Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Randy Singer and The Justice Game

I’m pleased to share an interview with Randy Singer, author of The Justice Game. I’ll be giving away a signed copy of The Justice Game in a drawing among those who either comment on this post or who email me at missytippens [at] aol.com. So be sure to enter!

  1. Randy, you bring a unique perspective to your writing because you are also an attorney and a pastor. How do you juggle these three things and still have a life?

It helps that I love doing all three. It also helps that, while they’re all very different, they draw on common skill sets. For example, principles of powerful story-telling are important for a pastor, lawyer and (obviously) writer. I’m a little ADHD and like being able to go from one thing to another. I tell people it’s like crop rotation—keeps things fresh. And, to be honest, writing is more like relaxation for me than a job. It gives me a break from the pressures of the other “real life” jobs and lets me go into a world where I get to control things! (Can we say “God complex” here?)

But none of that really answers your question. Three things help me juggle. One, I try to stay focused on the big stuff. It’s not that I do the little stuff second, I try not to do the little stuff at all. Second, I stay focused on what I can do well and let others worry about the stuff that is out of my control. In other words, I’m a master at delegation (think Tom Sawyer and the white picket fence). And third, I’ve learned to get comfortable with the fact that I will always have stuff in each of these areas that does not get done. As long as the ball is moving forward, I’ve got to be satisfied with that.

As for the part about having a life—I would have to object to that question on the grounds that it assumes facts not in evidence. :)

But seriously--I thank God that, in His grace, He allows me to do three separate things that I love doing so much. My prayer is that I might bring glory to Him in three different ways as I minister in each of these areas. (And yes, being a lawyer is a ministry.)

  1. In all your novels, you often address a particular topic. How did you decide to address gun control in The Justice Game?

I like to write about moral issues that have no easy answer. On the issue of gun control, there are some pretty strong emotions on both sides. And people have typically trenched in—spouting off rehearsed arguments rather than trying to understand each other. But when you frame the issue in the context of a story, you can sometimes by-pass the automatic intellectual defenses and speak straight to the heart. I tried to create compelling characters on both sides of the story to help readers sort through the types of honest arguments that people of good faith make and then decide for themselves.

But on a larger scale, the issue of gun control is not really the focus of The Justice Game. The more important issues raised are these: (1) In America, can you “game” the criminal justice system? I have proposed a hypothetical system in The Justice Game that could do just that. (2) Can the main characters in the novel escape their past sins (and secrets) or will they let themselves remain captive to them? I once heard Rick Warren say that courage comes when you have nothing left to hide. That’s a concept I explore in The Justice Game.

  1. As an attorney, you served as lead counsel in a school shooting case in Virginia. What happened and what impact did the case have?

This is from the author’s note at the beginning of the book:

On December 16, 1988, a fifteen-year-old student named Nicholas Elliot took a Cobray semiautomatic handgun to Atlantic Shores Christian School and opened fire. He shot and killed a teacher named Karen Farley and wounded an assistant principal, then burst into a trailer where a Bible class was meeting. When he attempted to open fire on the students huddled in the back corner of the trailer, the gun jammed. The Bible teacher, Hutch Matteson, tackled Elliot and prevented the kind of tragedy that hit Columbine High School in Colorado several years later.

Atlantic Shores was the school where my wife taught. It was the school my kids attended (though they were not there that day).

And when I learned that Elliot had purchased the gun illegally from a gun store in Isle of Wight County through a transaction referred to as a “straw purchase transaction,” I represented the family of Karen Farley in an unprecedented lawsuit against the gun store.

The verdict shocked everyone.

In terms of the impact this real case had on my writing—it made the writing of the book both harder and easier. Harder because we lost a friend in the Atlantic Shores shooting and it was difficult to relive the emotions of the shooting and subsequent case. Easier because authors should write what they know best. I didn’t have to imagine what the feelings of the attorneys would be as they tried this case of national importance on an issue with such raw emotions. I had walked in those shoes. From that perspective, this book might be the most realistic book I’ve written.

  1. You had your readers determine the verdict in the court case at the center of the book. Why did you decide to go this route?

Two reasons. First, I thought it would be fun to create an interactive experience for readers. We put together a fake newscast with snippets of the closing arguments—just enough to inform readers about the case and let them vote. Second, I was trying to be balanced on this issue of gun control. What better way to demonstrate balance than to let the readers decide the verdict? Oh yeah, and third (if it’s not too late to add a third), the book ends up being about much more than just the verdict in the gun case. I knew that the ending would work out fine whichever way the verdict came out.

1. Since we’ve been discussing a heavy topic, we need something lighthearted to close out this interview. What’s your best lawyer joke?

It’s not actually my best, but it’s pretty quick.

They’ve started using lawyers instead of rats in laboratory experiments for three reasons: (1) there are more of them; (2) the scientists would sometimes get attached to the rats; and (3) there were some things the lab rats just wouldn’t do.

LOL! Thanks, Randy. And for you readers, don't forget to either leave a comment with contact info or email me to enter a drawing for a signed copy of The Justice Game.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Book of the Year Finalist!!!

I'm so thrilled and honored to be named a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Contest with my first book, Her Unlikely Family!! Here's the official listing with many of my favorite writers listed:

2009 American Christian Fiction Writers

Book of the Year Contest


Debut Author

  • A Passion Most Pure (Julie Lessman)
  • Courting Miss Adelaide (Janet Dean)
  • Every Good and Perfect Gift (Sharon K. Souza)
  • Hero, Second Class (Mitchell Bonds)
  • In the Shadow of the Sun King (Golden Keyes Parsons)


  • Faking Grace (Tamara Leigh)
  • Picket Fence Promises (Kathryn Springer)
  • Single Sashimi (Camy Tang)
  • Sweet Caroline (Rachel Hauck)
  • Truffles by the Sea (Julie Carobini)

Long Contemporary

  • Lookin Back Texas (Leanna Ellis)
  • One Holy Night (J.M. Hochstetler)
  • Stuck in the Middle (Virginia Smith)
  • Summer of Joy (Ann H. Gabhart)
  • Symphony of Secrets (Sharon Hinck)

Long Contemporary Romance

  • Along Came a Cowboy (Christine Lynxwiler)
  • Controlling Interest (Elizabeth White)
  • The Convenient Groom (Denise Hunter)
  • Finding Stefanie (Susan May Warren)
  • Zora and Nicky: A Novel in Black & White (Claudia Mair Burney)

Long Historical (6 finalists due to a tie)

  • The Apothecary’s Daughter (Julie Klassen)
  • Calico Canyon (Mary Connealy)
  • Deep In the Heart of Trouble (Deeanne Gist)
  • From A Distance (Tamera Alexander)
  • I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires (Cathy Gohlke)
  • My Heart Remembers ( Kim Vogel Sawyer)


  • The Case of the Bouncing Grandma (A.K. Arenz)
  • Death on a Deadline (Christine Lynxwiler, Sandy Gaskin, and Jan Reynolds)
  • Drop Dead Diva (Christine Lynxwiler, Sandy Gaskin, and Jan Reynolds)
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls (Nancy Mehl)
  • Of Mice . . . and Murder (Mary Connealy)


  • The Cookie Jar (Janet Lee Barton in A Connecticut Christmas anthology)
  • Dressed in Scarlet (Darlene Franklin in Snowbound Colorado Christmas anthology)
  • Santa’s Prayer (Diane Ashley in A Connecticut Christmas anthology)
  • Snowbound for Christmas (Gail Sattler in A Connecticut Christmas anthology)
  • Stuck On You (Rhonda Gibson in A Connecticut Christmas anthology)

Short Contemporary

  • Buffalo Gal (Mary Connealy)
  • Clueless Cowboy (Mary Connealy)
  • Family Treasures (Kathryn Springer)
  • Her Unlikely Family (Missy Tippens)
  • White as Snow (Janice Thompson)

Short Contemporary Suspense

  • Bayou Paradox (Robin Caroll)
  • Broken Lullaby (Pamela Tracy)
  • Countdown to Death (Debby Giusti)
  • Forsaken Canyon (Margaret Daley)
  • Killer Cargo (Dana Mentink)

Short Historical

  • Family of the Heart (Dorothy Clark)
  • Masked by Moonlight (Allie Pleiter)
  • Reckless Rogue (Mary Davis)
  • Return to Love (Susan Page Davis)
  • Sandhill Dreams (Cara Putman)


  • The Book of Names (D. Barkley Briggs)
  • DragonLight (Donita K. Paul)
  • The Restorer’s Journey (Sharon Hinck)
  • Shade (John B. Olson)
  • Summa Elvetica: A Casuistry of the Elvish Controversy (Theodore Beale)


  • Anathema (Colleen Coble)
  • The Black Cloister (Melanie Dobson)
  • Fossil Hunter (John B. Olson)
  • Lonestar Sanctuary (Colleen Coble)
  • Perfect (Harry Kraus)

Women’s Fiction (7 finalists due to a tie)

  • A Month of Summer (Lisa Wingate)
  • Every Good and Perfect Gift (Sharon K. Souza)
  • My Sister Dilly (Maureen Lang)
  • The Perfect Life (Robin Lee Hatcher)
  • The Shape of Mercy (Susan Meissner)
  • Stepping into Sunlight (Sharon Hinck)
  • Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon (Debbie Fuller Thomas)

Young Adult

  • The Big Picture (Jenny B. Jones)
  • The Fruit of My Lipstick (Shelley Adina)
  • It’s all About Us (Shelley Adina)
  • The Owling (Robert Elmer)
  • Trion Rising (Robert Elmer)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Win a Copy of Camy Tang's Book Thursday!

Stop by the F.A.I.T.H. blog today and comment for a chance to win Camy Tang's first release for Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense, Deadly Intent!


Also, I'd appreciate prayers for my son. He and a team are heading out on Monday for a two-week mission trip to Kenya. They'll be holding medical clinics, doing construction and helping with the AIDS orphans. Please pray for safety, good health, and that they touch a lot of lives! And did I mention safety??

Yes, I'm a nervous mom! All prayers are greatly appreciated.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Home for the Romance Writers of America national conference!

I just got back from the RWA National conference in Washington, D.C. It was such a great week, especially spending time with the Steeple Hill editors and all my writing friends. And I learned so much! I even had a morning for sight-seeing. Janet Dean and her husband were kind enough to let me tag along for a tour of the Capitol. We were luck enough to have our tour guide give us tickets to sit in the Senate gallery!

The first photo is of the Supreme Court. We passed it while walking back to the subway station. TV reporters were outside because of the hearings going on for Sotomayer.

The next photo is of the fresco ceiling of the Capitol rotunda. Oh my goodness. It was amazing!

And here's the gorgeous Capitol on a perfectly sunny day. We had the best time!
We also visited the Library of Congress. And if you pop over to the Seekerville blog, you can see photos of that as well as lots of people photos. Including one of me with Janet Evanovich! :)
So head on over to Seekerville to hear a bit more about this wonderful conference. And for writers, I share some of my picks for best workshops.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Back from a Wonderful Vacation!

We just got back from Orange Beach, Alabama, from a wonderful week of family vacation. We had such a great time! The weather was wonderful (only one day was partly rainy). And we stayed at a new condo complex that was amazing. Left, is a photo of the pool with the beach in the background. And also a shot from the pool area out to the beach.

And then, a photo my daughter took of me doing my favorite vacation activity--reading on the beach! I finished 3 or 4 books while I was there. And you can see that I'm reading one of my good friend's books--Janet Dean's newest, Courting the Doctor's Daughter. I always hate to leave beach paradise and head home. But it sure is nice to be back in my bed. :)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Blogging All Over the Place

This Thursday is one of those days that happens to be my day to post...on 3 of my group blogs! I hope you'll come check them out.

F.A.I.T.H. I'm posting about God giving me Bible verses at just the right time.

Craftie Ladies of Romance I'm posting about celebrating family vacation.

Love Inspired Authors Blog I'm posting questions from a young reader.

Please come say hello!


Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy 4th!!!

I hope everyone has a great 4th of July holiday weekend! Be safe, and have fun with family and friends. And let's all remember those who've served, and even given their lives, so we have the freedom we're celebrating.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Our Anniversary Story

If you keep up with Facebook, you may have seen my status update this past weekend. My husband and I celebrated our 23rd anniversary! We went out to our favorite restaurant that we go to a couple of times a year for special celebrations.

We each had a card to give to the other. He'd called ahead to get reservations. So we went out for date night, leaving the kids at home. We'd made the reservations for an early dinner because we were going to be in Athens for a reception. So when we arrived at 5:30, the place was nearly empty. Maybe two or three tables had patrons when they showed us to our table.

We looked over the wonderful menu (they buy all local produce, etc,. and put ingredients together in such amazing, yummy ways!) and placed our order ( I got the shrimp and grits. Yum.). We were just settling into our romantic dinner when a family came in. Mom, dad and three young children. It's actually the first kids I've seen in the restaurant, since it doesn't have a menu kids would typically like. But I thought, what a nice young family...until they sat them right beside us!! And this with the place still nearly empty.

And I'm not talking a regular spacing of tables. No, we were seated along a wall ( I was sitting on a bench that ran along the wall), and they put them at a table right next to us on the same bench seat, so close, I had to scoot my purse toward me. Their table was maybe two feet away.

I just had to grin at my husband as I handed him his romantic card. Isn't this romantic, I whispered as he handed me my card (and I hoped the waiter would get the hint and maybe move them). But he didn't. And hubby and I laughed about it.

It ended up being fine. The children were great. So well-behaved. And we were able to tune them out.

Of course, I was floored when they brought another two people and seated them at the table on our other side!! I mean, there were probably 20 empty tables all around. I guess they were reserved, though. And It was a nice young man with his grandmother, so again, it was fine.

Overall, we had such a great time. I had the most WONDERFUL dessert--a lemon chess tart with blueberry ice cream on top. The crust was so rich and buttery. And well worth the limited romantic setting. LOL And no matter what, we were able to celebrate 23 wonderful years together. :)