Sandra Orchard
Introducing Chain of Mercy’s Hero Richard Brooks & a Giveaway

Before I begin my interview with Chain of Mercy‘s hero, Richard Brooks, allow me to introduce the debut author behind the story, Brenda Anderson. Brenda has introduced many new authors to the blogosphere over the years, including me, and I’m delighted that I now have that privilege to do the same for her.

Brenda-S-Anderson

Brenda S. Anderson writes gritty, life-affirming fiction that offers hope and reminds readers they’re not alone. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and is currently President of the Minnesota chapter, MN-NICE. When not reading or writing, she enjoys music, theater, roller coasters, and baseball (Go Twins!), and she loves watching movies with her family. She resides in the Minneapolis area with her husband of 26 years, their three children, and one sassy cat.

Chain-of-Mercy

And to give you a little background on her novel’s hero, here’s the back cover blurb from Chain of Mercy, which officially releases, Tuesday, April 22nd, from Winslet Press:

They forgave him for the accident that killed their son, but he will never forgive himself.

Manhattan businessman Richard Brooks was at the top of the world, drunk with success, wealth, and women. Until one disastrous evening, when his world came crashing down.

Richard flees to Minneapolis where he repairs ancient boilers instead of solving corporate problems, and he’s determined to live the solitary life he now deserves.

But Executive Sheila Peterson has other plans for the handsome custodian. Richard appears to be the perfect match for the no-strings-attached romance she’s after, but she soon discovers that he’s hiding more than the designer suits in his closet.

Oooh, has that spiked your curiosity? Well, let’s grill Richard a little, shall we? :-)

Question: Thanks for talking to me today, Richard! The grapevine tells me that you used to work in corporate America, a Vice President in a Fortune 500 company, but now you’re doing custodial work. What compelled you to make that huge career move?

Richard: (sighs and tugs at a chain around his neck.) It’s not that big of a change. I’ve always been a fixer. I grew up on a dairy farm, and we fixed anything that broke down. It was a natural progression to become a corporate fixer, but that’s a high-pressure position. Working as a custodian has relieved much of that pressure.

Question: Why make the move from Manhattan to Minneapolis?

Richard: Minneapolis is close to family, and family is very important to me. Now I get to see my nieces and nephews more often. I won’t miss birthdays, holidays any more. I get to take the nephews fishing, go to ball games. I get to spoil my nieces.

Question: Family is important to you, yet you’re a confirmed bachelor. Have you ever considered settling down, starting your own family?

Richard: (fiddles with the chain again) I’ve always wanted to be a father, and thought maybe I’d found that someone to share my life with, but it didn’t work out. Right now I’m satisfied with being an uncle.

Question: Hmmm. That grapevine I referred to earlier has you connected with Sales Executive, Sheila Peterson. Any truth to that rumor?

Richard: (Laughs) Do you really think a company executive would want to be seen with a janitor?

Question: Hmmm. That’s exactly what I intend to find out!

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s interview. You can connect with Brenda at the any of the links below, and if you’d like to be entered in the giveaway for a copy of Chain of Mercy, please leave a question for Richard in the comments. Let’s see if we can squeeze some more info out of him. ;-)

Giveaway is limited to US or Canadian addresses and all comments must be made before 10 pm EST, Sunday April 27th. Winner will be notified by email.

Website link: http://brendaandersonbooks.com/

Blog links:

http://brendaandersonbooks.com/blog/

http://inkspirationalmessages.com/

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/BrendaSAndersonAuthor

Twitter link: https://twitter.com/BrendaSAnders_n

Pinterest link: http://www.pinterest.com/brendabanderson/

BTW, Tuesday, April 22nd, I’m guest posting at:

Seriously Write, talking about persevering through Writer’s Block

 

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Hug a Librarian and Giveaway

It’s National Library Week in the US, and although I’m Canadian, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to encourage you to thank a librarian this week. How can you not love people who love books and who want to help you find just the right one to meet your needs?

I was blessed with parents that loved to read and who filled our home with books and many trips to the local library. Today, libraries and used bookstores are two of my favorite places to visit when touring a new area.

There aren’t many places that appeal as readily to young and old alike. And we authors believe in fostering that love of reading … young. :-D authors and babies

Okay, for the record, the book that other author’s baby is engrossed in has pictures. LOL

Besides being able to browse through an amazing variety of titles, the architecture of libraries is often inspiring in and of itself.

Vancouver LibraryI wish I’d had the chance to do more than a “drive by shooting” of the Vancouver Library when we visited the city after our Alaskan Cruise.

Speaking of cruises… ;-) (nice tie in, eh?)

This week the heroine of Perilous Waters is visiting Margaret Daley’s blog. Stop by and leave a comment on her interview for a chance to win a copy of the book for you or a friend.

Your Turn: Do you have a favorite library memory to share?

Oh, by the way, for the curious, Canada celebrates National Library Month in October.

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Catching Up!

Sightings of Perilous Waters have been confirmed at Walmarts and book stores from Atlanta, Georgia to Calgary, Alberta. And I’m trekking out today to see if I can catch my own glimpse. :-)

Yes, even though I had a box delivered to my door!

Sandra holding box of books

This is my fifth Love Inspired Suspense, and I hope the excitement never gets old.

My 2nd quarter newsletter went out last night, so if you’re a subscriber, be sure to check your spam box if you don’t see it in your inbox.

Why?

Because I randomly choose a subscriber’s name to receive a free book, but…the onus is on the winner to contact me.

And yes, I have had winners miss out.

And yes, I’m totally bribing you to read the newsletter. ;-)

Aspiring writers will also want to check out the subscriber-exclusive article on writing subtext.

In other housekeeping news: Sam Steele, hero of Perilous Waters, was interviewed yesterday at Craftie Ladies of Love Inspired Romance if you’d like to check it out.

Your Turn: I’m currently working on the third connected book, and Sam is on his honeymoon. Any suggestions where I should send him?

P.S. If you’d like to subscribe to my quarterly newsletter, to receive notices of book releases, special deals, and subscriber exclusive short stories, click her to subscribe to Sandra Orchard’s Newsletter.

 

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Evolution of a Novel – Part 5 – Connecting Books

Later this week, Perilous Waters will appear on bookstore shelves as I dig into writing the story of the hero’s cousin–paramedic Sherri Steele.

stretcher

I enjoy reading novels that revisit families or townsfolk or characters I’ve “met” in previous books so  I like to plot such connected books for my readers.

In the case of Perilous Waters, and my next two books, the connection is a family one (with apologies to those who were hoping for another Alaska setting ;-)  ).

Pic of Brothers & Sisters

The fun of being a writer is that I can create whatever connections I want. The trick is to figure out what they are before the first book goes to print! Or at least not contradict anything that was introduced in the first book without an intriguing explanation.

lifering

used by permission, photographer Laurie Benner

I decided that due to a tragedy in the Steeles’ extended family, my future hero and heroine grew up wanting to work in jobs that would enable them to save lives. So…

Perilous Waters’ Sam Steele is an FBI agent. His brother, Jake Steele, the hero of Identity Withheld, is a firefighter and widower of a young son. The reader gets to know him well in PW and will hopefully look forward to reading his story when it releases in November. But when I started writing my cruise ship story, I had no idea how I might connect a third book, until…

baby

My hero was checking the online news of home, while aboard ship, and caught an article about his paramedic cousin delivering a baby. That’s when I knew I’d found the heroine of the third book. I even managed to bring her onto the page in person at the end of the book and give her a larger secondary character role in Identity Withheld.

I hope you’ll enjoy meeting the heroic members of the Steele family as much as I’ve enjoyed creating them.

Your Turn: Do you enjoy revisiting the lives of characters from previous books?

middle image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Evolution of a Novel – Part 4 – Symbolism

I hope you’ve been enjoying this series on the development of my newest release, Perilous Waters, as much as I’m enjoying writing it.

Today, I’d like to talk about the heart of why I love writing Christian fiction–the opportunity to share spiritual truths and to show my characters working through troublesome obstacles to their faith.

Serenity-Sunset

The use of symbols is a powerful way to touch the heart and mind of a reader at a subconscious level.

As hopefully, you’re immediate internal reaction to the sunset photo above demonstrated.

I always get ridiculously giddy if a particularly appropriate symbol presents itself as I write.

Not every reader registers the deeper meaning of symbols. And that’s okay.

I tend to watch for them in movies, which drives my family a little crazy. For example, in the movie Australia, the big tree in the middle of the desert is used as a symbol for the blossoming relationship. I was sure of it!

So…when the movie appeared to be over after they got the cattle to the ship and my family prepared to call it a night, I said, “It can’t be over. They have to go back to the tree!” :-(

For those who’ve seen the movie, you’ll remember that I was half-right. I won’t share the significance here, because I don’t want it to be a spoiler, but watch for the tree scenes if you watch the movie. Once you examine such symbols on a conscious level–remember those high school English classes?–you really begin to appreciate their power.

While writing Perilous Waters, “discovering” the particular stolen work of art that the heroine Jennifer Robbins would find in her family’s art gallery, seen depicted below on the FBI’s National Database for Stolen Art, was a total God moment for me. It immediately resonated with me as a powerful symbolic depiction of several elements of the story. 

Screenshot Duel after a masked ball

Screenshot 2014-03-04 09.42.40

It is called Duel After a Masked Ball, and the title alone conveys two elements significant to the story–the idea of a duel, and the masks people wear. So even if the reader can only visualize the piece from my paltry description, I hope they appreciate that the selection wasn’t a random choice.

Throughout the story the heroine finds herself in figurative duels with herself, her sister, her “uncle” and even the hero who she doesn’t realize is secretly investigating her connection to ongoing art thefts involving her gallery. Which…

leads to the second element of masks. Not everyone is whom they seem in the story.

Of course, making people not be what they seem is my favorite pastime to keep my readers guessing. ;-)

But the deeper truth comes in shedding the mask that hides us from our true selves.

My heroine Jennifer is a twin sister, a believer, while her sister thumbs her nose at religion. To me, one of the most powerful lines in the story is when her sister says: “I don’t know why you cling so tightly to that Bible. It doesn’t seem to make you any happier.”

It forces the heroine to take a good, hard look at herself, her faith and the perception she conveys to others, however unwittingly, of what being a believer looks like. And what it could look like if she trusted God completely, instead of only trusting him with pieces of her life here and there. 

Your Turn: How have you been impacted personally by a fiction book you’ve read? Or…what’s a favorite symbol you remember from a book or movie?

 

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Evolution of a Novel – Part 3 – The Crime & A Giveaway

I have a both a shoebox and computer folder full of potential crime ideas for future novels. The idea of investigating Art Crime was sparked by a newspaper article about Alain Lacoursière, a Montreal police detective who sought to combine his passion for art with fighting crime. He enrolled in an art history course and began collecting catalogs from art auctions, as well as reports of stolen art.

His first “buy” was an antique tapestry stolen from NY, which he “bought” at auction for $195,000. Of course, the money never exchanged hands. He reported the find to the FBI who recovered the tapestry and in return wrote a letter to the detective’s boss telling him how valuable his work is.

Art 7

And so began one of the top art-theft units in the world. The FBI estimates that the international black market in art is worth about $6-billion a year, while Interpol ranks art theft as the fourth largest criminal enterprise after drugs, money laundering and weapons.

It sounded to me like a great springboard for a story. And when I boarded our Alaskan Cruise and saw the art gallery and information about the on-board auctions, I knew my cruise story was the one I wanted to work it into.

Art 5

Recovery rates of stolen art are pathetically low, which makes it a wonderful niche in which my hero detective can shine.

Through my research, I also discovered the biography of the founder of the FBI’s Art Crime Team, Robert K. Wittman. I devoured the descriptions of his exploits going undercover to rescue stolen treasures around the world and gleaned more ideas than I could possibly use in a short romantic suspense.

The book also gave a fabulous glimpse into the potential psyche of my hero.

So…while aboard the cruise, I visited my first ever art auction.

On Board Auction

Only a couple of pieces of the many displayed actually sold, and so began my musing of how my unscrupulous gallery owners might use such a venue to smuggle something more valuable or “pay” for something else. I literally had dozens of ideas of how I might integrate it into the story.

Of course, you’ll have to read Perilous Waters if you want to find out which idea I incorporated.

While many art thefts are crimes of opportunity, after which the thief waits for the crime to be reported and then either attempts to claim the reward or sells it on the black market, others are well-planned and the art may be used as collateral to fund other criminal enterprises such as drug and arms deals of organized crime.

And the art might be stolen from anywhere from a museum to a private collector to an archeological dig.

Or from a cruise ship. Maybe. ;-)

All of the photos in this blog were taken during my cruise. Art was displayed throughout the ship.  

Art 3 Art 2

 The pieces pictured below are of the variety I envisioned my heroine most appreciating of her mother’s former work, heart-warming depictions of carefree childhood…what she once enjoyed, before her mother became famous and Jennifer’s idyllic world turned upside down.

Art 6

 Your Turn:  What is your favorite style of art or artist and why?  Think about what you might put on a wall or shelf in your home or office if money were no object.  8-) (Scroll down past giveaway & tags to find the comment box)

 

To celebrate the release of Perilous Waters (available now from Harlequin.com and coming in April to stores everywhere), I’m hosting a

Giveaway For All,

even if you’ve already received Perilous Waters through the Love Inspired Suspense subscription service:

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interested in writing romantic suspense? Join me Tuesday at Seekerville for my how-to post.

I’m also delighted to be interviewed at an Australian blog this week–booklovers1

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Evolution of a Novel – Part 2 – Perilous Waters – What didn’t make the book

Perilous Waters is set aboard an Alaskan Cruise inspired by the cruise my husband and I took in 2012. It was our first ever and there was SO much to see, experience and discover.

So much that could be wickedly twisted into spine-tingling suspense situations

or passed off as red herrings

or that would provide rich backdrops and tapestries to the story.

Far too much to use in one short novel!

Is that man REALLY just taking a photo of his companion?!

Is that man REALLY just taking a photo of his companion?!

I wove in as many tidbits as I could–tidbits you’ll discover when you have the opportunity to read the book–but in the meantime, here are a few of the details that didn’t make it into the book.

-There are almost as many staff members as passengers on the cruise ship, from dozens of different countries. We enjoyed fascinating discussions with several of them, providing a window onto much different worlds than our own. Many dream of one day being able to immigrate to North America. You can imagine, I’m sure, how my mind played with the idea of using that in a suspense story.

villain

-We took part in a behind-the-scenes tour of the ship that included everything from massive kitchens and walk-in freezers to the engine room to the helm to a visit behind and beneath the stage in the theater. I saw tons and tons of places for fictional people to slip into and cause mischief or be kidnapped and hidden away or to sabotage and cause havoc. Hee, hee, hee.

-Then there was the spa. Ah, massages, massive showers twenty times bigger than the telephone- booth-sized one in the cabin, and every kind of salon or spa treatment you can imagine, including one or two, if you’re anything like me, that you don’t have a clue what they are. It seemed like the perfect spot for a nasty villain to catch an unsuspecting heroine unaware.

-On our ship, we were introduced to the “most traveled passengers” aboard. From Phoenix, Arizona and well into their retirement years, the couple had sailed with the cruise line for a whopping 946 days. A couple like that could help a detective out quite a bit, don’t you think? Although somehow, they seemed more like the perfect characters for a cozier mystery. 

-At various points during the cruise, forest rangers or special speakers/comedians etc came aboard to do a presentation or show. Many embark and disembark at ports, but the forest rangers of Glacier Bay came along side our ship in their own boat to climb aboard from the water. I snapped a few photos, my mind whirring with ideas of how I could use that little opportunity in the novel. Sadly, I never got the chance. 

forest_rangers-boat

Or should I say, happily for the heroine, I never got the chance? ;-)

I hope this small window into “possibilities” has given you an enjoyable glimpse into the myriad of choices I faced as I plotted this novel. If you’d like to see a few more photos of our Alaskan cruise, you can find them under the book’s bonus features.

Your Turn: What is the scariest thing you could imagine facing on a cruise ship? (Aside from an iceberg  ;-) )

P.S. I mentioned this last week, but for any who might not have seen that post…

Perilous Waters is available now directly from Harlequin in print or Epub, with free shipping to first time customers or on minimum orders, and… receive an additional 10% off their already discounted price with coupon code: SB14SL3 There’s also two Love Inspired Suspense giveaways happening this month at the Suspense Zone, including Perilous Waters, you can check them out here: http://www.thesuspensezone.com/contests/current-contests/ 

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The Evolution of a Book – Perilous Waters – Part 1 – Milestones

I recently celebrated a birthday…

Yes, the glow of the candles was so bright that the camera didn’t know where to focus, but in my defense, my son’s candles were on there, too!  Blowing out birthday candles

Any how, forget the candles already…the celebration got me thinking about my April release, Perilous Waters.

Stay with me. There is a connection!!

Although a number of elements in the story had been rattling around in my head for some time—namely the setting of a cruise ship, a plot involving stolen art, and an FBI hero—the plot came together during the Alaskan cruise my husband and I took to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.

So it shouldn’t have surprised me that “family” became a key theme of the story. Or that the celebration of important milestones, like anniversaries and birthdays, would cause the hero and heroine, Sam and Jennifer, to reassess the importance of “family” in their lives.

After all, birthdays and anniversaries are a natural time to pause and reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re headed and possibly how you’d like to change in the year ahead.

Perilous Waters Not that Jennifer and Sam had ANY time to pause with someone trying to kill her, but you know what I mean. ;)

They each boarded the ship purportedly to celebrate an important milestone. For Jennifer, she was there to celebrate her 25th birthday with her twin sister, a birthday which also marked the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. For at 25, they would finally gain control of the family art gallery bequeathed to them by their parents who’d died tragically when the girls were still teens.

In reality, Jennifer agreed to the cruise in order to get her sister away from the art gallery and the influence of the curator, who has also been their guardian and the estate’s trustee, in hopes of convincing her to agree to sell.

Sam, on the other hand, is purportedly there with his parents, his brother and young nephew to celebrate his parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. He booked and paid for the trip for every last one of them. But in reality, he’s there to spy on, and ultimately arrest, Jennifer and Cassandra Robbins, his prime suspects in an art smuggling case.

He naturally invites Jennifer to spend time with him and his family, and for a woman who hasn’t enjoyed “family times” for many, many years, the allure is irresistible. 

This was a scenario I could easily relate to.

Although I didn’t lose my parents at a young age, it sometimes felt that way. I was the youngest child by four years so by the time I was twelve, family vacations and evenings playing games together became a distant memory. cockatiel playing chessI well remember how I fell in love as much with the idyllic-seeming family camaraderie of a couple of the guys I dated in my teens as the guys themselves.

Of course, Sam, being the God-fearing, honorable guy he is, feels terrible about how fond Jennifer grows of his family. Not that his emotions remain untouched.

ContemplativeNot by a long shot. ;)

By seeing his family through her eyes, his appreciation for what he has, and what he’s been missing out on by choosing to live and work thousands of miles away from his family, begins to grow.

But…I can’t give any more away. You’ll have to read the book to see how he digs himself out of that hole.

Your Turn: What are some of the ways you have celebrated important milestones?

 

Giveaway & Specials News: Perilous Waters is available now directly from Harlequin in print or Epub, with free shipping to first time customers or on minimum orders, and… receive an additional 10% off their already discounted price with coupon code: SB14SL3

There’s also two Love Inspired Suspense giveaways happening this month at the Suspense Zone, including Perilous Waters, you can check them out here: http://www.thesuspensezone.com/contests/current-contests/ 

 

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On the Winning Team – food for thought

Standing Victorious

Today marks the end of another exciting winter Olympics and, once again, in Canada at least, national pride and spirit is at a peek. Many of us rose early to watch the final hockey game and celebrate our men’s team bringing home the gold.

Throughout the games, I loved watching the faces of athletes and their friends and family when they won. Sometimes they would beam. Sometimes they’d cry. Each one’s experience was different.

But there was no mistaking the exhilaration felt by all who shared in their victories.

It got me thinking about how as a believer…

Every morning should start with the arm-pumping exhilaration of being part of the winning team. 

Because as believers we are!

As the apostle Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians: “thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (I Cor 12:57-58 NIV )

And in his letter to the Philippians, he writes, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3: 13b-14 NIV)

Don’t let defeats weigh you down. Persevere through them, as we’ve seen our countries’ athletes do to reach these Olympics, knowing it’s not in vain.

Your Turn: What are you celebrating?

Image courtesy of suwatpo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Family Day

It’s a holiday–Family Day–in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario today. 

So…I’m playing hooky and hanging with my family. :-D

 

But I’ll be posting tomorrow at The International Christian Fiction Writer’s Blog about a fun picture book I recently picked up for my grandkids Little Copper Pennies for Kids by Susan Harris.

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Sandra Orchard
Sandra Orchard
Sandra Orchard

 
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