Saturday, April 29, 2006

MEET FULTON SHEEN

My sister-in-law Janel Rodriguez has a new book, Meet Fulton Sheen: Beloved Preacher and Teacher of the Word (Servant Publications). The official description:

Fulton Sheen was a not-to-be-missed radio and television evangelist during the mid-twentieth century, but his broadcasting career got off to a rocky start. "I don't know why I invited that man," the host remarked quietly as Sheen failed to ignite the airwaves during his first radio address. By the 1950s, however, Bishop Sheen was preaching to millions on his weekly TV show, "Life Is Worth Living," had won an Emmy and appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

Far more than a media personality, Bishop Sheen was above all a priest with a single-minded determination to bring people to Christ. Although he counted the rich and famous among his converts, he was friend and benefactor to many poor, sick or lonely people and not a few hardened sinners.

PAGE TO SCREEN: JESSE STONE

I keep hearing great things about the TV movies starring Tom Selleck as small town police chief Jesse Stone. Based on the series of novels by Robert B. Parker, the third film airs Sunday, Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise. The body of a local teen girl is found in a lake and Stone becomes obsessed with solving the case -- even if it means tangling with the Boston mob.

More details at CBS. TV Tattler has an interview with Selleck and Parker.

Friday, April 28, 2006

CHRISTY AWARD FINALISTS

The 2006 finalists for the Christy Awards have been announced:

Contemporary (Stand-Alones)
Grace at Low Tide by Beth Webb Hart (WestBow)
Levi's Will by W. Dale Cramer (Bethany House)
Wrapped in Rain by Charles Martin (WestBow)

Contemporary (Series, Sequels and Novellas)
Living With Fred by Brad Whittington (Broadman & Holman)
Moment of Truth by Sally John (Harvest House)
The Road to Home by Vanessa Del Fabbro (Steeple Hill)

Historical
Glimpses of Paradise by James Scott Bell (Bethany House)
The Noble Fugitive by T. Davis & Isabella Bunn (Bethany House)
Whence Came a Prince by Liz Curtis Higgs (WaterBrook)

Romance
A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist (Bethany House)
Chateau of Echoes by Siri L. Mitchell (NavPress)
In Sheep's Clothing by Susan May Warren (Steeple Hill)

Suspense
Comes a Horseman by Robert Liparulo (WestBow)
Last Light by Terri Blackstock (Zondervan)
River Rising by Athol Dickson (Bethany House)

Visionary
Legend of the Emerald Rose by Linda Wichman (Kregel)
The Presence by Bill Myers (Zondervan)
Shadow Over Kiriath by Karen Hancock (Bethany House)

First Novel
Like a Watered Garden by Patti Hill (Bethany House Publishers)
The Road to Home by Vanessa Del Fabbro (SteepleHill)
This Heavy Silence by Nicole Mazzarella (Paraclete Press)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

SHORT STORY MARKET FINDER

If you are a short story writer, this could be a handy link: Duotrope's Digest of Fiction Fields (Markets For Writers). Just go to the chart and select from a variety of options (including "genre," "length" and "payscale") click SEARCH and—voila!—the engine finds a list of suitable markets for your parameters. The database includes 825 current markets, and is updated regularly.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

COMICS JAM: GOLD!!!

As some of you may know, there is an annual event called "24 Hour Comics Day" wherein comics creators of all stripes -- young and old, pro and amateur -- converge on official sites all over the world and spend a solid 24-hour-block writing and drawing an original 24-page comic book from scratch. Erica and I participated last year: her comic was lovely but unfinished; mine was finished but awful.

Anyway, this year they moved 24 Hour Comics Day to the fall (to avoid hitting too close to Free Comic Book Day), and filled the gaping hole with a special event called the Comics Jam War. Over 100 teams of comics creators across North America each made an eight-page story to go with the cover (above).

All of which is the roundabout way of saying that I saw the list of winners and said, "Hey! I know those guys!"

GOLD went to Ben Avery and team Gloom Patrol, and BRONZE went to Tom Hall and Joe Endres and the rest of the Megazeen team. Big congratulations all around guys! See the results of the competition here. All seven chosen stories will be in the book Comics Jam War, which hits comic shops July with a cover price of $6.99.

Related links:
Q&A: BEN AVERY (The Imaginaries)
THE MILLER SISTERS
SINISTER SIX: ARE YOU IN OR OUT?
COMPETITION: MORE THAN A COMIC BOOK
CSI HITS THE COMIC CON

BLOG TOUR!

Best-selling Christian suspense novelist Brandilyn Collins hits the (virtual) road today for a three day world (blog) tour. Hosted by the Christian Fiction Alliance (or Christian Fiction Syndicate—I can never seem to find out which, if either, title is actually official), Brandilyn appears all over the Internet today through Friday, as participating bloggers post brand-new interviews, reviews and commentary.

Follow the tour from Brandilyn's blog, Forensics & Faith. Be sure to read her latest thriller, Web of Lies (Zondervan).

We would also point you to the Q&A we recently conducted with Brandilyn:
PART ONE
PART TWO
PART THREE

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

THRILLER READERS NEWSLETTER: ONLINE!

The Thriller Readers Newsletter, the official digital publication of International Thriller Writers, now has a site of its own: InternationalThrillerReaders.com. You still sign up for emails at the same place as before, but now you can read past issues online.

Well, it's a work in progress—but you can read the March issue (in which I was profiled) and the February issue (wherein I profiled Vicki Hinze).

Sign up for the FREE "Thriller Readers Newsletter" and keep up with the latest profiles, news and reviews in the world of thriller fiction. Subscribers are also entered to win FREE BOOKS!

More mystery and thriller links:
Q&A: ROBERT LIPARULO (Comes A Horseman)
Q&A: VICKI HINZE (Bulletproof Princess)
Q&A: TASHA ALEXANDER (And Only to Deceive)
Q&A: LONNIE CRUSE (Murder In Metropolis)
Q&A: THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN (Bone Thief)

"WE HAVE TO GET TO THE DORM BEFORE OTHER STUFF HAPPENS TO ME!"

The new arc continues with #91 of The Miller Sisters, the twice-a-week online comic strip created by my wife, Erica Well. Julia's inherited superpowers are revealed ... but what does she do now?

(If you don't see the latest strip, click the "refresh" button on your browser.)

Listing at Onlinecomics.net

Related links:
NEW COMIC: THE DEN
NEW COMICS AT STUDIOWELL
A NEW VOICE IN THE BLOGOSPHERE

Monday, April 24, 2006

ITW: ROBERT LIPARULO, PT 3


Today, we conclude our three-part conversation with novelist Robert Liparulo, member of International Thriller Writers. His debut novel is the acclaimed suspenser Comes a Horseman (WestBow), and he is also a contributor to the ITW anthology Thriller: Stories to Keep You Up All Night (Mira).

"Robert Liparulo is one of the best writers to hit the block in a long time. Comes a Horseman is brilliantly conceived and executed. It will leave readers desperately wanting more."
-- Ted Dekker, Obsessed

* * *

PART 3.

WHAT ONE THING ABOUT WRITING DO YOU WISH NON-WRITERS UNDERSTOOD?
On one hand, I wish people would realize that it isn’t easy. If something reads as though it was easy to write, it was probably painstakingly hard to get it on the page that way, either at the time it was written or by virtue of the training and experience the writer went through. Like anything, the easier something looks, the more work went into it.

On the other hand, what does it matter if the reader thinks it’s easy or not? My job as a writer is to entertain and maybe on some smaller level to educate. If the reader thinks too much about what went into a book, he or she is not into the story enough; the writer didn’t do his job.

So on a case-by-case, basis, like to the guy I meet at a party who says, “What a life. I should quit my job and become a writer,” I’d like to say, “It’s not as easy as it looks.” But in general, readers don’t need to know about writing. They need only to know what they like, what enthralls them.

WHAT ONE THING ABOUT WRITING DO YOU WISH OTHER WRITERS UNDERSTOOD?
Probably the very thing that took me so long to understand: For my entire career, 20 years of writing in one form or another, I’ve focused on craft—How can I write better? I ignored the fact that there are business considerations to writing—proving you can move books and make the publisher money. I’ve talked to a lot of published writers who are flabbergasted at either their books’ lack of performance or their publishers’ lack of support; but when I ask if they’ve volunteered to hit the road or how much of their own money they’ve put into promotion, they come back with, “That’s the publisher’s job.” I think it’s a two-way street.

FOR THE WRITER WITH A NEW BOOK, WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE BEST THING TO PROMOTE IT?
Be accessible. Be available for interviews and signings, when asked. Understand that the publicists and marketing people aren’t going to be able to draw attention to your book if you don’t do your part, as well.

That means not only being available for whatever they line up, but also making suggestions to them. If you’re writing in a certain genre, you probably read that genre. Most likely, you know it better than anyone else on your team, who have their own reading tastes, as well as a lot of other authors to work with. They may not know which specialty magazines you should be trying to get into, which blogs, which bookstores and conventions. You can let your marketing people know without making a pest of yourself. Help them help you.

Also, I believe it’s critical to get booksellers on your side. New authors, especially, should try to meet as many managers and staff as possible. John Grisham is famous for driving around from store to store, hand-selling his first few books out of the trunk of this car. The retailers he met liked him and probably ended up reading the books he signed and left with them. Then, when someone came in, saying, “I’m looking for a murder mystery or a legal thriller,” these retailers would say, “Boy, do I have just the book for you. I met him. Nice guy, good writer.” If Grisham had not made a personal appeal to those retailers, they would have suggested a book by some other author who did stop by or one that some reviewer liked.

WOULD YOU RECOMMEND JOINING AN AUTHOR GUILD LIKE ITW?
Absolutely. Camaraderie and sharing knowledge is crucial for understanding your craft and market.

OF ALL THE FINE AUTHOR ORGANIZATIONS AVAILABLE, WHAT ABOUT INTERNATIONAL THRILLER WRITERS DO YOU FEEL SETS IT APART?
Primarily, it’s the like-mindedness. We’re all working in the same genre, we’re all trying to entertain through suspense. When a member talks about craft or marketing or trends, it’s more likely to fit my own situation. I also like that everyone seems to care immensely for the genre, for the publishing industry, for writing as a career. ITW members are professional, experienced, and extraordinarily generous with their time, talent and money, to ensure our having a truly effective organization.

BONUS: THE MUNSTERS OR ADDAMS FAMILY?
Addams Family. That Morticia, wow. And I’ve always liked John Astin. The Munsters kind of creeped me out when I was a kid. I guess that was the idea.

* * *

Many thanks to Bob for his time. Find Comes a Horseman at Amazon.com and many other fine retailers. Find the author online at his official site.

Related links:
ROBERT LIPARULO, PT 1
ROBERT LIPARULO, PT 2

Sign up for the FREE "Thriller Readers Newsletter" and keep up with the latest profiles, news and reviews in the world of thriller fiction. Subscribers are also entered to win FREE BOOKS!

More mystery and thriller links:
Q&A: VICKI HINZE (Bulletproof Princess)
Q&A: TASHA ALEXANDER (And Only to Deceive)
Q&A: LONNIE CRUSE (Murder In Metropolis)
Q&A: THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN (Bone Thief)
THRILLERFEST 2006
ITW SPOTLIGHT ON CHRIS WELL (ME)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

SINISTER SIX: ARE YOU IN OR OUT?


Speaking of the several pitches I made in 2003 to Marvel's short-lived Epic imprint, (as I did here): Here is the poster I made to go with my Sinister Six pitch, a kooky Ocean's 11-inspired mini-series starring several Spider-Man villains in a caper to steal the Cosmic Cube.

Click on the image to see it at full size.

Related links:
DEFENDING COMIC BOOKS
"THE GOLDEN AGE" REDUX
CSI HITS THE COMIC CON
STEPHEN KING'S "DARK TOWER" COMICS

Friday, April 21, 2006

WAY BEFORE THE FLOOD


I just heard about this fascinating trilogy set before the flood of Noah: "Cradleland Chronicles" imagines that humanity might have tamed the dinosaurs and achieved a remarkable level of technological advancement before its arrogance drew the wrath of God. Written by Douglas Hirt, the first book in the trilogy is going to be available as a free serialized podcast (audio book). From the press release:

Cook Communications Ministries is launching a free serialized podcast. An audio version of Flight to Eden, the first book in the "Cradleland Chronicles" series by Douglas Hirt, will be provided free to listeners, six chapters each week, with the hope that exposure to the content will lead them to buy the other two books in the series, Quest for Atlan (August 2005) and Fall of the Nephilim (June 2006).

This podcast, believed the first of its kind from a publisher of Christian books, is professionally narrated and produced by Books in Motion.

Douglas Hirt has crafted a compelling hypothesis, based upon Biblical research, into the possibilities of life on earth at that time. The length of pre-Flood life meant Adam and Eve would have lived hundreds of years and probably knew many of their descendents. Hirt explores the possibility of man living alongside dinosaurs and Nephilim (the offspring of angels and humans) and the concept of a society employing technology more advanced than commonly believed. The "Cradleland Chronicles" follows the promise of a savior spoken of in Eden at the beginning of time, and a dark Power intent on gaining complete control of the world through the destruction of mankind.

"There is more the Bible doesn’t say about the pre-Flood world than it does say," Hirt says. "When I began researching this period I discovered there was a lot of extra-Biblical evidence, evidence that would not contradict Biblical record, for amazing civilizations sometime in the past."
Two chapters of Flight to Eden will be released on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for six weeks beginning in May 2006. Each day’s podcast lasts approximately 55 minutes.

A podcast makes an audio file (often an MP3 or AAC file) available online for downloading automatically to a computer or portable digital audio player (iPod or other MP3 player). To receive the podcasts, listeners need access to a Mac or Windows computer with Internet access and either iTunes or Window Media Player software. They also need speakers or headphones connected to their computer to hear the broadcast. Listeners with portable music players (like an iPod) can set their software to automatically download the podcasts to their player.

CradlelandChronicles.com offers a timeline, glossary, character guide, downloadable wallpaper, maps and illustrations. Hirt explains the thinking behind the trilogy in this interview. Subscribe to the podcast at CradlelandChronicles.com/podcast.htm.

"WHERE ARE YOU? I CAN'T SEE -- "

The new arc continues with #90 of The Miller Sisters, the twice-a-week online comic strip created by my wife, Erica Well. Julia's inherited superpowers are revealed ... but what does she do now?

(If you don't see the latest strip, click the "refresh" button on your browser.)

Listing at Onlinecomics.net

Related links:
NEW COMIC: THE DEN
NEW COMICS AT STUDIOWELL
A NEW VOICE IN THE BLOGOSPHERE

ITW: ROBERT LIPARULO, PT 2

We're now on to day two of our Q&A with thriller novelist Robert Liparulo, whose debut thriller is Comes A Horseman:

"Robert Liparulo starts off with a bang and then lulls us momentarily with well-modeled and sympathetic characters before he drops these totally likeable characters into a series of harrowing confrontations. Some of the fights involving razor-edged weapons manage to be excruciatingly wince-inducing while remaining truly entertaining. This is what is meant by guilty fun."—Larry Hama, writer, Marvel Comics’ G.I. Joe and Wolverine

* * *

PART TWO

WHAT ARE YOUR WRITING HABITS?
I usually do research for the first hour or two, then write from mid-morning to mid- or late-afternoon. I tend to edit as I write, so what comes out is close to what the final draft will be. Later, I’ll tighten and make sure the big-picture stuff works. But the sentence construction is pretty much finished for each day’s work.

I try not to let interruptions break into the world I’m creating while I write. I disconnect the phone and don’t check email. If I run into something I need to research, even if it’s just to make sure I’m using the right word, I’ll flag it and keep writing. Then in the evening or the next morning, I’ll take care of the flagged parts.

While I write, I listen to music on a set of Bose noise-eliminating headphones. No distractions. My favorite music to write to is soundtracks: Last of the Mohicans, The Mission, Glory, Gladiator. Kill Bill, if I’m writing fast-paced action.

ARE YOU AN "OUTLINE" WRITER OR A "MAKE IT UP AS YOU GO" WRITER?
Both. My plots tend to be pretty intricate. I like to get my characters in really tight spots that appear impossible to escape, and I don’t want the solution to feel fabricated; I don’t want to break the rules I established getting the characters in trouble in the first place. So I need to plot it out carefully to make sure everything makes sense and the characters stay true to themselves: No escape hatches simply appear, no weapons or rescuers materialize out of thin air.

At the same time, I believe the characters really do take on a life of their own, and writers need to let them guide the story somewhat. If I outlined a scene a month ago and when I get to it I realize the character would never get himself into that particular predicament or would never behave the way I planned, then I have to let the character tell me what he would do instead. Sometimes that changes the direction of the story completely.

ARE YOU A FULL-TIME NOVELIST?
Yes, as of mid-2005. Prior to that, I wrote articles for national publications— celebrity profiles and interviews, business and relationship articles, investigative pieces. I have to point out that a “full-time novelist” doesn’t only write. There’s a lot of marketing and publicity that goes into making sure your books get noticed, especially when you’re just getting started. Setting up a website, doing interviews, attending conferences, visiting bookstores. The marketing part of the business is a full-time job by itself.

HOW MANY BOOKS DID YOU HAVE TO WRITE BEFORE YOU WERE ABLE TO GO FULL-TIME? (WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD "MADE IT"?)
Well, I don’t think I’ve “made it,” and I hope I never feel I have. Success, if that’s what “made it” means, is a journey. I hope I die on that journey and never stand on the pinnacle wondering what to do next. As far as the number of books I wrote before being able to concentrate on novel writing, the answer is one. Then my publisher offered me a long-term contract that allowed me to focus exclusively on novels. I’m very grateful for their faith in me.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS?
Neil Gaiman said it best: “Write. Finish things.”

I think the number one obstacle to publication is not completing a manuscript. I know a lot of wannabe writers who have six, seven partial manuscripts in a drawer. They think publishers want to see a lot of ideas, but more important to the publisher is a writer’s ability to complete at least one good story.

Bringing a big project like a novel to completion is a milestone. It breaks down this monstrous wall that separates the wannabes from the doers. Once that wall comes down, the next one is easier.

* * *

Come back Monday for the conclusion of our Q&A. Find Comes a Horseman at Amazon.com and many other fine retailers. Find the author online at his official site.

Related links:
ROBERT LIPARULO, PT 1
ROBERT LIPARULO, PT 3

Sign up for the FREE "Thriller Readers Newsletter" and keep up with the latest profiles, news and reviews in the world of thriller fiction. Subscribers are also entered to win FREE BOOKS!

Related links:
Q&A: VICKI HINZE
Q&A: THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN
THRILLERFEST 2006
ITW SPOTLIGHT ON CHRIS WELL (ME)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

ITW: ROBERT LIPARULO, PT 1

Over the next few days, we are sharing a three-part Q&A with novelist and fellow International Thriller Writers member Robert Liparulo. His debut thriller, Comes A Horseman, was optioned for a motion picture before it was even published:
When pair of FBI agents uncover ancient prophecies that link a series of grisly murders, the wrath of the killers turns on them. From the forested mountains of Colorado and the halls of the U.S. government's most clandestine agency, to the Vatican's mysterious L'Archivio Segreto and the labyrinthine caves under Jerusalem, this global thriller will rattle even the most skeptical soul.

Best-selling thriller author David Morrell (Creepers) remarked: "Frightening and fiendishly smart, Comes a Horseman is a must-read! Robert Liparulo's intense thrill ride will keep your nerves frayed and your lights on. "

Robert is also a contributor to the ITW anthology Thriller: Stories to Keep You Up All Night (Mira), edited by James Patterson.

* * *

PART 1.

WHO ARE YOUR LITERARY INFLUENCES?
Richard Matheson, Peter Straub, Thomas Perry, David Lindsey, David Morrell, Dean Koontz, Dickens, Hawthorne, Hemingway, Tolkien. I like authors with a powerful ability to create atmosphere, a sense of doom or adventure or whatever. I also appreciate wit and irony, though they can be overdone.

WHO ARE YOUR PHILOSOPHICAL INFLUENCES?
Regarding life, Plato, C.S. Lewis and Jesus Christ; regarding life as a writer, Stephen King, David Morrell, Dean Koontz, Steve Turner.

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ANYONE SAID ABOUT YOUR BOOKS?
When David Morrell sent me a glowing blurb for Comes a Horseman, I felt my ship had come in. I’ve been a fan of David’s for years, since high school. To have him say my book was a “must read,” got my head spinning. So, it’s not just what was said, but who said it, that makes his comments the best.

WHAT IS THE WORST THING ANYONE SAID ABOUT YOUR BOOKS?
Ouch. In an otherwise positive review, the reviewer said my main male protagonist was a wimp. Since so much of myself goes into my main characters, I didn't want to hear that. I wanted to thump my chest at the guy, throw down a gauntlet, or whatever.

We ended up exchanging emails and he acknowledged that the protagonist's behavior was consistent with what he was going through at the time, but the reviewer wanted him to rise above the situation and kick some serious butt regardless. The reviewer's favorite literary characters are Rambo and John Gage (Mr. Testosterone) from Byron Huggins' The Reckoning, so he likes larger-than-life tough guys. Next to those characters, everyone's a wimp. How's that for rationalization?

HOW MANY BOOKS DO YOU READ A MONTH?
Typically, I read between four and eight, depending on what else is going on in my life. When I’m under the gun to bring in a story, I may only get to one in a month. No matter how late I’m up, how tired I am, I can’t sleep without reading about an hour a night. At any given time, I’m reading at least one novel and one nonfiction book.

* * *

Come back here tomorrow for Part 2 of the Q&A. Find Comes a Horseman at Amazon.com and many other fine retailers. Find the author online at his official site.

Related links:
ROBERT LIPARULO, PT 2
ROBERT LIPARULO, PT 3

Sign up for the FREE "Thriller Readers Newsletter" and keep up with the latest profiles, news and reviews in the world of thriller fiction. Subscribers are also entered to win FREE BOOKS!

More mystery and thriller links:
Q&A: VICKI HINZE (Bulletproof Princess)
Q&A: TASHA ALEXANDER (And Only to Deceive)
Q&A: LONNIE CRUSE (Murder In Metropolis)
Q&A: THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN (Bone Thief)
THRILLERFEST 2006
ITW SPOTLIGHT ON CHRIS WELL (ME)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

NOT WRITING HEROES FOR HIRE


Back in 2003, Marvel Comics launched a program called Epic Comics for new writers and artists to submit their ideas to Marvel. I won't go into all the sad details here of how quickly the imprint imploded (and in such a spectacularly messy manner, too).

However, during that brief window of opportunity, I pitched a variety of original scripts (in a variety of styles and genres). I also pitched scripts with existing Marvel characters, including SECRET SIX, which reunited the Spider-Man villains in a sort of Ocean's 11-style caper, and HEROES FOR HIRE, which I wanted to recreate as a "superhero workplace sitcom."

My pitches were all rejected (I have several identical copies of the polite form letter). But in the time since, many ideas regarding their superheros have all surfaced in one form or another. (I am not saying my ideas were stolen; in fact, that is quite unlikely. It just shows that great minds think alike. For more on this topic, see Alton Ganksy's "Mel Gibson and Me.")

And now a new Heroes For Hire series has been announced -- without founding members Power Man and Iron Fist.

The main reason I bring this up is because my favorite part of my H4H pitch was that founding members Power Man and Iron Fist were not on my version of the team, either -- but kept popping up as disgruntled former employees. I thought it would be funny.

By the way, one pitch was for my post-apocalyptic Elvis story. The short story version of that was published online by Infuze Comics as "All Our Sins And Greed And Bears."

Related links:
DEFENDING COMIC BOOKS
"THE GOLDEN AGE" REDUX
ONCE UPON A TIME: VERTIGO SUBMISSIONS
CSI HITS THE COMIC CON
STEPHEN KING'S "DARK TOWER" COMICS

AUTHOR ODZ N ENZ

Two fellow Faith*in*Fiction authors have new stories over at the short-short crime fiction site Flashing In The Gutters: Matt Mikalatos has written "Samaritan" and Linda Gilmore has written "Thy Brother's Life."

Infuze Magazine has a front page interview with suspense novelist Eric Wilson. Novel Journey has part one of an interview with Frank Peretti. Speaking of Novel Journey, interviewer Gina Holmes became the interviewee over at Decompose.

Publishers Weekly reports on the new Random House imprint Mortalis, created to brand paperback originals along with reissues of classic and out-of-print mysteries and thrillers.

And right back here, I hope to post our next Q&A later today. Our guest will be thriller novelist Robert Liparulo.

Related links:
CRIME FICTION: J. MARK BERTRAND
ERIC WILSON UPDATE
FORGIVING SOLOMON LONG: THE ENDORSEMENTS

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

"BUT HOW DO I GET INVISIBLE IN THE FIRST PLACE?"

An all-new story arc launches today for The Miller Sisters, the twice-a-week online comic strip created by my wife, Erica Well.

The clock has struck on her birthday and Julia's inherited superpowers are finally revealed ... but what does she do now?

(If you do not see the latest strip onscreen, click the "refresh" button found at the top of your browser.)

Listing at Onlinecomics.net

"The Miller Sisters" so far ...
Story 1: "Introducing ..."
Story 2: "Roommates!"
Story 3: "Happy Birthday?"

Related links:
NEW COMIC: THE DEN
NEW COMICS AT STUDIOWELL
A NEW VOICE IN THE BLOGOSPHERE

Monday, April 17, 2006

C.S.I. HITS THE COMIC CON

Comics publisher IDW has made quite a few tie-in comics based on the popular forensic series C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation. However, the company takes the franchise to a whole new place for the next case: A comic book convention in Vegas. More importantly, the suspects—and victim—are real life comics creators!

Comic Book Resources carries the news:

Rich Johnston's one of those guys in the comics industry that you either love or hate. The gossip columnist's LYING IN THE GUTTERS column has been hosted here on CBR since June of 2002, but has been kicking around the industry for far longer than that in previous incarnations. ... He's both reviled and revered. But come this August, his detractors may have something to celebrate-- he'll be dead (in print), but the "CSI" team will be there to investigate.

The investigation into "Who Killed Rich Johnston" begins August at IDW Publishing with the five-issue mini-series "CSI: Dying In The Gutters" by writer Steven Grant and artist Stephen Mooney. The suspects? Comic industry professionals you're all familiar with ...


Read the whole story here.

Related links:
NEW COMIC: THE DEN
STEPHEN KING'S "DARK TOWER" COMICS

Friday, April 14, 2006

DEFENDING THE TRUTH OF THE CROSS

As we contemplate Good Friday and celebrate the victory of Easter Sunday, here are a couple of good articles from Charles Colson's Breakpoint on the truth of Jesus and the Cross:

The So-Called ‘Gospel’ of Judas
Unmasking an Ancient Heresy
Itching ears gladly heard the news about the so-called "Gospel of Judas." But this "new gospel" is nothing more than recycled heresy.

Secrets, Lies, and the Resurrection
Demonstrating the Truth of Easter
Would you willingly face execution to defend a lie or a hoax? Of course not. Which is one good reason to believe in the resurrection.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

BERTRAND? MAKE THAT "BERTRANTS"

To the novelist pushing to do better, author and thinker J. Mark Bertrand is always good for asking the right questions about the craft. (He's always causing trouble at the Faith*in*Fiction message boards.)

Two recent blog entries are especially worth checking out:

Dear Author: A Reader's Rant (at The Master's Artist)

I know writing is a hard thing, that our efforts -- be they never so modest -- reflect the best we could do under the circumstances. But honestly. You wouldn't send your children out into the world to be mocked if you could help it, so why not expend the same effort on your stories?


Books Are Better Than Talk (at Notes on Craft)

... it's easy, so easy to talk. About books. About writing them. About why the ones we will someday write (or have written) are better than the ones we wouldn't deign to write (or read).

DELIVER US FROM EVELYN: HIT THE STREETS


I really need to form a "street team" for Deliver Us From Evelyn—but have just been so swamped with writing (including Kansas City Novel #3).

For those unfamiliar with the concept of street teams, many rock and hip-hop artists will arm loyal fans and friends with materials to spread the word about their latest album or concert. And we know word-of-mouth is the most powerful advertising of all.

I have the promo copies of the book. I have the bookmarks. I have the postcards. I have the flyers. Now, I just need to get past my brainlock and make use of them.

Any suggestions on how to get started would be welcome ...

IN FOR THE LONG HAUL


I was pointed to this link at The Book Standard, which shares some of the secrets of Dan Brown's writing. Like most novelists, Brown—author of the biggest-selling novel in history, The Da Vinci Code—did not start out as a best-selling author. It takes time.

The article tells of Brown's early disappointments with Digital Fortress, Angels & Demons and Deception Point. In fact, Brown was ready to give up, but his wife urged him to keep going.

His next novel? The Da Vinci Code.

And, if you have watched the best-seller lists the past couple of years, the blockbuster success of DVC led voracious readers to go back and pick up his earlier novels—including Angels & Demons, the first starring character Robert Langdon (who returned in The Da Vinci Code).

This is the normal way of things. Authors like James Ellroy and Elmore Leonard and most others wrote three or four—or several—novels before they had a hit. Based on everything I have read and heard, the important thing for the new novelist is to build for the long-term.

BOOK SIGNINGS


Over at his Amazon blog, Nat Gertler (organizer of the annual 24 Hour Comics events and author of Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating a Graphic Novel) gives some tips on planning a book signing event, "because there is more to doing this than just showing up."

He also gives this advice:

signings don't always work. Even when you do everything right, even if the retailer does his part in publicizing the event (but especially if he doesn't), it's quite possible that no one will show up. Don't panic, and don't assume that this is a sign of your failure. I've seen mighty popular folks not get the crowd. But here's the thing to remember - if no one shows up, no one sees how badly it went!
By the way, 24 Hour Comics 2006 is coming up October 7.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

MR. MONK AND THE BIG SALE AT TARGET


Monk fans, take note: Target has all three season DVD box sets on sale cheap! Season One and Season Two are on sale this week for $17.99, and Season Three is $19.99. With a list price of $59.99 each, that's pretty good!

Now you can catch up on the first three seasons and be ready for that June 27 DVD release of Season Four ...


Related links:

OFFICIAL MONK
MORE FROM MR. MONK
MONK RENEWED FOR TWO MORE SEASONS
ARE YOU MONKISH?
TV-TO-BOOK: MR. MONK

SOMETHING IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN NOTHING

As I have shared in many an interview, one piece of advice I hold dear is from one of my college teachers: "Something is better than nothing." If you create something not-so-great, you can always make it better. But if you don't do your assignment at all ... well, then you can't do anything with that.

Acclaimed TV and comics writer J. Michael Straczynski shares similar advice at his Newsarama column, WORDS, WORDS, WORDS:
Understand: all the techniques in the world, all the good advice on plotting, or panels-per-page, or structure, or dialogue...all of it is utterly useless if you don’t finish what you start. Yet this is the number one difficulty facing every beginning writer.
Read the entire column here.

ITW ANTHOLOGY: STARRED REVIEW

The first anthology of International Thriller Writers -- Thriller: Stories to Keep You Up All Night (Mira), edited by James Patterson -- got a starred review in the April 3 issue of Publishers Weekly:
... lovers of crime fiction in general and well-told action tales in particular will be well rewarded. Would-be thriller writers can learn a lot about research and technique from Patterson's introductions to each story.

The anthology sports 32 new stories by such top thriller writers as Lee Child, Alex Kava, J.A. Konrath, Robert Liparulo, Gayle Lynds and David Morrell.

Sign up for the FREE "Thriller Readers Newsletter" and keep up with the latest profiles, news and reviews in the world of thriller fiction. Subscribers are also entered to win FREE BOOKS!

Related links:
Q&A: VICKI HINZE
ITW SPOTLIGHT ON CHRIS WELL (ME)
CLIVE CUSSLER: LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

NEW COMIC: THE DEN

While The Miller Sisters takes a short hiatus, Erica has posted a self-contained comics story, "The Den." She wrote and drew (and inked and lettered) this story herself.

The next "season" of her online comic strip resumes Tuesday. I have finally convinced Erica to submit to the dreaded Q&A -- I hope to post that next week. Meanwhile, you can visit her new blog, Erica Well: Nashville Art & Artists.

"The Miller Sisters" listing at Onlinecomics.net

Related links:
NEW COMICS AT STUDIOWELL
A NEW VOICE IN THE BLOGOSPHERE
ERICA IS ONLINE

CRIME FICTION: J. MARK BERTRAND

Our Faith*in*Fiction pal J. Mark Bertrand has recently published some short-short crime fiction at the new fiction blog Flashing in the Gutters:

"The Code You'll Live By"
"The Body We Left"

Before I launched this particular blog, I interviewed Mark back in the day on the occasion of his publication of "The Inside Job" at Hardluck Stories. The Q&A is archived here.

Catch Mark online at his personal site and at his creative diary, Notes On Craft. He also posts weekly at the group blog The Master's Artist.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

CASABLANCA: GREATEST MOVIE SCRIPT

The Writers Guild (East and West) has determined that the screenplay for Casablanca is the great motion picture script of all time. In fact, they made a whole list: 101 Greatest Screenplays.

STORMS IN TENNESSEE -- 11 DEAD


As you may have seen on your national news, the storms that tore through the state here yesterday leveled entire neighborhoods. Throughout the day and night, several counties suffered severe storms, multiple tornadoes and hailstones the size of softballs. The death count stands at 11. Even this morning, authorities are still trying to assess the full extent of the damage.

For those of you who were worried, Erica and I are fine. Please remember the many families affected by the storms in your prayers.

Nashville Area Red Cross
Shelter locations

Friday, April 07, 2006

Q&A: VICKI HINZE, PT 3


Concluding our time with prolific author Vicki Hinze, member of International Thriller Writers. She has been writing full-time since 1987, have written over thirty books—novels and nonfiction. Recent and upcoming titles include WAR GAMES #5, DOUBLE DARE (Dec. 05), ONE WAY TO WRITE A NOVEL (Jan. 06), IT GIRLS #6, BULLETPROOF PRINCESS (Feb. 06), THE PROPHET'S LADY (Mar. 06), HER PERFECT LIFE (Apr. 06) and COMMON SENSE GUIDE FOR WRITERS (Jun. 06).

She also posted her April newsletter this week.

Now, with further ado ...

* * *

PART THREE.

You were an early supporter of International Thriller Writers—what are some of the things you have done on behalf of the group?
Little things, really. I'm an idea person. I suggested the ITW logo merchandise and created the products and others set up the store and handle the technical stuff. Right now I'm working on several projects, one of which will enable members to get their sales information from Book Span. Technically, I'm "Merchandising," but I interpret that liberally and MJ Rose indulges me.

Often I get an idea that I believe will benefit ITW and its members, and I email poor MJ with a "Can we do this?" When she emails back, "Look into it," then I do. Also, the Board will on occasion send MJ to me with a, "Will you look into this?" and I then go try to make it happen and report back the terms. So, as I said, it's little things, but ones I hope will be of benefit.

What about the organization (or, in the beginning, the idea of such an organization) appealed to you?
Thrillers needed their own organization. Falling under the MWA umbrella, they were rather lost in the shuffle. There wasn't sufficient focus on them to foster awareness even within the industry much less with readers. Many thrillers are wildly successful, and many others just need that awareness to connect seeking readers and writers to become wildly successful. I saw in ITW that potential, so of course, I was eager to be a part of it.

Why would you recommend joining an author guild like ITW?
Because together we can accomplish things on all fronts that none of us can do alone.

Of all the fine author organizations available, what about International thriller Writers do you feel sets it apart?
It came into being with an impressive slate of best-selling authors. Since inception, its actions have been deliberate, focused and effective. That sets it apart.

And in my humble opinion, it's an enormous blessing not just to its members, but to all who are impacted by them: editors, agents, publishers, booksellers and readers. Positive influences create positive influences, and the ripple widens.

* * *

Many thanks to Vicki Hinze! Find her online at www.VickiHinze.com.

Related links:
VICKI HINZE, PT 1
VICKI HINZE, PT 2

Sign up for the FREE "Thriller Readers Newsletter" and keep up with the latest profiles, news and reviews in the world of thriller fiction. Subscribers are also entered to win FREE BOOKS!

More mystery and thriller novelists:
CLIVE CUSSLER: LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
THRILLER FEST 2006
Q&A: TASHA ALEXANDER (And Only to Deceive)
Q&A: LONNIE CRUSE (Murder In Metropolis)
Q&A: THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN (Bone Thief)

INTERVIEW ARCHIVE

Thursday, April 06, 2006

CRIME FICTION WRITER: FREELANCING

On his blog CrimeFictionWriter, Michael Bracken shares some thoughts on the subject of going full-time as a freelance writer.

Q&A: VICKI HINZE, PT 2

Continuing our conversation with prolific author Vicki Hinze, member of International Thriller Writers.

***
PART TWO.

Are you a full-time novelist?
Yes, I am. Before writing full time, I was a corporate Director of Operations.

How many books did you have to write before you were able to go full-time?
Difficult question because I wrote crossover books coming out of the gate. (Paranormal thrillers, mysteries and suspense novels all with romantic elements before there was an established sub-genre, and books that didn't fit in existing marketing slots.)

I didn't define perimeters in that way. When I understood I was to write purpose-driven books, I took the leap on faith. It worked out.

When did you know you had “made it”?
I'll let you know when I do.

Seriously, I think that's a dangerous thing for a writer to believe. It tends to give you a false sense of security and of who you are, and that makes you less disciplined about what you do, and less determined to do it.

People say that you're only as good as your last book. But that's not true. You're only as good as your next book. What you did yesterday is significant until a commitment is made on your next book. Then, the focus is ahead, not behind you, and so is the need to produce your best work.

I'm a struggler. I might sell a ton of books, but I'll always be a struggler because sales alone aren't enough. Each book must be better, stronger, hold some new insight or something I consider significant enough to warrant the time investment. After all, your time is your life, you know? Who wants to waste that on something that doesn't matter?

Progressing works for me. I'm progressing—and struggling to create better stories and characters and plots, to open more doors in closed minds, to entertain those who most need it and make people think. I'm struggling to write and do more and to work smarter not harder.

That's a wiser mind-set for me. Keeps me from getting mentally lazy. I love the challenge and knowing I can continue to increase my skills but I'll never master the craft. That's an asset. Master it and what's left to do? The challenge becomes drudgery, boring. Writing will never be either for me.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
1. Don't stop reading. You gravitate toward specific books, usually because you like them best. Write that type of book, not the type that has the best odds of selling. That doesn't work because you can't fake passion for what you're writing; it always shows.

2. Never settle for "good enough." If it isn't the best you're capable of doing at this time, then respect yourself and your work and stick with the effort until the work shines. Writing isn't easy. The author striving for excellence only makes it appear easy.

3. Remember that every other opinion is subjective. Write the story that matters to you and then retain faith in it. Welcome opinions, incorporate what works but, in the end, stick with your gut instinct on what best serves your story.

4. If you can quit writing, do it. If you love it, you won't be able to quit, and trying is the fastest way to determine whether or not you're willing to make the sacrifices required by it. Once you know you can't quit, you never again waste energy thinking about it. Regardless of what happens, you press on and write. Because that's what writers do.

You know, I need to stop or this is going to be a book! I've written a couple books for writers. I'd refer writers to them and to the free library on my web site, which has tons of articles on craft, the business and writing life.

What about writing do you wish non-writers understood?
1. Everyone might have a story in them, but not everyone is a storyteller. It is a gift and a skill-based craft.

2. (A little closer to home.) There is no such thing as "just a little interruption." When you're creating and someone interrupts, it might take thirty minutes to get back to where you were in create-mode--or you might never get back there. The perfect phrase or the fleeting idea that would have cemented in your mind is forever lost. And that makes writers cranky. If your writer is in create-mode, leave them alone unless it's a matter of death or dying.

What about writing do you wish other writers understood?
If there is a secret to success it lies within the writer, not outside him/her. Stories based on universal emotion where the writer cuts loose his/her own unique individuality.

Translation: Write like you think. You're totally honest with yourself--most of the time. You don't temper or hold back, as you do when speaking to others. That honesty "speaks" to the reader on many levels. And don't ever let anyone else define success for you. You define it. You know why you write.

For the writer promoting a book, what do you consider the BEST thing he or she could do to promote it?
Word of mouth is the undisputed king on selling books. So get copies of the book out to industry professionals and those who will get excited about it and hand-sell it.

* * *

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of our Q&A. You can find her online at www.VickiHinze.com.

Related links:
VICKI HINZE, PT1
VICKI HINZE, PT 3

Sign up for the FREE "Thriller Readers Newsletter" and keep up with the latest profiles, news and reviews in the world of thriller fiction. Subscribers are also entered to win FREE BOOKS!

More mystery and thriller novelists:
CLIVE CUSSLER: LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
THRILLER FEST 2006
Q&A: TASHA ALEXANDER (And Only to Deceive)
Q&A: LONNIE CRUSE (Murder In Metropolis)
Q&A: THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN (Bone Thief)

INTERVIEW ARCHIVE

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

STEPHEN KING'S "DARK TOWER" COMICS


The king of pop lit is now coming to stake his claim in comics: Stephen King is expanding his "Dark Tower" stories into a series of graphic novels for Marvel Comics. As I understand it, King himself provides the plots, which are then scripted by Peter David, (as just announced at Comic Book Resources), with art by Jae Lee. This could be very cool—and one of the highest-profile comics to ever hit market.

In a similar vein, back when I first published my debut novel, Forgiving Solomon Long, I had hoped to explore some of the story threads in a prequel graphic novel or comic book mini-series. But since then, I have gotten too busy working on my next stories—including the third novel in my Kansas City series, as well as some other, unrelated, comics projects—so any "Kansas City Blues" comics will just have to wait. (For what it's worth.)

Related links:
"THE GOLDEN AGE" REDUX
NEW COMIC: THE DEN
CSI HITS THE COMIC CON
SINISTER SIX: ARE YOU IN OR OUT?
NOVELIST ON "MOON KNIGHT"

THE "DA VINCI" HOAX


When I posted my blog entry "Debating 'Da Vinci,'" I was not able to find the link to the Salon article "The Da Vinci Crock," from 2004. But, thanks to author Amy Welborn (and her Amazon blog), here it is:

The Da Vinci crock

A fascinating conspiracy about Jesus transformed the cheesy thriller, "The Da Vinci Code," into a phenomenal bestseller. Too bad it comes from "Holy Blood, Holy Grail," a masterpiece of bogus history.
Whole story here.

By the way, Ms. Welborn also makes an interesting point in her recent blog entry, "As Long As There's Dialogue":

One of the more frequent memes you hear thrown about in regard to this whole DVC business is, "Wow, it's great because, you know...it's got people talking about these issues. That's the important thing..that there's dialogue and conversation!"
Is it really?

[snip]

The conversation that's been inspired by DVC and that's fixated on a purported marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene and Jesus' purported ministry as a bland, platitude-spouting wisdom teacher is certainly a conversation. But it's like a conversation about wood stove safety that's inspired by Hansel and Gretel. I mean - we can do better than this, folks.

Related links:
AMAZON LISTMANIA: DEBATING DA VINCI
HEARING "HERETIC"
DA VINCI IN TIME FOR DA MOVIE

Q&A: VICKI HINZE, PT 1


For the next three days, we're featuring novelist Vicki Hinze, member of International Thriller Writers. I profiled her for the February issue of the free Thriller Readers Newsletter, and we'll be sharing the entire Q&A here.

The award-winning author of nearly two-dozen novels, Vicki has won readers with romantic thrillers that, from one book to the next, range in genre from paranormal suspense to espionage to time travel. She is also recognized as one of the first to write military romantic suspense thrillers.

Her February novel—Vicki is so prolific that the phrase “latest novel” won’t be correct for very long— is Bulletproof Princess (Silhouette Bombshell). It is the sixth volume in the "It Girls" project, a tag-team mini-series from several authors about a secret club of heiresses who infiltrate the world of high society crime.

* * *

PART ONE.

As a thriller novelist, you occupy a rare territory—do you write military/espionage thrillers with romance, or romantic thrillers with military/espionage?

Going back to 1995, I've done both. The stories I like reading and writing best have three elements: suspense, mystery and romance. The emphasis shifts to best serve the needs of the story. More often than not, the novels are thrillers with a suspense and a romantic element. I developed a reader base early on in the romance genre, and I attempt to respect it, but I've always written crossover books dealing with issues.


Did you intend to break new ground, or were you just writing something you wanted as a reader?
I only have one rule about the books I write: I must love them. For me to love them, they have to be purpose-driven as well as entertaining. The reasons have varied from shedding light on domestic abuse (1989), biological terrorism (1993), chemical warfare (1994), nuclear (1995) the potential for poisoning our water (1995) and food supply (2001), sex-slavery (2002, 2004) and child porn (2005). So my reasons for selecting the stories I do is purpose-driven rather than fitting into a specific slot in the market.

Admittedly, building a career would be more efficient if I'd choose a marketing niche and stay in it, but that's not why I'm here and not why I write.


How has your recent eye surgery affected your work?
The surgery would have slowed me down for a few days and done little else ... but the protective goggles I wore to avoid injury after it actually slipped and caused an injury that knocked me totally out of commission for a couple weeks.

I went from seeing "blurry" to not being able to keep my eye open. It's disorienting not to be able to focus. I couldn't read words on a page (to follow novel threads) so I started dictating a new nonfiction book. In under two weeks, I've done nearly 200 pages.

So it's working out -- a fact for which my husband is grateful. There's nothing more cranky than a writer who isn't writing. Seriously, sometimes we have to get creative, but there's always a way.


What are your writing habits?
I try not to develop many because I've seen so many writers get locked into writing one way and then when they can't work in that way, they believe they can't write. So I experiment with new methods all the time.

I average writing 25-40 pages per day, and often edit in 3-5 chapter segments. I compose on the computer keyboard, the recorder and, at times, on scrap paper, the edges of the newspaper or cocktail napkins. It depends on where I am and what I'm doing when those snippets of gems hit me.

I don't much like composing in longhand because my writing speed is too slow to keep up with my mind and I lose too much, though even with that there is an exception. When I hit a scene that's giving me trouble, I take a notebook to the kitchen table and write the scene out in longhand. That relates back to childhood and my dad telling me 99% of all genius is created at the kitchen table. It's a sure-fire get-you-out-of-this-jam-
and-away-from-that-brick-wall method of writing that's never failed to work.

Some books are emotionally challenging to write. For those, I usually abandon the office, take the laptop to the kitchen table, and get the first draft down, then go outside—under an oak (my favorite tree for its strength) or to the beach (my special perspective place) to edit.


Are you an “outline” writer or “make it up as you go” writer?
I've done both but for the last five years or so, I've worked from a plot board because I like complex plots and it's easy to spot holes or loose threads on one before you write. No writing yourself into brick walls and less rewriting.

* * *

Come back tomorrow for the second part of our Q&A. You can find her online at www.VickiHinze.com.

Related links:
VICKI HINZE, PT 2
VICKI HINZE, PT 3

Sign up for the FREE "Thriller Readers Newsletter" and keep up with the latest profiles, news and reviews in the world of thriller fiction. Subscribers are also entered to win FREE BOOKS!

More mystery and thriller novelists:
CLIVE CUSSLER: LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
THRILLER FEST 2006
Q&A: TASHA ALEXANDER (And Only to Deceive)
Q&A: LONNIE CRUSE (Murder In Metropolis)
Q&A: THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN (Bone Thief)

INTERVIEW ARCHIVE

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

DEBATING "DA VINCI"

With the rampant success of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code in hardcover—(think about that one for a second; this is the biggest selling novel in history, and it did so in hardcover)—it is only to be expected that the controversy would continue swirling with the novel now released in both mass market paperback and trade paperback, and with the Ron Howard film coming to theaters next month.

In the Op-Ed section of the New York Times, best-selling novelist (and fellow International Thriller Writers member) Joseph Finder writes about the recent plagiarism case against Brown. Finder points out the irony that the entire case revolves around points of "history" that are, in fact, an elaborate hoax:

... it is fitting that the "hypothesis" in the Brown dispute was largely the invention of a French hoaxster named Pierre Plantard, who died in 2000 at age 80. During the 1960's, he and his collaborators planted forged parchments in the French national library, the Bibliothèque Nationale, to provide spurious support for Plantard's wild tale about Jesus and his bloodline.


And J. Mark Bertrand weighs in with an interesting essay about the rise of the "Paranoid Religious Thriller":

Consider the earlier mainstream success of the Left Behind books. These were also dogmatic thrillers, and they were gobbled up and read by believer and unbeliever alike. They're even credited with having converted people to the books' version of dispensational, evangelical Christianity, in the same way that The Da Vinci Code is feared to have swayed readers toward New Age gnosticism.

Also of note are two new websites created to aid in helping moviegoers navigate their way through the fact and ficton of The Da Vinci Code:

Focus on the Family is offering resources by top Christian scholars online at go.family.org/davinci to help moviegoers better understand and answer questions raised in the novel. The Web site compiles original content from key Christian leaders, including Lee Strobel and Josh McDowell.

Sony Pictures has also gotten in on the act, no doubt hoping to channel the inevitable backlash to the upcoming film. TheDaVinciChallenge.com includes essays from 45 Christian writers, scholars and leaders of evangelical organizations, including Hugh Hewitt and George Barna.

Related links:
AMAZON LISTMANIA: DEBATING DA VINCI
HEARING "HERETIC"
DA VINCI IN TIME FOR DA MOVIE

Die Laughing: Funny Crime and Mystery Fiction

SHE'S THE SHERIFF!

A woman with a complicated past returns home to become the small town's new sheriff. Best Mann For The Job is by the writer/artist team of Chris and Erica Well. Read it from the beginning at StudioWell.com. Watch the trailer on YouTube.