“Wednesday Writer” – Ronda Hinrichsen

Ronda Hinrichsen writes romantic suspense as Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen and THE HEROES OF THE HIGHEST ORDER Chapter Book series as R.K. Hinrichsen. Her next romantic suspense novel, BETRAYED, will be released in June. I was lucky enough to get this interview in with her before her eye surgery. (Don’t worry…she’s fine.)

Ronda Gibb HinrichsenME:  You’ve said you first knew you wanted to be a writer when you were in sixth grade and listening to your teacher read S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. But my question is, when did you first realize you could be a writer, and what had you written (or what had someone said) that convinced you of that? (That said, I would love to post a picture of you from sixth grade, as well as another when you were a teenager.)

RONDA:  That’s a hard question to answer. While I remember fearing I might never succeed at having a book published, I think I always thought it was possible for me to be a writer, I just had to figure out how to do it. In fact, I still have those same fears now as I submit and/or self publish. Fear and self-doubt is always there, but because being an author is important to me, I keep pushing through those things. For me, it’s not trying that equals true regret.

(Very well said, and she’s right…the fear and self-doubt never goes away.)

6th grade scan0001(Ronda as a sixth grader)

graduation pic scan0001

(Ronda’s high school graduation picture)

ME:  Are there any other writers in your lineage? If so, how did they inspire you? (And please include a picture, if possible.) If not, which writer(s) inspire you the most and why?

RONDA:  I have an ancestor who crossed the plains as a child and later wrote for the church publications. In fact, I have written some of his stories for The Friend. His name is William Palmer. There are other writers too. My uncle wrote for a newspaper in Canada, and my Grandmother and aunts enjoyed writing poetry. (Ah, it runs in the blood, eh?)

ME:  Having grown up in Rexburg, Idaho, what gave you the urge to travel? What have been some of your favorite or most interesting destinations, and why? (And I’d love a picture or two of you and your husband en route.)

RONDA:  I did not travel much as a child, except to the occasional family reunion in Canada, but my husband loves to travel and has the desire to see every part of the world. I have the privilege of going along for the ride. So far, my favorite scenic places have been Austria and New Zealand. The place that deeply affected me, was visiting Auschwitz in Krakow, Poland. (That, I can well understand after having visited another concentration camp–Mauthausen–in Austria.)

Rolin and Ronda in Snowy Mountains Australia(Ronda and Rolin in Australia)

2011 April 6 to 21 Europe 1021(Ronda at Auschwitz)

Ronda in Krakow, Poland(In Krakow, Poland)

ME:  I know you began by writing short stories and magazine articles as you were raising your young family. Now that the short story form seems to be taking off again, have you given any thought to writing more of those?

RONDA:  I haven’t thought of short stories too much, but I have self-published three children’s chapter books under the series name of HEROES OF THE HIGHEST ORDER and I will soon release a preternatural mystery novella under the pen name Kathleen Marks. It is the first of a series.

(Okay, am I the only one confused about the difference between paranormal and preternatural? Here’s an interesting posting that might shed a little light.)

ME:  Tell us about your first two novels, MISSING and TRAPPED. How are they different, and how are they alike? And which was easier to write?

RONDA:  MISSING and TRAPPED are similar in that they are both adventurous, romantic suspense novels. However, MISSING is a contemporary, realisitic novel with LDS characters, and TRAPPED is a contemporary, paranormal novel with a curse surrounding the “Kuhati,” the elixir of life.


I suppose TRAPPED was easier to write since it was my second novel and MISSING was my first—not only first published, but also the first I’d ever written. It was my novel writing learning ground vs, as you mentioned earlier, short story writing.

Trapped ME:  You’ve also begun a middle grade series, HEROES OF THE HIGHEST ORDER, in which your young protagonists kind of follow in the footsteps of different heroes in their quest to destroy the enemy of “The Hidden Kingdom.” What criteria are you following when it comes to selecting those particular heroes?

RONDA:  HEROES OF THE HIGHEST ORDER is a chapter book series similar to The Magic Tree House. The heroes I choose for that series are those who are compassionate to all people and are brave in the face of difficult circumstances.


The first tells the story of a young pioneer woman who found peace with the Indians.


The second speaks of Mother Teresa, and the third teaches of Tadeusz Pankiewicz who helped save the lives of many Jews during WWII.


(You can learn more about the books and the series here.)

ME:  What are you working on now, and how would you describe your writing process?

RONDA:  My writing process is a juggling act. I gather ideas for a new book in a notebook while I’m writing another and perhaps editing or doing other writing/publication chores with another.

I just finished final edits on BETRAYED, a historical romantic suspense novel that comes out with Covenant Communications in June 2014. I have another novel under submission, I am preparing my preternatural novella for publication, and I am editing a YA fantasy novel I intend to submit to the national market. I’m also starting to have a few ideas for future books.

(One cook in the kitchen with a lot of pots stewing.)

ME:  How would you describe your writing space, and what five objects there differentiate it from that of any other writer? (You must include a picture or two.)

RONDA:  My writing space is a desk with a laptop, a second screen, a bookshelf, a wall board with various notes and lists, and separate piles of info from different books.

(Okay, that takes the record for the shortest answer to this question ever!)

IMG_0036(I think this was the neatest part of her writing space. :D)

ME:  What has been your experience with both traditional publishing and self-publishing, which do you prefer, and why?

RONDA:  I believe there are strengths and challenges for each venue. Self-publishing gives me the power to bring whatever story I want to the world in whatever format I want. It also gives me the ability to earn money on a more “regular” basis, for I don’t have to wait for the six month intervals of a traditional publisher. (Hear, hear!)

Traditional publishing provides support, experienced editors and cover artists/marketers, and the ability to distribute to markets that are not always available to self-published books. Traditional publishing also seems to have a better ability to help me build my name and to speak/teach in various venues.

(So it really comes down to which you prefer–support or control.)

ME:  Finally, how important is a critique group and what strengths does yours bring to your writing?

RONDA:  My critique group is VITAL to me. Each person has strengths that help me create a more viable, well-developed product. Different from many groups, we do not print out our weekly writing—yes, we meet weekly. Instead, we read what we’ve written to the group. The others listen, and then we comment on what is or isn’t working or what needs a bit more strengthening. Our group focuses more on structure, rather than grammar, but some of us do have an ear for grammar, and we bring those things up.

(Excellent! With some exceptions, a writer is generally only as good as his/her critique group.)

Check out Ronda’s website for more information about her and many projects. Her suspense novels are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can check out her chapter books at B&N and Books-a-Million.

Get ready for a serious interview next Wednesday with Pauline Hansen, author of a compelling memoir or her marriage to a schizophrenic.


Originally posted 2014-03-05 06:00:16.

“Wednesday Writer” – Cami Checketts

Besides being an author of clean, romantic suspense, Cami Checketts writes about health and fitness and even works as a trainer. Of course, I would imagine that having four healthy boys keeps her easily in shape. I just can’t figure out how she finds the time and space to write.

cami_checketts_photoME:  Let’s cut right to the chase. I know you get all your story ideas from nightmares. The question is, what happened in your childhood to cause such anxiety and fitful sleep issues? Seriously, what was your childhood like? (And please supply a picture of you as a child.)

CAMI:  Haha! Sadly, I had a very normal, happy childhood. (Rats! I thought I might uncover some deep, dark secret.) I’m just an extreme wimp who was scared of everything. My dad is the most patient man. He checked my closet nightly for bears and never told me just to go to bed.

552634_10151604615918191_491142820_n(Cami as a child . . . happy because there were no bears in her closet the night before)

ME:  Where did you grow up, and if you lived in more than one place, which was your favorite and why?

CAMI:  I grew up in Clifton, Idaho. A beautiful town with almost 120 residents. (Wow! That’s even smaller than Parker, Idaho where my dad grew up.) My parents lived just off of a lake where my brothers taught me to waterski by throwing me in with one ski and telling me I couldn’t get back in the boat until I got up. Brotherly love.

(And yet effective, I’m sure.)

ME:  What was your favorite subject in high school and why? And did you get any encouragement from your English teachers?

CAMI:  Definitely English. My high school English teacher was an amazing man and is still a good friend of our family. I don’t recall him saying I had potential as a writer until after I was published. Then he claimed, “You were always such a talented, hard worker. I knew you could do it!”

(Hindsight is everything.)

ME:  Having received a college degree in Exercise Science, how would you advise writers with regard to balancing their hours at the keyboard with some physical exercise. And how much does your family add to your own exercise? (I’d love a picture of you running a marathon . . . the sweatier, the better! And I hope you’ll let me post a photo of your family.)

CAMI:  The cool thing about being physically active and trying to eat healthy is that it’s been proven to make a person more creative and intellectually successful. (Time to hit the treadmill again.) For me, all of my creative ideas come when I’m running.

Smithfield Half(Cami running a half marathon . . . that’s why she’s only half sweating)

I don’t know that my family adds to my exercise, except when I’m chasing my two-year-old to put him in timeout! (Exactly.) I’m usually the one who forces them to be active, but whenever we get out on a run, bike ride, or swim, we have a great time. For me, it’s quality time at its best.

542450_10151278129263191_1375909935_n(The Checketts after a day of swimming)

ME:  I’m aware that you mom urged you to attempt your first book as a way to pull you out of post-partum depression after the birth of your second child at age 28. Why writing, though? How did she have an inkling you might have a knack for creating a story?

CAMI:  I was always writing, even if it was just a journal, and I’ve always been a huge daydreamer and reader. But, honestly, I think she was just desperate for me to have some kind of productive hobby!

ME:  Have you ever considered therapy to take care of those nightmares, or are you afraid it might dry up your well of imagination? And what is the most frightening nightmare you’ve ever had that you haven’t turned into a book?

CAMI:  I haven’t ever thought of therapy. What a fabulous idea! I usually just say a prayer, write about it, and most of the time I can go back to sleep.

I honestly can’t share with you the worst nightmares as you would think I was psychotic. Sometimes I worry about that myself.

(Oh come on. You obviously haven’t read my review of The Silence of the Lambs or you would know I can appreciate the creepy in every writer. After all, we’re not responsible for our dreams.)

I’ll share a semi-funny one. I had a nightmare about my husband cheating on me and woke up and slugged him. (Ouch! That must have been some vivid dream.) I was mad at him for two days until he finally convinced me he’d never cheat on his perfect woman (haha!).

FIL17590(Now seriously, does that look like the face of a cheater? No way.)

Dead Running Cover

ME:  One of your first books, DEAD RUNNING, seemed to coincide with your discovery of the joy of running. But your most recent book, POISON ME, is set in a retirement home. What experiences have you had, good or bad, with such places?

CAMI:  My parents managed a retirement center and I loved going to visit the people there. They were hilarious, kind, and had such great stories to tell. When my mom told me they had four deaths in one week, I was shocked and asked, “What did the police say?” She shook her head and said, “They said they were old.” And the ideas for POISON ME started rolling.

Poison Me CoverME:  Is there a common theme, other than fear or romance, that runs through all your novels and, if so, how would you explain it?

CAMI:  Family. There is almost always a strong family core and adorable children in my novels. I love children, especially my four crazy boys.

Laguna Beach(You can kind of tell, can’t you?)

ME:  How debilitating was your accident some months ago with the lawn mower, in which you lost three of your fingers? Have you had to change or adjust your writing routine in any way?

CAMI:  I did cut three of my fingers off, but they were able to sew on parts of two of them so they’re shorter but serviceable. (That was certainly fortunate!) My middle finger is an ugly nubbin, but it’s fun to scare my sons’ friends with.

As far as writing goes, it was pretty awful for the first few months, then I threw away my prosthetic finger and my Lortab (That’s a pretty powerful pain relief medication . . . not to be confused with the Lorax) and taught myself how to type again. I honestly don’t notice it much anymore.


ME:  Finally, what are you working on now, and what stage is the story at? Also, please describe where you developed it (in other words, your writing space of choice) and provide a picture of your work area.

CAMI:  I’m working on a story about a mom who blogs against a violent video game company and is stalked by a hit man. It’s definitely not a light murder mystery like DEAD RUNNING or POISON ME, but there’s still some great romance and comedy in it. I’m in the polishing stage, hoping to release it mid-September.

I love my office. My cute husband positioned my desk so I look out my window at trees and mountains. (That must have been after you slugged him.) But I develop most of my stories during my nightmares or out running. Then the trick is typing everything before I forget. With four boys that rarely happens.


(Do I spy two monitors? Doubly effective)

Thanks for having me on the blog!

(My pleasure. Happy running and writing!)

Cami shares more about her writing, family, and exercise on her website. And you can find her books for sale on Amazon.

Be sure and come back next Wednesday when I talk with Whitney Finalist and historical fiction author Amanda Sowards (aka A.L. Sowards).

Amanda Sowards

Originally posted 2013-07-31 06:00:22.

“Monday Mystery” – 3 Romantic Suspense Novels, All for only $.99

TTT Too Deep 3-D cover

I try not to toot my own horn too much, but today my book, THE RECKONING, is available in ebook form in a box set, which also includes Christy Barritt’s HOME BEFORE DARK and Julie Coulter Bellon’s ALL FALL DOWN. Titled TOO DEEP, the set features suspense novels with a touch of romance. And the whole set is on sale beginning today for only 99 cents!

Here’s a peek at each story:

HOME BEFORE DARK by Christy Barritt

Home Before DarkSynopsis

Nothing good ever happens after dark. Those were the words country singer Daleigh McDermott’s father always repeated. Now her father is dead, and Daleigh fears she’s returned home too late to make things right. As she’s about to flee back to Nashville, she finds a hidden journal belonging to her father. His words hint that his death was no accident. Small town mechanic Ryan Shields is the only one who seems to believe that Daleigh may be on to something. Her father trusted the man, but Daleigh’s instant attraction to Ryan scares her. She knows her life and career, however dwindling it might be, are back in Nashville and that her time in the sleepy North Carolina town is only temporary. As Daleigh and Ryan work to unravel the mystery, it becomes obvious that someone wants them dead. They must rely on each other—and on God—if they hope to make it home before the darkness swallows them whole.

Christy Barritt


Christy Barritt is an author, freelance writer and speaker who lives in Virginia. She’s married to her Prince Charming, a man who thinks she’s hilarious–but only when she’s not trying to be. Christy’s a self-proclaimed klutz, an avid music lover who’s known for spontaneously bursting into song, and a road trip aficionado. She’s only won one contest in her life–and her prize was kissing a pig (okay, okay… actually she did win the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Suspense and Mystery for her book Suspicious Minds also). You can find out more about her work here.

ALL FALL DOWN by Julie Coulter Bellon

All Fall Down


Ring around the rosy, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes we all fall down… That simple rhyme turns negotiator Claire Michaels’ current hostage situation into an international incident. As the crisis escalates, Claire realizes she’s dealing with an al-Qaeda operative with the potential to attack America. Can she overcome her scars of the past in order to get the hostage out alive and possibly stop an assault on U.S. national security? Navy SEAL Rafe Kelly is on leave to recover from a knee injury he suffered during his tour in Afghanistan and he doesn’t expect to be fighting terrorists on his home turf. But when he is taken hostage and his brother is kidnapped, Rafe teams up with a hostage negotiator in order to stay alive and get his brother back. The situation quickly turns from desperate to deadly. Will Rafe be able to save himself and his country without anyone he loves getting caught in the crossfire?

Julie Coulter Bellon


Julie is married with eight children and ten published books. She loves to travel and her favorite cities she’s visited so far are probably Athens, Paris, Ottawa, and London. She would love to visit Hawaii, Australia, Ireland, and Scotland someday. She loves to read, write, teach, watch Castle, Hawaii Five-O, and eat Canadian chocolate. Not necessarily in that order. Her website can be found here.

THE RECKONING by Tanya Parker Mills



Journalist Theresa Fuller has epilepsy, but this hasn’t slowed her search for stories of injustice to broadcast to the world. When she and her cameraman, Peter Cranston, are captured inside Iraq, she is cut off from her medication. Seizures resume, and dreams and visions of her American childhood in Baghdad begin to trouble her. Tormented by the relentless Colonel Badr, she is forced to focus on her own father’s death years before in a Baghdad prison. The strain of her own captivity is relieved only by her growing attraction to Tariq al-Awali, the Iraqi captain who took charge of her capture. The more she learns of him and his family, the clearer her haunting dreams become, and the more puzzling her past. Before American bombs begin to fall, and all of Iraq is thrown into even darker chaos, Theresa must find a way to escape the cruelty of Colonel Badr, and save those she cares for most.

(I don’t think you need my author photo and bio here. It would be redundant. But do check out my book trailer in the side menu. :D)

If you can spare a dollar for three great, exciting reads, here’s the link to order the set on Kindle. It would also be a terrific Christmas gift for your friends who are into suspense. If you wait too long, the price will go up.

Originally posted 2014-11-10 10:49:07.