Monday, January 22, 2018

New for February from Our Love Inspired Contemporary Authors

Jean C. Gordon here with two new must buys from our Love Inspired Contemporary authors. Just click on the covers to purchase them. And to learn more about these talented ladies, click on their names.
The Lawman's Runaway Bride
by Patricia Johns 

Forced to work with the woman who left his brother at the altar five years ago, police chief Chance Morgan must also face his own guilt. Sadie Jenkins’s return to town stirs feelings he thought he’d buried along with his soldier brother, who died overseas. Almost kissing Sadie the night before her wedding was a mistake—one he won’t make again. For Sadie, planning a remembrance ceremony for the town’s military men will help build her event-planning business. But working with Chance is bringing up all the emotions she once ran from. Is she ready to finally take that leap into the future…with him?
Hill Country Reunion
by Myra Johnson 

Veterinarian Tripp Willoughby returns to his hometown of Juniper Bluff knowing he has no right to ask for forgiveness. He thought keeping his Crohn’s disease a secret was the right thing to do—but he ended up breaking his college girlfriend’s heart. Now Diana Matthews has a new life running a cafe and working with animals. Reluctantly, she accepts his help with her pet therapy program. And as the furry animals bring them together, Tripp remembers how things used to be with Diana—and is convinced he must find a way to reveal the truth and win her back.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sunday Scripture

Transfiguration of Jesus. depicting him with ElijahMoses and three apostles,
Carracci, 1594. [PD-US]

Teach me your ways, O Lord.

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.

Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.

Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice
and teaches the humble his way.
Psalm 25:4-9

If you have prayer needs, please mention them in the comments section so we can join you in prayer. You do not need to include specific names or situations of a private nature, just say that you have a prayer request. The Lord knows your heart and the needs you have. It is a privilege and honor to pray with you and for you.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Is Life Controlling You?

Good day. Christina Rich, here, on an author's life.

If you follow any of us on social media, I'm sure you realize that we don't all live a glamorous life and are normal people with normal chaos. The other day as I was emptying out trash cans at work, a co-worker came up to me and simply asked, "Do you ever feel like life is controlling you?" I kind of laughed. I knew exactly what she was talking about. In the grand scheme of things I realize I have no control over certain aspects of my life. Like when I'll take that last earthly breath and enter Gloryland, but I totally understood what she was saying, and even though she asked the question, it was one of those loaded God nuggets. I could almost hear the dun-dun-dun music playing in the background as the narrator asks the audience, "How will Christina respond?"

Of course, I responded with my rendition of Psalm 119, and then I drew in a deep breath, and was like, YES!!! As a writer, my goal has always been to be a full-time author, which I had worked towards and was able to do. Until life interrupted and my husband passed away. Then I found myself with a part-time job, but I still continued to write. I was in the process of revising a proposal for Love Inspired Historical when, again, life interrupted, and I received the news that the line was closing. Circumstances outside of my control were controlling certain aspects of my life. BIG aspects of my life. I mean, in the matter of less than two years, my husband passed away, my kids moved out, my mother-in-law moved in, and I lost my publishing line. Oh, and did I mention, this former co-pastor/minister (due to the nudging of the Lord) left her church, too?

If I was writing a fictional story about my life, this is where I would insert the mid-life crisis scene, cut my hair off, buy a big floppy hat and a moo-moo, rent a cute little sports car and drive to the middle of nowhere. Probably an isolated beach in the middle of the Pacific--of course, I'd have to ditch the car and rent a boat--encounter a hero, a bulky muscled special forces guy that keeps life from interrupting my peace and happiness and serves me coconut water.

Back to reality

So, I've spent the last several days reflecting on my co-worker's question and spent some time analyzing my goals and my motivations, and possible conflicts that could possibly arise.  Sounds like I'm plotting a story. Of course, I can only truly plan for my goals and heart check my motivations.

I firmly believe that we are gifted with God-given talents, and I believe those are tied in with the desires of our heart, like becoming a published author. Scripture tells us in Psalm 37:4-5 that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart. Years ago, as I was out on a prayer walk with the Lord, I came to the understanding that if I delighted myself in the Lord, He would be my desire. Shortly after that revelation, when I set aside my obsession to become a published author I received a request and then a contract with Love Inspired.

The desires of my heart have changed, they are more eternity focused rather than earthly focused, but I still want to continue writing God-honoring stories and selling them. They have a purpose. The fictional stories I like to write show victory over adversity. They show heroes and heroines overcoming obstacles, growing their faith, or standing firm in their faith, and finding their happiliy-ever-after.

 After that simply question, I've decided I'm done with the pause button. I'm done with my goals being interrupted. As if I have any say about the interruptions, but I do have say in how I respond. I no longer want to be a cardboard character in my own life, which is how I feel I've been. I want to be an active participant. One who doesn't just allow life to happen and take over.

Have you ever had moments where you feel like life is controlling you? How did you handle it?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Secret Baby...Love or Hate?

Hola. Jolene Navarro here checking in from Canyon Lake in the Texas Hill Country. I just read a review of The Texan’s Twins that has me thinking about tropes.

Secret baby is a trope that can divide readers. Some of my favorite books are secret baby stories, but they are also the story I will put down the fastest if I don’t buy the heroines motivation for not telling the father. Really, nowadays it’s hard to pull off “I couldn’t reach you.”
Here is the start of a review on Amazon:
“It can be tricky to make the 'secret baby' trope work for me so it takes some fancy footwork for an author to convince me that I'm going to buy into the heroine's reasons for keeping her baby a secret from the father. I'm prepared to dislike said heroine from the very first page -- if I even end up reading the book! Yes, I'm that opinionated on the subject and I know a lot of other readers who are too.”

I’m well aware of this so I take on the trope with a lot of thought and planning.   
When I jumped into the secret baby world, I did it very carefully. My first secret baby storyline is in The Soldier’s Surprise Family (2016). Garrett, the hero, had an ex-wife that lived on drama and bad choices. After years of trying to be her hero, she leaves him for another man. Four years later CPS show up at his house with the son he didn’t know about because his ex-wife was killed in a murder/suicide. You don’t have to worry about liking her.
But then my January release, The Texan’s Twins is a reunion story of second chances and secret twins. This was much harder to map out as I created Reid and Danica’s love story. Why didn’t she tell him? Why wasn’t he there? The inspiration for the story was “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree.” I knew my hero had been in prison, but why did he cut off communications to his new bride? And what made him do what he did?

I love developing character motivation and arch. This was an emotional story of mistakes, forgiveness and hope all wrapped up in love and faith.

But as an author, I worry that the reader will see the story that was in my head. So I attentively watch for reviews to see if I hit the mark.(I know you’re not supposed to, but I just can’t help myself). Not everyone sees the same thing, but when I saw the above review I knew on some level I had to succeed.

Here is the rest of the review from above:
 “But guess what? Jolene Navarro did a brilliant job winning me over! And she's a new-to-me-author to boot! So I guess the moral of the story is never say never -- there's an exception to every rule.
I totally get why Danica hasn't told Reid about their twins. That drama plays out quietly in the beginning pages of the book as Navarro delivers a deeply emotional insight into Danica's backstory. And even when Reid shows up on the scene and it would make total sense to tell him about their girls I understood why she held back. I didn't like it. I didn't agree with it. But I felt it. All the emotions that are hitting Dani fast and furiously. The way it all starts spiraling out of control until she can't seem to catch her breath. And neither could I.
This is a tentative second chance love story full of missteps and poignantly tender moments. It's about God's grace and the fact that forgiveness is an action. I laughed, I cried, I wanted to wring some necks, gag some of Danica's family members and purse whomp some holier than thou secondary characters. A totally awesome emotional roller coaster of a read!”

I love that she wanted to “purse whomp” some of the secondary characters. I did too. Lol.
Do you have favorite tropes? 
Do you try them out every once in a while or completely steer clear of them?   

Monday, January 15, 2018

Another Side to the Ladies of Love Inspired Romance

Many of the Ladies of Love Inspired Romance write more than their Love Inspired Books. Here is one of this month's new releases. Just click on the cover to buy it. And to learn more about the talented author, click on her name.
A Song To Call Ours
by Merrillee Whren 

Amanda Reynolds has always dreamed of being a songwriter and recording artist, so she drops out of music school and heads for Nashville. But when her car breaks down in a tiny eastern Tennessee town, her dreams take a big detour.

Mitchell Cunningham loves running his garage and repairing cars in his small hometown. But Amanda’s appearance makes him reconsider his priorities, especially the one about staying away from any woman who doesn’t share his small-town dreams.

When a big break in the Nashville music scene comes Amanda’s way, what will Mitch do to keep from losing the woman he loves?

Front Porch Promises Series: Inspirational Romance

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sunday Scripture

The Calling of Saints Andrew and Peter, Caravaggio, 1603-1603,
Buckingham Palace. [PD-US]

John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
"Behold, the Lamb of God."
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
"What are you looking for?"
They said to him, "Rabbi" 

— which translated means Teacher —,
"where are you staying?"
He said to them, "Come, and you will see."
So they went and saw where Jesus was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
"We have found the Messiah" 

— which is translated Christ —.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
"You are Simon the son of John;
you will be called Cephas" — which is translated Peter.
John 1:35-42

If you have prayer needs, please mention them in the comments section so we can join you in prayer. You do not need to include specific names or situations of a private nature, just say that you have a prayer request. The Lord knows your heart and the needs you have. It is a privilege and honor to pray with you and for you.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Behind the Scenes: How a Minor Character Became the Hero of Mission: Memory Recall

Fun fact: Marcus Allen was never meant to be a hero.
My inspiration for Marcus Allen, amnesic, presumed-dead army ranger

When I first came up with the idea for my Rangers Under Fire series, I had in mind six army rangers who were bonded together over their survival of a military ambush that killed most of their friends. If you’ve read any of my previous books then you know Marcus was not one of the original six.

He didn’t show up in the series until book four, Mistletoe Reunion Threat, when my hero Garrett was exploring his feelings about losing his friends in the ambush, including his best friend Marcus whose body was never recovered. Here’s the truth behind that scene. As a writer, I have to reach a certain word count in a story and I was woefully short in that one. The scene about Marcus was written on the fly while I was simply trying to come up with words! I had no idea when I wrote that scene that Marcus’s story would resonate with so many.

My first inclination that Marcus might be more than just a minor mention in Garrett’s story, was when I received my revisions back from my editor and she commented how she hoped we would see Marcus again.

My editor's note about wanting to see Marcus alive again

Now, by this time I’d already turned in my proposal for book six and she had to know Marcus wasn’t in it. But when I received my proposal back from her, I could tell she wasn’t thrilled with it. In truth, neither was I. This last ranger’s story just wasn’t connecting and I couldn’t seem to make it work. However, Marcus’s story was growing like wildflowers in my imagination. Within a few days, I knew his story and I wanted to write it!  

The amnesic, presumed-dead, army ranger. The broken-hearted CIA analyst who believes Marcus betrayed both her and his country. These two had to meet again!

CIA analyst Bethany who believes Marcus betrayed her and his country

I emailed my editor with my revamped idea for book six and she liked it. She gave me the go-ahead to change my hero.

Viola! Marcus Allen, Hero, was born.

Marcus eventually became everything I expected my final ranger to be. His character was the perfect hero with which to end this series and I couldn’t be more pleased with how his story turned out. I hope you are, too.

Virginia Vaughan

If you want to read more about Marcus and Bethany’s story, check out my latest release, Mission: Memory Recall, available now.

CIA analyst Bethany Bryant has risked her career to prove her former love, soldier Marcus Allen, actually survived a military ambush—and betrayed his country. But when she finally tracks the rugged army ranger to a remote Texas town, Marcus doesn’t remember who he is…or why someone’s trying to kill him. With an assailant determined to silence them both for good, Bethany and Marcus must go on the run in the hopes he’ll regain his memories. But will Bethany’s risky gambit to expose the truth clear his name and give them a future…or end their second chance at forever?

Amazon link:

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

My January Gift To You! Citrus Bundt Cake

I have a passion for Bundt® cakes

This one is probably one of my very favorite recipes EVER and the family fights over the last crumbs. I've included tips at the bottom, because these type of cake bake differently depending on your pan and your oven, so experiment a little and watch the baking process carefully.

My gift to you!

 from the kitchen of Cheryl St.John...

Glazed Citrus Bundt® Cake

¾ cup softened butter
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 Tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 - 2 tsp lemon extract
3 cups sifted flour
1 cup Sprite or Squirt

Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease and flour Bundt® pan well

Beat butter with hand mixer. Add sugar one cup at a time and mix until creamy.
Add eggs one at a time, mixing briefly after each.
Stir in lemon zest and extracts.
On medium speed alternate adding flour and Sprite. Don’t overbeat.
Pour batter into pan.

Baking time varies depending on your oven and your pan. I use my convection oven setting. My heavy NordicWare® pan bakes more quickly than my silicone pan. In the NordicWare® I bake this about 40 minutes, then cover with foil for another ten. Test and if a toothpick doesn’t come out clean, add more time. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack ten minutes. After ten minutes remove cake from pan and allow to cool.

2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp Rose’s sweetened lime juice (I find this in the liquor section)
2 Tbsp lemon juice

Whisk until desired consistency and drizzle over cooled cake.

Bundt Cake Tips:

There is a difference between a tube pan and a Bundt® pan. A tube pan is more shallow, while a Bundt pan has higher sides. Each will hold a different amount and will bake the same batter differently.

Cooking spray doesn’t cut it for a Bundt® cake. Grease with shortening and dust with flour to help the cake rise in the pan.

·  Always sift the flour.

·  Over mixing the batter gives cake a tough texture.

·  When creaming sugar and butter, have the butter at room temperature, mix on medium and add the sugar gradually.

·  Don’t overbeat eggs. Mix with a whisk or on low with the mixer, just until blended.

·  After removing from the oven, cool the cake on a wire rack for ten minutes. Any longer and you risk the cake sticking to the pan. Finish cooling on a rack.