Tag Archives: Free book

Cover Reveal and an Excerpt of WESTERN DESERT

I’m so happy to see the month of April and the light at the end of the long winter tunnel. If you want details about all of my April happenings, stop by my blog at http://www.pjsharonyawriter.blogspot.com. There are contests, prizes, a Beach Book Blast Spring Splash book sale, and an Authors in Bloom Blog Hop on the agenda, so pop on over and check out the fun when you’re done here!

PJ here, if you hadn’t guessed. We still have patches of snow in the Berkshires, but I’m finally seeing signs of spring. The Robins have arrived and the pearly white petals of the snow drops are peeking out of the ground where the snow has melted. I think we’re all looking forward to the lovely face of spring that will soon overtake the gray landscape. And speaking of lovely faces, I thought I would share with you the cover to my next book, WESTERN DESERT, Book Two in THE CHRONICLES OF LILY CARMICHAEL trilogy. The fabulous Melody Simmons designed the covers for the trilogy. I think she has done a great job so far. What do you think?

Cover Reveal!
Cover Reveal!

Taking off where WANING MOON ends, Lily Carmichael and Will Callahan embark on a journey across a sun-ravaged and decimated US in the year 2057, headed for the Western Desert on a dangerous rescue mission. The survivors they meet along the way put Lily’s healing abilities to the test, and challenge Will’s talents for lying and conning his way out of some tricky situations. But even with the weight of life and death on their shoulders, the greatest challenge they face is trusting their hearts to each other.

Here’s an excerpt from WESTERN DESERT:

“Rudy really cares about you.” Will stared out the back window. “You’re lucky…to have so many people who love you.” He glanced my way as he came around to face front, his expression sad and hard at the same time.

I adjusted the mirror and straightened my shoulders, gripping the steering wheel with both hands as I blinked back tears. “He’s a good friend.” The words came out softer than I intended, choking past the knot in my throat. As lucky as I was to have my family and community, Will had been equally unlucky, having lost his mother and sister in a storm that leveled his house and wiped out his whole town. With no reason to stay, he’d roamed the country for the past two years in search of his father, the only family he had left. My heart squeezed at the thought of all he had been through.

The road changed from gravel to chunky asphalt, cracked and loaded with potholes. Will held onto the grab bar that hung from the ceiling above the door. “You should have let me take the gun Rudy offered.”

“I hate guns. And what if we got caught with one?”

Will ignored me and shook his head. “I’m more concerned about what happens if we get caught without one? Have you figured out a plan for breaking into Industry Headquarters when we get to Vegas, or are we just going to storm the gates? I’m not sure a blow gun and a baseball bat are going to get us in and out alive.”

I felt the cool gaze of his gray-blue eyes on me but I focused on the road. “No specific plan yet, but we have plenty of time to figure it out.” I pressed my foot to the gas pedal, anxious to put some distance between me and the voices of home that echoed in my mind. “And we’ll make do with whatever we have.” Sam’s words flowed out of my mouth before I had a chance to stop them. “Adapt, improvise, and overcome, right?”

“If you say so; you’re the boss.”

I glanced at Will, whose lips twitched before he turned his head away to watch the Stanton town line fade into the distance in the side view mirror.

I hope you’ll join Lily, Will, and the cast of characters who embody the best and worst of humanity in this second book of the dystopian trilogy, THE CHRONICLES OF LILY CARMICHAEL. WESTERN DESERT is scheduled for release June 24th. If you haven’t read Book One, WANING MOON, stop by my website and purchase your e-copy today, or comment below and you will be instantly entered into a drawing for a signed print copy. Good Luck!

Thanks for stopping in. As always, your feedback and comments are welcome.

PJ

Goodreads Giveaway by Katy Lee

I have to be honest. Since I joined Goodreads this past year, I had my doubts if it was worth my time. I just didn’t see the benefits of investing the little extra time I had in it. I wondered if people really hung out there enough to read updates and reviews from their friends, or if those updates scrolled down the page, never to be heard or seen again.

But before I made my final judgement call on this social media, I decided to hold a one-week giveaway of Real Virtue. (Click here to enter if you would like.) And so far, I have to say, my opinion is being swayed toward the positive.

First of all, readers are adding my book to their libraries constantly. (So people are hanging out there) Whether they will buy it is another study, but more people are seeing the ad and having to respond in some way to it versus other (PAYING) ads where they glance over it and move onto the next thing. And notice I said PAYING ads. The Giveaway is free, minus the book, of course.

And second? It was easy. I like easy. Plus, once I sign up, Goodreads takes the campaign from there and gives me the tools to get the word out on my end…as I’m sure all my Facebook and Twitter friends can attest to. But honestly, I would LOVE it if one of my followers won the free copy.

When you are reading this on 12/16/12, I will still have another two days left of the giveaway, and won’t be able to give concrete numbers, but at the rate I have seen action, I’m pretty positive it’s not going to let up. I’m thinking as it crunches down to the final seconds, more and more people will see it and make the decision to enter and add it to their lists.

The Unlocked Secret: In the end, it’s not about numbers of sales for me, but rather the chance to bless someone with the message of Real Virtue. But if no one knows about the book, that will be hard to do. I know God gave me a story to tell, and He’s not going to leave it on the shelf. It’s nice to know there are sites like Goodreads that want to help me get it out there.

Question: Have you done a book giveaway? How did it help you spread the word? Or did it?

AND DON’T FORGET TO ENTER!

RealVirtue3_850

Ann Lee Miller’s ebook is FREE today on the Scribes! Yes, I said FREE!

Hello all, Katy Lee here with Ann Lee Miller. Ann is offering a FREE e-book to anyone who leaves an e-mail address in a comment or requests a book at AnnLeeMiller.com. Yippee!

And not just any book but the 1st Place win in Long Contemporary, 2009 RWA Faith, Hope, & Love Contest!

But don’t just come for the book. Stay and get to know Ann. Her writing tidbits just might help you, starting with how she battles that pesky doubt monster… 

Thanks, Scribes for having me today! Like any writer, I fight the doubt monster every day. But I always come back to the fact that God called me to write, gave me the passion to do it, and the opportunity.  A life without writing is a purposeless life for me. I must write. I pretty much never feel like the book is golden. I get to a point where I feel like it is finished, however. Publishing feels like throwing the novel on the table and saying, “It may not be much, but it’s the best I can do.”

Thank you, Ann for saying that. I battle within myself on when the book is finished all the time. There’s always something I can do or change.

Can you tell us the most surprising thing that has happened in your writing career?

Indie publishing! After trying to publish traditionally for ten years, I hit bottom. I think God needed me there so He could redirect me. Trust me, I had to swallow a giant hairball of pride to indie publish. But I’m chewing on hope, and it tastes a lot better than despair.

What a visual! Ha-Ha!

Alright, they say that every author has a partially completed, quite-possibly-terrible half a story shoved in a drawer somewhere.  What is yours?  What is it about?  What makes it terrible?  Would you ever consider picking it up and finishing it?

The first novel I wrote was Tattered Innocence. It was truly dreadful because I wrote it before I knew what I was doing. I have a BA in creative writing, but my university didn’t offer any classes on novel writing. I applied to enter the masters in fine arts program at Arizona State University, but ultimately pieced together my own education by plowing through a tall stack of fiction craft books, participating in critique groups, and attending writers’ conferences. Ten years after Karen Ball rejected the first draft of Tattered Innocence, I thanked her at a writing conference for sparing me the mortification of seeing it in print. Even now, literally 37 rewrites later, I feel like the novel is my red-headed step child. My best friend prefers an earlier version. I am sending it out for an extensive edit with a freelance editor before it debuts March 1, 2013. Now, I’m sure everyone who reads this blog is going to ex the book off their list. Note to self: don’t trash your own book. Ha!

I don’t think they will ex it off their list. I think we all have that book that we don’t want to give up on. Good for you!

Can you tell us how you incorporate your real-life experiences into your stories?

Writers are vultures, we scavenge with abandon. No event or person is safe around me. However, usually I use the experience or personality as a nugget for my imagination to expand upon. Rather than knocking people off, I tend to “help” them make better choices in fiction than they did in real life. It’s the mom in me, I guess.

I like that. I’m the same way. I want my characters to learn from their mistakes, too.

So tell us, what’s the most dangerous or risky thing that you’ve done?

When I was a teen, I once jumped off a bridge in Jupiter, Florida. It was one of those all-my-friends-were-doing-it experiences. I think that’s where I got my fear of heights from!

Yikes, risky is right! But it also answers the old question, “If your friends jump off a bridge, are you going to follow?”

But in the end when it came to following your path, you did it, Ann! So please tell us all about where that path took you.

Kicking Eternity is all about chasing dreams—our dreams, God’s dreams, and the mixed-up tangle of both.

Stuck in sleepy New Smyrna Beach one last summer, Raine socks away her camp pay checks, worries about her druggy brother, and ignores trouble: Cal Koomer. She’s a plane ticket away from teaching orphans in Africa, and not even Cal’s surfer six-pack and the chinks she spies in his rebel armor will derail her.

The artist in Cal begs to paint Raine’s ivory skin, high cheek bones, and internal sparklers behind her eyes, but falling for her would send him caterwauling into his parents’ life. No thanks. The girl was self-righteous waiting to happen. Mom served sanctimony like vegetables, three servings a day, and he had a gut full.

Rec Director Drew taunts her with “Rainey” and calls her an enabler. He is so infernally there like a horsefly—till he buzzes back to his ex.

Raine’s brother tweaks. Her dream of Africa dies small deaths. Will she figure out what to fight for and what to free before it’s too late?

For anyone who’s ever wrestled with their dreams.

Excerpt:

             Cal looked up from the easel and caught her staring.

Her gaze darted toward the window, her cheeks burning. When she looked back at Cal, she saw a small smile playing at the edges of his mouth and eyes. It reminded her of one she’d seen and dismissed earlier.

            “Why are you quizzing me on prayer?”

            “You think I have an ulterior motive?”

            “You tell me.”

            He sat on the table top behind him. “You were sitting there like you were afraid of your own skin. I wanted to paint your fire. Pretty much a no-brainer to get you going on a topic that lights your passion.” He shrugged and grinned at her.

            Raine turned her face toward the bulletin board covered with crosses her elementary students had colored. Stupidity for having fallen for Cal’s manipulation warred against something entirely different. Cal saw something she didn’t see in herself—passion.

            A board creaked nearby, and Cal squatted down in front of her. His hand cupped her face. “You moved.” He brought her head back into position. His palm stayed on her cheek a heartbeat too long, his fingers trailing down to her chin almost in a caress before he broke the contact.

            She met his steady gaze. “What button are you trying to push now?”

            Cal stood. “The one that turns your cheeks pink like they were a few minutes ago.”

            Cal wasn’t the only one who could manipulate. “Let’s talk about obeying God.”

            “Talk about whatever you want. I’m going to work on your shirt now.”

 

Sounds great! Ann, tell us how readers can get in contact with you.

AnnLeeMiller.com

Twitter: @AnnLeeMiller

Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ann-Lee-Miller/356653761022022

And now here is a bit about Kicking Eternity!

Fresh from college, Raine scores a teaching job at New Smyrna Beach Surf and Sailing Camp. A crush on the camp rebel/art teacher threatens to derail her plans to teach orphans in Africa. The broody recreation director spots her brothers meth addiction and Raine’s enabling. Raine believes she is helping her brother–until lives are threatened. 

 

Ann’s book is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, BUT it is FREE for you today if you leave your email address or contact Ann on her website. Don’t miss out!

Bio: Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University and writes full-time in Phoenix, but left her heart in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where she grew up. She loves speaking to young adults and guest lectures on writing at several Arizona colleges. When she isn’t writing or muddling through some crisis—real or imagined—you’ll find her hiking in the Superstition Mountains with her husband or meddling in her kids’ lives.

Endorsements:

“Ann Lee Miller writes stories straight from the heart with characters who’ll become friends, remaining with you long after you turn that final page. You won’t want to miss Kicking Eternity!”

Jenny B. Jones, Author of the Katie Parker Production Series from Think and The Charmed Life Series, and other single titles from Thomas Nelson

“In Kicking Eternity, Ann Lee Miller masterfully weaves the delicate web of emotions experienced in that turbulent ‘twenty-something’ stage of life. Powerful family dynamics, intense loyalty challenges, and tender new loves find their niche in your heart as this story unfolds layer by lovely layer.”

Mesu Andrews, Author of  Revell titles Love’s Sacred Song, and Love Amid the Ashes, which won the 2012 CBA Book of the Year, New Author Category

How Story Structure Saved My Sanity (and My Writing Career!) by Cathy Bryant

Hello, Katy Lee here. Today I have author, Cathy Bryant visiting the Scribes with some really great info for you! So take it away, Cathy!

Psst. Hey you. Yes, you. Wanna hear a secret? I have oodles of incomplete novels residing in my file cabinets. They started off as great story ideas—stories I was in love with enough to launch myself into the lengthy process of writing a novel . . . um, well . . . at least for the first thirty-thousand words.

So what happened between my optimistic start and the time where I threw my hands up in surrender, snatched up the stacks of finished pages, and crammed them in the dark depths of my desk? Simple. I hit the proverbial brick wall and couldn’t decide where the stories should go next.

For years, the same scenario would play itself out. Dream the story. Attack it with gusto. Write merrily. Hit the wall. (Rinse. Repeat.) Then once my kids were grown and on their own, I decided it was time to get serious. I voraciously studied the craft of writing using the internet, books, online classes—whatever I could get my hands on. Then finally, I found the cure for my ailment . . .

. . . Story structure.

All stories follow a tried-and-true formula (with minor variations). Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it. Read this post, then watch two or three movies—preferably in different genres—to see if you can find these elements included in each of them. And to drive home the point, I’ll also give you a few movie examples. (You can do this with books, but it saves time to watch a two-hour movie instead.)

Part One

-Regular World:

When the story begins, the main character is in his/her normal everyday world. (Examples: Mary is at the wedding of a client in The Wedding Planner; Frodo is in the shire in Lord of the Rings; George Bailey is in Bedford Falls in It’s A Wonderful Life.)

-Opportunity Knocks For A New Life:

The hero/heroine then has an opportunity for a new life. (Examples: Erinpersuades an attorney to give her a job in Erin Brokovich; Robin Williams’ character initiates a plan to see his children in Mrs. Doubtfire.)

Part Two

-Event That Changes the Plan:

Something happens to the main character that changes everything and moves them into the real story. (Examples: A tornado hits Dorothy’s house in The Wizard of Oz; the ship hits an iceberg in Titanic.)

-The Point of No Return (midpoint of the story):

Our hero/heroine must move ahead knowing there is no turning back, with the stakes higher than ever. (Example: In an attempt to gather evidence, Mitch McDeere is forced to hide his activities from both the antagonists and the FBI in The Firm.)

Part Three

-Dark Moment Which Leads to the Final Battle:

The worst of the worst happens, but our hero/heroine has grown throughout the course of the story and is now ready to take on the antagonistic force. (Examples: in almost every romance, this is where boy loses girl, but then goes on to win her back; the oldest son of Mel Gibson’s character dies in The Patriot.)

Resolution & Aftermath:

The biggest scene in the story takes place, followed by the ending scene(s). (Example: Rocky defeats . . . well, depending on the number, you can pick your opponent.) =)

I hope this helps you in your own story-writing and saves your sanity in the process. And who knows? If you’re like me—and have a few dozen stories hidden in your files—it might be time to dust them off and see if we can get past that proverbial brick wall… ;)

 

Cathy Bryant’s first completed novel, TEXAS ROADS, was a 2009 ACFW Genesis finalist. In 2010, Cathy added A PATH LESS TRAVELED to the Miller’s Creek novels, and is currently working on THE WAY OF GRACE, book three in the series. Cathy, a native Texan, recently yanked up her yellow-rose-of-Texas roots to be transplanted with her husband of thirty years to Northwest Arkansas near the world’s cutest grandson. You can find out more about Cathy at www.CatBryant.com or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you, Cathy for sharing your secret with us. This was just the message I needed to hear today!

 

Readers: Cathy is giving away one copy of A Path Less Traveled for 25 or fewer comments and two eBook giveaways of the same book for more than 25 comments…so start commenting, asking questions, discussing problems in your WIP…you name it, let’s hear it!

*Enter your email in a safe format by 5/21/12 12:00PM ET if you want to be considered. The winner will be announced next Sunday.*

Interview with Bestselling Author, Jill Marie Landis

Aloha! Katy Lee Here. Today New York Times Bestselling author, Jill Marie Landis is visiting the Scribes from Hawaii! Waa-hoo! Jill has a new book out, Heart of Glass. She will also be giving away a free copy to one commenter. Heart of Glass OR another of her books, Mai Tai One On, the winner’s choice. So sit back, readers, and listen to Jill’s wise words of wisdom from the islands!

Being a fan of your secular books and your inspirationals, can you tell us what made you decide to to write both? 

Western historical romances, which have all but vanished from the secular market are very strong as inspirationals. My first love was writing western historical romances and I also enjoyed reading inspirational fiction so what appeals to me most about writing for the inspirational market is the fact that I can write about people of faith, people who are searching to find themselves, lasting love, and something to believe in. These were the people who built the west, the people of the prairies and plains; the folks who went west with their families and their strong faith to build this nation. Writing novels with western/Americana/historical settings that would be “PG” so to speak, stories with sexual tension without love scenes, also appealed to me.

My first inspirationals were two novels set in 1875 in the fictional town of Glory, Texas, written for Steeple Hill Women’s Fiction Single Title. HOMECOMING is still #3 on their Amazon Kindle list right now. I recently wrote three books for Zondervan, another inspirational publisher. The Irish Angel Series includes characters introduced in Glory,Texas and they are also set in Texas as well as Louisiana in the late 1870’s.  

I’ve always believed that good writers can write anything as long as they are inspired by and excited about the subject, genre, or characters. I’m thrilled that readers who enjoyed my early books have also enjoyed the inspirationals and vice versa.

How do you battle the doubt monster?  We define the Doubt Monster as: the nagging feeling while writing that your prose is terrible, you plot is silly, your characters are insipid and no-one in their right mind would read this drivel, let alone buy it.

Just keep typing! There are days I experience all of doubts listed above, so what I do is just keep typing. I think it’s easier to fix something bad than to stare at a blank screen and get more tied up in angst.

Some days I sit down and make myself write with the promise that I’ll “fix it later.” What usually happens is that in the sheer act of writing something…anything…is that soon I’m so involved in the story and characters again that the doubt fades away. I think at some point in every book an author has doubts. Just keep typing! If you are published, look at some of your published works and remind yourself you’ve done this before and you can do it again and again.

Have you thought about writing something that is completely different for you?  Perhaps writing in a new genre or just taking a story someplace that you haven’t done before.

All the time. I’m always coming up with far out ideas and want to try new things but I’ve usually got a book or two under contract and have to stick to the task. I branched out from Historical Romances after writing 17 of them. I wrote 3 contemporary hard covers for Ballantine: Lover’s Lane, Heat Wave and Heartbreak Hotel. I’ve written five inspirational romances.

Most recently I’ve been working on The Tiki Goddess Mysteries, a cozy comedic series set on Kauai which started with Book 1: Mai Tai One On. I have a couple of ideas banging around in my head for something totally different, but time is the obstacle that keeps me from starting. I often wish I could write one book with my left hand and another with my right.

What story haven’t you told yet that you want to tell?  What is holding you back?

I haven’t told what I’m calling my secret project yet. I can’t say what it is because I’m convinced it’s a killer idea and therefore must remain secret. Someone who writes faster than me could have it finished in three weeks. I need to finish my books under contract first…or maybe just work on the secret project on the weekends or something.

What would you do if you couldn’t be a writer any longer?

If I wasn’t writing anymore I would be painting fun, funky tropical tiki art. I have always wanted to take lessons in how to mix paint colors and find out how to use light in foreground or background in landscapes. Right now I just paint by the seat of my pants but I enjoy it when I can spare the time. If I wasn’t a full time writer I’d also devote more time to hula.

They say that every author has a partially completed, quite-possibly-terrible half of a novel shoved in a drawer somewhere.  What is yours?  What is it about?  What makes it terrible?  Would you ever consider picking it up and finishing it?

Funny you should mention that. Mine is more than a half done. It’s all finished and it’s 26 years old! When I was on the mainland at Christmas I found my first novel in a box in my office there. It received about 16 rejections (good enough rejections to keep me writing). Eventually it sold to a romance publisher who then went bankrupt right before the book was to come out! I brought it back to Kauai this year with the intention of editing it and getting it ready for the market. I thought maybe I could publish it for the “first time ever in print” as an e-book if nothing else.

After working on it a few days I decided that there’s a reason this book is still “in a box under the bed.” It would require a total revamping to be up to my standards and reader expectation now. The Point of View is all over the map and I really can’t stand the heroine. So I’ve put it back in a box and might even take it up to the dump rather than store it any longer. I learned a lot writing the book so it was well worth the effort. Even better, I actually got to keep the advance the publisher paid me before they went belly up. It was a blessing this book never saw the light of day. Things always work out for the best eventually.

How do you come up with your shtick?   By shtick I mean your voice. That thing that identifies the story as belonging to only you. 

I don’t think writers can actually “come up with a voice.” I believe that’s what’s in them to begin with. Just as singers have different, recognizable sounds and hit notes that resonate with audiences, writers have very distinct voices. It may take a while for a writer to trust her own voice. A mistake a new writer makes is trying to write like someone else, hoping that’s the key to selling. A voice is a voice. I’ve always written character driven stories and try to hit on the emotional situations that people relate to and make the characters come alive no matter the time period or genre.

What is your junk food of choice?

Only ONE?? It’s a toss up between Cheeze Its, Cheetos, brownies, ice cream, or Jack in the Box tacos.

Tell us about your book!

My latest release is HEART OF GLASS from Zondervan, which will be available after March 20. Right now they are running a special for e-book downloads for $2.99. This is the third book of the Irish Angels Series. It’s an inspirational historical romance set in Louisiana in 1876, ten years after the Civil War. It has a Beauty and the Beast theme and of the three books in the series it’s my favorite.

             “In her third Irish Angel book, Landis brings readers an amazing love story that even the Civil War can’t destroy. Her characters are bigger than life, and there is always a little something extra in all her books that keeps her readers turning the pages.”    RT Bookclub

Read an excerpt of HEART OF GLASS at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/81943573/Heart-of-Glass-A-Novel-by-Jill-Marie-Landis

JILLMARIE LANDIS’S twenty+ novels have earned distinguished awards and slots on such national bestseller lists as the USATODAY Top 50 and the New York Times Best Sellers Plus. She is a seven-time finalist for Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award in Single Title Historical and Contemporary Romance as well as a Golden Heart and RITA Award winner.

Jill Marie resides in Hawaii with her husband. When she’s not writing or sitting on the beach reading, she enjoys visiting with family and friends, raising orchids, working in her garden, occasionally quilting, plunking on the ukulele but mostly dancing the hula. Her recent releases are HEART OF LIES (2011) and HEART OF GLASS (March 2012) from Zondervan and MAI TAI ONE ON (2011), the first of a series of hilarious Tiki Goddess Mysteries set in Hawaii from Belle Books.

Right now I’m working on Book 2 of the Tiki Goddess Mysteries. The working title is TWO TO MANGO. Once again, the heroine and manager of the Tiki Goddess Bar on Kauai must band together with a quirky dance troupe of over-the-hill Hula Maidens, encourage them to enter a dance competition, and help their favorite fire-dancing-detective discover who is killing off members of a famous hula school. Note: Try the tempting tropical drink recipes included at your own risk.

I’m on two facebook pages at Jill Marie Landis and also The Tiki Goddess.

Also:  www.jillmarielandis.com  and www.thetikigoddess.com

Thanks so much Katy!   

Thank you Jill!

Readers: Remember to leave a comment for Jill by 3/12/12 @12noon EST. And then check back next Sunday to see who is the lucky winner! And FYI, Heart of Glass is available on ebook for preorder at a super good price of $2.99!!! http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Glass-Novel-Series-ebook/dp/B005MQVHIQ/ref=sr_1_sc_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1331469231&sr=8-3-spell

Police Procedures and Author Sandra Orchard

Hello all, Katy Lee here. First off, on this tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, my appreciation and prayers go out to all of our law enforcement and first responders. Thank you for keeping our towns and cities safe every day. God’s blessings to you all.

Now, as writers, we can only depend on research to get the story right, and today I have Sandra Orchard, a fellow Inspirational-Romantic-Suspense author, here to discuss how she came by her research for her Undercover Cops series and novel, DEEP COVER. FYI- One lucky commenter will be drawn tonight at11:59PM (ET) for a free copy!

Sandra attended a writer’s police academy, and I just had to have her here today to share a few of her hair-raising experiences with us all.

But first, can you tell us a little bit about DEEP COVER and your main characters?

Thanks for having me here, Katy Lee. The hero of Deep Cover is undercover cop Rick Gray. Fifteen months ago he let the woman he loved walk out of his life, rather than expose her to the dangers of his job. Now, he’s back with a new alias, posing as a foreman on a development project to bring to justice the man who caused his partner’s death. That man is the heroine Ginny’s uncle. And the project is a group home for her mentally challenged sister—a group home Ginny is very much involved with seeing built. Only Rick’s mission could destroy that dream and her family, and he can’t tell her what he really is, or why he’s there for fear of jeopardizing the case. But someone else wants to make her uncle pay, too. And Rick must face his worst nightmare—that someone he cares about will be killed because of his job.

I have had the pleasure of devouring this book, and it had me on the edge of my seat from page one. Great read, Sandra!

Now as a writer, I want to dig in to how you came by your research. Can you explain to us what WPA means, how this experience helped you revise Deep Cover, and shape the subsequent books in your series?

WPA stands for the Writer’s Police Academy. It offers hands-on, interactive and educational experiences to enhance the writer’s understanding of all aspects of law enforcement and forensics. Every imaginable kind of police and rescue vehicle and equipment are on display with knowledgeable officers answering questions. You can choose from a variety of workshops from fingerprinting and arson investigation to the gruesome details of autopsies or undercover operations. The event takes place at a police college, and one morning, they actually staged a school shooting, complete with lockdown, real police officers doing exactly what they’d do in the actual scenario and EMTs dealing with the casualties afterward. For my series, the most enlightening class was presented by a former undercover officer. Not only did he share many of his experiences, he gave us glimpses of what went on in his head and heart during that time, which is where the real meat of my heroes’ stories lie.

Can you share one eye-opening tidbit you learned from WPA that gave you a whole new perspective on what it’s like to be a law enforcement officer?

I participated in Fire Arms Simulation Training, FATS for short. We were given Glocks and faced with a floor to ceiling screen that showed videos of shoot and don’t shoot situations. When we took a shot, the hit would show on the screen. We were surprised more than once by the post-simulation explanation of why we should have or shouldn’t have taken a shot. The most adrenaline-pumping moment for me was when I had to face a hostage taker alone in an office (depicted on screen). A disgruntled employee had his boss in an arm lock and was waving a gun. I was telling him to put down the weapon, he really didn’t want to do this etc. to no avail, all the while training my own weapon at his head—the only part of his body visible past the hostage. The instant he lifted his gun to the guy’s head, I took the shot. His brains splattered on the screen behind. The officer in charge of the simulation turned to me and said, “Great shot.” I pretty much freaked out on him, saying I could have hit the hostage. I was shaking, heart pounding. It was unbelievable. It certainly gave me a whole new perspective on the split second decisions officers are called upon to make and the emotional havoc it can wreak afterward.

Wow! What an amazing experience. As a suspense writer, that sounds like an event I’d love to attend. Where can writers get more information on one of these experiences?

WPA is organized by author (and former policeofficer) Lee Lofland. The 2011 academy is September 23rd to 25th in Jamestown N.C. The FATS training portion is already sold-out, but there is still time to register for the conference. Members of Sisters in Crime are being offered an incredible discount. I am so disappointed I’ll miss it this year, because ACFW is the same weekend. This year some lucky participants will get to go on ride-a-longs with on duty NC police officers! You can learn more at: http://www.writerspoliceacademy.com/  

Sandra, how can readers keep in touch with you on the web?

Visit my website ~ www.SandraOrchard.com

Visit my personal blog ~ http://www.SandraOrchard.blogspot.com

Connect on Facebook Page ~ www.Facebook.com/SandraOrchard

Subscribe to my newsletter ~ http://bit.ly/SandraNews

All right, Readers, I’m opening the floor up to you now. Do you have a similar law enforcement experience you would like to share? Do you have a question for Sandra about hers? Do you have a question about her new Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, DEEP COVER, and let me remind you, one lucky commenter will receive their very own copy of Sandra’s book delivered right to their door!

So comment away!

Lists, Lists Everywhere!

Hello, Katy Lee here. To begin this post in my “list fashion,” let me first start off by annoucing my guest blogger next Sunday. (9/11) Published author, Sandra Orchard, will be here to tell us about her stint at a writer’s police academy. If you write suspense, or anything that requires a police procedure, stop on by. Sandra’s newest release, DEEP COVER is now available, and to celebrate, I will be giving one lucky commenter a free copy!

Now with that checked off my list, onto the next item…

A series of names, words, or other items written, printed, or imagined one after the other makes up a list, and if you are anything like me, you love them.

When it comes to shopping lists, I don’t leave home without one. When it comes to vacation lists, no item gets left behind. When it comes to Honey-Do lists, I get to watch my man do manly things. And when it comes to lists for my new story ideas, characters are born.

The act of brainstorming for me does not begin with an outline, or with mapping, but with a list. Before I do anything, I put pen to paper, jotting down anything that comes to my mind. Interesting settings, careers for characters, personalities and values, and then obstacles. The outcome is a real messy compilation of ideas, sometimes even a little hard for me read, but let’s face it, writing isn’t pretty. So, from these lists, I am now able to take my ideas and form that story outline or character arc. Something I would not have been able to do if I hadn’t started with a list.

The trick with any brainstorming activity, whether you make lists or not, is to give yourself the freedom to write anything. We live in a world where we are graded on everything we do. Because of that, we fear failure. I once took part in a brainstorming workshop where the leader led us through various techniques to get the pen moving, and after we finished, some people raised their hands to volunteer their ideas. As much as I wanted to join them, I couldn’t. I feared mine wouldn’t be as good as everyone else’s. But after hearing so many different outcomes, I realized there wasn’t a right idea or a wrong idea. Failing grades were not handed out, because during the brainstorming process the judge was given the boot.

The Unlocked Secret: During the creative process, judgment is not allowed. Not even if you’re the judge. Write anything that comes to your mind. Enumerate; don’t evaluate. Just get your ideas down on paper. This is just the list, and lists are made for checking off and crossing out AFTER you’ve completed the task. You can let the judge back in the door later when you start the outline.

Question: How do you get your creative juices flowing? Please share your techniques with us.