Friday, December 17, 2010

The Time Has Come

Dear friends, the time has come for me to stop posting on Forensics and Faith. This blog has been going for six years now, and the archives contain many posts on the craft of fiction, the publishing industry, and my experiences in writing. Forensics and Faith will remain up, and all the archives will continue to be available.

When I started this blog I naturally started using it to teach fiction-writing and to reach out to others in the industry. Now I'm finding I need to expand beyond folks in the publishing industry and more effectively be in contact with my readers at large. I've been doing that for some time through Twitter and a personal profile page on Facebook. In the past few days I've created a business page on Facebook and am in the process of inviting all my Facebook friends to move over to the new page. The old profile has gone down to bare bones and won't be used anymore. Please take a moment right now to visit my business page--Brandilyn Collins: Seatbelt Suspense. Click the "Like" button there so we can stay connected. On that page you'll find links to all my books, videos, events, etc. You can keep up with my news daily through this page, and also through receiving my newsletter, Sneak Pique, which is sent via email every other month. (If you've not signed up for Sneak Pique, you can do that here.)

As I write this, I'm currently finishing my 23rd book--a southern mystery titled Gone to Ground. It will release around Jan. 2012. Meanwhile May of 2011 will see my next release--Over the Edge, my suspense novel about Lyme Disease and the "Lyme Wars" in the medical community over the testing andtreatment of the disease. I'm so looking forward to the release of this book. It is my typical fast-paced suspense, yet it also contains much information about Lyme and its controversies, woven into the action. Readers will be entertained as well as learn something through this story.

Thanks to all of you for being readers of Forensics and Faith. I have so appreciated your comments and encouragement these past six years. You all remain dear to me, and I don't want to lose contact with any of you.

Blessings to all.

Brandilyn Collins: Seatbelt Suspense

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happy 94th, Mama Ruth!

Today my mom, known to many worldwide as Mama Ruth, turns 94. Macular degeneration has taken much of her eyesight, but she still manages to live on her own in the retirement village in Kentucky. And she's still as feisty as ever. Those half-hour exercises, in which she can touch her palms to the floor? Yup, still does 'em every morning.

Here's a picture of Mom with her four daughters, taken this summer at our family reunion. Why a pink bathtub, you ask? Why not? (The people in the store certainly got a kick out of watching us stage it.)

And remember her parasailing 10 years ago?

Happy, happy birthday to my wonderful mom!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Comparison of Bestseller Lists for November 2010

Here is the comparison of CBA's "January" list and ECPA's "December" list, both reflecting sales of fiction in participating Christian bookstores in the month of November. (Sometimes the days counted within the month vary a little between CBA and ECPA, but in general this is a month-to-month comparison.) Books appearing only on one list are highlighted in blue. For a reminder of how these lists are put together by ECPA and CBA, please refer to the first few paragraphs of this post.

ECPA (Numbers in parentheses reflect book's standing on the ECPATop 50 list)

1. (2) Unlocked, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
2. (4) The Twelfth Imam, Joel C. Rosenberg, Tyndale
3. (12) Her Daughter's Dream, Francine Rivers, Tyndale
4. (15) In the Company of Others, Jan Karon, Penguin
5. (22) The Thorn, Beverly Lewis, Bethany/Baker
6. (30) The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
7. (37) Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Waterbrook/Multnomah
8. (38) Her Mother's Hope, Francine Rivers, Tyndale
9. (45) The Waiting, Suzanne Fisher, Revell/Baker
10. (48) Take Four, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
11. Secrets of Harmony Grove, Mindy Starns Clark, Harvest House
12. Seek Me with All Your Heart, Beth Wiseman, Thomas Nelson
13. The Last Jihad, Joel C. Rosenberg, Tyndale
14. Immanuel's Veins, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
15. A Lineage of Grace, Francine Rivers, Tyndale
16. The Gathering Storm, Brock and Bodie Thoene, Summerside Press
17. A Time to Dance, Karen Kingsbury, Thomas Nelson
18. A Time to Embrace, Karen Kingsbury, Thomas Nelson
19. While We're Far Apart, Lynn Austin, Bethany/Baker
20. Embers of Love, Tracie Peterson, Bethany/Baker

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

1. (3) Unlocked, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
2. (14) Her Mother’s Hope, Francine Rivers, Tyndale
3. (20) The Twelfth Imam, Joel Rosenberg, Tyndale
4. (25) Her Daughter’s Dream, Francine Rivers, Tyndale
5. (27) In the Company of Others, Jan Karon, Penguin
6. (30) Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe, Irene Brand/Anita Higman, Summerside
7. (39) Immanuel’s Veins, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
8. (41) A Prairie Christmas Collection, Tracie Peterson/Tracey Bateman
9. (49) The Thorn, Beverly Lewis, Bethany/Baker
10. Plain and Simple Christmas, Amy Clipston, Zondervan
11. Christmas at Harringtons, Melody Carlson, Revell/Baker
12. The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
13. Amish Christmas, Beth Wiseman/Kathleen Fuller, Thomas Nelson
14. Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Multnomah/WaterBrook
15. Secrets of Harmony Grove, Mindy Clark, Harvest House
16. Seek Me With All Your Heart, Beth Wiseman, Thomas Nelson
17. The Shoe Box, Francine Rivers, Tyndale
18. Lightkeepers Bride, Colleen Coble, Thomas Nelson
19. Take Four, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
20. A Lineage of Grace, Francine Rivers, Tyndale

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hear the Beat!

Have you read the December issue of Christian Fiction Online Magazine? Check out the first of my two-part article titled "Hear the Beat!--Using Sentence Rhythm":

Sentences have rhythm? You bet they do. And as in music, different sentence rhythms create different feelings. A fast beat in a song makes you want to dance; a slow beat makes you want to sway. Once you understand how sentence rhythm works, you can use it to help create the desired aura of a scene.

Sentence rhythm is based on this principle: The rhythm of your sentences should match the “beat” of action in your scene and the emotion you want to create in the reader.

This month, we’ll look at the first guideline for creating effective sentence rhythm...

Continue reading Hear the Beat.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Transferring Google eBooks to eReaders

Yesterday saw the launch of Google's ebooks. Google has been working toward this for a long time, scanning millions of books into its system. Many of these--classics no longer under copyright--are free. Google could end up being a real competitor for Amazon's Kindle, which currently sells by far the majority of ebooks.

Here's the deal. You can download an epub version of a book from Google to transfer to many ereader devices and apps, including the Sony Reader and the Nook--but the books can't be transferred to the Kindle. (Amazon holds the format for Kindle ebooks close to its chest. No one can sell books to put on the Kindle except Amazon.)

Figuring out how to download a Google ebook to a certain device takes a number of clicks. First I suggest you go to the Google books Help Center for info on transferring to the various devices/apps. I looked up the instructions to transfer a book to a Sony Reader and found them helpful but incomplete. Here are all the steps I discovered in downloading a trial free book to my Sony. (For you Nook folks--sorry I don't have a Nook to experiment with. But your experience should be similar. If anyone's tried downloading on a Nook--please speak up.)

For the Sony Reader, follow the usual first steps to buying a book--connect your device via cable to your computer and open your Reader Library.

1. On the Internet go to the Google ebookstore.
2. Scroll down to the free books. I chose Great Expectations.
3. Click on the book to go to its page.
4. Look to the right where it says "Read on your device" and click there.
5. Scroll down until you see "eReaders and other devices." Note that this is where you'll see the link I mentioned above to "Help center instructions."  The annoying thing is that when you click on this Help page it doesn't open a new window. So if you click it, you can either memorize the info and click your back button to return to buying the book, or open a second window in Google ebooks for purchasing, so you can refer to the Help page if needed.
6. Back on the page for the book you've chosen, click on "Download EPUB" toward the bottom of the page.
7. A File Download box may pop up, asking if you want to open the file or save it. Click open.
8. The file should open in your Reader Library. I could see a little piece of the cover. And I could see that I was on Page 1 of however many pages the book has.
9. Look toward the top right of your Reader Library. You'll see a box icon formed by four horizontal lines. If you hover your cursor over that (make sure first to click somewhere on the Reader so it's now your active window), you'll see "List View" pop up. Click on that icon to see a list of books in your Library. The book you just downloaded should be listed.
10. Click on the book and drag it over to your "Reader" (in the list on the left). If it's transferring correctly you will see a small plus sign pop up. And you'll see the "Status" circles start to go around, telling you that a book is transferring.
11. Click on your Reader to see the list of all books in the device. Your new book should be listed.

If these steps don't work for you, go back to the help page to look at alternatives.

As for price, doing a quick check of Amazon's top five Kindle sellers--Unbroken, Hornet's Nest, Decision Points, The  Confession, Cross Fire--I could see that Amazon and Google prices for these books were identical. I imagine each seller will be watching the other for competitive pricing.

It'll be interesting to see in the future what the new Google ebooks does to the sales of the Kindle, since the two aren't compatible. Will people choose to buy another device such as the Sony Reader or Nook instead? 

Friday, December 03, 2010

Misperceptions About Publishing

I'm passing on this article to you in case you missed it: "Twelve Misconceptions About Publishing." I encourage you to follow the link and read it. It's a good article, and right-on informative about publishing these days.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 2010 List of Today's Word

Here are the big, beautiful words from November. Anyone want to try making a sentence using at least six of them?

FALCHION (FOL-chun) noun--a broad-bladed slightly curved sword of medieval times. (Creative sentence?) #todaysword

SARTORIAL (sar-TOR-ee-ul) adj.--of or relating to a tailor or tailored clothes.

FALCATE (fol-KATE) adj.--hooked or curved like a sickle; used of the moon when less than half is illuminated.

ENCOMIUM (en-KO-me-um) noun--an often formal expression of warm or high praise.

GAM (GAM) noun--a large or crooked tooth.

MACERATE (MASS-ur-ate) trans. verb--to cause the body to waste away by, or as if by excessive fasting.

ANDROCRACY (an-DROCK-ruh-see) noun--political and social supremacy of men.

AUTOCHTHON (aw-TOK-thun) noun--one supposed to have sprung from the ground of the region he inhabits.

SILVICOLOUS (sil-VICK-uh-lus) adj.--living in or inhabiting woodlands.

NOMOGRAPHY (no-MOG-ruh-fee) noun--the art of or a treatise on drafting laws.

ESURIENT (i-SOOR-ee-ent) adj.--voracious, greedy.

WASTREL (WASTE-rel) noun--something rejected or regarded as imperfect; good-for-nothing.

MORTMAIN (MORT-main) noun--influence of the past regarded as controlling or restricting the present.

JUSSIVE (JUS-ive) adj.--expressing or having the effect of a command.

CONGERIES (KON-jer-ees) noun--collection or mass of entities (as objects, forces, individuals, ideas).

TANTIVY (TAN-ti-vee) adv.--in a headlong dash, at a gallop.

HIEROLOGY (hire-OL-uh-jee) noun--a body of knowledge of sacred things. 

SCARIFY (SCAR-uh-fy) trans. verb--to lacerate the feelings of, censure mercilessly.

VICISSITUDE (vuh-SIS-uh-tood) noun--the quality or state of being changeable or in flux; an accident of fortune. 

PURSY (PUR-see) adj.--made large or self-important with pampering or luxurious living. 

INVEIGH (in-VAY) int. verb--to protest bitterly or violently; complain vehemently.

JANIZARY (JAN-uh-zer-ee) noun--member of a group of loyal or subservient troops, officials, or supporters.

UNGUAL (UN-gwul) adj.--of, relating to, or resembling a nail, claw or hoof.

BEMA (BE-muh) noun--part of an early Christian church that contains the altar; sanctuary. 

OBTEST (ob-TEST) trans. verb--to call to witness; invoke as a witness. 

HOODOO (HOO-doo) noun--something that brings or is associated with the occurrence of bad luck. 

PARTURITION (par-dur-ISH-un) noun--the action or process of giving birth to offspring.

EDUCE (e-DYOOS) trans. verb--to bring into manifestation; to arrive at. 

RAMOSE (RAY-mose) adj.--consisting of or having branches or lateral divisions. 

FACTOTUM (fac-TO-dum) noun--a person having many diverse activities or responsibilities.

Monday, November 29, 2010

OVER THE EDGE--My Novel on Lyme Disease

The novel I was born to write--Over the Edge--releases May 1, 2011. Here's a first look at the cover and the back cover copy. Short- and long-version trailers have been done (they're wonderful!) and will soon be available for viewing.

Over the Edge is my first novel to release from my new contract with BandH.

Back Cover Copy

Torn from the front lines of medical debate and the author's own experience with Lyme Disease, Over the Edge is riveting fiction, full of twists and turns—and powerful truths about today's medical field.

Janessa McNeil’s husband, Dr. Brock McNeil, a researcher and professor at Stanford University's Department of Medicine, specializes in tick-borne diseases—especially Lyme. For years he has insisted that Chronic Lyme Disease doesn't exist. Even as patients across the country are getting sicker, the committee Brock chairs is about to announce its latest findings—which will further seal the door shut for Lyme treatment.

One embittered man sets out to prove Dr. McNeil wrong by giving him a close-up view of the very disease he denies. The man infects Janessa with Lyme, then states his demand: convince her husband to publicly reverse his stand on Lyme—or their young daughter will be next.

But Janessa's marriage is already rocky. She's so sick she can hardly move or think. And her husband denies she has Lyme at all.

“Welcome to the Lyme wars,” Janessa.


A vision denied is a battle lost.

With a flick of his hand the blackened sky blipped into eerie green. Crouched on the house’s back deck, he adjusted his night goggles. The high bushes surrounding the yard illumed, the wizened limbs of a giant oak straggling upward in surreal glow.

He ran his hand over a pocket on his black cargo pants. The vial created a telltale bump against his thigh. His latex-gloved fingers closed around it.

Rising, he crossed the deck in five long strides. He surveyed the lock on the sliding glass door. Not enough light. He raised the goggles, darkness reigning once more. From a left pocket he extracted a tiny flashlight. Aimed its beam at the lock.

A common thief he was not. His mission had required intricate study of skills he’d never dreamed he need possess. The pick of a lock. A stealthy skulk. A means to render unconscious.

He pulled the necessary tools from the same pocket. Holding the flashlight in his mouth, he worked the tools into the lock, manipulating as practiced. The mechanism gave way with a tiny click.

He slid the door open.

Continue reading prologue.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy turkey day! May your life overflow with blessings for which to be thankful. At the moment, in eight degree weather, I'm thankful for a snug, warm house.

The pic at right shows three wild turkeys on the railing out the side sliding door in my office. Not quite winter when the picture was taken. Now we've got our first snow.

Forensics and Faith will be back next week, after the holiday.

This month's Photo Friday winner is Kath, with this caption: "'3PO never had to go through the indignity of steampunk gone wild." Congrats, Kath. Please contact me to receive your novel.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Writing Opportunity with Gary Chapman

I received this email and wanted to pass it along to you writers out there. (As you'll see at the end, the email gives permission to share it with others.)

Dear Writer,

Would you like to be part of an exciting writing venture with Dr. Gary Chapman, best-selling author of The Five Love Languages? Dr. Chapman and I are pulling together a new book and we’d like to invite you to be a part of it.

You may be familiar with me as the editor of the Christian segment of A Cup of Comfort series of inspirational stories published by Adams Media. Or you may connect me with the Life Savors series (Tyndale), or the Guideposts’ Extraordinary Answers to Prayer series of stories. Whether you’re one of the wonderful writers who inspired others through these compilations, or whether you’re new to my projects, I’d like to hear your story.

A number of Dr. Chapman’s books have dealt with the theme of love in relationships – not only how to effectively communicate love but also learning to become a loving person. Previously, we put together a volume of stories entitled Love is a Verb: Stories of What Happens When Love Comes Alive. Now Dr. Chapman would like to give others an opportunity to share how God’s love has transformed their life and the lives of others.

We are compiling a collection of these pieces in a volume entitled, The Love is a Verb Devotional: Stories of God’s Love in Our Lives, which Bethany House will publish in autumn, 2011. It will contain 365 daily one-page stories, each with a title and one Scripture verse and a one-sentence concluding thought. The main body of the story must be between 150 and 175 words. The Scripture verse can be between 10 and 30 words. The title would ideally be four words but may be up to six. The concluding thought would ideally be 10 words but no more than twenty.

The devotionals should demonstrate how God’s love for you, and in you, has empowered you to love authentically and transformed you and your relationships. Those relationships include: spouses, family members, friends, and fellow workers. But they may also relate to a neighbor, acquaintance, or even someone like a homeless person. We will also accept stories that reveal how God’s love brought positive change in you.

We prefer the style of devotional that primarily revolves around one story or illustration; devotionals that are more story-driven than teaching or focusing on scripture in an expository manner. They should focus on illustrations that depict the intriguing work of God’s love. We prefer stories to be in first person, based on your personal experience of growth. But “as-told-to” stories will be considered.

If your piece is selected, you will receive a one-time fee of $10 upon publication per piece, author copies, and author discounts of 50%. We do not accept reprints, but after the book is published, authors may resell their devotions to other markets. You may submit as many devotions as you like.

We would like to receive all submissions by February 1, 2011, but hope most will be submitted by the end of the year. We will announce those selected for the book around April 15, so we ask for your patience through the process. If your story is selected, we will send a permission agreement for you to sign.

Please include all contact information (name, address, e-mail address, phone, brief bio) on your manuscript (not just in the e-mail), and attach your submission as a Word file. Please send all submissions and address all queries to my associate, Jeanette Gardner Littleton, at

You may feel free to pass this e-mail along to others. If you have received this e-mail from a friend, we regularly contact authors about manuscript needs. If you’d like to be on our editorial list to receive these calls, let us know.

Thank you so much for considering participating in this exciting follow up to Love is a Verb.

Blessings to you and yours,

James Stuart Bell
Editor with Dr. Gary Chapman

Friday, November 19, 2010

It's Photo Friday!

And we're off again with this month's crazy photo. You know the scoop--write the best caption--win one of my novels. Come back over the weekend and vote for your favorite caption. Winner will be announced next week. If there's a tie, my vote breaks it.

Facebook friends--make sure you leave your caption here, not just on FB.

Okay, folks--have at it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

DECEIT Among Top Ten "Inspirational Fiction" Titles for 2010

Booklist, the magazine of the American Library Association, has announced its Top Ten lists for 2010. Deceit is among the titles in the "Inspirational Fiction" category. Booklist notes that its Top Ten inspirational titles "handle their religious themes with great skill while also offering engrossing plots."

Here is the complete list in alphabetical order. I'm in good company, to be sure.

The Bishop, Steven James, Revell
The fourth Patrick Bowers thriller finds the FBI criminologist encountering his cleverest foe in a fresh and exciting story.

Deceit, Brandilyn Collins, Zondervan
Joanne Weeks, a skip tracer by trade, is convinced that bigwig Baxter Jackson killed both his wives, and she intends to prove the man is a murderer.

Fatal Convictions, Randy Singer, Tyndale
In a novel whose religious themes are handled adroitly and subtly, Alexander Madison, a Virginia Beach attorney and part-time pastor, really cares about finding justice for those in desperate need of it.

Her Mother’s Hope, Francine Rivers, Tyndale
Rivers’ first full-length Christian novel since 2003 is an emotionally rich exploration based loosely on her own family history as it follows four compelling women who seek to do what they feel their faith demands.

A Hope Undaunted, Julie Lessman, Revell
A rich girl and a poor boy find that love can be the great equalizer in an engrossing tale that has more awareness and sizzle between the hero and heroine than your average inspirational romance.

I Shall Not Want: The Psalm 23 Mysteries, Debbie Viguie, Abingdon
Presbyterian church secretary Cindy Preston and rabbi Jeremiah Silverman are trying to stay out of the way of a murder investigation—their last amateur-sleuthing foray landed them in the sights of a serial killer—but when homeless people begin getting killed, keeping out of it is no longer an option.

Maid to Match, Deeanne Gist, Bethany
This snapshot of the lives of late-nineteenth-century servants is rich in detail, and readers will root for the characters as they face one difficult situation after another with courage and faith.

A Memory between Us, Sarah Sundin, Revell
Sundin’s second wartime inspirational romance set among the pilots of the U.S. Army Air Force stationed in England during WWII is an exceptional read that features characters living large under emotional and physical stress.

More Church Folk, Michele Andrea Bowen, Grand Central
This entertaining and timely look at the politics of religion picks up in 1986, 23 years after the events detailed in Bowen’s best-seller Church Folk (2001), and ably demonstrates why the author is considered the queen of African American Christian fiction.

The Voyage of Promise, Kay Marshall Strom, Abingdon
Straight from the nightmare of the eighteenth-century African slave trade comes the robust story of Grace Winslow, a woman with an African royal for a mother, an Englishman for a father, and an African husband recently taken captive in the slave trade.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nov/Dec Issue of FamilyFiction Magazine

Folks, don't miss this second issue of the new FamilyFiction magazine. This online magazine is wonderfully done, covering news and new releases in all genres of CBA fiction (and including movies/DVDs and music). It also runs interviews with an author in each genre.

This issue's "Ask the Author" column features Yours Truly. Note also the suspense interview with Randy Singer (who I continue to say is CBA's John Grisham--only better). The cover article is about the December release of the next Chronicles of Narnia movie--Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Check out the full magazine here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

New York Times Ebook Bestseller List Coming

Last week the NY Times announced it will begin publishing ebook bestseller lists for fiction and nonfiction early next year. Weekly data for the list will come from publishers, booksellers, online bookstores, and "other sources."

According to the article, the NYT has spent the past two years creating a system that "tracks and verifies ebook sales." Hmm. It's clear Kindle sales are by far the largest bulk of ebook sales at this time, so it would seem the Kindle bestseller list would largely drive the new NYT lists. However, Amazon doesn't like to share its data, so exactly how is the NYT going to get Kindle sales? Apparently from the publishers. Which would mean said publishers will need to be accurate and trustworthy in reporting their data. The NYT says it is "aggressively developing a means of processing and displaying the information necessary, and of verifying the data provided."

According to the Association of American Publishers, sales of ebooks this past September increased by 158 percent compared to the same period last year. In dollar terms, ebook sales for the month totaled $39.9 million.

If you watch the Kindle bestseller list, you certainly saw John Grisham's new novel, The Confession, sitting at #1 for days. (It's now at #2, pushed back by George W. Bush's Decision Points.) Grisham's publisher, Doubleday, simultaneously released the ebook and hardback versions. According to the Wall Street Journal, for the first week The Confession sold about 70,000 ebooks--one-third of the hardback sales. Given these ebook numbers, the simultaneous release seems like a no-brainer, but in fact many big book releases in the past have delayed the ebook versions, treating them more like paperbacks, which have been traditionally delayed. But diehard Kindle lovers fought back, often giving such books one-star rankings. With the success of Grisham's ebook, other publishers of mega-books are likely to take note.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Comparison of Bestseller Lists for October 2010

Here is the comparison of CBA's "December" list and ECPA's "November" list, both reflecting sales of fiction in participating Christian bookstores in the month of October. (Sometimes the days counted within the month vary a little between CBA and ECPA, but in general this is a month-to-month comparison.) Books appearing only on one list are highlighted in blue. For a reminder of how these lists are put together by ECPA and CBA, please refer to the first few paragraphs of this post.

ECPA (Numbers in parentheses reflect book's standing on the ECPA Top 50 List)

1. (1) Unlocked, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
2. (7) Her Daughter's Dream, Francine Rivers, Tyndale House 
3. (16) The Thorn, Beverly Lewis, Bethany/Baker
4. (21) The Twelfth Imam, Joel C. Rosenberg, Tyndale House
5. (26) Immanuel's Veins, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
6. (28) Her Mother's Hope, Francine Rivers, Tyndale House
7. (29) Seek Me with All Your Heart, Beth Wiseman, Thomas Nelson
8. (30) Embers of Love, Tracie Peterson, Bethany/Baker
9. (32) The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
10. (34) Take Four, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
11. (36) While We're Far Apart, Lynn Austin, Bethany/Baker
12. (46) Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Waterbrook/Multnomah
13. Simply Sara, Hillary Manton Lodge, Harvest House Publishers
14. Lydia's Charm, Wanda E. Brunstetter, Barbour
15. Lineage of Grace, Francine Rivers, Tyndale
16. The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis, HarperCollins
17. Predator, Terri Blackstock, Zondervan
18. In the Company of Others, Jan Karon, Penguin
19. Waiting, Suzanne Fisher, Revell/Baker
20. A Hand to Hold, Kathleen Fuller, Thomas Nelson 

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

1. (2) Unlocked, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan

2. (9) Her Daughter’s Dream, Francine Rivers, Tyndale
3. (10) The Twelfth Imam, Joel Rosenberg, Tyndale
4. (16) In the Company of Others, Jan Karon, Penguin
5. (18) The Thorn, Beverly Lewis, Bethany/Baker
6. (30) Embers of Love, Tracie Peterson, Bethany/Baker
7. (31) Her Mother’s Hope, Francine Rivers, Tyndale
8. (37) Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Multnomah/WaterBrook
9. (38) Immanuel’s Veins, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
10. (39) The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
11. (42) Waiting, Suzanne Fisher, Revell/Baker
12. (43) Take Four, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
13. Too Close to Home, Lynette Eason, Revell/Baker
14. Seek Me With All Your Heart, Beth Wiseman, Thomas Nelson
15. While We’re Far Apart, Lynn Austin, Bethany/Baker
16. A Prairie Christmas Collection, Tracie Peterson & Tracey Bateman, Barbour
17. Like Dandelion Dust, Karen Kingsbury, Center Street/Hachette
18. The Preacher’s Bride, Jody Hedlund, Bethany/Baker
19. Shoe Box, Francine Rivers, Tyndale
20. Lightkeepers Bride, Colleen Coble, Thomas Nelson

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Traveling--and a Random Act of Culture

I missed blogging Monday and Tuesday due to traveling. Over the weekend Mark and I were in Scottsdale, Arizona, where I had a wonderful impromptu signing at the Crossroads of Life Bookstore in Glendale. (Ah, the value of Facebook!) Then hubby and I hopped over to Southern California to celebrate our daughter's 21st birthday with her.

We returned home Monday night. And today I'm traveling again--this time to Mississippi for a three-day trip to research the area in which my current manuscript is set.

This is the first time I've set a novel in an area that I'm not familiar with. In the past I've used various parts of California, Kentucky and Idaho. I'm now about 32,000 words into my story. Research with local experts over the phone, plus using the Internet is certainly helpful. (Long live Google Earth.) But when it comes to describing the area, and really getting a feel for the location--ya just got to go there.

Today as I fly east, I give you the following for your edification. Do yourself a favor and watch this video on the Random Act of Culture that occurred at the Macy's in Center City, Philadelphia. Many of the shoppers in the very busy store turn out to be choristers--set to burst into the Hallelujah Chorus on cue. It's wonderful to see God worshipped through classical music in a public place.

Learn more about Knight Arts Random Acts of Culture.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Angst Suspense

Recently my husband was ensconced in a suspense novel I'd already read. He was enjoying it very much, as I had. "But you know," he added, "when I reach the parts where the female protagonist is angsting, I just skim. That's not really part of the story anyway."

I looked at him like he was from Mars. First, there wasn't that much "angsting" in the book to begin with. Second, when it was there, it was very much a part of the story. Okay, maybe not part of the action/chase scenes, But part of the character's arc, which is equally important.

And this, ladies and gentlemen is the difference between male and female readers.

Don't believe me? How's this. Picture two men watching a football game on TV. One's having serious marital problems. Here's the entire conversation about the matter:

During a commercial, with both men's eyes still glued to the TV: "You and Teresa doing okay?"

Shrug. "It's hard. You know?"

"Yeah, I know."

Meanwhile the wives have gone out for a two-hour lunch, during which the entire time is spent examining the couple's failing marriage from every possible angle.

Now, is it any wonder, when males come to read suspense, that they want more action and less characterization?

Granted, I'm speaking in generalities. Not all men or women will fit the mold of which I write. But I'll tell you, after seeing 21 books published, I've run into this again and again with my own readers. And, after reading hundreds of suspense novels, I've seen it many times in other authors' books.

I laughingly refer to much of the suspense written by men (particularly in the ABA) as "male suspense." Which means heavy on the action, light on the characterization. No character ARC. A lot of men love that. As a female, I find it shallow. After 50 pages in, I'm thinking, "So what? I don't care about these cardboard characters, so who cares what happens in the plot?"

There may well be men who'd refer to suspense written by females as "angst suspense." You know, too much of that characterization stuff and too little action. 

Ah, me. In the end, I write the kinds of stories I'd like to read. And if that includes some "angsting," so be it. Actually I try to live in both worlds--writing suspense that is fast-paced, yet character-driven.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Inventive Ways to Sign E-Books

When I was on book tour this past summer I was asked to sign a Kindle. My loyal reader had come prepared with a black marker that I could use to write her a message and leave my John Hancock on the back of the device.

Well, I suppose that'll work once in awhile. But what's going to happen to the book tour signings as e-books become more and more popular? Some folks are inventing clever ways for authors to sign e-books. One involves actual writing, which is then delivered via e-mail to the device. The other way allows the reader to take a picture with the author, which is sent to the device.

The full article and explanations are here on the Publishing Perspectives blog. Very interesting. I encourage you to click over and read it. See what the future holds.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Life's Too Short Not to Bling

I admit it--I'm a bling chick. When I'm doddering at 90, you wait--my cane will be blinged out. Sunglasses too.

So out of the goodness of my heart, and since Christmas is coming, I'm passing on my bling secret to you. Check out These folks deal in Swarokski crystals, which are the best and blingiest. (And therefore more expensive, but hey--whatever gal you're buying for, including yourself, she's worth it.) They sell earrings, sunglasses, watches, chokers, mirrors, flip flops, purses, bracelets, necklaces, pill boxes, rings, and on and on. Select the item and style you want--then you get to choose from over 80 colors. These custom-made pieces take about five weeks to arrive, so if you're thinking Christmas, now's the time to order.
Many of you have seen my crustal-studded sunglasses. I have lots of different pairs--one to match any color I wear. Well--here's where ya get 'em. Prices really range. If you really want to splurge, they've got some way cool new designs for $239.99. (Pictured above.) Others sell in the $80 to $90 range and down. Watch for clearance sales, and you can get some for around $35.00.

Earrings come in all sizes and shapes and prices. They've got two-inch dangles for $103.99 and large hoops for $122.99. These are only two of 75 kinds to choose from.

How about a key chain ($79.99)? Or here's a special--a total blinged-out choker (pictured), usually $152.99 now on sale for $98.99. Or a watch for $85.99. If you don't like that watch, they've got over 21 pages of the things to choose from.

Check out office gifts like pens, mini staplers, calculators, etc. here.

And for the girl who has everything, how about a crystal-studded license plate frame for $49.99. Now that is chic. :]

I once had a problem with an order and called up the folks at jcbling. Nice, nice people. They totally fixed the problem, plus we had a great chat.

Here's their color chart.

If you order something, tell 'em Brandilyn sent ya. (And no, I'm not getting kickbacks.)

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Now Free on Kindle--DECEIT

Yesterday my latest release, Deceit, went free on the Kindle. Go here to download.

If you don't have a Kindle, you can download a free Kindle app for your computer, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, etc. Check those out here.

And by the way, to keep up on Kindle news and to see lists of free books, here's a helpful newsletter you can subscribe to.

Monday, November 01, 2010

October 2010 List of Today's Word

Here's the list of cool words from the past month. I particularly like mendacious, galumph, zaftig, nescient, paralogize, and recondite. Anyone want to take a stab at creating a sentence using at least six of these very fine words? Go for it.

MENDACIOUS (men-DAY-shus) adj.--given to deception or falsehood; having a false or lying character.

GALUMPH (guh-LUMPF) int. verb--to move or progress with a clumsy, bumping, thudding, or heavy tread.

CHEF D'OEUVRE (shay-DUHR-vruh) noun--a masterpiece especially in art or literature.

OPEROSE (AH-per-ose) adj.--wrought with labor; requiring or involving effort. 

BASINET (base-en-ET) noun--a light, often pointed steel helmet originally open and worn under the battle helmet.

ZAFTIG (ZOF-tig) adj.--having a full, rounded figure; pleasingly plump.

AUSCULTATE (OS-kul-tate) trans. verb--to examine by use of the stethoscope.

DRUPE (DROOP) noun--fruit having a hard endocarp, fleshy mesocarp, and thin epicarp like a skin (as a peach).

LUSTRAL (LUS-trul) adj.--of, relating to, or used for purification.

KIBLAH (KIB-lah) noun--direction of the shrine in Mecca toward which Muslims turn in ritual prayer.

CISMONTANE (SIS-mon-tane) adj.--situated on the nearer side of any mountains. 

FALDSTOOL (FALD-stool) noun--a stool or small desk at which one kneels during devotions.

IMPETRATE (IM-pe-trate) trans. verb--to obtain by request or entreaty; to ask for.

NESCIENT (NE-shent) adj.--exhibiting or characterized by lack of knowledge or awareness. 

FARCI (FAR-see) noun--a stuffed dish (as a roast or fowl).

PALIMPSEST (PAL-emp-sest) noun--manuscript in which one or two erased writings are found. 

ENATIC (ee-NAT-ik) adj.--descended from the same mother; related on the mother's side.

CORM (KORM) noun--rounded thick underground stem base bearing membranous scaly leaves or buds.

LEMMA (LEM-uh) noun--the argument or theme of a composition prefixed as a title or introduction.

PARALOGIZE (puh-RAL-o-gize) int. verb--reason falsely; draw conclusions not warranted by the premises.

RECONDITE (REH-cun-dite) adj.--very difficult to understand and beyond the reach of ordinary comprehension.

VIGESIMAL (vy-JES-uh-mul) adj.--based on the number twenty.

IMBRICATION (im-bri-CA-shun) noun--an overlapping especially of tiles or shingles.

POLTROON (pol-TROON) noun--a spiritless coward; a mean-spirited wretch.

UNFILIAL (un-FILL-ee-ul) adj.--not observing the obligations of a child to a parent.

SUB ROSA (sub RO-zuh) adv.--without publicity or notice.

PELERINE (pel-ur-EEN) noun--a woman's narrow cape of fabric or fur usually with long ends hanging down in front.

DIMORPHIC (di-MOR-fik) adj.--occurring in two distinct forms; combining qualities of two kinds of individuals.

DERELICTION (dare-uh-LIK-shun) noun--an intentional abandonment; a recession of water (as the sea).

KATZENJAMMER (KAT-sen-jam-ur) noun--nausea, headache and debility that often follow dissipation or drunkenness.

RUM (RUM) adj.--unusually fine; characterized by queerness, peculiarity or unusualness.

Read November ‘10

Friday, October 29, 2010

Oh, Joy--Halloween Again

I hate Halloween.

I know, I know. I’m a suspense novelist who kills people and writes about things that go bump in the night. You’d think Halloween would be my favorite day. Nuh-uh.

Can’t say when I grew to hate it so. I certainly did my share of trick-or-treating as a kid, collecting my sackful of candy and hogging it down for weeks afterward. And when my kids were little, I did the dutiful mom thing and took them around. Never liked doing it, though. I was already slipping into my hate mode.

Our kids are spread seven years apart, so when our son was twelve, I allowed him to start taking his little sister door to door. I wiped my hands of that task forever—and quite happily. Only thing was, I found myself stuck at home answering the door for all the other trick-or-treaters. Didn’t like that either.

I guess you could call me the Grinch of Halloween. (I suppose that would be the Grinchoween.)

I just can’t find anything particularly good about the day. I know some people really abhor the idea and will have nothing to do with it. I don’t go that far, although much of the reason I don’t like the day has to do with its less-than-desirable origins. On the practical side, kids simply don’t need all that candy. I have a theory that dentists (and we all know how evil they are) invented trick-or-treating.

So years ago when our kids were still both trick-or-treating, I came up with an idea. It was brilliant on numerous fronts. First, it infused some positive spin on Halloween—for me, of course. Second, it immediately diminished some of my kids’ candy stashes, which was more than needed.

My idea? Parent tax.

I called it tax, when in reality it was more like a tithe. Following that wonderful biblical principle of first fruits belonging to God—ten percent off the top. Although in this case the ten percent didn’t go to God; it went to Mom.

I’d wait by the door for the return of my hapless children. (My excuse was, I was stuck there anyway, having to answer the bell so often.)

They’d sidle in, holding their bulging bags behind them. My arms would reach out, my voice clipped and authoritative. “Parent tax.”

Their shoulders would droop. Exchanging sighs, they’d hand over their loot.

I always took the chocolate. Mini Baby Ruths, M&Ms—plain and peanut—Twix bars, Snickers. This wasn’t as hard on the kids as you might think. If they complained too loudly, we compromised. But most of the time, they were into all the sugary stuff that’s not worth eating anyway. Gummi bears, licorice (what insanity led to the invention of that horrible stuff!), sour tarts. Blah. They could have that rot.

Now the kids are grown and gone. On Halloween night hubby and I turn off the porch lights and pull down the shades. “We’re not home!” our house screams. “Stay away!” Such total party-poopers. But tell you the truth—most of our street’s the same way. It works. We don’t have to buy candy any more. Not one visitor on Halloween night. I cackle about that all evening.

But, man, I seriously miss that parent tax.

(This is a repost from 2009. Seeing as how I haven't changed my mind in the past year.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nook and Kindle News

In the never-ending cycle of trying to keep up with all the news about e-readers and e-books, I bring you these tidbits.

1. Amazon is going to start allowing users to lend e-books. There are some rather stringent parameters, to be sure, but still this is a new concept for Amazon. It wasn't that long ago when the company's Jeff Bezos was reportedly talking down B and N's lending capabilities on their Nook. Now, apparently, Amazon feels the need to keep pace. So--starting later this year, Amazon users will be allowed to lend a certain e-book once for a period of 14 days. And while that book is being lent, it cannot be read by its buyer/lender. (Just as a paperback version couldn't be in your hands if you lent it to a friend.) Sharing will work for Kindles as well as users of Kindle apps for the iPhone, iPad, etc.

Not all of Amazon's 720,000 e-books will be lendable. That privilege will be up to publishers or other rights holders to grant.

2. B and N has announced it's launching a digital collection of over 12,000 books under the new name Nook Kids. This will include picture books and novels aimed at children age 8 to 12. In addition, B and N has procured agreements with over 15 children's book publishers to create enhanced digital editions of some titles. How good will picture books look on a black and white screen, you ask? See #3.

3. B and N just unveiled its new Nook Color. The touch screen of this new device is 7 inches--larger than its original Nook. The color LCD does cut battery life to 8 hours, and the device doesn't have 3G. But hey, it's a step. Nook Color goes on sale November 19 for $249.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Three Generations of Readers

Last week I received this letter from a reader. This is my favorite kind of fan letter--one that speaks of three generations within the same family all reading my novels.

My family loves your books! This is a picture of three generations of fans! My Mom, my sister, my daughter and my daughter-in-law love reading your books! We are constantly passing them around to each other and anxiously awaiting your newest book! Thank you for giving us the wonderful experience of sharing our love for your books!

Debbie Carroll

How kind of Debbie to have this picture taken and sent to me. Note that each person is reading a different book. :] Later I learned that Debbie works at the Lifeway bookstore in Myrtle Beach. Gotta love those fan booksellers!

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Very Private Grave

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Very Private Grave
Monarch Books (August 1, 2010)
Donna Fletcher Crow


Donna Fletcher Crow is author of more than thirty-five novels. She has twice won first place in the Historical Fiction category from the National Association of Press Women, and has also been a finalist for "Best Inspirational Novel" from the Romance Writers of America. She is a member of The Arts Centre Group and Sisters in Crime. Find out more at


"History and mystery and murders most foul keep the pages turning ... A fascinating read." –Liz Curtis Higgs, bestelling author of Thorn in My Heart

“A Knickerbocker Glory of a thriller, a sweeping, page-turning quest served up with dollops of Church history and lashings of romance. Donna Fletcher Crow has created her own niche within the genre of clerical mysteries.” – Kate Charles, author of Deep Waters

“As in Glastonbury, Donna Fletcher Crow’s descriptions of the English and Scottish settings in her new mystery are drawn with real artistry. Lovers of British history and church history will be impressed by her grasp of both.”—Sally Wright, Edgar Award finalist and author of the Ben Reese Mysteries


Felicity Howard, a young American studying for the Anglican priesthood at the College of the Transfiguration in Yorkshire, is devastated when she finds her beloved Fr. Dominic bludgeoned to death and Fr. Antony, her church history lecturer, soaked in his blood.

Following the cryptic clues contained in a poem the dead man had pressed upon her minutes before his death, she and Fr. Antony—who is wanted for questioning by the police—flee the monastery to seek more information about Fr. Dominic and end up in the holy island of Lindisfarne, former home of Saint Cuthbert.

Their quest leads them into a dark puzzle...and considerable danger.

If you would like to read the Prologue and first Chapter of A Very Private Grave, go HERE.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Read How You Want--Helping the Blind

Over a month ago I posted about Bookshare, an organization that makes book content accessible for the blind. After that post I received a letter from Michael Covington, Information and Education Director for ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association). Michael had further news about what ECPA has done to help the blind and seeing impaired be able to read. He was glad to have me share his info with you.

I appreciated your post-script about bookshare and making content accessible for the blind. The information on is something many publishers are not aware of, because as you mentioned, this service is allowed under the law to copy the texts and convert them to digital for consumption by blind readers without permission, and many visually impaired readers take advantage of this (there is an annual subscription necessary). The challenge with bookshare, particularly in the Christian genre, is the limited number of titles available. Because bookshare (as well as services like the National Library Service) operates based on demand or on user provided content, finding the exact title you're looking for, when you need it, is not always possible. This means that people who are reading disabled (including those with conditions such as dyslexia) cannot always participate in book groups, bible studies or even common place "water cooler" talk in the work place, simply because the content everyone else is reading is not available.

ECPA has been working with a company called ReadHowYouWant for the last few years to help remedy this solution and to give publishers greater incentive to make new/popular content available for those with reading disabilities. As there is no revenue stream for publishers (or royalties for authors) generated by accessible-content services such as Bookshare, most publishers will only occasionally license their content for large-print distribution (meaning 16-point font) with companies such as Thorndike Press. Unfortunately, for many people affected by reading disabilities, a barely-larger font size doesn't solve the problem. Keep in mind that while Bookshare and NLS provide digitally produced audio files, not everyone has the equipment necessary to consume this media. Sometimes a person can read larger font, but is in need of a more readable font, with darker ink on whiter paper. RHYW has worked through all of these issues to provide a print-on-demand solution that allows the reader to pick the style of book they want (multiple font-styles are available), have it custom printed and delivered right to their door, at or slightly above the same price as the original title. They also provide a digital file option (DAISY or Braille) similar to Bookshare, for those who want that as well.

This model allows for additional revenue which is then shared with the publishers of the content. There is more that could be written about this, but you can check out our current online offering of RHYW Christian titles at

Thanks again for helping to promote awareness.


Michael Covington
Information and Education Director

On another topic, the winner of the month's Photo Friday is Peggy Phifer with this caption: "I've finally lost my grip on reality." Congrats, Peggy! Contact me for your free book.