Forensic Speak – An interview with Jennifer Dornbush

Welcome back, everybody, and Happy New Year. After a hand injury and longer-than-hoped absence from this blog for most of December, I’m delighted to be back. And if you’re a writer, specially one who writes Crime/Forensics/Police Procedural kind of stories, you won’t want to miss this.

I have the wonderful privilege of chatting with Jennifer Dornbush, author of Forensic Speak. One of you will win a copy of this amazing book. I took Jennifer’s Forensic and Fiction class when I attended the ACFW conference last Fall. Honestly, I doubt they could have selected anybody better to teach it. What an awesome class. Her stories fascinated me so much, I asked her to share some of them with you.

jennifer dornbush

Renee-Ann: Welcome, Jennifer, and thank you so much for taking time from your busy schedule. I’m delighted you agreed to chat with us. First would you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Jennifer: Renee-Ann, Thank you for inviting me to your blog. Such a pleasure! Me… well, I’m a storyteller… I knew that’s what God had called me to be since I was 8 years old. I tell stories through screenplays, books, speaking, and teaching. I’ve lived several places but the past eight years I’ve been in Los Angeles with my awesome husband of 20 years this December! That’s like triple the time of most Hollywood marriages! 🙂 I come from humble beginnings. I grew up outside a small town in northern Michigan where my father served was the local Medical Examiner, which is where I get a lot of fodder for my stories and my interest and experience in forensic science.     

Renee-Ann: Congrats on your 20 years. 😀  How did you come up with the idea for this book? And why did you write it?

forensic speaks

Jennifer: It’s ironic because I never meant for Forensic Speak to be published. It started as a project for my studies at the Forensic Science Academy. I was the only writer in my class of 50, and the director of the academy graciously allowed me to produce the “Forensic Handbook for Writers” to complete one of my graduation requirements. Later, some of my TV writer friends prodded me to get it published. One of them was so insistent she sent me a link from my current publisher who was requesting submissions. I queried them and they returned my email within 30 minutes. They loved the idea. But it took another year to hammer out the details and get the contract. I’m so grateful for that one pushy friend! 🙂

Renee-Ann:  What kind of take-away does this book offer its readers?

Jennifer: Forensic Speak is a mega-tool for writers of crime, suspense, thrillers, and mysteries. Every writer will find at least one thing (probably more) in this book to help them create more authentic and engaging stories.

Renee-Ann: What was the biggest challenge and the most exciting part of writing it?

Jennifer: The biggest challenge I find when starting any new project is just getting that first draft on paper. As one of my mentors put it: getting your butt in the seat is the hardest part. But once that happens I get distracted by emails, FB, Twitter, news-links, texts, and on and on. I have to turn it all off and then give myself a reward for getting my pages written. You’d think after 12 years of writing full time that I’d be over this hurdle, right? Haha! The most exciting part of writing is “having written.” I love rewriting.

I should be writing my pages right now, but I’m procrastinating with your blog questions! 🙂

Renee-Ann: Humm, somebody’s got to take the blame, I might as well… hahaha! Do you have any advice for beginner writers who want to write “crime” stories but who aren’t familiar with the forensic side of things?

Jennifer: Not to self-promote, but get a copy of Forensic Speak. It’s written simply, yet contains highly specific forensic information for writers. It will give you a base from which to start and tons of suggested resources where you can do more research. I also recommend finding experts in the field and asking if they will help you with questions you have. Retired experts are the best because they have time and they love to tell their war stories!

 Renee-Ann:  What great advice that is. So now, we’re going to draw  a random name among the comments, but where can people get this book?

Jennifer:  Of course, you can get it on Amazon. But I love supporting my awesome publisher, who always offers it at 25% off. Here’s the link.

Renee-Ann: And how can your readers contact you, and/or read more about you?

Jennifer:    You can also sign up for my free quarterly Forensic Speak newsletter on my website.  Or feel free to say hello or ask me questions at:

Renee-Ann: Any final words or piece of advice you want to share?

Jennifer:  Don’t bury your talent. Use what God has given you. Be okay with mystery in your life. Let it surprise you. Bless and love others, by doing this you bless and love God.

Thank you Renee-Ann for this moment! Blessings!!!

Renee-Ann: And thank you so much, Jennifer. I look forward to reading all the comments.

So now, go ahead and leave a comment, telling us WHY you should win a copy of Jennifer’s book, Forensic Speak, and we will select a random winner on Wednesday 14.

Until then, blessings!

Renee-Ann <><


Christmas Read, anyone? Part 8

Welcome back to the Christmas Read series. First let’s announce Monday’s winner for Alexis A Goring’s Hope in my Heart, and the book goes to Robert Nacke. Keep an eye on your email, Alexis will be in touch with you.

Throughout this series, we’ve covered several topics, but one we haven’t touched on much is that of food. Ever wonder where our traditions come from? Why does a traditional Christmas dinner consist of turkey for so many countries around the world? For many people, the holidays wouldn’t be the same without this big bird. What about you?

This week, I’m delighted to feature a beautiful collection. For all of you Christmas Read fanatics, you’ll love this. It is called An Old Fashion Christmas Romance Collection: 9 Stories Celebrate Christmas Traditions and Love From Bygone Years.

old fashioned christmas romance collection

Many of us have a secret picture of Christmases past–a time when windows shimmered with lacy frost and candlelight, fireplaces kept homes warm and snug, ladies’ skirts swirled and gracefully skimmed the floor, and gentlemen were gallant and true. Within each of these nine historical novellas, the nostalgia is relived and new traditions are born when two lives are joined at Christmastime. 

1851 Pennsylvania — Dreams and Secrets (DiAnn Mills) 

1865 Virginia — Miracle on Kismet Hill (Loree Lough) 

1875 Michigan — Yuletide Treasures (Gail Gaymer Martin)  

1878 Pennsylvania — For the Love of a Child (Sally Laity) 

1893 Minnesota — Paper Roses (JoAnn A. Grote) 

1894 Alabama — Dreams (Peggy Darty) 

1925 Vermont — Eyes of the Heart (Rosie Dow) 

1936 Ohio — Bittersweet (Rebecca Germany) 

Taken to settings from New England to Pennsylvania to Minnesota that span nearly a hundred years of history, readers will discover traditions to implement and hope that will linger beyond the season. 

Christmas is a time when families get together, to celebrate the birth of Christ. And with billions of people around the world, we all celebrate differently. Though there are many similarities, we do have traditions passed down from generations to generations. A special recipe Grandma used to bake; how we decorate the tree; door-to-door caroling; story-telling; gift exchange; and so much more. Back in the days of our ancestors, how did they celebrate Christmas? Was it the same? Or totally different?

These 9 stories are filled with traditions.  You now have a chance to win a copy of this beautiful book. Leave us a comment and tell us what is your favourite food at this time of year.

Until next time, blessings! Renee-Ann <><

Christmas Read, anyone? Part 7

Another great Giveaway is underway. But first let’s find out who won JoAnn Durgin’s novellas. We have three winners this time, because JoAnn is giving away one eBook copy of each of her Christmas stories to random winners. Congratulations go to:

– Loraine for Meet me under the Mistletoe;

– Sarah Butland, for Starlight, Star Bright; and

– Susan Harris for Sleigh Ride Together With You.

Thank you for taking part in this Christmas giveaway. JoAnn will be in touch with you.

Today, you’re in for another treat. Alexis A. Goring’s first book is called Hope In My Heart: A collection of short heartwarming stories. And you now have a chance to win a signed copy.

I love Christmas stories, and obviously, you do too because you’re here trying to win. So leave us a comment and tell us the name of your favourite Christmas movie. I have a hunch which title we’ll see most from readers. I’ll start: My all time favourite was (and still is) The Little Match Girl. I always loved Hans Christian Anderson’s stories. And that one is no exception.

Here’s a little about author Alexis A. Goring.


Alexis A. Goring enjoys writing fictional stories that bring people together and inspire hope in their hearts through nature’s most powerful force: LOVE. She hopes her stories will touch hearts, bring smiles to faces, and inspire minds to seek God whose love for humanity is unfailing.

When she wrote Hope in My Heart: A Collection of Heartwarming Stories, Alexis wanted to publish a book that infused hope into real-life situations and helped people in the tough times of their life journey. It is an inspirational romance novella.


Here’s a bit about the three stories in this book:

In “Love Unexpected,” a car crash brings commitment-wary Sebastian and career woman Chandra together. Neither is looking for romance, but those around them see the potential, and Sebastian and Chandra discover that sometimes love shows up unexpectedly.

Christmastime is the setting for the middle story, “The Best Gift.” Christina desires to lose ten pounds so she can fit into her dress for her sister’s wedding. Jordan wishes her mom would stop trying to marry her off. And Joshua hopes to be reunited with his ex-girlfriend but eventually learns that the best gift this Christmas will be the restoration of his relationship with God.

In “Peace and Love,” three characters living in a metropolitan area are desperately searching. Elle, a starving artist, aspires to become a paid professional. Eric, a divorce attorney, wants to resolve his issues concerning his parents’ divorce. Kristine anticipates finding her birth mom before she marries Derek. All characters pray their searches will conclude this holiday season and fill their hearts with peace and love.

Don’t these stories sound great? Go ahead and leave us a comment for your chance to win this wonderful book, which Alexis will sign for you. Until next time, blessings and good luck.

Renee-Ann <><

Christmas Read, anyone? Part 6

Welcome back to the Christmas Reads Series. First, let’s announce Part 5’s winner: Let’s hear it for Kim Vogel Sawyer. Congratulations, Kim. Dorothy will be in touch with you.

A side note before I introduce today’s author: I so appreciate my cover designer, Mitch Mealey. These artists don’t get enough credit for the work they do ‘behind the scene’. Thanks for pointing that out, Maggie, it’s so true. This week, I want to recognize ALL cover designers, more specifically, Nicola Martinez for the work on the following covers. I very often pick up a novel because of its beautiful design. Amazing job, Nicola.

I’m delighted to feature wonderful author, JoAnn Durgin. She has THREE Christmas novellas to give away in the Starlight Christmas Series published by Pelican Book Group/White Rose Publishing. But first a little about her:

JoAnn Author Photo (Princess Cruise)

JoAnn Durgin is the author of five novels (and counting) in the popular Lewis Legacy Series as well as a standalone novel, Catching Serenity. Her novellas include the three mentioned above, and Echoes of Edinburgh. A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Louisville Christian Writers, JoAnn lives with her husband and three children in southern Indiana. She’s recently *retired* from her paralegal position to write full-time. She loves to hear from her readers at or

Her Christmas novellas include:

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe (2012)

MeetMeUnderTheMistletoe_w11222_hiRes3x4 (2)

Jacob Marston, Starlight, Iowa’s hometown hero made a long-ago promise to the Lord: he won’t kiss a woman until he knows she’s “the one.” Now at age twenty-eight, the rugged firefighter questions if it’ll ever happen. When he meets his best friend’s sister, Jake believes he’s found the woman of his dreams. But what will she think when she discovers his vow?

Starlight, Star Bright (2013)


Dante Moretti, Texas-born goalie of an Italian World Cup champion team, expects Starlight, Iowa will be only a blip on the radar of his life. Grabbing a quick meal at Barney’s Diner during the holidays, Dante meets two women who capture his heart in very different ways. Then his rental car won’t start and leaves him stranded. Does the Lord have a plan for bringing him—and keeping him—in Starlight?

Sleigh Ride Together with You (2014)

Sleigh Ride Together with You Cover (Largest)

As the popular television co-host of Wake Up, Des Moines! Nicole Reardon has achieved her dream. So why has the network sent “image maker” Alex Kingsfield to the station? The irritatingly handsome man is also the first man she’s been attracted to since Jake Marston dumped her three years ago in Starlight, Iowa. When an unexpected assignment sends Nicole and Alex to Starlight, can she rise above the past and make this interview the defining moment of her career?

Aren’t these covers amazing? All three books are available in eBook format on and other online book retailers. You can also order them in paperbacks by contacting JoAnn Durgin at or via her website at

So now, here’s your chance to win a copy of one of JoAnn’s Christmas novellas (ebook format). We’ll draw three names at random and reveal the winners on Monday. Can you tell me what present you always wanted as a child but never received?

Looking forward to hearing from you. Until then, blessings!

Renee-Ann <><

Christmas Read, anyone? Part 5

Welcome back, everyone. First, I need to announce our latest winner: Congratulations go to Robert Nacke. Wow, lucky you! That’s the second time in my Christmas Reads series. Good for you, Robert. Tina will be in touch with you.

Now, we’re on to our 5th giveaway. Read on as we will have another question for you to answer in your comment for a chance to win another beautiful Christmas Read.

Today, I feature an amazing author, Dorothy Clark, and her Christmas Read, A Season of the Heart

A Season of the Heart

First, let me tell you about her book:

A Season of the Heart:

A Christmas Match. Rugged logger Daniel Braynard meets none of Ellen Hall’s husband requirements. Groomed for a prestigious marriage, she already has a choice between two wealthy suitors. She plans to make her decision by Christmas while visiting her hometown. But when tasked with creating the town’s decorations, she and Daniel are forced to work together. And her former childhood rescuer has matured into a man she can no longer ignore.

Daniel hardly recognizes the ambitious socialite Ellen has become. Somewhere beneath her airs is the spirited, warmhearted friend he has never forgotten. As Christmas nears, will the chill between them thaw to reveal the gift of a sweet love that was meant to be?

Award-winning author Dorothy Clark lives in rural New York. She enjoys traveling with her husband throughout the United States doing research and gaining inspiration for future books. Dorothy believes in God, love, family and happy endings, which explains why she feels so at home writing stories for Love Inspired Books. Dorothy enjoys hearing from her readers and may be contacted at:

A Season of the Heart will be available in both paperback and ebook. But you don’t have to wait. It can be pre-ordered on Amazon now.

So far we’ve talked about the things we love most about Christmas: food, traditions, songs and more. What about decorations? What is the most important ornament, or any kind of knickknacks you look forward to setting out at this time of year? It doesn’t have to be a tree ornament, it can be anything you set on the mantel, under the tree, or anywhere else. I’ll start by sharing mine: (hard to think of only one. I have so many…)

The manger, my Christmas village, and all the ornaments on our tree hold a special meaning. But I think my most treasured decoration is the only figurine (Joseph) left from the manger scene my family had when I was a kid. I have no idea what happened to the rest of this set, but I’d give just about anything to get an identical set. There’s also the Christmas wreath my sister made for me. She and I live so far away, I feel closer to her when I hang it on the front door.

We look forward to reading your comments. Until then, blessings!

Renee-Ann <><

Christmas Read, anyone? Part 4.

Drum roll please ! I’m delighted to announce the winner of Darlene Franklin’s novel, An Apple For Christmas. Congratulations go to Robert Nacke. Thank you so much for taking part in this giveaway. Darlene will be in touch with you soon.

I can’t believe this is already part 4. But don’t go away. There are several more to come and we draw one random winner for each book we feature. That’s two winners a week. And today is no exception. It is my pleasure to feature Tina Pinson, and her Christmas novel, Christmas in Shades of Grey.


Tina Parson


Award winning author Tina Pinson resides in Mesa, Arizona with her husband of 30+ years, Danny. They have three sons, and seven grandchildren. She writes poetry, loves to doodle, sing, and enjoys gardening. She prays her stories will transport you to worlds beyond, touching your spirit, and giving you a closer insight to yourself and God. Her books are available at online retailers. You can learn more about Tina on her blog, and her website. And you can follow her on Twitter.


Tina's book


Here’s a little about her book:

It’s Christmastime. David Pareman lies in his hospital bed, dying. The staff visits him, as does a drug induced cowboy and yellow-eyed monster. But not his children. He fears he’ll die alone without a chance to share his heart.

When Arion, a stranger with vast knowledge of David’s life and a shroud of mystery over his own, comes to visit, David thinks Arion is from the newspaper. He learns otherwise. Soon David is tripping through his past in search of the answer to a soul-searing question. “What in your life merits God answering your prayer?”

Through his past and those of his children he hopes to reach, David finds little to balance the scales against him. He believes he’s no good, with nothing of merit that would make God want to help in him. Then he remembers the truth of Christmas and the love the Father sent to earth.

Sounds like an awesome read to me. And I know you’ll want to read it too. Here’s your chance to get a copy.

We’ve talked about what we love most about Christmas, we’ve shared our favourite Christmas songs, and the important “things” on our wish list. Now let’s talk about traditions?

In all your years, what was your MOST UNUSUAL Christmas tradition. As a child or grown up, it doesn’t matter. Leave a comment below for a chance to win Christmas in Shades of Grey. Best of luck. I’ll announce the winner Monday. Until then, have a blessed weekend, everybody.

Renee-Ann <><


Christmas Read, anyone? Part 2

And the winner of Mary L Ball’s Christmas at Angel Ranch is …. Diane Dean White. Congratulations. Mary will be in touch with you.

And thank you, everybody for taking part. But don’t go away. You can enter to win every week as I feature other amazing authors, and their Christmas novels. All you need to do is leave a comment, one that answers the question I’ll ask at the end of the post.

Today, I’m delighted to have another fantastic author for my Christmas Reads series, Deborah Raney. I’m privileged to say I met Deborah at two major writers conferences this year. For those who follow my blog, you know I often stress the importance of attending these conferences. Not only do you learn a lot of important skills, but you also meet wonderful gifted authors. Deborah is one of them.

Deborah Raney

DEBORAH RANEY’s first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched her writing career after twenty happy years as a stay-at-home mom. She is currently writing a new five-book series, the The Chicory Inn Novels. Deb and her husband, Ken Raney, recently traded small-town life in Kansas––the setting of many of Deb’s novels––for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita. They love traveling to visit four children and five grandchildren who all live much too far away. Visit Deb on the Web at


Her Christmas story is titled SILVER BELLS.

Silver Bells new cover

Michelle Penn has started a new job at a tiny weekly newspaper, and the boss’s son, Rob, is quickly making her forget about her former sweetheart. Rob feels trapped working for his father but now that he’s met Michelle, she is what he wants most of all. This Christmas season it seems that the gifts Rob and Michelle most desire-each other- are out of reach. But then they didn’t count on a small Christmas miracle.

I trust you will enjoy this and other titles Deborah wrote. And for your chance to win Silver Bells, in paperback, leave a comment saying which is your favourite Christmas Song.  We will make the draw on Tuesday (because I’m late posting this.. Sorry Deb), and I’ll share with you another Christmas novel. Until then, blessings and good luck.

Renee-Ann <><

Fiction Writers! What’s your expertise?

When I published my first novel, Stella’s Plea, I totally lacked marketing savvy. And for the first 9-10 months, I sold no more than 2 hands full. To say I was discouraged doesn’t cut it. Then, Sarah Butland, a writer and dear friend recommended a fantastic marketing book: How I Made Over $42,000 in a Month Selling My Kindle Ebooks by Cheryl K Tardif. I interviewed this author before and learned so much from her book, I need to talk about it again. Read on and get a chance to enter your name in my giveaway to win one of 7 books.

When it comes to Facebook and Twitter, I only knew the basics. How to search for and add friends. I’ll be honest with you, I had no idea what a Twitter hashtag was until I read that book. How I Made Over $42,000 in a Month Selling My Kindle Ebooks has taught me so much more. Plus Cheryl talks about the importance of blogging, holding free/discounted promotions, really details Amazon’s KDP program, and so much more. I’ve followed her strategies, and have seen great results.

Lately though, I’ve been asked: “What’s your expertise?” And that really stumps me, so to  speak. If I were to do a giveaway, what ties in with my fiction novel? I scratched my head. What could I, as a fiction writer, offer my readers who already have my book? What do I have to offer? What do my characters do that I could create a list of “10-best” tips? As I pondered this question, I remembered an author who mentions a very uncommon ‘dish’ in one of her historical novels, and she gives postcard-size recipe cards with that recipe. It makes sense. So thinking about my book, I asked myself: “Who is my protagonist, and what does she have to offer?”

Well, Stella is a military wife and a mother. And while her husband is serving overseas, their daughter gets kidnapped from the local park.

Hum! And the antagonist is the kidnapper! That’s no good! Try as I may, I couldn’t come up with anything. So I raised the question to my husband. He smiled.

“Well, you’re an “interpreter” to the deaf members at church, and you have deaf characters in your book. You could talk about their community.”

Great idea! The main reason I have deaf characters in my stories is to dispel the myths about them, and to educate the hearing population. Believe it or not, many hearing folks don’t know much about deaf people.

Hubby went on to say: “There’s a 3-year-old kid in your story. You can talk about your home-daycare experience and give tips!” Another great idea. Why didn’t I think of that?

After more brainstorming, we came up with a great ideas. But that’s for later.

Right now, it’s time to celebrate. I’ve revamped my website, added a new picture of myself, and changed the ‘theme’ header with books. And I’ve decided to do a giveaway. I teamed up with three other authors to bring you fantastic books. In time for your Summer reads!

You have a chance to win one of 7 Books. Starting this Wednesday, June 4, make sure you follow this LINK. The contest will run until next Friday, June 13, and I will announce the winners on Saturday June 14. The books to be won are:

Stella’s Plea, a Christian Suspense (4 copies)

How I Made Over $42,000 in 1 Month Selling My Kindle eBooks, by Cheryl K Tardif. Fantastic marketing book you won’t want to miss.  (1 copy)

Arm Farm, by Sarah Butland. Great suspense novel. (1 copy)

arm farm 2


Breathing On Her Own, by Rebecca Waters. Awesome Christian Contemporary Fiction/Romance.  (1 copy)

breathing on her own

Again, click on this LINK TO THE GIVEAWAY and see how it is easy to enter. Good luck !

In the meantime, feel free to share “What is your expertise?”

Until then, blessings!

Renee-Ann <><

My Own Book Giveaway – Stella’s Plea

In November 2012, I self-published my first novel, Stella’s Plea, on Amazon and Smashwords. It is a Christian suspense, and a work of fiction.

I remember thinking how hard writing could be, and editing was harder still. However, for me, the hardest part of the process, was promoting and pushing that book to sell. Now that’s a job and a half. And to be honest, it tends to be discouraging when the book doesn’t move. So much so that some want to throw the towel in. Oh, been there…. The temptation was strong… all that hard for what…

But I didn’t give in. I even talked about this in one of my posts. It is hard work but though it may take a while, and for some of us, it takes longer than others, in the end it pays off. We just have to keep at it. The most important thing is to learn from the work we produce and go from there.

Once my novel was formatted, I uploaded it and filled the required information on the website. Then I sat there with my 15-month-old grandson on my lap… and we stared at my screen… and waited. I was petrified to click the Publish button. There were a lot of “what ifs” going through my mind, and if it weren’t for my grandson pressing the space bar, which actually clicked the Publish button, I have no idea how much longer I would have sat there, stared at the screen, and asked a whole lot more “what ifs”.

I’ve learned lessons from this first novel and hope to make the next one better, and the next one after that. Currently, I’m working on my second novel, a court drama about a teenager who gives up her child for adoption but changes her mind before the adoption process is finalized. This book is harder to write because I know very little about the judicial system, and much less about the adoption process. I had to enlist the help of the department of social development that handles adoptions in our area to answer many questions. I know many think one should write about things they know. I see logic in this statement, but Benjamin Disraeli once said “The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write a book about it. There’s a lot of truth in that and I’m sure I won’t forget any time soon all I’ve learned in my research for this book.

With this new novel, the hardest hurdle I’ve encountered was to find a lawyer to help me with the court battle itself. I’m still having a hard time getting answers to some of my questions but who knows how many nice lawyers will be reading this post and offering to help me (just kidding!!!!).

Honestly, I love the idea I have for this book. Plus in my stories, I like to dispel myths about the deaf community for readers who aren’t familiar with these people (and surprisingly, there are still many who aren’t).

Last week, Jennifer Beckstrand (the author of the book Kate’s Song, which I so highly recommend) offered to do a giveaway after I reviewed her book. It not only generated more-than-usual  traffic to my blog, and a few more subscription, it was also awesome–and well deserved–publicity for her novel. A Win-Win situation.

This week, I’m giving away copies of Stella’s Plea. (yes I said copies, plural). 🙂


I’ll do things a little different with this draw. First, I’m selecting not ONE but TWO winners. Comments #17 and #27 will win a copy of my novel. Please keep in mind that this book is not in paper format. If you don’t have an eReader and would like to read this and other novels right on your laptop, click on the following link to download the Kindle for PC version. So go ahead and post your comments. I’ll draw for the book on Friday, July 12.

Blessings and Good Luck.


Cynthia Ruchti’s “They Almost Always Come Home” – Book Giveaway

I tend to review only the books I like. And of the several books I read lately, I reviewed every one of them. And… I’m about to do it again. It’s a fantastic read by author Cynthia Ruchti, They Almost Always Come Home.

I picked up this book for two reasons:

First, the cover spoke to me. Loud and clear, I heard it say mystery… suspense… the kind of books I love to get lost into. Second, I’d met Cynthia Ruchti in Chicago at the Write to Publish Conference last June. This urged me even more to pick it up.

Here’s the scoop on this book.

When her husband, Greg, doesn’t come home from a fishing trip, Libby reports him missing to the police but soon realizes she has to look for him. With the help of her best friend Jenika, and  Greg’s father, Frank, she heads to the Canadian wilderness where she believes Greg has gone. So many questions run through Libby’s mind. What could have happened that delayed his return? Did he leave her? Did something terrible happen to him? Is he even alive?

The story is more than just about Libby and Greg’s marriage, though. Since the death of their daughter Lacey three years ago, their marriage hasn’t been the same and they begin to grow apart. Alone while her two sons are traveling abroad, Libby is now forced to think long and hard about what she really wants out of her relationship with the man she married, for better or worse.

One of the things I love most about the book is Ruchti’s sense of humour. You’re absolutely right if you think her husband’s disappearance is no laughing matter. But the author is witty and at times right down-to-earth  hilarious. Yes, even when dealing with serious matters. This is not to say she turns this drama into a comedy. There’s a time and place for everything, and she uses laughter only when appropriate.

There’s something else I love about this book. Ruchti is phenomenal at using the “show-don’t-tell” principle of writing. You always get a clear picture of Libby’s surroundings, whether at she’s at home, in the car, and even in the wilderness. But this story is highly emotional and Ruchti shows Libby’s agony, pain, sorrow, and even misery, in such a way that you become Libby, and you don’t just feel her pain, you know it. Personally, I’ve never experienced the loss of a child and can only try to imagine what it’s like. But after reading this book, I can have a better understanding.

I sat on pins and needles waiting to find out why Greg didn’t come home, and never would have guessed what happened to him, nor did expect that kind of ending. But it’s all good! This book is an “edge of your seat” kind of read. Those familiar with my blog know I never give spoilers. You’ll have to read the book. And it’s well worth it, I might add.

It is a Christian story, which I didn’t find preachy. Ruchti adds a nice touch to the story by quoting a few biblical passages which have their places in the story. Christians are not immune to struggles and suffering, though some seem to think so. Libby goes through a major faith struggle in light of many things happening in her life.

This said, I dare you to go ahead and get this book. Oh wait, I promised a giveaway, didn’t I!!! If you want a chance to win a copy of They Almost Always Come Home, make sure you leave a comment and click on the Facebook and/or Twitter link under the comment box. It’s that simple.

Then, get yourself a box of tissues because you’ll need them for both sets of tears… joy and sadness.