Thursday, June 30, 2016

Patricia Johns: Woman Enough

I’ve come across a lot of quotes online–meant to be romantic–that talk about a man treating his woman right, or another man will step in and do what he wouldn’t. I can see the sentiment behind it, as in not taking your significant other for granted, but there is something that doesn’t quite sit right with me, either…



Now, I’m all for being loved, cherished and protected! Don’t get me wrong, I love romance just as much as every other woman out there, but I think that true romance is about more than the man doting on the woman or romantic gestures. I think the woman has a responsibility there, too–to be trustworthy. These quotes make it out that a woman’s loyalty is only as strong as her man’s romantic streak. In fact, it doesn’t put any responsibility on the woman’s shoulders at all. “Someone else will.” Such a passive statement, as if she just got whisked away by a brisk wind. Oops! But a woman with moral muscle isn’t swept away by whatever man would claim her. She isn’t a handkerchief, or a house cat. And her morality is not based on someone else’s attentiveness.

I am a woman, and I am not available to be scooped up by whatever man might be most attentive at the time. I made vows to my husband, and I stand by them, even when he’s grumpy, tired, inattentive or generally unromantic. There is no threat that I’ll leave him. I’m not a prize sitting on a shelf, waiting for someone to see value in me. I’m a woman, and I don’t have a price tag, I have a choice. That choice is stronger than moods, gestures or even arguments. That choice–that vow–is iron-clad. It comes will the strength of my loyalty, my love and my morals.

A full grown woman is as active in that relationship as her man is. She has tough conversations. She doesn’t back down. She puts herself in her man’s path if she needs to, and she fights for what she values most. She isn’t a waif, sitting around, waiting for some guy to please her. She makes the bed that she wants to lie in!

So by all means, treat her well. Dance with her. Cherish her. Adore her. But it isn’t only up to the man. If she isn’t woman enough to stand by her word, if she can be swept off by whatever guy sweet talks her, if she isn’t strong enough to have tough conversations when necessary, to protect her vows to him just as strongly as he is expected to, then I dare say she isn’t woman enough, period.

I am a woman, and side by side with my man, we face what life heaves in our direction. My love is not a prize, it is a fact. My husband can count on that–no matter what. No one gets to scoop me away from the man I CHOSE.

Be the love you want to receive.

***

I write for Harlequin's Love Inspired, Western Romance and Heartwarming lines. Come by my blog if you liked to see my back list!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tuesday Routines

by Jill Kemerer

I'm blessed to be the manager of our household. I stepped into this role years ago, and one of the first things I learned was I needed a system. It took me a long time to find the system that works for me. I'm not afraid to change it if it's no longer working. Let's face it, we all go through seasons of life where we're stretched thin financially and/or with too many things to do and not enough time.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay


Honestly, I often feel as if I have too many things to do and not enough time. I often wonder will I ever get it all done? I can't answer for you, but for me--no, I will never get it all done! I've accepted that!

Since today is Tuesday, I thought I'd share my Tuesday routine. First of all, I wake up and smile because Monday IS OVER. Yes! Since I loathe Mondays, I decided to jam all my big chores and errands into them so I can look forward to the rest of the week. Mondays mean making a meal list, grocery shopping, paying bills and doing laundry. Blech. But Tuesdays? Tuesdays I'm excited to work!

After waking up early and slipping into some workout clothes, I head downstairs to brew coffee and possibly load the dishwasher if we failed to do this the night before (confession time: we usually have dishes in the sink in the morning). Then it's an easy breakfast, Bible study and prayer. At 9am, I either do a 25 minute exercise DVD or I take a brisk 30 minute walk. When I'm finished, I change, fix my hair and throw on some makeup.

The next hour is usually spent on business/marketing things like creating my work to-do list for the day, checking email, posting to Facebook, Twitter, G+, etc... When that's finished, I either work (write, plot or edit) for an hour or take an early lunch. After lunch, I'm back in my office to tackle my most pressing to-do items.

At 3pm I usually take a break to talk to my kids when they get home from school. In the summer, I just grab a snack and keep working. If it's baseball season and my son has a game, I start making dinner at 3:30. Yes, it's ridiculous, but we won't be home until after 8pm, and I'm not cooking that late! Tonight we have game and it's an hour away, so I won't be cooking at all. We'll have Subway instead.

If there's nothing on the schedule, I tend to work until 5 or 5:30pm. Sometimes I get caught up in a project and work later, especially if I'm on deadline. The only work I do in the evenings is writing and scheduling blog posts or finding pins on Pinterest for my plotting boards, and I don't do that every night. It's important for me to have time for my family or to just chill out and read or watch television.

I love being blessed to work from home. The ability to make my own schedule? So, so fabulous! And Tuesdays are one of my favorite days of the week because I have a clear schedule to do what I love best--write!

Do you have a routine? Do you love Tuesdays?

Thanks for stopping by!

Jill Kemerer writes Christian romance novels with love, humor and faith for Harlequin Love Inspired. Jill loves coffee, M&Ms, fluffy animals, magazines and her hilarious family. Visit her website, jillkemerer.com, and connect with Jill on Facebook, Twitter and sign up for her Newsletter.



Monday, June 27, 2016

Craftie Ladies - Love Inspired Historical Lone Star Cowboy League: The Founding Years Continuity Series

July is fast approaching, and that means the new Love Inspired Historical three-book continuity series, Lone Star League: The Founding Years, will be making its debut.

Stand-In Rancher Daddy

Book 1 in the Lone Star League: The Founding Years continuity series
July 2016 release


by Renee Ryan

Suddenly a Father

Rancher CJ Thorn isn't ready to graduate from uncle to brand-new daddy—but he has no choice. After his widowed brother runs off, a pair of adorable twins have no one but CJ…and lovely neighbor Molly Langley. She's helped with the girls for so long that she's almost part of the family. Almost. CJ knows his family isn't good enough for her. Not when his brother's actions have disgraced the Thorn name yet again.

Watching CJ become a devoted father would soften any woman's heart. Yet Molly must remain immune. CJ deserves more than a woman who can't have children. Held back by fear, it'll take a disaster forcing the community together before they're ready to risk a chance on happiness.

* * *

A Family for the Rancher

Book 2 in the Lone Star League: The Founding Years continuity series
August 2016 release


by Craftie Lady Louise M. Gouge
From Neighbor to Daddy

Rancher Edmund McKay likes his life simple and quiet—everything feisty neighbor Lula May Barlow is not! But with a cattle rustler on the loose, he's duty-bound to protect the widowed mother, even without her approval. Yet he never expected to enjoy her company. And he certainly never thought her crowded, bustling house would be the first place he'd ever feel at home…

After a harsh childhood, Lula May knows how to stand on her own two feet. She doesn't need Edmund's help—but she's starting to want it, all the same. So are her children, who clearly have matchmaking in mind. And when a threat from the past resurfaces, she realizes all that's at stake…including her chance for a lifetime of love.

* * *

A Rancher of Convenience

Book 3 in the Lone Star League: The Founding Years continuity series
September 2016 release


by Regina Scott
Fill-In Father…and Husband

Sweet mail-order bride Nancy Bennett can't believe it when her husband is exposed as a cattle rustler—and killed. And when the banker holding the ranch's mortgage questions whether she can run the ranch on her own, the pregnant widow has nowhere to turn. Until steady foreman Hank Snowden proposes marriage…

Racked with grief about his role in Lucas Bennett's death, Hank resolves to do right by the man's wife and child. So it's natural for him to step in as Nancy's newly minted husband. But the marriage of convenience may become more than a mere obligation…if only Hank and his bride can brave the first steps toward elusive true love.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Blast from the past...and some joypain!







I have discovered a new word....it's called 'joypain.' My social media family assures me that this is really a thing. I experience this interesting emotion when I look at the above picture of my graduating senior. Oh! Errgh! Ouch! Yes, I'm happy, proud, thrilled that she is wearing that tassel, but there's a measure of pain too. All you mothers out there...do you get me? This kiddo (affectionately nicknamed named Yogi) was the reason I decided to pursue writing professionally. I hope I do not come off as a terrible mother with this confession, but I left my elementary teaching career to be a stay at home mom with Yogi and it was a lot harder than I thought. Of course I adored her, and of course I knew it was the right choice, but I'm a hyperactive kinda gal and I missed the creative, intense experience of the classroom so Papa Bear encouraged me to write. Thirty-five books later and here we are. I'm a bone fide author...and Yogi is a real live graduate. 

Did I savor the moments of her childhood? Not as deeply as I should have. Did I make every moment count? Alas, I failed there as well. Would I love to have a 'redo' on some of the things that came out I of my mouth over the years? Oh, how I would crave such an opporunity, but we don't get those "revision" opportunities in parenting, do we? 

So I sigh, I hug her, I take pictures and I experience the joypain of letting her go. Please tell me I'm not alone in this, ladies. Tell me about your joypain. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

New Ideas?

Hi everyone, Janet Lee Barton here. My last post was about how my Boardinghouse Betrothal series came to be and how the ideas took a while to simmer before coming to a full boil where I had to begin writing. Well, I think something like that MIGHT be happening again.

When we downsized, I didn't think I had room for the Christmas village I'd put up for years, so I had it put in the attic for my daughter to use when she has grandchildren. But not long ago I found out that my husband and daughter and her family missed it.

Still I wasn't sure where to put it and wanted a 'place holder' for it. And then I wondered if I could find a year around village and began to search for what could become just that. I was so thrilled to find just want I wanted. It's mostly spring and summery, but I've ordered some fall trees to add to it and we're going to put tiny pumpkins out come October or so.  Then for Christmas, I'll pull out my Christmas village and change it out for the season. I love having a year round village! For now, it looks like this:


This is a day shot with the lights on, but it's truly beautiful at night! 

So what does this have with ideas? Well, as I sit in my chair across the room and study it, I find myself imagining people living in each house, going to church, or out and about. I can almost see them going from room to room--although I think I might have to draw floor plans for each one. But I think before long, I'll have a few new stories to tell. I've found that ideas can come to us anywhere and at anytime, but it pays to let them bubble up and then simmer for a while. I can't wait until these fully take shape.

For you writers out there--what pulls things all together for you?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Of full moons, summer solstice, and writing playlists

As I'm writing this, it's summer solstice and the strawberry full moon. Apparently it's rare for the two to coincide. In fact, according to Snopes.com, "The last time these two phenomena occurred together was at the beginning of 1967's Summer of Love, and it won't happen again until 2062."

So I hope you looked up and enjoyed!

There are different explanations for this full moon being called the strawberry moon. I read one scientific explanation that claimed the moon has a more amber glow because it is so low in the sky so the light passing through the atmosphere is different.

The explanation I've always heard here in New York is that it was the name used by the Algonquians to mark the full moon that appeared as the strawberries were ripening. I sure have been enjoying the fresh strawberries from the farmer's market.

So, you might wonder where I'm going with all this....

Well for me, this week marks not only Summer Solstice  and Strawberry Moon, but also the beginning of that glorious period known as summer vacation. (I know a lot of schools have been out for some time already, but we go late here in the northeast).

I truly love teaching, but I savor these summer days when I get to swap my teacher cap for my keyboard and my writing playlists.

Do you have writing playlists?

I love them for a couple of reasons.

~  When I start up the playlist (if it's carefully chosen) I'm smack in the middle of my story world.

~  I fill the playlists with songs I love to listen to, so listening is an incentive to get those fingers on the keyboard.

~ Something about the music helps me to zone out. There are times I want to sing along, but that's only until I get lost in what I'm writing. 

So, I thought I would give you some fun music and a glimpse into some of my playlists.

If you use playlists, I'd love to hear what's on your favorite or current one.



1.  How Great Thou Art (The Voice edition) Every playlist includes this song. It was the lead song in my playlist for Christmas in Hiding because the main character loved to sing the song. It filled me with such courage and purpose when I was writing that I have included it on every playlist since.




2. Fight Song is the lead song on the playlist for the LIS I'm currently writing. The heroine has had a tough time of it and this is her theme song.



3. I love country music, and this song (Timing is Everything) from the movie Country Strong works perfectly for the way my hero and heroine meet. (The version on my playlist is a little more uptempo than this version.)





4.  Matt Hammitt's All of Me sums up the struggle in this love story.




5. And then there's the hero's brother. The perfect Desperado. His story is up next.



6. But the song that is absolutely perfect for Desperado Dylan is this one - I Know How to Love You Now.




Can you see why I'm looking forward to summer?  I get to spend it with my fabulous characters and these awesome songs.

So what are you up to this summer? Do you have any good tunes playing?


Thursday, June 16, 2016

What Are We Writing by Margaret Daley

What Are We Writing
By Margaret Daley



Author: Pamela Tracy
Title: An Unlikely Hero (could change)
Hero and Heroine: Shelley Brubaker and Oscar Guzman.
Line: Harlequin Heartwarming
One paragraph from the page you are currently on:

The look she gave him proved he’d just destroyed all the goodwill he’d built during the ride to the doctor’s.  It also let him know that her ex-husband scared her more than the thought of a murderer in the neighborhood. 

Due Date: July 8
Word or page count goal today: 4000 words 
Something cool learned from research: That entire villages in Afghanistan have been wiped out (bombed), but usually the inhabitants were long gone because insurgents ran them out and took over the village thus requiring action from our military.

Author: Lorraine Beatty
Title: Tori and Reid’s story
Hero and Heroine: Victoria Montgomery and Reid Blackthorn.
Line: Love Inspired
One paragraph from the page you are currently on:

The house looked like a riverboat dropped into the middle of a lush green yard.
            
Reid Blackthorn knitted his brows and puzzled over what he was seeing. The old all white Victorian was ringed on two levels with wrap around porches dripping with gingerbread and ornate posts and spindles and the tower resembled a steamboat wheelhouse. It wasn’t what he had expected to find when he came looking for the woman who had taken his niece.

Due Date: new contract proposal – no deadline
Word or page count goal today: To complete rough draft of chapter 2.
Something cool learned from research: Opening a Bed and Breakfast isn’t a simple process. There are state, local and federal guidelines to meet. If the home in on the historical register the guidelines can be daunting.

Author: Linda Goodnight
Title: Untitled Buchanon book 4, Sawyer
Hero and Heroine: Sawyer Buchanon and Jade Warren
Line: Love Inspired
One paragraph from the page you are currently on:

Sawyer saw the smiles on his sisters's faces. They knew him too well and would probably give him a hard time about his persistence. He didn’t care. Miss Magnum P.I. might be a tough cookie, but after watching her with Bailey and Ashton, he suspected she had a very soft heart. One that he wanted to know.

Due Date: Sept. 1
Word or page count goal today: 8 pages
Something cool learned from research:
Contrary to TV, private investigators cannot legally put a GPS tracking device on a vehicle without the owner's consent.

Author: Dana Mentink
Title: Surfside Guardian
Hero and Heroine: Marco Quidel and Candace Gallagher
Line: Typical Marco. The former Navy Seal and longtime family friend sorted everything and everyone into precisely two camps: friendlies and enemies.
One paragraph from the page you are currently on:   

It was so quiet he could hear the ticking of the clock high on the chipped stucco wall. "So Candace Gallagher is now the only chance you have to bring down Jay Rico."
 
"Yeah."
 
Marco took the stairs slowly, suddenly feeling much older than his 34 years as the pain attacked him at every joint.

Due Date: August 1
Word or page count goal today: 3,000
Something cool learned from research: Non lethal grenades shoot rubber pellets which are designed to deter instead of kill.

Author: Janet Lee Barton
Title: The Cowboy & The Lady (working)
Hero and Heroine: Jake Tucker and Julia Olsen
Line: A continuation of my LIH Boardinghouse Betrothals that will be named Heaton House
One paragraph from the page you are currently on: 

She looked so small on top of that horse, he wished he could have just put her in front of him for the first lesson. Had he been at home, that’s exactly what he would have done, but these weren’t his stock and the park had its rules. And well, so did society. Everything was just a little more relaxed out west than here.

Due Date: July 30th
Word or page count goal today: 1500 words
Something cool learned from research: Jake and Julia will be visiting the Statue of Liberty in this story and I learned that it was shipped in 350 pieces and packed in 214 crates. And that suffragettes protested the unveiling because they lamented that this huge female figure representing liberty would be standing in the New York harbor, while American women were trying to get the liberty to vote.

Author: Patricia Johns
Title: The Triplets' Cowboy Daddy
Hero and Heroine: Nora and Easton
Line: Western Romance
One paragraph from the page you are currently on:

She turned and left the room, and he watched her go. The scent of her perfume still hung in the air as subtle as a memory. The soft sound of her footfalls on the staircase dissipated into creaking floorboards overhead. He had some evening chores to check up on, and he was grateful for the excuse to get out, plunge into the fresh air and get away from all of this for a little while. Work—it was cheaper than therapy.

Due Date: October 2016
Word or page count goal today: 1500 words
Something cool learned from research:  I'm still looking into how moms deal with three newborns at once--and they have my respect!

Author: Barbara Phinney
Title: The Heiress and the Lawman
Hero and Heroine: Rachel Smith and Zane Robinson
Line: Love Inspired Historical
One paragraph from the page you are currently on:
Zane stepped gingerly into the huge maw that was the opening as Rachel bit her lip and held her breath. She wanted this day to end, but she also wanted Zane to promise her that he wouldn’t leave right away. It was a terribly selfish thought but the more she tried to push it away, the stronger it seems to latch on to her.

Due Date: Sept 15/16
Word or page count goal today: I aim for 3,00 each day and am up to 49,084. I reached my daily goal already.
Something cool learned from research: I learned that Victorian children had toys that were designed to teach them things. No just for fun toys allowed!

Author: Jean C. Gordon
Title: Reclaiming His Family
Hero and Heroine: Rhys Maddox and Renee Delacroix
Line: Love Inspired Romance
One paragraph from the page you are currently on:

Six days. Rhys put the sandwiches he’d made in the small soft pack cooler. Six days since he’d lost control of his better judgment and kissed Renee. He tossed in three apples. Six days since he’d seen or heard from her. Rhys couldn’t count Sunday service at Hazardtown Community Church, since she’d ducked out as soon as the choir had started the recessional hymn. He knew because he’d been watching her.

Due Date: July 28
Word or page count goal today: 1,000
Something cool learned from research: In New York State, legal advocates for children in custody cases are called law guardians.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Happily Ever After How-to


Hi, Winnie Griggs here.
I read an article recently that purported to have identified 10 steps to forming a personal happily-ever-after in a marriage. As I read over the steps I thought that they had application to how our fictional characters find their happily-ever-afters as well. 
So here are those 10 steps and my writerly thoughts about each.

Step 1. Carve out time for each other.
It’s important that we show that no matter what else is going on in their lives, our hero and heroine make the effort to set aside time for each other.

Step 2. Conversely, spend some time away from each other.
At the same time, our hero and heroine are individuals and need time to pursue their personal interests. Being overly-clingy or needy is not attractive.

Step 3. Look for opportunities to make little romantic gestures.
Who doesn’t like a hero who isn’t afraid to show his romantic side? Small things like picking wildflowers, sending thoughtful notes, leaving small gifts of sweets or quirky but meaningful tokens, are guaranteed to endear him to both the heroine and the reader.


Step 4. Always fight fair.
Arguments happen, but no one likes to read about a hero and heroine who engage in vitriolic or insulting bickering, or who take cheap shots at each other.

Step 5. Take a genuine interest in the interests of your partner.
Having our hero and heroine introduce each other to their favorite pastimes or guilty pleasures is a good way to show growing attraction.

Step 6. Truly listen to your partner.
Here’s where you can focus on some of the differences between men’s and women’s communication styles. A woman is much more likely to express feelings and emotions than a man is. A man is not going to be entirely comfortable with either receiving or providing this kind of expression. Show he cares for her by having him really listen. Show she cares for him by having her read between the lines those things he can’t say.


Step 7. Accept your partner for who they are.
By the time your hero and heroine approach their happily ever after, they should understand that love means accepting the other for who they are at the core of their being, and not be trying to old them into someone different.

Step 8. Express your commitment to each other.
It’s not enough to feel love for one another, at some point the hero and heroine have to express the feelings to each other. And the way they act toward each other needs to reflect it as well. No more wandering eyes for either of them!

Step 9. Trust in each other.
Once they’ve reached the point of commitment, our hero and heroine should implicitly trust in the character of the other, even when all evidence points to the contrary.

Step 10. View your partner as your best friend.
This is the "for better or worse, in sickness and in health" part. Our hero and heroine should enjoy each other’s company and take pleasure in making the other happy, regardless of their circumstances.


So there you have it.  Do you agree with these or disagree? And do you have any steps you’d add to the list?

Saturday, June 11, 2016

FEATURED BOOK AND INTERVIEW: The Cowboy Meets His Match by Leann Harris




Corralling Her Heart 
Sawyer Jensen is ready to grab life—and his new job—by the horns. The tall, hazel-eyed cowboy has been brought in to revive Quay County's faltering rodeo, but his bigger challenge may be taking on Erin Delong. The beautiful rodeo rider was in the running for Sawyer's job, and she's not walking away without a fight. Sawyer is no stranger to conflict, but the feelings Erin is stirring in him are brand-new. Her independent spirit both intrigues and scares him. As it turns out, Sawyer's biggest project will be repairing his own wounded heart—and Erin may just be the perfect person for the job!

How exciting to have Erin DeLong the heroine  from  The Cowboy Meets His Match written by Leann Harris a June 2016 release from Love Inspired Romance .

1.  Erin, tell me the most interesting thing about you?  I grew up in Tucumcari, New Mexico. The city is off  I-10, but known for being off  Route 66.  I’m a barrel racer and been riding all my life.
2.  What do you do for fun? Ride my horse, Wind Dancer. Growing up, when my mom went to the reservation to visit her family, I went with her and always managed to organize a race.
3.  What do you put off doing because you dread it? Cooking.  That’s not my thing.  To relax, I’m with my horse. I’d rather muck out the barn than fix dinner.  My brother claims my skill at cooking reflects my interest.
4.  What are you afraid of most in life? Losing. When I lost the big job to reorganize my hometown rodeo, I knew I couldn’t walk away and let Sawyer Jensen do it without my input and that caused all sorts of problems. Oddly enough, Sawyer didn’t mind.
5.  What is the most important thing to you?  My family. When my dad had a stroke, it threw my family’s world into chaos, leaving us all in confusion, and with questions. Oddly, Sawyer stepped into the vacuum left.  
6.  Do you read books?  Absolutely. You can learn so much from a book on animal husbandry or the memories of a famous barrel rider. It’s not widely known, but I love reading a good romance while out on the back porch. The men in those books are great.
7.  If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?  Well, my mom tells me that it isn’t my job to solve everyone’s problem. I should stop doing that.
8.  Do you have a pet? My horse is my best friend and buddy. Wind Dancer is part of me. I’ve had boyfriends complain that I give my horse more attention than them. Guilty.
9. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why? I would’ve liked to have been in this area of New Mexico when my mother’s people The Navajo or DinĂ©  roamed the land.