Monday, June 30, 2008

BOM coming up . . .

I just remembered--I'm supposed to be doing a Book of the month as of tomorrow.  Any suggestions?  I'm blank! 

And a P.S. to today's earlier post about words.  I heard this wonderful quote once, but I've no idea if Confucius really said it:   Confucius advised that if we hoped to repair what was wrong in the world, we had best start with the "rectification of the names."  The corruption of society begins with the failure to call things by their proper names, he maintained, and its renovation begins with the reattachment of words to real things and precise concepts.

While words are harmless symbols, they carry the power of the things they represent. All words are clothed in connotations quite apart from their literal meaning. That is why abortionists speak of the "fetus" instead of the "baby," and why "fundamentalist" has come to mean "crazed, bomb-bearing vigilante" instead of "one who believes in the fundamentals of the faith." 

As you've reminded me in your comments below, words ARE powerful--which is another reason to use them carefully. And, whenever necessary, to remind people of the actual meaning of the word. I'm all for reminding people of actual things and precise concepts, but it takes a bit of effort . . . 



This week I received an email from a friend who is working on a position paper about profanity--he's against it.  :-)   As he wrote to me, he said that a friend had told him,  "it is possible to write about murder, and to read about murder, without committing the sin of murder.  However, one can neither write nor read profanities without committing the sin (or, at the very least, being coarsened)."

I wrote back to him . . . and here's what I said. 

Warning:  plain talk ahead.  

Dear ***, 

If you'll allow me to play Devil's Advocate for a moment--

Yes, we can read about murder without committing murder, but if we harbor the thought of murder, and how delicious it might be to kill someone we hate, then we have committed a sin . . . Jesus said if we hate our brother, we are as guilty as if we had murdered him.  

And we CAN read a profane word without using that word.  It's if we allow that word to linger in our thoughts and begin to use it, that we fall into the sin of using corrupt language.  But simply reading (or hearing) a profane or ugly word is not sin--if it were, we would have to wear earplugs and lock ourselves away from the world.  While some Christians might love to do that, it goes completely against Jesus' prayer in John 17 when he prayed, "I pray not that you take them OUT of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one . . ."  

We must also realize that words are only symbols of the things they represent.  The word "God" is not actually God's name, it is a symbol for Him (and is still considered holy and worthy of respect just as we realize that a flag is not America, but a symbol of America, and must be accorded respect.  I love the orthodox Jewish practice of spelling "God" G-d.  An obvious sign of respect and honor.) 

But when referring to, for instance, feces, who can say that "poop" is less representative than the s-word? Yet all young mothers find some euphemism to teach their children when potty training.  It's not less representative, it's less vulgar.  And who sets that defining standard?  Society.  

(I have been chided by readers for using the word "anal-retentive," and it becomes obvious that they don't understand that it's a legitimate psychological term, not a vulgarity.  Makes me wonder if they'd object to "asinine" because it sounds like "ass." )  

On the other hand, I completely dislike the word "suck" to mean "bad" because when I was growing up, it meant something usually described on the walls of bathroom stalls.  Today's young adults, however, frequently use it to mean "that's bad."  Societal standards do change, no matter what connotations we dinosaurs bring along with us.  

Bottom line:  Jesus said it's not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of him.  The evil that proceeds out of our hearts and mouths.  

That's why, as a Christian writer, I don't feel coarsened by reading profanity or hearing it--I don't dwell on it or mimic it. But I cannot in good conscience use words in speech or in writing that I know most of my readers will find offensive (according to the standards society has set).  I do this for their sakes, not because I think certain words are sinful in nature.  :-) They're just words. I do it  to obey the Lord's admonition not to use corrupt communication, which also extends to gossip, lying, criticism, etc. And why are we not to use corrupt language? Because it hurts other people, and we are commanded to love. 

In other words--words, in themselves, are harmless symbols.  But they are so closely tied to the things they represent that the average person does not disassociate the two. So we Christians need to watch our speech and make sure that it is grace-filled and honorable, even when we are writing or talking about bad things.  

Have you heard the story about (insert name of preacher here)?  This is pure hearsay, but I heard that once he stood up at a preacher's convention or something similar and talked about starving children in Africa.  Then he said, "How many of you give a s***?" 

Then, as the audience gasped, he said, "Why are you so much more alarmed about my saying the s-word than you are about the starving children in Africa?" 

I get his point--and it's powerful--but I'd have been just as shocked if he had unfurled a portrait of a Playboy bunny or stabbed a visiting preacher.  Sin is sin, and need is need.  So often we find it easier to focus on eradicating the former instead of the latter. 

And so--(and goodness, I didn't mean to write a position paper!) -- while it is good to point out that many believers are losing focus on holy living, we also need to be reminded that the world doesn't always notice if we don't cuss.  What they DO notice is if we love, give, and reach out to others.  

I'll hush up now. 


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Reader Letter

I received the sweetest letter from a reader yesterday.  I won't share all of it, but I love what she said about reading even though she didn't think this book would be her cup of tea . . . 

Dear Angie: 
A few months ago I was standing in front of the library bookshelf and felt a surge of excitment when I spied a new spine with the "Hunt" name. How did one appear without me waiting, expecting and even warning the librarians that it would be in print soon?  I didn't even fill out the usual little form requesting they buy it for the library ( asap!  Then I looked at the cover ofDoesn't She Look Natural? and thought, "What?"  I was put off by the cover...the name...the subject matter. I took a deep breath and repeated in a whisper, "Expect the unexpected" and took it home to read.  Well, you know I loved it.  In fact, by the last chapter I was calling my best freind and saying, "You know...maybe one day you and I should run a mortuary. I think I'd be good at it..." ha! 
So when I saw She Always Wore Red on the new-books shelf, I was thrilled.  Life has been quite stressful and full the last week or so and I was especially happy to have a good read to get me through.  I could easily detatch from reality in the pages of your book: as with all your books, it delivered a good story.  About half way through, though, I went from thinking it a "good read" to thinking it an "important read".  Wow. I am always so amazed at how skillfully you weave a story around deep thoughts...or, maybe, weave deep thoughts around a story . . . 

That sort of letter keeps me going.  :-)


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Very Fit Cats!

My cousin sent me this video--LOL!  I wonder what these cats are thinking? 


Friday, June 27, 2008

When You Can't Handle It

I've gone through some pretty rough stuff lately, especially in the last couple of years.  It's not the sort of thing I would talk about on my blog, but a lot of it is in my books, if you read between the lines. The lessons I've been learning are right out there for the world to see.  :-) 

Anyway, yesterday I watched a video by Carol Kent.  I had heard her story before, but I had never heard her talk about it.  But when I watched her spread her hands and say, "Lord, I can't handle this,"  I knew exactly how she felt.  Maybe you do, too, and if you are going through testing times, maybe this will encourage you.  

Carol's book is called When I Lay My Isaac Down. 


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blast from the past

When I finished work last night, I was going through my itunes and finding album artwork for all the various albums (I know, it's a procrastination thing.)  The albums I couldn't automatically find pictures for sent me to . . . and then I found myself.  LOL!  Trust me, I was stunned. 

Many, many years ago I sang with The Re'Generation--this photo is one of the albums we recorded during my one-year tour.  We were ten singers, we travelled a lot, and performed over 500 times that year.  

Anyway, here's another album I found on Amazon.  Tee hee.  those were the years of stiff hair! (Can you figure out which girl is me?) 


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Something new from Britain . . .

Check out this new talent from across the pond--I'm ready to buy their album! 

Speaking of electric instruments, yesterday we had a power outage--something about a fire at one of the substations in town.  The power went off at about 4:45 p.m., and stayed off until after eight.  We managed fine, at first, but by seven o'clock, the house was getting a little warm and I was running out of things to do--things that didn't involve a power outlet, that is.  I had resorted to mopping the floors when the power came back on, but boy, was I grateful!  


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Animal Cops

I have become an Animal Cops addict.  

I never used to watch this show--it seemed like the same old, same old to me--but then one night, I sat and watched Animal Cops Miami.  The next night I watched Animal Cops Houston. And Animal Cops New York. Animal Cops Detroit.  

And now I can't seem to watch anything else.  And yes, I cry every single time. 

I think the show is so fascinating because the animal cops find these pitiful animals in such awful condition--and yes, that part is difficult to watch--but then they take these horses, snakes, dogs, and kittens to the humane society and we all root for the animals.  My favorite part of the show is the last five minutes--that's when they show the animals who make it with their new families.  That makes it all worthwhile. 

Where the show is filmed makes a difference, too.  AC Houston always seems to have a lot of horses.  Miami has way too many roosters (cock fights) and alligators.  Detroit has dogs, dogs, dogs.  New York has junkyard dogs.  Everybody has kittens and cats. 

And over and over, I am amazed at the bond between animals--especially dogs--and humans. What a gift they are.  I'll never understand how anyone could starve or mistreat a dog, but I'm always so grateful for those people who take care of them.  


Monday, June 23, 2008

It's newsletter day

My ever-so-often newsletter is scheduled to go out this morning, so if you don't get one in your inbox, you can read it here.  

Had a wonderful time at the Southern Christian Writer's Conference--Gil Morris is 79 and has written a book a month for the last many years!  His productivity boggles my mind.  (HT to J'ni Spann for the photo of me 'n Gil at lunch.)  

Gil has a great line about writer's block.  Like me, he doesn't believe in it.  He says, "Have you ever heard of a plumber having plumber's block?" 

LOL!  That dear man is a laugh a minute.  I'm putting up a picture he sent me once--and don't ask why he's standing in a lake.  I have no idea. 


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Is there any sound quite like a laughing baby?

HT to James Scott Bell for sharing this link.  It's a day-brightener, which I need while I rest up from a half-day of flying home.  

Had a marvelous time at the Southern Christian Writers' Conference in Tuscaloosa.  Wonderful people, great friends.  

Enjoy the laughing baby video! 


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Know a Young Writer?

Know someone who loves to write? 

I am excited to announce that Bill Myers and I will be teaching at a Young Writer's Conference in Columbia, Missouri on July 25-26.  You can find details about this event, including a registration page, here.  

This two-day conference is open to anyone interested in writing from grades four and up--including adults.  So if you are within traveling distance of Columbia, Missouri, please check this out.  (Fly-ins should fly into St. Louis and plan on a 90-minute drive).  

Bill and I used to do young writer's conferences all across the country, so it's nice to see that someone else has stepped up to do the hard work of sponsoring this event. We'd love to see you and your young writer in Columbia! 


Friday, June 20, 2008

One Word Meme

If this is Friday (and it's supposed to be!), then I am on a plane and flying to Tuscaloosa by way of Birmingham to speak at the Southern Christian Writers' Conference.  This will be my first time speaking at this event, but I'm looking forward to seeing my pal Gil Morris, who I haven't seen in a couple of years.  Gil likes to tease me about being an "anti-wuzian" because I don't like to use the word was if I can help it. 

I borrowed this from Robin Lee Hatcher's blog because I knew she wouldn't mind.  :-)  The challenge? To answer the question in only one word.  Feel free to repost with your answers on your blog! 

1. Where is your cell phone? heresb10067465g-001.jpg

2. Your significant other? hubby

3. Your hair? thick

4. Your mother? Frankie

5. Your father? Albert

6. Your favorite thing? God

7. Your dream last night? vague

8. Your favorite drink? rootbeer

9. Your dream/goal? finish

10. The room you’re in? office

11. Your ex? huh?

12. Your fear? none

13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? older

14. Where were you last night? bed

15. What you’re not? shrinking

16. Muffins? yes!

17. One of your wish list items? Kindle

18. Where you grew up? Florida

19. The last thing you did? work

20. What are you wearing? pajamas

21. Your TV? AnimalCops73091867.jpg

22. Your pets? mastiffs

23. Your computer? Crucial

24. Your life? pleasant

25. Your mood? tired

26. Missing someone? Jesus

27. Your car? clean

28. Something you’re not wearing? shoes

29. Favorite store? TJ Maxx

30. Your summer? hot

31. Like(love) someone? hubby

32. Your favorite color? periwinkle

33. Last time you laughed? Yesterday

34. Last time you cried? today

35. Who will re-post this? anyone! 


Thursday, June 19, 2008


Monday I got up at 5:30 a.m. (groan) to be on my pal Randy Singer's radio gig with Lorri Allen.  You can find a link to the program here . . . and even see and listen to other interviews with other novelists like James Scott Bell and Mark Mynheir.  So if you have a few extra minutes, check it out and have a listen. 

Me, I've been keeping my nose to the proverbial grindstone and cranking out scenes.  My second draft is still a mess. 

BTW, confidential to MG:  We talked about elevators on the radio.  I'm not sure we made any sense, though! 


Wednesday, June 18, 2008


  Okay, this is TOO much fun.  This website,, is where you can paste in some text and a minute later receive your artistic "word cloud" with your text!  You can even change the colors, and no two designs (even with the same text) are the same.

Two of these word word clouds are a passage from my WIP.  I love it because it's sort of the entire book in one glance!   Now, if I could only figure out how to make it larger . . . try clicking to enlarge. 

After I grew bored with that, I inserted my bio into the website and the applet created this--my life in a word blob!  
 . . OH! And look at this one, with my favorite psalm:

Go and have fun! 


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My pal Donita Paul's Dragon series

Hi, everybody! 

I am so happy today to tell you about my friend Donita and her latest book, DragonLight.  

Donita has carved out a unique place in the market with her dragon tales, and kids LOVE these books.  Every time I teach at a writers' conference where teens are, they're all busy writing fantasy--tales of kingdoms and strange creatures where anything can happen.  And yes, I noticed this even before Harry Potter!  In any case, Donita's fantasy stories have a Christian element, and I can promise that your children (and grandchildren, if you have them) will love these charming stories.  

Donita is an excellent writer with a heart for teens and for God. You can order her books here.  Here's a blurb: 

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

LOL Funny

My friend Kelli sent me a link to this video clip--LOL!  Loved it!  It's titled, "How to Recognize a Blonde Antelope."  (With apologies to natural blondes everywhere.) 


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Searching for Spice

Happy Sunday to everybody!  

Today I want to tell you about a new book by a Nangie graduate, Megan DiMaria.  Nancy and I first met Megan in Estes Park, I think, and we reconnected with her again at our Glen Eyrie conference.  Megan's first novel, published by the great folks at Tyndale House, features a wife who is trying to spice up her marriage to her rather undemonstrative hubby.  It's cute . . . and meaingful.  

I owe Megan a huge thank you for telling me about "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep."  I was working on SHE ALWAYS WORE RED at the Glen Eyrie conference, and Megan talked with me about her work--she has a day job at a photographer's studio, and the photographer is very involved in this service for parents who have lost their babies.  I used the idea--in fact, I mentioned the real service--in SAWR.  I think it's important and meaningful for parents who lose their little babies through disease to have some sort of memento so they can tangibly remember the little one who will forever be in their hearts and minds.  You can check out the organization here.  


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Cheese Rolling !

I love the British--even though I don't always understand why they do the things they do.  Take a peek at this video of a cheese rolling event--this year's, in fact, because this is an annual event.  Someone rolls a cheese down a hill, and everyone goes after it.  Why?  Who knows?  

All I know is that some folks have to be carried away by the EMTs.  :-/   


P.S.  There are no hills suitable for cheese rolling in Florida, I don't think.  Surely this is a good thing. 

Friday, June 13, 2008

WIP sample, scene 4

Okay, this is the last sample.  If I do much more, you guys might figure the entire thing out before I'm even finished!  


 Antonio Tomassi stares at the body of his dead son as a cold wave of grief shivers the skin on his arms and neck. Beside him, Jason keeps murmuring, “How? How could this happen?”, but Antonio cannot think or reason. Shock has engulfed him in its clammy wake, and he can barely maintain an upright posture. 

He places his hand on Jeffrey’s lifeless shoulder and feels a shudder move through him. 

The young man in the lab coat clasps his hands over his clipboard. “The M.E. will want to do an autopsy. It’s routine in matters like this.” 

When a perfectly healthy young man stops breathing for no apparent reason, he means.

“How could this happen?” Jason asks again. “How does a guy like Jeff die in his sleep? He was fit, he worked out—” 

The weasel-faced youngster shrugs. “We can’t say until we have the autopsy and toxicology results. It would help us to know, though, if he had any pre-existing medical conditions.” 

“He was strong,” Jason insists. “My brother was in perfect health.” 

“Diabetes.” Antonio pries the word from his tongue. “Jeffrey had diabetes.” 

“But that was under control,” Jason argues. “He hasn’t had any health problems in years. Jeff knew how to manage his condition.” 

“If he was getting worse, Erin would have said something.” Antonio focuses on his only surviving son. “Did you see Erin? Is she here?” 

Jason jerks his chin toward the door. “She’s curled up in a chair out there. In shock, if you ask me.” 

Antonio exhales softly. He can’t blame his daughter-in-law for being stupefied by this unexpected turn of events. No one was more alive, more bursting with energy and potential than Jeffrey Tomassi, Illinois state senator and potential U.S. Congressman. No man in Chicago had a brighter future, and now it was . . . gone. Why? 

The intrusive idiot in the white coat clears his throat. “We’ll release the autopsy results as soon as we know something. Toxicology reports, however, can take up to six weeks—”

“I won’t wait that long.” Antonio fixes the youngster in a hot stare. “I want those results as soon as possible.” 

“But the reports usually take a couple of months. There’s a backlog at the lab, especially at this time of year.”

“Have someone call me as soon as those reports come in,” Antonio says, buttoning the top button on his overcoat. “I will not rest until I know what killed my son.” 


Thursday, June 12, 2008

WIP, Part 3.

Thanks so much for your comments--I'm learning from them!  :-)  

I think I'm going to post at least a couple of other scenes, at least until I've introduced all the major characters.  If you've taken my fiction classes, you know that in the beginning (prior to the inciting incident, which hasn't happened yet), I strive to do these things: 

  • introduce the protagonist and reveal her admirable qualities
  • reveal the genre. This isn't exactly a mystery--detective chases bad guy--nor is it strictly a thriller (showdown between good protagonist and villain).  It's a bit of a hybrid. 
  • give the protagonist (Briley) an obvious problem 
  • reveal the protagonist's hidden need 
  • introduce the other main characters.  
Believe it or not, your comments are helping me know if I'm hitting my marks or not.  :-)  And yes, Jackie, it's present tense.  I've written my last several novels in present tense, and I love its immediacy. Plus, when you write in present tense, the reader is with the character in present story time, so you're never quite sure if the character is going to survive or not.  (In past tense, it's a given that the character survived long enough to tell the story. A couple of film exceptions: SUNSET BLVD, THE BUCKET LIST.)  

Anyway, here's the third scene.  One more tomorrow, and I think that'll be it.  :-)



In the waiting room outside the morgue at the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office, Erin Tomassi shivers beneath a thin blanket and rubs her hands over her arms. Her brain buzzes with the faint beginnings of a headache while disjointed memories of the morning jostle in her mind. Impossible to believe that she’s sitting in a public place in her pajamas. Impossible to believe that Jeffrey lies in the room beyond, lifeless and blue. 

She stares at her hand and counts off five fingertips, one for each year of their marriage. Jeffrey is thirty-five years old; men of that age do not die in their sleep. But dead is what he is, or so the EMTs insist. They have to be mistaken, because Jeffrey Tomassi is king of whatever hill he’s climbing. When it comes, Death will have to wait for an appointment like everyone else. 

An older man in a lab coat steps into the small room and offers a sad smile. “Coffee?” he says, gesturing toward a pot on a counter. “It’s not very good, but it’s hot.” 

She shakes her head. “I’m fine.” 

He moves toward the counter and takes a foam cup from a slanted stack. As he pours the steaming liquid, he glances in her direction. “Do you need me to call someone to pick you up?” 

“The—my father in law is on his way.” 

The man pours two sugar packets into his cup, then stirs the brew with a ball point pen from his pocket. “Never a spoon around when you need one,” he says, tossing her a vague smile. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like a cup of coffee?” 

“Never learned to like it.” She bites her lip, horrified that the words have sprung so easily to her lips in Jeffrey’s absence. If he were here, he’d tell her to take the coffee, drink it, and be glad for it, because one never offended voters by refusing acts of kindness. 

She lowers her eyes, afraid the man might see a trace of the emotions warring in her breast. Jeffrey might be dead . . . and if he is, she is free. Free to refuse cups of coffee, to sleep past seven, to stay in her room and ignore the clamoring world. If she can trust what the EMTs told her, Jeffrey is gone and she will finally be able to put on her nightclothes and go to bed with a sense of relief instead of dread. 

But Jeffrey can’t be dead. Because the city is still running, the sun still shining, and the planet still turning. Most telling, she is still breathing . . . and Jeffrey always said she’d die before he did. 

He’d make sure of it. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The WIP sample, Part 2

Another sample from the WIP (obviously, I have nothing else to talk about).  And this is only second-drafted, so be kind! :-)


Briley Lester steps out from behind her desk and takes a seat in the empty guest chair, an arm’s length away from the client. “Mrs. Busch,” she begins, “I’ve been reviewing your case file.” 

“Are you going to be our lawyer?” A faint line appears between the woman’s brows as she pulls an envelope from her purse. “If so, you’ll probably want these photographs. They were taken at the emergency room, right after the accident.” 

Briley holds up her hand. “Before I look at those, I want to tell you what I’ve discovered. You seem like a lady who appreciates honesty.” 

“I am.” The woman crosses her legs and settles into the curve of the chair. “You’ve got me pegged.” 

“Good. What I’ve discovered, Mrs. Busch, is that though I am very concerned about your daughter and your case, I’m afraid my best advice is for you to walk away. Don’t pursue a lawsuit.” 

Mrs. Busch blinks, her red-painted mouth falling open. 

“I know you were concerned about your daughter’s future as a film star,” Briley continues, keeping her voice smooth and even, “but since your insurance paid for having your daughter’s tooth capped, there are no real damages to recover. Seeking punitive damages against an eleven-year-old boy who happened to toss a frisbee in your daughter’s direction . . . well, ma’am, I’m thinking it’d be better for your family to avoid the stress of a protracted lawsuit. You wouldn’t want your daughter to relive that accident, would you?” 

“My Tiffany wouldn’t—”

“The boy told the police that he didn’t intend to hit Tiffany, so he’s going to testify that the injury was accidental. Without malice, we’re going to have a difficult time getting any sort of punitive award.” 

Mrs. Busch examines Briley’s face with considerable concentration. “Are you saying we don’t have a case?” 

“No, ma’am, in fact, I’d urge you to get a second opinion. I’m not saying you can’t win, I’m saying that I believe a victory will cost your family too much in terms of lawyer’s fees and emotional stress. So I’m not billing you for anything, and I’m advising you to be grateful that your beautiful daughter’s smile has not been permanently ruined.” She softens her voice. “We do not always have to insist upon justice—sometimes we are given the opportunity to exhibit mercy.” 

Mrs. Busch looks away, her brows lowering. “Mercy?” She shakes her head. “I want to see that boy punished.” 

“I believe you should trust his parents to discipline their son. And remember, the boy did have to talk to the police after you called them. That encounter probably frightened him more than anything the court could do.” 

The client stares past Briley’s desk for a moment, then inclines her head in a sharp nod. “Thank you, Ms. Lester.” She extends her hand. “It’s rare to find a lawyer who isn’t out to milk her clients for every penny.” 

Briley shakes the woman’s hand, then stands. “I’m always glad when I can help someone. I became a lawyer because I wanted to make a difference.” 

After Mrs. Busch has gone, Kate Barnhill, the paralegal assigned to the second floor associates, sticks her head into Briley’s office. “You got rid of the dragon lady?” 

Briley holds up a handwritten memo and drops it into the Busch file. “Case dismissed,” she says, grinning. “Now they can get on with their lives.” 

Kate steps into the room. “I’ll never forget when she first came in here. She was breathing smoke and swearing that her daughter’s life was ruined forever. Mr. Reaves, of course, told her he’d represent her.” 

“Then he tossed her file to the associates.” Briley stares at the stack of files on her credenza. “Just look at all those dog cases. I promised Reaves I’d clear at least five files this week, but it takes time to handle clients properly. And since most of these are civil cases, I’m a little out of my element.” 

Kate crosses her arms. “At my last firm, they’d just send the client a letter saying the case wasn’t worth their time.” 

“If they treated everyone that way, I can see why you don’t work there any more.” Briley picks up the next file and skims the case report. “This concerns a real estate deal. Don’t we have an associate in real estate law?”

“I’ll take it over.” Kate extends her hand. “The red-haired guy back by the water cooler—he’s handling real estate.” 

“I’ve never seen anybody in that office.” 

“That’s because he’s always out in the field, or so he says. I think he’s fond of extended client lunches. And dinners, for that matter. He keeps odd hours.” 

Briley picks up the next file. “Give me criminal law any day. The defendants may be a little rough, but at least the court operates on a regular schedule.” She skims the next report, then arches a brow. “We’re representing a dognapper?” 

The paralegal smiles as she moves toward the door. “Don’t you remember him? You pleaded him down to nine months in Cook County jail.”

“That’s right—the Chihuahua thief.” Briley sighs and drops the file onto her desk. “Now he wants to sue the state over the inmates’ food. He says it’s nutritionally lacking.”

“You going down to the jail to gracefully brush him off?” 

“No,” Briley answers, settling into her chair. “Him, I’m writing a letter.” 


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The WIP sample

I'm working hard on the new book--which may be titled GHOST or THE TWIN or something I haven't even thought of yet--and thought that for today and tomorrow, I'll give you a tiny sample.  

First, the first chapter: 

Chapter One 

The night was made for murder. 

She waits until his breaths come deeply and evenly; waits until he snores in a regular rhythm. Then she slips out of bed and moves to the window, raising the blind so a wave of silver moonlight floods the room. 

She won’t risk waking him by turning on the lamp. Moonlight suits her purposes; it has always suited her nature. 

She creeps into the bathroom and pulls the basket with his sharps and bottles from beneath the sink. These she transfers to the nightstand, then she lifts a syringe and presses the thin needle into the neck of a bottle. 

He took his insulin before bedtime, a dose guaranteed to stabilize his variable blood chemistry throughout the night. This second injection will stabilize him forever. 

She measures out fifty units of regular insulin and drops the bottle back into its basket. The gentle chink of glass against glass does not rouse him. The man sleeps like a log, particularly on nights when he is so full of himself that he can’t resist berating his wife. 

Idiot. White trash. Slut. 

Never again will those words pass his lips. Never again will she wear long sleeves on hot summer days. 

Never again will his fist slam into her belly. 

She lowers herself to the mattress, lifts the syringe in her left hand, and gently tugs on the covers with her right. His snoring halts, then erupts in an explosion of breath. His body has sensed the abrupt change in temperature and his hand fumbles at his pajama top, searching for the comforter. 

When he stops moving, she slides the thin needle into the pale flesh of his abdomen and presses the plunger. The instrument of death makes no sound, nor does its bite make him flinch. The needle has nipped his skin many times.

Like a mother tucking in a beloved child, she covers him again and stands as he slumbers on, oblivious to his fate. 

She returns the basket of supplies to the bathroom vanity and tosses the syringe into the trash. Then she crawls back into bed and closes her eyes, willing herself to sleep. 

That's it for today!  :-)


Monday, June 09, 2008

Faith-filled Films

Good news!  The Face is now available for preordering here.  Place your order now and get it hot off the press when it releases in the fall.  And it's selling for just $6.99!  

Earlier this week I found this press release on the web: 

Once again honoring the virtues of character, integrity and inspirational themes in contemporary film and television, the 2008 CAMIE AWARDS made a thrilling, star-studded splash at the beautiful 1,900 seat Wilshire Theatre Beverly Hills on Saturday, May 3.

The audience responded with a unique support and enthusiasm as the CAMIEs not only honored the actors, writers, directors and producers of this year's ten winning films but also brought back CAMIE AWARD winners from past years as presenters; among the luminaries giving out this year's awards were Edward Asner and Peter Jason (winners for The Christmas Card who presented the award this year for The Note), as well as Academy Award winner Jon Voight, who made his third appearance at the CAMIEs.

The hosts for the 6th annual event were television personality Leanza Cornett and Entertainment Tonight co-host Mark Steines.

CAMIE AWARDS are presented to entertaining and uplifting theatrical motion pictures and made-for-television films that provided positive role models for building character, overcoming adversity and strengthening families. The CAMIE AWARD winning theatrical films honored were Amazing Grace, Bridge to Terabithia, Miss Potter, Nancy Drew and The Ultimate Gift. The CAMIE recipients in the made-for-television category were Crossroads: A Story of Forgiveness (Hallmark Hall of Fame), Love's Unending Legacy (Hallmark Channel), The Note (Hallmark Channel), Pictures of Hollis Woods (Hallmark Hall of Fame) and Saving Sarah Cain (Believe Pictures).

CAMIE AWARDS Productions will be putting the show up for syndication throughout North America this summer. Viewers are urged to check back at for updates. Following its syndication, CAMIE AWARDS Productions' parent company Starfish Television Network will also run the show multiple times in its ongoing effort to promote the CAMIE mission.

Speaking of this year's CAMIE AWARDS, President of CAMIE AWARDS Productions and show co-Executive Producer Joe Lake said, "This could not have been a better year to launch the CAMIEs in Beverly Hills, with so many new participants and longtime attendees enjoying the ceremony at the first class Wilshire Theatre. We are looking forward to having more opportunities to showcase high quality family entertainment in the future."

* * * * 

Yea!  So glad someone is honoring honorable films. 

Some friends and I were talking about films with a faith element, so I thought I'd compile a list of my favorites.  Some of the following films are distinctly Christian, others are not Christian but contain an undeniable element of faith. 

Last month my book club read a book about a dying woman. The thing that struck several of us the most was that faith was notably ABSENT from the story.  The characters talked about church and how it wasn't for them, but the death scene was completely hopeless because the character never once thought about eternity or what comes next. 

We found that hard to swallow. In the face of approaching death, wouldn't even an agnostic wonder . . . what if I've been wrong? 

As I move into publishing some stories that are not overtly Christian, I hope they will be like many of the movies on this list: stories that accurately portray the human condition and man's eternal soul.  Every novel has a message, so don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  And in understanding that message, you understand the author's worldview. 

Some of my favorite films that feed the soul: 

The Count of Monte Christo
The End of the Spear
Lars and the Real Girl
Tender Mercies
Amazing Grace
The Nativity Story
Saints and Soldiers
Sweet Land
In the Arms of Angels
Chariots of Fire
Les Miserables
The Wager
Tomorrow (with Robert Duvall)

 That should give you enough to fill up your Netflix queue.  :-)  Enjoy! 


Sunday, June 08, 2008

New Author Chart has come up with an interesting chart to help you find new authors to read.  I'm not sure how complete the chart is, but I think it's worth a gander.  You can check it out here.  


Saturday, June 07, 2008

BOM: Questions and Answers

Jolan wrote: "Is Devorah Cohen mentioned in The Spear of Tyranny?  I was so into Devorah and Michael I was suprised to see them both gone so soon!  I know Michael was a Christian so he was among those who dissapeared but where did Devorah and Asher go?" 

I had to look this up, Jolan, because I didn't remember!  You may have noticed that I have a short attention span--three or four months on a book, and I'm ready to move on to something else.  (Maybe it comes from working with middle schoolers!)   Anyway, no--the third book is concerned with a man named Isaac Ben-David, so Devorah and Asher have moved on.  Devorah's father, the rabbi, is mentioned, however.  

Deborah wrote:  It's been a while since I've read the books so maybe my memory's a little rusty but w/o spoiling the book for others, the 3rd book had a different set of characters from the 1st two. i don't remember reading whatever happened to the previous characters. i think i remember feeling like Spear was a completely different storyline from the others. maybe my memory is just fuzzy, but was that intentional? 

The way I remember it, Deborah, is that Grant really wanted to tell the story of the (real) spear, and that meant we had to deal with the Bad Guys.  So yes, we had to switch the cast of characters somewhat.  Actually, each book featured different protagonists, but between the second and third books we switched most of the action from the Good Guys' camp to the Bad Guys'.  

Linda asked:  So my question is....whether with this series of prophecy or other topics, have you ever had a story line or concept (either that you've thought of or that's been presented to you) that you've thought "I can't/don't want to deal with that." I would imagine that we all have those issues that stop us short, but you have written on such a wide variety of things. Not trying to delve into the recesses of your mind, but just wondering if there are things you avoid (you don't have to say what they are) or if the research and writing are the way you deal with them.

Sure, people suggest stories to me all the time, but I rarely act on those suggestions.  I can work on projects that my editors suggest to me--and frequently do--and though those will become interesting as I learn about them, it's the books that are rooted in my own curiosity that bring me the most satisfaction.  There are some topics that simply don't interest me, but that's usually because I've written about them before.  :-)  I don't like repeating myself.  

So that about wraps it up!  Thanks so much for coming along on another book of the month survey!


Friday, June 06, 2008

BOM: Results/Reader Response

The reaction and reader response to these prophetic novels tended to fall along the lines of people who like prophetic novels and people who don't.  :-)  There are lots of folks who don't agree with the eschatology presented in these stories, so I suspect these books aren't exactly their cups of tea. 

But the most amazing thing to me was the fact that the second book, BY DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT, won the Christy Award in the program's inaugural year.  I remember that one of the Left Behind books was also a finalist, so everyone assumed that Jerry's book would take the prize. I was thrilled just to be nominated. 

That night at the awards ceremony, for each category they had all the finalists come up to the stage (I'm glad they don't do that anymore!).  Then they announced the winner, and all I remember is gaping at Jim Bell and some other friends down front.  Then I turned to Jerry, who was on my right, and said, "I'm so sorry!"  

It was a very "pinch me" moment, but I still have the award sitting on a shelf in my office, so I suppose it really happened.  That story--of the Third Temple and Jerusalem--was so interesting, though, it practically wrote itself. 

Tomorrow: your questions, so if you have any, please leave them in the comment box.  Thanks for dropping by! 


Thursday, June 05, 2008

BOM: The Editing

Photo:  my friend Harry Krauss studying a gun in a writer's workshop. 

If I don't remember the stories in these novels, you can bet I don't remember much about the editing. Yet one incident does stand out, because it represents one of the challenges in writing for the Christian market. 

In one of the books--FLEE, I think--a Navy Seal is captured by some Bad Guys who want to extract information from him. Navy SEALs, may I remind you, are trained to withstand pain and torture. So getting information from this guy is not going to be easy, except--

he has a young, beautiful, civilian wife. 

Well, if you're a Bad Dude, this situation is a no-brainer.  What do you do to get the SEAL to talk?  You torture the wife, of course. 

So I wrote the scene that way.  I wasn't explicit, either--no bamboo shoots beneath the fingernails or anything like that.  I think I had the guy hit her a couple of times.  Or break a few fingers. 

Well . . . no go.  That scene got flagged in the editing process.  No torturing of women, I was told.  

I protested that the scene made no sense without the threat of violence to the wife. The bad guys had to have something to hang over the SEAL's head, or he wasn't going to talk. 

So . . . I was allowed to SHOOT AND KILL the woman.  I just couldn't hit her. 

(Well, if you had to choose, wouldn't you rather be smacked than shot?)

Anyway: shooting--okay.  Hitting--not okay. 

I know, it makes no sense.  But I strive to be a team player, so I wrote the scene as best I could.  Some mountains are simply not worth dying on.  

And I should point out that this happened years ago. Sensibilities have changed a lot since I wrote that scene, and I think today I could write a scene that would be painful enough without offending readers' sensibilities. 

But for today, at least, I'm glad I don't have to.  I found a much quieter way to murder my latest victim . . . 


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

BOM: The writing

Believe it or not, but as I picked up FLEE THE DARKNESS a minute ago and flipped through the pages, I don't remember any of the story.  I could read it right now and probably enjoy it as much as any reader--because it'd be a complete surprise!  It's been a while since I wrote these books. 

The other day I was trying to explain my memory to someone--I simply can't keep everything inside my head; there's no room.  When I'm writing a book, I learn a lot of facts about the topic, but when that book is done, that mental file drawer closes so I can open and fill another one.  The one thing I do try to do is remember where I put the information--in books, on the computer, or in a file, so I can access it later if I need to.   

For instance, since the summer of '06, only two years ago, I have written five complete novels, two autobiographies (with other people) and edited three other novels for re-publication.  Oh, yes, and finished my doctorate. No wonder I can't remember what I had for dinner last night.  :-) 

But--the one thing I do remember about the writing of the first book is this story:  at one point I sent a draft to Grant.  He contacted me and said (and I'm paraphrasing): "I don't get it.  We have an available male character. We have a beautiful and intelligent female character. Why can't they get together right away?"  

LOL!  I had to explain that part of the tension of any novel is that the "romantic" tension must be stretched out along with the overt plot tension.  You can't have people falling in love too easily--they have to suffer first.  :-) 

Grant laughed and said that he'd defer to me in fiction if I deferred to him in prophetic matters.  I agreed that was fair enough.  

Tomorrow: the editing.  (I do remember a great story about that!)