Saturday, March 30, 2013

Interview with Linda Rondeau

Winner of the 2012 Selah Award for best first novel (The Other Side of Darkness/Harbourlight),  LINDA WOOD RONDEAU, writes stories of redemption and God’s mercies. Walk with her unforgettable characters as they journey paths not unlike our own. After a long career in human services, mother of three and wife of one very patient man, Linda now resides in Florida where she is active in her church and community.

Readers may visit her web site at

Her second book, America the Second, is a futuristic political thriller now available in ebook on and  Kobi.  Her serial story, Rains of Terror is prequel.  

Linda’s highly successful Christmas Adirondack romance , It Really IS a Wonderful Life, is available through, published by Lighthouse of the Carolinas and will soon be available wherever books are sold.
Her first devotional book, I Prayed for Patience/God Gave Me Children, by Helping Hands Press, is now available in all ebook formats.     

Tell me more about your latest release.

My newest novel, (release date to be announced) is Days of Vines and Roses.. An estranged couple, a writer and her publisher husband, end up spending a summer together in a colonial home. Henry has resisted spending much time at the house, only what the business required, as he believes the house is haunted and the malignant forces within seem to target only him. When the couple moves toward reconciliation, the paranormal beings begin to target Sylvia as well. It is not until they give their hearts to the Lord that they realize the inexplicable presence is Satanic. 

How long does it take you, on average, to complete a novel?

I'm a slow writer and need about nine months to a year to write a book. I've put out a lot of titles this year, but they are books I had previously written and only needed to revise. After three months of work on my current work in progress, I had to put it aside due to chemo therapy and resultant "chemo brain."  Now that the chemo is dissipating, I'm able to conquer new material once more, but it is a slow process. Almost like learning how to walk again. 

How many books have you written?

I wrote eight novels and one non-fiction book before my first published book, The Other Side of Darkness, a romantic suspense, which won the 2012 Selah Award for best new novel. The second book, America the Second, a futuristic thriller, was published soon after. If I had it to do over again, I probably wouldn't have tried to venture so far away from my first published book so soon. Live and learn. There is something to be said about developing a type of writing that your readers will expect. My third book, It Really IS a Wonderful Life, a contemporary romance, became an instant best seller on Amazon ebook. That was truly amazing. My non-fiction was published next along with a prequel, via serial, of America the Second, entitled Rains of Terror. At this time, my future books will be focused on contemporary romance/suspense as is Days of Vines and Roses. 

What authors have influenced your writing style?

I am influenced by the classics and mythology. I like books that are character driven. While I enjoy historical fiction, I do not feel I'm ready to tackle that genre at this time. Maybe some day. I have loved the saga type books.  My books have a historical thread, environmental influences, and intrigue. regardless of the genre. 

What special research, if any, did you need to conduct to write your latest release?

For Days of Vines and Roses, I needed to do research on colonial architecture. I also had to research New Haven, Connecticut history. Interestingly, Conn. was spared from most of the Revolutionary War battles, and left it as a strategic place for war planning, often done under the guise of social galas. The only major conflict in Conn was the Battle of New Haven.  The information was important, even though the book is contemporary, to draft the paranormal beings in the home. I also did extensive research on demon possession. 

I chose to incorporate a lot of comic relief in the book as I did not want to give any glory to Satan. 

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Start with smaller works like articles and short stories. It takes time to develop the craft. Don't rush out to self-publish. While it is a legitimate alternative, make sure you're seasoned. Some writers are ready within a few years. It took me a lot longer. 

How can readers contact you?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Interview and Giveaway with Nancy Jill Thames


Please welcome my friend Nancy Jill Thames author of the Jillian Bradley Mystery Series. She has graciously offered one of her ebooks as a giveaway along with her interview. Without further ado lets get to the interview.

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1.       Tell us a little about yourself. My dad was in the Air Force so we traveled and moved around a lot. I lived in places like Casablanca, Morocco, Valdosta, Georgia and Las Vegas, Nevada, which gave me a sense of adventure. I’m just an average housewife who loves to entertain, or used to. Now that the kids have flown the nest, I decided to finish a book I’d started writing years ago, “Murder in Half Moon Bay” and do a series – just for kicks. I needed a needed a creative outlet. I have a degree in music and love playing classical piano but one can’t play the piano all day! My faith in God has led me all my life and He’s been so faithful. Traveling with my husband on his business trips gives me the ideas to base my books on.
2.       Tell us about your most recent book/or the book we are focusing on. Book 6, “Waiting for Santa” was written to preserve our Christmas family traditions. I also wanted Jillian to fall in love and remarry. Although she does fall in love, it’s with two suitors – one from Book 2 “The Ghost Orchid Murder” and the other from her home town in Clover Hills. The ending is a cliff hanger. And again, Teddy helps find a clue that leads to the murderer.
3.       Why did you choose this particular genre? Actually, truth be told, I got bored with reading the same author over and over. Ten years ago, I wasn’t aware of any other cozy authors except for Agatha Christie. I’d read all 80 of her books, two or three times each and believed I could come up with a sleuth, settings and plots. And I did.
4.       What was your journey to publication like?

I tell people if you want to publish a book, go to CreateSpace on and follow the yellow brick road. Because I didn’t know anything about publishing, I simply learned by doing. It started with doing a blog posting a chapter a week for “Murder in Half Moon Bay” until a local paper got wind of it and did an interview about me. After that, I raced to get it finished and published it 7 months later. I laid out a plan to publish a book every 6 months for 4 years until the series was complete.

5.       What are a couple of your favorite books and what are you reading now? Loved “Snow Falling on Cedars,” “The Poisonwood Bible” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” trilogy. Just finished “The Hunger Games” and I’m currently reading “The Princelings of the East” by Jemima Pett.
6.       What are you working on now and can you give us a little peek inside it? “The Ruby of Siam” is a mystery taking place in London. Jillian’s art dealer fiancé has planned a lovely destination wedding, but when she winds up with a stolen necklace and a promise to keep from a dying man, things get interesting!
 7.       What advice would you give authors who are on their own journey to publication? Get some seed money for a great editor and formatter – I use Rik Hall who is fabulous. CreateSpace is a great self-publisher to use or start your own llc. Write the book using critique partners, send it to beta readers for input, rewrite the book, pay a content editor to give you feedback, rewrite the book again, pay a proofreader to edit for typos, and pay someone to do a dynamite cover. When it’s PERFECT, get about five great reviews from other authors and work up a launch promotion. After you’ve done all that, upload your file to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Nook, Kobo and Smashwords. CreateSpace puts it for sale on Then the real work begins. Posting, tweeting, blogging and emailing the fire about your book while appearing to be casually making comments mentioning your masterpiece. You also want a great bio and book blurb to generate interest in what you’ve written.
8.        Do you have any books or websites that have helped you with your writing that you could share with us? I think the best ones are “Dollars & Sense” by McCray, Scott, and Thompson and The Writers Guide 2 E-Publishing Blog are the best two sources I know. The last one’s blogger has sold over 100,000 books so far.
9.       Is there anything you’d like to tell us we haven’t covered? As my husband keeps telling me, just write good books. Books that you would like to read. Easy to say – difficult (but not impossible) to do.
10.   Please let us know where we can find you on the web. My web site is my blog.
Thanks for having me over Deborah!

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Interview With Amy Wallace

by Jeff Reynolds

I had the honor of interviewing my favorite author last month – Randy Singer for those who missed it. This month, I have the honor interviewing another author who's in my top three (with Allistair MacLean being the other, but I'd have to conduct a séance to interview him, and most of you would frown at that.) This author is Amy Wallace, who wrote the excellent Defenders of Hope series, and has released the second book last fall of her latest series, Place of Refuge.

Jeff Reynolds: Welcome, Amy. I've noticed you have a bachelor's degree in Counseling and Guidance from the University of Louisville , and also are a graduate of the Gwinnett County Citizen's Police Academy . Where does your writing journey coincide with these degrees? How has your education affected your writing and your Christian life?

Amy Wallace:
I graduated from U of L ( GO CARDS!) ages ago and the Citizen's Police Academy about nine years ago, both a fantastic experience. I attended the CPA, a volunteer, sixteen week, behind the scenes look at the police department, when I was working on my first suspense series about FBI Crimes Against Children agents. I wanted to better understand and honor the law enforcement professionals I highlighted in my novels.

My counseling degree has served me well in life and writing, to better understand human nature and observe in the real world what I write about in my stories. Not only that, but also to see how vital healing is to a healthy, loving relationship with God and others.

JR: If asked what my favorite fiction series is, your Defenders of Hope trilogy would be towards the top. I'm now reading Hiding In Plain Sight, the first in the Place of Refuge Series. Could you tell us about the series, and if you approached the writing any different between the two?

Thank you very much for that high compliment!

The Defenders of Hope series is a suspense series about the FBI Crimes Against Children Unit in DC that focuses on hope and healing amid life’s most challenging storms. The Place of Refuge series is a Mennonite romantic suspense series focusing on a small town police officer protecting her loved ones, her town, and the surrounding Mennonite community from uncharacteristic violence in Hiding in Plain Sight, and, in Nowhere to Run, a stalker who forces Ashley to put happily ever after on hold to protect and defend those she loves.

Writing these two very different series included tons of research, interviewing FBI and other law enforcement officers, and plenty of editing! I tried a few new things with plotting in the Place of Refuge series after having read James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure. But the biggest writing difference between the two series came in dealing with theme.

For Ransomed Dreams, Healing Promises, and Enduring Justice, theme grew as I wrote the stories. Ransomed Dreams’ theme of healing through forgiveness became a deeper life lesson that forgiveness unlocks the future. For Healing Promises, the theme began as healing and hope amid life-shattering circumstances. The story grew out of a question I asked a Secret Service Agent: What would an FBI agent do with a cancer diagnosis? The theme grew and became Faith Under Fire and tackled the questions: Where is God when life hurts? Can God be trusted? For Enduring Justice, the theme deepened from healing from past abuse to secrets can’t last forever. Justice isn’t enough. Healing is.

The themes for the Place of Refuge books began with a simple theme and stayed pretty true to the original ideas. Hiding in Plain Sight’s theme is control. Who is in control? Can He be trusted? Nowhere to Run is about protection. Is God powerful enough to protect His children?

JR: In October, 2011, you taught a course on Plotting. Does this mean you're a committed plotter? Or do you ever try Seat of the Pants writing? After all, you have done great plot twists in your story that I didn't see coming.

I’m what James Scott Bell calls a Borg plotter. I'm a full time homeschooling mom, my first and favorite career, so I don't have time to just sit down and see where the story takes me. Which, according to my pantser friends, requires plenty of rewriting. I love doing the research and character charts and outlines that help me know my characters and story so well that when I sit down to write, I have a good idea where I'm going. Plus, to honor law enforcement officers who serve us well and many of whom have been a fantastic help to me with each of my stories, I feel compelled to get my facts and twists and suspense plot right and reasonable before I sit down to write. And even with all the plotting I do, there are always surprises along the way, which keeps the journey fun.

JR: Your books are full of heart-warming, feel-good topics like losing one's family, child-killing, cancer, and racism. What reaction have you had both from the publisher/editor end and from the readers?

While my novels do hit on hard topics, the focus is always on healing. I believe to show the light and hope that are ours in Christ, we have to acknowledge the darkness where He shines brightest.

The reactions from publishers and readers have been overwhelmingly positive. In large part because my stories aren't just high intensity suspense, but because they are full of flawed, searching, real characters who connect with readers, and I pray lead them closer to Christ and the healing possible in Him.

JR: One thing all your books have is a set of discussion questions. Was this your idea or your publishers? Any response from people who used those questions you'd like to share?

The discussion questions were something I wanted to include to help readers and book clubs connect even more to the story. One of my favorite responses was a long letter from a reader of Ransomed Dreams that detailed how this story helped her forgive her father and begin the painful process of reconciliation with someone who had abandoned her as a child. It made me cry to read how my characters and the theme of the novel touched this woman's heart to the point her life was changed for good and a vital relationship began to heal.

JR: Besides your fiction, you've been a contributor to Writing Inspirational Fiction, God Answers Mom's Prayers, and Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Diabetes. (I'm not much for chicken soup -- I'm waiting for the Supreme Pizza with Jalapenos and Anchovies For The Soul books to come out.) What was that like?

Pizza is awesome soul food, but nothing beats chicken soup when you're under the weather. ;-)

I began my writing journey in creative non-fiction and learned how to write well in less than two thousand words. That's tough! I credit my first editors with teaching me how to make every word count and paint a picture.

JR: What do you have planned this year? I'm sure the second installment of Place of Refuge is coming out -- could you give us a preview? Also, am I correct that you'll be teaching a course on the ACFW Course Loop this year?

I’m working on a new suspense series set both in current day Louisville , KY , and in Cold War Berlin , two places I love and miss terribly.

Yes, I’m teaching on the ACFW Course Loop about the gift of words and lessons learned in the writing trenches.

The second book in the Place of Refuge series, Nowhere to Run, came out in October 2012.

Someone’s out there…

Police Officer Ashley Walters is ready to leave behind the nightmares and embrace the future ahead of her. Along with her best friend, Margo, and her fiancé, Patrick, Ashley is planning the wedding of her dreams.

But happily-ever-after is put on hold when Ashley’s worst fears are confirmed: A stalker is watching her, and he’s ready to strike. Forced to flee for her own safety and the protection of those she loves, Ashley finds refuge in a gentle Mennonite community in Shipshewana , Indiana . But danger lurks even there, and Ashley must face the greatest question of all: Is God powerful enough to protect His children?

JR: Besides writing, you also are a homeschool mom of three, a Bible study leader, a women's group speaker, a co-leader of a young writer's group, and a chocoholic. My guess is your spare time hobbies are eating and sleeping. How do these activities help with your writing, and how does your writing help with these activities?

Yes, eating and sleeping are important to fit into my homeschooling, writing, and teaching schedule. So are reading, running, time with friends, Star Trek, and mom and daughter dates with my precious kiddos. All of those things together make life a joy and gift.

It really helps that I love writing and I love teaching! Teaching is one of my top two spiritual gifts, and I feel alive when I can share what God has taught me. Chocolate of course helps with all of life's difficult tasks. ;-) Teaching also inspires me to write better and understand how I do what I do. I began teaching a high school creative writing course this year and I love it! My students challenge me to write and teach my absolute best.

All of life helps with writing, making me sensitive to emotions, struggles, joys, and triumphs that bring fiction to life. And fiction helps me understand life. I work out my salvation and my wrestling matches with God at my computer.

JR: Thank you for your time. Could you tell us about your very creative website, and anything else we might be interested in?

Thank you for having me on your blog! Thanks too for the kind words about my website~ Dark Chocolate Suspense ( It's a fun, interactive site that includes information about my books, about keeping kids safe, Bible studies, tips for writers, and fun quizzes about my stories. Please come and have some chocolate inspired fun and leave me a note in the guestbook! I love hearing from readers!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Connie Mann

I'm so excited to welcome Connie Mann to Sleuths and Suspects today. When I first asked Connie for an interview it was a few hours before I received a response because she was working her other job as a boat captain.

First question for me and our readers is ...Tell us about being a boat captain.

Hi Jackie, thanks so much for the opportunity to be a guest on your blog! What fun.

I LOVE being a boat captain. We have been blessed to live on a small lake in Central Florida for 16 years, so our kids grew up tubing, water skiing, and wake boarding behind our “vintage” (read: really old) boat. Because of that, getting a job as a captain wasn’t too big a leap. I worked for Silver Springs – Nature’s Theme Park, from 2006-2011 where I piloted glass bottom boats on the Silver River. (That’s when I got my USCG-issued captain’s license.)There is something incredible about a guest’s first look at those springs!

In 2008, I started working for the Silver River Museum & Environmental Education Center, part of our local school system. Several days a week, I get to take curious 5th graders on a 33-foot pontoon boat on the Silver River and show many of them their very first alligator. How cool is that?

How long have you been writing? Do you always write romantic suspense? Do you have a favorite author you like to read?

I started freelancing when we moved to Central Florida. I wrote for a parenting magazine and eventually became the editor. I also wrote a parenting book, ghostwrote books for clients and wrote dozens of articles. But my first love has always been fiction, especially romantic suspense. I wrote a novel, which was soundly rejected. So I wrote another, and another. Finally, I thought my time had come. Angel Falls was under contract, but months before release, the publisher changed their mind. Honestly, the discouragement got to me—and the loneliness of being in my house all day—so I quit writing and became a boat captain. I found I loved being outside around people.

Of course, like most writers, the stories wouldn’t leave me alone, so I eventually started writing again. My Florida-set romantic suspense, Trapped! came out in 2009 and when Angel Falls releases, it will be TEN years from the time I first wrote it. (If you’d like to know more, stop by my blog ( and read my post: “When Stubborn is a Good Thing.”)

I read lots of romantic suspense—and books of all kinds—so asking about a favorite author is like asking me to pick a favorite child. I can’t choose. But I will say I was blessed to have several of my favorite authors write wonderful endorsements for Angel Falls.

Tell us about Angel Falls.

My father is from Porto Alegre, Brazil, and the story idea was born on a trip there. For years, street children swarmed the downtown area and I started wondering what kind of person you’d become if you’d grown up that way. That’s how my heroine, fiercely protective orphanage director Regina da Silva, was born. I also got to see Iguacu Falls—one of the largest waterfalls in the world—and knew the story’s climax scene had to happen there.

Here’s a bit about the story:

Two pasts collide in a deadly race to save an orphaned baby…

She’ll do whatever it takes to protect her best friend’s baby.

He won’t protect anyone ever again. The last time he tried, they died.

But when bullets fly, orphanage director Regina da Silva and burned-out Army Ranger Brooks Anderson dive headlong into danger to protect one defenseless child.

As the danger closes in, they’ll have to trust each other to stay alive.

Will that be enough to save their little angel--and themselves—from certain death?

Thanks again for the opportunity to stop by. I’ve enjoyed it very much!

Thank you, Connie.

Connie has agreed to give away a copy of Angel Falls if we get twelve comments. If we pick a US resident you can have your choice of print or e-book. If you're outside the US, you'll get a free digital copy. Please leave your email address with your comment. Thanks!

Connie Mann

Monday, March 4, 2013

Interview with Jordyn Redwood

Jordyn Redwood is a pediatric ER nurse by day, suspense novelist by night. She hosts Redwood’s Medical Edge, a blog devoted to helping contemporary and historical authors write medically accurate fiction. Her first two novels, Proof and Poison, garnered starred reviews from Library Journal and have been endorsed by the likes of Dr. Richard Mabry, Lynette Eason, and Mike Dellosso to name a few. You can connect with Jordyn via her website at

author jordyn redwood


I’m a wife, mother of two girls and a pediatric ER nurse. I love combining my two loves (nursing and writing) into publishing medical thrillers. Readers of my novels get to experience the rush of adrenaline I do in the ER in a much safer environment.

woman's face on cover of novel, poison


Poison takes place five years after the Chapter 2 hostage incident in Proof. Keelyn Blake is one of a few survivors of a hostage incident where her step-father, under the directives of an hallucination he called Lucent, murdered half her family. Now Lucent has materialized and is threatening what remains of her family and those involved in the hostage crisis are dead or dying. The question becomes, can Keelyn figure out how Lucent became real before she gets killed herself?
As with all medical thrillers—there is a medical mystery at Poison’s center. Can someone be brainwashed? Does hypnosis facilitate brainwashing? All that with a mysterious toxin mixed in.

The first five chapters of both Proof and Poison are available at my website.


Keelyn Blake is my favorite character. She’s a body language expert and her fiancé has something to hide which makes for great tension in the novel. I did a lot of research for her role that I found really fascinating and thus far—readers are really enjoying those body language tidbits as well.


Poison was written in about nine months. Once you’re under contract—the time frame for completing a novel can be short.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Interview with Dianna Benson

Dianna T. Benson is a 2011 Genesis Winner, a 2011 Genesis double Semi-Finalist, a 2010 Daphne de Maurier Finalist, and a 2007 Golden Palm Finalist. In 2012, she signed a nine-book contract with Ellechor Publishing House. Her first book, The Hidden Son, released in print world-wide March 1, 2013.

After majoring in communications and a ten-year career as a travel agent, Dianna left the travel industry to earn her EMS degree. An EMT and a Haz-Mat and FEMA Operative since 2005, she loves the adrenaline rush of responding to medical emergencies and helping people in need. Her suspense novels about adventurous characters thrown into tremendous circumstances provide readers with a similar kind of rush.

Dianna lives in North Carolina with her husband and their three athletic children. 

author Dianna Benson


When I was in fifth grade, I realized I’m a writer. For those details, see the On Writing page on my website:

God, Stephen King, Robert Frost, Tim Downs, Tess Gerritsen and Terri Blackstock

See the On Writing page on my website:

Plus...Keep in mind, if you're unable to land an agent and/or a publishing contract, it doesn't prove your writing is the problem, so continue to believe in yourself as a writer. Above all, if you love to write, then never stop writing. God gave you a passion, so spend time on your passion and enjoy yourself!
The Hidden Son by Dianna Benson


Book One in the Cayman Islands Trilogy:

The Hidden Son

When U.S. DEA Special Agent Lelisa Desmond refuses to follow an order to bury evidence in a high profile case, her superior hires a hit man to kill her deep in the ocean off Grand Cayman Island. Lelisa survives the first attempt on her life, but someone close to her is mistakenly murdered in her place.

With no one to trust, Lelisa enlists Inspector Alec Dyer for help but learns she's his number one suspect in the scuba diving homicide. She sets off on a daring mission to bring down the man who ordered her execution. A man in a high position, with powerful friends. A man who will stop at nothing to silence her forever in order to hide his son's crimes. 

In 1993, I started writing my first suspense novel; I was a travel agent at the time. Writing novels has been my #1 job since the day I left my career in the travel industry to earn my EMS degree. After medic school in 2005, I’ve worked part time as an EMT and a Haz-Mat and FEMA Operative, a career I treasure but it’s always been my second career to my writing career. Since I write suspense, my firsthand emergency medical and rescue knowledge and experience enhances my plotlines, characterization and the general authenticity of my novels. I was a freelance editor for both unpublished and published authors for over a decade, but now I’m focusing solely on my own writing. With a nine-book contract with a traditional print publisher, writing is my main real job.   

My Website:

Also, The Hidden Son is available to order: