Monday, September 15, 2014

Dog Tags Giveaway (Author Heidi Glick)

Author Bio

Heidi Glick grew up in California but now calls Ohio home. Heidi taught science and edited science documents before becoming an author. She has a passion for writing books (suspense and nonfiction) from the perspective of a Christian worldview. When she's not busy discovering unique ways to wreak havoc upon the lives of her fictional characters, she spends quality time with her family. Her current project includes a co-authored devotional on infertility that is designed to bring hope and encouragement to others.

Dog Tags Blurb

When disabled ex-Marine Mark Graham reconnects with his best friend’s sister, he finds himself falling in love. But Beth Martindale’s presence is a constant reminder of events he’d rather forget. Mark wants to move forward, but the secrets surrounding her brother’s death as well as his own confinement to a wheelchair threaten to tear them apart. When a psychopath who calls himself The Knight fixates on Beth, Mark is determined to give her the protection he failed to give her brother on the battlefield, yet he discovers that a wheelchair isn’t the only impediment he has to keeping Beth safe. Will terror win or can Mark find the strength of mind and body to rescue Beth and find his own redemption?

To enter to win an autographed, paperback copy of Dog Tags:

Leave a comment for the author explaining your favorite fall activity, for example, I like to eat apple pie and ice cream!

Leave your email address (you may spell it out, for example, bobatdotcom).

The giveaway ends on September 29, 2014 and is open to U.S. residents only.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Interview and Book Giveaway With Wanda Dyson

by Jeff Reynolds

It's my pleasure to have one of my favorite authors and victims ... I mean interviewees, Wanda Dyson back for another interview. Since then she has released two new books, and we'll be giving away a copy of the winner's choice of those two titles, which Wanda will be telling you about. Like most authors, I really had to twist her arm to get her to talk about her latest projects. (And if you believe that, I'd sell you the oceanside property next door to us in Indianapolis.)

Besides her awesome suspense stories, she also has helped with an autobiography which ended up on Oprah. If you'd like to read the previous interview which includes that experience, here's the link:

Jeff Reynolds:  Welcome back to Sleuths and Suspects, Wanda. It's exciting to know you have two new books out this year, but any thing else new going on in your life you'd like to share?

Wanda Dyson: 
Well, it's been two years since I moved to North Carolina and purchased this house, and I'm STILL looking at white walls and trying to decide what color to paint. I would seriously like to get that done by the end of this year. That's the goal, anyway. In the meantime, the Lord has just been truly teaching me to rely on Him for everything. Since my husband died and writing doesn't bring in enough to pay all the bills each month, it's been a remarkable journey of watching Him provide each and every time. I'm slowly getting to the point of not stressing anymore about things. The Lord knows what I need and He's proving to me that He is the Lord that Provides, the Lord that Heals, the Lord that Saves, and the Lord that Loves.
JR:  When we bought our house, my wife picked out a color for our living room called Mr. Bluebird. Not just Bluebird, but Mr. Bluebird. But since this blog is about writing and not painting ...

Let me be a little atypical and start with the most recent release first. Hot off the press (probably an outdated expression in the era of e-books) is Retribution, the fourth installment of the Shefford Files. Could you give us a brief overview of the series and tell us about Retribution?

  Well, I guess we can still say that to some extent since I'm releasing my books for both e-book download and paperback.

The Shefford Files is about a famous crime psychic named Zoe Shefford who, in book 1, is called in on a child abduction case. She is caught between an athiest detective who doesn't believe in the supernatural and a Christian mother who does believe and won't allow Zoe on the case. In trying to defend her gifts as being from God, she begins to question everything she believes in. She convinces the cop the supernatural is very real and finds the Lord in the proecess.  Book 2 teams up Zoe and the detective, JJ Johnson once again, but now the attraction between them is something Zoe must resist since JJ still isn't a Christian. She tries to stay away from him, but when several co-ods are murdered, they have to work together in spite of their personal feelings and solve the case. Book 3 brings back FBI Agent Donnie Bevere from book 1, but now he needs their help in locating his missing wife. Together, the three bring down a rogue general and a foil a terrorist plot, and JJ finally gives his life to the Lord and asks Zoe to marry him.

And then the publisher closed the suspense division and in spite of their popularity, the Zoe and JJ books ended. Until now. I've had so many requests over the years for more of JJ and Zoe that I finally decided to bring them back.
Retribution finds JJ Johnson and the love of his life, Zoe Shefford, finally headed to the altar. Busy with wedding plans, when Zoe's instincts start raging that something bad is going to happen, she misreads it entirely, causing a fight with JJ that sends him off to Alaska to pick up a murder suspect. When the plane crashes in the heart of the Alaskan wilderness, Zoe realizes that she may have just made a deadly mistake. She teams up with FBI Special Agent Donnie Bevere to move heaven and hell to find JJ. Severely injured in the place crash, JJ realizes that between a raging blizzard, a hungry wolf, and no food, it will take a miracle to survive. But his life or death struggle to make it back to Zoe takes a deadly turn when he realizes the entire trip had been a well-planned trap and that the cop he's traveling with is a hired killer. Now, he must rely on the skills of a woman he put in handcuffs to keep him alive while praying that the woman he loves will find him in time.

JR:  That sounds very exciting. But I'm wondering if that's the first new book I need to start reading? Earlier this year saw the release of The Restoration. (Is this year sponsored by the letter R?) Would you like to tell us about this book?

WD: LOL... had I realized I'd be writing and releasing Retribution, I would released The Restoration under a different title, that's for sure. The Restoration was actually the first book I ever wrote. It was picked up for contract several times but never made it into print, so I figured why not go ahead and release it on my own. It's the story of a young woman who buys a home with the intention of fixing it up and living in it, only to discover the house has a unique history and there are some willing to kill to keep anyone from ever restoring the place. She and Max Trent, the contractor she hires, uncover a deadly plot that will force them to choose to trust God with their very lives to bring about His will, or take the easy way out. 

JR:  Wanda, while your two books starting with the same letter (first two letters, actually), I think that pales to another author (Pamela Meyers) having Love Will Find A Way and her contribution to the Love Finds You ...  series within a month or two. But I'm not interviewing Pamela this month, so let's get back to Wanda Dyson. You've written some series and some stand alone novels. Do you know when you start writing which it's going to be?

  I tend to write everything from page 1 with the idea of a it ending up as the first book in a series. Up until now, the publishers had the final say as to whether it went on to be a series or stayed a stand-alone. I've had many e-mails from fans who want more of The Prodigal Recovery Series and some who want to see more of Alexandria and Marcus (Judgment Day) but until I recover the rights from the publisher, I'm not free to write any more with those characters.

JR:  In an interview posted on this site a couple of weeks ago, author Sibella Giorello told my co-contributer Amanda Holland that art imitates life. I'll admit that watching the news can transform me into a conspiracy theorist. What are your words of advice in this world that can become a real life suspense novel at any time?

It sounds a bit cliche, but honestly, we have to trust the One who holds us in the palm of His hand and just rest in the assurance that He has and can keep us safe and sound. He can feed us in a food shortage like he did the Jews in the wildernerss, He can raise up an army of angels to fight for us like He did for Elijah. We tend sometimes, to see the world around us in one dimension and while there's a part of us that believes those Bible stories, there's a bigger part of us that stays one dimensional instead of truly trusting Him in every situation. We fret, we worry, we stockpile, we load our weapons and think about moving up into the mountains, away from it all, but He called us to bring HIM into every situation. When things turn ugly, He needs a people who will stand and say, "In the name of Jesus, I have what you need."

JR:  What's next on the agenda? You mentioned a historical suspense series last July -- any progress on that? Is there a sequel for The Restoration, or any chance for a new installment of Judgment Day (one of my favorite suspense novels ever)? And are the Shefford files officially closed?

  I've been asked to write the autobiography of a remarkable woman no one has ever heard of, but her life story will inspire thousands. Most people think that the Lord chooses extraordinary people like ministers and evangelists and missionaries to do extraordinary things, but this woman who could barely read and write because of deslexia, chose to believe at a young age that every word in the Bible was true. Over her lifetime, she raised people from the dead, led hundreds if not thousands to the Lord, and changed the life of everyone she met. She was just a simple farmer's wife but the Lord used her in powerful ways.

I haven't heard anything back from my agent about the historical series, so that's on a back burner for now. I want to see how
The Restoration sells. It's getting good reviews, so there's a strong possibility of a sequel. I did start one way back when, so I'd only have to go back and finish it up. Wouldn't take long. As for Judgment Day, I am trying to get the rights back to that so that I can do some more with Marcus and Alexandria. Keep your fingers crossed. And I don't think I'm closing the Shefford files just yet. I really do love those two and would like to see some more of them if the fans want more of them, as well. 

JR:  Thank you for your time, Wanda. Could you remind us about your websites for those who want to keep in touch with you?

  The website is for more information on any of my books, as well as updates for future releases, and they can always write me at or visit me at    And thanks for having me, Jeff. It's always a pleasure.

Jeff to reader: As I mentioned, we'll be giving away an e-book of either The Restoration or Retribution, the winner's choice. Four simple rules:

  1. Leave a comment. Obviously. We won't know you want to enter otherwise.
  2. Include your e-mail address. One entry in the previous giveaway I promoted disqualified themselves by not including their e-mail. Yes, you may get notifications, but us contributors don't have access to notify you. Of course, you can spell it out, like AuntDotKahm(at)Ant(dot)com.
  3. Which book would you prefer? 
  4. If you could write someone's autobiography, who would you want to work with and why?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hog Insane: A Mystery Written by Carole Brown

By K. L. Bridgewater

Sleuths and Suspects welcomes back Carole Brown. Her latest book, Hog Insane, is a cozy mystery. Recently, I interviewed Carole Brown about writing and her latest book.

             1.)    How long have you been writing? Has it always been the suspense genre? What draws you to suspense?

I’ve written for almost as long as I can remember. Lots of my childhood books I read were mysteries (happy memories!), thus I composed many mystery short stories. I still adore suspense/mysteries. It’s a genre that intrigues me in reading and writing so it’s natural to do so.

2.)  Being a member of the ACFW and a Genesis Finalist, what is your favorite part of the organization?
Probably the fact that people are on the ball in providing up-to-date marketing/newsworthy information that is either interesting and/or beneficial to authors and readers. There are many talented, knowledgeable people within the group, and I must say, after being a member for numerous years, I give them credit for pushing me deeper into learning the current ropes of writing fiction. Without them I would never have met so many of my writing friends nor be at the place I am today. 

3.)  Tell me about your writing process. Are you a plotter or someone who writes without an outline?
Mostly a seat-of-the-pants author. I do have general ideas where I’m going; clues of what I want to include in the book, perhaps how it will end/begin. Certain items I know I’ll be including. I do a lot of research so that helps. But though I plot to a minor degree (in my eyes), I still love to see where the story goes. Of course, I have plenty of friends/critique partners that will jerk me back into line lest I stray too far! Lol

4.)  If there was one thing you could say to encourage unpublished writers, what would it be?
(What was the one piece of advice given to you that has improved or changed the way you write?)
The one that came at the time when I was ready to quit, was: don’t give up. God gave me the talent to write; use it. Keep writing. Be faithful. With no emotional feelings of victory, I followed that advice and the following spring, an editor asked for my ms of The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman. It was published in October, 2013. The following month my first mystery: Hog Insane released. Now I have the first book in a trilogy, a WWII book releasing this fall (With Music in Their Hearts). Hopefully also, the second book in my mystery series will be out soon. God is good.

5.)  Tell me a little bit about your latest book, Hog Insane. The title is different, so how did the title come about?
            I love intriguing titles sometimes. This novel started as a short story, and I wanted something that automatically drew people’s attention. Later I developed it into a novel.
Two things:
Ÿ  The bike figured into the events and clues and
Ÿ  my hubby’s family loves bikes
Here’s a blurb about it:
Denton Davies has a guilt complex over the death of his nephew who died in a motorcycle accident after he taught him to ride. He blames himself and insists he hates them. Of course, his wife, Alex who is a little more than strong-minded about daring activities, wants to ride one.
This is a minor subplot within the book, but ties the story together.  Here is the blurb about the book:
A dead body, a missing motorcycle, a strange key, and dope are at the bottom of the trouble Denton and Alex Davies, and Taffy, their Jack Russell Terrier, run into when they head for their first stop in the Smoky Mountains immediately after early retirement.
All Denton wants is to fish and recapture his wife’s love. Instead, they find the body of Anthony Risler with a bullet hole in his head. None of the campground people, or even the sheriff, pretend to like Denton and his snoopy questions, and everyone seems to be lying.
Denton figures Risler’s missing bike has to hide some kind of evidence that incriminates the murderer. Archie McGhee, the campground manager is self-centered and greedy enough to hide the motorcycle for the murderer, so why doesn’t he know where the bike is now? The Stillwells, although good-looking and popular, brag way too much to suit the Davies. The expensive S-shaped, ruby watch they foist onto Alex ought to play into the mystery, yet Denton can find no evidence of it. The drug-using, gun-toting man who chases Taffy knows more than he’s telling and raises questions in Denton’s mind even when forced to partner with the man.
Why is the sheriff ignoring obvious clues, and why would he leave a bribery note lying around where Denton’s suspicious eyes can see it? When Denton finds the keys with the strange looking C charm Alex and Denton realize only their pastor’s wife, back in Ohio, and the small, cherry-wood box Risler gave her, can provide the final clue they need to reveal the killer.
Denton wrestles with his personal demons of self-blame over his nephew’s death while riding a bike. Alex resents Denton’s riding roughshod over her feelings. When he thinks her love is fading, he’s determined to woo her back. But if he doesn’t find the young man’s murderer, their love may stretch to the breaking point.

Carole Brown’s debut novel is entitled The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman (Selah Award Finalist and Semi-finalist in the Genesis), and her second novel introduced the characters of Denton and Alex Davies in the first book of her new mystery series: Hog Insane.  With Music in Their Hearts releases November 2014.
Author Carole BrownBesides 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 and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?
Please connect with her here:
Guys and Gals at Bits and Bytes:
Barn Door Book Loft:

Here is my personal review of Hog Insane:   

The characters in the story were a nice break from typical suspense stories, which I love. I enjoyed seeing a couple trying to solve a mystery together instead of focusing on their emotions while trying to piece together the puzzle. The story is told from Denton’s point of view, an older gentleman just wanting to fish and spend time with his beautiful wife. Even though they have been married for a while, readers will still hear Denton’s thoughts about his aging wife. He still finds her attractive and can’t believe she has chosen him to stay with.  Denton and Alex were life-like and mystery lovers who impressed me with their skill to solve the mystery before the sheriff.

The story line was thought out and enjoyable. I wondered who killed the poor biker as different obstacles came across Denton and Alex’s path. Even though, I figured out who did the killing before Brown actually showed us, I still enjoyed the story. The challenges to solving the mystery range from watching someone move the motorcycle to seeing a letter on the sheriff’s desk hinting at blackmail to a missing pastor’s wife. The intertwining of the clues left me impressed with Brown’s skill to weave together a good mystery for mystery lovers.  

If you are a fan of cozy mysteries, then I suggest going to Amazon and purchasing a copy for yourself. It is only $2.99, so it won’t hurt you. It is a full length novel and well worth the money.

I thank Carole Brown for giving me a digital copy of her book. I will be buying the rest of the books in this series as they become available. The opinions in this review are all my own.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

An Interview with Sibella Giorello

Fifteen year old Raleigh Harmon's life has enough complications - a rebellious older sister, her mentally ill mom, snobby classmates, and hiding things from her dad, like her weekly dinners on the bad side of town with her best friend, Drew. 

Her already crazy world turns upside down when Drew vanishes. What's worse - no one takes her disappearance seriously. Only Raleigh believes that Drew didn't run away. Determined to find her friend, Raleigh turns to a trusted teacher and her love for geology to help track down Drew. 

Raleigh's efforts to help find Drew fall on the deaf ears of the local police department, and she has to rely on her own determination to find Drew.

I love Sibella's Raleigh Harmon novels, but Stone and Spark is her best book yet. Raleigh's adult life is shaped so much by her father's unsolved murder - I loved getting the chance to see her dad and their relationship. I recently had the privilege of interviewing Sibella about her newest book.

1.What made you decide to write about Raleigh's teen years?

            Life imitates art, they say. Or the other way around. But in my experience, life dances with art and the cha-cha in my days are teenagers: two boys, one girl. And a stint as youth group leader.
            All those teenagers taught me just how crucial these teen years are. They’re old enough to realize some really profound things, but young enough to still search for an identity.
            Normally that’s plenty for me to write about.
            But readers kept asking for a prequel to the first Raleigh Harmon mystery. The first book opens--“The Stones Cry Out” -- opens with Raleigh already working as an established forensic geologist for the FBI, and her dad’s already dead.
            The cha-cha went to a tango: Raleigh’s teen years meshed into a prequel. Readers meet her dad, and they get to see her figuring out how geology can solve crimes.
            But it all started with the teenagers in my life. That’s what I mean by the dance between art and life, it goes back and forth.

2.  How much of your teenage self did you put into Raleigh's character? Is she a lot like you, or completely different?
            Raleigh’s both me, and not at all like me.
            My mom was difficult to live with. I ran for miles to keep sane. And my dad was also the world’s coolest.
            But I grew up in Alaska--not the South. My best friend wasn’t at all like Drew Levinson --although I would’ve wished for her--and I pretty much hated science. 
            The list goes on, but I think it’s that dance again between art and life. Writers have to draw from the well God gives them, and they also draw from their imaginations.
3. How is writing a YA book different than writing an adult novel?

           It’s like the difference between talking to teens and talking to adults.
            With teens, you better get to the point quickly--and with some charm--or they’re gone. They also hate anything phony. Which is another reason I love teenagers so much.
            But this YA series keeps all the strong elements of the adult mysteries: Whodunnit, how, and why. But the chapters are punchier and shorter.

4.  You changed things up with publishing this book. Tell us a little about your decision. Also, how are things different between publishing this series and publishing your other books?

       Traditional publishing has some difficult changes ahead. Everyone has an opinion about what’s going to happen, but nobody really knows.
            And I don’t care.
            Seriously. I just want to write.
            I was fortunate that two publishers picked up the Raleigh Harmon series. Revell nominated the first book for a Christy award, and miraculously, it won. Then an editor at Thomas Nelson really shepherded the series; she never shoe-horned it to match every other mystery series out there. She let Raleigh be Raleigh--warts and all. I’m really grateful for all of that.
            But I also wanted to write more books, and in different genres. The traditional model forces a writer to justify the book before it’s even written. That doesn't allow for much agility. And it kills the fun for me.
            Now I’m with Cool Gus Publishing, a kind of indie-writer house. They work like a publisher doing the editing, designing, and publicity. But I own the books. I've got total freedom to tell the stories that come to me. This meant I could launch this YA series and see how it goes. Or change things up again. It’s gone so well the series will continue for quite some time.
5. What's next for Raleigh and your writing?

            The new freedom means there’s plenty of things coming up on the horizon.
            For Raleigh Harmon, it’s the next teen mystery which will come out this winter, followed by a third in summer. The adult series is going to pick up where “The Stars Shine Bright” left off. And I’m starting a new mystery series, set in my home state of Alaska.
            But there’s another interesting twist, and it’s called “Great Battles.”
            For years my husband has taught a class for middle-grade boys on Great Battles in world history, everything from the weapons and tactics to the warfare and leaders. The boys absolutely love it! And now Cool Gus is going to publish it as books for young readers. Three volumes will be out by October. I’ve been helping with the editing and all I can say is, Wow! These are pulse-pounding tales of battle, that also show teenagers the character qualities for fighting them: courage, valor, tenacity, strength. 

            Which is what we all need, every day. 

You can find Stone and Spark here.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Interview and Giveaway with Catherine Leggitt

Please join me in welcoming Catherine Leggitt. 

Catherine, can you tell us where you're from?

This is actually a complicated question for me, except to say I am a fifth generation Californian. I was born in Oakland, and adopted at two weeks of age. My new parents took me to San Luis Rey in southern California. I spent my childhood on a wonderful farm where my father raised oranges. From a very stable childhood, I have moved all over California during my adulthood (be careful what you wish for). In the twenty-six years I’ve been married to Bob we’ve moved nine times. I truly believe he’s part gypsy.

Nine times! That does sound gypsyish. What inspired you to begin writing?

Although I always said I wanted to write and wrote a few stories in college mostly for my children, I didn’t get serious about writing until Bob retired early and moved me to his dream house in Grass Valley, CA. We lived in a lodge-like log house on fourteen wooded acres with a Grandma-Moses view. BUT, I was a day’s drive from my children and grandchildren, and I had to leave my friends, too. My allergies went insane, AND then menopause hit. Talk about a crazy sad time. I desperately needed a diversion and found it at the keyboard. Down the hill from us was a gray house. Although we’d lived there three years at that time, we’d never seen the occupants. I made up a story about why those people never came out of their house. Seven years and ten rewrites later I published that story as PAYNE & MISERY, the first Christine Sterling Mystery.

I'm so glad to know about your inspiration for PAYNE & MISERY. Now I have to wonder if Christine is inspired by someone real, too. Do you have a mentor?

In the early days of my writing journey, I attended the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference where I met the amazing author Susanne Lakin, who writes under the name CS Lakin. I credit her with keeping my enthusiasm for writing going during the days I knew I didn’t know enough to write, but the desire wouldn’t go away. Many times, I’d be teetering at the quitting place ready to jump when I’d sit down at the computer and find an encouraging email from Susanne. We met for lunch at times and brainstormed plot ideas. She’s truly been a godsend. I thank God that she shared her tenacity, expertise, and friendship at a time I needed it so much.

She sounds like a wonderful friend. Sometimes we just need that extra encouragement. What are your current writing goals?

With three published books and two more finished, my immediate goal is to find a publisher for the last two. I have come so far on this writing journey. IMHO these last books could be good sellers, maybe best sellers. I have another book plotted, but I don’t feel the pressing urge to complete it. At this point, I’m praying and waiting on God for direction. Another short-term goal is to attend the ACFW conference in September of this year. Perhaps I will hook up with an agent or generate interest in my books there.

Congrats on getting to attend the ACFW conference this year. I can't wait to find out you've contracted with a new publisher after you attend. How do you juggle the promotional aspect of writing with the actual task of writing?

BLEAH! Not my cup of tea, the promotional aspect. I do it gritting my teeth, the same way I take yucky medicine—because I know it’s good for me. Occasionally I am called to do inspirational speaking, which is extremely outside my comfort zone, but always turns out to be fun and special once it’s over. I’ve sold a lot of books doing that. I keep the local Christian bookstore supplied with my books and participate in all the local author stuff I hear about. I spend way too many hours on social media most every day—primarily Facebook, although I’m also on Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads. And I try to go to a writer’s conference and sell my books there at least once a year. This all conflicts with writing time, of course. If I am in the midst of an inspiration, like just happened in finishing my latest book, then writing is mostly all I get accomplished. My husband insists I have a life outside writing.

Funny how husbands think we need lives aside from writing! I must say I love marketing as much as you do. How has your life changed since you wrote your first book?

I have to say I’ve never worked so hard at anything in my life as I have on my books and the payoff has been increased skill at writing. It’s a good feeling to write a book. Even better when people appreciate your work or when God uses it to speak to a heart. Maybe no one but me understands how that has changed the way I feel about myself. Exploring themes as I write has also given me a greater understanding of who I am and who God is. Many years ago, I prayed for creativity. God continues to answer that prayer and for that I am very grateful.

I love how God uses the tools He gives us to change us. Who is your most memorable character and from what novel?

Probably Stryker from the book I just finished, THE ROAD TO TERMINUS. She is an eleven-year-old bald homeless child in St. Louis in 1955 when the story opens. Cars are her special passion and she can name make, year, and model just by seeing the front or back and sometimes just from the outline. But she cannot read. Her favorite possession is a stuffed monkey her mother told her she must always keep with her because it is valuable.

As one of Catherine's critique partners, I can vouch for the endearing nature of Stryker. I love this character. 

Catherine will be giving away a signed copy of Payne & Misery. To enter the contest, you MUST leave your email address. You may spell it out if you'd like: someone (at) something (dot) com. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Interview with Adam Blumer

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview author Adam Blumer.

Adam Blumer

You write meaningful suspense. Can you expound on that?

First, thanks for having me. I chose the tagline “Meaningful Suspense” to express the irrepressible redemptive nature of Christian fiction. What I mean by that is this: if an author is truly Christian, then God’s message of redemption will or should somehow show up in what he or she writes, even if it’s only allegorical. I believe the Bible supports this view. While we Christian authors can simply write a fun, clean story on occasion, I believe the redemptive message we find in Christ should somehow be part of—and generally characterize—what we write. Then our books will have eternal value beyond thrills and chills. That’s why I write meaningful suspense. This doesn’t mean Christian novels need to be preachy, but I believe some message of redemption should be there.

How many books have you written? 

There’s a difference between how many books I’ve written and how many I’ve actually published. I’ve written a total of eight novels, and I’m almost finished with my ninth. God has so far opened the door for me to to publish two novels. A third book, a memoir I cowrote, has a publisher slated, and the other author and I will hopefully be working through revisions soon.

Many of those early books were experiments, if you will, for developing my craft, finding my voice, and simply learning how to connect the dots of plot formation. I tried several genres. By writing these novels, I learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t, usually by trial and error. I don’t intend for most of them to ever see the light of day, though a couple may be publishable down the road.
Who are your favorite authors?

Goodness, there are so many, but here are a few: Richard Adams, Jeff Shaara, Terry Brooks, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, Katherine Anne Porter, Leif Enger, Madeleine L’Engle, Charles Dickens, Frank Peretti, Willa Cather, Erik Larson, and Stephen Ambrose. As you can tell, I read a wide variety.

Did you always want to write suspense, or did you start out writing in another genre?

From the earliest childhood stories, suspense has always dominated my writing, though genres have varied. My first novel, written during high school, was an Agatha Christie copycat. So I started with a traditional mystery. I’ve also written suspense as a young-adult fantasy novel and a young-adult historical novel. It was when I submitted a young-adult novel for publication that an editor recommended I try something for adults. It was her challenge that compelled me to write my first published novel, Fatal Illusions, with Kregel.

You work full time from home as a freelance writer and editor. Does working from home make it easier or harder to write your fiction stories? Do you ever get tired of working on a computer and/or prefer to write your stories out by hand?

Being at home makes it easier and harder, if that makes sense. Because I’m home, it’s easier for me to carve out a few minutes here and there if I want to, though a few minutes are hardly enough to make headway on a novel. It’s harder in that I’m editing so many books for other people each day that the life feels sucked out of words sometimes. And yes, sometimes I stare at a computer screen way too much and just have to get out of my chair and go for a walk.  

But that’s the nature of life for me: both my paycheck and my novel writing depend on a lot of screen time. There’s no escaping it. Sometimes I wonder if I should switch vocations and be a welder or work some other trade; then I could channel my energy for words into my own books. So far God hasn’t led me on that path.

I never write my stories by hand; my hand can’t keep up with my brain. I can type about ninety words a minute, so that’s about right. 

I appreciated your series, In Defense of Clean Speech in Christian Fiction, which is featured on your Web site: How else can fans find out more about you and your writing?

Thanks, I’m glad you appreciated the series. I’m rather passionate about Christian fiction being clean. Fans can learn more about me at my website (listed above) and at Twitter and Facebook:

I also have a website for my freelance editing: God has enabled me to edit a good number of published novels.

Adam is giving away a free e-book copy of his latest novel, The Tenth PlagueTo enter, leave a comment, along with a valid e-mail address, and let Adam know what you think about meaning in Christian fiction (i.e, Does Christian fiction need to say something?) or list what you are currently reading and enjoying. The giveaway ends on August 23rd. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Interview and Book Giveaway With Donna Fletcher Crow

by Jeff Reynolds

I'm excited to have Donna Fletcher Crow back with Sleuths and Suspects. We'll be giving away a copy of her latest Monastery Murder (e-book) -- check to see what the rules are below.


This is the third time Donna has been here. Heidi Glick interviewed her about three years ago when the first Monastery Murder, A Very Private Grave, was released. Last year, I interviewed her about the third book, An Unholy Communion. If you want to recall those interviews, here are the links:

Jeff Reynolds:  Welcome back to Sleuths and Suspects, Donna. Let me start by asking you what's new with you both in the literary world and in the literal one (other than the most recent Monastery Murder) since you last visited us in April, 2013?

Donna Crow: 
Thank you, Jeff. I’m delighted to be back. I always love visiting with readers. Top of the list in the “What’s new?” category has to be two new grandchildren. Our daughter Elizabeth in Calgary had Lucy Alexandra last September and our daughter-in-law Mindy here in Boise gave birth to Asher Hudson in March. That brings the grand total to 13 grandchildren.

In my writing life my 44th book, A Jane Austen Encounter, Book 3 in my Elizabeth and Richard literary suspense series came out last autumn.

JR:  The Monastery Murders are towards the top of my list of my all-time favorite series, and Father Anthony is my favorite fictitious character (I could make a joke that he took over from fellow Brit James Bond, but Bond was displaced when I was still in High School -- by Hercule Poirot as well as others). Would you like to tell us about the latest addition to the series?

DC: What wonderful company for Father Antony! And I’m sure he’s very honoured. But I’m afraid Antony needs all the support you can give him this time because he really has his hands full in A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary. Felicity is off to do a spot of translating for a community of nuns in Oxford and in spite of Antony’s warning her not to get into trouble we all know her proclivity for running headlong into danger. Then he learns that he must rush to the bedside of his Uncle Edward who raised Antony and his sister. All that just a few days before he is to lead a seminar of students in Oxford. Then he finds out that Felicity has forged an uneasy friendship with his estranged sister Gwena and expects him to make peace in the family. Then one of his students is killed in a ghastly accident. Or was it an accident?

JR:  In your previous interview you referred to this book as A Muffled Tolling. What led to the renaming of the book?

  That’s right, Jeff. A Muffled Tolling was my working title for this book because English change-ringing and the tradition of muffling, or more specifically half-muffling, bells for funerals and commemorations of the dead—something that has always fascinated me—is such an important part of this story. This seemed particularly appropriate because the book is set at the time of All Souls’ and my daughter had told me about her experience of muffling bells at Oxford for the commemoration.

My editor, however, didn’t feel it sounded sufficiently mysterious. We worked very hard on this title, e-mailing long lists of possibilities (some of them quite dreadful) back and forth until the word “crimsoned”  jumped out at me from an Easter hymn. Reliquaries are an important part of the plot as well, so bells were abandoned for the title. “Newly” was my editor’s contribution. This was all quite a process, but I’m pleased with the results in the end.

JR:  Hope you don't mind if I regress to your previous installment, An Unholy Communion. That story had a very strong spiritual warfare theme. What inspired that focus, and how does that focus relate to us in the U.S. in 2014?

DC:  One of the reasons I write murder mysteries is because they so clearly illustrate the clash between good and evil in our world and the ultimate triumph of good over evil. Certainly that struggle is presented more concretely in An Unholy Communion because my characters are faced with actual satanic worship. This was a very hard book to write because I had to research the occult and learned things I’d really rather not know about. I chose the theme, though, because I wanted to show the reality of evil in our world. None of the demonic manifestations in my plot are made up. They are all based on experiences recorded by priests working in Deliverance ministry.

JR:  An interesting thing about spiritual warfare is that it often manifests in the physical realm, and A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary gives some illustrations of it, dealing with persecution believers endure both from unbelievers and from those who claim the name of Christ. Do you see persecution of Christians as a threat in our society? If so, how can we prepare for it?

When I was a child demonic practices like those in An Unholy Communion were something missionaries told about when they returned from foreign fields. Certainly nothing that would happen here. And the persecution of Christians happened in Roman times and behind the Iron Curtain. I am constantly amazed at how close to home all of that has come just in my lifetime. I think the only possible defense is a strong prayer life and a supportive community of believers.

JR:  The highlight in this novel (I could say the highlight in the series, though the youth pilgrimage in An Unholy Communion rivals that) is the debate between an atheist and Father Anthony. So let me ask my usual multi-part question: First, should apologetics be a part of our lives as a believer? Second, is telling stories more effective than dealing with, for example, the classic arguments of God's existence which Father Anthony considered using?

You never do ask easy questions do you, Jeff? That debate was nothing I had ever planned to write. I usually try to make my arguments less combatively, but debating is such a hallowed Oxford tradition (my model for the evening was actually the Oxford Union, but I didn’t call it that) that the scene just fell into place.

I certainly believe we need to know what we believe and why we believe it. I believe theology is very important. The question is how to present it best to a world that really doesn’t want to listen. For that, look to the Scriptures: Jesus told parables. The Bible itself is a narrative—the story of God’s redemptive acts among His people. 

JR:  What's next, both in the Monastery Mysteries and in your other fictious endeavors?

Last week I sent The Flame Ignites, an Elizabeth and Richard prequel to my publisher. This goes back to 1984 and tells how Elizabeth and Richard first met. All the books in that series have literary figures in the background and for this book it’s the beloved American novelist Elswyth Thane and Rudyard Kipling.

Later today I will start the next Monastery Murder, which I’m calling An All-Consuming Fire. Antony has been asked to narrate a BBC documentary on the English Mystics Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton and the author of The Cloud of Unknowing. Felicity is determined to stay quietly behind in the Community of the Transfiguration because her mother (remember the prickly Cynthia from A Darkly Hidden Truth?) is coming over to spend Christmas with her and help her prepare for their Epiphany wedding. I am wondering just how well that will work out.

JR:  Thank you for your time, Donna. To refresh everybody's memory, how can they keep up with your latest activities?

  Thank you, Jeff. It’s always a delight to visit with you and I love the opportunity to get acquainted with your readers.

To read more about all of my books and see pictures from my garden and research trips, including my bell-ringing lesson with the Oxford University Society of Change Ringers, go to:  and I would love to have you follow me on Facebook at:

Jeff to reader:  At this point, it's time for a giveaway of an e-book version of A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary. Here are the rules:
  1. Leave a comment. That easy enough?
  2. Include your e-mail address so we can notify you. You can write it out if you wish, like AuntDotKahm(at)Ant(dot)com.
  3. Finally, what do you think is the best way to prepare for persecution/spiritual warfare/defending the faith? Or do you think these issues are better left to theologians and ministers?