Monday, August 31, 2009

August '09 List of Today's Word

My favorites this month are catechresis, Laodicean, and Xanthippe.

I challenge you to create a sentence using at least six of these words--without falling into a catechresis.

POCOCURANTE (poh-coh-cyu-RAHN--tee) adj.--unconcerned, indifferent, nonchalant.

NYCTALOPIA (nik-tal-OH-pee-uh) noun: reduced vision in dimness or darkness; night blindness.

PUNCTILIO (punk-TIL-ee-oh) noun--nice detail of conduct in a ceremony or in an observance of a social/moral code.

PARVENU (PAR-vuh-NYU) noun--one who makes great pretensions because of newly acquired wealth/station in life.

NIDIFICATION (NI-di-fi-KAY-shun) noun--the act or process of building a nest.

PRETERMIT (pre-ter-MIT) verb--to let pass without mention/omit; to leave undone/neglect; to interrupt or suspend.

DESIDERATUM (duh-sid-uh-RAHT-um) noun--something desired as essential; something sought for or aimed at.

BANAUSIC (buh-NAH-sik) adj.--governed by utilitarian purposes/practical; moneymaking/breadwinning.

ASTROGATE (AS-truh-GATE) verb--to guide (as a rocket) in interplanetary flight; to navigate in space.

ONYCHOPHAGIA (uh-nu-koh-PHAY-jee-uh) noun--biting one's nails.

XANTHIPPE (zan-THIP-pee) noun--an ill-tempered woman, a shrew. After Xanthippe, wife of Socrates.

INTERNECINE (in-ter-nuh-SEEN) adj.--marked by great slaughter/deadly; relating to conflict within a group.

SCHWERPUNKT (SCHVUR-pungkt) noun--focal point; area of concentrated effort, as in a military operation.

VOLITANT (VOL-i-tunt) adj.--flying or capable of flying; moving about rapidly.

SALTATION (sal-TAY-shun) noun--act of leaping; an advance by leaps instead of constant gradation; sudden change.

INTERMONTANE (in-ter-mon-TANE) adj.--situated between mountains.

QUIESCENT (kwee-ESS-unt) adj.--marked by a state of inactivity or repose; tranquilly at rest.

DISHABILLE (dis-uh-BEEL) noun--the state of being partially or very casually dressed.

MATUTINAL (muh-TOOT-i-nul) adj.--relating to or occurring in the morning.

LUGUBRIOUS (lu-GOO-bree-us) adj.--marked by or giving rise to grief; exaggeratedly mournful; disposed to gloom.

TERATISM (TER-uh-TIZ-um) noun--anomaly of organic form and structure, e.g., monstrosity; worship of monsters.

MUCEDINOUS (myu-SED-uh-nus) adj.--having the nature of or resembling mold or mildew.

HUMECTANT (hyu-MEC-tunt) adj.--having moistening qualities.

CATECHRESIS (CAT-uh-KREE-sus) noun--use of the wrong word for the context.

CONVENTICLE (con-VEN-ti-cul) noun--an assembly or meeting, especially of a society or body of persons.

MANSUETUDE (MAN-swuh-TOOD) noun--the quality or state of being gentle; meekness, tameness.

NUGATORY (NYU-ga-TOR-ee) adj.--having little or no consequence/worthless; having no force.

MARMOREAL (MAR-more-EE-ul) adj.--relating to or resembling marble.

MENDACITY (men-DASS-i-dee) noun--the practice or an instance of lying.

LAODICEAN (lay-aw-di-SEE-un) adj.--lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics. From church of Laodicea.

Read September ‘09

Friday, August 28, 2009

60 Minutes Segment on Forrest Bird

(CBS--60 Minutes) A viewer wrote 60 Minutes a while back and said we really should take a look at the life and times of a man named Forrest Bird. 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer did and found, in the panhandle of Idaho, a remarkable American original.

Over the last eight decades, Bird has seen enough history and rubbed elbows with enough legends to rival that other Forrest, Forrest Gump.

Chances are Bird's invention has saved the life of someone you know, maybe even your own. And though he may not be a household name, when inventors get together Bird stands literally head and shoulders above the rest...

The above is 60 Minutes' opening to the segment on Forrest Bird, who lives an hour or so north of us in Idaho. Forrest is a fascinating man. His place up near Sandpoint is large, with all the toys a man could possibly want, including about 20 airplanes. Forrest is 88 years old and still loves to fly. And he still works on his inventions every day.

His Bird Museum is on the property, displaying airplanes and all kinds of inventions, including Bird's own medical respirators. It's an interesting place. My husband, Mark, a private pilot and flying enthusiast himself, is a once-in-awhile volunteer docent at the museum, managing to serve two, maybe three days a year.

Pam and Forrest Bird are wonderful, big-hearted folks. Watching them interact with people, you'd never guess the extent of their success.

60 Minutes' segment on Bird has been a popular one. By viewer demand, it's re-running this Sunday night. Pamela Bird was informed of the rerun through an email from the show.

Watch it. You'll enjoy the segment. And you'll learn something, too.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Phil Stacey's New Album

This week Phil Stacey--known from American Idol--saw his Christian CD release, titled Into the Light. At ICRS 2008 I and the other Zondervan novelists had the pleasure of hearing Phil and his band sing at the Zondervan party. If I remember right, at the time he told us he was working on this Christian album.

As part of its launch party for the CD,
Christian Retailing sent out a notice with this link to an interview between Phil and DeWayne Hamby from CR. Interspersed throughout the interview, which is over an hour long, are four cuts from Phil's CD. They're beautiful songs. If you don't have time to listen to the complete interview, you can catch the title song, Into the Light, at 3:30 minutes into the discussion. (It's easy to click to fast-forward.) Subsequent songs are around 26:00, 40:00 and 60:30. Or listen to excerpts from all the songs on the CD's page on Amazon.

Congrats, on the beautiful album, Phil Stacey!

Follow Christian Retailing on Twitter.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Music of Words

Let me tell you a song.

Something that never fails to move me: concise lyrics that tell a full story, complete with characterization, and perhaps a twist. As a novelist I can learn much from that kind of song writing--where every word counts. Every word pulses. I want to write like that.

A number of years ago I heard Sally Klein O'Connor sing at Mount Hermon Writers Conference for the first time. Sally writes her music; her husband, Michael, pens the lyrics. As Sally played the piano and sang to that full auditorium of writers, no one in the audience moved. We were spellbound as the story of the song unfolded.

Listen to the words of Bury Your Heart in Wounded Me.

I was passed out and flat busted
Didn’t hear the last call sound
And my designated driver
Didn’t bother stickin’ round

It took all the strength I had
To lift my head and find my keys
When a hazy lookin’ stranger
Came and sat down next to me

He was clearly out of focus
As I nursed a watered gin
I could tell he’d known some sorrows
By the way he drank mine in

And he told me I was beautiful
I’d been waitin’ for that line
I half-wished he would hit the road
And half-wished he were mine

Hungry for something to fill me up
Some kind of guarantee
If you’ve got a love that can set me free
Won’t you bury your heart in wounded me

We talked there on those bar stools
So much pain and time to kill
But the hours passed like moments
Until the clock was standing still

And I swear if he’d have asked me
I’d have given him my soul
The more I emptied out my heart
The more he made it whole

He talked about his children
He wore each one on his face
He told me how their broken lives
Had brought him to this place

He said You know it really seems
A father’s day is never done
Sometimes you leave the ninety-nine
To take care of the one

He said Surely you’ve got someone
Who would give his life for you
As his face came into focus
I said I believe I do

Then I looked deep in his eyes
And saw a thousand smoke-filled bars
I guess some of us have broken hearts
And some have other scars

But I never noticed his
Until the stranger took my hand
He said Now I hope My Daughter
You’ll finally understand

Hungry for something to fill you up
Some kind of guarantee
If you need a love that can set you free
Won’t you bury your heart in wounded Me
I am the Love that can set you free
When you bury your heart in wounded Me

Bury Your Heart in Wounded Me
©1993 Improbable People Ministries
Words & Music: Michael & Sally O'Connor
Posted with permission

Listen to the song, using Real Player
Hear excerpts from the entire CD on Amazon

Buy CD directly from Improbable People Ministries

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Abingdon Launch--The Call of Zulina

Kay Marshall Strom is no novice to writing, but she is new to fiction. Her debut novel, The Call of Zulina, released this month from Abingdon. Kay tells Forensics and Faith about her writing:

Although this is my first novel, I have been writing for over twenty years. I have written thirty-four non-fiction books, including two that are coming out this fall. Many of these have been on global topics of social justice and the place we as Christians can and should play. In my writing life, though, I have done just about everything—written curriculum, children’s stories, press releases, ghost-written books, short stories, television and movie scripts. I have contributed to most of the NIV devotional Bibles and was one of the writers for the recent New Women’s Devotional Bible. So you can see, I have paid my dues! I also taught writing classes through the California State University system (I co-developed and taught the Writers’ Certificate Program at Long Beach State) and wrote writers’ booklets in conjunction with those classes. People always ask me how I got my start, and I always tell them: Mount Hermon Writers Conference!

About the book:

Set in 1787, this first book in a three-part historical saga features Grace Winslow, whose mother is African royalty and her father a British sea captain. Grace is trapped in a most offensive arranged marriage, so she flees from her home only to become embroiled in a slave revolt at the fortress Zulina. There she begins to understand the horrific nature of her family’s involvement in the slave trade. Grace must chose a side—slaver or slave.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Computer Virus Warning--New and Wicked

I'm running this email with permission from an author friend. I, too, got the pop-up she's talking about but was fortunate enough not to continue with it. But this one is easy to fall for, and the consequences aren't good. Beware!

This morning I went online to look up something. I noticed a lot of spam pages minimized below. So I began Xing them out. And then I remembered that I shouldn't be having that problem. So I immediately went off line to check my Norton and BOOM! I was infected by a Trojan horse. It rebooted my system and then completely wiped out Norton's software. The long and short of it is that I had to call and pay a Norton tekki to get rid of it. It's a nuisance spyware program that is very nasty and masquerades as a Window Live update--even uses Windows logo. It would not allow me to visit the Norton website--a nasty little side effect of this infection.

It embedded itself on my register. That was early this morning and here it is 3:45 and I'm just now getting back to work. So just an alert. Please pay attention to any update programs that look like Windows and be careful what you approve.

The Bogus name is PC AntiSpyware. And one of the search engines it installed in place of my Google bar is called My Websearch. And its plugins are toxic.

The Trojan horse, called braviax, embeds itself so deeply in the register that even the tekki had to call in his boss. It was a nightmare to get rid of it. It is a spyware program but periodically it shuts off your computer without warning in the middle of your work, so you have to just stop and get rid of it.

Also, the box that pops up tells you that you have a virus. But when you X it out, it just keeps popping back up. That little piece of action is the button that sends it deeper and deeper into your register. Found that out the hard way too.

Another author just emailed and said she just went through this two weeks ago. It's very deceptive. It even pops up a bogus program that looks like Windows is running a virus check. Then it tells you that you have 25 threats and need to update your program. When it asked me for credit card info, I immediately shut off my computer. I had to call Norton and then we rebooted over and over (maybe 20 times or more) blue screens, opening in safe mode, and then finally reinstalling Internet Explorer in order to give them access through the remote program.

To be clear, the pop-up I saw is the one my friend mentioned in her last paragraph. I was online, went to some web site and up popped this "Microsoft" box, telling me I'd been infected by numerous viruses and to click the Microsoft link to fix immediately. I got suspicious because of the number of hard-core viruses it claimed I had. Just didn't look right. So instead of clicking the link, I hit the X to close the box, went to Norton and did a scan, which turned out clean. If I had followed the link on the pop-up, the virus my friend got would have been downloaded. Once it's downloaded and you have the virus, then hitting the X to close further pop-ups about it will only drive it deeper into your computer.

Anyone else encounter this? How about you techie folks--have you heard of this one? Please share your experience/knowledge with the rest of us.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Day My Fiction Turned Real

Violet Dawn, first in my Kanner Lake series, released three years ago this month. It's a suspense story that blends reality into fiction in numerous ways. Never did I expect the fiction to turn into reality. But later in 2006 ... it did.

I had to visit our tax man, see, take him some documents. Sounds like a boring enough errand. Unless you’re a novelist living my life, which tends to weird out every once in a while. Okay, more than once in a while.

So I arrive at Ron’s office. Haven’t seen him since the previous March, when we did our taxes. He comes out, limping badly.

“Ron, what on earth happened to you?”

He tells me the sad tale as we get settled. Last April he was on a ladder that slipped. Ron clung to the house gutter. Which gave way. He fell, shattering bones in his leg. He was in the hospital twelve days, in a cast six months. Now out of it for two months, but still limping. He hopes to fix the limp in time.

After commiserating with him, I said, “You know, I have a character in my current series just like you. He shattered his leg the very same month you did--April--and was in a cast for months. Now he’s out, but he’s walking with a permanent limp. Let’s not let your limp be permanent, okay?”

Although I didn't mention the character's name to Ron, I was talking about S-Man, my science fiction writer in the Kanner Lake Series. He’s called S-Man for his science fiction world—Sauria. Ever since S-Man had his accident, he’s turned to writing science fiction, sitting in Java Joint every day, madly typing on his manuscript. In book #1, (Violet Dawn), S-Man’s still in his cast. In book 2 (Coral Moon), readers see him out of the cast but limping.

After Ron and I are through with business, I chat with his receptionist on the way out. Knowing I’m a novelist, she asks me if I’ve seen the movie Stranger than Fiction. “Yup,” I tell her, “and I laughed in so many places. I loved the movie.” She and I chuckled about how the movie blended fiction and reality, and I bewailed the fact that I wished I’d thought of that plot first.

Finally out the door I go. Get in my car. Start to drive through the parking lot. I pass a BMW and for some unknown reason glance at the license plate. Which reads: S Man

I hit the brake and gape at the plate. Wow. Never seen that before. How totally cool! A real S-Man! Then it dawns on me. The car’s sitting in a handicapped spot. Right next to the door near Ron’s office. And Ron’s last name starts with S ...


I jerk my car into a parking place, jump out and run back inside Ron’s office, eyes wide. I’m spouting to the receptionist before the door even shuts behind me. “I know you’re gonna think I’m a crazy novelist. But that BMW outside with the S Man license plate. Is that Ron’s car?”

She gives me one of those you’re-acting-strange looks. (It’s okay. I’m used to them.) "Yes, that's Ron’s car. He calls himself S-Man."

Twilight Zone music plays in my head: neenie neenie, neenie neenie…

I trot back into Ron’s office, his receptionist on my heels, and tell him the name of my limping character. The three of us look at each other, totally freaked.

I knew when I wrote Violet Dawn I would blend fiction and reality. S-Man’s manuscript, Starfire, was a real manuscript. Simple Pleasures, the gift shop featured in the series, was a real store in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. The fictional blog, Scenes and Beans, featured in the books, was also a real blog, with posts written that reflect the fictional events in the books.

But I never thought I’d cause a real S-Man to shatter his leg in April 2006.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Abingdon Launch--Surrender the Wind

Today I'm pleased to bring you guest poster Rita Gerlach, speaking of her writing journey and new novel, Surrender the Wind.
I began to write in 1989, after my cousin, a famous romance writer, (can you guess who?) handed me one of her books at a family reunion. I wrote several short stories, then a full-length novel entitled The Rebel’s Pledge. I published this novel through a print on demand company in 2001, and two more books followed, Thorns In Eden and The Everlasting Mountains. It wasn’t until the fall of 2008 that I landed my first legitimate publishing contract, eight years since I began submitting work. I read about Abingdon Press in July '08 here on Forensics and Faith. I immediately queried Barbara Scott and she requested sample chapters and a synopsis. I left her hanging at the close of Chapter 3, and she wanted to know more, so she asked for the manuscript. By September I had a signed contact in my hands.

About Surrender the Wind:

An American patriot of the Revolution struggles with his loyalty to his country by accepting an inheritance from his estranged grandfather in England. Upon his arrival in Devonshire, he meets and falls in love with Juleah, the daughter of an eccentric landed gentleman. Amid the joys of new love Seth and Juleah face tragedy and trial. Seth is reunited with his grieving sister, who
was taken back to England at the start of the rebellion. A nephew is believed dead. A woman is found murdered in the woods. And Seth is told his wife, Juleah, has perished in a fire. What is the truth behind these tragedies? One man holds the answers---one that despises his American enemy for gaining two things he wanted most---Ten Width Manor and the woman he desired.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The "Demon Pig"

Today suspense author Rick Acker has a hard-to-believe but true hunting tale for us. Here's his story of the "Demon Pig."

My family owns timberland near Possumneck, Mississippi. Every year, my father, my little sister and I go down to visit with friends and keep an eye on the place.

Last year, we were talking to our foresters when we heard a couple of clusters of gunshots in the distance. Hunt clubs rent the place, so we weren't alarmed. Then one of the foresters got a call on his cell phone. The conversation went on for about ten minutes, and his end of it consisted almost entirely of versions of, "No, really?" After he got off, he told us that we'd be getting an interesting story over dinner.

Flash forward to dinner with the local game warden. He begins by telling us that he had noticed a lot of "hog sign" on our land, which bothered him. He's a member of one of the hunt clubs, and hogs compete with deer and other game for food. They also eat turkey and duck chicks and even fawns. So he issued a "depredation permit" to allow a hog hunt by some "boys who live out in the county. You know, rednecks." Apparently, the sporting way to conduct such hunts is to use only dogs (pit bulls preferably) and large knives or spears. So these guys went hunting and the warden went along to make sure things went as planned. Which did not quite happen.

The dogs had no trouble finding hog scent and were soon running through the forest with the warden and owners behind them. Pretty soon, the pack flushed a truly enormous pig out of the brush. The warden pulled his .40 caliber service pistol and shot the pig three times. It veered off into the woods, followed by the dogs.

A little while later, the dogs chased the hog into a clearing and managed to surround it. No one saw what happened next because the animals had gotten several hundred yards ahead of the men, but it must have been quite a fight. By the time the warden got there, the hog had killed four pit bulls and injured two others.

Once the hog spotted the men, it charged straight at the warden. He shot it five more times and it veered off at the last second. It hit one of the other men and "tore his jeans near off." He fell, and the hog put its snout down so it could disembowel him with its tusks.

The warden shot it point blank in the side of the head and it stumbled off of the man. The other hunters then tackled it and started stabbing for vital organs. That finally killed it.

After hearing this, we must have looked a little incredulous, because the warden then said, "Y'all want to see the head?"

So after dinner my dad and I (my sister stayed back in the restaurant for some reason) went out to the parking lot with him. Sure enough, he pulled out a 20-gallon bucket containing a gigantic tusked pig head bearing several bullet and bite wounds. I could have sworn I heard it whisper, "My name is Legion."

After that, we considered carrying guns on our next trip, but we decided against it. If a .40 caliber just makes one of these things angry, what would you need to stop it? A bazooka?

Check out Rick's latest novel, Blood Brothers, here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Why Faith in Fiction?

When readers finish one of my Seatbelt Suspense novels, I want them to be breathless, shaken--and in some way enlightened.

As the trademarked Seatbelt Suspense novelist I am, in this order:

1. A suspense writer
2. A Christian writer

I write fiction for a Zondervan, the Christian division of HarperCollins. When I first began to sell my fiction 10 years ago I was drawn to the Christian market because there I could include a faith thread in my stories. At the time I was writing both women's fiction and suspense. I'd written two of the former and one of the latter, all targeted toward the general market. They had no faith thread in them. When I rewrote the stories for the Christian market to include a faith element, I was amazed at how much better they became. The character arcs were stronger, more defined. The lasting value of the novels--those certain truths about life that linger with you long after you finish the book--also strengthened. I realized this was because I, as a Christian, had not been paying any attention to the inner faith journey of the character--a part of every human being I know to be very important.

All humans are physical, emotional and spiritual. My novels aimed at the general market certainly included physical and emotional stress, and lots of it. But what about the spiritual aspect? You could argue that our spirituality surpasses our physical and emotional natures, as our souls live on into eternity, long after the body has passed away. So why not include a character's questions about God, her turning away from or seeking after God in time of difficulty? The old saying "There are no atheists in foxholes" is true. When times really get tough, often even the toughest agnostic character may cry, "God, where are you? Help me!"

Now, 10 years into my career as a published novelist, it seems to me the great divide between Christian and general fiction has filled in significantly. I read more general fiction that pays attention to the spiritual thread. I read Christian fiction whose spiritual thread is present but minimal. Overall, I think this country is paying more attention to spiritual matters because we're in a "foxhole." It's a dangerous, crazy, unpredictable world out there, and many people are thinking, "Maybe I need a little more help dealing with it all."

Why do I say I'm first a suspense writer? Because my job is to entertain, not preach. People don't pick up a novel to learn something. They pick up a novel to be entertained. To plunge into the world of a character whom they care about.

To live up to my Seatbelt Suspense brand, my stories must have:

1. Fast starts
2. Well-drawn characters
3. Tension-filled, fast pacing
4. Twists

Woven through that fast-paced plot is the inner journey of the character--what he/she learns from the beginning to the end of the book, as a result of facing all the trauma. Here is where the emotional and spiritual elements come in. It's one thing to weave in the emotional elements--nearly all fiction does that. But particularly in suspense, where characters face death, high danger and life-threatening issues, cosmic questions become important. Where is God at times like this, and does He even care about me? Why is there such evil in the world? How do I turn to God for help? In my fiction, I want to be able to raise those questions. Readers understand those questions. Most readers have had similar questions themselves at some point in their lives.

The extent of the faith element in my novels varies widely from one book to another because this element arises naturally from who the character is. I never sit down to write a novel with the faith element in mind--through this story I want to say to my readers _____. I sit down with a plot in mind. A fast-paced, twisting story intended to propel readers through the pages. If readers strap on their seatbelts and commit to taking the ride with me--they're in it until the ride ends. Along the way they'll encounter the spiritual questions/answers of the protagonist--emphasis again on the word questions. My novels don't have pat, neat endings with every question answered. This world and life are messy, unpredictable, and often dirty. The spiritual thread in my suspense is not there to say "everything will be hunky-dorey if you just do this." It is there to say, "Hey, there's a redemptive God in the midst of this messy, unpredictable, often dirty world. Have you ever thought about that--and what it means to you?"

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bestseller Lists for July '09

Both bestseller lists for Christian fiction have now been posted. These are ECPA's August list and CBA's September list--both reflecting sales in the month of July. (The ECPA list is always titled one month beyond the sales, and the CBA list is always titled two months beyond--confusing, I know.) I have highlighted books appearing on one list and not the other in blue. Numbers in parentheses reflect the books ranking on each of the organization's Top Fifty list. Fiction did well this month on the Top Fifty lists, with fourteen on the CBA list, and eighteen on ECPA.

CBA (Christian Booksellers Association)

1. (2) Take Two, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
2. (4) The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
3. (6) Take One, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
4. (17) Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Multnomah (WaterBrook)
5. (27) Any Minute, Joyce Meyer & Deborah Bedford, FaithWords (Hachette)
6. (31) A Surrendered Heart, Tracie Peterson & Judith Miller, Bethany House (Baker)
7. (32) The Centurion’s Wife, Davis Bunn & Janette Oke, Bethany House (Baker)
8. (34) The Secret, Beverly Lewis, Bethany House (Baker)
9. (37) BoneMan’s Daughters, Ted Dekker, Center Street (Hachette)
10. (40) A Bride in the Bargain, Deeanne Gist, Bethany House (Baker)
11. (43) Fireproof, Eric Wilson & Alex Kendrick, Thomas Nelson
12. (46) Kiss, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
13. (48) That Certain Spark, Cathy Hake, Bethany House (Baker)
14. (49) Double Minds, Terri Blackstock, Zondervan
15. A Dream to Call My Own, Tracie Peterson, Bethany House (Baker)
16. The Justice Game, Randy Singer, Tyndale
17. Higher Hope, Robert Whitlow, Thomas Nelson
18. A Gift of Grace, Amy Clipston, Zondervan
19. Coming Attractions, Robin Jones Gunn, Zondervan
20. Oceans Apart, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan

ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association)

1. (1) Take Two, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
2. (3) The Shack, William P. Young, Windblow Media.

3. (6) Take One, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
4. (12) Circle Trilogy: Black/Red/White, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
5. (16) A Bride in the Bargain, Deeanne Gist, Bethany House/Baker

6. (17) The Secret, Beverly Lewis, Bethany House/Baker
7. (24) Fireproof, Eric Wilson, Thomas Nelson
8. (25) BoneMan's Daughters, Ted Dekker, Center Street
9. (26) A Gift of Grace, Amy Clipston, Zondervan
10. (27) Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Waterbrook/Multnomah
11. (30) Double Minds, Terri Blackstock, Zondervan
12. (32) The Centurion's Wife, Janette Oke, Bethany House/Baker

13. (35) Higher Hope, Robert Whitlow, Thomas Nelson
14. (38) Any Minute, Deborah Bedford, FaithWords
15. (39) A Cousin's Promise, Wanda E. Brunstetter, Barbour
16. (42) Deeper Water, Robert Whitlow, Thomas Nelson
17. (46) Michal, Jill Eileen Smith, Revell/Baker
18. (47) Coming Attractions, Robin Jones Gunn, Zondervan
19. A Dream to Call My Own, Tracie Peterson, Bethany House/Baker
20. Plain Perfect, Beth Wiseman, Thomas Nelson

Friday, August 14, 2009

Abingdon Launch--Gone to Green

Here's the second of Abingdon's launch novels in its new fiction line: Gone to Green by Judy Christie.

Judy has this to say about her writing journey and novel:

Gone to Green is my first novel and the result of a writing journey that started with a diary in elementary school. I've kept a journal ever since -- and have all of them. I have been blessed to work with Abingdon Press, which publishes my Hurry Less, Worry Less nonfiction series, and heard about their possible interest in fiction just as I was finishing Gone to Green. I wrote the novel when I turned 50, a promise I had made to myself. I certainly wish I had started writing fiction earlier because I enjoy it immensely. I'm now working on the second of the Green series.

About Gone to Green:

Lois Barker trades her life as a corporate journalist at a large paper in the Midwest for ownership of The Green News-Item, a twice-weekly newspaper in rural North Louisiana. As the not-so-proud new owner, Lois is obliged to keep the paper for at least a year, despite her doubts and fears. When she pulls into Green on New Year’s Day, her expectation of a charming little town full of friendly people is shattered. Instead, she must battle prejudice and financial corruption, while making friends and enemies with a host of fascinating characters who will change her life. As challenges unfold, her year in Green results in a newfound faith and unexpected blessings.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sarah Palin's Memoir

You've probably heard on the news that Sarah Palin is working on a memoir. Do you know who's writing it as collaborator? One of our own CBA authors. Here's the scoop from literary agency Alive Communications:

Sarah Palin's much anticipated memoir, to be co-pubbed by HarperCollins and Zondervan in early 2010, will utilize Alive's Lynn Vincent as collaborator. Since penning the NYT bestselling memoir, Same Kind of Different As Me, Vincent's talent for riveting storytelling has garnered critical acclaim in other memoirs such as The Blood of Lambs by ex-terrorist Kamal Saleem, and Never Surrender by former Delta Force Commander, William “Jerry” Boykin. Lee Hough secured the deal with Palin’s agent, Bob Barnett.

Major congrats to Lynn, who is a wonderful writer, and to Lee Hough, whom I'm proud to say is also my agent.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 Blogs

Are you aware of the blogs run by They have blogs with helpful news covering:

o gifts
o music
o homeschooling
o fiction
o bargains

Take a look at the blogs here.

Congrats to Carla Gade for her winning caption for Photo Friday: Peeping Tom. Carla, please e-mail me at brandilyn (at) brandilyncollins (dot) com with your address and choice of one of my novels.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Abingdon Launch--The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow by Joyce Magnin is the first of Abingdon's launch for their new fiction line. Other novels in the launch will be featured here as they release.

Joyce has this to say about her first book contract and novel:

My writing journey all started when the Martians landed. I was in third grade, totally in love with books and I wrote a story about Martians. It was an instant hit and my teacher suggested that I might be a writer. Turns out, she was correct. It was all I ever wanted to do. Of course my journey from third grade to published author was long, circuitous, and littered with rejection letters. But when Barbara Scott at Abingdon called with the offer I knew in that same instant that as always, God's timing is perfect. I have not questioned the journey since. It all makes sense.

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow is the story of an unusual woman, Agnes Sparrow. No longer able or willing to leave her home, where she is cared for by her long-suffering sister Griselda, Agnes has committed her life to prayer. When Agnes prays things happen, including major miracles of the cancer, ulcer-healing variety and minor miracles, not the least of which is the recovery of lost objects and a prize-winning pumpkin.

The rural residents of Bright's Pond are so enamored with Agnes they plan to have a sign erected on the interstate that reads, "Welcome to Bright's Pond, Home of Agnes Sparrow." Agnes doesn't want a sign and sends Griselda to fight city hall. Griselda's petitions are shot down and the sign plans press forward until a stranger comes to town looking for his miracle. The truth of Agnes's odd motivation comes out when the town reels after a shocking event. How could Agnes allow such evil in their midst? Didn't she know? Well, the prayers of Agnes Sparrow have more to do with Agnes than God.

Read Joyce's blog, The Uncommon Story, here.


Reminder: If you haven't yet voted for your favorite Photo Friday caption, please do so today. Winner announced tomorrow.

Friday, August 07, 2009

It's Photo Friday

And we're off again on another Photo Friday. Write the most clever caption for the crazy picture--win your choice of one of my novels. You can write as many entries as you like. Come back over the weekend and vote on your favorite caption (which can be your own, if it is indeed the best). I'll remind you all to vote Monday, and the winner will be announced Tuesday.

Use your imagination. What's really going on here?

Thursday, August 06, 2009

How Facebook Fans Titled My Next Book

I'm now writing the Rayne Tour series book #3. We desperately needed a title. Neither the Zonderkidz marketing team, nor Amberly and I had come up with one that really fit and that everyone else liked. So what's an author to do? Turn to her fans on Twitter and Facebook.

On Tuesday I sent out this tweet (which fed to Facebook):

Brandilyn Collins: Need title for Rayne Tour book #3. #1--ALWAYS WATCHING, #2--LAST BREATH. #3 ... ??

I knew this was a shot in the dark. After all, my readers didn't even know the premise of Rayne Tour #3. And I didn't want to tell them, because the second book in the series hasn't even released yet.

Here are the (serious and humorous) Facebook responses as they came in.


Do I win a prize?

Shane Pippin: NEW AGAIN

Ace Collins: Last breath is usually followed by CPR.

Brandilyn Collins: Tasty Venue? LOL. Ace--you're not any better help than Don.

Ace Collins: Just a logical progression and maybe a look at the publishing business as well. If anyone can kick start sales for all us, you can. I would suggest -- New Wind.

Don Pape: So you played with sight in title one, you play with breathing in title two, how about hearing in title three: Tone Deaf, On Pitch, or Turn a Deaf Ear.

Don Pape: SOLD OUT?

Rebecca Carter: I like Sold Out and I hope it also describes how the third book does in stores. :)

Matthew Charles Hall: "Killer Note" "Last Show" "Kill the Lights" "Obstructed Views"

Darlene Snyder: I like Tone Deaf.

Lisa-Anne Wooldridge: I like Sold Out... I like Amped Up...

Anita Mae Draper: Never Relax? No Refuge? Highway to Danger? Adrenaline Rush or Surge

Laura Sheppard: Rayne Storm. Free Rayne. Rayne or Shine. Refrayne. Braynewashed. Storm Drayne. Or, ShayLeave Us Alone, Killer!

Kim Vogel Sawyer: After LAST BREATHE comes BURIAL SERVICE, I think...

Laura Ann Grymes: Final Touch
Grave silence
Deadly silence
Taste of silence
Deafening thunder,
Taste of murder

Smell of darkness,

Shattered silence

Brandilyn Collins: Oh, my gosh, Laura Ann Grymes--you just might have it! Final Touch fits great! Let's see what the marketing team says.

Joyce Magnin: Never More

Laura Ann Grymes: how way cool!
That is awesome.

Michele Giles Underwood: Never Silent

Kendra Elrod McBroom: I think Laura should get a gift book for naming the book. It is great.

Erin Randall Laramore: Way to go, Laura Ann! I like it!

Final Touch really was a great fit with the storyline. Amberly and I loved it. Don Pape was right--we'd used sight and breath in the first two titles. We'd been playing with the sense of touch for title three. I sent Final Touch to my editor. She presented it to the Zonderkidz marketing team. They loved it too. Bingo. We have our title.

Kendra is right--Laura Ann deserves a free book!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

When To Use Speaker Attributes

Bottom line, I use speakers attributes (e.g., he said, she said) as little as possible.

Some writers argue that readers skip right over “he said,” so why worry about using it? They say the phrase informs us who is speaking, and other than that, readers just don’t notice it. My response? Would you rather use a technique whose sole raison d’etre is to inform, and otherwise adds nothing to the dialogue, or would you rather use one that heightens the passion of the scene?...

Continue reading in my
Making a Scene column for this month's Christian Fiction Online Magazine.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

How to Stop Facebook From Using Your Picture

Some helpful information from the site WikiHow:

Logging birthdays, playing
Scrabble against your friends, or checking out the classifieds are some of the many things that you can do with Facebook. But what you may not realize is what Facebook can do with you. Depending upon your privacy settings, both Facebook and third-party advertisers may be able to use your picture in display ads that are shown to your friends. Read on to learn how to take control of the way your images may be used in advertisements on Facebook...

To continue reading WikiHow's article on how to protect your image, go

Monday, August 03, 2009

Abingdon Fiction Launch Exceeds Expectations

Good news for Christian fiction. Abingdon's new line is getting off to a great start. Here's the scoop from Abingdon:

Abingdon Press is pleased to announce that interest and sales for the first seven fall titles of the new Christian fiction line has exceeded initial expectations. Abingdon Press launched their new Christian fiction line this summer at the International Christian Retail Show in Denver, Book Expo America in New York, and American Library Association convention in Chicago.

“Our company is energized by the great buzz created around Abingdon’s new fiction line,” Mark Yeh, Director of Abingdon Sales explains. “I am pleased that so many book clubs, retailers, libraries, and distributors are interested in our books. They have been very excited about the breadth and diversity in our first seven novels.”

Due to the high level of interest and sales commitments, the first four novels have already gone into a second printing and first print runs of the other three titles have been increased. In addition, all seven novels have received accolades. Gone to Green, book one in the Green Series from debut fiction novelist Judy Christie, was selected as a Crossings Book Club selection and received a starred review in Publishers Weekly. Veteran author Kay Marshall Strom’s Call of Zulina, book one in the Grace in Africa series, received a starred review in Library Journal. The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow, from debut novelist Joyce Magnin, received a Seal of Approval and Bonus Selection from Pulpwood Queens, one of the largest “meeting and discussing” book clubs in the world. Linda S. Clare’s The Fence My Father Built will be a Buyer’s Choice in LifeWay Christian Stores fall fiction catalog. Ariel Allison’s eye of the god is the first book selection for the new fiction book club of Proverbs 31 Ministries, a non-denominational, non-profit Christian ministry that seeks to lead women into a personal relationship with Christ. Myra Johnson’s One Imperfect Christmas has been selected as a featured title at Cokesbury Christian bookstores. Rita Gerlach’s Surrender the Wind has received several rave reviews from veteran authors such as Julie Lessman, Golden Keyes Parsons, and Sharlene MacLauren.

As industry veteran Barbara Scott, Senior Acquisitions editor explains, “The Abingdon line expands in the spring with 10 new titles and a total of 20 new novels for the year. We will be adding new genres and storylines, all to inspire a deeper sense of faith in God’s love and grace.”

As the line expands, Abingdon will focus on interaction with readers and retailers by providing social networks for engagement with the authors and their novels. Retailers and readers can access video book trailers, study guides, author features, discussions, and other features through Facebook and

I'm so pleased to see how well this line is launching. Quite a few of the original acquisitions were a result of the Forensics and Faith blog post about the new line a year ago. Later this month and in September I will be featuring more information about each of these new launch novels.

I asked Barbara Scott about new submissions. Her answer: "It will be next spring before I start acquiring again, but at ACFW, I’ll be looking for the crème de la crème to put on my pile to look at later. My lists are full through Spring 2011. Contracts are in process."