Is God Talking to Me?

DogAs Christian authors, we often view our books as a way to get God’s Word out in a non-threatening manner. Novels are easier to hand to someone than a Bible and generally an easier way to start a conversation.

However, two recent events are causing me to change my view on that a little. Recently, my minister said that when he’s working on a sermon series, the subject matter is usually something he’s struggling with—something God is trying to teach him.

I had the good fortune to hear Ted Dekker speak during his Outlaw Tour down in Colorado Springs. A big theme of his talk was that his struggles as a Christian come out in his books. His questions about faith. Those uneasy issues that we all contemplate. Is God real? Is He who He says He is? Is there really a Heaven? Is my belief in Christ truly enough?

Perhaps we as authors are actually working through our own issues and the collateral benefit is that we’re frequently able to help other people.

But surely my writing isn’t just about me. It can’t be because my spiritual life is all figured out . . .

I began to think through the books I’d written and the ones I was planning on writing. There were some consistent themes. Truly believing in God’s sacrificial love. Letting God take control. Being submissive to His will for our lives.

If I look honestly at these themes, they are what I struggle with the most. A God . . . people . . . the Lord of the Universe dying one of the most painful deaths ever . . . for me. My heart usually reconciles this easily but my intellectual side waivers occasionally. This is what I believe?

And sometimes with a big gulp . . . I whisper yes.

I’m a control freak by nature. It lends to the job I do every day. As an ER nurse it is expected of me to bring control to chaos. I am stubborn and independent—which is the nature of two out of three of my heroines. They’d rather fix it themselves than reach out for help and yet, when circumstances become insurmountable, they must reach out to survive.

Isn’t this how it is with us? Maybe it is just me and all of you are very good at relinquishing control. If so, please let me in on your tips.

As we write these stories, maybe what we need to do first is read our stories with ourselves in mind and hear what God is trying to say to that person we see in the mirror.

This post first appeared at the ACFW blog. Hope you’ll check it out.

WordServe News: May 2014

Exciting things have been happening at WordServe Literary!

On the final post of each month you’ll find a list of Water Cooler contributors’ books releasing in the upcoming month along with a recap of WordServe client news from the current month.

New Releases

Rebecca DeMarino released her debut novel A Place in His Heart with Revell publishers.9780800722180_p0_v2_s260x420

************************************************************************************************

Doug Fields released 7 Ways to Be Her Hero with Thomas Nelson publishers. 920563

************************************************************************************************

Kathi Lipp released I Need Some Help Here! with Revell publishers.9780800720780_p0_v3_s260x420

************************************************************************************************

Jonathan McKee released Get Your Teenager Talking with Bethany Hou9780764211850_p0_v3_s260x420se Publishers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

************************************************************************************************

Spencer Moses released his suspense thriller with Revell publishers, Network of Deception.9780800722562_p0_v3_s260x420

************************************************************************************************

Gilbert Morris released the third book in his Western Justice series with Barbour 9781616267605_p0_v2_s260x420books, Raina’s Choice

************************************************************************************************

Dr. Arnie Cole and Michael Ross released Worry Free Living with Authentic.9781780782263_p0_v1_s260x420

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

************************************************************************************************

Karen Witemeyer released Full Steam Ahead with Bethany House Publishers. 9780764209673_p0_v2_s260x420

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New WordServe Clients

Mark Atteberry, pastor and multi-published author, signed with agent Alice Crider.

Larry Dugger, pastor and Christian counselor, signed with agent Alice Crider

John Merritt, founding pastor of CrossWinds Church in Dublin, California, signed with Alice Crider

Bill Sanders, award-winning journalist, signed an agency agreement to be represented by Alice Crider.

New Contracts

Jan Drexler signed with Love Inspired to release A Home in Deadwood. Sarah Freese, agent of record.

Anita Agers-Brooks signed with Barbour for her non-fiction book, Getting Over What You Can’t Get Through. Alice Crider, agent of record.

Angela Strong signed with Ashberry Lane for her YA novel, The Water Fight Professional. Alice Crider, agent of record.

What We’re Celebrating!!

Jennie Atkins is a semi-finalist in the Romance category of the ACFW Genesis contest for unpublished authors!

Carol Barnier made the awards list in both humor and evangelism for two of her articles for the 2014 EPA Higher Goal Awards!

Debora Coty (Fear, Faith and a Fistful of Chocolate), Jo Ann Fore (When a Woman Finds Her Voice) and Jordyn Redwood (Poison) all made the shortlist for the 2014 Selah Awards!

Wounded Women of the Bible by Dena Dyer and Tina Samples is a finalist in the AWSA Golden Scroll Awards!

Leslie Leyland Fields was featured on Christianity Today as the cover story. You can read it here!

Adam Makos’ A Higher Call hit the New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, and Washington Post bestseller lists!

Jordyn Redwood’s Poison and Julie Cantrell’s When Mountains Move are on the short list of Inspy finalists!!

Kimberly Smith wrote an article for Time magazine. Read the full story here!

What can we help you celebrate?

When to Consult a Medical Expert

female doctor in ICUAlthough I’ve always helped authors along the way with medical questions, it’s been one of my primary focuses for the last three years since the invention of Redwood’s Medical Edge—my medical blog for authors.

The reason for creating my blog was the multitude of published works I read that were loaded with medical inaccuracies. Not just a few here and there. Time after time, errors caught my eye.

In a pod-cast interview, the interviewer asked if these medical mistakes would be enough for the average reader to pick up. To be honest, I’m probably more sensitive to these errors after spending 20 years in nursing but some are mind-numbingly obvious. Such as saying the spleen is on the right side. Such as calling a collar bone a shoulder blade. You don’t have to have a medical degree in anything to pick up on these missed anatomy issues.

Writers, I think, are confused as to when it’s beneficial to consider consulting a medical expert. And I actually mean more than asking Uncle Joe who has worked as a dentist when you need information about delivering an infant.

Not the best option.

An author who is also a medical expert is your best bet. They know what will overload the reader, they know what is too medically complex for a non-medical author to pull off, and can help you with the nuances (the language and the interactions) since they’ve worked in the field.

But when is it best to consider plucking down a few hard earned dollars to work with a medical consultant?

Here are my thoughts.

  1. You need a medical condition that fits a certain set of symptoms. I often get queries from authors along these lines and perhaps they’ve tried to find something on their own but just cannot decipher the medical language to know, for certain, if it fits: “I need a fatal condition for a child that won’t be immediately obvious but could put the child in peril around three months of age.” Believe it or not, a metabolic disorder fits this criteria.
  2. You have a medical scenario in mind but aren’t sure if it’s reasonable. This happens frequently and is probably the most dangerous position to work from. Let’s take a look at the following example: “My character has been in a car accident. The car has rolled three times. The injured character was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown 100 yards into a swift moving river, where he almost drowned. He was rescued and required only a minute of CPR to revive him. I need him home from the hospital that night.” Or the opposite is true. “I have a character that fell down the stairs and I need him to be in the ICU for three days.”

Both of these situations set up implausible medical scenarios. The car accident victim is going to be too injured to go home that day. Someone who requires CPR after nearly drowning is going to be watched, at a minimum, overnight. In order to get admitted into the ICU a patient has to be pretty sick so the simple fall down the stairs is likely not going to injure the character sufficiently.

  1. Come with an open mind but with a needed result for your character. What I prefer to know is your end game with an open mind to the medical scenario. “I need a character to suffer an injury from a fall that would land them in the hospital for a few days in the ICU and I’m fine with a few extra days in the hospital but I don’t want them to have any residual injuries.” For you, I would pick an epidural hematoma.
  2. You have a pivotal medical scene. I consulted once for an author who had a child in the Pediatric ICU, dying from leukemia. This is something you want to flow nicely for the reader. If at any moment they pause, look away from the page, and think about the accuracy of what you’ve written, you’ve taken them out of the story bubble and perhaps their trust in you has fallen. Perhaps you’ve even lost a reader.

I once read a review from a fan of historical fiction that skewered an author for writing a completely inaccurate historical scenario in the third book of the series. This reader then doubted the previous two books and swore off reading anything else from the author.

Don’t let this happen to you. Consult a medical expert if you find yourself writing these scenarios. It’s likely not as expensive as you think.

What about you? Any medical inaccuracies you’ve found in a novel?

How to Maximize Your Social Media Time

Early in my wanting-to-pursue-publication journey, I heard a woman give a talk about maximizing your time. She said, “Nothing you do should go to waste. If I see a movie, I’ll figure out a way to use it in my writing. I’ll write something about it.”

Social media conceptHonestly, at first, I did kind of give a big eye roll. Really? Nothing could be sacred, private, and free? Couldn’t my mind ever just have a void where I didn’t have to think about marketing?

Now, I might have changed my opinion on that somewhat.

Marketing is hard work. Author Richard Mabry once said to me, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” And this is the truth. When your book releases, there is usually a flurry of activity to launch your baby. But, there comes a time when you need to begin to focus on the next book while still keeping your other marketing activities going. This may be less about your book and more about growing your platform and social media presence.

Consider all your activities: can they aid in growing your social media? Can they give you a blog topic? Can something you do for fun give you a possible return on your time investment?

I recently read the book Fear Nothing, by Lisa Gardner. I wanted to read this book. Lisa is a favorite author of mine so I put most other books aside to enjoy her new releases.

On the marketing side, this is how I used my leisure time to help my social media.

1. I wrote a Goodreads review on the novel. This is good for authors. It gives people an example of your writing style and can help readers find you. After all, you likely write what you like to read.

2. I pinned it to Pinterest. Some readers/followers are more visual and I do find people repinning books from my boards.

3. I blogged about it– in two different places. My main blog is Redwood’s Medical Edge and it deals with medical accuracy in fiction. Fear Nothing had a character with congenital insensitivity to pain so not only did I blog about this particular medical disorder but I also did a post that was a review of the novel and some of its medical aspects. And now, I’m here blogging about how to use one activity to foster multiple marketing efforts. So, I guess that’s three blog posts.

Your activities should become the ultimate wardrobe, where all pieces can be mixed with one another. Ultimately, a book I read for fun ended up being used to build my platform (a medical nerd who writes suspense novels) and, hopefully, keep up interest in my social media.

What about you? In what ways have you used fun activities to maximize marketing efforts?

Are Your Margins Too Thin?

sad businesswomanA curious thing happened as I was trolling Facebook one day–a fellow author had posted about what she wasn’t doing for Christmas. “I’m not baking the seven different types of cookies that I normally do and I’m giving you permission to do the same. What is it you would like to give up this Christmas so you can spend more time with family?”

Whenever the first of the year rolls around it’s always time for the dreaded excitement of planning your (cue the music) New Year’s Resolutions. Often, these resolutions and goal setting add more to our plate rather than simplify our lives.

We should absolutely make goals–I’m a big believer in them. But how can we make them reasonable, doable, and achievable?

You might have heard about margins. Leave one inch margins around your written page. This used to be so there would be room for others to make comments. It’s morphed into leaving room in your life for the important things. You might have also heard people call this work/life balance.

But how do you know if your margins are too thin? What might some of the symptoms be?

1. You can’t say no. This means you don’t have boundaries. It’s really not healthy to be the go-to person for everything. You can’t always be at another person’s beck and call. I think volunteer work is important but pick ONE thing you’re passionate about and make sure the hours are reasonable.

2. You’re always running late. This can be symptomatic of two conditions. One, it’s just the kind of person you are. You’ve always been late and continue to be late. But if you used to be on time for everything and now you’re always just a few minutes (or more) late, then you’re probably over-scheduled. Why is it you can’t make it on time? Too many appointments or it’s something you don’t want to do? You’ve lost passion for your job, perhaps? Maybe never had any? Can you change that?

3. Your children/family/significant other don’t recognize you anymore. I remember when my girls were infants that I’d bring them into the bathroom while I was taking a bath and set them on the floor with some toys so I could keep an eye on them. The first time their eyes witnessed me dunk my head and come up with my hair slicked back, their quivering lips indicated that they thought I was not their mom anymore. I spoke to them and reassured them it was okay. If your family is coming in dead last then definitely some re-prioritizing needs to happen. What can you change about your current schedule that would make more room?

NewYearDaySince it is the first of the year, I do still think that it’s a good time to analyze and focus, but maybe with these tenets in mind. The goal has to be reasonable to make it fun and achievable; otherwise it’s doomed to fail from the start.

So, instead of the goal being I’m going to write THREE great American novels when you’ve never attempted one, attend a local writers conference to see if writing is suited for you.

Instead of losing ALL the weight you need to lose in the first three weeks of the year, shoot for a small piece of the whole. I want to lose 2 pounds in January. Once you’ve done that, set the next goal.

Goals are about focus, but they need to be achievable. You’ll still need to live your life. Keep those personal relationships strong. That’s what ultimately sustains you.

What are your reasonable and achievable goals for 2014? Will they maintain your life/work balance?

What Are You Putting on Hold?

dont do it!I have worked out with a personal trainer for a number of years. No, this doesn’t mean I’m wealthy or a single digit size (though I still would like to be!). One day as I concluded my training session and was attempting to pull myself up off the floor, I overheard a woman talking to one of the other trainers. She said, “I’d really like to start training with you but I need to get in shape first.” Which caused my own trainer to stroke out and he shouted across the room. “That’s exactly why you should start now!”

And it struck me how much this thought pattern applies to other areas of our lives.

We shouldn’t have children until we’re financially set.

I can’t start my novel because I don’t have enough time . . . (insert variety of other excuses here).

I can’t go to church because my life is too screwed up from (insert various life trouble, sexual indiscretion, alcohol or drug addiction, general pride, greediness, etc . . . here).

I can’t pray because I don’t know the right words to say.

I think when we have thoughts like this, what we’re avoiding is the one thing we probably should be doing. Getting with a personal trainer might help us achieve our fitness goals faster or, at the very least, keep us from further gaining weight to the point where we think the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is skinny. Writing that novel might be a perfect outlet for the reasons we’re avoiding church. Church can be the place where we find a group of fellow travelers who are struggling just as we are and are learning how God won’t solve the consequences of our choices but will help us manage them when we come into relationship with Him.

I know many who have issue with *The Church*. And perhaps they have reason to. I’ll be the first to say that, as a result of our human failings, even we in the church try and put up a front that our lives, home, and church are better than they are. What I’ve boiled it down to is that no church is going to be perfect and if it’s not for you, try another one.

This is just another excuse and you don’t need a destination brick-and-mortar structure to work out, write your book, or discover how meaningful a relationship with God can be.

I’m a say-it-like-it-is kind of girl, which my husband claims is my best and worst quality, but I’m going to torture you with it for a moment. Let’s analyze ourselves.

Tell me–what are you putting on hold, why are you putting it on hold, and what will you do to finally get started?

May you be blessed this coming year.

The Loss of Words

Fountain pen over Script1 John: 1-5. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

I have to confess, I’m fascinated by words. How we use them. How we use them against each other. Pro-life. Pro-abortion. Pro-choice. Each of these words casts the same issue in a totally different light.

I also have great wonder about how God chose to communicate with us, which I believe happens in two ways–through the written word and through creation. Whether or not you believe that is a whole other discussion.

When I write a book, I choose words carefully. I imagine God being the same way. Not wasting anything. The words, phrases, paragraphs, and chapters of the Bible have multiple layers of meaning. Enough layers to satisfy a reader for longer than one human lifetime.

This Christmas, I find myself pondering 1John and how Jesus Christ was referred to as the Word. I think of how words bring enlightenment. Then I think about how the use of our words is changing.

As an author, I’ve been concerned about the loss of words, even though there seems to be more words than ever before. Texts. FB posts. Blog posts. The number of books that are now available through publishing (in all formats) is greater than at any time in history.

But are they meaningful words? Do they have the same impact as the Bible passage above?

We don’t write anymore. Not in the form of handwritten notes, anyway. And what we do write is abbreviated with little context. I wonder what our children will show their grandchildren. Once e-mail accounts are deleted, those messages are lost. Do you print out e-mails, texts, etc., and archive them?

I know I don’t.

So I wonder, a lot, about the meaning and context of our words and what will be lost in this technological age. Handwritten love letters. Diaries. Journals. I doubt even this blog post will survive me.

Often, we don’t think about the impact of a loved one, a job, or an event until it is gone. I’m amazed how people strive to communicate even when they can’t physically speak. Sign language. Speaking with the use of computers.

What if you couldn’t speak anymore? What if there never had been the Bible? How do you think God would have communicated with creation about Himself?

Glenn Beck is a polarizing character. I totally get that. I’m not a fan of everything he says but this is a powerful message to ponder. It’s a written monologue delivered on large postcards because, for a period of time, Glenn couldn’t speak and it caused him to think of what he had spoken in the past. If you want to avoid his political message, you can stop viewing the video after about 3 minutes.

But consider the loss of words and what you can do to maintain an actual pen-to-paper history. Remember this Christmas the impact of how God chose to communicate with us–with words.

John 3:16. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Every day, I think about losing our written words. Do you?

Have a Merry Christmas.

Kismet

I have a confession to make. I’m a control freak. Not just the neat and tidy, either. More the type who gave my daughter a lecture when she rearranged some Christmas decorations and I told her she couldn’t because she wasn’t paying the mortgage.

Frauenhände sortieren Kettfäden am WebstuhlYes, that did happen. I could say that there were other things going on at the time stress-wise to cause such a reaction but . . . sigh.

So, now we’ve established I’m a bad mother and a control freak! And yes, I’m saving up for her future counseling sessions. As a person of faith, I do believe God has a plan for my life but my hands are clenched just as tightly as they can be around the steering wheel.

My nature lends itself to the job I do. Every day, I bring calm control to chaos as a pediatric ER nurse. It’s expected of me. However, as a Christian, I’m supposed to “Let go and let God.”

Easier said than done.

However, I have noticed that when I do surrender to His little nudges, things seem to work infinitely better. But I still have that cold-dead-hands grip on my life.

I’ve always loved to write. In high school, I wrote countless short stories, scenes, and even a couple of novellas. I didn’t always write things that were honoring to God. I did want to be published but my parents said I needed to go to college and get a real job.

So I went to nursing school. I really wanted to be a flight nurse and that became my sole drive for the next ten plus years. I stopped writing during pursuit of this one goal.

And that goal didn’t happen. Out of my frustration, I started putting pen to paper again. I sought input to see if anyone thought those words strung together were good or just the dismal musings of a person dissatisfied with her life.

I don’t believe God wastes anything. During pursuit of my unrealized dream, God used several interactions to speak to my heart about what I was writing. Now, I wasn’t a closet Fifty Shades of Grey writer, but by writing wouldn’t necessarily point people to God.

Maybe it would even pull them away.

I thought that if I put words out there, I’d be responsible for the effect they have on people. Did I want to explain to God why some people stopped believing because of something I wrote?

From then on I began to write with a Christian worldview in mind.

My stories partly reflect what I struggle with. Peril, my latest release, is about Morgan’s struggle with controlling her own life when everything is out of control. She’s suffered a horrible loss she feels she should have prevented, her health is in decline, and her marriage is breaking apart. This control freak is thrown into a hurricane. The novel is about her learning to relinquish the grip she has on the steering wheel.

My hope is if I write it enough, perhaps I can do the same.

What’s amazing is how God uses kismet or fate to weave these threads over the years, in order to reach one person at the right moment.

I got this note from a reader (the best thing as an author!) that Peril helped her realize she needed to “Let go and let God.” I shared my own struggle with her about being a control freak and this was her response:

“You see, before the foundations of the world began, God knew I’d be going through something on September 30, 2013 and He also knew He would give you the words to write and also give me the book and I would be reading just that passage at just this time. Wow. What an awesome God we serve.”

He truly is. Think about it. The years. The people. Those little moments that led up to that moment of inspiration for one person.

I think those moments are designed.

What about you? As we begin to turn our focus to the Christmas Season, consider the predictions made about Christ in the Bible. Were they designed, too?

This post first appeared at Everyone’s Story. Hope you’ll check out Elaine’s blog.

Daring Dialogue

I have to confess that dialogue is one of my favorite things to write. It also is the easiest for me. Often times when I start a scene, I’ll just lay out the dialogue first.

CoupleFightingMy love of dialogue likely stems from my real life job as a pediatric ER nurse. Communication in the ER is very quick and to the point. Cutting at times. There is little room for fluffing up someone’s feathers emotionally when you’re trying to save a life.

At the most recent ACFW conference in Indianapolis, I was fortunate to take James Scott Bell’s class called Quantum Story where he touched on several different areas to take your novel to the next level. Jim is a great teacher and I highly recommend any of his classes or books on writing (of which there are many).

One area Jim discussed was his eight essentials of dialogue and I’m going to list them here. Remember, these come from a master teacher and storyteller and not little ole me who is still learning a lot about writing.

Good dialogue:

1. Is essential to the story. Fictional dialogue should never sound like “real life,” where lots of mundane facts are often communicated. “Hi.” “How are you?” “I’m fine—how are you?” It should communicate something inherently necessary to the story.

2. It flows from one character to the other.

3. It should have conflict or tension. There is the overall story conflict but then there is also microtension. I first heard this term from Donald Maass and he explains it as the tension amond words, sentences, and paragraphs that propels the reader to keep turning pages.

4. Just the right tone.

5. Just right for each character. All your story peeps should not sound the same. How can you differentiate between them so the reader can identify them? The best example I’ve seen of this type of characterization is Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible. Each chapter is in a different character’s POV but she never is obvious about it—like putting the character’s name as a chapter heading (which I have seen done). The characterization/dialogue is so unique in differing POVs that you don’t need extra help to identify the character.

6. Unpredictable.

7. Compressed. Characters shouldn’t talk for paragraphs at length. Give the reader some white space as relief.

8. There should be subtext.

Here is one of my favorite exchanges in Peril, my latest medical thriller. The lead heroine, Morgan Adams, is not sure she’s all that capable of holding onto this life. Her husband, Tyler, worries about her committing suicide and he’s just come home and found a bloodied knife on the counter. This section occurs just after she’s found alive.

  “You can’t scare me like that again. You are killing me with this thoughtlessness you have for your life.”

  “You found the knife?”

  “Yes, I found it! And the blood dripping down the counter.” He grabbed each of her hands and caressed his thumbs over her pulse points of uncut skin.

   “It’s not my blood.”

   “Then whose is it?”

   “Our neighbor’s.”

   “And if I ask her?”

   “You don’t believe me?”

    He combed his fingers through his hair. “Morgan, it’s as if you’re holding on to the cliff with one hand and lifting your fingers up one at a time.”

   She brushed past him and headed into the master bedroom. “I wouldn’t have done anything today.”

   And just like that, all the tightness in his chest returned.

What do you think? What are some techniques you incorporate to write powerful dialogue?

This post first appeared on the ACFW blog. Hope you’ll check it out for more great posts about writing.

Give Me A Hint: The Use of Foreshadowing

I was at work discussing books with a physician who is an avid reader as well of Robin Cook’s novels. Cook could be considered the grandfather of the medical thriller with his ground breaking The Year of the Intern, which highlighted the training physicians go through.

Cook, for me, delved into what a medical thriller should be. Take something medical in nature (like organ donation) and put a twist on it (genetically engineered individuals being used for spare body parts). That novel was Chromosome 6. What my physician friend said was, “The great thing about Robin Cook was he grounded you in the science before he took that leap, so when he did go over the cliff with his theory you were able to buy it hook, line, and sinker.”

Book #3 Bloodline Trilogy

Book #3 Bloodline Trilogy

This conversation got me thinking a lot about my third novel, Peril, which just released. I’m asking the reader to take a big (HUGE really) theoretical leap, but had I spent time grounding them in how this medical theory could really play out?

That question led me to rewrite the first third of my novel.

Some people view foreshadowing as the scary thing suspense novelists do to readers to get the hair to stand up on the back of their necks. Truly, this is part of it. The scary music cuing up before the axe falls on the victim.

More importantly, though, foreshadowing could be viewed as the details we plant for readers so that when the character does something unbelievable, the reader won’t be rolling their eyes in a jump-the-shark moment.

In my first novel, Proof, I needed there to be a instant in time where one character could place a lethal (or was it really?) shot to the villain. In order to do that, I had to paint a picture for the reader of the character being capable of doing it mentally and physically when that moment came.

Step One: Show that she is comfortable with weapons–and maybe a little too psychotic about her safety.

Step Two: Show that she is a good marksman. This scene included her taking a close friend to an indoor shooting gallery. Let’s just say that girl had some skill even with a little bit of alcohol on board. Plus, she had purchased another weapon, which increased the probability of one of them being used. Don’t give the character a weapon and then never have her use it.

Step Three: Show that she will use a weapon when in a dangerous situation. At one point in the book, the villain is giving chase and she fires at him from a moving vehicle.

Step Four: The ultimate showdown must take place. Don’t plant any seeds that aren’t eventually harvested.

Does anyone remember the Laura Croft Tomb Raider movies? In one, it dealt with her finding Pandora’s Box. The whole two hours is devoted to the adventure of discovering ancient clues that would lead her to the ultimate treasure. At the end of the movie, she has the box in her hands and . . . she doesn’t open it.

Huge let down.

What do you think about foreshadowing? How do you think it’s been used effectively or poorly in books and movies?