Sandra Orchard
Finding Inspiration

For the past week, I’ve been in dream-up-a-new-story mode. This one is for the Love Inspired Suspense line. Since people often ask me how I come up with ideas, I thought I’d share some recent examples with you.

Ideas for snippets of scenes come from anywhere and everywhere; from a conversation at the dinner table; an interesting character I see while out and about; an intriguing news article or this gorgeous sight outside my office window this morning:

Sunrise on SnowThis particular image got me thinking that my heroine should see this the morning after a particularly traumatic evening to renew her hope. Then again…

You know what they say about red sky in the morning?

Shepherds heed warning.

That goes double for characters in my books. ;-)

The original idea for the story I’m fleshing out right now actually started in 2011, while visiting a critically ill friend when her male nurse paid a visit. He was pretty handsome and so we had fun dreaming up a story featuring him.

His role has changed over the years, as the story ruminated in the recesses of my computer (ur mind). But that was the seed.

Story ideas often spring from what-if questions, too.

In this case, we asked: What if the bad guys go after the wrong woman?

It makes for lots of potential dicey situations, which my editor always loves to see. :-D

And…from the beginning, we planned to include a dog in a key role in the story.

That idea came about during a creative exercise I did for writer’s block, in which you choose three random words then write a few sentence vignette that incorporates them.

I liked the vignette so much, that at this point, it is still part of my opening scene.

Since I had so much fun with Rusty, Zach’s son’s dog in Identity Withheld, I’m looking forward to discovering this new dog’s personality. The inspiration for Rusty came from a newsletter subscriber who told me about the crazy things her childhood dog used to do and from an adorable Golden Doodle I met while out walking.

I haven’t settled on the particulars for my newest dog character. I’m thinking Ranger sounds like a fun name and I’m thinking a Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle dog) might fit the bill.

They’re courageous, watchful, protective of family, distrustful of strangers, high energy. Sounds perfect for a suspense don’t you think.

Of course, my Bella thinks she should be the model for the character:

BellaAwardShe is after all an award-winning actor. Even it was only in my daughter’s film for schdue southool.  ;-)

I personally think she’s been watching too much Due South and has illusions of grandeur. 8-)

Your Turn: Any suggestions?

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A Romance Story for your Valentine’s Day

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HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY

For the past two weeks on the Craftie Ladies of Love Inspired blog, we’ve been sharing a collaborative, seat-of-our-pants serial historical romance for our readers. You can begin reading by clicking here.

And then click on “newer posts” beneath the post to see subsequent installments in the story, which culminates with today’s post…I think. ;-)

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Interview with Nancy Mehl, author of Deadly Echoes

I’m delighted to be joined today by popular romantic suspense and mystery author, Nancy Deadly EchoesMehl, to talk about her newest release, Deadly Echoes, and a special contest she has going on to celebrate its release.

What inspired you to write this particular novel?

 

Actually, I’d been thinking about jealousy and competitiveness. Why sometimes we feel threatened by someone else’s success, looks, or possessions. I was wondering what causes us to compare ourselves to others in the first place. Jealousy is like a slow poison that can work its way into every area of our lives if we open the door to it. It weakens us and steals our joy. I believe a lack of knowing who we are in Christ makes us susceptible to the green-eyed monster. Addressing this problem inspired Deadly Echoes.

 

My main character, Sarah Miller, was orphaned at a young age. Her sister, Hannah, was adopted, but Sarah wasn’t. Even though her life has turned out well, She’s never lost her belief that Hannah was adopted because she was prettier and more worthy of love. Sarah would never admit to being jealous of Hannah. She truly loves her sister, yet she lives under Hannah’s shadow, accepting a false reality based on her own feelings of inadequacy. As my story unfolds, Sarah will not only have to deal with threats from the outside, she will have to look inward and deal with her own demons.

Very intriguing. Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?

I started writing when I was 45. I’d thought about it off and on, but one day I finally decided to give it a try. It didn’t take long for me to discover I loved writing novels. After a few years, I went before the Lord and asked Him if this was something He actually wanted me to do. I didn’t want to spend years doing something that wasn’t His will for me. He answered me in the affirmative, and I’ve been writing ever since. When things get tough, I fall back on my belief that I’m called to write.

Inspiring! Do you have a favorite or “life” verse? Why that one?

 

I have to mention two different verses. Of course, all the words in the Bible are special to me, but Jeremiah 29:11 is a verse that conveys a truth I try to build into every story I write. (For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.) It’s so important for people to realize that God is interested in them – that He has a wonderful plan for their lives. The devil would love for us to feel as if we have nothing special to offer, but that just isn’t true. God has filled each one of us with gifts and callings. We are unique in the Kingdom, and no one else can take our place.

 

The other scripture that means a lot to me is Psalm 37:5. (“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will bring it to pass.”) God has used this verse in my life to encourage me to quit worrying about my career, my finances, the future, etc. I used to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders, but now, I’m learning to cast my care on God and trust that He will take care of every situation. I believe He will work everything out in His timing and in His way. What a relief! I’m still learning, and sometimes He has to remind me again when I start to slip, but thanks to Him, I’m making progress!

That’s great, and so reassuring. Can you tell us about your next book?

 

The next book in my Finding Sanctuary series is Rising Darkness. This is a special story to me because I’m actually bringing back a character from my Road to Kingdom series. Sophie Wittenbauer was a troubled teenager back in Kingdom, Kansas. I always felt that her story needed to be finished, and I’m happy I can finally do that for her.

 

After Sophie left Kingdom she worked hard to make something out of her life. Now she’s a newspaper reporter. She recently stumbled across some information that could lead to an incredible story. The kind of story that could launch her career as an investigative reporter. However, to uncover the truth she must travel to Sanctuary, Missouri. When she discovers there is a Conservative Mennonite community living there, she almost scraps her plans. Being around people that remind her of her past in Kingdom is the last thing she wants. But the desire for fame and fortune drive her to ignore her fears and go to Sanctuary.

Once there she runs into a face from the past. Jonathon Wiese is the pastor of a nondenominational church in the small town. Sophie is mortified at seeing him again. She’s thought about him almost every day, and her feelings for him are just as strong as they ever were. Thankfully, he doesn’t make the connection between the sophisticated woman she’s become and the dirty uneducated teenager she used to be. As she tries to deal with seeing him again, she begins to uncover clues that could lead to finding a notorious criminal who vanished years ago. But before she can find him, he seems to have found her. Sophie will not only have to face her love for Jonathon, but also the very real fear that she will never leave Sanctuary alive.

Oh, that’s cool. I loved the book covers for that series. They were the inspiration for my Port Aster Secrets series.

Readers you can learn more about Nancy Mehl’s contest by clicking the book image above or the link here.

Nancy Mehl

Nancy Mehl lives in Festus, Missouri, with her husband, Norman, and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored twenty books and just finished a new series for Bethany House Publishing. The first book in her Finding Sanctuary series, “Gathering Shadows” was released in May of 2014. The second book, “Deadly Echoes” became available in February. The third book, “Rising Darkness will release late in 2015.

You can learn more about Nancy through her Web site: www.nancymehl.com. She is part of The Suspense Sisters: www.suspensesisters.blogspot.com, along with several other popular suspense authors. She is also very active on Facebook.

Have a great week everyone! I’ll be back on Valentine’s Day to share a special serial read.

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Taking God at His Word

This week I’d like to share with you a devotional I wrote for Novel Crossing, a wonderful online community for Christian fiction readers.

It opens with a quote from Tom’s beloved father in Deadly Devotion: Sooner or later almost every one of us come up against a side of God that’s hard for us to accept.

You can read the full post here: Taking God at His Word with Sandra Orchard

I hope you have a wonderful week. I hope to write “The End” on the manuscript for the first book in my next series by the end of it. Your prayers would be most appreciated!   :-)

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My Favorite Essential Oils

A post on essential oils probably seems like an off-the-wall topic for a fiction author, but I’ve decided to make my newest heroine a fan of them so it is related.  ;-)

For years I avoided essential oils, because I’m very sensitive to fragrances, particularly floral scents. Many give me an instant migraine.

But I’ve become a huge fan of several essential oils in the past few months, particularly, orange essential oil, which is purported to increase energy and creativity. I’ve been diffusing it in my office for weeks now and the writing has been humming along nicely.

 image of woman happily writing

Sure, I have a suspicion that my loyalty to it is kind of like a hockey or football player’s tendency (at least in the movies) to stick to the same ritual that has kept them on their current winning streak, but…hey, I love the smell and the extra humidity (I use a cool mist diffuser) is a welcome bonus.

My daughter loves it when I sprinkle a few drops of lemon on the furnace filter, too, probably because it gives the entire house a nice just-cleaned scent. This, of course, might be wishful thinking on her part, because between the aforementioned humming-along writing and a strained hip muscle that makes it painful for me to bend, the housecleaning isn’t happening unless she does it.  ;-)

My son loves having a mix of lemon and peppermint diffused in his bedroom at night. He says that it has really helped his sinuses. The rest of the family loves the much more pleasant, non-locker-room smell emanating from his room.  :lol:

I’m also experimenting with using rosemary essential oil in my bath water. Now if you can get past smelling like you’re marinating as you soak in the tub, rosemary is supposed to be good for a wide variety of things that ail you, from constipation or diarrhea, to menstrual pain, to regulating oils in skin whether dry or oily, to…hair loss–stopping it.

That last one was of particular interest to me, since multiple deadlines last year contributed to my hair coming out in droves. Yeah, okay, it probably doesn’t count when you pull it out in frustration, buy hey, it was worth a try.  :-D

Your Turn: How about you? Have you ever used essential oils? Do you have a favorite?

 

(image courtesy of adamr at freedigitalphotos.net )

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Introducing Hidden Agenda by Lisa Harris + A Giveaway

I’m very excited to introduce you to Hidden Agenda, the third book in Lisa Harris‘ Southern Crimes romantic suspense series from Revell Publishing.

Hidden Agenda

Michael Hunt is alive–and on the run. Presumed dead by friends and family, the undercover assignment he’s been working for the past eight months has just been blown. With a hit out on his life and corruption inside the Atlanta police department, Michael finds himself hunted by both the cartel and the law. His only hope is the daughter of the man who wants him dead.

I had the privilege of endorsing the first book in the series, Dangerous Passages, which went on to win the Christy Award. Book 2, Fatal Exchange, also did not disappoint.

Fatal ExchangeDangerous-Passage-662x1024

Romantic Times Review called it “a thrill ride from start to finish.”

So I’m eager to read this final installment in the series!

I asked Lisa what inspired the series and what she’s working on now. Here’s what she had to say:

The whole Southern Crimes Series was inspired by my desire to write a romantic suspense series based around a close-knit family of cops. For this story in particular, I loved the idea of an undercover cop having to be saved by the daughter of the man who wants him dead. It brought up lots of trust issues and conflict that I had a lot of fun working with. If you haven’t read books one and two in the series, I don’t want to give too much away, but Michael’s story just had to be told!

While Hidden Agenda will be the last in this series, I just turned in a book to my editor that will kick off my next series with Revell, and I’ve just started writing book two. While I can’t say much yet, it’s another fast paced romantic suspense series that deals with a missing person task force and a heroine (and romance) that I can’t wait to reveal!  The first book will release in October!

Great to hear! For those who are “meeting” Lisa for the first time, here is a little more about her, then be sure to answer the blog question for a chance to receive a copy of Hidden Agenda. Lisa Photo

LISA HARRIS is a Christy Award finalist for Blood Ransom, Christy Award winner for Dangerous Passage, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 from Romantic Times. She has over thirty novels and novella collections in print. She and her family have spent over a decade living as missionaries in Africa where she leads a women’s group, and runs a non-profit organization that works alongside their church-planting ministry.  When she’s not working she loves hanging out with her family, cooking different ethnic dishes, photography, and heading into the African bush on safari. For more information about her books and life in Africa visit her website at www.lisaharriswrites.com.

Your Turn: What books are you eagerly awaiting to read in 2015?

(The recipient of a complimentary copy of Hidden Agenda will be randomly chosen from comments made before midnight EST Saturday, January 17th)

Desperate MeasuresP.S. The preorder price for Desperate Measures, the final book in my Port Aster Secrets mystery series is still under $5 at Amazon (but I’m not sure how much longer it will last)

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Last Day to Get Deadly Devotion & Blind Trust & Desperate Measures for a Steal!

All the E-retailers have price-matched or beat the 99 cent deal on Deadly Devotion!

And…have slashed the price on Blind Trust.

Some…such as Amazon and CBD (epub)…have even slashed the Ebook preorder price for Desperate Measures!!!

Here are some links for Deadly Devotion:

Ebooks:
Kindle US
Kindle Canada
Nook
Kobo
EPub Version from CBD

Koorong (Australia)

Ipad (ITunes Store)

If you know anyone who enjoys fast-paced mysteries, I’d appreciate you letting them know. Thanks so much!

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Boxing Week Blowout & A Cat Question

Just a quick post to let you know that if you haven’t tried the Port Aster Secrets series and would like to read it on a Kobo, from now until January 5th, you can pick up Deadly Devotion, book 1 in the series, for only 99 cents. (Click image or “kobo” above for link)

book-deadly-devotion

I’m hard at work on the first book in my next series. My writing cave doesn’t look quite as cool as this:

Writing CaveBut I am locked away.

I added a heater to the room yesterday, so maybe I’ll be able to think better now. Although… the book is set in February, so all that shivering was inspiring. ;-)

The opening scene happens in Buffalo, so at one point I have:

The chance of scoring a flight home to St. Louis tonight didn’t look good. And the frigid Buffalo temps would be nothing compared to the cold shoulder my cat would give me if he had to spend a second night with only my friend to look in on him. :-D

And here’s my question for you: What kind of cat should I give my heroine?

It is a he–Harold. It came with the apartment she took over from her Great Aunt. She’s never had a cat before so this is a new experience for her.

I snapped this pic of my friend’s cat in St. Louis (it refused to pose!!!), thinking “he’d” make a good model, except…would you say his coat has 3 colors? Because then he’d have to be a she, right?

cat

 

 

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Merry Christmas!

These days I’ve been pretty much glued to my keyboard finishing up copy edits and page proofs for my publishers for my two 2015 books, while also trying to finish the first, very, very, very rough draft of my next book. But…

I wanted to take a moment to wish you, my dear blog readers, a blessed Christmas.

Christmas Greetings

 

Also if you’re on Facebook, I wanted to let you know that I am one “like” away from having a 10-winners book giveaway to celebrate hitting 1000!

The winners will be chosen randomly from all the names that have interacted with my page since the beginning of November, so be sure to check in to see if your name is posted and message or email me if it is. If your name is selected and you already have all my books, (after I tell you how wonderful a person you are ;-) ), I’ll let you have your pick of an advanced copy of either of my 2015 releases as soon as they are available or I can gift the book of your choice to a loved one.

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Will the Real Hero Please Stand Up

Back from his whirlwind tour of the international blogging circuit is the self-proclaimed hero of Identity Withheld. Since he received such a warm response at ICFW, I thought I’d invite him for a repeat performance here.

Golden_Doodle_2 Sandra: Rusty, could you start by telling us about yourself?

Rusty: I’m a really, really, really good dog. Don’t pay no attention to what Tommy’s dad, Jake, says. He’s a firefighter and gets hot under the collar just because I chew a shoe or corner of the couch or something. His parents adopted me for their grandson Tommy who is the nicest boy on the face of the earth. I live with them, next door to Tommy and Jake. Tommy’s mom died not long after he was born so Tommy’s at his grandparents a lot when his dad’s working, and we play and play and play.

Sandra: I hear you took a shine to Kara Grant, too, when Jake brought her to his parents after her house burned down and she had nowhere to go.

Rusty: Oh, yes, I loooooove Kara. She understands dogs. I could tell she was sad so I sat right down beside her and let her cry into my fur and she let me sleep on her bed with her. And she taught my person, Tommy, how to train me so his dad wouldn’t get so mad at me. Of course, I didn’t listen when she told me to stay before she went out for a jog, because I sensed she wasn’t coming back and I knew that would make Tommy real sad.


Sandra: So what did you do?


Rusty: I chased after her. And it worked! She came back to the house to stay a while longer. But…she was more scared than ever, because bad guys are after her.


Sandra: Did Jake have a new respect for you after that, too?


Rusty: More like he was jealous that Kara was always hugging me instead of him.<big, tongue-lolling grin> But after that, at least, he figured “I was smarter than I looked.” Although…I think I look adorable. Don’t you?

Sandra: Absolutely. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Rusty: I don’t want to give away the story, but everyone keeps calling Jake the hero, when I should get top billing. Kara fell in love with me the first time she laid eyes on me and… <glances from side to side and lowers his voice> if you read Identity Withheld, I’m sure you’ll agree that it wouldn’t be much of a story without me.

Sandra: I agree! Thank you Rusty for visiting us. Blog Readers, if you’d like to explore more bonus features of Identity Withheld, including interviews with Jake and Kara, deleted scenes and more, please click here for “Sandra Orchard’s Bonus Features Page

You’ll also find a scrumptious pumpkin muffin recipe. Sending out Happy Thanksgiving best wishes for all my American readers, which…happens to be the day Identity Withheld begins. Have a blessed week!

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Sandra Orchard
Sandra Orchard
Sandra Orchard

 
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