Robin Patchen has released the second book in her Hidden Truth series, Twisted Lies. Robin is a fellow 10 Minute Novelist, and a terrific writer and editor. I can’t wait to get started on the Hidden Truth series!
She thought they’d never find her. And then her daughter vanished.
Marisa Vega’s life as an adoptive mom in a tiny Mexican village isn’t what she’d dreamed while growing up in New York, but as the target of a man who’s convinced she stole millions of dollars from his financial firm, Marisa believes hiding is her only way to stay alive. When her daughter is snatched and held for ransom, Marisa must discover who really stole the money in order to rescue her.
Months after being kidnapped, tortured, and left with PTSD, Nate Boyle is ready to live a quiet life in rural New Hampshire. When the source of his breakout newspaper article—and the woman who haunts his dreams—begs for help, he gets pulled into a riddle that’s proved unsolvable for nearly a decade.
Can Nate and Marisa unravel the years-old mystery and bring her daughter home?
Maybe it’s merely my perception, but it seems there’s been a surge in Christian romantic suspense, which includes your Hidden Truth series and Finding Amanda. The best-written books in that genre, in my opinion, are those able to resolve the mystery, develop the romance, and deliver a cohesive faith message, perhaps while developing a series-long arc for the main characters, without short-changing or rushing any of those aspects. It’s a lot to juggle. What appeals to you about the genre?
I love suspense. It’s probably my favorite genre to read, because I love to see how characters react under pressure and in fear. I think we can all wear lovely masks when we feel safe, but when our lives are in danger—or worse, when the lives of the people we love are in danger—the masks fall off, and we show the world, and maybe discover for ourselves, who we really are. In my latest book, the hero and heroine are not believers, but when they fear for their lives, they both pray. Not the Scripture-laced prayers that believers might come up with, but desperate, terrified prayers for help. Let’s face it: when the guns are pointed or the headlights are coming too fast to jump out of the way, everybody in the world says, “Oh, God.” Even atheists will call out to Him in that moment. So I like to put my characters in peril, to see who they really are. In this book, along with the peril that’s caused the hero and heroine to seek God, I use a four-year-old girl to open her mother’s eyes to His presence. It’s subtle. I hope it works.
You’ve written several novels and several novellas. How does writing at varying lengths affect your storytelling? Any tips for writing short or writing long?
I wrote my first novella because, honestly, I didn’t think I could do it. My first (terrible, never-to-see-the-light-of-day) book weighed in at over 300,000 words. When I decided to attempt a novella, I knew I had to stick to one story objective and give myself limited characters and a limited time frame. One Christmas Eve takes place in less than 24 hours. I’ve loosened up on those self-imposed rules a bit, and I’ve managed to write four novellas that all come in at about a hundred pages.
With the long books, I usually aim for about 90,000 words, and I usually go over that by 10,000 words or more. I can’t seem to get my word count under control with the longer books, so perhaps my advice would be, don’t take advice from me.
Most of us love Christmas and all it represents, so Christmas stories can add to readers’ holiday experience. And don’t we like to believe in the idea of Christmas magic? A writer can write perfectly “normal” books the vast majority of time but add a little supernatural to a Christmas story. Normandie Fischer did this with great success in her delightful novella, Twilight Christmas. If I do another Christmas story, I’ll be adding a little magic to it.
I love indie publishing, but there is a huge portion of the population that doesn’t read e-books and still buys their books at bookstores or borrows them from the library. I’d like to reach those readers, too, and traditional publishing is still the best way to do that. There are pros and cons to both indie and traditional publishing. By doing both, an author can reap the benefits of both markets and can mitigate a lot of the negatives they each bring to the table.
In addition to your own writing, you are active in helping other writers through the Quid Pro Quills blog, Robin’s Red Pen editing services, and your contribution to 5 Editors Tackle the 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing. What aspects of writing and publishing are you most compelled to share with writers and aspiring writers to help them accomplish their goals?
That’s such a great question. I certainly don’t know everything about writing, and there are so many fantastic authors who are farther along this path than I am, but I do feel a responsibility to share what I know with fellow authors, especially Christian authors. We believers have been given a message, and we’ve been tasked with taking that message to the world. As novelists, we have a unique ability to share Truth through the medium of story in a way that can reach people who might not otherwise want to hear what we have to say.
I love to help writers improve their prose. So many writers have good stories but need help in communicating them. I love to replace boring words with strong ones, to find ways to make the prose more impactful, to teach devices that draw out readers’ emotions. I love help writers make their good writing great or their great writing sparkle. And I love to see those stories reach the market and reach readers’ hearts.
I interview a lot of authors who are juggling their passion for writing, the business of publishing, and their mom duties. What tips do you have for establishing a healthy balance that allows you to meet the needs of yourself and your family as well as your writing?
It’s probably easier for me, because my kids are teenagers. I write when my kids are at school and my husband is at work, and I leave other tasks, those that don’t take as much concentration and mental energy, for when my family is home. The key for me is to prioritize my time. Writing comes first, then emails, then editing, then marketing tasks. If I spend my first two hours of work every day writing, then I feel like everything else I do that day is gravy.