Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Story Part 9 by Leann Harris

Carla looked down at the ground. When she glanced up again, pain stained her brown eyes."Yes, but he doesn't know. When I found out I was pregnant, I knew I couldn't ruin his life. He didn't love me and I didn't love him. I went to my grandmother's home in Wyoming and had the baby. I was single, unmarried and couldn't even care for myself let alone a child, so I gave the little girl up for adoption."

Sam stared in disbelief. Jeff knew nothing of this? "Did you ever plan to tell Jeff?"

"No," she whispered.

"And he never questioned you about it?"

"No. Both Jeff and I were different people back then. God wasn't a part of either one of our lives. Now, He is, and I have to trust Him to be able to make a way through this mess."

Sam understood about failings. And if God could forgive Carla, who was she to judge. "I think you need to talk to Jeff. And I'll take Greta to the doctor, first thing in the morning."

"Talk to me about what?" Jeff said, standing outside the front door.

Sam's heart squeezed tighted. In the short time they'd known each other, she'd come to respect and even care about her in-laws neighbor. How would Jeff take the news? Would he want nothing to do with them? Or...a horrible thought flittered through her mind. Would he try to take Greta from her when found out the truth?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Easter Story Part 8 by Terri Reed

Sam's stomach dropped. This woman was claiming to be Greta's biological mother and in the same breath saying there was a chance Greta could have leukemia. Could this be true?
Her baby, potentially ill?

On shaky legs, Sam pulled the front door closed and sank to the top step of the porch. The evening had cooled. Chills played havoc over her skin. The sweet scent of roses from the flower bed rose in the air. A smell Sam normally loved, but now clogged her senses, making her gag. Her stomach churned turning the delicious dinner sour. What had started out as a relaxed, wonderful evening was quickly becoming a nightmare.

Dropping her head into her hands, she prayed, Please Lord, cover my baby, keep her healthy. Please don't let this be happening.

“How did you find me?” Sam asked. “The adoption was supposed to be closed.”

Carla sat beside Sam. “It’s amazing what you can do when motivated." She laid a hand on Sam’s arm. “Please, you have to listen to me.”

Sam raised her head and stared at this woman. She tried to see her daughter in this other woman’s face. Maybe the eye shape was similar, maybe the bow of her mouth. Sam hadn’t ever imagined she meet the woman who’d given birth to Greta.

Her heart ached and she wished Dan were here. He’d know how to handle this. But he wasn’t. And she had to be strong.

Thankfully, she had people in her life to support her. Dan’s parents. Jeff. The protective way he hovered over Greta warmed Sam’s heart. Her little girl was safe with him.

“I’m listening. You said DNA tests?”

“You need to take her see her doctor. They can do a blood test.” Carla pulled out a thick, folded stack of papers. “Everything you need to know about me and my medical history is here.”

A shudder ripped through Sam as images of needles and tubes sticking out of her child tortured her mind. Her throat constricted. She took the papers. “What of the father?”

Carla bit her lip. “I don’t think you’ll need anything from him. This disease is passed on maternally.”

Sam swallowed. “But you know who the father is?”

Carla didn’t answer; instead she glanced over her shoulder at the closed door to the house. “Are you and Jeff...a couple?”

“No. We’ve just met.” Sam narrowed her gaze on Carla. “How do you know him?”

Carla wrung her hands. “We dated.” She took a shuddering breath. “About six years ago.”

Everything inside Sam stilled. “Are you suggesting that Jeff could be Greta’s father?”

Monday, March 29, 2010

Easter Story part 7

At the intense expression of pain and longing on the stranger's face as she stared at Greta, Sam felt a shiver of warning crawl up her spine. "What do you want?"

"I-It's private. And what I have to say is more important that you know." Myriad emotions flashed across Carla's face as her gaze flitted uncertainly from Jeff, to Sam, and then down to Greta. A single tear slipped down her cheek. "And this isn't for her ears, either."

Sam hesitated.

"It will only take a moment, and then I'll leave. I promise."

News of abductions, robberies and violent acts filled the papers every day, and losing her husband had made Sam even more wary. Even if Jeff knew Carla's name, the woman seemed emotionally unstable. Something was terribly wrong here, and there was no way that Sam could allow this woman inside the house--not when she'd stared at Greta with such an eerie expression.

Sam said a silent prayer for guidance, then turned to Jeff. "Please, take Greta into the kitchen. I'll stay right here at the door."

Jeff frowned. "I really don’t think--"

"I'll be fine." Sam nodded toward the kitchen and waited until he and Greta were out of sight. "Well?"

Another tear trailed down Carla's face. "It's taken so long to find you. I tried every avenue possible, and hit one dead end after another. But I couldn't give up--I just couldn't. I owe you that much."

Sam stared at her, mystified. "But I'm sure we've never met."

"We haven't. And I promise you that you won't see me again. I swear I'll n-never interfere." Carla swallowed hard. "I have a daughter--she's just a toddler. I...I just thought she had some sort of flu, and I didn’t take her to the doctor at first. But she got worse, and worse. And when I did take her in, the doctors didn’t find anything wrong for the longest time. When they finally did diagnose her, they said she wouldn't have had a chance of survival if they hadn’t caught it when they did. She has a rare form of leukemia, Sam. One that typically strikes very young children. And even now, she's fighting for her life."

"I am so, so sorry to hear it. I can't imagine how awful this is for you. But why--"

"Why am I here?" Carla's gaze locked on Sam's, her eyes filling with grief. "Because I had to come. I can't let another child suffer like she has."

Sam stared at her, as awareness struck. "You..."

Carla nodded. "There's a strong genetic link on the maternal side, and there are DNA tests for it. I just had to let you know."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

An Easter Story Part Six by Pamela Tracy

“Me? In private? Are you sure you mean me?” Sam looked closely at the woman, trying to determine if she’d ever seen her before.

There was something vaguely familiar, yet Sam knew they’d never been introduced, never spoken, and maybe never even so much as locked eyes.

So, what was it?

As if sensing the mood, the seriousness of the moment, a distance roll of thunder drummed. The first splat of rain landed on Sam's arm, cold and jarring.

The sensible thing to do would be retreat, let Jeff deal with this, but this woman, Carla, claimed that she wanted to speak with Sam. And, Carla looked even more nervous than Sam was starting to feel.

Carla stepped back, looking like she wanted to flee, looking like she was about to faint. Lightning flashed and Sam saw tears.

Carla's eyes went from Jeff, to Sam, and then back to Carla again.

“Mommy, what is it?”

Sam put a protective arm around Greta’s shoulders as her daughter came to the front door and nudged her way between Jeff and Sam to peek out.

“Oh, my,” Carla said.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

An Easter Story--Part Five by Debra Clopton













The sun was setting, a glow of orange in the background as Jeff stared at the woman in front of him. “Carla,” he said, getting over the shock of seeing his old girlfriend. It had been almost seven or had it been eight years since they’d gone out? Her blonde hair glistened in the light of the porch and her dark eyes glittered as she frowned. He remembered that frown. That unhappiness.


Remembering back, they’d only gone out about two weeks before she’d started talking about marriage…he was ashamed to say that it had been two pretty intense weeks but her push for marriage had hit him like a wakeup call and had him drawing back and reevaluating his behavior and his wants out of life. The relationship had gone down hill from there.



Carla had tried to sweet talk him into loving her. He'd told her that a man and a woman couldn’t fall in love that quickly. Sure he’d seen others do it, Sammie’s in-laws had known each other for a sum total of three days when Dan Sr had asked Marjorie to marry him. They’d been married for thirty-five years and by all indication were crazy about each other. But even with that as proof that there were cases of people falling in love quickly Jeff was more cautious than that.



When he fell in love—if it ever happened—he wasn’t going to rush things. His own parents had dated for a couple of years before they’d married and at the time of their deaths when he was in college they’d been as happy as teenagers. Jeff was more like his parents and looking at Carla now, he was glad he hadn’t let her rush him. He hadn’t been a Christian back then but now that he was he wanted to make certain he waited for the woman God had for him—not that he wasn’t getting a little impatient lately on the Lord’s timing. He was ready for his wife to be to walk into his life…Of course he’d been right where Carla was concerned. She’d dropped him like a hot potato the minute he’d said they needed to slow down their relationship and she’d moved on to someone else before the week was up! He’d heard later that she’d done the same thing to the guy she’d dated before him. Looking at her now he wondered if she’d ever married?


If she’d found what she’d been looking for.


"What are you doing here?” she asked.


“I live next door. “ He’d lived in an apartment when she’d known him.




“Oh, I see.”



"Jeff, who is it?” Sammie asked coming up beside him.


“This is Carla Jensen,” he said, as he looked down into Sammie’s eyes. His heart skipped a beat looking into her golden brown eyes. He’d seen plenty of brown eyes before, Carla’s included, and he’d never felt the pull of attraction and nerves that suddenly tangled up inside of him looking at Sammie.



Sammie smiled, and pulled her eyes from his to focus on Carla. “Hi, can I help you?”


Carla looked from him to Sammie and an uncomfortable pause filled the space. “Yes,” she said, at last. “I need to talk to you. In private.”

Friday, March 26, 2010

And Easter Story Part Four--Missy Tippens


An Easter Story
Part Four—Missy Tippens

Jeff’s next door neighbors, Dan Sr. and Marjorie Clark, were the closest thing he had to family. He’d hurt for them over the last year. But having little Greta home had seemed to help ease the grief.

The rich aroma of a pot roast wafted his way making his mouth water. Marjorie had made his favorite. Kind and generous, the Clarks had invited him over for dinner several times.

But this time, he was nervous. Nervous, of all things. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d acted this crazy.

“Pass the mashed potatoes, please, Mr. Jeff.” Greta sat next to her mom like a little princess with her napkin in her lap, batting those baby blues, using her best manners. Dan and Sammie had raised her well.

“Sure, princess.” He grabbed up the bowl and held it out to Sammie.

“You do know she’ll be asking for a tiara now.” Sammie shook her head at his use of the nickname. But she seemed pleased. And then she smiled. Her sparkling brown eyes met his, but the eye contact didn’t last long. She looked away. Then at him again almost shyly.

Man, those eyes packed a punch. As he watched the gorgeous brunette scooping mashed potatoes onto her daughter’s plate, he had to admit she was the reason for his racing heart and itchy nerves.

“You sure are quiet tonight, Jeff.” Dan Sr. clapped him on the back almost as if he sensed the reason for Jeff’s distress.

Jeff had never had a woman give him the jitters before. And he’d been okay with Sammie while at her house working. So why now? Could be because he was afraid his attraction would show—to her late husband’s parents. Not cool. “Just tired. We got a lot done on Sammie’s house today.”

“Sammie?” Dan raised his brows at the use of the name apparently only Jeff used. The man looked briefly at his daughter-in-law, then back at Jeff. “Well, now, that’s good to hear you’re making progress. Tell us all about it.”

Thankful to have a distraction, Jeff jumped right in. Talk of the house kept the conversation going for the rest of the meal. And Jeff managed to regain his equilibrium. Once finished eating, he pushed back from the table and stretched. “Another fine meal, Marjorie. Thank you.”

Marjorie waved away his compliment, obviously pleased. “How about some dessert?”

“I can’t hold it tonight.”

“None for us either,” Sammie said. “We need to head home and put Greta to bed. I have that early interview.”

As Jeff stood, the doorbell rang. “Don’t get up.” He shook hands with Dan Sr. “I’ll get it on the way out. Probably just someone selling something.” He waved and said goodnight, trying not to let his gaze linger on Sammie. He would miss having her work by his side in the morning.

When he opened the front door, a young woman stood at the bottom of the steps with her back to the door as if she was walking away.

“Can I help you?”

She froze. Slowly turned. And looked as if she’d seen a ghost. “Jeff?”

Thursday, March 25, 2010

An Easter Story-part 3 by Margaret Daley

At the end of the day Sam stood in the doorway, surveying the chaos that had once been her orderly kitchen. She and Greta had removed as many of the utensils, dishes, pans and small appliances as they could and stacked them in the dining room.

The upheaval around her reminded her of her life since Dan's accident. Scraping by to pay off his debts. Having to accept help from his parents to accomplish that feat. Then moving to Sunrise to be closer to Greta's only grandparents. Dan's parents had insisted that she use some of the insurance money to purchase a home for her and Greta. Their feeling was that their son got his family into debt, so it was their duty to help Sam and Greta out of debt. She'd hated taking their charity, but she wanted a home for Greta. She was resolved to pay them back once she found a job, which thankfully she had an interview for tomorrow.

"Mommy, the mailman just came," Greta shouted as she raced into the house from the front porch where she'd been playing with her dolls. "I got a letter from Ashley."


Her daughter waved the few letters she held in her hand in the air and danced about. Ashley had been her best friend, and Greta hadn't wanted to leave her--until she realized she would be able to see Nana and Papa all the time. Her daughter stuffed the envelopes into Sam's hands, all except the one from her best friend.

"I'm gonna read it." Greta held the treasured letter against her chest, wandered over to the couch and plopped down on the leather cushion.

"I'd say she's excited." Jeff leaned against the counter just inside the kitchen--a counter with it's top removed.

Sam couldn't take her eyes off his well-built body, his handsome face, two dimples that appeared when he grinned. Which had made it difficult doing her own work today. It had been a while since she'd had a male in her house. "Yeah. Ashley and she were inseparable, but she's already making some friends at school."

Jeff's gaze fastened onto her daughter, her head bent over the opened letter, her face scrunched up in concentration. "Can she read it?"

"Probably some of it. She likes to try herself, then later she'll ask me to read it to her."

Jeff shoved away from the counter and moved toward her. "I know this looks a mess, but in a week or so, you won't be able to recognize your new kitchen."

"That's probably why Dan's mom asked Greta and me to dinner this evening," she checked her watch, "in half an hour."

"Great. Then I'll see you there. They invited me, too."

Surprise flitted through Sam while Jeff's smile riveted her full attention. "They did?"

"Didn't they tell you I live next door to them?"

"No. Dan Sr. just told me you were a great carpenter and would give me a good deal on the remodeling." Which he had. Now she wondered if Dan's father was also paying for part of the renovation. If he was, she would have to rethink how much she could repair and fix up because she was determined to at least pay for this.

He plowed his fingers through his hair, a gleam in his blue eyes. "And that I did because I've wanted to do this house for a long time." He scanned the kitchen. "And it needs it. I'm surprised you two are living here with the house in the condition it is in."

She'd made it clear she couldn't stay long with Dan's parents when she'd first moved to Sunrise. If it wasn't for Greta, she wouldn't have accepted any help from them. "It's not so bad." Even if the plumbing was giving her fits and the lights were flickering at odd times. Not to mention the cabinet door that had come off in her hands yesterday morning when she'd gotten a bowl for Greta's cereal.

"Mommy, Ashley's mom wrote you a note, too." Greta hopped off the couch, hurried toward Sam and stuffed the sheet of paper into her hands. "Do ya think they're coming to visit?"

"Not until summer," Sam said, glancing down at the letter. She felt the color drain from her face when she read the words, "And that woman I told you about came back today and asked questions about where you are. She was quite upset when I wouldn't tell her. She started yelling at me. I called the police, but she was gone by the time they came."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An Easter Story - Part Two by Lisa Mondello

AN EASTER STORY
Part Two by Lisa Mondello

This one was going to be tough. Of course, Jeff couldn't really blame Sammie for being a bit miffed at the world right now. Losing her husband and having to pick up her life and move back home had to be rough. Yeah, Dan had done well for himself and Jeff was sure he'd provided well for his family when they lived in the city. But Dan Clark Sr. had let it slip about how Sammie was left with a mountain of debt to settle from his son's business dealings before Sammie and Greta moved back home to Sunrise. Although it had all the makings of something wonderful, this cottage she'd just purchased was a far cry from the kind of high-class home she was accustom to living in before Dan had been killed.

Jeff followed Sammie as she walked toward the front porch.

"I don't know where you want to start," she said. "They call it a cottage, but it's a big house and there's a lot of work that needs to be done. By the way, what exactly do you do?"

"What do you mean?"

She turned back to him, her chestnut brown hair swinging over her shoulders with her movement. She had wide brown eyes with golden flecks that came to life as she answered. "In the house? Are you just a carpenter? Or do you do more?"

He couldn't help but grin. "I don't clean. That's your job. But I can tackle anything that needs tearing out and rebuilding. Even some minor plumbing. And I can paint or stain anything that needs to be finished. I'm pretty much a Jack-of-all-trades."

She nodded and started walking back to the house. Greta was playing in the grass that has just now started to get its green color back after the harsh winter they'd had. As the little girl ran around, her blond curls bounced up as if on fire from the sun. Her periwinkle blue eyes sparkled as she ran.

"I suppose we can start in the kitchen. It's quite old. We can move on to the bathrooms and then get the rest of the house in order."

Pausing at the screen door, she stared at him as he hung back on the top step of the wide porch.

"Are you listening to me, Jeff?"

Samantha Clark was indeed a pretty girl and Jeff could easily see how Dan Clark had fallen for her. He had been listening to what Sammie had been saying, but he'd also been admiring the woman, too. And he'd gotten caught doing it.

"Are you looking to restore the house or rip out everything and start new? This place has some custom carpentry in the living and dining rooms that you won't find anywhere else. And the woodwork throughout is quite unique. You won't find anything like that around here. It'd be a shame if you toss all that charm and beauty away and put something modern in its place."

Sammie cocked her head to one side. "You do know the house well."

"I told you. I've had my eye on it for some time. Always thought one day I'd get the chance to restore it to its original beauty."

She stared at him a moment before offering up a smile. It had him taking in a deep breath to keep from making a fool of himself. He cleared his throat and glanced at Greta before asking, "Where'd your daughter get her blond hair? She doesn't look at all like you or Dan."

The flash of pain that immediately crossed her face had him regretting his question. But as she glanced at her daughter, whatever he saw was immediately replaced with joy and pride. "I've always wondered myself. Dan and I adopted Greta when she was just a baby."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010



An Easter Story
Part One—Lenora Worth

“Mommy, look at the pretty flower.”
Samantha Clark smiled at six-year-old Greta. Her little girl clapped her hands and laughed in delight at the Easter lilies beginning to bloom in their yard.
Sam wished she could share her daughter’s joy. Instead she turned to stare up at the cottage she’d bought about a month ago with some of the insurance money she’d received after her husband Dan died in a car accident last year. Soon every street in the mountain town of Sunrise would be blooming with dogwoods, azaleas, lilies, roses and wisteria.
Dan had loved spring. “It renews the spirit, Sam,” he’d say with a wink and a kiss.
Not this year, Sam thought. When a rumbling old pick-up truck pulled toward the curb, she called out to Greta. “Come on back, baby.”
Greta rushed back onto the grass, but stared at the tall, lanky man who came around the truck. When the man reached into the truck bed to lift out a big tool box, Greta glanced at Sam then back to the stranger.
“Whatcha doing, mister?”
The man grinned, his blue eyes twinkling. “Me, I’m here to do my job.” He walked toward Sam but he kept his eyes on Greta. “I hear you mama needs some help remodeling this house. Know anything about building cabinets or resurfacing walls, little lady?”
Greta giggled, her hands over her mouth. “No, silly. I’m just a little girl.”
Sam watched the stranger charming her daughter, noting his thick dark hair and the way his eyes lit up each time he spoke to Greta. “Mr. Matthews?”
“Jeff.” The man reached out to shake Sam’s hand. “Your father-in-law sent me.” Then the twinkle left his eyes. “I’m sure sorry about Dan.”
“Thank you,” Sam said, touched. “So … you’re the carpenter?”
“Yes, ma’am, that’s me.” He glanced up at the Craftsmen style cottage, his gaze taking in the wide front porch. “I’ve always wanted to fix up this old place. I kinda had a hankering to live here myself one day.”
Surprised, Sam looked toward the house. “I guess I beat you to it, huh?”
“You sure did. But … if I can’t live here, at least I’ll know this house has a good owner.”
“I hope you’re right on that,” Sam said. “It sure needs a lot of work.”
Jeff nodded, then motioned to Greta. “Well, then, let’s get started. I might need a helper. You know of anyone who’d maybe bring me a cookie and some lemonade now and then?”
“I do, I do,” Greta replied, jumping up and down, her frilly sundress billowing like a flower petal. “Mom makes the best cookies and I can be real careful with the lemonade. I won’t spill any.”
“Sounds like a plan to me,” Jeff replied. “How about you, Mrs. Clark?”
“Call me Sam,” Sam replied. “Everyone does.”
“You’re way too pretty to be called Sam,” he said. “You look more like a Sammie to me.”
A bit affronted, Sammie turned to go inside. “You can call me whatever you like as long as you fix this rundown old house. It needs restoring.”
Jeff moved past her toward the big front door. “I’d say this house isn’t the only thing that needs restoring.”

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Big and the Small of It


Hi -- Janet Tronstad here. I am excited because I just signed a contract for another two-in-one book with Debra Clopton. You may remember we wrote our Small-Town Brides two-in-one for this past June. Now, we're signed up for a Mother's Day book for 2011! I'm jazzed because I have always liked novellas. Maybe because they're short enough that I can start and finish one while I'm getting ready for sleep at night. Over the years, the size of book I prefer to read has changed. When I was in high school, I liked long, long books (probably because I was living on our family farm and trips to the book mobile didn't come soon enough for me so I loved long books that would last for a while). Then I liked medium length ones. Finally, I've come to prefer a selection of short ones (novellas). How about you? Do you have a preferred book length? Tell us why.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hero Interview for His Texas Bride



Interview with the hero from His Texas Bride by Deb Kastner:

1. Buck, tell me the most interesting thing about you.

I have a very strong connection with horses. No matter how I’m feeling or what problems I’m facing, working with horses always makes me feel better.

2. What do you do for fun?

Ride my horse, Storm. I don’t remember the last time that I did anything just for fun.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?

Telling Ellie the truth about why I left her all those years ago.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?

I’m most afraid of my son Tyler being hurt, and of losing Ellie all over again.

5. What do you want out of life?

I want to own my own horse ranch and have a family again.

6. What is the most important thing to you?

My son, Tyler.

7. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?

No. But I probably should try to read the Bible more often.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would change how stubborn I am, and I would like to be able to communicate with people the way I do with horses. People are much harder to understand.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?

I have my horse. And Ellie has a gazillion animals running around on her therapy ranch.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?

I would go back to the day I graduated from high school and left Ellie and the town of Ferrell, Texas behind. If I could do that day all over again, I would have stayed and married Ellie. And I would have spent more time with my mother before she died.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

FEATURED BOOK: HIS TEXAS BRIDE BY DEB KASTNER

t's been years since single father Buck Redmond set foot in his Texas hometown. For good reasons—or so he thinks. He plans to quickly sell his family's ranch and hightail it out with his son. But the Redmond homestead now belongs to his former flame, Ellie McBride. The violet-eyed beauty stirs up all kinds of bittersweet memories—including why Buck left her behind. And she somehow manages to turn his scowling son into a happy, talkative junior cowboy. Soon enough, Buck is reminded of why he loved Ellie. But making her his Texas bride will mean completely opening his heart.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sales - Carolyne Aarsen


SALE. One word. Four letters.

Yet every time I see them, my heart beats faster, my palms sweat and a sense of expectation and anticipation swirls through my suddenly shrunken brain.

I'm an intelligent woman. I can use words that have more than two syllables and, usually, spell them correctly. I'm not young anymore and I would like to think that with that comes a certain lack of gullibility.I don't believe everything I hear or read. And I don't believe inflated claims on products. Yet, every time I get an e-mail from one of the craft stores I frequent that have the huge letters S.A.L.E. anywhere in the letter I click through. Every. Single. Time.

I love doing my crafts. And I love collecting the beautifully printed papers, the embossing powders, the pens, the stamps, the tools and the cartridges for my cricut, a die cutting machine. And almost as important, I love buying all these things on SALE. I will scour the internet looking for places I can save .04 on a piece of paper, a few dollars on a cartridge. My 'watch' list on e-bay is four pages long.

I know I would be better off, monetary-wise, not buying the stuff period. My rational brain tells me this when I am in my moments of sanity and I'm looking at my AMEX bill. I look at what I already have and think, 'Enough, woman. How much paper do you need? Your kids are going to be angry with you when they have to get rid of all that stuff after you die'. This all makes very much sense and when I have these little talks with myself I pat myself on the back for how smart I am and how much self-control I am going to have. This is just a hobby, I tell myself. Nothing more. Keep your focus, have some perspective . . . and then . . . oh my goodness . . . Custom Crops has Basic Grey paper on SALE!!!! And WOW it's only seventy nine cents per sheet!!! And before I know it, I'm clicking and checking and loading up my virtual shopping cart with virtual paper looking like a virtual idiot as I stare with ever widening eyes at the SALE prices.

And then, sometimes, my sane side takes over and I empty the virtual shopping cart and feel very satisfied with myself untilI get the next e-mail with the next SALE notice.

I know I'm not alone. I know that the word SALE can have amazing powers depending on where it's located and what is actually on sale. So Now that you've heard about my Achilles heel, what about you? Imagine the word SALE - and put it in front of your favourite store - online or otherwise. What would make your heart beat faster? What kind of sale is your dream sale? It's okay to share. We're all friends here. Unless you are bidding against me on that sale item on e-bay.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Vote for your favorite!

It's been said there is nothing new under the sun. In fact, that was said in the Bible! Which makes selling fresh, NEW book proposals somewhat tricky. Yet that's exactly what our editors, and readers, want from us.

So let's vote. There might not be anything new under the sun, but there is a unique way each author tells a story. A group of writers could have the same general plot guidelines to follow, but still their novels would all turn out differently. Each author has their own life experiences, voice, and spin to put on their tales. (thankfully!) =)

That said, there are still certain themes and elements that pop up in fiction a lot, yet continue to sell and don't become cliche because of the author's unique spin on each.

So, as a reader (and writers, if you answer this, you must put on your reader hat to vote!) what particular themes/elements do you most enjoy reading in a romance? I've listed a few below to pick from, but please add more in the comments if I left out one of your favorites!

1. Single Dad with young child
2. Single Mom with young child
3. Animal lover heroine/hero
4. Fireman hero
5. Policeman or military hero
6. Schoolteacher or homeschool teacher heroine
7. Hero and Heroine who are boss/employee in relationship
8. Hero and heorine who start off completely hating each other before falling in love
9. Hero and heroines in a mall town
10. Cowboy hero

After you vote, which scenario are you most tired of seeing? What has been published TOO much?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rose City Romance Writers Readers Luncheon

Hi, Terri Reed here wanting to let you know about an upcoming event that I'll be signing at in April.
Rose City Romance Writers are proud to host the 10th Annual Romance Readers Luncheon on Saturday, April 17, 2010 from 9 am to 2 pm.
This year's guest speaker is bestselling author of classic romance and modern women's fiction, Jane Porter
Jane's presentation, entitled Be The Hero of Your Own Story, is sure to inspire.
Join Us at the Governor Hotel in Portland for good food, great romance authors, and a gift basket raffle like none other. 2010 Cost: $40.00
Some of the authors attending include :
•Amanda Forester
•Anthea Lawson
•Catherine Cade
•Christina Crooks
•Christine Young
•Courtney Milan
•Delilah Marvelle
•Eilis Flynn
•Elisabeth Naughton
•Erica Ridley
•Genene Valleau
•Gerri Russell
•Gina Robinson
•Hanna Rhys-Barnes
•Jami Davenport
•Jean Johnson
•Jenna Bayley-Burke
•Jessa Slade
•Kimberly Fisk
•Kristina McMorris
•Kaylin McFarren
•Lacy Danes
•Linda Wisdom
•Lisa Hendrix
•Lucy Monroe
•Maisey Yates
•Margaret Mallory
•Marianne Stillings
•Mary Vine
•Meljean Brook
•Minnette Meador
•PJ Alderman
•Paty Jager
•Terri Reed
•Terry MacLaughlin
•Theresa Meyers
•Wendy Warren
Sound like fun? Register Now!
For more information, please check out the Rose City Romance Writers website.

Monday, March 15, 2010

What I Did this Weekend

Pamela Tracy here. This past weekend I headed for Tucson, Arizona, and the 2nd annual Bookfest tsponsored by the University of Arizona. I had great fun. Here's the blurb they wrote for me in the Bookfest Handout.

Tracy has won awards in the Christian market and was nominated for Romance Writers of America's Rita award in 2007. Her first novel, "It Only Takes a Spark," was published in 1999; her most recent work is "Clandestine Cover-Up."
Inspirational Writing: The Ultimate Happy Ever AfterPanel / Sun 1:00 PM - 02:00 PMKoffler - Room 218.

As always, I had great fun. Every moment, and I do mean every moment, was accounted for.

So, what did I learn. The first workshop I attended was given by Paula Eykelhof who talked about Harlequin. I want to know about Harlequin. Take away - readers really respond to emotional conflict. Next workshop was about query letters (I'm so glad I don't have to write them anymore) given by both Paula Eykelhof and Brenda Novack. Take away - unless a contest win or publication was recent, don't put the year.

Finally, it was lunch. Yeah. Great company. I was with our own Kim Watters as well as Harlequin American author Cathy McDavid and Harlequin Special Edition author Judy Duarte.

Headed off to another workshop given by Brenda Novak on social networking. Take away - I am not spending enough time on FaceBook.

And, in case you forgot, I was at a BookFest so I bought a cop biography, a suspense by Brenda Novak, and Haunted Historic America.

The next day, I attended another work shop on social networking by author Jennifer Ashley. I don't think I'm going to get LinkedIn. Then, Kim, Judy and I gave our own workshops. I purchased two paranormals by Jeanne Stein and Juiet Blackwell, and headed home.

Highlight of the weekend - pulling into the driveway, seeing my five year old pull open the curtains and then come barreling out because Mommy's Home!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hero Interview for Katie's Redemption


Interview with the hero from Katie’s Redemption by Patricia Davids:

1. Elam Sutter, tell me the most interesting thing about you.

I am an Amish farmer and carpenter in Ohio and I have a basket weaving business.

2. What do you do for fun?

The Amish love to visit and I’m no exception. I really enjoy spending time with my family, especially my nephews. We get together to play baseball and volleyball whenever we can.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?

Looking for a wife. I was engaged once and that relationship failed because she turned her back on our faith. I know I must trust God to bring the right woman into my life, but it is hard to trust again.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?

I’m afraid my faith is not strong enough. I’m afraid of letting people down.

5. What do you want out of life?

That is an easy question. I want what God wants for me. I seek to follow His will as it is laid out in the Bible.

6. What is the most important thing to you?

God. Always a man must put God first in his life, after that, my family.

7. Do you read? If so, what is your favorite type of book to read?

I do like to read. I read the Amish newspapers and my Bible. A man must take care in what he reads. He can allow ungodly thoughts into his mind if he is not on guard against the influences of the outside world.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

If I could be different, I would worry less. To worry over things shows my lack of faith in God’s plan for me. I need to work on that.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?

Nee, I have no pets. We have horses on the farm but they work. Judy pulls our buggy. Joey and Jack are my draft horses. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fond of my horses, but I don’t think of them as pets.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?

Nowhere. Now is the time given to me by God. Now is the life I must lead.

Friday, March 12, 2010

March Madness

This is Merrillee, wondering how many other women are excited about March Madness, the basketball kind. I know I'm probably in the minority among women when it comes to liking sports. Maybe I enjoy them so much because I grew up with three brothers who played sports. In my mind, there has always been drama and emotion in watching athletes who put everything into their training and compete for a prize--even amateur athletes. As a kid, I remember watching ABC's Wide World of Sports on Saturday afternoons. I still can hear the announcer say, "The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat." I love to share the thrill of victory by cheering on my favorite team, and I feel the agony of losing. Yesterday was one of those agony days. I watched my favorite college basketball team get clobbered in their end of the year tournament. I couldn't even watch the whole game because it was painful to see them play so badly. Which team is my favorite? Wake Forest. Here is a photo of one of their games against Georgia Tech, another one of the teams that I like.

Wake Forest v Georgia Tech

Here is my granddaughter decked out in her Wake Forest cheerleader outfit. I guess she'll have to save it for next year and hope they do better.



I wonder whether Paul, the apostle was an athlete. He referenced athletic endeavors several times in the letters he wrote. These scriptures compare the Christian life to running a race. I especially like the one from Hebrews that depicts the great cloud of witnesses who are watching us compete in this game of life. They are cheering us on.

Hebrews 12:1-3 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

Our reward is an everlasting crown, as it says in 1 Corinthians 9:24-25. "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."

2 Timothy 4:6-8 "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."

As I gear up for March Madness, I will remember that Christians will be victorious as we compete for the crown of life. Unlike the sporting events I like to watch, I know the outcome.

Do you enjoy watching sports? If so, what kind?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rejection take that! Pow!! %#% Wham!! #&#

Pat Davids, here.
Margaret’s comment yesterday about celebrating with ice cream brought back a funny memory. I wasn’t celebrating a sale or finishing a new book that evening. I went out to console myself after receiving a rejection letter. (My tenth, I think.) I stopped at the grocery store and bought two containers of my favorite ice cream intent on drowning my sorrows with the help of Chunky Monkey and Black Walnut. As I was checking out the lady scanning my goods looked at me and said, “Looks like a party happening at your place tonight.”
“A pity party,” I replied. “I just got a rejection on my novel.”
She waved a hand. “Oh, what do they know? Someday you’re going to famous and I sold you ice cream.”
She lifted my spirits much more than any calorie laden treat ever could. I went home and started another book that night. I might never be famous, but I’ve sold my share of books since then. But I’ll never forget her quick assumption that I would. Isn't it funny how someone we don't know can change the way we look at life?

I go for the comfort food when I'm feeling bad, but I have a friend who burned her rejection letters in the kitchen sink. What are some ways you have dealt with rejection in your life? It doesn't have to be about a book. Maybe it was a boyfriend who dumped you, or job you wanted but didn’t get. Did you break glasses, go for a run or call a friend? Inquiring minds would like to know. We all need ways to cope.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Nearly finished

This is Margaret Daley here and I'm excited. I only have a few thousands more words to write before I'm through with my Love Inspired Suspense for December called Christmas Bodyguard. I should have that done by the end of this day. I'm trying to come up with something to do to celebrate. I thought about getting a double dip ice cream cone (cookie dough) or going out to eat. But I've done those things before. I wanted to do something different. What are some of the things you do to celebrate a special occasion (and believe me finishing my rough draft is a special occasion to me)? Any suggestions for me? If not, I guess I'll be forced to eat another double dip ice cream cone. Oh, well, someone's got to do it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Memory needs power-up--Lenora Worth

I think my brain cells need to be plugged into a socket. I keep forgetting things. Things I have written on my calendar at that. I'm middle-aged and getting more forgetful every day, it seems. I knew today was my post day but somehow I got caught up in proofing one manuscript, creating a new proposal for another one and trying to get to the home stretch on one that's due next month. I think my brain can only process so much information. Not to mention social networking and trying to keep up with my favorite tv shows.

They say keeping your brain active is important in old age. Mine seems to be so active it can't find a spot for anymore information. I just took a walk outside since it's actually warm here today. My daffodils are blooming and some of the other bulbs are budding. Many of the spring shrubs and trees have buds on them, too. Maybe that's what I need--spring to come and rejuvenate my tired brain.

Am I the only one with these memory lapses???

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bring On The Summer!

Hi Y'ALL--Debra Clopton here and on the watch for summertime! Anyone who is around me for all of about two seconds knows a couple of things about me...I eat dessert first and I love summertime. Well, I am sooo ready for summer that I'd skip dessert all summer if the sun would come out and stay for awhile :)soon. Soon it is going to happen. I'm thankful God made me a Texan because at least here all through the winter we'll have pretty warm days every week or so that help get me though the cold days of winter. And boy did we have some cold days! It snowed in Madisonville twice. Really snowed...that is very unusual. It was cool though and I enjoyed it for the two days we had it and then glad to see it gone...

Anyway, I feel blessed and I'm thankful today. God has been awesome this year. Yes, there have been struggles but that only makes me more thankful for the good times. This morning I'm taking time to really thank God for what He has done for me and my family, every small thing, every big thing. Part of that thankfulness is for the fact that I get to do what I love every time I write a book. What a blessing that is for me. I love it. I just mailed out another book to my editor and my mind is consumed with creating new storylines this morning and so I'm distracted by them and hoping this blog makes a sense! I'm diving back into it now but hope y'all have a great day--God bless and bring on the summer.

Debra Clopton

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hero Interview from The Cowboy's Courtship


Interview with the hero from The Cowboy’s Courtship by Brenda Minton:

1. Jason Bradshaw, tell me the most interesting thing about you? I would if I could remember. Okay, seriously, I’m a professional bull rider who recently took a bad spill and suffered short term memory loss.

2. What do you do for fun? I love a good joke and enjoy working at Camp Hope.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it? Talking to my dad.

4. What are you afraid of most in life? Being serious. I’ve been the clown for so long that sometimes I have a hard time being who I really am.

5. What do you want out of life? To find someone to spend my life with.

6. What is the most important thing to you? My faith, my family and my friends.

7. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book? No, I don’t read too much. I never stop long enough to really open a book.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I would have been more honest about how much it hurt when my mom passed away.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet? We have a stock dog and livestock.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why? I think I’d go back and spend more time with my mom, and maybe try to get my dad to talk and deal with losing her.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

TODAY'S FEATURED BOOK: A TWO IN ONE CLASSIC FROM MARGARET DALEY

Gold in the Fire
On the job firefighter Joshua Markham has no problem taking risks, leaving his fate in God's hands. But opening his heart to young widow Darcy O'Brien requires a far greater leap of faith.


Light in the Storm

After years of putting herself last, Beth Coleman is finally ready to fulfill her long-cherished dream of seeing the world. Then the unexpected arrival of Samuel Morgan and his three children makes her question which path she is truly meant to travel.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Allie Pleiter and the real story behind "Bluegrass Easter"

Last time I wrote, I promised you the “true story” behind Bluegrass Easter. It should provide a giggle to your day--I know I’ve told the story a dozen times this month already and it still makes me smile.


I’m a serious knitter. There are miles and miles of yarn in my house, and I’m almost never sitting down without needles in my hands. So, as you can imagine, I’ve become friendly with lots of fiber folk nearby. One of these was the lovely store Esther’s Place in Big Rock Illinois, and its charming owners Donna and Natasha. Aside from the store (which is also a bed and breakfast--can you say weekend getaway?), they also run a small farm nearby with, you guessed it, sheep.


I received an email from Esther’s Place one day last year, asking for prayers for the upcoming lambing season. It seems my friends were in for many more lambs than planned. The reason why? Well, the farm’s one ram had taken his job description seriously. Very seriously. In a shockingly short span of time, our hero managed to get romantic with every single ewe on the farm. Every single one. And ewes often give birth to twins. So the flock was going to do more than double in a short span of time. It’s hard to tell sheep are pregnant until you shear them and get all that wool off them, so surprise pregnancies aren’t than rare. This, though, was on an epic scale.


I ask you, could any knitting romance author--especially one who’d been recently asked to propose an Easter novella--leave such a story alone???


I can’t think of a better farewell to my beloved Kentucky Corners series than to send Middleburg’s control-freak librarian into a similar situation. So my dear knitting Audrey Lupine (which, a reader just told me, is a word that means wolf! How amazing is that?) has a “ca-lamb-ity” of massive proportions to contend with in addition to all of Middleburg’s traditional craziness. Mix in one handsome trying-to-leave-his-practice-behind veterinarian who conveniently moves in next door, and all I had to do was sit back and let the fur fly....er, the fleece fly.


Like I said, I giggle every time I think about it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wandering Away.....

As I sit watching my daughter’s ballet class, I marvel at the patience of the teacher trying her best to corral a bunch of high-energy, enthusiastic 5 and 6 year olds into some semblance of order.

As a mother, there is nothing cuter than seeing a group of little girls parading around in pink tutus, tights, and ballet slippers, whose attention is easily diverted by the mirrors, each other, and hey-what’s behind this door?

However, as a writer, I cringe each time one of these little princesses wanders off because *gasp* they are doing what children…and our characters, like to do best…WANDER OFF.

Today, though while the little girls stumble through the motions, trying to grasp the concept, I can’t help but chuckle. How like my characters. Each with a mind of her own. Each trying to see what lurks behind that closet door at the back of the room. Each doing what she wants to do, not what her masterful teacher, er…author wants her to do.

Where does this leave us? With a certain creativity that comes from within. Dancing horses, princess walks, to floating balloons designed to stretch their young imaginations. I, too, am learning from this class.

But wait. My daughter has decided that she just doesn’t want to cooperate today. And she’s so darned cute in her determination not to do what the teacher asks. How many times have your characters decided that no matter how you cajole, beg, and demand, that they are just not going to do what you want them to do? Sorry, stickers and a treat aren’t going to work this time.

So what do you as authors do? How do you handle character interruptions? Me? Now that I’ve learned to let go, I go with the flow. I let them take the lead. I allow my characters to do what they want-as long as no one gets hurt. You never know where it’s going to take them, the story, and the romance.

It’s finally near the end of class for this week. Terrific! My daughter’s off her tiny, pink encased bottom and on her pink encased feet with her arms in the air. I really credit the teacher, who is a grade school teacher by profession, in keeping the kids focused and happy. I, however, have no such compunction. Discovering something new about my characters when they start to misbehave makes me want to do my own princess walk across the keyboards to see where they will lead me.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spring is in the air...maybe!


It's forty degrees today! Back in October, I thought forty degrees was c-c-cold. Today, it seems balmy, with the sky a brilliant peacock blue, and the sun shining warm and bright. From my office window, I can see our cats all lined up in the barn door, soaking up those rays. Out on the hill in the pasture, the horses have found some bare ground between the snow drifts and are laying down, stretched flat as tortillas, doing the same.

Our border collies aren’t nearly so relaxed. They are cruising their playpen (the safely gated deck that follows the length of our house) and if those barn cats move a single paw, both dogs go into crouch-and-get-ready-to-herd mode, or start barking. They are perpetual Dogs on a Mission--wanting something to herd, something to do. I wish I could bottle that energy and sell it!

Have you seen all of the absolutely gorgeous covers on the Steeple Hill Love Inspired books this month? The covers are stunning, the colors are beautiful...and offer such an inviting taste of spring, which is surely just around the corner. I always think that the cover artists just can't outdo themselves again...and then they proceed to do so, month after month.   I just had to add a photo of flowers here, while thinking of spring.

I always buy all of the Love Inspired books and can't wait to dive into them. How about you? Do you buy them all, or do you select certain ones? Do you choose by cover art, the author, the blurb on the back, or make your decisions after you read the first few pages while standing in the store?

Blessings,
Roxanne Rustand
http://roxannerustand.blogspot.com (The All Creatures Great and Small Place)
www.roxannerustand.com

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Olympics and my guilty pleasure...

A big hello from Lisa Mondello! Well, as much as I hate to say it, the Olympics are officially over and my guilty pleasure of watching skiing and skating must end so I can concentrate on my new deadline of May 1st. Yes, I sold another book to Love Inspired Romance and I'm thrilled. I need to get cracking on finishing the book. I'm not sure when the book will be published, but I'll let you know.

But I do have a problem that I'd like to take a moment to talk about. Chaos and deadlines. It seems my husband always finds the most inopportune time to "tear apart" something. Today it was the living room. As I typed away on my computer, he pulled apart the bookcases, moved all the furniture and removed my books from the shelf to the sofa so he could hook the TV up to the Internet. Why we need a 42 inch television hooked up to the Internet was a question I didn't want to ask because I knew I'd soon have my answer. Great YOUTUBE music videos from the 80s don't look as good on a monitor as they do on a 42 inch television. He's a guy. These things matter.

Okay, I admit it. There IS a reason I married this man. He speaks to my insanity. I checked out a few videos of my own. Aha's Take Me On and Michael Jackson's Thriller were cool. Hall and Oates, The Bay City Rollers (Can you say S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night!) and even...David Cassidy. And of course, I had to give into my biggest guilty pleasure and check out a few old Elton John videos too. (You can stop laughing at me now. My kids just rolled there eyes at us, told us to turn the volume down and then went to bed.) I then surfed the web a little...on a 42 inch television. Had my husband not taken the keyboard from me so he could find some Neil Diamond videos, I'd probably be writing this blog from there right now.

The problem is, the living room is totaled and I now have to find a new home for all the things that got moved around. I don't know about you but I can't work when the house is a total mess, so I know I must deal with this first thing tomorrow or no writing will get done. How about you? Do you need to have complete order around you to be creative? Since I have 3 teenagers still at home, the house is almost never "orderly". I don't need complete order, but it can't look like a tornado blew through the house. How do you deal with messes while still being creative?

Until next time, many blessings, Lisa Mondello