In the Mood for more Art Crime? Book Sale

Hey, everyone. Sorry I’ve been quiet here for so long. The past six weeks have been a blur. I had a fabulous time at my first Bouchercon Mystery Conference. It was especially fun to meet Maureen Jennings, the author of the original Murdoch Mysteries, and to hear how they evolved into a popular TV series. 

Then my grandson had another surgery on his whole leg to straighten it, so I’ve been spending a lot more time with him and his siblings, helping out, since they also have a new little baby in the family, and it will be a few more weeks yet, before he’s mobile again. He is progressing fabulously, though, and we so appreciate the prayers of the many who have been remembering him. 

Now . . . to the book sale news. 

If you’ve only recently discovered my novels, you may not realize that before Serena Jones and the Port Aster Secrets series, I wrote several romantic suspense novels. 

One of them, Perilous Waters, is about another member of the FBI Art Crime Team, Sam Steele, and he’s chasing down the bad guys aboard an Alaskan cruise.  

Cover for Perilous Waters

May I just inject here how much fun I had researching this novel!  😉 

The great news is that right now, Perilous Waters is on sale for 99¢ on all the Ebook platforms. 

Sooo, if you’ve enjoyed following Serena Jones’s cases, now is a great time to pick up Perilous Water, because I’m not sure how long the sale will last. 

Click on the book’s cover above to go to the book’s page on my site, where you’ll find links to iBooks, Kobo, kindle etc. through the “buying options” button. And after you read the book, check out it’s bonus features here

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!

Introducing Kara Grant or… is she?

Identity_WithheldIdentity Withheld is my newest Love Inspired Suspense, and although the novel doesn’t hit bookstores until November, it’s already available directly from Harlequin. So, I thought I’d whet your appetite by interviewing the heroine today. [Just in: Tuesday & Wednesday only, buy 2 books and get 1 free at Harlequin, using coupon code: HNB2OC14]

Identity Withheld is Jake Steele’s story, brother to Sam Steele, the hero of Perilous Waters. But the identity of Jake’s romantic interest is a tad more complicated. Thankfully, I’ve managed to coax her into revealing a little more about herself here today.

Sandra:  Tell us about yourself, Kara, and how you came to be in the midst of such suspense. 

Kara:  My real name is actually Nicole Redman, but after witnessing what looked like a man buying a baby while out for a jog in the park in my hometown of Boston, bad guys tried to kill me with a parcel bomb and the police sent me into witness protection. I was quietly biding my time as the rechristened Kara Grant, nighttime janitor, living across the continent in a small town outside of Seattle, until the bad guys found me and set fire to my new home. That’s how I met firefighter Jake Steele.

Sandra:  Tell us about Jake.  What was your first impression? 

Kara:  My very first impression, was not good, I’m afraid. When he spotted me running from the scene, he thought I’d set the fire and grabbed me none too gently. But once he realized his mistake, he was very gentle and protective and had the sweetest, lopsided smile, even if he was annoyingly insistent that I go to the hospital when it was the last place I wanted to go.

Sandra:  It sounds like the two of you clashed more than once. What would you consider your strengths and weaknesses?          

Kara:  I guess my determination to do the right thing no matter the personal cost would be my best strength. My boyfriend in Boston warned me to not go to the police after I witnessed what I was sure had to be the sale of a kidnapped child, saying it would only lead to trouble, but I couldn’t not speak up. Thankfully, I’ve always been fairly self-reliant as well, which helped me a lot once I was placed in witness protection, although Jake would probably say that is my weakness, since I’m so resistant to letting him help me.

Sandra:  You have a scripture at the beginning of the story.  Tell us why this scripture is significant.       

Kara:  When I learned I would have to move across the country and cut off all contact with my friends and family, I clung to this scripture with all my might: “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

Sandra:  Why can you never see yourself ending up with the hero?

Kara: My life isn’t my own. Kara Grant is not who I really am. And I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone who I was. Being with me, puts Jake and his son in danger and I couldn’t live with myself if I brought them to harm or had to uproot them from their family here in Washington State, because the bad guys have found me and I have to be moved again.

Sandra:  What do you hope people will learn from your experience?

Kara:   To do what’s right even when it hurts and trust God to work it all out according to his plan and purpose.

A worthwhile lesson! Thank you for visiting with us today, Kara.

Blog readers, if you’d like to read more of…

Kara’s interview and other bonus features, such as deleted scenes, as well as an excerpt of chapter one, click here.

If you like to bake, you’ll want to check out the recipe for Gran’s Pumpkin Muffins, also in the bonus features. October 13th is Thanksgiving here in Canada, so in preparation we’ve been experimenting with a few new recipes. As these pumpkin muffins baked, they made the house smell wonderful. They tasted great too!

Your Turn: If you had to go into witness protection, what would be the hardest thing for you to walk away from?

 

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?

 

Warning Signs by Katy Lee – Review & Giveaway & Cool Video

I had the privilege of reading an advance copy of Katy Lee’s debut Love Inspired Suspense, Warning Signs, and unreservedly recommend it to all fans of the romantic suspense genre. This book will not disappoint. 

First the Back Cover Blurb:

Warning Signs CoverGUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT

When a drug-smuggling ring rocks a small coastal town, the DEA sends Agent Owen Matthews to shut it down. A single father with a deaf son, Owen senses that the town’s number one suspect—the high school’s new principal—doesn’t fit the profile. Miriam Hunter hoped to shrug off the stigma of her hearing impairment when she returned to Stepping Stones, Maine. But her recurring nightmares dredge up old memories that could prove her innocence—and uncover the truth behind a decades-old murder. Yet Owen’s help may not be enough when someone decides to keep Miriam silenced—permanently.

There are tons of things I love about this book. It’s fast paced. The villain is a mystery so the story keeps you guessing. It has a perfect blend of romance and suspense.

But what makes this book stand out for me is it’s unique heroine.

She is an avid swimmer and a principal of a small regular public school in Maine and she’s deaf. She refuses to let her physical challenges keep her from going after her goals.

These characteristics make for many insightful comparisons and intriguing twists, such as can we really trust her interpreter male sidekick?

Equally compelling, are the wonderful lessons the story conveys. It will transform how you think about, and interact with, those who are different from you, in particular the deaf.

One of the fun aspects of the story was learning about special signs for names. I invited Katy to tell us a little more about that. Click the “play” button to view her presentation. (Ensure your volume is on)

Cool, eh? I created this sign for my husband: his initial “M” waved over my heart to show my love for him.  😉

 

Your Turn: Create a sign for your name or the name of a loved one and share it in the comments for a chance to win a copy of Warning Signs. I’ll contact the winner by email and share the name here on Sunday.

Update: Sunday, Sept 29th — Our winner is Sonja! Congratulations, Sonja, please check your inbox for my email.

 

BTW if you haven’t read Katy’s first published book, you can check out my review here: http://sandraorchard.com/book-giveaway/lets-chat-about-real-virtue/ It is another must-read.

Pic of Katy Lee

As an Inspirational Romantic Suspense author, Katy Lee writes higher-purpose stories in high-speed worlds. Through her writing, ministries, and teaching, she dedicates her life to sharing tales of love, from the “greatest love story ever told” to those sweet romantic stories of falling in love. Katy and her husband are born New Englanders and love to travel with their three adventuresome children.  You can connect with Katy anytime at her website, www.KatyLeeBooks.com. There you will find links to Facebook and Twitter.  She’d love for you to look her up!

 LIGHTHOUSE PHOTO CONTESTWarning Signs by Katy Lee

Also on her site you will find details to take part in the Lighthouse Photo Contest.  She hopes to receive lighthouse photos from around the world. So please, take part!

 

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!