Friday, July 31, 2009

July '09 List of Today's Word

Here's July's list. I challenge you to write a sentence using at least six of these words. Be creative!

ANACREONTIC (uh-NAK-ree-ON-tic) adj.--a poem in the manner of Anacreon; a drinking song or light lyric.

ABULIA (ay-BYU-lee-uh) noun--loss of will power; abnormal inability to act or make decisions.

DESIDERATE (duh-SID-er-ATE) verb-- to seek earnestly; to entertain or express a longing for.

ANALECTS (AN-uh-LECTS) noun--leftovers from a feast; selected miscellaneous written passages.

AUSCULTATION (OS-kul-TAY-shun) noun--act of listening to body organs, e.g., the heart, for aid in diagnosis.

DELIQUESCE (DEL-i-KWES) verb--to melt away; dissolve gradually into liquid by absorbing moisture from the air.

MUSSITATION (MUS-si-TAY-shun) noun--movement of the lips as if in speech but without sound.

CONCATENATE (con-KAD-uh-nut) adj.--linked together.

CLAUDICATION (claw-di-KAY-shun) noun: lameness, limping.

RHATHYMIA (ruh-THI-mee-uh) noun--the state of being carefree; light-heartedness.

PAPHIAN (PAY-fee-un) adj.--of illicit love. From Paphos, Greek center of Aphrodite (goddess of love) worship.

HEBETUDE (heb-uh-TOOD) noun--the absence of mental alertness; dullness, lethargy.

PERICOPE (puh-RIK-uh-pee) noun--passage from a book, e.g., selection from the Bible used as text for a sermon.

LAZAR (LAY-zer) noun--a leper.

QUADRAGESIMAL (kwad-ruh-GES-i-mul) adj.--relating to Lent; consisting of 40, such as a 40-day Lenten fast.

SINISTRALITY (sin-uh-STRAL-i-tee) noun--having one's left side more efficient than the right; left-handedness.

CORIACEOUS (KOR-ee-AY-shus) adj.--like leather in appearance, texture, or quality.

POLYHISTOR (pah-lee-his-tur) noun--a very learned person.

HEGEMONY (huh-JEH-muh-nee) noun--preponderant influence or authority (e.g., govt. or state); leadership/dominance.

PLUMBEOUS (PLUM-bee-us) adj.--consisting of or resembling lead; having a dull gray color like that of lead.

LUCULLAN (luh-KUL-lun) adj.--lavish, luxurious -- used especially regarding food.

AUSPICATE (OS-puh-kate) verb--to initiate with a procedure (e.g., drinking a toast) to ensure prosperity.

PERDURABLE (per-DER-uh-ble) adj.--very durable, lasting a very long time or indefinitely.

TROPOLOGY (tro-POL-uh-jee) noun--a figurative mode of speech or writing.

PASQUINADE (PASS-kwin-ade) noun--a lampoon or satire usually having a political significance.

CORONACH (KOR-uh-nok) noun--a lamentation for the dead as sung or played on the bagpipes in Scotland/Ireland.

OXYTOCIC (OC-see-TOE-sic) adj.--intended to induce uterine contractions.

SCIOSOPHY (si-OS-o-fe) noun-supposed knowledge of natural/supernatural forces based on tradition, e.g., astrology

COGNOSCENTI (KAWN-yo-SHEN-tee) noun--a person having/claiiming expertise in some aspect of fine art or fashion.

OSCULATE (OS-kyu-LATE) verb--to kiss.

PEREGRINATION (PER-i-gri-NAY-shun) noun--travel, an excursion to a foreign country; a widely ranging discourse.

Read August ‘09

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ten Things I've Learned as a Novelist

Today I am finishing the epilogue for my 20th book. A suspense novel (of course) titled Deceit. (Releases May 2010.)

My first book was written in 1993-1994 and published in 1995. A Question of Innocence was a true crime about a nationally watched murder case in the California Bay Area. QofI is my only book that's now out of print. (If you enjoy true crime, this is an amazing story. Find used copies through Amazon and other used book stores.)

A Question of Innocence was written in the middle of my learning how to write fiction well enough to be published, which took the entire decade of the '90s. I finally sold my first novel (Cast a Road Before Me), a women's fiction, in late 1999. It was published in the spring of 2001. Once I sold Road, I sold other novels in quick succession. Two were already completed--Color the Sidewalk for Me, a follow-up to Road, and Eyes of Elisha, my first suspense. Sidewalk sold in a two-book contract, with the second book being "blind"--that is, we agreed I'd write a third book for the Bradleyville series to follow Sidewalk, but I had no plot at the time of contract. Eyes of Elisha also sold in a two-book contract, with a "blind" sequel. In that same time period I sold my nonfiction book Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors on a proposal. Suddenly I had that nonfiction and the two blind novels to write.

My life on deadline had begun.

Now a decade and twenty books later, it's a good time for some reflection on what I've learned.

1. I know much less now about writing than when I started. As an aspiring novelist I thought I was downright good. At least I was certainly far more talented than other aspiring novelists. I thought when I sold my first book, my journey of learning the craft would end. I'd have made it. But that's when my learning truly began. Now I know I'll never stop digging deeper into the craft of fiction. The more I learn about the craft, the more I understand how very, very hard it is, how demanding it is. And the more I see how little I know.

2. Writing to deadline is entirely different than writing before having sold. On a deadline I have to write--whether I'm sick, tired, or just sick and tired. Whether I feel creative or not. As an aspiring novelist I relied on inspiration. Now I rely on perspiration. Then I could quit, walk away if wanted. Now I cannot. Now I must rely on knowledge of the craft more than ever, because day to day, inspiration can be coy and ephemeral.

3. I can write a good book even when I'm not feeling passionate about writing. Sure, I'd rather feel the passion. But it's not always there. This is where the rubber hits the road. It comes down to dedication and knowledge of the craft. Dedication means an unwillingness to settle for less quality than I'm capable of producing. Knowledge of the craft requires constant study of plot structure, characterization, dialogue, etc.--the basics of Story.

4. I need other novelists. Writing is a lonely occupation. I'm in my cave--before my computer--most of the time. I need social interaction with people who understand me. I need to kick ideas around. I need to vent and rant and rejoice with others in my profession.

5. A review is merely one person's opinion. When it's positive, I can rejoice in that. If it's negative, I can say, "Okay, it wasn't for her. But many others like it." And perhaps that negative review makes a point I can learn from. I will never please everyone. What I can do is work as hard as possible to please my readers and my target audience.

6. Always write for the smartest reader. As a suspense author, I'm writing for a wide variety of readers--from those who've never picked up a suspense before to those who are avid suspense fans. Readers not used to suspense aren't familiar with its conventions. They haven't yet learned the complexities of foreshadow and red herrings. Avid suspense readers know these conventions well. If I wrote even to the median of these two extremes, I'd be writing beneath the clue-hunting level of avid suspense fans. They'd be bored. And after all, that end of the spectrum is where the majority of my target audience lies. Plus--the smartest readers of my genre are the ones who will keep me on my toes. If I can surprise them with my twists, entertain and enthrall them, I've accomplished something.

7. Estaliblish a schedule for writing and stick to it. In today's social media world, even for a full-time writer it's so easy to procrastinate. I have a set time for dealing with Facebook and Twitter and email and blogging. Then it's time to write.

8. I view the world differently than those who don't write fiction. The "normals" look at the world and see what's there. I see what isn't. What could be. The what if. I see a drop of dew glisten on a spider web and tuck away the memory as a future metaphor. I see a cargo hold in a private plane and think, "You could hide a corpse in there." (Yes, I'm warped--blame it on my genre.) I eavesdrop on conversations, memorize a stranger's unusual gait, notice faces and expressions. Everything in the world is fair game for a story. Even my own pain and weakness. Especially my own pain and weakness.

9. Never take my readers for granted. With Twitter and Facebook it's easier than ever to stay in touch with fans. And if a reader emails me, I always answer promptly. I consider it a great kindness for someone to contact me and tell me how much they've enjoyed one of my books. Of course it takes time to answer. But they deserve a response. Besides, without readers, where would I be?

10. Give my talent to God. He created within me the ability and yearning to write in the first place. Therefore it's not a huge step to believe He knows best what to do with it. And when I have a problem in my writing, which is often--well, hey, He hung the sun and moon. He can surely handle this.

Next week--on to writing my 21st book. And soon I will enter my second decade as a full-time novelist. No doubt I'll revisit this list in ten years.

(To keep up with news on my books and have chances to win free copies, please sign up for Sneak Pique, my newsletter emailed every other month.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Justice Game

Today I'm pleased to feature The Justice Game, the latest novel by
Randy Singer. (I think of Randy as the John Grisham of CBA.) Randy came up with an innovative marketing tool for The Justice Game, a story that dramatically presents both sides of the gun debate through a civil law suit. He made a video that views like a real newscast covering the story, showing the attorneys' closing arguments in the case. Viewers/readers were then asked to register how they would vote if they were on the jury. The side receiving the most votes became the side that wins in the book.

Randy is a great guy as well as a great novelist. I was recently with him at the ChiLibris retreat/ICRS. Randy was nominated for a Christy this year in the suspense category for his 2008 novel By Reason of Insanity. He won the Christy a few years back for Directed Verdict.

I had a few questions for Randy about The Justice Game:

1. Okay, inquiring minds want to know. How did you do this marketing video logistically? The trailer came out the first week in January. Yet you say you wrote the ending based on voting results from the trailer. Did you already have both endings written? Did you have a preference for one of the two endings?

Yeah, it made things a little crazy with my publisher for a few months. The trailer came out on January 8, 2009. I kept voting open until March 11, 2009. My final edits went to the publisher on April 10, 2009 which, as you know, is extremely tight when you have a release date of July 1, 2009.

I outlined both endings and was comfortable with either one. I wrote the Advanced Read Copy with the ending in mind that I predicted readers might adopt. Those ARCs went out sometime in January, I believe, but we tried to make it clear to everyone that we reserved the right to change the ending. I began drafting the second ending to the point I was comfortable with it but never completed that work because the early results came back about 60/40 in favor of the ending that I already written. I started fine-tuning that ending and fortunately, those results held up. Otherwise, we would have made a hectic last-minute substitution and my publisher would have hated me forever. :)

2. As you say at the beginning of the book, "this one is personal" due to an experience in your past. Yet you managed to present both sides of the gun debate brilliantly. Was this hard for you to do?

In many ways, The Justice Game was my hardest book to write for two reasons. The first is as you mentioned--I'm extremely close to this story. Here's what I saw in my Author’s Note at the beginning:

On December 16, 1988, a sixteen-year-old student named Nicholas Elliot took a Mac-11 assault weapon to Atlantic Shores Christian School and opened fire. He shot and killed a teacher named Karen Farley, wounded an assistant principal, and burst into a trailer where a Bible class was meeting. When he opened fire on the students who had scrambled to the back corner of the trailer, frantically praying, the gun jammed. The Bible teacher, Hutch Matteson, tackled Elliot and prevented the kind of tragedy that hit Columbine High School in Colorado several years later.

Atlantic Shores was the school where my wife taught. The school my kids attended (though they were not there that day). When I learned that Elliot had purchased the gun illegally from a gun store in Isle of Wight County (through a transaction referred to as a “straw purchase transaction”), I ended up representing the family of Karen Farley in an unprecedented lawsuit against that gun store. The verdict shocked everyone.

That was fifteen years ago—my baptism by fire into the national gun debate.

That past experience both helped and hurt when it came time to write The Justice Game. It helped for the same reason they tell authors to “write what you know.” I didn’t have to research what a high-profile trial of this type would feel like. I knew the emotions, the substantive issues, the highs and lows. But it was challenging because it made me re-live some painful emotions and because I had to work hard to be fair to both sides of the debate. Which is the other
reason this book was the hardest one for me to write. The gun control debate is highly emotional and there are good people on both sides. I was determined to create compelling characters for both viewpoints. If the endorsements for the book are any indication, I might have succeeded. The book has been endorsed by both Dennis Henigan, Vice-President at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and by Alan Gura, the attorney who represented the gun owners in the most important Second Amendment case the Supreme Court has ever decided (D.C v. Heller).

3. Did your marketing video work well?

It did. I want to thank readers, bloggers and fellow authors for watching the video clip and voting for the verdict at the heart of The Justice Game. It was just plain fun to hear so many strong opinions from so many of you. I hope the book can do the concept justice.

It does. Buy The Justice Game from Amazon here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Novelists' Retreat Photos

Ah, what a wonderful time we've had. This is our group's 7th year to meet at our Idaho home in July. This year Francine Rivers joined our group--a great addition.
We spent half the days in plotting sessions, each of us coming away with plot points for a new novel. And the rest of the time we played.

Everyone is leaving this morning. We took hundreds of pictures. Here are a few of the weekend.

Traditional backyard photos. This year we're holding fans that we decorated and signed.
From left to right: Sharon Dunn, me, Francine Rivers, Karen Ball, Sunni Jeffers,
Tricia Goyer, Janet Ulbright, Ruth Seamands (my mom), Robin Lee Hatcher, Gayle DeSalles
(Tamera Alexander was unable to make it this year.)

Francine Rivers

Tricia Goyer

Plotting session on deck gazebo

Karen Ball posing with her fan

Robin Lee Hatcher and Sunni Jeffers

Mom and I are flying back to California today. Tomorrow we fly early to Kentucky for our family reunion. AND--this week my book, Deceit, is due.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Authors' Retreat is Nigh

Yesterday I wrote the final crisis/climax scene for my manuscript, Deceit, due at the end of this month. The only thing left is to write is the epilogue/resolution scene(s). I completed what I'd intended to write just in time. Tomorrow my author retreat friends come, staying until Monday.

We say during this annual long weekend that we "plot, play and pray." We'll spend half the days in plotting sessions--each author gets one hour and fifteen minutes and hopefully leaves with a plotted book. The rest of the day we play, break into small groups to brainstorm some more, maybe go out in the boat, and just hang out. We also pray together, not only during the retreat, but all year long, connected through an email loop.

I may not blog tomorrow but will post some pictures of the weekend on Monday.

Backyard group photo from last year

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Photo Friday Winner

By reader vote, Ace Collins wins this Photo Friday with his caption:

Mother told me it was a bad idea to marry Siamese twins. Why is it I never listen to her?

Ace, congratualtions. Please e-mail me at brandilyn (at) brandilyncollins (dot) com with your choice of one of my novels, and your address.

Also last week I asked for volunteers to write discussion questions for Exposure. Two Forensics and Faith readers sent in great questions. They're now posted on my Web site, and the writers' names--Sheila Deeth and Lisa Harman--are acknowledged as submitters, with hyperlinks to their own sites. Thanks, Sheila and Lisa, for your insights!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Titling a Novel

Most of the time I have no trouble titling my books. Something in the manuscript jumps out at me. But the last two times have been different. My original title for Exposure was In the Shadows. My editor and marketing director conference-called me one day, saying they had an idea for the title: Exposure. Wow. It was perfect, due to its various meanings within the story. I jumped on it. And then went back into the manuscript and worked the actual word exposure into the story for even greater meaning.

This current manuscript (another adult stand-alone suspense) has proved the most difficult in titling. Below are the emails between me, editor (ED) and marketing director (MD) that were sent over a couple of months. In the end we found our title. And what a duh moment!

From ED: We were talking about the title for your next book and seemed to focus on the idea of truth hidden below the surface, etc. I was looking up quotes about truth and came up with the following proverb: Truth Fears No Trial. The team really liked this for a title. It’s a little longer than some of your titles, but [the cover artist] felt he could do a lot with it. Your thoughts?

My response: Thanks for everybody’s thoughts on this. It’s a great help to work through this together. Here’s the Bible verse for the book: “Would it turn out well if [God] examined you? Could you deceive him as you might deceive men?” -- Job 13:9.

So Truth Fears No Trial carries sort of the right idea, only the flip side of it. The book isn’t really about putting truth on trial and seeing that it stands up. It’s about cutting through layers of deception to find the concealed truth. I also do think the title’s too long and weighted. It doesn’t have that punch that Seatbelt Suspense titles should have. Sounds kinda more like a legal suspense.

I think a better approach is to google proverbs about deception or deceive rather than truth. I’ve looked at quite a few and haven’t come up with anything that hits me yet. I still like the title Duplicity. Carries that connotation of deception masquerading as truth. Nice and punchy. But as you and I discussed it’s a pretty common word, and there was just a movie by that name. How is that title hitting you now? Did the team like it, or do you all want to discard it altogether?

ED: I completely forgot Duplicity. Other ideas [just to get you thinking]:

Circle of Deceit
Buried Deceit
Dark Deceit
Disguised Deceit
Masked Deceit
Shadow of Deceit
Shrouded in Deceit
Unknown Deceit
Veiled Deceit
Conceiled Deceit

Spark any ideas?

My response: Your “Deceit” titles are the right track for spurring my thinking. I think the best is Circle of Deceit. That fits and has a nice rhythm. The rest hit me as redundant, as deceit is typically concealed, veiled, masked, buried, etc.

What if we mixed words that aren’t usually mixed for a stark, hard-hitting title? Baxter Jackson is that perfect choirboy/church type who’s not what he appears to be. The first lines in the book are:

Some evil shouts from rooftops, some scuttles in the dark. The worst evil tips its face toward light with shining innocence.

What if we did something like Shining Deceit? Or some other word that means shining?

Shining Deceit is one of those titles that makes me go hmmmm. Not sure it’s perfect at first, but it could grow on me. What do you think? Too out there? It would have better rhythm if the first word had only one syllable.

Bright Deceit. Better rhythm, but I don’t like the word bright as well.

Or do I? Hmmm.

All this said, I still think Duplicity works very well. But I like this exercise of trying to think outside the box and maybe come up with a title no one else has used.

From me to ED a month later: I’m leaning toward Bright Deceit for the title of my wip. It grew on me. Interesting juxtaposition of words. The idea grew from the list of suggestions you sent me, using the word deceit. What do you think?


ED: I’ve been thinking about Bright Deceit, but it hasn’t grown on me. The two words are more than a juxtaposition, they don’t relate to each other at all. It doesn’t bring anything to mind when I hear them, just chaos.

I’m still leaning on Circle of Deceit. Each character is perpetrating a deceit for their own purposes and what one person does influences the next person in the circle. Everything is related until only truth can break the circle.


I didn't like the title all that well. But I could live with it. My response: Okay. I can go with Circle of Deceit. It amazons pretty well. There are quite a few paperbacks with Circle(s) of Deceit titles, but nobody big or that recent. The most recent is 2006. Page is here:

Thanks for your help!


From ED to MD: Check out my dialog with Brandilyn. She didn’t like our original idea, so we brainstormed other ideas using the word deceit. She wanted Bright Deceit but that didn’t work for me. We landed on Circle of Deceit. What do you think?

MD to ED: I am wondering if we can come up with something a little more “daunting” than that. Can I think on this a little bit and get back to you?

ED to MD: Yep.

MD to ED: Okay… I don’t know if these are “it” but how about:

Poisoned by Deceit
Fabric of Deceit
Pattern of Deceit
Interwoven Deceit
Broken Deceit
Seeing Deceit
Deceit unveiled
Deceit Revealed
Unveiling Deceit
Unmasking Deceit
Deceit Unmasked


ED forwarded MD's email to me. My response: Hmm. I don’t like any of these better than Circle of Deceit. However I do understand [MD's] point about “daunting.”

I also wish we could find a single syllable for the first word. That would provide a better rhythm.

How about “maze,” would that work? Maze of Deceit.

That’s not bad.


ED forwarded my email to MD. MD's response: Why can't it just be Deceit?

Well, duh!

My response: Haha. Isn’t it funny how sometimes the elusive answer is right in front of your nose?

Deceit. Like it. Waytago!

Here’s the amazon page. Looks like we’re fine. There are a couple of titles by this name, but nothing too new, by the time this book releases.

Thanks to both of you for your help with this. Great team work!


Deceit is due August 1. It will release in May 2010.


Don't forget to vote for Photo Friday's best caption. Winner announced tomorrow.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Through The Fire

Bethany House (July 1, 2009)


Shawn Grady


Shawn Grady signed with Bethany House Publishers in 2008. He was named “Most Promising New Writer” at the 39th Annual Mount Hermon Writers Conference. Through the Fire is his debut novel.

Shawn has served for over a decade as a firefighter and paramedic in northern Nevada. From fire engines and ambulances to tillered ladder trucks and helicopters, Shawn’s work environment has always been dynamic. The line of duty has carried him to a variety of locale, from high-rise fires in the city to the burning heavy timber of the eastern Sierras.

Shawn attended Point Loma Nazarene University as a Theology undergrad before shifting direction to acquire an Associate of Science degree in Fire Science Technology as well as Paramedic licensure through Truckee Meadows Community College.

Shawn currently lives in Reno, Nevada, just outside of Lake Tahoe. He enjoys spending time in the outdoors with his wife, three children and yellow Labrador.


Firefighting burns in Aidan O'Neill's blood. The son of a fireman, O'Neill has a sixth sense about fire and often takes dangerous risks. When one act of disobedience nearly gets a rookie killed, O'Neill is suspended. His weeks off are supposed to be a time to reflect but instead he escapes to Mexico, where another rash act of bravery actually kills him. But only for a few minutes.

Called back to Reno, he's now haunted by visions of hell and paralyzed in the face of fire. And at the worst time, because an arsonist is targeting Reno. With a growing love interest with one of the investigators complicating everything, Aidan must discover where his trust rests as the fires creep ever closer.

If you would like to read the first chapter of
Through The Fire, go HERE.

Friday, July 17, 2009

It's Photo Friday!

Here we go with another crazy picture. This one was submitted by Winnie Hines.

Write your most clever caption. Or two, or three. Come back some time over the weekend to vote on your favorite. (Yes, you can vote for yourself if you truly are the cleverest.) I'll announce the winner next Tuesday (reminding you to vote on Monday). The winner receives his/her choice of one of my novels.

Do you have a wacky picture you think is worthy of Photo Friday? I'd love to see it. Email to: brandilyn (at) brandilyncollins (dot) com. If I use it, I'll send you a book of your choice.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Discussion Questions for Exposure

For my last eight or so books I've been writing discussion questions for my novels, which are then posted on my Web site. A recent e-mail alerted me to the fact that I've not yet posted questions for Exposure. Oops. Too much going on, with two books releasing at once. And this story has the potential for some great questions on fear and how it affects our lives.

Anyone out there who's read Exposure want to take a crack at writing a list of discussion questions? If I use your list there's a free book in it for you (any novel of mine--your choice). And I'll include your name and Web site link on the page.

Here are questions for Dark Pursuit (adult suspense) and Always Watching (young adult suspense). Note that the lists include insightful questions about the story and characters as well as questions that apply the underlying themes to readers' lives. Also, I try as much as possible to write the questions so they don't give away major plot points in the story, in case someone reads them first.

If you'd like to submit a list, please do so by the end of this weekend. E-mail the list to: brandilyn (at) brandilyncollins (dot) com.

Pirate Hunter

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Pirate Hunter

Bethany House (July 1, 2009)


Tom Morrisey


Tom Morrisey is a mountaineer, aviator, shipwreck diver, and explorer, who holds a Full Cave certification from the National Speleological Society - Cave Diving Section.

He has launched, edited or contributed to numerous national publications and is an award-winning adventure-travel writer. A popular speaker, he is also active in both evangelism and the arts. Morrisey earned an MFA in creative writing from Bowling Green State University, and his fiction has been featured in numerous anthologies and magazines.

His first novel, Yucatan Deep (Zondervan, 2002) was a finalist for the Christy award, and he is the author of six novels, including
Wind River and In High Places. In addition Tom has also written two nonfiction books: 20 American Peaks & Crags (Contemporary Books, 1978) and Wild by Nature (Baker Books, 2001). He and his family live in Orlando, Florida.


High Seas Adventure Meets a High-Tech Quest for Pirate Gold. West Indies, 18th century: Young Ted Bascombe is rescued by notorious pirate Captain Henry Thatch, finding himself caught up in a world of crime, adventure, and a daily fight for freedom.... Key West, 21st century: Marine archaeologist Greg Rhode embarks on a treasure-hunting expedition in the turquoise waters of the Florida Keys, but he's as beguiled by a beautiful diver with different-colored eyes as by the lure of pirate gold...The Hunt Is On! Interweaving these two stories, pro deep-sea diver Tom Morrisey spins a multilayered tale of two young men's quests to escape their past by losing themselves to adventure on the high seas. Romantic and thrilling, this unique novel explores the timeless truth that "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

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

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dark Pursuit Sells Movie Option

I'm pleased to announce that a contract has been signed for the movie option of Dark Pursuit, my stand-alone novel released in the fall of 2008.

Maggie Field of Maggie Field Literary Consulting discovered Dark Pursuit while searching for new novels with film potential. She alerted producer Harry Gittes, who liked the book very much. Gittes has teamed up with screenwriter Chuck Pogue to purchase the option.

Before the contract was negotiated, Gittes and Pogue spent about an hour on the phone with me and my agent, Lee Hough of Alive Communications, talking about their vision for the film. It was a good conversation, and I appreciated the time they took to fill me in on their thoughts. After that conversation, all parties decided to proceed with negotiations.

If you're unfamiliar with the term "movie option," think of it as a rental of film rights for a book. For the specified time of the option, the purchasers tie up the film rights while they create a screenplay and see if they can gain interest in funding the film. If they do, the film rights are then bought outright. If not, when the option runs out the rights revert to the author, who can then option or sell the film rights to someone else.

About Dark Pursuit

Novelist Darell Brooke lived for his title as King of Suspense—until an auto accident left him unable to concentrate. Two years later, recluse and bitter, he wants one thing: to plot a new novel and regain his reputation.

Kaitlan Sering, his twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, once lived for drugs. After she stole from Darell, he cut her off. Now she’s rebuilding her life.

But in Kaitlan’s town two women have been murdered, and she’s about to discover a third. She’s even more shocked to realize the culprit—her boyfriend, Craig, the police chief’s son.

Desperate, Kaitlan flees to her estranged grandfather. For over forty years, Darell Brooke has lived suspense. Surely he’ll devise a plan to trap the cunning Craig.

But can Darell’s muddled mind do it? And—if he tries—with what motivation? For Kaitlan’s plight maybe the stunning answer to the elusive plot he seeks...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

ICRS Signing

This afternoon I will be flying out of Denver back home. Daughter Amberly will be heading out at the same time. Yesterday we had a very successful signing on the ICRS convention floor, with a long line that had to be cut off in order to start the signing right after us. (Which also had a long line waiting--for Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham.)

The ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), plus members of The Writers' View got together for dinner at Bubba Gumps' Shrimp. Amberly and I had a great time talking to different folks, including Kimberly Woodhouse, who's a lot of fun. (See Kimberly's Web site for her book Welcome Home, Our Family's Journey to Extreme Joy, about her family being on Extreme Makeover, Home Edition.)

It's been a terrific six days, but I'm ready to get home. I have a book waiting to be finished, plus another retreat and our family reunion, all this month.

Kimberly Woodhouse and Amberly

Signing pics from ICRS floor

Monday, July 13, 2009

Novelist's Retreat in Denver--2

The novelists' retreat, starting Thursday night and ending Sunday morning, was wonderful as usual. All day Friday we were taught by screenwriting consultant Michael Hauge. He gave us terrific insights into story, breaking down the different stages of story (including books and movies) both for the outer plot and the inner journey of the character. Fabulous stuff.

Saturday we had sessions on the business of writing--finances, taxes, contracts, etc. Saturday evening was the Christy banquet. Winners of the awards:

Contemporary Romance: Beyond the Night, Marlo Schalesky (Waterbrook Multnomah)

Contemporary Series, Sequels and Novellas: You Had Me At Goodbye, Tracey Bateman (FaithWords)

Contemporary Stand-Alone: Dogwood, Chris Fabry (Tyndale House)

First Novel: Blue Hole Back Home, Joy Jordan-Lake (David C. Cook)

Historical: Until We Reach Home, Lynn Austin (Bethany House)

Historical Romance: From a Distance, Tamera Alexander (Bethany House)

Suspense: The Rook, Steven James (Revell)

Visionary: Vanish, Tom Pawlik (Tyndale House)

Young Adult: I Have Seem Him in the Watchfires, Cathy Gohlke (Moody)

Tamera Alexander (Christy winner) and my daughter, Amberly

Jerry Jenkins and Amberly at Christy reception

Christy reception: Me, Robin Jones Gunn (Christy nominee), Amberly

Josh Singer, Randy Singer (Christy nominee), me,
Sue Brower (Zondervan editor), Amberly, Lee Hough (our agent)

Kim Sawyer, winner of this years Rotten Review award
at our retreat, being handed the medal from
last year's winner, Tamera Alexander

Homicide detective and novelist Mark Mynheir
teaching us about the cop world for our novels

Two Christy nominees for suspense category:
Athol Dickson and Randy Singer

Friday, July 10, 2009

Novelist's Retreat in Denver

Pics of a few attendees at the retreat. Last night we were just gathering, eating and hanging out. Meetings begin today. (All names are hyperlinked to author's web site.)

Mindy Clark

Lori Copeland

Colleen Coble, Randy Ingermanson

Angela Hunt, Harry Kraus

Thursday, July 09, 2009

June Bestseller Lists

Both the ECPA and CBA bestseller lists are now in, reflecting sales in the month of June. The ECPA list is always titled one month later than the sales month, so it's called the July list. The CBA list is always titled two months later, so this is its August list. (Confusing, I know.) The data are crunched a little differently, hence you'll see some differences on the two lists. Those books appearing on one list only are highlighted in blue.

Both CBA and ECPA also have their own Top Fifty lists, which include both nonfiction and fiction sold within the Christian market.

CBA (Numbers in parentheses reflect placement on the CBA Top Fifty list)
1. (2) The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media

2. (5) Take Two, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
3. (8) Take One, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
4. (23) A Bride in the Bargain, Deeanne Gist, Bethany House (Baker)
5. (25) Double Minds,Terri Blackstock, Zondervan
6. (29) The Secret, Beverly Lewis, Bethany House (Baker)
7. (31) Fireproof, Eric Wilson & Alex Kendrick, Thomas Nelson
8. (32) A Dream to Call My Own, Tracie Peterson, Bethany House (Baker)
9. (34) BoneMan’s Daughters, Ted Dekker, Center Street (Hachette)
10. (37) Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Multnomah (WaterBrook)
11. (46) Circle Trilogy, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
12. Higher Hope, Robert Whitlow, Thomas Nelson
13. Kiss, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
14. A Gift of Grace, Amy Clipston, Zondervan
15. Deeper Water, Robert Whitlow, Thomas Nelson
16. Exposure, Brandilyn Collins, Zondervan
17. A Love to Last Forever, Tracie Peterson, Bethany House (Baker)
18. A Cousin’s Promise, Wanda Brunstetter, Barbour
19. The Inheritance, Tamera Alexander, Thomas Nelson
20. A Widow’s Hope, Mary Ellis, Harvest House

ECPA (Numbers in parentheses reflect placement on ECPA's Top Fifty list)

1. (2) The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
2. (5) Take One, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
3. (16) The Secret, Beverly Lewis, Bethany House (Baker)
4. (17) Fireproof, Eric Wilson & Alex Kendrick, Thomas
5. (19) A Bride in the Bargain, Deeanne Gist, Bethany House (Baker)
6. (21) Higher Hope, Robert Whitlow, Thomas Nelson
7. (24) Circle Trilogy, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
8. (25) BoneMan’s Daughters, Ted Dekker, Center Street (Hachette)
9. (27) A Dream to Call My Own, Tracie Peterson, Bethany House (Baker)
10. (30) Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Multnomah (WaterBrook)
11. (33) Plain Pursuit, Beth Wiseman, Thomas Nelson
12. (34) Double Minds,Terri Blackstock, Zondervan
13. (36) Lunatic, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
14. (37) By Reason of Insanity, Randy Singer, Tyndale
15. (45) Exposure, Brandilyn Collins, Zondervan
16. (47) A Gift of Grace, Amy Clipston
17. (49) Elyon, Ted Dekker/Kaci Hill, Thomas Nelson
18. (50) A Widow’s Hope, Mary Ellis, Harvest House
19. Plain Perfect, Beth Wiseman, Thomas Nelson
20. A Cousin's Promise, Wanda Brunstetter, Barbour

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Wretched Writers Welcome--Bulwer-Lytton 2009 Winners

The Bulwer-Lytton contest--"where www means wretched writers welcome."

Haven't heard about this contest to write the worst first line of a novel? Read about it here. As for the 2009 winners, here's an example in all its glory:


The wind dry-shaved the cracked earth like a dull razor--the double edge kind from the plastic bag that you shouldn't use more than twice, but you do; but Trevor Earp had to face it as he started the second morning of his hopeless search for Drover, the Irish Wolfhound he had found as a pup near death from a fight with a prairie dog and nursed back to health, stolen by a traveling circus so that the monkey would have something to ride.

-- Warren Blair Ashburn, VA

Read the complete list of horribly awful winners here.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

ICRS Coming Up

The time has rolled around again. On Thursday I will be flying to Denver for the ChiLibris novelists' retreat, followed by the
International Christian Retail Show (ICRS), starting Monday the 13th. In the middle of these two events is the Christy Awards reception on Saturday night. (Go here to see Christy nominees for this year.)

ICRS--and therefore the Christy reception and ChiLibris retreat--is being held in Denver this year. Daughter Amberly and I will be signing copies of Always Watching on the convention floor on Monday at 9:30 a.m. I'll also be signing Exposure at that time. Hey, there's a bargain for the bookstore folks. Stand in one line--get two books.

ICRS has been less and less attended in the past number of years. Of course, in this present economy, everyone's cutting back. I don't know the future of the convention. One large publisher (Thomas Nelson) has stopped attending, and others seem to be putting up smaller booths on the floor than in the past. However my publisher, Zondervan, is hanging in there with gusto. A look at the
convention floor map shows Zondervan with the largest booth among publishers.

My blogging will be intermittent during all the travel and meetings. However I'll post as much as I can. Look for pictures from the ChiLibris retreat and the Christy banquet. And the convention floor, too, if I can manage it.

Meanwhile I am happy to say that Exposure has placed at #15 on the
ECPA fiction bestseller list for book sales in June, and at #45 for ECPA's Top Fifty list, which includes both fiction and nonfiction within the Christian market. When the CBA list for June releases in a couple weeks, I'll post my usual comparison of the two lists.

For those going to ICRS--hope to see you on the convention floor.

Monday, July 06, 2009

What a Fourth

Two social kids is all you need. They'll invite a bunch of friends--and you've got a hoppin' fourth of July. And of course, they forget to tell you about inviting half of them.

Our Idaho home is a great place to hang out, especially in the glorious summers. The kids (I call them kids--they ranged from 19 to thirties) took over our deck and the kitchen, eating. And eating. And then they all went out on the lake in numerous boats for Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

Saturday night we went down to the water to watch the town fireworks set off from the lake in front of the Coeur d'Alene Resort. And we set off a few of our own.

We had about 27 throughout Saturday. I thought most of them were going home that night. Nope. Twenty-three decided to stay the night. I handed out all the blankets and pillows we had, and blew up air mattresses. Then Mark and I went to bed, saying, "Okay, folks, you figure it out." Sunday morning I went downstairs to find bodies everywhere. All bedrooms had already been taken. That morning every couch, arm chair, deck chair and blow-up mattress was full.

I hadn't counted on 23 for breakfast.

I pulled out all the food we had left. Eggs, sausage, fruit, bread, steaks. Stayed in the kitchen most of the morning feeding people as they staggered up. (They'd had a late night.)

In the middle of all that, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday I managed to sneak in a good bit of writing as the kids went out on the lake.

By Sunday night I was very tired. But happy. Fun weekend.

We'll do it again next year, as always. And next time I'll remember to buy breakfast fixings for a couple dozen people.

Sunday morning: bodies and more bodies

Amberly's Yorkie, Bear, dressed for the occasion

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Happy Upcoming Fourth

I took this photo yesterday of our new fawn. Every afternoon he races back and forth across the backyard, driving his poor mama crazy. She just can't keep up with him.

In the background view across the water on the right lies the Coeur d'Alene Resort. The town's fireworks are set off from barges parked a short distance from the resort docks. We have a great built-in view of the fireworks from our deck.

So far I hear about 25 are coming for the BBQ here on the fourth. Which means probably more like 35. I never know, really. The kids invite kids who invite kids. Our house has become the hang-out place for July fourth. Quite a few overnight guests too. All five bedrooms full, blow-up beds full, and perhaps a tent to boot. Lots of fun. And I need the break. I've been writing without a day off for quite a few weeks now.

I'll be taking a break from blogging also and will return next week.

Blessings, all, on this holiday weekend. Thank God for your freedom!