Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Interview and Book Giveaway with Wanda Dyson

by Jeff Reynolds


I have a confession. While I like suspense, there are times I hate suspense. I can't put it down because I'm so worried about the characters and I find it a nerve-wrecking experience, giving me a sigh of relief when I put it down. What book is the most effective at such nail-biting suspense which I also enjoyed that experience? Answer: Judgment Day by Wanda Dyson.

We will be giving away a copy of your choice between Shepherd's Fall and Judgment Day. Details are below, but let me state one qualification: REMEMBER YOUR E-MAIL WHEN ENTERING THE CONTEST! I always get one person who expects to win without giving me a way to contact them.

Jeff Reynolds:  Welcome to Sleuths and Suspects, Wanda. Allow me to start with a dual question. How did you start your writing journey and your Christian journey?

Wanda Dyson:
Thank you so much for having me. I’m thrilled to be here. I became a Christian in 1988 after a night horror led me to make the ultimate declaration—"God, if you’re real and you get me out of this alive, I’ll do anything you want." He got me out alive and I gave Him my life. For the first few years, it was all about His Word and I was totally devoted to it. Slowly, He began to reveal His desire for me to write for Him but I wasn’t sure and wasn’t confident about it. I had always been writing, but not novels or even suspense. But, someone saw my work and sent me to a Christian writer’s conference where an agent signed me and several editors showed interest in my work and I was on my way.

JR:  You have written five suspense stories so far. Is my understanding correct that you're rereleasing your first trilogy in e-book? Could you tell us about them?

Abduction was my first book and the publisher loved it so much, they asked me to write at least two more. After writing Obsession and Intimidation, the publisher closed the suspense division so that was the end of the series. But I still get letters from people who just fell in love with the irrepressible Zoe Shefford and her love/nemesis Detective Josiah Johnson. All three are available on Kindle for $2.99 each.

JR:  You've also written Shepherd's Fall and Judgment Day. Are they part of a series? And as a fan of the latter, are Marcus and Alexandria going to return?

Shepherd’s Fall was supposed to be part of a three book series but the publisher cancelled the series. I’m working now on getting the rights back to the other two books so that I can release them as e-books for the fans of the Shepherd clan. Judgment Day was never intended to be anything more than a stand-alone novel but I do have people asking me for more of Marcus and Alexandria from time to time, so you never know. J

JR:  I've read that some people believe the best suspense is written without an outline, but I've come across several good suspense writers that are outliners, including two of my favorites (Randy Singer and Amy Wallace). I'm curious how another of my favorites (Wanda Dyson) does hers.

I do SOME outlining but not that much. I prefer to just write and let the story unfold, then go back and tweek it here and there. I guess I like being surprised as much as my fans do.

JR:  Besides your fiction, you also wrote a non-fiction book -- Why I Jumped: My True Story of Postpartum Depression, Dramatic Rescue & Return to Hope . What was it like working with Tina Zahn? And your web-site mentioned your book was picked for an exclusive release on Oprah.

It was the hardest book I’ve ever had to write mostly because it started out that I’d have several months to write the book and then when Oprah requested the manuscript, that was cut down to just several weeks to write the book because Oprah’s team was going on hiatus. I hope I never have to do that again. LOL. 

JR:  Your web-site mentioned your farm. This zoo-oholic would love to hear about your animals. How do they inspire your writing?

I need to change my website. I’d sit for hours, staring out across the pasture at the horses and thinking up plot scenarios. And if that failed, I’d jump on a horse or the four-wheeler and ride until something came to me, then rush back to the house to write. And if nothing came to me, I still had a great time out there. LOL. But after my husband died, I had to sell off all my horses and give up the country life. I now live in North Carolina in a very residential area.  I miss my chickens, ducks, the barn cats... I gave away all but the German Shepherd, and now the “zoo” is gone.

JR:  You also served as the appointment coordinator for the CCWC, Great Philadelphia Christian Writers, and ACFW conferences. What is that like? How does that experience rub off on your writing and your Christian experience? And are you still doing this?

I had to give all that up when Jim passed away. I’m now sole caretaker for our disabled daughter, and then my elderly mother moved in with me, so I can’t travel anymore. I’m lucky to get an hour at the grocery store.. LOL. But I used to love that work. It was such a blessing to pray over all those requests and put people with the editors I felt they needed to see. I would receive letters letting me know that my efforts had turned into a publishing contract for them and those were all so precious to me.

JR:  Every writer has their ups and downs, and you mentioned the major one of losing your husband. How has it affected your faith, your writing, and your ministry to others?

My husband died suddenly and it turned my and our daughter’s world upside down. Unfortunately, he hadn’t really prepared so in the hospital, he asked his best friend to handle the sale of the business and his gun collection for me. The “friend” essentially took everything, leaving Jayme and I fairly destitute. It was like being trapped in one of my own books—one bad thing happening after another, but the Lord was so faithful. He carried me through, moved Jayme and I to North Carolina and even put me in a position to buy a little house with nothing. Truly, when everyone fails you, He is faithful. When He says He is our provider, He means it. And now that I’m on the other side of all that, Jayme and I are still missing him, still healing, but we’re okay. Finally, after two years, we’re settled in and I’m writing again.

JR:  What is on the horizon for your writing? Did I hear correctly you're planning a historical suspense?

I have writing going on two fronts actually. With the release of the three Shefford Files novels on e-books, I’m working on book four, taking Zoe and JJ through the wedding everyone has been waiting for (and of course, the path to the altar will be paved with chaos, murder, and a few more surprises), as well as also working on a historical suspense series about three Irish children sold into slavery and their struggle for freedom in the American colonies. The historical is a real departure for me, but I came upon a bit of history that I just knew I had to share through the lives of these children.

JR:  Thank you for your time, and may the Lord Jesus Christ richly bless you. How can we keep in touch with what you're up to?

Thank you so much for having me. I’m always available through my website, and Facebook or

*     *    *

And now for the book giveaway part.  If you'd like a copy of either Shepherd's Fall or Judgment Day, you need to do the following:
  1. Leave a comment. (That's a no-brainer, isn't it?)
  2. Include your e-mail, and you can write it out as my-name at dot com. (This SHOULD be another no-brainer, but I always have at least one person say they'd like to win and not include it.)
  3. Wanda has shared several bumps in the road she faced. Share one of your bumps and how God helped you get through it. 
Thanks again, Wanda.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

To Write a Wrong by Robin Caroll

Last year I read my first Robin Caroll book and became a fan.

Recently I read To Write A Wrong part of A Justice Seekers Novel Series.

The clever title was creative because her heroine, Riley Baxter, is a journalist. Riley meets a teenage girl who's father is in prison for a crime he didn't commit.

Riley meets, Hayden Simpson, the local police commissioner. Sparks begin to fly between these two. Each one is trying to solve a different crime. Riley is in danger and Hayden wants to stop someone from killing her. He wonders if recent murders could be linked to an attempt on Riley's life.

As Riley and Hayden work together, they question why God lets bad things happen to good people. They also deal with family relationships and a budding romance between them.

This story starts fast and goes full throttle until the end.

I don't think you'll be disappointed if you read To Write A Wrong.

Let me know if you've read this or any of Robin's books. Do you have a favorite?

Thanks for stopping by today.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Interview and Giveaway with Carole Brown (Details on Giveaway at the End of the Post)

Recently, I interviewed author Carole Brown.

author Carole Brown

Author Bio

Carole Brown’s debut novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, was a semi-finalist in the Genesis contest. Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, she 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 across the country. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Connect with her at or at

Author Interview

I’m not sure I “decided” to start writing. The first time I remember writing something that “stood out” was in sixth grade for a writing project: A week-long diary of a caveman family. FUN! I loved it. From then on you could catch me (and any friends even vaguely interested) writing as much as I could. Research papers were enjoyable, and when other college students groaned at the length, I was eager to dig in. But I seriously pursued writing just a few years ago by relearning all the “rules,” acquiring an agent, and finishing manuscripts for full length novels. It’s an adventurous journey, and now I’m seeing the results with my first traditionally pubbed novel: The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman.

My favorite is: never, never give up. Pursue your dreams with all your heart.

Hectic! I usually work on more than one manuscript at a time. It’s a good practice for me and keeps me inspired to write. Along with that and the research involved, now I have intense marketing to do, plus I participate in several writing groups, keep up with my own blog, facebook, twitter, etc. I also help out with the ACFWbookclub, Suspense Zone reviews, and the Barn Door Book Loft interviews for authors. So, again, I say, hectic. J

It’s what I love. No matter what genre I write, I love including suspense, a little mystery, romance, and some whimsy--in various doses. But always suspense. 

Forgiveness and hope.

In The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, I would have to choose Cara. She’s such a spunky woman who, in spite of her ignorance about real Christianity, is determined to achieve her goals, misguided that they are. Her tender heart and love for her daughters is a biggie in my eyes.

Normally, lots. Some of my research could feel notebooks two or three inches thick (and have!), others not so much. Still I love research and gather much more than I need sometimes.

For my debut novel, the cult followers all get tattoos once they are married, or committed to marriage. Studying the diverse range of tattoos and deciding on an appropriate one for my story was both fascinating and time-consuming.

This is an easy one! I love spending time with family, and friends. Our family loves vacationing together, but whether home or away, we enjoy swimming, picnicking, boating, fishing, hunting, grilling, etc. together. The Smokies in Tennessee is one of our favorite places to spend together.

I would love to have everyone connect with me on my
Facebook author page:,author

They can keep updated on the exact date when The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman releases (September, 2013). I’m holding frequent contests in honor of its release, but you have to keep in touch to know when the contests occur. Also if anyone wants to review my book, or join Carole’s Champions, let me know. I’d be happy to talk with you!

Thank you, Heidi, so much for inviting me to visit Sleuths and Suspects. It’s been great!

Book Excerpt

The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman
Carole Brown
Chapter One

Twenty years earlier
The shadow creatures on the wall shook their wings and legs. Heads with horns nodded. Scary, dark faces watched.
The little girl clasped her floppy-eared rabbit against her chest and stared into the dark.
“Mmm …” Mommy’s murmur reached to her through the walls, and the giggles from her mother tiptoed in, shooing the fear away.
Whoosh. She blew out a breath and squeezed her rabbit tighter. “Mommy has a friend with her, Ramsey. She loves me just like I love you and will give me hugs in the morning after the man leaves.”
Ramsey said nothing. She ran her fingers over his face and could feel his black button eyes staring at her, trusting her to protect him.
“And she’ll read to us and I’ll sit on her lap and we’ll snuggle—all of us together.” She nodded and tugged on Ramsey’s left ear then rolled over.
Real live whispers and laughter floated into the room.
Opening her mouth in a wide yawn, she patted Ramsey’s tummy and whispered again, “Don’t be afraid. I’m right here.”
“Please. That hurts.”
“Mommy?” The little girl frowned but her eyes wouldn’t open. Just like they did when she and mommy put cucumbers slices on their eyes. 
“Stop it—”

             Rubbing at her eyes the little girl sat up. Mommy had never sounded like this before, and neither had any of the men—the men who brought flowers and candy and money. 

About the Book

How far would YOU go to avenge a daughter’s cruel death? Cara is considered rebellious and inappropriate to befriend. Dayne is the apple of Elder Simmons’ eye—until he takes a stand against their teachings. Can his prayers and love reach Cara and show her the way to redemption? Will Cara realize God’s love and forgiveness before she goes too far?

The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman is a novel of hope shining through the darkness with strong elements of suspense and romance and was a semifinalist in the Genesis contest. Release date is September, 2013 from the Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, an ACFW approved publisher. Look for it on Amazon or request it at your favorite book store or library!

Book Giveaway

Carole has graciously agreed to give away a copy of the novel (paperback OR ebook for U.S. residents, ebook only for non-U.S. residents).

In order to be entered, you must
(1) Follow this blog. You can join today. It’s easy!
(2) Please answer the following question: Do you have old-fashioned recipes (Cara loves to cook!) that you'd like to suggest for inclusion in a go-along book that will include links and names back to those chosen? 
(3) Provide your email address. If you are concerned about spam, you may spell out the address, for example, yourname(at)gmail(dot)com.

I will contact the winner on 7/22/13 and give him or her one week to respond. If the winner does not respond, an alternate winner will be chosen.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Interview and Giveaway with Tracy Krauss

I'm delighted to welcome Tracy Krauss to Sleuths and Suspects this week. Tracy has graciously offered a free download of her book "Wind Over Marshdale" from Kindle or Smashwords. Don't forget to leave a comment and your email address. Just for fun let us know if you've ever visited Canada. Without further ado lets get on with the show. Welcome Tracy!

Tracy Krauss

Interview Questions/Sleuths and Suspects Blog

1.  Tell us a little about yourself.

Besides an author, I am an artist, drama director, worship leader and teacher. I’m all about the creative process, so everything I do has that bent to it. When I’m ‘making’ something – be it a painting, directing my vision for a play on the stage, playing an instrument, or writing a book – I feel energized. Sometimes I tend to burn myself out because I don’t rest much, but I like to be busy and I love all my creative pursuits, so it’s hard to drop anything. I currently live in Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia, Canada, known for its many waterfalls. However, my husband and I have moved around a lot in our thirty years of marriage, and many of the places we’ve lived have been in the far north. This has given me lots of fodder for my stories.

2.  Tell us about your most recent book/or the book we are focusing on.

WIND OVER MARSHDALE takes place in a small prairie town where, on the surface, everything seems quaint and happy. Underneath there are some serious issues, especially with racism, sexual promiscuity, and the occult. Thomas Lone Wolf is a Cree man on a mission to build a heritage site near the town based on some ancient archaeological evidence. He and his children aren’t prepared for the level of prejudice they begin to face. Rachel Bosworth is the new Kindergarten teacher, fresh from the big city and running away from a hurtful past. Con McKinley is a local farmer, who also happens to be single and good looking. A love triangle of sorts develops, with the two men unwitting participants. As well, eccentric twin sisters bombard the town; one with her legalistic religious views and the other as a practicing witch. The local pastor has little effect trying to keep his parishioners in line since he is involved in some unsavoury business of his own. The lives of these and many other unusual characters weave together into a surprising climax.  Beneath it all is a thread linking everyone’s problems to the spirit realm; an ancient curse from the past that must be dealt with once and for all.

3.  Why did you choose this particular genre?

So far my novels are categorized as ‘Romantic Suspense’. Some are heavier on the romance and others heavier on the suspense. I’m not sure I chose the genre so much as it chose me. I write what I feel like writing.

4.  What was your journey to publication like?

I first started writing when my eldest was just a baby. I could hardly wait for her to go down for her nap so that I could pound away at my mother’s old typewriter. That was more than a quarter century ago. Four kids, plus homeschooling for nine years, plus going back to work as a public school teacher full time, and I finally signed my first contract in 2008. This was after many, many rejections and a lot of hard work revising, querying, and revising some more. My first book AND THE BEAT GOES ON released in 2009, followed by MY MOTHER THE MAN-EATER in 2010, PLAY IT AGAIN in 2011, and WIND OVER MARSHDALE in 2012. I’ve also written and directed dozens of plays in my time as a Drama teacher and currently five of them have found homes with various play publishing houses and are enjoying a measure of success on small stages across the continent.

5.  What are a couple of your favorite books and what are you reading now?

Frank Peretti is still my favorite author, without a doubt, so anything by him is a hit with me. I also like Ted Dekker and Francine Rivers. They both write about controversial topics and have characters that are believable; in other words, they aren’t perfect. It’s what I strive for in my own writing. My tastes are eclectic in that I also love Jane Austin, pretty much anything science fiction, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, (crazy good!) and Edgar Rice Burrows. I know what you’re thinking… weird. I read a lot of books by mid and low list authors, too, and recently I read and LOVED Naomi Munsh’s ‘Empire In Pine’ Series, Nike Chillemi’s ‘Sanctuary Point’ Series, and a book called Art of My Life by Ann Lee Miller. Awesome.

6.  What are you working on now and can you give us a little peek inside it?

My agent is currently shopping a book called THREE STRAND CORD, which I am rather stoked about. It’s about three women who have been friends since grade school. One of them runs off to Europe after her current flame, and soon all three get sucked into a web of lies and danger fraught with drug dealers, FBI agents, and international espionage. (And romance, of course.) I’m also working on a sequel called Blood Ties. Fun, fun, fun!

7. What advice would you give authors who are on their own journey to publication?

Be patient. If you are going the traditional route, expect and even embrace rejection. Take the time necessary to get feedback from critique partners and get professional editing. Even if you decide to self publish, don’t rush publication. I still see many things I’d like to change in my books, but once a contract is signed, you can’t go back.

8.  Do you have any books or websites that have helped you with your writing that you could share with us?

There are so many resources out there I almost don’t know where to start. Joining a group like ACFW, the Word Guild, or some other writer’s group is probably the first thing you should do. These are places where you can find like-minded writers, get feedback, ask all the dumb questions, and find the resources that meet your particular needs.

9.  Please let us know where we can find you on the web.


Deborah has worked as a freelance writer and photographer, since 2001, for the historical magazine “Georgia Backroads.” She has had many articles and photographs published during this time. Her writing is featured in “Tales of the Rails” edited by Olin Jackson. She has also had a showing of her photographs at Floyd Medical Center Art Gallery as well as winning several awards. Her debut cozy mystery "Death in Dahlonega", a winner in the ACFW Category Five Writer's Contest, is now available.

author Debbie Malone

She is a current member of the Georgia Writers Association, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Deborah has been nominated for Georgia Author of the Year 2012. She has an established blog, Butterfly Journey, where she reviews Christian Fiction. You can also catch her at
Sleuths and Suspects, where she reviews mysteries. She also contributes to the Cozy Mystery Magazine every other Tuesday.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Interview and Book Giveaway with Sandra Orchard

by Jeff Reynolds 

Aaaand... we have a winner!
Congratulations to Jackie Smith. 

This week, I'm interviewing author Sandra Orchard, and we will be giving away a copy of her latest, Deadly Devotion. At the bottom of this blog are three steps to being a winner.

I had debated asking Sandra Orchard if she uses an Apple computer to plant seeds for a fruitful and Delicious plot that goes out on a limb, developing core characters (such as, maybe, Jonathan MacIntosh and Granny Smith), and some Gala event at an a-peeling setting (possibly Fuji?), but she might say "Leaf me alone." So I'll put on my serious interviewer hat and begin.

Jeff Reynolds: Welcome to Sleuths and Suspects, Sandra. I had the privilege of reading your web-page bio, which mentions you started your writing journey by composing numerous reviews and articles for your homeschooling newsletter. Could you tell us about any of those that you have fond memories of?
Sandra Orchard: I loved doing reviews of homeschooling curriculum when my children were in the early grades and could do similar work. I often reviewed unit studies where all the subjects were integrated around a central theme, because…I got to try the studies with my family first. We loved the variety.

JR: At that time, your bio mentions that you never considered writing fiction. What changed your mind?
SO: The more I read Christian fiction (particularly romance and romantic suspense), the more I yearned to write it. Ideas soon followed. A back injury gave me the time and motivation.

JR: If my math is correct, this year will see the release of your fourth title with Love Inspired Suspense and your first with Revell. Could you tell us about them?
SO: Deadly Devotion, which released last month, is the first book in a three-book romantic suspense/mystery series called Port Aster’s Secrets. Each book will have a standalone mystery, but the romance and an underlying suspense plot will arc the series.

In book 1: Herbal medicine researcher Kate Adams knows her friend didn’t commit suicide, as the police suspect, and is determined to prove it. But standing in the way is Detective Tom Parker who has the niggling suspicion that Kate might be the killer.     When Kate’s investigation unearths a web of suspicious goings-on in the sleepy town of Port Aster, will Tom believe her innocence and catch the real murderer before Kate becomes the next victim?

My next Love Inspired Suspense, Fatal Inheritance, about a woman who inherits her grandparents’ century farmhouse, only to be terrorized by someone who wants her to sell, releases in August 2013.

JR: Do you work on one story at a time, or are you a multi-tasker as a writer? Also, are you one who outlines in advance, or are you more of a blank pager?

Out of necessity, I am a multi-tasker. Ideally, I’d be working on a first draft stage of one manuscript, while editing another, but… it doesn’t always work out that way. As of today, I need to start writing first drafts of both my next Revell novel and my next Love Inspired Suspense. Mind you, this is my favorite stage. It only starts to get scary when the book I’ve outlined—yes, I outline—begins to unravel as the characters assert themselves half way through the book and my outline becomes so much fire starter!

JR: Back to the bio. Your three twenty-something children (as well as your husband) help with your writing. You mention your youngest daughter is also a freelance writer and an aspiring novelist. What's it like mentoring her? Or is it the other way around?

I love having another writer in the house. She understands me.  She fully appreciates what a big deal little victories are and how devastating defeats can feel. She can relate to writer’s block, and the oh-so-sweet feeling when a scene comes together. We don’t talk stories too often since our tastes and writing are quite different. But we encourage one another to persevere and are the ever-present and much-needed listening ear when characters are being uncooperative.

JR: How do you work the faith element in the story? Do you start with theme and develop the story around it? Or do you start with a story and discover the theme?

SO: Well…yes and yes. Oftentimes I start with a theme and develop the story around it, only to have a different theme emerge as the story evolves. Sometimes, I start with more of a suspense plot and discover the theme as I write.

JR: Here's a challenge. What problem concerns you, and how would you -- as an author -- solve that problem?

I would write a fictional story to help people walk in others’ shoes and see the view from their perspective. For example, I learned a lot about troubled youth and youth detention centers in my research for Shades of Truth, and hopefully, conveyed a more compassionate approach to their situations through my heroine in the story.

JR: Thank you for your time. Could you direct us where we could contact you?

SO: My cyber home is at  I blog there every Monday, and you’ll find fun bonus features for all my books such as deleted scenes and location pics.

I also love to connect with fans on Facebook at:
And I’d like to invite readers who wish to be notified of my upcoming releases to subscribe to my newsletter.

Jeff to the reader: Now, the giveaway part. If you would like a copy of Deadly Devotion (winner's choice of print or e-book), here are the rules:

  1. There needs to be a minimum of ten entries for a book to be given.
  2. Include your e-mail address -- your entry does NOT qualify without one. (I always get at least one person who wants to enter the giveaway but does not include their e-mail -- and yes, you can spell out the icons like myemailaddress (at)bigcompany(dot)com.
  3. Finally, Sandra has suggested a question for you to answer, and it looks very interesting. Here it is: The heroine of Deadly Devotion, Kate Adams, is interested in herbal teas and remedies. What is the most unusual or most effective folk remedy, or herbal tea, that you or someone in your family has tried? For what ailment? And how well did it work?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Free Reads on Amazon Kindle

The following books are currently free for Amazon Kindle. Please check the price before purchasing as Amazon changes prices from time to time. Also, check to see if the book is free with or without Prime membership. 

If you don't have a Kindle, considering downloading Kindle for PC (or Mac) to your computer. 

Dianna Benson's Hidden Son -

Mark Bertran's Back on Murder

James Callan's Cleansed by Fire (free with Prime)

Lorena McCourtney's Invisible

Patricia Rushford's Deadly Aim

Marta Perry's Hide in Plain Sight

F.P. Lione's The Deuce

Don Hoesel's Elisha's Bones