Introducing Rising Darkness by Nancy Mehl

RT Book Reviews calls Nancy Mehl‘s newest release “Romantic suspense at its best, with an engaging plot that’s not overpowering. Mehl is an amazing author who writes believable stories, knows what fans expect and does not disappoint.”

 Rising Darkness And who could resist that cool cover?

It was Nancy’s covers that first drew me to her books, when my publisher asked me to provide examples of the type of covers I’d like for my Port Aster Secrets series. At the time, Nancy had another series out with similar type covers, depicting the hero or heroine at the top of the page and a scene at the bottom.

I love them! And I was happy that my publisher did to and produced something similar.  😀

But back to this cool book. I asked Nancy if there was anything unique or unusual about it and this is what she had to say:

“Yes, there is! My main character, Sophie Wittenbauer, actually appeared in a different series–UNBREAKABLE, book two in my Road to Kingdom series. I always felt her story was left hanging, and I wanted to bring her full cycle. My editors allowed me to move her into this new series and give her new life!”

That is so fun!

Gathering Shadows and Deadly Echoes are the first two books in this Finding Sanctuary series. But don’t worry, each book is a standalone romantic suspense.

Here’s the Back Cover Blurb for Rising Darkness:

Sophie Wittenbauer left her strict Mennonite hometown under a cloud of shame and regret. After a rough childhood, her teenage poor choices harmed others, leaving her with no choice but to change her life. Her entry-level writing job at a newspaper puts her in the right place at the right time to overhear office gossip about a prisoner who has information on a decades-old unsolved crime. While the other reporters write off the tip as the ravings of an angry criminal, Sophie can’t ignore it because she knows the name of this prisoner from her old life.

Upon learning from the man that one of the other suspects is hiding out in the Missouri town of Sanctuary, she takes on a false identity to investigate and meets the young pastor of a local church–the very man she’d loved as a troubled teenager. As she gets closer to finding the suspect, will the truth of her own past come out before she discovers the identity of the criminal–or the very person she’s seeking puts a fatal stop to her investigation?

Are you intrigued?

All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul.

“I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”

Nancy MehlLearn more about Nancy and her 20 books at: www.nancymehl.com.

She is also part of The Suspense Sisters: www.suspensesisters.blogspot.com

And on Facebook

 

Behind the Scenes Glimpse of the Writing of Gone Without a Trace by Patricia Bradley

“Shh.” I glanced from side to side. “It’s a little known secret that authors think their characters are–uh, hum, there’s no less absurd way to say this than just to flat out admit it–real. They think they’re real!”

Case in point: I invited Patricia Bradley to interview her character for today’s blog, and…  PT Bradley (1)

This is the scenario I walked in on:

“You busy?” Pat said to the hero of her latest novel, Gone Without a Trace.

She looked from his computer to the doorway. Alex Jennings leaned against it, a frown on his face. “A little. Do you have a problem?”

“No. I just want to hang out.”

I could tell this bugged her. She’s confided in me more than once that she hates it when characters won’t tell her what’s wrong, when she has to drag it out of them. She closed the top on her Macbook. “Spit it out.”

“Spit what out?” He stepped into the room and moved a research book from the Queen Anne chair beside her desk (a very nice chair I might add) and then sat down. Of course, his 6’2” frame looked ridiculous in it.

“Hold on a sec,” she said, and exchanged places with him. “Now, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” He crossed his arms and stared out the window.

She waited. Although I noticed her toe impatiently tapping.

After two minutes of staring, he turned to her. “What am I doing in Logan Point, Mississippi? I’m a Texan, all the way back to the Alamo, and Texans belong in Texas.”

“You don’t like Logan Point?”

“I didn’t say that.” He smiled. “Actually, it’s a great little town. And I love Kate’s B&B. Did you know that woman can do some cooking?”

“Hmm. I think I knew that. So, what’s the problem?”

Alex pressed his lips together. “It’s that detective you paired me with. Livy Reynolds. She’s driving me crazy.”

From the slight curve in Pat’s lips, I could tell that warmed her heart, but she managed to restrain a full blown smile. “Exactly how does she do that?”

“She’s going to organize me to death. Have you seen her lists? That woman makes a list for everything. And that’s not all. She.Is.A.Control.Freak.”

“And you’re not?”

“Hmph.”

She doodled with her pencil. “Do you like anything about her?”

A gleam lit his eyes. “Have you seen her with Abby? That little girl has Livy hogtied.” He tilted his head. “And she has courage. She’s pretty, too.”

“So it’s not all bad?”

His eyes widened. “Uh, uh. You’re not going to—” He jumped up and palmed his hands up . “No. Don’t you dare try to get us together. Not happening. Not in a million years. She’s too bossy. And she hates flying.”

“If you say so.” She took her chair back and shooed him out of her office. Gone without A Trace

I slipped out of my hiding place behind the curtain to find Pat madly typing. “What’s up?” I asked.

She laughed sinisterly. “I just figured out another way to torture the both of them!”

Wasn’t that fun? (Okay, I might’ve made up her sinister laugh. Pat is really quite sweet even if she does love to torture people, ur, characters.)

Patricia, thanks so much for giving us a behind-the-scene glimpse of your character development!

Blog readers, if you love romantic suspense, you’ll enjoy this book. I was ridiculously pleased to have figured out whodunit before the end, but…Pat still managed to make me think I might’ve gotten it all wrong in those tense last chapters.

Pat hails from Mississippi, where I’ve never been, but I’ve enjoyed vicariously visiting the Deep South through her novels. I had the privilege of rooming with Patricia at last year’s Writer’s Police Academy and have to say that honoring God through her writing is her number one priority. Gone Without a Trace is the fourth book in her Logan Point Series from Revell, and…

I’m giving away a copy of Gone Without a Trace.

Answer one of these three questions in the comments to enter:

1) Where would you rather live Texas or Mississippi?

2) Do you make lists? How much do you put on them–as detailed as eat breakfast & brush your teeth or just the big projects?

3) How long do you think a couple should date (or know each other) before they talk marriage?

Thanks so much for visiting today! I hope you enjoyed meeting Pat and Alex. You can learn more about Pat at her website: http://patriciabradleyauthor.com/ or connect on Facebook.

And…for first time visitors to my site, check out Deadly Devotion, book one in my Port Aster Secrets series, also from Revell Publishing. It’s currently free in Ebook format at online retailers!

 

Author Interview – Gina Holmes

pic of Gina Holmes

I’m still in St. Louis this week, doing research for my next series, but I’m delighted to have the talented Gina Holmes here to tell you about her newest release.

Gina is the founder of popular literary site, novelrocket.com. She is a two-time Christy and ECPA Book of the Year finalist and winner of the INSPY, Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and Carol Award. Her books regularly appear on Christian bestseller lists.

 

Gina, tell us a little bit about your newest release, Driftwood Tides.

 

Driftwood Tides tells the story of an aging, alcoholic driftwood artist turned beach bum, Holton Creary, and young Libby Slater. Libby grew up with an absent father and a loving but cold, socialite mother. Leading up to her wedding, Libby and her groom-to-be go through genetic testing and she learns her blood type doesn’t match either of her parents. She confronts her mother and is reluctantly told that she’s adopted. She goes searching for her mother, Adele, only to find her husband, Holton Creary lying face down on the carpet of his Nags Head beach shack.

 

She lies about her real identity until she is finally found out. Holton does not welcome the news. He never knew the wife he had given saint status too had given up a daughter for adoption. Together the two search to find the truth about Adele, Libby’s father and themselves.

 

What do you hope readers will take away from this book? pic of Driftwood Tides

 

At its heart, Driftwood Tides is really about discovering who we are, whose we are, where we belong and the need to accept and bestow forgiveness.

 

Why did you set the novel in Nags Head?

 

Oh, how I love that place! I’m not sure there’s a more peaceful setting in all the world. And the further out I get from civilization, the happier I am. I love the sand dunes, the untouched nature, the quaint towns. Just everything! (Well, except sand in my bathing suit maybe J)

 

You seem to have a recurring theme in your novels about absent fathers, if it’s not too personal, why do you think that is?

 

It is too personal, but I don’t mind answering (wink!) When I was 6 years old, I was packed up by my stepfather and driven to my father’s house. Overnight I had a new Mom, new sisters and brother, house and life. It was as traumatic an experience as I can imagine. There were few explanations that made sense to me and I missed my other family desperately. I think ever since I’ve been trying to settle some pretty deep-seated questions. Writing books is wonderful for that.

 

crossing-oceans-25012-200x300The novel you’ve written that seems to be a fan-favorite is Crossing Oceans, do you ever see yourself writing a sequel?

 

I love that book too. Makes me cry just thinking about certain scenes. I would love to write a sequel, prequel or off shoot stories. I love those characters dearly. I’m under contract for three different novels, so I’m not sure when I’ll have the time, but I’d love to explore Craig’s story and of course, Bella’s. I miss Mama Peg very much!

 

You’ve said that your favorite novel you’ve written is Wings of Glass. Why is that your favorite?

 

Well, for storyline, I think Crossing Oceans is the strongest. I think my writing in Wings of Glass was my best, plus when I was very young I watched my mother in one abusive relationship after another, and then two of my sisters. I had been there too, despite thinking I was better than that. I know the mindset that keeps a woman (or man) in a relationship like that and I wanted to give insight to those who don’t understand. I’ve received enough letters to know I did what I set out to do.

 

That’s so rewarding. You’re originally from NJ but write all your novels from the South, why do you set your novels down South if you’re from up North?

 

Ha, you found me out! Yes, I was born and raised in NJ. As much as I love my friends and family, I am definitely more suited for the slower pace of the South. I’ve lived in Southern VA for half of my life and I plan to spend the rest of my life here if I can help it. I try to write books from settings that make me happy. So I write where I want to be. (Although, I’ve got to say, NJ food is amazing and you’ve got to love a boisterous NJ laugh!)

 

What do you like most about being a writer? Least?

 

Most, I like being able to have a platform to share lessons I’ve learned in my life that I know others would benefit from. And more than that, I just love to tell a good story.

 

Least, would be the unpredictability of the business. Sometimes it seems so random and the lack of control makes me uncomfortable sometimes. (Which is probably right where God wants me!)

 

I know what you mean. Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?

 

My advice is pretty much always the same:

1. Write. So many people want to have written but don’t actually do the work.

2. Get to a writers conference because there’s so much you don’t know, that you don’t even know you don’t know. If you don’t you’ll be spinning your wheels for years, wasting valuable time.

3. Run, don’t walk, to the nearest bookstore and buy yourself a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. Then apply it. (Best money I ever spent!)

4. Join a good critique group and get a nice thick skin, ‘cause you’re sure going to need it!

 

If you could go back to the pre-published writer you were, knowing what you do now, what advice would you give her?

 

Well, I wouldn’t have told myself how many novels I’d write that would never see the light of day, because I would have given up. I wouldn’t have told myself how little money there is actually to be made or how lonely writing can sometimes be. I wouldn’t have told myself that I’d still have a day job with 4 novels out in stores, including 3 bestselling novels… okay, but that wasn’t your question… I would tell myself to relax. Some of this, most of this is, is out of your hands, and that’s okay. It’s not going to be at all what you think it is, but it’s going to be so much more. You won’t get rich, but you will touch lives. At the end of the day, that’s going to be exactly what will fulfill you.

 

Where can readers find your books and more about you?

 

Thanks for asking. My books are in B&N, BooksaMillion, Amazon, Lifeway, Parable, Family Christian and hopefully a good number of independent bookstores. You can find me at Ginaholmes.com. Thanks so much for hosting me!

You’re very welcome, Gina, and blog readers, today, Sept 29th is the…

Last Day to enter Gina’s Giveaway for a cool book table.

Check it out at her website: http://www.ginaholmes.com/

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?

 

Five Things to Love About Inspirational Fiction

I am thrilled to be able to share with you the exciting news that Critical Condition won the 2012 Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Love Inspired Suspense. Yee!!!

2012 RT Reviewer's Choice Award

If you’d like to see the list of RT Reviewers’ Choice Winners, click the link. Scrolling down brings you to the Love Inspired categories, scrolling up a ways brings you to the categories for trade-length inspirational books.

And with Reviewers’ Choice Awards topping the news, what a perfect day to chat about what we love most about inspirational fiction. To start us off, I’m delighted to introduce Amber Perry, founding blogger of  The Historical Christian Romance Review. She’s stopped by to share the top five things she loves most about inspirational fiction.

Amber Perry

 I first “met” Amber when she hired me to do a critique for her very first manuscript through last year’s ACFW conference. We quickly became good friends. She hails from Washington state, where she lives with her hubby and two adorable young daughters. She loves to read, and although she reads mostly historicals…I’m hoping that reading some of my current WIP has inspired her to try a little romantic suspense. 😉 

 

 Without further ado, here’s Amber… and please chime in at the end with the things you love!

I love Christian romance books (specifically historical) and even though there are gobs of reasons to like them, here are my top 5! Maybe your reasons are similar, maybe they are different—either way, you’ll have to comment and let me know. *grin *

 1.    Great Characters

What’s a story without great characters? That’s why I love this genre—I am rarely disappointed!

2.    Clean Romance

I love a great romance! But, I don’t want to read anything that would be inappropriate. That’s why I LOVE these stories. I can enjoy the romance without all the unnecessary stuff. You know what I mean. *wink *

3.    Good Christian message

Not only are these books entertaining, they are uplifting as well! I know I will come away with my faith in God stronger, in one way or another—and I love that.

4.    Fun settings (this is where the historical stuff comes in—for me anyway)

I love to be swept away to another place and time. These books take me to Boston in the 1920’s or Montana in the 1870’s. How fabulous is that? But the same thing can happen with contemporary stories as well—or any genre for that matter!

5.    Happy Endings

Believe it or not, there are some stories that don’t end happy! And there are some people who like those, and that’s great. For me, I gotta have a happy ending—and I can always count on that from a Christian romance.

 Your Turn: So what are your top 5, or top 3 or even your number 1 thing when reading these kinds of books?   God bless and Happy Reading!