Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September '09 List of Today's Word

Here are September's big, beautiful words. Dare ya to create a sentence using at least six of them.

ALGETIC (al-JET-uk) adj.-relating to or causing pain.

CLAQUE (KLACK) noun-group hired to applaud at a performance; a group of demonstrative or self-seeking supporters.

EUTROPHIC (YOO-tru-fic) adj.-relating to or being in a well-nourished condition.

CASUISTIC (KAW-zshu-WIS-tik) adj.-of or based upon actual cases or case histories.

EXCRESCENCE (ex-KRES-unts) noun-an abnormal outgrowth; an excessive increase.

FANTOD (FAN-tod) noun-state of irritability or tension; state of acute distress; violent or irrational outburst.

STRUTHIOUS (STRU-thee-us) adj.--of or relating to the ostrich.

SKEUOMORPH (SKYU-uh-MORF) noun--an ornament.

GEMEINSCHAFT (guh-MINE-shuft) noun-spontaneous relationship with strong reciprocal bonds within a community.

SAPROPHYTIC (sa-pro-FIT-ik) adj.-obtaining nourishment by absorbing decayed organic material.

ENCOMIUM (un-KOH-mee-um) noun-an often formal expression of warm or high praise; a eulogy.

NUNCUPATIVE (NUN-coo-PAY-tiv) adj.--stated aloud, oral.

PANGLOSSIAN (PAN-glus-SEE-un) adj.--optimistic. (From Pangloss, optimistic tutor in Voltaire's Candide.

ANTIPHRASIS (an-TIF-ruh-sus) noun--use of a word in opposite of its meaning, usually for humor or irony.

HYPAETHRAL (hy-PEE--thrul) adj.--open to the air, outdoor.

QUONDAM (KWAN-dum) adj.--having been formerly; former or sometime.

ASYNDETON (uh-SIN-du-TAHN) noun--omission of conjunction between words/clauses (ex.--I came, I saw, I conquered).

SENECTITUDE (suh-NEK-ti-TOOD) noun--old age.

OBNUBILATE (ob-NYU-bi-LATE) verb--to cover or obscure, to cloud; to make cloudy of mind.

MEPHITIC (muh-FIT-ick) adj.--offensive to the sense of smell.

PERTINACIOUS (pert-uh-NAY-shus) adj.--stubbornly inflexible; hard to dismiss or bring to an end.

ESPIAL (uh-SPY-ul) noun--the act of spying or watching; observance.

FULIGINOUS (FYU-li-gin-us) adj.--containing soot, sooty; clouded or obscure, murky.

CENOBITIC (SEN-uh-BIT-ick) adj--living in common as a member of a religious group. Example: nun or monk.

BANDERSNATCH (BAN-dur-snatch) noun--a wildly grotesgue or bizarre individual.

ABECEDARIAN (AY-bee-see-DARE-ee-un) noun--one who is learning something/a novice; one who teaches the alphabet.

BAHUVRIHI (bah-huv-REE-hee) noun--a compound word, such as graybeard, blockhead, barefoot.

WHIGMALEERIE (whig-muh-LI-ree) noun--a whim or fancy; an odd or fanciful contrivance.

EPISTAXIS (ep-uh-STACK-sus) noun--a nosebleed.

GALIMATIAS (GAL-i-MAY-shus) noun--confused and meaningless talk.

Read October ‘09

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Great Sale Prices on My Series is running a sale on many "popular authors" featured
in its latest catalog. Their deals on my series are great. All four Hidden Faces books, which would total $56 in a store, are on sale for $37.99--just $9.50 apiece. All four Kanner Lake books are $36.99. The two Chelsea Adams books are selling for $17.99.

Remember, any of my books you buy in a store or online can be signed by requesting an autographed bookplate through the Free Stuff page my Web site. (And if you have a local Christian bookstore to support, please do so.) Bookmarks for most series are also available.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Rayne Tour Series: 1 New Release, 2 Awards

My young adult suspense Rayne Tour series, co-written with daughter Amberly, has a new release--and two awards.

Last Breath, book #2 in the series, started shipping in early September and should now be on shelves at your local store. Last Breath takes up where Always Watching, book #1, left off. If you haven't read Always Watching, do pick that one up first.

(View the book trailer.)

In the last week I've been informed of two awards won by Always Watching. First, it took the Gold in the 2009 Moonbeam Children's Award, Young Adult Fiction Horror/Mystery category. The Moonbean Children's Award's mission is: "Celebrating youthful curiosity, discovery and learning through books and reading."

Second, Always Watching won an Honors Award from NAPPA--National Parenting Publications Awards. (The NAPPA win is recent enough that 2009 winners have not yet been put up on the Web site.)

Amberly and I continue to hear from mothers, grandmothers and daughters who are enjoying these books. I love seeing the various generations become engaged with the series. is selling Always Watching and Last Breath together for $11.99. That's a great deal at only $6.00 apiece. Sold separately, CBD has them for $7.99 each. Either purchase certainly beats Amazon's price of $9.99 each.

Friday, September 25, 2009

New Novelist Lives His Title: Through the Fire

Shawn Grady, fireman and debut novelist, recently saw his novel Through the Fire release from Bethany House. Shawn stopped by Forensics and Faith to tell us how his life and writing intersect.

Many writers hold down a separate day or a night job. I’m no different. Only mine is both a day and night job as a fireman, which made finding time to write Through the Fire on my days off a bit of a challenge.

But one advantage my first profession has provided is excellent fodder for novels. Just this last year I attended a four-week Hazardous Materials Technician course through the fire department. Much time was devoted to chemistry and lab analysis of unknown chemicals.

Sound like CSI? It sort of was. In the lab we’d be given an unknown liquid or solid and then have to use an algorithmic succession of experiments to isolate its properties and determine what it was. We’d test solubility, flammability, vapor density, reactivity, etc. Kind of like Twenty Questions for chemicals.
(That's me on the right.)

This training proved especially helpful as I devised the arson means employed in Through the Fire, and also with the methodology the acting Fire Inspector Julianne Caldwell used to gather and assess chemical evidence.

I first started purposefully writing with a novel in mind about nine years ago, but didn’t pursue publication until five years back. Networking with editors and other writers at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference has proved invaluable for me in the honing of my craft and ultimately in the offering of a three-book deal by Bethany House Publishers.

My next book, Tomorrow We Die, is slated for a summer 2010 release and is about a Reno paramedic who feels like he’s chasing the Angel of Death.

I’m happy to help with any forensic chemical analysis questions you may
have for a work in progress. Feel free to send questions to shawn (at) shawngradybooks (dot) com or visit my web site.

Many Cheers,


Buy Through the Fire on Amazon for $11.19
Kindle version: $9.99

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Abingdon Launch-The Fence My Father Built

Here is the final featured book for Abingdon's launch of its new fiction line. This line is doing well, and I've recently heard of more novels being acquired for future publication. Linda Clare has this to say about her writing journey:

At age twelve, I was sickly, and had to stay out of school for days at a time. From my bed I pounded out stories and poems on an Underwood manual typewriter given to me by a great-aunt, and published in a national market at age seventeen. Then life intervened for about twenty-five years. When I started in again, learning to write well took a fifteen year apprenticeship, writing poems and short personal essays. I wrote my first novel by the seat of my pants, snagged a big-time New York agent, who couldn’t sell the book, and I was back to square one. Then I got the chance to coauthor a nonfiction book called Lost Boys and the Moms Who Love Them with pals Melody Carlson and Heather Kopp. I did two more coauthor nonfiction projects with Kristen Ingram, who writes for “Weavings Magazine.” All the while I had this little fiction habit. I’d written a second novel, The Fence My Father Built. More than ten years and dozens of “nos” after I began Fence, Abingdon said yes. And even that was a miracle—Melody Carlson mentioned my novel to Abingdon’s Barbara Scott and dear, sweet Barbara said I deserved a chance.

The Fence My Father Built is contemporary women’s fiction about finding your way home—even when home is a rundown trailer in the middle of nowhere. All her life Muri Pond dreamed of finding the father who left her when she was five years old. Now it’s too late. Joe Pond has died, willing his remote central Oregon high-desert property to his citified daughter, a librarian who’d rather research than ranch. When legally separated Muri hauls teenage Nova and eleven-year-old Truman to her inherited property, she’s confronted by a troublesome neighbor and her father’s legacy—a fence made from old oven doors. Along with Aunt Lutie and the Red Rock Tabernacle Ladies, Muri must rediscover the faith her alcoholic Native-American dad somehow never abandoned.

Buy the paperback version of The Fence My Father Built
Buy it on Kindle

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bestseller Lists for August '09

Here are the bestsellers of Christian fiction during the month of August. The CBA list is titled the October list (always titled two months past the selling month), and the ECPA list is that organization's September list (titled one month past selling data). Books appearing on only one list have been highlighted in blue.

CBA (Numbers in parentheses reflect book's placement on the CBA Top 50 list.)

1. (4) The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
2. (10) Take Two, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
3. (15) A Cousin’s Prayer, Wanda Brunstetter, Barbour
4. (22) Fireproof, Eric Wilson & Alex Kendrick, Thomas Nelson
5. (23) Take One, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
6. (29) Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Multnomah/WaterBrook
7. (32) The Knight, Steven James, Revell/Baker
8. (34) The Hope of Refuge, Cindy Woodsmall, WaterBrook
9. (43) A Surrendered Heart, Tracie Peterson & Judith Miller, Bethany House/Baker
10. The Secret, Beverly Lewis, Bethany/Baker

11. Any Minute, Joyce Meyer & Deborah Bedford, FaithWords (Hachette)
12. Double Minds, Terri Blackstock, Zondervan
13. Dawn's Prelude, Tracie Peterson, Bethany/Baker
14. BoneMan’s Daughters, Ted Dekker, Center Street (Hachette)
15. Fields of Grace, Kim Sawyer, Bethany/Baker
16. That Certain Spark, Cathy Hake, Bethany/Baker
17. Saint, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
18. Tuck, Stephen Lawhead, Thomas Nelson
19. Man of His Word, Kathleen Fuller, Thomas Nelson
20. The Believer, Ann Gabhart, Revell/Baker

ECPA (Numbers in parenthesis reflect book's placement on ECPA Top 50 list.)

1. (1) The Shack, William Paul Young, Windblown Media
2. (5) Take Two, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
3. (8) Take One, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
4. (19) Oceans Apart, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
5. (21) The Secret, Beverly Lewis, Bethany House/Baker
6. (24) Saint, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
7. (25) A Cousin's Prayer, Wanda E. Brunstetter, Barbour
8. (26) Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Doubleday Religious Publishing
9. (29) A Surrendered Heart, Judith Miller, Bethany House/Baker
10. (30) That Certain Spark, Cathy Marie Hake, Bethany House/Baker
11. (35) Fireproof, Eric Wilson, Thomas Nelson
12. (40) Lonestar Secrets, Colleen Coble, Thomas Nelson
13. (45) A Bride in the Bargain, Deeanne Gist, Bethany House/Baker
14. (48) BoneMan's Daughters, Ted Dekker, Center Street
15. (49) The Believer, Ann H. Gabhart, Revell/Baker
16. (50) Any Minute, Deborah Bedford, FaithWords
17. Circle Trilogy: Black/Red/White, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
18. Double Minds, Terri Blackstock, Zondervan
19. Every Now and Then, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
20. A Gift of Grace, Amy Clipston, Zondervan

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More ACFW Conference Photos

Home again after the fantastic ACFW conference. I arrived home Sunday night, happy and very tired. I ate and fell into bed at 8:30. (Hence, no post for Monday.) Slept 10 hours.

Conference attendees numbered 505. That's record attendance for our conference, which has grown every year. It's amazing in this economy that it grew once more. In addition to the attendees, we had about 35 more people--family members--who joined us for meals, worship and general sessions.

The conference had a wonderful atmosphere. God was at work. I was happy to meet many newcomers to the conference. (We had around 190 newcomers!)

Below are a few pictures, most taken at the banquet. I wish I could have taken many more, but I tried to get around to as many folks as I could. I was honored to have my photo taken with these folks.

At booksigning in atrium on Saturday

Keynote speaker Debbie Macomber. What a fabulous gal!

This photo doesn't do justice to Sharon Ball's bling!

With author/speaker Kimberly Woodhouse
(whose family was featured on ABC's Extreme Home Makeover)

With agent Chip MacGregor, looking absolutely dapper in his kilt.

With author and Genesis contest coordinator Camy Tang.
She looked so beautiful in her Chinese silk.

With author and ACFW CEO Colleen Coble.
Colleen looked absolutely stunning! Even this good picture doesn't do her justice.

Dessert at the award banquet--our ACFW logo in white chocolate.

Friday, September 18, 2009

ACFW Photos

A few pictures from our first evening at the conference.

At podium, emceeing

At President's table with fiction gurus
Donald Maass and Randy Ingermanson

ACFW CEO Colleen Coble, President Cynthia Ruchti
and Advisory Board member Deb Raney

With keynote speaker Debbie Macomber

The conference has 505 full attendees this year, plus another 40 guests joining us at meals/worship. Once again we've topped our attendance from last year. Quite something in this economy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Publisher Seeking New Marketing Manager

After I arrived in Denver for the ACFW Conference, I received an email from Barbara Scott, Senior Acquisitions Editor at Abingdon, regarding this new position the publishing house is seeking to fill. Passing it on to you:

Location: Nashville, Tennessee 37203

MAJOR DUTIES: Manages, under the overall direction of the Executive Director of Marketing and Fast Track Publishing, the marketing and publicity-related work of Abingdon Press. Provides direction toward the achievement of sales goals for specific product lines. Manages the marketing, advertising, communications, networking and publicity for these Abingdon Press lines. Develops and implements marketing and promotional plans and individual promotional projects. Participates in the development of sales programs and product development, as well as developing, monitoring, and analyzing Abingdon Press goals in the areas of sales, related expenses, and contribution. Plans, implements, and analyzes marketing communications efforts, including catalogs, promotions, networking, author events, publicity, and sales programs for published products. Ensures that the plans effectively prioritize and launch each new product or line in relationship to the year's sales goals.

REQUIREMENTS: A college degree in business, accounting, marketing communications, psychology/sociology, computer science, or communications (English, journalism, library science, religion) or equivalent experience, and at least five (5) years of experience analyzing computerized financial and sales data, developing marketing/publicity plans in the product area related to the specific position, and executing marketing communications initiatives. Excellent interpersonal, negotiation, verbal and written communication, and statistical analysis skills. Working knowledge of publishing, retail sales, trade sales, and marketing practices and techniques, as well as knowledge or marketing experience with digital media products and promotion. Knowledge of professional, church leadership and/or Christian fiction needs and trends in the Christian marketplace is strongly preferred.
Please include a minimum salary expectation with your submission.

Abingdon Press (United Methodist Publishing House)
Employment Office
201 Eighth Avenue South
P.O. Box 801
Nashville, TN 37202
Phone: (615) 749-6535
Fax: (615) 749-6704
Email: Employment (at)

Industry: Marketing - Management

Career Level: Mid Level Career (5+ yrs experience)

Minimum Education: Bachelor's

Job Status: Full Time

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Off to ACFW Conference

Today I'm flying to Denver for the American Christian Fiction Writers' Conference. My official duties there are as an Advisory Board member and emcee for the conference. My unofficial duty (and the best part!) is praying for people one-on-one or in small groups in the prayer room. When I'm not at the podium at general sessions times, the prayer room is most likely where you'll find me.

I have seen miracles in the prayer room every year at conference, whether it's God's healing of emotional, spiritual or physical issues. It's such a blessing to see what God does.

Blogging will be spotty this week. But I'll try to take some pictures and put them up here. (I always have the best of such intentions, then get too busy and forget. Promise to try harder this year.

In yesterday's post I forgot to remind you to vote on your favorite Photo Friday caption. Amid all the creative captions we had only one vote. And the voter got it right. I'm adding my vote to it. The winning caption from Roger:

"No! I'm being left behind!"

Roger, please email me at brandilyn (at) brandilyncollins (dot) com with your address and choice of one of my novels.

Friday, September 11, 2009

It's Photo Friday!

And we're off again. Write the most creative caption for the photo--win your choice of one of my novels.

You can write as many captions as you want. Then come back sometime over the weekend and vote on your favorite caption. Winner will be announced Tuesday.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Huge Denver booksigning--over 100 authors

On Saturday Sept. 19 from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. over 100 Christian novelists will gather for a public booksigning. The event will take place at the Denver Marriott Tech Center, 4900 S. Syracuse Street.

Books of participating authors will be available to buy through the ACFW conference bookstore in the hotel. (Or bring in your already purchased books to have signed. In my case I have too many novels for the ACFW store to stock them all.)

Here is an alphatical list of authors in attendance:

Carolyne Aarsen
Diane Ashley
Ruth Axtell Morren
Karen Ball
Rick Barry
Christina Berry
Lauralee Bliss
Diana Brandmeyer
Sandra Bricker
Margaret Brownley
Candace Calvert
Robin Caroll
Jeanie Smith Cash
Colleen Coble
Brandilyn Collins
Mary Connealy
Shirley Connolly
Margaret Daley
Susan Page Davis
Mary Davis
Janet Dean
Megan DiMaria
Lena Nelson Dooley
Wanda Dyson
Leanna Ellis
Pamela Ewen
Miralee Ferrell
Linda Ford
Tina Ann Forkner
Darlene Franklin
Judy Gann
Jeff Gerke
Rhonda Gibson
Debby Giusti
Sandra Glahn
Elizabeth Goddard
Winnie Griggs
Rene Gutteridge
Cathy Marie Hake
Lisa Harris
Mary Hawkins
Roxanne Henke
Cynthia Hickey
Patti Hill
Denise Hunter
Annette Irby
Myra Johnson
Liz Johnson
Jenny Jones
Eileen Key
LAURIE Kingery
Kathleen Kovach
Harry Kraus
Jeanne Marie Leach
Tosca Lee
Julie Lessman
Loree Lough
Elizabeth Ludwig
Richard Mabry
Debbie Macomber
Joyce Magnin
Gail Gaymer Martin
Judy/Jude Martin-Urban/Urbanski
Debby Mayne
Aaron McCarver
Vickie McDonough
Dana Mentink
Robin Miller writing as Robin Caroll
DiAnn Mills
Stephanie Morrill
Janelle Mowery
Jill Elizabeth Nelson
Kevin Parsons
Golden Keyes Parsons
Donita K. Paul
Tracie Peterson
Allie Pleiter
Cara Putman
Tara Randel
Deborah Raney
Sandra Robbins
Kim Sawyer
Marc Schooley
Michael Sheehan
Shelley Shepard Gray
Ann Shorey
Beth Shriver
Sandra Lee Smith
Virginia Smith
Betsy St. Amant
Therese Stenzel
Stuart Stockton
Alison Strobel
Michelle Sutton
Camy Tang
Donn Taylor
Janice (Hanna) Thompson
Missy Tippens
Pamela Tracy
Carrie Turansky
Deborah Vogts
Jenness Walker
Dan Walsh
Susan May Warren
Michael Webb
Kit Wilkinson
Lisa Wingate
Beth Wiseman
Kimberley Woodhouse
Lenora Worth
Cheryl Wyatt
Kathleen Y'Barbo

Do you live within driving distance of Denver? I'd love to see you there!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

How to Survive the Wilderness

Psalm 106:6 says (New American Standard): "We have sinned like our fathers."

Those "fathers" were the Israelites whom God brought out of Egypt. The Psalm then talks about the incredible miracles God performed to save his people from their oppressors. How He parted the Red Sea and led them through--while the Egyptian army followed and was covered by the waters and drowned. Israel praised God for their deliverance. They knew, with that drowned army and the sea now between them and their enemies, they were finally free from Egypt forever.

Then come verses 13-14:

They quickly forgot His works;
They did not wait for His counsel,
But craved intensely in the wilderness,
And tempted God in the desert.

The Psalm goes on to say how the Israelites continued to forget what God had done for them, even fashioning a gold calf to worship. Even so, God eventually led them to their promised land. But--(verse 24):

Then they despised the pleasant land;
They did not believe in His word.

As many times as I’ve prayed the Psalms, it was a couple years before God spoke to me through these verses. Israel “craved intensely in the wilderness.” As a result, even when God brought them out of the desert and into the good times He had promised them for years, they couldn’t see His goodness. They “despised the pleasant land.”

God said to me, “Brandilyn, don’t ‘crave intensely when you're in a wilderness.’”

Every Christian has been brought out from his/her own “land of Egypt.” And at some point, after the high of deliverance, we all enter our wilderness times. It’s pretty hard to be content with God in the desert. To wait--and praise Him in the midst of waiting. But God’s pretty clear here—if we refuse to use such times to build up our faith, our hearts may turn hard. We can end up following our own version of the gold calf. As a result, we can become so bitter and self-focused and defeated, we won't even see the promised blessings God later brings our way. We will "despise the pleasant land."

Are you in a wilderness right now? Hear what God is telling you: "Beloved, don’t crave intensely in your wilderness.”

Monday, September 07, 2009

Creating a Pitch for Your Novel

If you’re attending the ACFW conference this month, or if you’re querying agents, you may be struggling with how to create a pitch for your story. These guidelines can help.

First, remember that a pitch is a hook. It has one goal only: to make the editor (or agent) at the conference want to know more about your story. Just as a chapter hook makes the reader turn the page, your pitch hook makes the editor ask a follow-up question. (Sometimes editors will ask a follow-up question simply to be polite. The trick is making them ask a question because they really are curious about the answer.)

Therefore, a pitch doesn’t have to cover lots of information about your story. On the contrary, it should be concise. And it shouldn’t focus on theme. It should focus on specifics in your premise that will place questions in the editor’s mind.

You have to put yourself in the shoes of the editor, who’s heard a million pitches. What will make this editor want to know more about your story? Certainly not generalities. Nor themes. These things don’t lead to specific questions. Besides, all generalities and themes have been done before. The editor will think, “Ho-hum.” You need to give him something fresh.

Let’s look at examples ...

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

Friday, September 04, 2009

LAST BREATH Releases Today

Last Breath, book #2 in the young adult Rayne Tour series, starts shipping today. It will be showing up on shelves across the country within the next few weeks.

Amberly, my daughter who co-wrote the book with me, says of Last Breath, "I like this one even better than Always Watching." (Book #1). Last Breath is suspense mixed with romance--a great combination for teenage girls age 13 to 90.

The end of Always Watching is a little different from my other suspense novels. As always, I made sure the story answered the main driving question of the book--in this case, "Who is the killer and stalker?" But we threw a wrench in the works at the end of Always Watching--a twist that has to do with a subplot in the book. That twist raises new, big questions. In Last Breath, Shaley, the sixteen-year-old protagonist, is pursuing the answer to those questions. Then--naturally, since she's a Brandilyn Collins protagonist (poor thing)--she gets knocked upside the head pretty hard, pretty fast.

You can read the first chapter here. But I suggest you do so only if you've already read Always Watching. If you haven't read AW, here's the excerpt for its prologue and first chapter.

It's been great to hear from mothers and daughters who read and enjoyed Always Watching. Here's a sample of some recent letters:

I gave Always Watching to my daughter and she absolutely devoured it in two sittings! She "hates" reading, or so she says, but she told me over and over how she could never find a good stopping place because she just kept having to find out what happened next. So, thank you for grabbing my daughter's attention! I'm sure she'll be anxious to read the next one!

Just wanted to let you know when [my daughter] came home from school I gave Always Watching to her to read first. This morning at breakfast the book was sitting on the table and she asked "When is the next one coming out?" She had already finished reading the book! I asked how she liked it and she said, "It was absolutely amazing!" So there you have the review of a 7th grader! Now I can't wait to read it.

Order Always Watching at Amazon.

Pre-order Last Breath at Amazon. (They'll have it in stock soon.)

View Always Watching trailer.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

From Veteran to Newbie

How does a writer go from being a veteran to a newbie? Guest blogger
Irene Hannon tells us her story.
A huge thank you to Brandilyn for letting this suspense newbie say a few words.

Newbie. I’m still adjusting to that classification. After 26 books, a RITA award and various other honors, I considered myself a publishing veteran. But when I decided to move from category romance into single-title, I discovered that no one had ever heard of me. (At least it seemed that way!) I felt like I was starting all over again—and in many ways, I was.

During my career as a published author, I’ve written for four different houses. For the past 11 years, I’ve been with Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired line, writing contemporary category romance. But a few years ago, I decided I wanted to do bigger books as well. I dabbled with a longer contemporary romance (actually, a double romance), but the market didn’t seem all that interested in it. I remember having a conversation at a conference with an editor who said that my story--about two estranged sisters who reunite one summer when their mother has a stroke--needed a stronger hook…like an Amish theme.

Sorry. Not my thing. So I tucked the completed manuscript away in a drawer, where it remains. Maybe someday it will find a home.

At the same time I was struggling to find my longer-book niche, I was also struggling, period. My corporate career had vaulted me into an executive position that left me no time or energy for fiction writing. Although it was a great job, what I really wanted to do was write. Fighting rush hour traffic, battling corporate politics and being indentured to a relentless BlackBerry that never slept had lost its appeal.

Fortunately, I’d laid the groundwork for that transition by building a solid career as a category author. So I was able to chuck the corporate world without becoming a starving artist. (A word of advice here—unless you have a great trust fund or secure source of income, don’t quit your day job until you’ve established yourself as a writer…and selling one book doesn’t constitute a track record.)

Once I was able to write full time, my productivity soared—and I also had the time to pursue an idea for a suspense book.

The next hurdle was finding an agent. You don’t need one for category, and I was always
comfortable handling the business side of writing. Moving into single-title, however, I knew I’d need an agent to shop the book around for me. I assumed, after selling more than two dozen books, that finding one would be easy. Nope. Seems category doesn’t count much when you want to move to bigger books. But after a several-month search, I connected with Chip MacGregor at an ACFW conference.

By then my first suspense book had morphed into a series. Two more FBI characters had appeared, begging to have their stories told. So without even a nibble from a publisher, and in between category commitments, I took the plunge and wrote the whole series on spec. Kind of like newbie writers do when they’re trying to break into the published ranks.

I’m happy to report my gamble paid off—Chip sold my Heroes of Quantico series to Revell. The first book, Against All Odds—a high-action story set in the U.S. and Afghanistan, in which the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team is charged with protecting the estranged daughter of a diplomat—came out in February. It was on both the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists for multiple months, and is now in its third printing. The second book, An Eye For An Eye, is a psychological thriller in which a reunion between an FBI agent and a psychologist turns deadly—and the killer is still on the hunt. It was released September 1 and is off to a great start. Booklist calls it “superbly written” and goes on to stay that it “neatly delivers all the thrills and chills of Suzanne Brockmann's Team Sixteen series with the subtly incorporated faith elements found in Dee Henderson's books.” Both books garnered 4 ½-star, Top Pick reviews from RT Book Reviews. Plus, I just signed a new three-book contract with Revell for another suspense series.

All that said, I have to admit that becoming a newbie again was a pretty humbling experience. Yet I learned an important lesson: When spreading your wings, perseverance, risk-taking and a belief in your own talent is as important to multi-published authors as it is to the unpublished. I was also reminded that while nothing about this business is easy or guaranteed, if you want something badly enough you can find a way to make it happen. But it takes work—homework, groundwork and hard work.

While making the leap from category to single-title was a challenge, it’s been a thrilling—and rewarding—ride. And maybe I’ll even get past the “Irene who?” stage one of these days!

Order book #1 of the Heroes of Quantico series, Against All Odds, from Amazon: paperback or Kindle. Order book #2 , An Eye for an Eye, from Amazon: paperback or Kindle.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Things Dogs Put Up With

These pictures of dressed-up dogs are good for a few belly laughs.