Thursday, February 12, 2009

Susan Davis is back! Win a free book...

Plug time! Please tell us a little about your latest release and why readers should run out and buy it as soon as it hits the shelves.

On A Killer’s Trail

This book has the down home charm of Maine, great characters, and a puzzling mystery with a good dash of suspense. Kate Richards is a rookie reporter at a daily newspaper, determined to make good. She’s assigned to be “on call” to cover local news on Christmas Day, when everyone else takes the day off. She plans to spend the day with her sister and brother-in-law—who happens to be a police captain.
When the captain is called to investigate an elderly woman’s murder, Kate tags along, which brings her face-to-face with Detective Neil Alexander, the man Kate broke up with six months ago. Neil was too wild then, and she did what she knew was right. But everyone says he’s changed now. Kate is resolved not to go there. Her new job eclipses everything else. Neil is still attracted to Kate, but his boss warns him to leave her alone. He has good intentions. Really. When a second murder occurs, Neil and Kate are in the thick of it together. Can they set aside the past to catch the killer?

If you’re like me, you’re always writing something whether on the computer, in your head, scratch pieces of paper, etc. Where do you get your ideas? What triggers a story idea for you?

Ideas are everywhere. News stories, overheard comments, TV commercials, a photo that doesn’t look quite right. My question is, how can people NOT have ideas for stories?

In your opinion, what’s the toughest thing you find about writing? The easiest?

The toughest is making sure all the details match up so that the whole thing hangs together without ends of threads sticking out. The easiest for me used to be writing dialogue, but I find I like writing action very much, too.

When did you start writing for publication and what did people say when they found out?

I started writing fiction in 1999. Most people were encouraging, if a little dubious.

How long did it take you to get published?

I began selling short stories in 2001. My first book was published in 2004, so five years.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

Some ideas come complete with setting. If not, I either choose a setting I’m familiar with or research to find out where the story would best unfold.

What would you be doing with all the time you spend writing if you weren’t writing?

Probably working a part time job.

Where’s your favorite place to write?

Here at my desk at home.

How do you make time for God in the craziness of life?

I like to start out the day with prayer and reading. Our family reads the Bible together and has a time of prayer after lunch. This seems to be our best time of day to have everyone together, as we home school and my husband works late and gets up late.

Tell us a little about your family.

My husband is an editor for a daily newspaper. We have six children, three of whom are married, and five grandchildren. The three children still living at home are 23, 16, and 14. The two younger ones are still being schooled at home. We live in Maine, and right now that means I have a lovely snowscape out my study window—firs, maples, and beeches dusted in snow, and about 18 inches on the ground. The woodstove is cranking, and it’s quiet here today. Oh, did I mention the dog? Monte Cristo is my bane, but the kids love him.

Who are your favorite authors?

It’s hard to choose, but for true history, Nathaniel Philbrick rules! I do love Dick Francis and Alexander McCall Smith. I like mysteries. Dorothy L. Sayers is a perennial favorite of mine, along with Ellis Peters’s Brother Cadfaels (not so much for her other books).

What’s next for you in the world of publishing?

I am working on my first “long historical.” The Sheriff’s Surrender is to be the first in a series titled The Ladies’ Shooting Club. I love the characters. This book is set for release in December. After that I’ll finish off my second Alaska book for Heartsong. Writing three Alaskan stories is an adventure in itself.

What do you hope people take away from when they finish reading your book?

The power of forgiveness. Kate and Neil have issues between them to deal with, but each also has some self-forgiving to do. It’s part of the spiritual maturity their struggle toward.

How many books have you written? List them for us so we can be sure to find them in the bookstore or online! 

Hm, more than 20.
Romantic suspense: Frasier Island, Finding Marie, Inside Story, Just Cause, Witness, and On a Killer’s Trail (upcoming—Hearts in the Crosshairs from LIS).
Historicals: Protecting Amy, The Oregon Escort, Wyoming Hoofbeats (repackaged in Wyoming Brides); Weaving a Future (repackaged in Virginia Brides); The Prisoner’s Wife, The Castaway’s Bride, The Lumberjack’s Lady (repackaged in Maine Brides); Return to Love, A New Joy, Abiding Peace (to be repackaged as White Mountain Brides in the fall); novella “Almost Home” in the Snowbound Colorado Christmas collection; and the upcoming Ladies’ Shooting Club series.
Cozy Mysteries with my daughter Megan: the Mainely Murders series—titles are Homicide at Blue Heron Lake, Treasure at Blue Heron Lake, and the upcoming Impostors at Blue Heron Lake.
And two book for young people: Feather (fantasy); and Sarah’s Long Ride (horse story).

What advice do you have for a beginning author?

Write a lot. Read a lot. Listen to people who know what they are doing. Don’t listen to people who don’t. And if you can figure out the difference, you’re a genius. Now go read some more and write some more.

Any parting comments?

Come visit me on my Web site: . I love to hear from readers, and I give away a free book each month. Thanks for this opportunity, Lynette!

Thank you, Susan! So glad to learn a little more about you. I can't wait to read this book.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Rene Ryan is here! Win a free copy of her latest book.

Renee Halverson w/a Renee Ryan Bio:

Renee grew up in a small Florida beach town. To entertain herself during countless hours of "laying-out" she read all the classics. It wasn’t until the summer between her sophomore and junior years at Florida State University that she read her first romance novel. Hooked from page one, she spent hours consuming one book after another while working on the best (and last!) tan of her life.

Two years later, armed with a degree in Economics and Religion, she explored various career opportunities, including stints at a Florida theme park, a modeling agency, and a cosmetic conglomerate. She moved on to teach high school Economics, American Government and Latin while coaching award-winning cheerleading teams. Several years later, with an eclectic cast of characters swimming around in her head, she began seriously pursuing a writing career.

Renee sold her first book, EXTREME MEASURES, to Dorchester Publishing by winning the inaugural New Historical Voice Contest in 2002. She eventually reconciled her writing with her faith and began writing Inspirational Romances in 2006. She sold her first Inspirational manuscript to Love Inspired Historical in December 2006 and has since sold three more. Her first book in the Charity House series, The Marshall Takes a Bride was a February 2009 release. Her next book in the series, Hannah’s Beau, hit the shelves July 2009.

For further information check out

Plug time! Please tell us a little about your latest release and why readers should run out and buy it as soon as it hits the shelves.

The Marshal Takes a Bride is a Love Inspired Historical February 2009 release. Why buy it? Well, for one, it’s a Western. Who doesn’t love Western’s? Add into the mix a wounded hero, a determined heroine, and her lively 5-year-old sister and now you have a story of hope, redemption and the healing love of family.

How many full manuscripts did you write before you sold? Or if you’re pre-pubbed, how many have you written to date?

I completed five manuscripts before selling. The first three were total shots in the dark. I was utterly clueless. But I proved to myself that I could start and finish a novel, so I consider the time well spent. Then I joined my local RWA chapter and my real education began. Three years after joining, I sold my first book.

In your opinion, what’s the most fascinating thing about writing?

I am consistently amazed at the process of discovering new characters that previously didn’t exist. I fall in love with them every time, and I mean every time. So I set out to make sure they get their happy ending. If only real life could have such closure.

What’s something you can tell us about yourself that most people don’t know?

I’ve been skydiving several times. That’s right. I have jumped out of a perfectly good airplane on more than one occasion!

When did you start writing for publication and what did people say when they found out?

I started writing seriously in 1997. From day one, I received the same question I still get today. Are you published? I hated that question before I sold. I’m not crazy about it now. The assumption that we’re only “real” writers if we’ve published a novel is absurd. It’s about the journey, not the destination! Chasing the sale never works in the long run. Sadly, I know this from experience.

What is your favorite food?

Steak! Medium-rare. I love, love, love steak. LOVE IT. The best I’ve ever had was at Ruth’s Crist. Unbelievable seasoning. I could gush all day about this particular food item. Suffice it to say, I’m a bona fide carnivore.

Tell us a little about your family.

We’re a blended family. I married my husband when my daughter was three and his son was nine. The four of us lived happily together in the same house for thirteen years. However, now that our son has graduated college (sniff, sniff) it’s just the three of us left in the home. My daughter is a junior in high school (and all that that implies). My husband is in radio, and has the magnificent voice to prove it. We also have a large, fluffy cat that my husband is convinced is part bear. He will not believe me when I say I saw BOTH her mother and father at the pound where I found her. And they were, indeed, cats. It’s our only on-going argument to date.

Who are your favorite authors?

I love Francine Rivers, Liz Curtis Higgs, Beth Moore, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and all the Love Inspired Historical (LIH) authors. Honestly, I’ve enjoyed every one of the LIH releases this past year. Steeple Hill has done an excellent job with the launch of this new line.

What are you reading now and what’s in your “to be read” pile?

Right now, I’m reading WWII research books—mostly ones about Nazi Germany (where my current WIP is set). I’m fascinated with tales of the German Resistance. It took great courage to fight the Nazi Regime from the inside. Such heroism is inspiring.

Do you set out to write each story with a particular theme or does the theme develop as the story does?

I find I have recurring themes that show up no matter what story I set out to write, themes such as the condition of our hearts, first impressions, courage in the face of fear, shame and, a big favorite, forgiveness coupled with grace.

Do you have a particular method for tracking the details in your story? Can you tell us a little about this?

I’m a plotter, but not in the traditional sense. I plot my characters before I worry about the “events” of the story. Once I know who the hero and heroine are, what they’ll struggle to overcome, why they need the other person in their life and why that other person is also their worst nightmare, I start thinking about the actual events that will mess with their status quo. By then I have a good idea of the story’s theme, which is simply what the characters need to learn. I pick a Scripture that reflects that theme and sit down to write a detailed synopsis. If I know where I’m starting and where I’m going, the getting there becomes the easy part. In other words, if I know how my h/h will meet, what will lead them to their black moment and what will be the resolution then all the other scenes grow organically out of these three major plot points.

Who has had the most influence on your life in general? In your writing life?

Hands down, the most influential person in my life is my husband. I have never met anyone with his level of integrity. He once lost a job because he refused to sacrifice his employees and their welfare for his own sake. He is a true spiritual leader, both in the home and out. Best of all, he makes me feel beautiful, loved and forgiven on a daily basis. Every woman deserves a man like him in her life. My heroes tend to be a lot like the man I married. Go figure. In terms of my writing, I would have to say my critique partners, Cindy Kirk and Teryl Oswald. They are the hardest working writers I know. Both have a commitment to the craft that inspires me. Their insights and comments always help me take my stories to the next level. I value them both dearly.

Do you have an agent? If yes, did you have the agent before you sold your first book or after?

I have an agent now, but I didn’t have one when I sold my first book. I sold my second book with the help of my agent at the time. I appreciate having an agent to negotiate the business end of my career. I focus on the writing; my agent focuses on the business aspects. It’s really that simple for me.

What advice do you have for a beginning author?

Finish manuscripts! I can’t stress this enough. If you aren’t finishing manuscripts you aren’t learning how to work through the tough spots (and there are ALWAYS tough spots). You won’t know what your strengths are as a writer, or your weaknesses. Finishing manuscripts also provides the perfect avenue for developing your own unique style and command of the language, or what some call “voice”.

Any parting comments?

One of the best pieces of advice I can give is this: Choose your words carefully, whether you’re speaking, writing, blogging or emailing. You will always have editors, agents, readers, marketing departments, family, friends, co-workers and many others making requests on your time and talent. Either give them what they want or give them a kind, courteous reason why you can’t do what they ask at that time. You will never go wrong in this business by being nice.

Rene, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to join us today. We appreciate it and it's been so much fun learning more about you. I'm so impressed with the skydiving!