Monday, August 19, 2019

Talking to Adam Blumer about “Kill Order”

Adam Blumer is the author of three Christian suspense novels: Fatal Illusions (Meaningful Suspense Press); its sequel, The Tenth Plague (Kirkdale Press); and Kill Order (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). A print journalism major in college, he works full-time from home as a book editor after serving in editorial roles for more than 20 years (Adam was the editor for my first two novels, Dancing Priest and A Light Shining). He lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with his wife, Kim, and his daughters, Laura and Julia.

And he has a new book – Kill Order. Here’s the summary:

“When he sleeps, the forgotten terrors of the past come alive.

“Grammy-winning pianist Landon Jeffers’s brain cancer has given him only a few years to live. But when he sleeps, the forgotten terrors of his past torment him. When he wakes, shameful memories come rushing back. Desperate for answers, Jeffers discovers that a brain implant intended to treat his cancer is really a device to control him, forcing him to commit terrible crimes. Now he’s being manipulated by an evil crime syndicate and a crooked cop. 

“What if free will isn’t? What if your every move is predestined? If you kill, are you guilty of murder?”

Here’s what Adam has to say about his writing journey, writing fiction, his faith, and Kill Order.

Tell me about your writing journey. How did you get started?

I’ve loved to write stories since I was a kid and studied novel writing in college. I completed five unpublished novels, mostly for youth, before I began Fatal Illusions, my first published novel, in the spring of 2002 in conjunction with a Writer's Digest correspondence course on novel writing. In January 2006, literary agent Steve Laube, a well-known and respected voice in Christian fiction, responded enthusiastically to my book proposal and asked to see the entire manuscript. Of course, I was on cloud nine. Though he ultimately declined to represent me, he kindly gave me eight suggestions on how to make the novel publishable. 

Energized, I followed his advice and got to work, but I still couldn't find an agent or publisher. A year later, I contacted Kregel Publications, not about my novel but about opportunities to edit books from home. The managing editor noticed on my résuméthat I’d written several unpublished novels and asked to see my latest project. Kregel accepted it for publication in August 2007. God opened a door I never could have opened for myself.

What other novels have you written? 

My first novel is Fatal Illusions (Meaningful Suspense Press). The sequel is The Tenth Plague (Kirkdale Press). Both are available as paperbacks and e-books.

What inspired you to write Kill Order?

My dad, Larry, passed away from brain cancer in 2011, and several aspects of his cancer journey kicked off the initial story idea. One key detail involved a medical procedure. The doctors agreed to remove as much of my dad’s brain tumor as possible and replace it with medicinal wafers intended to fight the existing cancer. My mind began playing the what-if game. What if the doctor implanted something else, something that could monitor or even control my dad’s life? The story’s premise grew from there.

When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

Adam Blumer
When I was a child, I began writing wildly imaginative pirate and fantasy stories. My first handwritten story was a fantastical tale about Captain Kidd’s spyglass. In high school, I also wrote and finished an unpublished novel called Down with the Ship. It’s such an Agatha Christie copycat that I laugh whenever I peruse it, but emulation is how a lot of authors get to be where they are today. Those were the early projects that inspired me to take novel writing seriously. When I won a high school award for creative writing, I wondered if God wanted to do more with my love for fiction. In college I won more writing awards, and though I studied journalism, I took as many creative writing courses as possible. God opened doors from there, and I’ve never lost my love for fiction writing.

Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (ESV). I’ve always loved this verse, and my wife and I included it in our wedding ceremony.

If you could, what advice would you give to your younger self?
Writing the story is only half of the project. The other half is finding out what readers like to read, crafting the story for them by following publishing standards, and writing the story to the best of your ability. Then remember that publishers can take a very long to decide whether they want your work. Don’t get discouraged. Just keep going and waiting.

What is the hardest part of the creative process of writing?

I rarely have difficulty coming up with story ideas and even an engaging premise, but getting from the beginning to the ending is a circuitous path that can sometimes come to dead ends. The hardest part of novel writing is choosing the right path that comes out at the right ending. There are so many moving pieces and critical decisions along the way that the writer can become paralyzed, overcome by too many choices. If you’re an indecisive person, you’ll never succeed as a novelist.

What do you read for fun?

Authors write what they like to read. When I was a kid, I devoured Hardy Boys books—yes, even my sister’s collection of Nancy Drew. While growing up, I read Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks, Ray Bradbury, and Madeleine L’Engle. Eventually I gravitated to suspense fiction by authors like Frank Peretti, Terri Blackstock, and Mary Higgins Clark. I grew weary of whodunits and preferred suspense novels. I like novels that grab me around the throat, keep the pages turning, and never let go until the final period. Suspense novels filled with plenty of action and conflict captivate me like no other books I read, though I also have a fondness for good literature, fantasy, history, biography, true crime, and science fiction.

What was the hardest part about writing Kill Order? How long does it typically take you to write your novels?

The ending was tough to write. While I’m typically an organized plotter, I took off the training wheels on this one and let the story glide where it and the characters wanted to go. The journey became fun but scary. I had the premise and some plot developments in place, but how the story concluded took more work than I expected.

I typically take at least a couple of years of evenings and weekends for the actual writing of the book. But that doesn’t count the time needed to shop the novel around through my agent and then wait on a publisher before and after the contract; the publishing wheel turns much more slowly than most readers realize. I wish I could write more quickly than that, but that’s the reality for me, since this isn’t my full-time gig.

Your branding on your website is for “meaningful suspense.” What inspired you to write these kinds of thrillers and suspense novels? Also, what inspired your “clean fiction guarantee”?

I began reading Christian novels in junior high and soon gravitated to suspense. Back in the day, an inspirational thread was a staple in Christian fiction, and I believe a Christian novel can do more than simply entertain. These days many authors are leaning toward writing clean, moral stories but avoiding overt Christian content. I’m a believer that the inspirational content should stay (hence “meaningful suspense”). Books can encourage and even challenge readers’ thinking while taking them on a roller coaster of a ride. The “clean fiction guarantee” came about due to the rise of objectionable content in some Christian fiction. My fans were expressing disappointment to me due to content issues when they tried books by some Christian authors. I felt it was time to declare where I stood, and many readers have appreciated my guarantee.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I’ve been blessed with a wonderful home office. Though I often like to write in other locations, this is by far my favorite place. I can close the door, shut out life’s distractions, pray, and become immersed in my story. Now and then, if I need a break, I can glance out the window and delight in God’s creation.

What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors?

I’m currently enjoying Mind Games by Nancy Mehl. I especially enjoy a good thriller, whether Christian or secular. Some of my favorite authors are Steven James, Terri Blackstock, Frank Peretti, Ted Dekker, and Brandilyn Collins. I like how they weave story threads together and craft their scenes in ways that keeps the plot moving forward. Their books are great examples of what works in suspense writing. I learn so much simply by reading their novels.

What is the best part of your author’s life?

I love hearing from readers who went to work tired because they stayed up too late finishing one of my novels. If I kept them immersed in my story and entertained, that’s a score in my book.

Do you have any new writing projects on the horizon? 

I’m almost finished with the first draft of the sequel to Kill Order and hope to have something ready for my agent sometime this fall.

What’s one unusual fact about you?

When I was a kid, for a while I wanted to be a ventriloquist and had a “dummy” named Andy. But then I got braces and could no longer talk through my teeth like I used to. Andy sadly went into storage.

What are your three biggest frustrations about the writing business?

First, the amount of time each book requires from start to finish. Included in this is the long wait time from publishers. Second, the continually changing rules in writing and publishing. Just when you think you know what publishers are looking for, your agent tells you something else. Third, book marketing. One cannot guarantee sales. I wish a book release was like the movie Field of Dreams. “Build it, and they will come.” If only it were that easy. There is almost an equal amount of work in just promoting the book.

What excites you the most about the creative process?
I get most excited about the creative process when a plot development I never saw coming unexpectedly presents itself, taking the story in a new but stronger direction. This epiphany has happened to me several times.

Kill Order Paperback Giveaway

Adam has a Kill Order giveaway, hosted via Rafflecopter.  


My review of Fatal Illusions.

Talking about The Tenth Plague.

Adam Blumer's web site.

Kill Order publisher's web site.

Kill Order is available on Amazon (paperback and Kindle) and Barnes & Noble

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Choosing a rock

After Colossians 1:15-20

An island, a rock:
water lapping against it
threatens like a storm
cloud in the distance.
We argue the question:
do we embrace the waves,
or do we climb and cling
to the rock. Is this island,
this rock, strong enough
to bear our weight and
resist the storm, or do we
cast off and float among
the growing waves and 
swells. We choose
the rock, holding
all things together.

Photograph by Ashim D’Silva via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Saturday Good Reads

Newspapers are dying. In 2018, U.S. newspaper circulation hit the lowest level since statistics started to be kept in 1940.  In the last 10 years, some 1,700 newspapers have closed, creating what are now called “news deserts.” We can blame the internet; we can blame changed reading habits. But what has also played a role is what has happened to the news; editorial opinion has invaded the news pages, creating a different kind of news desert. And this is everywhere. I still get our local newspaper; there are six comic strips I like to read. And I sit in a very thin fence about whether the paper is worth getting to not. 

Charles McElwee at City Journal talks about what’s happening in the news deserts. More is dying than newspapers.

Zak Schmoll has an intriguing article on Christian apologetics, and a different kind of reason what apologetics are needed. 

Andrew Roycroft at Thinking Pastorally considers the importance of independent bookstores: “I genuinely believe that there are some huge philosophical and political issues at stake if our culture migrates from the shelf to the cloud, the text to the eBook.”

More Good Reads


An Introduction to English War Poetry – Nayeli Riano at The Imaginative Conservative.

Broken and Spilt Out – Barbara Greenwood at Literary Life.

Somewhere, long ago – Robert Rife at Rob’s Lit-Bits. 

On “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” – Jake Meador at Mere Orthodoxy.

Journey to Nowhere – Dana Gioia at The American Scholar.

Life and Culture

Male Loneliness in Suburbia – Rod Dreher at The American Conservative.

News Media

Reddit, with wigs and ink – Rachel Scarborough King at Aeon. 

American Stuff

The First World War Economy & the Rise of American Power – Mark Malvasi at The Imaginative Conservative.

The Oriskany Battlefield, Part One and Part Two – Chris Mackowski at Emerging Revolutionary War Era.

British Stuff

The Pinnacle of Country Entertaining – Maria Grace at English Historical Fiction Authors.


Writing and Literature

Towards a Robust and Scholarly Christian Engagement with Science Fiction – Joshua Matthews at Christian Scholars Review.

Our Oceans, Our Future – Rafa Herrero Massieu

Painting: Woman Reading at a Desk (1910), oil on canvas by Thomas Anschutz

Friday, August 16, 2019

The End of ‘The Scarlet Letter’ – and its Lasting Influence

We’ve come to the end of The Scarlet Letter, and it’s time to consider this journey we embarked upon almost three months ago.

In 1876, George Parsons Lathrop (1851-1898) was editor of The Atlantic Monthly (and at 25 years old, no less). That year, he published A Study of Hawthorne, neither an official biography nor an official literary study, but more a hybrid of the two. Lathrop himself called it a “portrait” rather than a biography. Whatever it’s genre, it remains one of the best studies on the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne (1809-1864). The book remained a popular study of the author for at least the next quarter century; I have an edition published in 1898.

Lathrop notes that it was The Scarlet Letter that made the author’s reputation when it was published in 1850. The subject was something of a shock and sensation, but the public quickly got over it and the book became a bestseller, selling out the first printing of 5,000 in 10 days. It was not without its contemporary critics; a publication of the Episcopal Church, which fancied itself the authority on all things Puritan, rained harsh criticism on the book, its story, the author, and anything associated with them. The criticism was ignored.

To continue reading, please see my post today at Literary Life.


After Romans 8:12-23

The child
in its suffering
is embraced
by the spirit,
becoming an heir,
full family rights,
joining in suffering
to reach the prize,
the glory promised,
the glory revealed
at the end.

Photograph by Daiga Ellaby via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Interview with Wombwell Rainbow

I was interviewed by Wombwell Rainbow, a U.K.-based site that features interviews with local, regional, national, and international writers. The discussion ranged from reading and writing poetry to work ethics, writing, and favorite authors.

You can read the entire interview at Wombwell Rainbow.

“Hunted” and “Chopped” by Alison Golden

Diana Hunter is something of a brain. Entering college at 16, she’s less interested in dating and far more interested in computers and science. Her mother works at a hospital and her father is a police detective for the Vancouver Police Department. Her father tends to be over-protective of his daughter. 

In Hunted, the prequel for the Diana Hunter suspense series by Alison Golden, Diane’s life turns upside down in a matter of a few months. Her mother commits suicide at work; at least, that’s what the police investigation determines. There’s even a suicide note. Her father gradually comes to understand that this was no suicide, and he and a colleague quietly begin to investigate on their own. Soon they are booth killed in a shootout; the assailants are unknown. This story provides the background for what happens in the next several books in the series – and why Diana became involved in law enforcement.

Chopped is three stories down the road from Hunted. Several years have passed; Diana has moved from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to the Vancouver Police Department, where she works as a consultant. She’s partnered with detective Peter Hopkinson, and despite her longstanding commitment to no romantic involvement with colleagues, she’s finding herself increasingly attracted.

Alison Golden
Hunter and Hopkinson are called to a murder scene. A headless dead body has been found and a surgical mask is in the victim’s pocket. The missing head is not a sign, but the surgical mask certainly is. Hunter’s old nemesis the Surgeon has resurfaced, and it looks like he’s up to old tricks, including targeting of Hunter herself. The crime has links into international terrorism and a possible assassination plot. Hunter figures the only way to smoke out the Surgeon is to use herself as bait. It works.

Golden has three mystery and suspense series involving signature detectives. The Diana Hunter series is set in Vancouver; the series includes HuntedSnatchedStolenChopped, and Exposed. The Rev. Annabelle Dixon series is set in Cornwall. And the Inspector David Graham series is set on Jersey, one of the Channel Islands. The last two are officially “cozy mysteries,” which translates as minimal violence and any romantic interest will not involve graphic sex.

Things happen in the Diana Hunter series – and fast. The stories are action-packed, sometimes so action-packed that close reading is required to keep track of everything. But they’re highly entertaining suspense stories, with a very self-sufficient woman detective at the center.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

“Church Reformed” by Tim Bayly

It’s difficult to scan social media or the daily newspaper and not see evidence of the church at war with itself. The war is largely over social and political issues – the same issues that are tearing the fabric of our civil society. Some days, I can’t tell whether people on Facebook are arguing theological or political issues.  

To me, this often-nasty argument begs a question. What is the church? And with all this wrangling over social and political issues, is the church any different than any other organization? Should it be?

Church Reformed by Tim Bayly answers that question by going back to the church’s roots – the church of the New Testament. In times of great stress, the church almost always looks back to the church described in the Book of Acts. It’s the original, the model for all that came after. It’s also the guide to understand how far the church can stray. 

Bayly begins by asking who the church is, and how do we enter it. AS its Greek name suggests, he writes, “ekklesia” means “the called-out ones” – the ones called out from the world. And the ones called out are baptized into the church.

Tim Bayly
What follows is an extended discussion of one verse in the second chapter of the Book of Acts: “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42). Those four things – teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer – are what the church is about. Bayly writes clearly and succinctly about those four things and the significant threats to each, and those four chapters represent one of the best summaries of what the church is about that I’ve seen.

He follows that discussion y describing what he calls “systemic threats” to the church. “There are threats to the Church, though, that are systemic. They don’t latch onto our practice of the Lord’s Supper only, for instance, but wound the entire organism. No part of the Church’s life and ministry us safe from them; no part of the Church is beyond their corruption. He identifies these three threats as naivete, hypocrisy, and “gathering goats” (where the church focuses on “saving sinners” instead of what it’s commanded to do – make disciples). 

Bayly, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin (Madison), received his M.Div. degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 1983. He has served churches in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Presbyterian Church in America. Since 1996, he has been senior pastor at Trinity Reformed Church in Bloomington, Indiana.

Church Reformed is characterized by simplicity of language, so all can understand it, and Scripture-based evidence, hearkening back to New Testament roots. It’s also a refreshing look at what the church is and what it’s supposed to be and do.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

A Resource for Fiction Writers and Poets: “The Art of the Essay” – What?

I’ve found a new resource for fiction writers and poets. 

In The Art of the Essay: From Ordinary Life to Extraordinary WordsCharity Singleton Craig quotes Wendell Berry on writing. Berry is a poet, essayist, novelist, speaker, and, some would say, philosopher. I’ve read his poetry, several of his novels and short stories, and many of his articles, especially those on agriculture and farming. Throughout all of his writing, Berry is consistent, articulating a worldview of community and faith, and redemption and restoration.

Craig highlights Berry’s concerns about the loss of meaningful language, citing an essay he wrote as far back as 1979. Berry argues that the loss of meaningful language parallels the disintegration of community, and the only way to restore language is to choose words from “community speech.” Part of that restoration process is to “dismiss generalities because rarely is something all bad or all good.”

To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.

Monday, August 12, 2019

"The Pioneers" by David McCullough

In 2004, historian and author David McCullough gave the commencement address at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. It was the school’s 200thanniversary, and to prepare for the speech, McCullough researched the school’s history. He discovered a building on campus was named Cutler Hall, after a New Englander, Manasseh Cutler. Cutler would eventually lead McCullough to Marietta, Ohio, and the Legacy Library at Marietta College.

It was a long and winding road from the commencement speech to The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West. McCullough tells a great story, but then he has great material to work with.

Manasseh Cutler
It’s a story involving a multitude of people, but McCollough focuses on four families or individuals – the Cutlers, the family of Rufus Putnam, a Revolutionary War veteran and hero who helped lead settlers to the new Northwest Territory; physician Samuel Hildreth; and a carpenter named Joseph Barker who became an architect. Manasseh Cutler and Putnam were directors of the Ohio Company, a stock company that aimed to settle the Northwest. Cutler did the lobbying work with the congress functioning under the Articles of Confederation, and eventually the Northwest Ordinance was born. 

Samuel Hildreth
Cutler was instrumental in having the ordinance exclude slavery. His son Ephraim was instrumental in convincing the Ohio legislature, when it was drawing up a constitution for statehood, to exclude slavery. And Ephraim’s son William was an abolitionist congressman giving fiery speeches against slavery. The town they helped to found and develop, Marietta, known for its New England flavor, would become a stop on the Underground Railroad for runaway slaves. 

Rufus Putnam
What strikes McCullough about the Cutlers and the other early settlers is what strikes the reader as well. They traveled overland from Massachusetts, crossing the Allegheny Mountains (and sometimes in winter). They arrived in a land that was famous from its heavy, dense forests, and they had to clear the trees to plant crops and build houses. They had to contend with deadly epidemics of yellow fever and influenza. The native Americans seemed to shift constantly from friendly to hostile and back again. And they always kept their eye on the future, creating schools and planning and founding universities. 

Marietta would never grow to the size of what Cincinnati and Cleveland became, but it was the spirit of Marietta that permeated Ohio and its sister states of the Old Northwest, and eventually what would become known as the American Midwest. That spirit was born in the American Revolution, and it was the ideals of the revolution that would become the ideals of the region.

David McCullough
McCullough is himself something of an American institution, He’s won the Pulitzer Prize twice and the National Book Award twice. He’s received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His books include The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand ForThe Wright BrothersThe Johnstown FloodThe Great BridgeThe Path Between the SeasMornings on HorsebackBrave CompanionsTrumanJohn Adams1776, and The Greater Journey. On television, he hosted Smithsonian World and The American Experience, and he narrated such documentaries as Ken Burns’ The Civil War.

The Pioneers is a stirring tale, the story of the vision of a small number of Revolutionary War veterans who brought their beliefs and ideals into what would become the expansion of the United States from 13 colonies hugging the Atlantic seacoast to 50 states straddling a continent.


Sunday, August 11, 2019

The sounds of chains

After Romans 8:12-23

The chains leave stains
of dirt and rust upon the wrists
and ankles, and a soreness
of the weight carried, a weight
so heavy that it seems to have been
always there, a physical defect,
with its pain, discomfort, a binding
that chafes, has chafed.

In the distance we hear
the sounds of chains breaking,
cracking, the metal fracturing
open, until it reaches these wrists,
these ankles, and splits, dropping
aside. The stains of rust and dirt
remain until washed by the rain,
cooled by the wind rustling the trees,
the groaning displaced by a song.

Photograph by Joshua Hoehne via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Saturday Good Reads

Another week, another mass killing. And another. The reaction from the news media is predictable. In fact, the reactions from everyone are predictable. Blame guns. Blame Trump. Blame social media. Blame video games. Blame marijuana. The real causes, however, are deeper, and until we come to grips with that, nothing else is going to help much. Thane Bellamo at The Federalist points to what these deeper causes are. We may not like the truth, but it’s staring us in the face. 

I took Latin in high school, and it taught me a lot about language and English. Even way back then, it was considered a dying language – in a high school of 2,100 students, we had 10 in Latin I and five in Latin II. So, you might think Latin really couldn’t engender any controversy. And you would be wrong. Ian Mosely at Mere Orthodoxy writes about Latin for Politics: When the World of Spoken Latin Goes Woke.

Amy Medina remembers the summer she turned 16, and her father told her she was getting a job. We all know how much 16-year-olds love what their parents tell them to do. But she did it, and she learned something vitally important. See “You Were Right, Dad.”


On the Anniversary of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Birth – Daniel Leach at The Imaginative Conservative. 

Westminster Abbey – Catherine Morgan at Catherine’s Letters.

The Birthday Boy – David Mason at The Hudson Review.


Picking Up the Pieces – Sarah Houser at Coffee + Crumbs.


The Problem with Individualizing Truth – Zak Schmoll at Entering the Public Square.

Republican, Catholic – and a Union Man – Rod Dreher at American Conservative.

American Stuff

Yellow Fever and Reconciliation – Sean Michael Chick at Emerging Civil War. 

The 400thAnniversary (of slavery) – Thomas Kidd at The Gospel Coalition.

Writing and Literature

Middle-Earth: A World with Purpose – Zak Schmoll at Rebuilding Hollin.

Curiosity's Lure from Dante to Moby Dick – Brendan Case at Church Life Journal.

Why Write Medieval Mysteries? – Priscilla Royal at English Historical Fiction Authors.

The Beating Heart of Jerusalem

Painting: Portrait of a Young Man Reading, watercolor by Henry Scott Tuke (1858-1929).