Tonja Saylor is the winner of the giveaway. I will contact her shortly. Thanks to everyone else for participating!
Monday, December 30, 2013
Tonja Saylor is the winner of the giveaway. I will contact her shortly. Thanks to everyone else for participating!
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Welcome Gail. We are so pleased to have you with us on Sleuths and Suspects. Gail and I belong to the same writer's group and I'm happy to share about her new book on our blog. Be a follower and leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Gail's book. Be sure and leave your email so we can contact you if you win. Without further ado let's learn more about Gail.
Friday, December 20, 2013
I know. It's not Christmas, but I want to beat the rush on the top ten lists. And of course, mine may not be as authoritative as others -- some of my partners in crime on this blog may have read more than I have!
Also, this is a list of thirtten novels that I've read this year. Some of these have been out from previous years. In fact, one of the books I've read which I didn't put on the list was written the year I was born.
This year I've had the pleasure of reading nineteen novels, as well as several non-fiction books. Fourteen of those fall are either mystery (six) or suspense (eight). Only two may not qualify as Christian books (both mysteries), but neither of those would be objectionable -- the author of one of those books was interviewed this year on this blog (not byme), and the other was the one I referred to above -- if I told you the author, you wouldn't worry about reading it.
I was going to make it ten and give five mysteries and five suspense. Problem. I have a tie for fifth place on the suspense list. So I decided to pass along the thirteen novels I enjoyed the most. I'll give a brief blurb about each.
I thought of putting them in order, but opted to instead put them in alphabetic order by author. Ready?
- Cat Among The Pigeons by Agatha Christie (Mystery). Yes, this was the one as old (or maybe older) than me. Interesting blend of espionage with typical Christie mystery. I did see the David Suchet movie version, so I knew a lot of the twists, and that might have kept it from being my favorite. Still, I enjoyed it.
- Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales by Randy Singer (Suspense). His latest book. I'm still reading this one, by the way -- will probably finish it this week. If you remember, I interviewed Singer earlier this year.
- Death of a Highland Heavyweight by Jayne Self (Mystery). I had the pleasure of interviewing the author around this time last year. One of the most enjoyable books I've read this year -- you may be laughing too hard to figure out who did it!
- Dog Tags by Heidi Glick (Suspense). If you haven't read this one yet, shame on you! Go straight to Amazon or some other site and get a copy of this, or I'll sick a Schipperke on you! I had the privilege of interviewing the author on this blog.
- The Final Crumpet by Ron and Janet Benrey (Mystery). Second in their Royal Tunbridge Mystery series.
- Friend Me by John Faubion (Suspense). This one won't make many (if any) 2013 book lists, because it won't be available to the public till February. I had the privilege of reading an advance copy, and I'd be surprised if this doesn't make several 2014 lists. Written by a fellow member of the Indiana ACFW chapter.
- Fusion Fire by Kathy Tyers (Speculative). Many would call this science fiction, but I believe it's more science fantasy. Still, I loved reading this book and the first story of the series, Firebird. Great Christian symbolism in the story.
- The Last Plea Bargain by Randy Singer (Suspense). This is one of Singer's two best stories. It's got so many twists your jaw will drop at the end. Mine did. Very well crafted story.
- Murder A Capella by James Callan and Diane Bailey (Mystery). I've enjoyed several mysteries, but when it comes to being one that surprises you yet leaves enough clues you're kicking yourself over missed ones, this is the best I've read in years. Even though I've seen a couple of Christian reviews (including an interview with Mr. Callan on this blog), I wouldn't call it a Christian book, but it's not one that would make a Christian uncomfortable.
- The Next Target by Nikki Arana (Suspense). I like suspense, but I don't always enjoy suspense -- it gets me too worked up, too worried about the characters. This is an example of that. Good themes in the book. The author was interviewed late last year on this blog (not by me).
- Nowhere To Run by Amy Wallace (Suspense). Second of her Place of Refuge series. I discovered Wallace when I read her Defenders of Hope trilogy. Hidden in Plain Sight, the first of this series, didn't impress me as much as the other stories, but this one (which I'm still reading) is closer to the other set in style. I interviewed Amy on this blog earlier this year.
- Rules For Murder by Julianna Deering (Mystery). I had the privilege of being an influencer for this story, and also for interviewing her on this blog this year.
- An Unholy Communion by Donna Fletcher Crow (Mystery). Crow's Monastery Murders is my favorite mystery series, and Father Anthony is one of my favorite characters. This was my favorite of the series -- it involves a youth pigrimage in Wales.
And I hope you won't be disappointed to find out this will be my last blog until next year.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
My victim ... er, interviewee this month is a familiar name to this blog. I have the honor of interviewing my fellow contributor Debbie Malone. The latest installment of her Trixie Montgomery Cozy Mysteries is hot off the presses, and we're giving away a copy -- see rules below.
Jeff Reynolds: Welcome to Sleuths and Suspects, Debbie. As if you need a welcome. Could you tell us about how you came to faith in Christ, and how that tied in with your writing journey?
Debbie Malone: Thank you for having me as a guest Jeff. I love your interviewing style. Now on to the question. I actually grew up in the church. My parents made sure we were there every time the doors were open so this gave me a good grounding. I have a little story about writing Christian fiction. I had always wanted to write it, but didn’t even know it existed until I came upon a Margaret Daley book. When I read it I knew that was what I was looking for. I’d already completed my first manuscript so I rewrote it as Christian fiction. I joined American Christian Fiction Writers and now I have three published books.
JR: I'm in complete suspense in how you'd answer this question: Would you be interested in telling us about the mystery series you've written and especially the newest installment?
DM: Does a duck like june bugs? Trixie Montgomery is the main character and her sidekick and best friend is Dee Dee Lamont. Trixie is a writer for a magazine and is sent on assignments to different towns. It seems everywhere they go a dead body turns up and Trixie and Dee Dee must find the person who committed the dastardly deed. Trixie’s eccentric great-aunt, Nana, joins in on the fun. With Nana around there’s never a dull moment. For instance she gets a tattoo in Terror on Tybee Island.
Terror on Tybee Island takes place on the beautiful Tybee Island off of Savannah. Trixie, Dee Dee, Nana and Trixie’s mother Betty Jo go for a relaxing vacation on the island. Betty Jo’s friend puts them up in her bed and breakfast. It turns out to be anything but relaxing when Trixie finds a body in the sand behind the house. Betty Jo’s friend, Laura, is accused of the murder. So of course Trixie and Dee Dee must come to the rescue when Betty Jo begs them to help Laura. They run into quite a few suspects as they attend a taping of Paula Deen’s cooking, a trip to the Mercer-Williams house, and a pirate festival.
During the festival Nana is kidnapped and you’ll have to read the book to see if Trixie and Dee Dee arrive in time to save her.
JR: You've always been a mystery lover. If you could have lunch with three fictional detectives (at the same time), who would you select and why?
DM: Oh, I love this question. Of course, the first one would be Jessica Fletcher. Hummm, I need to think a moment. Matlock is a lawyer, but he solves crimes so I think I’d like to meet him. Okay I’ve got the third one, well actually there are two of them, but I’d like to meet the guys from Psych. I guess this shows I like to watch TV mysteries.
JR: Writing is the fun and easy part of writing. Finding a publisher and marketing: Not as much, are they? How have you handled these challenges? Any tips? Any mistakes to avoid?
DM: Marketing is essential to have a successful book. You have to learn to put yourself out there and that’s hard for most people. Some of the places I’ve gone to are books clubs, libraries, writer’s groups, spoken at writer’s conferences, etc. The thing with marketing is you have to find a balance, because you’ve got to save time to write. A great book on marketing is Stress Free Marketing by Renea Winchester. It’s simple to read and chock full of good advice.
JR: Besides your fiction series, you've written and photographed for the historical magazine "Georgia Backroads." If someone asked you to pick one of your articles from this magazine to read, which would you select? Also, do your articles come out of your research for your novels? Or does your research for your articles give you ideas for your novel?
DM: Another great question Jeff. I guess my favorite article was “Chasing the General” and was my very first article to be published. The General was a train the Yankees came down and stoleright under our noses. But we did get it back and most of the villains were hung. Not that I’m happy they were hung.
My research from my articles over the years has been a tremendous help with my novels in giving me ideals and also history to include in my novels.
JR: You're a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Georgia Writer's Association. What are the strengths of these groups, and how have each contributed to your writing?
DM: I can’t say enough about ACFW. I stumbled upon it and I’m so glad I did. I don’t believe I’d be published today if it weren't for the support I got from fellow members. This is an on-line group and they give courses, have a critique group and have loops where you can ask any question about writing. I’ve met so many wonderful Christian writers. I could go on and on - but I won’t. :)
GWA has a lot going on too. They have a class every month on some form of writing. They also have a great conference every year called “Red Clay.” The only downfall to GWA is that you have to travel to the classes and I have to drive about an hour to get to them. But I’ve found them to be very informative.
JR: You mentioned in one of your previous interviews that you returned to college in your '40's and graduated at the age of 45. When you returned, was it to the same major? What was it like, and were there any lessons from that which applied to your writing?
DM: Well, I earned a degree in Human Services which is a mix of psychology and sociology. It was very different returning as an adult. I think I appreciated the opportunity to learn much more than as a young adult. I took a creative writing course and that sparked a flame in me to write. I’d always wanted to, but never took the time to sit down and do it. So I’m thankful that my writing came from that class I took.
JR: Thank you for your time. Before I let you go, where can we find you online (besides here, of course)? And could you give us a little description of each site?
DM: Thank you for having me as a guest Jeff it’s been fun talking with you.
You can find me at www.cozymysterymagazine.blogspot.com This is where several of us cozy writer’s get together and take turns posting on the blog every day. There are a variety of topics.
Also, www.deborahsbutterflyjorney.blogspot.com This is my personal blog where I post interviews, giveaways and articles about writing.
My website is www.deborah-malone.com
Last, but not least I’m on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com
Jeff Reynolds to the reader: Time for the giveaway of Terror On Tybee Island. Three steps to win the book:
- Leave a Comment
- Leave your e-mail (too many forget this step).
- I'll ask you a variation of a question I asked Debbie. If you had a choice of fictitious detectives to sit down and have a meal with (more than one would make the discussion more interesting, but one is fine), who would you select?
Friday, December 13, 2013
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Why did you choose this genre?
What was your journey to publication like?
My wife and I have read all of the Joel Rosenburg novels, along with the Left-Behind Series, and I’ve got to say, Joel is my favorite author. That said, I just finished reading Don Brown’s Black Sea Affair and totally enjoyed it. Patty and I are reading (when I say reading, I mean, she is reading and I am driving the car…listening). Currently, she is reading Joanie Bruce’s thriller, Marked for Murder. It’s a nail-biter.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
WE HAVE A WINNER!!!
CONGRATULATIONS TO SHEILA WEBSTER!
Ladies and gentlemen, today's interview is with Janet Sketchley. She'll be giving away an e-book copy of her debut novel (and also her latest release) Heaven's Prey. More about that later.
Jeff Reynolds: Welcome to Sleuths and Suspects, Janet. I'd like to ask first about your testimony and your family.
Janet Sketchley: Thanks, Jeff, I'm glad to be here. I've read some fun interviews at Sleuths and Suspects. Hmm...
Faith: I'm thankful to have been raised in a Christian home and that God gave me a believing heart at a young age. It doesn't mean I haven't struggled, but Jesus has kept me out of a heap of trouble that I'd otherwise have created. The tenacity of God is one of my themes in writing, because it's something I've experienced in my own life.
Family: My husband and three sons are wonderful men who add warmth, encouragement and laughter to my life. Everyone's still at home, but our sons may all leave the nest within the next year. Major adjustment!
JR: Your debut novel has just come out. Would you like to tell us about Heaven's Prey? (I'm in complete suspense on how you'll answer that question -- any chances of you saying "no" to that one? LOL)
JR: One thing that made an impression about your book, released Nov. 1, 2013, is that the Amazon page mentioned it received a third place finish in Risen Book's 2011 contest and was on the short list for the 2008 best new Canadian author award. Considering these awards were accomplished years before its release, it sounds like getting this published has been a journey. What was the process like?
JS: Long! These and a few other "so close" moments began to feel like all I'd ever find. Heaven's Prey needed the right timing and the right publisher, and I needed to learn a lot about crafting a novel. Truth told, I got so used to "no" that I wasn't sure what to do with a "yes" when it came.
JR: The accolades I mentioned in the previous question weren't the first for a book you've been involved with. You also have a true story published in A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider, which won the 2012 Christian Small Publishers Gift Book Award Winner and also received six 2012 The Word Awards and seven Awards of Merit. Would you like to tell us about your contribution there?
JS: I loved being part of A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider. The 37 authors worked as a team, and we learned from one another. My story, "The Road Trip that Wasn't," shares how God showed Himself faithful when my car died on a remote stretch of highway—when I had three young kids and no cell phone.
JR: Another outlet of your writing is reviews, including some by authors I've interviewed on this blog (Kerry Nietz, Sandra Orchard, Jayne Self, and Lynette Eason, for example.) What advice would you give to writing a review? And how has your review writing (both fiction and non-fiction) helped with your fiction writing?
JS: Main piece of advice: never give spoilers. Introduce readers to the book, give your impressions of what worked and what didn't, and let readers know where they can find the book/author. If the book is outside of what you usually review, make sure readers are aware of the difference in case their tastes aren't as broad. (eg. I mention any language issues if reviewing a mainstream book, since my readers are used to me reviewing Christian books)
The biggest thing review-writing has done for my own fiction is to help me pick out the key details for a plot summary. It also gives me practice looking at the overall book structure instead of getting bogged down in the details.
JR: You've written an excellent guest blog on praying for others (http://faith-fiction-friends.blogspot.ca/2013/10/would-you-pray-for-stranger-by-janet.html). I don't know if you keep up with what's going on down here in the United States, but what trends in Canada prompt the greatest prayer? Any other comments on intercession?
JS: Cyber-bullying and teen suicide. Abuse and violent crime. The need for integrity and wisdom in leadership. Right now, typhoon devastation in the Philippines. I could go on. In interceding for such high-level needs, we need to be careful to bring them to God and leave them in His hands. If we start carrying them ourselves, we'll break. We don't have the power, and often we don't even have the words, but we know our God does. And we know He cares. A key part of my prayers for such big needs is that in some way He will reveal Himself to the ones in pain, that they'll see His love and the difference He's making.
JR: Back to your reviews -- I noticed two of the contemporary fiction works you reviewed have "Dog" in the title. Is that a hint that I'm interviewing an animal lover?
JS: It's actually a coincidence, but I'm very fond of animals. We have a pet-free house due to allergies, so I have to visit friends for my animal fix. I'd love to have a cat, but I'd rather keep my husband. :)
JR: Thank you for your time. Could you pass along your website and any other information you'd like us to know that I haven't mentioned?
JS: Jeff, thank you for putting so much thought and research into preparing these questions. I hope your readers realize the effort that goes into making an interview like this. My website is http://janetsketchley.ca/. I guess I should say, Heaven's Prey is book 1 in the Redemption's Edge series, and book 2 will release in 2014. Thank you again for having me here at Sleuths and Suspects.
Jeff to the reader: Now it's time to give away an e-book copy of Heaven's Prey. Here are the simple rules:
- Leave a comment, as usual.
- Include your e-mail address -- again, as usual.
- Janet mentioned using the news as a prompt to intercede for others. What news stories have led you to prayer?
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Last year I met Christy Barritt in Dallas at the annual ACFW conference. She's very sweet, and I'm excited to have her join us today.
Thanks so much for having me here on Sleuths and Suspects! I’m Christy Barritt, I’m the author of more than twenty books, and my latest book is called High-Stakes Holiday Reunion. This romantic suspense novel released this month through Love Inspired Suspense.
Today, I wanted to talk a little about how to keep writing during the holiday season. In the writing life, keeping the pages cranked out during the holidays can be difficult. There are added events on our calendars, shopping to do, family to visit, and meals to cook! But it is possible to keep writing and meet deadlines, even when Christmas lights are strung outside.
I’ve actually written ten books this year. People always think they’ve heard me incorrectly when I say that, but it’s true. Their next question is how? I have two young kids, I homeschool one of them, lead the children’s choir at my church, and I freelance for a couple of other publications.
I’d like to say there’s some magic secret to how I get so much accomplished, but the truth is that I make myself work hard. Every week, I write between 10,000-15,000 words. I usually continue this over the holidays, although I do try to take some time off. This year, I have a book deadline on December 31, so I’m not sure I can cut myself any slack.
Writing that many words a week, I can finish the first draft of a book in roughly four to six weeks. I usually start another book then, set the other book aside for a few weeks, and then write the first draft of another book. I got back to the first book, edit it, and I continue to work on new projects. It’s quite a bit to juggle, but I’ve gotten into a good routine with it.
Another secret is the fact that I really enjoy what I’m doing. I love creating new stories and characters and dilemmas. I give myself deadlines, and I have people to hold me accountable. Doing something you love makes it feel less like work. I’m definitely blessed to get paid for something that is so much fun!
So, keep writing at the holidays. Jot down notes about your senses during the season. Remember the smells, the tastes, the emotions, the strange events, or quirky neighbors who celebrate in ways different than you. Enjoy life, but tuck away memories for your stories.
One final thing I thought would be fun to share a recipe. This is a super simple one for Caramel Apple Cider, but I love it. At Christmastime, I buy a gallon of apple cider, some caramel topping (one of those bottles that can be squeezed on top of ice cream), and a can of whipped cream. I put the apple cider into a crock-pot and add about half a bottle of the caramel topping. I heat it up most of the day (makes the house smell wonderful!). I then serve it in mugs and top it with whipped cream. I drizzle a little more caramel across the top. It’s yummy and sweet and requested every year!
Thanks for letting me share.
God bless, and I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!
USA Today has called Christy Barritt’s books “scary, funny, passionate, and quirky.” Three of Christy’s books have been Amazon bestsellers and others have won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Suspense and Mystery, been nominated for the Romantic Times’ Reviewers Choice Award, and finaled for a Carol. She writes two genres: quirky first person mysteries and romantic suspense. For more information on her books, visit her website at www.christybarritt.com
Please be sure to leave a comment and your email address for a chance to win a book from Christy. Paperback or ebook, your choice.
Friday, November 8, 2013
My name is Christy Snow. I'm seventeen and I'm about to die.
I'm buried in a coffin under tons of concrete. No one knows where I am. My heart sounds like a monster with clobber feet, running straight toward me. I'm lying on my back, soaked with sweat from the hair on my head to the soles of my feet. My hands and feet won't stop shaking.
Some will say that I m not really here. Some will say I'm delusional. Some will say that I don t even exist. But who are they? I'm the one buried in a grave.
My name is Christy Snow. I'm seventeen. I'm about to die.