Welcome to the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! If you’ve just discovered the hunt, be sure to start at Stop #1, and collect the clues through all the stops, in order, so you can enter to win one of our top 5 grand prizes!

• The hunt BEGINS on 10/15 at noon MST with Stop #1 at LisaTawnBergren.com.

• Hunt through our loop using Chrome or Firefox as your browser (not Explorer).

• There is NO RUSH to complete the hunt—you have all weekend (until Sunday, 10/18 at midnight MST)! So take your time, reading the unique posts along the way; our hope is that you discover new authors/new books and learn new things about them.

• Submit your entry for the grand prizes by collecting the CLUE on each author’s scavenger hunt post and submitting your answer in the Rafflecopter form at the final stop, back on Lisa’s site. Many authors are offering additional prizes along the way!

Welcome! I’m Suzanne. I live in California with my husband, Steve (who is an ice cream maker. Really!). I’m a novelist who believes in happy endings, because life is just better with happily ever afters.

My most recent books are contemporary romances, the ‘Three Sisters Island’ series is about a family as they try to make a fresh start on a little remote island off the coast of Maine. On a Coastal Breeze is book 2, and it features middle-sister Maddie (a middle sister in every day).

Here’s the skinny: Newly licensed as a marriage and family therapist, she can’t wait to start her practice. Despite the unfortunate shortage of eligible bachelors on the island–they’re all too young, too old, or too weird–Maddie feels like she’s finally found her sweet spot. Not even one panic attack in the last year. Not one.

And then Ricky O’Shea drops in. Literally. Floating down from the pure blue sky, the one man in the world she hoped never to see again–the one who’d been her archnemesis from kindergarten through her senior dance–parachutes into town, landing on Boon Dock, canopy draping behind him like a superhero. Ricky O’Shea. Now Pastor Rick, the new minister on Three Sisters Island. Time to panic.

Want to know what happens next? I sure hope so.

A while ago, I read an interview in my local newspaper featuring a woman who had just turned one hundred years old. The reporter wanted to know this centenarian’s inner motivation. What had given her that “oomph factor” to live so long?

“I want to know,” she said, “what happens next.”

That comment hit me like a ton of bricks. It hit me and it keeps on hitting me.

Here’s the thing: that one sentence summarizes the essence of good writing. You want to make your reader feel so invested in the story that she has to turn the page, even if it’s past midnight and she’s just finished another chapter. She has to find out what happens next.

 

I try to end every chapter in a book so that the reader is on her toes, not her heels. It’s not easy to do—finishing a scene in such a way that it segues, subtly, into an unfinished moment, or even a question.

There’s one particular ending in On a Coastal Breeze that provides a good example of “what happens next?” Maddie Grayson, the main character, is struggling with her complicated feelings about the sudden arrival of her old boyfriend, Rick O’Shea. Long ago, during senior prom, things had gone terribly wrong between them. After all these years, why had he tracked Maddie down, all the way to a remote island off the coast of Maine? What was he after? Typical of Rick, he avoids her questions with steady banter. Finally, at the end of this particular chapter, he grows serious.

      “Maddie, what would change if you knew you only had a year to live?”

The next chapter picks right up where that sentence left off, still in Maddie’s point of view. I don’t usually start a sentence with dialogue, but this time, it worked. And the publisher set the dialogue in all caps for an added bonus of drama.

“WHAT?” A chill went down Maddie’s spine. “What did you say?”

“What would change for you if you knew you had a year to live?” Rick said. “Or a month? Or a day?”

Interestingly, that chapter end/chapter beginning is the very heart of the book. That isn’t true of other chapter endings, and some of my endings are definitely better than others, but improving the way a chapter draws to an end–so that it pulls a reader forward–is one of the best ways to take writing up a notch. I always keep “what happens next” in mind.

You can order my newest book at Amazon or CBD or BN.com or at your local bookstore! 

Clue to Write Down: fun!

Link to Stop #29, the Next Stop on the Loop: Tammy L. Gray site.

HOLD ON! It gets even better! I’m raffling off ONE Amazon Kindle and FIVE copies of On a Coastal Breeze. All you have to do is sign up for my email newsletter. Additional points for those who follow me on Goodreads, BookbubFacebook. or Instagram or Twitter. Thanks for entering! (E-book only for international readers.)

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Picture credit: Funtoosh.com, Pfeiffer-Phoenix

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