Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Deadly Intent by Camy Tang

Reviewed by Susan Sleeman
If you enjoy romance, suspense, and inspiration, this book has it all in a well-balanced mix.

I have never been a spa kind of girl, but Camy Tang's fabulous descriptions of life at the Joy Luck Life spa, in her latest release Deadly Intent had me rethinking my decision. Until she started to kill people off in this exclusive Sonoma spa, that is.

Naomi Grant, filling in as the spa manager for her father who's recovering from a stroke, finds herself faced with big challenges. Not only is her client Jessica Ortiz murdered in the spa, but Naomi soon becomes a prime suspect in the murder. She finds herself turning to Dr. Devon Knightly for comfort, help in the locating the killer, and most importantly, matters of the heart. Her heart, that pines after the handsome Dr. Knightly. But when Naomi learns that Dr. Knightly had once been married to Jessica and is a suspect himself, she is forced to decide if she can trust him. Thus begins a fast paced, well plotted, suspense book with an equally pleasing romance.

Tang draws you in right from the beginning through her characters and the first spark that flies between Naomi and Devon. I liked Naomi right off the bat. She's a strong woman, yet insecure when it comes to telling her father what she really wants to do in life making her a very real character. The supporting cast is equally flawed yet real.

Tang keeps you reading with the tightly written suspense. Hair-raising events keep you turning the pages until the end, never guessing the killer's identity, before the story ends with a satisfying bang. The faith message is strongly woven throughout the book, never intruding, but adding to your reading enjoyment. So if you enjoy romance, suspense, and inspiration, this book has it all in a well-balanced mix.

Go here to read the first chapter of Deadly Intent by Camy Tang

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Story is king---or is it?

If you’ve researched writing for publication for any length of time you've heard it said or read it over and over again. It’s all about the story. Not you. Not your agenda or cramming your belief system down the reader’s throat.

I read an online interview yesterday at Writers Digest with Jerry Jenkins and Stephen King. Since I believe there is a thing or two—or five thousand—I could learn from these two prolific writers, I absorbed every word.

In case you don’t know, I write Christian fiction. My mission for my writing ministry is to entertain, edify, and inspire readers through my pen. When asked, I always tell people that I am blessed to be in a position to do what I love while sharing my faith with others. I’m a storyteller, but I’m also a Christian so it’s only natural that I incorporate who I am into my writing. The trick is not to bore, annoy, or alienate readers with who you are. Frankly, the reader doesn’t care. They want a good story, and you better give them one.

Jerry Jenkins put it this way: “…the singular challenge I had was to allow the message to come through without letting it overwhelm the fiction. The story has to be paramount. Readers must fall in love with the characters and want to keep turning the pages. The minute your novel starts to read like a sermon, end of story.”

Stephen King had this to say: “The old Robert (Psycho) Bloch witticism applies here: “Thou shalt not sell thy book for a plot of message.” Jerry said it, and I’ll double down: Story comes first. But—and I think Jerry will agree with this, too—what you write ought to be about something you care about. Why else would you spend all that time and expend all that effort?”

Balance, dear writer, balance. Don’t be afraid to tell your story in your own unique way, but keep in mind it’s all about the story. Don’t intrude. Create characters you care about. Put them into situations that matter to you. Let your passion come through to the reader, but remember that ultimately, the only thing that matters is story.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Be outstanding

I read a fabulous quote yesterday on a calendar at the doctor’s office that struck a chord with me. “If you want to stand out, don’t be different; be outstanding.”

As a writer I am always thinking of ways to draw attention to my writing. Writing is a crowded, competitive field. Check out any of the current bestseller lists. Sadly you won’t find my name. At least not today. I haven’t yet stepped out of the pack. Maybe you are in the same situation on your job. Or at school. Or with the opposite sex. Or wherever you desire to be noticed.

In many fields, writing included, those trying to break in look for a current trend or theme to mimic to sell their product. This week in writing, it’s vampires. Publishers and agents are inundated with books trying to capitalize on the success of the Twilight series and others. The only problem with that method is things change and by the time you finish your first draft what’s selling books today may be out of style.

Other writers decide they’ll get noticed by being different. They’ll thumb their nose at convention by not giving their romance novel a happy ending. That only works for Nicholas Sparks. Or they write a book about a flesh eating alien who runs for the U.S. Senate and adopts a child from a third world country. While there’s nothing wrong with exploring new avenues and thinking outside the box, there is probably a reason why few publishers would be clamoring for the aforementioned works.

It is best not to reinvent the wheel. In fiction most genres have certain rules aspiring writers should adhere to, such as letting the guy get the girl or bringing your villain to justice. Rather than worrying so much about being different, how about we focus our talents and gifts on being outstanding. Write the best novel you can. Put together the best presentation. Put everything you have into your demo. Whatever you do, don’t be different; be outstanding. Only then will you stand out in a crowd.