Monday, October 27, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: NOTORIOUS NINETEEN, by Janet Evanovich

I love Stephanie Plum -- especially when I haven't read one of her stories in a looooong time. The silliness and the "what is WRONG with my life?" attitude underlying the narrative voice is great fun. Relaxing. A treat. A reward for working hard the last few months.

Janet Evanovich struck gold when she created Stephanie Plum -- the bounty hunter from the Burg, with the big hair, who hates guns and has no domestic skills, caught between the bad-boy-turned-cop and the ex-Special Forces security specialist. Yeah, the girl who trashes more cars in one book than a smash-up derby.

In NINETEEN, Stephanie is trying to catch a man who vanished from the hospital following surgery and embezzling from a nursing home. Plus someone is out for Ranger's neck and he hired Stephanie to help guard a friend who is also a target, during his wedding. The dress Stephanie has to wear as a stand-in bridesmaid is the WORST! Appearances by Grandma Mazur and previous visiting characters are wonderful, as usual.

Want to laugh and be assured your life isn't half as bad as you think? But start with the first book -- people join the storyline and you learn bits and pieces of their lives as you go along. All the insanity aside, the characters and their interactions are the best part of Evanovich's stories.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Spotlight Saturday: A STRANGER ON MY LAND, Sandra Merville Hart

This Spotlight Saturday is focused on a new book by fellow ACFW author, Sandra Merville Hart:

A Stranger on My Land 

Carrie and her little brother, Jay, find a wounded soldier on their land after a battle which later became known as "The Battle Above the Clouds." Adam, a Union soldier, has been shot twice in the arm. Though Carrie is reluctant to take Adam to their cave where her family hides their livestock from both armies, she cannot turn her back on him. 

But her Aunt Lavinia, bitter over what Yankees have done to their land, urges Carrie to allow Adam to die. Carrie refuses, but cannot remove the bullets. Adam's friendship with Jay softens her heart toward him. It's not long until his gratitude and teasing manner spark a friendship between the young couple. Even though Carrie's father fights for the Confederacy in far-off Virginia, her feelings for the handsome young soldier begin to blossom into love.

When Adam's condition worsens, Carrie knows a Union surgeon is needed to save his life. How can she accomplish this and keep her family's hiding place a secret?

 Sandra Merville Hart loves to find unusual facts in her historical research to use in her stories. She and her husband enjoy traveling to many of the sites in her books to explore the history. She serves as Assistant Editor for where she contributes articles about history and holidays. She has written for several publications and websites including The Secret Place, Harpstring, Splickety Magazine, Pockets Magazine, Common Ground, Afictionado, and Her inspirational Civil War novella, A Stranger on My Land, released on August 21, 2014.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Letters to Kel: NANO TIME!

Saturday, November 1 -- National Novel Writing Month begins!

This is one of the best tools I've found for getting that dreaded first draft out there.

NaNoWriMo focuses on QUANTITY -- the goal is 50,000 words in 30 days -- roughly 1,667 words per day. When you break it down into small chunks like that, it looks so do-able, doesn't it?

You're going for number of words per day, and the focus on just getting the words out there sort of breaks past the barrier that your internal editor puts up in your brain. It teaches you to ignore the nagging little voice that insists, "It has to be good the FIRST time you write it down."

Umm ... NO! It ain't necessarily so.

I've found that just going for it, writing anything that comes to mind, giving myself permission to write a lousy first draft and follow tangents and rabbit trails ... leads to wonderful surprises. If you can't figure out what's supposed to happen next, forget about the outline or the general idea of what your character needs to do to get to your goal at the end of the book. Write about something weird. Put some obstacles in his or her path. Have someone nasty show up. Have someone show up who knows more about your character than you do -- and then spend the day's quota of words figuring out what it is, teasing your characters and your readers. As one author said, whenever you hit a block, SHOOT someone. Guaranteed to get things stirred up! Well, you don't have to specifically shoot one of your characters, but have some catastrophe hit. Who knows? You might just decide the weird event -- a meteor shower on a sunny day, a cop insisting that someone pay the traffic tickets now, a long-lost brother when the character thought he was an only child, a lottery ticket with the winning numbers .... get the idea? -- that weird event might just reveal things about your character you didn't know, or set up a sub-plot that is a lot more fun than what you planned to use.

It could be the fix for your block.

So NaNo in November. It'll be great fun!

I'll be reporting on my progress on rough drafting my next Neighborlee, Ohio novel, "Hoax, Inc." In several previous stories, I mentioned Kurt Hanson's girlfriend, Jane, who runs a spa and has .... interesting talents. This is the story of how Jane came to Neighborlee and the "wizard's duel" that occurred between her and Kurt before they decided they liked each other!

Monday, October 20, 2014


Come chat with me and other fantasy and spooky and paranormal authors about upcoming books Today, MONDAY, October 20, at the PARANORMAL BLOCK PARTY, sponsored by Author Island, on Facebook. Just type PARANORMAL BLOCK PARTY in the search field. Easy enough?

Authors of all sorts of fantasy and spooky types of books will be chatting starting 8am, EST, a new author every hour.

My time slot will be noon EST. I'll be talking about my November 15 release from Uncial Press, LONDON HOLIDAY, set in my weird little town of Neighborlee, Ohio. The "weirdness capital of the United States -- possibly the world." I'll be posting excerpts from the book and offering some hints at upcoming novels in the series.

What do you get when you combine a computer programming assignment, an odd video camera, an interdimensional invader and the magic of Divine's Emporium? Get a hint who -- or what -- London Holiday is. And maybe get a chance to win your own "baby werewolf."

I'll also be discussing other books set in Neighborlee, along with other fantasy novels. PLEASE don't make me face that time slot all alone!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Spotlight Saturday: WITH MUSIC IN THEIR HEART, Carole Brown

Today's Spotlight is on fellow ACFW Ohio member and friend, Carole Brown, with her new novel: With Music in Their Heart 

Angry at being rejected for military service, Minister Tyrell Walker accepts the call to serve as a civilian spy within his own country. Across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio, a spy working for a foreign country is stealing secret plans for newly developed ammunition to be used in the war. According to his FBI cousin, this spy favors pink stationery, giving strong indications that a woman is involved.

He’s instructed to obtain a room in the Rayner Boarding House run by the lovely, spunky red-haired Emma Jaine Rayner. Sparks of jealousy and love fly between them immediately even as they battle suspicions that one or the other is not on the up and up.

While Tyrell searches for the murdering spy who reaches even into the boarding home, Emma Jaine struggles with an annoying renter, a worried father (who could be involved in this spy thing), and two younger sisters who are very different but just as strong willed as she is.

As Tyrell works to keep his double life a secret and locate the traitor, he refuses to believe that Emma Jaine could be involved even when he sees a red-haired woman in the arms of another man. Could the handsome and svelte banker who’s also determined to win Emma Jaine’s hand for marriage, be the dangerous man he’s looking for? Is the trouble-making renter who hassles Emma Jaine serving as a flunky? Worse, is Papa Rayner so worried about his finances and keeping his girls in the style they’re used to, that he’ll stoop to espionage?

Will their love survive the danger and personal issues that arise to hinder the path of true love?

With Music in Their Heart releases November 2014! Look for it on Amazon.

Brown not only has her award winning (Selah finalist; Genesis semi-finalist) debut novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, available for purchase now, but a companion book called West Virginia Scrapbook: From the Life of Caralynne Hayman, filled with tidbits of information about West Virginia, quotes, recipes from West Virginia and from Caralynne’s life, pictures and discussion questions for the novel.

November, 2013, the first book in her mystery series, Hog Insane, released. It’s a fun, lighthearted novel introducing the characters, Denton and Alex Davies.

Releasing November, 2014, is the first book in a new romantic suspense series: With Music In Their Hearts. Three red-headed sisters. Three spies. Three stories.

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Connect with her here:

She is also part of several other blogs:
Barn Door Book Loft:

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Okay, I'm going to start out with a confession: Contrary to what I'm going to tell you, I HAVE thrown out some of my first stories.
Because they're so raw, so stupid, so badly plotted, so embarrassing, I do NOT want this drek hanging around to be found after I'm dead.

But putting that consideration aside ... DON'T throw out anything you've written. (Just make sure that it's put somewhere with some plastic explosive and a deadman switch, so it self-destructs the minute your heart stops, that's all. If you're worried about people knowing just how awful your first dozen short stories or poems or songs or scripts were. Just saying ...)
Why keep this embarrassing stuff around?
Because you can RE-USE it someday.
Because right now, I'm kicking myself over a Star Trek novel that I started writing -- longhand, on legal pads, back before I had a computer -- and I eventually threw it out one day when I decided I didn't want to pursue trying to write for the Star Trek universe. I thought there was nowhere else I could get it published.


Everything you've written, no matter how short, no matter if it's an outline, a bungled synopsis, a single scene, a character sketch, a conversation between two unidentified people, or in my case fan fiction of all types ... you CAN revise it, and use it somewhere else. After you've learned enough, gained enough skill, to know why exactly the first version was so awful.

For example ... I wrote a Highlander fan novel (and if you have the time, I'll tell you why it's an example of why a bad, awful, moronic agent is worse than having no agent at all...) and earlier this year I revised it to turn it into a novel in my Quarry Hall series, "Nikki."

I wrote a Star Trek fan novel back when a friend and I were into fan publishing. It was titled "Avenger," and took place in the Classic Trek timeline. I spent the last year, off and on, revising it and creating an entire new universe around it called the Seed Worlds, and right now that book is sitting under consideration with a publisher.

I wrote a script for "MacGyver" just before the final half-season. It didn't sell, but I turned it into a feature-length screenplay, and then later turned it into the novel "Wheels," part of my Tabor Heights series.

Now ... I am taking two screenplays and will be adapting them into novels. This is going to take major revisions, adding people, recreating histories and details, and taking into account major changes in technology. One screenplay I wrote for a contest back before there were cell phones. Yeah, that long ago ... *sigh* Look for the Quarry Hall novel, "Charli," to come out in mid-2015. The other screenplay was written for my master's portfolio, fulfilling requirements for my degree in Communication, focused on film and writing, from Regent University. The screenplay, "Peregrine," will only take a little adapting to fit into the Commonwealth Universe. My goal is to get this book, now called "Soloanna," ready to turn in to my publisher, Writers Exchange, to be published some time in 2015.

I'll talk more about adapting and the differences between screenplays and novels in future blogs.

But the main thing is: If I didn't hold onto those fan novels and screenplays, I wouldn't have strong foundations for books. I wouldn't have the skeleton of stories that I can adapt and re-sculpt to suit new characters and locations and conflicts. Besides, no writing is ever wasted. No matter how bad it is, it's practice, it's growth and development of your skill. Look at it this way: manure stinks, but after it sits around long enough, you use it for fertilizer, right? It helps something useful grow.

Don't throw out ANYTHING! EVER!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

In the Spotlight: CHRISTMAS REDEMPTION, by Saundra Staats McLemore

Today's Spotlight is on a new Christmas novel -- containing three stories -- by fellow ACFW and Desert Breeze Publishing author, Saundra Staats McLemore:


It's December, 1967, and three unmarried girls find themselves pregnant from three different circumstances of behavior.

Following her high school graduation, eighteen-year-old Cecilia and her boyfriend foolishly rebel from parental authority and obligations. They run away from their families to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco during the "summer of love."

Eighteen-year-old Gloria spends one last night with her soldier-fianc├ębefore he's deployedto Vietnam. He's now MIA and Gloria is left pregnant.
Following the death of her parents, twenty-one-year old grief-stricken college student Loretta is raped by her new boyfriend at a fraternity party.
Depressed, angry, and bitter, the three girls wind up at Christmas Hotel for rest and healing.  All three will consider abortion.Christmas Hotel is known as the place where miracles happen, but how will three traumatized young girls find their Christmas miracle? Is redemption possible?  Can they learn to trust? Is there really a God?

About Saundra Staats McLemore

I was born and raised in the Dayton, Ohio area, and I am the daughter of Warren and Christine Staats. My father is deceased, but my mother lives close to me in New Carlisle, Ohio.
I have been married to my husband Robert for thirty-three years, and I am the mother of one son, Anthony. I have one sister, Joy Staats Lightcap, and a deceased brother, Gerald Martin Staats, who was killed in the Vietnam War in 1970.
Since 1984, I have served as the President and founder of McLemore & Associates, Inc., a nationwide sales and marketing business for the performing arts. My passion has always been history, and I enjoy reading historical Christian fiction. I attend Huber Heights Baptist Temple in Huber Heights, Ohio.
I also reside in Huber Heights, which is a small town nine miles northeast of Dayton, Ohio. The other two members of our family are my cat Charley, and my Cocker Spaniel Daisy.