Sandra Glahn teaches in the Media Arts and Worship Department at Dallas Theological Seminary. She’s authored more than 20 books, including the Christy fiction finalist Lethal Harvest. She loves storytelling, mostly medical suspense.
How do you pick the location/setting of your romantic suspense novels? Sandra: I learned from reading the Bible that “place” can have meaning apart from the event that happens in it. For example, when Peter denies Christ, he’s standing by a charcoal fire. But later, when Jesus gives him three opportunities to declare his love, he does so by—you guessed it—a charcoal fire. Or after Queen Jezebel plots to have a man in Jezreel stoned to death because she wants his vineyard, she gets eaten by dogs about seventeen years later in—you guessed it—Jezreel. That said, I sometimes create settings that communicate something other than mere “place” in my stories. For example, an important scene relating to abortion happened in one of my stories on the steps of the Dallas Courthouse because that is where the Roe v. Wade decision happened.
What did you want to be as a child (and did that dream come true)? Sandra: I wanted to be the singer Diana Ross. I loved to sing. My siblings would even mock me by chanting, “Sing it, Diana!” But that did not deter me.
What’s the weirdest way someone has died or been killed in your novels? Sandra: A scientist trying to eliminate a hereditary disease that killed one of his family members creates what he hopes will serve as something of a vaccine to save the rest of his family. When he injects himself first, uh, suffice it say his “cure” didn’t work.
Current book: Informed Consent
A celebrated medical researcher accidentally causes his son’s life-threatening illness, but to save the child—and his marriage—this doctor must violate another patient’s rights.
This piece originally appeared on the ACFW blog on June 22, 2017.
I’ve been thinking a lot about hope lately in relation to writing, and how we can forget to cultivate hope in our quest for publication, sales, and reaching readers. When our hope buckets are empty or nearly so, we find ourselves fighting discouragement, resentment, envy, and jealousy. We lose our contentment where God has us and wallow in self-pity and despair.
Hope is the antidote to those ugly emotions that sap us of our creativity and our joy in writing. But hope can be tough to hold onto in the midst of lackluster sales, no contracts or awards, and low readership. Hope is easy when the accolades and contracts and publications mount up, isn’t it? It’s a breeze to feel hopeful when your agent calls to tell you about a new book contract, but it’s harder when publishers don’t respond to your proposals or your work is languishing in no-man’s land of an agent’s manuscript pile.
Without hope that someone will read our books, we wouldn’t write a single word. It’s hope that spurs us to put our thoughts onto a page and turn that page into a novel. It’s also hope that separates the would-be writers from the real writers because real writers press on even when hope seems like a tiny flame instead of a roaring bonfire.
Real writers see hope in the little things: a great descriptive line, the plot that came together, the story that made you cry as you wrote it, and the love between a man and woman. Real writers feel hope as their stories take shape, knowing that the One for whom they write is pleased with their efforts…even if those efforts don’t see the light of day. Real writers feed that hope by honing their skills, encouraging other writers, and becoming better writers.
How do you keep hold of hope when your circumstances seem to dictate otherwise? Here are a few suggestions.
Mentor a new writer. I’ve found my own hope renewed by talking about writing with my two young teens and a few of their teenage friends. They’ve asked me to run a writing club again this summer, where we meet a few times to talk about writing and they work on stories together. Seeing their enthusiasm and teaching them a bit about how to write fiction can be so encouraging.
Attend a writer’s group or conference. Learning about your craft and meeting fellow writers can be wonderfully restorative to one’s own hope. Hearing about someone’s success can make you believe that your own success will come in God’s perfect time.
Write. Keep writing, keep striving, keep using your gift to put words on paper. Being able to weave stories is a gift, so don’t hide it under a bushel—let it shine on the page.
We all feel discouraged at times no matter where we are in our writing careers, but remember to keep hold of your hope even in the midst of disheartening situations or a downturn in your writing. Hope not in vain, but in the knowledge that somehow, through your writing, God will be glorified.
This piece originally appeared on the ACFW blog on June 7, 2016.
Are you a writer? If you answered yes, do you believe, deep down inside, that you are indeed a writer?
Too many times, we say we’re writers but our actions say another thing. For example, you meet someone for the first time and are asked what you do. Do you…
Say you’re a writer?
Say you’re a writer but________________(haven’t been published, don’t have an agent, aren’t as good as X author, or whatever other qualifiers that negate the statement).
If you write—published or not, paid or not—you’re a writer. Period. No qualifiers, no excuses. I know it’s scary to call yourself a writer when you don’t feel like a “real” writer. Proclaiming you’re a writer is the first step toward becoming a writer. Writing, like most things, is an action—it’s not passive. You can’t say you write if you actually don’t, um, write.
Calling yourself a writer means you have something to live up to, and that’s where the actions of writing come into play. If you’re a writer, you should act like a writer by…
Taking writing seriously. So many times, writers hem and haw about their writing in conversation to others, making excuses about their lack of publishing success or their small publishing numbers. Stop. Just stop dithering and say with confidence, “I am a writer.”
Carving time to write. Writers who are serious about writing make time to write and guard that time jealously. That means that you should turn off your phone, close your email, and concentrate on putting words on the page during the time you’ve scheduled for writing. And it also means giving yourself permission to say no to those who request pieces of your writing time for other, worthy things. Yes, sometimes, life dictates a detour from writing, but writers should have a plan on getting back on track.
Honing your writing craft. Take writing classes, both in-person and online. Join writing groups like ACFW. Be active in smaller groups, like online critique cells or local chapters. Pass along your knowledge to other writers. All of these things help make us better writers.
Being open to criticism. Whether from an agent, editor, contest judge or critique partner, we need to be able to read criticism, not as a slap down of our writing ability, but as part of the process toward making our writing better. Remember, no writer is perfect!
Reading books. Read your genre and read other genres. Read fiction and nonfiction. Read books that challenge you as a writer. Reading other authors exposes us to new ideas and thoughts, as well as help us see where the market is heading.
Encouraging other writers. Whether through leaving a comment on a blog, emailing an author directly or having a face-to-face conversation, encouraging other writers in their journey is good for you as a writer. Focusing on other writers can also be a great antidote to being pessimistic about our own writing status.
Repeat after me: I’m a writer. Now go forth and write!
Award-winning author, public speaker and freelance writer, Julie has also become a new kind of missionary- over cyberspace. People from all over the world text, Skype and email mentors to discuss issues they face, confidentially and anonymously. Julie edits and writes devotional and inspirational articles to spur these conversations.
When do you find time to write? Julie: I carve out time. I work outside the home on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, which leaves all day on Tuesdays and Fridays to write for my ministry. Often, God grants me the time to work on my novels as well. When I am not speaking on weekends, I often have a PJ day and write then as well.
Threes Sixes and Thieves is my tenth book, and it launches this summer. I have two suspense romances―Hush n the Storm and Legitmate Lies―published, three clean romance novellas, two contemporary women’s novels, and now am writing cozies. Four more cozy mysteries are under contract. One more for the Bunco Biddies and a new series set in the early 1970s called the Case Files of Jack Manson. They will be released in 2018-19.
What’s your go-to when you need a pick-me-up to keep writing? Julie: Vegging out with a bowl of popcorn on my lap watching murder mysteries on Netflix, especially the older British ones like “Midsommer Murders,” “Father Brown” and “Morse.” And yes, I watch “Murder She Wrote” and “Columbo” as well. They are so cheesy, I love them! Did we really wear wide-shoulder clothes and big hair like that in the eighties?
What’s the weirdest way someone has died or been killed in your novels? Julie: The newest resident of Sunset Acres, the Bunco Biddie’s retirement community, is found chopped up in a dumpster in Book #1, Dumpster Dicing. Yes, they are humorous reads. In Legitimate Lies, the villain is crushed by a toppled an ancestral marble statue in an English mansion. Pretty classic.
Current book: Three Sixes and Thieves When only homes with threes and sixes in the house numbers are robbed, the Biddies want to find out why. Third in the Bunco Biddies Mysteries.
Engaged by Julie Arduini — Trish Maxwell returns to Speculator Falls with egg on her face and apologies to make as she tries to determine what’s next, especially when around paramedic Wayne Peterson. (Contemporary Romance from Surrendered Scribe Media)
Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter — When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down. But when Josephine drives out to Noah’s North Georgia cottage to deliver the corrected papers, they are trapped there during a snowstorm. Things couldn’t get worse…until they are forced out into the storm and must rely on one another to survive. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Zondervan])
Then There Was You by Kara Isaac — Would you give up everything for a life you hate with the person you love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
An Encore for Estelle by Kimberly Rose Johnson — A former A-list actress seeks to redeem herself in the most unlikely of places—a children’s theater. The writer/director didn’t anticipate a famous actress would ever show interest in his musical much less him. Will their pasts pull them apart or join them together? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
The Cowboy’s Baby Blessing by Deb Kastner — When Ex-soldier Seth Howell suddenly becomes guardian of a two-year-old, he needs Rachel Perez’s help. Though she is gun-shy about relationships, this handsome cowboy and his adorable son break through. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Finding Love by Toni Shiloh — Delaney Jones is putting her life back together after widowhood when in walks Army soldier, Luke Robinson. Luke had a part in the death of Delaney’s husband–will his secrets widen the gulf in their relationship or will he finally find absolution? (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit)
The Copper Box by Suzanne Bratcher — When antiques expert Marty Greenlaw comes to Jerome, Arizona to search for a copper box she believes will unlock the secrets of her past, deadly accidents begin to happen: someone else wants the copper box, someone willing to kill for it. (Cozy Mystery from Mantle Rock Publishing)
Katie’s Quest by Lee Carver — Katie Dennis hopes for fulfillment as a single missionary nurse after the death of her fiancé. She trusts God for a new direction, but she’ll never fall for a pilot again. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)
A Sweetwater River Romance by Misty M. Beller — Rocky Ridge Stage Stop Manager Ezra Reid is put in a difficult situation when two ladies show up on his remote doorstep seeking refuge, one of them being Tori Boyd, the mysterious correspondence partner writing him letters for over a year now. Tori refuses the most proper solution to their circumstance—marriage. But when danger follows, it will take a lot more than luck to ensure Ezra’s heart is the sole casualty. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin — In German-occupied Brussels, a WWI nurse struggles to keep two life-threatening secrets. She’s in league with the British Secret Service, and she’s harboring a wounded British pilot. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])
The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere — When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage. A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)
Grounded Hearts by Jeanne M. Dickson — Set in WWII, an Irish woman must choose between her heart and her freedom when she finds a downed combatant pilot. (Historical Romance from Waterfall Press)
Mail Order Sweetheart by Christine Johnson — Singer Fiona O’Keefe must make a wealthy match to support her orphaned niece. Musically talented Sawyer Evans is a self-made, but not wealthy, sawmill-manager. Unwilling to live off his father’s railroad fortune, can Sawyer prove to Fiona he’s the man she needs when she’s already determined to mail-order a rich husband? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Freedom’s Price by Christine Johnson — On a quest to find her mother’s family in Louisiana, Englishwoman Catherine Haynes enlists a dashing Key West man seeking revenge for his own family. When an incredible secret comes to light, she and Tom will face a choice. Can they relinquish their dreams to step forward in faith? (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])
Sutter’s Landing by Betty Thomason Owens — Still reeling from tragic losses, Connie and Annabelle Cross face life with their signature humor and grace, until fresh hope arrives on their doorstep. (Historical Romance from Write Integrity Press)
Hidden Legacy by Lynn Huggins Blackburn — When someone threatens the baby she’s adopting, Caroline Harrison must rely on Detective Jason Drake, the man who once broke her heart, to figure out why. If Jason wants a chance at a future with with Caroline and her son, he’ll first have to help them outrun a hit man. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Weaver’s Needle by Robin Caroll — Pitted against each other to recover a map to the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, two recovery specialists follow the trail to Arizona. But someone doesn’t want them to find the map. . .or the mine. They must work together despite their mistrust and growing attraction, to save themselves. (Romantic Suspense from Barbour Publishing)
The Revisionary by Kristen Hogrefe — Revisionary or Rogue? To rescue her brother, Portia might have to break every rule in the book she set out to rewrite. (Speculative from Write Integrity Press)
Redemption’s Whisper by Kathleen Friesen — Desperate to escape her past, a suicidal young woman flies from Toronto to a Saskatoon pastor’s home, the only people who may be able to help her. If only someone could love her, in spite of all she’s done. On the flight, she meets a young man torn between seeking affirmation in the big city and helping his parents in Saskatoon. Can these two troubled souls gain the peace they need—and in the process, find love? (Women’s Contemporary from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])
All Things Now Living by Rondi Bauer Olson — Her whole life Amy has been taught the people of New Lithisle deserve to die, but when she falls for Daniel, she determines to save him. (Young Adult from Written World Communications)