Wednesday, January 31, 2007

GERM by Robert Liparulo

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Robert's novel paints a scenario so frighteningly real that six Hollywood producers were bidding on movie rights before the novel was completed. His acclaimed debut novel, Comes A Horseman, is being made into a major motion picture by producer Mace Neufeld and his short story "Kill Zone" was featured in the anthology Thriller, edited by James Patterson.
Robert is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly. He has sold or optioned three screenplays.
Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.
He is currently working on his third novel.
If you breathe, it will find you...
The list of 10,000 names was created for maximum devastation. On it are business leaders, housewives, politicians, celebrities, janitors, children. None know what is about to happen...but all will be part of the most frightening brand of warfare the world has ever known.
The GERM...a more advanced form of the Ebola virus...has been genetically engineered to infect only those people whose DNA matches the codes embedded within it. If your DNA is not a match, you simply catch a cold. But if your DNA is a match, within days your internal organs liquefy and you die a most painful death. There is no cure.
The release of the virus would usher in a new era of in which countries are left without any form of defense, where one person or millions could be killed with 100% accuracy yet result in no collateral damage to property or those not targeted.
That time isn't coming...It is now!
GERM is coming. Pray the assassins get you first.

Book Cover Survey

Here's your chance to have a say in what a Bethany House book cover will look like. Take the quick (six question) survey by clicking on this link.

My opinion: I chose cover C because if they are putting a person on the cover of a book, I want to see the person up close enough to know if I want to spend the next several hours getting to know him/her. JMNSHO.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Madison Avenue has a lot to answer for

This past week, as we were driving to swimming lessons, I looked in the rearview mirror and saw something unusual. I told the kids to take a look at the car behind us, an ancient Datsun station wagon with a kayak strapped to the top. "Where do you think he's going with that in Minnesota in January?"

To which my son piped up, "Perhaps his credit card miles expired. What's in your wallet?"

Capital One, mission least with one particular eleven-year-old kid.

(Minnesota is currently celebrating the "There is no such thing as global warming" the wind chill was -21 F.)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Let's talk tile...

Ask me how many words I wrote on my manuscript yesterday. Go ahead, ask. 200. That's right, a piddly, measly, teensy 200 words...a tenth of my goal. And do you know why?


That's right. Ceramic tile.

The tile-setters have been hard at work, and what a great bunch of guys. I've never seen such intricate cuts, angles, and straight grout lines. I couldn't be happier with them.

The tile supplier however, is on my list. A giant ORANGE home supply store which shall remain nameless, sent us several boxes of tile, from a rainbow of dye lots. Too-pale bull nose, kaleidoscopic 2" hex, and out of seven boxes of wall tile, I counted five different dye lots. We didn't even open these yet for fear of having a checkerboard effect on the shower walls.

Consequently, my writing day was massacred. After schooling the children, a run to the bank, and finally settling in with the laptop to work, the first tile guy arrived. (They are moonlighting this job, so they come in the mid to late afternoon and work through the evening. Very efficient and cheerful fellows.) The tile guy says they may be running short of some tiles and could I run to the ORANGE store and get some more, and btw, did you look at that bull nose? It doesn't really match. Discussion of options ensues and I declare I will try to find some that matches. Leave children practicing piano and finishing chores and I drive to the north side of town (30 mile round trip or so?) to the ORANGE store.

I get most of what I need (they were two pieces short on a listello/trim piece) and beetle home. I set foot inside the doorway and the tile guys are asking me to 'come look at something.'

Half the shower floor is laid, and I think to myself, "Boy howdy, they're fast and they're good. That looks great." I should've known better.

Tile guy points to the shower floor. "This is all from one box. But look at the stuff in this box." He lays another sheet of the 2" hex tiles down and they don't match...AT ALL. There are clear differences to the tone and pattern of the tiles. Tile guy says get me the number for the ORANGE store.

The bad news...the only remaining boxes of 2" hex tile in the ORANGE store match the dye lot of the box of 2" hex tile the tile setter's have not yet used. Evidently, the ORANGE store sent us out the door with the only box of this dye lot on the planet. Half the shower floor must now come up.

The good news...he states emphatically over the protests of the ORANGE store representative that the uncut sheets of hex tile will be returned (only six of the twelve were laid whole and could be salvaged, but he was able to wash the thin-set off and put them back in the box).

Fortunately, the tile setters are all on my side. They think this never should've happened either. One of them has the day off tomorrow (Friday) and will be coming in mid-morning. I assured him I will have enough tile that matches for him to not have wasted his day. This means another trip to the ORANGE store Thursday evening.

This time I pile the children and the tile I'm returning into the van and head for the ORANGE store. Because my order was a special order (which should have all come from the same dye lot!) I have to go to the 'special order return desk'. Here, we wait a LONG OLD TIME as they try to return partial cases of tile. To their credit, they apologized several times for the wait, but by that time I was peevish and it didn't make much of an impression on me. Once we got that settled, the kids and I went back to the tile department and retrieved the last five cases of wall tile in my chosen pattern, which happened to be from the same dye lot. (AMAZING!) I now have thirteen boxes of wall tile where I only needed seven. Six of them have the same dye lot and for the last one, we'll just have to choose one of the remaining boxes that is closest. Then I will take the leftovers back to the ORANGE store for a refund.

At least I didn't have to cook last night. With all the running around, the waiting in line, the schlepping of enormously heavy boxes of tile...I stopped at Wendy's on the way home.

Maybe today will be quieter. Whoops, tile guys are here. They've turned on the radio to accompany them while they work. 80's rock ballads. So much for quiet.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Frigates and books and worlds away

Today as I was picking up around the house, I shelved one of my favorite books. It is THE SCRAPPER by Leland Silliman, and was written in the late 1940's. In it, a young man from a rough background goes to work at a summer camp full of prep school staff and priviledged campers. He learns the value of learning to get along with a class of people he's never been exposed to before, and they learn that valor and honor can come from any birthplace. I first came across this book in our little Christian School Library when I was eleven. I must've read this book a dozen times as a child. I was thrilled to find a beautiful copy for myself on a few years ago, and I've read it to my children twice now. For fun I picked it up again this week to read, and it still holds the same joy for me.

But as I replaced the dust jacket (I always remove the dust jackets of books I'm reading and leave them in the book's spot on my shelf.) I noticed the end papers. The frontspiece on the book has a bookplate with the picture of a tall ship. Underneath are the words "There is no frigate like a take us worlds away." -- Emily Dickenson

That phrase--the beautiful words alone--is enough to capture my attention, but the pithy truth of it grabs my imagination. Whether a much loved childhood story of summer camp or a head-hopping NYT best-selling romance, a story transports me to another world, another time and place.

I pray my own books may someday unfurl their sails and skim you across the waves to a world you'll want to revisit again and again.

If the Shoe Fits

Have Glass Slipper, Need Prince...
If the Shoe Fits is the second book in the Sassy Sistahood Novels. The first in the series was Made of Honor (Steeple Hill, Jan. 2006).
In all my thirty-five years, I, shoe designer Rochelle Gardner, have never had so many men interested in me! My teen son's dad is back in my life after suffering from amnesia (yes, really). The church deacon has had his eye on me for years (and never said a word). And the young waiter (from the restaurant I've visited for singles' events) is trying to steal my heart. I've been struggling with my faith, trying to figure out which man God has chosen for me and wondering if I have the courage to step forward, on my not-so-pretty feet, to accept love. It's almost too much for the Sassy Sistahood to handle, but my girlfriends always have my back!


Marilynn Griffith is wife to a deacon, mom to a tribe and proof that God gives second chances. Her novels include Made of Honor (Steeple Hill, Jan. 2006), Pink (Revell, Feb. 2006), Jade (Revell, June 2006), and Tangerine (Revell, January 2007). Her other credits include Chicken Soup for the Christian Woman’s Soul, Cup of Comfort Devotionals and her Shades of Style series (Revell, 2006). She lives in Florida with her husband and children. To book speaking engagements or just say hello, email:

Monday, January 22, 2007

Making strides

Today saw a new milestone in Drums of the North Star- draft 1. I passed 60K words! I'm so pleased with how it is shaping up, though I know it will need a good grooming to be presentable.

This week I've been reading a book by a NYT best selling author. She headhops, writes in the passive, and 'tells' on nearly every page. How did she get to be a best-selling author? STORY! Her characters are fun, if somewhat predictable, and it is easy to escape into their lives. The one I'm reading at the moment is an American West romance, and the hero is dashing, brave and deadly gorgeous, the heroine is (dare I say it?) spunky, resourceful and heart-stoppingly pretty. Predictable, fun and filled with humor. Story rules over the rules.

Of course, I'd rather write a rollicking good story that abided by most of the rules. It is amazing that now that I know what POV/head-hopping is, it really stands out when I'm playing mental ping-pong between or among characters in a scene.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Arms of Deliverance

Tricia Goyer is one the members of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance (Tricia's Blog, "It's Real Life" Tricia's Parenting Blog, "Generation NeXt") and we are pleased to be able to review her exciting historical fiction book, Arms of Deliverance. She was named Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference "Writer of the Year" in 2003. Tricia was also a finalist for the Gold Medallion Book Award and won ACFW's "Book of the Year" for Long Historical Romance in 2005 AND in 2006. She has written hundreds of articles, Bible Study notes, and both fiction (three other WWII novels, From Dust to Ashes, Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights. Night Song, the second title in Tricia’s World War II series, won ACFW's Book of the Year for Best Long Historical Romance.) She's and non-fiction books. married to John, and they have three great kids whom she homeschools: Cory (17), Leslie (14), and Nathan (12). They make their home in Northwest Montana with their dog, Lilly.
The fourth and final novel in this exhilarating series capturing the tales of men and women swept into World War II.
EUROPE, 1944
Katrine, a Czech Jew, is so successful in her attempt to pass as an Aryan that she finds herself dating a Nazi officer. Having convinced him of her genetic purity, the officer sends her to stay at a Lebensborn home--a Nazi breeding program in which children are raised and indoctrinated by the state.
Meanwhile, two friends, Mary and Lee, one a socialite, the other a working class girl, land similar reporting jobs at the New York Tribune on the eve of the war’s outbreak. Now rivals with assignments on the front lines of war-torn Europe, Lee joins troops sailing for Normandy, while Mary's destiny lies in the cramped quarters of a B-17 bearing down on Berlin. Before the presses roll, their lives will be indelibly marked by a caring American navigator, brave French resistors, and a maniacal Nazi officer. Arms of Deliverance is a story of unexpected redemption.
Read Chapter One on Tricia's Blog.

I got a chance to read this WONDERFUL book this past month. I have to tell you, the opening story thread had me slack-jawed and wide-eyed. I lost all track of time as I read page after page.

Tricia put me in the middle of World War II, both on the ground and in the air, without it sounding like a documentary/historical tome. She caught the flavor, the danger, the dirt, sweat and blood of troops hitting Normandy, as well as the pervasive evil of the movement for racial purity and the lengths to which they would go to reach their goals. Bad is truly bad in this book and good is truly good. The characters grow, change and have realistic internal struggles while pressed from all sides.

And I have to say...the ending? WOWOWOW! What a terrific twist. I loved it!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Another little milestone

Today saw another 2K words on the WIP. Woohoo! I've reached 70% of the projected goal. That feels pretty good. I'm about six days ahead of the deadline I've imposed for myself. That feels good.

FYI, trot over to Kaye Dacus' blog, (link to the left) to read her mini-course on showing vs. telling. This is one of those things that I feel I'm on the cusp of grasping. I'm now seeing it WHILE I'm writing, instead of working on it when editing later.

This weekend a friend and I painted my kitchen and dining room. The first coat made me uneasy, the second...sent me bonkers. What should have been a soft, buttery yellow, dried to a rather shocking spring green. And seemed to get brighter by the moment.

Enter the Super-husband. He took the original color and blended it with a gallon of white paint I had from another project to produce the color I had been looking for all along. I got right to work and rolled on the lighter color at about 10pm on Friday night. Saturday, the Super-husband did all the cutting in around cabinets and trim for me and the room looks terrific now. I tell you though, home improvement projects have me longing for my laptop and fictional world.

I can't express how having my goals written out has helped keep me on track, and even more, has motivated me. Has anyone reached a milestone recently, no matter how small?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Pagan's Nightmare

Ray Blackston of Greenville, South Carolina, worked as a buyer and a broker for eleven years before cashing in his modest 401k and leaving his corporate cubicle in 2000 to write full time. He is a graduate of the University of south Carolina, with a degree in Finance and Economics.
He serves on the drama team at his church, participates in a weekly men's accountability group, serves on the missions committee of his church, has traveled to rural Ecuador on a summer missions program, and coaches his seven-year-old nephew, Action Jackson, in T-Ball.
When he is not crafting a new novel, is exploring south Carolina beaches with friends and family. He competes in golf tournaments, leads a writers' critique group, and relives his youth through a large collection of eighties music!
His first novel Flabbergasted was one of three finalists for the Christy Award for best first novel, and was chosen as Inspirational Novel of the Year by the Dallas Morning News
A Pagan's Nightmare
Christians can buy gas for twelve cents a gallon, while everyone else (the pagans, that is) have to pay $6.66. The radio stations alter all song lyrics to conform to "Christian" standard--the Beatles belt out "I Wanna Hold Your Tithe"; ABBA's "Dancing Queen" becomes "Dancing's Wrong". Even French fries, newly labeled "McScriptures", are tools for evangelism.
Larry's novel is a big hit with his agent, Ned. But Ned's wife..a committed Southern less than amused. And Larry has yet to show the manuscript to his new girlfriend, even though he's made her the unsuspecting heroine. It will take deft handling from both men to keep their lives and their relationships intact when the world witnesses A Pagan's Nightmare.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I will press on.

My insides feel sore. Especially right beneath my breastbone. You see, after three months of anxious anticipation, even allowing myself to spin a few 'what if' type dreams (though I've tried to keep a lid on those), I got what is perhaps the most disappointing rejection so far.

A fat manuscript-sized envelope. I knew it the minute my son brought it in. Fat envelopes--bad for writers. The hoped for phone call from that editor would NOT be coming.

My entire ms, packaged up with hope, excitement, trepidation, dreams, (a lot to fit into an envelope) returned with a letter saying, 'Thanks, but no thanks at this time. Good luck with your writing career.'

My first thought on reading that line was, "What writing career?"

Feelings are a fickle leader, aren't they? Just this week, I felt like something big was going to happen with my writing this year. I felt good about the places I had mss under consideration. I felt good about where the current WIP was going and the work I was getting done on it.

Right now? I feel like nothing is ever going to happen. I feel that none of my mss will ever see the light of day in any of the places to which they have been submitted. I feel like my current WIP is dust and ashes and no matter what I do to it, it will remain the same. I feel crummy.

I'm so glad God doesn't govern according to His feelings, and that He doesn't order history and the future based upon how I FEEL, for those feelings change with the climate.

Today I read in Psalm 37: 3-5 Trust in the Lord and do good: Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, turst also in Him and He will do it.

Timely verses for a woman who was soon to FEEL as if the desire of my heart had been shattered utterly.

Trust in the Lord and do good. Am I trusting in the Lord? Am I doing good? It sure is easy to say I'm trusting in Him when good things are happening. A lot harder when things don't go according to my plan. Herein lies the key. If things don't go according to my plan, and this throws me awry, then I am not trusting in the Lord.

Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Stay in the center of God's will for me and do the work necessary to be faithful. Cultivation takes time. Faithfulness is the result of hard work, not an overnight acheivement.

Delight yourself in the Lord. Do I delight myself in the Lord? Is He the source of my joy and stability, my hope and my peace? Am I satisfied with all He does and says He will do in me and for me? I confess my delight is easily swayed, easily distracted by things shabby and temporal.

And He will give you the desires of your heart. Really? Truly? Can this promise be for me? I have a hard time believing that a God who knows me by heart would be gracious and generous, would give me something I want so badly. I know myself to be unworthy, and yet, here is His promise. Why do I strive, why do I strain and fret when His plan is laid out right here? I am bad at asking God for what I want, even though He stands by longing to give me His best, out of the riches of His grace.

Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. Is my way commited to him? Have I committed it only to take it back time and again? Am I trusting in Him that even the most disappointing rejection of my writing career is allowed, nay even PLANNED by Him for my good? He will bring me the desire of my heart. That desire might well be to become an author. That desire might well be changed as I continue to learn to trust my Heavenly Father to do me good and not evil.

So though my heart is sore, my hope is not dashed, for my hope is in the Lord.

I will press on.

Monday, January 08, 2007


Today's goal was to hit 50K words on the WIP. That would mean about 3500 words today, plus school, plus laundry, plus fielding phone calls from the shop.

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! I can hear the Brazillian football announcer in my head. Hee hee hee

I did it. This means more than 10K words added to the ms in the last week. I'm so stoked! A couple new scenes burst into my head as I worked Saturday and today, scenes that tie together the ones I've got laid out on the notecards.

Another interesting possibility has cropped up, which I hope to be able to tell you all about later. If you think of it, pray for me. I can't help but feel something is going to happen soon with my writing.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Paper wad war

Today, Heather and I crept out of the house at daybreak for a breakfast date and a day at the library. I'm happy to say I added 5022 words to the WIP. And I took Advil before I left this morning so my hands are doing well. Both things an answer to a lot of prayers.

I had a few surprises crop up in the book, which I love. Well, I love that there were surprises, but I was shocked to find out one of my characters died! I was standing right beside him when he took a bullet. EEEK!

Heather and I found carrels facing one another in a back corner of the second floor where I could plug in the laptop. After about three hours of straight writing, and Heather coming and going getting books that interested her, I got bored. I wadded up a small piece of paper and hurled it over the carrel to pop Heather in the nose. She hurled it back and a one wad of paper paper wad fight was on. We collapsed in giggles, stifling laughter and holding our sides.

Needless to say, we had a great day, I got lots done, and it feels great!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Didja See It??

Woohoo and Yeehaw! Today marks a milestone in Drums of the North Star. Today I reached the halfway mark in my projected word count goal. I know this won't make USA Today or the New York Times, but it was a big deal for me.

My son got me a rose scented candle for Christmas (with his own money, btw) and I've had it here beside me shining brightly as I write these past two days. A lovely companion while I work.

The notecards are going along swimmingly. I'm on card 42 now of 76. Pretty close to on schedule. The current card will be good for at least 5K words as it is a big scene in the book. I have my dining room table spread with my research books. Each one has some special tidbit or idea I want to include. I'm thinking when I finish this book, I will need to list my bibliography, at least in the proposal, to show I know where stuff came from.

Anyone else passed a milestone lately?


Marilynn Griffith is wife to a deacon, mom to a tribe and proof that God gives second chances. Her novels include Made of Honor (Steeple Hill, Jan. 2006), Pink (Revell, Feb. 2006), Jade (Revell, June 2006), and If the Shoe Fits (Steeple Hill Cafe', 2007). Her other credits include Chicken Soup for the Christian Woman’s Soul, Cup of Comfort Devotionals and her Shades of Style series (Revell, 2006). She lives in Florida with her husband and children. To book speaking engagements or just say hello, email:
Tangerine is the third book in the Shades of Style Novels.
Fans of Pink and Jade will eat up Tangerine, the third book in the cutting-edge Shades of Style series. Jean Guerra, a designer at Garments of Praise design firm, doesn't like surprises. These days though, the unexpected meets her everywhere. Since Jean's return to the church a year ago, her God-encounters occur with increasing frequency, along with thoughts of her husband-the one she vowed to divorce and gave up on long ago. The one nobody at work knows about, not even her best friend, Lily, or her boss, Chenille. But when the designer assigned to work with Jean on a line of men's suits shows up, her heart flips. It's her husband, Nigel Salvador. Jean is finally rendered speechless. Can her bruised heart become whole enough to love again? Or will she remain in the trenches of loneliness forever?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Back to Work!

Today was a GOOD day! And do you know why??? Because I feel like I am back in my routine...okay, rut. I love my rut. I love the flow of my days. While they would drive some people to boredom, my rut fits me beautifully.

I set goals for myself this morning. I had many things I wanted to get done, and I knew if I didn't write a list, I'd be sunk. I wrote the list of nine things I MOST wanted to get done, and then worked my way through it. Now it is not even five pm and I'm done with the list! Woohoo!

I also read through the January 2007 edition of the Advanced Fiction Writer e-zine, published by Randy Ingermanson and distributed for free to over FOUR THOUSAND of his closest writing buddies. If you don't receive this terrific tool, then put down that chocolate bar and get thee hastily to and sign up. It is chock-a-block full of helpful tips and ideas for becoming and being a professional writer.

One of his tips for this month concerned behaving like a professional. This included setting goals, meeting goals, and getting organized. Today, I wrote down my goals for 2007. I'm going to post them here so you all can keep me accountable. :) I'll try to give updates on my progress, but feel free to ask how I'm doing from time to time. Accountability is a powerful tool...almost as good as M&M's. :)

2007 Writing Goals:

1) Finish the first draft of Drums of the North Star (this will mean 1500 words a day, 5 days a week, for six more weeks.)

2) Write out plot cards for new book--Pam on Rye--by 3/20/07.

3) Write first draft of Pam on Rye by 6/29/07.

4) Write synopsis/proposal packet for Drums of the North Star, including series ideas.

5) Write synopsis/proposal packet for Pam on Rye, including series ideas.

6) Edit and revise Drums of the North Star, particularly the first three chapters and synopsis.

7) Edit and revise Pam on Rye, particularly the first three chapters and synopsis.

8) Attend ACFW Conference in September.

9) Follow up on manuscript request of my first novel, Beauty for Ashes.

10) Pray, pray, pray! (this one should be #1...or #1-10)

How do I plan to implement these goals? Well, the first is to sit my butt in the chair and type on Drums. Today I did just over 1500 words. Not bad, says I, but I know some days are coming ahead when I won't be able to write, so I need to get some words stored up. This Saturday, I will steal the day again and try to put another 5K or so on the story. It's sooooo much easier now that I have the note cards. Why do I resist that procedure so much? You'll note I included on my list of goals writing out plot cards for the new book BEFORE I started writing it this time.

I also want to trade some critiques after I finish my own first revisions. This will help me really polish my first three chapters. Then I want to practice my pitches and enlist the help of my agent in targeting which editors to pitch to at the ACFW conference.

I also want to pray specifically that the Lord will allow my mss to find favor with the publisher He wishes, and that He would be working in me through the rejections, the waiting and the growing process.

How about you? Did you write down any goals for the new year for your writing? I'd love to hear them.