Christian Fantasy Author Lorilyn Roberts' Blog

Monday, June 27, 2011

Celebrating Freedom and the Book Launch of Montezuma's Intrigue, by Linda Weaver Clark

Guest Post by
 Linda Weaver Clark




In celebration of our country’s “Freedom” and my Official Book Launch for Montezuma Intrigue, I’m having a Book Give-Away from June 27 – July 7: Win a mystery/adventure novel with a touch of romance, at http://lindaweaverclarke.blogspot.com/.

Adventure...Suspense...Romance...Intrigue...Humor! The search for Montezuma's treasure, mysterious events, family secrets, and a good-looking rogue!

When a leather parchment of Montezuma’s map is found in great-grandfather Evans’ old chest, April and the twins know this summer is going to be a memorable one. The girls want to search for it but their father is against it for some mysterious reason. With Julia’s help, she and the girls convince John to go on a treasure hunt. Is Montezuma’s treasure a legend or reality? Whatever the case, John insists on keeping their little treasure hunt a secret. If certain people find out about it, the family could be in danger.

But that’s not all! I have more gifts for you! I will be having a drawing for 2 children’s books: The Magic Word by Sherrill S. Cannon and The Donkey and the King by Lorilyn Roberts. If you have already bought Montezuma Intrigue, I will email you 4 free e-books (pdf):
1. The Treasure of Isian by Serena Clarke. This is a fantasy/adventure novel with a touch of romance. This story is full of intrigue as you watch Garin and Elani search for the treasure of Isian.
2. Reflections of the Heart, which has 13 chapters of inspirational writings such as: The secret of Happiness, Laughter is the Best Medicine, Parenthood – A Great Responsibility, Equal Partners in Marriage, and Music Soothes the Soul.
3. Writing Your Family Legacy, in which I teach you how to write your family history or autobiography. I travel all over the U.S., teaching this class.
4. The Donkey and the King by Lorilyn Roberts, a beautifully illustrated children’s book about a donkey named Baruch who longs for an easier life beyond the stable.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

More Thoughts on Creative Writing - Freedom of Chaos

by Lorilyn Roberts
We want freedom in writing within a framework of orderliness. A house can have many different looks, but without a solid foundation, it won’t stand. I home school my younger daughter Joy and the first chapter in her English book is about how to construct a sentence. The topic is covered in detail, beginning with the definition


of a subject and a predicate.


The foundation of a good story must have good sentence structure. The sentences need to be woven together to form a well-written paragraph with a main idea. The paragraphs build over a page, and eventually the pages come together to make chapters. An entire book emerges from one sentence. But if you don’t have structure, usually built from the skeleton of good grammar and an outline, you will end up with chaos.


God is a God of order. But we don’t need to be legalistic or rigid. Once we understand structure, we have the freedom to build on that structure and create fabulous stories.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Enter to win a copy of Susan Sleeman's Behind the Badge and a $50 Amazon gift card!

Enter to win a copy of Susan Sleeman's Behind the Badge and a $50 Amazon gift card!

Susan Sleeman here. Behind the Badge, my second romantic suspense book for Love Inspired Suspense will release on June 6th and in honor of all of you, the readers, I am hosting a special contest on my website for the month of June.

Let’s face it. Without you, the wonderful readers, books would not exist and I wouldn’t be able to wake up looking forward to a job that is fresh and exciting each and every day. Praise God for this incredible opportunity!

Now back to the contest. All you have to do is read the excerpt below then go to my WEBSITE and answer the following question. That's it. You're entered to win.

If you'd like to sign up for my mailing list to learn of other contests in the future you can do that at the same time, too. Full contest rules are on the entry page. Remember only one entry per person.

QUESTION: What did Russ compare Sydney to when she slipped out of the bushes on the path?


SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of romantic suspense and mystery novels. She grew up in a small Wisconsin town where she spent her summers reading Nancy Drew and developing a love of mystery and suspense books. Today, she channels this enthusiasm into writing romantic suspense and mystery novels and hosting the popular internet website TheSuspenseZone.com.

Her books include Nipped in the Bud, High-Stakes Inheritance, Behind the Badge, and The Christmas Witness. Also watch for the first two romantic suspense books in her Justice Agency series coming from Love Inspired suspense in 2012 and featuring a private investigations firm specializing in helping those who traditional law enforcement has failed.

Susan currently lives in Florida, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Her husband is a church music director and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law and an adorable grandson.

To learn more about Susan visit her website, Facebook , or Twitter.

Behind the Badge

"YOUR SISTER IS NEXT!"

A killer is threatening the life of rookie cop Sydney Tucker's sister-unless Sydney turns over evidence from a drug bust. But she doesn't have the evidence. Not that the thug believes her. Now she and the sibling in her care are under the watchful eye of Logan Lake police chief Russ Morgan…but will his protection be enough?

The killer is closing in, picking off the people and places that mean the most to Sydney. A list that now includes Russ. To protect her loved ones, will she pay the ultimate price-her life?

The Morgan Brothers - Bk 2

Love Inspired Suspense
June 6, 2011
ISBN-10: 0373444478
ISBN-13: 978-0373444472



READ AN EXCERPT:

Chapter One

Gunshots split the inky darkness.

Deputy Sydney Tucker hit the cold ground, a jagged rock slashing into her forehead on the way down. She reached for her service weapon. Came up empty handed. She'd stopped after work to check on the construction of her townhouse and left her gun and cell phone in the car.

Dumb, Sydney. Really dumb. Now what're you gonna do?

Inching her head above knee-high grass, she listened. The keening whistle of the wind died, leaving the air damp and heavy with tension but silence reigned.

Had she overreacted? Could be target practice. But at night? Maybe. Hunters did crazy things sometimes.

Footfalls pounded from below like someone charging through the brush. No. Two people. Maybe a chase. One person after another. A loud crash, branches snapping.

"What're you doin', man," a panicked male voice traveled through the night. "No! Don't shoot! We can work this out."

Three more gunshots rang out. A moan drifted up the hill.

Not target practice. Someone had been shot.

Sydney lurched to her feet, dizziness swirling around her. Blood dripped into her eyes. She wiped it away, blinked hard and steadied herself on a large rock while peering into the wall of darkness for the best escape route.

Heavy footfalls crunched up the gravel path.

"I know you're here, Deputy Tucker," a male voice, disguised with a high nasally pitch, called out. "We need to talk about this. C'mon out."

Yeah, right. Come out and die. Not hardly.

Praying, pleading for safety, she scrambled deeper into the scrub. Over rocks. Through grass tangling her feet. Her heart pounded in her head, drowning the prayers with fear.

"I'm losing patience, Deputy," he called again in that strange voice. "You're not like Dixon. He had it coming. You don't."

Dixon? Did he mean the man she arrested for providing alcohol to her teenage sister and for selling drugs? Was that what this was about?

Rocks skittered down the incline. The shooter was on the move again. No time to think. She had to go. Now!

Blindly she felt her way past shrubs, over uneven ground. Dried leaves crunched underfoot. Branches slapped her face and clawed at her arms, but she stifled her cries of pain.

"I hear you, Deputy."

She wrenched around to determine his location. A protruding rock caught her foot, catapulting her forward. She somersaulted through the air. Her knee slammed into the packed earth and she crashed down the hill. Wrapping arms around her head for protection, she came to a stop, breath knocked out of her chest, lying flat on her back in a thick stand of weeds.

"So you want to play it that way, do you Deputy? Fine. Just remember, you can run, but you can't hide. I will find you. This will be resolved one way or another." His disembodied laugh swirled into the night.

The darkness pressed closer. Blinding. Overwhelming. Terrifying.

She was easy prey. Even with her bulletproof vest, a few rounds fired in her direction would take her out. She had to get up.

She rose to her knees, but pain knifed into her knee, keeping her anchored to the ground.

Lord, please don't let me die like this. Give me the strength to move. I need to live for Nikki. She's only seventeen. She has no one.

Sydney uncurled and came to a standing position. Taking a few halting steps, she tested the pain. Nearly unbearable. But she could-no she had to do this for her sister.

Thinking of Nikki, she gritted her teeth and set off, moving slowly, taking care not to make a sound.

Out of the darkness, a hand shot out. Clamped over her mouth.

Screams tore from her throat, but died behind fingers pressed hard against her lips.

A muscled arm jerked her against a solid chest and dragged her deep into the brush.

God, please, no.

She twisted, arched her back, pushing against arms like iron bands.

She dug her heels into the ground, but he was too strong. He kept going deeper into the brush before settling them both on the ground behind a large boulder.

"Relax Sydney, it's Russ Morgan," Logan Lake's Police Chief whispered, his lips close to her ear.

Russ Morgan? What was he doing here?

"Sorry about the hand." His tone said she was nothing more than a stranger instead of someone she'd known for years. "I didn't want you to alert the shooter with a scream. I'm gonna remove my hand now. Nod if you understand me."

She let all of her relief escape in a sharp jerk of her head. His fingers dropped away.

"Once the shooter rounded that curve, you would've been a goner," he whispered while still firmly holding her. "Good thing a neighbor reported gunshots."

Sydney started to shiver and breathed deep to steady her galloping pulse. Air rushed into her lungs. She was alive, but barely. No thanks to her own skills.

"You okay?" he asked, his breath stirring her hair.

"Yes." She willed her body to stop shaking and eased out a hiss of disappointment in her performance as a deputy. "How long have you been here?"

"Long enough to hear the shooter claim he's hit Dixon and is coming after you next," he whispered again, but urgency lit his voice and rekindled her fear. "This have to do with your arrest of Carl Dixon the other day?"

"I don't know," she whispered back. "I just stopped to check on the construction of my townhouse on my way home from work."

"Off duty, huh? Explains why you don't have your weapon drawn."

"I left my duty belt in my car." She waited for his reaction to not carrying, but he simply gave a quick nod as footfalls grated against gravel.

"Shh, he's about to pass us." Russ leaned forward and drew his gun with his free hand, but didn't release his hold on her.

Crunching steps came within a few feet of their location. Halted.

"Can you feel me breathing down your neck, Deputy? I'm inches from finding you." He didn't know the accuracy of his words.

She felt Russ's breathing speed up, upping her concern and washing away the brief blanket of security his arms provided. Adrenaline urged her to move. To keep from panicking, she focused on Russ's unwavering weapon.

The shooter took a few steps closer. Her heart thumped, threatening to leave her chest. Russ tightened his hold as if he knew she wanted to bolt.

The shooter spun sending gravel flying then headed up the path.

As his footsteps receded, she tried to relax taut muscles. The warmth from Russ's body helped chase out her fear and the chill of the night. Thank God Russ was here. If he hadn't come.

She refused to go there. God had watched over her. Provided rescue, just not in the form she'd have chosen.

Not only was Russ an officer from the city police force-a team often in competition with the county sheriff's department where she worked-but a man she'd had a crazy crush on in high school. A man whose rugged good looks still turned women's heads.

She let out a long sigh.

"I know this's awkward," he whispered, "but hang tight for a few more minutes. We need to wait for him to head back down the hill."

She wanted to protest and suggest they flee now, but not Russ. He thought clearly. Taking off now gave the killer the advantage of higher ground, making them moving targets. They'd have to sit like this until he passed them again.

If they made it out of here, which the approaching footfalls told her wasn't at all certain.

They pounded closer. The shooter moved at a quick clip this time as if he thought she'd gotten away and he was fleeing. Or maybe he was heading to her car to lay in wait for her.

As the footsteps receded again, she felt Russ's arm slacken.

"Time to roll," he whispered. "Stay here."

"But I-"

"You have a backup?" He referred to a back up gun officers often carry.

She shook her head.

"Then wait here." He gave her the hard stare that'd made him famous around town and crept toward the path.

She leaned against the boulder and wrapped her arms around the warm circle on her waist where he'd held her. Without his warmth, she couldn't quit shaking. The reality of the night froze her inner core.

She should listen to Russ. Lay low. Wait until he apprehended the killer.

That was the safe thing to do.

The easy thing to do.

The wrong thing to do.

Not for everyone, but for an officer of the law, letting a shooter escape without trying to stop him wasn't an option. Even if that shooter had her in his sights, she'd make her way to her car for her gun and help Russ stop this maniac before he hurt anyone else.

*****

Near the ditch, Russ came to a stop and fought to catch his breath. Taillights on a mud splattered dirt bike roared up the trail. He'd warned the suspect to stop, but short of shooting him in the back, Russ couldn't stop him from fleeing into the dark.

At least he'd accomplished his primary objective. To protect Sydney and keep her alive. Now he needed to alert his men and the sheriff's office to the suspect's whereabouts.

He lifted his shoulder mic and ordered a unit from his office to stake out the end of the trail for the motorcycle and an ambulance in case Dixon survived. Then he asked dispatch to patch him through to the county sheriff's department to make sure they knew he'd taken charge of the scene so none of their hotshot deputies arrived with the hope of usurping control.

He turned on his Maglight and headed up the hill. The beam of light skipped over gravel and lush plants lining the winding path. Midway up, rustling brush stopped him cold. He'd left Sydney higher up. Nearer the lake.

Was a second shooter hoping to ambush him?

He flipped off his light and sought protection behind a tree. His breath came in little pulses in the unusually cold air for a typical Oregon fall. Adrenaline with little time to ebb away came roaring back, but even as the noise grew louder, he resisted the urge to take action.

Maybe it was Sydney. The Sydney he used to know wouldn't have listened to his directive and stayed put. She'd trounce down the hill, her chin tilted at the same insolent angle as when he told her he didn't return her crazy crush her freshman year of high school. Not that he'd wanted to send a beautiful, lively girl like her away. He could easily have dated her, but he was four years older, in college. With their age difference, it wouldn't have been right.

Bushes at the path's edge shook then parted. Slowly, like a sleek panther, Sydney slipped out. He watched until she stood tall on those incredibly long legs he'd admired since she was sixteen before lowering his gun and aiming his flashlight at her.

She jumped. Peered up at him, an impudent look planted on her face. This was the Sydney he'd known as a teen and heaven help him, in less than thirty minutes, she'd sparked his interest again.

"Care to shine that somewhere other than my face." She perched her hand over her eyes, warding off the glare.

He moved the light but not before he caught a good look at a gaping wound running from her hairline to eyebrow, covered in congealed blood. He lifted his hand to check out her injury, but stopped. He wouldn't probe a wound on one of his men's faces. As a fellow LEO-law enforcement officer-he wouldn't treat Sydney any differently.

"I told you to stay put." He infused his words with authority.

"I wanted to help. Wish I'd listened. I tripped over the body." She held out blood-covered hands. Her eyes watered as if she might cry.

Man. Don't do that. Don't fall apart. He couldn't remain detached if she started crying. He'd have to empathize, maybe give her a reassuring pat on the arm. Maybe feel her pain and resurrect all the reasons he'd left his homicide job in Portland.

He changed his focus. Nodded at the brush. "Show me the body."

As a faint whine of sirens spiraled in the distance, she limped into tall grass, a grimace of pain marring her beautiful face. He followed, illuminating the area ahead of her. About ten feet in, she suddenly stopped. He shone his light a few feet ahead of her.

Diffused rays slid over a young male lying on his back. Russ swung the beam to the man's face landing on open eyes staring into the blackness above.

Sydney gasped and swung around him. She rushed toward the main path. Even though Russ knew it was a lost cause, he bent down to check for a pulse. No question, this man hadn't made it and no question about his identity. Carl Dixon, a man every LEO in the area knew from his frequent blips onto the police radar and the most recent arrest for selling drugs.

All that ended with three gunshots to the chest at close range from what Russ could see with his flashlight. Once they thoroughly processed the scene, he'd know better. But first, they needed to vacate the area before further contaminating the scene.

He found Sydney near the path, gaze fixed in the distance, hands clasped on her hips and exhaling long breaths as if trying to expel what she'd just seen.

Haunted eyes peered at him. "He's dead, right?"

"Yeah."

"And what about the killer?"

"Couldn't catch him. He took off on a dirt bike."

Disappointment crowded out the fear on her face. "Did you at least see him?"

"From the back. He was my height or a little taller, but lean. Wore a black stocking cap. The bike has a plate so it must be street legal. I caught the first few digits."

"That's something, then."

Russ didn't want to tell her it would do little for them in terms of searching DMV records as three digits would return thousands of bikes, but he didn't think she could take any more bad news so he kept quiet. "Let's head down to the parking lot."

He gave her the flashlight and urged her to take the lead down the steep hill. Once on solid concrete, she handed it back to him. Holding it overhead, he watched her closely for dizziness or other impairments from her fall. He saw nothing out of the ordinary, but a head injury could mean a concussion. He'd have the EMT's check her out when they got here.

He pointed at a rough-hewn bench. "Maybe you should sit down."

"I'm fine " Her voice cracked and she seemed embarrassed over reacting to the murder.

"It's okay to be upset, Syd. A horrible thing happened tonight."

"I'm fine really. I'll be back to a hundred percent by morning."

Text copyright © by Susan Sleeman

Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.


Monday, June 6, 2011

The Art of Conflict in Writing Conflict

 DSC00576.10.jpg

By Lorilyn Roberts


I should be an expert in writing conflict. After all, I was on the debate team in high school, and a seventh grade boy wrote in my yearbook, "You would argue with a sign post if you could." I've had my share of personal conflict--family problems, ex-husband, relationship disappointments, and yes, my own report card of failures.

As if that wasn't enough, I've had a first-class seat to some of the most spectacular conflicts on the planet. I worked for twenty years as a court reporter. The adversarial nature of the job left me exhausted. I would sit at my stenograph machine for long hours each day, between attorneys and hostile witnesses, recording the barrage of questions about lost reputations, cheating husbands, financial ruin, and hearts broken--high-powered lawyers bent on winning at all cost.

Conflict raged within me as I hated being at the center of it all. The louder they argued, the more nervous I became. Please don't ask me to read this back. It's hard to write well when everyone is yelling at each other. If I could count the number of strokes hit on my stenograph machine, the amount would not be measurable. Conflict abounds and sometimes borders on murder in a courtroom, where truth isn't always the ultimate goal. Because experience and memories shape our worldview, to this day I cringe at the thought of going back to that life--please God, never again. I don't want that conflict.

Today I work as a broadcast captioner for television and write as little news as possible. Very few upbeat stories get reported and I have grown weary of captioning sensational beats about kidnapped children, victims of abuse, Washington bureaucracy, and a world at war--at the gas pump, in the Middle East, and a host of ideologies that scare me. I cherish my freedom and don't want it taken from me. (Yes, I do feel much of what I love about my country is eroding). But most of all, I hate captioning tragedies that could have been avoided. Life can be very depressing and steeped in conflict.

As much as I hate conflict, as an author, how do I use it in fiction? Or do I even want to create painful conflict for my protagonist? Do I shy away from building a story that needs high-stakes conflict to create a fabulous, climatic ending? Or can I use conflict to remind me of a nobler purpose in God's eternal plan?

Put into the context of life, is there a reason behind the conflict which we encounter every single waking moment of our lives? Is it not the result of the stinking sin in myself and others? How do I resolve this paradox in my writing?

Fortunately, as writers, we have the freedom to go where our heart and art takes us. Unless I write poetry, however, I won't have a story without conflict. Acknowledging that the dénouement is what makes a story remarkable, I can set the scene for redemption before I begin the first page.

In the 1990's, Hollywood released a lot of box-office films that had downer endings; the bad guy won, the problem wasn't resolved the way I wanted, or the main character died. I quit going to the movies.

My mantra now is I refuse to write, read, or see movies where there is no redemption. If I feel stuck without a good moral choice in life, I will search for it. God can bring redemption out of the worst possible circumstance. There is good in the world if we look for it.

In writing a great book, there should be something in the dénouement that causes the reader to grapple with the story's action-idea. The unraveling of the conflict must result in a satisfying conclusion.  I don't want the reader to feel as though he has been cheated by mediocre creativity or immorality that wins.

While our stories imitate life, the climax needs to reach a higher level of "being." When I read a story, give me more. Give me excitement worth remembering, knowledge extraordinaire, and thought-provoking ideas. I want to relate to a protagonist that overcomes incredible odds and wins. Beauty, love, peace--we are not sufficiently redeemed to appreciate this trilogy of goodness in all its meaning, but because writing imitates life, we can catch glimpses of it in a redemptive ending.

As an author, my passion is to bring a "taste of heaven" to this earthly kingdom inhabited by kings and peasants, and all of us in between. That means what I write must linger. I must create meaningful connections in the reader's mind after his eyes have read the last page. I wield incredible power--to bless or curse. As a Christian, I want to captivate the reader with words that are uplifting, powerful, thought-provoking, and life-changing. That might seem impossible, but the greatest stories ever written have those qualities; unique characters engaged in mortal conflict, either internal, physical, or both.

I write where my heart takes me, digging into my past, and seeing what God stirs up from within. I write for myself first and then for others. It's up to each of us to decide how we use the "rules of writing," acknowledging that those words will live on long after we are gone--for good or evil. History is replete with both.

I can't dilute the plot to avoid conflict. I want redemption to reign supreme in the last chapter. I must weave the nature of fallen man into the story through conflict, knowing that I have the answers that a sinful world craves. I can do it subtly or not so subtly, but if I compromise on either, I will weaken the story that God has given me. Great conflict deserves great redemption.

How does conflict work in writing? The conflict must propel the story forward and relate in some way to the protagonist's nearly unreachable goal. There must be clear turning points (three-act structure works well), and there should be a main goal and at least one minor goal. Often the minor goal relates to character development (so the protagonist can reach his main goal).

With "up" endings, the protagonist wildly succeeds and goes through a metamorphosis in the process. He is not the same at the end as he was in the beginning. Despite his character flaws and numerous obstacles, he overcomes the odds and achieves his dream or even something better. Surprise endings are always the best

I have wondered if there is a higher standard for writing novels than the Aristotle tradition of dealing with conflict, but for a different reason. I want to write great stories in heaven, and in heaven, there is no conflict. What shall I write? Maybe I will become a poet. If you are one of those saints, pursue your calling with passion; keep writing those beautiful sonnets and songs. When my world becomes steeped in shadows, I turn to the Psalms and relish those soothing words of comfort and security.

In the Bible, Jesus knew the evil tentacles of life would strangle his listeners if they succumbed to their base nature, so he told amazing, redemptive stories, steeped in conflict, to reveal profound truths. If I follow that example, perhaps I can conquer my inner conflict of wanting to avoid conflict and write a great redemptive story--which must abound in conflict to end in perfect redemption