Risk Management CoverOften, when an author begins writing a series, they have an idea of how long it will be. Knowing in advance when to stop gives the author the opportunity to develop their characters and their series, and to bring it to a logical conclusion with a satisfying character arc and ending.

Which just goes to show how little I knew about writing a series when I began my By the Numbers series. In fact, when I wrote the first title, No Accounting for Murder, I didn’t even know it would be a series. Until I wrote THE END.

Well, last December, she said, “I’ve had enough. June’s book will be my last.” She meant the June 2020 book. And I thought, “Okay. I’ll simply end the series and go on to something else.”

Not so easy. This was a character I’d been writing about for more than fifteen years. I’d published ten books, was just getting ready in December to release number 11. It was like putting down the family dog.

Or worse.

Unable to write this final story, I tried something different. I asked Carly what she’d do with her time once she retired. What would hubby Mike do now? I researched why Carly would retire (health reasons), and I asked her about how she thought her faith journey would look.

In short, we talked.

Now I was excited to share this with readers, because I was excited for her. For the new path she’d enter. The new adventures she’d have—outside the pages of my stories. And the story flowed as I wrote the story of Carly’s heart.

So stay tuned for Risk Management, available now for pre-order here and officially releases on June 30th. And the segue novella, Mysterious Ink, will release in September.

Question for readers: Do you like to read a series in order, or are you happy to read any which way you get the books?

Leeann Betts

Leeann Betts

Leeann Betts writes contemporary romantic suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical romantic suspense. Risk Management, which releases June 30th, 2020, is the 12th and final story in her cozy mystery series, “By the Numbers”. Watch for a segue novella in August that weaves Carly’s story with the upcoming new cozy mystery series, “Mysterious Ink Bookstore Mysteries”, with its first title releasing in December 2020. Together she and Donna have published more than 30 novellas and full-length novels.

 

 

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As I was talking with a women’s ministry director at a church training conference, I hoped she would invite me to speak at her women’s retreat. I enjoyed one of the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies set before us while we sat in the lounge of the convention center. When she asked my opinion on some important issues, I spoke with confident tones. I was thrilled to see her staring at my mouth, obviously eager to hear my every word. Surely, I was impressing her. All I have to do is say the right things, I assured myself, as I anxiously tried to think of what those “right things” might be.

After we concluded, I headed for the restroom feeling content with the open door God had given me. I walked through the restroom door and saw my reflection in the mirror. What’s that dark thing on my lip? I went closer and realized chocolate was dripping down my lip and chin. Oh, no, how long has that been there? I realized the mess had decorated my face during most of our conversation. For whatever reason, she had not felt comfortable telling me.

Oh, Lord, what have you done to me? What about my pithy statements and wise admonitions? How foolish I must have looked. How humiliating!

In a flash of truth, I recognized my dissatisfaction with God’s plan. And I started laughing. Oh, Lord, you do have a sense of humor. Please forgive me for my pride and self-importance. I fell into that trap again. But I also acknowledged God’s power because rather than being discontent with myself for the next five days (like other times), the reflection in the bathroom mirror brought immediate joy. I started laughing! My heart rejoiced! I thought, I have grown in this area!

 

Kathy Collard Miller

Kathy Collard Miller

Kathy Collard Miller is an international speaker and author of over 55 books including Heart Wisdom: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series, a women’s Bible study on Proverbs. www.KathyCollardMiller.com

Heart Wisdom cover

Heart Wisdom cover

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Sandra Glahn

While I’ve often written for medical publications—both fiction and non—I am not myself a physician. But I’ve been on the receiving end of more than my share of surgeries and treatments, so I can definitely write from the patient’s perspective. When I wrote non-fiction medical information for the trade market, my editors usually viewed my “lack of knowledge” as a benefit. My ignorance meant I naturally said “miscarriage” instead of “spontaneous abortion” and  “bruise” instead of “contusion.”

But when I decided to branch into fiction to explore complex medical issues (Lethal Harvest; Deadly Cure; False Positive), I knew I had gaps in my knowledge that only years in med school, the exam room, and the surgical suite could make up for. So I partnered with an obstetrical-gynecologist. My last novel, Lethal Harvest,was a solo work of medical suspense, but he still edited it for medical accuracy.

One of the good doctor’s “catches” was my lack of knowledge about sterile surfaces. In one scene I had described a gloved-up physician, upon receiving shocking news, grasping the surgical table. But my actual-surgeon reader said, “No way. You just risked infecting the patient.”

But the doctor’s far more memorable catch was actually a typo. I meant to have my main-character physician, who was sitting in his research area, ask his assistant to bring him a glass of H2O. But I accidentally wrote H2O as HO2—hydroperoxyl radical, also known as the perhydroxyl radical. The margin note I received in response was simply this: “Congratulations. You just blew up the lab.”

 

Glahn photo

Sandra Glahn

Dr. Sandra Glahn is the author or coauthor of more than twenty books, including four medical suspense novels that explore ethical and theological complexities. Lethal Harvest, now in its second edition, was a Christy Award finalist.

 

 

Informed Consent

Informed Consent

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I had been dating Roy for a while, and he decided the time had come for me to meet his children, Jill and James. Very apprehensive but knowing this was the essential next step, I flew down from New Jersey to Atlanta with him.

You wouldn’t think a six-year-old girl and a three-year-old boy could terrify a thirty-plus-year-old woman, would you? I’d never been around children much, other than an occasional babysitting job while I was in high school. And having the approval of these two kids meant everything.

We went to Chuckie Cheese for the afternoon and for dinner. Even though the place was warm, Jill wouldn’t take off her furry, plush coat. Roy went off with James and left me alone with Jill. Oh, boy, what to do? She shook her head “no” at everything I suggested until skee ball.

We played skee ball for what seemed like an eternity, but when Roy and James came back, Jill had more winning tickets than anyone and had warmed up enough to the room (and to me) to take off her coat.

Their tradition at Chuckie Cheese was to have pizza (cut into kid-sized squares) and Cokes. After we’d devoured most of the pizza, Roy and Jill started a food fight with each other with the leftover pieces.

I was horrified! While scooting over to distance myself from the two of them, my sleeve caught on my Coke. The Coke tipped over, right into my lap. Now who was misbehaving! Laughing at myself and my clumsiness, I finally relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the evening.

This family was one I could certainly fit into with my penchant for mishaps and love of funny situations. I’ll never forget my introduction to Jill and James, skee ball, pizza fights, and fun.

 

DebHaggertyphoto

Deb Haggerty

Deb Haggerty is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Elk Lake Publishing Inc., a traditional, royalty-paying Christian company that “Publishes the Positive.”

She’s a Christ follower, wife, mom, and “Nana.” Deb is the author of These Are the Days of My Life and co-author of Experiencing God in a Broken World.

 

Deb Haggerty Days of Our Lives cover

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By Donna Schlachter

When I think about books from my childhood, I recall books like Black Beauty and Call of the Wild. What really sticks with me is both told stories of heartbreak and joy, of separation and reunion, or defeat and victory. Throughout these two books in particular, bad things happened for no good reason. People got sick. Died. Animals were mistreated. Lives were shattered.

But then. . .

In the end, all was set right with their world.

When I sit down to write a book, I ask myself, “How bad can things get?” And then I put my characters into more and more danger physically, while also straining their moral judgment, their emotional well-being, and their spiritual journey. Sometimes the journey seems to impair them more than make things right. But that’s life.

In Double Jeopardy, I took a city girl completely out of her element. Or did I? Becky Campbell didn’t really fit into society life in New York, either. She was much more like her father, who she adored. Zeke Graumann believes that his family’s ranch is worth everything, until he meets a girl who shows him that home is where the love is.

Other characters are changed, too. Matilda Campbell, the controlling matriarch of the family, figures out she can’t always direct every situation. Even the land title clerk has a change of heart (think of the tax collector’s in the temple during Jesus’ day).

The theme of this book is that we are never truly alone, if we’re willing to give God room in our lives. But it won’t happen by osmosis. It can’t be forced. We must choose, not because we have nowhere else to turn, but because we do and we choose God anyway. It took me a lot of years to figure that out, and our second—and third—and fourth-chance God patiently waited for me.

So next time you don’t know what to do or where to go next, remember: The God who pursues is still there.

 

Donna Schlachter:aka Leeann Betts

Donna Schlachter

Donna writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts, and has been published more than 30 times in novellas and full-length novels. She is a member of ACFW, Writers on the Rock, SinC, and CAN; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests

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double jeopardy

double jeopardy

 

 

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