Monday, April 21, 2014

Review of The Rising by Lynn Chandler Willis

A little boy is shown standing inside a hospital morgue

Recently, I read The Rising by Lynn Chandler Willis. This book is a finalist for the Grace Awards in the mystery/suspense/thriller category.

The story starts off with quite a rise as Detective Ellie Saunders receives a call from her superior that the her homicide victim, a little boy, is now very much alive and awake in the hospital morgue. As Ellie investigates the case involving the little boy, she is assigned to work with Jesse Alvarez, someone with whom she shares a romantic past. To complicate matters, as the story goes public, Ellie is barraged with painful reminders of a lost loved one and is forced to interact with her father, a retired minister, with whom she’s somewhat estranged.

This is a fast-paced novel that will keep you guessing. I only put the book down once, and that’s because I had to recharge my Kindle! The characters are imperfect, gritty, and real, not cookie cutter. Considering the book’s theme of resurrection and the fact that we just celebrated Easter, this is a timely read. This book should appeal to those who enjoy romantic suspense and thrillers.

*Please note that I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed here is my own.

Author Bio:

Lynn Chandler-Willis has worked in the corporate world (hated it!), the television news business (fun job) and the newspaper industry (not a fan of the word "apparently" and phrase "according to"). She keeps coming back to fiction because she likes making stuff up and you just can't do that in the newspaper or television news business.

She was born, raised, and continues to live in the heart of North Carolina within walking distance to her kids and their spouses and her nine grandchildren. She shares her home, and heart, with Sam the cocker spaniel.

She is the author of the best-selling true crime book, Unholy Covenant. Her debut novel, The Rising (Pelican Book Group) was released in July 2013 and was recently named a finalist for the Grace Award. Chandler-Willis is the 2013 winner of the Minotaur Books/Private Eye Novel Writers of America Best First Private Eye Novel competition for her novel, Wink of an Eye. It will be released by Minotaur in Nov. 2014.

Lynn Chandler Willis

Book Blurb:

A little boy, beaten and left to die in an alley.  A cop with a personal life out of control. When their worlds collide, God intervenes. Detective Ellie Saunders's homicide investigation takes a dramatic turn when a young victim "wakes up" in the morgue. The child has no memory prior to his "rising" except walking with his father along a shiny road. Ellie likes dealing with facts. She'd rather leave all the God-talk to her father, a retired minister, and to her partner, Jesse, a former vice cop with an annoying habit of inserting himself into her life. But will the facts she follows puts Ellie's life in mortal danger? And will she finally allow God into her heart forever?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Interview and Giveaway with D. A. Featherling

Interview Questions/Sleuths and Suspects Blog

  1. Tell us a little about yourself.
    Writing books has always been my dream. I’m blessed to be able to do that now, full-time, and decided to indie publish to be able to get my books out faster than the traditional route. As a result, I put my 5 –year-old home staging business on the back burner and started publishing and writing a little over a year ago. To date I have seven books on the market, in three different genres. Yes, I’m one of those multiple genres people. I call it my ‘fiction a la carte.’ Readers can choose their favorite from my menu of offerings.
  2. Tell us about your most recent book/or the book we are focusing on.
    My most recent book (Making Over Caro) is the last (Book 4) in a romantic comedy series (Second Time Around series). All of the books stand completely alone, the common thread is that one of the characters in the book is looking for love a second time around. Caro Arnold is a successful realtor who quickly becomes involved in trying to discourage an unwanted suitor from her past. It takes the help of her best friend, and a group called The Pink Flamingoes, to help her succeed. Lots of fun and laughter along the way.
  3. Why did you choose this particular genre?
    I love writing humor, and I like writing first person, so for me, romantic comedy was an obvious choice. Plus the humor has helped me (and others) through some tough times in life, so I like the fact it can offer some relief from the trying events we all go through.
  4. What was your journey to publication like?
    I’ve been writing since the late 90’s. I did all the usual things to get published for several years, then family illness and health issues intervened, and the writing went on the back burner. I later became a small business owner and that took up all my time. But in January 2013 I decided I was going to pursue my dream of publication, so I’ve been doing that ever since.
  5. What is a couple of your favorite books and what are you reading now?
    I love Dee Henderson’s The O’Malley series. And Jan Karon’s Mitford series. So many talented authors out there. I do tend to mostly read mysteries/suspense…one reason why I also write mysteries, so my reading tends to focus in that direction. Right now, I’m reading “Accused” by Janice Cantore. Haven’t read her books before and am enjoying it.
  6. What are you working on now and can you give us a little peek inside it?
    As I said, I write in multiple genres…one of which is futuristic suspense. Book 1 of the Out of Time Series is entitled “Time Out” and is the story of a young woman who is accidentally transported into the future into the millennium. I’m getting ready to write Book 2, “Double Time,” which will advance the action in both the present time and future worlds as the millennium draws nearer its close and believers on earth are heading toward the Tribulation. My heroine is going to encounter bad guys both on earth and the future so she’ll have her hands full.
  7. What advice would you give authors who are on their own journey to publication?
    Decide what’s important to you. How important is publication? Consider all your options for that – there are many these days. Then, don’t give up! Make yourself the best writer you can be. Produce the best work you can. There is so much information about writing out there today and so many resources, no writer can say they can’t get help in improving themselves. Be ruthless with yourself as well. Produce something you can be proud of.
  8. Do you have any books or websites that have helped you with your writing that you could share with us?
    James Scott Bell has a couple of books out that are very useful. The Writer’s Digest series of “How To” books has some good titles in them as well. Look for books and/or websites that are written by people who have succeeded in their craft. You know what they did worked, so don’t settle for second best.
  9. Is there anything you’d like to tell us we haven’t covered?
    My motivation for writing is to imagine a book I’ve written in the hands of a reader, who, when finishing the book and closing the back cover, has a smile on his/her face. That’s success in my opinion and what I hope folks will find with my writing.
  10. Please let us know where we can find you on the web.
    My website is: and you can find my author page on Facebook at

Please leave a comment and your email address for a chance to win a copy of one of D. A. Featherling's mysteries.  


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Interview and Book Giveaway with Suzanne Hartmann

by Jeff Reynolds

This is the second time I've had the privilege of interviewing Suzanne Hartmann on this blog, and we'll be giving away a copy of her latest book Conspiracy.  Rules are below, including how to get an extra entry into the drawing. Also, don't miss her telling about the details of the Facebook launch party for Conspiracy.

Jeff Reynolds:  Last time you were on, I asked about the inspiration for your story, but I neglected how you got started in writing. Do you feel it was more an interest you always had or a call?

Suzanne Hartmann:  
Actually, the two are intertwined. I mentioned in my previous interview that the stories which eventually became the first story in the Fast Track Thriller series began as scenes I created to entertain myself while sitting through my kids’ various activities. But the idea to craft them into a novel didn’t even enter my mind until a thought popped into my head while I was taking a walk. It came out of the blue, and it took several weeks of prayer to determine that it was a God-nudge not an early mid-life crisis. So I began researching NASCAR (since I wasn’t at fan at the time), and a couple of months later started writing. Since then, God has led me on an amazing journey full of doubts, anguish, inspiration, and joy. But He has faithfully encouraged me every step along the way

JR:  The second installment of your Fast Track Thrillers has just crossed the starting line. Could you tell us about the series and your new release?SH: Conspiracy picks up only a few months after the dramatic, surprise ending to Peril, and we rejoin Joanne Van der Haas, a top-secret agent with enhanced strength who works for the nation's most clandestine intelligence agency. Her boss is accused of selling government secrets, and she must choose which to trust: the man she's worked with for many years or the NSA’s evidence. When the heat turns up and a traitor threatens those she loves most, Joanne’s friend, NASCAR champion Stuart Jackson, is the only person she can trust to help her follow the trail of clues. Although untried in the intelligence field, Stuart is willing to face the danger in order to bring the truth to light and keep Joanne from being implicated.

JR:  I have the impression that you've dealt with several obstacles both on the writing track and off. What has it been like, and what lessons has God taught you through the false starts?

Yes, I have, Jeff, both the typical obstacles any new author must negotiate as well as medical issues, including a major surgery last year that led to another trip to the OR in the midst of the editing process for Conspiracy. The main thing I’ve learned from both types of obstacle is the need to keep my eyes on Jesus. When I put my focus on people, I will inevitably be disappointed. But when I lay my troubles at God’s feet, I can rest in the knowledge that He will meet all of my needs. Much easier said than done, but He continually shows His faithfulness when I look to Him as my provider.

JR:  In the previous interview, I asked you about your non-fiction book, Write This Way and you shared about filtering as it relates to POV. Any other interesting facts that might help writers here in their literary qualifying attempts?

Another stylistic error I address in Write This Way that I don’t see talked about much is the unnecessary use of small movements: turning, reaching, walking across the room, etc. Every action involves multiple smaller actions, but we don’t want to bore our readers with every single, tiny action required to accomplish something. For example, I could write, “James made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” That involves many steps, from reaching into the cabinet to pull out the jar, to spreading the jelly. But since readers are familiar with how make a PB&J, we don’t need to include every little step. In the same way, readers automatically fill in little actions like reaching out before touching someone, or walking across the room to answer the door, or turning towards the window before looking outside. So we can leave these small motions out when writing.

JR:  Speaking of writing, I found your characters captivating, including supporting ones like George. What helped you develop that good a pit crew to keep the story running?

 Thank you so much! I tried hard to create the type of characters readers want to get to know and read more about. The fact that you found them captivating thrills me more than you can know. The main thing I did to generate such characters is to make sure they were realistic. A huge factor in doing this is motivation. Whether for one of my protagonists or someone only in one scene, I continually asked myself, “How would this character respond?” “What would she do next?” and “What would make him do that?”

JR:  Again in the earlier interview, you mentioned getting writing ideas while driving your children around and how your daughter got interested in NASCAR. Could you tell us about your family? And have you ever made it to a NASCAR race?
SH:  My wonderful husband Steve and I celebrated twenty-five years of marriage this year, and we have three children: Andrew, David, and Rachel. We have homeschooled for sixteen years, and graduated both of the boys, so it’s just Rachel and I at home now.

I attended numerous NASCAR Nationwide and Truck Series races during the four years I volunteered with Midwest Raceway Ministries at Gateway International Raceway in the St. Louis area. It wasn’t until two years ago, however, that my husband and I attended our first Sprint Cup race at the Kansas Speedway. While we were there, we were blessed to be able to meet Jimmy Makar, the General Manager of Joe Gibbs Racing and the person who wrote the foreword for Peril, as well as Billie Mauldin, CEO of the Motor Racing Outreach, who handed out a hundred copies of Peril at the 2012 spring Bristol race. Both of these gentlemen realized even more than I did that my novel could be a powerful and unique outreach tool, and I am thankful that God led me to a connection with each of them.

JR:  I know that you're working on Revenge, the third leg of this series. Have you thought about what you'll do when your trilogy has crossed the checkered flag?

 Although I have been pondering the idea of a prequel, I have decided to move on when I finish Revenge and concentrate on two partially completed novels. One is also NASCAR-related, but it is a romantic suspense novel. The other—like the Fast Track Thrillers—has a twist of the unusual, but it is women’s fiction.

JR:  Thank you very much for your time. As I've mentioned before, I'm looking forward to reading Conspiracy. Any web pages you want to mention so your admiring fans can keep cheering you on?

 Thank you for hosting me on Sleuths & Suspects again, Jeff. Your readers can find out more about Peril and Conspiracy at my Fast Track Thrillers website at, and I invite all of your readers to the Facebook Release Party for Conspiracy on April 10 on my FB Author Page ( ) For more information about Write This Way: Take Your Writing to the Next Level, readers can visit my blog at, where they will find tons of advice about writing.

Jeff to the readers: 
Now is the time to enter the contest. Three simple steps.
  1. Leave a comment (that's not hard, is it?)
  2. Include your e-mail address so we can communicate with you -- you can spell it out like AuntDotKahm(at)Ant(dot)com
  3. Suzanne included NASCAR, a sport that she wasn't familiar with, in her story. If you were to include a sport or hobby in a book you wrote that you aren't familiar with but would love to research, what would it be?
Suzanne is offering an extra entry into the contest to anyone willing to allow her to add your e-mail address to her update list. (Don't worry about getting inundated -- it only comes out a few times a year.)

I will add yet one more bonus point to the first person who correctly guesses whose endorsement is on the front of Conspiracy. And key word is guess -- no fair peeking at the top. And the person who wrote it wouldn't be guessing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Review of Water Walker by Ted Dekker

I’m a Dekker fan; I’d go so far as to say his writing has influenced my own. So I jumped at the chance to review, Water Walker, the second book in his Outlaw Chronicles series. For my review of the first book in the series (Eyes Wide Open), click here.

Like Ted’s other stories, the story concept is original. Ted does a good job of writing what I’d refer to as allegorical-type stories. I think this type of story might appeal to someone who is a seeker or is de-churched (that is, they’ve attended church before but no longer attend). I wished that at the end, there was some discussion to guide readers toward Ted’s intended point (maybe included at the end of the book). I think Christians can see the themes easily, but I think a guide would be nice for seekers.

The story starts out with a young girl named Alice who does not remember the past six months of her life and has been placed in a foster home. A man shows up claiming to be her biological father and wants to kidnap her; he tells the girl her name is Eve. Alive/Eve must decide who she can trust. A shadowy figure known as Outlaw appears and shows Alice/Eve she can become a water walker and that her body is just a costume. Like I mentioned previously, I think that many Christian readers will easily identify Christian themes in the story.

What I didn’t like was the way POV was handled. I think Ted is sort of a maverick when it comes to POV. For Immanuel’s Veins, I noted that he switched back and forth between chapters using first and third person. Ted also mixes things up a bit in this story as well. I felt like it worked in the other book, but for this one, I felt like POV could have been deeper. At least one shift could have been handled better with a scene break, at least in my opinion. Also, in my opinion, I felt it was odd that a character had lost their memory, but then a chapter or two later, recalls something from the past casually, but doesn’t find this odd that they suddenly remembered something. Maybe it was supposed to be written that way, but it felt like an “oops.” I’d also like to note that a curse word was used, and it really didn’t need to be. I understand going for realism, but realism is different than literalism (see post by Author Donn Taylor for more discussion on this subject). I get that the character would swear, but an author can show this without using the literal term that a character would use.

*Please note that I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed here is my own. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Interview and Book Giveaway with Julianna Deering

by Jeff Reynolds


Is there something not normal about a guy who enjoys cozy mysteries? Well, normal is not the normal adjective used to describe me, but I digress. While I like several genres, nothing beats a cozy, like Hercule Poirot or one of Donna Fletcher Crow's Monastary Murders or a Drew Farthering Mystery. To my delight, Julianna Deering has released Death By The Book, the follow-up to Rules Of Murder. So of course I had to bring her back for another interview.

After the interview, you can find out how to win a copy of Death By The Book.

Jeff Reynolds: Julianna, welcome back to Sleuths and Suspects. It's hard to believe it's just been six months since you've been here previously! Anything interesting happen in that time?

Julianna Deering:
Pretty much business as usual. I've been pretty busy trying to keep up with everything involved with this new release and I've been working on the edits for Murder at the Mikado, the third book in the series.

JR: Death by the Book, the second installment of the Drew Farthering Mysteries, has just hit the shelves. What inspired the series and the main character?

I've always loved the classic mysteries written in the 1920s and '30s, Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham and Dorothy L. Sayers especially. And I love the BBC adaptations of them, especially Poirot, Campion and Wimsey. And, being a writer, I couldn't help trying my hand at something in this genre. My main character, Drew Farthering, pretty much popped into my head and said, "Oh, I say, wouldn't it be smashing if you let me solve some cracking good mysteries?" I suppose he's the hero-sleuth I just wanted to read about. He's handsome and wealthy, stylish and very British. He's got just a touch of angst about his past, but not enough to keep him from being great fun.

JR: Please tell us about Death By The Book.

It begins about two months after the end of Rules of Murder. Drew has solved that case and just wants to spend the end of the summer with his sweetheart Madeline. If he has his way about it, he'd like to convince her to marry him, too. Instead, he ends up with a fresh string of murders, a confounding American rival and Madeline's formidable maiden aunt who wants to whisk Madeline back to the States. Poor Drew.

JR: One thing I like is how light hearted this series is. How do you manage to keep it fun when dealing with heavy subjects like murder, infidelity, etc.?

I think a lot of that has to do with the time period of the book. The 1930s saw a lot of social and financial upheaval, worldwide depression, and the events that would eventually lead up to WW II. But the entertainment of the time, movies and music especially, tended to be fast and funny and lighthearted, something people really needed at the time. One of the things that attracts Drew and Madeline to each other is their sense of humor and ability to deal with problems without falling apart.

JR: I'm curious. Are you familiar with an author named DeAnna Julie Dodson? The two of you look like you could be sisters, maybe even twins. Should you know her, how would you contrast your styles?

Actually, yes, she is my evil twin. How would I contrast our styles? I write mysteries with lots of suspects and lots of victims and lots of red herrings. She prefers angsty historical romances with moody heroes, lots of pageantry and tragic family rifts. But she has written some contemporary mysteries that have no murders at all. Where's the fun in that?

JR: What do you have coming up? Anything due out under either of your names?

Yes, Murder at the Mikado, the third Drew Farthering mystery, is due out on July 1st. I just turned in the galleys on it, so it's fairly much done besides final page proofs. It's so exciting to see a manuscript finally become a real book, and Bethany House is just fabulous to work with. In case you haven't noticed, the book covers for this series are fabulous, so perfect for the stories and for the period. The cover for Mikado is my absolute favorite. Drew in white tie? Be still my heart!

JR: It sounds like you're pretty busy. How do you handle the other priorities in your life, like hockey? More importantly, how does your spiritual life survive all the deadlines?

Well, one must always make time for hockey. And, because I like to try to multi-task as much as possible, I always sew while I watch. That way I don't feel I've just frittered away three hours at a stretch, and I end up actually getting some projects finished. The deadlines for any working author can be pretty tough, especially for the things you don't usually consider when scheduling your time. Yes, you can usually count on X-amount of time to finish the book and turn it in, but then there's editing and other questions related to the book itself. Beyond that there are interviews and book signings and blog tours and all those little things that I enjoy doing, but which can add up to a big time investment. The only way I can survive those deadlines is with God. In fact, my favorite verse is Isaiah 41:13 which says: "For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, 'Do not fear. I will help you.'" And He has.

JR: Thank you for your time. How can we keep in touch with you?

I'm on Facebook at Author Julianna Deering, Twitter @deannajuldodson, and my websites:, and I love to chat with my readers. And Bethany House has printed up some wonderful bookmarks for each of the books and some great bookplates with Drew's hat logo on them, which I autograph for readers to put in their books. So if they would like bookmarks and/or bookplates, they just need to send a self-addressed, stamped envelope (at least 7" long for bookmarks) to me at P. O. Box 375, Aubrey, Texas 76223. I'd love to hear from you, readers! And thank you, Jeff, for letting me visit again. It's always a pleasure.

Jeff to reader: It's time to give away a copy of Death By The Book. All you have to do is follow three simple steps:
  1. Leave a comment on this blog.
  2. Leave your e-mail address. You can spell it out, like AuntDotKahm(at)Ant(dot)com.
  3. Finally, a challenge for you: create your own mini-mystery. In a room, there's a sci-fi writer, a TV journalist, a women's basketball coach, a clergyman, a soccer-mom, a used car salesman, and a classical pianist. The lights go out for one minute, and when they come on someone has been murdered. Who died? Who's the killer and why? And who solves the crime?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Interview And Book Giveaway With Janalyn Voigt

 by Jeff Reynolds

How many of you are fans of Tolkien or the Chronicles of Narnia? Yes, I know this page focuses on Suspense and Mysteries, but Ihave a hunch that several of you enjoy the above mentioned stories as well. If you find yourself in that category, you might be interested in learning more about the Tales of Faeraven by Janalyn Voigt. Better yet, you might like to enter the giveaway for one of the three digital giveaways for your choice of her two novels, whichever format you prefer.

I became familiar with Janalyn via her web-site, Novel Books. I won two novels on her site, both by authors I have interviewed here on Sleuths and Suspects (Donna Fletcher Crow and Suzanne Hartmann).

Jeff Reynolds: Welcome to Sleuths and Suspects, Janalyn. Would you like to start off telling us a little bit about yourself? Your education and vocational background? Your family? (Your husband's name sounds familiar.) Your church background and involvement?

Janalyn Voigt:
I grew up in California and landed in Washington by way of Australia and Hawaii. My husband was in the military, and we traveled a lot. One of my interests happens to be travel, so that worked out well. I have my AS and meant to go into music performance, but the need to make a living eventually me trapped in an office job, proving you can become successful in something you were never meant to do. I eventually escaped into the life of my dreams. My husband is the other John Voigt. I participate in worship team and in a ministry to Moms in my local church.

JR:  Tell us about your series, Tales of Faeraven, and about your current installment, Wayfarer. What inspired the series?

  I started a story about a half-cast princess trying to unite a divided kingdom against a common foe on the spur of the moment to entertain my bored daughter on a road trip. I twisted the name of her doll, Cinda, into Syl Marinda to name the heroine. The story took hold of me and wouldn't let go, even through the years when I gave up on my writing dream. I eventually returned to the story I'd abandoned but kept moving into the back story. It occurred to me that the back story needed to be told and that I had a trilogy to write rather than a single book. Syl Marinda shows up near the end of Wayfarer, book two, and becomes the heroine of DawnKing, the last book in the Tales of Faeraven epic fantasy trilogy.

I like to think of the books as forming a composition similar to a three-movement symphony. The series started on a fast-paced adventure, but then the music slows and grows reflective before buidling on a crescendo that culminates in the final climactic scene. The stories are like a play told by an ensemble cast, with each character important and their individual tales told as the fabric of one overarching storyline.

Wayfarer just released this January. Since it is that slower, deeper passage in the symphony, it shows us the world of Elderland and its people from a more intimate angle. There are dangers here, but many of the monsters found in Wayfarer dwell within the characters. Attaining peace with self is the story’s main theme, the hero’s greatest need and desire, and the thing he can’t capture without change. If he fails, his people will be destroyed. The story problem asks whether the high king of Faeraven can unite a nation divided by his own mistakes. DawnSinger was an epic quest adventure. Wayfarer is more of a love story, both on a romantic level and in relationship to God. I have received feedback from readers that Wayfarer’s thought-provoking themes have challenged them and in one case even changed a life. I wondered if I would be able to retain male readers due to the emphasis on romance within Wayfarer, but male reviewers so far have told me that the romantic element was acceptable.  

JR:  Writing contemporary and historical fiction involves a lot of research so it comes across as authentic. How does writing fantasy differ? [One example I'm thinking of is the language and glossary guide in your books.] What are the benefits and pitfalls of that genre?

  I actually researched 13th-century Europe and medieval siege warfare to write Tales of Faeraven. I had heard that the best fantasy worlds are those most like earth itself. That made sense, when I thought about it, so I did my research. However, there is less pressure for everything to be historically accurate. It does have to adhere to common sense, though, and to be believable. Sometimes what you make up aligns to reality, which can be surprising. I am not a linguist, but I like fantasy names, so I invented the languages in Tales of Faeraven. I then started to notice that they bore similarities to early Anglo Saxon and Celtic patterns, so I took the names those directions.

Some writers shrink from the thought of creating a fantasy world, but really all fiction involves made-up worlds. Writing fantasy allows more freedom of creative expression, and of course that very freedom can be challenging to manage. When I had to draw a rough map of Elderland, it was difficult for me. Until then I'd carried the map only in my head. It was the same when my publisher asked me to put together a glossary of the creatures, features, and foreign words within my series. Next time I invent a world, I'm going to write it all down as I go. :o)   

JR:  Dawnsinger describes a harrowing journey, almost as difficult as its journey to publication. Could you tell us about what it was like, and the equally fun part of marketing the book?

Writing and finding a publisher for DawnSinger took many years and lots of tears. I had to grow as a writer and as a person first. It's interesting that the harrowing journey in the book parallels my own as its author. The tagline of the book says it all: sometimes victory comes only through surrender.

Marketing my books has taken me to some interesting places and stretched me in ways I would never have expected.  I'm introverted and a little shy, so my first inclination at a party is to make like a wallflower. Having books to market forces me into the center of the room. That's good for me, I remind myself. The hardest part was when I went on live international radio for an Alive in Christ interview that was broadcast to 80 countries. (No pressure there, right?) I won't say I did a perfect job of it, but they did offer to invite me back, so I couldn't have been completely horrible.

JR:  Two years ago, you had a reading challenge on your web-site Novel Books, which has encouraged my reading -- I read over twenty books that year, and matched that last year without that motivation. I'm currently on my sixth novel in '14, not counting non-fiction I'm plowing through. On a previous interview I did on with you on another site, you commented "reading another author's novel is like sitting down to a dinner you didn't have to cook." What are your favorite authors/books, both fiction and non-fiction?

It just thrills me to know that, Jeff. I started Novel Books with the idea of sharing my passion for reading. I'm so glad to have inspired you. I don't send it out by feed anymore, but I still post book reviews at that site.

My favorite authors are in fiction Charles Dickens for his larger-than-life characters, Mark Twain for his turn of a phrase and vivid characterizations, Mary Stewart for gorgeous prose, and J R R Tokien for his detailed world and deep sense of story. I don't read much non-fiction, but when I do I tend to pick up autobiographies like Act One, Moss Hart's autobiography, and Mark Twain's Roughing It. I’m currently reading The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer. This is no dry history tome. The author takes the reader, quite vividly, into the time period.    

JR:  What's next? Is there another tale of Faeraven on the horizon? Or something completely different?

  I’m not sure which of the two fantasy series brewing in my mind that I'll pick up first. It may be the story of Daeven, Kai and Shae's missing older brother, or something in an entirely new world. I'm currently finishing DawnKing, and then for a change of pace I'll write Deceptive Tide, a romantic suspense novel as part of the Islands of Intrigue series I'm writing with authors Lynnette Bonner and Lesley Ann McDaniel.

JR:  Thank you for your time. Could you let us know about what you do on your blog page, and any other websites to keep up with your writing journeys? Or where we should go if we'd like to invest in a Wingabeast (flying horse) or tips on keeping Waevens (a spider-like creature with a very nasty bite) out of your house?

I've enjoyed visiting with you, Jeff. Thanks for the opportunity.

Those who want to learn more about wingabeasts, waevens, and the other creatures and aspects of Faeraven can visit the Fantasy Worlds area of my website. I created it as a book extras site to give just a little more to readers who told me they didn't want DawnSinger to end.

Readers can escape into the Creative Worlds of Janalyn Voigt or into creative worlds of travel at my new Literary Wayfarer site, a different kind of travel blog. And I teach other writers to live with passion, write well, and remember to breathe at Live Write Breathe.

Jeff to readers: It's time for the giveaways. As stated, we're giving away three copies of your choice of her two books on your favorite digital format. The rules are simple:
  1. Leave a comment.
  2. Share your e-mail. (You can spell it out like AuntDotKahm(at)ant(dot)com.)
  3. What is your favorite mythological creature? (Mine is an unbiased news reporter.)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Grace Awards

Announching Grace Awards 2013 Judges

We've introduced you to many books this year. Have you read one you'd like to nominate for a Grace Award? Here's a little more information.

The Grace Awards is now going into its fourth year, having been extremely well received during the last three years. This year we have a line up of stellar judges for our six fiction categories.

GENERAL FICTION/WOMEN’S FICTION: serious women’s issues, can have humor and suspense elements

Naomi Musch, 2Naomi Musch is a Grace Awards Vice-Chair and Lead Judge in this category. She writes from the pristine north woods of Wisconsin where she and her husband Jeff live as epically as God allows on a ramshackle farm near their five adult children and three grandchildren. Amidst it, she writes about imperfect people who are finding hope and faith to overcome their struggles, whether the story venue is rich in American history or along more contemporary lines.

Carol McClainCarol McClain is a multi-published author in the non-fiction market. Her work has appeared in God Still Answers Prayers, Significant Living, Evangel and others. As a long-time member of ACFW, she coordinates the courses offered throughout the year. She taught English for over thirty years and designed the AP English Language curriculum for her school. She created a local writers’ group, Foothills Ink and is a member of ACFW and the Adirondack Center for Writing. She writes a popular blog: Character Counts which can be found at the link below, and will soon launch an editing service. She lives in northern New York with her husband and over-active Springer spaniel. You can reach her at.

Christine LindsayChristine Lindsay was born in Ireland an is proud of the fact that she was once patted on the head by Prince Phillip when she was a baby. Her great-grandfather and her grandfather — yes, father and son — were both riveters on the building of the Titanic. Tongue in cheek, Christine states that as a family they bear no responsibility for the sinking of the great ship. Aside from being a busy author and speaker, Christine is also VP of the Christian Author’s Network. She makes her home in British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada, with her husband and grown up family.

ROMANCE/HISTORICAL ROMANCE: primary element is love/courtship/marriage, be it set now or then

Deb KinnardDeborah Kinnard, Grace Awards Vice-Chair and Lead Judge in this category has enjoyed a career that has encompassed Spanish translation, volunteer work at a crisis line, years in assorted ERs that don’t resemble the ones on TV, and a day job at a big Chicago teaching hospital. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), serving as Midwest Zone Director. In 2002 and 2003 she sold her first and second novels, POWERLINE and OAKWOOD to Treble Heart Books. ANGEL WITH A RAY GUN, ANGEL WITH A BACK HOE and DAMAGES are available from Desert Breeze. ALOHA, MY LOVE, and POWERLINE, a reissue are available through Desert Breeze. SEASONS IN THE MIST was released by Sheaf House in April 2010 and was a Grace Awards 2011 Winner in Speculative Fiction.

Joy in OctoberJoy Ross Davis lives in Bessemer, Alabama. She has a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and for many years, she taught English at a local community college. She retired to become a caregiver for her mother who suffered from dementia. She documented her experiences with her mother in a series of articles for a local newspaper. The articles have also been featured in Muscadine Lines, a Southern literary magazine. For several months in 2007, she lived in Ireland and worked as a travel writer and photographer for Tourism Ireland. Currently, she is working on the sequel to her first published novel, COUNTENANCE, is celebrating the release of her second book, and teaching English online for the University of Phoenix. She lives with her son and three rescue dogs.

Bette Thomason OwensBetty Thomason Owens was born in the Pacific Northwest and grew up in such exotic places as West Tennessee and San Diego, California. A retired office manager/bookkeeper, she now lives in Kentucky with her husband of forty years. They have three grown and married sons and six grandchildren. Besides her American Christian Fiction Writers (AFCW) membership, where she leads a critique group, she’s active with Bluegrass Christian Writers , and contributes to a writer’s blog. Betty contributed to the collaborative romantic comedy novella A DOZEN APOLOGIES. She recently contracted with Write Integrity Press for her three-book Legacy series (historical).


Tammy DohertyTammy Doherty, Grace Awards Vice-Chair and lead judge in this category, is the author of three inspirational Western romances, CELTIC CROSS, CLADDAUGH, and CELTIC KNOT. All three were rereleased last fall as eBooks and are also available in print. Her current projects are contemporary romantic suspense, set in a small town in central Massachusetts eerily similar to her hometown. Tammy lives on a small farm with her husband of 25+ years and their two children. Besides writing, she also manages the family perennial farm and works in customer service for a veterinary supply distributor. She is a reviewer for The Christian Pulse online magazine and has been a first-round judge in numerous contests for unpublished romance novelists.

Debra MarvinDebra Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. Debra likes to write, weed and wander and is blessed to have the best family and friends in the world. She’s thankful each day that God is in control, that He chooses to bless us despite ourselves and that He has a sense of humor. Her work has finaled in the TARA, Great Expectations, Heart of the Rockies, Maggie; twice in the Daphne du Maurier, and recently the category and Overall Winner of the Phoenix Rattler. Not too bad considering she’s trying a mashup of gospel and . . . gothic.

Peggy Blann PhiferPeggy Blann Phifer is a author and columnist, book reviewer and author interviewer, whose work has appeared on various web sites and writer periodicals in print and online. A retired executive assistant, Peg now makes her home in northern Wisconsin. TO SEE THE SUN is her debut novel, and Book 1 of the Desert Faith series. Visit her blog, “Whispers in Purple” at:

SPECULATIVE FICTION: science fiction, fantasy, horror, etc..

Tracy KraussTracy Krauss, Grace Awards Vice-Chair and Lead Judge in category is a multi-published author, artist, and playwright. She has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Saskatchewan and teaches secondary school Art, Drama, and English — all things she is passionate about. She and her husband have lived in five provinces and territories including many remote and unique places in Canada’s far north. They have four grown children and now reside in beautiful Tumbler Ridge, BC where she continues to pursue all of her creative interests. She has several romantic suspense novels and stage plays in print.

Tim AkersT.J. Akers has a BA in Creative Writing and a Master’s degree in English Studies. He is cofounder of the Scriblerians critique group, a group of YA authors with a growing following on WordPress. CHOCOLATE EYES, his middle-grade novel was a 2012 First Impressions Finalist and a 2013 Genesis Awards Finalist in the YA category. He has judged for the Genesis Awards, First Impressions, and is returning again this year for the Grace Awards. His short story, Necessary Evil, is a part of Mike Lynch’s No Revolution is Too Big anthology.\

DeEtte BecksteadDeEtte Anderton (writing as DeEtte Beckstead) started writing in 2007 after her son challenged her to try NaNoWriMo. The manuscript sat untouched with several others until January 2012 when her good friend encouraged her to seek publication. The Christmas Visitors was her first short story, and VICTORY, her first novel. DeEtte spent much of her childhood playing piano, reading, or making up stories. She was active in Girl Scouting, which gave her a wide variety of experiences. While in college, she was on the University of Utah Synchronized Swim team, and taught winter camping and survival for Girl Scouts. DeEtte lives in New England where she writes full-time and works on the editing team of Master Koda Select Publishing. DeEtte’s other interests include swimming, crocheting, reading, dog rescue, and her man grandchildren.

ACTION-ADVENTURE/WESTERN/ EPIC FICTION: exploits, quest, daring, expansive

NikePixNike Chillemi, Founder and Chair of the Grace Awards and Lead Judge in this category, still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (colored might be more accurate) as a little girl about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 and 2012 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. Nike has a critically acclaimed and award winning four novel, historical whodunit series, set in the 1940s. Her first contemporary detective novel is set to release in April 2014: HARMFUL INTENT.

Kenneth WintersKenneth G. Winters grew up on Long Island, NY. He received his BA from Houghton College, where he met his wife Connie. They live in Norwich, CT and have two grown daughters. After seminary, Kenneth served at the Trinitarian Congregational Church in Troy, NH. In 1976, he became the youth pastor at First Congregational Church of North Brookfield, MA. In 1984, he received a commission from the US Navy Chaplain Corps. In the following 20 years, he served with Seabees, Marines, Surface and Submarine fleets. After his retirement from the Navy, he returned to his home church in Massassachusetts as Associate Pastor. Over the span of his career, he founded a teen Christian music group and and two other groups which toured and recorded. He now keeps busy with his denomination, CCCC, the Military Officers Association, and the American Legion. Ken Winters Blog Page

Cathy WestCatherine West is an award-winning author writing inspirational stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Educated in Bermuda, England, and Canada, Catherine holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. Her first novel released in 2011, YESTERDAY’S TOMORROW, won the INSPY for Romance, a Silver Medal in the Reader’s Favorite Awards, and was a finalist in the Grace Awards. Her second, HIDDEN IN THE HEART, released in September 2012. When she’s not at computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Boder Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Http://

YOUNG ADULT (YA): appeals to ages 14 – 21ish

Marcy DyerMarcy G. Dyer is Lead Judge in this category. She is a Registered Nurse and suspense author. Like so many other writers, she began writing at a very young age. Her debut novel, Down & Out – Desert Winds Series Book One, is available now. The second book in the series, Out For Blood, will be released on 08/11/2013. In addition to writing, Marcy is a freelance editor. She does editing for individuals, Desert Breeze Publishing, and Prism Book Group. Marcy is an alumni of the Christian Writer’s Guild and long-time member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She hosts a small critique group for ACFW and is involved in two other critique groups. As followers of Jesus Christ, Marcy and her family are active members of Crossroads Fellowship in Odessa, Texas. She can be found at

Deborah AndersonAs a young girl, Deborah K. Anderson loved to read Nancy Drew mysteries, books like Old Yeller (which still make her cry), and humorous novels. As a teenager, she became a closet poet, until she showed one of her works to a high school teacher. He suggested that she pursue writing. After high school, she devoted much of her time to her ailing father. Soon after his death, she continued her studies in interpersonal communications, nursing, and medical technology at a local college. But, something was missing. She left her job to care for her elderly mother. Remembering her teacher’s words, she took the plunge and began writing. Since then, she has written for Focus on the Family, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and as a monthly columnist for Christian Fiction Online Magazine. Her supernatural suspense entry, TALE OF A MAN, was a finalist in the Christian Writers of the West (CWOW) writing contest in the YA category. Deborah recently completed Rapha’s Remnant, a supernatural suspense novel for young adults. She is a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), and Married for 31 years, Deborah and her husband enjoy country living in the Midwest. When she’s not writing, she spends her time rescuing cats (and feeding lots of other stray critters), reading novels, and taking nature walks. You can reach Deborah at:

AileenAileen Stewart is the author of the children’s book, FERN VALLEY, and its sequel RETURN TO FERN VALLEY, which she releases summer 2014. She is a public speaker, children’s writing workshop host for children K-6, has appeared in the 2011 book, 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading, and is returning for the second year as a YA judge in the Grace Awards. In additions, she has created a Celebridot for Terry Shay’s Celebridot site. She lives in Ohio with her husband, daughter, and three crazy cats: Max, Daisy, and Fluffy, and hopes that children everywhere will come to love reading.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Review of The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman

The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman by Carole Brown is a suspenseful and emotional read. My only caution is that this book deals with cults and abuse, and so readers should keep in mind that it’s not a lighthearted read.

Caralynne lives in a cult of the Children of Righteous Cain. When Caralynne’s husband dies, the elders must make decisions about her future. At the same time, Dayne MacFarland, a friend from Caralynne’s past, returns to the cult as their preacher.

I was intrigued by this book because I’d heard it was about cults and had seen the cover, but wasn’t sure how the cover fit in. Anyway, if readers can handle the subject matter, I think they'll enjoy this suspense story, as I did. 

If you’d like to learn more about the author, Carole Brown, please view a July 2013 interview of her.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Interveiw and Giveaway with Tina Whittle

I'm happy to introduce you to Tina Whittle. Tina and I were on a panel together at "Mystery Goes South" in Atlanta, GA. We both write cozy mysteries that incorporates history into the story. Tina has been gracious enough to give away one of her books. You must be a follower of the blog, leave a comment and leave your email address so we can contact you. Let's get started on learning more about Tina.

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  1. Tell us a little about yourself.
    Well, I’m a full-time mystery novelist living and working in Southeastern, Georgia. I’m a wife and mom; I love reading and writing and almost all things Southern (the food and the language and the people, yes, the choking hot summers, not so much). I share my lap with a neurotic Maltese named Cloud and my backyard with four bossy chickens named Pansy, Maleficent, Onomatopoeia, and Chicken Whittle. My research interests are varied – neuroscience, SWAT procedures, the American Civil War – but my favorite kind of learning is hands-on (which is why you’ll find me at Writers Police Academy every year.
  2. Tell us about your most recent book/or the book we are focusing on.
    I write the Tai Randolph/Trey Seaver series, which is an amateur sleuth traditional mystery series. The series itself is based in Atlanta, but for the most recent book – Blood, Ash and Bone – I moved the action to Savannah, where Spanish moss, cobblestones, and ghost stories soak the atmosphere. There’s kissing, bickering, and clue-finding as Tai, the owner/operator of a Confederate-themed gun shop,  and Trey,  her ex-SWAT corporate security agent boyfriend, look for a priceless Civil War artifact and instead find stalkers, moonshiners, unreconstructed rebels, alligators, wolves, KKK Grand Dragons, snipers, bikers, buried treasure and a ruthless killer. You know, just another day in the Deep South.
  3. Why did you choose this particular genre?
    They say that romance is the genre of emotion, sci-fi the genre of ideas, and mystery the genre of justice. Real life, unfortunately, is a more tattered reality. Mystery allows readers – and writers – a way to experience a world where order is restored, and the good guys win (at least most of the time). I especially enjoy an amateur sleuth novel, because I get to pretend that someone like me (okay, someone a little more adventurous) might actually be able to solve a crime.
  4. What was your journey to publication like?
    Arduous. I’m glad, though; that gave me a chance to practice two important skills – patience and detachment – that have become crucial to my career now. Submitting (and all the work that comes along with it, the research and querying) is a job in its own right. I had to learn to balance that part of being a writer with the actual, you know, writing. And now, I have to balance PR and promotional work with actual writing. So I also learned balance and perseverance. I am grateful now for the rejections too – they taught me to understand the difference between the kind of critical feedback that is useful, and the kind I need to ignore.
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  1. What is a couple of your favorite books and what are you reading now?
    I’m reading your book, Terror on Tybee! I love Southern mysteries, both the ones that let me explore new ground and the ones that return me to familiar territory. For me, the past is like an undiscovered country, so I enjoy historicals of all stripes. I just finished a fabulous romp through Victorian London in Wicked Little Secrets by Susanna Ives, and I am waiting for my advanced reader copy of Dark Places of the Earth by Jon Bryant, a non-fiction account of the slave ship Antelope and the Savannah court trail – argued by Francis Scott Key himself – that set the legal precedent for the Amistad case. And I’m steady working through Neuroscience For Dummies.
  2. What are you working on now and can you give us a little peek inside it?
    I am having the most fun with my current work-in-progress, Deeper Than The Grave (set for release in November 2014 from Poisoned Pen Press). It’s the fourth in the Tai Randolph/Trey Seaver series, and it’s got two intertwined mysteries (one during the 1860s and one during the present time) both involving a set of unusual bones. Plus this is the book where my  characters’ complicated romance reaches a crucial make-or-break-it stage. For this book, I’ve been researching forensic anthropology, skateboarding, blacksmithing, the I-95 drug corridor and – believe it or not – what would happen to Atlanta during a massive traffic-jammed, blizzard-induced shutdown ( I claim NO responsibility for what happened in January – I write fiction. Pure fiction).
  3. What advice would you give authors who are on their own journey to publication?
    Only this, that most obvious and repeated of aphorisms – it really is all about the journey. They say if a butterfly isn’t allowed to break out of its cocoon all by itself, it won’t have the strength to fly. Such is the same for writers. The pre-publication jungle is a place of pain and frustration and disappointment, but it is the training ground for patience, perseverance, and the ability to hold on to what matters to you most. It thickens your skin even as it opens your heart. And in the middle of all the nonsense, you create what will be your practice, your meditation, your Zen – sitting at the keyboard, clearing space for your art. Be in that present moment with it. It will be your life preserver, I promise.
  4. Do you have any books or websites that have helped you with your writing that you could share with us?
    When you need to remember why you’re doing this – reconnect with your Muse, your God, your Divine Inspiration, your Creative Spirit – I cannot recommend The Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron heartily enough. It lives by my writing chair. Also on that note, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, which is practical, mystical, gritty and incandescent all at the same time. In terms of mystery writing specifically, I am constantly telling people to get this book -- How to Write Killer Fiction: The Funhouse of Mystery & the Roller Coaster of Suspense by Carolyn Wheat. I haven’t found a better book on writing the genre, everything from plot to character development to how to tell if your book is a mystery or a thriller (there’s a difference). And in terms of websites, Dan Harmon (he who writes the brilliantly subversive sit-com Community) spins the archetypal Hero’s Journey into a circle, demonstrating that plotting isn’t a linear start-to-finish process, but rather a grand cycle that begins where it ends, and that by understanding that, you can plot almost anything just by filling in the eight stations of the Story Circle (you can find Dan’s highly entertaining and somewhat salty explanation of all this (Die Hard! Werewolves! James Bond!) at the Channel 101 website:
  5. Please let us know where we can find you on the web.
  6. Several places actually. My main cyber-home is at – here’s where you’ll find my appearance schedule, news and reviews, plus links to sample chapters and short stories featuring my mystery-solving duo. You can also find links to blogs, including The Fascination Files ( and The Mojito Literary Society (a blog I share with four other genre writers at You can also find me on Facebook ( and Pinterest ( and my protagonist has her own Twitter (her handle is @Tai_Randolph).

Friday, February 14, 2014

Interview and Book Giveaway with Adam Graham

By Jeff Reynolds

It's my honor to interview Adam Graham. He has written several books of different genres, and we'll be giving away a copy of one of his books. Rules are below.


Jeff Reynolds: Welcome to Sleuths and Suspects, Adam. I'd like to start off this
Valentine's Day blog by asking about who your editor is and how you two got connected.

Adam Graham: My editor is my wife, Andrea. We met over the internet in October 2000 beginning as virtual penpals and working to engaged in ten months and married eleven months later.

JR: I believe two of your most recent works fall into the suspense/mystery category. Could you tell us about An Ounce of Prevention and Slime Incorporated?

AG: Ounce of Prevention is a novelette which combines the detective story with science fiction. Jerry Newton, the owner of Newton Investigations is hired by an elementary school teacher who is receiving death threats. The case escalates when the teacher’s car is bombed. At the same time, Newton begins to fall for a beautiful woman with a secret. And through the process of this case, he’s led to the biggest moral dilemma of his life. Donna Fletcher Crow called it, “Sam Spade meets Dr. Who.” Enough said.

Slime Incorporated which should be out later on in February is a full length detective political thriller. The lead character is Cole Ustick who works for Jerry Newton. A candidate for Governor is accused of sexual assault and hires Newton Investigations to get to the bottom of the allegations and Ustick is assigned to investigate. In the course of the investigation, this becomes a murder case with the candidate for governor charged with murder.

Slime Incorporated really does fit comfortably into both being a political thriller and also the detective novel. The novel was inspired by a national political campaign which was actually brought down by thinly sourced anonymous allegations of sexual misconduct. And I used my knowledge of state and national politics to shape that part of the plot. However, the book is not a political screed. There are no protracted political debates, though I try to be realistic with both sides in terms of their views. Also, it helps that Cole Ustick is a non-voter who just wants to solve the case.

Ustick really is a fun character to write. I intended to be much in the same mold as some of the great eccentric detectives of fiction. He goes a lot on instinct and can be very unpredictable character. He’s part Archie Goodwin, part Jim Rockford, part Philip Marlowe, part Johnny Staccato, with a conflicted conscience, and a very unique sense of style. He really clashes with a few people when he ends up having to work around a gubernatorial campaign.

JR: When you write, do you tend to outline in advance, or are you more of a blank pager?

AG: I don’t outline at all. I’m perhaps not the most disciplined at this but if I write it all down once, why write it down twice? I do have an idea of where I’m going, but have little idea how I’ll get there. That’s the fun part. Along the way, we connect the dots.

JR: You have a non-fiction book that the readers of this blog might be interested in Could you tell us about that and the upcoming sequel?.

AG: All I Needed to Know I Learned from Columbo is a 2011 ebook in which I examined seven great detectives of literature, radio, and television, and looked at life lessons that could be garnered from each of their careers. In that volume, we looked at lessons from Sherlock Holmes, Father Brown, Nero Wolfe, Boston Blackie, Dan Holiday (from Box 13, the radio series), Columbo, and Monk. Examples of the life lessons included what Sherlock Holmes taught us about information management and what Adrian Monk taught us about courage.

The response to the book has been very solid, so I’m writing up the sequel, All I Needed to Know I Learned from Dragnet which will take a look at another group of detectives and police including: Hercule Poirot, Frank Race (radio), Johnny Dollar (radio), Joe Friday, Lt. John Weston (Lock Up), Adam-12, and Frank Cannon.

JR: I've had the honor of reading one of your books, Powerhouse Hard Pressed. I'm still wondering how long the surgery to remove your tongue from your cheek took. Would you introduce us to your Powerhouse series?

AG: It all began with Tales of the Dim Knight which was inspired after I watched the DVD of The Tick v. Season One. I set out to write a Christian novel that would poke fun of every great Superhero cliché and convention. It was published by Splashdown Books in 2010 originally as a one and done novel, but at the very last second, I changed the end to leave the door open to a sequel, though I didn’t have a plan for one.

So in 2012, I began a series of sequels exploring the further adventures of Powerhouse after he regained his powers. And so far, I’ve had a blast with so many things I’ve been able to play with. The Robolawyers in Fly Another Day and my favorites from Powerhouse: Hard Pressed, I’m the only person to reimagine Atlantis as having a giant statue of Barney Fife and Andy Taylor on the outskirts of the city and then we have everyone’s favorite super-powered mad etiquette blogger, Mister Manners.

I’m towards the end of finishing the first draft of Ultimate Midlife Crisis, the third sequel, and it may be the most serious and the most silly book. Among the highlights, I’ve got a single chapter which parodies the classic comic storylines “Superman v. Shazam,” “Green Arrow and Green Lantern,” Marvel’s “Civil War,” and “The Dark Knight Returns,” along with the Ultimate Spider-man cartoon, and comic book reboots.

At the same time, I deal with some serious stuff in terms of anger, raising kids, finding our caller, and growing to a middle age. There’s such a mix.

JR: One thing you did that I've thought about doing was running for office. How has that prepared you for writing? Have those experiences popped up in any of your books? Or is that for a future story? Now that I think of it, I could connect politicians with Slime Incorporated.

AG: Obviously, it gave me some insights on Slime Incorporated. Though at the level, Ustick’s operating the time I’ve spent around candidate and political people has been more useful. I was out campaigning once and was asked if I was a Jehovah’s Witness and that actually appears in Slime Incorporated when Cole Ustick is visiting a witness’s house.

JR: Readers of the blog know my favorite author is Randy Singer. I notice his books get one or two one-star or two-star reviews, and in every case it's because of the Christian element in his story. I know you've had a similar experience. Why do you think people are so antagonistic to Christians not hiding their light under a bushel?

AG: I think it shows a growing amount of intolerance of Christian thought by anti-Christian reviewers and it really does contrast with most Christians, particularly if you look at Christian geeks. There are so many Christian fans of the revived Dr. Who series and all seven series have been under the helm of Atheists Russell Davies and Stephen Moffat. There are Christians who adore Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, who was very anti-Christian. They enjoy the best part of these movies for what they are.

I can pick up a copy of the Marvel 1602 comic note that it’s anti-Christian, but give it a 4-star review for the quality of the storytelling brought to it and how Neil Gaiman managed to re-imagine a 17th Century Marvel comic universe.

In contrast, I think you find a general intolerance and closed mind to anything with Christian content despite whatever merit the book might have artistically. I’ve asked before (and never gotten a satisfactory answer) as whatever irreligious books can shout their messages but Christian writers have to whisper. I reject that. Not every story I write has the same amount of religious content. Slime Incorporated is much more a mainstream book, but faith is still there and will always be there.

JR: What's next on your agenda? Maybe a historical romance?

AG: Historical romance? No. Contemporary or a parody of contemporary romance? Maybe.

Right now, I have two more Powerhouse books that I haven’t started. I also have a dystopian bioethics novels that’s about done that I’d like to see come out sometime in 2015. We’ll watch reader reaction to the Cole Ustick novels and who knows I may write a few more of them. I also have a few more ideas under my belt. And I may take Neil Worthington from the Powerhouse Universe and give him his own series of short stories which parody various classic detective stories but set them all in Oregon. My initial ideas include having Worthington hiring an amnesiac woman as his assistant and asking her to take the name Archwena Watson and fighting his enemy over Klamath Falls.

JR: Thanks for your time, Adam. Let us know how we can learn more about you and your writing.

AG: I have two blogs. For my detective reviews and writing, as well as my popular old time radio detectives podcast, check out the Great Detectives of Old Time Radio ( For my superhero writing and plenty of comic book hero reviews, check out Christians and Superheroes (

Jeff Reynolds to readers: Time to give away a copy of the winner's choice between  Slime Incorporated and Powerhouse Hard Pressed. In case you don't know the rules, here they are:

  1. Leave a comment.
  2. Share your e-mail – you can make it AuntDotKahm(at)Ant(dot)com
  3. Would you rather be a detective or a superhero, and which one would be your inspiration?