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By Deborah Rather aka Arlene James

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Rick on Maui (2)How do terrorists terrify? By being willing to commit disturbing acts that decent human beings would never consider. Aspiring suspense writer: Go thou and do likewise (at least in print).

It’s hard to create tension if your readers can sense that there are lines you won’t cross. Once they know that you won’t let anything really bad happen to “good” characters, most of the suspense drains out of what should be tense scenes. They know the sweet schoolteacher in the car crash will be okay, the deranged husband of the vulnerable young woman won’t actually kill her, and so on. How can you keep that from happening?

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Jocelyn Greentallcrop This is Jocelyn Green, and today I have the pleasure of offering a book review of Cheri Cowell’s  Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life. Many times, it’s easy to discern a good choice from a bad one. But when neither option is bad or wrong, how does one know which path to choose? While most of us would prefer the proverbial “handwriting on the wall” to show us the way, that kind of unmistakable message from God is rare. But according to Cowell’s book, that’s OK. We don’t need it. In fact, instead of trying to guess what God’s will is, she writes, we should instead focus on discerning His “way.” When we know God’s way, we’ll be better able to choose our own.

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Hi, y'all! Leanna Ellis here and we're talking about high concept! Last month, we discussed writing a short, succinct sentence or blurb describing your story idea. For a quick reminder, we're looking at my blurb for my book, Lookin' Back, Texas–A devoted wife and mother must return to her Texas hometown of Luckenbach, Texas to help her mother plan her father's funeral. Trouble is–he isn't dead! And neither are the secrets she buried there years ago.

This week we're going to talk about the secret that makes this blurb work so well. Drum roll please…

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Happy Tuesday from Janice Thompson, your CAN vice-president! I hope my subject line has hooked you. I'm currently directing a musical comedy at a local theater titled "Anchors Away." It's a 40's swing "retelling" of the story of Noah and the ark. Loaded with fun stuff. For example, Noah's daughters-in-law (Betty, Bonnie and Barbara) sing jingles at their local radio station. 

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