LEANNA OPENS HER HEART AND SHARES HER THOUGHTS
Hush is my seventh suspense novel. I’d had the idea for a story with a serial killer who used the “Hush, Little Baby” lullaby as a sort of blueprint for his murders knocking around in my head for a while, but I didn’t start writing it until my mother entered the final stages of her Alzheimer’s disease. In my opinion, Alzheimer’s is straight from the blackest pit of hell. It’s a death sentence, but it’s the worse kind of death. It wasn’t satisfied with just killing my mother, it was intent on stealing away everything that made her the person she was, leaving an empty shell that lookedlike her, but that was where the similarities stopped.
I guess I used the writing as a kind of therapy…a way to rid myself of some of the negative emotions. It worked. After reading the first murder scene aloud to my husband, he looked at me with the strangest expression on his face and said, “Sometimes you scare me.” Good. My goal in my writing is to make my readers feel every emotion, from laugh-out-loud to crying like their heart is breaking, and everything in between.
I decided to give my main character’s mother Alzheimer’s. In a way, I hated to do it. Even in fiction, it seemed like a mean thing to do, but it allowed me the ability to weave some of the things Mama said and did right into the story, and that was cathartic. It gave me a little control over something when the rest of my world seemed to be spinning out of control.
I dedicated the book to Mama, but I wanted to do more, so I decided to give any royalties I make to Alzheimer’s research. It’s my hope that it will help them to find a cure for this awful disease so that others won’t have to experience the pain, frustration, confusion, and sadness that my family did.
A summary of the book…
Lacey Campbell can dream murders before they happen. The problem is her dreams are in fragments—bits and pieces—not enough clues to allow her to stop the murders from happening. She dreams flashes of a man singing “Hush, Little Baby” while he strangles a young woman. When she awakes, she tried to convince herself it doesn’t mean anything, but the next night she dreams a second murder—same scenario—the lullaby... another strangulation. It’s time to tell the police.
State Bureau of Investigation sends in their man, Detective Ford Jamison, to help the local police which results in the typical territorial skirmish between the two forces. Ford soon has a two-part working theory: the killer is using the lullaby to stage his murders and he’s targeting women who look remarkably like Lacey. That knowledge doesn’t slow the killings, though and the police are always one step behind. Now Lacey is afraid to go to sleep because the next face she sees in her dreams might be her own.
As a hurricane churns ever closer to the little coastal town, danger and suspicion spin out of control. Time is running out. Can they stop the killer before the last verse of the lullaby?
North Carolina author, Leanna Sain, earned her BA from the University of South Carolina, before moving back to mountains of western NC. Her Southern suspense or “GRIT-lit,” showcases her plot-driven method that successfully rolls elements of best-selling authors Mary Kay Andrews, Nicholas Sparks, and Jan Karon all together, making it her own. She loves leading discussion groups and book clubs. For more information or to contact her, visit: www.LeannaSain.com
Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Hush-Leanna-Sain/dp/1645262502/ref=sr_1_1?
Website and blog: http://leannasain.com
In Sara’s Surprise, her boss abuses her in lots of ways, as was all-too common in 1873. Women had no recourse and often feared they’d be blamed and dismissed from their jobs, so they kept silent. Back then, women were often devalued and unappreciated, under paid and treated poorly. And men took advantage of the cultural norms of the day.
As a single mom in the early 1990s, I was treated poorly too, and I regret that I was afraid to speak up and expose the nasty man who threatened, teased, and tormented me. As a leader in the organization, that should never have occurred, but it did. Thankfully, today’s climate is more open to reporting such abuse.
Have you ever been harassed by an employer? I have, and it’s pretty traumatizing. In this “Me Too” movement, lots of women are speaking up about their trials and tribulations in the workplace, so I decided to explore the topic from several angles. But in the midst of Sara’s trials, she falls in love and learns a lot about the art of baking French pastries.
In researching how to make pastries that’ll delight your palate, I learned way more than I’d ever dreamed. Like how to properly break an egg and how to cream sugar and eggs the right way. And did you know that you laminate Pain au chocolat? There’s much to learn about French baking, to be sure.
Want to know more about Sara’s Surprise? Here’s the back cover copy:
Sara O’Neill, works as an assistant pastry chef at the magnificent Thousand Islands Crossmon Hotel where she meets precocious, lovable, seven-year-old Madison and her charming father and hotel manager, Sean Graham. But Jacque LaFleur, the pastry chef Sara works under, makes her dream job a nightmare.
Sean Graham has trouble keeping his mind off Sara and Madison out of mischief. Though he finds Sara captivating, he despises LaFleur and misreads Sara’s desire to learn from the pastry chef as affection. Can Sean learn to trust Sara and can she trust herself to be an instant mother?
I hope you’ll pick up a copy and give some for Christmas gifts as it’s a lovely Christmas story as well. And if you ever get harassed, please speak up. You’ll be glad you did.
Susan G Mathis is a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Katelyn’s Choice, the first in The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, is available now, and book two, Devyn’s Dilemma, releases in April, 2020. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are available now. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more.
Susan is also a published author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale, two children's picture books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs, enjoys traveling globally with her wonderful husband, Dale, and relishes each time she gets to see or Skype with her four granddaughters.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Susan G Mathis
author of a thousand stories including Katelyn's Choice, Christmas Charity, and The Fabric of Hope
vice president of Christian Author Network (CAN)
Many thanks to Adam for stopping by.
Tell our readers a little about your writing journey.
I’ve loved to write stories since I was a kid and studied novel writing in college. I completed five unpublished novels, mostly for youth, before I began Fatal Illusions, my first published novel, in the spring of 2002 in conjunction with a Writer's Digest correspondence course on novel writing. In January 2006, literary agent Steve Laube, a well-known and respected voice in Christian fiction, responded enthusiastically to my book proposal and asked to see the entire manuscript. Of course, I was on cloud nine. Though he ultimately declined to represent me, he kindly gave me eight suggestions on how to make the novel publishable.
Energized, I followed his advice and got to work, but I still couldn't find an agent or publisher. A year later, I contacted Kregel Publications, not about my novel but about opportunities to edit books from home. The managing editor noticed on my resume that I had written several unpublished novels and asked to see my latest project. Kregel accepted it for publication in August 2007. God opened a door I never could have opened for myself.
What is your latest published project?
Kill Order, my third novel, is being released on August 15 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Here is a short description:
When he sleeps, the forgotten terrors of the past come alive.
Grammy-winning pianist Landon Jeffers’s brain cancer has given him only a few years to live. But when he sleeps, the forgotten terrors of his past torment him. When he wakes, shameful memories come rushing back. Desperate for answers, Jeffers discovers that a brain implant intended to teat his cancer is really a device to control him, forcing him to commit terrible crimes. Now he’s being manipulated by an evil crime syndicate and a crooked cop.
What if free will isn’t? What if your every move is predestined? If you kill, are you guilty of murder?
What inspired you to write your book?
My dad, Larry, passed away from brain cancer in 2011, and several aspects of his cancer journey kicked off the initial story idea. One key detail involved a medical procedure; the doctors agreed to remove as much of my dad’s brain tumor as possible and replace it with medicinal wafers intended to fight the existing cancer. My mind began playing the what-if game. What if the doctor implanted something else, something that could monitor or even control my dad’s life? The story’s premise grew from there.
When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?
When I was a child, I began writing wildly imaginative pirate and fantasy stories. My first handwritten story was a fantastical tale about Captain Kidd’s spyglass. In high school, I also wrote and finished an unpublished novel called Down with the Ship. It’s such an Agatha Christie copycat that I laugh whenever I peruse it, but emulation is how a lot of authors get to be where they are today. Those were the early projects that inspired me to take novel writing seriously. When I won a high school award for creative writing, I wondered if God wanted to do more with my love for fiction. In college I won more writing awards, and though I studied journalism, I took as many creative writing courses as possible. God opened doors from there, and I’ve never lost my love for fiction writing.
Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?
Isaiah 41:10 says,
"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my
righteous right hand." (ESV)
I've always loved this verse, and my wife and I included it in our wedding ceremony.
If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?
Writing the story is only half of the project. The other half is finding out what readers like to read, crafting the story for them by following publishing standards, and writing the story to the best of your ability. Then remember that publishers can take a very long to decide whether they want your work. Don’t get discouraged. Just keep going and waiting.
What is your favorite genre to read for fun?
Authors write what they like to read. When I was a kid, I devoured Hardy Boys books—yes, even my sister’s collection of Nancy Drew. I read Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks, Ray Bradbury, and Madeleine L’Engle. Eventually I gravitated to suspense fiction by authors like Frank Peretti, Terri Blackstock, and Mary Higgins Clark. I grew weary of whodunits and preferred suspense novels. I like novels that grab me around the throat, keep the pages turning, and never let go until the final period. Suspense novels filled with plenty of action and conflict captivate me like no other books I read, though I also have a fondness for good literature as well as for fantasy, history, biography, true crime, and science fiction.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I have been blessed with a wonderful home office. Though I often like to write in other locations, this is by far my favorite place. I can close the door, shut out life’s distractions, pray, and become immersed in my story. Now and then, if I need a break, I can glance out the window and delight in God’s creation.
What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?
I’m currently enjoying Mind Games by Nancy Mehl. I especially enjoy a good thriller, whether Christian or secular. Some of my favorite authors are Steven James, Terri Blackstock, Frank Peretti, Ted Dekker, and Brandilyn Collins. I like how they weave story threads together and craft their scenes in ways that keeps the plot moving forward. Their books are great examples of what works in suspense writing. I learn so much simply by reading their novels.
What is the best part of your author’s life?
I love hearing from readers who went to work tired because they stayed up too late finishing one of my novels. If I kept them immersed in my story, that’s a score in my book.
What’s one unusual fact about you?
When I was a kid, for a while I wanted to be a ventriloquist and had a “dummy” named Andy. But then I got braces and could no longer talk through my teeth like I used to. Andy sadly went into storage.
Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.
1. The amount of time each book requires from start to finish. Included in this is the long wait time from publishers.
2. The continually changing rules in writing and publishing. Just when you think you know what publishers are looking for, your agent tells you something else.
3. Book marketing. One cannot guarantee sales. I wish a book release was like the movie Field of Dreams. “Build it, and they will come.” If only it were that easy. There is almost an equal amount of work in just promoting the book.
On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?
I get most excited about the creative process when a plot development I never saw coming unexpectedly presents itself, taking the story in a new but stronger direction. This epiphany has happened to me several times.
Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my writing life at your blog.
Thank you, Adam, for stopping by. Congratulations on your latest publication: Kill Order.
Adam Blumer is the author of three Christian suspense novels: Fatal Illusions(Meaningful Suspense Press); its sequel, The Tenth Plague(Kirkdale Press); and the upcoming Kill Order(Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). A print journalism major in college, he works full-time from home as a book editor after serving in editorial roles for more than twenty years. He lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with his wife, Kim, and his daughters, Laura and Julia.
Social media links:
To follow my blog follow me on Facebook or Twitter using the buttons above.