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Monday, June 30, 2008

Come meet the 2008 RITA inspirational finalists

This week it's ME! I'm honored to be among this group of amazing authors and all-around great people.

And even if you think you know all there is to know about me... check out my RITA phone call story. Some of you will no doubt picture it in living color. LOL

Amy Wallace is a wife, homeschool mom of three, writer, speaker, Bible study leader, and avid chocoholic. She loves crafting high-action suspense that delves deep into heart issues, but who she really is can be summed up in a few short words: Amy is a daughter of the King learning to live and love with laughter.

Amy is also the author of Ransomed Dreams and Healing Promises, books 1 and 2 of the Defenders of Hope series, a contributing author of God Answers Mom's Prayers, God Allows U-Turns for Teens, Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Diabetes, and A Cup of Comfort for Expectant Moms.

Stop in for a taste of dark chocolate suspense at

1. Describe your RITA phone call.

Being a homeschool mom, I rarely answer the phone during school hours. So it was easy to ignore the first few times the same out-of-state area code popped up on Caller ID. After about five similar calls and no messages, I was sure the person calling was an annoying telemarketer. And I was ready to let them know what I thought about their pestering should they call again.

Well… they called again. And my terse greeting received a cheery answer from a very sweet lady with RWA. Once I realized this was no telemarketer, I was mortified. So I didn’t even hear what contest she was calling about.

Not too long after, I left for a writer’s meeting and shared my embarrassing phone call. A dear friend about fell out of her chair with excitement, “YOU are a RITA FINALIST! That is SO awesome!”

By that point, I was asking the Lord’s forgiveness for being rude on the phone and tearing up with thankfulness that even when I’m not listening or looking, God still finds ways to lavish His goodness on this undeserving child.

2. Tell us about the RITA book and why you think it stood out in the crowd.

To be a RITA finalist with my debut novel was a God kiss that my heart desperately needed. Physical challenges and painful circumstances of the previous two years had left me feeling broken and abandoned. But when I learned RANSOMED DREAMS was a finalist, I sensed God whisper to my heart that He sees. So for me, this honor was a gift God knew would encourage me to keep going. And it has.


Chained To Yesterday

When tragedy struck and Gracie Lang lost everything, her faith crumbled, and nothing but the drive for justice propelled her forward. But after two years of dead-end searching, the truth Gracie seeks is the very thing her stalker will stop at nothing to hide.

Forgiveness Unlocks the Future

An FBI agent in the Crimes Against Children Unit, Steven Kessler spends his days rescuing other people’s children and nights caring for his son. He’s through with God, embittered by his ex-wife who abandoned them both.

The Past Is the Key

A plot to kidnap a British ambassador’s daughter dangerously intersects Steven and Gracie’s worlds–a collision that demands a decision. But are they willing to pay the high ransom required to redeem dreams and reignite hope?

3. How many books have you written?

I’ve written three Defenders of Hope novels, and a fairytale for my kids which they think is “way cool.”

Stuffed into a file cabinet and a jump drive, I have two other novels and one novella which may someday see the light of day.

4. Do you have a favorite?

Tough question! If pressed to choose, I’d say RANSOMED DREAMS. Because in writing that story, I saw with my heart that God had indeed called me to write and would equip me for every step of this journey.

5. Describe your writing process.

My writing process has evolved from just sitting down to type in that blissful state of ignorance and excitement to doing fairly detailed chapter-by-chapter outlines and character sketches before I begin to write. Because the Defenders of Hope series is suspense focusing on Crimes Against Children FBI agents, I had tons of research to do before I began crafting the stories. Once my research helped me define the timeline, I set to work on the chapter-by-chapter and character details. I've found the outline and information about the characters incredibly helpful in keeping me on task with the story, not only the action plot, but also the development and depth of the characters.

6. When did you decide to become a writer and why Christian fiction?

I conceded to begin the writing journey when my husband and God teamed up and pushed me in that direction. I’ve always written and even won an award in fifth grade for a truly wretched first attempt at suspense. But the dream of writing for publication didn’t enter my mind until God plopped some novels in my lap and sent a dream that dogged my sleep. Then my husband took the initiative and scheduled an interview for me with a Secret Service agent he knew. After frenzied research, an amazing interview and watching these dream characters come to life, I was in it for the long haul because I'd found something I could put my whole heart into, something I'd been created to do.

Why Christian fiction? When I sat down to write the story that would become Ransomed Dreams, my heart’s desire was to portray real emotions and the struggles many believers face. It never crossed my mind not to write about God and His involvement in our lives through the vehicle of fiction. For that reason, I’m honored to be called a CBA author.

7. Tell us about your next or upcoming projects.

The second Defenders of Hope novel, HEALING PROMISES (April 2008), is about FBI Agent Clint Rollins who takes a bullet during a standoff, which might just save his life. But not even the ugly things he’s seen during his years working in the Crimes Against Children Unit could prepare him for the beast of cancer. As he continues to track down a serial kidnapper despite his illness, former investigations haunt his nightmares, pushing him beyond solving the case into risking his life and career. Clint struggles to believe God is still the God of miracles. Especially when he needs not one, but two. Everything in his life is reduced to one all-important question: Can God be trusted?

ENDURING JUSTICE is the third Defenders of Hope book releasing spring of 2009. Hanna Kessler’s childhood secret remained buried for decades. But when the shadows of her past threaten those she loves and the system fails FBI Agent Michael Parker—setting a white supremacist free—they must learn the difference between vengeance and justice is their choice to heal.

8. Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?

I’m a firm believer that God never wastes an experience or trial. So if we’re willing to be honest and open about where our lives have taken us—first with the Lord and then with others as He directs—there’s great potential for hope and healing and seeing the redemptive hand of God at work through us. In the writing realm, my mentor calls it “bleeding into your work.” A graphic but appropriate description. Oftentimes it feels exactly like it sounds.

Powerful words are born out of our willingness to embrace our experiences and allow God to use them for His good. And powerful words draw people into a place where they’re more open to hearing the Lord and letting Him heal their hearts. Those words give us an entrance into another’s soul.

So consider your story. Ask God to use it. He will.

There are people waiting to hear the words only you can uniquely share. And I pray that as you share, you’ll see that nothing in God’s loving and compassionate hands is ever, ever wasted.

Suspense readers wanted


Shadows at the Window is the second in Linda's ‘shadows’ trilogy. The women in these series of books must deal with and work through the ‘shadows’ in their pasts before they can make peace and find love in the present. In the first of the series, Shadows at the Mirror, the main character doesn't know anything about her past. It’s a mystery she must uncover.

In Shadows at the Window, main character Lilly Johnson knows her past all too well, and it’s one she’d rather forget. Because it’s so abhorrent to her, she’s made up a series of lies that she tells her fiancĂ©. But, the past has a way of catching up with the present, and when people in her past show up, her first inkling is to run. But, that would mean leaving everything behind, and that’s something she’s not willing to do now.


Linda Hall is the award-winning author of fifteen mystery and romantic suspense novels and many short stories. Her latest release, Shadows at the Window (July ’08) is a Romantic Times Top Pick for the month, and the first in her shadows trilogy, Shadows in the Mirror is a winner in The Word Guild’s Canadian Christian Writing Awards. It is also a finalist in the Reader’s Choice Awards.

In addition, both Sadie’s Song and Steal Away were short listed for the Christy Award. Steal Away was a Daphne finalist, the Beacon Award winner for Best Inspirational Novel, the Winter Rose Award Winner for Best Inspirational Novel, and was given the Award of Excellence from the Colorado Romance Writers.

Linda is a member of the Romance Writers of America, the American Christian Fiction Writers, The Word Guild and the Crime Writers of Canada.

Most of her novels have something to do with the sea. Linda grew up in New Jersey and it was there that her love of the ocean was born. In 1971 she married a Canadian and has lived in Canada since then. She has worked as a news reporter and feature writer for a number of years and also has written curriculum for adult literacy programs.

In 1990 she decided to do something she’d always dreamed of doing, she began working on a novel. Since that time she has written fifteen.
Linda and her husband enjoy sailing, are both very involved in CPS (The boating safety group in Canada) and both have achieved the highest level in that organization, namely Senior Navigator.

She and her husband have two grown children and three (soon to be four) wonderful grandchildren and they make their home in the Canadian maritime province of New Brunswick. (Just drive to the end of I-95 and turn right.)

Visit Linda at her website:

Friday, June 27, 2008

Ever After

If you're looking for a wonderful story, masterful dialogue and an incredibly written tale, do yourself a favor and watch Ever After.

I've watched it as a viewer and as a writer and it's incredible both ways.

So pour some good coffee and pop some popcorn and join me for a Friday night movie~ enjoy!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

God is good

Today is one of those days worth celebrating because of little delights. Well... there are some big delights in my list too. ;-)

One of the biggest hoorays is I'M FINISHED WITH THE FIRST ROUND OF EDITS! ;-) Sorry to shout, but I'm in a happy, loud and relieved mood. I know it's only the first of many edits, but it was a great experience.

Another special joy today was receiving some birthday presents from my best friend. Chocolate and a super cool mug with a chocolate picture on it.

Catching up on email and rereading some neat notes from friends and folks letting me know they're praying for me. Very encouraging.

Great books to read when I really should be in bed. :-)

Kisses and cool artwork from my kiddos. They even made me jewelry today as one of their fun summer projects.

A comfortable computer chair! I spend enough time here that a comfy seat is a must.

A healthy family. We've been through some especially extra yucky sicknesses, so it's nice to all be well again.

A Bible to read with notes all over it. Those little slices of life remind me of past lessons and future hope.

That's a short list that could stretch long into the night. Just wanted to share and catch up with you all a little.

Thanks for being here and making this blog a special place!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Beyond the Night


Marlo Schalesky

They say love is blind.
This time they’re right…

As a woman lies unconscious in a hospital bed, her husband waits beside her, urging her to wake up and come home. Between them lies an ocean of fear and the tenuous grip of memories long past. Memories of wonder. Of love. Memories of a girl named Madison and a boy named Paul…

Madison Foster knew she was going blind. But she didn’t want pity—not from her mother, not from her roommate, and especially not from her best friend Paul—the man she secretly loved.

Paul Tilden knew a good thing when he saw it. And a good thing was his friendship with Maddie Foster. That is, until he started to fall in love.

With the music of the seventies as their soundtrack and its groovy fashions as their scenery, Maddie and Paul were drawn together and driven apart. Then one night changed everything…forever.

And only now, when life tiptoes past the edge of yesterday, along the rim of today, can they glimpse the beauty that awaits them…beyond the night.

Author Bio:

Marlo Schalesky is the award winning author of six books, including her latest novel BEYOND THE NIGHT, which combines a love story with a surprise ending twist to create a new type of story. She has also had over 600 articles published in various magazines, had her work included in compilations such as Dr. Dobson’s Night Light Devotional for Couples, and is a regular columnist for Power for Living. Marlo recently earned her Masters degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and is currently working on more “Love Stories with a Twist!” for Waterbrook-Multnomah Publishers, a division of Random House. She owns her own construction consulting firm and lives in Salinas, California with her husband and four young daughters.

How Beyond the Night Came About:

It was all God’s fault. And it started with a dream. Not one of those “I have a dream” kind of dreams, but a real, honest-to-goodness, it’s-3am-and-I’m-asleep kind of dreams. I dreamt Paul and Maddie’s love story. And when I woke up, I couldn’t get the two of them out of my head. I thought about them in the shower, on the way to seminary classes, in the grocery store. Everywhere! For weeks, I found myself replaying tidbits of their story in my mind, until I finally figured out that maybe God wanted me to write their story.

“But,” said I to God, “there’s not enough here. It’s not compelling enough.”

“Yes,” said God to me, “but Maddie’s going blind.” (Well, maybe it wasn’t so much in those words, but just in the revelation of what was going on with Maddie.)

“Oh,” said I, “That’s very interesting. But it’s still not enough. Not quite.”

Two more days went by, and Paul and Maddie’s story still kept teasing my mind. “It’s not enough,” I kept saying to God. “There’s got to be more.”

And then I saw it – the big twist. The incredible truth that I had no idea about before. It took my breath away. So, after I finished picking my jaw up off the floor, I sat down and starting working on the proposal for Beyond the Night.

As I fleshed out the story, I realized that this is exactly the type of book I’d like to keep writing – something with the poignancy of a Nicolas Sparks love story (without the sap!) matched with the knock-your-socks-off twist of a M. Night Shymalan movie (without the horror!). That kind of story excited me, spiritually, emotionally, mentally. And I figured that there had to be more people like me out there – people who want to be both moved emotionally and surprised and delighted intellectually. People who want to be changed, challenged, and caught with wonder by a story. That’s what I’m hoping for in Beyond the Night!

The Story Behind the Story:

When my grandfather was going blind, he took a shotgun to the backyard and ended his life. He was a good man, kind and wise. Blindness didn’t change that. It wouldn’t have changed it. But the fear of it did.

It didn’t have to be that way. Today, there are 1.3 million people in the United States alone who are legally blind. Another nearly 9 million are visually impaired. Every day in this country people find out they are going blind. Seniors, mothers, fathers, children. Last year, it was my own mother.

So, Maddie’s journey through blindness and fear grows out of my family’s experiences. It also, in a broader sense, comes out of my own. For even though blindness is a specific malady, Maddie’s condition is also a metaphor for the dark times we all face. For the difficulties that come and rattle our faith, for those times when we can’t see what’s ahead, when life is masked by shadow and doubt.

For Maddie, losing her physical sight prompted her journey through doubt and fear. For me, it was infertility and miscarriage.

If there’s one thing I know about it’s living the life God has given you when it’s not the life you dreamed. Infertility taught me how to do that. It taught me that life takes unexpected turns and dark, difficult times come. And it taught me that it’s not the darkness that will destroy you, but the fear of it.

So, in many ways Beyond the Night explores my own questions, my own doubts, my own faith journey in facing the darkness, facing fear, with hope and dignity. That’s why Beyond the Night is about overcoming the fear of the unknown , rather than letting it overcome you. It’s about finding the light, the hope, the promise that lies beyond the darkness.

And I think we could all use that, whether we’re going physically blind or not.

Enter the BEYOND THE NIGHT CONTEST, see the trailer, read a sample chapter, and more at Marlo’s website .

Come meet the 2008 RITA inspirational finalists

This week’s Rita finalist is Karen Harter. Karen’s books have been translated into eight foreign languages. Last year her novel, Where Mercy Flows won the Christy Award for Best First Novel.

Her books have been featured in Reader’s Digest Select Editions alongside bestselling authors like Mary Higgins Clark and Lee Child. The Seattle Times featured her first novel as a recommended read. She is thrilled with the nomination of her second book, AUTUMN BLUE, for a coveted RITA award.

Karen and her husband live in Mount Vernon, Washington where they pastor The Valley Church. They love to fish the many streams and lakes surrounding their home. Karen has recently (after raising three boys) decided to learn to cook. Maybe that will bring them back home.

Here’s Karen Harter!

1. Describe your RITA phone call.

It was a busy morning; schedules to keep and a to-do list as long as a roll of toilet paper. The phone call telling me I was a RITA finalist stunned me momentarily, but then the next call came and I was off and running. It was not until much later that day that it sunk in. A finalist for a coveted RITA award! Little ol’ me? Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

2. Tell us about the RITA book and why you think it stood out in the crowd.

Sidney Walker is a single mom, raising her kids in the safe environment of Ham Bone, Washington, a small town tucked against the foothills of the mountains. But despite her efforts to protect them, her fifteen year old son, Ty, is broodingly angry and has run away into the woods. The handsome sheriff who appears with a warrant to search her home seems to have an anger problem himself, and a personal vendetta against Ty. His repeated visits leave Sidney shaken, and questioning her sweet son’s innocence. She prays that God will send a man to help her raise her children, and of course he answers in the strangest way.

Readers tell me they relish the way the layers of each character are slowly peeled away until they understand each one intimately. Everyone loves Millard Bradbury, the old man across the street, who has a problem with sulky teenagers and pesky moles. And of course, they cringe when the evil ex-husband/dad appears, suddenly wanting to become a family again. I believe people say “I couldn’t put it down!” because they care so much about each member of this evolving “family”.

3. How many books have you written?

I’ve written four complete novels. The first one is great for leveling table legs or starting a fire. Two are published, and the fourth is just about finished.

4. Do you have a favorite?

Yes, my first published novel, Where Mercy Flows, which won a Christy award last year. It’s told through the eyes of Samantha, a single mom carrying a load of guilt, who becomes destitute and has no choice but to return to her parent’s home on the river of her childhood, along with her illegitimate son, TJ. She has never been able to live up to the strict standards of her powerful father, Judge Blake Dodd and it seems nothing has changed. Her childhood friend, Donnie Duncan, runs his father’s ranch just up the road. He vies for her love, but she’s not free to give it. Sam still longs for forgiveness for what she did to her estranged husband, and for the child she threw away.

This story is really a parable. It’s about me and God; maybe you and God too. When my life was full of sin, I pushed my heavenly Father away. I couldn’t see my way out of the darkness. But he loved me all along, and it was through his amazing sacrifice that I no longer carry a load of guilt. Keep some tissues with you when you read this story of a struggle between father and daughter, and Samantha’s ultimate redemption.

5. Describe your writing process.

A story begins with a character who appears in my head and begins to walk around in there. I think about him/her or them for weeks, maybe months while their story unfolds. I may write little scenes that will occur somewhere in the book, which helps me develop their voice, their motivations, their past. I pray for the Lord’s message and write down the theme or what I want the reader to take away personally from this story. Eventually I use 3×5 cards to map out scenes, which can be rearranged until I know the order of the chapters. On each card I briefly write Intention, Conflict, and Collision. (I learned this from writing coach, Gloria Kempton at a conference). This keeps me on track and ensures that at the end of each chapter there is a collision, or dramatic point that pulls the curious reader into the next chapter.

Then I write and see what really happens, often surprised by the wonderful characters and events that weren’t even in the cards!

6. When did you decide to become a writer and why Christian fiction?

I dreamed occasionally about being a writer during high school and college when teachers told me I had a gift. It was a romantic concept at the time. I saw myself living in a little cottage by the sea where I sustained myself simply by writing, growing vegetables and harvesting crab and fish. That didn’t happen. It was not until I was sitting in church one morning with a husband, two young boys, and a mortgage career that I made the decision. Rather, God made the decision, and through the pastor’s teaching on the parable of the talents, dropped it into me. What transpired between the Lord and me that day is unforgettable! I’ve gone back to that in moments of discouragement and know beyond a shadow of doubt that this is His plan for me, and that he will use the words he gives me to draw people to the Truth.

7. Tell us about your next or upcoming projects.

I’ve just completed a story about a Jewish single dad, whose heart is broken when his daughter runs away. In his search for her, he becomes involved with the Human Services Director at a downtown Seattle church, a disorganized goy woman with blond hair the length of his grass between mowings. When she risks her life to save his daughter, the attraction that he’s denied is beginning to feel like love. But she is a Christian and he’s a Jew. They are oil and water. How could they ever become the family that he craves?

I believe the next project is Annie and The Fisherman, a love story that’s been walking around in my head for at least two years. I’m also working on A Train to Somewhere, which is about an unlikely friendship that develops between a flighty art student and her mandatory college roommate, a beautiful, but bitter violinist. Oh, the trouble they get themselves into! But they survive into adulthood, and Kenzie (the artist) is still trying to crack the crust around Maggie’s heart, while Maggie attempts to break up her friend’s pending marriage. This is a best friend story with lots of romance woven in. Possibly a series.

8. Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?

If you are a Christian writer, then you are an ambassador for Christ. Your motivation, your passion should be to glorify Him. Be sure that you are gifted and called to serve him through the written word, because, believe me, there will be times of discouragement. I know that I would have quit if not for the knowledge that this is God’s assignment for me.

And of course, pursue excellence. Read quality writing and attend conferences. Pray each time you sit down to write. This is the real key to success. It’s almost like cheating but you never get busted because the words that come out of you are being whispered by the Spirit of God. Oh, and have fun. Words are fascinating, dazzling like crystal beads, and you get to string them together into unique stories like no one else can!

Thanks for having me!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More Words of Art

Ransomed Dreams back cover

Ransomed Dreams back cover 2

Healing Promises back cover

I'm truly done and going back to work now. ;-)

Words of Art

Isn't this cool????

I should be working on edits (thus my lack of personal blogging of late) but heard about this cool site that turns words into works of art. Had to share it!

Check out Wordle and make some words of art!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


For fantasy lovers and/or those inspired by great books (that should cover all of us, right? ;-) ) here's a story and a series to experience.

DragonLight by Donita K. Paul
WaterBrook Press, June, 2008

The fifth book in the Dragon Keeper Chronicles, concluding the drama that has been building since DragonSpell was released in 2004.

Donita K. Paul weaves eternal truths into a page-turning story and still takes time to tickle her reader with humorous characters and situations.

As Kale and her father are busy hatching, bonding, and releasing the younger generation of dragons as helpers throughout the kingdom, the light wizard has little time to develop her skills. Her husband, Sir Bardon-despite physical limitations resulting from his bout with stakes disease-has become a leader, serving on the governing board under Paladin.

When Kale and Bardon set aside their daily responsibilities to join meech dragons Regidor and Gilda on a quest to find a hidden meech colony, they encounter sinister forces. Their world is under attack by a secret enemy. Can they overcome the ominous peril they can't even see?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Come meet the 2008 RITA inspirational finalists

This week I'd like to introduce you to Pamela Tracy, a wonderful lady who single-handedly organized a bunch of busy authors into doing a very fun series of interviews about the 2008 RITA inspirational finalists. Thanks, Pam! :-)

PAMELA TRACY started writing at age twelve (A very bad teen romance featuring David Cassidy from the Partridge Family). Later, she honed her writing skills while earning a BA in Journalism at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas (And wrote a very bad science fiction novel that didn’t feature David Cassidy.) Pamela sold her first romance It Only Takes A Spark to Barbour in 1999. Her next book Daddy for Keeps is out from Harlequin’s Steeple Hill Romance line in January of 2009. Since then she’s written a variety (sixteen made it to book shelves; Four are covered with cat hair and still hiding under the bed) of novels, novellas, and prayer books.

1. Describe your RITA phone call.

Of all my friends who entered, I think I expected it the least. Lisa Mondello mentioned to me that Tuesday morning that "Calls are going out." I promptly forgot. When my cell phone rang at 10:25, I was in my office five minutes away from teaching a comp class. When Jill St. John said, "I'm calling from RWA..." My first thought was, "Oh, the Desert Rose chapter is having a contest next weekend. They must have a question." Then, she said, "Your book, Pursuit of Justice, is a RITA® finalist." I about fell over. I did make a lot of noise (apparently, according to my coworkers, a lot of noise). And, promptly I made three quick phone calls: best friend, editor, and agent. Then I went off to teach a class to 24 students who'd never heard of the RITA®.

2. Tell us about the RITA book and why you think it stood out it the crowd.

Pursuit of Justice felt like a different book right from the beginning. I started writing it, oh, eight years ago. It was before baby, before marriage, I think I started it between anthologies. See, there was like a six book span where I wasn’t writing novels, instead I was writing – making that selling – novellas and prayer books. The 80 pages novellas kept having suspense elements and I kept muttering “Arg, if I could only have 200 more pages, I could ‘really’ make this a suspense.” Well, during that mind thought, Rosa’s (she’s the heroine) story tapped me on the shoulder. Rosa’s a wonderful gal. She tapped me, complete! I knew the beginning, middle, and end. That usually doesn’t happen. Of course, I got to about chapter two of her book, and I think I sold a prayer book. Once I finished the prayer book, I made it to chapter five of Rosa’s book, and then I sold another anthology. Every time I started to work on Rosa, I’d sell something else. Finally, I got an agent and he sold Rosa while she was only about 75% complete. Rosa finally got closure. What makes this book stands out is it was eight years in the making, and the whole time I was learning craft via the other sells. Boy, was Pursuit of Justice developed.

3. How many books have you written?

Four under the bed
Sixteen on the shelves
One in progress

4. Do you have a favorite?

Of course! Pursuit of Justice! First, it’s a RITA finalist (pinch, pinch) Plus, not only did the book and her characters keep me company for eight years, but Rosa then asked her friends if they’d like books too. Ruth and Mary both said yes. There were two more books published by Love Inspired Suspense: The Price of Redemption and Broken Lullaby.

5. Describe your writing process.

I have an old calendar and a spiral notebook by my computer. I usually roll out of bed about 5:30 a.m. Blurry eyed, I head to my computer. On the calendar, I keep track of the timeline. For example, Rosa was set in winter, so I decided on the month, and then in my calendar, I chose a day and wrote it down for her to get stopped for speeding by the cops. I tend to have my romances start and stop within days. Nope, don’t like that. Keeping the calendar helps me give the romance time to develop. The notebook has three columns and usually about fourteen rows. I keep track of every chapter – writing down what happens to her in column one, what happens to them in column two, and what happens to him in column three. Each row, of course, is a chapter. I’m a SOTPs writer. I’m working on a suspense called Lost Identity right now. I’m on chapter six. So, rows 1 – 5 are pretty filled. I kept track of names, happenings, etc. Rows 6-14 are sparse. I’ve jotted down ideas (in pencil so I can move them). I’ve also figured out that this will not be a 14 chapter book, so I’ve X’d out rows 13 and 14 and moved what few scribbles I have to other rows/ chapters. I have a toddler and a full time job, so I aim for three pages a day. In a current calendar, starting with Monday, I’ll write 103 – 106. On Tuesday, I’ll write 106 – 109. On Wednesday, I’ll write 109 – 112. You get the idea. Now, I ‘really’ aim to get those pages done. If I get more, I adjust my numbers. If I get less, then the next day I REALLY have to work. I don’t put number goals for the weekend. Anything I write on Saturday and Sunday is a gift.

6. When did you decide to become a writer and why Christian fiction?

I decided to become a writer as a toddler. I’d scribble and then take the scribbles to my dad and demand he tell me the story I just wrote. He’d make up a story. Um, he was an old army man, currently a lumberyard manager. I’m pretty sure his stories were scary (LOL! Which is probably why I write suspense and have dead bodies in my books). I think what happened next is I fell in love with David Cassidy (although it was Bobby Sherman who answered my fan letter) and wrote stories about him. Fast forward a few years and you have my girlfriends and I making up stories about the boys we’d met at Skateland (I still remember those boys’ names). Finally, I started writing stories in my notebook. I wrote a secret baby – about the time a fifteen year old friend had a baby. I wrote an historical – about the time I read my first romances (Hmmm, shall I admit I cut my teeth on Rosemary Rogers, Patricia Mathews, and Jennifer Wilde?)

I REALLY decided to become a writer in the weeks after my mother died. I’d told her I was going to be a writer. I purchased a computer from Montgomery Wards and set it up on a card table in my bedroom. I wrote a 300 page, single spaced, (not yet completed) Star Trek TNG. Then, I took a creative writing class at a local college and changed to romance and wrote four books (the before mentioned four that are under the bed). As to why Christian fiction… Well, I am a Christian and God pretty much nudged me in the right direction.

7. Tell us about your next or upcoming projects.

My first Love Inspired romance Daddy for Keeps comes out in January of 2009. I have a web master heroine and a bull rider hero. It’s a secret baby (I’ve come a long way since age 15 LOL) Then, I’m working on a three book suspense series called Seeking the Lost about three sisters. It hasn’t sold – yet.

8. Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?

Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Read in the genre you think you’ll write in. Don’t expect it to happen overnight. Never give up. If you write a page a day, you’ll have a novel in a year. Go to workshops, conferences, make writing friends.

Thanks for having me!

Find out more about Pam and her writing...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Come meet the 2008 RITA inspirational finalists

This week's 2008 RITA finalists interview is with Irene Hannon, who writes both romance and romantic suspense. Irene is the author of more than 25 novels. Her books have been honored with a RITA Award, the Holt Medallion and a Reviewer’s Choice Award from Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine. More than 1 million copies of her novels have been sold worldwide. A former corporate communications executive with a Fortune 500 company, she now writes full-time for both Steeple Hill and Revell. She and her husband live in Missouri.

1. Describe your RITA phone call.

I got the call early in the morning, not long after I sat down at my computer to write. Needless to say, it was VERY difficult to concentrate after that! I did manage to stick with my work in progress all day—after calling a few friends and family members to share the news, of course. But the next morning I took a couple of hours off and treated myself to Starbucks!

2. Tell us about the RITA book and why you think it stood out in the crowd.

There is a lyrical quality to Rainbow’s End that may have appealed to the judges. The beautiful but remote setting was also an integral element of the story, with the physical isolation acting as a metaphor for the emotional isolation of the three main characters. That may have helped make the book stand out, too.

But bottom line, I think the deeply emotional story is what vaulted this book to the finalist list. The book is about two lonely people—a shattered man and a disfigured woman—who join forces to help a traumatized little boy. Along they way, they reconnect with life and find healing, hope and love. It’s a very uplifting, inspiring story, and based on the incredible reader response, it touched a lot of hearts.

3. How many books have you written?

My 25th book was published in May 2008, and I’m under contract for eight more with two different publishers.

4. Do you have a favorite?

That’s like asking a mother to pick her favorite child! I like all my books. I honestly can’t single any one out; they’re all special in their own way. I do have to say, though, that I’m extremely excited about my upcoming suspense debut, and I do think the three books in my suspense series are among the best I’ve written.

5. Describe your writing process.

I’ve been very blessed for the past 4½ years to be able to write full-time after a long career in the corporate world, where I juggled my day job with my writing. Now, I spend every weekday (and some weekends) writing. I’m generally at my desk by eight or eight-thirty and I begin by polishing the pages I wrote the day before. Then it’s on to new writing. I aim for 10 good, new pages a day. I do work from an outline, though these have become less specific through the years.

If I’m in the plotting stage of a book, I may spend a lot of time researching or simply sitting around in my office or garden staring into space. It’s sometimes hard during those phases to convince people I’m actually working!

6. When did you decide to become a writer and why Christian fiction?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. In fact, I was one of the winners in a complete-the-story-contest for a national children’s magazine when I was 10, so I’ve been in print for a long time! My first novel was published in 1985 with Thomas Nelson, which had just started a line of inspirational romances. However, they were about 10 years ahead of their time and the line folded.

I then wrote six books for Avalon before I connected with Steeple Hill. Avalon isn’t a Christian publisher, but it does focus on books with very wholesome, traditional values. I write Christian fiction because it fits my world view and because I sincerely believe it’s possible to tell a compelling, entertaining story without explicit sex, profanity or gratuitous violence.

7. Tell us about your next or upcoming projects.

I have a number of exciting projects in the works.

First, I have a three-book FBI-based suspense series debuting with Revell in February 2009 called “Heroes of Quantico.” I have just received an absolutely glowing endorsement for the first book, AGAINST ALL ODDS, from the master of inspirational romantic suspense, Dee Henderson, so I’m VERY excited about this new venture. The first book revolves around a member of the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team, who is assigned to protect the daughter of a diplomat engaged in a sensitive hostage situation in the Middle East. It’s very fast-paced and exciting!

I also have a new book coming out from Steeple Love Inspired in February 2008. (That will be a first for me—two new books in one month!) APPRENTICE FATHER is about a man wary of commitments who finds himself responsible for two emotionally fragile children when his sister dies in a domestic violence incident. Help comes in the form of a physically handicapped woman whose deep, abiding faith turns off the anti-religion hero, but whose kind and loving ways begin to melt the ice around his heart..

Then, in May 2009, I’ll launch a new series with Steeple Hill called “Lighthouse Lane.” The books are all set on Nantucket, and I’m deep into writing those at the moment.

You can find out more about my upcoming books at

8. Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?

Read a lot. Learn the basics. Write, write, write. Join a group like Romance Writers of America. Submit to contests and read the feedback with an open mind. Attend conferences. Network. And never, ever give up! I had written three books before I sold my first novel. I’m glad I persisted!

Friday, June 06, 2008

We have some winners!

I'm happy to announce we have three winners of some super cool books...

Jerralea and Stampedwithgrace have won a copy of Fatal Deduction.

Gratefulgramma has won Skid.

Please post your email address in the comments and I'll contact you about sending these fun books your way.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Come meet the 2008 RITA inspirational finalists

Once a week, I'll be sharing an interview with one of the 2008 RITA finalists for the inspirational category. Here's the schedule:

June 2        Linda Goodnight
June 9        Karen Harter
June 16      Pamela Tracy
June 23      Irene Hannon
June 30      Amy Wallace
July 7         Tamara Leigh
July 14       Susan May Warren
July 21       Cindy Woodsmall

This week, I'd like to introduce you to Linda Goodnight and her 2008 RITA novel, A TOUCH OF GRACE

Beginning her career as Golden Heart finalist in 1999, Linda Goodnight’s books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Among her awards are the Booksellers’ Best, ACFW Book of the Year, and a Reviewers’ Choice Award from Romantic Times Magazine. A former teacher and nurse, she currently writes for both Harlequin Romance and Love Inspired. She and her husband live on a small farm/ranch in Oklahoma. She is delighted and honored to be a 2008 RITA finalist.

1. Describe your RITA phone call.

On ‘the call’ day, I was in town doing some business, partly in self-defense because I didn’t want to sit around all day wishing for a call that didn’t come. I had just pulled up to the stoplight when my cell phone rang.

I answered the phone, expecting my husband. Instead, I got Kelly St. John. She said she was calling for RWA and asked, “How are you today?” The realization struck that this was the call I had wished for. A zing of energy tightened the hair on my head. My skin prickled. It was the weirdest sensation-good, but weird. When I could talk, I replied, “I think I just got better.”

Kelley laughed and went on to tell me I was a finalist. About that time the light changed and I had to drive. To this day, I have no recollection of driving for the next few miles. I kept saying, “Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh. Is this real?” and other gushing idiocies. At one point, I think I asked if it was April Fool’s Day.

I’ve always heard people say they pinched themselves to see if they were awake. I actually did that, thinking I must be dreaming. I mean, really, me a RITA finalist? It had to be a dream.

When Kelley finally got rid of me, I drove the seven miles to my house, laughing and crying and praising the Lord. Nah, I wasn’t excited or anything.

2. Tell us about the RITA book and why you think it stood out in the crowd.

I honestly don’t know why A TOUCH OF GRACE stood out from so many other really fine entries. I only know what the book meant to me and how much I loved the characters, the setting, and the theme. The key verses for that book are Isaiah 58 and Matthew 25, which are also my life verses. Maybe my passion for orphans and the needy was projected to the readers. Whatever the reasons, I am grateful.

Here’s a little blurb:
Ian Carpenter is a street minister with a heart for broken people and a subconscious that’s trying to tell him something. Gretchen Barker, an investigative reporter with a dark and painful past, turns the spotlight on Ian’s ministry when her drug-addicted sister turns up dead on the front lawn of the mission. Ian thinks he has nothing to hide. But he does. And the revelations shake the very foundation of who he thinks is and what he believes.

3. How many books have you written?

Over 25

4. Do you have a favorite?

I’ve heard authors say that picking a favorite book is like choosing a favorite child. Although all my kids were favorites, I do have books that stand out in my heart and mind - All three of THE BROTHERS’ BOND, for instance, including the RITA nominee and last year’s ACFW winner, A SEASON FOR GRACE. I truly love those books and thank God for giving me the opportunity to write them.

5. Describe your writing process.

The process changes with every book, but the core way I write doesn’t. I am basically a seat-of-the-pants writer with a little structure to keep me focused. Once I get an idea, I spend a lot of time fleshing out my characters, although I won’t really know them well until I get into the book. I also use a plotting circle that I devised using the “mythical hero’s journey” to lay out the big things that must occur. (An overview of the circle is on my website.) The rest comes organically as I write.

6. When did you decide to become a writer and why Christian fiction?

I’ve always loved the power and beauty of words, but it wasn’t until the mid-nineties, after a serious illness, that I began pursuing the big dream of publication. The desire was always there, I just didn’t think I could actually do it.

Although I did not start out in Christian fiction and still write sweet romance that is not specifically Christian, I love the thought of writing something that directly brings glory to God and has the opportunity to bless or encourage a reader in Jesus’ name. My reader mail lets me know that Christian writing, even when its major purpose is entertainment, is a ministry, and I take that very seriously.

7. Tell us about your next or upcoming projects.

My next book releases in early July! WINNING THE SINGLE MOM’S HEART is a sweet romance from Harlequin available for pre-order at This is book four in an adorable author-generated series called “The Wedding Planners”. We authors had so much fun writing the books we now have a Wedding Planners’ blog that features real wedding tips, proposal and wedding stories from your favorite authors, visits from wedding experts, great prizes, as well as info about the series. I hope you’ll check us out.

I also having Christian fiction scheduled for September-A BRIDE BY CHRISTMAS, a Barbour historical anthology, and A TIME TO HEAL, a contemporary from Love Inspired.

8. Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?

Years ago I met an assistant editor at a conference in Oklahoma City. Fast forward several years and that assistant was now a senior editor who approved the purchase of my first book. As she handed the manuscript to my then and now editor, she said, “Linda is a lovely person. You’ll like working with her.” When my editor told me this I nearly fainted. I had met that woman one time as an unpublished writer and she remembered!

That incident taught me a valuable lesson. Be nice to everyone. The publishing world is small, and both editors and writers have long memories.

And to the usual “study the craft” truths, I’ll add one other thing: If your book is good enough, someone will pay you. Don’t pay them. I feel so bad for new writers who are duped by vanity presses.

Thanks for having me!

Visit Linda at: and or zap her an email and

Monday, June 02, 2008

Are you searching for a unique whodunit?

Then I have another book to add to your summer reading list!

And two mystery/ suspense lovers will have their very own copies to enjoy! Just leave me a note in the guestbook...

Fatal Deduction by Gayle Roper is a fascinating mix of family dynamics, painful pasts and crosswords puzzles to die for. The clues might be in the puzzles, but the lessons learned on loving the unlovable and depending on the Lord are worth digging into the story and decoding the truth for yourself.

One across… Three down… The answer is in the puzzle. The danger is in not solving it before time’s up.

Libby Burton longs to be close to her twin sister, Tori, but their lives have taken them in different directions. Forced to share Aunt Stella’s old Philadelphia home in order to receive their inheritance, Libby hopes for a change, but it isn’t looking good so far.

First, Tori tries to steal the affection and allegiance of Libby’s thirteen-year-old daughter, Chloe. Then when a crossword puzzle with a hidden warning shows up on their doorstep, Tori refuses to take it seriously—in spite of the dead man who delivers it.

Libby finds comfort in neighbor Drew Canfield, but he hesitates to trust her after his disastrous marriage. As Libby struggles to act faithfully in the midst of these confusing relationships, she must also deal with a stolen diamond and a botched kidnapping. The answer to her problems lies in the riddles of the crosswords, if only she can solve the puzzle before it’s too late.

Gayle Roper has been writing mystery and romantic suspense novels for more than thirty years and is the author of over forty-five books. She is a three-time Christy Award finalist, the winner of three Holt Medallions, and the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from Romantic Times magazine. Her novel Autumn Dreams won Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance. She and her husband, Chuck, divide their time between Pennsylvania and Ontario, Canada.
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