Musical Inspiration - Kutless

Considering our purpose is to worship and glorify God, it's no surprise to me how much music impacts my writing. With each novel I write, I usually have a song or mix of songs I listen to as I write. Now, I know a lot of writers who can't listen to music while they write, but there's a certain level of music that becomes like 'white noise' to me and my characters. Kutless manages this beautifully nearly every album.

For my latest WIP, a military thriller series, I've had to push the envelope as far as I what I normally listen to. Max, the main character is a hard-edged, angry former Navy SEAL. While my favorite band is Kutless (you REALLY have to get their latests album where they return to their rock roots, although I love their worship albums too!!), Max demands the 'screaming' songs, as I refer to them. Since I have a noise sensitivity due to severe TMJ, it's a challenge to listen to the screaming. LOL However, I have tried to write to lesser songs, only to find Max will not budge. I think he's a metal head, in real life. LOLOL (speaking of, when he discovers his estranged wife is pregnant with his son, he wants to name him Dillon, after Matt Dillon--again, no surprise there!).

Anyway, I was in the store the very day Kutless released their new album, TO KNOW THAT YOU'RE ALIVE. It wasn't until we moved (about two weeks later) and I aws trying to write on of Max's scenes that this one particular song's lyrics leapt out at me. I realized "that's Max. They're singing about Max." Okay, we won't go into the fact that MAx is a fictional character made up by me (I think). LOL So,I wanted to post a YouTube video here, but for some reason, the codes won't work. Check them out on myspace becuase the song leads the opening of the page:

Be sure to post a comment and let me know if you do this too.
Here are their lyrics:

The black of night is closing in around you
The crippling fear moves in as they strap you down
Will you let a moment get the best of you
Will this situation bring you around

When the blood stains dry
Will it bring you around
Will it pass you by

Right now you're bruised and bleeding
I see the hurt within your eyes
I know your pain is for a reason
You need to feel just to know that You're alive

The days have turned to weeks but it's not over
The bandages rewind you to where you've been
These memories will remind you
When life takes you out will it bring you around

When it's said and done
Will it bring you around
What will you become

Right now you're bruised and bleeding
I see the hurt within your eyes
I know your pain is for a reason
You need to feel just to know that You're alive

ACFW's Book of the Year Contest

Howdy, y'all! Well, I'm back--sorta resurfacing as things in my life came to a head and nearly sunk me. LOL I've moved to a new home, and this move brings my family back together after 5 months apart. I am thankful to God for all He's worked out for me and my family.

On top of that, I have had the extreme pleasure of coordinating the ACFW Book of the Year contest! It's a ton of work, but I will always treasure the six hours of phone calls I made--and hearing the joy and exuberance return to many, many voices as I informed them of their finaling in the contest. I've since returned the scoresheets to non-finaling entrants, and I've been humbled by their thankfulness to me in coordinating. Since it's my first year, I've wondered if I'm doing okay. With awesome "mentors" like Robin Caroll Miller and Cheryl Wyatt, not to mention grabbing an ear from Genesis coordinator Camy Tang, I've managed pretty well, I think. Of course, there will be entrants who aren't pleased with the outcome. I saw that in the Genesis contest too, but it's okay--we're writers, and we're passionate about what we write. :-D

So...without further ado, here are the finalists for this year in the ACFW 2008 Book of the Year Contest:

Debut Author
• Bayou Justice (Robin Miller writing as Robin Caroll)
• In Between (Jenny B Jones)
• Sushi for One? (Camy Tang)
• My Soul Cries Out (Sherri Lewis)
• Petticoat Ranch (Mary Connealy)

Contemporary Novella (*six finalists due to a tie)
• A Cloud Mountain Christmas (Robin Lee Hatcher)
• Finally Home (Deb Raney in Missouri Memories anthology)
• Mississippi Mud (DiAnn Mills in Sugar And Grits Anthology)
• Moonlight & Mistletoe (Carrie Turansky in Big Apple Christmas anthology)
• Remaking of Moe McKenna (Gloria Clover in the Race to the Altar anthology)
• Sweet Dreams Drive (Robin Lee Hatcher)

Historical Novella
• Beyond the Memories (DiAnn Mills in Mississippi Memories anthology)
• Finishing Touches (Kelly Hake in Missouri Memories anthology)
• Love Notes (Mary Davis in Love Letters anthology)
• The Spinster & The Cowboy (Lena Nelson Dooley in Spinster Brides of Cactus Corner anthology)
• The Spinster & The Tycoon (Vickie McDonough in Spinster Brides of Cactus Corner anthology)

Lits (*six finalists due to a tie)
• Around the World in 80 Dates (Christa Banister)
• One Little Secret (Allison Bottke)
• Renovating Becky Miller (Sharon Hinck)
• Splitting Harriet (Tamara Leigh)
• Sushi for One? (Camy Tang)
• The Book of Jane (Dayton/Vanderbilt)

Long Contemporary
• Autumn Blue (Karen Harter)
• Like Always (Robert Elmer)
• Taming Rafe (Susan May Warren)
• When the Nile Runs Red (DiAnn Mills)
• Within This Circle (Deb Raney)

Long Historical (*seven finalists due to TWO ties)
• Courting Trouble (Deeanne Gist)
• Fancy Pants (Cathy Hake)
• Lady of Milkweed Manor (Julie Klassen)
• Remember Me (Maureen Lang)
• Then Came Hope (Louise Gouge)
• Veil of Fire (Marlo Schalesky)
• Where Willows Grow (Kim Vogel Sawyer)

Mystery• Days And Hours (Susan Meissner)
• Death of a Garage Sale Newbie (Sharon Dunn)
• Gone With The Groom (Janice Thompson)
• Sticks And Stones (Susan Meissner)
• Your Chariot Awaits (Lorena McCourtney)

Short Contemporary
• Heart of the Family (Margaret Daley)
• The Heart of Grace (Linda Goodnight)
• The Perfect Blend (Allie Pleiter)
• Wedded Bliss (Kathleen Y’Barbo)
• When Love Comes Home (Arlene James)

Short Contemporary Suspense (*six finalists due to a tie)
• Caught Redhanded (Gayle Roper)
• Her Christmas Protector (Terri Reed)
• Nowhere to Hide (Debby Giusti)
• Pursuit of Justice (Pamela Tracy)
• See No Evil (Gayle Roper)
• Vanished (Margaret Daley)

Short Historical (*six due to a tie)
• A Time to Keep (Kelly Hake)
• A Wealth Beyond Riches (Vickie McDonough)
• Canteen Dreams (Cara Putman)
• Corduroy Road to Love (Lynn Coleman)
• Golden Days (Mary Connealy)
• To Trust An Outlaw (Rhonda Gibson

• Demon: A Memoir (Tosca Lee)
• DragonFire (Donita Paul)
• The Restorer (Sharon Hinck)
• The Restorer’s Son (Sharon Hinck)
• Isle of Swords (Wayne Thomas Batson)

• Abomination (Colleen Coble)
• Black Ice (Linda Hall)
• Coral Moon (Brandilyn Collins)
• Crimson Eve (Brandilyn Collins)
• Ransomed Dreams (Amy Wallace)

Women’s Fiction
• A Promise To Remember (Katie Cushman)
• Bygones (Kim Vogel Sawyer)
• Remember to Forget (Deb Raney)
• The Oak Leaves (Maureen Lang)
• Watercolored Pearls (Stacy Hawkins Adams)

Young Adult
• In Between (Jenny B. Jones)
• On The Loose (Jenny B. Jones)
• Sara Jane: Liberty’s Torch (Eleanor Clark
• Sarah’s Long Ride (Susan P Davis)
• Saving Sailor (Renee Riva)

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE FINALISTS!!! See you at the ACFW Conference in Minneapolis in September!

Wiser Than Serpents by Susan May Warren

She's done it again. And this is exactly why Susan May Warren is one of my writing heroes. Susie always manages to craft out an amazing story with awesome characters, and her latest book, Wiser Than Serpents, is no different. Interestingly enough, this book captivated me--but not with the hero and heroine, who were awesome in their own right--but with the secondary characters. I'm sorry, but I just couldn't get enough of Vicktor. He had me laughing, and you just can't help but to root for the poor guy. And oy! Did Gracie bean him with a horshoe!!! Yowzers!! And yes...this means I have to go back and read his book, too.

Oh--guess what?!?! Susan's holding a contest to give away the first three books, so here's your chance to win!! Check it out:

Contest Info! Susan will be giving away 3 SIGNED sets of the Mission: Russia (In Sheep’s Clothing, Sands of Time, and Wiser Than Serpents) series. To enter the contest…click on over to Susan’s blog tour post here ( and tell us which ministries/charities you support and why! Susan will randomly select three winners!

Okay, I probably should wipe the drool off my keyboard and get on with things, eh? So, here are the official details:

About Wiser Than Serpents: When her sister vanishes into a human slave ring, FSB agent Yanna Andrevka is determined to rescue her. Unfortunately, she's in over her head, with no way out, especially after destroying the undercover operation of Delta Force Operative David Curtiss, who is deep undercover in the Twin Serpents crime syndicate. David has his hands full trying to save Yana, and his operation -- one that could rescue hundreds of women from the Serpent, or cost he and Yana their lives. The thrilling next chapter of the Mission: Russia series!

A note from Susan:
Did you know that there are 27 million people around the globe held as slaves today – more thank 80% of them women and children, and up to 50% minors. In fact, there are MORE slaves today than were in the time of William Wilberforce. That leaves me horrified, and it was those stats that compelled me to write a story with a human trafficking plotline.

Wiser than Serpents is a continuation of the Mission:Russia series, a thriller about Yanna, whose sister is snatched through a Russian dating service, and disappears. Yanna enlists the help of Delta Force Captain, David Curtiss to find and rescue her. Readers who’ve read, In Sheep’s Clothing and Sands of Time will recognize Yanna as the tech expert, and David as the solid Christian of the group. (Read the 5-Rose Review here!)

The book is written from the point of views of the rescuers, not the victims, and offers hope and empowerment, instead of feelings of helplessness. It raises awareness without lowering the standards of Christian fiction.
However, the world is real, and the need to get involved is great. I so greatly admire people who take their beliefs and put action to them –hence why a portion of the proceeds of Wiser than Serpents is going to help the International Justice Mission, (, an organization dedicated to rescuing victims and fighting the scourge of slavery.

About Susan: Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of seventeen novels and novellas with Tyndale, Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her first book, Happily Ever After won the American Fiction Christian Writers Book of the Year in 2003, and was a 2003 Christy Award finalist. In Sheep’s Clothing, a thriller set in Russia, was a 2006 Christy Award finalist and won the 2006 Inspirational Reader’s Choice award. A former missionary to Russia, Susan May Warren now writes Suspense/Romance and Chick Lit full time from her home in northern Minnesota.

If you've made it this far, you're awesome and a truly dedicated blog reader. *grins* So, pop on over to THIS LINK and you'll find the rest of the blog tour schedule.

Vital links:

Book Link:

Susan’s Website:

Susan’s Blog: