Friday, June 30, 2006

ITW: TL HINES, PT 3

The finale of our three-part Q&A with novelist T.L. Hines, member of International Thriller Writers, Inc. and author of the debut thriller is Waking Lazarus (Bethany House). Hines has been a professional writer more than 15 years, with articles in such publications as Log Homes, Food & Wine, and Travel & Leisure. His fiction has appeared at Web Del Sol and Infuze Magazine. In 2005, he won the “Best Spec Fiction Novel” category in the Maryland Writers’ Association Novel Contest. Tony also maintains an active blog at TLHines.com.

* * *

PART THREE.

WHAT ABOUT WRITING DO YOU WISH NON-WRITERS UNDERSTOOD?
That I'm not looking for ideas. I have plenty. I love to encourge the people who say, "I've always wanted to write." My reply is: "Then you should." But I get a little put out with the people who say, "Oooh, I have a great idea for a book." Especially when they get a little secretive, as if afraid to divulge too much of the Grand Idea. Really, folks, I have enough ideas of my own.


WHAT ABOUT WRITING DO YOU WISH OTHER WRITERS UNDERSTOOD?
That for every single one of us who has a book contract, there are at least 100 pre-published writers who would dearly love to be in our positions. That's why I'm mystified by writers who seem to constantly complain about their publishers or some other aspect of their writing careers. We're incredibly fortunate to be paid something -- anything -- for doing what we love, and I wish a lot more of us would act that way.


FOR THE WRITER WITH A NEW BOOK, WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE BEST THING TO PROMOTE IT?
I think the essential for any new writer is a website -- at least a blog. If I could do only one thing, I think I'd put up a page at MySpace.com, then spend at least an hour a day finding readers and writers at MySpace and other communities on the Internet.


WOULD YOU RECOMMEND JOINING AN AUTHOR GUILD LIKE INTERNATIONAL THRILLER WRITERS?
Absolutely. It helps you build connections, of course, but more importantly, it helps you learn. No matter what stage of this grand game you're in, you can always learn -- and in an organization such as ITW, you learn from some pretty great names. James Patterson, Tess Gerritsen, James Rollins, David Morrell and hundreds of others.


OF ALL THE FINE AUTHOR ORGANIZATIONS AVAILABLE, WHAT ABOUT ITW DO YOU FEEL SETS IT APART?
I think I love ITW because it's active. I mean, it's always doing something, trying new things. The newsletter is great, because it doesn't just go to members; it goes to interested readers. The Thriller anthology is just a brilliant idea, and has generated an incredible amount of press. And let's not forget Thrillerfest in Arizona: they've gone above and beyond putting together the program for that con. Most organizations would be proud to do any one of those things, while ITW is doing all of them and more.


BONUS: THE MUNSTERS OR ADDAMS FAMILY?
Kolchak: The Night Stalker. I know that wasn't a choice, but really, there WAS no other choice when I was a young buck.

* * *

Many thanks to T.L. Hines. Find him online at TLHines.com and TLHines.com/blog. Visit his MySpace page at MySpace.com/tlhines. His thriller Waking Lazarus is available at Amazon and many other fine retailers.

Related links:
T.L. HINES, PT 1
T.L. HINES, 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 ITW links:
Q&A: KATHRYN MACKEL (The Hidden)
Q&A: ROBERT LIPARULO (Comes a Horseman)
Q&A: VICKI HINZE (Bulletproof Princess)
Q&A: THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN (Bone Thief)
ITW SPOTLIGHT ON CHRIS WELL (ME)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

"EVELYN" IS WHAT IT IS

Legendary Christian rock journalist and man-about-town Bruce Brown plugs my novel Deliver Us From Evelyn in fine fashion: It Is What It Is (what it is...): Deliver Us from Evelyn

FLEE THE APPEARANCE OF EVEL



Now in handy web banner form ...

GUARDIAN LINE TO LAUNCH THIS SEPT.

UMI (Urban Ministries, Inc), the leader in non-denominational urban Christian and positive media content, announces the biggest launch in comics history for African American content: The Guardian Line.

The project is headed by comics veteran Michael Davis, who has been looking for the chance to produce a faith-based, positive comics series for 10 years. “The Black church is the most powerful entity in Black America,” he states. “If you can create something that resonates in the Black church, you can reach the majority of African Americans.”

See the whole press release at Newsarama.

ITW: TL HINES, PT 2

Continuing our conversation with thriller writer T.L. Hines, whose brand-new debut thriller is Waking Lazarus (Bethany House). Hines has been an advertising agency owner/principal, a trade magazine editor, and now a novelist. TL lives in Montana with his wife and daughter. He is also a card-carrying member of International Thriller Writers, Inc.

* * *

PART TWO.

WHAT ARE YOUR WRITING HABITS?
Sloppy. Every morning, I try to put in two hours of uninterrupted writing. Unfortunately, the "uninterrupted" part hasn't been happening all that much recently, so I'm behind on my next book. Lots of people set daily goals, and I think that's worthwhile, but I don't have set goals for word count.

If I can sit down and write for two hours, I'll usually be able to get a couple thousand words -- provided I know where the story is going. Editing and revisions can happen any time of the day, but those first few hours are the golden time for writing.


ARE YOU AN "OUTLINE" WRITER OR A "MAKE IT UP AS YOU GO" WRITER?
I've tried both methods, and I think each approach has something going for it. When I outlined, I was able to move faster, and revisions were much easier. When I went Seat of the Pants (SOTP), it took me about three times as long to finish a comparable project ... but I think the plot was actually stronger. And frankly, I enjoyed the SOTP approach more, even if it was more of an effort.

So now, I try to combine the two. First, I sit down and do SOTP, writing the story as a screenplay. This gives me major scenes and dialog, helps me gel the characters, and gives me a 90-page rough story. That lets me "discover" the story, which is what I really like about the SOTP approach.

But when I'm done with that, I have a 90-page script that functions as my outline for writing the novel. When I take it to the first draft for a novel, I'm able to fill in some of the holes and develop the characters.


ARE YOU A FULL-TIME NOVELIST?
No, and that's fine. Writing, for me, is very therapeutic. I wrote my first novel as a way to escape some of the stress of running/owning my own business. I'm in a much better place now, as far as the "day job" goes, because my company has since merged with a larger one. That's allowed me, in many ways, to pursue my dreams of fiction publication.


WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD "MADE IT" AS A NOVELIST?
Right now, I'm working on the second book of my contract. I'm also developing some ideas for at least one series, as well as a couple more stand-alones. I don't know if I can say that I've "made it" yet, but signing that first contract was a good step. And getting good reviews has helped me feel legit, at least on some level.


WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS?
Write because you love it, not because you have a huge desire to be published. If you're writing for the love of it, enjoying the creation and escaping into the minds of other characters, you'll ironically be on the path to publication. If you're writing because the most important thing in the world is seeing your name in print, you're misguided. You'll be worrying too much about what sells. You'll be chasing every new trend. You'll be frequenting writing boards online, and asking questions such as, "Should I use Courier or Times New Roman on my manuscript?" And frankly, you'll be spending less time actually writing.

I know of which I speak, because I've been there. I wrote my first book, went through more than 80 rejections from literary agents. I chalked it up to learning, put away the book, then wrote a second book. Again, more rejections. Maybe 100 of them this time.

Frustrated, I started writing a third book, wondering why I should even bother. Then, I realized I had a bad case of publication fever, and I had to sit down and say to myself: "You know what? It doesn't really matter if I ever get published, because I love writing. So I'm going to focus on writing, and quit worrying about publishing." With this admission to myself, I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders.

And ironically, about two weeks after being honest with myself, I received an email from Dave Long, acquisitions editor for Bethany House, who had downloaded the first chapter of my first book and was interested in seeing more. A month later, I had a two-book contract.

I don't think the timing on any of that was a coincidence.

* * *

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of our conversation with T.L. Hines. In the meantime, find him online at TLHines.com and TLHines.com/blog. His thriller Waking Lazarus is available at Amazon and many other fine retailers.

Related links:
T.L. HINES, PT 1
T.L. HINES, 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 ITW links:
Q&A: KATHRYN MACKEL (The Hidden)
Q&A: ROBERT LIPARULO (Comes a Horseman)
Q&A: VICKI HINZE (Bulletproof Princess)
Q&A: THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN (Bone Thief)
ITW SPOTLIGHT ON CHRIS WELL (ME)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

ITW: TL HINES, PT 1


For the next three days, we are featuring novelist T.L. Hines, whose brand-new debut thriller is Waking Lazarus (Bethany House):

Jude Allman has died and come back to life three times, becoming a celebrity against his own wishes. When the world crushes in around this unlikely miracle man, this modern-day Lazarus, he escapes into the vastness of Montana. He changes his name and withdraws from the public eye, trying to forget all that came before. But the past, like Jude, won't stay buried. A prowling evil circles his adopted hometown of Red Lodge, Montana. Children are disappearing, and Jude may have the key to solving the crimes—hidden inside the mysteries of his own deaths ...

Tony is also a member of International Thriller Writers, Inc.

* * *

PART ONE.

WHO ARE YOUR LITERARY INFLUENCES?
I tend to love supernatural fiction, crime fiction and slipstream fiction. The greatest influence on my own writing has always been Stephen King; I devoured anything and everything by King in my formative years. I'm also a big fan of F. Paul Wilson's "Repairman Jack" series.

In the CBA realm, anyone who writes supernatural fiction, or suspense fiction in general, owes a debt of gratitude to Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker. Crime novelists I love include C.J. Box, George Pelecanos, Steve Hamilton, James Rollins, John Connolly, James Lee Burke, Elmore Leonard ... actually, that list is probably a long one, so I'll stop there.

Slipstream novelists include Ray Bradbury (works such as Fahernheit 451, more than his SF stuff), William Hjortsberg and James Blaylock. I also read a lot of SF/Fantasy when I was younger -- Piers Anthony, Roger Zelazny and Jack L. Chalker were particular favorites.


WHO ARE YOUR PHILOSOPHICAL INFLUENCES?
I'd have to say the Inklings -- Tolkien, Lewis and Charles Williams are the best-known of them -- have had a philosophical influence on my writing. My primary aim is to tell a story, first and foremost. But, like the Inklings, I also hope to communicate something at the metaphorical level.


WHAT IS THE BEST THING ANYONE SAID ABOUT YOUR BOOK?
The honest truth is: I'm absolutely thrilled when anyone says anything positive. My ego's that big.

Three recent comments come to mind, though. One, I was excited to get a starred review in Library Journal. The review itself was very nice, of course, but seeing that star at the beginning of the review made my day. Second was an email sent to my publisher, from a reviewer who said Waking Lazarus was the first book to ever make her actually hold her breath while reading. It's nice she took time to let my publisher know.

Maybe tops on the list, though, was a review from a reviewer who obviously didn't WANT to like Waking Lazarus. He said in his review that he didn't think faith elements have any place in entertainment. And yet, he went on to say, "... as a murder-mystery novel alone this book is compelling as well as spell-binding." When someone doesn't want to like your book, but ends up having to admit he liked it, well, that's a high compliment.


WHAT IS THE WORST THING ANYONE SAID ABOUT YOUR BOOK?
So far, the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive -- even in the major trades such as PW, Library Journal, Kirkus and Booklist. PW had a few minor quibbles, but nothing I'd term as "bad" or hypercritical. Frankly, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop, as the old cliché goes -- I'm waiting for someone to post an Amazon review that says, "This book isn't fit to be toilet paper."


HOW MANY BOOKS DO YOU READ A MONTH?
A couple a week, so about eight in an average month. That can vary, according to what else I have going on, of course, but I rarely let a day get by without a bit of concentrated reading time.

And I'm a fiction guy. There's enough of the real world around me, thankyouverymuch. I want books to help me escape for a while. I travel a bit across the wide open spaces of Montana, so I often listen to one or two audiobooks per month -- always unabridged, if available. Abridgments are an abomination of all that is good and holy.

* * *

Come back tomorrow for the second part of our conversation with T.L. Hines. In the meantime, find him online at TLHines.com and TLHines.com/blog. His thriller Waking Lazarus is available at Amazon and many other fine retailers.

Related links:
T.L. HINES, PT 2
T.L. HINES, 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 ITW links:
Q&A: KATHRYN MACKEL (The Hidden)
Q&A: ROBERT LIPARULO (Comes a Horseman)
Q&A: VICKI HINZE (Bulletproof Princess)
Q&A: THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN (Bone Thief)
THRILLERFEST 2006
ITW SPOTLIGHT ON CHRIS WELL (ME)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Short Stories = Market Value?

Crime fiction writer Michael Bracken weighs in on why he writes short stories -- and why he has no patience with those who write them for "market value": CrimeFictionWriter: Stay Out Of My Universe

JAMIE COSLEY ON THE PULSE


Our pal Jamie Cosley, indie comics creator, has a new book coming out in July, More Than Sparrows.

See the news at The Pulse (and an endorsement from my lovely wife, Erica Well).

You can also read my 2005 interview with Jamie here.

Related links:
DEFENDING COMIC BOOKS
CSI HITS THE COMIC CON
SINISTER SIX: ARE YOU IN OR OUT?

COMICS JAM: GOLD!!!
THE MILLER SISTERS: "AH-HA!"

"ISN'T IT EVIL OR SOMETHING?"

The new arc continues with #102 of The Miller Sisters, the 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

WATCHING THE DETECTIVES

In stores TODAY are the latest Monk and Columbo DVDs:

Monk : Season Four

Columbo : The Complete Fifth Season

Also in stores today:

Monk: The Official Episode Guide

Coming up in a couple of weeks:

Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii, by Lee Goldberg

Related links:
MORE LAW, MORE ORDER
OFFICIAL MONK
MORE FROM MR. MONK
ARE YOU MONKISH?
MONK RENEWED FOR TWO MORE SEASONS

Monday, June 26, 2006

2006 PUBLISH ME! CONTEST

New house Wolfmont Publishing is holding a contest for unsigned crime and suspense novelists. Details here. Deadline is the end of July.

A Newbie's Guide to Publishing: Booksignings: Everything you Need to Know

Thriller novelist JA Konrath offers a host of suggestions for the author who wants to put together a tour: A Newbie's Guide to Publishing: Booksignings: Everything you Need to Know

P.S. -- Publishers Weekly reports that this summer Mr. Konrath plans to hit something like 500 bookstores in 60 days.

THE POWER OF STORY

"Those who tell the stories rule society." -- Plato

"I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old." -- Psalm 78:2-4

"He who has ears, let him hear." The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?" He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them." -- Matthew 13:9-11


Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. -- Matthew 13:34

Saturday, June 24, 2006

JURY DUTY FRAUD

There is a scam going around where a phone caller tells people they have an arrest warrant out for skipping out on jury duty. Snopes found it to be a real and potentially harmful scam ...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

33 Marketing Success Tips

Aol Small Business and Entrepreneur.com offer 33 Marketing Success Tips:
Part of the guerrilla marketing mindset suggests that you should be thinking about marketing all the time. Not just quarterly, not just monthly, not just weekly, but every single day. Really, it's not as hard as it sounds -- there are quite a few ways you can incorporate marketing into your daily activities.

It's often said that doing anything for 21 days in a row will eventually turn into a habit for you. And a marketing habit is a great thing for any business to have. So what I'm going to suggest is that you choose three to five things every day that are related to marketing for your business and do them at the beginning of the day before you start fighting the daily fires -- and forget all about your planned tasks.
Sales & Marketing- 33-marketing-success-tips - AOL Small Business

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

FLEE THE APPEARANCE OF EVEL

The new mini-poster, convenient for emailing to your friends and family -- now available in TWO flavors:

ASK FOR IT WHEREVER SUSPENSE FICTION IS SOLD.







ASK FOR IT WHEREVER CHRISTIAN SUSPENSE IS SOLD.







Email this to 10 people today. (Friends and family—no spam.) Tell them to buy Deliver Us From Evelyn from Amazon.com or Christianbook.com, or to print out this form and take it to their local bookseller.

Related links:
SPREAD THE WORD
DELIVER US FROM EVELYN: HIT THE STREETS
ITW SPOTLIGHT ON CHRIS WELL (ME)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

"I DON'T KNOW HOW TO CONTROL IT -- "

The new arc continues with #101 of The Miller Sisters, the 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

Sunday, June 18, 2006

MARKOSIA TO ADAPT HERETIC


Congrats go to horror novelist Joe Nassise: His "Templar Chronicles" are being adapted to comics by Markosia Press.

Press release at Newsarama.

Fun news, Joe!


Related links:

THROW THE BOOK
HEARING "HERETIC"

Saturday, June 17, 2006

TOO GRITTY?

My friend Eric Wilson shares some of the conflicts a novelist faces between art and commerce on his Amazon blog:
I'm working now on the second Aramis book, A Shred of Truth, but I find myself questioning my own scenes and dialogue. Will I be asked to "clean it up"? Will readers in ivory towers send e-mails about the "gritty stuff" in my work?

Eric's latest novel, The Best of Evil (WaterBrook), comes out in September.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Q&A: JASON BOYETT, PT 3

Continuing our conversation with author Jason Boyett, formerly an award-winning creative director, graphic designer, and advertising copywriter. His books include Pocket Guide to Adulthood and Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse, as well as the brand-new Pocket Guide to the Bible (Relevant).


* * *

PART 3.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS?
Probably the same advice most established writers have given and will continue to give—to be a good writer you have to read a lot and write a lot. You have to practice your craft, and the best practice comes from doing the actual writing and studying the finished product.

But that’s become a boring advice-from-a-writer cliché, so I’ll give you one more: Aspiring writers need to meet people, whether online or in person. Don’t be ashamed to market yourself, to network, to be aggressive in attempting to get your foot in the door. Unfortunately, getting published often relies as much on who you know as it relies on what (and how) you write. So put yourself out there. Go to writer’s conferences. Write articles. Start up a blog, and make it good. Try to get published in online magazines, even if they don’t pay anything. Get your name in print. Make connections, and don’t be afraid to put those connections to work.

WHAT ASPECT OF GOD YOU HOPE READERS TAKE AWAY AFTER READING YOUR BOOKS?
That God is bigger than our eschatological systems (the Apocalypse book) or our confining notions of what the Bible is and how it’s supposed to be read (the new book).

I also hope they’ll see that it’s OK to see the humor in some of our religious stories and practices and beliefs. To acknowledge that humor is to acknowledge our humanity. As Christians, being willing to laugh at some of the weird things we do (predicting the Second Coming or pinpointing the Antichrist, for instance) is a good corrective. It keeps us humble. Besides, if we fail to see the funny stuff in, for example, the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal—if we’re worried that laughing about something in the Bible will get us struck by lightning or something—then we need to lighten up. Too often we equate spirituality with being real serious about stuff, and we forget that joy is a virtue.

WHAT ONE THING ABOUT WRITING DO YOU WISH NON-WRITERS UNDERSTOOD?
It’s not nearly as glamorous or lucrative as popularly depicted. We’re not all making $100,000 advances. Perhaps we’re a little bit more famous than the average guy on the street, but even the moderately successful ones are virtually unknown to the general population. Which is why the majority of published writers aren’t writing full-time as a career. They’re university professors or preachers or inspirational speakers or magazine editors.

WHAT ONE THING ABOUT WRITING DO YOU WISH OTHER WRITERS UNDERSTOOD?
That it is physically and mentally impossible to write more than three or four books a year. I wish annoyingly prolific writers like Jerry Jenkins or Nora Roberts would realize this, because they make me look like an arthritic slug. Seriously, a normal person should not be able to write a novel in three weeks. I suspect witchcraft is involved.

FOR THE WRITER WITH A NEW BOOK, WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE BEST THING HE OR SHE CAN DO TO PROMOTE IT?
You mean, other than getting Oprah interested in it? For me, “best” means “least expensive, with biggest potiential impact.” That means taking advantage of free media, like blogs or email.

When I release a book, I send a witty, informative email out to virtually everyone I know, and then I ask them to forward it to everyone they know. It’s like virtuous spam, because together, all of us know quite a few people. And if I have friends or acquaintances who publish blogs, I always try to give them a free copy of the book, asking in return for a review on their blog. Consider the copies you give away to be the cost of doing business. It’s advertising.

BONUS: The Munsters or The Addams Family?
I’d go with The Munsters, since they’re little more than a cheap knock-off of The Addams Family, and I always root for the underdog.

* * *

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of our conversation with Jason Boyett. In the meantime, find him online at JasonBoyett.com. Follow his virtual book tour here.

Related links:
Q&A: JASON BOYETT, PT 1
Q&A: JASON BOYETT, PT 2

More authors:
FAST LOOK: ANDY ANDREWS (The Seven Decisions)
CONVERSATION WITH ANNE RICE (Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt)

INTERVIEW ARCHIVE

MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE

Got two (count 'em, TWO) interviews with authors going on this week!

If you're looking for Jason Boyett, author of The Pocket Guide to the Bible (Relevant):
Q&A: JASON BOYETT, PT 1
Q&A: JASON BOYETT, PT 2
Q&A: JASON BOYETT, PT 3

If you're looking for Lorena McCourtney, author of On The Run (Revell):
Q&A: LORENA MCCOURTNEY, PT 1
Q&A: LORENA MCCOURTNEY, PT 2
Q&A: LORENA MCCOURTNEY, PT 3

Thursday, June 15, 2006

2006 RETAILERS CHOICE AWARDS

The finalists have been announced for Christian Retailing's 2006 Retailers Choice Awards.

SPOTLIGHT ON "LEARNING CURVE"

Most interviewers ask me about being a novelist—but Mike Duran at Decompose digs deeper, asking about the many interests driving Chris Well: Learning Curve (which he calls a "pop culture infobahn"). The conversation touches on comic books, Christian rock and the tension between the Church and the arts. And Pinky & The Brain.

Q&A: JASON BOYETT, PT 2

Continuing our conversation with author Jason Boyett, formerly an award-winning creative director, graphic designer, and advertising copywriter. His books include Pocket Guide to Adulthood and Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse, as well as the brand-new Pocket Guide to the Bible (Relevant).


* * *

PART 2.

HOW MANY BOOKS DO YOU READ A MONTH?
I depends on whether or not I’m on deadline. My writing projects (condensing 2,000 years of eschatology into a small, user-friendly book, for example) are fairly research intensive. So if I’m under contract and facing a deadline, I’m generally reading/skimming/browsing 15-20 books a month, all related to the subject.

When I’m reading for fun and not under the pressure of a looming contract deadline, I’ll go through about a book a week, whether it’s theology, non-fiction, or purely escapist fiction.

WHAT ARE YOUR WRITING HABITS?
When I started this book-writing thing, I promised myself that I’d try not to let writing take the place of any time I’d spend hanging out with my children. (I have a six-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son.) So I write at night after they go to bed and in the morning before they wake up. This means I get in about three hours of writing a day, 10 p.m. to midnight and 6 to 7 a.m. I revise as I write, so generally I end up with a draft ready to deliver to my publisher.

ARE YOU AN "OUTLINE" WRITER OR A "MAKE IT UP AS YOU GO" WRITER?
I always have all the chapters settled when I begin, but I generally make things up as I go within each chapter. Of course, the kinds of books I write are very much driven by the chapter content—my new book has a glossary, a cast of characters, a biblical plot summary, with chapters dedicated to each of those. So I’ll decide on the fly which characters get included in the chapter about biblical characters, but I’m still operating within a larger outline.

If I were a novelist, I’d definitely have to work from a detailed plot outline. I wrote a novel after graduating from college. The overall concept was good, I think, and the actual writing wasn’t too terrible, but the plot—which I improvised on a day-to-day basis—was just really, really dumb. Next time I write a novel, I’m scripting the whole thing out in advance.

ARE YOU A FULL-TIME WRITER?
No. I’d like to be, and perhaps could be if I supplemented my books with a lot of freelance advertising work—I have a background as a creative director and copywriter—but I’m not quite ready to do that nail-biting, paycheck- to-paycheck thing. I know too many writers juggling multiple contracts at once trying to make it work, and I’m way too lazy for that. I’m too comfortable. So until I hit it big, this is just a hobby.

WHAT IS YOUR DAY JOB?
I’m the communications director at a large church in Texas. I write/ design/produce all of our publications, literature, advertising, website, video, etc. I took this job after five years in the advertising industry as a writer, designer, and creative director. I got burned out by the long hours and downsized my career a bit to work at the church—which offers me a little more flexibility to pursue this writing hobby.

HOW MANY BOOKS DID YOU HAVE TO WRITE BEFORE YOU KNEW YOU HAD "MADE IT"?
I’ve written five solo books and counting, and am not sure yet whether or not I’ve “made it.”

* * *

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of our conversation with Jason Boyett. In the meantime, find him online at JasonBoyett.com. Follow his virtual book tour here.

Related links:
Q&A: JASON BOYETT, PT 1
Q&A: JASON BOYETT, PT 3

More authors:
FAST LOOK: ANDY ANDREWS (The Seven Decisions)
CONVERSATION WITH ANNE RICE (Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt)

INTERVIEW ARCHIVE

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

CALL IT, UM, "GOOGLESPEARE"


Google Book Search now offers the complete plays of Shakespeare online.

Q&A: LORENA MCCOURTNEY, PT 3


Today, we wrap our discussion with award-winning mystery novelist Lorena McCourtney, author of On The Run (Revell). Lorena started writing in the fifth grade ("all my stories were about horses")—and began her adult writing career doing short stories for children and teens, mostly for Sunday School publications. After a detour into women's fiction (during which she published 24 romance novels), she returned to Christian fiction, where she wrote a few more romances before she turned to writing mysteries.

Now, without further ado, the conclusion of our conversation ...

* * *

PART 3.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS?
Write a book that interests you, something you’d like to read, not just something to hit a market. (A market that may be gone by the time you get you the finished book to an editor.) Which doesn’t mean you should ignore the market, of course. But don’t turn yourself into a pretzel trying to write something to fit some particular niche. Find another niche.

WHAT ONE ASPECT OF GOD DO YOU MOST HOPE READERS TAKE AWAY AFTER READING ONE OF YOUR BOOKS?
Basically, that you can depend on God. He isn’t going to forsake or abandon you. Hebrews 13:5 “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you,” is down underneath much of what I write.

WHAT ONE THING ABOUT WRITING DO YOU WISH NON-WRITERS UNDERSTOOD?
That writing is a job, and just because you’re not going off to an office every day doesn’t mean you’re available at any time for chatting, shopping, baby-sitting, etc.

WHAT ONE THING ABOUT WRITING DO YOU WISH OTHER WRITERS UNDERSTOOD?
That getting one book published doesn’t mean you’ve “made it,” and there may well be many disappointments ahead.

FOR THE WRITER WITH A NEW BOOK, WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE BEST THING HE OR SHE CAN DO TO PROMOTE IT?
Hmmm. If I had a really good answer for this question, I’d probably be better known than I am. But I think a good first move is to get to know your publisher’s publicity department, so you will know what they’re doing and how you can work with them on promotion.

* * *

Many thanks to novelist Lorena McCourtney. Find her online at LorenaMcCourtney.com (where you can read an excerpt of On The Run). Find more about her novels at her publisher's site, Revell Books.

Related links:
Q&A: LORENA MCCOURTNEY, PT 1
Q&A: LORENA MCCOURTNEY, PT 2

More mystery and suspense author Q&As:
Q&A: MINDY STARNS CLARK (Blind Dates Can Be Murder)
Q&A: GINNY AIKEN (Decorating Schemes)
Q&A: CRESTON MAPES (Full Tilt)
Q&A: BRANDILYN COLLINS (Web of Lies)
Q&A: TASHA ALEXANDER (And Only to Deceive)
Q&A: LONNIE CRUSE (Murder In Metropolis)

INTERVIEW ARCHIVE

Q&A: JASON BOYETT, PT 1

Today through Friday, we quiz Jason Boyett, author of the Pocket Guide to the Bible (Relevant). Jason writes books that "mesh lots of information, pop culture references, plausibly hip vernacular, and modern spirituality into a tasty stew of highly readable goodness." He also wrote Pocket Guide to Adulthood and Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse.

* * *

PART 1.

ARE YOU AN "ENTERTAINER" OR A "MINISTER"?
I see my writing career as more entertainment than ministry. Writing books is a way to put my talents and abilities to good use. It's a way to educate people, I think, on some of the subjects I write about. And if that causes them to think more deeply about certain topics (especially religious ones) or somehow draw closer to God, then that’s great. I suppose it has some ministry value there. But I don’t tend to want to overspiritualize it and say it's a capital-M ministry. It's a hobby, and a way to make a little money (emphasis: little), and a way to use the talents God has given me.

Which is not to say I'm not a minister at all. All Christians ought to be ministers. I minister in lots of other ways that don't have anything to do with "Pocket Guide" books. These opportunities are more personal, less public, and hopefully more focused on the "least of these," which rarely includes people with enough disposable income to buy books. Writing is not my ministry. What I do with my life is my ministry, and writing is a small, entertainment-oriented part of it.

WHO ARE YOUR LITERARY INFLUENCES?
I'm a long-time fan of authors like Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. I love David James Duncan’s fiction and essays, and Anne Lamott’s religious writing, and just about anything by Robert Farrar Capon, and the three diaries of Henri Nouwen. I’m not sure how much any of those are literary influences, as none of them are really writers of small, snarky religious books. In that regard, maybe Dave Barry and Jon Stewart (or, at least, his writers) would be more accurately called my influences.

WHO ARE YOUR SPIRITUAL INFLUENCES?
See above. I'm indebted to writers like Nouwen and Brennan Manning and Capon for expanding my spiritual thinking beyond the narrow Southern Baptist borders I grew up within. I continue to be inspired by religious writers who cause me to think—like Scot McKnight, Brian McLaren or N.T. Wright—whether or not I always agree with them. As for the non-writers, I owe my faithful skepticism to my dad. My commitment to prayer comes from my mom. And my spiritual gratitude can be traced back to my grandparents.

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ANYONE SAID ABOUT ONE OF YOUR BOOKS?
A number of reviewers of this new book, Pocket Guide to the Bible (in addition to last year’s Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse), have mentioned the fact that it combines fun readability with education. You learn something from it, and you have a good time doing so. Lauren Sandler's blurb on the back cover—"Leads us through the Bible like Jon Stewart leads viewers through the day's news"—is pretty much the endorsement of my dreams.

WHAT IS THE WORST THING ANYONE SAID ABOUT YOUR BOOKS?
There's an Amazon customer review for PGTTApocalypse that calls it "boring, cocky and dry." That's pretty much the complete opposite of what I'm trying to be as a writer, so obviously I need to track down this person and perhaps try to explain myself better, or at the least, introduce her to Lauren Sandler.

* * *

Come back tomorrow for the second part of our conversation with Jason Boyett. In the meantime, find him online at JasonBoyett.com. Follow his virtual book tour here.

Related links:
Q&A: JASON BOYETT, PT 2
Q&A: JASON BOYETT, PT 3

More authors:
FAST LOOK: ANDY ANDREWS (The Seven Decisions)
CONVERSATION WITH ANNE RICE (Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt)

INTERVIEW ARCHIVE

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

"HOW DID YOU DO THAT?"

The new arc continues with #100 of The Miller Sisters, the 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

Q&A: LORENA MCCOURTNEY, PT 2


We continue our discussion with award-winning mystery novelist Lorena McCourtney, whose best-selling work has drawn acclaim from both the Romance Writers of America and the American Library Association's Booklist. Her latest Ivy Malone mystery is On The Run (Revell). Read an excerpt here.

And so, without further ado, the second part of our conversation ...

* * *

PART 2.

HOW MANY BOOKS DO YOU READ A MONTH?
Probably three to five. Mysteries, of course. But at the moment I’m also reading some old 1920-30s books I inherited from my parents. Some good, some rather strange.

WHAT ARE YOUR WRITING HABITS?
I consider writing my job, so I get up and do it every day, just as if I were going to a job. (Of course I have to check e-mail first.) I work from about 9:30 to 4:00, with an hour or so off for lunch with my husband. But some of this time is spent in writing-related activities rather than actual writing. Research, answering reader e-mails and letters, trying to find items I’ve filed somewhere but can’t remember where, occasionally doing a little ego-surfing, etc. But I don’t try to do housework or anything else first, and then write in whatever time is left. The writing comes first.

ARE YOU AN "OUTLINE" WRITER OR A "MAKE IT UP AS YOU GO" WRITER?
Something of a combination, I think, although with a leaning toward being more of an OP (Outline Person) than a NOP (No-Outline Person).

Usually by the time I actually start a book, I’ve been thinking about it for some time. When I first get a book idea, I put it in my ideas file. If some connecting thoughts occur to me, I give the idea a file of its own and continue to toss in bits of information about character, plot, settings and theme. Also, hopefully, a title. Even though editors frequently change titles, I like to have one in place to start. It helps give a book focus.

Then, when it comes time to get started on the book, I get out all my scraps of paper and separate them into various piles. This helps me see where the holes are in plot or characterization, and I can fill them in.

If an editor requires a synopsis, I do one of 5-6 pages. If it isn’t required, I tend to muddle along, aiming toward a climactic ending, but actually outlining just a few scenes ahead at a time, not the whole book. I never do a complete chapter-by-chapter outline at the start of a book, as I understand some writers do. But neither do I start one without a fairly clear idea where it’s going. (Although sometimes my good plans go awry, and I may change the identity of the murderer halfway through the book.)

ARE YOU A FULL-TIME NOVELIST?
Yes, although I’m a slow one. I need to allow at least nine months to do a book. And I take more time off than I used to for going places with my husband, who is retired. (I’m assuming you don’t consider cooking, housekeeping, keeping the checkbook organized and paying the bills, etc. a “day job.”)

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD "MADE IT"?
This is a difficult question since my writing career hasn’t been that well defined. And knowing when I’ve “made it”? Even after 37 published books, certainly not yet!

I started out writing juvenile and teen short stories (some 250 of them published), along with a couple of teen books that didn’t sell and one that did. I added women’s short stories and had about 150 of them published. I then turned to romance novels. The first was a few chapters on a historical romance, and an agent tactfully suggested I try contemporaries instead. I did, and he sold my first attempt on the basis of three chapters and an outline. I then had some 24 mass-market romances published, although that doesn’t mean I sold everything I wrote. I then switched to Christian romances and a few years ago made yet another change, to Christian mysteries. So here I am.

* * *

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of our Q&A. In the meantime, find Lorena McCourtney online at LorenaMcCourtney.com (where you can read an excerpt of On The Run). You can also find more about her novels at her publisher's site, Revell Books.

Related links:
Q&A: LORENA MCCOURTNEY, PT 1
Q&A: LORENA MCCOURTNEY, PT 3

More mystery and suspense author Q&As:
Q&A: MINDY STARNS CLARK (Blind Dates Can Be Murder)
Q&A: GINNY AIKEN (Decorating Schemes)
Q&A: CRESTON MAPES (Full Tilt)
Q&A: BRANDILYN COLLINS (Web of Lies)
Q&A: TASHA ALEXANDER (And Only to Deceive)
Q&A: LONNIE CRUSE (Murder In Metropolis)

INTERVIEW ARCHIVE

Monday, June 12, 2006

RECEPTION RECAP

The reception and book signing at The Way Gallery in Nashville went very well—the gallery is already asking me to come back in 2007 with the next book. When I get a chance, I'll post some pictures from the event.

There are also a limited number of signed copies of Deliver Us From Evelyn available from The Way Gallery. (Shortly, we will pass along details on how to mail order.)

Q&A: LORENA MCCOURTNEY, PT 1


For the next three days, we are featuring award-winning mystery novelist Lorena McCourtney, whose best-selling work has drawn acclaim from both the Romance Writers of America and the American Library Association's Booklist. Her latest Ivy Malone mystery is On The Run (Revell):

Super senior sleuth Ivy Malone has curiosity that just won't quit. That inquisitiveness has gotten her into plenty of trouble, including murder, mayhem, and a place on a mini-Mafia hit list.

Hiding out from some thugs who want revenge, she hops in a motor home and heads across the country. But with Ivy behind the wheel, trouble is bound to be in the passenger's seat -- and a murder mystery can't be far away. So when she stumbles across two very dead bodies, Ivy is determined to solve the crime, even if it kills her.

And so, without further ado, the first part of our conversation ...

* * *

PART 1.

ARE YOU AN "ENTERTAINER" OR A "MINISTER"?

Just a writer. Although I hope I entertain readers and perhaps even minister to them.

WHO ARE YOUR LITERARY INFLUENCES?
From way, way back, horse books that I read as a child. My Friend Flicka, Black Beauty, etc., because I loved horses and wanted to write horse books. Even now, I think what influences me depends on what I’m writing at the time. When I was doing romances, I read a lot of romances. Now that I’m doing mysteries, I read a lot of mysteries. I don’t know how much they influence me, but I like to see what’s being published.

WHO ARE YOUR SPIRITUAL INFLUENCES?
I think the Bible has been the only real spiritual influence in my writing. I read some contemporary writers, of course, but I don’t think they particularly influence me. Although I do like to read the little monthly pamphlet called Our Daily Bread, with readings for each day, to get my day started. I find myself frequently underlining passages, or tearing pages out to save, so the writings there must have some influence on me.

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ANYONE SAID ABOUT ONE OF YOUR BOOKS?
The most gratifying words have come from my readers through emails and letters. One said: “The storyline in your book gave me hope. Not hope that [ex-husband] will change, but hope that life will get better and I can make it on my own once again.” I am pleased to be giving this woman, and perhaps others like her, hope.

WHAT IS THE WORST THING ANYONE SAID ABOUT ONE OF YOUR BOOKS?
I’ve been fortunate enough to receive at least mildly favorable and often enthusiastic comments about my books. Although one reviewer came down pretty hard on me with the following: “The plot takes a very long time to get moving. Ivy Malone and her friends discuss topics that I honestly don’t want to think about any time soon, such as old friends dying off. In addition, the initial mystery hardly seems something that would grab a reader’s interest.” All of which practically shouts “Boring!” (Although the reviewer did say some nicer things farther on in the review.)

* * *

Come back tomorrow for the next part of our conversation, In the meantime, find Lorena McCourtney online at LorenaMcCourtney.com and at her publisher's site, Revell Books.

Related links:
Q&A: LORENA MCCOURTNEY, PT 2
Q&A: LORENA MCCOURTNEY, PT 3

More mystery and suspense author Q&As:
Q&A: MINDY STARNS CLARK (Blind Dates Can Be Murder)
Q&A: GINNY AIKEN (Decorating Schemes)
Q&A: CRESTON MAPES (Full Tilt)
Q&A: BRANDILYN COLLINS (Web of Lies)
Q&A: TASHA ALEXANDER (And Only to Deceive)
Q&A: LONNIE CRUSE (Murder In Metropolis)

INTERVIEW ARCHIVE

JOHN CLEESE: BOND OUT, COMEDY IN

Famed British actor John Cleese is working on a new book to pass his comedic knowledge on to a new generation:

"I'm too old to write new comedy," Cleese, 66, was quoted as saying Monday by The Times newspaper. "I can never do better than `Fawlty Towers,' whatever I do. Now I very much want to teach young talent some rules of the game."
Meanwhile, Cleese is upset to have been "dumped" from the new James Bond prequel:
"Q doesn't appear in Casino Royale but it would have been nice if the producers had the courtesy to telephone me."
Of course, the absence of the modern-day Q from the new "Bond Begins" origin story makes complete sense—since this story takes place before any of the other films. The real mystery is why Dame Judi Densch is in.


Related links:

Friday, June 09, 2006

FLASHING IN THE GUTTERS

Another friend has a short-short story posted at the crime "flash fiction" site Flashing in the Gutters: Chris Mikesell: "The Turn Before Last"

And don't forget Matt Mikalatos: "Samaritan" and Linda Gilmore: "Thy Brother's Life."

SATURDAY: NASHVILLE RECEPTION & SIGNING

For those in the Nashville area, I am having my very FIRST public book signing tomorrow (June 10)! Actually, it is also a reception -- with FOOD and DOOR PRIZES! The event is between 2-4 PM at:

The Way Gallery
6600 Hwy100 in West Meade (zip code 37205)
it's about 1 Mile west of the Hwy 70/Hwy 100 split
The gallery is in the Nationwide Insurance Building.

For directions or info, click on the link above or call 337-2621.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

EVELYN RECAP

Here is a recap of how last week's "first chapter" event turned out. (Deliver Us From Evelyn was ranked the fifth most talked about book on the web -- whoo hoo!)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT COMING ...

On July 6, we have some BIG news. If you want to hear about it right as it breaks, be sure to sign up for WELL READ, the official newsletter of novelist Chris Well.

Click here to join Well_Read
Click to join Well_Read

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I TOOK TODAY OFF

My lack of posts today is a result of a day-long moratorium on being online. Because I am taking a much-needed day off.*

*(Yes, I am aware that I logged on long enough to tell you I wasn't logging on today. I am just so pathetic.)

Monday, June 05, 2006

NUMBER FIVE ON THE WEB

Our "first chapter" event last Friday was a smashing success—in fact, all the chatter online about Deliver Us From Evelyn netted us No. 5 on the list of most discussed books, according to blog authority Technorati, which currently tracks 42.9 million sites and 2.5 billion links.

I could barely enjoy it today, however, because today was also the day the July/August issue of Homecoming Magazine went out the door.

Tomorrow, I am taking my first real day off in ... well, I can't actually remember the last time I took an entire day off. (The challenge is on to see whether I can keep myself from blogging for a whole day.)

And then Wednesday—time to get back on track for Kansas City Novel #3 (due to the publisher in August, due in stores March 2007).

Saturday, June 03, 2006

KEEP ME IN SUSPENSE

Check it out: Keep Me In Suspense is a new group for writers of CBA suspense, mysteries and cozies. They have also launched a blog.

ULTIMATE THRILL

New in stores: The first anthology of International Thriller Writers, Thriller: Stories to Keep You Up All Night (Mira). Click ThrillerBook.com for info, and to download one of the stories free. Click Thrillerbook.com/tour for authors appearing in your city to sign your copy.

"Adventure on a grand scale you won't forget." -- Clive Cussler

"Keep your night light on for this one." -- Sandra Brown

"Thriller is like a box of the best chocolates—bite-sized, delicious, and totally addictive." -- Joe Finder

"Entertaining, fast-paced, and just plain fun." -- Tess Gerritsen

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 ITW links:
Q&A: KATHRYN MACKEL (The Hidden)
Q&A: ROBERT LIPARULO (Comes a Horseman)
Q&A: VICKI HINZE (Bulletproof Princess)
Q&A: THOMAS O'CALLAGHAN (Bone Thief)
ITW SPOTLIGHT ON CHRIS WELL (ME)

Friday, June 02, 2006

FIRST CHAPTER DAY!

For those of you who missed the previous dozen announcements:
Today, more than 40 blogs, MySpace pages and websites from three countries are posting the first chapter of my new thriller, Deliver Us From Evelyn.

I'll be keeping track here. (Updated throughout the event.)

If you want to jump on in and post it, too, all the tools you need are available at NovelSpoilers.blogspot.com. (Be sure to let me know if you are joining us, so I can link to your page.)

UPDATE: 7:19 PM
For a variety of reasons (including magazines deadlines), some links will not be up until Monday or Tuesday of next week. (Even so, we have a lot up already.)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

ON THE AIR

This afternoon, I will be a guest on the radio program “Bookshelf,” discussing my novels with hostess Dawn Weber. The interview airs 4:20 PM Central on KJAB 88.3 FM, Mexico, Missouri. The webcast will be carried online at KJAB.com.

EVELYN: TOMORROW!

We are now but hours away from our special Deliver Us From Evelyn online event, where 40-plus blogs, Web sites and MySpace pages from three countries post the first chapter from my latest novel.

(It's not too late to join in! Details here.)

-

ONLINE ALREADY

Spoiler Alert

Cruse'n With Lonnie

MySpace: Daniel

-

SCHEDULED TO PARTICIPATE (LIST IN PROGRESS)

Bonnie Writes

The Burning Hearts Revolution

The Curmudgeon's Rant

Kathryn Mackel

Mimi's Pixie Corner

Mirathon

Musings from the Windowsill

So Much Stuff I Can't Recall

Somewhat Daily Words

Nashville Art & Artists

BeccaCarter.com

Cheryl Russell's Other Worlds

The Christian Fiction Site

Christian Novels

A Christian Worldview of Fiction

Christanity 4 Life

Deborah Gyapong

Deeanne Gist

Flammable Animals

Heart Like Mary

ima_humdinger

Infuze Magazine

It's Real Life

Just A Minute

Let's Do Lunch

MarilynnGriffith

Megawriter

MySpace: Bee Jaxon

MySpace: Gabriel

Obvious Pop

Rachel Hauck

Spatterings of Thought

Waterfall Books

CCM Editor's Blog: Jay Swartzendruber

Chris Well's Amazon Blog

MySpace: Chris Well

CCM: Sightings

And counting ...

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.