Monday, November 30, 2009

November '09 List of Today's Word

Go ahead--try to use at least six in a sentence. You can do it.

VATICINATION (vuh-TIS-un-A-shun) noun--something foretold, prediction or prophecy; the act of prophesying.

BLUENOSE (BLUE-nose) noun--one who advocates a rigorous moral code of personal conduct; puritan.

ORGULOUS (OR-gyu-lus) adj.--proud or haughty; showy.

CONCORDAT (kun-KOR-dot) noun--a compact between a government and a religious group; an agreement/covenant.

PHYLACTIC (fuh-LAK-tik) adj.--of or relating to defense.

MERETRICIOUS (MER-uh-TRI-shus) adj.-pertaining to a prostitute; based on pretense/insincerity; cheaply ornamental.

FAVONIAN (fuh-VO-nee-un) adj.--Of or pertaining to the west wind; mild, bland, benign.

AGITPROP (AJ-ut-prop) noun-propaganda & agitation (esp. of Communist party); dept./bureau in charge of agitprop.

OBTRUDE (ub-TROOD) trans. verb--to thrust out; to put forward or make noticed without warrant or request.

FRUCTUOUS (FRUCK-chew-us) adj.--fruitful, productive; profitable.

PREMIATE (PRE-me-ate) trans. verb--to give a prize to.

HARUSPEX (hu-RUS-peks) noun--one who foretells events by interpreting natural phenomena; one who predicts.

ECHINATE (EK-i-nut) adj.--densely covered with stiff bristles or spines, like a hedgehog.

OROTUND (OR-uh-tund) adj.--full and clear in sound, sonorous; unduly strong in delivery or style.

DISTRAIT (duh-STRAY) adj.--inattentive; anxiously divided or withdrawn in attention.

SOLIPSISM (SO-lep-SIZ-um) noun-- extreme concern with the self at the expense of social relationships; egoism.

ENCEINTE (an-SANT) adj.--being with child, pregnant.

PROEM (PRO-em) noun--preliminary to a piece of writing/preface; introductory comment before a speech.

KERYGMA (kuh-RIG-muh) noun--preaching of the Christian gospel by apostles or early church.

COMMINUTE (KOM-i-NYUT) verb--to reduce to minute particles or fine powder; to pulverize.

FICTILE (FIC-tul) adj.--molded into an art work or artifact, as in pottery; capable of being led or directed.

PUISSANCE (PYU-uh-sunce) noun--ability to coerce or sway; controlling influence; strength, power.

SITUS (SIH-dus) noun--the place where something exists or originates.

DEPREDATE (DEH-pruh-DATE) verb--to lay waste; to prey upon; to plunder.

EUPHONIOUS (yu-FOH-nee-us) adj.--pleasing in sound.

COACERVATE (koh-AAH-sur-VATE) verb--to gather together in a heap or group; collect.

CALLIOPEAN (kuh-LIH-uh-PEE-un) adj.--resembling the sound of a calliope, loud and piercing.

IATROGENIC (eye-a-tro-GEN-ick) adj.--induced by a physician, esp. through autosuggestion during examination.

SOMATIC (so-MAAH-tic) adj.--of or relating to the body, physical.

EIDOLON (eye-DOH-lun) noun--an unsubstantial image, a phantom; an ideal figure, an examplar.

Read December '09

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Eat turkey, love family, pray thanks.

Blessings on you all. I'm so thankful for your friendship and participation here on F&F.

Be back next Monday.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Coca-Cola and You

"There was a period when our company did lose its way. We were too internally focused and not focused enough on the changes taking place with our consumers and customers. In essence, we were too busy looking at the dashboard and were not sufficiently paying attention to the world outside of our windshield." --Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent

Even when you're Coca-Cola, controlling nearly 51% of the global carbonated soft-drink biz, you can't rest on your laurels. You have to be forward-thinking. Coca-Cola doesn't just sell soft drinks any more. The company needed to be more alert to trends in drinking. People are going after juice-based drinks, health drinks, bottled water, etc. Coca-Cola needed to pay attention.

The full article in Advertising Age is interesting. Read it

And ask yourself--"What changes in my sphere of influence--from the book industry to working in the corporate world to staying home and raising kids--am I failing to keep up with?"

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Loss Of Carrier

BookSurge Publishing (October 27, 2009)


Russ White


Russ White is an internationally recognized internetwork engineer. He has co-authored eight books in the field of network design and routing protocols and is a regular speaker at international networking conferences.

In addition to working on several expert and senior-level network engineering certifications, he is a certified firearms instructor.

Russ, his wife, and their two children live in the Raleigh area of North Carolina, where they enjoy spending time on Jordan Lake and attending Colonial Baptist Church. Loss of Carrier is his first novel.


Bright yellow cables against a blue shirt? Carl never would have approved of that color combination. Why was his face so white? His eyes should be closed, not open. Why hadn’t one of the security guards seen this and reported it to the police? The lights were off, the cameras were useless in the dark.

Of course, the cables wrapped around Carl’s neck explained why the server wasn’t working. Loss of carrier.

Jess Wirth lives a dreary life. He spends most of his time crammed inside a cubicle, toiling as a network engineer and stewing over the details of his ugly divorce. But when he finds his co-worker dead in the basement of their office, Jess’s life takes a surprising—and unpleasant—turn.

The police quickly declare the death a suicide, but Jess isn’t so sure. Not long after he begins digging into the victim’s work, another co-worker turns up dead, convincing him once and for all that something sinister is brewing behind the cubicle walls.

His investigation leads him to a mysterious woman name Leah, who pushes him to entrust her with the information he’s collected about his dead colleagues. Wary of Leah’s motives yet inexorably drawn to her, Jess keeps her at arm’s length...until an attempt is made on both their lives. Realizing they are close on the trail of a dangerous criminal, the pair race to expose a data theft ring before they become the killer’s next victims.

If you would like to read the first chapter of
Loss Of Carrier, go HERE.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Comparison of October '09 Bestseller Lists

ECPA's "November List" and CBA's "December List" both reflect sales in the month of October. Books appearing on one list and not the other are highlighted in blue.

ECPA (Numbers in parentheses reflect placement on ECPA's Top 50 List)

1. (4) The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
2. (5) The Missing, Beverly Lewis, Bethany/Baker
3. (6) Intervention, Terri Blackstock, Zondervan
4. (12) Shades of Blue, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
5. (20) Take Two, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
6. (22) A Measure of Mercy, Lauraine Snelling, Bethany/Baker
7. (23) Green, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
8. (32) Though Waters Roar, Lynn Austin, Bethany/Baker
9. (34) Take One, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
10. (36) The Secret, Beverly Lewis, Bethany/Baker
11. (37) A Cousin's Prayer, Wanda E. Brunstetter, Barbour
12. (41) The Silent Gift, Michael Landon Jr./Cindy Kelley, Bethany/Baker
13. (43) Cry in the Night, Colleen Coble, Thomas Nelson
14. (48) Lineage of Grace, Francine Rivers, Tyndale House

15. (50) Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Waterbrook/Multnomah
16. Who Do I Talk To?, Neta Jackson, Thomas Nelson
17. Dawn's Prelude, Tracie Peterson, Bethany/Baker
18. Sound of Sleigh Bells, Cindy Woodsmall, Waterbrook/Multnomah
19. Face of Betrayal, Lis Wiehl, Thomas Nelson
20. Plain Promise, Beth Wiseman, Thomas Nelson

CBA (Numbers in parentheses reflect placement on CBA's Top 50 List)
1. (2) Shades of Blue, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan

2. (8) The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
3. (10) Intervention, Terri Blackstock, Zondervan
4. (13) Missing, Beverly Lewis, Baker
5. (30) Green, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
6. (38) Measure of Mercy, Lauraine Snelling, BethanyBaker
7. (39) Take Two, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
8. (40) A Lineage of Grace, Francine Rivers, Tyndale
9. (46) The Sound of Sleigh Bells, Cindy Woodsmall, WaterBrook
10. (48) Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Multnomah/WaterBrook
11. Though Waters Roar, Lynn Austin, Bethany/Baker
12. Where Grace Abides, B. J. Hoff, Harvest House
13. The Knight, Steven James, Revell/Baker
14. The Secret, Beverly Lewis, Bethany/Baker
15. A Cousin’s Prayer, Wanda Brunstetter, Barbour
16. Dawn’s Prelude, Tracie Peterson, Bethany/Baker
17. Redemption, Karen Kingsbury & Gary Smalley, Tyndale
18. An Amish Christmas, Beth Wiseman & Kathleen Fuller, Thomas Nelson
19. The Last Word, Kathy Herman, David C. Cook
20. The Silent Gift, Michael Landon & Cindy Kelley, Bethany/Baker

Friday, November 20, 2009

How To Read a Brandilyn Collins Novel

I got a kick out of reading this blog post by a Seatbelt Suspense fan. She's taken it upon herself to help the rest of you achieve the utmost comfort while you read one of my books. Here's what Jess has to say:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Emotion Memory--Part 3

Give me 10 minutes and I'll turn you into a murderer.

[Missed parts 1 and 2? Read them here and here.]

Follow me through this scene and allow yourself to discover the powerful depths of emotion memory. You may not have experienced this exact situation, but chances are you’ve experienced one very similar to it. From the smallest, most insignificant moment of your life you can unleash the emotion memory needed to portray one of mankind’s most heinous acts.
~ ~ ~

Finally, the time has come. The time set aside just for you, when your guests have waved goodbye after their week-long stay. You are alone in the house and exhausted. You don’t care that you have work to do. All you can think of is – The Book.

You were reading it, loving it before the guests came. But all during the week you could only catch bits and pieces of it after falling into bed each night, your eyes fighting sleep. Last night you managed to read for almost an hour. You only have fifty pages left, and you can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

Your guests now gone, you make a bee-line for the book, grasp it from your nightstand and hurry to the family room. There, your steps slow. You hesitate in the center of the room, biting the inside of your lip. This long-awaited time is too good to rush through, you think. You want to enjoy it, revel in it. You blink as an idea flits across your mind. Tossing the book on the couch, you head for the kitchen. You’ll make your favorite hot drink to sip and savor as you read. Ah, that will really do it! The mere anticipation rolls comfort, contentment, across your shoulders.

You hum a little tune as you make the drink. Its wonderful aroma tickles your nose as you carry the hot mug into the family room and place it on an end table. You pick up your book, settle into the couch with a sigh. Smiling, you open the novel, slip out the bookmark and begin to read.

Your eyes glide over the pages, your muscles relaxing, your mind emptying of all but the events in the novel. Once in awhile you pick up your mug, sip your drink. The house is quiet save for the distant ticking of a clock in the kitchen. You wish this time would never end.
The scene you’re reading heats up. Oh, no! The heroine can’t do that; whatever will become of her? And what about her nemesis – you know he’s still up to no good. Surely he’ll leap from the pages any moment now, aiming his intended miseries at the characters you are cheering. You turn the page. Aha. There he is. Oh, but surely he won’t –-

A fly cruises across the room.

Your eyes flick at it distractedly, then back to the book. You continue reading, devouring the words. Oh, the passions. You can feel the scenes. They sweep you off your feet, transport you. You want to hurry and finish the story to see what happens; you want the story never to end. You’re almost done with a chapter. The evil adversary is turning to the hero and heroine, opening his mouth . . .

The fly buzzes into your family room window, backs up, then buzzes into it again.
Your eyes lift with irritation from the page, first to stare unseeing across the room as you listen, then to blink into a narrowed gaze at the fly. He is annoying. He is large. He is disturbing your peace, your moment. You wish he would go away.

He buzzes, smacks the window repeatedly.

You pull your eyes back to your book. You continue reading, your forehead etched in a frown of concentration.

A few minutes pass. Purposely ignoring the fly, you finish the chapter. Oh, what a hook! What will happen now? You turn the page, eager to continue. Without missing a word you grope for the mug with your left hand, raise it to your lips. Ah, the drink’s still warm.
You read on. The book’s main secret is about to be revealed. You can sense it coming. You think you know, but you’re not sure. You read on, swept here and there as your characters run for their lives. Now through a forest, now facing a raging river. How will they cross? The hero is too weak -–

The buzz-against-glass abruptly stops. Zzzzzz. The fly cruises the room again. He circles your head. You wave him away, still reading. He circles once more, exploring, coming in for a closer look, invading your space. You whisk out a frustrated hand to smack him and miss. He circles. You glare at him now, your eyes following his route. Your mouth tightens; the muscles in your thighs tense. You tap a thumb against the page of your book, reading momentarily forgotten. The fly lands across the room on the television set. You poke your tongue under your upper lip as you stare at it, half daring it to move. It doesn’t.

You inhale deeply. Shift your position. Your eyes return to the page, flitting until they find where you left off. Ah, yes, the river.

You start reading. Within seconds you are again engrossed in the story. The water is rising around the couple; their nemesis is closing in. You’re still not sure of what he wants, what he will do when he reaches them. He is yelling something over the boiling waters, his voice fading in and out of the torrents. The heroine screams at him –-

The fly buzzes from the television and right by you. The sound reverberates in your ears. Then stops. You swivel your head to see the fly crawling, feeling his way with his nasty little legs along the rim of your cup. Anger spritzes your nerves. Your arm flashes out and scares him back into the air. The buzzing resumes – right in front of your nose.

“That’s it!” You throw down your book and push off the couch, seething. The ugly creature flies around the room – your room – like he owns the place. Who does he think he is, disturbing you like that? Can’t you have even one hour of peace in your own house? After all the company and hostessing and work? Can’t you just be allowed to read your book and enjoy yourself for one lousy moment?

Muttering, you swivel on your heel and head for the kitchen, in search of something, anything, to get rid of this creature once and for all. You grab a newspaper section off the kitchen table, roll it quickly and pace back into the family room, smacking it against your open palm. The fly still cruises. You lurch to a stop, your head on a constant swivel as you follow his flight. From the corner of your eye you notice that your book has fallen shut on the couch. Fresh angers jags up your chest. Now that wretched beast has caused you to lose your place!

The fly lands on the coffee table. You stride three steps and bring down the newspaper hard. Thwack. The fly lifts into the air, buzzing even harder. You exhale loudly, cursing under your breath. Fighting your own anger. You were too mad, moved too quickly. You’ll have do this steady-like, smooth. Have to think before you move.

You draw up straight, standing perfectly still, except for your head, still following the fly’s path. The newspaper rests in your palm. You like the feel of it, the deadly force it promises. Now if you can only sneak up on that fly. You even breathe quietly lest it hear you. You command control of your own body, centering your focus on killing the fly – nothing else.

You don’t stop to think that the fly is merely foraging for food he needs to exist. It doesn’t occur to you that he means you no harm, that he’s even seeking a way to get out of your house. You certainly don’t stop to think he may have family – that he may be missed once he’s dead. Such an absurd notion would not last one second within your brain. Who could possibly care about this disgusting creature? And even if someone did, he has invaded your space. He deserves to die!

The fly lands on the window. Your eyes narrow as one side of your mouth curves into a smirk. You are careful this time, oh, so careful. Stealthily, silently, you creep across the carpet. Your fingers tighten around the newspaper. You hardly dare breathe. Three more steps. Your arm begins to draw back. Two more steps. Your shoulder muscles tighten. One more step. You glide to a halt, eyes never leaving the fly. You swallow. Pull back your arm further, fingers whitening around the newspaper. Every sinew in your upper body crackles with anticipation. Then, like a launched rubberband, your arm snaps forward, the rolled newspaper whistling through the air. Thwack!! The force of the hit sends shock waves up your arm.

The fly drops like a stone.

Yes! You’ve killed him!

But wait. Do you go back to your reading? Oh, no, no. You’re not ready to be done with this deed quite yet.

You stand there, breathing hard, eyeing the dead fly. Your arm lowers, your fingers relax their grip. A slow, sick smile twists your lips. Your head tilts slightly, your eyebrows rise.
“Hah!” The word echoes in the room, hard and snide. “That’ll teach you!”

You survey your handiwork, gloating some more, vindictiveness and satisfaction swirling. The fly is such an ugly thing. Black, mangled, dirty. Couldn’t even die with dignity. It lies there, trashing up your nicely-painted windowsill. Your lip curls. How disgusting.

That fly deserved everything it got.

One thing’s for certain, you tell yourself. If any other fly comes along, you won’t waste precious time trying to ignore it. Oh, no, you’ve got the actions down now. Next time, one tiny buzz, and you’ll be off that couch, newspaper ready. It’ll be so much easier – next time.
But enough of that. Suddenly, you must rid yourself of your victim. Its very sight nauseates you. Tearing off a piece of the newspaper, you use it to pick up the body, gingerly, being careful not to touch it. No telling what sort of germs and filth it carries. You walk into the bathroom, throw it into the toilet. Flush it down. Still, you’re not quite through. You watch it swirl faster, tighter, until it finally disappears. You smack down the toilet lid.

Now you are done.

You take a breath. Where were you? What was going on in your life before you were so rudely interrupted? Ah, of course! Reading! You hurry back to your book, your mind already racing to remember where you left off. You throw yourself back onto the couch, pick up the novel, flip through pages, find your last-read sentence.

Two minutes later you are once again engrossed in the story, living and breathing along with the characters. Your house is so peaceful. Life is wonderful. You are happy.

You settle back, devouring the words. Reveling in your contentment. The fly is forgotten.

Except for within that one part of you. That one tiny, separate part that cocks an ear, stands guard over your space, protectively listening for –- you might almost say anticipating -– the buzz of the next fly . . .

Excerpted from Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Emotion Memory--Part 2

Excerpted from Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors.

Miss Part 1? Read it here before continuing.

When we learn to access our emotion memory, two wonderful results occur in our writing:

o We can far more splendidly write the emotions of those characters whose experiences are similar to our own.

Sometimes we create characters whose main hardships are based on those we’ve faced in our own lives. Still, your character will encounter some situations different – or perhaps worse – than your own, and she will have a Desire and inner values that do not exactly match yours. When her passions must diverge from your own, tapping into your emotion memory will help you discover all the colors of her unique situation. This character can become far more than a mere cut-out of your own experiences.

o We can create characters who are completely different from ourselves – and perhaps even anathema to our own ways of thinking.

Through releasing the sensations of your own experiences, emotion memory allows you a surprising glimpse into souls whom you may have thought you could never understand. You can then enlarge these “glimpses” until you create a complete portrait of a character.

As the previous sentence suggests, emotion memory is not the “be-all and end-all” of your ability to feel your character’s passions. On the contrary, it is only the beginning. It is the seed from which your understanding of a character can grow. Just as a plant also needs soil and water, so you must place the seed of your own emotions in your fertile imagination and creativity. With this mixture of your own emotions and imagination, you can create any character you choose to create.

Let’s look at the steps to accessing your emotion memory in order to discover the passions of a character in a given scene.

o Find an experience or emotion in your own life that is similar to that of your character.

Sometimes this is easy. If your character is experiencing his or her first crush, you’ve probably been through that yourself. Or if your character is at the funeral of a parent, and you’ve lost a loved one, you know the depth of grief. But when our characters face situations outside the realm of our own experience, this step becomes a little more tricky. Then we need to search our own experiences for an emotion that reflects what the character is feeling. Remember, the emotion need only be a “seed” for the passions of your character. For example, if your character faces crushing guilt over causing someone’s death, find a time in your own life when you have felt guilty. It could be a time from your childhood, and it could even be over some relatively minor issue. The circumstances aren’t important and don’t need to match the severity of what your character is facing. What is important is that you felt guilt.

Years ago when I was single, I awoke suddenly one morning, thinking I’d heard a noise in my apartment. I’d been cold during the night and had burrowed down into the covers; the bedspread was over my head. I tensed, listening. Again, I thought I heard something – a footstep entering my bedroom. My heart turned over, scudded into panicked beats. Pull down the cover! my insides screamed, see who’s there! I knew I must. I knew I needed to see what was happening, be ready to move, to jump from bed and defend myself. But in that second, an amazing thing happened to my body. Every limb, every sinew locked up tight, and I could not move a muscle. Do it! my mind screamed – and still I could not move. Internally, I wrenched against myself, willing my arm to grasp the cover bedspread, willing my head to lift off the pillow. And then suddenly my arm lurched. I flung the cover aside, snapped my head toward the doorway.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Whatever sound I’d heard had been imagined. I felt quite foolish.

A moment later, when my heart had slowed to a normal pace, I realized I’d discovered an amazing truth. I’d discovered that a person really can be “frozen in fear.” That minor incident of imagined danger hardly seems comparable to a scene in which my character faces a real intruder and her very life is at stake. But, again, the circumstances aren’t important. I was frozen in fear. That small, otherwise insignificant event in my life, no more than five seconds from start to finish, was a powerful experience of raw fear. When I need to, I can expand upon my emotion memory of that event to write believably of a character’s fear – even if she’s facing death.

o Relive your own experience by telling it out loud to yourself.

This is where the “getting personal” really begins. You may at first feel inhibited or even scared, depending upon the emotion. But this is not the time to hold back. Find a time when you can be by yourself and uninterrupted.

Tell your experience to an imagined, captive audience, relating every detail you can remember, using all your five senses, if possible. First describe the setting. Then describe your actions and emotions, one by one. Get up, move around if you like. Act out the events.
Are you reliving a moment of excitement? Tell your experience until your eyes shine with the memory. Are you reliving jealousy? Tell it until you feel the fire in your stomach. Loss? Tell it until you can feel the pain. Don’t stop to take notes, to record your emotions. Just feel them.
o Add any external stimuli that may help you relive the memories.

Is there anything that might help you in the retelling of your experience? A picture? Certain object? Certain smell, such as a perfume? Music? Use anything you can to help release the memories.

o Once you have connected with your own emotions, use them as the seed for those of your character.

This is the step in which all the rest of [the techniques covered in Getting Into Character] come into play. Once you connect with your own emotions, once you fully remember how fear or grief or joy feels, you need to blend this knowledge with everything else you know about your character. What are your character’s action objectives in the scene, and how could these emotions translate into them? What is his inner rhythm, and how can he show it? If he’s talking with someone, will he be honest about his feelings or will they be subtexted? Write your scene infusing all of these things. Your renewed memories of the emotion, plus all you know of your character, will blend together to create a vivid and believable scene.

Now, with all this “dipping into the well,” how do we keep our own reserves filled? For as surely as water can run low, so can our emotion memory.

o Keep the resources for your emotion memory filled by watching others and most of all, yourself

There’s no way around it – strong writing requires an intimate knowledge of humanity. The only way to gain that knowledge is to live life to its fullest and to watch and record it as though your very life depended upon it. In fact, your writing life does.

First, you can refill your emotion memory by watching others, mentally recording their actions and perceived emotions in certain situations. Perhaps you’ve never been in a non-injury car accident but have observed one. How did those involved react as they hurried from their cars? How did others act as they stopped to help? Even more importantly, how did you feel as you sympathized with these people? As we sympathize with others, we transfer their feelings into feelings of our own.

Second, you can watch movies and plays, read books – always with the goal of recording emotions. Third – and most of all – you can watch yourself. Now that you’re aware of the emotion memory within your subconscious, you can actively record your own feelings in a way that will keep them closer to the conscious level, more readily available when you need them for writing.

I’ll confess something. No matter what I’m going through, no matter what my emotion, even in moments of greatest joy or sorrow, there is a little part of me that disconnects to float to the corner of the ceiling and observe. Whether I laugh or cry or sink to my knees in despair, this writer side of me looks on quite objectively, watching, recording. Saying, “Hm. I’ll have to remember this.” If I don’t feel her in the midst of my passion, I feel her only seconds later, scrambling to take it all in, to remember the emotions in all their colors.

Remember to watch your “insignificant” moments as much as you watch major events in your life. As we’ve noted, a seemingly insignificant experience can unleash a powerful emotion memory. In fact, only when we discover this truth can we employ emotion memory to its fullest.

Richard Boleslavsky, a director from the Moscow Art Theater, wrote an amazing little book called Acting, The First Six Lessons. In his lesson on emotion memory he tells an aspiring young actress, “We have a special memory for feelings, which works unconsciously by itself and for itself. It is in every artist. It is that which makes experience an essential part of our life and craft. All we have to do is to know how to use it.” These memories, however small, Boleslavsky continued, are “just waiting to be awakened. And what is more, when you do awaken them, you can control them in your craft . . . You command them.”

The young actress asks, “Suppose I don’t find a similar feeling in my life’s experience, what then?” Boleslavsky replies that anyone who has lived a normal existence has experienced to some extent all the emotions of mankind. The woman challenges him. Surely this can’t be true. What if she must play a murderer? She has certainly never murdered anyone or even felt the slightest desire to do so. Hogwash, replies Boleslavsky. (My paraphrase.) Ever been camping when mosquitoes were around? he asks. Ever follow one with your eyes and ears, your hate spurring you on, until you killed it? The actress admits that she has. “A good, sensitive artist doesn’t need any more than that to play Othello and Desdemona’s final scene,” Boleslavsky declares.

What a startling thought!

Read Part 3

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Emotion Memory--Part 1

In my how-to book on writing fiction, Getting Into Character, I take seven techniques from the art of method acting and adapt them for writers. One of those techniques is Emotion Memory. It's a new, uncharted concept for most novelists--and it's one of the most effective techniques you can learn. In the next few days I'll run excerpts from the Emotion Memory chapter. It's the last chapter in the book, so you will see references to other concepts GIC covers. Let's begin.

ACTOR’S TECHNIQUE: In bringing forth the emotions of a character, an actress relies on her own emotion memory to re-create within herself all the sensations and feelings appropriate to her role at the moment. Emotion memory is rooted in the actress’s past experiences and can be evoked through such things as a smell, a picture or thought. Other times it is more slowly and purposefully recaptured through retelling of a certain past experience.

NOVELIST’S ADAPTATION: An author carries within herself the seed for every emotion and desire she may create within a character, no matter how foreign that desire may seem to her on the surface. When an author learns how to tap into her emotion memory, she will release herself from every “I-can’t-write-that” fear. The world lies at her feet.

Time to get personal.

Up to this point, we’ve focused on your character. By now you have a clear understanding of how important it is to know your character from the inside out. We’ve discovered who he is -– his inner values, traits and mannerisms. We’ve discussed his action objectives, his inner rhythm, his motivations for subtexting, the widely varied colors of his passions. Now we’re going to talk about you.

Like it or not, the truth is this: your character’s emotions begin with you. You are the well from which every passion of your character – every tremble and smile and tear and jealousy – will be drawn.

As a novelist, you are much further removed from your audience than an actor. An actor displays his emotions directly in front of an audience, who can see the movements, the facial expressions, hear the tones of voice. But you must (1) create your characters’ emotions in your own mind, then (2) effectively describe those emotions on paper. From that point, (3) your audience has to read your words and finally (4) re-form the images of those emotions in their own minds. It is so easy for those emotions to lose their depth of meaning in any one of these steps. One thing is certain. In light of how far removed your audience is, if you want your readers to feel the passions of your characters in all their glory, you – being at the starting point – will need to feel them to their absolute fullest yourself.

But how to do this? How to plumb the depths of the well of emotions within you, rather than merely skim the surface?

Once again we look to the art of method acting to guide us. How does the method actor believably portray the unique emotions and desires of different characters? Particularly when his character faces conflict that he, the actor, has never faced. Answer: he taps into the well of his emotion memory.

Emotion memory was first spoken of by the French psychologist Théodule Ribot, who called it “affective memory.” Constantin Stanislavsky [the "father" of method acting] explained this “affective” or “emotion memory” as the kind of memory that makes a person relive all the sensations he felt when faced with a certain situation. Emotion memory can fill him anew with the feelings of that moment, even though these feelings may have long before sunk into his subconscious. These are memories in their most pure, distilled form. Time simmers them just as a sauce simmers on the stove until excess liquid is gone and all that remains is potent, blended flavor.

A friend of mine once told me of cleaning her kitchen after baking on a hot summer day. When all the pans and utensils were washed, she flicked on the garbage disposal. A familiar smell wafted from the sink, a smell caused by the combination of items she’d used in the baking – oranges and cloves and cinnamon. In an instant, that smell transported my friend to Christmas – the remembrance of oranges and applies stuck with cloves, bobbing in hot cider. That rich, sweet, heady scent filled her mind with scenes of celebrating the season with family – the joy of opening presents, the frustration of awaiting her turn in the bathroom, the biting cold of caroling house-to-house, the sadness of saying goodbye at the airport. The emotions of the season in their vibrant colors, the deep meaning of the Christmas celebration –- all these memories released themselves from my friend’s subconscious, sweeping her in one instant from a hot summer kitchen to Christmas. Merely because of a smell.

Any one of our five senses, or any combination of them, can release vivid memories like this one from our subconscious. The problem is, we can’t count on such serendipitous moments to trigger the emotions we need to feel while writing a certain scene. As we all know, emotions have minds of their own. They are often fleeting, teasing, no more than vague, ghost-like impressions.

“Our artistic emotions,” Stanislavsky told his students in An Actor Prepares, “are at first as shy as wild animals, and they hide in the depths of our souls. If they do not come to the surface spontaneously, you cannot go after them and find them. All you can do is concentrate your attention on the most effective kind of lure for them.”

Because we need them, and they don’t always appear at will, we have to learn how to access them. Through conscious effort, we can tap into our emotion memory, causing subconscious feelings to rise to the surface, much as a well-digger taps into a hidden spring, and suddenly fresh water bubbles forth.

When we learn to access our emotion memory, two wonderful results occur in our writing ...

Tomorrow--Part 2: Tapping Into Your Emotion Memory

Taken from the chapter on Emotion Memory in Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors.

Read Part 2

Monday, November 16, 2009

Got Topic?

What topic would you like to see covered on Forensics & Faith?

If you've been with this community for awhile, you know you're likely to see posts on:

~ the craft of fiction writing
~ the life of a writer
~ industry news
~ marketing
~ new novels, especially suspense


~ an occasional guest post from someone in the industry
~ occasional posts on the Christian journey

Do you have suggestions for topics within those general categories? Do you know someone who could write a guest post on a particular subject? Or perhaps want to suggest something new? Let's hear it!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Psalm for Sickness

I'm continually praying for many Christian friends who are very sick. As many of you know, I use the psalms to pray for people. Nothing is more powerful in prayer than God's own Word. Psalm 31 is a particularly good one to use to pray against illness.

Here's the BPV (Brandilyn's Prayer Version) for Psalm 31 (based on the New American Standard Version.) Just fill in the name(s) of your own friends and family members--or maybe pray it for yourself.

In You, O Lord, ____ has taken refuge;
May she (or he) not be ashamed.
In Your righteousness deliver her.
Incline your ear to me--rescue her quickly.
Be to her a rock of strength, a stronghold to save,
For You are her rock and her fortress.
For Your name's sake, lead and guide her.
Pull her out of the net this illness has laid for her,
For You are her strength
Into Your hand I commit her, Lord.
Ransom her, O God of truth.

I hate the regarding of vain idols,
But I trust in You, Lord.
I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness,
Because You have see ____'s affliction.
You know the troubles of her soul.
Don't give her over to the hand of this enemy.
Set her feet in a large place.

Be gracious to ____, Lord, for she is in distress.
Her eye is wasted away from grief, her soul and body also.
Her life is now spent with sorrow and sighing.
Strength fails her, and her body is wasting away.
Because of her illness she may feel like she's a reproach to her neighbors,
An object of dread to her acquaintances.
Some may not want to see her.
She may feel forgotten, our of mind, like a broken vessel.
She may have heard the words of many that terror is on every side.
Illness takes counsel against her, scheming for her life.

But she trusts in you, Lord, and I trust in You.
For You are our God.
Her times are in Your hand.
Deliver her from the hand of this illness and from its persecution.
Make Your face shine upon her.
Save her in Your lovingkindness.
Let her not be put to shame, O Lord,
For she calls upon You.
Let this illness be put to shame, let it be silent.
Let lying lips be dumb that speak arrogantly against ___
With pride and contempt.

How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for ____.
Which You have wrought for ____,
Because she takes refuge in You before the sons of men.
Hide ___ in the secret place of Your presence from this illness.
Keep her secretly in Your shelter from the strife of this disease.
Blessed be Your name, Lord,
For You have made marvelous Your lovingkindness to ____
During this besieged time.
If she says in alarm, "I am cut off from God's eyes!"--
Even then You hear her prayers and supplications when she cries to You.

I love You, Lord, I and all Your godly ones.
I know You preserve the faithful and fully recompense the proud doer.
Help ____ be strong. Help her heart take courage
For she hopes in You, Lord.

-- Amen.


Who can you pray this psalm for today?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

That Book of Job

I'm there again. In my reading through the Bible I've once again come to the book of Job. Every time I come to it I always sort of cringe. This time in my read-through I'm using the NIV Study Bible. I'll read a chapter, then go through all the notes about it before going on. Great way to read through the Bible. All the same--Job is a hard one.

Ever asked God "Why?" Job laments all that has happened to him and hurls those WHY questions at God. I didn't deserve this! Why did you do this to me? What's the point of living a righteous life if you're going to treat me this way?... (My paraphrase.) Then in Chapter 19, verse 23, he cries: Oh, that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book!

Of course--they were. In fact, I think this is the crux of the book of Job. The WHY of all the disaster that befell the man. Indeed, it wasn't about him at all. It was, first, to teach his pious friends a few things. Then, through the Book of Job, to teach the millions of Christians around the world and through all generations that God is sovereign and that some of our questions--especially the difficult WHY ones--won't be answered this side of heaven.

Yet God does reply to Job. Hey, where were you when I hung the moon and flung the stars and switched on the sun? Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Who are YOU to question me and the worth of righteousness? Who are YOU to demand answers from ME...? (My paraphrase again.)

Sufficiently cowed, Job says:

I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees Thee.
Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.

Interesting. God did reply to Job. But He didn't answer Job's questions. And He so easily could have. In His long reply, God could have added--By the way, Job, your wish to have this all written down? It's gonna happen. In fact, that's the VERY reason all this happened to you.

God never said that. He withheld the reason. Giving Job the answer he so desperately wanted wasn't nearly as important to God as reminding Job of Who He Is.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November Issue of CFOM Magazine

Two short items for today:

1. Lisa Karon Richardson is the winner of this month's Photo Friday. Her caption: By the time Mt Ararat came in sight, Mrs. Noah's renovation of the ark was nearly done.

Congrats, Lisa. Your caption made me laugh and received the most votes. Please e-mail me at brandilyn (at) brandilyncollins (dot) com with your address and choice of one of my novels.

2. Have you seen this month's issue of the Christian Fiction Online Magazine? My Making A Scene column: Ten Things I've Learned As a Novelist.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Quiz For Smart People

I received this quiz in an email last week--and totally flunked. Let's see how well you do.

The following short quiz consists of 4 questions and will tell you whether you are qualified to be a professional. Scroll down for each answer. The questions are NOT that difficult. But don't scroll down UNTIL you have answered the question!

1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?

The correct answer is: Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, and close the door. This question tests whether you tend to do simple things in an overly complicated way.

2 . How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?

Did you say, Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant, and close the refrigerator? Wrong Answer.

Correct Answer: Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe put in the elephant and close the door. This tests your ability to think through the repercussions of your previous actions.

3. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals attend...except one. Which animal does not attend?

Correct Answer: The Elephant. The elephant is in the refrigerator. You just put him in there.

This tests your memory. Okay even if you did not answer the first three questions correctly, you still have one more chance to show your true abilities.

4. There is a river you must cross but it is inhabited by crocodiles, and you do not have a boat How do you manage it?

Correct Answer: You jump into the river and swim across. Have you not been listening? All the crocodiles are attending the Animal Meeting. This tests whether you learn quickly from your mistakes.

According to Anderson Consulting Worldwide, around 90% of the professionals they tested got all questions wrong, but many preschoolers got several correct answers. Anderson Consulting says this conclusively disproves the theory that most professionals have the brains of a four- year-old.

I have no idea if that last paragraph is true or totally bogus. But it doesn't matter. What does matter: how did you do on the quiz?

NOTE: After you leave your comment about the quiz, don't forget to vote on the best caption for Photo Friday. There are a lot of funny captions.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

It's Photo Friday!

Okay, folks, here's your chance this month to write the most creative caption for the picture below. Come back some time over the weekend and vote on your favorite caption. I'll announce the winner on Tuesday. Winner will receive his/her choice of one of my novels.

This photo was sent in by Donna Caudill. It was taken in Alaska. Donna, since I've used your picture, you also receive a free book. Please e-mail me at brandilyn (at) brandilyncollins (dot) com with your choice of book and address.

If you think you have a picture worthy of Photo Friday, please do send it to me as an e-mail attachment.

Off you go. What the heck is goin' on with this house?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Ten Steps to Writing a Fiction Review

Jake Chism is a fiction reviewer I’ve come to trust over the past few years for his insights and honesty. So when he offered to write a post about how to write a good review, I said absolutely!

In 2006, Jake Chism began writing reviews for various websites, and approximately 200 reviews later he decided to start his own. He launched in June. Since the launch Jake has developed reviewing guidelines for his writers. He shares those with us today.

1. A Good Plot Summary. Be informative but not too informative. I typically write one or two short paragraphs that give a basic premise of the story. If you get carried away with plot details, you run the risk of losing the reader’s attention. No need to re-write the book. The main concern here is to give the reader a brief snapshot of what kind of story to expect.

2. NO SPOILERS!!!! I got carried away with the caps and exclamation points, but this is something I feel strongly about. Nothing screams “poor review” more than blatant spoilers. The purpose of reviews is to inform readers, not to spoil the reading experience. Authors don’t spend hours upon hours, day after day, pouring their soul into their work just so you can come along and ruin the whole thing with two sentences.

3. Highlight the Positive. So you’ve read this book and it has absolutely blown you away with its awesomeness. Great…Tell us why! Whether you were moved by the characters, or floored by a plot twist, or even driven insane by the suspense…please, by all means tell us about it. You do authors and readers no favors if you don’t adequately explain why a particular story is worth reading.

4. Don’t Shy Away From the Negative. Many reviewers take the approach, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” As I’ve grown as a reviewer I’ve begun to distance myself from this philosophy. From conversations with a variety of authors I’ve discovered it’s not negative reviews they have a problem with. It’s the reviews that are mean-spirited, poorly crafted, and tasteless that are the most damaging and discouraging. Reviewers do authors no favors when all we do is kiss up to them. Authors want to know what readers think of their work, even if they don’t agree with them. On the other hand, no writer wants to read a review of his/her work that does nothing but belittle and bash. What’s the point? If a book didn’t work for you, by all means tell us why. But use some tact and have a little respect for these authors who work so hard to bring us their stories. If you long to rain down curses and ill will on the writer, then do us all a favor and don’t say anything at all.

5. Honor Your Commitments. Sometimes as reviewers we bite off more than we can chew, and before we know it we are buried under stacks of books we’ve requested. Add to that all the unsolicited titles publishers love to send, and pretty soon we’re completely overwhelmed. Bottom line: you have to know your limits. Publishers spend a lot of money distributing ARCs and review copies, and we have a responsibility to review what is sent to us when we ask for it specifically.

6. When you post a review, e-mail the publicist to let him/her know. It’s just the decent thing to do, and you never know--you might see your review quoted in a future title or on an author’s website.

7. Share your reviews online. Use places like,, and, especially if it’s a positive review and you want others to read the title. Twitter and Facebook are also great places to post links to reviews. If you write for a review site or publication you may need to get permission before you post elsewhere, but this is one thing you can do to help promote authors.

8. Don’t leave a negative review on Amazon (or other similar sites) simply because your book took too long to arrive or was damaged. That certainly isn’t the author’s fault, and it makes no sense to blame him for it. (For those of you who are shocked at such behavior….believe me….it happens more than you think.)

9. Familiarize yourself with new authors when reviewing their work. You don’t have to read everything they’ve written, but it helps to know what they have done and are currently working on. Sometimes, if I love a book, I will spend a little time at the end of the review highlighting what they have coming out next or something they’ve previously written. This shows readers that this author has more than just that particular book that is worth checking out.

10. Spend some time reading other reviews to get a strong feel for what quality reviews look and feel like. Here are some recent reviews two of my writers have submitted:

Jane Austin Ruined My Life
The Strain

--Jake Chism

Bio: Jake Chism is a self-diagnosed book junkie and the founder of His reviews have been widely quoted in the works of such authors as James Patterson, Terry Brooks, Eric Wilson, Ted Dekker, and Robert Liparulo. Jake obviously enjoys reading, movies, sports, watching way too much TV, and spending time with his amazing family in Texas. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter ( and Facebook (

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

October '09 List of Today's Word

The quinquagenarian, also quite the deipnosophist, worked up a hidrosis as he sought to gorgonize his two dinner mates, one asthenic and one pyriform.

Your turn.

GORGONIZE (GAR-gun-IZE) verb--to have a paralyzing or mesmerizing effect upon.

HYPOCORISM (hy-POCK-uh-RIZ-um) noun--a pet name or term of endearment.

CREPEHANGER (KRAPE-hang-er) noun--one who takes a pessimistic view of things; a killjoy.

PESTIFEROUS (pes-TIFF-er-us) adj.--dangerous to society; carrying infection; annoying, irritating.

HIDROSIS (hy-DRO-sus) noun--excretion of sweat; perspiration.

DEIPNOSOPHIST (dipe-NAH-suh-fist) noun--a person skilled in table talk.

QUINQUAGENARIAN (KWIN-kwa-juh-NARE-ee-un) noun--a person 50 to 59 years old.

PLATITUDINARIAN (PLA-ti-tu-di-NARE-ee-un) noun--one given to speaking platitudes.

ASTHENIC (us-THEN-ick) adj.--characterized by slender build and slight muscular development.
RARA AVIS (RAH-ruh-AY-vis) noun--a rare person or thing; rarity.

SLUGABED. (SLUG-uh-BED) noun--one who stays in bed too long; sluggard.

TARTUFFE (TAR-tuf) noun--religious hypocrite. From Tartufe, hypocritical hero in Moliere's play Tartufe.

SPHERAL (SFIR-ul) adj.--resembling a sphere, especially in perfection of symmetry or well-rounded excellence.

INSESSORIAL (IN-suh-SOR-ee-ul) adj.--perching, or adapted for perching.

DESCRY (duh-SKRIH) verb--to spy out or perceive the distant, uncertain, or obscure through careful observation.

ANTHROPOPATHIC (AN-thro-PO-puh-thik) adj.--ascribing human feelings to something that is not human.

SHRIVE (SHRIVE) verb-to hear confession and give absolution in the sacrament of penance; to pardon from guilt.

COLPORTEUR (KAL-PORD-ur) noun-a peddler of books, especially of bibles and religious books and tracts.

PYRIFORM (PY-ri-FORM) adj.--pear-shaped.

MARGARITACEOUS (mar-guh-ri-TAY-shus) adj.-having a satiny iridescence like that of a pearl; pearly.

PAVONINE (PAV-uh-NINE) adj.-relating to or resembling the peacock.

ANALYSAND (uh-NAL-uh-sand) noun--one who is undergoing psychoanalysis.

SATYAGRAHA (suh-TYAH-gru-huh) noun-reliance on truth; method of reform through goodwill and nonviolent resistance.

ANALECTA (AN-uh-LECK-tuh) noun-leftovers from a feast; selected written passages; literary gleanings.

TENDENTIOUS (ten-DEN-chus) adj.-motivated to promote a particular cause, biased; having a particular tendency.

AMPHIGORY (AM-fuh-GORE-ee) noun-nonsense verse/composition: writing of apparent meaning that proves meaningless.

TORREFY (TOR-i-FIH) verb--to dry or roast with fire; to scorch.

ANTINOMY (an-TI-nuh-mee) noun--an apparent or real opposition, contradiction, conflict, or contrast; a paradox.

CALLITHUMP (KAL-i-THUMP) noun--a noisy, boisterous parade.

CHARTACEOUS (kar-TAY-shus) adj.--resembling paper; made of paper.

PALINDROME (PAL-in-DROME) noun-word or sentence that reads the same backward & forward (ex.-"wets stew).

Read November '09

Monday, November 02, 2009

Samuel Jackson--Lead Role in Same Kind Of Different As Me

It's now official. Samuel L. Jackson has signed up to play Denver Moore and also co-produce the film version of Same Kind of Different As Me. I can just see him in this role.

The bestselling true story focuses on the unlikely friendship of Ron Hall and Denver Moore, and was written with Lynn Vincent (also recent author of Sarah Palin's Going Rogue). Same Kind of Different As Me has spent 53 weeks on the New York Time paperback nonfiction bestseller list. The book was represented by Lee Hough at Alive Communications. It was optioned for film by Veralux Media in 2008. Now that Samuel Jackson has signed on, the script is being shopped for production financing. reports that "Ralph Winter will produce the film through his 1019 Entertainment production company with Veralux’s Mark Clayman and Jennifer Gates. Jackson will executive produce with Brad Reeves, Susana Zepeda, and Todd Shuster." The screenwriters are Roderick and Bruce Taylor.

I sure hope the financing comes through and this movie is made. I look forward to seeing it.