I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Friday, March 30, 2012

Five Tips for Writing for Love Inspired Suspense

Five Tips for Writing for Love Inspired Suspense

-- By Guest Author Sandra Orchard

Be sure to read all the way to the end to learn how to win a copy of Shades of Truth!

I’ve learned a lot about my editor’s expectations in the process of writing my first three books for the line, and yet, I still don’t always see the pitfalls in my proposed stories until my patient editor points them out. That’s why I’m now revising a proposal for my fourth book.

So…when Roxanne Sherwood invited me to write a guest post for The Ponderers, I decided to share the things I’ve learned (and often forget when caught up in idea) about my editor’s expectations. Although you may not be interested in writing romantic suspense or writing for one of the Love Inspired lines, I hope these tips will provide food for thought and generate some interesting discussion.

Here we go…

Tip 1:

The heroine needs to be in jeopardy throughout the novel. If the impending danger to the heroine isn’t obvious from the outset, ideally it would be hinted at on the first page.

Tip 2:

While the line is not interested in publishing cozy mysteries, they do like a mystery as to who the villain is.

Tip 3:

Romantic tension is as equally important as the suspense. After every proposal I’ve presented, my editor has asked: What is keeping the hero and heroine from pursuing a serious relationship with anyone, not just each other?

Tip 4:

For the reader to truly care, the suspense plot needs to be personal to the heroine. It’s not enough that she’s in danger because she happened into the middle of some dangerous case the hero is working on. She needs a stake in what’s happening beyond getting out alive.

Tip 5:

Bring the hero and heroine together on the page as quickly as possible, and keep them together on the page as much as possible. That is to say, don’t spend scene after scene following the hero as he hunts down a criminal with nothing more than an odd thought about the heroine. On the opposite extreme, do not have the hero and heroine admit their love to themselves, or each other, too soon.

According to my editor, that kills the romantic tension. The obvious exception would be when the hero and heroine start out loving each other and the plot piles on all sorts of reasons why they are not right for each other.


Sandra Orchard won the 2009 Daphne DuMaurier Award of Excellence for Mystery/Suspense and sold to Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense the following year. Shades of Truth (March 2012) is the second book in her series, Undercover Cops: Fighting for justice puts their lives—and hearts—on the line.

Recently, Sandra also received an offer from a trade-length CBA publisher for a new three-book series! But details will have to wait until the ink is dry on the contract. ~grin~

Sandra is a member of ACFW, RWA (and its Faith Hope Love chapter), and The Word Guild. For those targeting LIS, you might like to know that Sandra is available to do critiques for both this year’s Write!Canada and ACFW’s annual writer’s conference.

You can connect with Sandra at: http://www.SandraOrchard.com where she offers resources for both readers and writers, also at http://www.Facebook.com/SandraOrchard and http://www.SandraOrchard.blogspot.com



Big city detective Ethan Reed is working deep undercover at a Christian youth detention center. The kind of place he spent some harrowing time in as a kid. Ethan’s mission: ferret out who’s recruiting resident teens for a drug ring. He expects help from the lovely, devoted director of Hope Manor. But Kim Corbett won’t tell Ethan anything— even when she’s threatened and attacked. When Ethan discovers what Kim is protecting, his guarded heart opens just a bit wider. Enough to make this the most dangerous assignment of his career.

Shades of Truth will only be in stores for one more week so don’t miss your chance to pick up a copy!

Roxanne Sherwood: Sandra, Thank you so much for being with us and sharing those excellent tips. I can't wait to read Shades of Truth and to hear details about your new trade-length series. Congratulations!

It really makes sense to support businesses that sell Christian fiction and buy in bookstores when we have the opportunity. We want to ensure those businesses stay in business when our books are for sale. ;-)

Leave a comment or question for Sandra with your valid email address, and you'll be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Shades of Truth.


  1. Excellent post, Sandra.
    But even more important -- congratulations on your "can't tell us all the details yet" 3-book deal! That is so, so wonderful!!

  2. Great post! 1 & 4 particularly are tips I wouldn't have necessarily thought of so thank you so much for your insight.

  3. Thanks, Beth! I did spill on my blog today. The offer is with Revell. :)

    You're welcome, Mara, so glad you found it helpful.

    Roxanne, thanks so much for having me as your guest, and generously giving away a copy of Shades of Truth!

  4. Congratulations on your three-book contract, Sandra! That's so very exciting!!

    I loved the tips you shared about writing for LIS. Other than the suspense element, a lot of the same tips will apply to the other lines as well.

    Thanks for being our guest today, and thanks to Roxanne for asking you!!

    I look forward to seeing you at ACFW!

  5. I am a non fiction writer but an avid fiction READER and found these tips very interesting! Congratulations! Your books are great and I look forward to reading more of them.

  6. I'm so glad Sandra can be our guest today!

    Sandra, Congrats on your contract with Revell. So wonderful!

    Don't forget to leave a valid email address for your chance to win. In the past, we've had winners we couldn't contact who never came back and contacted us.

  7. Sandra~

    Thanks for hanging out with us today! And I echo the congratulations on the deal with Revell!

    I don't write specifically LIS, but I can see where all of your tips would come in handy in any novel with even a hint of romance. I especially appreciated Tip #3; I don't think I've EVER contemplated what might be keeping my hero/heroine from pursuing any relationship in general...just why they can't pursue one with each other. It definitely adds another layer if they have a reason to avoid ANY romantic relationship. Thanks!! =)

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  9. Great tips, Sandra. Loved Deep Cover. I'm targeting LIS so seeing what they want from someone who writes for them is wonderful.
    And congratulations on the 3-book deal with Revell!

  10. Always love an interview with Sandra!!! And CONGRATS on the 3 book deal! Can't wait to read them and very anxious to read Shades of Truth. Please enter me.

  11. Congratulations, Sandra! So happy for you with your three book deal!

    I appreciate your tips, as well. I don't know if I'll write for LI someday, but I think your tips can be applied elsewhere, as well. :)

    Tips #3 and #5 spoke to me. Thinking about why hero/heroine isn't pursuring a relationship with anyone is great! Also, I hadn't thought about the ways to keep hero and heroine both on the page using thought-life. Makes a lot of sense!

    wetalk2biz(at)q(lowercase Q)(dot)com

  12. Sorry, everyone, but Blogger is refusing to allow Sandra to post more comments.

    Sandra writes: "Thank you all for the warm welcome and congratulations. I'm so glad the tips are useful."

  13. Fun!! I can't wait to hear more about your book deal, Sandra!

  14. Great tips! I've got a story that just might fit Love Inspired Suspense. I need to dust it off!

  15. I thoroughly LOVED this post. Much food for thought of course and some of the, "Yeah, I'm totally doing that" too.

    Thanks Sandra for giving us some great insight :)

  16. Wow, you gals are great! Thank you for all the congrats. So pleased that you're finding the tips helpful.

    I'm glad I'm the only one blogger was being cranky with this morning. LOL

    Ginger, it's so good to recognize what you're doing right. When I submitted my first book they contracted, I had next to no revisions. But...I really didn't know what I did right! :)

    Teri, you should definitely dust off that ms!

  17. Congratulations Sandra!!

    I bet you are super excited! Loved the tips, they will come in handy as I'm working on my wip!

    Alena T.

  18. Thanks so much, Alena. Glad to help with the tips :)

  19. Thanks for the tips. Would love to read your book.


  20. Extremely helpful post, Sandra. Thank you.

  21. Sandra,
    Thanks for sharing these helpful tips.

    Also, congratulations on your new book deal with Revel. I'm so happy for you!



  22. Congrats!

    Great suggestions - Can you perhaps explain Number 4 a bit more?

  23. Oh, and I'd enjoy winning a copy of your book.

    glick dot heidi at gmail dot com

  24. I'm so pleased to hear that you are all finding the tips helpful.

    Heidi, not following tip #4 is the reason my Daphne winning entry wasn't picked up by LIS. The heroine was involved in a plane crash and ended up running for her life (with the hero) from poachers, but it was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Neither of them had been investigating the poachers. There was no personal reason why they were in danger, just bad luck. (Something I plan to change. ) Does that help to make it more clear?

    Jackie, thanks for the Revell congrats!!

  25. Awesome tips! I'm writing an LIS book right now so I'm making notes of things to watch for!
    I just had a LI project rejected, but with some excellent tips so I'm likely to go for heavy re-write and re-submission. I love the Steeple Hill lines.
    Congrats on your Revell deal!

  26. Thanks for the LIS tips. I'd love to win a copy of your book. Please enter me. Congrats on your future contract! kimberlyj503(at)gmail(dot)com

  27. Natalia, you are so on the write track, the books are really made in the revision phase and the better you understand what makes the stories work for them, the stronger your revisions will be! I wish you all the best!!

    Kimberly, thanks for dropping by.

  28. Thanks for always being generous with your tips. You were nice enough to send me some of these tips in an e-mail awhile ago. I'm think (I hope) I applied them to my latest ms targeted to LIS.

    Congrats on your new 3-book contract!

  29. Thanks so much for the tips, Sandra. I like to write women in jeopardy stories and will find your advice useful. Congratulations on all your writing success!

  30. You're welcome, Alison and Linda, and thanks for the congrats. :)

  31. Everyone,

    Thanks so much for your encouragement!
    I appreciate all the comments.

    The winner of Shades of Truth is --drum roll, please!--Jackie Smith.

    Congratulations, Jackie!

  32. Great post Sandra! Thank you for being so generous with helpful tips!