Brandilyn Collins


Saturday, October 12
Multnomah University in Portland
8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

An interview with Brandilyn Collins by Marilyn Rhoads.Q. Brandilyn, your first book, A Question of Innocence, landed you on local and national TV and radio. Was it a true story?
A. Yes. In the middle of learning the craft of writing, I attended a murder trial for research purposes. The book was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Because of it, I was interviewed on the Phil Donahue and Leeza TV talk shows, plus many radio shows.

Q.  How long did it take you to see your first novel published?
A. I was a professional writer with my own business, Vantage Point. I wrote nonfiction for businesses, but I always wanted to write fiction. It took ten long years to realize that dream.

Q. Most people probably don’t know you were born in Miraj,
A. My parents were missionaries. After they left the mission field, we moved to Kentucky, which is where I was raised. That would make for a rather interesting accent, if you think about it.

Q. What motivated you to write the craft book, Getting into Character: Seven Secrets a NovelisCan Learn rom Actors?
A. The book is based on techniques from method acting. Acting was one of my majors in college, and I learned how to create characters onstage. When I began writing fiction I automatically turned to those method-acting concepts to create characters on the page. But when I’d talk about them to other novelists, I got blank stares. I realized my techniques were quite new and different. So what are ya gonna do? I wrote a book.

Q. How do you structure a normal day?
A. I exercise in the mornings and reward myself with a latté. I start my workday with devotions, checking email, and doing marketing. Then it’s time to fulfill my daily word count.

Q. What do you do when you’re not working?
A. I spend time with my husband, read, and watch true-crime shows on TV for plot points. I attend three or four writing conferences a year to get out of my cave a bit. I’m always at the American Christian Fiction Writers’ conference, where I serve as their emcee.

Q. Your own life has had some ununusual bends and turns. In 2002 and again in 2009 you were infected with Lyme disease, which crippled you. How did you recover?
A. In 2003 an ACFW friend established an around-the-clock prayer calendar and people prayed for me in 15-minute intervals. On the same day I went to the Healing Rooms in Spokane, Washington, with my family for prayer and had an almost instantaneous miracle. The second time there was no miraculous healing, but six months of antibiotics. I have a flare once in a while, but I depend on antiobiotics to keep it under control.

Q. Your output of titles is amazing, especially considering the physical battles you’ve fought. How many books have you published to date?
A. Twenty-eight. My latest releases are a contemporary, That Dog Won’t Hunt, and a new Seatbelt Suspense®, Dark Justice. Of all the suspense novels I’ve written, Dark Justice—about terrorism against our electrical grid—scares me the most. Because at some point in our country, it’s likely to come true.

Q. You’ve won the Inspirational Reader’s Choice and Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice. How many times have you won ACFW’s Carol Award?
A. Three times. Awards are nice to receive—sort of like extra icing on the cake. But they’re not necessary. What’s more important is getting my books out to readers and having them say, “What a great story!”

Material excerpted from Brandilyn Collins’ website,, and Parchment Girl. Our thanks to these sources.

Join us on Saturday, October 12th, at Multnomah University from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Brandilyn will deliver two keynote addresses and teach two workshops on craft.

Register at:


Isn’t life funny? Or not.

We all start our lives fresh with high expectations. Little boys want to be astronauts and Indy 500 racers, and little girls want to be … the same?

Anything is possible, but does it happen?

My husband and I spent the weekend with college-era friends. We didn’t look quite the same, and enough years have passed that we can take stock of our lives.

Did we meet our career expectations? Our financial goals? How did our marriages turn out? What about the kids?

The Oregon coast had high surf and sunny skies. Unusual in February in Oregon and not something we expected to find. And you know what?

We decided our lives are unique as well. We’ve never grown up. We start a new chapter with every fresh endeavor. We keep writing our lives well–even when we don’t know what to expect next.

Have you met your goals and expectations in life?

What has changed from when you started out life as a 21-year-old?

What are you doing now?


Dickens and All Things English

Second Hand Clothing Dealer

Are you watching Downton Abbey? Most of us are enjoying a glimpse into the aristocratic lives of our favorite characters in season three, while the downstairs staff intrigue us with their style of living.

Charles was born 200 years ago. To celebrate, San Francisco presented a bicentennial Dickens fair at the Cow Palace. We interacted with sailors on the London docks, ragpickers in the stews and alleyways, and junk dealers with dented silver from the swells.

My favorite characters were the chimney sweeps, filthy in black clothing, who handed out gold coins for luck (with a picture of Thomas Jefferson on one side and George Washington on the other. Go figure.)

Professional singers and actors and real shops with period merchandise for sale enchanted our senses and brought us a sense of belonging to another time.

Why the craze for all thing English right now? Do you know? And why was the London pickpocket texting on his smart phone?

Have You Ever Tweaked a House Plan?

We’ve met with our architect and reviewed the house plan. How did the square footage get away from us? At the rate we’re going, we’ll end up with the Taj Mahal if we’re not careful. But if we cut footage, then there’s no room for this, can’t have that. Decisions, decisions.

We’re thinking of livability, construction costs, and that awful phrase … property taxes.

And come to think of it, how did we collect so much stuff? And why does it take on such sentiment when it’s a family piece?

Would my grandmother tell me to keep her stuff or pitch it? She was the soul of practicality, but then she had to be. She homesteaded in the Wyoming sagebrush.

So we’re back to the drawing board. Trying to redesign a plan that includes everything we need, but in a tighter footprint.

I understand cutting words. I edit my novels, keeping it tight, highlighting the real meaning.

So how do you edit square footage and still include the essentials? Does anybody have any advice? What do we do now?

The Real Colleen Coble

October 2012

by Marilyn Rhoads
Colleen is keynoting at Oregon Christian Writers’ Fall Conference this Saturday, October 13th, at Multnomah University in Portland.
(Marilyn): What was your original goal when you began writing?
(Colleen): I wrote my first story in the first grade. The teacher praised it, and the dream that I might write someday was born. All I wanted was to have ONE book in the library! Just one!
(M): What inspired you to write?
(Colleen): In 1990, my brother, Randy, died when struck by lightning. It made me realize if I was ever going to accomplish my dream, I had to start.
(M): Do you have a writing tip for us?
(Colleen): Encourage one another and be grateful. A Barnabas attitude will give you a lasting impact. Let your journey change you.
(M): What is something personal our writers don’t know about you?
(C): I love coffee. In fact, I’m obsessed with coffee. It’s a sad state, but I’m a total snob about it too. It has to be good coffee. But you all understand. You’re from the Northwest, where good coffee originated!
(M): How would you describe yourself to Northwest writers?
(C): I’ve never met a stranger! I love it when I can get out of my cave and interact with other people.
(M): What is your greatest regret?
(C): My grandmother died without reading one of my books. She made me believe I could do anything. I know she’s looking down from heaven though and is so proud of me.
(M): Tell us about your latest release, Tidewater Inn. I started reading it and couldn’t put it down. You hooked me from the start.
(C): I was standing in the St. Croix harbor about to board a boat to go snorkeling at Buck Island. I noticed a harbor cam, so I called my parents and told them to log on and we’d wave at them. I suddenly wondered what would happen if something happened to me while they watched from thousands of miles away. That was the seed for the start of Tidewater Inn.
(M): What about Lonestar Angel?
(C): I think it’s my favorite in the series. I wondered what would happen if a young woman thought she was divorced but wasn’t. And what if the child she thought had been killed in a kidnapping attempt gone wrong wasn’t really dead? I had to write it!
(M): Congratulations on winning a Carol Award at the ACFW Conference this September. We’re so pleased for you!
(C): Thanks so much! I was thrilled!
Meet Colleen in person or take one of her workshops: “Layers: Connect with Your Reader” and “Romancing the Idea.” Buy an autographed copy of one of her books.
For more details, please see and register for Saturday’s Fall Conference online.

Building a House/Building a Website

My husband and I have hired an architect and I’m pulling out old pictures from my dream file of houses, porches, arches …

I’ve measured every antique we own and drawn pictures of every room, with the furniture placed where I want it to go.

So far all we’ve done is have a surveyor come and have a site analysis drawn, in color, with the angles of the sun charted.

Oh yes, there’s the pesky permits I forgot to consider.

And the architect is faithfully drawing our plans while I wring my hands and ask myself, “What have I forgotten?”

Why build a new house? Because our Old Faithful has a birthday this year. This vintage farmhouse is 100 years old. It was built by the Rankin family in 1912 and has sheltered dozens of people through the years. We’ve lived here for a third of its lifetime! Unbelievable … unless you’ve met my husband. (The word move is not in his vocabulary.)

I’ve hired someone to build a website, and the guilt is overwhelming. Should I be doing this? Do I know how?

Then I remembered my building limits. A hammer and a nail in my hands means a picture or another blue and white platter is going on the wall. That’s the extent of my expertise.

The same is true of this website. Thank God for techies who know how to build me a new online home.

Come and visit often. You are always welcome!