Monday, September 18, 2017

Amish Christmas Twins. The book that almost wasn't.

Hello everyone, Patricia Davids here. 

First, I want to extend my sympathy to all those affected by the hurricanes, flooding and the terrible fires out west. Here in Kansas we are often in the bullseye of severe weather, but lately I’m glad the last time we had beach front property here was several million years ago.

I have a new release out this month. It's called Amish Christmas Twins and it came close to never being finished.

Some books are easy to write. Some are difficult. Some are down right horrible. The words won't flow, the characters are like cardboard cutouts and the plot won't plot.

If you think my Amish Christmas Twins might have been one of THOSE books you would be right. Not only was it hard to write, but having written the painful vast majority of it, the manuscript and the computer containing those hard won words was stolen a mere week before my deadline. 

You should back up your work! Everyone knows that. 

I did have my work backed up. It was on a 16 gig flash drive still plugged into the computer as it left my house through a broken window in broad daylight at the front of my home in Wichita along with guns, jewelry, a big screen TV and a brand new still in the box from Christmas PlayStation. It took at least two guys to carry the TV. We believe there were three.

Sometimes bad things happen. My editor was understanding. I hammered out a similar book in three weeks time. I thought I knew the plot but that second book was not the same as the first one. I simply couldn't recall each conversation, each plot twist, each description of the winter scenes. However, there is one thing I got right. It was the Happily Ever After ending. I believe in them. 

A broken picture window in December was repaired quickly. My insurance replaced most of my stuff. It was just stuff. No one was home. No one got hurt. The book got finished. Oh and they did give me the cutest cover EVER. I would call that a HEA ending,wouldn't you?

Have you been the victim of a burglary. How did you fare afterwards? Did you get a HEA ending?

New for September from Our Love Inspired Suspense Authors

Jean C. Gordon here with a new must buy from our Love Inspired Suspense authors. Just click on the cover to purchase it. And to learn more about this talented lady, click on her name.
by Lenora Worth 

Single mother Penny Potter has spent months in hiding to keep her toddler from his father, a rogue FBI agent turned fugitive. But he's determined to flee the country with the child, and she can't dodge him forever. When he corners Penny in the Montana wilderness and gets away with their son, she's forced to trust his brother, handsome FBI K-9 agent Zeke Morrow. And Zeke must decide where his loyalty lies: with his sibling or the woman he wasn't supposed to fall for. As the bullets fly and family ties are tested, Penny and Zeke will fight to save the boy who brought them together.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Happy Weekend !

Sunday Scripture

Head of Christ, Correggio, 1521, Getty Museum, LA

 The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.

 The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

He pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
crowns you with kindness and compassion.

The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.

The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.

 The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

PSALM 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12

Friday, September 15, 2017

A God-thing

Arlene James here with the first post in a new Friday series. Ever wonder how a particular author sold her first book? My experience was purely a God-thing.

After my youngest son was born in 1978, I reluctantly agreed to a hysterectomy. Six miscarriages were enough for anyone. I wasn't happy about it. In fact, I was downright depressed, so my husband suggested I go back to college and finish my degree in creative writing. I was blessed with a professor who took my desire to write for publication seriously. He went so far as to contact a friend who wrote for a daily soap opera and ask him where I should start. That friend informed my professor that romance was a thriving part of the industry, always looking for new authors, and that Simon & Schuster was about to launch Silhouette Books in a bid to compete with Harlequin. I'd never read a Harlequin romance, but my professor brought several to me -- in a brown paper bag. LOL. I read them cover to cover and was hooked.

Nine months later, I had a manuscript that I was willing to submit. Having no clue how the publishing industry worked, I made two copies and mailed one to Harlequin and the other to Simon & Schuster. In the meantime, several things completely out of my control occurred.

A local Dallas-area author by the name of Parris Afton Bonds rang my doorbell. A neighbor of my sister's belonged to the same writers' group as Parris. My sister had mentioned my interest in writing romance, so Parris had taken it upon herself to make contact. She offered to hand my manuscript to her friend, Kate Duffy, who just happened to be the head editor at Silhouette Books. That didn't happen, but Parris did mention me to Ms. Duffy. Parris also introduced me to several other romance authors and suggested that I attend a writer's conference at the University of Houston.

Soon after Parris arrived on my doorstep, a New York literary agent came to Dallas, and my husband convinced me to seek an appointment. Frankly, he was rather condescending, but he took my manuscript, and the next day, to my shock, he called and offered to represent me. I think he was stunned when I turned him down, but I'd prayed about it, and I just didn't feel I could work with him. Besides, I'd gotten a letter from Harlequin that morning stating that they were considering my manuscript and would get back to me in a few more weeks.

With that hopeful missive in my back pocket, I queried several other agents then headed off to the writer's conference in Houston. Within moments of walking in the door, I met a Silhouette editor who informed me that Silhouette wanted to make me a formal offer! It was surreal. There, at that very conference, a group of romance authors, myself among them, got together and discussed forming what soon became the RWA (Romance Writers of America). I am a charter member.
Back home in the Dallas area, I continued my search for an agent, but no one seemed to connect, so when I talked to Silhouette, I had no representation and no clue what I was doing. When it was suggested that a 3-book deal might actually be offered, I balked. I didn't know if I could write a second book or if I could produce on deadline. I was honest enough to admit that Harlequin had also expressed interest -- and that's how I came to be Arlene James. Silhouette insisted that I take a pen name, which they owned. Before the second book was completed, I signed with an agent, who negotiated my personal ownership of the pen name AND my first multiple-book contract. I worked with him for the next 22 years. CITY GIRL came out in March of 1982. I never did finish my degree. But I have written nearly 100 novels. Definitely a God-thing.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Shining a Light: Hurricanes, the Amish, and Helping Those in Need ... by Cate Nolan

Back in the middle of the summer when I was assigned this date for my post, I couldn't have imagined how timely the topic would be.

Nine years ago this month, Hurricane Ike tore its way into Texas, destroying homes, flooding communities, and ripping apart lives.

I didn't experience Ike personally. I was living in the northeast and was only affected in an emotional way by the heartbreaking stories I saw on the news.

Four years later, I experienced a little of what it meant to be hit by a hurricane when Sandy barreled her way into New York. We live on a higher elevation, so I was fortunate to be spared damage, but I spent a lot of time helping out with meals and supplies for those whose lives were torn asunder. My school took in students from flooded schools, some of my friends lost everything. Sandy was personal.

Fast forward.

When I began to research events in Texas to use for the Love Inspired Suspense I'm writing, I came across a news story that spoke to my heart. It was the heartwarming tale of groups of Amish men and women who traveled to Texas to help rebuild in the wake of Ike.

The Houston Chronicle did a story on them: Amish volunteers help Gulf Coast ranches rebuild After Ike.

This wonderful video from Texas Country Reporter shows an Amish family rebuilding homes in Crystal Beach, TX. The family applied Amish building knowledge and principles to help rebuild homes. They used the same kind of timber frame construction they use on barns. I loved this quote, “Our attitude to building is to build it forever…like Noah’s Ark”

Breaking Christian News (BCN) had a story called Building Fences in Texas Until the Cows Come Home - Amish Volunteer Labor to Ranchers Affected by Hurricane.  Many of the Amish who came to help were suffering their own problems with unemployment back home, so they came to see how they could help Texas.

For my story, I played What if...they liked it and stayed.

But today's post isn't about my story. I want to shine a light on the everyday heroism of the people who help out in times of great need.

In the past few weeks, there have been so many stories of tragedy and natural disasters, but the stories that stand out for me are about people who are helping care for their brothers and sisters in need. I saw it here in NYC after Sandy, soup kitchens springing up in churches and temples where people of different faiths worked side by side to feed the hungry. Day after day, people were donating supplies to those who struggled with cleanup. Volunteers walked up endless flights of stairs in buildings without electricity to bring supplies, medical care, and food to those whose health prevented them from climbing down. Love in action.

Volunteers can't make up for what was lost, but I believe they offer something so vital - a light in the darkness, a presence that promises you are not alone, spirits united by love.

And because we're romance writers, I can't help but be charmed by some of the stories I've seen lately:

The Gainesville, FL Police Department has won a whole legion of fans with the humorous posts on their Facebook page. Last night they were joking that they had to put out cougar protection for their officers because of all the adoring posts and comments on their page. The response has been so awesome that they're planning a calendar to raise funds for hurricane relief.

USA Today did an article - "Hot Cops Grab Internet's Attention"

But before Gainesville, there was #RescueBae, a man who has an entire hashtag devoted to him on Twitter.

He is Raz Halili, son of immigrants, a man who used his boat and jet ski to rescue flooded Texans because he wanted to give back some of what this country gave his family. One woman's internet search for the "hot rescue guy" who helped her friend turned him into an internet sensation. He just wanted to help people.

Teacher me loved this story of the nun with the chainsaw who was clearing debris outside her school!

She said she was raised in Texas to, "Do what you need to do to help other people out."

I particularly love a story that showed up in my FB feed this morning. It was about Chad  Harrison, an ordinary man from Valdosta, GA. He'd heard so many horror stories of evacuees being stuck on the highway that he grabbed some friends and some food and held a cookout along I-75. They served free food to over 2,000 people!

But these are just the people whose heroics have come to the public's notice through cyberspace. There are so many anecdotes, small stories. So many people praying, donating, doing whatever they can to help.

Have you been affected by the recent storms or fires or any other event? Please tell us so we can pray for you.

 Do you have stories of people who have volunteered to help?

It's good, in this world in which we live, to be reminded of the good that lives in people's hearts and of the people who so willingly put their lives on hold to serve others.


I had to come in and add in this story. Trish Milburn posted a link to the New York Times article today. Reading the story brought tears to my eyes. Such a simple act that meant so much because it showed that someone cared.

A woman in Maryland saw a news story about a woman in Houston who had lost everything, including coffee cups she had inherited from her mother. The Maryland woman found the cups on eBay and had them sent to the Houston woman. I think this quote sums up exactly the point I wanted to make with this post. "I desperately wanted to replace that broken cup. The world is a broken place, but also a place of great strength, dignity, and personal courage. That’s what I wanted to honor"

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

An Interview With Cheryl St.John

Readers want to know you better. Tell us something about you from your perspective:

My perspective about me is that I’m a pretty ordinary person. Not everyone would agree, but from where I sit, I don’t look too exciting most of the time.

I wish I could tell you that I skydive and go on archaeological digs…well, okay I could tell you that, so I guess what I wish is that I actually did some exciting things. If I did, I’d likely get too hot and might even break a fingernail, so I’m better off doing what I do. Or not doing what I don’t do, however you want to look at it. Do you know me now?

What does your family think about having a published author in their midst:

My family has never held any sense of awe where my career was concerned. I’m still just mom, the one who whips up the goodies for their birthdays, makes a mean pot of chili and sometimes puts on a rockin’ brunch. I have seriously great kids, and their kids are the apples of my eye, beautiful and brilliant each of them.

Your books are filled with human emotion. What inspires you?

I love reading a book that makes me so deeply involved that I cry. Emotional movies inspire me to write emotional books. I have a stack of favorites I dig out when I need to be in the “zone.” What the movie has to do to inspire me is make me feel deeply. Crying is good for the muse, for some odd reason. I love to cry over movies. It’s so…well, not my life. So I guess to really know me, you need to know what makes me laugh and cry.

The cry list:
Pay It Forward - I can do an entire workshop on this movie. It is ingeniously and perfectly plotted for conflict and motivation.

Winter People - When Kelly McGillis comes back to her Daddy’s cabin without her baby, I sob buckets.

The Magic of Ordinary Days - the impact of the dialogue always evokes tears 

Return to Me, Hope Floats, Bounce, Phenomenon, While You Were Sleeping, The Con, My Louisiana Sky to name a few more.

In 28 Days when Gwen’s sister comes to talk to her by the lake, and Gwen says, “I’m sorry I make it so hard for you to love me,” well, I lose it every time. Talk about character growth and motivating factors. We are the sum of our whole, not just who you see this moment, and story people need to be three-dimensional. This movie shows that excellently. I am moved by characters, not by plot, so every movie I love is character-driven, even one as action-packed as Face Off. Obviously I like to analyze movies, and have done so for workshops and my Writer's Digest Book Writing With Emotion, Tension & Conflict.

Okay, what makes you laugh?

The things kids say. Children are priceless and genuine and not jaded. My clever critique group makes me laugh. Which movies make me laugh? Overboard, Music and Lyrics, Liar Liar, Sense and Sensibility, Mannequin, Blind Date, French Kiss and both Miss Congenialities. I laugh at snappy dialogue, but a good old spoof just tickles my funny bone: Soap Dish and Galaxy Quest are favorites.

What do you love and hate?

I love my husband, chocolate (I thought long and hard about the order and he won), freshly painted rooms and shelves with lots of stuff, comfy sofas, quilts, snuggling babies, a road trip with friends, dolls, books, vintage jewelry, vintage Valentines, decorating books, miniatures, a cup of tea in a pretty cup, taking great photographs, butterflies in my garden, playing board games with my grandkids, going to the movies, all the great stuff my hubby makes for me, antique malls, vintage linens, looking at old family photos, and so much more that I could fill pages with my passions.

I hate conflict (except in stories). I hate confrontation. I’m a peacemaker by nature and by calling, so people butting heads makes me want to run the other way. Why can’t we all just be friends?

How has being an author impacted your life?

As I thought about how being an author has impacted my life, what stood out to me was: People. Since devoting myself to the pursuit of publishing, I have met the greatest people. Many of the friends I made when I first joined RWA are still my best friends. And new friends are added through my local chapter all the time. I love brainstorming with a group. There’s something electric about shooting ideas back and forth like sparks until enough of them ignite into a story.

Every so often I meet a new writer whose drive and ability is so impressive that I’m eager to mentor and watch them develop. The majority of authors I meet are not only the most generous, but also the smartest people in any walk of life. I was published back in the day when we had no Internet :::gasp::: and no yahoogroups. Yeah, really. Some days I was reinventing the wheel, but I didn’t know anyone who had done this before. I called authors I’d met at conferences, and they were kind and generous enough to give me advice. I’ve never forgotten that. So I make it a point to be as helpful as I can when I have useful knowledge. I believe that what goes around comes around.

I have readers who have become good friends over the years. Sometimes one of the readers I originally met at a signing drops by my home to leave me a gift. On the flip side, I have friends who have become readers as well. My critique group has become like a family unit, and my fellow Romance Authors of the Heartland members are dear friends.

I thoroughly enjoy interacting with my Facebook friends and look forward to updates on their lives, their children and pets.

What’s your best-kept secret?

Like I would tell! But here's my recipe for the world’s best muffins:

What’s your next release?

The Rancher Inherits a Family in the Return to Cowboy Creek series, April ’18. I also have a Writer’s Digest book releasing next year: Write Smart, Write Happy.

Anything else you want people to know?

I appreciate each and every person who reads my books and all of you follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

On Facebook I’m Cheryl St.John and Author Cheryl St.John
Both pages have different and daily content.

If you Tweet, follow me: _CherylStJohn_

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What in the World is a Flower Frog?

The main character of my latest release, The Bachelor's Unexpected Family, is a woman who loves flowers—like me—and dreams of becoming a florist—not like me, although I once was a florist in a play.

This character led me to remember my grandmother's flower frogs. Some of them I still have.  But many people have never heard of a flower frog.

A flower frog is a device used to help hold and arrange flowers. Floral frogs are still used, but were in their heyday during the 1920s, 1930s and World War Two era. I adore all things Art Deco. This particular book, although a contemporary romance, has a strong World War Two historical element.

Here are some of my favorite flower frog examples—

Do you own a flower frog? Did your grandmother? Have you ever used one for flower arrangements?

Monday, September 11, 2017

New for September from Our Love Inspired Historical Authors

Jean C. Gordon here with two new must buys from our Love Inspired Contemporary authors. Just click on a cover to buy one. And to learn more about these talented ladies, click on their names.
Rancher to the Rescue
by Barbara Phinney 

Clare Walsh isn't too keen on marrying, but it's the only way for her to keep her family home…and custody of her two younger brothers. So when rancher Noah Livingstone offers a union in name only, Clare reluctantly agrees. Accepting Noah's strictly practical proposal has an unexpected catch, though—she's actually falling for him.

Though Noah is drawn to vibrant, independent Clare, he knows romantic feelings will only complicate their marriage of convenience. But when secrets from his past threaten Noah's fragile new family, he must make a difficult choice. Will Noah risk all his dreams to secure a real future with Clare?
Pony Express Special Delivery
by Rhonda Gibson

Pony Express manager Clayton Young arrives for his new assignment at a Wyoming ranch just in time to save Maggie Fillmore's ailing baby. The lovely young widow is struggling to care for a ranch, her sister and a newborn, and Clayton plans to pursue medicine—not marriage. Yet Maggie's dire situation spurs him to offer a match of convenience…

Maggie hoped never to rely on any man again, even one as kind as Clayton. But with her late husband's greedy cousin trying to take away her ranch, she has little choice. And though Maggie worries her union with Clayton might not be enough to save her ranch, she soon sees it could be just what her heart needs.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sunday Scripture

Christ the Savior, Pantokrator, 6th Century,
Mount Sinai. [PD-US]

Jesus said to his disciples:
"If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. 
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that 'every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.'
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. 
If he refuses to listen even to the church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you,
if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. 
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them."
Matthew 18:15-20

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Happy National Read A Book Day!

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

Today is National Read A Book Day - an observance tailor-made for us bookaholics!  I know none of us who hang out around here need an excuse to sit down with a good book, but it's always nice to have a little extra incentive, isn't it? :)

In honor of the occasion, I thought I'd share some of my favorite reading and book related memes with you.

So what about you? Do you have a favorite book/reading quote that you'd like to share with us?  And what are you reading right now?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Make it Allie Pleiter

One of the themes that keeps showing up in my books is resilience. The ability to find a “Plan B” when our first plan gets scuttled. It’s my personal believe that God shows His providence and imagination on our Plan B’s. I can recall many times where His plan (because it’s really only Plan B from my perspective, isn’t it?) turned out far better than what I had in mind.

The same is true for Tess Buckton. She’s come home to the Blue Thorn Ranch thinking everything has fallen apart, only to learn things are falling into place. Cooper Pine is struggling to put things right in his world for his daughter. Like all great love stories, they have to go through a lot to realize how much they need each other. But it all works out in the end, and The Texas Rancher's New Family wraps up the series with heartwarming perfection.

Us authors have to show a bit of resilience, too.  If you remember from the post on August 29, Belle Calhoune and I went through a mix up of our own. Belle received the large print copies of my book while I received the large print copies of hers. When we discovered the issue, we were happy to realize that a “swap” could solve the problem. But why leave it there? Let’s have fun with it, and each give away the other’s book.

So that’s what we’re doing. In August Belle gave away a copy of my book. So now, I’m giving away a copy of hers. Leave a comment along with your email and I’ll put your name in a drawing for a copy of Belle’s His Secret Alaskan Heiress.

Turn our predicament into your prize!