Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Darkness Follows by Mike Dellosso

Because of several deadlines and a couple of out of town trips, I'm still reading Darkness Follows, but I have to tell you what an incredible writer Mike Dellosso is. I read his first two books--and they were excellent, but Mike has truly outdone himself with this one. The depth of his plot is truly gripping and nothing less than enviable. Read about Mike and his book below, but believe me when I say there's so much more to both!

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance  is introducing
  Darkness Follows  Realms (May 3, 2011) by  Mike Dellosso   

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Mike now lives in Hanover, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Jen, and their three daughters. He writes a monthly column for Writer . . .Interrupted, was a newspaper correspondent/columnist for over three years, has published several articles for The Candle of Prayer inspirational booklets, and has edited and contributed to numerous Christian-themed Web sites and e-newsletters. Mike is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, the Relief Writer's Network, the International Christian Writers, and International Thriller Writers. His short stories have appeared with Amazon Shorts and in Coach's Midnight Diner genre anthology. He received his BA degree in sports exercise and medicine from Messiah College and his MBS degree in theology from Master's Graduate School of Divinity.

Mike Dellosso writes novels of suspense for both the mind and the soul. He writes to both entertain and challenge. In addition to his novels, Mike is also an adjunct professor at Lancaster Bible College and a faculty member at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer's Conference.

Sam Travis lives in a Civil War era farmhouse in Gettysburg, PA, where he awakens one morning to find an old journal with an entry by a Union soldier, Lt. Whiting…written in Sam’s own handwriting. When this happens several more times, both at night and during waking “trances,” Sam begins to question his own sanity while becoming obsessed with Lt. Whiting and his bone-chilling journal entries. As the entries begin to mimic Sam’s own life, he is drawn into an evil plot that could cost many lives, including his own.

Can the unconditional love of Sam's daughter, Eva, break through his hardened heart before a killer on the loose catches up with them and Sam’s past spurs him to do the unthinkable?

If you would like to read the Prologue and first chapter of Darkness Follows, go HERE

Watch the book video:

Monday, May 23, 2011

OVER THE EDGE by Brandilyn Collins

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing 
Over the Edge
B&H Books (May 1, 2011)

I don't normally read medical suspense. I'm squeamish so I sure don't like medical details. Yet, I couldn't resist this one. I knew before I ordered this book that author Brandilyn Collins had suffered from Lyme Disease; I was very curious to see how she turned personal experience into a novel--especially a suspense.  I very seldom read for pleasure anymore. It takes a really good book to zap me from learning mode to being completely lost in the excellence of story. I didn't expect this book to be any different from the majority of books I read. I planned to use Over The Edge as a learning tool, paying attention to how it was constructed. The moment it arrived at the post office, I tore into it. I sat in the parking lot and devoured the prologue and the entire first chapter. Talk about yanked into the story! I put washing, drying, cooking on hold; just one more chapter, just one more. I read off and on until one o'clock a.m. then awoke at four a.m. and started reading again. Readers will experience a myriad of emotions while reading this book. Anger, confusion, frustration are only a few. Collins has done an excellent job of informing the reading world about Lyme Disease. She's put them in the mind and body of someone who has it. Collins has also shown us a very real problem in the medical profession: competition between doctors. Competition between hospitals. It truly exists. She could get many more suspense novels from those topics!

Over The Edge is a novel that will stay with me for quite awhile. And I have no hesitation in recommending it to you. Meet the author and watch her trailer below to see just how she came up with her idea.


Brandilyn Collins is an award-winning and best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline "Don't forget to b r e a t h e..."® Brandilyn's first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley &;Sons). She is now working on her 20th book.

In addition, Brandilyn’s other latest release is Final Touch, third in The Rayne Tour series—young adult suspense co-written with her daughter, Amberly. The Rayne Tour series features Shaley O’Connor, daughter of a rock star, who just may have it all—until murder crashes her world.

Torn from the front lines of medical debate and the author's own experience with Lyme Disease, Over the Edge is riveting fiction, full of twists and turns—and powerful truths about today's medical field.

Janessa McNeil’s husband, Dr. Brock McNeil, a researcher and professor at Stanford University's Department of Medicine, specializes in tick-borne diseases—especially Lyme. For years he has insisted that Chronic Lyme Disease doesn't exist. Even as patients across the country are getting sicker, the committee Brock chairs is about to announce its latest findings—which will further seal the door shut for Lyme treatment.

One embittered man sets out to prove Dr. McNeil wrong by giving him a close-up view of the very disease he denies. The man infects Janessa with Lyme, then states his demand: convince her husband to publicly reverse his stand on Lyme—or their young daughter will be next.

But Janessa's marriage is already rocky. She's so sick she can hardly move or think. And her husband denies she has Lyme at all.

Welcome to the Lyme wars, Janessa.

“A taut, heartbreaking thriller. Collins is a fine writer who knows how to both horrify readers and keep them turning pages.” --Publishers Weekly

“Tense and dramatic. Holds its tension while following the protagonist in a withering battle.” –NY Journal of Books

“A frightening and all-too-real scenario. Very timely and meaningful book.” –RT Reviews

“If you know someone who suffers from Lyme, you need to read this compelling novel.” –Lydia Niederwerfer, founder of Lyme-Aware

If you would like to read the Prologue of Over the Edge, go HERE

Watch the book video:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Is Your Story Structurally Sound? So What!

There’s always something to watch outside my hotel window when I come to Houston. Once I watched a window washer and thought about putting a heroine in such a job.  Yesterday, I watched the demolition of the 70 year old Young Men’s Christian Association. I always feel sad when I see old buildings torn down. (There was no good reason for this building to be torn down but there was a reason.) Lots of history floating through the air in the form of dust. Looking at this one, I wondered about all the lives touched inside those walls. What are their stories, their memories?

The YMCA served the city of Houston for 125 years—evolving and changing into what new generations needed. Built in the Italian Renaissance architectural style (according to their website), the building they’re demolishing had beautiful interior rock walls and painted beam ceilings. It had a dorm for 270 men, an assembly hall and 19 classrooms. There were two gyms and six handball courts, an indoor pool, and much more. Now, it’s time for a change and the new YMCA is built.
(I’m too sentimental, I guess. You'd think as much as we've moved around, I wouldn't have ties to anything, be nostalgic at all.)
Watching the wrecking crew strategically bump, swat and grab to bring the structure down, I thought about my novel. In my mind’s eye, I’m the person maneuvering that wrecking crane. Crashing, pulverizing all that back story and narrative and fluff—until it’s a distant memory —a sentence here and a thought there that only hints of conflict past and conflict to come.

There might be some beautiful ‘history’ in that back story but it doesn’t work.
That’s what rewriting is—changing, evolving, making the story stronger. We have to be like chefs—the right seasoning, sprinkled throughout the novel judiciously like Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning. We have to be like wrecking crews, aiming at and demolishing just the right spot so that we can rebuild with the talent of the finest construction worker. We have to be like architects, designing a story that’s perfect for readers at just the right time in their lives, something that will last for years to come in someone’s memory or on someone’s bookshelf.

The following quote spoke to me today:

. . . writing is like cooking is like painting is like sculpture is like music is like gardening is like tying flies is like carving is like making bread is like making wine is like singing is like dancing is like cooking is like writing . . . ~Ev Bishop

I agree. And a whole lot more.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Who's Swinging from Your Tree Limbs?

I haven't blogged in a few weeks. I wish I could say I've been tip-toeing through the tulips but I haven't. I've been meandering through graveyards. Online graveyards.

Many years ago, way before we could do searches online, I struggled to learn who was perched in my family tree. I battled relatives who wanted me to mind my own business and others who laughed at me for wanting to know where that large McGinty nose came from, or those squinty, sleepy Roach eyes. Finally, the war of the relatives (and a divorce) had me packing my paperwork away for another time. And then I passed it on to family members who have since died. The paperwork has made its way back to me.

So now it's time to finish the story--especially considering my own age. How hard can it be these days with ancestry.com and findagrave.com. Not as difficult as it was 40 years ago. I've found graves, marriage licenses, mugshots of relatives, and much more. And because my mother's long-term memory is much stronger/clearer than her short term memory, I'm learning some juicy stuff. Talk about addictive!

I've spent hours searching findagrave.com. I located old friends who have passed away and I didn't even know it. When did those friendships disappear from my life? In my mind, I thought about them, remembered fun times with them. Each time they popped into my memory it was as if we'd just been together. One, a writer and teacher, and one of my best friends for a number of years, was instrumental in my own progress as a writer. We went to a lot of conferences together; critiqued each other, read each other's books, but we'd lost touch. She retired, quit writing and turned to other things. When I came across her obit, I sat and cried ... for myself, I guess. Just because I didn't know.

On ancestry.com I located a couple of dead husbands. Yeah, unfortunately, they were mine.

Searching your family tree can sure make you stop and think about relationships, the value you place on family and friends. It can be darned depressing too, when you count up how many younger family members have passed on long before they should have.

If there's someone you need or want to talk with, share a laugh with, or a memory, or even interview--do it now. Don't wait. Time is passing at breakneck speed. Pick up the phone now. Call them. Write that letter. Don't wait.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cutting the Good Stuff?

The moment I opened my eyes the other morning, I knew … I knew beyond any doubt that I should not only cut the prologue of this book I’m wrestling with, but do away with the grandma scene too—an entire chapter! The dialogue between grandma and heroine/granddaughter is nothing less of an info dump. Info that I deem vital to the story, but looking at it through your eyes, NOT!

I should be happy with this breakthrough (it isn't unlike throwing away a drawer full of valuable newspaper articles from the 60s) but I’m not. I like the book the way I wrote it originally, with my prologue, my info dumps, my meandering through each chapter telling and showing what I want when I want. To heck with what the reader wants ‘cause I’m running this show! Yeah, right.

Actually, I’ve reached the point where I have a difficult time even recognizing an info dump. If it reads smoothly, doesn’t interrupt the flow, doesn’t yank me out of the action, makes sense, then I’m okay with it. Of course, if it stops the action completely, reads like a history lesson or a genealogy—well that’s just ridiculous.

I got back a contest entry the other day. My scores were interesting. Perfect 50, a 48 and a 37. The 37 seemed lost as a goose, couldn’t follow the leap  from prologue teens to  adult years. The others had no problem and liked the prologue, said it was a great place to start but the first chapter was too, if I decide to cut prologue. 

So here’s my question: everything is so darned subjective, how do you know what’s right, what’s wrong, what works, what doesn’t?  I know most of you will say for me to go with my gut, do what feels right, tell the story I want to tell. Well, heck—that’s no help! How do you decide when it’s really time to put your book out there--self-pub, submit to an agent or editor, let it go? And what do you do months later when you realize you made the wrong decision?