on that kind of friendship and it’s a characteristic I’d like to see more of in myself. Okay I admit it, I’ve got a bit of a friend-crush on Allie. LOL.

One last question: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would that be?

If I could go anywhere right now I’d head to Monterey, California (I’m writing a book set there right now) and I’d plant myself on the beach with a notebook, writing my story as the waves crashed. Sounds like my idea of heaven on earth. There’s something about the wind-shaped Cypress trees and the crash of the surf in Monterey that calls to me.

Miss Fortune, Allie Fortune Mystery Series #1: In 1947 Allie Fortune is the only female private investigator in New York City, but she's kept awake at night by a mystery of her own: her fianci disappeared in the war and no one knows if he's still alive. Until Allie finds out, she will have no peace. When there's a knock on her office door at four in the morning, Allie suspects trouble as usual, and Mary Gordon is no exception. Mary claims someone is following her, that her apartment has been ransacked, and that she's been shot at, but she has no idea why any of this is happening. Allie takes the case, and in the process discovers an international mystery that puts her own life in danger.
Meanwhile, the FBI is working the case as well, and she is partnered up with an attractive, single agent who would be perfect for her under other circumstances-if only she knew whether her fiance was still alive.

Miss Match, Allie Fortune Mystery Series #2: FBI agent Jack O'Connor receives a letter from Maggie, a woman he used to love, saying she's in trouble in Berlin. The FBI refuses to get involved, so Jack asks Allie Fortune to help him investigate. Allie and Jack pose as a missionary couple who want to bring orphans back to the United States.
A child finds important documents that everyone in the city - Soviets and allies alike - want for themselves. Maggie refuses to tell Jack what the documents are, saying if things go wrong, they are better off not knowing. Through the course of the search, Allie's past is brought back to her, half a world away from home.

This week, the

is introducing


Thomas Nelson (April 2009)


Robert Liparulo


Robert Liparulo is a former journalist, with over a thousand articles and multiple writing awards to his name. Readers of his action-thrillers were not surprised when his visual storytelling style caught the eye of Hollywood producers. Currently, three of his novels for adults are in various stages of development for the big screen: the film rights to Comes A Horseman were purchased by the producer of Tom Clancy’s movies; and Liparulo is penning the screenplays for GERM and Deadfall for two top producers. He is also working with the director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, Holes) on a political thriller. Novelist Michael Palmer calls Deadfall “a brilliantly crafted thriller.” March 31st marked the publication of Deadfall’s follow-up, Deadlock, which novelist Gayle Lynds calls, “best of high-octane suspense.”

Liparulo’s bestselling young adult series, Dreamhouse Kings, debuted last year with House of Dark Shadows and Watcher in the Woods. Book three, Gatekeepers released in January, and number four, Timescape, comes out in July. The series has garnered praise from readers, both young and old, as well as attracting famous fans who themselves know the genre inside and out. Of the series Goosebumps creator R.L. Stine says, “I loved wandering around in these books. With a house of so many great, haunting stories, why would you ever want to go outside?”

He is currently working on his next thriller, which for the first time injects a bit of the supernatural into his gun-blazing stories. The story is so compelling, two Hollywood studios are already in talks to acquire it—despite its publication date being more than a year away. After that comes a trilogy of novels, based on the critically acclaimed short story he contributed to James Patterson’s Thriller anthology. New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry calls Liparulo’s writing “Inventive, suspenseful, and highly entertaining . . . Robert Liparulo is a storyteller, pure and simple.” He lives with his family in Colorado.


John Hutchinson thinks it's no coincidence that Brendan Page runs this modern Praetorian Guard, and that the billionaire military industrialist must have had something to do with the atrocities his son Declan committed in Canada. The Canadian and U.S. Justice departments disagree, but Hutch has been digging for dirt ever since.

Brendan Page has some dirty not-so-little secrets. he's built an empire on supplying futuristic weapons and highly trained soldiers to the world's most powerful armies. But he's saved his most destructive weapons for himself.

When Hutch discovers the secret of Page's success, Page decides to teach him a lesson. But the operation goes terribly wrong, and Hutch's son is kidnapped. While a lone man stands little chance against the best black op soldiers ever issued M-16s, Hutch manages to survive longer than Page anticipated. As far as Hutch is concerned, high-tech helmets, machine guns, and hand grenades are nothing compared to a man determined to save his son. It's a lesson he sets out to teach Page-and one that he can only hope works as well in the real world as it does in his heart.

If you would like to read the first chapter of
Deadlock, go HERE.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Increasing Cruelty

A thought on our culture and redemptive writing, from bestselling suspense author James Scott Bell.

One of America's best film critics, Manohla Dargis of the NY Times, reviewed the new Seth Rogen comedy, Observe and Report, last Friday. In this film, Rogen plays a mall cop who is power mad. In one scene, he is shown having raucous sex with a woman who has passed out from drinking (you know, the kind of scene George Bernard Shaw used to write so well). Dargis says:

"Comedy is often cruel, of course, but before 1968, the year the movie rating system was instituted, directors couldn’t squeeze laughs from the suggestion of date rape, as Mr. Hill [the director] tries to do here. Like action and horror filmmakers, comedy directors now push hard against social norms with characters who deploy expletives, bodily fluids and increasing brutality."

This is what saddens me about pop culture now. Wit is not valued, because wit requires a certain amount of intelligence. Cruelty requires nothing but cruelty, and when we start laughing at it, the jig is up, culturally speaking.

We're there.

There's a movie called Idiocracy (too many R elements to recommend it) which posits that the educated have fewer children, so the stupid outbreed them. A guy from the present gets sent 500 years into the future, and sees the results. People sit slack jawed in front of huge TVs, watching America's favorite show, which is simply a record of a guy getting hit in his most vulnerable spot, over and over again, in various ways (not a stretch, if you recall the popularity of MTV's Jackass).

We used to value and inculcate something called "good manners" which came from courtesy, which comes from the word "court" as in rules of conduct before the royal court, which itself came from notions of authority and order. One of these rules was not laughing at cruelty, not finding humor in the maltreatment of those who are weak and vulnerable. These rules have been built up over centuries, and now we see them flushed down manifold toilets every day.

The only thing we can do about this, as writers, is to continue to take our stand with redemptive fiction. No compromise. Don't give up.

Maybe it's a lost cause culturally, but as James Stewart puts it in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, "Sometimes lost causes are the only causes worth fighting for."

Watch the trailer for James Scott Bell's latest book, Try Darkness.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Communion at the Korean DMZ

For Easter, a poignant story from Mama Ruth's (my mom's) life in 1991, when she and my father visited Korea. (Officers' names have been changed.)

Are you all right, Honey?"

"I’m okay," was all my chattering teeth would allow me to say.

A fierce, biting chill numbed my fingers even though I was wearing two pairs of gloves. My chin and nose felt as if they’d been filled with novocaine, but now and then when the January sun peeked through clouds, a faint warmth touched my face.

J.T. and I, with our seminary tourist group, had just climbed up to the top of the most forward army post at the border of the Demilitarized Zone in Korea. Lt. Col. Bob Bailey, Chaplain in the United States Army stationed there, had secured clearance for us to visit the post. Not everyone has a chance to visit this area. My heart beat a little faster when I realized that I was within shooting distance of the North Korean Communist forces.

We were led to a bunker where the video/radio crew live and work. Constantly, twenty-four hours a day, they monitor whatever is going on in the Demilitarized Zone itself and just across the North Korean border. Even if a rabbit, or dog, or bird moves in that area, these American soldiers see it. They are very well screened and trained for this job. The thing they hate most is the constant blaring of communist propaganda over a loudspeaker located just over the no-man’s-line.

We clambered up out of the bunker and over a narrow catwalk to the lookout room where a powerful swivel telescope, manned by several U.S. servicemen, keeps the North Korean area in view. They allowed us to look through the telescope at the barren wasteland which is the four-mile-wide Demilitarized Zone.

At that point on the line, the DMZ arced northward like a horseshoe bend, so the Communists had three perches from which to survey us—from our left, in front, and to the right of us. Studying their hard, unsmiling faces through our telescopes, we could see them scrutinizing us.

We each took a turn at the telescope, then Lt. Col. Bailey asked, "Would you all please come out and stand on the platform beside the catwalk? I’ve arranged something for you."

We stood close together, each drawing warmth from the others, on one side of a plank platform, about eight-feet square. A two-by-four banister around three sides kept us from falling onto a ridge ten feet below. Wedged into a corner formed by the banister, and serving as a make-shift tray, lay a large, stiff laminated map of the area. On the map was a small brass cup without a handle, and the canteen cup the Chaplain had unstrapped from his hip. In the small cup were Communion wafers, and in the canteen cup was Communion wine. Between them sat a small, brass cross. From my viewpoint, looking straight beyond the cross toward the watchtower north of the lifeless DMZ, I could not see the North Korean flag. The cross blocked it out.

Facing us, Chaplain Bailey said, "I have never done this before—never served Communion under such circumstances. I’ve asked Chaplain Carl Foster and Chaplain James Henry to join us."

What followed was the most heart-moving Communion any of us had ever experienced.

Chaplain Foster passed out small, well-worn laminated cards on which was printed a brief Communion Liturgy, saying, "These cards mean a lot to me. I have used them in Communion on the battlefields in the Persian Gulf and Panama. Now I use them here in Korea."

I looked at my card and seemed to feel an aura from it—an urgent, overpowering of Christ’s presence there in Camp Ouelette. I could barely see the small print for welling tears. In quavering voices we read the short, responsive lines of our Lord’s Last Supper, and stood with heads bowed while Chaplain Bailey put into each hand a Communion wafer. Chaplain James Henry held the dull, gray-colored Communion cup and blessed us as we each dipped our wafer into the wine. If the cup had been gold, it would not have been held with more reverence.

We stood in silent prayer for a few minutes. I prayed for myself that the Lord would help me forget that my fingers were nearly frostbitten, and remember only His mercy and grace which brought me there. I prayed for the American and Korean soldiers on duty—they live in this cold all winter long.

Chaplain Bailey said, "Now I want to read the Twenty-Third Psalm." His voice was strong as he began to read those beautiful words:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies ...

Bob’s voice broke and tears streamed freely down every cheek as the truth soaked into us: We were in the presence of our enemies, and we were at the Lord’s table. Bob wiped his eyes, cleared his throat and continued for the blessed promise:

Thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Holy silence echoed our "Amen."

Laurie D’s sweet voice broke the hush when she began to sing, "The blood that Jesus shed for me . . . will never lose its power." Our soldiers in full combat uniform, standing nearby along the catwalk, hummed with her and I heard the rich bass of my husband’s voice accentuate the beautiful words. No one wanted to break the spell of that moment when God’s grace overflowed in each heart.

But we could not stay in that cold. So we went over to the soldiers—lonely for home—and hugged them all. I was the oldest mother, and I could imagine they were all my boys. All fine looking, standing straight and wiping their eyes as we were. Different backgrounds, different races, but we were all together in the Lord. As I hugged a handsome black soldier I said, "God bless you, I know your mother is praying for you!"

With tears on his face, he hugged me too, and said, "Thank you, Ma’am. I’m sure she is."

At that moment I wished I could say to the mothers of all those young men, "I’ve just seen your boy at Camp Oulette, and he is fine. He is thinking of you."

While we were saying goodbye to the service men, Chaplain Bailey wrapped the brass cross and cup in a piece of dark cloth, and stowed them in a bag. He poured the rest of the wine over the banister, and it spread out in a dark, crimson stain in the Korean snow. Jesus’ blood poured out for all of us. Then Joe strapped his canteen cup back into place on his hip and we were ready to go back to Seoul.

Filing stiff-legged down the narrow flight of steps on our way to the vans, we were suddenly stopped cold in our tracks with a bugle blast. We turned to see the cause and quickly understood.

Along with the service men, we stood at attention as our Flag—our wonderful American Flag flying over Camp Oulette—was lowered for the day. At 5:00 p.m. No other emotion can compare to the choking pride I felt as I watched the Stars and Stripes on foreign soil. And I thanked God that the freedom our Flag makes possible permitted the Lord’s Supper in the presence of our enemies. I prayed that some day, in God’s time, those enemies will become our brothers and sisters in Christ.

This story first appeared on Forensics and Faith on May 30, 2007.