Saturday, September 29, 2007

And the winner is...

Cherie J. for guessing correctly that Attila is a Shar Pei. Cherie, email your mailing address, please.

Now for an extra little tidbit from Tosca. She's holding a speculative fiction contest on her website:

"The proposal prize is that my agent, Joyce Hart, will look at it, and the excerpt prize is a critique from my acquiring editor, Jeff Gerke. :)"

So get those fingers moving and start submitting. The deadline is November 15. Full details available here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

An Interview with Tosca Lee

Here’s a book I’m totally pumped about. Tosca Lee’s debut novel, Demon: A Memior is a dynamic read. The premise is unique and her characters have a depth of emotion I don’t see often. If you haven’t read this book, do so. This is one you don’t want to miss. *(Read to the end for a chance to win a copy of this fabo book!)

I had the pleasure of meeting this amazing author Saturday at the ACFW booksigning in Dallas. Such a pleasure to meet her in person. And it’s my great pleasure to welcome Tosca Lee here today to talk about her fabulous new book.

Tosca, tell us how you “birthed” this incredible premise of a demon telling his story to an editor?

Thank you, Dineen!

I’d like to say it was some profound, fecund process, but I birthed it by accident. There. Now you know.

I was part of a collaborative writing group online and was trying to come up with a new and original character, and thought it might be fun to take a stab at an angel—better yet, a fallen angel. But what would a fallen angel do? Tempt people to smoke, or skip exercise, or gossip? And why? It was way too petty and therefore unbelievable. Ever notice how so many of our images of demons are comic book-y? I didn’t want a comic book-ish demon.

So I started to wonder what it must be like to be damned. To know you were damned for a failing moment. Worse yet, to see your would-be inheritance—an unending future with God—given away to another race of mortal, base, clay people. And that’s how Lucian was born.

I wrote a novelette that was essentially a monologue in about three months after that.

Can you share some about how your story was first received when you starting submitting?

Editors liked the idea and the writing, but the monologue format was troublesome. Editors wanted something more traditional—with dialogue. I was willing to change it, but couldn’t think of how to re-package it. It was only when Jeff Gerke, newly transitioned to NavPress, suggested that Lucian tell his story to another character that it came together. I rewrote the first 30 pages like that and Nav picked it up in a three-book deal.

Which scared the crap out of me. I cried on the phone with my agent, Joyce Hart, and then practically barfed.

In his many human personas, the demon Lucian conveys regret, hatred, and envy. Was he a difficult character to write?

Honestly, not really. I tried to think of how I would feel if I were doomed with no hope—especially if I saw my only hope offered to a race that I considered infinitely inferior. He was sad, tragic, and, in the end, intriguing to write.

Lucian’s perspective of the fall and the creation of man is passionate and fascinating. The beginning especially intrigued me when he explains to Clay that techinically, “hell” doesn’t exist yet. Can you embellish a bit more on that?

The Bible talks about Hades (“Sheol”) as a sort of temporary place for those awaiting judgment, but permanent hell does not seem to occur until the lake of fire, after the thousand-year Millennium (Revelation 20:14).

Also significant: Revelation 20: 1-3 talks about hell as the place of Satan’s future incarceration. So this would suggest that the only time of Satan’s direct influence upon humans is while they’re living (after which they pass to judgment). This is an important point because it disproves the idea of Satan presiding over the dead unsaved. By the time Satan is condemned to the abyss for a thousand years and then to the lake of fire after that, the Bible says that he will be tormented there—but not that he will be the one doing the tormenting (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10).

If we take our cues from Job and Revelations 12, then we could even infer that Satan still has access to the third heaven and the throne room of God, (but will lose it at a future date).

Okay, I gotta ask. Is Clay’s name meant to have a double meaning, as in God created Adam from the dirt and “formed” him? (You gotta love that!)

Yup! But you’ll notice that I never describe Clay, physically. Originally, I never named my human narrator, and never gave the narrative voice a gender. But friend and writing teacher Dan Mueller encouraged me to make him more specific. Clay’s backstory emerged after that.

Judging by your bio, you wear many hats. Was writing a novel always your intention?
Oh, it was always my hope. I have written professionally for years, but have always wanted to write (and publish) fiction. And let me tell you: it’s tough! (But it’s worth it.) I look at writers like Ted Dekker or Eric Wilson (who has an exciting new vampire series emerging beneath his pen), and wonder how they come up with so many ideas, how they keep writing so many books. It makes me hate them a little bit.

Just kidding.

Kind of.

I recently had the pleasure of reading the beginning of your next novel, Havah, the Story of Eve. I can’t wait to read it, too. Can you give us a sneak peak to the storyline?

I’ve been wondering why an incredibly intelligent woman (assuming she was created using 100% of her brain, as opposed to our—what—5%?) would choose to do something she had been warned not to do. And I come to the same conclusion that I came to about the fallen angels: there must be more to it. She’s had a bad rap throughout history, that girl, and I’m convinced there’s so much more there. And I hope you enjoy exploring with me.

Tosca, thank you so much for sharing with us!

*The first person to tell me what breed Tosca's dog Attila is will win a copy of her book!

So Be It

PraiseI stood in a circle of anticipation. All week long I’d secretly hoped to hear another word from God. I’d asked him to speak to me, if that was his will. Now the last day of the Christian writer’s conference I’d attended all week had come, and my anticipation had peeked to bursting.

Would God speak to me again as he had last time?

Read the rest at Spiritually Unequal Marriage.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Massive Book Signing!

Sept. 22 at 1:30

Dallas Quorum Marriott
14901 Dallas Parkway
Dallas, TX

If you're in the area, hope you'll stop by!
Click on the flyer for "bigger" details.

Friday, September 14, 2007

S.U.M. Wins Award!

Spiritually Unequal Marriage received the Inspirational Blogger Award from Kathleen Marie at The Open Window. This is one of several awards created by Writer's Reviews founded by Christy Z.
The Inspirational Blogger Award
For those bloggers who inspire others through their words and actions. With a positive attitude, and an uplifting spirit these bloggers make the blogosphere a better place, and encourage others to do the same. This award is for bloggers who rise up to set an example but continue to reach out and support others.
Special kudos to Lynn Donovan, creator of S.U.M. and fabulouso prayer warrior!

Monday, September 10, 2007

When the Nile Runs Red
by DiAnn Mills

Her Sudanese journey started with her nonfiction book Lost Boy No More and continued with When the Lion Roars. DiAnn Mills joins us today to talk about the latest installment in this adventure, When the Nile Runs Red, and her recent trip to the Sudan.

Paul Farid was once a member of the royal family who openly persecuted any Sudanese who failed to practice Islam. Now he’s a Christian who puts his life on the line to aid the persecuted Sudanese. His wife, Larson, is a doctor committed to giving her life for peace. Colonel Ben Alier has fought for twenty-one years against the government’s mandates to control the oil, religion, slavery, and politics of Sudan. He neither trusts nor rests any hope in the newly formed government. Ben’s health deteriorates while Larson finds out she is going to have a baby. Their worlds collide, and as the relational tensions escalate so does the physical danger.

What inspired you to write this novel?

I had previously written a nonfiction book about the Lost Boys of Sudan – Lost Boy No More. From that research, I wrote the novel When the Lion Roars, but the story would not let me go.

Through numerous interviews and extensive reading, I grew to love and admire the courageous Sudanese people and was burdened by their incredible needs. I had to bring them back in When the Nile Runs Red.

Why Sudan?

This country went through nearly two decades of civil war strife. In 1983, the northern government launched a holy war against the south. This grew out of the views of the Islamic north against the mostly Christian black African south. The war had three aspects: religion, politics, and oil. The atrocities committed against the southern people are too many to list, but the war was fought in the south through genocide.

How did you conduct your research?

I grabbed my backpack and sun screen and traveled to Juba, Sudan, the southern capital. There I stayed at a Christian compound and met with southern Sudanese from all walks of life: refugees, political leaders, and church leaders. I talked to as many people as I could, snapped pictures, and listened to what was being said.

Regarding your trip to Sudan, what touched you the most?

The incredible faith. I could look into a Sudanese’s eyes and see the pain of persecution and the hope of Jesus. Here, we say we love Jesus while we live in our huge homes, drive our fancy cars, are well-fed, are not hunted down for our faith, or are concerned about medical care. The Sudanese understand that all they have and need is Jesus.

Can you give us a brief description of your characters?

Paul Farid was once a Muslim who actively persecuted the southern people, but now he’s a Christian who flies dangerous missions into war-torn areas to deliver food and medical supplies.

Dr. Larson Kerr Farid risks her life to bring healing to the Sudanese. Just like her husband Paul, her life is often in danger. But there is a problem between her and Paul with no easy solution.

Colonel Ben Alier has been fighting and leading the southern army of Sudan for nearly two decades. Often referred to as a warlord, Ben fights his own demons.

The three are friends, an unlikely friendship forged by their love for Sudan.

How do you build your plots?

Always out of character with two simple words: what-if? John Gardner said to create the best possible characters and allow the worst possible things to happen to them. That says it all. It’s easy to coat our darlings with easy trials and struggles, but the hard stuff, the struggles that define the character are what has to happen. I’m a huge fan of Donald Maass and wouldn’t consider writing a paragraph without using techniques found in his books Writing the Breakout Novel and Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook.

What are you goals for this novel?

To increase awareness about the situation in Sudan and to share my passion for the Sudanese people through a compelling story. The proceeds for this novel go back to aid the Sudanese.

What do you hope the readers will gain?

To lose themselves in the novel. That’s every writer’s goal. But I also want the reader to sense a call to action and support the Sudanese cause.

What is your next project?

I’m currently writing a romantic suspense series with a working series title of “Behind the Sunglasses”.

How can readers learn more about what you are doing?

Check out my website at I have sections about Sudan, and for readers, and writers. Those signing up for my newsletter get to download a chapter of an upcoming release.

Aside from your passion for writing, what else are you doing?

Speaking to groups about the situation in Sudan. Teaching at writer’s conferences. Conducting Fiction Mentoring Clinics. These are small groups who work closely together for three work-filled days to develop their craft.

Check this link out for a more up close and personal look at DiAnn's new book, and leave a comment for a chance to win a copy!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Sushi for One? by Camy Tang

Camy Tang's debut novel, Sushi for One?, has just released and promises great entertainment. Camy's a trend-setter with her Sushi series, blending multiculturalism and chick-lit humor with great finesse.

And with us today is Lex Sakai, the star of Sushi for One? with her take on some of her favorite restaurants in the Bay area. Take it away, Lex!

Hi Dineen. This is Lex, Camy’s character from Sushi for One. She said you wanted me to write a guest blog post for your blog (I think she’s just being lazy and doesn’t want to write it, but that’s just me).

Camy says you guys are friends. That’s really cool. She says you guys write together every so often at this fun coffee shop, and go out for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. Yum!

(My cousin Venus looked over my shoulder and said to tell you that you guys need to order more healthy things. Camy said you guys order a salad each and then one or two other appetizers. I know Camy thinks French fries are another food group, so you don’t have to tell me what other appetizers. Venus said you should stop at the salad. I just punched Venus’s arm for you.)

Speaking of yummy restaurants, as a Bay Area resident, have you ever gone to Crustaceans restaurant, the one that’s in Sushi for One? It’s actually in San Francisco (unlike Santana Row, where Camy put it in the book). But the food we ate in that scene is almost entirely what’s served at Crustaceans. It’s Camy’s favorite restaurant, can you tell?

My favorite restaurant is Frankie, Johnnie, and Luigi Too!, which is an Italian place near the gym where I play volleyball every week. Unfortunately, they close at 10, and volleyball ends too late for us to go there afterward. Plus, it’s a little pricey. Sometimes we go there after playoffs, if we end early. FJLs has the best pizza.

(Camy just said to tell you it’s a real restaurant, located off of Prospect and Lawrence Expressway in Saratoga. I swear, the woman is such a control freak, she can’t even let me write a blog post on my own. My cousin Jenn just said something about pots and kettles which I don’t get, but then again, Jenn is a cook so it probably has something to do with Emeril.)

So what other great restaurants do you like to go to? I like eating, although I only do it without inhibition when I’m not in training for a tournament or something like that.

Anyway, it was nice blogging here. I guess I’m not that great a writer—well, duh, I mean, Camy’s the writer or it would be Sushi for One by Lex Sakai.

(Camy just told me to mention her website contest giving away books and an iPod Nano. Hey, I want a Nano … anyway, she said only her newsletter YahooGroup subscribers are eligible, and for people to join here: My goodness, she’s so pushy, I should have just made her write this blog post.)

Thanks for having me—or rather, us here, Dineen!
Thanks for stopping by, Lex! Now for another contest, thanks to Camy. Leave a comment for chance to win a copy of her fabulous new book!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

20 Years!!!

Today I celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary!
Woohoo!!! Married to the most awesome guy I know.
Love you, sweetie!!!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Guest Blogger, M.L. Tyndall

September is one of my favorite months, because it marks the approach and beginning of Fall, my absolute favorite time of year. To celebrate I've scheduled several authors to stop in and talk about their new books, and give copies away! So stay close. There's lots more coming.

Now, to kick off our month of fun is MaryLu Tyndall, author of the Legacy of the King's Pirates series. The third book, The Restitution has just released and let me tell you, this is one series you don't want to miss. Now here's MaryLu.

Hello, I’m MaryLu Tyndall, author of “The Legacy of the King’s Pirates” series. The third book in the series, The Restitution was just released last month. If you like a great swashbuckling romantic adventure, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. I want to thank Dineen for having me on her blog. What I want to talk about today is the question: Is anyone ever outside the reach of God’s love? In other words, can we be so evil, do so many horrible sins, that we are beyond redemption?

The hero in my book, Captain Kent Carlton, believes just that. He’s a pirate, after all, and he was the villain in my first two books of the series. In other words, he’s the guy you love to hate. In the second book of the series, Kent ravished a woman. In this story, that woman, Lady Isabel has birthed an infant son, a product of that horrible night with Kent. Now, an outcast from society she has lost everything and everyone dear to her. All she has left is her son, until he is kidnapped by pirates bent on getting revenge on Kent.

Now, the couple must combine forces to save their child. But something is changing within Kent, His love for Isabel and his witness of her love for God create a longing in him to know the Creator of the universe and be loved by Him as he sees Isabel is loved, but Kent believes it is too late for him.

I must admit that I felt that way for many years, even after I gave my life to Jesus. I had spent 35 years of my life without Him, doing some very bad things, albeit not as bad as a pirate! But honestly I still struggle with the guilt and the thought that sometimes maybe Jesus looks at me, shakes his head, and wants to give up on me. How about you? Do you ever feel that way? That you just don’t measure up? That you keep doing too many things wrong? Where do you think thoughts like this come from? (And by the way, the first person who can tell me what a pirate flag was called and where the name originated wins a free copy of my book!)

Thanks for stopping by, MaryLu! Here that folks? The first person to answer MaryLu's question gets a copy of her new book.