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

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?

 

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.  😎 (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