Wednesday, May 28, 2008

CFBA: Ruby Among Us

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Ruby Among Us

(WaterBrook Press May 20, 2008)


Tina Ann Forkner


Tina Ann Forkner writes contemporary fiction that challenges and inspires. Originally from Oklahoma, she graduated with honors in English from CSU Sacramento before ultimately settling in the wide-open spaces of Wyoming where she now resides with her husband and their three children. Tina serves on the Laramie County Library Foundation Board of Directors and enjoys gardening, spending time outdoors with her family, and works as a full-time writer.


Sometimes, the key that unlocks your future lies in someone else’s past...

In Ruby Among Us, Lucy DiCamillo is safely surrounded by her books, music, and art─but none of these reclusive comforts or even the protective efforts of her grandmother, Kitty can shield her from the memory of the mother she can no longer remember. Lucy senses her grandmother holds the key, but Kitty seems as eager to hide from the past as Lucy is eager to find it.

From the streets of San Francisco and Sacramento, to the lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley, Lucy follows the thread of memory in search for a heritage that seems long-buried with her mother, Ruby.

What she finds is enigmatic and stirring in this redemptive tale about the power of faith and mother-daughter love.

“What an incredible story. As both mothers and daughters, Ruby Among Us struck a special cord in each of the four of us. Tina writes in a way that makes us feel like we’re there; from the first line, we were captivated and drawn into an intricate weaving of the precious and fragile relationships that define us.”
~Point of Grace~

“Reading is a passion of mine, and when I find myself identifying with the characters, anxious to get to the next page to find answers to my questions, I know I’m into a good book! The daughter-mother-grandmother theme in Ruby Among Us pulled me in. Wonderful story-telling.”
~Jordin Sparks~, 2007 winner of American Idol

“Highly recommended. If you’re a mother or daughter, you’re going to love Ruby Among Us. Forkner does an extraordinary job…. I look forward to more from this author.”
~Ane Mulligan~, Novel Journey

“Don’t miss this one! Tina Ann Forkner is a strong new voice in fiction and Ruby Among Us is an amazing story of trials, regrets, and, ultimately, redemption. Lucy and her family history in the historic wine country of Sonoma bring to life the Scriptures about the Vine and His branches.”
~Kristin Billerbeck~, author of The Trophy Wives Club

If you would like to read the first chapter go HERE

Thursday, May 22, 2008

CFBA: Broken Angel

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Broken Angel

(WaterBrook Press (May 20, 2008)


Sigmund Brouwer


Sigmund Brouwer is the author of eighteen best-selling novels for children and adults. His newest book is Fuse of Armageddon and his novel The Last Disciple was featured in Time magazine and on ABC’s Good Morning America. A champion of literacy, he teaches writing workshops for students in schools from the Arctic Circle to inner city Los Angeles. Sigmund is married to Christian recording artist Cindy Morgan, and they and their two daughters divide their time between homes in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada and Nashville, Tennessee.


Her birth was shrouded in mystery and tragedy.
Her destiny is beyond comprehension.
Her pursuers long to see her broken.
She fights to soar.

A father's love for his daughter…a decision that would change both their lives forever. But who is she really─and why must she now run for her life?

Caitlin's body has made her an outcast, a freak, and the target of vicious bounty hunters. As she begins a perilous journey, she is forced to seek answers for her father's betrayal in the only things she can carry with her─a letter he passes her before forcing her to run, and their shared memories together.

Being hunted forces Caitlyn to partner with two equally lonely companions, one longing to escape the horror of factory life in Appalachia and the others, an unexpected fugitive. Together the three will fight to reach a mysterious group that might be friend or foe, where Caitlyn hopes to uncover the secrets of her past...and the destiny she must fulfill.

In the rough, shadowy hills of Appalachia, a nation carved from the United States following years of government infighting, Caitlyn and her companions are the prey in a terrifying hunt. They must outwit the relentless bounty hunters, skirt an oppressive, ever-watchful society, and find passage over the walls of Appalachia to reveal the dark secrets behind Caitlyn’s existence–and understand her father’s betrayal.

Prepare yourself to experience a chilling America of the very near future, as you discover the unforgettable secret of the Broken Angel.

In this engrossing, lightning-paced story with a post-apocalyptic edge, best-selling author Sigmund Brouwer weaves a heroic, harrowing journey through the path of a treacherous culture only one or two steps removed from our own.

If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Everyday life. . .

. . .at my house!

CSFF Blog Tour: Mind Flights

To all my CSFF friends out there, I'm sorry that I'm posting so late for the tour.

Mindlights is (In their words) "A new magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction brought to you by Double-Edged Publishing. We've recently combined two award-winning magazines - Dragons, Knights, and Angels and The Sword Review - into one frequently-updated, high-quality magazine.

Here's a look at just a few of this month's offering:

Haiku by Karen A. Romanko, Poetry - Speculative
Announcing MindFlights Poetry Contest 2008 by DEP Staff, Editorial - Writing
On the Edge of Eternity by Steve Stanton, Fiction - Science Fiction
Heart of Flesh by Michael Bonett, Jr. Fiction - Fantasy
Knight of Sorrows: Poisoned Thorns by Jonathan Moeller Fiction - Fantasy
Martian Weather by Mary Jo Rabe Poetry - Science Fiction
Takin' Notice by Susan Plett Fiction - Speculative

There's much more at this magazine plus you can discuss everything at the forums!

I would love to feature some of the artwork here, but I didn't get permission.

Check out the other participants:
Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Jackie Castle
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Kameron M. Franklin
Beth Goddard
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Michael Heald
Christopher Hopper
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Terri Main
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Pamela Morrisson
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Rachelle Sperling
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Linda Wichman
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise


Monday, May 19, 2008

CFBA: Embrace Me

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Embrace Me

(Thomas Nelson March 4, 2008)


Lisa Samson


Lisa Samson is a Christy Award-winning author of 19 books, including the Women of the Faith Novel of the Year, Quaker Summer. Lisa has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as "a talented novelist who isn't afraid to take risks."

In Embrace Me, the latest novel by acclaimed author Lisa Samson, readers are privy to the realization that regardless of outward appearances…hideous, attractive, or even ordinary…persons are all looking for the same things: love, forgiveness, and redemption.

This story explores a world that is neither comfortable nor safe, a world that people like Valentine know all too well. Masterfully crafted by Samson and populated by her most compelling cast of characters yet. It is a tale of forgiveness that extends into all spheres of life: forgiving others, forgiving oneself, forgiving the past.

She lives in Lexinton, Kentucky, with her husband and three kids.


Biting and gentle, hard-edged and hopeful...a beautiful fable of love and power, hiding and seeking, woundedness and redemption.

When a "lizard woman," a self-mutilating preacher, a tattooed monk, and a sleazy lobbyist find themselves in the same North Carolina town one winter, their lives are edging precariously close to disaster...and improbably close to grace.

Valentine, due to her own drastic self-disfigurement, ahs very few friends in this world and, it appears as if she may be destined to spend the rest of her life practically alone. But life gives her one good friend, Lella, whose own handicap puts her in the same freakish category as Valentine. As part of Roland's Wayfaring Marvel and Oddities Show, a traveling band of misfits, they seem to have found their niches in an often curiously cruel world.

Residing in a world where masks are mandatory, Valentine has a hard time removing hers, because of her disfigured face but more so because of her damaged soul. It is much easier for her to listen endlessly to different versions of a favorite song, Embraceable You, and escape reality. Yet, life has more in store for her when she meets Augustine, replete with the tattoos, dreadlocks, and his own secrets. With his arrival, Valentine's soul takes a turn.

If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

CFBA: Healing Promises/Amy Wallace Interview

Amy Wallace is the author of Ransomed Dreams, a homeschool mom, and a self-confessed chocoholic. She is a graduate of the Gwinnett County Citizens Police Academy and a contributing author of several books, including God Answers Moms’ Prayers and Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Diabetes. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia.

Beth: Tell us about your writing journey.

Amy: It all started in 2001 when my hubby and God sort of teamed up and shoved me in the direction of publication. I’d found a series of novels at the library when choosing some fun homeschool reading for Christmas break. I devoured the grown-up stories, gave them to my husband and then, as soon as he'd read them, I told him everything I'd change.

After the seventh book he told me to write my own. ;-) I said no way. Until I had a dream that wouldn't leave me alone. It was a dream about an FBI agent with a wounded heart and a mom on a dangerous quest for answers. Not too long after I told my husband about the dream, he scheduled a meeting for me with a Secret Service agent he knew. After the research, interview and plotting my first story, I was in it for the long haul because I'd found something I could put my whole heart into, something I'd been created to do.

So I transferred the story from my brain to the computer and got involved in an awesome writer's group called ACFW. I spent a little over three years learning the heart and craft of writing as I worked on a number of novels, short stories and proposals. During that time, I received a recommendation for an agent who loved my first book, and we signed a contract. I also submitted a number of short creative fiction stories and saw four of those published in 2004 and 2005. Then, eighteen months after I’d submitted a proposal to my dream publisher, they offered me a three-book contract in December 2005.

Now all that sounds sort of nice and easy. But this journey has been anything but. It's more closely resembled a difficult pregnancy than a walk in the park, with plenty of sleepless nights and fears about how everything would turn out. But God returns me to a few basic things: He called me. He promised to equip me. And I rise and fall to Him alone.

Beth: When do you feel like it all began to come together for you as a writer—was there a particular moment?

Amy: There were a few things that converged to create that WOW moment. One of those things was hearing my children and husband tell strangers about me being an author. Another was holding Ransomed Dreams in my hand the day my author copies arrived. I squealed, cried and thanked the Lord for my husband’s prodding. The final circumstance that made it real for me was receiving a letter from a reader who shared how God had used Ransomed Dreams during a dark time in her life to remind her of His presence and the power of forgiveness. All those things together brought tears to my eyes and a fullness in my heart that confirmed I was walking the path created for me by my awesome heavenly Daddy. He truly does abundantly above all we can ask or imagine.

Beth: Who has influenced you most as a writer and why?

Amy: I’m sure this sounds sentimental, but my children are my greatest influence. They play hard, love fully and forgive easily. I want to be more like them when I grow up. ;-) Even more than that, I realize I have three pairs of eyes watching everything I do. So I want to give my best to what God has called me to. I want my children to grow up seeing that God is a God of big dreams, and that He will accomplish in and through us all the amazing good He has planned.

Beth: Tell us about the writing process for you. Does it begin with a character, setting, or plot?

Amy: My writing process has evolved from just sitting down to type in that blissful state of ignorance and excitement to doing fairly detailed chapter-by-chapter outlines and character sketches before I begin to write. Because the Defenders of Hope series is about Crimes Against Children FBI agents, I have tons of research to do before I begin crafting the stories. Once my research helps me define the timeline, I set to work on the chapter-by-chapter and character details.

The first Defenders of Hope novel began with two distinct characters and fuzzy sense of plot that became well defined through research. The other two books in the series started with a question, “What would happen if…” as well as knowing which character would take center stage in each story. So character and plot tend to come to me at the same time. Working on both as I research makes the story come alive in my heart and enables me to transfer that onto the page.

Beth: Tell us about your latest book.

Amy: Healing Promises is a high-voltage suspense novel which explores how cancer and the search for an elusive serial kidnapper affects even the most solid, loving Christian marriage and poses a key life question: Can God be trusted?

Beth: What inspired you to write this particular story?

Amy: One of the major storylines for Healing Promises came from a question I posed to the amazing Secret Service agent I interviewed before I wrote Ransomed Dreams. I had the seed of an idea about a character’s journey, so I asked, “What would a federal agent do if he was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness?” My expert advisor said that many agents would end the battle fast. I knew then I wanted to explore how a Christian federal agent would handle a life-altering medical diagnosis. The decision for that diagnosis to be cancer came through a series of prayer requests at church and two dear friends facing the beast of cancer and hanging onto Jesus.

Beth: What is the message you hope to get across in this story?

Amy: My prayer is that readers will experience a deeper sense of the goodness and trustworthiness of God, even when life doesn’t go according to plan. I also hope readers will see that at the end of ourselves only one truth remains—God is good. What we do with that fact changes everything.

Beth: What do you think is the hardest part of writing a mystery?

Amy: For me the most difficult part was repeatedly going over the series of clues and making sure I didn’t tell too much too soon but laid the groundwork for readers to be satisfied with the ending. That’s not my favorite part of writing. I much prefer delving into the characters and digging into the law enforcement investigations.

Beth: Tell us about your experience at the Citizen's Police Academy and as a volunteer for your local police force.

Amy: What began as time-consuming research (two nights a week classes for ten weeks) ended up being an incredible learning experience, a place where friendship grew and fodder for all sorts of stories. One of which was getting thrown in jail. Not arrested, though! ;-) Our class toured the county jail, and our instructor thought it would be good for us to have a taste of what it’s like when those metal bars clanged shut. Let me just say the experience was far less than pleasant. But it found its way into Ransomed Dreams through a character who ended up in that very jail, and I was able to write the intense feelings with depth because I’d walked through it.

My family and I enjoyed the time we spent serving as volunteers for our police department. We made birthdays special, did holiday dinners and would stop by just to drop off some candy and remind these amazing folks that the people they served cared and appreciated their hard work. Not glamorous, but it reminded us how important it is to pray for our law enforcement officers.

Beth: What are your future writing plans?

Amy: Very soon I’ll be editing the third Defenders of Hope book, Enduring Justice. This is Michael and Hanna’s story and focuses on a painful secret and a racially motivated killer. When circumstances simplify the options to fight or fear, Michael and Hanna learn that the difference between executing vengeance and pursuing justice is their choice to heal.

After that, I’m excited about working on a new suspense series that includes stories which have been brewing in my heart a long time. As to what they’re about…let’s just say they include law enforcement, families with children, and intense storylines.

Beth: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Amy: Keep your focus on Christ and your behind in the chair. ;-)

Another valuable piece of advice came from my amazing writing mentor, Mary Griffith. She taught me to bleed into my work and bring the story alive by pouring out to the Lord and into the pages everything I am. In the end, our stories are an offering to God, and as such they require us to pour out all we are, knowing that our heavenly Daddy receives our offering with outstretched arms and a loving smile.


Facing a new threat.

When FBI Agent Clint Rollins takes a bullet during a standoff, it might just save his life. But not even the ugly things he’s seen during his years working in the Crimes Against Children Unit could prepare him for the overwhelming powerlessness of hospital tests revealing an unexpected diagnosis. If only Sara weren’t retreating into doctor mode…he needs his wife now more than ever.

Frozen in fear.

Sara Rollins is an oncologist with a mission–beating cancer when she can, easing her patients’ suffering at the very least. Now the life of her tall Texan husband is at stake. She never let the odds steal her hope before, but in this case, the question of God’s healing promises is personal. Can she hold on to the truth she claimed to believe?

Faith under fire.

As Clint continues to track down a serial kidnapper despite his illness, former investigations haunt his nightmares, pushing him beyond solving the case into risking his life and career. Clint struggles to believe God is still the God of miracles. Especially when he needs not one, but two. Everything in his life is reduced to one all-important question: Can God be trusted?

If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Whisper of Freedom Meme Blog tour!

About A Whisper of Freedom:

Battles heat up…not only those being waged by the soldiers on both sides fighting for Spain, but in the hearts and minds of the men and women who must sacrifice more than their dreams to save the lives of their loved ones.

In this meticulously researched novel, brave and idealistic Sophie, Philip, Jose, and Deion realize their only hope for freedom is escaping Spain's borders.

By continuing the story of this band of volunteers during the Spanish Civil War, A Whisper of Freedom proves that there are whispers of hope and liberty that resonate through even the darkest night.

About Tricia:

Tricia Goyer is the author of twelve books including From Dust and Ashes, My Life UnScripted, and the children's book, 10 Minutes to Showtime. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like Today's Christian Woman and Focus on the Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in the mountains of Montana.

Book excerpt:
Buy the book:
Watch the series trailer:
Tricia’s website:
Tricia’s Blogs:

YOU could WIN one of FIVE signed copies of A Whisper of Freedom by signing up for Tricia's newsletter here!

TAG YOUR IT! I'm Tagging you, the reader, with these questions. In addition, I'm tagging a few specific people:

Ronie Kendig
Shannon McNear
Deborah Vogts
Lynette Sowell

Here are the MEME questions!

1. List three things you would do with a chest full of gold (assuming you got to keep it!)

1) Find out how much it's worth! 2) Be responsible with some of it 3) Travel to some exotic private location, or maybe buy an island.

2. List three charities/missions/organizations you support (and why).

1) ICCM children's ministry (Our child is in Kenya) 2) Teen Mania (Our daughter will be traveling to South Africa this summer) 3) ARM --children's ministry in the Philippines

3. List three ways you have volunteered your time/services.

1)Clean my house every day 2) I home school my children 3) Fascilitate Ladies bible Study. . .
what those don't count?

4. List three things you keep "hidden" when company comes over.

Sodas, fruit, and the last of the chips!

5. List the last three things you've lost.
1) One of my new pair of blue jeans, 2) My dog (but he came home) 3) my thin body

6. List the last three things you've found.

1) The stickers for a job well done, 3) that pair of jeans, 4) I'm working on recovering my thin body

Three brave "players" will be selected at random to win their own lost gold (Gourmet chocolate coins and all three books in the Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War series). To enter all you have to do is answer the MEME on your blog and then leave a comment on Tricia’s blog tour post here:
that you’ve posted your MEME. Easy.

To visit other participants or read more about the tour:


Sincerely, Mayla Blog Tour

In Sincerely, Mayla—the heartwarming sequel to Just As I Am—Mayla Strong’s life is starting to seem normal. She has been working at the same job for four years, living with a good friend, and enjoying a deep relationship with God. But when Mayla is suddenly laid off, she learns the hard way that things aren’t always what they seem. One disappointment after another drops into her lap: her budding relationship with her pastor, Paul, turns out to be less than she has hoped; her friend Stuart refuses to talk to her; and Lindsey—the younger sister of her late friend Alex—calls her in a panic looking for a place to stay.

Mayla decides to take advantage of her newfound “vacation time” and sets out for Florida. She hopes to spend a few quiet days visiting her aunt and grandmother, but one by one her problems catch up with her. Mayla comes face-to-face with the responsibilities and joys of friends and family. As Mayla tries to help her friends, she realizes that God has all the answers—the trick is letting go long enough to let Him prove it.

My Review: Mayla Strong is a new creation in Sincerely, Mayla, and it makes me wonder what she was like in the first book, Just As I Am. I want to read that one now. I imagine her with many tattoos and piercings, which I see a lot of in the town where I live, struggling to find her way to Christ in a world where Christians don't look like her.

Kudos to Virginia Smith for tackling characters and topics that most writers would rather ignore. The author has an easy going and fun loving voice—or at least her character, Mayla, does. She sounds like she has a southern accent. I’m from Texas so I project my Texas accent into the characters in this story--especially Mayla's mother--but I'm sure Kentuckians must sound different than Texans! I didn't know you could go that far north (Kentucky) and still get a southern accent. But it did make me miss Texas—the friendly state.

Smith has a way of taking everyday events--such as Mayla's newfound pet rabbit--and weaving them into a tapestry of fun-loving characters who feel like real people with real problems. I especially love happy endings and though I wasn't completely convinced that in real life, things would end so well (I don't want to spoil the ending for those who haven't read) I'm still glad the book ended as it did. I read so that I can escape on an adventure, and I expect to shed tears and sigh with satisfaction at the end (real life or not). Virginia Smith delivered this for me with Sincerely, Mayla.

If you want to visit more participants on the tour, visit this website:

Virginia Smith is a writer of humorous novels, a speaker, a snow skier, a motorcycle enthusiast, and an avid scuba diver. Since leaving her twenty-year profession as a corporate director, she has written numerous books, including her debut, Just As I Am (Kregel Publications, March 2006) and Stuck in the Middle (Revell, February 2008). An energetic speaker, she loves to exemplify God's truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truth in Star Trek.”

Thursday, May 08, 2008

CFBA tour: The Warriors by Mark Andrew Olsen

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Warriors

(Bethany House April 1, 2008)


Mark Andrew Olsen

I grabbed the mail as we headed out to a day of errands, and The Warriors was in the stack. I had a couple of novels already started, but they were sitting at home. When I ended up waiting in the car for my husband to look through Lowe's, I began reading The Warriors to get a feel for the story and the writing. I was sucked right into this tale of spiritual darkness. I love these types of stories, but by the time we made it home it was night, and I'd left the characters in a dark cave in Afghanistan fighting off an ancient evil. I wasn't about to read more right before bed!


MARK ANDREW OLSEN whose novel The Assignment was a Christy Award finalist, also collaborated on bestsellers Hadassah (now the major motion picture: One Night With the King), The Hadassah Covenant, and Rescued. His last novel was the supernatural thriller The Watchers.

The son of missionaries to France, Mark is a Professional Writing graduate of Baylor University. He and his wife, Connie, live in Colorado Springs with their three children.


A failed recon mission deep in the tunnels of Afghanistan has provoked a demonic onslaught that had been brewing for centuries. The mission's sole survivor is reformed black ops assassin Dylan Hatfield, and he once again teams up with Abby Sherman, now at the helm of the Watchers, an ancient spiritual force. Uncovering and preventing a secret wave of death whispered across cyberspace and threatening to be unleash against civilization will require another level of spiritual power and expertise--the Warriors.

Journeying across the Alps of Europe through the multilayered history of warfare in the unseen world, Dylan and Abby uncover an age-old stone engraving that rouses the church's Warriors to action, placing them dead center in one of the fiercest spiritual battles of their time!

And once again they are reminded: This is all part of a vast and perpetual war, a war beyond all human conflicts, one that has engulfed heaven and earth since before the dawn of history....

Abby Sherman is headed back to Israel, where a Watcher, the Sentinel of Jerusalem, lies dying. In her last breaths the old woman tells Abby of an ancient document prophesying humanity's full-scale entry into the ongoing conflict between armies of heaven and fallen angels.

Dylan Hatfield has decided to answer a summons from his old boss and join a secret operation, its mission to reconnoiter the Afghani tunnel complex from which Osama bin Laden escaped in 2001. What he discovers sears his very soul and likely will end his life.

Abby learns of the peril facing Dylan, and she sends out a call for intercession on his behalf. Her frantic email message sets in motion a series of harrowing events, propelling the two on a new mission and quest--one where the stakes are the lives of millions!

The Warriors is packed with high-octane action, featuring exotic international locales, with characters in a clash against spiritual "principalities and powers" with eternal consequences, The Warriors is a story that will enthrall, enlighten, and engage its readers.

If that piques your interest, you can read the first chapter HERE

"Olsen, one of the better writers in this subgenre, delivers powerful, action-packed plots that delve into mystical paranormal worlds."
~Library Journal, Feb. 2008

"Olsen delivers an entertaining thriller likely to be enjoyed especially by fans of the spiritual warfare genre."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Special Promotion of Fossil Hunter

I sent out a newsletter today but failed to include a special promotion. This is from Mr. Olson himself:

Tell your friends that if they read Fossil Hunter and love it and want to tell their friends about it (and CC me on the emails they send out), I’ll write them back personally and send every one of them a random, quirky and sometimes bizarre token of my appreciation. The best, most creative, widely broadcast and all around most effective recommendations I get (as judged by my wife Amy), will be awarded brand spankin’ new iPod Touches.

1.) SEE THE MOVIE: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
2.) PURCHASE Fossil Hunter from on MAY 1, 2008
3.) TELL YOUR FRIENDS and copy John in on the email
4.) possibly WIN an iPod Touch!

Now scroll to the next post and read an interview with John Olson.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Fossil Hunter/Interview with John Olson

John Olson is the Christy award winning author of the science thriller, Oxygen and other novels, including the sequel to Oxygen, The Fifth Man, and Adrenaline.

For John Olson, growing up with biologist parents was always an adventure. While his friends went to Disney World on their vacations, he and his family traveled out into the desert so that his father could study desert bacteriology. While his friends learned about early birds getting the worm, he learned the migratory patterns of the Zonotrichia albicollis.

He went on to earn a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. After two years of postdoctoral work in computational drug design at the University of California at San Francisco, John worked for a computational biochemistry company in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Tell us how you went from you’re amazing science background to writing novels?

Actually I don’t have an amazing science background. I have a Ph.D. in biochemistry, but I was a pretty lousy scientist. I was much more interested in creating something new out of my own head, than I ever was at reading the literature and learning what others had done before me. I can’t read five sentences of a scientific research paper without my brain taking me off in a hundred different directions at once, darting this way and that like a beagle puppy in a new park, chasing after new ideas for inventions and innovations and cures. I used to feel terrible about my inability to focus – until I finally realized what that inability was good for.

What would you say comes first for you in the development of a novel—the plot or the characters? Do you use the snowflake method?

Neither… For me the concept always comes first. The characters and plot follow in an iterative process that probably comes from a fusion of iterative software development practices and the scientific method. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never actually read Randy’s snowflake method (Randy still maintains I’m illiterate). I’ve always assumed it’s similar to the process we went through to write Oxygen and Fifth Man, but with all the false starts and dead ends taken out.

How did co-authoring Oxygen with Randy Ingermanson come about?

I came up with the initial idea for Oxygen while I was watching a Scientific American Frontiers special on NASA. I love Daniel Defoe and thought, wouldn’t it be great to do Robinson Crusoe on Mars? The more I looked into it, the more I realized Mars was mankind’s next new frontier. We actually have the technology to get there; we just don’t have the resolve. But what if the next president were to supply the resolve? Mars would be huge!

For a few delusional minutes, I, in my naiveté, thought I was the only writer in the world who could write this guaranteed best-selling story... then I remembered my good friend Randy. We had been talking about writing a book together for years. Why not this one? The project was perfect for him. So I called him up from my mother-in-law’s house and proposed the collaboration, and well… the rest is fiction.

How did it feel when you heard that Oxygen won the Christy Award?

I felt like, wow, I get to shake Jerry Jenkins’ hand. It was a very humbling night. The thing I remember most is that Kathy Tyers, one of the authors I admire and love most in this world, stayed in the hotel and babysat my kids so Amy could go to the banquet with me. Talk about humbling. I guess we all know who’s going to get the biggest reward…

What books would you say have influenced you most in general? On writing?

I don’t read books on writing. I tried a couple of times, but the books were so poorly written I put them down quickly for fear I might learn something from them.

The books that influenced my writing most were the ones I read when I was young: E.R. Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes, Baroness Orczy’s Scarlet Pimpernel, C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra, J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings, Anthony Hope’s Prisoner of Zenda, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, George MacDonald’s The Princess and Curdie, and P.C. Wren’s Beau Sabreur. I love these stories of heroism, adventure, romance and intrigue. I spend a lot of time in this petty, self-indulgent, mundane world; I don’t want to read about it. The reality our society has created is a mere shadow of the reality God intends for us. We’re called to live life bigger than that. When I read a book, I want to live in a more solid world where people are bigger and more alive than the shadow people I meet during the commercial break we call life. This is why I love to read, and this is why I have to write.

Your books can be considered “science-thrillers.” Any advice for those of us who are not scientists, but want to write science thrillers?

Sure… Go ahead and write them. You’ll probably do better than I do. The problem with knowing science well, is that it’s difficult to figure out what the typical reader already knows and what you have to help her with. If you’ve just learned the science in order to write the book, you’ll probably be much better at communicating it. Just remember, science thrillers aren’t about science. They’re about real people the reader needs to care about. If your readers don’t care about your hero, they won’t experience any thrills and they won’t care about the science.

Can you give us your thoughts on thrillers as a genre and a few writing tips?

Hmmm… Thrillers. That’s pretty much a two hour lecture without any potty breaks. I guess my best advice is… thrillers should be thrilling. Isaac Newton worked out the three laws governing thriller writing over three hundred years ago, and they still haven’t changed. A reader at rest will remain at rest until the author acts on the reader with an emotional force. A reader in motion will get bored with the motion unless the author accelerates or decelerates the story. (The reader experiences the most acceleration during sharp turns and twists.) The author should vary the emotional forces used to accelerate the reader. My favorite emotional forces are mystery, suspense, romance, fantasy and fear.

You have a novel coming out the fall of this year, Fossil Hunter, Tyndale House. Tell us about it.

I just finished writing it so I actually haven’t had the chance to read it yet. I am illiterate, after all. You had the chance to read an early rough draft. What did you think of it?

All right, I’ll give it a try. First, I haven’t read a novel in a long while that pulled me in so quickly with the great cast of characters and interesting subject matter. When life pulled me away from the pages, I couldn’t wait to get back to them. I love action and adventure and this novel is definitely packed with both.

Here’s a short blurb: Christian paleontologist Katie James is on a race to find an ancient fossil in Iraq before her competition, Nick Murad. But they must join forces to fight more than the deadly heat when Iraqi guards chase them through the desert and Baghdad. Who can they trust with their lives and their controversial discovery that defies evolutionary theories?

I especially love the science and how you brought out the conflict that Christian scientists face in a world where their peers only accept the evolutionary theory.

What sparked the idea for this novel?

The whole novel was one of those God things I always hear about but think could never happen to me. I’m still shaking my head over it. One day, out of the blue, while I was in the middle of preparations to quit my day job, a guy from a movie company calls me up and asks me to write a novel based on a screenplay his company was thinking about producing. My first thought was, “Wow, what a God thing! Of course I’ll do it!” But then, after reading the screenplay, I realized I couldn’t write that story. Maybe someone else could, but that someone definitely wasn’t me.

So I had to call the guy back and turn him down – not an easy thing to do. Later, however, as we were talking about the movie company’s plans, he asked me what I would have done differently. I told him I would have written a completely different story. A thriller instead of a drama – perhaps something set in Iraq. Something about a fossil hunter maybe… A scientist who finds something that doesn’t square with evolutionary theory… And thus Katie James was born.

Can you explain some of the research involved in a story like this?

I didn’t have time for a lot of research because of the movie company’s schedule, but the research I had a chance to do was a lot of fun. A very kind grad student at UC Berkeley talked to me about his research and took me on a tour of the fossil vaults at the UC Museum of Paleontology. Shelves and shelves and shelves full of ancient fossils… Too many fossils to display or even characterize. It was amazing.

Can you share what your next project will be?

It’s a hard call. I have a new idea for a fantasy that I’d love to explore more, but my next project will very likely be a series of heroic supernatural thrillers set against a very dark and very creepy backdrop. Some of you writers out there may recognize one of the books as the infamous “vampireless vampire story” – the manuscript that made Randy Ingermanson check under his bed and sleep with the lights on while he was at a conference one summer.

Any parting words to writers? To you fans?

If you comb your hair so that it falls back to cover your part, you’ll be less likely to get sunburn on the top of your head.

Other than that, I don’t think parting words are necessary. It’s all up to God, of course, but I’m not planning to go anywhere. I’ll see y’all around.

That concludes my interview with John Olson. He's a good-looking brainy guy loaded with personality. What more could you want in a thriller writer?

(This article is a reprint from the Keep Me In Suspense Blog:

Fossil Hunter

In the desolate Iraqi desert, a lone shepherd stumbles across the fossilized remains of a large whale. Initial analysis indicates that it could be a new species — a key intermediary form that could shed new light on the evolution debate.

Paleontologist Dr. Katie James is asked to lead an expedition to recover the rest of the fossil before her archrival, Nick Murad, can find it first. But while she’s there, Katie also uncovers the unexpected — a human fossil so controversial she’s forced to collaborate with Nick to analyze the find before it can be destroyed by a fundamentalist government faction. Their initial results fly in the face of current scientific theory, and it seems the whole world turns against them, including those they thought they could trust most.

Then the fossil disappears, sending Nick and Katie on a chase that could cost them their reputations, their careers — even their lives.

Fossil Hunter is part of the Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed campaign. For more information on the feature-length documentary hosted by Ben Stein and produced by Premise Media, please visit:

Visit John Olson's Website at:

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