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Posts Tagged ‘Christian thriller/suspense’

blog-hop-for-writers imageMy favorite genre is historical fiction. Of course, if you know me you might expect me to say that since I’ve read scads of them and have had three complete historical novels published, as well as one being released in installments (shameless self-promotion here).
River volume 4

However, I also love reading mysteries such as Anne Perry’s Victorian series (William Monk / Charlotte and Thomas Pitt), The Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun, and Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache stories. I could list countless others (Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce books are another example), but these are books I read. I have yet to publish a mystery of my own, although I am currently editing a cozy mystery.

That brings me to another favorite genre: cozies. If you are unfamiliar with the term “cozy,” it is a subgenre of the mystery category in which violence is limited and mostly off-stage (my own definition). Something you can curl up with on a dark and stormy night without subsequent nightmares ensuing.

Speaking of genres, I recently read a great romance set in Scotland that made me want to hop on a plane to Skye to see the place for myself. Thanks to Carla Laureano for the experience. So although I don’t usually read dedicated romance novels, this one provided a lovely balance of character, plot and setting to keep me hooked from the beginning.

I also have a dear friend who writes gripping Christian suspense, which is a good balance to some of my other reading. Janet Sketchley’s Heaven’s Prey is a recommended read, but I couldn’t write suspense either.

Sometimes we all need a good belly laugh, a book that will make us forget our troubles. I love to read humor, but it’s a challenge to write.

So if I was forced to reveal my favorite genre, I would have to say, “yes!”  To all the above and more. Fiction has “food groups” and I like to have a balanced diet. I think it’s important for readers and writers to read widely. As they say: so many books; so little time.

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Review of Heaven’s PreyHeaven's Prey

Author:  Janet Sketchley

Genre:  Christian suspense

Format:  print and digital

Publication date:  2013

Ruth Warner, a middle-aged woman whose niece was brutally murdered, has been praying for the murderer in an attempt to find peace. The perpetrator, a well-known racecar driver named Harry Silver, has become a serial killer, and is about to claim another victim in a convenience store when Ruth unknowingly walks in. In the chaos, Ruth is mistakenly abducted. During the harrowing hours that follow, the characters face situations they hadn’t anticipated, as the story of Harry’s past is revealed and God continues His work in their lives.

Author Janet Sketchley tells this story with grace and skill; this is an amazing debut novel. Her characters grow and change in a realistic manner, in fact, at one point I found myself sending off a quick prayer for Ruth as she faced the darkest of times. The characters’ dialogue is realistic and natural, easy to follow, and the point of view is clear and expertly handled.

The plot offers unexpected twists and turns, but moves smoothly and efficiently, a success in cause and effect. Sketchley uses strong action with all the right beats to make this story a movie in the mind of the reader. Conflict appears on many levels from the very first page: between characters and nature, character against character, character against God; and the tension escalates through to the final page.

In my opinion, the research is stellar. The world of the racing circuit comes alive as Harry learns the ropes and wins more and more races. Also, the police procedures seem valid and reasonable. It is my belief that if the author takes such care to dig for background facts, she can also be trusted to present credible spiritual truths and take-aways.

The entire story of Heaven’s Prey is presented as a well-formed unit. The beginning offers all the necessary facts without telling, the middle holds up well as tension increases, and the ending brings the whole to satisfactory completion. Technically speaking, I had a general impression of the author’s expertise and commitment to excellence.

This is a story of faith in the face of darkness, of trust in a God we don’t always understand. It is a story of inhuman cruelty, but also of forgiveness and peace beyond human understanding. It’s not a comfortable story, but one well worth reading, with inspiring values. Once you’ve finished reading the story, check out the Author’s Comments at the end of the book.

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Also, check out my personal interview with Janet Sketchley at www.janicedick.com for January 14.

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Today I’d like to introduce you to author, Janet Sketchley:

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Janet is a Canadian author with a passion for story. She’s also a wife, mom, daughter, and friend who balances relationships and responsibilities while learning how faith applies to real life. Combine all that with her quirky imagination and love of fiction to get inspiring novels about everyday women in suspenseful situations who discover more strength within than they could have dreamed.

 

Janice: Hi Janet. Thanks for agreeing to this interview. First of all, tell me why you write. What’s your motivation, what keeps you on track and when did you start on this path?
JANET: Thanks for inviting me, Janice. I’m looking forward to our chat. Most of my life, I’ve made up stories, so writing fiction was a natural progression. Non-fiction is a bit different. I have things I want to say, but for me conversation can be like a first draft—jumbled and in need of organization.

So I write to express what I’ve learned, or to share the story in my mind with others. One of the things that keeps me going is the desire to bring my “imaginary friends” to life in others’ imaginations. As long as there’s a better way to do that in my fiction, I keep working at it. I played at writing as a child, but fell back into it almost 20 years ago.

Janice: Do you have a specific audience in mind as you write?
JANET: I think it’s me! Not to be self-centred, but I want to discover the characters and their stories. To broaden that, my revisions aim to appeal to women who enjoy suspense and characters they can relate to, and who are either Christian or comfortable reading about Christians. I work to keep churchy jargon out, though, so readers won’t be confused or feel preached at.

Janice: As a writer myself, I know this requires self-motivation and discipline. How do you approach your daily writing? Do you work on more than one project at a time, and do you edit as you go?
JANET: I’m always writing content for my blog, but until now fiction has been one story at a time. I edit as I go, but there’s plenty more editing to be done at the end of the draft. I don’t think I could create two stories at once, but now that I have a series contract, once I turn in the story I’m currently revising, I’ll be writing a new story while doing edits on the other one.

Janice: Your debut novel—Heaven’s Prey—was released in November of 2013. Can you give us a brief summary of the storyline and what inspired the original idea?

Heaven's PreyJANET: A grieving woman is abducted by a serial killer—and it may be the answer to her prayers. Despite her husband’s objections, 40-something Ruth Warner finds healing through prayer for Harry Silver, the serial killer who brutally raped and murdered her niece. When a kidnapping-gone-wrong pegs her as his next victim, Harry claims that the chance to destroy the one person who’d pray for him proves God can’t—or won’t—look after His own. Can Ruth’s faith sustain her to the end—whatever the cost?

The original idea was a question: it’s one thing to pray for an offender locked away in jail, but what would you do if you met the person face to face?

Janice: How did you create / develop the characters? Are they based on real people or totally figments of your imagination?
JANET: They came out of my head, but my imagination drew on my own character and on impressions I’ve picked up from real and fictional people along the way. They’re not based on specific individuals or situations, though.

Janice: The book is set in Canada. Why did you choose that setting?
JANET: Canada is my home, and the story fit here. Plus, in dealing with an escaped convict etc, I wanted to work within a justice system I more or less understood, with easy access to input when I had questions.

Janice: What was the most difficult part of this project for you?
JANET: You know, there’s a bit of reflected shame when you’re writing about a serial rapist-murderer. At least that’s been my fear. How will people react when I tell them it’s a redemption story of someone this bad? As Ruth’s pastor says in the novel, there are some villains we just don’t want to see saved. [And yes, it was also difficult writing about him. I tried not to think too much about what he’d done, and he didn’t “volunteer” any information I didn’t ask for.]

Janice: And your favorite part?
JANET: Every so often, an aspect of the story would spring to life spontaneously and I’d write as fast as I could to keep up. Those moments are rare, but I love them.

Janice: What is your take-away value from Heaven’s Prey?
JANET: Whatever happens, Jesus will be there. Ruth discovers this, and it’s something I’ve learned along the way too.

Janice: I know you are an avid social media user. How did you learn to use it and what do you think is the most effective social media for you as an author?
JANET: I was a reluctant starter, but for a shy person with limited local contacts, it’s a great way to connect with people. My website/blog is my main focus, and I started small and learned as it grew. Other than that I like Facebook. It’s not as restrictive length-wise as Twitter and it incorporates links and images into the posts. I’m on Twitter but don’t know how effective I am. Haven’t risked Pinterest yet, although it sounds fun. There are lots of free resources online for authors wanting to learn social media. The two that have helped me most are Author Media [http://www.authormedia.com/]

and Kristen Lamb [http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/].

Janice: Do you write in other genres besides suspense fiction? Any non-fiction?
JANET: I’ve been dabbling a bit in speculative fiction for fun, but that’s on hold right now. And I have a non-fiction story, “The Road Trip that Wasn’t,” in A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider. The only non-fiction I’m writing these days is for blog posts: reviews, devotionals and Christian living.

Janice: Tell us a little about yourself: home, work, hobbies, interests, talents…
JANET: I live in Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast. I’ve just finished a few months’ full-time work, so I’m a writer-homemaker, learning to set boundaries between work-at-home and free time. I love reading, music, knitting and cross-stitch… and tea. TV isn’t on my radar, except for Doctor Who and Babylon 5. A year ago I joined a gym, and actually enjoy the group exercise classes. Who knew? So I feel stronger, and a bit more confident. I sing in our church worship team, too.

Janice: Can you give us a hint as to future plans in your writing career?
JANET: There are two more books in the Redemption’s Edge series: Secrets and Lies and one to be named later. That’s my focus right now, and beyond that I have a few ideas for other stories, but nothing clear. I love writing novels, though, and hope to keep it up long-term.

Janice: Is there anything else you’d like to include here for our readers?
JANET: Thank you for the chance to chat, Janice. I’m a long-time fan of your historical fiction, and it’s so good to see your newest story out. Readers who are curious about Heaven’s Prey can read chapter 1 for free at http://ow.ly/smyDU.

Janice: Thanks so much for your time and for giving us a glimpse of you and your work. I wish you all the best in your future writing.

Check out Janet’s social media sites below:

Website: http://janetsketchley.ca
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JanetSketchley
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JanetSketchley
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/janetsketchley

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Mishael-Austin-Witty-Author-Photo-199x300Mishael Austin Witty is a professional editor and the internationally bestselling author of SHADOWS OF THINGS TO COME, a Christian thriller/suspense novel, and BELIEVE IN ME, a sweet contemporary romance/women’s fiction novella.

In addition to these books, she has newly released a zombie fairy tale, CAMPANULA, which marks a departure from the usual for her, but it was great fun to write, and she already has plans for another.

Her latest project is the soon-to-be released short story PROTECTING ZOE, published by Helping Hands Press.

She lives in Louisville, KY (where most of the action of CAMPANULA takes place), with her husband, two cats, and two daughters.

Connect with Mishael online in the following places:

* Website: http://www.bluebrownbooks.com

* Facebook: www.facebook.com/MishaelAustinWitty

* Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/woweditor12

Here are the cover images for her novels Believe in Me and Shadows of Things to Come:

shadows of things to come

Mishael Witty's book

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